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IMMIGRATION POLICIES, ANALYSIS, AND RESOURCES

The Immigration Domain tracks and reports on policies that deal with illegal and legal immigration, refugee resettlement and sanctuary cities. This domain tracks policies emanating from the White House, the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the US Border Patrol, and state and city government policies that respond to federal policies. Our Principal Analyst is Allie Blum who can be reached at allie@usresistnews.org.

Latest Immigration Posts

 

A Peek into Trump Golf Resorts

Brief #63—Immigration Policy Trump Golf has employed a steady stream of illegal immigrants for years, but explained it away as the Trump Organization being a separate entity run by Trump’s eldest sons and having nothing to do with the President. However there is no...

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Trump’s Wall Explained

Brief #62—Immigration Policy Summary Before President Trump took office there were 654 miles of barrier; 354 miles to block individuals walking across the border and 300 miles of anti-vehicle fencing that cost roughly $7 Billion during the Bush Administration....

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Catch and Release: An Update on Asylum Seekers

Brief #61—Immigration Policy On November 9, the Trump Administration signed a policy that would temporarily bar migrants who illegally cross into the US through the Southern Border from attempting to seek asylum, unless they crossed through designated ports of entry....

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Immigration Policy Updates

During the past week, when many Americans gave thanks for their blessings, those making their way to the southern US border were faced with continuing hostility and exclusion. President Trump invoked similar rhetoric he used to impose the travel ban on countries with dominantly Muslim populations, in his most recent attempts to ban asylum to all individuals who cross the border illegally. A federal judge from San Francisco temporarily blocked the government from denying asylum to those crossing the southern border between ports of entry, which led to Trump criticizing the Justice Department for appealing his request as being biased and an “Obama judge.”

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DACA: an update on our Dreamers

In September 2018, the Trump Administration made known they would like to put an end to the DACA program. DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) was an executive action under the Obama Administration that allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the US under the age of 16 to apply for protection from deportation.

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Trump Wants to Call the Shots on Asylum Seekers

Brief #58—Immigration Policy Summary In addition to the Trump Administration’s announcement of rolling back DACA (see Brief #57), they have recently announced new rules that give President Trump vast authority to deny asylum to virtually any migrant who crosses...

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The National Security Hoax

The National Security Hoax

Policy Summary
Trump has claimed that the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants from Mexico has provided enough reason to believe the US Southern Border threatens national security.  He has declared a national emergency, and therefor the ability to use existing allocated federal nudget funds to build his wall. These funds include  $3.6 billion from military construction projects , $2.5 billion from counter-narcotics programs and $600 million from the Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund. Combined with the authorized $1.375 billion for fencing in the spending package discussed in brief #64, there would be $8 billion available for Trump’s wall. This is significantly more than the original $5.7 billion he demanded.

The right for a president to declare a national emergency is the product of the National Emergencies Act of 1976 which was enacted to rein in presidential power and restore Congress’s constitutional role as a check on the executive branch, during a time when there was a growing imbalance between Democrats and Republicans. Since then, national emergencies have been declared nearly 60 times (and half of them remain active) but are more targeted to foreign affairs like freezing properties, blocking trade exports, imposing economic sanction son foreign trading partners; not re-directing money from the Federal budget.

Democrats and many Republicans do not find Trump’s Declaration justified and have begun the process of taking legal action. National emergencies can last for 1 year and then are terminated unless a president renews the declaration 90 days prior; and every 6 months,

In response to the declaration, 16 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnestoa, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia) have filed a lawsuit challenging the national emergency, as well as organizations like the ACLU, Border Network for Human Rights and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Analysis
The House and Senate can pass resolutions to terminate national emergencies, known as a ‘legislative veto.’ Congress rejected Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, so Trump issued his first veto on March 15.  Congress can overrise the veto if two-thirds of each house of Congress votes to do so (an unlikely prospect in the Republican controlled Senate.)

Trump has been quoted saying he “didn’t have to do this,” claiming he did not want to build the wall over a long period of time and just wanted to do so in a timely manner. His response comes off as a form of conning the American public into thinking that Congress made him resort to such an extreme.

Engagement Resources

  • Opposition – No Border Walls: A resource that provides cities, states and coalitions of organizations that have taken a stance against Trump’s wall.
  • Stop Trump’s Wall: a non-profit that opposes Trump’s wall that utilizes video submissions explaining why his wall is ineffective, not a good idea, bad for the environment, etc.
  • Sierra Club: a grassroots environmental organization that has sued the US government in opposition of the wall.

Photo by Rishabh Varshney

Trump’s Remain in Mexico Policy

Trump’s Remain in Mexico Policy

Policy Summary
In December, Trump put forth a policy on asylum seekers where individuals would be returned to Mexico while their cases were considered. This policy is generally known as ‘Remain in Mexico’ (as discussed in brief #61) though the Trump Administration refers to it as ‘Migrant Protection Protocols.’ Many individuals have fled Central America from gang violence, which does not observe state boundaries and such individuals’ lives could be at risk even during the waiting process. The UN High Commissioner on Refugees has confirmed that the majority of people fleeing from Central America have real claims of asylum. Many migrants will have to wait in underfunded and/or overcrowded shelters in Ciudad Juarez and/or Tijuana, which are not particularly safe and hostile to migrants.

Trump supporters and administration officials have addressed this concern by pointing out that some US cities, like Chicago, are equally as unsafe. Even Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen states the policy is a ‘vital response to the crisis at our southern border.’

The US cannot deport asylum seekers without at least a screening interview to determine if their case presents a ‘credible fear.’ Under the new protocol an individual also  has to establish that they are ‘more likely than not’ to be persecuted if sent back to their country of origin, which is much harder to prove than the minimum ‘credible fear.’ Thus, various groups are suing the Trump Administration, claiming this policy is an act of ‘war on asylum seekers and our system of laws,’ as it violates US and International Laws of asylum.

Interviews with asylum seekers are one-o- one without access to a lawyer and the interviewer then passes on a report from the session to someone more senior at US Citizenship and Immigration services to make a decision. Usually 75% pass the interview, but Trump’s new  policy skirts around this limitation by providing individuals with a hearing but having them wait in Mexico for such a hearing to take place.

Upon arrival in Mexico, they are granted humanitarian visas which allow them to live and work in Mexico for up to a year while they wait.

Analysis
The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is an ill thought out regulation and a human rights violation. IT is being implementd without the ‘reasoned explanation’ which is required. It also incentivize sillegal border crossings (by those seeking to escape the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy), and there is an unrealistic expectation that Mexico will provide safety, shelter, support services and legal counsel, and transportation for affected asylum seekers. Mexico has a record of detaining and deporting  back asylum seekers to their home countries where they face serious threats to their lives and freedoms.

This policy also violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) which prohibits agencies from acting in a way that is ‘arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law.’ It directly violates the US longstanding policy of nonrefoulement (not unique to the US) under which it is the obligation not to return people to places where they will face persecution, torture or other cruel and inhuman treatment

Engagement Resources

  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration reform.

Photo by Baher Khairy

Trump Declares National Emergency, Yet Signs a Compromise Bill

Trump Declares National Emergency, Yet Signs a Compromise Bill

Policy Summary
Earlier this month, the members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed a new spending bill that addressed 7 spending bills that had expired during the government’s recent shutdown. The bill is very hefty at 1,100 pages, but received an 82-16 vote to pass it. Trump  signed the bill, while simultaneously declaring a national emergency in order to acquire emergency funding for his wall. With the declaration of a national emergency, Trump can possibly have access to the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund, the Defense Department’s drug interdiction program and military construction budget. In our next Brief we will report on the status of efforts to provide the greater amount of border wall funding (at least $5 billion) that Trump seeks to get through an Emergency Declaration.

In the new spending bill  House and Senate Appropriations Committees agreed on $1.375 billion for “physical barriers” at the border which will fund approximately 55 miles of fencing (a very small figure compared to the $5.7 billion Trump has been demanding for the wall). Republicans have described the amount as a “down payment” and have coined this phrase to help persuade the President to sign the bill to avoid another shutdown. The $1.375 billion is to be implemented with some guidelines: physical barriers refers to pedestrian and levee fencing along the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and there is no concrete allowed. Only the existing technologies can be used for the building of fencing and barriers. In total, there is supposed to be $22.5 billion allocated for border security: in addition to funds for 55 miles of physical barrier, funds for more border security agents, customs officers, immigration judges and technology to detect drugs and weapons. However, the overall number of detention beds (currently 49,057) is supposed to decline to 40,540 for the year. Federal workers are to receive a 1.9% pay raise and the US Census spending will increase by $1 billion (including $17 billion to improve infrastructure likes bridges, roads and airports). The spending package of the bill will also fund 8 other departments: commerce, housing and urban development, agriculture, interior, justice, state, transportation, and treasury.

Analysis
The declaration of a national emergency at the same time frame as the signing of the Congressional spending bill can be seen as a double-edged sword. This bill was essentially curated and promoted as a compromise  to avoid a second shutdown – in the interest of not harming many lives and jobs. However Trump was not  happy with said compromise. Despite Congressional  efforts to move past the funding for the wall,  Trump has had his eye set on obtaining the funds for the wall even if that meant signing the Congressional border security spending bill – his down payment – with the full intention of declaring a national emergency anyway. By seeking to draw down on government funding for his “national emergency” Trump also is usurping the power to appropriate funds that the Constitution states is reserved for Congress.

In violating the Constitution, Trump sent a message to America (and the world) that he will dodge and disregard various laws and regulations to get his way. Even if that means shutting down the government and declaring a national emergency for something that is not an imminent threat. Addressing this ‘humanitarian crisis’  in the way Trump intends wwill take possibly years of construction, agreements, and implementation. Thus, a national emergency that requires a time costly solution, is not a national emergency in its most basic definition at all.

Resistance Resources

  • Opposition – No Border Walls: a resource that provides cities, states and coalitions of organizations that have taken a stance against Trump’s wall.
  • Stop Trump’s Wall: a non-profit that opposes Trump’s wall that utilizes video submissions explaining why his wall is ineffective, not a good idea, bad for the environment, etc.
  • Sierra Club: a grassroots environmental organization that has sued the US government in opposition of the wall.

 

Photo by Aleksandar Popovski

A Peek into Trump Golf Resorts

A Peek into Trump Golf Resorts

Brief #63—Immigration

Policy
Trump Golf has employed a steady stream of illegal immigrants for years, but explained it away as the Trump Organization being a separate entity run by Trump’s eldest sons and having nothing to do with the President.

However there is no dispute that Trump’s “golf course was built by illegals,” claims a former employee. Supervisors have gone to lengths to conceal and shield illegal staff from being vetted by the secret service.  Trump’s golf course employees have been part of a network of  nearly 8 million unauthorized immigrants in the labor force, especially in the service sector and it has been sort of an “open secret” that unauthorized immigrants are a widely sought source of “cheap labor”. Employers in the service sector find that “undocumented workers often work the unpleasant, back breaking jobs that native born workers are not willing to do.” Many immigrants apply for jobs with fraudulent immigration papers or fake cards (like permanent resident, social security, etc)., yet are often equipped with an Individual Taxpayer Identification number that is issued by the IRS to foreigners to enable them to file taxes without being permanent residents.

Trump Golf has 19 properties all over the world, with 3 levels of membership and initiation fees begin at $200,000 (this increased by $100,000 when Trump was elected President in 2016). The original location was a 128-room mansion in Palm Beach that Trump bought in 1985 and turned into a private club in 1995; where annual fees now start at $14,000 with a minimum annual food spending of $2,000. In 2014, Trump made $15.6 Million from the club alone. All prospective members must be sponsored by an existing member and that member has to set up an appointment to connect the individuals – similar to the prestigious Soho House. Interestingly, there is no established comprehensive process for tracking visitors to the private club. Needless to say, a membership at any of the Trump resorts is financially only available to the extremely wealthy. There are currently nearly 500 paying members including real estate developers, wall street financiers, and energy executives, to name a few.

There has been no official evidence that Trump or the Trump organization were aware some of their employees were illegal citizens, but in 2018 the New Jersey club hired people who were in the country illegally and allegedly club managers were well aware of this fact. During President Trump’s campaign, he boasted about using E-Verify, an electronic verification system used to ensure that only individuals legally authorized to work in the US were hired. So how did this handful of illegal immigrants slip through the cracks? Previous employees said there was a two-tier system of employment, those who were legal and received benefits like health insurance and those who did not because they were illegal. Though on the surface, Eric Trump (President Trump’s son and the Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization) responded to CNN stating the organization was making a large effort to identify employees hired under false pretenses and terminate them immediately, citing this as an example of why his father is working so hard for immigration reform since the system is broken. Thus, in January, nearly a dozen employees were summoned to a meeting at the Westchester club and then fired – even some who had worked at the club for more than a decade.

Analysis
When Trump Golf originally opened its doors, it welcomed Jewish members, African-American members and gay couples who were banned from joining other Palm Beach clubs at the time, making for a geographically, religiously and ethnically diverse group – which seems a bit disconnected to Trump’s current policies. While the Trump Organization has gone out of its way to distinguish itself from the Trump White House, one cannot help but ponder the possibility that when it comes to business, exceptions are made to Trump’s routinely racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic remarks.

The individuals who have been recently released from Trump Golf – after many years – and chosen to come forth with their experiences paint a confusing and contradictory picture. Many are tired of the routine insults, neglect and disregard; while some account for normal and pleasant interactions with President Trump, even noting he is a big tipper. How can someone be persistently prejudice, yet turn a blind eye when it comes to business? Despite the lack of a clear connection between Trump Organization managers who were aware of employees hired under ‘false pretenses’ and the Executives (Trump’s sons) and Trump himself, it is plausible to think that those involved individuals just chose to turn a blind eye for the sake of the business. The reports that supervisors had gone out of their way to essentially protect their employees who could face dire legal repercussions for being in the country illegally makes it difficult to believe that Trump and his sons did not know.

Resistance Resources

  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • FWD.us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration reform.

This Brief was authored by Kathryn Baron. For inquiries, suggestions or comments email kathryn@usresistnews.org.

Photo by unsplash-logoMichele De Paola

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Trump’s Wall Explained

Trump’s Wall Explained

Brief #62—Immigration

Policy Summary
Before President Trump took office there were 654 miles of barrier; 354 miles to block individuals walking across the border and 300 miles of anti-vehicle fencing that cost roughly $7 Billion during the Bush Administration. Throughout Trump’s campaign he promised to build a wall along the entire 2,000 mile US Southern border, but later clarified that in reality it would only cover half of that due to mountains and rivers already in place. However, since taking office there has been zero construction on this notorious wall; and thus the current (and longest ever government shutdown in American history) government shutdown standoff has ensued. President Trump pledges that his wall is necessary to combat the “humanitarian and security crisis” Americans face at the border – and that the appropriate funding must be provided. In reality, there are only estimates on how much Trump’s wall would cost taxpayers and the government, no one knows exactly its price. According to Customs and Border Patrol, it is $6.5 Million per mile on average and thus could range from $12 Billion to $70 Billion to implement. Originally Trump wanted concrete, but is now talking about steel so border agents could see through the “artistically designed steel slats.” Despite what seemed to be an overwhelming amount of support for Trump’s wall during his campaign, in a recent poll, roughly 40% of voters actually support it still.

In practice, Trump needs more than just funding to execute his grand plan and begin construction. In addition to funds, he needs the power to seize property from unwilling owners through the use of eminent domain since less than 30% of the necessary land is actually owned by the federal government (yes, the remaining 70% is belongs to private owners, state governments, and Native American tribes). Therefore, construction and especially legal battles could drag on for years. If Trump were to use eminent domain, he would be setting a very dangerous precedent and threaten the property rights of thousands of Americans for generations (or presidential administrations) to come.

However President Trump has steadfastly refused to give up on his wall  First he began  threatening to use his emergency powers  to build the wall without Congressional approval. This would involve diverting military funds and seizing private property without congressional authorization. Trump’s Advisors warned that the government would face endless legal challenges if Trump were to do that.

At the end of December President vetoed  an immigration  bill signed by both branches of Congress because it did not contain funding for his wall. The shutdown lasted 35 days, the longest shutdown in government history. It caused untold harm to federal workers across the country and had a negative impact on the economy. On January 25th facing mounting pressure from many different parts of the country the President was forced to reopen the government, even though funds still have not been allocated to build his wall.

Policy Analysis
To prove the wall is necessary, Trump has cited drugs and illegal border crossings as the main reasons the wall is desired. He has claimed 90% of heroin comes across the US Southern border and that a wall would help the overall war on drugs. In 2017, just under 40% of heroin seizures were at the US-Mexico border and most of it is smuggled through legal ports of entry hidden in privately owned vehicles mixed with other goods. President Trump and particularly his xenophobic support base consider illegal crossings at the border to be a wildly out of control issue that undermines American customs, values, and presents a burden on the population. In Trump’s first year in office the US saw the lowest number of migrants since 1971 and the actual number of illegal border crossings has been on an overall decline since 2000. Most illegal immigration is from visa “overstayers” of which Canadians were shockingly the largest group in 2018 – not the “terrorists” among the Migrant Caravan.

No one can really predict the future to gauge if the wall would truly divide Mexico and the US – physically or metaphorically – but it has definitely divided America and serves as a symbol of attitudes towards demographic, cultural and economic change. In a recent poll, views on the wall have heavily correlated with attitudes towards race relations in the US.

Currently, the Senate took 2 key votes on January 24 on the ongoing government shutdown and Trump’s wall. Both failed to reach a solid conclusion, but Trump has agreed to re-open the government for 3 weeks before attempting again to reach a consensus.

In many regards, Trump’s wall serves as a symbol of exclusion and isolation, but social orders built on fear, hatred and injustice are bound to fall. Historically, walls were built to protect a city from attack, but today they serve little military purpose as planes/missiles can fly over them and a tank could smash through. Ultimately, fear is the driving force in constructing such a wall, and a related rise in nationalism in response to globalization, racism, threat of terrorism, etc. Such walls have failed in the past – or failed to serve their intended purposes – such as the Berlin Wall during the Cold War, France’s Maginot line in WWII, the Great Wall of China, and even the US’s barrier fences in the 1990s under President Clinton. People will go around, under, or overwhelm the wall – or even in the case of drugs, be smuggled through legal points of entry.

US immigration laws have been rooted in racism and exclusion for centuries. The first major one being the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was for all people of color in practice; followed by the National Origins Act of 1924 that allowed white, northern and western Europeans to migrate to the US while limiting everyone else. The latter led to the establishment of  the Border Patrol. Thus the entire concept of policing the US border has been founded upon racial exclusion and xenophobic tendencies.

Resistance Resources

  • Opposition – No Border Walls: An resource that provides cities, states and coalitions of organizations that have taken a stance against Trump’s wall.
  • Stop Trump’s Wall: a non-profit that opposes Trump’s wall that utilizes video submissions explaining why his wall is ineffective, not a good idea, bad for the environment, etc.
  • Sierra Club: a grassroots environmental organization that has sued the US government in opposition of the wall.

This Brief was authored by Kathryn Baron. For inquiries, suggestions or comments email kathryn@usresistnews.org.

Catch and Release: An Update on Asylum Seekers

Catch and Release: An Update on Asylum Seekers

Brief #61—Immigration

Policy
On November 9, the Trump Administration signed a policy that would temporarily bar migrants who illegally cross into the US through the Southern Border from attempting to seek asylum, unless they crossed through designated ports of entry. However, the Supreme Court has blocked this ban, despite 4 of t conservative justices  who  voted in favor of  it. In upholding the decision to prevent Trump’s ban, the Supreme Court, with Justice Roberts carrying the swing vote, says it  hopes the ruling will save lives and keep vulnerable families and individuals from unnecessary persecution.  The ruling also sends a signal that the intended asylum ban exceeds Trump’s statutory authority, regardless of how he portrays his seemingly limitless power.

The Refugee Act of 1980 stated that “any alien who is physically present in the US or who arrives in the US, whether or not at a designated port of entry…irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum.” Thus, Congress allowed individuals who could credibly claim they were fleeing persecution to apply for asylum in the US and shielded those fleeing persecution based on race, religion, or political beliefs. However, because it is not originally explicitly stated, the lack of languagd on individuals escaping violence or poverty created a loophole that those who strongly oppose such migration latch on to. Such a loophole has caused  a lot of back and forth between those who think the asylum laws in place are too loose and those who think individuals fleeing violence (whether gang or domestic) and poverty have credible enough reasons to seek asylum in the US. Many of the individuals who have come to the US – and continue to – with the migrant caravan from Central America are pre-dominantly fleeing various forms of violence and the lack of socioeconomic opportunity.

In the past, the practice of catch and release had been utilized by our government when there were smaller numbers of migrants and less widespread xenophobia. Catch and Release originally implied that a migrant would be released to the community while they awaited hearings in immigration court instead of being held in immigration detention. However,  immigration detention centers are filling up and the Trump Administration has fueled a deep rooted fear of immigrants in much of the President’s support base. So the administration is moving away from  catch and release  to the practice of catch and remain, meaning remain in Mexico. The Trump Administration and the President of Mexico recently announced a joint new policy called “remain in Mexico” which implies migrants will stay in Mexico while they wait for their petitions to process – which can take over a year. There is no concrete or clear plan laid out as to the housing and resources that would be made available to these migrants but that humanitarian visas and work permits would be provided by Mexico.

Analysis
The proposed waiting period in Mexico leaves many people extremely vulnerable and can endanger more lives and cause more harm than good if not executed properly. Migrants kept waiting in a foreign land with no permanent home of their own are in a vulnerable position. Individuals who have been helping the migrant caravan as they pass through have been a huge help providing food and water; but on  migrants in transit also are exposed to potentially violent bandits and robbers looking to exploit such individuals. Additionally, given the hostile relations between President Trump and leaders of the Mexican government, using Mexico as a waiting room for those who intend to continue on to seek asylum in the US, is bound to cause tension.

Resistance Resources

  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • FWD.us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration reform.

This Brief was authored by Kathryn Baron. For inquiries, suggestions or comments email kathryn@usresistnews.org.

Photo by Martino Pietropoli

Immigration Policy Updates

Immigration Policy Updates

Brief #59—Immigration

Policy
During the past week, when many Americans gave thanks for their blessings, those making their way to the southern US border were faced with continuing hostility and exclusion. President Trump invoked similar rhetoric he used to impose the travel ban on countries with dominantly Muslim populations, in his most recent attempts to ban asylum to all individuals who cross the border illegally. A federal judge from San Francisco temporarily blocked the government from denying asylum to those crossing the southern border between ports of entry, which led to Trump criticizing the Justice Department for appealing his request as being biased and an “Obama judge.” President Trump made claims that these measures were necessary ahead of the arrival of the Migrant Caravan from Central America, as such asylum seekers had no “lawful basis for admission into our country.”

Upon arrival at the southern US border, the Migrant Caravan was met with tear gas, as they attempted to cross as a large crowd; men, women, and children alike. US Customs and Border Protection – those that are policing the border – claim their personnel had been assaulted and hit by stones, while immigrants on the other side claim stones were thrown after “a person got hit [tear gas] and a lot of kids fainted.” President Trump defended his use of tear gas stating “here’s the bottom line: Nobody’s coming into our country unless they come in legally,” and further justifying it by saying the tear gas used was a “very minor form” and that it was “very safe.”

When confronted about the various images of women and children running from the tear gas circulating the media, Trump responds curtly questioning why these individuals are even there and why they would be running up into an area where tear gas is forming and knowingly putting children at risk. He also notes that in some cases, these ‘parents’ are not parents at all, but ‘grabbers’ – individuals who “grab a child because they think they’ll have a certain status by having a child.” He questions why an adult would put a child in such a precarious situation after claiming the tear gas was actually “very safe,” when the real question should be, why is there tear gas. Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, essentially backs him up by accusing Migrant Caravan organizers of using women and children as “human shields” and thus “putting vulnerable people in harm’s way.” Well, why is there “harm’s way?”

Analysis
The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the use of tear gas in war, but allows it for domestic law enforcement purposes, perhaps to respect the law of sovereignty. According to the Centers for Disease Control, tear gas can cause blurred vision, choking, shortness of breath, coughing, burning and swelling of the nose. And some journalists said it was very painful even from a notable distance away, using the terms “tear gas” and “very safe” in one sentence sounds like an oxymoron. Even if the use of tear gas was solely to invoke fear and there was no risk of bodily harm, it still contradicts the language used by both President Trump and Secretary Nielson on the subject matter: “harm’s way,” (so it is not benign) “very safe” (as opposed to dangerous?), “human shields,” etc.

This occurrence in conjunction with Trump’s push for the asylum ban, raises alarming flags about his disregard for separation of powers, the division of government responsibilities into separate branches of the government so no one branch holds supreme power, is an important distinction between democracies and authoritarian governments.

Resistance Resources

  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • FWD.us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration reform.

This Brief was authored by Kathryn Baron. For inquiries, suggestions or comments email kathryn@usresistnews.org.

Photo by Dan Gold

DACA: an update on our Dreamers

DACA: an update on our Dreamers

Brief #57—Immigration

Policy

In September 2018, the Trump Administration made known they would like to put an end to the DACA program. DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) was an executive action under the Obama Administration that allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the US under the age of 16 to apply for protection from deportation. After background checks, they were issued renewable 2-year permits to work and study in the US; revocable if recipients commit crimes or fail to prove they are working/studying in the US. Earlier this month, Trump claimed that nearly 800,000 of these “dreamers” have taken advantage of DACA and if Congress does not take action, he will end the program in 6 months. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 690,000 immigrants are enrolled in DACA and could face deportation if and when their work permits expire. Almost as high as Trump’s claims, a cool 787,580 people had been granted DACA status between August 2012 to March 2017, but 39,514 of those “nearly 800,000” had become legal permanent residents and 1,056 became US citizens. Only 2,139 individuals have had their DACA status revoked, which has led many to still believe in the program.

There is a chance that Trump could be found guilty of violating the Constitution’s equal protection clause by his abrupt attempt to rescind the program, based on its unequal yet substantial impact on Latinos. In the meantime, the Federal Courts have ruled that the administration must resume receiving DACA renewal applications, but only from those who have previously received DACA protections; no new ones. All existing permits are to be honored of their individual 2 year expiration dates, despite the March 5 end date recently established by the Trump Administration.

Analysis

Like many of Trump’s anti-immigration arguments, opposers of DACA believe that such a program only encourages illegal immigration. Migrants who come to the US seeking better economic opportunities, a stronger education, etc., rather than wealthy individuals coming to work in the US or even fleeing a threatening regime are labeled as burdens of society and are met at the border with hostility. Which makes for a very transactional view on immigration; those who appear to contribute greatly to society (economically, mostly) are more valued and welcomed.

With this mindset, the American Dream, is easily swept under the rug and our Dreamers are valued based on their potential future contributions. Many of whom came to the US so young they do not have memories of a different home, and just like those born here, they dream too.

Resistance Resources

  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • FWD.us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration reform.

This Brief was authored by Kathryn Baron. For inquiries, suggestions or comments email kathryn@usresistnews.org.

Photo by rob walsh

Trump Wants to Call the Shots on Asylum Seekers

Trump Wants to Call the Shots on Asylum Seekers

Brief #58—Immigration

Policy Summary
In addition to the Trump Administration’s announcement of rolling back DACA (see Brief #57), they have recently announced new rules that give President Trump vast authority to deny asylum to virtually any migrant who crosses illegally. Trump specifically intends to deny asylum to the 7,000-10,000 migrants from Central America as they begin arriving in clusters from the Migrant Caravan (see Brief #56). If migrants do not enter through a designated port of entry, they will be “apprehended, detained and deported” unless they can prove they will be tortured if they are sent home. To some of the American public who have been following Trump’s far-fetched plans for reform, this might sound like similar rhetoric used to support the travel ban early in Trump’s presidency.

Though Trump wants to firmly establish a norm that individuals who cross the border illegally will be stripped of their eligibility to receive asylum in the US, many oppose and are challenging the Administrations most recent order. The ACLU has sued to block the new restrictions, calling the case “the asylum ban.” Other NGOs have resorted to referring to international law and the early origins of America as a nation that lends a hand to refugees and asylum seekers. Trump’s new order would violate international law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and a founding principle of federal asylum in which any individual can apply for asylum regardless of where or how they entered the country and that each case is judged individually.

Analysis
The Trump Administration’s new order to revoke the rights of migrants the opportunity to seek asylum is yet another action taken with the goal of eliminating and strengthening the existing ‘weak’ immigration laws, as he has constantly reiterated throughout his campaign and presidency. This new order only further proves his commitment to propelling an anti-immigrant and anti-refugee daily agenda. Throughout the recent midterm elections, Trump has focused on the migrant caravan and posing them as a threat to the American public, continuously calling them an “invasion” and “dangerous.” By focusing on something as trivial as port of entry – in the larger picture of seeking refuge – he poses migrants as the law breakers, and those who do not follow the rules and turn themselves in at the border – a designated point of entry – and that they deserve to be stripped of their right to seek asylum. Referring to Trump’s track record of his treatment of migrants at the border, the point of entry does not seem to be the real issue but rather the concept of migration as a whole.

Resistance Resources

    • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
    • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
    • FWD.us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration reform.

Photo by rawpixel

Migrant Caravan: the Newest Attempt to Achieve the American Dream

Migrant Caravan: the Newest Attempt to Achieve the American Dream

Policy Summary
Migrants from Central America have banded together on their quest for a better life through what has become known as the “migrant caravan,” that began in Honduras on October 12. The numbers of migrants have fluctuated, but it has been consistently in the thousands. Some have had to veer off as nervousness and exhaustion contribute to anxiety and paranoia, as well as physical ailments: sickness, dehydration, sore throats, respiratory infections, blistered feet, pink eye, etc. News of the caravan spread throughout Central America through Facebook and local tv stations, appealing to men, women, families and the elderly. Most are from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and now also Mexico.  People joined the caravan to flee poverty, drug and domestic violence, and political unrest.  Travelling as such a big group offers a form of protection against bandits who target migrants for kidnap, extortion and/or rape, while also saving many migrants from having to pay people smugglers to get through borders.

Upon reaching Mexico, some people have provided water, food, clothes and even ice cream to passing migrants. In the town of Huixtla, a restaurant owner served 200 plates of beans, rice and tortillas to the group. The journey is through essentially 90 degree weather and occasional heavy rains – so access to food and water are of the essence. One woman from Honduras felt that crossing the border into the US (legally or illegally) even if it resulted in long detention would be better than the Honduran misery she left behind, and expressed that “we prefer to die on the American border than die in Honduras from hunger.” Though, for others the journey has been very taxing. Of the ever-growing group, 1,699 people (Hondurans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Salvadorians) have applied for asylum in Mexico and 495 Hondurans have asked to be repatriated thus far, as the journey is very taxing.

Mexico has now put in place checkpoints throughout the country because of the caravan, which forces them to take longer and more dangerous routes. Some have considered going towards California rather than Texas in hopes they will be more receiving.  Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto launched a program called “You Are Home” that promises shelter, medical attention, schooling and jobs to Central Americans who agree to stay instead of trekking on to the US. Most migrants rejected the plan, but would re-evaluate once they got to Mexico City as many of the members of the group have said once they make it to the border they are likely to turn themselves to the authorities and claim asylum (though, a few young men have said they will cross illegally if needed). But some (pregnant women, children and the elderly) did agree and were issued ID’s that allow them to stay and work in Mexico.

President Trump has said he will not let caravan members in, but the US is legally obligated to consider asylum seekers. If they pass the first step of asylum process, called the “credible fear interview” they will be held in detention or released in the US and face immigration court in months or years – or else they will be deported. He has also stated that as of now, foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador will be severely reduced or stopped altogether. Earlier this year, Trump had spread out 2,100 National Guard Soldiers along the US Southern border, and plans to send 800 troops to the US-Mexico border to confront the caravan.

Analysis
To further invoke xenophobia to the Republican voting base, Trump has insinuated that the caravan members were a part of gangs and that “middle easterners” were included in the mix. Not only is this false, but it appeals to the American voters who have channeled a deep hatred for Muslims and the Middle East as a reason to condemn immigration to the United States, just before the Midterm Elections. In addition, the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernandez told Mike Pence that the Venezuelan government was financing the journey, but no proof or indications have been made on that claim. In continuing to provide false allegations and rumors surrounding the caravan, the American public receive a very filtered view of the group and in turn respond with fear, rejection and ultimately hostility. The American public has been trained to view “outsiders” as intrusive, exploitative, and malicious over the course of 2018 through Trump’s aggressive and ruthless immigration crackdowns and policies. Decades of gang violence, corruption, destitution and lack of basic civil freedoms are most prominent in parts of the world that suffer from post-colonialism and/or outside governance, even if minutely. Due to corruption, inefficient distribution of foreign aid (or lack of appropriate foreign aid) and wealth and improper use of resources, Central America’s poorest citizens are forced to leave their homeland to seek economic stability and escape oppression.

Resistance Resources

  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • FWD.us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration reform.

This Brief was authored by Kathryn Baron. For inquiries, suggestions or comments email kathryn@usresistnews.org.

Photo by Drew Farwell

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