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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.

Latest Immigration Posts

 

Trump Continues to Deport Infected Migrants

Brief #96—Immigration
By Kathryn Baron
Amidst the global lockdowns as a result of COVID-19, the Trump Administration deported 76 migrants on a plane to Guatemala in March. Of those 76 individuals, 71 had tested positive for COVID-19. Guatemala currently links about a fifth of their confirmed cases to those 71 individuals.

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Nearly Half a Million Immigrants Face Deportation – The End of Temporary Protected Status

Nearly Half a Million Immigrants Face Deportation – The End of Temporary Protected Status

Policy Summary

In Los Angeles a Federal Appeals Court ruled the Trump Administration acted lawfully in terminating the Temporary Protected Status of hundreds of thousands of immigrants. These protections have allowed immigrants to live and work in the US after fleeing conflict and/or natural disasters in their home countries. The recent 2-1 ruling strips the legal immigration status from at least 400,000 individuals of Salvadorian origin, thus rendering them deportable if they do not leave voluntarily. Other countries that fall under TPS include Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Nicaragua, Nepal, Honduras, Haiti, and Yemen.

Analysis
Beneficiaries of the program have about 200,000 US born children, so families could again be separated. More than 100,000 of the protected individuals work in essential fields: healthcare (at least 11,000), food-related (at least 76,000). The deportation of these migrants could negatively impact several aspects of the US economy and health system. However, if President Trump is not re-elected, the new administration may choose to uphold and continue the program.

Engagement Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • 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.
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
Wolf and Cuccinelli Unlawfully Occupy their Senior Roles at DHS

Wolf and Cuccinelli Unlawfully Occupy their Senior Roles at DHS

August 24, 2020

Policy Summary

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent investigative branch of Congress, has recently declared Ken Cuccinelli and Chad Wolf to be  ineligible to serve in their current positions. The Department of Homeland Security has not had a properly appointed leader since the resignation of Kjiersten Nielsen in April 2019. Under the Vacancies Reform Act, Wolf and Cuccinelli – the Acting Secretary of DHS and Acting Deputy, respectively, are unlawfully serving due to an “invalid order of succession.” The Vacancies Reform Act requires that temporary government appointments must be confirmed by the Senate. Legally, according to the GAO, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency should have succeeded Nielsen. Instead, Kevin McAleenan – at the time, head of US Customs and Border Protection – was appointed by President Trump. Once appointed, he altered the order of succession so Wolf and Cuccinelli would have a path to their current roles.

The GAO is referring the matter to DHS Inspector General for review and if further actions need to be taken, the issue will be passed on to Congress. Department of Homeland Security was quick to defend with a statement disagreeing with the GAO announcementThey states that President Trump has made clear he prefers when senior officials serve in an acting capacity because it “gives [him] great, great flexibility.” None of the three major immigration agencies (CBP, ICE, or USCIS) have a Senate-confirmed leader.

Analysis

Trump’s affinity to appointing senior officials in an acting capacity exemplifies his blatant disregard for procedural dignity and heightens the culture of nepotism in the Trump Administration. Since the majority of Trump’s original fanbase has proven they are largely supportive of his anti-immigration efforts, regardless of the morality or procedures, it is unlikely the matter will be swiftly and justly prosecuted without a thorough investigation by the DHS Inspector General and pressure from Congress.

Engagement Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • 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.
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses.
A Summary and Review of Netflix’s Immigration Nation

A Summary and Review of Netflix’s Immigration Nation

By Kathryn Baron

Summary

In 2017, co-directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwartz began filming a six-part Netflix docuseries called Immigration Nation. The Trump Administration reportedly tried to block the use of some footage in the film as it takes on a very direct and overt portrait of the US immigration system. Time described it as “empathetic storytelling and bold investigative journalism.” Throughout the docuseries, there is an overwhelming presence of cognitive dissonance in which immigration officials perpetually carry a “just following orders” and “it’s not up to me” attitude. By presenting case studies of individuals, families, and asylum seekers, Clusiau and Schwartz envelope the heavy day to day of the US immigration system while ensuring the viewers are exposed to the cruelties and dissociation that also occurs daily. Some of the individuals in the docuseries are a father separated from his 3-year old son – and wants to know “where are the good Americans?” – migrants freezing to death in the desert on their journey, a grandmother and granddaughter who fled after MS-13 attempted to force the 12-year old granddaughter into marriage, and a Ugandan woman whose husband sent men to pour acid on her after they separated.

The docuseries opened with a case for a man to be deported and upon arrest, no warrant was presented to the family, but instead, his wife was told to just believe they had a warrant when asked but were not required to show her. While in the holding cell, officers were very condescending and took a cell-phone video in mockery of him. Throughout the docuseries, there were a plethora of micro-aggressions and jokes made among officers at immigrants’ expense. Signs on the walls read “never turn your back on a prisoner!!!!!!!!!!” In another case of “precision policing” – the specific way in which many ICE officers said they target and arrest individuals – there were many people inside of the man in question’s apartment who all were taken in as “collateral.” During the Trump Administration, privatized ICE detention centers flourished and nearly all personability was lost. One deportation officer recounted nonchalantly a story of him buying coffee and a donut from a young man who kept questioning if the officer remembered him. The officer had no idea who he was until the young man told him the officer had deported his mother just the week prior. The officer laughed this off during his storytelling and explained that he upholds an “onto the next” attitude in his work.

Lastly, Immigration Nation covered the deportation of veterans – made possible during the Clinton Administration – and “wage theft” – in which many employers refuse to pay undocumented immigrants for their work. Through these cases, Clusiau and Schwartz show how  persistent and systematic rejection wore down many immigrants and broke their spirits causing them to lose hope in the “American Dream.”

It was made abundantly clear that for some law enforcement, their job was viewed as a “manhunt” and this quality is what contributed to the thrill and satisfaction they sought when entering law enforcement. Particularly officers of the ICE Fugitive Operations branch – the deportation officers locating, arresting, and removing fugitive migrants – and Homeland Security Investigation – which pursues organized criminal activity like human, arms, and drug smuggling. When ICE was established in 2003, there were 8 units. Now, there are 129 and the Trump Administration has successfully weaponized the immigration system and more than doubled the number of arrests. When asked if it is humane, Thomas Homan – former Acting Director of ICE – replied with “I think it is the law” while averting eye contact and fidgeting for a response.  The docuseries focuses in large part on the Trump Administration but ensures the audience that Trump has exacerbated an existing issue. The acceleration the Trump Administration needed to carry out mass arrests and deportations were built upon the momentum set forth during the Bush Administration in the post-9/11 era that weaponized and instilled fear in the American public re foreigners. The system is discouraging by design as a conscious strategy of prevention-through-deterrence is employed in a dismissive and detached manner. Regardless of growing global opposition, the Trump Administration does not recoil and instead creates physical and legal barriers.

Resistance  Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • 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.
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
Trump Signs Memorandum to Exclude Immigrants from US Census

Trump Signs Memorandum to Exclude Immigrants from US Census

Policy Summary

On July 21, President Trump signed a Memorandum that would exclude undocumented immigrants from the US Census. Congressional districts are set to be redrawn in 2021, so this effectively bars undocumented immigrants from being included in this count. Persuading immigrant communities to partake in the US Census has been a battle and many civil rights groups expressed that  only recently were they able to communicate the benefits of the US Census to immigrants many of whom are suspicious about filling out the Census form.

President Trump attempted in 2019 to include a question on the US Census where individuals were to disclose if they were in the US legally (legal immigration or citizen) or illegally. This was shut down, but the Trump Administration has been relentless in its anti-immigration endeavors.  Trump will have reduced legal immigration by 49% next year if current policies continue. The ACLU and CASA have already made statements about their plans to take Trump’s order to court and challenge the Memorandum as unconstitutional. According to the US Constitution, Congressional Representation is to be determined based on “the whole number of free persons” not only those who are American citizens. While, this basis is outdated and overtly still a slavery-era provision, it explicitly dictates immigrants’ rights to be included in the Congressional redrawing of districts to occur in 2021.

Analysis

Weaponizing the US Census will harm employers and the national economy as well as immigrant communities. The US labor force and our economic growth is intrinsically tied to migrant workers ability to live and work in the US. If the anti-immigration policies continue, the average annual labor force growth is on track to lower by 59%. During a global pandemic that has undoubtedly rocked the US medical system, economy, and academic institutions, this decline would only further US economic depression and unemployment.

Engagement Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • 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.
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
Nearly Half a Million Immigrants Face Deportation – The End of Temporary Protected Status

ICE Rescinds Order to Deport International Students – an Update to Brief #98

July 17, 2020

Policy Summary

The July 6 Directive from the Trump Administration covered in Brief 98 faced immediate backlash and swift legal action by institutions of higher learning, municipalities, and tech companies. Within two days, Harvard and MIT sued the government in Federal Court to have the Directive reversed and declared unlawful, touting it “arbitrary and capricious.” Many colleges and universities expressed their support for the legal challenge and hoped for a similar outcome. Several schools had begun to adapt their fall semester plans with the original Directive in mind in a fashion that would retain their international students, such as hybrid instruction as well as offering one-on-one sessions for international students. Last week, the Administration agreed to rescind their original directive and implementation and changed the ICE rule.

Analysis

As expressed in Brief 98, international students not only enrich the American higher learning system, but also play a large financial role in funding the institutions. As a result of the original Directive, professors and educators across a wide array of institutions began planning their learning around the Directive in a way that would ensure their international students would still be able to receive instruction in the US. These institutions had not only a financial prerogative to enlist hybrid learning styles, but a moral one as well. The reversal of the Directive further proves the important role education plays in the American Dream as well as the power of academic institutions to keep that dream alive.

Engagement Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • World Health Organization: the WHO provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and global responses
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
Trump Administration to Send Home International Students

Trump Administration to Send Home International Students

Policy Summary

The Trump Administration and ICE have announced the State Department will not issue visas to international students who are enrolled in colleges/universities that switch to online learning come fall semester. Customs and Border Protection will enforce these changes and prevent such students from entering the US. International students who currently reside in the US will have to return home or transfer to an institution that has some in-person learning. Failure to comply could result in removal proceedings. Many schools are grappling with the tough decision to re-open their campuses amidst increasing COVID-19 infections. They now are looking at potentially losing international student enrollment. Elite institutions like Harvard and Princeton have made plans to adhere to remote learning for the upcoming school year, but still bring back up to 40% of undergrads to campus. However, this will no longer include international students.

In 2019, more than one million international students studied at American institutions and about 57% of international students were comprise of Chinese, Indian, and South Korean students.

Analysis

The Association of International Educators estimates international students studying in the US contribute $41 billion to the US economy. They bring diversity to campuses, drive innovation, global competitiveness, and prepare domestic students for increasingly globalized work environments. State schools rely pretty heavily on tuition and fee revenue, so the potential loss of international student enrollment could be detrimental. The US higher education system cannot afford to lose these students financially, academically, and ethically. These changes will hurt students, schools and the US economy and the negative outcome will far outweigh the false positives the Trump Administration touts to its xenophobic support base.

Engagement Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • World Health Organization: the WHO provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and global responses
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
Trump Administration to Freeze Immigrant Work Visas Through Remainder of 2020

Trump Administration to Freeze Immigrant Work Visas Through Remainder of 2020

Policy Summary

Earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced they would place a pause on Green Cards and most categories of work visas through the remainder of 2020. Through an Executive Order, President Trump will temporarily freeze H-1B visas – which includes several visas for non-immigrant workers in specialty occupations and their dependents – for highly skilled workers. Even foreign medical workers will not be granted a work visa unless they are specifically working on COVID-19 research and/or care. These restrictions would exempt food-service workers and immigrants already living and working in the US.

The Trump Administration boasts the action of this Executive Order would allow Americans to obtain the 525,000 jobs taken by foreign workers over the course of the year. They have argued this tactic is necessary, especially amidst a historic period of American unemployment as a result of COVID-19 lockdown. The technology, landscaping, and forestry sector will be particularly affected by this Executive Order.

The Trump Administration has not yet made any remarks about how asylum seekers will financially support themselves while awaiting a court decision. With the changes surrounding work visas, it is probable that migrants and asylum seekers would not necessarily be deterred but rather forced to make money illegally or to support themselves while awaiting a decision or provide “free” labor and receive a slighted compensation. Many Republicans have considered this a victory for the “immigration hawks” in the White House.

Analysis

The H-1B visas have been an effective mechanism for supporting the US economy. Many brilliant scientists, technology specialists, medical researchers, and others come to the US on H-1B visas and contribute expertise in their field while working in the US. Though President The US economy is facing a severe recession and high unemployment rates. Drastically cutting the flow of immigrant expertise  may not be the best answer to this crisis. Doing so operates on the assumption that all immigrants are taking “American jobs” rather than acknowledging the reality behind America’s historic economic success and the role immigrants and foreign workers play – whether it is in low-skilled or extremely specialized jobs. Such an Executive Order only furthers the xenophobic Trump agenda and hinders  the socioeconomic and political contributions immigrants can and have made to the US.

Resistance  Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • World Health Organization: the WHO provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and global responses
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
Trump Continues to Deport Infected Migrants

Trump Continues to Deport Infected Migrants

Policy

Amidst the global lockdowns as a result of COVID-19, the Trump Administration deported 76 migrants on a plane to Guatemala in March. Of those 76 individuals, 71 had tested positive for COVID-19. Guatemala currently links about a fifth of their confirmed cases to those 71 individuals. They have since temporarily suspended accepting deportation flights, though President Trump has threatened to impose penalties on countries who deny or delay the acceptance of deportees.

The Trump Administration had previously  shut national borders to all migrants and asylum seekers to avert serious danger of the spread of COVID-19 from abroad (See USRN Immigration Brief 94 ) The US now has the largest number of cases in the world and continues to deport thousands of immigrants, many of whom are infected and en route to countries that are ill equipped to cope with a mass outbreak. However, the deportation flights have persisted to countries like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Brazil, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Jamaica.

Analysis

Many Democrats had pushed for the release of migrants held in detention centers (which have become Covid-19 incubators) and suspension of deportations early in the Pandemic. The United Nations and human rights organizations have urged for this as well in addition to calling on governments to suspend forced returns as of May 13 to reduce serious health risks. While the xenophobic Trump Administration has placed emphasis on the dangers of communicable diseases infecting Americans from abroad, COVID-19 has rapidly spread within the United States and purposely deporting infected migrants is inhumane and unethical.

Engagement Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • World Health Organization: the WHO provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and global responses
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
Victory Ruling on DACA Status by the Supreme Court

Victory Ruling on DACA Status by the Supreme Court

Policy Summary

On June 18, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court denied the Trump Administration’s longstanding endeavor to dismantle the Obama era immigration program that allowed nearly 700,000 young people to remain in the US and avoid deportation. The program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows enrollees, “Dreamers,” to work, study, and remain in the US on a two-year renewable permit. Nearly 30,000 Dreamers work in health care and have been essential during the COVID-19 pandemic and 90% of Dreamers are employed and contribute greatly to the American economy. The Supreme Court addressed the Trump Administration’s failure to legally comply with the procedural requirements that it provide a reasoned explanation for its actions; this hubris enabled the Republican majority court to be more inclined to rule against the Trump Administration.

President Trump touted the decision as a “shotgun blast” into the faces of proud Republicans. He tweeted “we need more Justices or we will lose our second amendment [which is the right to bear arms] and everything else.” He has since promised to disclose a list of Conservative Judges to replace the current sitting Justices for his second term, should he be re-elected. Among many other progressives in the Court and legislature, the former Vice President and future Democratic Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden, called the ruling a victory.

Analysis:
In some capacity, this decision came as a shock due to the Republican majority of the court but serves as an unmistakable reminder that the Trump Administration cannot be exempt from the Rule of Law and official procedures. The Trump Administration has sought to dismantle and curate a more stringent policy towards immigration from its inception. The efforts to reverse the DACA program were amongst its greatest aspirations and the Supreme Court judgment firmly asserts the American Dream and core values are more important than acquiescing to a bigoted and xenophobic administration.

Engagement Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • World Health Organization: the WHO provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and global responses
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
Trump Administration Policies Help Spread Covid-19 to Central America

Trump Administration Policies Help Spread Covid-19 to Central America

Policy Summary
Since March, the Trump Administration has expelled almost 10,000 migrants using emergency public health measures that have granted US Customs and Border Protection temporary authority to bypass immigration laws. There are now fewer than 100 migrants in federal custody.

In April, forty-four migrants on a deportation flight from the US to Guatemala tested positive for COVID-19. Prior, there were only 800 confirmed cases total in all three Northern Triangle countries. Within Guatemala there are two major urban hospitals and smaller regional facilities. Their capacity to handle a potential outbreak as a result of these forty-four confirmed cases is extremely limited. The Mexican government has since agreed to accept the rapid return of migrants from Mexico and the Northern Triangle, according to a recent agreement with the Trump Administration. However, it is unclear how sustainable this plan would be given the large volume of migrants the US has been deporting.

Analysis

The US is bound to the customary international law principle of non-refoulement (the practice of not forcing refugees or immigrants to return to a country where they are subject to persecution). Due to these rapid return measure the Trump Administration has employed since lockdown, migrants are now not only unable to claim asylum and/or other forms of humanitarian protections but are also being expelled to countries in which they fear persecution.

Additionally, the US has almost directly spread the pandemic in Guatemala, where their health system is severely hindered and could cost many individuals their lives. Many of the forty-four deported migrants showed symptoms prior to boarding their flights. Knowingly spreading the virus to an incapacitated region, is not only unethical, but a careless way to attempt to reduce the number of confirmed cases in the US by expelling migrants.

Engagement Resources

  • 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.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • World Health Organization: the WHO provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and global responses
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
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