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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

 

An Update on Migrant Children in Detention

An Update on Migrant Children in Detention

Policy Summary
In a facility in Homestead, Florida some migrant children are held for many months at a time – including some cases of 6 months. Artwork by the children decorate the building walls with uplifting sentiments like “I have a dream” in Spanish, and “through these doors walk the greatest people in the world!” The facility is a temporary shelter and on federal land next to an Air Reserve Base, so it is unlicensed and not required to follow state child welfare standards.

As is, the facility violates many child welfare standards due to its prison camp nature. There are several cases of children suffering from tremendous psychological self- harm and suicidal thoughts/tendencies. The children wear wristbands that track their movement, walk in single-file lines, and require permission for everything including using the bathroom and obtaining water. Staff members accompany minors almost everywhere and periodically search their rooms. Everyone is allotted 5 minutes to shower, 15 to eat, and are allowed to talk to their family members on the phone twice a week for 10 minutes at a time.

The facility is run by Comprehensive Health Services, Inc., which is a private, for-profit company with a growing line of business in housing immigrant children. It costs approximately $250 per day to house a migrant child at a standard, permanent shelter, so in total at Homestead it is roughly $1.2 million per day. In Homestead, 1,600 migrant children are housed and 250 additional beds have been installed in the last 2 months so they can soon house 2,350 children. Some of the children were separated from their families during Trump’s Zero Tolerance last year, but most crossed alone with the intention of reuniting with a parent or close relative in the US.

Due to an influx of unaccompanied children and a lack of funding to match, unaccompanied children in government detention centers will no longer have English classes, recreational programs or legal aid according to the Department of Health and Human Services because they are not ‘directly necessary for the protection of life and safety.’ However, under the terms of the 1997 Flores court settlement, immigrant children in custody must be taught English 5 days a week and have at least 1 hour of recreational time each day.

Analysis
For the most part, international human rights norms do not encourage nations to jail asylum seekers in any capacity. It is a choice that the Trump Administration has chosen to make. Many immigrant advocates fault poor case management for the lengthy stays many migrant children face. One could argue that, once again, the Trump Administration is using vulnerable children as bargaining chips to secure funds from Congress and demand quick responses.

Educational/language classes and recreational activities are crucial to maintaining physical and mental health while migrant children are in government custody. If the Trump Administration strips them of these basic necessities, it is stripping these vulnerable children of their dignity and humanity, reducing them to being treated like sub-human prisoners. Furthermore, depriving children of legal aid is teetering on the line of setting these children up for failure. Many do not speak English (well) nor do they understand the US legal system enough to make informed decisions without guidance. Legal aids are helpful in making decisions best for the young individuals, telling them when and where to show up for court hearings, and what to do with the lengthy and complicated information presented to them in a language even some of their adult counterparts are not familiar with.

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.
  • Kids in Need of Defense: an organization that promotes the protection of children as they migrate alone in search of safety and ensuring children’s rights are upheld and respected.

Photo by Johnny Wall

Trump & Kushner Propose Merit Based Visas

Trump & Kushner Propose Merit Based Visas

Policy Summary
President Trump recently announced a tentative immigration proposal spearheaded by Jared Kushner, his senior advisor and son-in-law. While there are no concrete courses of action outlined in the proposal, the idea is to revamp the visa system and redistribute annual visas based on ‘merit.’ Kushner and Trump want to recruit ‘top talent’ and judge grant visas to individuals with high employability like language capacity and education. Roughly 1 million people receive visas in the US per year and 12% of them are granted based on Trump’s definition of ‘merit.’ Whereas nearly 66% of green cards are issued to those with family ties – First Lady included. The White House wants to flip this distribution without lowering the overall number of visas granted in attempts to limit chain migration – a practice in which individuals are granted citizenship after a certain amount of time being sponsored by a US citizen who often has a familial tie in some capacity – and promote talent based immigration.

This proposal has not been wildly popular among either Party for various reasons. There is a lack of actual structure and identifiable plans within the proposal to turn it into law and it makes no mention of the existing immigrants who live here illegally or the reduction of immigration rates, which Conservatives eagerly await. Democrats see a huge gap in the proposal as it also fails to address a plan of action for DACA recipients, or ‘Dreamers’ as they are affectionately called. Trump had previously wanted to end the program and his lack of acknowledgement of existing immigration matters has left many on Capitol Hill weary, frustrated, and ultimately confused.

Analysis
In his speech, Trump claimed the plan was ‘pro-American, pro-immigrant and pro-worker’ and that the existing system discriminates against ‘genius’ and excessively favors family migration. While, this may seem like a trivial sentiment, it is a rather confusing statement given previous rhetoric surrounding immigration. In the context of the Trump Administration’s previous negative attitudes towards immigration, ‘pro-American’ and ‘pro-immigrant’ come off as contradictory statements.

Nancy Pelosi and many others agree that ‘merit’ is a condescending, umbrella term that could imply those who immigrated with family ties, illegally, or to work blue-collar jobs lack the credibility and respect individuals with ‘merit’ should receive. While, it is in every nation’s best interest to grant visas to individuals who may contribute to its economy, overlooking several components to immigration by overly focusing/selling employability based visas is not exactly a solution to existing issues either. Perhaps, rather than an ambitious switch of the distribution of visas, it is more practical to aim to increase the number of ‘merit’ visas without making it the majority.

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 unsplash-logoDavid Everett Strickler

Pentagon Diverts Military Funds for Trump’s Wall

Pentagon Diverts Military Funds for Trump’s Wall

Policy Summary
In response to the surge of apprehended migrants at the US Southern Border in recent months, swamped border officials have been hoping for more funding and government support. The Pentagon recently announced that they will be diverting funds from various military operations and programs towards contributing to Trump’s wall along the US Southern Border.  Roughly $1.5 billion will be directed towards Trump’s wall from programs like surveillance plane systems, InterContinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), and Airborne Warning and Control Systems that go alongside ICBMs (AWACS). Of the $1.5 billion, $604 million will come from the Afghan Security Forces Fund, $344 million will be from the Air Force, and $251 million from a project that was intended to destroy chemical agents in compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993) ban of chemical weapons. In addition to the pledged $1.5 billion, there will be an additional $1 billion of Army personnel funds and $3.6 billion from military construction projects potentially diverted as well. The acting Defense Secretary, Patrick Shanahan, has confirmed diverting the funds will not impact military readiness.

Analysis
This monetary diversion comes shortly after the Army’s personnel budget freed up $1 billion that the Defense Department transferred to wall construction in March.  There are no official laws in place that bar Secretary Shanahan from diverting these funds, but moving forward it could pose difficulties  for the Defense Department the next time military leaders go to Capitol Hill to seek additional funding. The diversion of these funds also proves the Trump Administration  isruthless in their single-track goal of building an essentially, negatively symbolic yet useless wall.

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 unsplash-logoIlario Piatti

White House Demands Additional Funds for Southern Border

White House Demands Additional Funds for Southern Border

Policy Summary

The White House has recently asked Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency funds for the US Southern Border. Of this $4.5 billion, $3.3 billion would be dedicated to humanitarian assistance (housing unaccompanied migrant children, feed and care for migrants in custody, and staff processing centers), $1.1 billion for border operations (personnel expenses, detention beds, transportation, and investigative work), and $178 million for mission support (additional personnel, technology upgrade, and pay adjustments). The requests for additional funding have specified that said money would not be used to build additional miles of wall and would play no part in contributing to Trump’s wall. A large portion of this funding would greatly increase the capacity of the Department of Health and Human services to better care for unaccompanied children, especially by providing additional beds.

In 2018, Customs and Border Patrol dealt with over 50,000 unaccompanied children and so far in 2019, there have been just over 35,000. The average length of stay in a government shelter has been 66 days, which is significantly higher than previous years and requires adjustments to be made to humanely house all these individuals. The acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan stated before a House of Representatives subcommittee that his department would be running out of money due to the spike of migrants crossing the southern border very soon and was in desperate need of additional financial assistance.

This resolution has been deemed unlikely to pass, but the acting Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Russel Vought, has warned that other funds within the Department of Health and Human Services – that is ideally used for refugees and victims of human trafficking and torture – might need to be tapped into if their requests are not fulfilled by Congress.

Analysis

The air of desperation in the White House’s request for funding plays a large but concerning role in how the Democratic Caucus reacts to the demands. Many are torn and for good reason. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, there has been an ever-growing level of distrust, consistently being reinforced by various anti-immigration policies and rhetoric. Many Democrats are torn between being vehemently against feeding into Trump’s demands and taking part of the cleanup, while others feel it is also their duty to acknowledge the humanitarian crisis. Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA), exclaimed, “so you create chaos, and then ask for more money?” Similarly, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) proclaimed, “this administration has not proven itself worthy of one more dollar.” In many regards, this sentiment is shared not only among the Democratic Caucus but also the American public who have lost hope as the Trump Administration has been eroding confidence in the immigration system over the past few years.

Due to the increase in unaccompanied children crossing the border – as well as the 3 minor deaths in US Custody since December – the situation presents itself as a huge problem in which Democrats will have to decide if they will gawk or look away.

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.

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

Photo by unsplash-logoJonathan Adeline

Does Trump’s Purge of the Department of Homeland Security Solve America’s Immigration Problem?

Does Trump’s Purge of the Department of Homeland Security Solve America’s Immigration Problem?

Policy Summary
President Trump recently  carried out a purge of the senior leadership of Department of Homeland Security –in order to replace them with individuals who will carry out his reform wishes. President Trump and Stephen Miller, political advisor and architect behind Trump’s immigration agenda, are angry that  changes are not being made fast enough to keep out migrants trying to enter the US at the Southern border. Miller believes that asylum screenings are biased and the interviewers need to tighten up and have less sympathy because too many people are passing the initial credible fear screenings.

Last week, DHS Secretary Kiersten Nielsen met with President Trump to discuss the US Southern border. After refusing to shut down the border – like many others, she found this request to be inappropriate and unnecessary – and  she was forced to resign. Below her, was an existing undersecretary, Claire Grady who had been acting as Deputy Secretary since April 2018. So, according to law, she would become acting Secretary whenever Nielsen would resign; however, Grady was given her walking papers to leave around the same time. With Grady officially out of the way, Trump can and has instilled Kevin McAleenan – Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection – as the new acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Analysis
President Trump’s no shame attitude comes at a time when his actions are almost walking the fine line of cronyism – the appointment of personal relations to office to carry out a specific agenda. It was reported that Trump told McAleenan that he would pardon him if he ran into legal problems, but he has since denied it on Twitter. While he has legally dodged any repercussions as he has swapped out leaders to better do his bidding, it poses an interesting question: how much can he get away with in this purge and will he? Will he continue to find loopholes in the existing laws and exploit them to get his way – all while enraging a large chunk of the American public?

Trump’s effort to purge the senior leadership of DHS, just like his impractical and offensive  border wall proposal, are not going to result in a more sensible border security system. Instead he should consider the steps like the following  to make the border more secure.

  • Renovate land ports of entry. The vast majority of illegal drugs that cross the US-Mexico border do so at “ports of entry,” the 48 official land crossings through which millions of people, vehicles and cargo pass every day. We need to make use of modern technology to monitor and apprehend drug cartels  that dominantly pass through legal ports of entry despite what Trump claims This could include cameras, fixed towers and aerial underground sensors, and better detection devices.
  • Increase border security personnel and personnel support at Ports of  entry and elsewhere . This includes  more screeners and polygraph administrators are needed, relocation and retraining for existing and willing border patrol members could also be an option if there is not enough funding to hire more personnel.
  • Improve the US-Mexico relationship through improved trade, joint patrols along the border and responding to border violence, and coordination of interdiction efforts.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform
The US Mexican border is facing increasing numbers of immigrants especially from Central America. Steps to increase border security, such as those outlined above, are urgently needed. But improving border security procedures are just one part of a much bigger need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Comprehensive immigration reform would marry increased border enforcement with legalization for unauthorized immigrants and the ability to bring in future workers needed by the U.S. labor market.

Comprehensive immigration reform legislation would:

  • Modernize the U.S. immigration system by broadening pathways for people to enter the country legally to work and reunite with their families
  • Provide an accessible path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
  • Prioritize smart and effective enforcement that improves public safety, supports legal immigration channels, and prevents discrimination
  • Support the successful integration of immigrants into our society

Congress sadly has lacked the political will to tackle comprehensive immigration reform. This is partly because there is split Congressional leadership with the House being controlled by Democrats and the Senate controlled by Republicans. But even within Democrats there are differences of opinion regarding how best to deal with immigration policy. More conservative-minded Democrats tend to focus on incremental steps they think could get done—like improved border security and fixing the DACA(Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)  and TPS (Temporary Protective Status) programs. More progressive-minded democrats favor a whose systems approach to immigration reform.

What the Candidates Propose

Presidential candidate, Julian Castro – former mayor of San Antonio and grandson of Mexican immigrants – has put forth various immigration reform ideas and have made them a key part in his campaign. Castro intends to reverse the Muslim Ban and reverse the wall spending thus far, decriminalize the act of crossing illegally, and end the Family Detention Policy. He thinks ankle monitors could be used as an alternative to detentions and deportations, so that migrants may live freely in the US while they await trial.

Photo by unsplash-logoSpenser

Trump’s Humanitarian Emergency at the Southern Border

Trump’s Humanitarian Emergency at the Southern Border

Policy Summary
In response to the alleged humanitarian crisis at the Southern Border, President Trump has threatened to shut down the US-Mexico Border but has not given a definite timeline; he has just warned that if he ‘has to’ he is ready to do whatever it takes. He told Congress that if the Legislative Branch does not take immediate action to close what he considers ‘loopholes’ governing immigration, he will close all or parts of the border.

In a recent statement, Trump claimed that, ‘literally, in 15 minutes, we could make a deal on changing Catch and Release; changing the horrible asylum laws that are so unfair; changing visa lottery, chain migration…’ However, with that comes some potentially negative economic implications for US trade, so White House advisor, Larry Kudlow stated they are looking for ways to still allow for the border crossing of goods and services to help mediate those damages.

The new face of undocumented immigration has been Central American families, rather than single men from Mexico seeking work to send money home. In recent years, the number of young, single men emigrating to the US has plummeted and more Mexicans are leaving the US than coming due to economic growth in Mexico. The trend of family migration comes at a time where gang violence and poverty in the 3 Central American countries known as the Northern Triangle – Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala – are present. However,  it is much harder to prove being a victim of gang violence than political or other types of persecution when seeking asylum,  and poverty is not among the ground for receiving asylum.

In a statement Trump frames the need for his wall as a way of saving ‘countless Americans’ from danger. He claimed more than 76,000 illegal migrants arrived at the border last month and that they cannot just be released into our society as in ‘many cases they’re stone cold criminals.’ Trump uses words like invasion to claim there is an invasion of drugs and criminals at the Southern Border. He then begins to discuss his right as president to declare a national emergency and that of the nearly 5 dozen emergencies declared since the National Emergency Act of 1976, President Trump received praise and support from Vice President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kierstjen Nielsen (whom he recently fired), Attorney General Bill Barr and numerous sheriffs and Angel parents (parents of individuals killed by illegal immigrants).

Additionally, Trump threatened to cut aid to the Northern Triangle by $450 million as he claims not only that the money is being ‘misspent’ but that these countries have arranged  for the migrant caravans that have brought people to the US border that America does not want.

Analysis

If Trump cuts aid to the Northern Triangle, justice  and violence prevention programs in these countries  will be severely affected. All 3 countries allocate US aid money to target programs aimed at preventing violence, strengthening their justice systems, curbing extreme poverty and hunger, and rural and social development.

Already, more than $21 billion of US taxpayer money goes has been allocated to immigration enforcement agencies. The Trump Administration would like to hire more personnel to patrol the Southern Border which would entail even more taxpayer money; and this does not even include what he demands for the wall.

A better border begins with efficiency and accountability by the Customs  Border Patrol and other border enforcement agencies. There should be more enforced limits on ‘warrantless’ authority that Customs and Border Patrol officials use to undermine migrants and overlook protections against unreasonable search and seizure. There should be accountability enforced among all individuals involved in patrolling the border, so there are less deaths by border patrol (re the fatal shootings, car chases, illnesses that led to deaths among minors, and ‘unknowns’) and consequences for such deaths if they are unjust.

In USRN’s next Immigration Policy Brief we will describe in greater detail the reforms that are needed to strengthen our Border Security and Immigration systems.

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 unsplash-logoRobert Hickerson

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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