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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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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 While, this basis is outdated and overtly still a slavery-era provision, it explicitly dictates immigrants’ rights to be included in the Congressional redrawing of districts to occur in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
ICE Rescinds Order to Deport International Students – an Update to Brief #98

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
Trump to Limit Immigration to the US due to COVID-19

Trump to Limit Immigration to the US due to COVID-19

Policy Summary

The Trump Administration issued a proclamation (Proclamation 9994) to limit immigration into the US in the next 60 days. The justification given is that, due to the economic recession the US is bound to face in the aftermath of COVID-19, “aliens” will be taking jobs. This would not apply to US lawful permanent residents, spouses of US citizens, or immigrants entering the country to work as physicians, nurses, or other healthcare professionals. Stephen Miller, who has been leading the Trump Administration immigration agenda urged Trump’s followers to view this as a first step in the Administration’s longer-term goal of shrinking legal immigration. Though spouses of US Citizens are not affected by this, immigration by extended family members is supposed to be hindered. This Executive Order in practice is intended to disrupt “chain migration,” a term used by Conservatives to describe the arrival of one immigrant in the US making way for extended family to emigrate as well. 

In other immigration news, a federal judge recently pressed the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement ) to release migrants held in family detention centers as the hundreds of people who live in close quarters with limited access to soap and disinfectants are at imminent risk for contracting COVID-19. These detention centers are greatly at risk for an outbreak and rapid spreading to surrounding communities. Federal courts have cited the 1997 Flores Agreement that generally requires children detained at the border and kept in non-licensed facilities to be released within weeks. Many have claimed the Trump Administration has continued to violate longstanding agreements that compel the government to release detained migrant children

Analysis

Not unique to the US, the American government is utilizing the pandemic to implement its ongoing immigration agenda. As Stephen Miller transparently expressed, this is in light of COVID-19 but also a part of a wider immigration agenda that has been in place throughout the entirety of the Trump Administration.

By limiting immigration out of fear foreigners will take jobs Americans are believed to be entitled to, the supply chain could be severely affected in sectors of the American economy deeply dependent on immigrants, such as agriculture.

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
Judge Orders Release of Immigrant Children While “The Wall” Continues to be Built

Judge Orders Release of Immigrant Children While “The Wall” Continues to be Built

Policy Summary

A Federal Judge in Los Angeles ordered the US government to make continuous efforts to release migrant children held in detention facilities. These children are supposed to be transferred to the care of outside sponsors unless they pose a flight risk, within 7 days. There are currently nearly 7,000 children being detained in government run shelters. Several staff members and at least 4 children have tested positive for COVID-19 in shelters throughout the country. By April 6, both the Office of Refugee Resettlement and ICE (the 2 main agencies operating migrant children detention facilities) must prove their efforts to release migrant children.

The Trump Administration is insistent on quickly continuing the construction of the wall along the US Southern Border to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the US from Mexico, despite the CDC denouncing this is an effective strategy. Currently, in the small town of Ajo along the Arizona-Mexico border, workers from all over the country are filling up motels, airbnbs and mobile home camps. The town itself is full of retirees and is relatively removed from the nation’s current COVID-19 hotspots, so it is rather underprepared should an outbreak occur.

Analysis

Townspeople of Ajo, Arizona are concerned the influx of people from all over will heighten their risk to contracting COVID-19 and the workers clustered in tight quarters can exponentially grow the cases in the US. These workers, if they contract COVID-19, may pass it on to their families when they return home (and all the different places throughout the country these workers came from). Similarly, due to the living situations in migrant detention centers, thousands of children may be in danger of contracting COVID-19 as a result of their close living situations. Building the wall during a pandemic is not a strategic move to curb the spread of the virus, but rather pursuing the Trump Administration’s immigration agendas that have been in place long before the virus was introduced to the US

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

 

 

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

Supreme Court Upholds Remain In Mexico Policy and a Federal Judge Voids Trump’s Appointment of Director of ICE

Policy Updates

The US Circuit Court temporarily blocked the Trump Administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, only to reverse its own order the same day. The court reinstated the policy due to emergency requests from the Trump Administration and is allowing the Administration another week to persuade the US Supreme Court to step in before blocking the policy. The program was initially launched in January 2019 and has since returned 60,000 migrants. This violates the international and US legal principle of non-refoulement (law of no returns) in which migrants shall not be sent back to the place they have fled.

However the Supreme Court this week  upheld President Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy for at least another 3 months. Forcing more than 10,000 asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while they await hearings by the US, without food, housing, healthcare, or other protections. Only 1 member of the Court dissented: Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Federal Judge Moss of Washington, DC ruled that Ken Cuccinelli was unlawfully appointed to lead the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and Director of ICE. The court claimed President Trump violated federal law that outlines who can fill vacant leadership positions at federal agencies by quickly appointing Cuccinelli and disregarding the Department’s order of succession. Judge Moss also ruled that 2 policies Cuccinelli sought to implement be nullified as void. Both policies limited asylum seekers access to counsel and preparation time for credible fear interviews, which in practice could possibly deny many migrants asylum.

President Trump has expressed he enjoys installing individuals as leaders under the guise of “acting” leaders because it allows him more flexibility and the ability to “move quickly.” However, this completely disregards the rule of law and executive limitations. The president must obtain the advice and consent of the Senate before appointing any individual to a senior federal position of the US. This practice is a blatant act of cronyism and is not permissible, nor tolerated, in a democratic society with checks and balances.

Analysis
By reinstating the Remain in Mexico policy, the US may continue to send migrants to Mexico, but specifically to areas the State Department of Mexico have warned the US not to visit due to the plausibility of kidnapping, sexual assault, exploitation, lack of basic necessities, and other abuses. It also prolongs the amount of time these migrants are not granted due process because they likely will not be able to find lawyers (in time) in Mexico to argue their case(s) in front of a judge. Additionally, it only gives the Trump Administration more time to curate bilateral decisions with nations in the Northern Triangle to repatriate citizens, if not to their country of origin a neighboring country in the Northern Triangle, which could be a death sentence for many.

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.
  • Protect Democracy: a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to fighting domestic and international attacks to free, fair and fully formed self-government
  • 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.

This brief was submitted by USRESIST News Immigration Policy Reporter Kathryn Baron

Photo by unsplash-logoMetin Ozer

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