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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.

Trump to Require Health Insurance as Proof to Receive Visas

Trump to Require Health Insurance as Proof to Receive Visas

Policy Summary
President Trump has recently issued a proclamation that would require immigrants to provide proof of insurance or adequate financial means should a health emergency occur, in order to be eligible to receive a visa that would lead to a resident green card. Insurance can be bought individually or provided by an employer, short term and/or catastrophic. However, Medicaid does not count, nor does any Affordable Care Act subsidies for that matter because the federal government would still be footing those bills. This would not apply to noncitizen children, college students on limited visas, asylum seekers, or refugees. This proclamation applies solely to individuals who are abroad and seeking immigrant visas. Trump claims immigrants are three times more likely than Americans to lack health insurance, which would make them a burden on hospitals and taxpayers, should they require health related coverage.

Trump has not expressed the amount of money immigrants would need if they did not have insurance already – or anticipate receiving it from an employer. This new rule would block nearly two thirds of prospective legal immigrants and greatly reduce or eliminate the number of immigrants who enter the US with family sponsored visas. Most recently, a federal judge in Portland has put a hold on this proclamation and  voiced they disagree with Trump’s decision.

Analysis
While Trump has harped on immigrants posing a burden on hospitals and taxpayers, because they are supposedly two thirds more likely to lack health insurance, American citizens also lack health insurance and adequate coverage. Nearly 30 million Americans do not have health insurance and/or lack adequate coverage. So, while it could possibly be true that immigrants could contribute to an exacerbation of this issue, the main problem is the structure of  our healthcare system.

This proclamation is another attempt to move the US away from family-based immigration to a system based on merit and financial resources. Trump has failed to build the physical wall he long-promised his support base, but has made several attempts to construct an invisible wall to limit immigration.

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-logoHush Naidoo

Trump to Begin DNA Testing Migrants

Trump to Begin DNA Testing Migrants

Policy Summary
The Trump Administration has recently declared that immigration officials detaining migrants who cross the border illegally may also retrieve DNA samples from these individuals. Their DNA would then be stored in an FBI DNA database known as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), which has been traditionally used by law-enforcing agencies to identify suspects for serious criminal offenses. CODIS was established in 1990 for law enforcement purposes and has been a “key tool for linking violent crimes” since its creation, according to the FBI.

It is unclear if this will apply to children who cross alone or asylum seekers as well. However, this shift in DNA collection changes the scope from criminal investigations to population surveillance.

Under the Administration’s interpretation of the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005, this is legal. The DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005 permits states to take samples from individuals convicted of state offenses, especially if individuals are arrested or detained under US Authority.

Analysis
This is not quite the same as when the Trump Administration DNA tested families in detention to prevent adult migrants from claiming kids who were not theirs. As this is essentially, population surveillance and p measures operating under the guise that illegal migrants are inherently prone to criminal behavior.

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 reform.

Photo by unsplash-logoArif Wahid

Asylum Cooperation Agreement: What it Entails in Practice

Asylum Cooperation Agreement: What it Entails in Practice

Policy Summary
The US has recently signed a deal with the government of Honduras that would effectively allow US immigration officials to send asylum seekers from the US border to Honduras. Which means simply, that immigrants could be sent away almost immediately. The US entered into similar agreements with El Salvador (early September) and Guatemala (July).

The agreement with Honruas would apply to anyone but Hondurans because that would entail sending them back to the country in which they fled. Such an action violates a principle of international law, called non-refoulement. Similarly, a Salvadorian could not be sent back to El Salvador, and a Guatemalan to Guatemala. But in practice, this policy allows for migrants from each of these countries to still be sent back to any of these 3 countries that now have asylum cooperation agreements with the US, so long as they are not sent back to their nation of origin.

Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and the bulk of migrants fleeing Honduras and the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) are escaping gang violence that has overrun the region. In the past year alone, more than 250,000 Hondurans have fled and crossed the US border filing protection claims fleeing [gang] violence.

These 3 countries have tiny asylum offices that would have nowhere near the appropriate capacity for effectively processing such large quantities of asylum requests.

Analysis
This new policy harkens a stricter enforcement of the Trump Administration’s attempts at safe-third-country policies in which migrants are encouraged/required to seek asylum in a country they pass along the way to the US. Through this new policy it is  inherently possible that an asylum seeker from the Northern Triangle would just be sent to one of the 2 countries in which they are not a citizen.

Additionally, the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hérnandez has been negatively tied to his brother, Tony Hérnandez for major drug-smuggling charges. It has been rumored his 2013 campaign was [partially] funded by $1.5 million in drug money for bribes and gifts for political supporters. While this may tangentially bode poorly, it raises questions about corruption, legitimacy, and ultimately credibility.

A senior official at the US Department of Homeland Security stated that this new policy would “allow migrants to seek protection as close to home as possible.” Regardless of the fact that this could mean roughly 26,000 individuals per year would be hosted by Hondurans alone, waiting for the completion of  their asylum applications process – which can take years. Similarly, it is wrong to assume that some escaping such widespread violence would want to be sent back to the region in which they fled – just within different borders.

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-logoAiram Dato-on

Supreme Court Upholds Trumps Ban on Immigrants from Central America Seeking Asylum in the US

Supreme Court Upholds Trumps Ban on Immigrants from Central America Seeking Asylum in the US

Policy
The Supreme Court has recently upheld the Trump Administration’s decision to bar migrants from certain Central American countries (predominantly The Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) from seeking refuge in the United States. Trump has been granted his wish of blocking migrants from making asylum claims in the US; and instead requiring them to first apply for asylum in a country they pass while en route to the US. Most often, this third country is Mexico and refers to a previous proposal made by the Trump Administration in the Summer of 2019. Mexicans themselves are unaffected by this new policy because they share a border with the US and therefore cannot be outright banned in such a way. Mexico has previously written off the US attempts to make Mexico a ‘safe third country’ as overall numbers in border crossings have declined.

Supreme Court Justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg submitted written oppositions to this decision. Sotomayor expressed that this new policy, “topples decades of settled asylum practices and affects some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere – without affording the public a chance to weigh in.”  Various organizations – such as the ACLU – have also publicized their disdain and pleaded that such a decision violates principles of international law.

Analysis
More than 400,000 people from The Northern Triangle are caught illegally crossing the border with Mexico annually. More than 400,000 people would theoretically be turned away from claiming asylum for the immediate foreseeable future in the US. As the ACLU claimed, there are long-existing asylum laws that have been a pivotal part of international law that Trump’s new rule violates. To much of Trump’s xenophobic fan base, this comes as a victory on the path to essentially closing the border

As Justice Sotomayor pointed out, the public has not had much of an opportunity to weigh in on the matter. Given that immigration has been as a household topic during this Administration, a public debate might prove divisive. But given that the US is a democracy it is a conversation worth having.

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-logoAditya Joshi

Trump to End Medical Deferred Action

Trump to End Medical Deferred Action

Policy Summary
This past August, the US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) eliminated their ‘Medical Deferred Action’ program for individuals who may avoid deportation whilst they and/or their family members were undergoing medical treatment. Medical Deferred Action was intended as a temporary agenda, to be modified and made more robust, but not eliminated. This special program for individuals with rare diseases who may not have access to treatments in their home country rely heavily on the medical treatments they can  receive in the US – which also aids scientific development of medicines to treat such rare diseases. The agency sent letters to individuals previously exempt from deportation, giving them a 33 day notice to leave the country or else face deportation. Requests for deferred action must now be made to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE – the agency responsible for deportations) instead of USCIS. Previously, individuals had to re-apply/renew their deferred action every couple of years and many have been renewed for decades now. Those same individuals received letters from the USCIS telling them that their program support was coming to an end.. The elimination of the program is technically still under review, but it is unclear if there will be a limited version of deferred action or if the program  will be eliminated entirely.

CBS reached out to USCIS to inquire about the abrupt change, but they provided no answers and instead deflected by re-directing them to ICE. Confusingly, an ICE official told CBS that they were not previously consulted about the change but alerted once the letters were sent out to migrants. In reality, the government does not have  the time nor the resources to deport literally every single unauthorized immigrant.

As the news of this program termination began to trickle out, public outrage led to a temporary reversal by the Trump Administration. Roughly 100 members of Congress officially denounced this and wrote letters to senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security urging them to reverse their decision.

Analysis
There is a huge lack of transparency surrounding the end of this program. No public announcements were made, just private letters to specific individuals. The program termination is a death sentence for many of the individuals in the US under Medical Deferred Action. A number of individuals would essentially be sent home to die.

In the past 6 months, the Trump Administration also decided it would abstain from giving flu vaccinations to migrant families held in border detention centers, despite 3 deaths of migrant children due to the flu. These are subtle, but dire actions of intentional cruelty under the existing guise of national security.


Resistance Resources

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

Photo by
unsplash-logoElias Castillo

Indefinite Detention of Migrants: Trump’s Latest Crackdown

Indefinite Detention of Migrants: Trump’s Latest Crackdown

Policy Summary
The Trump Administration recently announced they seek to enable indefinite detention of migrants, that would be a direct overturn of the Flores Settlement The new rule is set to go into effect within the next 2 months. Migrants would be legally detained until their cases are decided – which could take years. Trump believes that this will act as a deterrent for migrant families and in turn ‘save many lives,’ so as to essentially prevent families from making the sometimes dangerous trek to the United States. Acting head of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan finds this new policy to aid in avoiding the Catch and Release loophole that he credits to detention limitations.

Analysis
While this policy would almost certainly institutionalize and legalize imprisoning children on an even greater scale than already exists, the adverse effects of indefinite detainment are plenty. Unlike a prison sentence where perhaps a set release date is agreed upon, indefinite detention would permit an excruciating mental battle and destruction of morale among hundreds of thousands of migrants. Many migrants might never know the end of their imprisonment as the immigration courts can be quite slow and are increasingly overwhelmed. Needless to say, it can be days, months, and/or years of imprisonment bestowed upon any migrant who seeks to become a permanent resident of the United States.

Detained children often have PTSD and suicidal feelings post detainment, according to Human Rights Watch and various other human rights organizations. The American Psychological Association is highly critical of this new policy, stating:

The large majority of these children have already experienced trauma before arriving at immigration facilities, and the longer they are held in detention, the more likely their mental health will continue to suffer

Chronic stress and adversity severely effects the development of a child’s brain, especially in regards to cognition, intellectual process, judgement, self-regulation, and social skills.

Resistance Resources

  • First Focus on Children: a Washington, DC based advocacy organization dedicated to making children and their families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions.
  • 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.
  • Families Belong Together: an organization that has dedicated its mission to ensuring families are together, especially reuniting children with their families. This organization contributes all its efforts to counter Trump’s separation of children from their families.

Photo by unsplash-logoKatie Moum

Trump Administration to Limit Green Cards: an Update

Trump Administration to Limit Green Cards: an Update

Policy Summary
The acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director, Ken Cuccinelli, announced the Trump Administration’s proposal to limit Green Card applicants and essentially make them more exclusive. This is aimed at the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who enter illegally every year and apply to become permanent residents. Beginning in October – a full year since the first indicator of this policy change – Green Card decisions will be made based on an aggressive wealth test to determine whether applications have the means to support themselves. If applicants are deemed likely to require assistance from government benefit programs (such as food stamps and subsidized housing) they will likely be denied. The new Green Card criteria will examine age, health, family status, resources, education, financial status, and assets. For example, someone with an income equal to or greater than 250% of the poverty line (which comes out to nearly $64,000 for a family of 4) will be less likely to be denied.

Cuccinelli claimed the goal was to bring:

People to join us as American citizens, as legal permanent residents first, who can stand on their own two feet, who will not be reliant on the welfare system, especially in the age of the modern welfare state which is so expansive and expensive

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration services website, to obtain a Green Card entails a few steps. First, an immigrant petition must be filed by a sponsor, or essentially someone who can vouch for the applicant. If this is approved, the individual must fill out a Green Card application with the USCIS or a visa application with the US Department of State (depending on the results of the petition). Then, the individual must go to a biometrics appointment to provide photos, signatures and fingerprints before a final interview. Lastly, they wait for a decision.

San Francisco and Santa Clara counties have filed lawsuits against the Trump Administration to challenge their move to deny permanent residence to legal immigrants who use or potentially will use public-assistance programs; claiming it is both harmful to society and unlawful.

Analysis
This new policy puts a price tag on obtaining permanent residency in the US and favors wealthy or highly skilled immigrants. It shifts away from family-based immigration, a long-standing US outlook. Limiting Green Cards to the upper echelon of society creates uneven immigration, extreme gaps in the labor force, and disregards America’s foundation of providing asylum.

Resistance Resources

  • The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law: a nonpartisan law and policy institute that works to defend and reform – as necessary – the US systems of democracy and justice, focusing on upholding the Constitution and US laws while maintaining national security.
  • Stay up to date with the National Immigration Forum who advocates for the value of immigrants and immigration to the US and promotes responsible immigration policies and addresses those that hinder the success of immigrants.
  • 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.

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

Photo by Blake Guidry

ICE Crackdown in Mississippi

ICE Crackdown in Mississippi

Policy Summary
On August 7, ICE conducted a raid in the small town of Forest, Mississippi and nearly 700 undocumented workers were removed from a food processing plant. Later that evening, 300 of these individuals were released back to their families because they would be leaving behind small children unaccompanied, but given ankle bracelets to monitor them while they await court dates. There are very few immigration lawyers in Mississippi who would work pro bono to assist these displaced families, but many lawyers around the country have since volunteered.

In Forest, there is a large Latino population who are now petrified in light of the recent raid. Businesses and grocery stores are slowing down; children are not going to school. There is a widespread fear throughout the community and people are afraid to leave their homes and use money (in case they would need some for an emergency).

Acting ICE director, Matthew Albence, defended the raid by claiming those breaking the law were ultimately the ones to blame for this situation and that the “parents or the individuals that are breaking the law are ultimately the ones that are responsible for placing their children in this situation.”

Analysis
ICE director, Albence uses a rhetoric typical of the Trump Administration, where he gaslights the victims as well as the general public to believe they ‘made’ them react the way they did; as though there was no choice but to punish harshly due to their actions. It also turns anti-immigrant sentiment up a notch by essentially validating their arguments in real time.

This raid has created such a widespread fear among the immigrant community that is only going to force individuals to perhaps have to pursue more obscure and dangerous routes in false attempts at safety from the Trump Administration’s most recent immigration crackdown. Many children are left traumatized after their parent(s) do not return home and they are told their parent(s) were taken away from their place of work and their families. In Forest, most of the schools have given much leeway for children to take time off from school so that they can try and get assistance for their mental health needs.

Resistance Resources:

Photo by Matt Popovich

Asylum Ban 2.0

Asylum Ban 2.0

Policy Summary
As of July 15, the Trump Administration has revised US asylum laws and put forward an asylum ban policy. Migrants coming from Central America who have passed through other countries en route to the US may no longer be able to apply for asylum due to new restrictions. The new ban requires migrants coming from Central America to make an asylum claim at a previous country en route to the US before arriving at the US Southern Border in order to be eligible for asylum in the US. The exceptions include if an individual was trafficked and/or if the migrant applied and was denied asylum in another country. This new rule even applies to unaccompanied children who cross the border alone.

This asylum ban violates domestic and international asylum laws. Congress has existing rules that a migrant cannot be banned from seeking asylum based on their nation of origin. The White House might also be acting outside of their range of power  as they do not have the authority to change laws established by Congress. Thus, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration.

Analysis
This new asylum ban is an aggressive push for the Trump Administration’s nativist rhetoric surrounding immigration and xenophobic tendencies. Slowly, but surely, this administration has been increasingly and aggressively trying to end asylum through loose interpretations of existing principles, laws, and filling the gaps with rigid stoppers.

In 2009, nearly 23% of asylum claims were granted. In 2018, only 8% of claims prevailed. Immigration courts are backlogged by more than 800,000 cases, so as it stands there are hundreds of thousands of migrants who will have to wait years for their cases to be heard. In times like these, efficiency is required, not panic or abrupt stops.

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 reform.

Photo by Kyle Glenn

Expedited Removal: Trump’s Latest Crackdown

Expedited Removal: Trump’s Latest Crackdown

Last week, Secretary Kevin McAleenan, Head  of the Department of Homeland Security, announced that the DHS will be claiming legal power to expedite deportation of undocumented immigrants who cannot prove they have been living in the US for 2 continuous years. He cited the Immigration and Nationality Act and claimed it gives the DHS Secretary the power to decide who qualifies for expedited removals. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1997 (under former President Clinton), says that certain immigrants can be denied entry and/or removed from the US without going through the formal removal procedures, such as a hearing before an immigration judge or a chance to find legal representation.

DHS is using the 1977 Act to say that those who cross into the US by land can be deported without a hearing if they are arrested within the first 2 weeks of arrival and within 100 miles of the border, and those who arrive by sea who cannot prove they have lived in the US for 2 years may be immediately deported. Essentially, McAleenan’s new claim gives the DHS a heightened ability to deport immigrants without due-process as well as granting relatively low-level immigration officers decision making rights.\

The ACLU has already announced their plan to sue over the DHS’s interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act that strips immigrants – especially asylum seekers – of many of their individual rights.

Analysis
In a nation where the average undocumented immigrant has lived for 15 years, the Trump Administration’s latest crackdown has instilled widespread fear felt even among those who are here legally. To prove residence in the US over a minimum of 2 years continuously can be difficult even for individuals who are citizens; so, this new interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act will elevate the show-me-your-papers environment already affecting many immigrant communities.

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-logoKatie Moum

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