July 30, 2021
Local Refugee Agencies Scramble To Welcome A Surge Of Newcomers This Fall (WGBH) – With years of decreased numbers of refugees from more than 2,400 five years ago to less than 700 in 2019, services committed to helping resettle in Massachusetts after persecution and escaping war are now anticipating a tide of newcomers this year. After President Joe Biden raised the limit of refugees that could come into the United States to 62,500 from a previous 15,000 a year, local organizations say they need to expand their functioning to meet the high numbers of people expected this summer and fall.
Due to the cost of living and housing increasing, institutions are facing pressure to build back their resources and connections to make sure refugees can fully resettle as well as raise money to get back on their feet even with the given federal funds.
July 23, 2021
Budget Provision Sets Standard On Visa Document (CommonWealth Magazine) – Governor Charlie Baker has signed a budget creating standards for immigrant survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking who are seeking paperwork for visas. This requires local law offices to help immigrants with documentation, creating a way for immigrants to legally work in the US, achieve citizenship, and avoid deportation.
As a part of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the U and T visas were created to help victims come forward to report the crimes. This new change could provide more clarity, creating space for them to realize and acknowledge their rights.
July 16, 2021
High Court Ruling Gives Immigrants Facing Deportation Hope (U.S. News) – In accordance with the recent Supreme Court ruling, Niz-Chavez vs. Garland, immigrants have been given hope in having their deportation cancelled due to the deprivation of court proceeding notices. Many can now have their immigration cases reconsidered.
Immigration supporters have protested the workings of the deportation notification process. According to Jeremy McKinney, a president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, the court has had to be reminded several times over the years to notify a person and tell them where to appear. Although it could be months before we can see the impact of this decision, it gives light to the tons of cases that were undeservingly disregarded.
July 9, 2021
Lawmakers have long considered driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Will this be the year the bill passes? (Boston Globe) – Approximately 100 lawmakers have signed bills in support of giving undocumented immigrants the ability to acquire a driver’s license. As a result, Massachusetts would be the 17th state to grant driving privileges, not only improving road safety, but also providing an official form of identification along with being able to drive legally.
The bills would prevent the Registry of Motor Vehicles from asking a license applicant about their immigration status. Around 43,000 to 78,000 undocumented people would get licensed within the three years since the law’s passing. According to Representative Christine P. Barber, a Somerville Democrat who introduced it in the House, 2021 would be the most momentous year yet, having more support from the Legislature than they have ever had.
June 25, 2021
Starting July 1st, students whose families demonstrate significant financial need can receive up to $6,495 in grants for the upcoming award year, according to the Department of Education. President Biden proposed to Congress to extend these grants to undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers. This proposal could be seen as a monumental step towards increasing access to higher education for Dreamers, who often present significant financial need.
Unlike student loans, pell grants do not need to be repaid, thus promoting the shrinking of racial gaps in the education system and lowering financial barriers for low- and middle-income students. As stated by Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, if the proposal is to be adopted by Congress, Biden’s budget would yield the most sizable annual increase to the federal grants since 2009.
June 18, 2021
For many years, lawmakers have pushed to make in-state public college tuition rates accessible to undocumented immigrants. Legislation before the Higher Education Committee would expand in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants who reside in Massachusetts and attend its high schools and help students secure a well-grounded financial footing and lessen declining enrollment.
Prominent figures in the state’s higher education system have strongly supported implementing an act that can afford financial relief and an opportunity for tuition equality. This could go a long way in eliminating the consequences of unauthorized student youth challenges faced daily.
According to Amy Grunder, director of legislative affairs for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, 21 states have already implemented similar policies. In 2018, with 13,000 undocumented children enrolled in public schools in Massachusetts, none of them could attend any college with in-state tuition rates under the current law.
While many have been outspoken on national immigration issues, Beacon Hill legislative leaders have commonly veered away from bills backed by immigration reform activists.
Supporters of those proposals expressed hope earlier this year that Speaker Ronald Mariano could produce results, though so far, none of the bills have advanced beyond the committee stage.
June 10, 2021
President Biden is currently on his first trip overseas since taking office, visiting the U.K. and Europe to attend the G7 Summit in Cornwall, attend a NATO ministerial in Brussels, and meet with Russian President Putin in Geneva. While many families and loved ones were hoping this would be the occasion for announcing a lift of the travel ban between the United States and the United Kingdom and Europe, the White House confirmed earlier this week that those people will have to wait a little longer. Instead, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan mentioned the White House is launching working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to discuss a safe reopening of borders. While these efforts have been applauded by airlines, representatives have emphasized the urgency of the matter, and expressed the hope that these working groups will act quickly.
Currently, travelers from China, Iran, the United Kingdom, Ireland, European Schengen Zone, Brazil, South Africa and India are all prohibited from entering the United States. Especially in the United Kingdom and European Union, frustration about the travel bans has been growing, considering their successful vaccination programs and rapid reduction of COVID-19 cases. Unfortunately, the travel ban is still in place after almost 15 months.
While it is no secret that the travel ban has tremendous economic consequences, especially in the aviation and tourism sector, “the ban has also been particularly harsh for non-immigrant visa holders in the U.S. They cannot travel back to their home countries because chances are high they will not be allowed back into the U.S. after having visited the U.K. or Schengen Zone.” While multiple European countries have been making exceptions for American travelers if they can prove they have loved ones or family in Europe, and the United Kingdom is welcoming American travelers after a 10-day quarantine, there is simply no option for travelers from these countries to enter the United States, resulting in separated families and loved ones for over a year.
While President Biden is on his first overseas trip to the United Kingdom and Europe since taking office, many are waiting for positive news about the possibility of reuniting with families and loved ones, sooner rather than later.
April 27, 2021
To lead ICE, Biden picks Texas sheriff who criticized Trump’s immigration policies (The Washington Post) – President Biden has nominated a critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies to run U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The White House announced that Biden’s pick for ICE director is Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, a veteran law enforcement officer who transformed the sheriff’s office in the Houston metropolitan area from one of the agency’s staunchest allies into a reluctant partner.
Gonzalez withdrew his department from a voluntary federal program that for years helped to detain and deport immigrants, and has expressed concern that involving local law enforcement in civil deportation efforts “silences witnesses & victims” by making immigrants afraid to report crimes. Gonzalez’s position mirrors the Biden administration’s new policy to limit ICE arrests to recent border crossers or people who are threats to national security or convicted of aggravated felonies.
April 9, 2021
Biden seeks funding to probe white supremacist beliefs at immigration agencies (Reuters) – President Joe Biden called for funding to investigate complaints of white supremacist beliefs at U.S. immigration enforcement agencies in his first budget request to Congress on Friday, but officials offered no explanation for what prompted his request.
The Biden administration is asking Congress to increase the funding level for workforce oversight offices within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to $470 million, a 22% increase over the current level, for the fiscal year that begins in October.
The additional funding would ensure that workforce complaints – “including those related to white supremacy or ideological and non-ideological beliefs” – are investigated quickly, according to a summary of Biden’s budget proposal.
March 26, 2021
Biden administration fires most Homeland Security Advisory Council members (The Washington Post) – Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fired more than 30 members of the department’s independent advisory council on Friday, a purge that included several allies of former president Donald Trump and veteran officials who served under both parties.
Former Department of Homeland Security officials and advisory board members who worked under Democratic and Republican administrations said they could not remember so many members being dismissed at once, as the general practice of past administrations was to allow appointees to serve out their terms before replacing them.
DHS officials said Mayorkas would conduct an assessment of the council and reconstitute it with bipartisan members who better reflect the diversity of the United States and the people DHS serves. Mayorkas said he plans to retain Chairman William Bratton, the former police commissioner in New York and police chief in Los Angeles, and Vice Chair Karen P. Tandy, a retired administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. William H. Webster, former director of the FBI and the CIA, will remain the council’s chair emeritus. Everyone else has been dismissed.
March 17, 2021
More migrant families make it into United States, but thousands are still being expelled (The Washington Post) – Nearly 60 percent of the 19,246 “family units” — which typically include at least one parent and one child — taken into custody at the southwestern border last month were allowed to stay in the United States to await an immigration hearing, the latest Customs and Border Protection figures show, compared with 38 percent of the families that arrived in January.
Biden administration officials warned that they are continuing to expel thousands of migrants — including families — to nations such as Haiti and Mexico under Title 42, a public health order the Trump administration issued in March 2020, ostensibly to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, though many considered it another way for President Donald Trump to impose his anti-immigration agenda. The Biden administration has kept the order in place, although it is under increasing pressure to drop it and reverse the expulsions.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified for more than four hours Wednesday before the House Homeland Security Committee and declined to call the situation at the border a “crisis.” He said the influx is part of a recurring trend that responds to conditions in migrants’ home countries.
March 10, 2021
Boston immigrant-owned businesses reflect loss amid COVID-19, policy makers provide fundings (Daily Free Press) – The now year-long battle against COVID-19 forces individuals, institutions and businesses alike to wrestle economic burdens, and immigrant owned-businesses have faced disproportionate difficulties. In Massachusetts, one in five members of the labor force are foreign-born, according to the American Immigration Council.
Vishal Thapar — co-founder of Boston Chai Party, a Dorchester company that sells freshly ground chai masala and fair trade black tea leaves — said the business lost its largest client and about 55 percent of their revenue at the start of the pandemic. From April to June of last year, the company did not receive any orders. Boston Chai Party applied for a $2,500 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, he said, which “immensely” helped them afford rent for the kitchen and facilities. But if he hadn’t had the support of his full-time job, he said he’d be in a very different position.
Natalia Urtubey, the director of small business at Boston’s Office of Economic Development, said small businesses globally have been “deeply impacted by COVID-19.” She added that Boston is well-positioned in having a “robust immigrant advancement team.” She said the Mayor’s Office has worked to offer interpretation services and workshops, as well as ensure there is equal access to funding and programs.
March, 3, 2021
House Democrats introduce bill providing citizenship to Dreamers (The Hill) – House lawmakers on Wednesday formally introduced legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for young people brought to the U.S. as children ahead of House Democrats’ plan to hold an “immigration week” later this month. The American Dream and Promise Act – reintroduced by Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard, Nydia Velazquez and Yvette D. Clarke – would allow the young people known as “Dreamers,” as well as others given temporary status when fleeing unrest in their home country, to apply for citizenship.
The legislation provides a path to citizenship for 2.5 million people, including those given Temporary Protected Status, some who came to the U.S. as early as the 1990s. It also would apply to those granted a Deferred Enforcement Departure, which allows people to remain in the U.S. beyond their initial authorization due to conditions in their home country.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Wednesday that the House would consider a number of immigration bills the week of March 15. The American Dream and Promise Act is among those sources say will be considered, along with another bill that would provide a path to citizenship for migrant farmworkers.
February 22, 2021
Healey Joins Other Attorneys General In Suing Immigration Services Company (WBUR) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined her counterparts in Virginia and New York Monday in suing an immigration services company accused of preying on immigrants held in federal detention centers. The suit, which was filed jointly with the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau, claims Libre by Nexus misleads immigrants and conceals the costs of its bond payment services.
The complaint outlines a business model in which Libre allegedly targets civilly detained immigrants who are eligible for bond by charging expensive fees up front and subsequent monthly payments that are not credited toward the cost of bond. The complaint also charges that the company falsely presents itself as being aligned with the federal government, specifically U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Healey says her office knows of more than 200 former Libre customers in the state. She described immigrants who received harassing text messages and were threatened with deportation if they missed payments to Libre.
February 18, 2021
Democratic lawmakers unveil Biden-backed immigration overhaul bill (CBS News) – After weeks of deliberations, congressional Democrats and the White House on Thursday unveiled their long-awaited immigration overhaul bill. The 353-page U.S. Citizenship Act would create a two-tier legalization program which would automatically make farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children eligible for green cards. After three years, they could apply to become U.S. citizens.
All other eligible unauthorized immigrants would be able to request temporary deportation relief and work permits while being placed on an eight-year pathway towards U.S. citizenship. Petitioners would all need to undergo background and national security checks, as well as file taxes and pay application fees.
The plan would not benefit new arrivals, as all prospective applicants would need to prove they were in the U.S. before January 1, 2021. The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be allowed to issue humanitarian waivers to this requirement for immigrants deported during the Trump administration as long as they prove they lived in the U.S. for at least three years before their deportation.
February 10, 2021
Border arrests rose in January, in latest sign of migration wave that could test Biden (The Washington Post) – U.S. authorities made nearly 78,000 arrests and detentions along the border with Mexico in January — the highest number for that month in at least a decade and more than double the amount from a year earlier. It is a sign of the immediate challenge President Biden will face as he attempts to undo the policies of former president Donald Trump.
The recent influx in Central American migration could test Biden’s plans to repudiate his predecessor’s immigration policies and make the United States more welcoming to asylum seekers and refugees. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that Biden is monitoring trends at the border and the administrations is discouraging migrants from traveling to the United States during a pandemic and before the administration has time “to put in place a humane, comprehensive process for processing individuals.”
The number of apprehensions has been growing since Biden took office, according to the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, and rose 6 percent between December and January, a period that typically brings a holiday lull.
February 4, 2021
Immigrants In Sanctuary At Churches Hope Biden Offers Relief (Associated Press) – For over three years, Maria Macario has lived in the white steepled First Parish church in Bedford. The 55-year-old Guatemala native moved in to avoid deportation, living in a converted Sunday school classroom with a kitchenette.
She’s among dozens of people from Colorado to North Carolina who have taken sanctuary as a last resort to stay in the country. Their actions have been extreme, particularly those who have declared their whereabouts. Many immigrants without legal status, who were increasingly fearful and anxious during the Trump years, upended their daily routines to evade detection, including avoiding driving. Newly hopeful, they’re trying to capitalize on the moment, even with setbacks like a Texas judge’s ruling blocking the Biden administration from enforcing its deportation moratorium and uncertainty over whether Congress will tackle immigration reform.
The modern sanctuary movement began in the 1980s as Central Americans fleeing war and poverty came to the U.S. and churches stepped in to offer protection. It was long an unwritten rule that churches, playgrounds and schools were off-limits to immigration agents. The Obama administration put it to paper in 2011, largely prohibiting arrests and searches there.
January 26, 2021
In the first blow to Biden’s immigration agenda, a federal judge blocks a 100-day pause on deportations (The New York Times) – The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Tuesday issued a 14-day nationwide temporary restraining order sought by the state’s attorney general that would prevent carrying out the policy, which was issued by the Homeland Security Department within hours of President Biden’s inauguration. The order will remain in effect until the judge has considered a broader motion for a preliminary injunction.
The judge, Drew B. Tipton, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said in his ruling that the suspension of deportations would violate a provision of the immigration statute as well as another law that required agencies to provide a rational explanation for their policy decisions. The immigration law states that people with final orders of removal from the United States must be deported within 90 days. The court held that the 100-day pause violated that requirement and that the mandatory language of the immigration law should not be “neutered by the federal government’s broad discretion.”
The court also held that the agency’s memorandum violated a separate law that required agencies to provide a logical and rational reason for their policy changes. The judge determined that the Homeland Security Department had run afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act because it failed to supply adequate justification for the temporary suspension of deportations.
December 22, 2020
Immigration detainees file for class-action lawsuit against ICE and Georgia gynecologist, alleging misconduct (The Washington Post) – A group of immigrant women detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is seeking a class-action lawsuit against the agency, alleging they received subpar gynecological care — or faced retaliation for speaking out about it — while being held at a facility in Georgia. A complaint filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia cites sworn testimony from at least 35 detainees at Irwin County Detention Center, who say they were subject to nonconsensual and invasive procedures by Mahendra Amin, a physician in Ocilla, GA.
The 160-page filing also alleges those women and others held at the facility were placed in solitary confinement, experienced physical assault and were deported — or nearly deported — for speaking up about Amin, including in an ongoing federal investigation. According to the document, one unnamed woman has said she complained to staff at Irwin about him as early as 2018.Amin, ICE and LaSalle Corrections, the for-profit company that operates the Irwin facility, have all denied these reports thus far.
December 8, 2020
Immigration officials restore DACA and start accepting first-time applications following court order (CBS News) – Complying with a recent court order, the Trump administration on Monday reinstated a program created by President Obama to shield undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors from deportation, announcing it would accept initial applications for the first time in three years. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would administer the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program under the guidelines crafted by the Obama administration in 2012. Starting Monday, DHS said it would grant approved applicants work permits and deportation deferrals that last for two years and allow DACA-holders to request permission to travel abroad under certain circumstances.
Monday’s ruling, however, may not be DACA’s final fate. DHS said in its public notice Monday that it “may seek” to appeal the order issued by Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. Republican attorneys general are also asking a federal judge in Texas to declare DACA unlawful. Judge Andrew Hanen, who has previously said DACA is likely illegal, has scheduled a hearing on this case for December 22.
As long as it stands, the policy’s restoration, mandated by a federal judge in Brooklyn on Friday, is a major victory for more than 640,000 current DACA recipients, as well as an estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrant teenagers and young adults who could be eligible to apply for the program.
December 1, 2020
Who Is Alejandro Mayorkas? The New DHS Secretary Will Spearhead Biden’s Immigration Agenda (Immigration Impact) – The incoming Biden-Harris administration has announced its choice for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas. If confirmed, Mayorkas will represent several historic firsts for the department—he will be the first Latino and immigrant to lead DHS. This is a significant departure from the leadership installed at DHS under the Trump administration. His understanding of immigration issues runs deep, both personally and professionally.
As head of DHS, much of President-elect Biden’s immigration agenda will be carried out by Mayorkas. This includes rebuilding a robust process for welcoming refugees into the United States, expanding relief for immigrants, and investing in case management programs to end prolonged detention. Despite the clear need for global support, the Trump Administration slashed the number of refugee admissions to a meager 15,000 people, the lowest number in U.S. history. President-elect Biden hopes to restore it. Under DHS Secretary Mayorkas’ leadership, the Biden administration plans to set the annual global refugee admissions cap to 125,000 and raise it when demand increases.
November 23, 2020
Biden Will Try to Unmake Trump’s Immigration Agenda. It Won’t Be Easy. (The Marshall Project) – The Marshall Project reports that President-elect Joe Biden has “laid out a fast-paced agenda to unwind Trump’s harsh immigration policies.” They discuss the rocky transition of power and its effects on Biden’s plans to overhaul the immigration system, and they give clear direction as to how that overhaul could happen within the bounds of legal presidential power. They write the following:
But even if Biden quickly orders a final end to family separations and re-opens the border for asylum-seekers, his plans could stall without action at the Justice Department, which holds extensive power over the immigration system. … Some of Trump’s actions can be undone relatively easily, legal scholars and former judges and justice officials say. Others require laborious rule-making or slow-moving litigation. For Biden allies hoping to make a fast start, choosing priorities is daunting.
To carry out Biden’s proposals, his attorney general will have to reverse decisions by Sessions and Attorney General William Barr that sharply limited asylum, particularly for people like L.M. who are fleeing from Central America. Biden’s justice officials will have to contend with an immigration appeals court loaded by Barr with conservative judges known for denying asylum.
November 14, 2020
Federal judge rules acting DHS head Chad Wolf unlawfully appointed, invalidates DACA suspension (NBC News) – A federal judge in New York City on Saturday said Chad Wolf has not been acting lawfully as the chief of Homeland Security and that, as such, his suspension of protections for a class of migrants brought to the United States illegally as children is invalid.
Although President Donald Trump formally nominated Wolf for the job in summer, Wolf has yet to get a full vote in the Senate, keeping his role as “acting.” Judge Nicholas Garaufis cited the Government Accountability Office, which wrote in a report to Congress in August that Wolf was the beneficiary of an “invalid order of succession.” The judge described an illegitimate shuffling of leadership chairs at the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for immigration enforcement, for the predicament of Wolf’s leadership and that of his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the Trump administration wrongly tried to shut down protections under the Obama-era legislation known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. On July 28, Wolf nonetheless suspended DACA pending review.
November 5, 2020
A fraudulent letter circulating in Chelsea tells residents to leave the U.S., police say (boston.com) – Some Chelsea residents recently received a fraudulent letter claiming to have been sent by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and informing them that they must leave the country for several reasons, including undocumented immigration, police say.
The letter inaccurately tells residents DHS is “aware of your unlawful presence and employment in the country,” and claims to have surveillance of the individuals at their homes and workplaces. Recipients are given the option to leave “immediately” on their own by Oct. 31 or “we will deploy a swat (sic) team to extract you,” the document falsely states.
Chelsea, an immigrant hub of Greater Boston, is one of Massachusetts’s several so-called “sanctuary cities,” where local police are restricted in how they cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agents. ICE spokesperson John Mohan said that ICE recommends that anyone who receives correspondence that claims to be from the agency about an order of removal should call the Enforcement and Removal Operations detention and reporting information line — 1-888-351-4024 — to confirm its accuracy.
October 27, 2020
DHS names new Ombudsman for Immigration Detention to Investigate Allegations of Misconduct and Abuse (The Washington Post) – The Department of Homeland Security named its first ombudsman for immigration detention Tuesday, setting up a new designated office to field complaints and allegations of mistreatment, abuse and other problems inside the country’s sprawling network of immigration jails and detention centers. The position was created at the behest of Democratic members of the House Judiciary committee and the congressional Hispanic caucus, following a period during which the Trump administration’s immigration policies have produced successive scandals and controversies.
Luke Bellocchi, an immigration attorney and policy aide with long-standing Republican ties, will serve in the ombudsman role, acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement. Bellocchi worked in a deputy ombudsman role at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the administration of President George W. Bush, and he also has served as assistant commissioner for congressional affairs while at Customs and Border Protection, according to DHS.
The number of immigrants held in U.S. custody soared to record levels under the Trump administration, and conditions inside the nation’s system of jails and detention centers have generated frequent complaints of medical neglect, abuse and dysfunction. The number of detainees who died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody increased to 21 during fiscal 2020, the highest number in more than a decade, even as the agency took steps to reduce its detainee population to minimize spreading the novel coronavirus.
October 20, 2020
How Proposed Changes to ‘Duration of Status’ Rules Will Impact Students and Exchange Visitors (American Immigration Council) – The Department of Homeland Security has published a proposed rule that will make it more difficult for individuals applying for admission in a J-1 exchange visitor or F-1 student visa category to complete their programs, apply for extensions, and even secure these opportunities in the first place.
Under current law, foreign students applying for a J or F visa enter with a set “duration of status” that can last anywhere between a matter of weeks to multiple years, depending on the length of the program. The proposed rule eliminates the previously set “duration of status” admissions for F and J categories. The rule limits the maximum amount of time to four years, and two years for individuals from certain countries — not long enough for some to complete their programs. This would require many students and exchange visitors to apply for extensions of status — which are expensive and not guaranteed — to complete their program.
October 13, 2020
U.S. Agents Returned Migrants to Honduras in Unauthorized Operation, Senate Report Says (The Wall Street Journal) – In an unauthorized operation last January, U.S. border agents working in Guatemala detained Honduran migrants intending to make their way to the U.S. border and returned them to Honduras, a review by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee found. The agents were stationed in Guatemala, along with other countries across Latin America, to help train local police in counter narcotics and other efforts. They are strictly prohibited by the State Department, which provides their funding and oversees their efforts, from conducting direct enforcement operations in countries abroad.
The operation sought to stop a group of Honduran migrants from the northern city of San Pedro Sula from crossing the Honduras-Guatemala border, with hopes of reaching the U.S. and asking for asylum. U.S. Customs and Border Protection rented three buses and set off to halt the caravan’s progress, according to the report. Together with Guatemalan border authorities, U.S. agents halted the migrants and loaded them onto buses, which then returned them to the border with Honduras, the review states.
The Senate report found that Customs and Border Protection officials violated limits imposed on them by the U.S. that prohibit enforcement operations abroad, and they didn’t take precautions to ensure that the operation was safe or legal.
October 8, 2020
IRAP Report Reveals Trump Administration Exploiting “Extreme Vetting” to Decimate Refugee Program (IRAP) – Today, the International Refugee Assistance Project released a report detailing the multiple ways in which the Trump Administration exploited and expanded “extreme vetting” measures – including questionable bulk data matching techniques and social media screenings – to grind the U.S. refugee resettlement program to a virtual halt, in particular targeting Muslim refugees and their families.
The report draws from government documents that were obtained in discovery proceedings for two lawsuits: JFS v. Trump and Doe v. Wolf. The documents from these cases, along with testimonies, documents from Freedom of Information Act requests and evidence from client casework, reveal the dozens of changes and expansions the Trump Administration implemented to drastically increase the backlog of refugees stuck in security checks in the resettlement process, as well as “discretionary denials” blocking refugees from ever being resettled.
Key findings of the report:
- The Trump Administration took advantage of policy changes implemented in 2016 and earlier to expand vetting to the point where refugees from certain countries were virtually unable to be resettled.
- In particular, refugees from so-called “Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) countries,” most of which are majority Muslim, were subjected to new and expanded security checks, encompassing even children, and subjecting all individuals to social media screening and to arbitrary bulk data matching techniques that appear to be similar to the controversial NSA surveillance technique disclosed in 2013.
- In addition to placing ever increasing burdens on refugee applicants, the Administration also overloaded its agencies with more work. As a result, the processing backlog grew to unprecedented proportions that will take years to undo, leaving thousands of families in despair.
October 6, 2020
Asylum-Seekers Argue To Stay In Mass.; Trump Administration Wants Them To Wait In Mexico (WBUR) – The Trump administration is asking the First Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday to send three women and two children, all asylum-seekers currently living in Massachusetts, back to Mexico while their asylum applications are processed. Evila Floridalma Colaj Olmos and her daughter are two of the plaintiffs. The pair made their way from Guatemala to the U.S.-Mexico border last year, hoping to seek asylum. Colaj says she was confused when U.S. immigration officials escorted her and her daughter over a bridge into Matamoros, Mexico — a border city she had never been to before.
In May, the Massachusetts district court ordered Colaj and the other plaintiffs be allowed to stay in the U.S. while their asylum applications play out. The ACLU is asking the appeals court to uphold the district court’s decision. But the federal government is arguing Colaj and the other plaintiffs should return to Mexico, saying the lower court’s decision jeopardizes border security.
Adriana Lafaille is a staff attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts. She says instead of allowing asylum-seekers the opportunity to safely pursue a decision in the U.S., which the government is legally bound to do, the Trump administration’s policies are placing people in harm’s way. “We think very much that the strategy here is to make life for asylum-seekers so intolerable that they will give up their claims,” Lafaille said.
October 2, 2020
UNHCR launches new portal with verified higher education opportunities for refugees (UNHCR press release) – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has launched a first-of-its-kind platform providing verified information on higher education programs available to refugees worldwide.
The UNHCR Opportunities site was developed in response to needs expressed by refugee students. It’s mission is to provide a global database of reliable, up-to-date information on refugee-eligible, scholarship programs both in their current countries of asylum and abroad.
Only three percent of refugees have access to higher education globally and many refugees may also not be aware of tertiary education programs available to them in their host countries or abroad. As part of its education strategy, UNHCR and partners are also working to ensure that 15 percent of young refugees can access the benefits of higher education by the year 2030.
September 29, 2020
Immigrants Say They Were Pressured Into Unneeded Surgeries (New York Times) – The Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga., drew national attention this month after a nurse, Dawn Wooten, filed a whistle-blower complaint claiming that detainees had told her they had had their uteruses removed without their full understanding or consent. Firsthand accounts are now emerging from detainees who underwent other invasive gynecological procedures that they did not fully understand and, in some cases, may not have been medically necessary.
The Times interviewed 16 women who were concerned about the gynecological care they received while at the center, and conducted a detailed review of the medical files of seven women who were able to obtain their records. All 16 were treated by Dr. Mahendra Amin, who practices gynecology in the nearby town of Douglas and has been described by ICE officials as the detention center’s “primary gynecologist.” The cases were reviewed by five gynecologists — four of them board-certified and all with medical school affiliations — who found that Dr. Amin consistently overstated the size or risks associated with cysts or masses attached to his patients’ reproductive organs. Small or benign cysts do not typically call for surgical intervention, where large or otherwise troubling ones sometimes do, the experts said.
The doctors stressed that in some cases the medical files might not have been complete and that additional information could potentially shift their analyses. In almost every woman’s chart, Dr. Amin listed symptoms such as heavy bleeding with clots and chronic pelvic pain, which could justify surgery. But some of the women said they never experienced or reported those symptoms to him. Both the reviewing doctors and all of the women interviewed raised concerns about whether Dr. Amin had adequately explained the procedures he performed or provided his patients with less invasive alternatives. Spanish-speaking women said a nurse who spoke Spanish was only sporadically present during their exams.
September 21, 2020
ICE Jails Retaliated Against Immigrants And Denied Adequate Healthcare, Report Finds (Forbes) – Many U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees are denied proper medical care and forced into solitary confinement as a form of retaliation, the House Homeland Security Committee found in a report released Monday that joins a growing list of allegations of substandard treatment in ICE’s vast immigrant detention system. Staff at these jails frequently ignored serious medical problems for months, denied medication to immigrants, mocked detainees’ medical complaints, and prevented people with severe mental health issues from accessing care, the report alleged. The committee also found that ICE’s internal oversight processes have shortcomings “that leave deficiencies unidentified and uncorrected.”
Staff from the committee’s Democratic majority, which is led by Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, compiled the report after interviewing staff and detainees at eight jails in five states, part of a nationwide network of immigrant detention facilities that are generally operated by private companies and local governments. The report outlines cases of improvements made to facilities ahead of inspections, including posting guards, painting walls and refurbishing greenery, The Hill reports.
September 14, 2020
Appeals court OKs Trump plan to end protected immigration status for 4 countries (Politico) – A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled 2-1 Monday to remove protections granted to nationals of four countries because of natural disasters, wars or other upheavals in their homelands. This effectively greenlights the Trump administration’s plan to expel more than 300,000 undocumented immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan and Haiti from the U.S. by ending the “temporary protected status” they have enjoyed for as long as two decades.
“The Secretary [of Homeland Security]’s discretion to make TPS determinations, while not without check, is undoubtedly broad and unique in nature,” Judge Consuelo Callahan wrote in the appeals court’s majority opinion, joined by Judge Ryan Nelson. “The decision to designate any foreign country for TPS begins and ends with the Secretary, so long as certain limited statutory criteria are met.”
The appeals court panel also rejected arguments that the moves to end TPS for the four countries at issue was driven by President Donald Trump’s alleged racial and anti-immigrant bias demonstrated through a series of inflammatory public comments, including in a January 2018 discussion at which he referred to “shithole countries.”
While the 9th Circuit’s decision also lifted that injunction with respect to unlawful immigrants from Haiti, a New York federal judge’s injunction preventing Haitians from being deported remains in place.
September 1, 2020
ICE arrests 2,000 immigrants in largest sweep of the pandemic (CBS News) – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Tuesday it made more than 2,000 arrests during a six-week nationwide operation in July and August. ICE says the operation targeted undocumented immigrants and others subject to deportation who had been charged or convicted of a crime involving a victim, but roughly 15% of the arrest victims were undocumented immigrants with clean records.
As part of the operation, ICE agents made “at-large” arrests, which could take place at residences, worksites and traffic stops, across the country, including in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, where the ICE field office apprehended the most immigrants. Of those arrested without convictions, Henry Lucero, the executive associate director of ICE who’s in charge of apprehensions, detention and deportations, said that those arrested include immigrants who were ordered deported by an immigration judge but did not leave, those previously deported who had reentered the U.S. and so-called “collateral arrests.”
Those arrested with convictions are subject to “mandatory detention” and are not eligible for release, even as confirmed cases of COVID-19 (more than 5,300 total cases among ICE detainees) in ICE facilities continue to increase. “We never stated we’re … going to stop arresting any type of immigration violator. We continue to arrest immigration violators. We use discretion when appropriate. That will remain in effect until further notice,” Lucero said.
August 24, 2020
USCIS Implements Department of Homeland Security Guidance on DACA (USCIS release) – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provided guidance on how it will implement Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf’s July 28 memorandum regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
Under DHS’ implementing guidance, USCIS will reject all initial DACA requests from people who have never previously received DACA. Should USCiS begin accepting new requests in the future, those who have been rejected under the DHS’ guidance will be allowed to reapply for DACA. USCIS will continue to accept requests from people who had been granted DACA at any time in the past and will also accept requests for advance parole that are properly submitted to the address specified on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-131 webpage. USCIS will generally reject requests received more than 150 days before the current grant of DACA expires. They say that DACA recipients should file their renewal request between 150 and 120 days before their current grant of DACA expires.
This is the latest attempt by the current administration to end DACA. The DHS paused all renewals of DACA benefits on July 28. The Wall Street Journal reports that the pause delayed at least 20,000 renewal applications, according to two anonymous sources close to the matter. This comes two months after the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA, filed initially in 2017. Prior to the decision, the Trump administration had only been accepting renewal applications from people who were already in DACA. In July, a federal court in Maryland ordered the government to fully restore the program to the way it operated before the administration attempted to cancel it.
August 16, 2020
A Private Security Company Is Detaining Migrant Children at Hotels (The New York Times) – The Trump administration has been using major hotel chains to detain children and families taken into custody at the border, creating a largely unregulated shadow system of detention and swift expulsions without the safeguards that are intended to protect the most vulnerable migrants. More than 100,000 migrants, including children and families, have been summarily expelled from the country under the measure. But rather than deterring additional migration, the policy appears to have caused border crossings to surge, in part because it eliminates some of the legal consequences for repeat attempts at illegal crossings.
The majority of those detained are children — as young as a year old and often arriving at the border with no parents — who are being put in hotels under the supervision of transportation workers who are not licensed to provide child care. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the children are being adequately cared for during the hotel stays and emphasize that their swift expulsion is necessary to protect the country from the spread of the coronavirus.
But because the hotels exist outside the formal detention system, they are not subject to policies designed to prevent abuse in federal custody or those requiring that detainees be provided access to phones, healthy food, and medical and mental health care. Searching for detained children has been made nearly impossible because they are not being assigned identification numbers that would normally allow families to track their locations in the highly regulated federal detention system.
August 10, 2020
Stalled stimulus talks could mean thousands of furloughs and halt US immigration system (CNN) – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – the federal agency responsible for granting citizenship, providing immigration benefits and processing visa applications – could furlough two-thirds of its workforce at the end of the month after negotiations over the next stimulus package stalled. USCIS told Congress in May that it expected to furlough the majority of its workforce amid a budget shortfall. The agency asked for $1.2 billion, but the expected vehicle for the funds would be the next coronavirus relief bill, which is now at a standstill. With no imminent legislation in sight and a stalemate in Congress over the stimulus, the likelihood additional funds will go to USCIS has all but diminished. Furloughs, if they happen, could bring the immigration system to a halt.
USCIS previously planned to begin furloughs August 3 but pushed the date to August 30 following assurances from Congress and an uptick in application and petition receipts, the agency said. Of the nearly 20,000 USCIS employees, 13,400 are at risk of being furloughed. That’s raised alarm among lawmakers, employees, and former officials who warn that a disruption in the workforce could wreak havoc on the immigration system. The question looming over the next few weeks is whether those furloughs will happen as planned this time around or be pushed again.
“There’s currently no plan B,” a congressional aide told CNN, adding that the next likely opportunity to shore up funding is in September through appropriations legislation unless a Covid package comes together. “The question is whether [USCIS will] delay furloughs and give us that opportunity,” the aide said.
August 3, 2020
Filing for citizenship, other benefits becomes more expensive in October (Border Report) – Beginning on Oct. 2, filing for immigration benefits (including citizenship applications, genealogy record requests and filing for ID, among others) will increase in cost. In a 576-page document, the Department of Homeland Services announced all U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fees by an average of 20 percent. The review excluded a proposed $275 renewal fee for “Dreamers” — the beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Applying to become a U.S. citizen will cost 81% more, and the fees for H1-B and L employment visas will increase by 21 and 75 percent, respectively. The rule also includes a new $50 fee for asylum seekers, and it will increase the cost for an asylum applicant to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) from the current $0 to $490.
Melissa M. Lopez, Executive Director of El Paso’s Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services said that “anytime there is an increase or decrease in fees, but it’s not coupled with better services by the agency, there’s always a concern. USCIS, despite continuing to raise fees over the years, continues to run out of money and ask Congress for additional money.”
July 30, 2020
Judge Halts Trump’s Wealth Test for Green Cards Over Coronavirus Pandemic (New York Times) – A federal judge blocked the Trump administration on Wednesday from moving forward with plans to deny green cards to immigrants who have received Medicaid, food stamps or housing vouchers, even on a limited basis — a wealth test challenged by New York and other states in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The Supreme Court ruled in January that the Trump administration could move forward with the plan, but that was before the pandemic.
The judge, George B. Daniels of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, granted a nationwide temporary injunction. Judge Daniels wrote that the policy “fails to measure up to the gravity of this global pandemic that continues to threaten the lives and economic well-being of America’s residents.” He added, “No person should hesitate to seek medical care, nor should they endure punishment or penalty if they seek temporary financial aid as a result of the pandemic’s impact.”
July 28, 2020
Trump administration to limit DACA work permits as it considers ending program (Washington Post) – The White House said Tuesday it will limit work permits for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to one year instead of two, as administration officials reconsider whether to terminate an eight-year-old program that protects such immigrants from deportation. The move comes more than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Trump administration could not carry out its plans to end the Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, because it had not provided proper legal justification for terminating it.
Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf published a memo on Tuesday limiting the work permits and signaling that DACA “presents serious policy concerns that may warrant its full rescission.” He said he would continue to bar new applications. The White House’s announcement follows weeks of uncertainty and conflicting signals from President Trump. Trump had earlier indicated that he would sign an immigration bill that would include DACA.
July 22, 2020
House Democrats just passed a bill to repeal Trump’s travel bans (Vox) – House Democrats passed a bill on Wednesday that would repeal the Trump Administration’s travel ban on citizens of 13 countries and limit his authority to issue such sweeping bans in the future. The bill — called the No Ban Act, which passed 233-183 — will almost certainly go nowhere in the Republican-led Senate, but it allows Democrats to further establish what issues will be important in local and national elections this November.
The No Ban Act would vacate Trump’s existing travel bans on countries his administration deems to be threats to national security, as well as put in place measures to prevent future such bans. The bill would also strengthen existing prohibitions on religious discrimination in visa applications, which are guaranteed by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Immigrant advocates have praised the House’s measure as a means of protecting the rights of American Muslims.
Another important immigration bill also cleared the House Wednesday: The Access to Counsel Act, which passed 231-184, would allow immigrants to contact an attorney or other legal service provider when they are detained by US Customs and Border Protection or US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigrants taken into custody currently do not have any such assurance.
July 14, 2020
Trump administration reverses course on foreign student ban (CNBC) – The Trump administration has reversed course over a new rule that would have banned some international students from studying in the U.S. this fall. In total, more than 200 schools backed lawsuits against federal immigration authorities, and more than a dozen briefs were filed in support of Harvard and MIT’s original suit ahead of Tuesday’s hearing. The measure would have required around 1 million international students to transfer schools or leave the country if their colleges hold classes entirely online because of the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs in Massachusetts said Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came to a settlement with the government to rescind the policy directive.
Last Monday, federal immigration authorities said international students who are enrolled in online only courses during the coronavirus crisis “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction.” Over 59 public and private colleges — including Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Duke University and Emory University, as well as every member of the Ivy League — signed a court brief supporting the lawsuit brought by Harvard and MIT against Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security.
July 13, 2020
17 states, DC sue Trump administration over visa rules for college students (CNN) – Attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its guidance to not allow foreign students to take online-only courses this fall semester. The multistate effort, filed in the US District Court in Massachusetts on Monday against the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also seeks to stop the policy from going into effect while the case is being decided. The lawsuit is headed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
The effort is also the latest pushback against the policy. Harvard and MIT filed lawsuits against the guidance last week, and nearly 100 members of Congress sent a letter to DHS urging the department to rescind the policy. Other states that joined in Monday’s lawsuit include: Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, Minnesota, New Jersey, Colorado, Delaware, Oregon, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Vermont, and Michigan.
“The Trump Administration didn’t even attempt to explain the basis for this senseless rule, which forces schools to choose between keeping their international students enrolled and protecting the health and safety of their campuses,” Healey said in a statement.
July 7, 2020
International students may need to leave US if their universities transition to online-only learning (CNN) – International students who are pursuing degrees in the United States will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only courses, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday. In a news release, ICE said that students who fall under certain visas “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” adding, “The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.”
This statement comes at a time when many countries worldwide have travel restrictions in place that may not allow students to return to their home countries. Assuming these students have somewhere to go, these new regulations could result in many foreign students – who often pay high tuition – to have to return to their home country. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington, DC, about 1.2 million students who fall under the affected visas were enrolled and registered at more than 8,700 schools nationwide as of March 2018.
ICE suggested that students currently enrolled in the US consider other measures, like transferring to schools with in-person instruction. There’s an exception for universities using a hybrid model, such as a mix of online and in-person classes.
July 1, 2020
Federal judge strikes down Trump asylum rule targeting Central Americans (Washington Post) – A federal judge in Washington struck down a Trump administration policy late Tuesday, June 30, which bars most Central Americans and other migrants from requesting asylum at the southern border. The policy is aimed at blocking Central American migration by requiring asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and elsewhere to first apply for asylum in countries they pass through on the way to the United States, particularly Mexico or Guatemala. In his decision, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of Washington, D.C. said that the government failed to justify making the sudden change last July without public notice or comment and that the administration “unlawfully promulgated” the rule, failing to show it was in the public interest to stealthily implement the change and bypass the Administrative Procedure Act.
While it is unclear what immediate effect the order will have, this decision marks a defeat for the Trump administration. Citing the coronavirus pandemic, the president has sealed the U.S. immigration system so tightly that just two people seeking humanitarian protection at the southern border between March 21 and May 13 were allowed to stay. A government appeal is expected, but for now, the judge’s ruling blocks the Trump administration’s attempt to reverse decades of immigration law by categorically denying asylum to almost anyone crossing the border. Since 1980, the United States has generally let anyone who says they are fleeing persecution or violence to at least apply for asylum after setting foot on U.S. soil.
The American Civil Liberties Union and National Immigrant Justice Center brought one of two cases that were consolidated by the court. ACLU attorney Julie Veroff said, “The court recognized that the Trump administration unlawfully skipped steps mandated by Congress to ensure transparency in its failed attempt to make an end-run around asylum protections.”
June 25, 2020
Supreme Court rules asylum seeker cannot challenge removal (CNN) – On Thursday, June 25, the Supreme Court ruled that a Sri Lankan farmer, Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, who lost his bid for asylum in the United States after immigration officials ordered his removal could not challenge that decision in federal court. The ruling will affect thousands of asylum seekers trapped in expedited removal processes who say they cannot return home because they have a credible fear of torture or even death.
Thuraissigiam, a member of Sri Lanka’s Tamil ethnic minority, was apprehended about 25 yards north of the Mexican border near San Ysidro, Calif. He told an asylum officer that he had been savagely beaten in Sri Lanka by men who had blindfolded and abducted him. He said he had spent 11 days in a hospital recovering from his injuries. Though their communication was imperfect, the officer believed Thuraissigiam, but rejected his request because Thuraissigiam could not identify the assailants or definitively establish their motives. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, sided with Thuraissigiam before appeals took the case to the Supreme Court, which rejected Thuraissigiam’s request by a 7-2 vote.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, stated that additional court challenges for the right to asylum could gum up the immigration system. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, wrote in dissent that this ruling could be used to “permit Congress to constitutionally eliminate all procedural protections for any noncitizen the Government deems unlawfully admitted and summarily deport them no matter how many decades they have lived here, how settled and integrated they are in their communities, or how many members of their family are U.S. citizens or residents.”
June 22, 2020
Trump, citing pandemic, orders limits on foreign workers, extends immigration restrictions through December (Washington Post) – President Trump issued a proclamation Monday, June 22, barring many categories of foreign workers and limiting immigration visas through the end of the year. The ban expands earlier restrictions, adding work visas that many companies use, especially in the technology sector, landscaping services and the forestry industry. It excludes agricultural laborers, health-care professionals supporting the pandemic response and food-service employees, along with some other temporary workers.
The restrictions will prevent foreign workers from filling 525,000 jobs, according to the administration’s estimates, at a time when visa processing has already seen a massive dip. State Department visa statistics show the number of nonimmigrant visas issued each month has dropped more than 90 percent since February. Last month, the United States granted just more than 40,000 nonimmigrant visas — which include visas for tourists and other short-term visitors — down from 670,000 in January, the data shows.
The freeze announced Monday will apply to the H1-B visa category for highly skilled workers, the H-4 visa for their spouses and the L visas companies use to transfer international employees into the United States. These restrictions will not apply to immigrants already living and working in the United States or to permanent residents seeking to become naturalized citizens.
June 18, 2020
Supreme Court blocks Trump from ending DACA (NBC News) – The Supreme Court upheld the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a 5-4 decision. The ruling protects the approximately 800,000 “Dreamers” who are protected under DACA, allowing them to remain safe from deportation for now, while the Trump administration jumps through the administrative hoops that the court said are required before ending the program.
President Trump sought to end the program shortly after he took office, maintaining that it was illegal and unconstitutional from the start, but he was blocked by the lower courts and appealed to the Supreme Court, where Thursday the justices divided over both substance and timing. The DACA program gave temporary protection from deportation to qualified individuals brought to the U.S. as children. Under the program, the Dreamers were allowed to work legally and apply for college loans if they met certain requirements and passed a background check.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the decision that the government failed to give an adequate justification for ending the federal program. However, Roberts pointed out that it wasn’t necessarily unconstitutional for the Trump administration to terminate DACA, but the way it did so was.
June 15, 2020
California ‘sanctuary’ rules stay in place after Supreme Court rejects Trump’s challengeSupreme Court won’t hear challenge to California sanctuary law (LA Times) – On Monday, June 15, the Supreme Court decided to leave in place a lower court opinion upholding one of California’s “sanctuary laws” that prohibits law enforcement officials from aiding federal agents in taking custody of immigrants as they are released from jail. The Trump administration has called these laws a means to “undermine” federal immigration enforcement and had asked the court to review the law.
The Trump administration’s challenge was launched by former Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. He insisted California was unconstitutionally interfering with federal immigration enforcement, but the Supreme Court said state and local officials are not obliged to carry out federal enforcement. Only Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. voted to hear the administration’s appeal. Even Trump’s two appointees — Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh — refused to hear the administration’s appeal.
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said he was gratified by the decision and believed it was a “huge step forward.” He said the court’s reasoning followed “precedent and the interpretation of the Constitution the way it has been for 200 years.” Despite the victory, Becerra said that he worried that the high-profile case and the federal government’s position had damaged trust in immigrant communities. “Even [when] the Trump administration loses, in many ways their anti-immigration, hostile agenda can still win because the message reverberates,” Becerra said.
June 11, 2020
Trump Administration Proposes Rules To Sharply Restrict Asylum Claims (NPR) – The Trump administration has released a draft of new regulations that would sharply restrict how asylum is granted to immigrants who come to the U.S. seeking protection. Critics say the proposed changes are so severe that they would effectively shut down the asylum system in this country. The sweeping restrictions would make it easier for immigration judges to reject asylum requests out of hand. They would, for instance, harden the categories of people who face persecution for their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group. A Justice Department press release says the 161-page rule would allow “streamlined proceedings” for individuals found to have credible fear, clarify when an application is “frivolous,” define terms involved in the adjudication of asylum claims, and raise certain burdens of proof.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., blasted the proposed changes as “abhorrent, un-American, and illegal. “As we have seen time and time again over the last four years, this President is attempting to rewrite our immigration laws in direct contravention of duly enacted statutes and clear congressional intent,” Nadler and Lofgren said in statement. “In this historic moment, preserving the rule of law and nation’s long tradition of asylum-seeking is crucial. We can and must continue to be a beacon of hope and freedom across the world.”
The Trump administration has been rejecting what it considers “frivolous” claims by immigrants who say they’re fleeing criminal gangs or an abusive spouse. The proposed rule changes are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on June 15, followed by a public comment period.
June 9, 2020
The Federal Agency Running the Immigration Courts Keeps Deleting Asylum Records (Immigration Impact) – For the second time in eight months, Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) is accusing the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) – the agency in charge of immigration courts and data – of deleting database records on tens of thousands of asylum seekers, including data on asylum applications. TRAC compiles immigration and asylum data through the Freedom of Information Act and publishes it online for public viewing. In October 2019, TRAC charged that EOIR was providing “incomplete and garbled immigration court data” through FOIA. The agency publicly disagreed. The current accusation is again for mishandling of data, specifically a “reckless deletion of potentially irretrievable court records.”
Though there is no evidence that individual cases are affected, TRAC’s analysis of EOIR data indicates that upwards of 60,000 records of asylum applications are disappearing each month. That sum represents more applications than are even filed in an average month. TRAC, one of the few organizations that allows the public to analyze court data, now says that EOIR data on asylum applications is “so deficient” that the “public should not rely on [the] accuracy of court records.”
June 3, 2020:
Federal Immigration Office Reopens: 7,000 Massachusetts residents waiting to take citizenship oath (CommonWealth) – The Boston office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reopened on June 3, 11 weeks after shutting down almost all in-person services due to the coronavirus pandemic. Citizenship oath ceremonies in Boston will resume on June 8, with a limit of 10 people allowed in a room. With more than 7,000 ceremonies in Massachusetts having been postponed, USCIS said that naturalization ceremonies will be limited to candidates whose oath-taking had already been scheduled.
In an effort to aid those who have been waiting for two months, Project Citizenship, an organization that works with immigrants seeking to become citizens, and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program sent a letter earlier this week asking federal court judges in Boston to resume citizenship ceremonies. They said they’re concerned that the long wait has left some people ineligible to apply for benefits like unemployment, and has also prevented them voting. “Our concern is that due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, USCIS will likely only be able to naturalize a handful of individuals at each ceremony, said Sameer Ahmed, clinical instructor at the Harvard program. “Given that the federal court previously held large-scale oath ceremonies for hundreds of individuals, we believe that the agency’s current effort will be unable to resolve the significant backlog in a timely manner.”
Things are now even more urgent, as USCIS says that without congressional intervention by July 20, the agency will need to furlough employees. A USCIS spokesperson said the agency is seeking one-time emergency funding of $1.2 billion to maintain operations. As of now, local employees have not heard whether the Boston office will be impacted.
May 27, 2020:
With citizenship ceremonies postponed, hundreds of thousands could miss chance to vote in November (Washington Post) – Naturalizations reached an 11-year high last year, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers the oath of citizenship to an average of about 63,000 applicants per month, according to the agency’s latest statistics. These services are now put on hold by the USCIS because the agency closed its offices in mid-March and postponed approximately 150,000 naturalizations amid the coronavirus outbreak. USCIS has not been able to keep up with demands, and one of the main reasons they claim that they cannot conduct virtual ceremonies is that applicants are briefly interviewed by staff members before naturalization, and they must submit a form on the day of the ceremony attesting that they remain eligible for citizenship. The agency is preparing to resume public services “on or after June 4,” according to a statement.
A Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Data published in February estimated that 23 million naturalized citizens will be eligible to vote in November, the most ever and equal to about 10 percent of the U.S. electorate. The percentage of immigrants made eligible to vote through naturalization has increased 93 percent since 2000, the Pew estimates show. Hispanic immigrants accounted for 34 percent of all foreign-born eligible voters in 2018, according to the study, while Asian immigrants represent 31 percent of immigrant voters. Both groups tend to favor Democrats, and more recent surveys indicate that trend has accelerated under Trump, who has made restricting legal and illegal immigration a major theme of his presidency. Boundless Immigration, an organization that provides legal aid to immigrants and refugees, calculates that more than 400,000 potential voters will be ineligible this November if citizenship processing remains essentially frozen. That includes immigrants whose ceremonies have been canceled as well as new applicants who won’t be able to schedule one in time.
April 14, 2020:
Chicago coronavirus outbreak infects dozens of migrant children in U.S. custody (CBS News) – Heartland Alliance, a non-profit responsible for three Chicago-area shelters that are currently housing 69 migrant children has reported that more than half of the minors in their care have tested positive for COVID-19. The non-profit says they are working to stop the spread of the virus in their facilities by increasing social distancing measures and providing personal protective equipment for their staff. The Office of Refugee Resettlement has also reported cases among minors in two facilities in Texas. There are fewer than 2,500 migrant children under the office’s care as many that were in custody have been released to sponsors, often family members, in the U.S. and there are few new migrant children entering the country. Customs and Border Protection officials are deporting taking advantage of a public health order that they say was put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus which allows them to turn-back migrants immediately when they are encountered rather than putting them in a detention facility to await a hearing. There are more than 70 adults in ICE custody who have tested positive for COVID-19 at their family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. Employees at detention facilities are also at risk with at least 53 workers at facilities for minors testing positive across seven states. Immigration advocates have argued that children held in government custody are unable to protect themselves from coronavirus and have asked a federal judge in California to order the release of all migrant children in government custody.
March 10-20, 2020:
13 changes to the US immigration system during the coronavirus pandemic (CNN) – CNN has put together a list of recent actions by the Trump administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic that affect immigrants, ICE, and international travel among other things. The US has agreed with leaders in both Mexico and Canada to limit travel across shared land borders, as well as announcing a restriction on travel from Europe in addition to previously announced restrictions on China and Iran. ICE has altered some of its regular functions saying they will not carry out operations in or near health care facilities so as to not discouraged undocumented persons from receiving testing or treatment for COVID-19. Some immigration courts have closed, deportation flights to countries like Italy and South Korea that the administration sees as high-risk are suspended, visitation at detention facilities is temporarily banned. The UN refugee agency announced the suspension of resettlement travel to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, following which the Trump administration has halted the intake of refugees until April 6.
March 18, 2020:
Coronavirus response: Boston immigration court and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suspend events as pressure mounts for them to close (Masslive) – Federal officials have announced the suspension of immigration court hearings and in-person interviews with immigration officials in light os the threat posed by the novel coronavirus. In-person services at field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers are suspended until April 1, until then they will continue remotely. While the Boston immigration court will remain open, hearings for non-detained immigrants are no longer being held. Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys have spoken out against the continuation of hearings for detainees as it required them to put themselves and their families at risk by leaving the house to go to work. Some immigration attorneys have gone as far as to call for the release of all detained immigrants awaiting their immigration hearings as they have little chance to protect themselves from coronavirus while in ICE detention centers.
March 3, 2020:
Amid coronavirus spread, health advocates worry Trump’s immigration policies put public at risk (NBC News) – The Trump administration’s public charge rule which came into effect last month has scared some immigrants into removing their families from health or nutrition programs, regardless of whether or not they qualify for them, because they fear it will impact their chances of obtaining a green card. Doctors are worried that the public charge rule will further discourage undocumented immigrants from seeking medical attention in a time when it is critical that people get themselves tested for coronavirus so they know if they pose a threat to others or if they need medical attention themselves. Several medical professionals interviewed insist that their practices and clinics do not ask about or document a person’s immigration status when they come to them seeking medical attention. Those who are worried about their legal status or who lack health insurance can, and should, go to public health centers, free clinics, or emergency rooms if they have coronavirus symptoms. As far as the risk posed by the public charge rule, “emergency medical assistance” such as that needed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, does not qualify a person as being a public charge.
February 28, 2020:
Federal appeals court blocks President Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy but stays its own ruling: An appeals panel blocked the Trump administration policy that has pushed tens of thousands of migrants back into Mexico to await U.S. asylum hearings (The Washington Post) – A panel of Appeals court judges ruled to reinstate a district court judge’s injunction that halted the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) but several hours later granted the administration’s request for an emergency stay allowing the policy to temporarily remain in effect. The MPP is also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy which requires asylum seekers to await their asylum hearings in Mexico rather than in the United States. Two of the three judges on the panel agreed with the district court judge that MPP likely violated federal law as well as “non-refoulement” obligations under both international and domestic law that forbids the government from sending people to countries where they would be in danger. The labor union of asylum officers who work on these cases has argued that MPP threatens migrants’ lives and the advocacy group Human Rights First has documented over 1,000 reports of murder, rape, and kidnapping among the asylum-seeking population that has been forced to remain in Mexico. MPP was expanded in June when Mexico agreed to host migrants to fight against smugglers after the Trump administration threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican exports.
February 17, 2020:
US released 375,000 illegal immigrants who entered with family members (Washington Examiner) – In fiscal 2019, 473,682 immigrants with families and 76,000 unaccompanied children were taken into Border Patrol custody at the US-Mexico border. ICE has stated it has had trouble holding detained families due to a lack of bed space and a 2015 court ruling that prevents ICE from detaining families for more than 20 days. Immigrants who are released by Border Patrol rather than being transferred to ICE, about 145,000 between March and September of 2019, are given a notice to appear which tells them when they are due to appear in court for their deportation hearing. In 2019 ICE deported 267,258 people which included 5,702 immigrants who arrived with family members and 6,351 unaccompanied children.
Some notes on these statistics: In order to apply for asylum in the US, immigrants must file the correct paperwork within one year of their arrival in the US or ask for asylum at a point of entry to the country (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). There is no data given in this article on how many of those who were taken into custody at the southern border went on to apply for asylum, but we must recognize that unaccompanied children or families that reach the southern border must have had a very compelling reason to face the dangers of the journey. A recent study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University found that in the fiscal year 2019, 99% of asylum seekers attended all of their court hearings, despite the fact that the average asylum applicant waited nearly three years for a court date. Overall, 69% of applicants were denied asylum.
February 14, 2020:
Border patrol agents to have presence in Boston for immigration enforcement in coming weeks (The Boston Globe) – Massachusetts immigration advocates are coming out in force to condemn the Trump administration’s decision to send immigration enforcement agents to Boston and other sanctuary cities over the next few weeks. Suffolk District Attorney Rachel Rollins, Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Mayor Walsh, and Matthew Segal, the legal director of Massachusetts’ branch of the ACLU have all put out statements against this action by the White House. The general consensus among activists is that this is a fear tactic meant to scare immigrants, divide our community, and retaliate against local governments who disagree with the Trump administration’s stance on immigration. Border agents are expected to be present from February through May in Boston and other sanctuary cities such as Chicago, Lost Angeles, and New York. Outside of the Customs & Border Protection presence at Logan International Airport, there are no border patrol agents usually stationed in Boston, with the closest stations being those along the Canadian border. Immigration advocates and local politicians have warned of consequences such as unnecessary violence towards immigrants, decreased community cooperation with law enforcement, and family separation as a result of CBP presence in Boston.
February 5, 2020:
Why Issuing Driver’s Licenses To Undocumented Immigrants Makes Everyone Safer (wbur) – In a piece published by wbur, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh explains why he believes Massachusetts needs to pass the Work and Family Mobility Act which would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. He argues that the bill will make communities safer and show that Massachusetts values the estimated 275,000 undocumented immigrants who live and work in the state, run small businesses, and pay their taxes. The bill, he claims, would lead to “better trained, better regulated drivers” and further the positive relationship between immigrants and the police. Mayor Walsh points out that there are already 17 states in the country that have passed similar laws allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, and since Connecticut has begun providing licenses to undocumented residents hit-and-run crashes are down 9%. According to Mayor Walsh, “this bill is not about where you stand on immigration…It’s about making our communities safer.”
Update! February 10: Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker opposes the Work and Family Mobility Act so in order to overcome a veto from the governor the bill would need more than ⅔ support in both branches of the State House. In the first test of the bill’s strength, it passed the ⅔ threshold at the committee level, are encouraged by this first win. The House will likely vote on either the Work and Family Mobility Act or the Safe Communities Act this session.
January 29, 2020:
US travel ban: Trump restricts immigration from Nigeria and five other countries (BBC) – The Trump administration has announced that it will expand its 2017 travel ban to include six more countries: Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar. Citizens of these nations will still be able to enter the US as tourists but will be barred from obtaining certain types of visas. Officials within the administration have said these countries were added to the immigration ban because they failed to meet US security and information-sharing standards. The original seven countries included in the 2017 ban were all majority-Muslim and many of the countries added to the list this week have sizeable Muslim populations as well. The country most affected by the new additions to the ban will be Nigeria as in 2018 the US issues more than 8,000 immigration visas to Nigerian citizens.
January 27, 2020:
5-4 Supreme Court allows rule to take effect that could reshape legal immigration (CNN) – The Supreme Court has voted to overturn the nationwide injunction issued by a judge in a New York court last fall which blocked the Trump administration’s public charge rule. The rule that will now go into effect in all states barring Illinois where the law is under a separate injunction. The public charge rule will affect green card applicants by denying green cards to any immigrants who may need public assistance upon their arrival. Immigrants who may qualify for or need help from programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and housing vouchers will have a much harder time obtaining legal status in the U.S. thanks to this new rule. Immigration advocates, cities, and states all filed suits opposing the law which they claim unlawfully expands the 1996 definition of “public charge” which is someone who depends on government assistance for more than half of their income.
January 23, 2020:
U.S. to impose visa restrictions for pregnant women (TIME) – Trump’s newest immigration policy went into effect on Friday, this one aimed at ending “birth tourism” by denying tourist visas to pregnant women unless they can prove they have either the money or medical necessity to give birth in the U.S. Birth tourism refers to the practice of women traveling to the United States while pregnant so their child will be born here and therefore be an American citizen. An industry has developed around this practice with U.S. companies charging up to $80,000 to help women come to the U.S. to give birth, many of whom are coming from Russia and China. While birth tourism itself is not illegal, administrations before Trump were also working to tighten regulations around it, and the new rules seek to “eliminate the criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry” such as lying to customs agents about the purpose or duration of their trip. These new policies will not apply to citizens of the 39 mainly European and Asian countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program, as they do not need tourist visas to enter the U.S.
January 19, 2020:
$11 Billion And Counting: Trump’s Border Wall Would Be The World’s Most Costly (NPR) – At nearly $20 million per mile, Trump’s border wall has become the most expensive in the world and will cost nearly five times more per mile than the 650 miles of border fence constructed under the last two administrations. Trump’s “border wall system” is more complex than the fencing which already exists but Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas has argued that technology and manpower may be smarter border security that “spending billions of dollars to those federal contracts.” One of the larger contracts was granted to Fisher Sand & Gravel after their CEO went on Fox News claiming he could build the wall faster and cheaper than other companies. At $400 million the company didn’t come cheap and the wall isn’t going up quickly either due to both environmental hurdles and the long process of using eminent domain to force private landowners along the border to give their land over to the government. As of this month, the Trump administration has constructed 101 miles of border wall, but 100 of those miles were replacement or secondary wall meaning the border wall as a whole is only one mile longer than it was at the end of Obama’s presidency.
January 15, 2020:
Federal Judge Blocks Trump Order Letting States Bar Refugee Resettlement (U.S. News) – A federal judge has temporarily blocked an executive order given by President Trump last September which would give state and local governments the authority to veto refugee resettlement in their jurisdictions. Judge Peter J. Messitte of Maryland ruled that the policy is likely against the law and is “arbitrary and capricious as well as inherently susceptible to hidden bias.” The case was brought by refugee resettlement agencies that work with the U.S. government to find homes for refugees who have been vetted by the government and are fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries. So far Texas is the only state that has said it would not allow refugee resettlement but there are several southern states who have still not indicated whether or not they will allow refugees in.
January 13, 2020:
Boston immigration court approved 58% of asylum requests (CommonWealth) – Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse released data on 178,858 asylum requests at 59 courts across the country from fiscal 2014 through the fiscal year 2019. The data shows that during this period the Boston immigration court approved 58% of asylum cases during the six-year period. One New England-based immigration lawyer attributed these high asylum approval ratings to the “professionalism and diversity” of Boston judges and the fact that “more applicants in Boston tend to have attorneys.” Of the Boston judges included in the data set, asylum approval rates varied greatly with Judge O’Sullivan ruling in favor of asylum seekers 74% of the time while two of his colleagues approved just 26% and 25% of asylum requests. Rates in other parts of the country continue to be devastatingly high with the Atlanta court denying 97% of applicants and the Las Vegas court denying 93% of applicants.
January 6, 2020:
At Boston Immigration Court, ICE Must Now Justify Detaining Noncitizens – Reversing Decades of Precedent (The Intercept) – A ruling from a June 2019 court case won by the ACLU came into effect on December 13, shifting the burden of proof in the Boston immigration court proceedings from the immigrant to the ICE lawyers. The ACLU has been monitoring the effects of this new policy and said that early evidence shows more people are getting bonds rather than being detained and that the bonds appear to be lower than they previously were. Proving to a judge that their clients were not a flight risk or a danger to society was difficult for immigration lawyers as they only had one chance to present a complete criminal record to the judge, and if any documentation was missing their clients would often be detained. Thanks to the new ruling it now falls to ICE lawyers to prove that the defendant is a danger to society or a flight risk in order to detain them. This ruling only applies to the Boston immigration court, but as the court covers almost all New England immigration cases it will still help hundreds of immigrants remain with their families for the duration of their immigration cases.
Newly released records point to evidence that Boston student information was shared with immigration agency (The Boston Globe) – Documents recently released by the Lawyers for Civil Rights indicate the Boston city agencies shared information about Boston Public School students with a Boston intelligence-sharing network that included an agent from the Department of Homeland Security. This is documented to have happened over 100 times between 2014 and 2018, contradicting previous statements by school officials saying that student data had been shared with officials only one time. The Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) is partially funded by Homeland Security, the parent organization of both Border and Customs Enforcement and ICE, and at least one Homeland Security analyst had access to the information shared with BRIC. There are at least two instances where incident reports released by the school were used against students in their deportation cases. Boston Public Schools changed its policy on sharing incident reports in 2018 after concerns were raised by civil rights groups.
Stories to Watch in 2020
Here is a list of ongoing state and national immigration stories compiled by WBUR to keep an eye on in the new year.
Safe communities Act & Driver’s licenses
If passed the Safe Communities Act would limit interaction between local police and ICE, prevent local law enforcement from performing the duties of ICE agents, and prohibit law enforcement from asking about immigration status.
The issue to watch:
Governor Charlie Baker has said that he would likely veto the measure if it passes through the State legislature. He also opposes a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
Status for haiti, honduras, and El salvador
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allows people whose home countries have been devastated by natural disasters or civil unrest to temporarily live and work in the United States.
The issue to watch:
In 2017 the Trump administration announced they would be terminating TPS for nationals of several countries claiming that conditions had improved enough for immigrants to return home. In 2019 a federal judge in California temporarily blocked the administration from ending TPS causing the Department of Homeland Security to extend TPS benefits to immigrants from Haiti, Honduras, and El Salvador until January 4, 2021. A decision from the California court is expected to come in 2020 and will affect many of the estimated 12,000 TPS holders living and working in Massachusetts.
DACA at the supreme court
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an Obama-era program that gives people brought to the U.S. by their parents without authorization limited and temporary protections from deportation. DACA has protected 800,000 immigrants nationally and given them the ability to study and work in the U.S.
The issue to watch:
In 2017 the Trump administration announced they were ending DACA with then-Attorney General Sessions arguing Obama overextended his executive authority by enacting the program. As the legal challenges to this decision have been heard, federal appeals judges have ruled that ending DACA requires both an explanation and a cost-benefit analysis from the Trump administration, due to the extensive implications of ending the program. One challenge made it up to the Supreme Court in November and a decision is expected in spring 2020.
December 24, 2019:
Reform the au pair program: Foreign childcare workers deserve the same labor protections as other domestic workers (The Boston Globe) – A federal appeals court in Massachusetts has ruled that au pairs who come to the US on the J-1 cultural exchange visas are protected under the same workplace laws as domestic employees. This ruling means au pairs in Massachusetts will be entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay as well as limiting the deductions that can be made to their pay for room and board. These protections will help to close the loopholes that have left au pairs vulnerable to exploitation in the past and allow the program to function as the cultural exchange and international goodwill program it was meant to be.
December 21, 2019:
ICE reopening long-closed deportation cases against Dreamers (CNN) – Three states have seen ICE petitioning immigration courts to reopen previously closed deportation cases against DACA recipients. Since October DACA recipients in Arizona, Nevada, and Missouri have had their deportation records reopened despite having minor criminal records or no criminal record at all. ICE has confirmed to CNN that they are planning to reopen the deportation cases against all DACA recipients whose cases were closed due to their DACA status. ICE spokeswoman Paige Hughes said that ICE is required to reopen around 350,000 previously closed cases by a May 2018 decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
December 19, 2019:
Mayor Walsh signs Boston Trust Act amendments into law (Sampan.org) – Following its unanimous approval by the Boston City Council, Mayor Walsh signed an updated version of the 2014 Boston Trust Act into law this week. The new additions to the legislation come in response to the harsher immigration policies and fearful environment for immigrants that have come about under the Trump administration. The amendments clarify the role of the Boston Police Department in relation to ICE and the detention and deportation of immigrants in order to restore the trust between the BPD and Boston’s immigrant community. Per the new amendments, BPD officers will not ask anyone about their immigration status, share information with ICE, make arrests based only on ICE warrants, transfer detainees to ICE custody, or perform any functions of federal immigration officers. While the BPD will still work with the Homeland Security Investigations division of ICE on matters of public safety they will not work with ICE on any civil immigration enforcement issues.
December 17, 2019:
UN urges ‘reboot’ of refugee response as millions uprooted (Boston 25 News) – At the first Global Refugee Forum this week the United Nations has urged all people, countries, and businesses to “reboot” their response to the refugee crisis. Filippo Grandi, The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees told those in attendance that there are 25 million refugees in need of assistance as he called for a “broad alliance” of “governments, business, development institutions, the aid community, sports organizations, and others.” The forum, co-hosted by many of the largest hosts of refugees highlighted that nine of the ten countries that have accepted the most refugees are low or middle income and are deserving of greater support from the global community than they have been given. Tensions arose between several countries during the conference and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stating that no one has supported his proposals to remove oil wells and use the land for refugee services and homes as “they need oil more” than refugees.
December 14, 2019:
Immigration Tent Courts at Border Raise Due-Process Concerns (The Wall Street Journal) – The Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols now require migrants at the southern border to remain in Mexico while awaiting a decision from the immigration courts. Immigration tent courts have been set up at several border points for immigrants to have their cases heard in court however due-process concerns have been raised about these courts by immigration-rights advocates and the judges union. Judges video call into these courtrooms which the judges union has argued inhibits their ability to make fair judgments and determine an applicant’s credibility. Forcing applicants to remain in Mexico inhibits their access to lawyers which greatly decreases their chances of being granted legal status. Of the 47,313 cases filed between January and September of this year, only 11 applicants were granted legal status and allowed into the U.S.
December 3, 2019:
How McKinsey Helped the Trump Administration Carry Out Its Immigration Policies (The New York Times) – The McKinsey & Company consulting firm was originally hired by the Obama administration to help reorganize ICE, but under the Trump administration they have been working on finding ways to cut costs within the department. McKinsey suggested cutting spending on food for migrants, medical care and supervision for those being held in ICE detention centers and searched for ways to speed up deportation. Some of the recommendations given by McKinsey were so extreme they made even long-time ICE agents uncomfortable as concerns were raised over the human cost of budget cuts and the lack of due-process in speeding up deportation.
December 2, 2019:
Here’s Why Becoming A U.S. Citizen Just Got More Difficult (WBUR) – According to Melanie Torres, the director of programs and operations for Project Citizenship, the biggest barrier immigrants face in the naturalization process is cost. Previously, the federal government waived the $725 citizenship application fee for migrants who could prove they received welfare benefits from the state or federal government such as food stamps or Medicaid. On December 9th the requirements for this waiver will change and require a tax transcript which Torres says will be “nearly impossible” for many of their clients. While 40% of applicants were able to use the fee waiver in 2017, Torres expects this number to decrease due to the new regulations as the elderly who don’t file taxes, people who are claimed as dependents and those living in informal households are unable to obtain the required tax transcript.
November 22, 2019:
Cassellius Wants New State Funding For Boston To ‘Go To Kids’ (WGBH) – On Friday, the Superintendent of Boston Schools Brenda Cassellius announced that she wants “every single dollar” of new funding the district is set to receive from Massachusetts’ new education funding bill to go directly to helping students. The bill, which has been passed by the state legislature and sent to Governor Baker to sign, gives an additional $1.6 billion in funding over the next seven years to specifically serve students who are falling behind. The funds will be used to help students from low-income families, special needs students, and immigrant students who are still learning English. Cassellius said that she wants to use the funds to help build up support systems within the Boston school system for children and their families such as hiring social workers and counselors.
November 21, 2019
Advocated Challenge Trump Administration Plan To Let States And Towns Block Refugees (WGBH) – Three refugee resettlement agencies have filed a lawsuit challenging an executive order President Trump signed in September which would give state and local authorities the power to prevent refugee resettlement in their communities. The organizations argue that the order violates federal law as Congress has not given states the power to veto the decisions of the resettlement agencies tasked by the federal government with resettling refugees once they’ve been accepted into the country. While no states have tried to use this power to block refugees yet there are several who have tried to block or delay resettlements in the past even though it has been found that refugees have brought in $63 billion more than they have cost the government over the last ten years. If states are allowed to block resettlement, the refugee backlog will grow even larger and refugees will be forced to remain in camps for longer than they already have been.
November 13, 2019:
Supreme Court May Side With Trump On ‘DREAMers’ (WGBH) – On Tuesday the Supreme Court’s conservative majority indicated that it made side with Trump and allow his administration to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This would revoke temporary deportation protection, work eligibility, and school eligibility for nearly 700,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. Three federal appeals courts have decided against the Trump administration arguing that a stronger rationale was needed to revoke a policy that so many people and businesses rely upon.
November 6, 2019:
Business owners make their case for the Safe Communities Act (MIRA Coalition) – Three business owners who are members of the Massachusetts Business Immigration Coalition (MBIC) participated in a panel at the State House as part of a legislative briefing in which they voiced their support for the Safe Communities Act. The three owners discussed the “climate of fear” that affects their immigrant workers, whether they have legal status or not. One owner discussed how his company struggles to find enough workers, and that the 40-50% of his employees who are foreign-born are “absolutely key to [the company’s] existence.” All three discussed how this “climate of fear” causes more harm as many immigrants are afraid to go to the doctor, report safety issues at work, or consult legal counsel which harms both the immigrants themselves and the businesses that employ them.
November 1, 2019:
Amid hiring shortage, MilliporeSigma draws in workers with ESL classes (Boston Business Journal) – MilliporeSigma, a life science company based in Burlington MA. that works to advance health care and treatments, has started offering ESL classes at its location in Danvers. In the three years the program has been running they have seen an increase in both job applications and employee retention for that location.
October 28, 2019:
Boston Police Had a One-Man ‘Task Force’ That Helped ICE Track Down Immigrants, Emails Show (Vice News) – Documents obtained by the ACLU of Massachusetts revealed a collaboration between ICE agents and some of the cities police officers including “task force officer” Gregory Gallagher. The documents showed that Gallagher helped ICE find and arrest undocumented immigrants and that ICE would request police reports on immigrants and asked Gallagher to detain immigrants until ICE could pick them up, a practice which has been illegal in Boston since the Trust Act was passed in 2014. In response to this Mayor Walsh, whose office had already been investigating the relationship between Boston P.D. and ICE, said he does not expect the partnership between the two agencies to end. Boston P.D. has reassigned Gallagher to a new position.
October 23, 2019:
House Democrats Unveil Bill To Protect Climate Refugees (Huffington Post) – House Democrats are set to introduce the Climate Displaced Persons Act which would create a new program to accept at least 50,000 refugees who have been displaced due to the effects of climate change. This federal program would be separate from the US’s existing refugee program and allow for a new path to legal status in the US, however it seems unlikely to pass under the Trump presidency, due to the current administration’s rejection of climate science and recent cuts to the refugee cap. This new legislation would require the White House to collect data on extreme weather events and subsequent displacements and submit annual reports to Congress. With an average of 24 million people being displaced each year by catastrophic weather events, this program would give those already coming to America from Central America, North Africa, and the Middle East due to droughts and hurricane destruction.
October 22, 2019:
Accusing Trump Of Racial Animus, Liberians Facing Deportation Are Fighting To Stay (WGBH) – Of the 2,000 Liberians living in the Worcester Massachusetts area, an estimated 100 of them came to the U.S. as part of the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program which gave temporary status to Liberians fleeing their country due to the incredible violence of the civil wars which claimed more than 300,000 lives. For the 4,000 Liberians still living in the U.S. under DED, the program offers no path to citizenship and was recently terminated by President Trump, requiring all DED participants to leave the country by March 2020. Momolu Bongay and 14 other Liberians dependent on DED have challenged this decision in court claiming that the program is not ending because it is safe for them to return to Liberia as Trump claims, but rather that it is being ended as part of Trump’s discriminatory anti-immigrant agenda.
October 14, 2019:
Study: Undocumented immigrants don’t tank home prices (Boston Agent Magazine) – A recent study conducted by Clever Real Estate has shown that immigrants, regardless of their legal status, account for a 14 cent increase in metro area home values per immigrant. Their data, gathered from the Pew Research Center and the US departments of Justice and Homeland Security, shows that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at the same rate as the national average and legal immigrants commit are 91% less likely to commit crimes than natural-born US citizens.
October 11, 2019:
A victory for American values on ‘public charge’ – but the fight continues (MIRA Coalition) – U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels has issued a temporary injunction halting the White House’s “public charge” rule which would allow immigration officials to deny visas and green cards to any immigrants who could require public assistance for health, food, or housing programs. If it is allowed to continue, the law would seriously hinder working class immigration and family-based migration. The new rule would require immigrants to earn at least 125% of the federal poverty line and in Massachusetts 27% of non-citizens currently fall below this line. Judge Daniels’ ruling prevents this new rule from taking effect on October 15, as it was scheduled to, as he found that the immigration advocacy groups contesting the rule would likely be victorious in their suit against the Trump administration.
October 7, 2019:
Trump’s order will deny visas to immigrants who lack health-care coverage (The Washington Post) – In an effort to curb “chain migration” the White House announced that they will begin denying visas to immigrants who would be a financial burden on the U.S. healthcare system. Under this new policy those wishing to immigrate to the U.S. must prove that they will be covered by medical insurance or have the funds to pay their own medical bills within 30 days of their arrival. These rules will not affect immigrants already in the U.S. or those coming on work visas or as refugees.
October 1, 2019:
New Trump administration refugee limits will strike close to home for some in Massachusetts (The Boston Globe) – Senator Ed Markey has co-sponsored new legislation to increase the refugee cap to 125,000 following the Trump administration’s decreased cap of 18,000 which went into effect October 1. The US legacy of accepting the most refugees globally is coming to and end with the new restrictions limiting acceptance of those fleeing military and humanitarian crises. Lynn resident Tresor Alin Nahimana arrived in the US after fleeing violence in his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and leaving Turkey with hopes of finding a better job in the US to support his growing family. His hopes of meeting his newborn son and being reunited with his family have been put on hold due to the new harsher immigration laws.
September 26, 2019:
US sets a refugee cap of 18,00 for next year — a new historic low (CNN) – The Trump administration will be decreasing the refugee cap from 30,000 to 18,000 for the 2020 fiscal year which begins October 1, 2019. Lower refugee admissions have already forced all nine refugee resettlement agencies to close down offices or pause programs, harming the current system that aids refugees in immigration and resettlement. The refugee cap has not been this low in decades, with the cap set at 110,000 just three years ago under President Obama.
September 22, 2019:
Leaders gather to boost immigrant workforce: Diversity can fuel economic growth (The Boston Globe) – TripAdvisor hosted the Supporting our Global Workforce forum at their Needham headquarters where Representative Kennedy spoke along with Eva Millona, the executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition and Tom O’Brien, the co-chair of the Massachusetts Business Immigration Coalition. All of the speeches foregrounded the importance of immigrants in Massachusetts, “where they make up 18 percent of the workforce and have founded 58 percent of Fortune 500 companies based in the state.” More than 12,000 Massachusetts residents could be affected by the possible removal of the Temporary Protected Status policy, and Rep. Kennedy implored business owners to be vocal about their need for immigrant workers and the economic benefit they bring to both businesses and the state.
September 12, 2019:
Supreme Court allows broad enforcement of asylum limits (Boston Herald) – The block on the Trump administration policy denying asylum to those who pass through another country before reaching the U.S. without applying for asylum has been temporarily lifted by the Supreme Court. These new guidelines reverse decades of U.S. policy practices and will remain in effect until the outcome of the court case is decided.
September 7, 2019:
Officials discuss slashing refugee cap (Boston Herald) – Officials in the Trump administration will meet next week to discuss further decreasing the refugee cap ahead of the October 1 deadline. The current cap is 30,000 with 28,501 refugees being admitted this year and last budget year the cap was 45,000 with only 22,491 admitted, which is one-fourth the number allowed to enter two years ago.
December 26, 2018:
Trump says he will wait ‘whatever it takes’ to get border wall money as shutdown drags on (NBC) – After Saturday’s government shutdown, President Trump has expressed he will wait for a positive decision to fund $5 billion for the proposed border wall. This unwillingness to budge indicates a continued shutdown of the government, with little hope of overriding a presidential veto.
December 25, 2018:
Customs and Border Protection announces changes after second child dies in custody (NBC News) – The second child this month has died in government custody on Christmas Day. The causes of this death are still unknown, but he had been submitted to the hospital for “signs of potential illness.” As a result, Border Patrol has announced it will now conduct “secondary medical checks” on all children.
DreamWorks’ Netflix Series ‘3Below’ Tackles Immigration Like No Other Kids Show (Collider) – Read about Netflix’s new series “3Below” and how it subtly and effectively tackles the topic of immigration.
December 20, 2018:
Migrants must wait in Mexico during immigration proceedings under Trump policy (Politico) – The Trump administration has required that those awaiting their asylum hearings must remain in Mexico. This rule was made in an effort to prevent immigrants from “disappearing” into the United States. The Mexican government appears to be cooperating with this policy, but the policy is also expected to meet legal challenges within the United States.
December 7, 2018:
Denmark plans to isolate ‘unwanted’ migrants on remote island (CNN) – Denmark’s growing anti-immigration policies have faced backlash, and the most recent push to house migrants on a remote island have resulted in protest. The island would be for migrants who have been denied asylum in Denmark but cannot be returned home for various reasons such as threats to their lives. The intent of housing them on these uninhabitable islands is, as Danish immigration minister Inger Støjberg states, to make them feel unwanted in Denmark.
November 27, 2018:
How a march at the US-Mexico border descended into tear gas and chaos (Vox) – At the Southern Border, a few people threw rocks at Border Patrol agents and they responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. This Vox article details the scene at the border and what went down leading to the chaos.
November 20, 2018:
US judge bars Trump administration from enforcing asylum ban (CNBC) – In response to the Trump Administration’s plan to refuse asylum to immigrants who cross the southern border illegally, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar issued a temporary restraining order on those actions.
November 19, 2018:
A Functional Immigration System Would Look Nothing Like America’s (The Atlantic) – This Atlantic article contrasts immigration systems in the United States, Britain, and Denmark with the systems in countries like New Zealand and Sweden. Author Anna Boucher states, “The thing that people forget is that a lot of partners of skilled migrants are family migrants, but they’re also skilled, and over time, family migration also contribute to the economy.”
November 13, 2018:
This year saw the most people in immigration detention since 2001 (CNN) – Since ICE’s immigration detentions beginning in 2001, 2018 has seen the highest average of people held in custody each day. Fiscal year 2018 has averaged more than 42,000 people in custody each day, compared to the previously high record in 2017 of 38,000.
November 11, 2018:
5 things to know about new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker (The Hill) –This article profiles the new Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and his support for the Trump administration’s past policies, including hardline immigration policies.
November 9, 2018:
ACLU goes to court to challenge Trump’s new asylum ban (USA Today) – The ACLU challenges Trump’s asylum ban that would make it illegal to enter the US outside of the official points of entry. They argue the Attorney General and President cannot override the immigration laws put in place by Congress established in 1965 that says anyone arriving in the US “whether or not at designated ports of arrival” is allowed to apply for asylum. Asylum is an international protection granted to those expressing fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group. Senator Bob Menendez states that this policy would create “a bottleneck at ports of entry, which will effectively shut the door on vulnerable individuals seeking asylum…I refuse to stand by as this administration continues to systematically undermine asylum and refugee protection.”
November 8, 2018:
Trump administration tightens immigration rules as caravans continue to push for U.S. border (The Washington Post) – The Trump administration introduced new restrictions to migration in response to the caravan at the US-Mexican border. The restrictions would include marking it illegal to enter the country between official ports of entry. This restriction is set to face legal challenges, as under international human rights law and US laws, asylum protection is extended to anyone reaching the US and expressing a fear of persecution. How they enter the country is irrelevant to their asylum claims and protection. These restrictions aim to funnel all asylum seekers to ports of entry to orderly process their claims, but US customs officers have been greatly limiting those whose claims they process.
October 29, 2018:
Trump accused of stoking immigration fears by sending 5,200 troops to border (The Guardian) – President Trump is set to deploy more than 5,200 US troops to the US-Mexican border. By contrast, around 2,000 US troops are deployed in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The President’s announcement comes just days before the midterm elections.
October 23, 2018:
Migrant caravan: What happens if it reaches the U.S. Border? (CBS News) – The largest known caravan during the Trump administration is heading towards the US Border. The last time a big migrant caravan reached the border was at the beginning of the Trump administration, yet this caravan arrived before the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy and family separation. Jason Silverstein at CBS predicts two governmental outcomes: sluggish bureaucracy or hard-line enforcement.
October 21, 2018:
Trump Uses Immigration Attack to Energize Midterm Voters (Bloomberg) – As midterm elections approach, President Trump uses immigration as a talking point to incite midterm voting. While this topic helped propel him to the presidency, taking the same approach has the potential to backfire with voters. He has continued to tout his “zero-tolerance” policy which previously led to family separation and while his statement are intended to motivate his base, they have the potential to remind others of his least popular policies. Additionally, the Kaiser Family Foundation poll revealed that only 15 percent of registered voters said immigration would be the most important issue in midterm elections.
October 20, 2018:
Trump blasts Democratic ‘obstructionists’ for weak border security as a vast migrant caravan tries to reach the US (CNN) – President Trump took to twitter to address immigration in response to a recent migrant caravan of around 3,000 immigrants attempting to enter the Mexican border;
If the Democrats would stop being obstructionists and come together, we could write up and agree to new immigration law in less than one hour. Look at the needless pain and suffering that they are causing. Look at the horrors taking place on the Border. Chuck & Nancy, call me!
In his tweet, the President calls out Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California). With the midterm elections approaching, Trump has ramped up his discussion of the border crisis.
ICE Appears to End Use of Federal Prisons for Immigrant Detainees (NPR) – Currently, only three ICE detainees remain in the five federal prisons that controversially held immigrants, yet ICE has the power to resort back to holding detainees in federal prisons until June 2019. The detainees left the prisons through being granted bail, deportation, or transfer to civil detention facilities. By placing detainees in federal prisons, ICE has blurred the lines between criminal convictions and immigration, and the ACLU is working to file a lawsuit to keep detainees out of various prisons. Fewer detainees will not prevent ICE from holding individuals, though, as they are instead creating more facilities to hold detainees at the southern border.
October 18, 2018:
‘I live in fear’: under Trump, life for America’s immigrants can change in a flash (The Guardian) – Instead of prioritizing criminals for removal, the Trump administration has encouraged ICE to crackdown on undocumented immigrants in the US, causing them to live in constant fear of deportation. By arresting people such the 10-year-old with cerebral palsy last year, the administration and ICE aim to send the message that everybody is at risk of deportation. In 2017, there was a 125% increase from the year prior in the numbers arrested by ICE who had no criminal convictions.
October 14, 2018:
The only lawyer in town: a lonesome figure stands up for immigrants (The Guardian) – The Guardian spotlights defense attorney Marty Rosenbluth who lives in the small town of Lumpkin, Georgia and provides legal service to the town’s immigrant detainees free of charge. In Lumpkin between 2007 and 2012, less than 6% of detainees had access to a lawyer who could represent them, and the national average for those years was also drastically low at 14%. Rosenbluth talks of the recurring issues regarding immigrant’s rights in the detention centers, his history with law and non-profit work, and why he moved to Lumpkin to help those without representation.
October 8, 2018:
With Kavanaugh, Supreme Court to decide pending cases affecting more than 1 million immigrants (USA Today) – As newly appointed Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh takes the bench, he may soon face many decisions regarding immigration. Some of the decisions involve terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), sanctuary cities, zero tolerance, and the 2020 Census citizenship question. The first case he is set to hear on Wednesday, October 10, is Nielsen v. Preap, a case that determines which immigrants can be detained without bond.
Further Reading: A High-Stakes Immigration Case Hits the Supreme Court (The Atlantic) – The Atlantic takes a further look into Nielsen v. Preap, the first Supreme Court case Judge Kavanaugh will hear.
October 4, 2018:
Federal judge blocks Trump from deporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants under TPS (USA Today) – US District Judge Edward Chen ruled to temporarily halt Trump’s efforts to deport an estimated 240,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan who had been granted permission to stay in the States under the Temporary Protected Status program (TPS). The Trump administration argues TPS has been extended for too long and those countries are now safe to send immigrants back. Chen ruled that in the administration’s attempts to deport those immigrants and end TPS, they violated the Equal Protection Clause and did not follow the right federal rule-making guidelines.
October 3, 2018:
ICE and USCIS Coordinating Arrests of Immigrants During Marriage Interviews (Fortune) – ICE has been using marriage interviews of couples composed of one immigrant and one US citizen to arrest immigrants who have pending deportation orders against them and who are seeking a provisional waiver. For married immigrants, these interviews are part of the routine process for gaining US residency. USCIS has reportedly been alerting ICE when immigrants with pending deportations show up for their interviews. ACLU attorney Matt Segal argued that this practice of arrests are illegal and referred to U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf’s ruling that ICE “may not order the removal of an alien pursuing a provisional waiver solely on the basis that he or she is subject to a final order of removal.”
September 30, 2018:
US yogurt billionaire’s solution to immigration: ‘Humanity first’ (CNN) – Kurdish immigrant from Turkey, Hamdi Ulukaya, drew criticism for hiring immigrants and refugees to work at his yogurt empire Chobani in 2010. Currently, around 30 percent of his employees are immigrants or refugees, and their experiences along with his own have caused him to be acutely aware of their fears during the current presidential administration. His non-profit Tent has worked to improve the lives of refugees by encouraging companies to hire and/or help refugees.
September 27, 2018:
Trump’s latest immigration proposal is a looming public health crisis (The Washington Post) – As the Trump administration proposes to deny green cards to immigrants on various social programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, immigrants are at a higher likelihood of not enrolling in or withdrawing from these programs. This could lead to serious health outcomes, particularly for pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, and children. It also has the potential to lead to increased poverty. This opinion article by demographer Goleen Samari asserts the following: “Public-health recognizes that anti-immigrant policies are forms of racism that are antithetical to valuing health for all. These policies endanger and lead to premature mortality among large portions of the population and do nothing to keep Americans safe.”
Gov. Jerry Brown Vetoes Bill Barring Immigration Arrests (CBS Sacramento) – Governor Jerry Brown of California recently vetoed two bills. The first allowed anyone, regardless of immigration status, to be on state boards and commissions in California. The second bill would have stopped ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants inside courthouses.
September 26, 2018:
Funding The Immigration Crackdown At An ‘Unsustainable Rate’ (NPR) – ICE Air, the ICE airline that deports undocumented immigrants from the US, costs the government a large and unsustainable amount that has resulted in the relocation of funds from the Coast Guard, FEMA, and more. The Trump administration will soon be unable to rely on those re-allocated funds and will need new money from Congress if they wish to keep up current deportation numbers, build the border wall, and continue detainment at the border.
September 24, 2018:
Trump is proposing a regulation that could change the face of legal immigration – by restricting low-income immigrants (Vox) – The Trump administration is expected to release a regulation which would restrict immigrants from applying for green cards because they have preexisting conditions or not enough money to support their families. Any immigrants on government programs such as Medicaid or food stamps could be rejected on those claims. This regulation has the potential to cause immigrants in the US to stop using those social services out of fear, as had been the result from the 1996 welfare reform law when public benefits were similarly restricted. On Monday, October 1, the administration is set to publish the draft in the Federal Register, making it open for public comment.
September 22, 2018:
‘I Don’t Know What To Do.’ Immigrant Parents Face Tougher Rules to Get Children Back (TIME) – This TIME article documents the struggles of undocumented parents and relatives in the US attempting to gain custody of their children who crossed the border and are now being detained by the government. Currently, there are more than 12,000 children in government custody, and adults must submit fingerprints and undergo background checks if they wish to regain custody. As this information is shared with ICE, undocumented parents and relatives are being arrested for their immigration status.
September 21, 2018:
Finding homes for immigrant kids is hard. Trump’s making it harder by arresting their relatives. (Vox) – As unaccompanied minors enter the US to find undocumented immigrant relatives, ICE is using them to arrest those relatives who attempt to take custody of them. It was found that 70 percent of those arrested were charged with “simple immigration violations,” not for serious criminal offenses. This action by ICE will result in parents and guardians not stepping up to claim custody of the unaccompanied minors for fear of being arrested.
Head of U.S. immigration judges’ union denounces Trump quota plan (Reuters) – The Justice Department announced that immigration judges must meet a quota for how many cases they complete. President of the National Association of Immigration Judges Ashley Tabaddor denounced this plan as one that “compromises the integrity of the court,” as it has the potential to sacrifice the justice system for judges’ jobs. The plan was set by the Trump administration in the hopes of speeding up the immigration process.
Yale Study Finds Twice as Many Undocumented Immigrants as Previous estimates (Yale Insights) – A recent Yale study finds that past estimates of the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States could be only half of the actual number; instead of the estimated 11.3 million, this Yale study estimates 16.7 to 22.1 million. The study further assessed undocumented immigrant populations from 1990 until 2016, but makes it clear that we’re not experiencing a sudden influx now—past estimates have just been counted poorly. These higher numbers of undocumented immigrants help the argument for immigration in two ways. First, is with crime rates, as those opposing immigration point to serious crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. If there are double the amount of undocumented immigrants in the country and the same amount of crimes committed, the crime rate is actually much lower than originally thought. Second is the idea that undocumented immigrants are taking jobs. The study argues that if there are double the amount of immigrants in the same amount of jobs, they are taking proportionally fewer jobs from Americans than is argued by immigration opponents.
Mexico’s next president could be on a collision course with Trump over immigration (The Washington Post) – While Mexico’s incoming president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has expressed wanting a productive relationship with the Trump administration, his interests appear to clash with the US President when it comes to immigration. During his campaign, Obrador acknowledged Mexico’s arrests and deportations of migrants as “dirty work” done for the United States. He instead appears to see migrants as those “fleeing violence and misery” instead of criminals—a view that the Trump administration does not share.
September 19, 2018:
A Guatemalan Village Tells The Story of Immigration To The U.S. (NPR) – This NPR article focuses on members of a Guatemalan Village and their stories on immigration to the United States. Individuals recognize the dangers of immigrating and the risk of being deported, yet believe the ways in which they are suffering in Guatemala are far worse than those risks. Grandparents’ opinions on staying in Guatemala greatly contrast a younger population eager to take the risk and leave for America.
September 17, 2018:
Four in 10 think British culture is undermined by multiculturalism (The Guardian) – A two year study of the UK population shows that a large minority believe that multiculturalism is damaging Britain. The study also found that around half of the population want low-skilled migrant numbers reduced in Britain. Those living in large cities tended to be more positive about immigration as opposed to those living in rural communities.
September 16, 2018:
American Democracy Is in Crisis (The Atlantic) – Hillary Clinton writes a piece for The Atlantic calling President Trump and his administration out on the values it has failed to uphold in government;
The message he sends by his lack of concern and respect for some Americans is unmistakable. He is saying that some of us don’t belong, that all people are not created equal, and that some are not endowed by their Creator with the same inalienable rights as others…He is as much a symptom as a cause of what ails us.
September 15, 2018:
‘Dear America,’ Writes A Pulitzer-Winning Journalist – And Undocumented Immigrant (NPR) – This NPR article highlights the new memoir by journalist Jose Antonio Vargas documenting growing up as an undocumented immigrant in America.
September 14, 2018:
Pew Research Center: Facts on U.S. Immigrants, 2016
September 12, 2018:
Repeating anti-immigrant screeds doesn’t make them true (The Washington Post) – Jennifer Rubin’s opinion piece takes a close look at immigration’s beneficial effects on a nation’s economy through both skilled migration and low-skilled migration. She argues immigration is even a cost effective way to boost the economy when she states, “…you don’t have to make huge public expenditures or raise taxes; one only need reaffirm the American dream and welcome those who want to work.”
September 10, 2018:
Sessions criticizes immigrants’ attorneys before immigration judges (CNN) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is responsible for hiring and instructing judges under the legal system for immigrants, warned judges of “fake claims” made by immigrants and immigration lawyers. There is concern over Sessions’ comments, as the immigration legal system is designed to be a fair and unbiased process. Ashley Tabaddor of the National Association of Immigration Judges stated, “We have never really seen the level of explicit and deep sort of scrutiny and use of the court consistent with the executive branch’s political policies.”
Does immigration strengthen or undermine tolerance? (The Economist) – Author Denzel Chung denounces the two-dimensional perspective of immigrants as those that merely strengthen a nation’s economy, and instead pushes for recognizing immigrants as whole individuals whose new perspectives and cultures should be understood and celebrated.
September 9, 2018:
America’s System for Resettling Refugees is Collapsing (The Atlantic) – In response to the Trump administration’s continuing reduction of refugee resettlements, resettlement agencies have closed down many offices. As more skilled workers get laid off, there is an increased risk in a collapsing infrastructure that will have trouble rebounding if the next administration decides to increase resettlement numbers. It was only after the attacks on September 11th that admissions were similar to as they are today, yet the Bush administration continued to maintain a cap of 70,000 despite these attacks and resulting xenophobia. By comparison, the Trump administration has capped resettlement at 45,000, and has resettled 20,000 with only 30 days left in the fiscal year.
September 6, 2018:
Take a look at the Massachusetts Primary Election Results here.
Trump Administration Plans to Detain Immigrant Children Longer, Defying Court Agreement (TIME) – The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would end the Flores agreement, which requires the government to detain children for no longer than 20 days. This announcement may bring the agreement back to the Supreme Court.
September 5, 2018:
This Immigration Lawyer Says the Government Has Taken Dozens of Legal U.S. Passports From His Clients (Elle) – Immigration officials are currently revoking passports already issued to US citizens and blocking US citizens from re-entering the country. The State Department claims it is revoking citizenship due to birth certificate fraud, a claim based on an instance in which several midwives issued fake birth certificates to Mexico-born babies during the George W. Bush administration. This has resulted in immigrants born by midwives being accused of possessing false birth certificates by immigration officials, and being denied entrance to the US or having their citizenship revoked if they cannot prove valid citizenship. These actions by the Trump administration has resulted in an ACLU lawsuit.
ICE is using an alternative to immigrant detention. But it’s inhumane. (The Washington Post) – As a cost effective alternative to detaining parents at the border, ICE has begun using GPS ankle monitors in order to keep track of those awaiting their court decisions. Yet, while they provide more freedom for these immigrants, there have been many reports of pain and hospitalization as a result of these monitors. Additionally, there is concern over this invasion of privacy, as little is known about how ICE uses this data and how long it’s stored for. Finally, while one would expect the amount of immigrants detained to decrease as ankle monitor use increases, that is not the case. Instead, the detention numbers have increased, which leads to questions of if these monitors are really being used to increase the number of immigrants the government can track. Instead of these devices, ICE has many alternatives at its disposal including allowing lower bail, humanitarian parole, and community-based case-management services.
September 4, 2018:
How Trump Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Could Threaten Undocumented Children’s Education (TIME) – In the 5-4 decision of Plyler v. Doe in 1982, the Supreme Court rejected a law that pushed for a school’s right to ban undocumented students on the basis that it punished children for their parents’ choices. Last spring, the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos created waves with her remark that schools should be able to report undocumented students to ICE. As Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, replaces a much more neutral Kennedy the Plyler decision has serious potential to be overturned.
Vito, Trump and Donald Trump: How US Immigration Policies Fed Off the Image of the Self-Made Man (The Platform) – Writer and researcher Natalia Pinazza takes a look at how pop culture through characters such as Vito Corleone have contributed to the idea of suffering and struggling as inherent to an immigrants’ life in America. She mockingly questions the American system when she writes, “This myth justifies the marginalisation and suffering of many who should be able to ‘fit’ and ‘adapt’ to succeed in the current system. After all, why should public policies change when the success of integration lies in the hands of the individual and not the state?” She instead argues that America should not be placing the responsibility of failure on immigrants.
September 2, 2018:
The US-Mexico trade deal leaves out one important group: immigrants (The Guardian) – A US-Mexico trade deal was recently reached between the two countries that has the potential to help small businesses. Unfortunately, it fails to address the projected lower numbers of low-skilled workers, as unemployment remains low and immigration laws continue to be tightened by the current administration.
September 1, 2018:
Top immigration official lost job over anti-Muslim posts on Facebook: report (The Hill) – A U.S. Army director was offered a position with the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) but now will not take the position due to discovered anti-Muslim Facebook posts.
August 29, 2018:
160 People Arrested by Immigration Agents in Texas Workplace Raid (TIME) – 160 workers were arrested by ICE after a tip that the Texas company Long Trail Trailers had been hiring undocumented immigrants. ICE plans to interview all those arrested to determine who will get released and who will stay in their custody.
August 24, 2018:
‘It’s more relevant than ever’ – photo exhibition puts focus on immigration (The Guardian) – Photography exhibit “Photoville” in Brooklyn, New York returns for its seventh year on September 13th, and this year many of the exhibits focus on immigration and the US-Mexican border. Visit this article to read about the specific art exhibits displayed.
August 23, 2018:
The way forward on immigration to the West (The Economist) – The Economist takes a look at the positive effects of immigration on a state’s economy with the right government policies. It acknowledges underlying fears people from the US to Hungary to Sweden have over integrating migrants into their systems, and makes suggestions as to what policies produce the most economic satisfaction and security.
Assimilation Nation (Aljazeera) – People and Power presents a 25 minute documentary focusing on refugees as they relocate from the Middle East and Africa to European cities. The episodes focus on immigrants’ experiences assimilating in nations like Germany, which has settled more refugees and migrants than any other European country.
August 20, 2018:
Defense attorneys challenge judges over Trump immigration policies (The Guardian) – The Guardian takes a look at defense attorneys as they attempt to navigate a legal system that coerces undocumented immigrants into pleading guilty. These lawyers must answer the question of whether or not their client’s guilty plea of illegally entering the US was “knowing and voluntary.” The Catch-22 they face of telling the truth, while also being loyal to their client, is blamed on the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy and “Operation Streamline.” Exhausted, traumatized, and hungry migrants who have been arrested at the border are rushed through a 45 minute discussion with a lawyer and then have the chance to either plead guilty or innocent. Many attorneys have clashed with judges, as they believe that Operation Streamline forces immigrants into an involuntary guilty plea due to the limited time immigrants have to comprehend the consequences of such a plea.
Opinion: The Immigrant Grandparents America Needs (NYT) – This opinion article focuses on the effects that ending family-based migration would have on immigrant families around the country, particularly when it comes to banning grandparents from migrating with their families to the United States. Authors Stacy Torres and Xuemei Cao argue the necessity of immigrant grandparents in providing free caregiving as parents work during the day. They additionally insist that grandparents are helpful for families to preserve their home country’s culture and traditions, and that the concept of “family” should not be restricted, as the Trump administration argues, but instead broadened. Without extended family, children will be deprived of a close and familiar network essential to their development. They conclude, “The Republican plans to restrict family-based migration won’t help Americans — they will hurt Americans, by depriving many of our youngest citizens of the social, psychological and economic benefits of strong extended family ties.”
Video: GOP Rep. Steve Stivers on the US immigration split (CNBC) – This short video features the House GOP campaign chief advocating for an increase in legal immigration of individuals in high-tech fields, as well as providing work visas for foreign students who have been educated and trained at US universities.
To save asylum seekers we must save our immigration courts (The Hill) – This opinion article by Gregory Chen takes a look at immigrants attempting to navigate the immigration court system in order to avoid being deported back to countries where they face violence and abuse. As Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to assert his power over the immigration courts and prevent immigrants from obtaining citizenship, Chen argues that something must be done to fundamentally change how the courts operate. He writes, “To guarantee fundamental fairness and due process in every case, the immigration courts cannot operate under the control of the agency that is responsible for the prosecution and enforcement of immigration cases.”
In the Arts: Logic “One day” ft Ryan Tedder (Variety)
American rapper “Logic” uses his new song to highlight immigration, family separation, and racism in America today. Watch the music video here, as well as his MTV Video Music Awards performance where he sang alongside hundreds of immigrant children and parents displaying the message, “We are all human beings.”
August 18, 2018:
How Trump is cracking down on legal immigrants – and how they are fighting back (The Guardian) – As a result of a proposal that makes it harder for legal immigrants who have used particular social programs to obtain green cards, immigrants around the country are fighting back against the administration. This article looks at the gridlock in Washington over the past weeks and moves that have been made by pro-immigration legal advocates to stop the administration from passing further laws.
August 17, 2018:
U.S. attorney general issues order to speed up immigrant deportations (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told US immigration judges to postpone cases only “for good cause shown” in an attempt to increase the rate of immigrant deportations. This “good cause” is determined by an immigrant’s likelihood of success in appealing for asylum or visa to remain in the US.
August 15, 2018:
President Trump’s unwavering immigrant supporters: Small-business owners (CNBC) – This article takes a look at how small-business owners have reacted to the immigration debate, in contrast to the high population of Democrats and independents who now see immigration as the most important issue at the moment. CNBC’s answer: they don’t see it as a primary issue in relation to tax and trade policy changes.
August 13, 2018:
Stephen Miller’s Uncle Calls Him An ‘Immigration Hypocrite’ in a New Column (TIME) – Stephen Miller has become a controversial figure in the Trump administration as one of the main architects for recent immigration policies like the travel ban and family separation. On Monday, August 13th, Miller’s uncle, David S. Glosser, wrote a Politico article calling out his nephew as an ‘Immigration Hypocrite,’ citing the family’s Jewish refugee roots.
August 12, 2018:
‘Hell no’: counter protesters outnumber white supremacists at White House rally (The Guardian) – One year ago, the 2017 “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville resulted in the death of counter protester Heather Heyer. This year’s follow-up rally by the same group of white nationalist was greatly outnumbered by counter protesters and ended long before the scheduled end time. In response, President Trump tweeted:
The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!
After the 2017 rally, Trump’s comments created controversy when he repeatedly failed to condemn the white supremacists and their actions.
Further Reading: Read about former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s statements following the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville rally here.
August 10, 2018:
First Lady’s Parents Become U.S. Citizens Thanks to ‘Chain Migration’ (NPR) – On Thursday, August 9th, First Lady Melania Trump’s parents obtained US Citizenship through the same family-based immigration program that President Trump has previously denounced. The President had tweeted on September 15, 2017: “CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!” He additionally pushed for an end to family-based immigration on the basis that it allowed those coming to the US to bring with them as many relatives as they please.
August 8, 2018:
DACA is in a state of legal limbo. Now a Texas judge might rule to kill it. (Vox) – This Vox article explores the dangers that DACA-protected immigrants face, as federal judges decide on critical cases in upcoming weeks. A federal judge in DC ruled on August 3rd against the Trump administration’s plan to end DACA and also ruled to begin accepting new applications. The DC federal judge has allowed for the order to be delayed until August 23rd. Meanwhile, a federal judge in Texas is set to decide on a case brought forward by a group of historically red states pushing for an end to DACA. Between two conflicting decisions from judges, the Supreme Court often acts as the deciding force, and Vox predicts it is likely that the Supreme Court will be asked to issue an emergency opinion on the Texas judge’s ruling. Depending on the makeup of the Court when the decision is made, an anti-DACA ruling could win against the pro-DACA rulings. At the moment, though, a decision is unlikely to be reached, as the Court is split ideologically 4-4 due to Judge Kennedy’s retirement.
August 7, 2018:
Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants (NBC) – In the next weeks, the Trump administration plans to issue a proposal making it hard for immigrants who have used certain welfare programs to become US citizens. This would limit the amount of immigrants given legal citizenship status. It is also predicted that 2018 will see a 20 percent decrease in green cards granted to immigrants. NBC takes a closer look into those affected by tightened citizenship granting as well as others pushing back against these rules.
Forget the wall already, it’s time for the U.S. to have open borders (USA Today) – This opinion article was written by Jeffrey Miron, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University and Director of Economic Studies at the Cato Institute. He argues the case for open borders in aiding the economy and abolishing the legal issues the current US government is facing.
How Immigration Reform Could Help An Aging, Indebted America (Forbes) –Immigration lawyer, author, and former UN correspondent Andy J. Semotiuk takes an economic look at how closing our borders to immigration will fail to help an aging America.
August 3, 2018:
Judge calls Trump administration family reunification efforts ‘unacceptable’ (NBC) – As of Friday, August 3rd, the Trump administration has yet to reunify 572 children still in the government’s custody. It was also reported that the parents of 410 children were likely deported prior to reunification, and have still not been located. US District Judge Dana Sabraw threatened to issue an order to force the government to provide information to the ACLU before August 10th.
July 30, 2018:
Trump praises Italy’s immigration policies at meeting with Conte (Reuters) – President Trump met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Washington on Monday and congratulated his firm stance on border immigration. In the past years, Italy has experienced an influx of more than 650,000 migrants, and under Conte and other right-leaning leadership, the country has closed its southern ports and reduced its migrant numbers.
Further Reading: Italy’s Voters Aren’t Anti-Immigration—But Their Government Is (The Atlantic) – Explore this article from The Atlantic that discusses the Italian political divide between the nationalist leaders and the Italian population, particularly with regards to immigration.
July 29, 2018:
TWITTER: @realDonaldTrump, July 29 at 4:58 AM, on immigrants and immigration laws
Please understand, there are consequences when people cross our Border illegally, whether they have children or not – and many are just using children for their own sinister purposes. Congress must act on fixing the DUMBEST & WORST immigration laws anywhere in the world! Vote “R”
Fixing Flores agreement is the only solution to immigrant separation and detention (USA Today) – This opinion article by Republican Senators Chuck Grassley, Thom Tillis, and Ted Cruz calls for an amendment to the Flores agreement, which is a settlement that prevents the government from detaining children for longer than twenty days. While the senators agree that the part of Flores that provides a minimum care standard for children should be enforced, they believe the twenty day deadline should be disregarded for family units.
July 27, 2018:
Trump plans to rescind work permits for spouses of immigrants on H-1B visas (The Guardian) – H4 visas are typically given to spouses or children of H-1B visa holders (high-skilled foreign workers) when they move to the US, and during the Obama administration, H4 visa holders could finally be granted US work permits. Unfortunately, this “H4EAD” policy is at risk of being removed under the Trump administration, which would put tens of thousands of immigrants out of work and would force mainly women back to their homes. President Trump has additionally criticized the H-1B visa program because according to the President, it takes jobs away from Americans and puts those jobs in the hands of immigrants. Those pushing back on the Trump administration’s agenda have joined the “Save H4EADs” campaign.
July 26, 2018:
Today’s the deadline to reunite separated families (CNN) – The court-ordered deadline to reunite all families separated at the border is today (July 26), and the government has reunited a significant portion of parents it deems “eligible” for reunification. Parents might be considered “ineligible” for reasons such as having a criminal record or being currently missing. Additionally, 900 parents have been issued a final order to leave the country, which forces those parents to choose between bringing their children with them or leaving them in the United States.
July 23, 2018:
Birthright citizenship, explained: why some on the right want to end it, and what they get wrong (Vox) – This Vox article discusses the 14th amendment, which ensures citizenship to any person born on US soil, and how it has been challenged by the rhetoric of President Trump and prominent administration members like Michael Anton. The debate over birthright citizenship is not new, but has more recently been brought to light through Anton’s opinion piece on ending birthright citizenship. Those sharing Anton’s opinion argue the 14th amendment should not apply to those born to undocumented immigrants. Vox further discusses the role racism has played in attempting to determine citizenship:
…debates about immigration slip imperceptibly between debates about law and debates about culture – and how debates about culture are often heard or intended as debates about race…There was never a period during which citizenship at birth was limited on a race-blind basis. Where there have been restrictions, those restrictions have been racial.
Additionally, Vox points to three ways in which birthright citizenship could be altered by the Trump administration: by passing a constitutional amendment to override the 14th amendment, by passing a bill to clarify who deserves citizenship, or by signing an executive order. While all possible options, each action would pose challenges for the Trump administration and would inevitably result in immense push back from the opposition.
July 22, 2018:
“Immigrants are the Backbone of this Country”: Why Female Millennials’ Views on Immigration Could Doom the G.O.P. in November (Vanity Fair) – The Hive, theSkimm, and SurveyMonkey take a look at millennials’ outlook on immigration, focusing specifically on the views of millennial women. The companies’ survey of millennials discovered gender to play a greater role in predicting millennials’ immigration outlook than political party affiliation. While immigration is not exclusively a gender-related issue, the survey found that 40 percent of millennial men and 24 percent of women approve of the current administration’s immigration policy. Read the Vanity Fair article to learn more millennial survey statistics.
July 19, 2018:
Facing deadline, government reunified 364 of 2,500-plus migrant children (NBC) – NBC News provides an update to the government’s continued efforts to reunite families by the court-ordered June 26th deadline. With only one more week until the deadline, the government announced that it had reunified 364 of more than 2,500 children separated at the border. Almost half of eligible parents are in danger of being removed from the country after they are reunited with their children, leaving parents the choice of either leaving with their children or placing their children in the care of US nonprofits and child services.
July 17, 2018:
Amid A Hispanic Boom, Conflicting Feelings On Immigration (NPR) – A survey conducted by the research firm, Ipsos, found that immigration is viewed as “the most worrying” issue to Americans. This article dives deeper into this study while highlighting the town of Galax, Virginia, with its growing Hispanic population and divided views on immigration.
July 15, 2018:
Donald Trump praises team of immigrants for winning World Cup for France days after calling immigration ‘very negative’ (Newsweek) – President Trump congratulated the French team after winning the World Cup on Sunday, yet 19 out of the 23 players are immigrants or children of immigrants to France. This praise comes as ironic after the President publicly stated just days prior that immigration is bad for European cultures.
France’s World Cup is a victory for immigrants everywhere (CNN) – CNN takes a closer look at the French team after their victory in the World Cup, highlighting the immigrant roots of the majority of the team. Fifteen players for France have African roots, which is of particular significance due to the discrimination people of color and African immigrants face in France.
July 13, 2018:
Trump: Immigration is ‘changing the culture’ of Europe (CNN) – The President made statements on Friday about how immigration is negatively changing the cultures of European nations. He stated, “I know it is politically not necessarily correct to say that, but I will say it and I will say it loud.” Trump faced backlash on these comments, particularly when his own grandfather had emigrated as an unaccompanied minor from Germany. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) commented, “The fact that…he cannot understand that he himself is the beneficiary of the type of immigration that he now continuously criticizes it is pretty amazing.”
July 11, 2018:
TWITTER: @realDonaldTrump, July 11 at 9:41 AM, on immigration laws
Democrats in Congress must no longer Obstruct – vote to fix our terrible Immigration Laws now. I am watching what is going on from Europe – it would be soooo simple to fix. Judges run the system and illegals and traffickers know how it works. They are just using children!
Government falls short of deadline to reunite kids, families (CBS) – After the U.S. District Judge set a 14-day deadline for reuniting kids under the age of five with their families, the government fell short of the deadline, saying it discovered parents with serious criminal histories, failed DNA tests, and more. The second deadline is set for July 26 to reunite upwards of 2,000 older children.
Further Reading: HHS reunites 57 of 103 migrant children in its custody (Healthcare Finance News) – This article provides statistics for how many children under the age of five have or have not been reunited with their families as well as reasons for not placing the children back in the care of the adults with whom they traveled.
July 9, 2018:
All about President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination: Brett Kavanaugh – President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, was announced on Monday, July 9. Kavanaugh is predicted to be a much stronger conservative vote than his predecessor, Justice Anthony Kennedy, with the ability to weaken abortion rights, strengthen capital punishment, and more. Kavanaugh was a law clerk for Justice Kennedy, co-wrote the report impeaching President Clinton, and worked under the Bush administration for five years. Kavanaugh now awaits a decision by the Republican-dominated Senate to be confirmed as a Supreme Court judge. While he only needs 51 votes to be confirmed, the decision will depend upon a few crucial votes, including two Republican female Senators: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
- Who is Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee? (PBS) – Take a look at PBS News Hour’s brief biography on Brett Kavanaugh and his history with the justice system.
- Will Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh deliver the change conservatives crave? (USA Today) – Reporter Richard Wolf looks into potential changes that Kavanaugh could bring to the court, highlighting abortion rights, gun control, and executive power.
- Dear Senate: Don’t forget to ask Kavanaugh about immigration (CNN) – This CNN article takes a look at past Supreme Court immigration decisions and how they could potentially be either overturned or upheld with Kavanaugh.
July 7, 2018:
What to know about Trump’s Supreme Court pick so far (The Hill) – As President Trump finalizes his Supreme Court pick, which is set to be announced Monday, July 9 at 9:00 pm, the names rumored to be on his shortlist include Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Thomas Hardiman, and Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett as a female judge is of particular importance, as she is very religious and conservative, yet might appear less conservative with regards to women’s rights and health care. Her relatively young age (46) would allow her to be an influential justice for many decades.
July 6, 2018:
Reuniting families isn’t enough: A case for holistic immigration reform (The Hill) –Opinion writer, Matthew Soerens, argues that the major reason we have used discretion in the past when it comes to enforcing immigration laws was due to exorbitant costs, both socially and fiscally. Soerens’s solution is as follows:
Rather than ignoring the 11 million immigrants present unlawfully in the country, we should adopt an earned legalization process: admit to having violated the law, pay an appropriate fine and submit to a background check. Those with serious criminal convictions would be deported, but the majority would be able to earn permanent legal status and eventual citizenship… We should exempt those seeking asylum from the legal definition of improper entry, regardless of how they arrive… Most importantly, we should expand the U.S. refugee resettlement program, which allows those who fear persecution to register and be vetted abroad, then enter safely on an airplane.
TWITTER: @WhiteHouse, July 6 at 12:27 PM, on abolishing ICE
Abolishing ICE would mean:
- eliminating the agency that deports aliens that pose a terrorist threat to the United States
- more dangerous illegal drugs flowing into our communities
- allowing dangerous criminal aliens to remain in American communities
Face-checking President Trump’s numbers on the ‘human toll of illegal immigrants’ (The Washington Post) – The Washington Post fact-checks President Trump’s statistics with regards to the criminal actions of immigrants in the US, concluding that Trump misused the 2011 government report on immigrant criminal activity in four ways: (1) He combined data for both undocumented and legal immigrants, claiming those numbers reflect crimes committed by solely undocumented immigrants. (2) Instead of using the conviction statistics, he used the arrest statistics. (3) He failed to provide context to the numbers, leading to the assumption that immigrants committed more crime relative to the general population than they actually did. (4) He cited a made-up statistic by Rep. Steve King in 2006. With these broad and poorly represented numbers, President Trump allows his followers to falsely conclude how much crime was committed by undocumented immigrants. Click on the article to read more about the Washington Post’s investigation and specific statistics.
July 5, 2018:
Activists Arrested At Statue of Liberty After Protesting Trump’s Immigration Policies (NPR) – On Wednesday, July 4, two protest parties were arrested after demonstrating against recent immigration policies at the Statue of Liberty. The first protest was by the activist group Rise and Resist calling for the abolishment of ICE. Members of the group were arrested after hanging a banner at the monument. The second protest was done by one of the group’s members, Therese Okoumou, who climbed the base of the statue. Okoumou herself is an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and claimed to be protesting “the situation of ‘the children in Texas.’” The Statue of Liberty has specific significance to immigration, as indicated by the sonnet on the statue’s plaque that welcomes those who come to America seeking freedom. Nearby Ellis Island was a processing center for millions of immigrants in the early twentieth century.
No immigrant kids from separated families have been reunited with parents yet, says Trump health chief Alex Azar (CNBC) – The Trump administration’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reports that none of the approximately 3,000 children separated from their families have been reunited. The US Health and Human Services Department is working to perform background checks on immigrants to make sure they’re safe parents, and also to confirm they are actually the children’s parents. The department has until Tuesday, July 10, to start reuniting the families.
Why the U.S. needs more legal immigration, not less (MSNBC) – This MSNBC video takes an economic look at the Trump administration’s argument that an influx of immigrants results in less jobs for native workers. Ali Velshi (MSNBC reporter) and Jared Bernstein (Economic Policy Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden) compare the 6.7 million open jobs with the 6.4 million available workers, particularly at a time when the US fertility rate is dropping and the working age population is projected to fall significantly over the next decades. Because of these numbers, the report argues more legal immigration is necessary, yet the Trump administration has focused more on xenophobia and myths to craft their anti-immigration agenda and avoid the economic facts of immigration’s benefits.
July 3, 2018:
NPR Politics Podcast: Weekly Roundup – NPR takes a look at four possible Supreme Court nomination candidates and which leaders of the Senate might or might not vote in favor of President Trump’s choice. The podcast additionally look at what the “Abolish ICE” slogan really means. NPR differentiates between ICE and the other agencies that are responsible for separating families and patrolling the border, and notes how the President is using the “Abolish ICE” slogan to argue that all Democrats resent law and order. Listen to the podcast to learn more.
Illegal vs. Undocumented: A Debate
“Illegal” Immigrant = Advocates for reform see this term as dehumanizing, often used by those against immigration reform
“Undocumented” Immigrant = The preferred term used by advocates for reform (such as RW!), often seen as too politically correct by those against immigration reform
Read more about the debate from a 2013 NPR article here.
July 1, 2018:
Leftist Wins Mexico Presidency in Landslide With Mandate to Reshape Nation (NYT) – Leftist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the Mexican presidency on Sunday, July 1. President Trump congratulated Obrador through a tweet from @realDonaldTrump. The New York Times draws parallel between the personalities of Obrador and Trump, as well as their shared suspicion of the media and fearlessness in calling out enemies. While the future of Mexico-US relations is unclear, the Times predicts there will be pressure on Obrador to “take a less conciliatory line with his American counterpart.”
June 30, 2018:
Thousands protest Trump immigration policies across U.S. (CBS) – Hundreds of thousands protested in more than 700 cities across the US on Saturday, June 30, under the “Families Belong Together” campaign organized by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Move On, and other organizations. Demands included an end to family separation, family detention, and Session’s “zero tolerance” policies. Protests include those performed near Trump’s golf course in New Jersey where he spent the weekend. This article further highlights various marches around the country.
Further Reading: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) calls for the US to replace ICE with “something that reflects our morality” during protests in Boston on Saturday, June 30. Read more about her speech here.
TWITTER: @realDonaldTrump, June 30 at 12:17 PM, on the immigration bill
I never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the Immigration Bill, either GOODLATTE 1 or 2, because it could never have gotten enough Democrats as long as there is the 60 vote threshold. I released many prior to the vote knowing we need more Republicans to win in Nov.
Then again at 12:26 PM
Either we need to elect more Republicans in November or Republicans must end the ridiculous 60 vote, or Filibuster, rule – or better yet, do both. Cryin’ Chuck would do it on day one, but we’ll never give him the chance. Some great legislation awaits – be smart!
TWITTER: @realDonaldTrump, June 30 at 12:44 PM, on immigration laws
When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back out without going through years of legal maneuvering. Our laws are the dumbest anywhere in the world. Republicans want Strong Borders and no Crime. Dems want Open Borders and are weak on Crime!
June 29, 2018:
Trump Administration: Migrant Families Can Be Detained for More than 20 Days (NPR) – In response to a judge in California setting a 30 day deadline for reuniting separated families, the Justice Department responded arguing that instead of separating families, migrant families will instead be detained together. The Justice Department has done so knowing it will be violating the 20 day time limit set by the Flores agreement. This 1997 court decision made it illegal for the government to detain children for more than 20 days, but this time limit is being brought into question by the Trump administration. President Trump recently signed an executive order to end the family separation policy. The Trump administration now faces the hurdle of the 20 day time limit for holding the children with their families.
Further Reading: Flores agreement: Trump’s executive order to end family separation might run afoul of 1997 court ruling (Vox) – This Vox article provides background on the Flores agreement and its role in complicating the Trump administration’s handling of family separation and immigrant detention.
June 28, 2018:
Agents Seek to Dissolve ICE in Immigration Policy Backlash (NYT) – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigators are concerned that Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants has reduced their effectiveness in stopping security threats and transnational criminal organizations. Instead of focusing on disrupting major crimes, such as human smuggling and drug trafficking, ICE officers have begun an aggressive offense against undocumented immigrants, often for minor offenses.
June 27, 2018:
TWITTER: @realDonaldTrump, June 27 at 5:39 AM, on the proposed bill just hours before it was voted down by the House
HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II*, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE. PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS & SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME. WIN!
*Goodlatte II = What Trump titled the second “compromise” hardline conservative immigration bill that was introduced by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). This bill would limit the amount of immigrants the US allows and would also extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The bill failed to pass on Wednesday, June 25. Read more about it here.
Republican-leadership backed immigration bill goes down in flames (CNN) – On Wednesday, June 27, the GOP-proposed immigration bill failed to pass. This was expected, yet it failed to a much larger extent than anticipated with a 121-301 vote, and had less support than an even more conservative bill that failed the week prior. The President’s mixed messages as to whether or not he would sign the bill if it were to pass led many conservatives to not vote for it. Trump’s tweet on Wednesday just hours before the vote, encouraging members to support the bill, further confused the House as to his agenda.
Anthony Kennedy retiring from Supreme Court (CNBC) – Justice Kennedy announced plans to step down at the end of July, providing Trump an opportunity to alter the Supreme Court for decades to come. Despite being a member of the Republican party nominated by President Reagan and sworn into the Court in 1988, Kennedy was often a swing vote. There is serious concern over Trump’s Supreme Court nomination, as he or she will have the power to sway the Court in a far more conservative direction for future decades.
- Justice Kennedy May Soon Find Himself Disappointed And His Legacy Undermined – This NPR article highlights Kennedy’s decisive power as a swing vote. The court is likely to lose the possibility of a swing vote with Trump’s anticipated nomination.
- On Twitter, @realDonaldTrump announced he will be making his Supreme Court Justice nomination on Monday, July 9th. View the tweet here.
TWITTER: @realDonaldTrump, June 27 at 8:24 PM, on ICE
In recent days we have heard shameless attacks on our courageous law enforcement officers. Extremist Democrat politicians have called for the complete elimination of ICE. Leftwing Activists are trying to block ICE officers from doing their jobs and publicly posting their…home addresses – putting these selfless public servants in harm’s way. These radical protesters want ANARCHY – but the only response they will find from our government is LAW AND ORDER!
June 26, 2018:
Supreme Court upholds Trump travel ban (The Washington Post) – On Tuesday, June 26, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold Trump’s travel ban, which bars those traveling from various majority-Muslim countries for the protection of the US. This 5 to 4 decision bans travelers from 8 countries, six of which are Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea, and Venezuela. The dissent by Sotomayor points to Trump’s bias against Muslims, including his past tweets and statements, and she argues that the ban sends the message that certain minority religious groups are outsiders in this country. She compares this decision by SCOTUS to the past decision in Korematsu v. United States of upholding the Japanese-American detention during World War II.
FACEBOOK: Elizabeth Warren took to Facebook on June 26 at 2:30 PM to share her horrifying experience visiting the McAllen, Texas immigrant processing center on Sunday, June 24. Read her account here.
June 25, 2018:
House Republicans Face Another Week of Fighting Over Immigration (NPR) – House Republicans continue to fight to vote on a new immigration bill negotiated between conservatives, moderates, GOP, and the White House. House Speaker Paul Ryan believes that this bill, if passed, has the highest chance of being signed into law by President Trump. The Republican party is having difficulties uniting around the bill, as many conservatives believe the party should keep pushing for their original hard-line immigration bill instead.
Massachusetts immigration officers will again make arrests at appointments (7 News Boston) – Massachusetts ICE officers are required to arrest immigrants living in the country illegally when they show up in government offices for appointments, such as appointments to secure legal status.
June 24, 2018:
Trump advocates depriving undocumented immigrants of due process rights (The Washington Post) – Trump argues that those crossing the border illegally should be deported immediately “with no Judges or Court Cases.” Over the past week, Trump’s tweets have continued to bounce between denouncing the current immigration laws, and touting them as necessary for protecting Americans from external threats. Read more about Trump’s fluctuating tweets here.
June 22, 2018:
Trump’s immigration reversal creates its own chaos (CNN) – Confusion results from Trump’s decision to sign the executive order meant to prevent children from being separated at the border. Since it does not include any action for those 2,300 children who have already been separated from their families, Trump is facing backlash from those concerned over the future of those children.
June 21, 2018:
House Republican leaders delay vote on immigration bill until next week in the face of opposition (The Washington Post) – On June 21, house leaders postponed the vote on the proposed immigration bill* — which takes a less hard-line approach than the original Republican-proposed bill — in the hopes of gaining more support for preventing its passage. The bill would allocate $25 billion for the border wall, and open up for a pathway to citizenship and for keeping families together at the border.
*Goodlatte I = The first proposed “compromise” conservative immigration bill introduced by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). This bill failed to pass on Thursday, June 21. Read more about it here.
TIME Magazine’s “Welcome to America” Cover image released (CNN) – See above image.
June 20, 2018:
Trump retreats on Separating Families, but Thousands May Remain Apart (NYT) – Trump signed an executive order to end separating families at the border. Instead, he plans to detain parents and children together. This order fails to address the 2,300 children already separated from their families.
CALL TO ACTION: Nationwide protests planned against Trump’s family separation policy set for June 30, 2018. Read about it here.
Boston Protests on June 30th – ACLU of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition are amongst organizations coordinating demonstrations outside of the State House. They are calling on legislators to pass the Safe Communities Amendment, which would restrict local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. This amendment is currently under threat of being vetoed by MA Governor Charlie Baker (R). RSVP to the event here.
Video: The Trump Administration’s wildly contradictory statement on family separation – The Washington Post stitched together videos showcasing how the Trump administration’s changed their stance on immigrant family separation (14 times in one week!).
June 15, 2018:
While You Weren’t Looking: 5 important immigration stories from the week you probably missed (Mic) – This article sums up the past week on recent developments for immigration in the United States. Here’s an overview:
- Jeff Sessions’s Decision on US Asylum Eligibility: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he will no longer process asylum claims for people who cite gang violence and domestic abuse as their reason for fleeing their home countries, as such abuse should be considered “private violence.” He argues that the U.S. shouldn’t be responsible for granting asylum because the country the immigrant comes from is unable to protect its citizens. This “overturns a precedent set during the Obama administration that allowed more women to claim credible fears of domestic abuse and will make it harder for such arguments to prevail in immigration courts” (The New York Times).
Further Reading: Immigration Law Professor Weighs in on US Asylum Eligibility Decision (NPR) – Law professor Jan Ting agrees with Sessions’s interpretation of the existing asylum law. He cites the vagueness of the law, and argues that it’s about finding a balance between protect the people that the statute is meant to protect on the one hand, while not opening “the doors so wide open that you lose political support for that concept.” The law has come to protect a limited and discrete number of people, and professor Ting argues that it’s difficult to make exceptions for some people and not others when there are a multitude of issues in the world that threaten human beings.
- The US will begin to proactively investigate naturalized US citizens, looking for misrepresentations on their citizenship applications to determine whether or not they should be stripped of their citizen status. Immigration advocates are concerned that citizens who have made innocent mistakes on their applications could get swept up in the process without the resources to fight back in court.
- The US is looking into housing immigrant children who have been separated from their parents at the border in tent camps.
- A breastfeeding immigrant mother had her baby ripped away from her at the border.
Further Mayor Walsh signs Boston Trust Act amendments into law: Conservative Religious Leaders are Denouncing Trump’s Immigration Policy (NYT) – Conservative religious leaders value the family unit, and Trump’s policy of separating children from their families at the border runs counter to those beliefs. This is particularly problematic for the Trump administration because these leaders were amongst those who helped Trump build his base and who have been supporters of his previous policies.
- A father commits suicide after being separated from his family at the border.