Immigration News

The Trump administration has proposed to cap the number of refugees entering the USA next year at an all-time low – 30,000. Refugees are people forced to flee their own country because of persecution, war or violence. “Refugee” status in U.S. immigration law offers a set of procedures for entering the country and a path to citizenship. Official refugees are distinct  from the many migrants crossing the border to seek asylum in the USA.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are nearly 25.4 million refugees in the world , more than half of whom are under age 18. In the last year of the Obama administration, the U.S. refugee ceiling was 110,000, a number Trump cut to 45,000 in the current year. Furthermore, the Trump administration’s extreme vetting and slow processing of refugees has meant that so far this year only 20,918 have been admitted.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the goal of this White House is to cripple the U.S. refugee program,” says J. Kevin Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies.

Trump badly wants a wall built at the border with Mexico, the wall he promised his supporters that Mexico would pay for. Mexico is not paying up, and Trump is threatening to shut down the U.S. government by vetoing a continuing resolution that would fund the government past the September 30 end of the current fiscal year. Trump wants $5 billion toward a wall in this bill, but Republican leaders in Congress have told him the maximum wall funding that will pass is $1.2 billion.  Trump has blamed Democrats, tweeted that “REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!” and threatened seven times in the past six weeks to shut down the USG over this matter. No one knows whether he’s bluffing.

The Flores agreement is a 1997 consent decree that settled lawsuits on how the U.S. government would care for immigrant children in its custody. Under this agreement, migrant children may not be detained more than 20 days. The Trump administration has proposed withdrawing from the agreement and issued proposed new rules that would allow the USG to “use appropriate facilities to detain family units together during their immigration proceedings.” This procedure “may result in extending detention of some minors, and their accompanying parent or legal guardian…. beyond 20 days.” This past week administration officials testified before a Senate committee in support of the change.

This link is to testimony by William Canny, executive director for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services. Canny’s thorough testimony provides background on the conditions in Central American countries that are driving migrants across the U.S. border, explains why the proposed new rules would harm both children and taxpayers, and makes recommendations on how to enforce immigration law and still provide humane conditions for immigrants and their children.

Jose Antonio Vargas may be the most famous undocumented immigrant in the USA. He’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and immigration activist who has written often about his life as immigrant brought to this country years ago as a child.  This piece is excerpted from his new memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen.

Vargas tells of the time he appeared on Fox News and faced the mother of a person killed  by an undocumented immigrant. “It’s difficult to overstate the role Fox has played in framing the public’s understanding of immigration,” Vargas writes. “No other news channel has dominated a single issue the way Fox has molded immigration. …On Fox, ‘illegals’ are cast as enemies, a collective ‘burden’ to society, ‘draining’ public programs and stealing jobs from native-born Americans. We are the criminalized and criminal Other, thoroughly un-American, and unwilling to become American.”

The irate mother hits Vargas with a common refrain: “Get in line. Become a U.S. citizen.” Vargas has a fine answer for her.

Running for a second term in a blue state, Maryland’s Republican Governor, Larry Hogan, has taken considerable pains to separate himself from Trump. In fact, one might say the subtext of his campaign is: “I’m not Trump.” However, a look at his record on immigration suggests otherwise.

This article from 2015, Hogan’s first year in office, shows him joining with other Republican governors to ask the Obama administration to stop settling refugees from the Syrian civil war in their states.“Following the terrorist attacks on Paris just four days ago, and after careful consideration, I am now requesting that federal authorities cease any additional settlements of refugees from Syria in Maryland until the U.S. government can provide appropriate assurances that refugees from Syria pose no threat to public safety,” Hogan said.

This is an excellent, three-minute video that delineates the racist roots of U.S. immigration laws.

This week the Democratic Governors Association released 1,400-plus pages on Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s record. A compilation of quotes by the governor and press reports on his actions, the opposition research report offers a deep dive into Hogan’s personal, professional, and political life. It includes information about Hogan’s positions on social and economic issues, as well as details about his personal likes and dislikes and his real-estate business, which has earned him $2.4 million in the years he’s been governor.  

Maryland’s governor recently made a show of not sending Maryland National Guard troops to the Mexican border as Trump had asked. In fact, much of Governor Hogan’s high approval rating at this point in the campaign rests upon his not being Trump.

This thorough article, however, makes clear that as the president of the immigrant-advocacy group CASA in Action says, Hogan has been “extremely quiet in moments when we needed real leadership, and other times he has attacked immigrants using the same talking points about criminals and danger the president relies on.” Among Hogan’s stances on immigration issues:

He opposed Maryland’s policy of allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

He instructed the state-run Baltimore City Detention Center to provide ICE agents with 48 hours’ notice before an undocumented immigrant targeted for deportation was set to be released, so that feds could assume custody and try to remove them from the country.

He told the federal government that more Syrian refugees would not be welcome in Maryland because of “safety and security” concerns.

He vowed to veto the Maryland Trust Act, which would have prevented state law enforcement agencies from disclosing nonpublic records to ICE, and barred state officials from asking crime victims or suspects about their immigration status.  Hogan called it an “outrageously irresponsible bill” that would “endanger” Maryland citizens. “We cannot allow Maryland to become a sanctuary state, “he added in a fundraising letter.

When two undocumented immigrants in Rockville, high school students, were accused of rape, Hogan echoed Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s words in citing the case as a reason for voting against the Maryland Trust Act. (The charges were later dropped when police determined the sex was consensual. )

Hogan’s re-election web site makes no mention of immigration.

For more on Hogan’s comments about the Rockville “rape” case, check this link: