"They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us." Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, speaking of the Muslim immigrants who were killed in white supremacist shootings during worship at their mosques
By a 59-41 margin, the Senate voted to overturn Trump’s declaration of a national emergency that would allow him to re-program congressionally appropriated funding for his border wall. Twelve Republicans joined all Senate Democrats in the vote against the president. Trump vowed to veto the measure, however, and neither the House nor the Senate seems to have the two-thirds majority required to overcome a presidential veto.
House Democrats this week introduced a bill to provide legal status and a pathway to citizenship for the DACA Dreamers - immigrants brought illegally to the USA as children - as well as immigrants in Temporary Protected Status. Democratic groups are also beginning to work out long-term strategy on such immigration issues as the level of border security, the best system for legal immigration, and whether Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Bureau should be abolished or restructured.
This is an excellent summary of U.S. immigration law by Elizabeth Cohen, a political scientist who studies immigration. American history shows that congressional attempts to engineer the demographics of immigrants allowed into this country inevitably fall prey to the law of unintended consequences.
ICE is tapping into a huge license-plate database, ACLU says, raising new privacy concerns about surveillance, 3/13/19
ICE is everywhere, or at least everywhere your car goes. ICE is hunting down undocumented immigrants, using a little-known database and camera system that tracks license plates.
Trump’s budget proposal would increase the number of detention beds for immigrant families from 44,000 to 54,000. This number became an issue in the last round of budget negotiations. Democrats in Congress want to restrict the number of beds to limit the number of immigrant families locked up. The alternative is to release immigrant families to sponsor or relatives in the USA as they await their hearings on their requests for asylum.
Fact Sheet: Asylum in the United States. This is a clear and thorough explanation of how asylum is defined, eligibility requirements, and the U.S. application process. Asylum is a protection offered to foreign nationals in the USA or at the border who have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their home country because of their “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” The right to asylum is based on international treaties and U.S. immigration law.
In February 66,450 migrants crossed the Mexican border illegally and were caught by the U.S. Border Patrol, an 11-year high. Almost two-thirds of these people are parents and children from three Central American countries who are seeking asylum under U.S. law -- a major change from 10 years ago when most border crossers were Mexican men seeking labor in the USA. The fundamental problem the Trump administration now faces is that “the US immigration enforcement system was designed to swiftly detain and deport migrants who attempted to sneak into the USA illegally. Asylum-seekers and families like these don’t fit that mold.”
Federal Government Reportedly Tracked Immigration Activists, Lawyers, and Journalists in Secret Database, 3/7/19
According to leaked Homeland Security documents, the USG has been maintaining a secret database on immigration activists, journalist, and social media influencers the government associated with the migrant caravan that came to the U.S.-Mexico border at the end of 2018. Most of those being monitored are U.S. citizens.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified before a House committee last week, and Democrats raised many questions about U.S. immigration policy, particularly the "zero tolerance" policy announced by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year. This policy called for the criminal prosecution of all adults who had entered the country illegally and, as a result, led to separating children from their parents. The administration has provided few answers on how the policy came to fruition, who was consulted, and how many people it impacted. Nielsen repeatedly said that the administration was simply enforcing the law and that it was not a policy, though she did admit: "The whole purpose of [the policy] was to increase consequences for those who choose to break the law."
“Once again, local police are sticking their noses in immigration matters.” The first sentence of this editorial summarizes the issue nicely. When a woman’s car caught on fire, Maryland Transportation Police in Baltimore called federal immigration authorities. Now the motorist, who has no criminal record and was awaiting an asylum hearing, faces a deportation hearing. Apparently, in checking a database, police found an administrative detainer warrant from ICE for the motorist and called ICE, even though Baltimore’s police department has no policy on working with the federal agency.As the editorial concludes, “lawmakers need to pass legislation pending in the General Assembly that would prohibit state and local police from arresting people on civil warrants issued by ICE, or asking about immigration status. A state law would make sure immigrants in every corner of the state are being treated fairly and eliminate some of the variance of enforcement we now see.”
The SPLC has issued its annual report, “The Year in Hate: Rage Against Change,” on hate groups in America. Of special note is a section that deals with 17 hate groups specializing in immigration issues. Several of the most prominent have succeeded in placing their staff members within the Trump administration and finding their way into sources for the mainstream media when reporting on immigration. According to the SPLC, many anti-immigrant hate groups have chosen respectable-sounding names, among them: the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and the Center for Security Policy.
Last week the House of Representatives voted to rescind the national emergency Trump declared so that he could use already appropriated funds to pay for his wall at the Mexican border. The vote was 245-182, with 13 Republicans joining the Democratic majority. The Senate will take up the measure soon. If both the House and Senate pass the nullification measure and Trump vetoes it, a two-thirds majority would be required in both houses to overturn the veto.
One of the most-repeated canards in the immigration debate is that, as Trump likes to say, immigrants cost U.S. taxpayers “billion and billions of dollars a month.” This is just wrong. This article explains how immigrants, both documented and undocumented, pay federal taxes and, in fact, are helping to keep Social Security funds solvent. But the reporter focuses mainly on the $11.7 billion in state and local taxes that immigrants pay.
The Department of Homeland security will comply with a federal court order and extend Temporary Protective Status to immigrants from four countries - Haiti, Sudan, El Salvador, and Nicaragua - until January 2020. Congress established TPS in 1990 to allow immigrants from countries in the throes of natural disasters, armed conflict or other calamities. Since taking office, the Trump administration has routinely sought to end TPS for immigrants from a variety of countries through administrative decrees.
ICE Detaining 'Alarming' Number of Infants as Young as Five Months, Immigration Groups Claim, 3/1/19
Three immigration advocacy groups have challenged ICE on its practice of keeping infants without proper medical care at a facility in Texas. According to a letter they sent the Inspector General of HHS, at least nine infants younger than one year who have been separated from their parents at the border are being held at the facility.
Why Are We Not Surprised Department: Trump’s national emergency declaration will allow him to take money from military construction and drug smuggling budgets and reprogram it to build his border wall. It would diminish Defense Department spending in every state, but will hit California, Maryland, and Hawaii hardest.
This is an excellent, three-minute video that delineates the racist roots of U.S. immigration laws.