Immigration

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This is a collaborative knowledge base; feel free to propose edits/additions that you believe are important for others to know. Contributions will be reviewed and approved based on quality and accuracy.

How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist
[edit]

  • Call your Members of Congress by dialing tel:854-6-RESIST and tell them to support the positive legislation and oppose the harmful legislation below using congressional breakdown by districts on immigration.
  • Find out when your Senators and US Representative are holding town halls and other Upcoming Events/Opportunities. Show up and tell them to protect immigrants.
  • Connect people who are experiencing immigration issues and/or are at risk of deportation to Crisis Resources, which can help protect and assist them.
  • Click here to find an organization looking for volunteers.

Recent Updates[edit]

  • 11/6/17: The Trump Administration announced it is canceling Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaraguans in the United States, leaving 2500 individuals who have lived, worked and raised families in the U.S. for almost two decades without the authorization to work and vulnerable to being deported. [2] The decision to end temporary protected status for Nicaraguan refugees means that some 2,500 people will no longer be permitted to live in the United States as of Jan. 5, 2019. [3]
  • 9/18/17: Six Californians affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program sued the Trump administration Monday for ending those protections. The Lawsuit claims the decision to phase out the DACA program “was motivated by unconstitutional bias against Mexicans and Latinos.” [4] [5]
  • 9/16/2017: California lawmakers voted to make the state a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants. Senate Bill 54 would limit state and local law enforcement communication with federal immigration authorities, and prevent officers from questioning and holding people on immigration violations.[6]
  • 9/15/17: U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled that the Trump administration may not withhold public-safety grants to so-called sanctuary cities. The judge concluded that Attorney General Jeff Sessions exceeded his authority by requiring cities to cooperate with federal immigration officials or lose grant money for fighting crime. The order prevents the Justice Department from withholding grant money until there is a final determination in the lawsuit. [7]
  • 9/6/17: A group of attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit to stop the administration from winding down the DACA program. The suit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York, alleges that the decision was the result of President Trump’s “oft-stated commitments — whether personally held, stated to appease some portion of his constituency, or some combination thereof — to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots.” [8]
  • 9/5/17: The Trump administration announced that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was founded by the Obama administration in June 2012 by Presidential Executive Order. DACA allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration's decision saying that the program, "contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences." However, to qualify for the program young adults and children have to have lived in the United States since June 15, 2007. Sessions continued that DACA "denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens"- a claim for which no evidence was provided. As early as March 2018 some of the 800,000 young adults brought to the United States illegally as children, many of who qualified for the program would become eligible for deportation. No new applications will be taken and renewals will only be processed for those who qualify until March 2018. [9] [10]
  • 8/30/17: A federal judge in San Antonio, Texas ruled that Texas State officials are temporarily barred from implementing Senate Bill 4 (S.B.4) while the lawsuit against the law moves forward. Senate Bill 4 prohibits cities and counties from adopting policies that limit immigration enforcement, allows police officers to question the immigration status of anyone they detain or arrest, and threatens officials who violate the law with fines, jail time, and removal from office. It also directs local officials to cooperate with so-called immigration detainer requests, which allow foreign-born detainees to be transferred to federal custody after they are released from state or local custody. A number of the state’s biggest cities, including Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, all of which are run by Democrats, joined a lawsuit against Texas seeking to strike down the law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by the Republican governor, Greg Abbott, in May.[11]
  • 8/2/17: The Trump administration announced a proposal to sharply reduce legal immigration, in addition to illegal immigration. The administration argues this will help "preserve jobs and lead to higher wages," and argument leading economists say is not true. The proposal would used a strict merit-based system to earn a limited number of green cards, and sharply reduce people admitted as family members of current residents. The legislation would award points based on education, ability to speak English, high-paying job offers, age, record of achievement and intent to start businesses. But while it would still allow spouses and minor children of Americans and legal residents to come in, it would take away privileges for other relatives, like siblings and adult children. The bill would create a renewable temporary visa for older-adult parents who come to take care of family members. [12]
  • 7/25/17: The Justice Department announced that it will impose new grant conditions in a bid to make sure that federal money does not flow to so-called sanctuary cities, saying it will no longer give cities coveted grant money unless they give federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released.[13] [14]
  • 5/19/17: In Trump's first 100 days, 41,000 known or suspected undocumented immigrants have been arrested by ICE agents. "The agency says it is arresting close to 400 suspected undocumented immigrants per day."[15]

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Laws Proposed by Congress
[edit]

Legislative Actions[edit]

Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice


  • Protect American Families Act (S 54) would prohibit the creation of an immigration-related registry program that classifies people on the basis of religion, race, age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, nationality, or citizenship.
    Billtracker.png


Harmful Legislation


  • H.J.Res. 30 changes the Constitution to decide each state's number of Congressional representative seats according to the number of citizens, rather than the total number of people, living in the state.
    Billtracker.png




See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.

Projected Impact
Projected Impact of Trump/GOP Immigration Executive Orders
[edit]

Deportations[edit]

It is estimated that Trump's administration now considers at least 8 million of the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants living in America today priorities for deportation. [16] These deportations would be sped up by hiring new ICE agents. Trump proposed $1.5 billion for detention sites and the removal of undocumented immigrants. [17] He also wants to remove $210 million from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.[18] The budget passed by the House and Senate provides $900 million toward these activities. [19]

The White House plans outlined in an enforcement memo suggest that any undocumented immigrant living in the US who has been charged or convicted of any crime, and even those suspected of a crime, will now be an enforcement priority. This includes those arrested for shoplifting or minor traffic offenses. [20] DHS Secretary John Kelly finds marijuana possession to be grounds for deportation. DHS determines enforcement priorities, not deportation priorities. This is in stark contrast to the Obama Administration's policy. Under Obama, people who committed serious crimes were prioritized for deportation. [21]

These 38 law enforcement agencies currently participate in the 287(g) program.[1]

Trump's administration has also brought back the 287(g) program. This program allows states and local governments to give local law enforcement the power to act as immigration officers.[22] 38 jurisdictions in 16 states currently participate in this program. This number which will likely grow.[23] From January 2006 through September 30, 2015, the 287(g) program identified more than 402,079 undocumented immigrants as targets, mostly at local jails.[24]

The memo also expands the use of expedited removals. In expedited removals, individuals are deported without the due process of a hearing. [25] Instead of a judge, the immigration officer makes the decision about deportation.[26] This means people are not allowed to make their case to a judge about why they are entitled to stay in the country. They will not have the help of an attorney and are at an increased risk of wrongful deportation. [27] Under the Obama administration, expedited removal was used only within 100 miles of the border for people who had been in the country no more than 14 days. Now it will include those who have been in the country for up to two years, located anywhere in the nation. [28] Still, the use of expedited removals has been growing in recent years.[29] The broadening of what "crimes" can result in deportation under the new immigration standards will result in more people being held in detention centers.[30]

There is also a new policy that will allow immigrants to be deported to countries that are "contiguous" to (border) their country of origin, instead of actually being returned to their country of origin.[31]

Effects on the family and schools[edit]

In 1982, The Supreme Court ruled in Plyer v Doe that it is unconstitutional to deny undocumented students free public education. House Democrats have written a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy Devos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding this ruling. They fear that students may be lost in the expedited deportations. [32]
A primer on expedited removal figure 1.png

The fear of being caught in an ICE raid has discouraged undocumented immigrants from seeking medical assistance and from testifying in criminal cases. Parents who fear being deported are seeking other types of guardianship for their children. [33] Undocumented workers are afraid to pick up unpaid wages and are not confirming their addresses for fear of being deported.

The rise in the detention and deportation of undocumented parents has a large effect on children. Children whose parents are deported or detained are more likely to have mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and severe psychological distress. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is significantly higher in children who have at least one parent detained/deported. A 2015 study by the American Immigration Council found that the deportation of a parent or other household family member decreases the family income by 50%. Other possible impacts include the child being placed in the child welfare system. Should the parent be deported, they must make the decision whether or not to bring the child with them. [34]

Secure Communities[edit]

The enforcement memo calls Obama's Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) unsuitable. It brings back the Secure Communities Program. This program, begun in 2008 under George W. Bush, allows ICE to request fingerprints of individuals sent to jails and prisons. If these individuals are considered a threat, ICE will issue a detainer (a 48-hour hold in jail or prison). [35]. Unlike PEP, which sought repeat offenders, this program allows officials to "exercise prosecutorial discretion." [36]

Detention[edit]

Trump proposed that the Department of Justice spend $171 million on short-term holding facilities.[37] The budget bill approved by the House and Senate contains $1.5 billion in funding support for short-term detention.[38]

The administration has also released the memo, "Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies". They plan to nearly double the number of people held to 80,000 per day. This would require new detention centers. [39] Immigrants sent to detention are usually kept in private prisons.

ICE has issued more than 42,000 detainer requests this year. This is a 35% increase from last year. ICE described its actions as “routine". Others have described these actions as “raids”, because nearly 1 in 4 of those arrested had no criminal records.[40]

Asylum Seekers[edit]

Based on the memo on the Executive Order, an asylum seeker may be detained if they are considered a threat once they have entered the country. [41] People seeking asylum present themselves to government officials on entering the United States. As in the past, asylum seekers are required to establish "credible fear" when entering the United States. However, based on the Executive Order, ICE may now override the criteria originally set out by Congress. This would put individuals Congress tried to ensure would not be deported at risk.[42]

Refugees[edit]

In March, President Trump decreased the number of refugees to be admitted to the United States in the fiscal year. The number has been reduced to 50,000. This is less than half of the 110,000 that were admitted under President Obama.[43] As of March 2017, almost 37,000 refugees had already been admitted to the United States since the fiscal year began in October.[44] Refugee vetting time normally takes 18 to 24 months after people apply to the UN for placement as a refugee. Vetting currently involves eight federal agencies, six databases, five separate background checks, four fingerprint and biometric checks, three in-person interviews, and two interagency checks. More screening occurs in the airport before embarking and after arrival in the US airport. If the refugee is allowed in, the State Department assigns the refugee to an NGO to help them find work or housing.[45]

In 2014, the United States set up a special program to offer refugee status or special admission to Central American children, particularly those traveling alone.[46] More than 11,000 people have applied to the program. As of February 22nd, just 2,400 have been admitted.[47] President Trump's executive order in March will freeze new applications to the program for 120 days.[48]

In May 2017, immigration officials began looking into the criminal records of the 50,000 Haitian refugees in the United States. The refugees came to the U.S. after the 2010 earthquakes. It is also reported that immigration officials are looking at which refugees may be receiving welfare benefits, since they are not eligible for them.[49] As of May, the Department of Homeland Security has given Haitians at risk of deportation six more months of protection "to handle their affairs" to prepare for them to ultimately leave the US [50]. Haitian refugees will receive an extension of benefits until July 22.

Other refugee nations, such as Sudan and South Sudan, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador will look to extend their benefits in early 2018.[51]

Border Wall[edit]

The budget agreed to by the Senate and House of Representatives contains no funding for a border wall, and the budget limits how money can be spent on border security.[52]

  • Trump may have a hard time convincing Congress to pay for a wall in the future, given that there are currently more people leaving the United States for Mexico than entering the United States from Mexico.[53] This difficulty might be reinforced by the fact that even on Election Day, most voters polled opposed the wall, and more than 70% of voters polled said they supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.[54]
  • US Customs and Border Protection said that it plans to start awarding contracts by mid-April for the border wall.[55]
  • Homeland Security has estimated that the border wall will cost $21.6 billion and take about 3.5 years to build.[56]
  • The Government Accountability Office estimates that it would cost on average $6.5 million per mile for a fence to keep out people who try to enter on foot and $1.8 million per mile for vehicle barriers.[57]
  • Republican leaders in Congress have said that Trump's wall would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion.[58]
  • Trump's executive order on the wall also requested a report on aid to Mexico. It is possible that aid to Mexico will be cut or changed as a way to incentivize Mexico to pay for the wall.[59]

International Impact[edit]

The European Parliament has voted to end Americans' visa-free travel to the EU. This comes after the US government denied visa-free travel to citizens from five EU countries—Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Cyprus.[60]

Mexico has opened immigrant defense centers at their 50 embassies and consulate locations in the United States. About 170 million pesos ($54 million) of the Mexican government's budget has been allocated for the cause. This is exclusively for Mexicans who are seeking legal guidance and assistance from lawyers who specialize in immigration. The centers will also start to produce birth certificates for those who do not have one.[61]

Asylum seekers have been migrating towards Canada and crossing through unofficial entrances. As part of the Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement , if they cross before apprehended they cannot be turned back to U.S. soilTheir government officials allocated financial aid to Manitoba where 200 crossings this year have been recorded.[62] On the other hand, over concerns with the travel ban Toronto schools will not be allowing students and staff to visit the U.S.[63]

New Programs[edit]

In addition to the new enforcement priorities, the Department of Homeland Security will be creating a new program, Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), which will work with victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.[64] This is despite the fact that crimes committed by undocumented immigrants have decreased over time and are now less frequent than crimes committed by native-born Americans.[65] The memo also stated that constitutional privacy protections will no longer apply to those who are not US citizens or lawful permanent residents, when not mandated by law.[66]

There is also a new database called the Victim Information and Notification Exchange, or DHS-VINE. It provides information on the detention status of undocumented immigrants who have been accused of crimes. For some people in this database, their only crime is their immigration status. This database includes personal information, which puts undocumented immigrations who are victims of abuse in danger. This is particularly dangerous for women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence.[67]

Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy
Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy
[edit]

Lawsuits[edit]

Trump's expansion of immigration detention policies will likely face lawsuits. Past U.S. presidents have been involved in class action suits pursued by pro bono lawyers, such as American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh, which led to Temporary Protected Status being passed by congress.

Expedited removals will rush undocumented immigrants through a process they barely understand, without the right to an attorney and few options to appeal their deportation.[68] Using expedited removals for deportations may result in lawsuits, because such removals limit people's rights.[69]

  • In September 2016, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against an Indiana sheriff's office for detaining an immigrant under ICE policy.[71]
  • The lawyers of Juan Manuel Montes, a DACA recipient, have sued the government for withholding information related to his deportation, despite a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request. This is the first known case of a DACA recipient being deported and due to the complicated nature of Monte's case, transparency is required.[72]

Hiring New ICE Agents[edit]

It would take an act of Congress to fund a dramatic increase in the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Trump proposed $314 million to hire and train 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 ICE personnel next year. [73] Even with this funding, officials have said it would take at least two years to hire eligible candidates. It is difficult to find candidates who can pass both the training and the polygraph (lie detector test). In February 2008, when polygraphs were first implemented, half of the candidates applying for jobs failed. Many had been convicted of serious felonies (e.g., drug trafficking, smuggling, or bribery). [74][75]

A former senior official at Custom and Border Protection stated that the larger number of agents on the border will not effectively weed out individuals charged with drug-related crimes. Adding shortcuts to the hiring process will increase the possibility of corruption. The American Immigration Council released a report in April 2017 detailing past corruption in these agencies. They propose other ideas besides hiring a large group of new ICE agents and Border Patrol officers. Since 2004, 197 CBP employees, including border patrol agents, have been arrested for or charged with corruption. Experts say that corrupt agents make it easier for criminals to take advantage of relaxed security on the border. [76]

Administration officials have admitted preliminary plans for speeding the hiring of new agents may end polygraph and physical fitness tests. They also propose opening 33,000 beds to hold detained undocumented immigrants. [77]

International Law[edit]

DHS Secretary John Kelly has confirmed that the Trump administration intends to deport non–Mexican citizens to Mexico. [78] This represents a new policy of deporting people to contiguous (bordering) countries, rather than to their country of origin. However, countries must be willing to accept these immigrants. [79] For example, to send those seeking asylum in the United States to Mexico requires an agreement with the Mexican government. [80] The Mexican Foreign Minister, Luis Videgaray, is leading negotiations with the Trump administration. He has stated that Mexico will not take in individuals deported from the US.[81] Pushing undocumented immigrants back and forth over the border will create instability on the border and lead to security issues.[82]

Delays[edit]

As more people are detained, courts will have a larger backlog than normal. [83] By January 2017, there were an estimated 540,000 cases pending in immigration courts. This includes 20,856 pending detention cases. [84] The federal freeze on hiring proposed by Trump would also cause longer deportation delays, because it would limit the number of immigration court judges. Trump has said the hiring freeze would not apply to immigration judges in cases of national security.[85]

The new budget bill provides $20 million to fund new teams of immigration judges. This will not ease the backlog, let alone make it possible to deport more people.[86] Courts would need 520 immigration judges to come close to catching up with the backlog of cases. There are 301 sitting judges and 50 awaiting hiring in a process that takes a year to complete. There are 374 vacancies. [87]

As of March 2017, there is a possible plan to reshuffle federal immigration judges to 12 U.S. cities to speed up deportations. There are 18,013 pending immigration cases in these cities that involve undocumented immigrants. Cities targeted are: New York; Los Angeles; Miami; New Orleans; San Francisco; Baltimore; Bloomington, Minnesota; El Paso, Texas; Harlingen, Texas; Imperial, California; Omaha, Nebraska; and Phoenix, Arizona. The DOJ has not stated whether these cases involve those awaiting trial or those who are already convicted. [88]

Detention[edit]

The case Jennings v. Rodriguez will be decided by the Supreme Court within the next few months. This ruling will determine whether it is constitutional to detain people without bail hearings prior to deportation proceedings.[89]

If the DHS began separating women and children who cross the US border illegally, it would impose psychological trauma. The current policy, put in place by the Obama administration, does not allow women and children to be detained for longer than 21 days. [90] Concerns have risen over the DHS-VINE database, This database includes the names of children and infants listed in immigration custody or as unaccompanied minors.

Sexual abuse complaints in immigration detention centers are under-investigated. Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) reviewed federal data and found only 225 of 33,126 complaints were investigated. [91]

Deaths in ICE detention centers have been downplayed.[92]. ACLU released a report of the numbers of deaths in ICE centers.

State and Local Government Resistance[edit]

The 287(g) law allows the federal government to enter into agreements with local and state law enforcement to act on their behalf in enforcing immigration laws. It's costly for local police departments to take on this additional work. Since these agreements are voluntary, local residents and activists can pressure their local governments to stop them participating. [93]

Cutting DOJ funding from sanctuary jurisdictions won't have a substantial impact on their budgets.
The term "sanctuary cities" refers to local governments that limit their cooperation with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). These cities do not always hand over undocumented immigrants for deportation. Local law enforcement is not legally required to comply with federal agents' requests to detain people. Some county jails do comply with these requests if the individual has multiple prior felony convictions. Counties that comply with ICE requests may lose the trust of undocumented immigrants. This includes witnesses and those who need assistance.[94] However, sanctuary city policies do not prevent federal law enforcement from identifying and detaining immigrants.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in March 2017 that the Department of Justice would withhold $4.1 billion in federal grants from 118 publicly identified jurisdictions. [95] These grants are fewer than 1% of the budget of most jurisdictions. This may not be enough to force state and local governments to follow the immigration policy. Sessions cited crimes committed by undocumented immigrants as the reason for concern about safety. [96] However, immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born citizens. [97] A group of 300 legal experts have called Session's stance unconstitutional under the spending clause and Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. [98]

Economy[edit]

While the Trump administration argues that it would "preserve jobs and increase wages," increased immigration enforcement could cause an economic recession. [99] [100] This would have an impact across the country.

Agriculture, construction, rural doctors and the hospitality industry would be devastated by an immigration crackdown.[101]

  • The technology sector's ability to recruit highly skilled workers would be limited. Foreign workers are employed by tech companies largely for remote work, administrative jobs, and tech support. Silicon Valley companies and other startups have relied heavily on foreign workers who have attained H-1Bs or green cards. The industry relies on foreign workers because "there aren’t enough skilled American workers to fill open tech jobs in the U.S.: There are more than 500,000 open computing jobs, but only about 43,000 Americans graduate from college with computer-science degrees every year." [102]
  • The H-1B visa has been granted to 65,000 high-skilled workers. [103] Due to the "America First" rhetoric from the Trump administration, applications for the visa have dropped. There were only 199,000 this year, down from 236,000 last year. [104]
  • According to the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), immigrants made up 51% of the dairy farmers in 2014. If they are deported, the U.S. would lose about $32 billion and 208,000 jobs nationwide. [105] NMPF is in favor of lawmakers resolving immigration laws rather than enforcing deportation. [106]
  • The taxes paid by undocumented immigrants contribute heavily to the economy. Undocumented immigrants paid an estimated $11.64 billion in state and local taxes in 2016 and $100 billion in payroll taxes, which goes to Medicare and the Social Security Trust Fund.[107][108]
  • If Trump were to deport all 11.5 million undocumented immigrants, it would cost an estimated $400 to $600 billion and reduce the US GDP by $1.7 trillion—more than 5%. [109]
  • A recent study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants pay more than $11 billion a year in state and local taxes. [110]
  • Nationwide, it is found that undocumented immigrants pay 8% of their income, whereas the top 1% pay 5.4% of their incomes.[111]

The travel ban on citizens from six Muslim countries could affect the $250 billion travel sector.

The Center for American Progress released an interactive map recording the share of the GDP that would be lost if undocumented workers were deported.