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

  • 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.
  • 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

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Laws Proposed by Congress

Legislative Actions

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.
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Harmful Legislation

  • No Funding for Sanctuary Campuses Act (H.R.483) bill prohibits federal funding for student loans and grants to colleges and universities that adopt "sanctuary campus" policies and refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. .
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  • H.J.Res. 30 Amends the Constitution to decide the number of Congressional representative seats each state has according to the number of citizens rather than the total number of people living in the state.
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  • Birthright Citizenship Act of 2017 (H.R. 140) To amend section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.
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See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.

Projected Impact
Projected Impact of Trump/GOP Immigration Executive Orders

Deportations

The administration's priorities outlined in the "Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest" memo suggests 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, even including people arrested for shoplifting or minor traffic offenses.[3] This is a stark contrast to Obama's immigration policy, in which people who committed serious crimes were prioritized for deportation.[4] In total, it is estimated that at least 8 million of the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants currently living in America are now considered priorities for deportation by Trump's administration.[5] These deportations would be accelerated by the hiring of new agents. Trump has proposed $1.5 billion to fund new detention facilities and the removal of undocumented immigrants.[6]

Trump's administration has also reinstated the 287(g) program, which allows states and local governments to sign up to give local law enforcement the power to act as immigration officers.[7] 38 jurisdictions in 16 states currently participate in the 287(g) program, a number which will likely expand under this administration.[8] From January 2006 through September 30, 2015, the 287(g) program identified more than 402,079 undocumented immigrants to potentially be deported—mostly at local jails.[9]

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


The memo on implementing the executive order also expands the use of expedited removals, where individuals are deported without the due process of a hearing.[10] 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.[11] The broadening of what "crimes" can be under the new immigration standards will result in more people being held in detention centers.[12]

There is also a new policy that will allow immigrants to be deported to countries that are "contiguous" to or that border their country of origin, instead of actually being returned to their country of origin.[13]

Fear of being caught in an ICE raid has discouraged undocumented immigrants from seeking medical assistance and testifying in criminal cases. Parents are seeking other types of guardianships for their children should they be deported.[14] Undocumented workers are afraid to pick up any unpaid minimum wages and are not confirming their addresses for fear of being deported.[15]

Secure Communities

The enforcement memo has determined Obama's Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) unsuitable and re-enforced the Secure Communities Program. The program began in 2008 during George W. Bush's presidency and allows ICE to be able to request fingerprints attained from individuals sent to jails and prisons. Should these individuals be considered a threat, they will be issued a detainer (a 48-hour hold in jail or prison).[16]. Unlike PEP, which sought repeat offenders, Secure Communities allows officials to "exercise prosecutorial discretion."[17]

Detention

Trump proposed that the Department of Justice spend $171 million on short-term holding facilities.[18]

The administration has also outlined how it plans to put into effect Trump's executive order in its memo, "Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies". Trump's administration plans to nearly double the number of people held in immigration detention to 80,000 per day, including by building new detention centers.[19] Immigrants sent to detention are usually kept in private prisons.

ICE has issued more than 42,000 detainer requests this year, 35% higher than the year before. ICE described its actions as “routine” and lambasted those who labeled them as “raids” because nearly 1 in 4 of those arrested had no criminal records.[20]

Asylum Seekers

Based on the memo regarding implementation of the Executive Order, if an asylum seeker is considered a threat once they have entered the country, he/she may be held in detention.[21]. Just as in the past, asylum seekers will be required to establish "credible fear" when entering the United States. However, decisions made by ICE may now override the criteria originally set out by Congress to ensure that certain individuals would not be deported.[22]

Border Wall

Trump released a budget proposing a down payment of $2.6 billion for the border wall. This largely consists of money for technology, infrastructure, security (40 US Marshals), 60 border enforcement prosecutors, and 20 lawyers to obtain land for the wall's construction.[23] This proposed amount is inconsistent with the costs that have been estimated for the actual price of the wall's construction. Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget director,admits the uncertainty of what this budget will be able to cover. This stems, Mulvaney states, from the fact that the project has not started construction yet.[24]

Widespread confusion exists around how the expenses will be paid.[25] The price tag will depend largely on the height, materials, and other specifications.[26] The Department of Homeland Security quietly identified three sites where the government will build the first phase of the wall: near El Paso, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; and El Centro, California.[27]

  • US Customs and Border Protection said that it plans to start awarding contracts by mid-April for the border wall.[28]
  • Homeland Security has estimated that the border wall will cost $21.6 billion and take about 3.5 years to build.[29]
  • 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.[30]
  • Republican leaders in Congress have said that Trump's wall would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion.[31]

The memo on implementing the executive order also requests 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.[32]

International Impact

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.[33]

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 special in immigration. The centers will also start to produce birth certificates for those who do not have one.[34]

New Programs

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.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37]

Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy
Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy

Border Wall Funding

Trump may have a hard time convincing Congress to pay for a wall, given that there are currently more people leaving the United States for Mexico than entering the United States from Mexico.[38] 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.[39]

There does not appear to be a consensus among GOP members on who should fund the wall. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during an interview replied, "Uh, no," to a question regarding Trump's claim that Mexico would pay for the wall.[40]

Lawsuits

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.[41] Using expedited removals for deportations may result in lawsuits, because such removals limit people's right.[42]

Hiring New ICE Agents

It would take an act of Congress to appropriate additional funding to dramatically increase the number of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers employed by the federal government. Trump proposed $314 million to go toward hiring and training 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel next year.[43] Even with this funding, officials have indicated that it would take at least two years to hire eligible candidates because of the difficulty of finding those who can pass the training and the lie-detector test. In February 2008, when polygraphs were first implemented, half of the candidates applying for jobs did not pass, many because they had been convicted of serious felonies (e.g., smuggling, bribery, or drug trafficking).[44][45]

A former senior official at Custom and Border Protection stated that the heightened number of security officials on the border will not effectively weed out individuals charged with drug-related crimes. Adding shortcuts to the hiring process will increase the likeliness of corruption among ICE officials. Since 2004, 197 CBP employees, including border patrol agents, have been arrested for or charged with corruption. When there are corrupt agents, it is easier for criminals to exploit this breach of security on the border.[46]

International Law

DHS Secretary John Kelly has confirmed that the Trump administration does indeed intend to deport non–Mexican citizens to Mexico.[47] However, in order to deport people to contiguous (bordering) countries rather than to their country of origin, those countries would have to be willing to accept these immigrants.[48] For example, it will likely not be possible to send those seeking asylum in the United States to Mexico without an agreement with the Mexican government.[49] Furthermore, pushing undocumented immigrants back and forth over the border will create instability on the border and thus security issues.[50] Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who is leading negotiations with the Trump administration, has stated that Mexico will not take in individuals deported from the US.[51]

Delays

As more people are detained, the courts will have a larger backlog than what is usually in place—1,800 cases.[52] By January 2017, there were an estimated 540,000 cases pending in immigration courts, including 20,856 pending detained cases.[53] The federal freeze on hiring that Trump has proposed would also delay deportation times longer than the current five-year delay, because the number of immigration court judges would be limited. Trump has said the hiring freeze would not apply to immigration judges in cases of national security.[54] Trump has proposed $80 million toward new teams of immigration judges—about 75 teams, or 449 immigration judges and support staff.[55] However, the court would need about 520 immigration judges in order to come close to catching up with backlog of cases. There are 301 sitting judges and 50 awaiting hiring (in a process that takes a year to complete), with 374 vacancies.[56]

Detention

The case Jennings v. Rodriguez, which will be decided by the Supreme Court within the next few months, will determine whether it is constitutional to detain people without bail hearings prior to deportation proceedings.[57]

If the DHS began separating women and children crossing the US border illegally, this 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.[58]

State and Local Government Resistance

The 287(g) law, which allows the federal government to enter into agreements with local and state law enforcement so that they can act on the federal government's behalf in enforcing immigration laws, is limited because it is costly for local police departments to take on this additional work. Since participating in 287(g) agreements is voluntary for cities, local residents and activists can pressure their city council members, mayors, and county commissioners to prevent their cities and counties from participating.[59]

The term "sanctuary cities" generally refers to local governments that limit their cooperation with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), a federal agency, by not handing 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 detainer requests if the individual has multiple prior felony convictions. Counties that do not decline ICE agents' requests run the risk of losing the trust of undocumented immigrants who might need assistance.[60] However, sanctuary city policies do not prevent federal law enforcement from identifying and detaining undocumented immigrants.

Economy

Increased immigration enforcement could cause an economic recession.[61] This would have an impact across the country.

The technology sector would limit their ability to recruit highly skilled workers: Foreign workers are employed by tech companies largely for remote work, administrative jobs, and tech support. Executives and engineers believe that businesses will be very limited in talent if foreigners are restricted from US employment. Silicon Valley companies and other startups have relied heavily on foreign workers who have attained H-1Bs or green cards. The H-1B visa has been granted to 65,000 high-skilled workers.[62] The agriculture, construction and hospitality industries would be devastated by an immigration crackdown.[63]

Deportations would also reduce local and state tax revenue.

  • 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.[64][65]
  • 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%.[66]
  • A recent study put out by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants pay more than $11 billion a year in state and local taxes.[67]
  • Nationwide, it is found that undocumented immigrants pay 8% of their income, whereas the top 1% pay 5.4% of their incomes.[68]

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