REAL ID and other immigration news – May 18, 2017

The conference committee agreed on a REAL ID bill on Tuesday night, and the House and Senate passed it on Wednesday  — a “clean” REAL ID with none of the anti-immigrant language that had been in the House version. The bill does not authorize drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, but it no longer explicitly forbids issuance of regulations that could authorize them at some future time. That’s a win — or what passes for a win in this year and this legislature. Governor Dayton has said he would sign a “clean” REAL ID bill, and that’s what is headed for his desk now.

The battle ground now shifts, as House Republicans will try to insert the same anti-immigrant language in the Omnibus Judiciary/Public Safety bill. They already put the language in the bill that Governor Dayton vetoed, and Dayton cited it as one of the many reasons to veto the bill:

“This budget also has a controversial provision that was added into the conference report at the last minute relating to DPS’s authority to engage in rulemaking regarding lawful status for a driver’s license. As I have stated repeatedly, this language is not necessary because current law prohibits DPS from rulemaking without the Legislature’s prior approval.”

Real ID passes Min. House and Senate, heads to Gov. Dayton (Star Tribune, 5/17/17)

Minnesota Legislature adopts Real ID license standards. What does that mean for you? (Pioneer Press, 5/17/17) 

Immigration arrests up under Trump

Immigration arrests soar under Trump; sharpest spike seen for noncriminals (Washington Post, 5/17/17) ICE published a report on the 100 days under Trump, showing 41,318 arrests it made, up by 37.6 percent over the same period last year. ICE highlighted stories of  dangerous criminals among the 41,000. That’s the spin you’d expect from ICE, ignoring study after study showing that immigrants, including unauthorized immigrants, are far less likely to be criminals than native-born U.S. citizens.

While ICE focuses on criminals, the Washington Post reports that “the biggest increase by far [in these arrests] is among immigrants with no criminal records.”

“This administration is fully implementing its mass-deportation agenda,” said Gregory Chen, government relations director for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “They’re going after people who have lived here for a long time.”…

Unlike criminal arrests, records of immigration arrests — which are considered civil violations — are not publicly accessible.

The secrecy allows immigration officials to pick and choose which examples of their work to highlight.

Despite the increased number of arrests, deportations fell by 12 percent.

Arrests on civil immigration charges go up 38% in the first 100 days since Trump’s executive order (Los Angeles Times, 5/1717)

“A total of 10,800 people were arrested whose only offense was entering the country illegally — more than twice the 4,200 such immigrants taken into custody in the first four months of 2016.”

And in other news

Conservative Indiana town rallies around immigrant facing deportation (Chicago Tribune, 5/17/17)

“[T]hey said they never imagined “criminal aliens” would include people like Paez — honest, kind-hearted people with families. In 2000, a year after Paez came to America, he was charged with a misdemeanor DUI, a circumstance that likely made him a higher priority for deportation.

“Since the petition was launched, it has been circulated online and throughout Elkhart businesses to “help Armando Paez stay in America with his family and become a U.S. citizen,” garnering more than 10,000 signatures, many from people in Northwest Indiana. It was sent to local politicians, the Department of Homeland Security and Trump.”

GOP lawmakers crafting tough immigration bill, but not tough enough, critics say (Washington Post, 5/16/17)

“Two key Republican lawmakers are crafting a bill that would punish “sanctuary cities,” force parents of undocumented teenagers to wear electronic ankle monitors so their children do not skip deportation hearings, and establish five-year minimum prison sentences for immigrants who illegally re-enter the United States after being deported, according to a congressional aide and a draft of the proposed legislation obtained by The Washington Post.”

New Republican Bills Would Ramp Up a Trump Deportation Force (Huffington Post, 5/16/17)

“The House Judiciary Committee is set to mark up multiple immigration bills on Thursday, including one from committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that would facilitate mass deportations. Borrowing from past legislation to bolster Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the bill would require Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officers to have access to not just standard-issue handguns and stun guns, but also M-4 rifles or equivalents.”

Federal judge blocks restriction on immigrant legal help (Honolulu Star Advertiser, 5/17/17)

“He repeatedly questioned the point of applying the rule to a well-regarded, nonprofit organization which, as Mercado-Santana conceded, is doing important work in the face of a massive backlog of immigration cases. And he questioned the timing of the cease-and-desist letter: After following the same practice for more than eight years without challenge, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project received the cease-and-desist letter in April, just after it sued to block President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The judge didn’t reference that lawsuit directly, but noted that among the numerous organizations doing free immigration legal work, the letter had been sent “just this time — to just this agency.”

Immigrants in Detention Centers Are Often Hundreds of Miles From Legal Help (Pro Publica, 5/16/17)

Only a tiny percentage of detained immigrants have attorneys, leaving even those with solid cases to stay in the United States to fend for themselves.

One morning in February, lawyer Marty Rosenbluth set off from his Hillsborough, North Carolina, home to represent two anxious clients in court. He drove about eight hours southwest, spent the night in a hotel and then got up around 6 a.m. to make the final 40-minute push to his destination: a federal immigration court and detention center in the tiny rural Georgia town of Lumpkin.

During two brief hearings over two days, Rosenbluth said, he convinced an immigration judge to grant both of his new clients more time to assess their legal options to stay in the United States. Then he got in his car and drove the 513 miles back home….

“It’s been a strategic move by ICE to construct detention centers in rural areas,” said Amy Fischer, policy director for RAICES, a San Antonio-based nonprofit that supports on-site legal aid programs at two Texas facilities for detained families. “Even if the money is there, it’s very difficult to set up a pro bono network when you’re geographically three hours away from a big city.”

Immigration detainee dead after apparent suicide in Georgia, authorities say (CBS, 5/17/17)

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a news release that 27-year-old Jean Jimenez-Joseph was found unresponsive with a sheet around his neck in his cell at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin early Monday. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Americus at 2:15 a.m.

“Jimenez is the seventh person to die while in ICE custody in fiscal year 2017 and the first fatality of a detainee from the Stewart Detention Center in more than eight years. “



About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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