Arrests of undocumented immigrants are up – especially arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal records. Apprehensions at the border dropped after Trump’s inauguration, but are once again increasing. Deportations, however, are down. And immigration court backlogs are climbing.
The Trump administration’s hard line on immigration paradoxically explains both the increased arrest rate and the lower deportation rate. The elimination of prosecutorial discretion means that every case is pursued to deportation, and that clogs the entire system, as well as imposing massive hardship and suffering on immigrants and their families.
“The June FY 2017 figure of 21,659 apprehensions and inadmissible entries is a nine percent increase from May (19,962). The May number was a 27 percent increase from April (15,775)—the lowest figure in five years.
“After reporting the June data, CBP still noted that “these numbers represent a 53 percent decrease as compared to June of 2016, and year-to-date totals for FY 2017 are 19 percent lower than the same period in FY 2016.”
Immigration Court Dispositions Drop 9.3 Percent Under Trump (Syracuse University TRAC, 7/17/17)
“While a larger proportion of this declining total consist of removal orders, cases closed during the past five months (February 2017-June 2017) totaled only 77,084 cases as compared with 84,956 for the same five-month period during 2016.
“This decline has contributed to the court’s growing backlog of cases. The backlog reached a record 610,524 cases as of June 30, 2017. This is up from 598,943 at the end of May.
“Shifting administrative policies under President Trump contributed substantially to the decline in overall court dispositions. Despite the appointment of additional immigration judges, these new policies slowed the pace of court dispositions. These changes included shifting judge assignments, revised case processing priorities, and the termination of prosecutorial discretion (“PD”) closures. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had previously utilized PD closures to continually prune low priority cases from the court’s backlog.”
Immigration arrests up, deportations down, under Trump (USA Today, 7/17/17) Sounds like a recipe for filling up immigration jails across the country.
“ICE agents arrested 13,914 people last month [June], following a trend since President Trump took office in January and his campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration….
“In the final three months of the Obama administration, the agency averaged 22,705 deportations per month. That number has consistently fallen under Trump, with the agency averaging 16,895 from February through June, reaching its lowest point in June.”
Driving While Undocumented, and Facing the Risks (New York Times, 7/18/17)
“Under a Trump administration that has taken an aggressive stance on illegal immigration, the moving car has become an easy target. A broken headlight, a seatbelt not worn, a child not in a car seat may be minor traffic violations, but for unauthorized immigrants, they can have life-altering consequences.
“Routine traffic stops have always carried the threat of deportation, but during the last years of the Obama administration, when serious crimes were prioritized, the stops that simply revealed unlawful status often resulted in deferment. No longer.”
And in other immigration news
Republican teams with Democrat to save ‘Dreamers’ (McClatchey, 7/17/17) The bill has been introduced and failed before – but Republican state attorneys general’s threats to DACA may improve the chances this time around.
“South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin plan to re-introduce a version of the long-stalled DREAM Act, hoping to provide a lifeline to young immigrants who are likely to lose their special protected status because of a court challenge from Texas and nine other states.”
Editorial: Trump should show some political courage and endorse immigration protection for Dreamers (Los Angeles Times, 7/18/17)
“Seven years ago, Congress had a chance to take a humane approach to people living in the United States illegally not through their own actions, but through the actions of their parents. Arriving as children, some of these immigrants were smuggled across the border while others entered legally but their families failed to leave when they were supposed to. Many weren’t even aware of their immigration status until they tried to get a job or had some other official contact that required proof of citizenship or a Social Security number. Many also know no other country — they have been raised as Americans, educated in American schools, and share American dreams and values. It would be cruel to send them packing now.”
Opinion: How Trump Is Stealthily Carrying Out His Muslim Ban (New York Times, 7/18/17)
It’s doing so through deceptively boring means: increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or even expanding the current travel restrictions that are not under review at the court. The collective impact of these changes will be that a permanent Muslim ban is enshrined into American immigration policy….
“The Twitterverse and cable news pundits are unlikely to be mobilized by policy changes that come about through these types of bureaucratic processes. Most people are not closely following the intricacies of visa vetting and screening.
“That’s a shame because there is already evidence that they are working. The number of visas issued to citizens from Muslim-majority countries has decreased by double digits. Among nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries, nonimmigrant visas declined almost 20 percent in April, compared with the monthly average from 2016. Visas issued to people from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, the six countries on the travel ban list, were down 55 percent.”
Hennepin County Attorney disputes claims of rising crime (CBS, 7/17/17)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Minnesota to speak to the National District Attorneys’ Association, and, predictably, denounced crime, gangs, and immigration. He did so with his usual flair for numbers: getting them entirely wrong. According to CBS: “The actual numbers show violent crime is up slightly, about 4 percent, not 17 percent. And homicides are up 5.8 percent, not 40 percent.
“Coincidentally, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is the new president of the National District Attorneys Association. He’s glad for Sessions’ visit, but he says the attorney general’s comments on crime numbers are wrong.
“Crime numbers can be played with in lots of different directions. Some people try to do it on a monthly basis, and that’s simply not accurate,” Freeman told reporters.
Freeman also noted that immigration is a federal, not a state issue.
How Minnesota Churches Are Playing an Important Role in Preserving Hmong Culture (MinnPost, 7/18/17)
“Hmong-American church leaders in the Twin Cities find themselves playing an unexpected role: bridging that gap between the community’s younger and older generations — a gap that’s punctuated by language and culture. “We don’t want to lose the older generation,” said Teng Vu, the lead pastor of Christ Community Church. “We also don’t want to lose the younger generation. So, we try to be the mediators between the two.”