Two House bills to protect Dreamers joined the new Senate Dream Act this week, all awaiting committee and floor action. In addition, 42 Senators signed a letter to the president, urging him to protect and keep DACA. in force. That’s the good news. On the negative side – John Kelly, a fervent anti-immigrant voice within the administration, moved from Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to White House chief of staff.
In further bad news for young immigrants, the administration is conflating denunciation of gangs with denunciation of young immigrants, and has also moved to increase deportation of refugee children. The travel ban has also hit refugee children, stranding orphans in refugee camps, even though they have been vetted, approved, and have foster families waiting.
Momentum builds for bill to help ‘Dreamers’ (The Hill, 7/29/17)
“Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Lucille Roybal Allard (D-Calif.) presented a new version of the Dream Act, a bill that was first presented in 2001.
House Bill: American Hope Act of 2017 (American Immigration Lawyers Association, 7/28/17) Text at this page.
“On 7/28/17, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced the American Hope Act of 2017, which would provide young people, who were brought to this country as children and grew up in the United States, the chance to apply for lawful permanent residence. The bill has over 110 cosponsors.”
Letter to the president (7/27/17) Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar are among 42 senators who signed a letter to the president, urging him to keep DACA.
“We respectfully request that you use your executive authority to the greatest extent possible to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program….
“These young people are known as Dreamers. They came to the United States as children and are American in every way except for their immigration status. We have already invested in them by educating them in American schools. It makes no sense to squander their talents by deporting them to countries they barely remember.”
John Kelly’s Promotion is a Disaster for Immigrants (The Nation, 7/28/17)
“Kelly managed to translate much of Trump’s brazen anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric into actual policy. And if the numbers are any indication, Kelly has certainly flourished. Arrests since Trump took office in February increased by 40 percent over the prior year. But perhaps more important than the numbers is Kelly’s impact on immigrant communities, where apprehension and fear now reign.”
Targeting the children
Trump Administration Targeting Immigrant Children is a New Low (American Immigration Council, 7/27/17)
“The recent trend of broadly labeling unaccompanied immigrant children as criminals and gang members is just the latest in a series of attacks on some of the most vulnerable individuals in the U.S. immigration system.
“In reality, most immigrant children from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are fleeing the very gangs they are purportedly members of. These Central American children are often victims of sexual violence, gang recruitment, extortion, and threats of murder by powerful trans-regional gangs.”
President Vows to ‘Eradicate’ MS-13 Gang (NPR, 7/28/17)
“Calling members of the transnational street gang MS-13 “animals” who like to let their victims “die slowly because that way it’s more painful,” President Trump on Friday sought to highlight his administration’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, reduce violent crime and secure additional congressional funding for immigration enforcement.”
Trump’s Dangerous Scapegoating of Immigrants (Human Rights Watch, 7/27/17)
“Trump isn’t just condemning gang violence. His words are part of a larger rhetoric that scapegoats immigrants as outsiders responsible for violent crime and deep societal problems. In this, he mirrors a tactic popular with abusive governments all over the world: From Venezuela to Pakistan, Human Rights Watch has documented the devastating impact of scapegoating foreigners to justify inhumane policies.
“In the first six months of Trump’s term, Human Rights Watch has interviewed scores of people who have been deported and separated from their American families. None of them could be credibly described as a threat to public safety. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under Trump has made clear it makes little distinction between people with no criminal records and dangerous gang members.”
What Can Trump Do About MS-13? (The Atlantic, 7/28/17)
“But while MS-13 is indeed dangerous, as I wrote last month, law enforcement often disagrees with the president on how the gang should be handled. In the United States, MS-13 is seen largely as a domestic law-and-order issue, like other gangs are—and one that deportation won’t solve….
“The Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to the U.S. State Department would slash aid to Central America by 39 percent, starving both community-based programs and funding for “hard-side” counter-drug programs that support law enforcement. Congress has pushed back on the proposed cuts, and there’s strong bipartisan support for aid to Central America, so it’s likely the aid will largely remain.”
New Study: Spikes in violence are major driver of child immigration from Central America (ImmigrationProf Blog, 7/27/17)
“The report, “Violence, Development, and Migration Waves: Evidence from Central American child migrant apprehensions” examines the relationships between violence, economics, and unaccompanied child (UAC) migration out of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—known as the Northern Triangle. Parts of this region suffer from some of the highest homicide rates on earth. Using previously unreleased data provided by the Department of Homeland Security, this new research shows that spikes in violence are the main driving factor behind unaccompanied child migration from municipalities in the Northern Triangle. Persistently poor employment conditions are also found to be a factor.”
As Trump targets teenagers for deportation, immigrants push back with direct action (Democracy Now, 7/27/17)
Trump’s travel ban is leaving these orphans stuck in refugee camps (Washington Post, 7/28/17)
“The tranquil home of James Isaacs, an Episcopal priest, and wife Maggie Brewinski Isaacs, a pediatrician, sits on a hill above a creek on 5½ wooded acres in suburban Maryland. Inside, an unoccupied bedroom awaits a refugee ready to join the family.
“But the 16-year-old girl, blocked by the Trump administration’s travel ban, is stuck in an Ethiopian refugee camp and might never see the room….
“M.T., an orphan who fled child labor in Eritrea two years ago and was approved by the State Department to live in the United States, remains in legal limbo.”
How do refugee teens build resilience? (NPR, 7/30/17)
“We’re often so focused on documenting the negative impacts of war,” says Panter-Brick. “But that is only half of the story. We found that these young people actually prefer that you focus on their strengths rather than their vulnerabilities, their dignity rather than their misery, their capability rather than their vulnerability, and their resources and their agency rather than their victimhood.”
The young people said that resilience came from their ability to integrate into their new communities, to go to school and to work toward their dreams and ambitions.
Immigrant mom who took refuge in a church can go home (Connecticut Mirror, 7/28/17)
“Hundreds of immigrant rights activists took to the streets of Fair Haven to celebrate — rather than protest as planned — after a 43-year-old woman taking sanctuary in a neighborhood church won a stay allowing her to remain in the country.”
With a Michigan City Fighting Back, DHS Pushes a Controversial Deportation Forward (The Intercept, 7/23/17)
“Salazar-Bautista immigrated to the United States in 1997. An immigration judge ordered her deportation in absentia in 1998. She says she never received the notices from the immigration court regarding her deportation, and she continued to live her life, raising her children and performing odd jobs — cooking, cleaning, and ironing for people in her community — until ICE picked her up in 2010. She was detained for 23 days, she said in the speech in Ann Arbor, and was released on the condition that her husband return to Mexico and that she check in annually with the immigration agency.
“Immigration officials have routinely granted Salazar-Bautista a stay of removal since then, she says. But a new president was in office when she checked in with ICE in March, and she became one of many immigrants nationwide targeted for deportation after years of being considered low priorities for removal by the Obama administration.”
“This is one of the most compelling cases that we have ever seen in terms of the positives versus the negatives,” Delgado said.
Delgado counts off the positives rapidly: Colindres is married to a US citizen; has two children who are citizens; pays his taxes; owns his own home and is a skilled worker who has been with the same company for 12 years. Most importantly, Delgado said, Colindres has no criminal record.”
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal:
“That is a betrayal of American values, it’s also against our interest because our economy depends on the talents and energy of these people, and we should be providing some pathway to earned citizenship for them.”
And in other immigration news
Data Shows Prosecutorial Discretion Grinds to a Halt in Immigration Courts (American Immigration Council, 7/24/17)
“The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last month that it now has hired 326 immigration judges, 53 more judges than July 2016, yet during that time the immigration court backlog has grown. According to new data released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) the reason for this may be due to the fact that the Trump administration has nearly ended the use of prosecutorial discretion to close cases, forcing judges to place them all on their dockets.
“Prosecutorial discretion is the authority of a law enforcement agency or officer to decide whether and to what degree to enforce the law in particular cases. According to TRAC, from February through June of 2016, the Obama administration closed an average of approximately 2,400 cases per month by using prosecutorial discretion in immigration court. During the same period in 2017, under the Trump administration, fewer than 100 cases were closed per month. This amounts to a 96 percent drop in the use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration removal proceedings.”
How Many People are at Risk of Losing Their Temporary Protected Status? (American Immigration Council, 7/26/17)
“Over 300,000 individuals who currently have legal status could lose it if their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is terminated over the course of the next year. Nationals of ten countries
Latin American passion for baseball and family finds outlet in Twin Cities amateur league (MinnPost, 7/28/17) Minnesota’s town ball tradition includes a 20-year-old league with immigrant beginnigs.
“Lopez, who played in the league from 1998 until 2006, said it was formed simply as a way for Latin American immigrants to get to know each other and play baseball. Two decades later, it retains its Latino feel, with rosters made up largely of players with Latin American heritage. Many players speak Spanish (and English) in the dugouts and on the field.
“Yet some players are white or from other ethnic backgrounds – a mix that is growing….
“The league fits into a strong tradition of amateur baseball in Minnesota, which has about 400 town teams, a handful of over-35 and over-50 leagues and at least one other circuit geared toward players with Latino backgrounds. “
Storm Warning (Twin Cities Business, 7/28/17)
“Today, most rural towns of more than a few hundred people have Hispanic residents. They make up more than 20 percent of the population in several of them, including Melrose and Willmar, 30 percent in a few such as St. James and Long Prairie, and more than 40 percent in Worthington. They make up 27 percent of the population in Nobles County, 23 percent in Watonwan and 12 percent in Kandiyohi.
“Immigration has recently come to mean darker skin, non-European peoples coming into once previously all-white areas. It has become a lifeline, without which many livestock and ag producers could not operate today, and many towns like those mentioned above would be mere shells. And while there has been some friction here and there to this change, over the course of the last two decades, immigrants—especially Hispanics—have become friends, fellow churchgoers and coworkers in these towns.”