I tried hard to find some good news to start the week. The best I could find was fictional: television sitcoms focusing on immigration. There’s also a halfhearted Defense Department statement on immigrant soldiers that might be good news, though the devil is in the details. The rest of today’s stories include another deportation of a long-time Minnesota resident, denial of a visa to a celebrated jazz musician, and other stories pointing to the brokenness of our immigration system and the terrible human costs it imposes.
TV dramas and sitcoms are suddenly all about immigration (Washington Post, 10/13/17) From episodes in continuing series to new series to reboots of old series, newly tackling immigration stories, television is focusing in on immigrants.
The Pentagon tried to kill a program for immigrants. Mattis thinks it can be saved. (Washington Post, 10/13/17) Instead of ending MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest), Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said it will be revamped, with stricter rules about completing background checks before recruits enter basic training.
“His remarks are the first clear sign Defense Department leaders have backed away from internal recommendations to kill the program and scuttle the contracts of those waiting to serve, a strategy discovered in an undated memo obtained and first disclosed by The Washington Post in June. The memo said about 1,000 foreign-born recruits already had lost their legal immigration status while waiting to receive orders and that any cancellation could expose them to deportation.”
In Minnesota 18 years, beloved doctor faces deportation (KSTP, 10/16/17) Her saga includes bad advice on what visa to apply for, years of paperwork and applications and appeals, and more than half a lifetime of living and contributing in the United States.
“Lee appealed the denial decision, only then realizing she was told to fill out the wrong visa application. She spent the next six years appealing decisions and applying for citizenship. In 2011, a judge ordered her to leave the country, but she was given stays of removal because she wasn’t a priority for deportation under President Obama.
“The former president’s immigration policy prioritized deporting people with criminal records and convictions. As the years passed, and Lee waited for work authorization, she volunteered for medical missions with the Mayo Clinic and Visiting Angels. She volunteered to treat the sick and the poor. She eventually got a work authorization and began to build her life and practice in Rochester.”
As DACA Negotiations Drag On, a Judge in Brooklyn Could Intervene (New York Times, 10/12/17) He’s hearing two lawsuits challenging the administration’s action rescinding DACA.
“In recent weeks, the judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis, has made a series of unusually forceful statements from the bench, calling the Trump administration’s approach to fixing DACA “cruel,” “heartless” and “unacceptable.” He has also offered praise for the 800,000 young immigrants who were shielded by the program, lauding them as people who pay rent, taxes and mortgages, and who “support their communities.”
“Judge Garaufis has even professed confusion over Mr. Trump’s tweets about DACA, saying that the president’s apparent desire to save the program does not square with his government’s continued efforts to rescind it. But perhaps most forebodingly, the judge has stated several times that while he would prefer “the political branches” to resolve the issue, if that becomes impossible, he may have to impose his own solution.”
How the United States Makes Immigrants ‘Pay’ for Their Crimes – and Then Deports Them (Rewire, 10/13/17) Her only crime was using someone else’s social security number to work – but her attorney advised her to plead guilty to this as a felony, so she is being deported with a lifetime bar to returning. She has lived in the United States for 17 years and has two U.S. citizen children.
“Latorre came to the United States in 2000 when she was 17. She began working at a nursing home in Colorado, a job she obtained by using a social security number that belonged to someone else. It is illegal to employ undocumented immigrants in the United States. While many employers have been found to exploit undocumented immigrants for their labor, offering little pay, no benefits, and few protections, undocumented immigrants often use fake or borrowed documents to make a living. In Latorre’s case, she did not know the person whose information she was using and in 2010, she was arrested for felony criminal impersonation.”
Jazz great, former U.S. citizen, denied entry into U.S. (ImmigrationProf blog, 10/14/17) He’s 67 now, has performed abroad as a U.S. cultural ambassador for the State Department, and has been denied a visa because of a drug conviction when he was 16 years old.
“Mr. Queen, the former drummer for Oscar Peterson, whose career includes memorable collaborations with a veritable who’s who of music royalty, including Nina Simone, Horace Silver, George Benson, Ruth Brown, Buddy DeFranco, Wynton Marsalis, Billy Taylor, Wild Bill Davis, George Coleman, George Braith, Larry Young, Harry Sweets Edison and Johnny Griffin, was set to perform at a concert in Washington, DC on November 15th, 2017, at the behest of The French-American Cultural Foundation.”
“Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me one bit,” comments Mr. Queen, 67, from his home in Geneva. “I’ve spent months preparing for this concert. Dozens of others are also implicated in its planning. Funny thing, I gave up my U.S. passport to make life simpler at tax time. I never dreamed I would one day be denied entry, and with such ridiculous reasoning. I am frankly disgusted to be disrespected in this way, after a half century devoted to music.”
Trump nominates John Kelly’s enforcer to lead Department of Homeland Security (Vox, 10/12/17) Kirstjen Nielsen is closely associated with Kelly, has worked in DHS for years, and is currently working as Kelly’s deputy in the White House.
“Nielsen — who isn’t familiar to advocates on either side of the immigration issue — apparently satisfied Miller’s concerns, indicating she’s seen as a reliable executor of the White House’s desires.”
Undocumented parents fear enrolling their U.S.-born children for insurance (Modern Healthcare, 10/14/17)
“Children Now, a nonpartisan research firm, earlier this year said that a survey of undocumented residents in California reported reluctance in sharing information, decreases in the number of child health appointments and a bump in the number of no-show appointments.
“If continued, those actions could have huge ramifications. About 11 million undocumented people live in the U.S. and an estimated 80% of their children are American citizens….
“You cannot place ICE agents in hospitals or other places where people are likely to request benefits for emergencies and then assure people they are safe to apply for citizen children,” Pourat said.”
These 3 sold freedom to immigrants under electronic monitoring, indictment says (Miami Herald, 10/15/17) One more way to scam immigrants: the private agency under contract to immigration authorities to provide ankle monitors took money from immigrants, saying they could pay for legal release.
Shift to the right: With immigration and healthcare moves, Trump abruptly ends his bipartisan moment (Los Angeles Times, 10/13/17)
“A month ago, President Trump startled people in both parties by striking a spending deal with Democratic leaders and a tentative agreement to resolve the fate of the young immigrants in the country illegally known as Dreamers. Some saw in those moves a shift by the president to a less ideological ground; on the right, some of his supporters warned of betrayal.
“If ever that was the plan, Trump abruptly abandoned it this week. On immigration and healthcare, he moved sharply to the right, adopting the policies of the hardest-liners of his coalition.”