“There just isn’t room in people’s hearts right now” and other immigration news—February 8, 2017

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Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida wants an extension of TPS for Haitians, but she doesn’t have much hope for it. “There just isn’t room in people’s hearts right now,” she told McClatchy news.

That’s true for more than TPS. Tonight debate continues in the Senate and House, focusing on whether to pass a budget bill loaded like a Christmas tree with tax breaks for special interests including race horse owners and motor race track owners, but with nothing at all for Dreamers.

If the budget bill makes it through the Senate, the House will vote. In theory, the Republican majority should be able to pass it without Democrats, but many Republicans object to the unlimited increase in the deficit, so they might need some Democratic votes. Will Nancy Pelosi’s record-setting eight-hour speech yesterday induce Democrats to hold the line and refuse to vote for a bill without Dreamer protection? Don’t bet on it.

According to Senator Mitch McConnell’s promise, the Senate should begin debating some kind of Dream Act tomorrow. In the House, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus wants House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring a DACA bill to the floor. Ryan says DACA is the next big priority, but that he will only consider bills acceptable to President Trump, whatever that means.

“No room in people’s hearts” could be the headline for tonight’s other immigration stories: Trump administration plans to penalize immigrant parents who enroll their U.S. citizen children in Head Start, anti-immigration candidates for governor in Minnesota, and deportation of a “pillar of the community” who has lived in the United States for 39 years.

But there’s some good news: big-hearted Minnesotans are donating money to pay DACA renewal fees for Dreamers.

Trump administration may target immigrants who use food aid, other benefits (Reuters, 2/8/18) Other benefits—such as Head Start or Children’s Health Insurance Program for U.S. citizen children.

“The Trump administration is considering making it harder for foreigners living in the United States to get permanent residency if they or their American-born children use public benefits such as food assistance, in a move that could sharply restrict legal immigration….

“For example, U.S. officials could look at whether the applicant has enrolled a child in government pre-school programs or received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.

“The draft rules are a sharp departure from current guidelines, which have been in place since 1999 and specifically bar authorities from considering such non-cash benefits in deciding a person’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States or stay in the country.”

Anti-immigration candidate finds support at Republican caucuses (MPR, 2/7/18) That headline should be plural: anti-immigration candidates. Because front-runner Jeff Johnson is clearly anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant, despite his Trump-echoing “and some, I’m sure, are wonderful people.”

“There is uneasiness in segments of the Republican Party about setting a tone that the GOP is bigoted. Some party leaders have cringed amid the discussion or distanced themselves from party platform resolutions seen as outwardly hostile to immigrants or Muslims.

“But others, like Jeff Johnson, have attempted to straddle the divide. In an MPR News debate last week, he stood up for Muslim people he knows whom he called wonderful Americans, but he added that there are Muslims who want to replace the Constitution with Sharia law.”

Jeff Johnson clarifies comments on Muslims’ caucus participation (Star Tribune, 2/1/18) Johnson clearly aligned himself with the extremist wing taking over Minnesota’s Republican party. .

“Reps. Cindy Pugh and Kathy Lohmer were criticized by fellow Republicans and civic groups after they claimed there is a plan to “mobilize Muslims to infiltrate our Republican caucuses on Feb. 6.”

“Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, applauded Pugh on a conservative podcast Wednesday: “Putting Republicans on notice,” he said, is “a good thing.”
“I think [Pugh] raises very legitimate issues. I think there’s a huge cultural issue we’re talking about here. Not just showing up at caucus. But there are some here who are trying to change what America is. And we can’t allow that,” he said on the “Living Free” podcast hosted by Jack Rogers and Jake Duesenberg.”

‘Pillar of the community’ deported from U.S. after 39 years to land he barely knows (CNN, 2/8/18)

“He has a wife who is a US citizen, and four daughters who are also US citizens. He owns several businesses in his adopted hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. A week ago, he was deported….

“His ex-wife had signed a statement alleging marriage fraud. According to Adi, his lawyer and multiple media interviews with Adi’s ex-wife, she was coerced into making the statement after immigration officials showed up at her door.

“In 2007, she signed an affidavit retracting her statement and denying the marriage was fraudulent.”

ICE didn’t care. He was deported anyway.

Amid DACA uncertainty,more than 125 Minnesotans chip in to help cover applicants’ fees (MinnPost, 2/8/17)

For the past six years, Maria Ibarra, who’s been protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, has had to face the task of renewing her immigration status every two years.  

“It’s a daunting and expensive process, but Ibarra didn’t have to pay anything when she filed her most recent application to renew her DACA status, which is set to expire in May. That’s because she’s among dozens of Dreamers who have received financial assistance to file their applications from ordinary Minnesotans who wanted to help.”

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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, www.tcdailyplanet.net, 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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