A “New Moral Imagination” for U.S. Immigration Policy

#StandOnEveryCorner in St. Paul

#StandOnEveryCorner in St. Paul

U.S. Representative, immigrant, and naturalized citizen Pramila Jayapal writes eloquently about the “new moral imagination” needed to fix our broken immigration system:

“Now it’s more important than ever that Democrats—and any remaining willing Republicans—recapture America’s moral imagination on immigration. Our job is to tell the truth about immigration instead of cowering before falsehoods. Anti-immigrant forces would have us believe that our laws work and that undocumented immigrants prefer to live in the shadows, where they can “game the system” and benefit unfairly from the generosity of taxpayers. The worst thing about this narrative is not that it’s absolutely false, but that it obscures the deep, common desire that all of us—aspiring Americans and those already here—have for one simple thing: an updated, orderly, and effective process for people to come to America, stay, and work here.

“As long as we accept the Trump administration’s rhetoric on immigration and try to merely gain small victories against a harsh, restrictionist policy, we will lose—politically, economically, and, most importantly, morally. Instead, we must disperse the fog of lies and scapegoating and make clear that a sensible, humane system of immigration laws is best for everyone….

“It is critical that Americans understand that there currently is no orderly, functioning process for people to come to America.”

Border Updates

Tijuana has moved migrants out of the sports complex, which was overcrowded and flooded by recent rains, and into a former concert venue about ten miles away from the border. The move came just before the inauguration of new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Among AMLO’s first actions: signing an agreement with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras aimed at reducing the flow of migrants by setting up an economic investment fund. That’s not going to help the immigrants already in Mexico. The likelihood of asylum for most appears bleak to non-existent:

“It’s a realization many in the caravan were coming to grips with by Saturday morning, as they refused to participate in a march planned by By Any Means Necessary, a leftist, pro-immigration group based in Detroit.

“I’m not going to march again. Why? They’re lying to us and saying the United States will let us in,” said Reinerio Lainez, a Honduran migrant. Tears welled in his eyes as he described his situation.

“I believed (U.S. officials) were going to look at my papers and my ID and grant asylum,” Lainez said in Spanish. “I’m confused about what is the process. One people say one thing, another say another.”

Want to help? YES! Magazine has a list of actions, ranging from calling Congress to providing material aid to volunteering at the border.

Also in the News

The military has yielded to court orders and will now begin mustering in the backlog of permanent residents eager to serve. Thousands of would-be recruits have been in limbo, held up by new Trump administration demands for increased background checks.

Minneapolis is getting closer to implementing a municipal ID, which could offer benefits to immigrants and others, including people who are homeless and international students.

Some supporters worry that personal information from municipal ID records could be public information, subject to disclosure under freedom of information laws.

“My main point is whatever helps them, documented or undocumented immigrants, the better. But we need to make sure that we are protecting them fully and not jeopardizing their safety,” [city council member Abdi] Warsame said.

“Ward 2 Council member Cam Gordon said the City is working on several solutions to the data problem. One would remove addresses from the identification cards. Another would advocate for a Minnesota state law change to add municipal or local IDs to a private information category that also includes state-issued IDs and driver’s licenses, he said.”

Asylum cases increased, and so did the percentage of denials of asylum claims, according to the latest Syracuse University TRAC analysis. Most cases now take more than a year to get a hearing.

“Fiscal year 2018 broke records for the number of decisions (42,224) by immigration judges granting or denying asylum. Denials grew faster than grants, pushing denial rates up as well. The 42,224 decisions represented a 40 percent jump from decisions during FY 2017, and an 89 percent increase over the number of asylum decisions of two years ago.

“In 65.0 percent of these decisions this past year asylum was denied[1]. This is the sixth year in a row that denial rates have risen. Six years ago the denial rate was just 42.0 percent.”  

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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