U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
On July 13, 2017, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly had a closed-door meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). The discussion focused on the important immigration issues that are top of mind for many in our community, including the futures of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and the designations of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Combined, DACA and TPS shield more than 1.1 million—predominantly Latino individuals—from deportation.
Instead of alleviating concerns, the conversation raised many more alarms and led to scathing statements from CHC members. For starters, Secretary Kelly indicated that after talking to various “experts” that he had doubts about the legality of DACA. This is puzzling, given the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the executive branch has “broad discretion” in matters relating to immigration, and “must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.” DACA is consistent with this reasoning. On DACA, Kelly also stated that decisions about the future of DACA will be left to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions’s strong anti-immigrant positions and ties to extremist groups is well documented, and is a cause for concern for the more than 800,000 DACA recipients and their supporters.
Week Ending June 16
NCLR Celebrates Anniversaries of Historic Plyler v. Doe Decision and Announcement of DACA: This week NCLR marked the historic decision handed down 35 years ago in Plyler v. Doe, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ensured equal access to a free public education for all children in the United States, regardless of immigration status. The Supreme Court found that denying children a public education based on immigration status not only violates the U.S. Constitution, but also jeopardizes any future contributions these children may make in helping the nation advance. NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía recognized the historic decision as vital to opening doors of opportunity: “The Supreme Court decision 35 years ago confirms what we already know—education is an investment in a better America for all. Plyler v. Doe ensures that all children in America have a constitutional guarantee of an education. As the next generation of children enter America’s public schools, this critical pathway to success must be protected.”
This week also marked the 5-year anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). “The road to a better America begins with education and opportunity. That’s why we support Plyler v. Doe and DACA, and the future they offer to millions of children and youth across the nation,” stated Janet Murguía.
In response to a new memo released yesterday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the rescission of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía issued the following statement:
“While we applaud the administration’s apparent decision to keep DACA in place, today’s action is far from reassuring. The announcement that DACA would not be repealed was coupled with a decision to formally revoke DAPA, which would have given temporary protected status to an estimated five million parents of U.S. citizens. Further, the Trump administration took pains to note that they have not yet decided on DACA’s long-term future, as if the benefits to our economy, our society and the more than 750,000 young people beginning their adult lives in the only country they have ever known can be debated or denied. Claiming that DACA recipients are safe, while ending protections for parents and issuing executive orders to increase an already draconian enforcement policy does not actually ensure their safety or anyone else’s. This is why NCLR will continue to protect and defend the Latino and immigrant communities in the United States, and continue advocating for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform.”
By Laura Vazquez, Program Manager, Immigration Initiatives, NCLR
Erie Neighborhood House has a long history of helping immigrants get integrated into American society.
NCLR Affiliates have a long history of assisting eligible permanent residents in applying for citizenship. For decades, our Affiliates have worked to integrate America’s newcomers by helping them learn English, apply for citizenship, and then assisting them with registering to vote so that they can fully participate in our democracy.
One such Affiliate is Erie Neighborhood House. Erie was originally founded in 1870 as a settlement house that served immigrants in Chicago. When Erie’s work began, Chicago’s immigrant communities were mostly Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, and German.
Fast forward to 2017 and Erie is still working to incorporate immigrants into the strong communities that contribute to the vibrancy of Chicago. Its English classes are now made up of immigrants mainly from Latin America who came to Chicago for a better life as previous groups of immigrants have done.
On June 7, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—the federal agency in charge of processing all immigration-related services—released data on applications filed under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The data confirm that, in the first three months of the Trump administration, USCIS has continued to receive and process DACA requests at similar levels to those during the previous year.
Between January and March 2017, USCIS approved 107,524 DACA renewals and 17,275 new applications. The numbers are comparable to the previous three-month period (October to December 2016).