Trump Administration’s Cruel, Inhumane, and Completely Unworkable Mass Deportation Agenda Advances

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.

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An Almost Unnoticed Victory

Last week, while press attention was heavily focused on passage of House legislation to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Latino and pro-immigration advocates won an almost unnoticed, but nevertheless important, victory. President Trump signed a $1.1 trillion spending deal to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year that, according to Bloomberg News, “largely tracks Democratic priorities and rejects most of [President Trump’s] wish list, including funds for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.” The bill, H.R. 244, was required because Congress previously only appropriated enough funding for half of the 2017 fiscal year.

In mid-March, the White House formally requested an additional $30 billion in defense spending and more than $3 billion for the wall and other immigration enforcement. The Trump administration further asked Congress to cut $18 billion in funds for domestic programs to partially offset these increases. Separately, the administration also urged Congress to eliminate funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with his mass deportation scheme. With a single political party controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, one might’ve assumed that the president’s priorities would sail through the legislative process. Early on, Democratic negotiators made clear they would fight funding for the wall, seeking to beat back one of the president’s signature issues.

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The Looming Immigration Disaster We Can Avoid

The administration’s new immigration executive orders will result in disaster. Our President and CEO, Janet Murguía, made the case for why in a Washington Post op-ed this week.

While the courts have effectively stalled the failed initial executive order rolled out just days after his inauguration, nobody should be fooled in believing that the pending new order will do anything but put a target on the backs of Latinos all over the country.

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The Administration’s New Immigration Enforcement Rules Will Terrorize Citizens and Noncitizens

U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The administration’s immigration guidelines released this week have put Latinos in the crosshairs. While the memos put out by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier this week do not contain the roundly criticized policy to use the National Guard to round up undocumented immigrants, they remain an unnecessary and a wasteful solution to a nonexistent problem. NCLR wholeheartedly condemns these guidelines.

“Despite repeated reassurances that the Trump administration would prioritize going after gang members and other violent criminals, this DHS action does no such thing,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía in a statement. “Instead, it opens the floodgates to terrorizing millions of people in this country—citizens and noncitizens alike—to combat a nonexistent immigrant crime wave. Or, to put in the words of this administration, based on ‘fake news.”

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First Recommendations for Integrating New Americans Issued

ImmigrationRally_7_10_2013

This week, the Task Force on New Americans issued its first report to President Obama, recommending ways that the federal government can more effectively support the successful integration of new Americans. As part of the president’s executive actions announced last November to address the nation’s broken immigration system, the Task Force was formed to recommend federal strategies that will strengthen communities and maximize the contributions of immigrants, who today represent nearly one-fifth of the U.S. labor force.

At the turn of the 20th century, the United States experienced a massive and unprecedented wave of immigration that, in relative terms, has yet to be equaled. According to the Migration Policy Institute, from 1860 to 1920 immigrants composed 13–15% of the U.S. population. Starting in 2013, for the first time in a century, the immigrant share of the U.S. population once again approached historic highs.

As with previous waves of immigrants, these new Americans face a number of obstacles. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that nearly half of the legal immigrants arriving annually to the U.S. lack full proficiency in English, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that over two-thirds of the foreign-born population do not have a postsecondary degree. This is troubling, since 19 of the 30 fastest-growing occupations require some form of higher education or additional training.

Marlene-SeptThe response toward these new arrivals has been lackluster compared to previous generations. The successful incorporation of millions of newcomers into the fabric of our society a century ago is one of our country’s signature achievements. These immigrants did not do it on their own; rather, they received significant help from all levels of government and charitable institutions. Today, as success requires higher levels of educational attainment and English language proficiency, our nation has moved away from providing a coordinated government response to help immigrants integrate into American life. The work of the Task Force on New Americans implicitly acknowledges that more must be done.

Among the report’s recommendations from NCLR and other stakeholders, it calls for the creation of a Welcoming Communities Challenge. Inspired by an NCLR recommendation, this competitive funding opportunity would encourage communities to create tailored plans to meet immigrants’ needs in addressing civic, linguistic, and economic integration. While the details are still under review, this challenge would encourage recipients to design programs for local conditions that could provide innovative models for scalable, replicable projects in the future. Without being overly prescriptive, the Welcoming Communities Challenge would highlight best practices that coordinate the three pillars of integration. Immigrants and communities alike would benefit from the inclusion of civic, linguistic, and economic integration in a cohesive policy.

We know too well that questions about who, and how many, should be allowed to enter the country will always be controversial, but there should be no debate about our shared interest in rapidly and fully integrating Americans-in-waiting. Our future economic prosperity, national security, and social cohesion rest in part on how well we meet this challenge.