MCC photo/Saulo Padilla

Members of a delegation of faith leaders convened in Washington, D.C., in 2018 to discuss immigration concerns, including the Dream Act. 

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Dreamer and TPS bills pass House committee

On May 22, the Dream Act and the American Promise Act were approved by the House Judiciary Committee (see how members voted: H.R. 2820H.R. 2821). The first bill would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children while the second bill would do the same for those who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The two bills are expected to be merged and come up for a vote on the House floor in early June. While both bills are long overdue, there are concerns about provisions to exclude immigrants with criminal convictions, particularly for youth accused of gang involvement. On the same day, the committee also passed a bill providing TPS for Venezuelan immigrants. Meanwhile, a second appeals court ruled against the termination of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, calling the Trump administration’s actions “arbitrary and capricious.”


Local stories, events and resources

Colorado: We cannot be equal we are God's skin, feet and arms

Illinois: General Assembly approves ban on private detention facilities in Illinois | Saying ‘no’ to immigrant detention

Indiana: Immigration is a 'net benefit' to Indiana, a new study found (“[Undocumented immigrants] tend to work at very high rates … They tend to pay enormous share of taxes, but don’t use tax benefits at very high rates”) | ​ICE officers showed up at a Crawfordsville restaurant. What happened next has people talking.

Kansas: Reflections from the South Texas Borderland Tour

Texas: Unsung heroes in San Antonio and beyond [including San Antonio Mennonite Church] help immigrants find hope

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News & resources

ASYLUM

In April, two more children who came to the U.S. seeking asylum died after being held in immigration custody. Reports recently surfaced about another child who died last September, bringing the total to six children. An excellent piece from the Associated Press describes the 13,000 asylum seekers waiting to enter the U.S. at various locations along the border with Mexico. The Trump administration announced policies to expand detention and charge fees for asylum seekers. It has also set new guidelines for asylum interviews that will make it more difficult for immigrants to qualify for asylum. Some asylum officers claim they are being forced to send immigrants to wait in Mexico, knowing they may be placing people in dangerous situations.

Resources

BORDER

The Pentagon shifted $1.5 billion from military projects to fund construction of 80 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. This follows $1 billion transferred in March. In total, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has secured funding for 256 miles of barriers, with 63 miles expected to be built in the next 6 months. DHS has waived 41 laws protecting clean air, clean water, public lands and endangered wildlife in order to speed construction in Arizona and California, including in Organ Pipe Cactus National MonumentCabeza Prieta National Wildlife RefugeSan Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, and Coronado National Memorial. On May 24, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to temporarily block construction with these specific funds. Thirty-one national, faith-based organizations sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to prioritize funding for programs that address true human needs instead of increasing spending for deportation, detention and border militarization.

Resources

DETENTION and ENFORCEMENT

ICE is holding more than 52,000 people in detention, far exceeding what Congress funded for Fiscal Year 2019. The Intercept and NBC News published a devastating exposé regarding the endemic use of solitary confinement rising to the level of torture throughout the immigration detention system. One new enforcement policy being considered would deport some undocumented immigrants without a court hearing. Another new policy, the Warrant Service Officer (WSO) program, would allow local police to conduct immigration enforcement activities.

Resources:

OTHER ISSUES

New housing rulesHUD immigrant plan could displace 55K children

Cambodian deportations: The News Tribune: ‘I had never seen my dad cry:’ Deported Cambodians bewildered by country they never knew

Targeting countries with high visa overstay rates: Washington Post: Trump eyes action against countries with high visa-overstay rates | Forbes: Questionable DHS visa overstay reports used for immigration crackdown | CMS: Overstays exceeded illegal border crossers after 2010 because illegal entries dropped to their lowest level in decades

Temporary Protected Status: CLINIC: The Trump administration’s failure to redesignate countries for Temporary Protected Status

Processing and court delays: AILA: Bipartisan group of 36 senators calls USCIS to account for crisis-level processing delays

Economy/jobs: Vox: How Trump’s new immigration plan could hurt the economy: The U.S. needs more low-skilled immigrants, not fewer

Terrorism: Cato: Terrorists by immigration status and nationality: A risk analysis, 1975–2017 (of the terrorists who planned, attempted or carried out attacks on U.S. soil from 1975 through 2017, 192 were foreign-born and 788 were native-born)

History of racist immigration policies: NPR: Eugenics, anti-immigration laws of the past still resonate today, journalist says | NY Times: Chinese railroad workers were almost written out of history. Now they’re getting their due | NY Times: A century ago, America built another kind of wall

Changing the narrative: The Marshall Project: The myth of the criminal immigrant: The link between immigration and crime exists in the imaginations of Americans, and nowhere else

 


Update created May 29, 2019, by Tammy Alexander, Senior Legislative Associate for Domestic Affairs.

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