August 29, 2019
Stories of hate, stories of hope
A cruel mix of gun violence and anti-immigrant vitriol resulted in the deaths of 22 people in El Paso, Texas, on August 3 at the hands of a shooter clearly targeting Hispanics. In addition to the tragic loss of lives, the shooting struck fear into the hearts of communities already reeling from increased immigration enforcement and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Reports have noted troubling similarities between the shooter’s manifesto and President Trump’s language around an immigrant “invasion” and chants at a recent Trump rally to “send her back,” referring to four congresswomen, including one originally from Somalia.
- Support common-sense gun legislation
- MC USA: Call to prayer and action in response to the tragedies of gun violence
Stories of hope
NBC News: Seesaw across the border wall
Politico: All migrant kids moved out of last large temporary shelter (Homestead, Florida, shelter closed)
Small as this story might appear to be when balanced against the great travesty of American immigration policy today, it nevertheless gives us hope. It is the story of David and Goliath, of Hansel and Gretel, of Robin Hood. It is the story of weakness defeating strength. It reminds us, in this cynical age, of what is still good in us, of what we are yet capable of, even against great odds.
— Margaret Renkl in the New York Times, of the neighbors who refused to let ICE arrest an undocumented member of their community.
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Ohio and North Carolina: Ordered deported, then sent a $497,777 fine from ICE (Columbus Mennonite Church and Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship)
Kansas: Border tour spurs supply drive
Pennsylvania: Franconia Conference: Standing in the gap at the border and at home | York Daily Record:His Mennonite ancestors fled persecution to York. Now their farm is an immigration jail.
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Mennonites once knew what it was like to be told to love America or leave it. They heard the phrase during wars they refused to fight or pay for. In the days when they still spoke German, neighbors taunted them to go back where they came from.
– Paul Schrag, editor, Mennonite World Review
Other Anabaptist perspectives
- The Mennonite: Delegates approve ‘Churchwide Statement on the Abuse of Child Migrants’
- Mennonite World Review: Love it or leave? An old insult exposes infection of hate and fear
- MWR: Our common destiny
- MWR: Offering sanctuary, churches put words into practice
- Bruderhof.com: Heartache at the border
News & resources
ENFORCEMENT and DETENTION
Immigration raids on seven food processing plants in Mississippi resulted in the arrest of 680 workers. It was the first day of school for most of the affected communities and many children came home to find one or both parents gone. The Trump administration is expanding its “expedited removal” policy. Previously, the policy allowed undocumented immigrants found within 100 miles of a land border who were in the U.S. for 14 days or less to be quickly deported with a court hearing. Now, the policy will apply to the entire country and will affect those who cannot prove they have been in the U.S. for at least two years. An internal government report regarding the suicide of an immigrant detainee found that staff at the detention center did not follow proper procedures. Human Right Watch has asked a federal judge to direct government officials to immediately cease force-feeding three hunger-striking detainees.
- NIF: Fact sheet: Expedited Removal
- AILA: DHS announces the expansion of Expedited Removal
- AILA: Practice alert: Trump administration expands application of Expedited Removal
- AIC: Fact sheet: A primer on Expedited Removal
- ILRC: Fair treatment denied (report on the expansion of Expedited Removal)
- NPR: Unequal outcomes: Most ICE detainees held in rural areas where deportation risks soar
Our history as dissenters, and sometimes unwelcome foreigners, gives Mennonites an extra reason to defend those who are the targets of such slanders today and to assist immigrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.
— John Powell in Mennonite World Review
July and August brought many policy changes related to asylum from the Trump administration, including a new “asylum ban” that would force immigrants to first apply for asylum in any country they had transited through (temporarily halted by a federal court for those arriving California and Arizona), a new policy to detain children indefinitely and a preliminary agreement with Guatemala to force migrants traveling through that country to apply for asylum there (the administration is seeking a similar deal with Panama to return asylum seekers from Africa and Asia to Panamanian soil if they traveled through there en route to the U.S.).
More than 30,000 migrants seeking asylum in the U.S have been sent to Mexico as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols or “Remain in Mexico” plan. At least 2,200 have returned to Central America before their court hearing dates, likely due to dangerous living conditions and a lack of shelter space or employment in Mexican border towns. A bill that would undermine protections for asylum seekers, including children, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee along party lines.
- Latin America Working Group: Remain in Mexico infographic
- Migration Policy Institute: From control to crisis: Changing trends and policies reshaping U.S.-Mexico border enforcement
- Human Rights First: Delivered to danger: Illegal Remain in Mexico policy imperils asylum seekers’ lives and denies due process
- Human Rights Watch: “We can’t help you here”: U.S. returns of asylum seekers to Mexico
- Women’s Refugee Commission: Chaos, confusion, and danger: The Remain in Mexico program in El Paso
- Center for American Progress: 3 reasons why the new Flores rule does not pass legal muster
- Government Accountability Project: Front-line immigration whistleblowers condemn the elimination of limits on detention of children
- Associated Press: By the numbers: Migration to the U.S.-Mexico border
I hear an awful lot about security, but not much about compassion, generosity, or trust in God. It seems that the richest nation in the world has grown insecure, proud and calloused.
— Dave Dietz in His Mennonite ancestors fled persecution to York.
Now their farm is an immigration jail in the York Daily Record
The U.S. Supreme Court allowed construction to start on sections of border barriers using $2.5 billion in military funds. Officials have reportedly decided to delay erecting barriers in a number of environmentally sensitive areas until a U.S. district court makes its ruling on the underlying case (the administration’s own Fish and Wildlife Service says wall construction will harm many threatened and endangered species).
Construction preparations have begun in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona and in southern New Mexico. Funds approved by Congress for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 are already being used to construct barriers in Texas, including in Starr County which could be completely walled off from Mexico. Proposed construction could cut across the San Pedro River and through a route used by the Tohono O’odham for their Salt Pilgrimage.
As debates continue over Fiscal Year 2020 spending bills, Senate Republican appropriators have proposed taking $5 billion from a labor, health and education bill to use for border wall construction. Meanwhile, a Homeland Security spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee contained no funding for border walls, setting up a clash with the Senate and White House.
- Center for Biological Diversity: 4-minute video on imminent wall construction at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
- Southwest Environment Center: 1-minute video on construction near Santa Teresa, New Mexico
- Phoenix New Times: Existing border barrier already destroying environment as activists fight Trump wall
- OSU Geography Department: Maps: U.S. border barriers and Department of Homeland Security waivers
- Texas Monthly: A day on the Rio Grande reveals the true cost of Trump’s border wall
PUBLIC CHARGE RULE
The Trump administration has revealed a new “public charge” policy, to take effect in October, that would deny green cards to individuals who make use of certain public benefits, or who are deemed to be at risk of needing benefits in the future. Laurel Leff at The Conversation notes that, in the 1930s, about 300,000 Jewish refugees were denied entry into the U.S. because of a similar policy.
- CLINIC: DHS finalizes public charge rule
- Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign: Public charge: Getting the help you need
- Urban Institute: How uncertainty surrounding the “public charge” rule leads to hardship for immigrant families
- U.S. Immigration Policy Center: The impact of changes to the public charge rule on undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Inclusive approach to immigrants who are undocumented can help families and states prosper
- The Motley Fool: Social Security and Immigration: Setting the record straight
Root causes: Common Dreams: How the U.S. created the Central American immigration crisis
U- and T-visas: America’s Voice: New Trump administration policy makes it easier to deport victims of, and witnesses to, crimes: The exact opposite of what is needed now to ensure public safety and justice
Refugees: NBC News: Trump admin weighs letting states, cities deny entry to refugees approved for resettlement in U.S. | Politico: Trump officials pressing to slash refugee admissions to zero next year
Judicial independence: The Hill: Trump administration mulls decertifying immigration judges’ union
Oct. 21-25: Advanced Immigration Law Training
Nov. 3-18: MCC Bolivia Motorcycle Learning Tour
Update created August 29, 2019, by Tammy Alexander, Senior Legislative Associate for Domestic Affairs.
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