This Week in Immigration

Just to give a sense of the unrelenting and multi-pronged attack on immigrants being led by the executive branch and likeminded members of Congress, we decided to bring together some stories just from the past few days. It’s dizzying, so I tried to keep commentary to a minimum and let the volume of stories speak for itself.

Monday/Weekend

Jeff Sessions ruled that immigration judges can no longer close cases, opening the door to re-opening 350,000 closed cases, which could “result in the imprisonment and deportation of immigrants who now have a clear path toward legal immigration status,” says Dan Werner of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Steve King (R-IA, the pride of my home state of Iowa) has introduced a Bill to jail sanctuary cities officials (HR 5884) called the Libby Schaaf Act, named after the mayor of Oakland who alerted residents to pending ICE raids.

California is considering extending Medicaid to all adults regardless of immigration status, further flouting Trump’s ongoing attacks against sanctuary cities.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will allow the ban on sanctuary cities to become law without his signature (despite law enforcement’s opposition to the bill), saying “it’s time to move on.”

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn) proposed a bill to crowdfund the border wall (Border Wall Trust Fund Act).

 

Tuesday

Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, was asked in a hearing with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce whether teachers should report undocumented students. Devos responded with a resounding “I think that’s a school decision,” leading civil rights groups to say, “um… no.”

The House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a hearing they called Stopping the Daily Border Caravan: Time to Build a Policy Wall. The policy in question was asylum, which Republican lawmakers described as a “loophole.” Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) complained that asylum seekers get all the breaks but frequently fail to appear at their asylum hearings “most likely because their claim was unfounded in the first place” (not because they never received their Notice to Appear, or they’re afraid of deportation, or they reunited with family members elsewhere in the country…). Echoing Trump, she characterized minors as “vulnerable to gang recruitment.” Capitol Police were called on to remove peaceful protestors from the room. You can learn more by clicking the link, where you’ll find full video and transcripts.

 

Wednesday

The Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration held a hearing called TVPRA (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act) and Exploited Loopholes Affecting Unaccompanied Alien Children. This hearing also addressed MS-13 gang recruitment. Video and transcripts are available here.

The House voted on a prison reform bill cooked up by Jared Kushner, which threatens to make prison slave labor the norm, but prohibits pregnant women from being shackled, unless guards determine that they really, really need to be. 

Trump talked immigration on Long Island, doubling down on his use of the word “animals” to describe MS-13 gang members and suggesting that foreign aid be denied to those countries that allow criminal immigrants to come here (a policy that would likely make worse some of the problems that cause people to leave). In this same photo-op, Trump said the following about children crossing the border: “They look so innocent. They are not innocent.”

Also, in a post-game interview with FOX, Trump seemed to suggest that NFL players who kneeled during the anthem be deported…? Or leave voluntarily? It wasn’t clear.

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