Whew – this has been another roller coaster week in the rapidly changing world of immigration! Fasten your seat belts and here we go: At the start of the week, Pres. Trump and his cabinet struggled to defend his “zero tolerance” policy of separating children from their parents at the border in response to significant push-back from members of both parties. “They could be murderers and thieves and so much else,” he said of those seeking to cross the border. “We want a safe country, and it starts with the borders, and that’s the way it is.” Attorney General Sessions also defended the policy as did Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security. She also insisted that the nearly 2,000 children who had been taken away from their parents during the 6 week period were well cared for! (Excuse me, is placing children in metal enclosures that look like cages to the rest of us represent good care? Would you want your kids placed in cages? I seriously doubt it! My 3 cats don’t live in cages and wander freely around the apartment!).
THE TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDER
By Thursday, a sudden shift occurred after a major storm of controversy arose. Pres. Trump unexpectedly signed an executive order intended to end the separation of families at the border by detaining parents and children together for an indefinite period! That’s the good part. However, he failed (or neglected) to address the issue of the 2,000 kids that had already been separated from their parents, some as young as a few months! Did you happen to hear those heartbreaking audios of young kids crying for their parents and relatives? And, did you happen to see both Rachel Maddow and Brooke Baldwin struggling on air during their broadcasts trying to rationally (if that’s even possible!) describe the situation – but they could not resist reporting the news without tears in their eyes?
FOREIGN NATIONALS, ESPECIALLY FROM CENTRAL AMERICA, ARE NOT DETERRED AND KEEP ON COMING!
The administration is calling for the expanded use of family detention for immigrant parents and children as authorities issued a notice that they may seek up to 15,000 beds to detain families. In total, about 9,000 immigrants traveling in family groups have been caught on the border in each of the last 3 months according to federal authorities! What is truly amazing is that those fleeing gang violence and oppression in Central America and elsewhere are not deterred and still willing to make incredible sacrifices to come to the U.S.!
TERRIBLE CONDITIONS IN HOLDING FACILITIES FOR KIDS!
According to USA Today, more than 2 dozen Democratic members of Congress visited a holding facility in Texas for separated children and described the conditions as “cruel and inhumane” after seeing children sleeping behind bars, on concrete floors and under emergency heat-resistant blankets! Still, those 2,000 kids have yet to be reunited with their parents! In fact, a lawsuit was recently filed in California alleging that DHS “routinely” places migrant children on psychotropic drugs without parental consent and without informing the kids about the meds “in utter disregard of state laws.” Apparently, some kids were given up to 18 pills per day and not told what they were for! Is this not irreparable harm? Is this the American way? Another lawsuit was filed in federal court on Wednesday by 3 undocumented immigrants over being forcibly separated from their children. They want the government to provide daily updates on their children as well as being informed of their whereabouts, when they will be reunited as well as the ability to talk to their kids on a frequent basis. They claim that separating families is a punishment that violates the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process! Now, illegal immigrants and green card holders facing deportation have routinely been held in prisons and jails throughout the U.S. for long periods of time and are barely distinguished from hardened criminals serving jail time! They too are clothed in orange jumpsuits and forced to eat horrific food!
THE “COMPROMISE” IMMIGRATION BILL HAS STALLED!
During the week that was our hopes started to rise as the House was seeking to vote on a “Compromise” immigration bill that completely stalled because of in-fighting between the conservatives and the moderates who are pushing for some sort of reform together with border security. The moderates, many hailing from districts consisting of Latinos and others born abroad, recognize that the current policy may not sit well come November! The GOP compromise bill would allow children to be detained with their parents, and allow those who qualified for DACA under the 2012 standards to apply for a 6-year indefinitely renewable legal status. They they would be able to apply for a merit-based visa program without having to return to their home country. In addition, the compromise bill would create a new, merit-based green card system, similar to Canada, with points scored for education, employment, English proficiency, etc. It would eliminate the per-country cap that currently exists for employment-based immigration. It would also appropriate $25 billion for border security funding for the famous “Wall”, etc. Wouldn’t it be wiser to spend $25 billion on domestic improvements within the U.S.? Just think how many poor people could be fed and housed with this extraordinary amount of money!
DEMONSTRATIONS ARE OCCURRING THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY!
Meanwhile, demonstrations against the Trump immigration policy have taken place in San Diego and elsewhere with more being planned this week. President Trump, however, continues to blame the “Open Border Democrats” for supporting loopholes allowing immigrants to cross the border! Occupy ICE protests have emerged in New York, LA and Washington state.
BEWARE OF TRAVELLING WITHIN 100 MILES OF THE CANADIAN OR MEXICAN BORDER!
In addition, it has been reported that cars travelling along I-95 in Maine have been stopped by ICE officers asking the occupants whether or not they are U.S. citizens! Actually, there has been a policy in place for quite some time that allows the feds to question any vehicle (or person) within 100 miles of either the Canadian or Mexican border! Many people taking the NYS Thruway to Buffalo have been stopped and apprehended by ICE. Please remind me, what country do we live in?
SEEKING SANCTUARY IN CHURCHES
And, Debora Barrios, a mother of 2 U.S. citizen children from Guatemala who has lived in the U.S. for 13 years, has taken refuge in a New York City church to avoid deportation because of a traffic stop which now makes her vulnerable to deportation! The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew has stated that it will offer sanctuary to people targeted by ICE!
On the lighter side, a teenage jogger from France visiting her mother in Canada was detained for 2 weeks by CBP when she accidentally entered the U.S. (no sign at the border) while stopping to take a photo, unaware that she had actually crossed the unmarked border! The officers claimed that she had entered the U.S. “illegally!” Yes, this is true!
THE NEW WEEK IS OFF TO A GREAT START! BUT, CAN IT GET WORSE?
Now, here’s the best part! Today, President Trump called for deportations to be carried out “with no judges or court cases.” According to President Trump, “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents…” he tweeted. So much for the rule of law! Is it dead, alive or simply on life support? AG Sessions has been vigorously seeking to reduce the rights of political asylum applicants by intervening and overturning existing court decisions (domestic violence is no longer a ground for asylum) and policies (immigration judges can no longer grant “administrative closure” in a deportation case that would enable the foreign national to remain in the U.S). So, what is next? Stay tuned.