The State of Immigration

April updates on immigration enforcement, implications for green card holders, and more

Since the inauguration, it has been particularly difficult to keep up with the constantly changing landscape of immigration in America. As Congress begins their two-week recess, individuals around the country will attend town halls and rallies to raise their concerns with their Senators and Members of Congress. Here are some updates on the state of immigration today to keep in mind as you head to your local town hall.

Immigration Enforcement

Ever since the president signed two executive orders on immigration enforcement, we have seen ramped up enforcement and the use of inhumane tactics. The executive orders and policy documents that followed them outline an enforcement regime that targets all immigrants and is designed to tear families apart and create fear in immigrant communities. The new policies are likely to increase racial profiling and civil rights violations, waste taxpayer resources, and ultimately make our communities less safe.

The mass deportation regime created by these policies targets all undocumented immigrants for deportation enforcement, regardless of their time spent in the country and ties to the United States, and strips many people of due process before being deported. Since the orders were signed, there have been reports of immigration agents picking up immigrants in courthouses, outside of churches, and at other sensitive locations. Several undocumented youth previously protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have been detained, some after high-profile events pushing back on inhumane immigration policies. We have also seen long-time residents who had previously been allowed by immigration officers to stay in the U.S. now be detained at routine check-ins and later deported. The result has been to instill incredible fear in immigrant communities. Asian Americans Advancing Justice commented on the surge in raids.

Harsh enforcement that targets all immigrants, the creation of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office to highlight violent acts committed by a few people, the Muslim ban, and rhetoric suggesting that immigrants steal jobs from native-born Americans are all part of the same agenda to divide our country by demonizing immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and people of color.

These policies follow a road map conceived by the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Despite the cruelty of these new policies, FAIR has complained that they do not go far enough. Dan Stein, FAIR’s president, penned an op-ed in USA Today calling for the administration to end DACA, illustrating just how extreme the group is. The administration has stated that it is still considering whether to end the DACA program. With more than 130,000 undocumented individuals of Asian descent estimated to be DACA-eligible, this leaves many in our community unsure of their next steps in requesting or renewing their request for consideration of DACA, even while the administration continues to accept and process DACA applications and DACA-renewal applications.

Tell Congress to Deny Funding for Trump’s Mass Deportation Force, Detention Camps, and Wall: No to the $3 billion

The White House has requested that Congress provide an additional $3 billion dollars on top of the $20 billion budget for this year in order to fund mass deportations, expanded detention beds, and a down-payment on the border wall. This request for $3 billion is likely just the start of this administration’s plans to pay for its anti-immigrant, racist and xenophobic agenda.

Contact your Senator and Member of Congress to demand that they commit to ZERO additional funding for the wall, the deportation force and the mass detention of immigrants. Learn more about this issue.

Carry Your Green Card

Federal law requires noncitizen immigrants over 18 years of age with green cards or other visas or immigration documents to carry them at all times. It is a misdemeanor to fail to do so. While this law has been on the books for a long time, most people do not carry these documents for fear of losing them. Although for years the government has not enforced this provision of the law, this appears to be changing. We have heard reports of ICE officers stopping people in public places and asking them to produce their green cards. We have serious concerns with these reports as this kind of activity results in racial profiling.

If you or someone you know has been asked by immigration officers or police to show them your green card or other identification, we want to know. Please contact Megan Essaheb at messaheb@advancingjustice-aajc.org.

We encourage immigrants who are eligible to naturalize to do so. It is the best way to protect yourself from immigration enforcement.

Muslim Ban 2.0

Shortly after President Trump signed the second executive order targeting Muslims and refugees, referred to as Muslim Ban 2.0, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a temporary order (later turned into a preliminary injunction) blocking the implementation of the key parts of the executive order. The same day, a federal judge in Maryland also issued a temporary order blocking some parts of the order. Both cases are on appeal. The Maryland case will be heard on May 8th in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Hawaii case will be heard on May 15th in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Community Trust Policies

Advancing Justice | AAJC’s President and Executive Director John Yang spoke at a Rockville city council hearing in favor of passage of a proposed community trust policy. Community trust policies aim to disentangle local or state law enforcement officers from immigration enforcement thereby fostering trust between police and immigrant communities who can feel safer calling the police or serving as witnesses.

Family-based Immigration

Senator Cotton’s bill (S.354) would decimate the family-based immigration system and halve the number of green cards available in any given year. This restrictionist legislation would keep families apart and roll back the progress our country has made over the past half century. S.354 would dismantle the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that created the existing family-based immigration system and finally allowed immigrants from non-European countries to come to the U.S. in larger numbers, creating the diversity we see in America today. The 1965 law reunited countless American families with their loved ones abroad and eliminated the previous racist national origin quotas that heavily favored European immigrants. Read more of Advancing Justice | AAJC’s analysis of the bill.

Recess Activities and Resources

Resistance Recess actions are taking place April 7th -23rd in cities across the country. Find an event near you. Also, check out ResistanceInYourPocket, a toolkit for anyone anywhere to plug into the resistance over the next two weeks, and Indivisible’s resource library of recess toolkits, legal resources, call scripts and more.

Rise Up

On May 1st, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement is hosting rallies and events all over the country. Immigrants and allies will rise up in resistance to demonstrate the power, resilience and strength of immigrants in America. Visit www.riseupmay1.org to find local events and how else to get involved.