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It’s been an incredibly busy week for everyone, immigration advocates included. The Trump Administration is constantly trying to change immigration policy — to the detriment of migrants, immigrants, and their families — and this week was no exception. Below is a recap of immigration and anti-immigrant developments this week.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) held its annual radio row, called “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” (HTFTTF), this week, and reports showed that they covered the travel expenses of 191 sheriffs brought to Washington, D.C. for the event.
There is a coterie of anti-immigrant sheriffs that FAIR leans on to support their extremist views, who often come to HTFTTF, and these sheriffs are anti-immigrant trouble. They’ve called for everything from increased law enforcement participation in immigration crackdowns to increased invasions of privacy, and more than one of them has gotten into legal trouble for violating the rights of immigrants.
It’s disturbing that these sheriffs continue to be associated with a hate group like FAIR, especially now that FAIR is on the defensive over how its anti-immigrant “rhetoric” invasion has indirectly affected white extremists. And, if you want more evidence that these sheriffs are not always on the side of what is legal and right, check out this tweet of at least one sheriff telling Trump this week, “we got your back.”
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) September 26, 2019
Speaking of known associates of FAIR, acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli spoke at an event hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) — another hate group — in the latest example of a Trump Administration official appearing at a hate-group-hosted event. While there, he apparently went on a tirade against the media, saying that there are some “really, really, really lazy reporters”, and ones “that aren’t very smart, either.” It’s a pretty loaded charge coming from a member of a presidential administration, especially one once described as “neither deserving nor qualified to play any role in immigration policy.”
Cuccinelli just slammed reporters at an @CIS_org event: “There are just some really, really, really lazy reporters. And then there are the ones that aren’t very smart, either.”
— Ted Hesson (@tedhesson) September 26, 2019
This week, the Trump Administration announced that Honduras is now a “safe third country” for migrants and asylum seekers attempting to reach the United States. Safe third country agreements require migrants to apply for asylum in the first such country that they reach, rather than the country they would ultimately like to settle in. Similar agreements have been inked between the Trump Administration and Guatemala as well as El Salvador, which clearly makes no sense because these are the same central American countries that migrants are fleeing from.
For an illustration of how not safe these countries are, read this story about Luis Tábora, a Honduran migrant, who was deported from the US border just this week. Just hours after his arrival in Honduras, Tábora was shot and killed while talking to his friend in a parked car. He was still wearing shoes provided by ICE.
As Douglas Rivlin at America’s Voice said:
The latest news, on the heels of similar announcements regarding El Salvador and Guatemala, is another indication of how the Trump administration is attempting to outsource its cruelty, gut the asylum process, and ignore the reality of why people are forced to migrate in the first place. The goal of the Trump administration is to make sure the asylum claims of people fleeing violence and persecution never reach U.S. courts, no matter how valid or compelling those claims may be.
The Trump Administration — and Stephen Miller — are literally spending their days trying to keep would-be immigrants from coming to the U.S. while kicking out the ones already here. To that effect, they announced that the U.S. refugee cap would be slashed again in 2020, to just 19,000 people. That’s the lowest-ever ceiling in four decades and a forty percent drop from 2019. As you can see from this chart (h/t Migration Policy Institute), refugee levels have plummeted since the Trump Administration began three years ago. And 19,000 is just the cap — in 2018, the U.S. admitted just 22,491 refugees, an even dramatically lower number than the already record-low ceiling.
The new cap is a galling low for the U.S., which has long prided itself as being a haven for the poor and the tired. And there’s apparently no tactic that Stephen Miller, who reportedly would like the refugee cap to be zero, won’t try: the Trump Administration wants states and localities to be able to reject local refugees, and some flights scheduled to bring refugees have been cancelled due to a vague moratorium that has no end date.
Along similar lines, the New York Times reported yesterday that immigrant growth in the U.S. was reduced to the slowest pace in a decade last year, and that the reason likely involved the Trump Administration’s immigration restrictions.
The net increase in the U.S. immigrant population was just 200,000 people in 2018, a decline of more than 70 percent from the year before, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
As Randy Capps, director of United States research for the Migration Policy Institute, told the Times: “It’s what you would expect if it became more difficult for some immigrants to get to the U.S. and others found the country less welcoming.”
A slower rate of immigrant growth will have long-time repercussions. Immigrant growth is cited as one of the main reasons the U.S. is not suffering as great a declining birth rate as other developed nations, and immigrants are crucial in industries such as health care, where they comprise almost 1 in 5 workers.
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing discussing immigration detention levels, ICE’s continued overreach in the number of immigrants being detained, and the smarter and more humane alternatives to detention that exist. One witness on the panel was former acting ICE chief Thomas Homan, a pugilistic anti-immigrant enforcer who has, among other things, threatened to jail local elected officials over their immigration stances. Republicans apparently love inviting Homan to testify at hearings due to his dogged insistences that immigrants are basically no good — and he’s often rude and disruptive to boot. Check out jaw-dropping interaction between Homan and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) where he completely disrespects her authority, shouts over her, and tells her, “I’m a taxpayer. You work for me.”
"Time to adjourn the committee Madam Chair.”
“You need to look in the mirror. You have failed the American people by not securing the border.”
“You work for me, I’m a taxpayer.”
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) September 26, 2019