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From the Census to Border Patrol to International Scholars: More Consequences of Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

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Trump’s travel ban and immigration crackdown are having wide-ranging effects, from dampening travel into the US to causing labor shortages on US farms to damaging the relationship between local law enforcement agencies and immigrant communities. Today, here’s another roundup of even more consequences of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.

Customs and Border Patrol have more power to abuse

We’ve written before about how both ICE and CBP are rogue agencies that Trump has “unshackled” at a time when they need more, not fewer, accountability measures. This week, two sisters from Guatemala filed legal claims against a Border Patrol officer who they say sexually assaulted them. Now that Trump wants to hire 15,000 more CBP and ICE agents, the danger is that more abusers could slip through the cracks. From Think Progress:

Immigrant advocates are concerned that the Trump administration’s executive order promising to hire thousands of additional immigration agents could lead to more abuse. One of the more problematic issues is that the basic academy training lasts for only 55 days if an agent speaks proficient Spanish, at which point they can report directly to their duty stations to begin post-academy training. In comparison, other people without Spanish-language skills undergo a total of 19 weeks of training.

What’s perhaps most troubling is that a 2013 Center for Investigative Reporting report found that during a hiring surge that began in 2006 — which eventually added 17,000 employees — thousands of would-be agents were hired without polygraph screenings, which became mandatory in 2013. Of the prospective agents who made it to the polygraph exam, which is the one of the last steps of the hiring process, some admitted to crimes like murder, bestiality, rape, and links to organized crimes.

“CBP has a troubling and extensively documented history of human rights abuses at the border. This history, paired with Trump’s anti-immigration policies and his plan to add 5,000 more Border Patrol agents to CBP’s ranks, are great cause for alarm,” [Mitral Ebadolahi, Border Litigation Project staff attorney at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties] said.

Immigration crackdown may have chilling effect on census

The census, taken every 10 years, determines the amount of federal funds each state receives (based on its population), and the number of Congressional seats they are allocated. But with Trump’s immigration crackdown leading immigrants to avoid government figures in general, some are worrying that the next census won’t be an accurate representation of their state. The Boston Globe this week profiled Massachusetts’ concern on this issue:

Officials and community-based organizations are convinced that some foreign-born residents — both documented and undocumented — will be too fearful to answer questions from census gatherers because of the highly charged anti-immigrant policies and statements emanating from Washington.

“I am extremely alarmed that the rhetoric and the action of the Trump administration are going to make it very difficult to get cooperation from non-native-born residents of Massachusetts who should be counted,’’ said Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who oversees the state’s population count…”We are dealing with a potential shortchanging that could badly damage the state for a decade to come.”

Canadian schools calling off trips to US

This week, the Toronto District School Board — Canada’s largest school system, and following other Canadian school districts — called off all future trips into the US, citing uncertainty over Trump’s travel ban. From the Washington Post:

Canada isn’t named in the ban, but the board expressed concerns that some of its students would face trouble on U.S.-bound trips, even if they had the proper paperwork. The district serves about 246,000 students and includes nearly 600 schools throughout Toronto, home to one of Canada’s largest immigrant communities.

“We strongly believe that our students should not be placed into these situations of potentially being turned away at the border,” Director of Education John Malloy said in a statement

“Paramount for us is student safety,” Clara Howitt, a [Greater Essex County District School Board of Windsor, Ontario] school board superintendent, told the Windsor Star last month. “We really don’t know what will happen to our students at the border.”

Also cancelling all future US travel are Canada’s Girl Guides — the Canadian version of the Girl Scouts — who cited their “commitment to inclusivity.”

Universities concerned Trump’s policies deter international scholars

Another group concerned about Trump’s travel ban and its effect on those who wish to come to the US are university administrators, who have seen international applicants for some programs drop as much as 30% this year. If international students, scholars, and professors are afraid to come, universities fear that other countries will snap up elite researchers, technological breakthroughs will be delayed, campus populations will suffer from not having access to the best and brightest, and revenue from international tuition dollars will decrease. From the Washington Post:

[Terrie Fox Wetle, dean of public health at Brown University] said she had just attended a conference at which other deans were talking about international students who retracted their acceptance of offers of admission. She herself has heard a lot of anxiety from international students. “They’re afraid to come.”

There are a host of unknowns, with fast-moving executive orders and legal challenges, and concerns are largely anecdotal at this point. But the possible effects of last year’s campaign rhetoric and this year’s policy changes are wide-ranging: the risk of losing elite researchers to other countries, a potential decline in international applications and enrollment, and new obstacles to collaborations that had been speeding technological breakthroughs. There are even worries that thousands of doctors from overseas matched with residency programs last week won’t be able to get visas soon enough to prevent a disruption in patient care in the United States.

Along with their contributions to campus culture, international students provide colleges with crucial revenue, often paying full tuition. With 1 million international students contributing an estimated $36 billion a year to the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of International Education, a drop in enrollment could have a huge impact.

As we wrote about this week, among the incoming immigrants concerned about Trump’s travel ban and its effect on whether they’ll be able to receive visas are foreign medical graduates, who disproportionately work in rural and under-served communities in the US — some of the very same communities that overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump:

William Pinsky, who leads the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, said he is not sure that the more than 4,000 international medical graduates who need visas will be able to get them before residencies begin July 1, which would disrupt not only their educations but staffing at the hospitals.

One of every four doctors in the United States went to medical schools outside of this country and Canada, he said, so those international graduates are critical. “It’s not that we don’t want the best security for the country,” he said, but he is worried the policies may unintentionally harm health security.

In New Mexico, students vanish after raids

Finally, the New Yorker has a profile about what happened in Las Cruces, New Mexico after ICE agents raided a trailer park. In the following days, thousands of students — 85% of the school district — missed school because their parents were too afraid of being picked up by immigration authorities. (For similar reasons, immigrant parents have also been lining up to secure their children’s birth certificates and naming guardians in case they’re deported.) The spikes in students missing school are damaging attendance records and keeping students from learning — not to mention damaging school funding — but immigrant parents say they can’t take the risk:

On February 15th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conducted a raid in Las Cruces, arresting people at a trailer park on the outskirts of town. The raid came a few weeks after President Trump signed two executive orders, signalling his plans to fulfill a campaign promise of cracking down on undocumented immigrants. Rumors spread that there were further raids planned, though none took place. On February 16th, a Thursday, Las Cruces’s public schools saw a sixty-per-cent spike in absences compared to the previous week—twenty-one hundred of the district’s twenty-five thousand students missed school. Two thousand students stayed away again the next day. Attendance returned to normal the following week, which made the two-day rash of absences all the more pronounced. “It was alarming,” Greg Ewing, the district’s superintendent, told me. News of the raid caused such fear in the community that Ewing wrote a letter to parents on the 16th, in English and Spanish, reassuring them that “we do not anticipate any ICE activity occurring on school campuses.”

“As my students filed in, I was worried,” [David Morales, a high school social studies teacher] said. “Who’s not going to be here?” In one of his classes, three students were missing on the 16th. The next day it was five. “My first thought was, Are they O.K.?” he said. “Then, What if their parents got picked up? Do they have a place to stay?”…

Last week, I spoke by phone to an undocumented woman whose two daughters, aged ten and thirteen, are enrolled in elementary and middle school in Las Cruces. She asked me not use any of their names, and would only speak to me in the presence of her younger daughter’s school principal, whom she trusted. Each morning, she drives her two daughters to school, dropping them off, one after the other, before heading to her job as a home-aid worker. “School goes hand in hand with the home,” she said. “I speak to my daughters’ teachers all the time to make sure everything is going well. They are going to attend college someday.” The decision to keep her daughters home from school wasn’t something she took lightly. But for four days after the raids, the three of them stayed inside their house. “They wanted to leave, but I told them we couldn’t—not yet,” she said.