How People Power Has Fought Back Against Anti-Immigrant Hate
Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president is coming to an end. On immigration, Trump has pursued a truly awful mass deportation agenda as his Administration detains and deports immigrants indiscriminately. Evidently, Trump doesn’t care about the separation of families or the fear of children who must live without their parents. But in his first 100 days Trump has also been dealt one setback after another, which proves two things: 1) the President really doesn’t know what he’s doing; and 2) people power really does make a difference.
Earlier this week, we wrote about Trump’s immigration agenda in his first 100 days. It’s grim. Below, read about some of the immigrant defense work the Resistance has done in the first 100 days. It’s encouraging.
DACA still lives: It’s no small thing that DACA for Dreamers is still alive, considering that Trump vowed to reverse Obama’s executive actions on Day One and that AG Sessions is strongly opposed to DACA, saying during his confirmation hearings, “It would certainly be constitutional, I believe, to end that order.” Yet DACA continues to survive as a program and DHS is still renewing two-year statuses for existing beneficiaries. Questions about the health of DACA exist: there is always a danger that the program could be shut down or stop renewing statuses, and DHS isn’t treating DACA as solid a protection for Dreamers as it has in the past. But for now, DACA still lives, and that’s a significant victory.
Polling shows Americans continue to support immigrants and immigration reform — and that support is growing: For years, a majority of Americans have supported immigration reform with a path to citizenship. The latest CNN/ORC poll finds that 90% of Americans – including 87% of Republicans – support just such an approach. An NBC/WSJ poll released this week found that 60% of Americans believe immigration helps the US rather than hurts, which is the highest level of support since at least 2005. Meanwhile, sixty-two percent of Americans oppose Trump’s border wall.
Two Muslim bans struck down: One of the first things Trump did in office was implement a Muslim ban on travelers coming from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya. The executive order also barred all Syrian refugees and limited the flow of refugees from other countries. Chaos ensued: US green card holders and legal permanent residents couldn’t get home, different airports followed different policies, and travelers en route were left in limbo. Volunteer lawyers rushed to airports to assist travelers with their cases, while advocates and protesters spontaneously demonstrated against the new policy. Just days after the first ban was announced, a Seattle court blocked the executive order; in March, Trump tried again with six countries, and was again blocked – this time by a judge in Hawaii.
Advocates fight deportation cases: It’s been uphill battle fighting deportation cases in Trump’s era of mass deportation. But the power of advocates calling local ICE officials, members of Congress, and DHS has worked: Daniel Ramirez Medina, a Dreamer, was released from detention after being held for more than a month, while ICE kept claiming he was a gang member when he wasn’t. Daniela Vargas, another Dreamer, was released after two weeks in detention. Other Dreamers have also been released after being arrested by ICE, though almost a dozen Dreamers are thought to still be in detention today. And Catalino Guerrero, a New Jersey grandfather whose case was championed by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and the Archbishop of Newark, was granted a one-year stay after an ICE check-in.
California Senate passes California Values Act: California is on its way to implementing the nation’s most immigrant-friendly legislation of any state. The California Values Act is a landmark bill that ensures state and local law enforcement do not arrest and detain individuals solely on their immigration status. California is pursuing this legislation in spite of Trump’s repeated empty bluster about defunding cities friendly to immigrants. The bill must now be passed by the state Assembly before going to Governor Jerry Brown.
Weekly reports against pro-immigrant cities halted, for now: The Trump Administration, in an attempt to name and shame cities and counties it considered to be too friendly to immigrants, for all of about two weeks published a weekly report calling these “sanctuary” localities out. However, the Administration never specifically defined what policies they were opposing, and multiple jurisdictions pointed out that they were following the law (just not the law as the Trump Administration wishes it was). The Administration had to apologize to multiple counties, and stopped publishing the weekly reports after just two weeks.
During Congressional recess, constituents demanded answers on immigration: Congress was in recess for two weeks in the middle of April, and back in their home districts faced off against constituents who demanded to know what they were doing on immigration reform. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)’s constituents chanted “no stupid wall” at him; 150 residents in Fauquier County, Virginia told their sheriff off for wanting to support detainer requests from ICE; Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)’s constituents repeatedly questioned him about his supposed pro-immigrant values; and advocates hired a mariachi band to interrupt a private meeting with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) so they could ask him to hold a public forum.
Trump’s executive order defunding sanctuary cities blocked by San Francisco judge: Back in January, Trump signed an executive order saying that he would defund so-called “sanctuary cities” that didn’t cooperate with federal authorities on immigration. In yet another legal blow to Trump’s agenda, a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked the order, saying Trump had overstepped his powers by trying to tie billions in federal funding to immigration enforcement.
Congress tells Trump no wall: Trump made building a border wall one of his signature campaign issues, but the wall is incredibly unpopular. Only 3% of voters think building a wall should be Trump’s top priority. No members of Congress – including Republicans – from border regions support the construction of the wall. And Democrats have stood strong, not only against funding for the wall, but also against funding to expand Trump’s deportation force. Trump tried to escalate the stakes by threatening a government shutdown, but within days he massively caved and announced what Talking Points Memo called an “abject surrender”.