“…this was a month of relentless anti-immigrant and anti-immigration cruelty, even by the standards of this administration. All of it came as our fellow Americans in El Paso buried their dead…”
The month of August began with a devastating act of violence, as a terrorist targeting immigrants and Latinos took the lives of 22 people in El Paso. If you thought the Trump administration, blamed for fostering the climate that led to this attack, would back off of its relentless xenophobia, you would be wrong. The administration used August to launch a litany of attacks on legal immigration, immigrants and refugees — timed, no doubt, to be rolled out while Congress was out of town.
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice: “Stephen Miller, William Barr, Kevin MacAleenan, Ken Cuccinelli and the other foot soldiers carrying out Donald Trump’s unprecedented attack on immigrants and citizenship had a busy month rewriting American immigration policies and procedures – all without any involvement of or deference to Congress. The agenda is clear: to dismantle immigration as a foundational element of what has and always should make America great, even if the families of U.S. soldiers, children with cancer and families seeking safety are cruelly punished along the way. Combined with the millions of dollars Trump is pumping into campaign ads to demonize immigrants, this was a month of relentless anti-immigrant and anti-immigration cruelty, even by the standards of this administration. All of it came as our fellow Americans in El Paso buried their dead following a terrorist attack inspired by Trump and his allies.”
Below is a timeline of just some of the Trump administration’s non-stop cruelty in August:
- August 2, 2019: “USCIS to End Certain Categorical Parole Programs”
USCIS announced that it would terminate two parole programs, which allowed immigrants with already approved family-based petitions to live with their families in the U.S. while waiting for their green cards. These programs allowed families to reunite in the U.S. sooner for humanitarian reasons that serve the public interest.
- August 6, 2019: “New Trump Administration Policy Makes it Easier to Deport Victims of, and Witnesses to, Crimes”
“Late on Friday afternoon, before the horror of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, the Trump administration issued a new immigration policy that makes it easier for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport crime victims and their families who work with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of crimes and have applied for U visas to remain in the U.S.”
- August 6, 2019: “Trump has run over 2,000 Facebook ads warning of ‘invasion’”
President Donald Trump has run roughly 2,200 Facebook advertisements warning of an “invasion” at the US border, according to a CNN analysis of Facebook’s political ad archive.
The term is cited more frequently in Trump’s Facebook ads than “Obama,” “China” and “jobs,” and is facing renewed scrutiny following revelations that the El Paso, Texas, shooting suspect also used the phrase in a manifesto he is said to have published.
Trump has also begun running new ads on the border wall, underscoring this Washington Post piece about his obsession with getting the wall built.
- August 7, 2019: “Pili Tobar Statement on Today’s Family Separation Raid in Mississippi”
On August 7th, the Trump administration carried out a series of raids in the state of Mississippi, arresting 680 immigrants, leaving children stranded and families devastated.
- August 9, 2019: In escalation of Migration Protection Protocols (aka “Remain in Mexico”) – the policy to send asylum seekers to Mexico to await adjudication of their asylum cases – Voice of America reports, “Migrants Assess Options as Mexico Buses Them From US Border.”
Now a month after the start of the Trump administration’s Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) in Nuevo Laredo, the Mexican government is busing hundreds of returned migrants to faraway Chiapas, in what is described as a thinly disguised deportation program. VOA witnessed two nights of bus departures from a location adjacent to a pedestrian bridge where CBP dropped off migrants to await their immigration hearings in the U.S. from outside the country.
The first, around 12:30 a.m. on August 7, consisted of eight full buses, transporting 350 to 400 migrants; the next night, another three buses departed from the same location, carrying approximately 120 people, largely families with children under age 10.
- August 10, 2019: New York Times reports: “Trump Administration Moves to Decertify Outspoken Immigration Judges’ Union”
The Justice Department moved to decertify the union of immigration judges, a maneuver that could muffle an organization whose members have sometimes been openly critical of the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement agenda.
- August 12, 2019: “Trump’s New Public Charge Rule a ‘Backdoor Cut to Legal Immigration’ and Another Cruel Attack on Hardworking immigrants in America”
On August 12th, the Trump administration officially published its new “public charge” rule – an effort to disqualify more immigrant families from accessing green cards and targeting working class immigrants and potentially slashing 50% of legal immigration.
- August 15, 2019: Over fierce objections by the Trump administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in favor of providing basic hygiene supplies to children in federal immigration detention facilities after the government unsuccessfully argued that they did not need to provide migrant children with the bare-minimal essentials: soap, toothbrushes, sleeping mats and proper food and water.
- August 17, 2019: Bloomberg reports, “White House Looked Into Ways to Block Migrant Children From Going to School,” Stephen Miler has been a “driving force” behind an effort “to give states the power to block undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in public schools…”
- August 20, 2019: “Once Again, Trump is Trying to Put Dreamers on a Path to Deportation”
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a brief to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that has protected 700,000 Dreamers from deportation and allowed them to work over the last seven years. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in November and a ruling that could end the program is expected in June 2020, just months ahead of the election.
- August 21, 2019: “Trump Administration Finalizes Regulation to Indefinitely Detain More Immigrant Children With Less Accountability”
On August 21, the Trump administration announced new proposed regulations to the Flores Agreement, allowing for indefinite detention of migrant children and families and stripping protections that keep children safe during detention.
- August 21, 2019: CNN reports: “Trump again says he’s looking ‘seriously’ at birthright citizenship despite 14th Amendment”
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he is “seriously” considering ending US birthright citizenship despite the fact that such a move would face immediate legal challenge and is at odds with Supreme Court precedent. “We’re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship,” Trump told reporters outside the White House…
- August 21, 2019: NBC News reports, “Trump admin weighs letting states, cities deny entry to refugees approved for resettlement in U.S.”
The Trump administration is considering a new policy that would allow state and local jurisdictions to deny entry to refugees who have been approved for resettlement in the United States, according to a draft of an executive order obtained by NBC News. According to the draft, “the federal government will resettle refugees only where both the relevant state and local governments have consented to participate” in the program that allows refugees to resettle.
- August 22, 2019: Buzzfeed News reports the number of asylum seekers pushed into Mexico by the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” (Migration Protection Protocols) policy tops 35,000, with growing consequences for Mexico, “Trump Has Returned 35,000 Asylum-Seekers To Mexico. Now The Country Is Pushing Back.”
The Mexican government has begun pushing back on a controversial Trump administration program forcing asylum-seekers to return to the country after more than 35,000 people were sent back to Mexico, BuzzFeed News has learned…The Trump administration has continued implementing the policy despite a legal challenge in courts, and plans to expand the program across the entire border as part of a deal with the Mexican government, which was desperate to stave off tariffs.
It appears in recent weeks, however, Mexican immigration officials have scuttled some of those plans by implementing caps on the number of people that can be returned to the country, limiting the hours when they can be sent back, and refusing to take asylum-seekers on Sundays, according to a Department of Homeland Security briefing document obtained by BuzzFeed News.
The move comes after more than 35,000 people were returned under the program since its inception at the beginning of the year, according to the document. The figure — the highest to date — has not been previously reported.
- August 23, 2019: In an effort to reduce asylum approval rates and pack the Bureau of Immigration Appeals with judges sympathetic to Trump’s opposition to immigration, San Francisco Chronicle reports: “AG William Barr promotes immigration judges with high asylum denial rates”
The Trump administration has promoted six judges to the immigration appeals court that sets binding policy for deportation cases — all of whom have high rates of denying immigrants’ asylum claims. The six come from courts that have higher asylum-denial rates than the national average, including two from a court that has drawn complaints of unfair proceedings from immigration attorneys and advocates. A third has a long history of denying asylum to domestic violence victims, something the Justice Department has also sought to do.
The new appeals judges, who will now make up more than a quarter of the appellate board, were appointed as the administration works to speed up the immigration courts and narrow migrants’ use of asylum cases to come to the U.S.
- August 27, 2019: “‘Can This Administration Sink Any Lower Than Threatening to Deport Kids with Cancer?’ – Outrage over Trump Decision to End All Non-Military Deferred Action”
On August 27th, the Trump administration quietly announced the termination of all other types of non-military deferred action requests processed by USCIS, putting migrants and migrant children dealing with terminal illnesses at risk of deportation.
- August 27, 2019: BuzzfeedNews.com reports judges are being reassigned to handle the cases of asylum seekers pushed into Mexico through the “Remain in Mexico” policy, putting further pressure on the backlog of more than 900,000 existing asylum cases, in the story, “A Surge Of Immigration Judges Are Expected To Handle The Cases Of Thousands Forced To Wait In Mexico.”
Department of Homeland Security officials expect about 150 immigration judges from across the US will be selected to handle cases involving asylum-seekers forced to remain in Mexico while their cases proceed, according to a source with knowledge of the matter, a massive potential increase in assignments that threatens to overwhelm an already struggling court system…
“This will wreak havoc on court dockets across the country,” said one immigration court official.
- August 28, 2019: “As Hurricane Approaches, Trump Diverts Emergency Funds to Incarcerate Kids and Families”
On the eve of Hurricane Dorian’s touchdown in Puerto Rico and potentially Florida, Trump is hellbent on circumventing Congress to endanger more lives, transferring $271 million from FEMA, TSA, and the Coast Guard to accelerate his mass detention and deportation policies and threaten the lives and safety of Americans
- August 28, 2019: Trump administration attacks right to pass U.S. citizenship to children born abroad, even for troops serving overseas
Military.com reported that the new policy “will make adoptions and paperwork more complicated for some families of U.S. service members and as well as citizens who haven’t been in the U.S. for a while.”