A recording of today’s call is available here.
The Trump administration’s war on immigrants is escalating. In the last few weeks, the administration made policy, administrative, and directive changes that are not based on facts or needs, but on politics. ICE devastated Tennessee with a workplace raid, destroying the lives of workers, families, and the community as a whole; the Attorney General imposed quotas on immigration judges, creating an assembly line for deporting immigrants; DOJ weighed in on an asylum case of a woman fleeing domestic violence, affecting precedent for the Immigration Board of Appeals, and then ended the Legal Orientation Program, which helps detained immigrants navigate the immigration court system; Trump deployed the National Guard to the border, a move motivated more by the President’s bad mood than needs on the border; ICE changed its detention policy, so it can lock up more pregnant women; ICE is arresting and deporting individuals with strong equities and deep ties without regard to families, including those with U.S. citizen children; and more.
On a press call today, policy and legal experts shed light on the latest of the Trump administration’s attacks against the immigrant community. See here for a new brief from National Immigrant Justice Center on the weaponization of the immigration court system. A recording of today’s call is available here.
David Leopold, Partner/Chair, Immigration Practice Group, Ulmer & Berne LLP and former President, American Immigration Lawyers Association, said, “Under the pretext of efficiency, A.G. Sessions is methodically converting the immigration courts into a deportation assembly line. By forcing arbitrary, unattainable quotas on judges, Sessions is all but directing the courts to throw out due process in favor of fast, easy, and unfair deportation orders. This is the obvious phase two of the Trump administration’s mass deportation agenda, which targets moms, dads, business owners, and other pillars of our community. To further the arsenal, Sessions has aimed his anti-immigrant extremism at detained immigrants, seeking now to deprive them of access to basic information about the immigration court system by defunding legal orientation programs. This leaves many unrepresented immigrants, detained within the legal labyrinth, completely isolated and without any hope of a fair hearing.”
Tom Jawetz, Vice President of Immigration Policy, Center for American Progress, said, “When backed into a corner, Trump always reverts to his favorite tactic: fear-mongering about immigrants. This past week, the President manufactured a fake crisis along our southern border for purely political purposes. Calling up the National Guard is an unnecessary and expensive publicity stunt. And coming off a period of withering criticism from his base about his failure to secure funding for more Border Patrol agents and construction of his ‘big, beautiful wall,’ this action is an end-run around Congress.”
Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said, “This is a humanitarian crisis. So far we’ve counted at least 160 children who have at least one parent that was arrested on April 5th, including 108 children who still have a parent detained. The fear and trauma that is caused by raids like this extend well beyond the families of those arrested. On Friday, the day after the raid, one county school district reported nearly 600 students were absent. After the workplace raid ensnared so many people from this small community, many parents are wondering if their workplace might be next and are making emergency plans for their children. Already we’ve helped 300 parents to execute powers of attorney, designating guardianship of approximately 700 children in the event that they are detained or deported. The level of fear and trauma in the wake of this raid cannot be overstated.”
Heidi Altman, Director of Policy, National Immigrant Justice Center, said, “Within the past week, the administration has eliminated even the semblance of due process in the rapidly growing deportation system. Already, four out of every five immigrants in jail is not able to find a lawyer to help them defend against their deportation. By ending the legal orientation program, the attorney general is taking away the limited access to counsel that people have as they have seek legal protection while locked up in isolated immigration prisons. This is a significant step toward the administration’s goal of turning its immigration jails into black boxes where deportations happen swiftly and without witness.”