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Recapping August: A Month of All-Encompassing Trump Cruelty Aimed at Immigrants

 

“All of it came as our fellow Americans in El Paso buried their dead following a terrorist attack inspired by Trump and his allies.”

Last Friday, America’s Voice published a detailed overview of the litany of attacks launched by the Trump administration — in August alone — on legal immigration, immigrants, and refugees. Since we published the detailed overview, and in response to the public outcry over the notion that our country might deport kids receiving life-saving medical treatments, the administration has announced that it would “reconsider its decision to force immigrants facing life-threatening health crises to return to their home countries.” 

While we welcome the news, we also counsel caution. Remember that this same administration supposedly ended the practice of family separation in response to public outrage, only to continue that barbaric practice while attempting to avoid public scrutiny.

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 McAleenan, 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.”

In addition to our overview on the administration’s cruel August we recommend another summary of the administration’s ongoing immigration machinations by Joel Rose of National Public Radio here: “A Relentless Push to Reshape Migration.” 

Below is AV’s timeline of just some of the Trump administration’s non-stop cruelty in August: 

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. 

“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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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…

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.

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.

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.

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. As noted above, while the administration has publicly announced it has reconsidered its decision, we offer caution about the need to remain vigilant.

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.

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.”