In the past 24 hours, the Trump Administration and their Republican allies have taken their assault on the American idea of welcoming immigrants and refugees to new heights. They have:
- Attacked Dreamers and the future of the DACA program in a coordinated and dangerous backdoor legal assault led by the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton;
- Ramped up efforts to split apart families by targeting parents of unaccompanied children in new raids and round-ups;
- Passed two virulently anti-immigrant bills in the House of Representatives;
- Advanced a restrictive interpretation of the Supreme Court’s limited lifting of the travel ban that will sow chaos, divide families and block refugees;
- Escalated a new, Kris Kobach-led effort to suppress the vote using the false specter of voter fraud;
- All this against the backdrop of the anti-immigrant movement’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire”gathering in Washington, DC this week.
For the past five months, the Trump Administration, their GOP enablers and the anti-immigrant movement have been steadily advancing a radical agenda to kick out and keep out as many immigrants and refugees as possible. Now, facing declining approval ratings, a burgeoning scandal and no major legislative victories, it seems clear they are refocusing on their go-to populist priorities: trade and immigration.
Referring to the news that Trump may impose new steel tariffs, Mike Allen and Jonathan Allen assessed in Axios today that, “Trump’s base — which drives more and more decisions, as his popularity sinks — likes the idea, and will love the fight.” Evidently, immigration fits neatly into this base-stoking strategy.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
This is an ominous moment for America and our fundamental values. A desperate president is doubling down on his cruel and costly anti-immigrant agenda and using the powers and platform of the presidency to whip up fears of the ‘other.’ Supported by Republican allies such as AG Jeff Sessions and Texas AG Ken Paxton, the latest developments are putting the assault on immigrant and refugee families into overdrive. They are going after everyone they can – ripping apart families with strong equities and deep ties, using children as bait to arrest parents, rounding up Iraqi Christians for deportation even as the State Department warns of genocide for the population remaining in Iraq, pursuing a Muslim ban through the front and back doors, limiting and blocking refugees, thwarting asylum-seekers, and putting Dreamers in the crosshairs – all ahead of July 4th, a day we celebrate the American idea of E Pluribus Unum, Out of Many One. If we don’t rise up and stop the radicalism of Trump and the GOP, these aggressive strategies will continue to trample core values and foundational principles that are central to who we are as a nation.
Below are details about three of the latest anti-immigrant developments over the past day:
Texas AG Ken Paxton and Nine Other States Seek to End DACA; Have Complicit Ally in AG Jeff Sessions: The Trump Administration had said just this month that Dreamers will “continue to be eligible” for DACA, but Texas AG Paxton and nine other Republican AGs and one Governor are now ramping up efforts to end DACA. Specifically, Paxton wants to amend Texas’ complaint in Texas v. United States, the 2014 lawsuit in which the state of Texas and Judge Andrew Hanen were responsible for killing deferred action for parents (DAPA). Now, Paxton wants to bring DACA in front of Hanen as well, and as Think Progressnotes, Hanen is a hardliner with an extremist record: “He will almost certainly do everything in his power to kill the program.” Deferred action has been incredibly successful for five years, helping some 800,000 Dreamers go to school, legally work, drive, travel, and achieve their dreams. Dreamers have gotten better jobs, bought homes, and started businesses. Ending DACA would cost $433 billion over a decade, including a $6.1 billion to Texas alone every year. And DACA is popular — a November 2016 poll found that 58% of respondents supported keeping DACA, with only 19% of respondents feeling strongly that it should be repealed. Longtime immigration opponent AG Jeff Sessions favors ending DACA and is undoubtedly supportive, and potentially complicit, in the coordinated assault against DACA.
Trump Administration Targeting Parents of Unaccompanied Children in New and Morally Reprehensible Raids: McClatchy’s Franco Ordoñez reported last night a disturbing new type of raid, targeting parents of unaccompanied children: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have begun sharing information with immigration agents about U.S.-based relatives of unaccompanied children. The information is being used to track down the parents, according to lawyers and government case workers familiar with the practice. Parents of the children report receiving surprise knocks on their door by immigration agents — sometimes the day after their children arrive — asking about their children and demanding that they be let in, according to government case workers. Once the parents open the door or leave the house they are detained. ‘The kids are basically being used as bait at this point,’ said a field specialist with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the federal agency that takes custody and shelters unaccompanied immigrant children.’ Reacting to the news, the Associated Press quoted Wendy Young of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), who said, “Arresting those who come forward to sponsor unaccompanied children during their immigration proceedings, often parents, is unimaginably cruel. Without caregivers to come forward, many of these children will languish in costly detention centers or be placed in foster care at great expense to states.”
House Republicans Pass Two Virulently Anti-Immigrant Bills, Despite Opposition from Law Enforcement: On Thursday, House Republicans passed H.R. 3003 and H.R. 3004, both anti-immigrant pieces of legislation that bolster Donald Trump’s mass deportation agenda. The former would make communities less safe for all Americans by encouraging local police to prioritize deporting immigrants over fighting crime, while the latter would fill our prisons with asylum-seekers and those seeking to reunite with their families by increasing the sentences of those who re-cross the border after a deportation. As we’ve written, hundreds of advocacy organizations, more than a thousand faith leaders, the US Conference of Mayors, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force opposed one or both bills.