Category Archives: Immigration

President Trump Calls for Mass Raids This Weekend: What is Your Faithful Response?

President Trump Calls for Mass Raids This Weekend: What is Your Faithful Response?

Laura Peralta-Schulte
June 21, 2019

President Trump began his 2020 campaign this week with the same anti-immigrant platform he ran on in 2016. In his opening speech, he promised to begin a set of raids intended to “remove millions of illegal aliens beginning this weekend.”  Thus begins the likely ramping up increased domestic terror against our immigrant sisters and brothers.  Following the announcement, there have been leaks from ICE, the agency in charge of conducting raids, confirming they may begin actions as early as this weekend. While raids are not new – the Administration has already conducted massive raids in places like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Tennessee – this racketing up is intended to remind President Trump’s supporters that this is still his number one campaign objective.

Our best understanding is that individuals and family units with final orders of removal are anticipated to be targeted. Such targeting would likely result in collateral arrests, meaning: persons who are undocumented but do not have a final order of deportation will likely be detained also.

What does this mean for us, as people of faith?

For some of us, this means our families will sit in fear between now and the election waiting for a knock on the door. We will fill out the appropriate legal documents full of personal information so that if the worse happens, we know our kids will be safe in the custody of a family member or a friend. We will review what we learned at Know Your Rights trainings so that if and when the knock comes, we know what to do. We will live in a continued state of fear.

We learn more and more everyday about the impact of toxic stress on the bodies and health of people under duress. It takes a tremendous toll on a person’s physical, mental and emotional health. We are reminded by our partners at the Center for Law and Social Policy about what happens when children witness the arrest of a parent – particularly in their own home. The children are now ‘at greater risk of suffering mental health and behavioral problems with have long-term implications for their overall development and future success.’

What does it mean for those of us who are not directly impacted?  This is the key faithful question of our time. As people grounded in sacred texts that call for welcome and love, how do we respond? Do we look away because it all seems overwhelming? Do we chose to sit in our comfortable homes, go to our pools, enjoy a barbeque with family and friends completely detached from this terror? Or, do we engage in acts of resistance and love?

NETWORK is continuously engaging in discernment to discover how we as an organization can live a more authentic life, one grounded in the work of racial justice. This year, our Lenten reflections aimed to strengthen our commitment to be and work in solidarity with communities of color, so we can live out our call to justice for all people in the public square.

We must shake off the choice of inaction. To fail to speak out against injustice is to be complicit.  We can and we must live into our call to be a people of love and justice.

Congress Holds Hearing on Situation at the Border

Congress Holds Hearing on Situation at the Border

Laura Peralta-Schulte
June 11, 2019

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing to examine the refugee crisis at U.S. – Mexico border. The key witness will be Acting Director of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan. During the hearing, McAleenan is expected to call for: increasing border militarization; stripping away the rights of children from Central America to seek asylum; making it more difficult for families to assert a claim to asylum; and dramatically expanding family detention.

This Administration has already taken unpresented steps to dismantle our asylum system, going as far as separating children from their parents with full knowledge of the harm this inflicts on children and families. Tragically, at least six children have died in federal custody in the past year due to lack of access to healthcare. It was recently revealed that 37 children were locked in vans for up to 39 hours in a parking lot of a detention center outside Port Isabel, Texas.  Further, the private prisons this Administration desperately seeks to expand to house immigrant families have come under continued criticism for their dangerous conditions. Just last week the Inspector General Department of Homeland Security found “egregious” health and safety violations at four major ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) facilities.

None of this is surprising given immigration was President Trump’s signature issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. His racist attack on immigrants, symbolized by the call to “build the wall”, set the stage for the policies his Administration is currently pursuing.  The scapegoating of immigrants and asylum seekers will only increase as we head into the 2020 campaign.

Sacred scripture instructs people of faith about how we should treat migrants.  We are called to “release those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke.” (Isaiah 58) We must “Bring good news to the poor…release to the captives…sight to the blind…let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4:16-21) This is not a political issue for the faith community, it is a matter of justice.

Acting Secretary McAleenan, let us be clear:  NETWORK and our interfaith partners reject your false choice between chaos and compassion. It is wrong to use a humanitarian crisis to shred laws protecting vulnerable families seeking asylum. It is wrong to cage children and families in indefinite detention. It is wrong to strip protections for children that keep them safe and healthy.

These actions are cruel and unjust. We will continue to call for justice for our immigrant family.

House Dream and Promise Act Vote Approaches

House Dream and Promise Act Vote Approaches

Laura Peralta-Schulte
June 4, 2019

Today, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019. This legislation would provide permanent protections and offer a pathway to citizenship for more than two million immigrants who are Dreamers and TPS (Temporary Protected Status) or DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) holders.

We at NETWORK strongly support this legislation and encourage all members of the House to vote for the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6). You can still call your Representative’s office and ask them to vote YES on H.R. 6 before the vote today by dialing 888-738-3058.

Read the vote recommendation that NETWORK sent to all House offices below :

NETWORK Calls on Congress to Immediately Pass the American Dream Act and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6) to Provide a Pathway to Citizenship for Dreamers, TPS, and DED Recipients

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social justice. We have a 46-year track record of lobbying for critical federal programs that support people at the margins of our society and prioritize the common good. Inspired by our founding Catholic Sisters and the leadership of the women who followed, we faithfully embody Gospel justice as we work for change. We are rooted in Catholic Social Justice and open to all who share our passion. NETWORK Lobby has over 100,000 members in every congressional district across the country.

Catholic Social Justice teaches that all people are made in the image and likeness of God and possess an equal and inalienable worth. Because of this essential dignity, each person has a right to what is necessary to reach their full potential as intended by God. NETWORK believes it is long past time for Congress to provide Dreamers, TPS, and DED holders with a pathway to citizenship. This has been a cornerstone goal of numerous legislative efforts to reform our broken, outdated immigration system. The American Dream Act and the Promise Act will create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS, and DED holders.

NETWORK strongly urges you to support and pass this legislation. Failing to create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS and DED holders would mean that we fail to recognize their contributions to our society and their inalienable worth.  We also request all Members to oppose any changes to the bill on the floor including a Motion to Recommit.  Adoption of any amendment would risk final passage of this important bill.

Every day that a real solution is delayed, countless members of our community have to live in anxiety and fear, unsure if they will be allowed to stay in the country they call home. For far too long, our immigrant sisters and brothers have waited for Congress to pass legislation that affirms their dignity by providing them access to citizenship. Congress must pass the American Dream Act and Promise Act immediately.

Rabbi Kimelman-Block: Mourning Children Who Died at U.S. Border

Mourning Children Who Died at U.S. Border

Rabbi Kimelman-Block
May 28, 2019

On Thursday, May 23, 2019, NETWORK joined faith partners in a prayer vigil for children who have died in the custody of Border Patrol. Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block shared the following remarks: 

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel recounted a story of when he was a little child in Europe, he was studying the book of Bereshit, Genesis with his teacher.  They began studying the story of Akedat Yitzhak, the binding of Isaac.  They read about God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his child. They read about the three day journey. They read about Abraham and Isaac carrying the wood to Mount Moriah, of Abramac tying Isaac to the altar, and grasping the knife in his hand.  Little Heschel, as a young boy, began to weep. The teacher reassured him – “No, child — please read the rest of the story — don’t you know? Isaac was spared! An angel comes and rescues him at the last moment!

Heschel responded.  “But the angel came at the very last second!”  What if the angel was delayed and had arrived too late?  That would have been the end of Isaac — and the story of the Jewish people would have ended there on that alter?!”

The teacher responded — “Young boy — don’t you know; an angel cannot be late!”

Heschel then instructed all of us “It may not be possible for an angel to be too late, but is all too possible for a human being, of flesh and blood, to be too late.”

We say this morning, with broken hearts and with tears in our eyes that we were too late.

We were too late for Carlos, 

We were too late for Wilmar, 

We were too late for Jakelin, 

We were too late for Felipe, 

We were too late for Juan.

And we were too late for Claudia Patricia Gómez González, who one year ago today was shot was shot in the head by a Border Patrol agent while seeking safety in the United States. 

May all of their memories be blessings — 

And may we be blessed to see this society finally declare “no more”  and act decisively to stop this cruelty.

Let us declare this morning that all of us, this entire society, must take responsibility for these children’s deaths.  In the words of the grown-up Rabbi Heschel “in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” 

Let us confess the fact, that despite our protests, despite our opposition, despite our support for immigrants, for these children — for Carlos, Wilmar, Jakelin, Felipe, Juan, Claudia — we failed and we were too late.

And let us also resolve that we will not be too late for the next children.

By demanding accountability to those in charge of detention facilities; 

By demanding accountability for ICE and CBP — and demanding that Congress rein them in – by demanding Congress defund hate;

By calling for the resignation of the government officials in charge of implementing immoral and cruel immigration policies.

Let us resolve, not in words or in tears, but in action that we will not be too late.


Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block is the Washington Director​of BEND THE ARC: Jewish Action.

New HUD Rule Aims to Harm Immigrant Families

New HUD Rule Aims to Harm Immigrant Families

Bridget Falzon
May 20, 2019

On May 10, 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a proposed rule titled “Housing and Community Development Act of 1980: Verification of Eligible Status.” The rule would significantly change HUD regulations by further restricting eligibility for federal housing assistance based on immigration status. If finalized, the proposed rule will effectively evict 25,000 immigrant families from their homes, affecting over 55,000 children (citizens or legal residents) who are fully eligible for housing assistance under federal law.1

NETWORK is deeply concerned about the impact of this proposed rule on families. Housing security supports the dignity and well-being of every person; all people deserve access to housing regardless of their socioeconomic standing or immigration status. It is wrong to forced families to choose between staying together and risking homelessness or splitting their family up.

The proposed rule prohibits “mixed-status” families from living in federally subsidized units subject to immigration status restrictions under Section 214 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980 (“Section 214”). Mixed-status families are households comprised of members who have eligible and ineligible immigration statuses defined by Section 214. Currently, families with at least one U.S. citizen or eligible immigrant are permitted to live in a subsidized housing unit. Mixed-status families receive housing assistance on a prorated basis—where the amount of the housing subsidy for the household is decreased to account for family members with ineligible immigration status.

Under current HUD regulations, only family members that are applying for housing assistance need to have their immigration status verified. Family members who would not qualify for assistance based on their immigration status can elect not to contend eligibility for the housing assistance, allowing the family to receive assistance on a prorated basis. The proposed rule would eliminate an individual’s ability to elect not to contend their eligibility for the subsidy, and would require all household members under the age of 62 to submit verification of their immigration status through the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system.

Under the proposed rule, U.S. Citizens and Nationals, who currently must only provide a signed declaration of U.S. citizenship or U.S. nationality, would also need to submit documentation of their citizenship status. Furthermore, noncitizens who are 62 years old and older, who currently are only required to provide a signed declaration of eligible immigration status and a proof of age document, would also be required submit immigration documentation, although the documentation would not be verified through SAVE. If these individuals are not able to produce the documentation in the required timeframes, they risk losing their housing assistance.

NETWORK Lobby is gearing up to fight this proposal and will soon be inviting NETWORK members to submit comments about this rule to HUD by July 9.  We can work to stop the Trump administration’s attack on immigrant families if we raise our voices in opposition to this cruel proposed rule.


Submit a comment opposing this rule here.

Advocating for Congress to Pass H.R. 6: The Dream and Promise Act of 2019

Advocating for Congress to Pass H.R. 6: The Dream and Promise Act of 2019

Laura Peralta-Schulte
April 17, 2019

The Dream and Promise Act of 2019, H.R. 6, was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. This legislation establishes a roadmap to U.S. citizenship for (1) immigrant youth and (2) current or potential holders of (a) temporary protected status (TPS) or (b) deferred enforced departure (DED). The bill provides conditional permanent resident (CPR) status and a roadmap to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status and, eventually, U.S. citizenship for immigrant youth who entered the U.S. before age 18, have four or more years of residency, and graduated from high school (or the equivalent). In addition, it provides an opportunity for people who currently have or who may be eligible for TPS or DED who have three or more years of residency to apply for LPR status and, eventually, U.S. citizenship. This common sense legislation mends the gap in access to citizenship and allows our immigrant sisters and brothers to receive legal protections that will allow them to continue to thrive.

Dreamers, TPS, and DED holders have lived in the United States for years. They are an integral part of our society. For example, in 1990, Salvadorans were given TPS and many have lived in the United States since then.  Individuals from other countries were also given similar protection in response to emergency conditions in countries impacted by war, famine or natural disaster.  Likewise, Dreamers have lived the majority of their lives in the U.S. and some have been protected by DACA since 2012. DACA, TPS, and DED programs have allowed these immigrants to work in the U.S. and shielded from deportation.  In return, they have contributed billions to our economy, started American families, and integrated into American culture.

How does H.R. 6 help immigrant youth?

  1. Longer CPR status. Extends the length of CPR status from eight to ten years to give applicants more time to fulfill requirements.
  2. Expands stays of removal. Stays the removal of minors who are not yet eligible for relief but may become eligible in the future and who temporarily unenroll from school.
  3. Better hardship standard. Permits people with CPR to obtain LPR status without satisfying the employment, military, or educational tracks if their deportation would cause “hardship” to themselves or immediate family members (instead of “extreme hardship”).
  4. Apprenticeship eligibility. Includes apprenticeship programs as a qualifying education to obtain CPR status.
  5. No medical examination. Eliminates the costly medical examination for applicants.
  6. Caps fee. Establishes a fee ceiling of $495 for immigrant youth applying for CPR status.
  7. Professional licenses. Clarifies that people with CPR can access professional, commercial, and business licenses.
  8. Career and technical education. Permits people with CPR who obtain a certificate or credential from an area career and technical education school to obtain LPR status.
  9. Criminal and inadmissibility bars. Updates the criminal background bars and inadmissibility requirements.1

Additionally, H.R. 6 has the following provisions that are similar to the Dream Act of 2017:

  1. LPR status. Provides LPR status to CPR holders who: (1) serve in the uniformed services for two years, (2) complete two years at or obtain a degree from an institution of higher education, or (3) work 75 percent of the time in CPR status (with flexible evidentiary burdens such as affidavits).
  2. Removes barriers to in-state tuition. Makes it easier for states to provide in-state tuition to immigrant students.
  3. Federal financial aid. Establishes that CPR-holders are eligible for federal loans, work study, services, but not grants.

How does H.R. 6 help people with TPS or DED?

  1. LPR status. Provides LPR status for people with TPS or DED (and those who were eligible but did not apply) who apply within three years from the date of enactment if they (1) had at least three years of continuous residence (as well as residence since the date required the last time that the person’s nation of origin was designated) and (2) were eligible for or had (a) TPS on Sept. 25, 2016, or (b) DED on Sept. 28, 2016. This includes nationals of 13 countries: El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
  2. Inspection and admission. Classifies people with TPS or DED as inspected and admitted for the purposes of Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) section 245(a), making it easier to obtain LPR status through existing channels (e.g., a family-based petition).
  3. Stay of removal. Stays the removal (deportation) of individuals while an application is pending.
  4. Caps fee. Establishes a fee ceiling of $1,140 for people with TPS or DED applying for LPR status.
  5. Transparency for TPS. Requires the secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide an explanation for and report within three days of publishing notice to terminate TPS designation for certain nationals.

How does H.R. 6 help both immigrant youth and people with TPS or DED?

  1. Deported immigrants eligible. Enables certain immigrant youth deported under the Trump administration and people who had TPS or DED who were deported as of September 2016 to apply for relief from abroad.
  2. Protections for detained and non-detained. Allows immigrants in deportation proceedings, including those in detention, to apply for relief under the INA and protects eligible applicants from deportation.
  3. Administrative review. Provides robust administrative and judicial review of denials.
  4. Grant program. Establishes a grant program for nonprofit organizations to assist applicants.
  5. Fee exemption. Provides a narrow fee exemption for applicants who meet certain requirements.
  6. Advance parole and employment authorization. Allows individuals with a pending application to apply for advance parole and employment authorization (a work permit).
  7. Adjustment through existing channels. Clarifies that individuals may apply for LPR status through existing legal pathways, such as through family- or employment-based sponsorship.
  8. Confidentiality provisions. Protects the information submitted by applicants (and all DACA requests) from disclosure.

NETWORK is working to get every Democratic member in the House to co-sponsor the bill and to find Republican co-sponsors as well.

Now is the time for all of us to ask our Members of Congress to support H.R. 6.

Young, Scrappy, and Hungry for Immigration Reform

Young, Scrappy, and Hungry for Immigration Reform

José Arnulfo Cabrera
March 22, 2019

When I first was introduced to Hamilton, it was during the 2016 election. Every morning I listen to NPR to stay up to date on current news, but as I listened then to Trump’s growing support and then saw him win the Republican nomination, I felt my hope for this country fade away. So I switched to listening to Hamilton every morning. Listening to the musical spreads the notion that America is this great unfinished symphony — where an orphan immigrant can make a name for himself.

I’m obsessed with Hamilton because it’s the most beautiful underdog story I ever heard: about a kid who, his whole life, had to fight against an everlasting hurricane wanting to wash him away. In “Alexander Hamilton,” the cast sings, “The ship is in the harbor now. See if you can spot him. Another immigrant comin’ up from the bottom.” Who would have thought that someone in that crowd would be one of the founding fathers, the architect of the modern U.S., the architect of the financial powerhouse we are – who would create more things that outlived him and anyone else before him? I bet that’s what history will say of Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa (undocumented farmworker to internationally renowned neuroscientist and neurosurgeon), Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-5), and us.

Both Dreamers and TPS holders are Americans in every way. You never find a shortage of these amazing stories of people who are defying the odds, because that’s how we were raised and how America raised us to be; to defy the odds. We had the tenacity to defy those who said we would never go to college, contribute to our country, or say we couldn’t pass a background check.

The musical shares that Alexander Hamilton wanted to create a system that truly allowed people like him to make a name for themselves in this unfinished symphony. That’s what the U.S. inspires people to be: a country where immigrants who come from nothing and are nothing, can work tirelessly to create systems that outlive them.

That’s why there’s no shortage of successful Dreamers and TPS holders, though that’s not the reality for all of them. When I was an organizer in Cincinnati, many of the Dreamers who I organized with weren’t able to go to college because of the everlasting hurricanes that are trying to wash us away.

For the majority of us, we didn’t see DACA coming, just deportation. The realities of being an undocumented youth are knowing that no matter how hard you worked in school, how impressive your GPA was, or how many scholarships to college you could collect; the moment you graduate you’ll watch your classmate get their dream jobs while you struggle to find a job because of your status. There were so many students – including me – who didn’t see the value of furthering their education.

I saw a lot of DACA recipients who didn’t have the impressive GPA to get into the big schools and get the scholarships. And those were the Dreamers who had the money to pay for their DACA. This status gave us financial liberty that made our families depend on us. Many of us had the most secure job in our household.

The DREAM-Promise Act, H.R. 6, is a good first step in truly making America an unfinished symphony. When this bill passes, so many people will finally get their pathway to citizenship. Trust me, with citizenship and passion of community organizers, America will have an overflow of underdog stories from Dreamers, TPS, and DED holders.

So much of what I’ve learned from Hamilton is what it means to leave a legacy:

“It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see
I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will sing for me
America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me
You let me make a difference, a place where even orphan immigrants
Can leave their fingerprints and rise up”

H.R. 6 can be the 116th Congress’s legacy. This bill can be the legacy of all the organizations that are working for pro-immigration policy. Of all the immigration reform organizers. The legacy towards an immigration reform bill that will give a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrations. It’s our legacy.

Invitation to Congress: Marriage of TPS and DREAM

Invitation to Congress: Marriage of TPS and DREAM

José Arnulfo Cabrera
February 26, 2019

On February 12, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders took to the streets of Washington, D.C. demanding Congress to pass legislation that would give them a pathway to citizenship, after the Trump Administration pressured the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deny their document renewals. TPS holders who have been in the U.S. for years, some since 1990, all of sudden now face the potential reality of going back to their native countries or becoming undocumented.

Temporary Protected Status was first enacted by the Immigration Act of 1990, which reformed our immigration system. One of the many things the bill created was away for foreign nationals who couldn’t legally be defined as refugee or asylee (but without a doubt fleeing, reluctant to return, or unable to return to their home country due to violence) to attain legal status. TPS allowed individuals to be granted work authorization without being deported.  The first group to be granted TPS was Salvadoran nationals. As time went on more foreign nationals were granted status and now people from ten countries are eligible to receive TPS.

For almost 29 years, TPS holders have been living successfully in the U.S. They have started families and careers, and have contributed to American society, but now are fighting to stay in their new home with the families and lives they’ve created. TPS holders and recipients (also called DREAMers) both find themselves in danger of losing their status and having to leave the U.S., or become undocumented. Like TPS holders, DACA recipients have been living in the U.S. for years and only in the past seven years have they had some form of status that allowed them to work in the U.S. Last Congress, multiple bills were introduced that would have “fixed” the problem the Trump Administration created. Of all the bills introduced, only two bills would have given DACA recipients and TPS holders a pathway to citizenship: the American Promise Act would have given TPS holders a pathway to citizenship and the DREAM Act would have given DACA recipients, as well as some who didn’t fit the age requirement, a pathway to citizenship.

This congress is different. Not only do the faces of Congress look different, but so are the bills they’re introducing. Instead of having two separate bills that would give TPS holders and DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship, the house will introduce a single bill that will give both a pathway to citizenship! While the specifics of this bill are not public yet, the bill will pave the way for comprehensive immigration reform. Hopefully, the House Judiciary Committee will soon have a hearing that will allow Members of Congress to know more about the people facing the issue, so that they can then move the bill forward.

TPS holders and DACA recipients have always been here, and they’ve always been a part of American society. Sorry to those who just noticed us, but we’re not leaving — because this is home for us.

Presidential Failures to Mend the Gaps

Presidential Failures to Mend the Gaps

Colleen Ross
February 8, 2019

Over the course of 2018, the Trump administration set numerous policies into motion that are sure to harm vulnerable communities and exacerbate the gaps in our society. Our spirit-filled network took action to denounce the harmful actions taken by the Trump administration and prevent them from going into effect. By writing and submitting comments on proposed rules in the federal register, organizing and attending protests, and raising awareness of these issues, you acted in solidarity with the individuals and families impacted by these unjust decisions.

Healthcare

In January 2018, the Trump administration announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) would begin approving states’ requests to impose burdensome Medicaid Work Requirements. Since then, work requirements have been approved in five states, and are pending in ten more states. These work requirements target already vulnerable low-income adults, many of whom are already working or doing their best to secure steady work that pays sufficient wages.

Nutrition

The Agriculture Department released a proposed rule to enforce stricter SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Work Requirements right at the end 2018. This happened just after Congress had finally reached agreement after months of bipartisan negotiations, resulting in a majority of Congress voting to not include these restrictive work requirements in the Farm Bill. This unilateral action from the administration is clear rejection of Congress’s hard-won, bipartisan agreement.

Census

President Trump’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced they would be adding a Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census just as it nears the final stages of preparation. The addition of a citizenship question is likely to further depress Census responses from communities of color (which are already undercounted), due to fear of immigration enforcement in the current climate. Additionally, concerning information about persuasion from the White House and undisclosed communication with the Department of Justice encouraging Secretary Ross to add the citizenship question, has become public.

Immigration

In September, the Trump administration released a proposed regulation that the advocacy community refers to as the Flores Rule. This new regulation would dismantle the current “Flores” standards, now allowing the indefinite detention of immigrant children and families, including asylum seekers. In addition to being morally reprehensible, this proposal rejects proven alternatives to mass detention, which are more humane and effective. This proposed rule would allow the federal government to set their own standards for holding families and children in detention and undermine independent oversight of conditions; it also reduces vulnerable families’ access to due process and humanitarian protections.

The Trump administration’s proposed “Public Charge” Rule, published in October, would make it more difficult for immigrants to apply for and receive legal immigration status in the United States. This proposed rule seeks to drastically redefine what it means to be a “public charge” in the immigration system. This would increase the probability that legal immigration applications would be denied based on factors such as age, health, family status, financial status, education, skills, and employment history and would hurt and potentially separate families. Even the threat of this rule is already causing parents to choose between needed public assistance to keep their families housed, fed, and healthy or making their family vulnerable to separation.

Throughout the year, the Trump administration has threatened immigrants with legal status through two programs. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a legal immigration status for nationals of a country experiencing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or another extraordinary and temporary condition. Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) allows foreign nationals to be protected from deportation and have the opportunity to work. Currently, the Trump administration is in the process of ending protections for TPS or DED holders from 11 countries. Many of these TPS/DED holders have been here for more than 20 years, have families in the United States, and would continue to face conflict or other difficult conditions in their home countries.

Judicial

The Senate approved 66 of President Trump’s Judicial Appointments in 2018, including Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. This is a significant number of appointments and these confirmations will have a strong impact on the makeup of our judicial system.


This story originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of Connection Magazine. Read the full issue here.

Two Shutdowns Over Immigration Policies

Two Shutdowns Over Immigration Policies

José Arnulfo Cabrera
January 17, 2019

In our current government shutdown—this time over $5.7 billion dollars President Trump is demanding as a down payment to build a wall—I was thinking about last year’s much shorter shutdown (only 3 days) over a DACA fix and the many other numerous times politicians have used the security of undocumented people and families as a bargaining chip in political debates. This blog post is a reflection of my feeling and thoughts of the last year’s DACA fix during the appropriation process. This ISN’T what other DACA recipients or undocumented youth felt during this time.

My two younger sisters and I grew up in the rallies our mom would drag us to. My mom was an organizer and I hated it. My weekends and weeknights were always filled with meetings, rallies, protest, and vigils. But after being tricked to share my immigration story and then organize a rally at the age of 15, I fell in love with it. A few years later I got my first community organizing job while I was a student at Xavier University. I organized a group called YES, Youth Educating Society, a group for high school and college students who wanted to fight for immigrant rights, empower immigrant youth, and put pressure to elected officials to adopt pro-immigrant policies.

After the 2016 election, our membership grew and the following year we had 100 members across the greater Cincinnati area with 50 of them considered “active members.” On September 5, 2017, every DACA recipient and their loved ones’ nightmare happened. The Trump administration decided to end the DACA program. That night I went to bed with a 105 degree fever, exhausted from rapidly organizing a protest outside of Senator Portman’s Cincinnati office, and having to comfort my fellow YES members. I spent the rest of that night re-planning how to achieve my life goals as an undocumented citizen. I spent the rest of 2017 trying to pass all my classes so I could stay on track to graduate in May 2018, organizing rallies in support of the 2017 DREAM Act, coming to D.C. to lobby Ohio Senators and Representatives to support the DREAM Act, and participating in a sit-in at Senator Portman’s DC office. But the most challenging and stressful month was December when immigration advocates made their strongest push for a DREAM Act.

The current government shutdown reminds me of the one that happened in January 2018, and how they both resulted from immigration-related issues: DACA last year and building a border wall this year. In December 2017, Congress had to pass multiple short-term continuing resolution bills that would fund the government for the following year. Democratic leadership saw that moment as an opportunity to secure a Republican commitment to hold a vote on legislation that would protect   the 800,000 DACA recipients who felt the weight of deportation again after the Trump administration rescinded DACA. After several negotiation meetings between President Trump and Democratic leaders, a deal was made. Republicans would include a DACA fix to last few appropriations bills, and Democrats would agree to give President Trump the money to build the Wall. Activists made it clear to Leader Pelosi that they didn’t want that deal. We wanted a clean DREAM Act.

I was scared. I was freaking out. I kept a close eye on leading groups in DC who were organizing actions for a DACA solution, aiming to make this the last time we had to pass a bill that will give DACA recipients citizenship, instead of the threat of deportation.

I was thankful that those demonstrators were doing what needed to be done to put pressure on the Senate to pass a clean DREAM Act. I was angry at myself that my exams were on the same week all of this was happening, and I couldn’t go to DC to do my part. Then I realized that if the DREAM Act didn’t pass, in 2019 my DACA would expire and I would lose the job I got after graduating from college. Since September 5, 2017, I still didn’t know how I could accomplish my life goals without my DACA. Watching all of the action in DC kept reminding me that I still didn’t have a plan figured out.

This standoff resulted in a government shutdown from January 20-22, 2018. The shutdown ended when the House and the Senate passed a short-term continuing resolution funding the government until February 9. Part of the agreement was that the House and Senate would use that time to pass legislation that would protect DACA recipients. Instead, federal court orders in January and February extended DACA renewals for previously-approved DACA recipients. By the time Congress needed to pay additional funding for the federal government, there was no mention of a legislative solution for DACA. Since then, Congress has not considered the DREAM Act bill again.

This past December, we found Congress in a similar position they were in the previous year. They needed to pass seven appropriations bills to fund the government, including one for the Department of Homeland Security which would have given President Trump money for the wall. This time, no one wanted to put a DACA solution in the debate. In some weird way, I’m kind of glad. I don’t think I could take another emotional month like the one in December 2017. But this time, the fight for wall funding is still relevant and is the reason why  we’ve been in a government shutdown for 27 days. Before everyone at NETWORK left for the holiday break, we saw President Trump refuse to sign the funding deal that didn’t give him the $5 billion to build a wall on the US southern border. Coming back to the office this month I was disappointed by the lack of leadership President Trump has to re-open the government. President Trump has failed to get the funding for the wall but has succeeded in further dividing our country.

I know passing a clean DREAM Act, or even a comprehensive immigration reform bill, won’t be easy. It would most likely get worse before it gets good and we’ll definitely get scuffed-up, but we’ll get it. I have faith.