Tag Archives: immigration reform

Biden Administration Details Ways Partnership with Nation’s Mayors Improved Lives, What Build Back Better Could Further Achieve

Since the start of his Administration, President Biden has prioritized local partnerships and has worked closely with mayors across the country who have been instrumental as trusted sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, and set up mass vaccination sites. As a result, in less than one year, over 200 million Americans have been vaccinated © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On the occasion of President Joe Biden’s address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, January 21, the White House issued a fact sheet detailing some of the ways the Biden-Harris Administration is working with Mayors to deliver for communities across the country, and what passing the Build Back Better agenda could mean:
 
Getting Shots in Arms and Saving Lives
Since the start of his Administration, President Biden has prioritized local partnerships and has worked closely with mayors across the country who have been instrumental as trusted sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines.
 
Working with local governments, the Administration has shipped over 160 million pieces of personal protective equipment – gloves, gowns, masks – to protect frontline health care workers in cities across the United States. Since first launching surge response teams on July 1st, the Administration has deployed over 3,000 personnel to 39 states and 4 U.S. territories. The Administration also recently worked with several mayors and local jurisdictions to surge federal testing support and federal test sites to several cities.
 
Over 115 mayors across the country joined the White House, HHS, and We Can Do This campaign to launch a Mayors Challenge to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations. This campaign was instrumental in increasing the adult vaccination rate through mayors sharing best practices and launching innovative efforts to boost vaccinations, including grassroots outreach, mobile and neighborhood vaccine clinics, incentives, prizes, and other efforts.

  • Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney as co-lead of the Mayors Challenge, launched the #HotVaccinatedSummer campaign with the Richmond Health Department focused on taking the vaccine to residents through mobile vaccination units, pop-up vaccine sites at grocery stores, food pantries, apartment complexes, and churches, and neighborhood block parties.
     
  • Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, mayors of Louisiana’s two largest cities, launched a month-long, inter-city “New Orleans vs Baton Rouge COVID challenge” to motivate citizens to get vaccinated.
     
  • Detroit, MI Mayor Mike Duggan launched an innovative “Good Neighbor Program” where residents received gift cards for driving their neighbors to get vaccinated, as well as a door-to-door vaccination education canvassing effort.
     
  • San Antonio, TX Mayor Ron Nirenberg along with making pop-up vaccine clinics accessible, collaborated with local artists to create murals reminding residents of the importance of getting vaccinated.

Getting People Back to Work
President Biden has grown the economy faster than any first-year administration ever with 6.4 million jobs added, the most in one year on record. The unemployment rate is 3.9% – four years faster than projected because of the American Rescue Plan. The Biden-Harris agenda has provided substantial resources to state and local governments to expand and improve America’s workforce development system so that workers of all kinds from diverse communities will be prepared and successful in good-paying union jobs.
 
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) included $350 billion in state and local fiscal recovery funds that governments can use to assist workers who want and are available to work – including job training, public jobs programs, job fairs, childcare, transportation, hiring bonuses, and subsidized employment efforts). The ARP also invested $3 billion in the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to assist communities in their efforts to build back better from the pandemic, including $1 billion for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge and $500 million for a Good Jobs Challenge that will support sector partnerships that bring employers, unions, non-profits, community colleges, training providers, and local governments together to enhance local training and hiring efforts.

  • Building Bridges to Infrastructure Jobs:
    • Washington, DC is using ARP resources to expand the city’s Infrastructure Academy to ensure a diverse workforce is ready to fill the infrastructure jobs that will be created by the historic bipartisan infrastructure law.
    • Milwaukee, WI has dedicated ARP funds to launch a lead abatement workforce development program and an Earn and Learn program which assists young people entering manufacturing and other high-skill jobs.
    • Phoenix, AZ is using Rescue Plan funds to partner with local community colleges and the private sector on job training programs that not only will re-skill and re-employ individuals for new careers in high demand workforce areas, such as manufacturing, construction, and the region’s emerging semiconductor industry.
       
  • Supporting our Essential Education Workers:
    • Seattle, WA used ARP fiscal recovery funds to provide premium pay for local child care workers, up to $835 per worker who have been there for at least 6 months.
       
  • Bolstering our Health Care Workforce:
    • Chicago, IL is leveraging ARP funds to build a 2,200 public health workforce working as vaccine ambassadors and addressing vaccine resistance.
    • New York City is dedicating ARP funds to bolster their public health workforce through the New York City Public Health Corps program, which will focus on a range of public health needs – from vaccine access, to primary care, to mental health counseling.

Building a Better America
Since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Administration has hit the ground running with a focus on fostering strong partnerships and working with mayors to implement the largest long-term investment in America’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will rebuild crumbling road and bridges, replace lead pipes, help provide high-speed internet to every family in America, and produce concrete results that change people’s lives for the better. These results will create good-paying, union jobs, support domestic manufacturing and supply chains, and position the United States to win the 21st century. As the Administration implements the law, it is following through on President Biden’s commitment to ensure investments advance equity and racial justice, reach communities all across the country – including rural communities, communities of color, and disability communities – and strengthen the nation’s resilience to climate change. Since the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden Administration has it the ground running. Some of the key actions since the law’s passage include:

  • Understanding the importance of strong partnership with local governments to deliver results on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the White House appointed Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor of New Orleans and former President of the US Conference of Mayors, as Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced $27 billion in funding to replace, repair, and rehabilitate bridges across the country over the next five years, including many locally-owned “off system” bridges.
     
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will invest more than $14 billion of funding for over 500 projects across 52 states and territories. These key projects will strengthen the nation’s supply chain, provide significant new economic opportunities nationwide, and bolster our defenses against climate change.
     
  • USDOT awarded $1 billion in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants to invest in 90 major projects across 47 states funding that will be boosted by an additional $7.5 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
     
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at USDOT announced $3 billion for 3,075 airports across the country that can use investments to upgrade critical infrastructure.
     
  • The Vice President announced the Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, which includes action items focused on collaboration with local partners to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes over the next decade. As part of this plan, EPA announced $7.4 billion in funding allocations for states to upgrade America’s aging water infrastructure, sewerage systems, pipes and service lines, and more.
     
  • The Federal Communications Commission launched the Affordable Connectivity Program providing broadband subsidies of up to $30/month for low-income households (up to $75/month for households on Tribal Lands) and up to $100 towards the purchase of a desktop, laptop or tablet computer.
     
  • EPA announced $1 billion in funding to clean up 49 Superfund sites across 24 states to accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country, stop toxic waste from harming communities, and create good-paying jobs.
     
  • The Department of the Interior released initial guidance for the states interested in applying for funding to cap and plug orphaned oil and gas wells that reduce methane emissions and create jobs, with 26 states expressing interest in a portion of the $4.7 billion in funding for well plugging, remediation and restoration available in infrastructure programs.
     
  • The Department of Energy launched a new Building a Better Grid initiative to accelerate the deployment of new transition lines, and it released a notice of intent to inform the design and implementation of this historic investment.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes billions of dollars in competitive funding available to cities, towns, and municipalities across dozens of new and existing programs. As local governments begin to rebuild and reinvest in their communities, the Biden-Harris Administration stands ready to support local leaders as they combine funding streams, organize around their priorities, and build local support for long overdue infrastructure projects. The White House released a fact sheet highlights 25 already available or soon-to-be-available sources of funding that local governments – particularly cities – can compete or apply for directly. The White House will also be releasing a comprehensive guidebook of all available funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the coming weeks.
 
Addressing Supply Chain Blockages
As our economy has turned back on from the unprecedented shutdown resulting from the pandemic, our supply chains have been strained. The Administration is working closely with  mayors and local governments across the country to mitigate supply chain blockages and ensure shelves are stocked.

  • The Administration’s port envoy has held weekly meetings with city-owned ports, including the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, to identify ways to reduce congestion and move toward 24/7 operations, which reduces the emissions and traffic in communities.
     
  • The Department of Transportation awarded more than $241 million in discretionary grants to improve ports facilities and address supply chain disruptions in 19 cities, including Houston, TX; Brunswick, GA; Bay St Louis, MS; Tell City, IN; Alpena, MI; Delcambre, LA; Oakland, CA; Portsmouth, VA; Tacoma, WA; and Long Beach, CA.
     
  • The Administration is working to help schools experiencing challenges purchasing and reliably obtaining food for their meal plans. USDA has committed $1.5 billion for schools and states to purchase foods including funding to purchase local foods from historically underserved producers and announced an adjustment in school meal reimbursements that put an estimated $750 million more into school meal programs across the nation this year.

Advancing Local Climate Action
On Day One, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, reestablished U.S. leadership, and renewed the federal government’s partnership with the states, cities, Tribes, and localities that carried forward America’s progress on climate. Since then, President Biden has deployed clean wind and solar energy across the country, jumpstarted an electric vehicle future that will be built in America, advanced environmental justice in underserved communities, and taken aggressive action to make our country more resilient to climate change and extreme weather.
 
Today, President Biden will announce how the Biden-Harris Administration is teaming up with states, cities, labor, and industry to launch the Building Performance Standards Coalition, a first-of-its-kind partnership between 33 state and local governments dedicated to delivering cleaner, healthier, and more affordable buildings. States and cities part of the coalition will design and implement building performance standards that create good paying union jobs, lower the cost of energy bills for consumers, keep residents and workers safe from harmful pollution, and cut emissions from the building sector.
 
The Administration is also empowering local leaders to advance climate solutions across other sectors—for example:

  • The Department of Energy set a new National Community Solar Partnership target of powering 5 million homes by 2025, with on-demand technical assistance available to local governments, and launched the SolarAPP+ tool to help them speed up permitting of rooftop solar installations.
     
  • The Department of Transportation announced $182 million in grants for transit agencies to deploy zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including awards to the Chicago Transit Authority; Anaheim, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Lawrence, KS; Jackson, MS; Fayetteville, NC; Lincoln, NE; Norman, OK; and more.
     
  • The EPA announced $50 million for environmental justice initiatives using ARP funds, including water infrastructure job training in Baltimore, MD; indoor air quality improvements in Fort Collins, CO; and outreach on asthma and environmental hazards in Hartford, CT. 
     
  • FEMA announced $1 billion for the FY2021 Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, available for cities and other levels of government to proactively invest in community resilience to hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters.
     
  • In November 2021, President Biden and 15 bipartisan mayors representing communities across the country participated in COP26, where the President announced bold plans to reduce methane emissions, create clean energy jobs, and build back better with infrastructure initiatives that advance prosperity and combat the climate crisis.

Addressing Gun Violence and Crime
During the President’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration has partnered with mayors across the country on actions to reduce gun violence and has provided historic levels of funding for community-oriented policing and expanding community violence interventions (CVI) – neighborhood-based programs proven to combat gun violence. The Administration has made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan – including $350 billion in state and local funding – available to state and local governments for law enforcement purposes to advance community policing strategies and community violence interventions.

  • Working with 16-jurisdictions, the White House launched the Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts and philanthropic organizations committed to using ARP funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure and share best practices. 
     
  • Cities including Milwaukee, WI; Albuquerque, NM; Syracuse, NY; and Mobile, AL responded to the President’s call by committing and deploying ARP funds for advancing community-oriented policing.
  • Mayors from cities across the country including Seattle, WA; Buffalo, NY; and Atlanta, GA have committed to deploy ARP fund for community violence interventions following a memo from Senior White House advisors on how state and local officials can implement ARP funding into CVI work.
     
  • Cities across the country including St. Louis, MO and Tucson, AZ committed to investing ARP funding in public safety strategies such as summer jobs for young adults and substance abuse and mental health services.

Prevent Housing Instability and Homelessness
During the President’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration partnered with mayors across the country to keep Americans housed. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) included over $21 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. These funds, together with $25 billion signed into law under the previous Administration but implemented under this Administration, enabled households to catch up on rent and avoid evictions. State and local grantees obligated over $25 billion in ERA in 2021, and these funds contributed to a historically low eviction filing rate. Also included within ARP were $5 billion in supplemental funding for HOME, which enables state and local governments to create and preserve affordable housing, and $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers to help people experiencing and at risk of homelessness secure housing.

  • In June, 46 cities joined the White House to create eviction prevention action plans as part of a first-of-its-kind summit. More than 100 eviction diversion programs were created or expanded as part of this partnership with the White House and local leaders.
     
  • Mayors from Louisville, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and Boston shared best practices in subsequent White House events including strategies to prevent evictions and distribute rental assistance to renters and landlords in need.
     
  • Dozens of mayors have signed onto House America, a federal initiative aimed at maximizing the ARP resources to address homelessness. The goal of this initiative is to cumulatively re-house 100,000 households experiencing homelessness and add 20,000 new units of affordable housing into the development pipeline by the end of 2022.

Building an Orderly, Fair, and Humane Immigration System
The Biden-Harris Administration is working to build a humane, orderly, and fair 21st century immigration system at the border and beyond. One that invests in smart technology and infrastructure at the border, that prioritizes our resources and values immigrants living in our country and contributing to our communities for generations, and that once again welcomes refugees and is a beacon of light for those seeking safe haven.
 
Since day one, the Biden-Harris Administration took steps to undo the wrongdoings of the previous Administration, including getting rid of the Muslim ban, taking steps to protect DACA recipients, and restoring our asylum system. On day one, President Biden also sent his immigration bill to Congress – The U.S. Citizenship Act – which laid out the components needed to build an updated immigration system that reflects our values and responds to our hemisphere’s current needs.
 
Working with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and non-profit organizations in Mexico and the United States, the Administration assisted 13,000 people in the wind down of the Migrant Protection Protocol to fight their cases in the United States. The Administration also designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haiti, Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Burma, and expanded to El Salvador and Honduras.
 
The President tasked Vice President Harris with leading efforts to address the root causes of migration from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Vice President announced $310 million in urgent humanitarian relief in April 2021, in addition to the President’s FY22 budget request for $861 million for Central America. The Vice President also secured $1.2 billion from the private sector to create job programs and invest in the economic stability and prosperity for our partner countries. In addition to the work the Vice President is leading, the Administration is working with countries in South America and leaders in the hemisphere to address migration as a regional issue that necessitates regional leadership and a regional response.
 
The Administration remains committed to immigration reform, to restoring asylum, and to working with partners to ensure the safety, security, and dignity of immigrants in the region:

  • Engaged mayors and cities to amplify the broad sweeping impact President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act would have on all 11 million undocumented immigrants, including farm workers and individuals with Temporary Protected Status.
  • Partnered with cities including San Diego, Long Beach, Pomona, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio to stand up Emergency Influx Sites to provide temporary shelter and care for thousands of unaccompanied children.
     
  • Awarded $110 million in supplemental humanitarian funding to the National Board for Emergency Food and Shelter Program eligible to cities and services providers providing humanitarian assistance to migrants at the southern border.
     
  • Regularly engaged bipartisan border mayors to discuss and coordinate rebuilding America’s border management and asylum systems that were previously gutted by the prior administration. Additionally, engaged local elected leaders in the Rio Grande Valley, San Diego, and El Centro border sectors to protect border communities from the physical dangers resulting from the previous administration’s approach to border wall construction.

Welcoming Refugees and Resettlement Efforts
The Biden-Harris Administration has taken a whole-of-America approach to safely, securely, and effectively welcome more than 76,000 Afghan allies to the United States through the Operation Allies Welcome.
 
In close coordination with Departments and Agencies across the Federal government, the Administration has worked with state and local officials; refugee resettlement organizations; veterans; faith, private sector, and non-profit leaders to ensure Afghans are set up for success in their new communities. The White House Operation Allies Welcome team provided briefings to USCM and visited resettlement sites in six states to engage with local officials and stakeholders on the frontlines of welcoming our Afghan allies. In his capacity as OAW Coordinator, Jack Markell attended the 2021 USCM Summer Meeting in Dayton, Ohio to brief mayors on their important role in the resettlement effort.

  • USCM Past President Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin led the effort for USCM’s resolution in support of Afghan resettlement and welcomed briefings from senior Administration officials to keep mayors updated on resettlement efforts
     
  • Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner worked with local resettlement agencies to raise more than $8.5 million dollars for the Houston Afghan Resettlement Fund (HARF) to help the local resettlement agencies provide additional services for Afghan evacuees
     
  • Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt collaborated with the local resettlement agency to identify additional funding stream to for affordable housing for Afghan evacuees
     
  • Lansing Mayor Andy Schor worked with the local school district to ensure a warm welcome to arriving Afghans students and families.
     

Sacramento Mayor Darryl Steinberg coordinated with state, county, and local leaders to create a new coalition called the American Network of Services for Afghanistan Refugees (ANSAR) to assist in meeting the needs of Afghan families.

In addition to President Biden, ten members of the President’s Cabinet spoke at the USCM Winter Meeting, including Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and EPA Administrator Regan. Senior Administration officials including ARP Coordinator Gene Sperling, Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez will also speak at the event.

Biden Administration Blueprint for ‘Fair, Orderly, Humane’ Immigration System

Protesters against the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance anti-migrant policies in June 2018. The Biden Administration has been wrestling with record number of migrants attempting to cross the border while reckoning with the Trump Administration’s cruel and reckless immigration policies, which exacerbated long-standing challenges and failed to securely manage our border. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

(This is a fact sheet from the White House concerning its proposal for Immigration reform from August 18, 2021. The Biden Administration has come under attack from both sides concerning immigration. The problem, though, lies with inaction by Congress to adopt necessary reforms and create a new system to responsibly manage and secure the border, provide a pathway to citizenship and better manage migration.)

The United States can have an orderly, secure, and well-managed border while treating people fairly and humanely. In January, the Biden-Harris Administration launched a broad, whole of government effort to reform our immigration system, including sending to Congress legislation that creates a new system to responsibly manage and secure our border, provide a pathway to citizenship, and better manage migration across the Hemisphere.

In the months since, the Administration has made considerable progress to build a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system while continuing to call on Congress to make long overdue reforms to U.S. immigration laws. We successfully processed over 12,500 people who had been returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols. We expanded lawful pathways for protection and opportunity, including the Central American Minors (CAM) program to reunite children with their parents in the United States. We strengthened collaborative migration management with regional partners, including through a new Human Smuggling and Trafficking Task Force to disrupt and prevent migrant smuggling and human trafficking operations. And we continue to deter irregular migration at our Southern border.

The Biden-Harris Administration has accomplished this and more while reckoning with the prior Administration’s cruel and reckless immigration policies, which exacerbated long-standing challenges and failed to securely manage our border. Case in point: the total number of unique encounters at the Southern border to date this fiscal year remains below the total number of unique encounters to date during fiscal year 2019 under the Trump Administration.

Today the Administration is releasing a blueprint that outlines the next steps Federal agencies will be taking to continue implementing the President’s transformative vision for a 21st century immigration system that secures the border, fairly and efficiently considers asylum claims, strengthens regional migration management efforts in North and Central America, and addresses the root causes of migration from Central America. Success in building this fair, orderly, and humane immigration system won’t be achieved overnight, especially after the prior Administration’s irrational and inhumane policies, but this Administration has a blueprint to get there and is making real progress.

We will always be a nation of borders, and we will enforce our immigration laws in a way that is fair and just. We will continue to work to fortify an orderly immigration system.

ENSURING A SECURE, HUMANE AND WELL-MANAGED BORDER

The United States can allow people to exercise their legal right to apply for asylum while also reducing irregular migration and maintaining an orderly, secure, and well-managed border.

• Making better use of existing enforcement resources. Since fiscal year 2011, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) discretionary budget has grown from $9.9 billion to $15 billion in FY 2021. The President’s Budget redirects resources from a needless border wall to make robust investments in smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border. These investments will serve as a force multiplier to the over 19,500 Border Patrol Agents currently helping secure our Nation’s borders and the over 25,500 CBP Officers working at our land, air, and sea ports. The investments will also facilitate more robust and effective security screening to combat human smuggling and trafficking and the entry of undocumented migrants.

• Improving the expedited removal process for those who arrive at the border. The Administration is working to improve the expedited removal process at the border to fairly and efficiently determine which individuals have legitimate claims for asylum and other forms of protection. Asylum and other legal migration pathways should remain available to those seeking protection. Those not seeking protection or who don’t qualify will be promptly removed to their countries of origin.

• Facilitating secure management of borders in the region by providing training and technical assistance, supporting the improvement of border infrastructure and technology, and promoting collaborative migration and border management approaches.

• Strengthening anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking operations by working with regional governments to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in migrant smuggling, human trafficking, and other crimes against migrants. In April 2021, DHS announced Operation Sentinel, a new operation targeting organizations involved in criminal smuggling.

• Bolstering public messaging on migration by ensuring consistent messages to discourage irregular migration and promote safe, legal, and orderly migration.

IMPLEMENTING ORDERLY AND FAIR PROCESSING OF ASYLUM APPLICATIONS

The Administration is committed to fairly and efficiently considering asylum claims. Asylum and other legal migration pathways should remain available to those seeking protection. But those not seeking protection or who don’t qualify will be returned to their country of origin.

• Establishing a dedicated docket to consider asylum claims. The Administration has set up a special immigration court docket to promptly and fairly consider the protection claims of certain recent arrivals.

• Further improving the efficiency and fairness of the U.S. asylum system by authorizing asylum officers to adjudicate asylum claims for those arriving at the border and establishing clear and just eligibility standards that harmonize the U.S. approach with international standards. The Administration has already begun to rescind Trump administration policies and decisions that unjustly prevent individuals from obtaining asylum. On June 16, the Department of Justice reversed two of the former administration’s rulings severely restricting asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence.

• Maximizing legal representation and legal orientation programs by working closely with pro bono legal service providers. The President’s FY 2022 Budget requests $15 million to provide representation to families and vulnerable individuals, as well as $23 million to support DOJ legal orientation programs. • Reducing immigration court backlogs by ensuring priority cases are considered in a timely manner and hiring more immigration judges. The FY 2022 Budget requests an additional 100 immigration judges and provides support for additional court staff to ensure the efficient and fair processing of cases. The Department of Justice also restored the discretion of immigration judges to administratively close cases in another step to ensure priority cases are considered in a timely manner.

STRENGTHENING COLLABORATIVE MIGRATION MANAGEMENT WITH REGIONAL PARTNERS

The United States seeks to expand U.S. and multilateral efforts to address the dire humanitarian situation in Central America and strengthen regional collaborative migration management. The United States believes that all individuals should be able to have a safe, stable and dignified life within their own countries, while ensuring that asylum and other legal migration pathways remain available to those who need them.

• Providing humanitarian support to address the acute needs that pressure individuals to abandon their homes. U.S. efforts will address food insecurity and malnutrition, mitigate the impacts of successive droughts and food shortages, promote protection for vulnerable individuals, and provide materials to support rebuilding of homes and schools damaged by the hurricanes. The United States will also work with the United Nations to mobilize international support for the deteriorating situation in the Northern Triangle. As part of these efforts, the United States in April provided $255 million in assistance to meet immediate and urgent humanitarian needs for people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, refugees, other displaced people, and vulnerable migrants in the region.

• Expanding access to international protection to provide safety to individuals closer to their homes by building and improving national asylum systems, enhancing efforts to resettle refugees, and scaling up protection efforts for at-risk groups.

• Establishing Migration Resource Centers in the Northern Triangle countries with the support of international organizations and in coordination with governments in Central America to provide referrals to services for people seeking lawful pathways for migration and protection. The centers also provide referrals to reintegration support for migrants returned from the United States and other countries.

• Restarting and expanding the Central American Minors (CAM) program to provide children the opportunity to receive protection and reunite with parents in the United States. In March 2021, the United States reopened the CAM program and, in June 2021, expanded it to additional categories of eligible U.S.-based relatives who can petition for their children.

• Expanding refugee processing in the region, including in-country processing in Northern Triangle countries, and helping international organizations and local nongovernmental organizations to identify and refer individuals with urgent protection needs to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and other resettlement countries. The U.S. Department of State and Department of Homeland Security have resumed interviewing individuals via the Protection Transfer Arrangement (PTA) to expand protection for vulnerable nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

• Expanding access to temporary work visas in the region. DHS announced a supplemental increase of 6,000 H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural workers from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in FY 2021. The Administration is also exploring ways to enhance access to H-2A visas for temporary agricultural workers when there are insufficient qualified U.S. workers to fill these jobs, while ensuring strong labor protections for all workers. The Administration will also encourage other governments to develop and expand regional labor migration programs that protect workers’ rights and allow access for individuals to find meaningful, temporary work.

• Reducing immigrant visa backlogs. The United States aims to reduce the backlog of immigrant visa applications for Northern Triangle nationals as quickly as possible.

INVESTING IN CENTRAL AMERICA TO ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSES OF MIGRATION

We cannot solve the challenge at our border without addressing the lack of economic opportunity, weak governance and corruption, and violence and insecurity that compel people to flee their homes in the first place. The impact of two major hurricanes in late 2020, a prolonged drought, and COVID-19 have aggravated these long-standing challenges. The FY 2022 Budget requests $861 million to address the root causes of migration.

• Addressing economic insecurity and inequality by investing in programs that foster a business-enabling environment for inclusive economic growth; enhancing workforce development, health, and education; and building resilience to climate change and food insecurity so individuals can find economic opportunity at home. The U.S. will also work with stakeholders to increase trade and diversify industry, as well as with the private sector to build on the Call to Action to catalyze investments in the region and support economic development.

• Combatting corruption and strengthening democratic governance by working with governments, civil society, and independent media to improve government services, increase transparency, promote accountability and respect for human rights, sanction corrupt actors, and provide protection to at-risk youth, victims of violence, and other marginalized populations.

• Promoting respect for human rights, labor rights and a free press by working with governments and civil society to strengthen legal frameworks and build institutional capacity, hold perpetrators accountable, promote labor rights compliance, and ensure citizens have access to information from independent sources to inform their choices.

• Countering and preventing violence, extortion, and other crimes by strengthening accountable law enforcement, focusing on crime prevention, and encouraging regional cooperation to address shared criminal threats. • Combatting sexual, gender-based and domestic violence by working with governments and civil society to prevent and prosecute violence and support victims.

While President Biden can implement significant parts of this strategy within his executive authority, Congress must also act. Millions of noncitizens call our country home. Immigrants are key a key part of our communities and make significant contributions to our economy. Over the past year, millions of immigrants have risked their health to work side by side with other Americans to perform jobs that are essential to the functioning of the country. They are Americans in every way but on paper. The American public supports a path to citizenship and a fair and efficient legal immigration system that welcomes talent from around the globe and allows families to reunite and make a life in our country.

Congress should pass through reconciliation or other means:

• The U.S. Citizenship Act (H.R. 1177/S. 348) that reunites families, gives businesses access to a workforce with full labor rights, and creates a path to citizenship for those already living and working in the United States. These critical reforms, coupled with measures to address the root causes of migration from Central America, will relieve pressure at the border by dissuading irregular migration.

• The Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) and Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603) to create a path to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS recipients, and farmworkers. Both bills passed the House with bipartisan support. They will protect millions of families, children, and essential workers who live, work, study, and worship in our communities.

Biden Signs Executive Orders to Streamline Legal Immigration System, Reunite Separated Families, Address Root Causes of Migration

Families Belong Together Immigration Protest, NYC, June 30, 2018. In his first days in office, President Biden has signed executive orders to reunite families separated by Trump, protect DACA, end the Muslim Travel Ban, halt Trump’s border wall construction send legislation to Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, and address the root causes that drive people to leave their home countries © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On January 20, the Biden Harris Administration took the first steps in a broad, whole of government effort to finally reform our immigration system, including sending to Congress legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in and contributing to our country. On February 2, the Administration is announcing a series of additional actions it is taking to rebuild and strengthen our immigration system.

These actions build on executive actions the President took his first day in office, including steps to preserve and fortify protections for Dreamers, end the Muslim and Africa ban, halt border wall construction and protect Liberian nationals living and working in our country. On day 1, the President also sent the United States Citizenship Act to Congress, which seeks to modernize our immigration system and smartly manage our borders, while addressing the root causes of migration.

President Biden’s strategy is centered on the basic premise that our country is saferstronger, and more prosperous with a fair, safe and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people—both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations—to more fully contribute to our country. President Biden knows that new Americans fuel our economy, as innovators and job creators, working in every American industry, and contributing to our arts, culture, and government.

In signing the executive orders, President Biden said:

“Today, I’m going to sign a few executive orders to strengthen our immigration system, building on the executive actions I took on day one to protect DREAMers, and the Muslim ban, and to better manage of our borders.  And that’s what these three different executive orders are about. 
 
“And I want to make it clear — there’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders that I have signed — I’m not making new law; I’m eliminating bad policy.  What I’m doing is taking on the issues that — 99 percent of them — that the President — the last President of the United States issued executive orders I felt were very counterproductive to our security, counterproductive to who we are as a country, particularly in the area of immigration.
 
“This is about how America is safer, stronger, more prosperous when we have a fair, orderly, and humane, and legal immigration system. 
 
“And with the first action today, we’re going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families — their mothers and fathers at the border — and with no plan, none whatsoever, to reunify the children who are still in custody and their parents.”

As he signed the first order, the reestablishment of an Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, he said, “this removes the stain on our reputation for what these separations caused.”  The second order, “Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, [and] to Manage Migration Throughout the North and Central America, and to Provide [a] Safe and Orderly Processing Of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border,” he said, “addresses the root causes of a migration to our southern border.” 

The third action, Restoring [the] Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,”orders a full review of the previous administration’s harmful and counterproductive immigration policies, basically across the board,” he said.

“As my grandfather would say: By the grace of God and the goodwill of neighbors, we’ll reunite these children and reestablish our reputation as being a haven for people in need.” 

Today’s executive actions will:

Create a Task Force to Reunify Families. President Biden believes that families belong together. He has made clear that reversing the Trump Administration’s immigration policies that separated thousands of families at the border is a top priority. A key part of this effort is the creation of a task force to reunite families that remain separated. This task force will work across the U.S. government, with key stakeholders and representatives of impacted families, and with partners across the hemisphere to find parents and children separated by the Trump Administration. The task force will make recommendations to the President and federal agencies regarding steps that they can take to reunify families. Further, the task force will report regularly to the President and recommend steps to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. This Order also revokes the Trump Administration’s Executive Order that sought to justify separating children from their parents.

Develop a Strategy to Address Irregular Migration Across the Southern Border and Create a Humane Asylum System. The Trump Administration’s policies at the border have caused chaos, cruelty and confusion. Those policies have undermined the safety of our communities, penalized asylum seekers fleeing violence, and destabilized security across the Western hemisphere. Today, the Biden Harris Administration will begin to roll back the most damaging policies adopted by the prior administration, while taking effective action to manage migration across the region.

Specifically, the Biden Harris Administration will begin implementing a comprehensive three-part plan for safe, lawful, and orderly migration in the region. First, the Administration will address the underlying causes of migration through a strategy to confront the instability, violence, and economic insecurity that currently drives migrants from their homes. Second, the Administration will collaborate with regional partners, including foreign governments, international organizations, and nonprofits to shore up other countries’ capacity to provide protection and opportunities to asylum seekers and migrants closer to home. Finally, the Administration will ensure that Central American refugees and asylum seekers have access to legal avenues to the United States. The Secretary of Homeland Security is also directed to review the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. The situation at the border will not transform overnight, due in large part to the damage done over the last four years. But the President is committed to an approach that keeps our country safe, strong, and prosperous and that also aligns with our values. This Executive Order also directs a series of actions to restore the U.S. asylum system, including by rescinding and directing agency review of a host of Trump Administration proclamations, rules, and guidance documents that have effectively closed the U.S. border to asylum seekers.

Restore Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Promote Integration of New Americans. President Biden believes that immigrants are essential to who we are as a nation and critical to our aspirations for the future. The prior administration enacted hundreds of policies that run counter to our history and undermine America’s character as a land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all who come here seeking protection and opportunity. This Executive Order elevates the role of the White House in coordinating the federal government’s strategy to promote immigrant integration and inclusion, including re-establishing a Task Force on New Americans, and ensuring that our legal immigration system operates fairly and efficiently. The order requires agencies to conduct a top-to-bottom review of recent regulations, policies, and guidance that have set up barriers to our legal immigration system. It also rescinds President Trump’s memorandum requiring family sponsors to repay the government if relatives receive public benefits, instructs the agencies to review the public charge rule and related policies, and streamline the naturalization process.

On January 20, soon after sitting in the Oval Office for the first time after his inauguration, President Biden stated he was sending to Congress a bill to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system.”

The bill provides hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years, in some cases for decades, an opportunity to earn citizenship. The legislation modernizes our immigration system, and prioritizes keeping families together, growing our economy, responsibly managing the border with smart investments, addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensuring that the United States remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution. The bill will stimulate our economy while ensuring that every worker is protected. The bill creates an earned path to citizenship for our immigrant neighbors, colleagues, parishioners, community leaders, friends, and loved ones—including Dreamers and the essential workers who have risked their lives to serve and protect American communities. 

The U.S. Citizenship Act will: 

PROVIDE PATHWAYS TO CITIZENSHIP & STRENGTHEN LABOR PROTECTIONS

  • Create an earned roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals. The bill allows undocumented individuals to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes. Dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements are eligible for green cards immediately under the legislation. After three years, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply to become citizens. Applicants must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017 who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes. Lastly, the bill further recognizes America as a nation of immigrants by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.
  • Keep families together. The bill reforms the family-based immigration system by clearing backlogs, recapturing unused visas, eliminating lengthy wait times, and increasing per-country visa caps.  It also eliminates the so-called “3 and 10-year bars,” and other provisions that keep families apart. The bill further supports familes by more explicitly including permanent partnerships and eliminating discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families. It also provides protections for orphans, widows, children, and Filipino veterans who fought alongside the United States in World War II. Lastly, the bill allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the United States on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available. 
  • Embrace diversity.  The bill includes the NO BAN Act that prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future bans. The bill also increases Diversity Visas to 80,000 from 55,000.
  • Promote immigrant and refugee integration and citizenship. The bill provides new funding to state and local governments, private organizations, educational institutions, community-based organizations, and not-for-profit organizations to expand programs to promote integration and inclusion, increase English-language instruction, and provide assistance to individuals seeking to become citizens. 
  • Grow our economy. This bill clears employment-based visa backlogs, recaptures unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country visa caps. The bill makes it easier for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States; improves access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors; and eliminates other unnecessary hurdles for employment-based green cards. The bill provides dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorization, and children are prevented from “aging out” of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development, gives DHS the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.
  • Protect workers from exploitation and improve the employment verification process. The bill requires that DHS and the Department of Labor establish a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organizations to make recommendations for improving the employment verification process. Workers who suffer serious labor violations and cooperate with worker protection agencies will be granted greater access to U visa relief. The bill protects workers who are victims of workplace retaliation from deportation in order to allow labor agencies to interview these workers. It also protects migrant and seasonal workers, and increases penalties for employers who violate labor laws. 

PRIORITIZE SMART BORDER CONTROLS

  • Supplement existing border resources with technology and infrastructure. The legislation builds on record budget allocations for immigration enforcement by authorizing additional funding for the Secretary of DHS to develop and implement a plan to deploy technology to expedite screening and enhance the ability to identify narcotics and other contraband at every land, air, and sea port of entry.  This includes high-throughput scanning technologies to ensure that all commercial and passenger vehicles and freight rail traffic entering the United States at land ports of entry and rail-border crossings along the border undergo pre-primary scanning. It also authorizes and provides funding for plans to improve infrastructure at ports of entry to enhance the ability to process asylum seekers and detect, interdict, disrupt and prevent narcotics from entering the United States. It authorizes the DHS Secretary to develop and implement a strategy to manage and secure the southern border between ports of entry that focuses on flexible solutions and technologies that expand the ability to detect illicit activity, evaluate the effectiveness of border security operations, and be easily relocated and broken out by Border Patrol Sector. To protect privacy, the DHS Inspector General is authorized to conduct oversight to ensure that employed technology effectively serves legitimate agency purposes.
  • Manage the border and protect border communities.  The bill provides funding for training and continuing education to promote agent and officer safety and professionalism. It also creates a Border Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee, provides more special agents at the DHS Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate criminal and administrative misconduct, and requires the issuance of department-wide policies governing the use of force. The bill directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the impact of DHS’s authority to waive environmental and state and federal laws to expedite the construction of barriers and roads near U.S. borders and provides for additional rescue beacons to prevent needless deaths along the border. The bill authorizes and provides funding for DHS, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and nongovernmental experts, to develop guidelines and protocols for standards of care for individuals, families, and children in CBP custody.
  • Crack down on criminal organizations. The bill enhances the ability to prosecute individuals involved in smuggling and trafficking networks who are responsible for the exploitation of migrants. It also expands investigations, intelligence collection and analysis pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act to increase sanctions against foreign narcotics traffickers, their organizations and networks. The bill also requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and DHS, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to improve and expand transnational anti-gang task forces in Central America.

ADDRESS ROOT CAUSES OF MIGRATION

  • Start from the source. The bill codifies and funds the President’s $4 billion four-year inter-agency plan to address the underlying causes of migration in the region, including by increasing assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, conditioned on their ability to reduce the endemic corruption, violence, and poverty that causes people to flee their home countries. It also creates safe and legal channels for people to seek protection, including by establishing Designated Processing Centers throughout Central America to register and process displaced persons for refugee resettlement and other lawful migration avenues—either to the United States or other partner countries. The bill also re-institutes the Central American Minors program to reunite children with U.S. relatives and creates a Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unite families with approved family sponsorship petitions. 
  • Improve the immigration courts and protect vulnerable individuals. The bill expands family case management programs, reduces immigration court backlogs, expands training for immigration judges, and improves technology for immigration courts. The bill also restores fairness and balance to our immigration system by providing judges and adjudicators with discretion to review cases and grant relief to deserving individuals. Funding is authorized for legal orientation programs and counsel for children, vulnerable individuals, and others when necessary to ensure the fair and efficient resolution of their claims. The bill also provides funding for school districts educating unaccompanied children, while clarifying sponsor responsibilities for such children. 
  • Support asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations. The bill eliminates the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims and provides funding to reduce asylum application backlogs. It also increases protections for U visa, T visa, and VAWA applicants, including by raising the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000. The bill also expands protections for foreign nationals assisting U.S. troops. 

VP Joe Biden on World Refugee Day: ‘Recommit to Building a More Inclusive and Welcoming America’

Families Belong Together Immigration Protest, NYC, June 30, 2018. On World Refugee Day, Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, issued this statement attacking the “fear-mongering, xenophobia and racism” as the “unabashed tenets of Trump’s refugee and immigration policy, and promised to “recommit to building a more inclusive and welcoming America. That’s how we will restore the soul of our nation.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On World Refugee Day, Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, issued this statement attacking the “fear-mongering, xenophobia and racism” as the “unabashed tenets of Trump’s refugee and immigration policy, and promised to “recommit to building a more inclusive and welcoming America. That’s how we will restore the soul of our nation.”

Here is his statement:

World Refugee Day is the time when all nations recognize the humanity and resilience of the millions of people forced from their homes by persecution, war, and violence and renew our commitment to protect the most vulnerable. The United States has always strived to serve as a beacon of hope — a role model in resettling refugees and leading the humanitarian response abroad. But today is also a bitter reminder of how Donald Trump has tried to change America from a nation of refuge and liberty to one of division and intolerance.
 
Fear-mongering, xenophobia, and racism are the unabashed tenets of Trump’s refugee and immigration policy, and his divisive, dangerous, and undemocratic response to Black Lives Matter is a reminder of this administration’s devaluation of Black, Brown, and other minority communities not only in the United States, but around the world. But we will not, and we cannot, allow hate and rage to divide us further. Decades ago, giants of the civil rights movement like Bayard Rustin recognized the universal fight for freedom and safety and urged the United States to accept more refugees. Their call is even more urgent today as the number of those forcibly displaced worldwide reaches nearly 80 million people worldwide — roughly 1 percent of humanity. 
 
Donald Trump has made clear that he does not believe our country should be a place of refuge. He has slashed refugee admissions by more than 80 percent and, just this past week, released an immoral and likely unlawful rule that makes it nearly impossible for most asylum-seekers to qualify for protection in the United States . He has cruelly separated thousands of children from their parents, sought to prevent victims of gang and domestic violence from receiving asylum, and severely limited the ability of members of the LGBTQ+ community, an especially vulnerable group in many parts of the world, from qualifying for asylum.

And he has turned his back on the men and women who served honorably alongside our soldiers, diplomats, and aid workers in Iraq and Afghanistan as interpreters and guides, and now find that their lives, and the lives of their families, are threatened for this service. This cannot stand. As one of the co-sponsors of the 1980 Refugee Act, I believe that resettling refugees helps reunite families, enriches the fabric of America, and enhances our standing, influence, and security in the world. Right now, many refugees are also working on the frontlines of the pandemic response, as nursing aides, doctors, meatpackers, and grocery clerks, among other essential workers.
 
Restoring America’s historic role as leader in resettlement and defending the rights of refugees everywhere will take concrete action.

As President, I will increase the number of refugees we welcome into this country, setting an annual global refugee target of 125,000 — up from a ceiling of 18,000 under Trump — and will seek to further raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need.

I will support efforts to work with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to protect our refugee policy from drastic and arbitrary reductions we have seen during the Trump Administration and establish a minimum admissions number of at least 95,000 refugees annually.

I will pursue policies that increase opportunities for faith and local communities to sponsor refugee resettlement.

I will make more channels, such as higher education visas, available to those seeking safety. I will repeal the Muslim ban — and other discriminatory bans based on ethnicity and nationality — and restore asylum laws, including ending the horrific practice of separating families at our border.

I will work with our allies and partners to stand against China’s assault on Hong Kong’s freedoms and mass detention and repression of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities and support a pathway for those persecuted to find safe haven in the United States and other nations. 
 
I also recognize that it is not enough to simply reverse or dismantle the heartless policies of the Trump Administration. We need to look for ways to do better. On this World Refugee Day, we all must stand together and recommit to building a more inclusive and welcoming America. That’s how we will restore the soul of our nation.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Senator Bernie Sanders Releases Immigration Plan, ‘A Welcoming and Safe America for All’

Senator Bernie Sanders, campaigning for president, released his immigration plan, “A Welcoming and Safe America for All.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders released his immigration plan, “A Welcoming and Safe America for All.”  This is a summary from the Sanders campaign:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his immigration plan, “A Welcoming and Safe America for All,” which would fundamentally overhaul immigration into a humane, lawful process that protects families and respects human rights. Sanders would reverse Trump’s executive actions, create a swift and fair pathway to citizenship, decriminalize immigration and demilitarize our border, protect and strengthen immigrant labor rights, support immigrants in America, and enact fair trade deals and a humane foreign policy. 

“My father came to America as a refugee without a nickel in his pocket, to escape widespread anti-Semitism and find a better life,” Sanders said. “As the proud son of an immigrant, I know that my father’s story is the story of so many Americans today. When I am in the White House we will stop the hatred towards our immigrant brothers and sisters, end family separation, and locking children up in cages. We will end the ICE raids that are terrorizing our communities, and on my first day as president, I will use my executive power to protect our immigrant communities and reverse every single horrific action implemented by Trump.”

The plan, which is the most progressive immigration proposal put forth in presidential history, was written in conjunction with several DACA recipients and other immigrants on Bernie 2020 staff. 
 

As President, Sanders will use his executive authority to overturn all of President Trump’s actions to demonize and harm immigrants on day one of his administration. Sanders will extend legal status to the 1.8 million young people currently eligible for the DACA program, and provide administrative relief to their parents, those with Temporary Protected Status, and parents of legal permanent residents. He will also use advance parole, parole-in-place, and hardship waivers to remove barriers to legal status and citizenship for as many undocumented immigrants as possible.

Sanders will:

Use executive authority to reverse Trump’s harmful actions on immigration, including ensuring asylum seekers can make their claims in the United States, ending family detention and separation, reuniting families, reversing the Muslim ban and halting construction on Trump’s racist border wall. 

Place a moratorium on deportations and end ICE raids.

Restore and expand DACA and use advance parole, parole in place, and hardship waivers to remove barriers to legal status and citizenship for as many undocumented immigrants as possible. 

Push Congress to enact a fair, swift, and inclusive path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented living in the United States.

Restructure the bloated, dysfunctional Department of Homeland Security, break up ICE and CBP and return their core functions to their previous departments, and begin treating immigration outside the context of national security. 

Decriminalize and demilitarize the border, ensure migrants due process, and fully fund and staff independent immigration courts.

Strengthen and protect immigrant labor rights, including for historically excluded and underregulated occupations such as farmworkers and domestic workers, ensure employers are held accountable for mistreating immigrant workers, and reform work visas.

Renegotiate disastrous trade deals, develop a humane foreign policy, and lead the world in addressing climate change, including taking in those forced from their homes due to climate change. 

Ensure immigrants in the United States get the support and benefits they need, including healthcare and education, and streamline immigration and naturalization. 

The full plan can be read here

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Mayor Pete Buttigieg Announces ‘An Immigration Policy for A New Era’

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, campaigning for President, released his plan for immigration reform. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Mayor Pete Buttigieg released his proposal to create a modern immigration system. This is a summary from the Pete for America campaign:

SOUTH BEND, IN  — Mayor Pete Buttigieg released “I was a stranger and you welcomed me: An Immigration Policy for A New Era,” a comprehensive immigration policy that lays out Pete’s bold plan to create a modern immigration system that fosters belonging, promotes our shared values, engages with the global community, and ensure our nation remains competitive while protecting all workers. 

“On Day One of my administration, we will reverse this president’s cruel and counterproductive immigration actions that separate families, put children in cages and prevent them from having basic necessities like toothpaste or soap, deport veterans, and sweep up workers in raids while leaving exploitative employers unpunished,” said Buttigieg. “But we will do more than simply end these outrages. We will reform a system that has been in dire need of reform for decades and create an immigration system for a new era that reflects America’s values of welcoming and belonging.”

A Buttigieg administration will work to ensure that our nation is a beacon of hope for immigrants and refugees and will build a better system that serves all of us. Pete’s plan will:  

Pass legislation in his first 100 days that provides a path to citizenship, including for people with temporary protections—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and withholding of removal. While working on a necessary legislative fix, Pete will immediately restore and extend temporary protections rescinded or threatened by the current administration on day one.

Accelerate reunification of families. Pete will reduce the backlog of family-based visas and increase the number of visas issued for family reunification each year. He also will fight for reforms to re-classify spouses and children of permanent residents as immediate relatives, eliminate discriminatory annual per-country caps, end down-grading of family preferences (through aging out or getting married), and recognize same-sex partners from countries lacking marriage equality.

End the Muslim Ban on Day One. Pete will immediately end this ban, which should be anathema to our values as Americans.

Reduce barriers to health care and education by eliminating the five-year waiting period for green card holders gaining access to public health insurance and food assistance programs; expanding on Obamacare to allow all immigrants to access health coverage on the marketplaces, and expanding access to Pell grants for students with DACA. 

Protect undocumented workers from retaliation when reporting labor violations. Pete will support the Agricultural Worker Program Act, which protects farmworker rights such as labor, pesticide protection, and food safety laws. Pete also supports the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. 

Provide opportunities for people who want to build our economy where they are needed most. Pete will create a local Community Renewal (CR) visa targeted toward counties that have lost prime-working-age population over the last 10 years, and smaller cities that are struggling to keep pace economically with larger cities. 

Create a National Office of New Americans to promote and support immigrant and refugee integration and inclusion. This office will be in the Executive Office of the President and will coordinate integration efforts across federal, state, and local governments.

Keep naturalization affordable. The Trump administration is proposing to hike the naturalization application fee by 83% to $1,170 —that’s more than an average family pays for rent each month in 43 states. Pete’s administration will keep naturalization affordable and ensure that fee waivers are available to those unable to pay. As we do for those who serve in the military. Pete will not require a fee from national service participants.

Put border facilities under the purview of HHS rather than CBP. Byshifting responsibility for processing centers to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we ensure proper care of asylum seekers. 

Fully restore and increase aid to Central America. The Trump administration suspended nearly $450 million in aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala in retaliation for failing to stop migrants from leaving for the United States, a short-sighted response that has only exacerbated the dire conditions that cause people fleeing in the first place. A Buttigieg administration will restore funding to additional programs proven effective in improving the rule of law, functioning judicial systems, education, regional safety, economic stability, and combating corruption.

Modernize our employment-based visa system. We have not meaningfully updated our visa caps in over 30 years. Rather than reset our visa allotments one time based on current data, which will quickly become outdated as our economy continues to change, Pete will create a flexible review system where the allotment for employment-based visas will be set every other year based on our economy’s needs. This process will make our immigration system more adaptable, evidence-based, and competitive. 

Our democracy is stronger when people living here have a voice in our society.

Read Mayor Pete’s comprehensive plan for An Immigration Policy for A New Era HERE

Elizabeth Warren Announces Her Plan for Immigration Reform

One of  hundreds of candlelight Lights for Liberty vigils that took place across the country on the eve of Trump’s raids took place at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Garden City, Long Island. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has put forth her plan for immigration reform. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As Donald Trump prepares to unleash raids on undocumented migrants in cities across the country, while thousands of men, women and children seeking asylum are crammed into unliveable detention camps for weeks and months without end – a humanitarian crisis created through a combination of cruelty and ineptitude – US Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for Democratic nomination for president, announced a plan to create an immigration system that is fair, humane, and reflects American values. 

“Donald Trump wants to divide us — to pit worker against worker, neighbor against neighbor. He wants Americans to blame their troubles on those who are new to our country, or who don’t look the same, even as his administration robs us dry. He has tried his best to make it appear that immigrants are not welcome on our shores. 

“We can be better than this. Americans know that immigrants helped weave the very fabric of our country in the past — and they know that immigrants belong here today. 

“I’ll work with Congress to pass broad-reaching reform, but I’m also prepared to move forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act. We cannot continue to ignore our immigration challenges, nor can we close our borders and isolate the United States from the outside world. Instead we need big, structural change: a fair immigration system that preserves our security, grows our economy, and reflects our values. That’s good for immigrants, good for workers, and ultimately good for the United States.”

Here is a summary: – Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, introduces her plan for immigration reform © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com


A Fair and Welcoming Immigration System

Immigrants have always been a vital source of American strength. They grow our economy and make our communities richer and more diverse. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends — and every bit as much a part of America as those who were born in the United States. 

President Trump sees things differently. He’s advanced a policy of cruelty and division that demonizes immigrants. He’s axed programs that protect young Dreamers and asylum seekers fleeing violence and upheaval. He’s championed dramatic cuts to legal immigration, and imposed a bigoted ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries. He’s threatened to close our ports of entry to lawful transit and commerce, and exploited a crisis of his own making at the border to score cheap political points. But while Trump may have taken the system to its most punitive extreme, his racist policies build on a broken immigration system and an enforcement infrastructure already primed for abuse. 

I saw that in McAllen, Texas, in the eyes of mothers who fled violence only to be ripped apart from their babies at the U.S. border. I saw it in the tears of families as they waited for their loved ones at Logan Airport in Boston on the night Trump announced his Muslim Ban. I saw it in the tired faces of little children made to march in formation between makeshift tents in the hot summer sun at the Homestead detention facility in Florida. 

I also see it when I talk with our Dreamers about their aspirations and their fears. When I meet with business owners who watch their competition exploit undocumented workers for a competitive advantage, and with farmers who cannot access the labor they need. When I sit with families who have been waiting decades for a visa to reunite with their loved ones, and with mixed-status families who worry that a parent, brother or sister could be ripped away at any time. 

We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands. We need real reform that provides cost-effective security at our borders, addresses the root causes of migration, and provides a path to status and citizenship so that our neighbors don’t have to live in fear. That’s why today I’m announcing my plan for immigration reform — to create a rules-based system that is fair, humane, and that reflects our values. 

Eliminating Abusive Enforcement 

President Trump has weaponized deportation in ways that are costly, ineffective, and designed to maximize pain. It’s time to end this cruelty — and refocus on true threats to public safety and national security instead. As president, I will: 

Decriminalize migration and refocus enforcement on serious criminal activity. Entering the country without authorization has always been a violation of civil immigration law, but thanks to a former segregationist Senator, it’s also a criminal violation. This additional criminal provision is totally unnecessary for border security, and for a century, it was rarely enforced. But since the early 2000s, it has been used to build and sustain a massive immigration detention complex. In 2016, over half of all federal criminal prosecutions were for immigration violations — more than prosecutions for terrorism, organized crime, hate crimes, or financial fraud. This obsessive focus ties up federal prosecutors and overwhelms federal courts. It’s costly and unnecessary. And under Trump, it has become increasingly abusive. We should repeal this criminal prohibition to prevent future abuse. As president, I will immediately issue guidance to end criminal prosecutions for simple administrative immigration violations; end Operation Streamline, which subjects migrants to mass prosecutions; and refocus our limited resources on actual criminals and real threats to the United States. I will also issue prosecutorial guidance to prioritize immigration cases with security concerns, and make sure government attorneys are properly exercising their discretion for individuals who pose no public safety risk. 

Separate law enforcement from immigration enforcement to strengthen our communities. There are good reasons to keep immigration enforcement and law enforcement separate. When law enforcement is forced to also handle immigration violations, people are less willing to report crimes for fear of revealing their immigration status. Combining these functions sows distrust and harms public safety. As President, I’ll put in place strict guidelines to protect sensitive locations like schools, medical facilities, and courthouses from enforcement actions. I’ll expand programs that grant protections to immigrant victims of serious crimes who come forward and assist law enforcement. And I’ll end programs like 287(g) and “Secure Communities” that force local cops to enforce federal immigration laws so they can focus on effectively serving their communities. 

Remake CPB and ICE in a way that reflects our values. Our immigration agencies should protect Americans and uphold the rule of law, not pursue punitive anti-immigrant policies that target communities of color. I’ll hold immigration enforcement to the same due process standards as other law enforcement agencies — no more warrantless arrests or stops deep in the interior of our country. I’ll reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, focusing their efforts on homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the culture, I’ll insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. 

Create accountability for the abuse perpetrated during the Trump Era. President Trump and his Administration are comfortable looking the other way while criminal abuses of immigrants pile up. When I am President, I will not. I’ll designate a Justice Department task force to investigate accusations of serious violations — including medical neglect and physical and sexual assaults of detained immigrants — and give it independent authority pursue any substantiated criminal allegations. Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren Administration will hold you accountable. 

Significantly Reduce Immigration Detention 

Americans are rightfully horrified by scenes of chaos and abuse at our border. Separating parents and children and detaining families and other vulnerable populations is not only staggeringly expensive and inhumane, it has no proven deterrent effect. To end unnecessary detention and rebuild a more humane system, a Warren administration will: 

End unnecessary detention. We already have the tools to effectively track and monitor individuals without shoving them into cages and camps along the border. As President, I’ll issue guidance ensuring that detention is only used where it is actually necessary because an individual poses a flight or safety risk. I will put additional layers of protection in place for certain groups, including asylum seekers, families and pregnant women, and LGBTQ+ people who are more vulnerable in a general detention facility. And I’ll enforce strict standards for remaining detention facilities, including for medical care and to end the use of solitary confinement. 

Eliminate private detention facilities. There is no place in this country for profiting off cruelty. I’ll end the contracts ICE has with private detention providers, and push for legislation to permanently ban for-profit detention. 

Expand the executive use of parole and invest in alternatives-to-detention. DHS has broad authority to parole individuals who are detained prior to their cases being heard in immigration court. Community-based alternatives to detention are safer, save money, and can be more effective at ensuring compliance. I’ll significantly expand successful programs, which include case management, referrals to legal and social services, and periodic check-ins and surveillance. These programs provide a measure of dignity for those in the system, and their expanded use would save over a billion dollars each year in unnecessary detention costs. 

Provide Rights and Due Process in our Immigration Courts 

It’s not enough to merely correct the excesses of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. To prevent future abuses, we need to treat migrants moving through the system in a manner that reflects our Constitution and our values. A Warren administration will: 

Establish professional, independent Article I immigration courts. DOJ both oversees the immigration court system and enjoys massive authority to manipulate those courts to implement the president’s immigration policy agenda. Immigration court rulings can even be overturned by the Attorney General — a fundamental conflict of interest exploited by Jeff Sessions. I’ll work to create a credible, independent system by passing legislation establishing Article I judicial review for immigration cases modeled on our federal courts. I’ll deploy smart efficiency measures, beginning by restoring judges’ ability to prioritize and manage their own dockets. And my administration will recruit highly qualified immigration judges with a diverse set of legal experiences so that everyone receives appropriate justice. 

Eliminate expedited removal and provide due process. Due process ensures basic fairness for individuals attempting to navigate complex laws and prevents law enforcement and Presidents from abusing authority. But mostimmigrants facing deportation do not have attorneys — and in the Trump administration, that even includes toddlers. In fact, one-third of deported immigrants never even see a judge: instead, the immigration officer serves as both prosecutor and jury. I’ll eliminate the use of expedited removal proceedings and guarantee hearings. I’ll call for creating a national-scale immigration public defender corps, and a Warren administration will provide access to counsel in immigration court. 

Welcome Those In Need 

Our laws and our values compel us to help those fleeing violence and oppression, but Trump’s racism has contributed to a climate of fear for those seeking refuge in our country. As president, I will: 

Reject exclusionary policies based on race, religion and nationality. I’ll reverse Trump’s bigoted Muslim Ban on my first day in office. I’ll withdraw the Trump policy that forces immigrant families to choose between staying together and ensuring their children — many of whom are American citizens — have access to critical services. And I’ll reinstate Temporary Protected Status designations and Deferred Enforced Departure to protect individuals at risk in their home countries, including migrants from the Caribbean and Africa that have built lives and businesses in our country. 

Raise the refugee cap. At a time when 70 million are displaced around the world, President Trump has abused his authority to lower the refugee cap for the United States, admitting just over 22,000 refugees in total last year. I’ll welcome 125,000 refugees in my first year, and ramping up to at least 175,000 refugees per year by the end of my first term. 

Affirm asylum protections. We should welcome those fleeing violence, not imprison them in cages. As president, I will reverse Trump’s efforts to stack the deck against asylum applicants. I’ll ensure that asylum seekers can safely present themselves at ports of entry for humane, efficient processing, including by ending the metering and “Remain in Mexico” policies. I’ll restore President Obama’s promise to extend asylum for those fleeing domestic or gang violence and affirm asylum protections for gender identity and sexual orientation-based asylum claims. I’ll streamline processes to eliminate the backlog of individuals waiting for an asylum adjudication. And I’ll pardon those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply providing humanitarian aid to another person in need. 

Grow Legal Immigration and Establish a Fair and Achievable Path to Status 

As president, I’ll work to expand legal immigration. I’ll also take executive action to provide a measure of protection for those who are undocumented, while pursuing a legislative solution that provides a path to citizenship. 

Expand legal immigration. America should welcome more legal immigration — done in the right way and consistent with our principles. We should use targeted immigration as a tool to create jobs and businesses and grow our economy. We should reflect our values, which means expanding family reunification and making it easier for relatives of citizens and green card holders to come to the United States. We should put American workers first by ensuring that workers already here get the first opportunity to fill any available positions. We should empower workers, not employers, by coupling any expansion of legal immigration with real accountability on employers who break the rules, exploit workers, or don’t adhere to basic labor standards. And we should be transparent and data-driven in our immigration policies, using the best available information to identify true needs in the labor force and to address those needs in a way that incorporates the input of both workers and companies. 

Make it easier for those eligible for citizenship to naturalize. Today over 9 million green card holders are eligible to apply for citizenship but many have not chosen to naturalize due to unnecessary barriers, including the cost of applications, the complexity of the process, and administrative issues and backlogs. I’ll work to make it possible for everyone who is eligible to naturalize to do so. 

Reduce the family reunification backlog. As many as 4 million immigrants who are otherwise eligible to come to the United States legally are prohibited because of by-country visa caps. My administration will redistribute unused visas to reduce this backlog and reunite more families with their loved ones. I’ll also urge Congress to repeal laws that make family reunification more difficult to achieve. 

Repeal the 3- and 10-year bars. The law currently requires a person unlawfully in the United States to depart the country for three or ten years before they can apply for legal status. I’ll petition Congress to repeal that requirement. In the meantime, I’ll reinterpret “extreme hardship” to include family separation, making it easier to obtain a waiver allowing people to apply for legal status without having to leave the country for an extended period of time. 

Provide a fair and achievable pathway to citizenship. For the good of our economy and our communities, it’s long past time to provide a path forward for the approximately 11 million undocumented individuals currently living and working in the Unites States. We should immediately reinstate the DACA program and protections for our Dreamers and their families. I’ll expand the program to cover more young people by extending the cut-off date, eliminating the arbitrary application age requirement, and extending the “minor” designation to anyone who was brought to the U.S. under the age of 18. But Dreamers have families and communities that are productive, longtime members of our American family and need protection too. The same is true of the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders. I’ll extend the individual exercise of discretion to offer deferred action protections to hardworking immigrants who have contributed to our country for years and have built careers and families here. And I’ll push for a far-reaching legislative fix that provides a fair but achievable path to citizenship for them. 

Limit the penalties considered for status determinations. Part of focusing on real threats means distinguishing between actual criminals and law-abiding immigrants. We shouldn’t penalize people for prior convictions under statutes that criminalize border crossing for the purpose of status determinations. And we should establish a statute of limitations for how long a misdemeanor will be considered as part of an individual’s immigration adjudication. Citizens with minor, non-violent criminal records should not be permanently excluded from being a part of American society — and immigrants shouldn’t be, either. 

Create an Office of New Americans. I’ll establish an Office of New Americans dedicated to supporting new immigrants as they transition into our society and economy, and task that office to draft a national strategy for integration. We should provide English, civics, and employment- focused classes and training for immigrants who want to enroll, and work with faith groups and other community organizations to provide support services for refugees and asylees, providing the tools to make it easier for newcomers to integrate into their communities. 

Address the Forces Displacing Migrants from Their Home Countries

Migration has spiked around the world, the result of poverty, climate change, violence and injustice. Migrants have come to our country fleeing naturaldisasters or conflicts that forced them from their homes. 

In recent years, many have fled north from the Northern Triangle. But the solution to Central American migration isn’t placing children in cages, it’s stabilizing the countries that families are risking their lives to escape. Rather than addressing rampant corruption, criminal gangs, and some of the world’s highest rates of gender-based violence, President Trump has cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for programs that provide vital support. 

We cannot fully address migration until we address its root causes. Now more than ever, the United States must reclaim its role as the world’s beacon of hope — and that means proposing bold and nuanced solutions to these complex challenges. As president, I will: 

Restore and increase aid. I’ll commit at least $1.5 billion annually in aid to fully fund programs that target crime, disrupt trafficking, address poverty, reduce sexual violence, and enhance programs for at-risk youth in Central America and throughout our hemisphere — and I’ll rally the international community to match those funds. 

Step up efforts to address transnational crime. A Warren administration will expand efforts to reduce corruption and improve the rule of law, investigate and prosecute human trafficking, employ targeted financial sanctions against drug kingpins and money launderers, and provide robust funding for efforts to counter gangs. 

Inform and protect those seeking refuge. My administration will provide information about the right to seek asylum, reinstate the Central American Minors program, and coordinate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help resettle children and families who need protection. We’ll also do more to spread awareness about the dangers of attempting migration across borders to help prevent vulnerable people from being exploited along the way. 

New Yorkers Protest for Immigrant Rights: ‘Take back our country. Fight back in the courts, on the streets and damn it, at the ballot box’

Jew with Déjà Vu. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn against Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Some 22,000 New Yorkers joined a protest march and rally against the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy of separating children from parents and incarcerating families seeking asylum. The march that started at Foley Square in downtown Manhattan, continued across the Brooklyn Bridge, and finished with a rally in Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.

Dystopian Lady UnLiberty. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn against Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are highlights:

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union at Brooklyn rally against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union: “It’s bad enough those who control government would turn their backs on those fleeing violence, turn out people living here for decades, but that the country I love so much could commit such atrocities against children, all in the service of a warped agenda. We won a court order to force the government to reunite families in 30 days. It was an important victory but we know this regime won’t comply unless we force them to…. Take back our country. Fight back in courts, on the streets and damn it, at the ballot box.”

 

Crime Against Humanity. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn against Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Carola Bracco, Executive Director, Neighbors Link: “Today is not just about immigrant rights, it is about human rights. This is not who we are as a country. This is not a country I recognize. I can’t imagine anything more devastating than having a child forcibly taken, then having to search. From this chaos, strong leaders are emerging, committed to changing course. We are here to fight for liberty, to live with dignity. Together we will change the trajectory of this country.” 

Jennifer Jones Austin, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Jennifer Jones Austin, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies: “Freedom is about saying no to a lie, vetoeing an untruth. Say no to the lies of this administration; veto the untruth of saying separating children is for our own good.

Estela Vasquez, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Estela Vasquez, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU: “Mobilize, march, protest until we stop this stupid policy of zero tolerance. Scorch Agent Orange in the white House. We are not fooled by a phony executive order. Separating children, incarcerating children is no different from what the Nazis in Germany did in the 1930s, what we did to Japanese in World War II. Zero tolerance for poverty, for police brutality, for inhumanity.”

Hector Figuerola, SEIU at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hector Figuerola, SEIU: These migrants are running away from the conditions the US created in the first place. 66% of our union are foreign born. “The labor movement has to stand against these attacks on immigrant families. They are not ‘them’. They are us. Fight for children not to be jailed, but free. Stand for families everywhere. This doesn’t end today. For families who suffer loss of a child to police brutality or street violence. Fight for all families. Start with immigrants being dehumanized by this administration. Imagine what it will be if we were to connect the struggle of all the resistence against Trump – labor, women’s movement, those seeking freedom for everyone. Our fight is the fight of people. Let’s fight and let’s win.

Padma Lakshmi, Author and Television Host at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Padma Lakshmi, Author and Television Host: I am an immigrant, a daughter of an immigrant single mother. This is an issue of common decency and humanity, defining who we want to be as a nation. This country was built on labor and sweat of immigrants. That’s what makes America great. Trump is sowing generations of hatred.”

Omolara Uwemedimo, a pediatrician originally from Nigeria, warns of long-term health and mental damage due to the toxic stress of family separation at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Omolara Uwemedimo, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, a daughter of Nigerian immigrants and a mother of two, described the physical and mental toll that may last a lifetime on children being subjected to the trauma of being forcibly separated and incarcerated. There is also the toxic stress on those living in fear of a government taking undocumented parents away from a family. “Family detention is not a solution, it is child abuse and I am a mandated reporter. I am reporting the Trump Administration for abuse of black and brown children.”

Flor Reyes, DACA Recipient, with her brother, Elvis at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Flor Reyes, DACA Recipient, with her brother, Elvis, described the constant terror of a family of “mixed status,” where parents could be deported while children are DACA recipients or American citizens must fend for themselves.

FPerla Lopez, Youth member, Make the Road New York, at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Perla Lopez, Youth member, Make the Road New York, recalled her flight with her mother, fleeing with five children and her detention. “It was almost 10 years ago but is still traumatic.”

Comedian and actor Amy Schumer at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Comedian and actor Amy Schumer: “We were so excited election night when we thought Hillary would be president. Then Hell opened up.”

End Zero Tolerance. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn against Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rama Issa, Executive Director, Arab American Association of NY, was one of 633 women arrested in Washington DC demanding the government abolish ICE.

Shannon Stagman, Leader, Empire State Indivisible, at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Shannon Stagman, Leader, Empire State Indivisible: “Pick up the phone and call your representatives every day. Donating is good, but also knock on doors. Voting is good, but also help others vote.”

Murad Awawdeh, VP of Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition, at Brooklyn rally to #ProtectFamilies against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Murad Awawdeh, VP of Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition, provided a list of action items: Fight. Stay informed (text NYIC 864237 for alerts); Call legislators. Support organizations (donate, volunteer). And “vote for those who share our values.”

Immigrant. New Yorkers rally in Brooklyn to #Protect Families against Trump immigration policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Other speakers included:

Rev. Chloe Breyer, Interfaith Center of NY

Alison Hirsh, Vice President and Political Director, SEIU 32BJ

Ravi Ragbir, Leader, New Sanctuary Coalition

Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network

Kerry Washington​, Actor, Producer and Activist

Imam Suhaib Webb, Resident Scholar, Islamic Center NYU

Among the electeds participating in the march: U.S. House Representatives Yvette Clarke, Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velázquez, Jerrold Nadler, and Adriano Espaillat, as well as numerous state and local representatives.

See also:

New Yorkers Protest Against Trump Administration ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy, Demand ‘Families Belong Together’

Trump Sees Abuse of Immigrant Children as Winning Political Strategy. What’s Next?

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

New Yorkers Protest Against Trump Administration ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy, Demand ‘Families Belong Together’

A pissed off Lady Liberty joins the Protect Families march across the Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers gathered at Foley Square in front of the federal courthouse and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the Trump Administration’s intolerable Zero Tolerance immigration policy that has resulted in thousands of children being forcibly separated from parents making a claim for asylum from violence in Central America.

“We Care.” New Yorkers gather at Foley Square to protest against separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Protect Families March and Rally was organized by the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State including immigrant rights advocates, advocacy groups, unions, and allies demanding an end to the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane policies against immigrant families.

Crowd Gathers at Foley Square – it took 4 hours before all the marchers crossed Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York City Police Department estimated the crowd at 22,000, but there may have been many more than that. The “family-friendly” march was exactly that with scores of families with their small children taking a stand on behalf of other families.

It was one of 700 protests across America on June 30, a National Day of Action.

Family values. New Yorkers gather at Foley Square to protest against separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Day of Action was the climax to Trump’s incrementally destructive immigration policy, starting with summarily ending DACA protections, then ending legal status for thousands of refugees who have been given shelter in the US for decades and built homes here, stepped up deportation raids that take parents away from children, many of whom are American citizens. Demanding $25 billion to build a wall that no one believes will do anything, and holding the federal budget hostage to that, is the least of it. Trump is also using first the DACA recipients and now the immigrant children as bargaining chips to restrict legal immigration, as well.

Crowd Gathers at Foley Square – it took 4 hours before all the marchers crossed Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The policy of separating children was hatched just weeks after Trump took office, and was announced in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a weapon to deter families from fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. (See: Trump Sees Abuse of Immigrant Children as Winning Political Strategy. What’s Next?)

I Really Care. New Yorkers gather to protest against separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are highlights from the Protect Families march that began at Foley Square, continued over the Brooklyn Bridge and finished with a rally at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.

New Yorkers bring their children to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Resist. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Resist. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

America First. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Never Again. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

ICE is Cold. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Is This Really America? Protesters against Trump’s immigration policy enter a part of the Brooklyn Bridge that makes you feel you are in a cage like the migrant families. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This is Wrong. Child imagine being in a cage © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We the People. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A pissed off Lady Liberty joins the Protect Families march across the Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Families Belong Together. Families march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I Really Fucking Care, Don’t U. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Huddled Masses. New Yorkers march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

No. No. No. New Yorkers say “No” to Trump policy of separating and incarcerating immigrant families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See more from the Protect Families rally at Cadman Plaza.

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump Sees Abuse of Immigrant Children as Winning Political Strategy. What’s Next?

There are only 330 immigration judges who have a backlog of 720,000 cases. Trump is now calling for an end to due process, demanding the right to immediately expel asylum seekers, and calls hiring more immigration judges ridiculous because judges are “corrupt.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Instead of pursuing a constructive, humanitarian solution to immigration reform, Donald Trump purposefully undertakes the cruelest, most brutal and destructive power-play – because he can. Because he thinks this will fire up his base since they are getting wise that his tax “cut” is really a scam. And because he has dictator envy.

But while Trump moved with great urgency and speed to literally kidnap children from their parents in order to hold them for ransom to get his equally brutal and destructive immigration “reform” that would restrict even legal immigration (and $25 billion for a useless wall), his administration could care less about setting up the mechanisms to assure the children – moved hundreds and thousands of miles away – can be restored to their parents. As it is, there are parents who are being immediately deported without their children, some too young to know their own name or speak, who are lost in a system.

In fact, this plan – to use torture as a “deterrent” –under the guise of “Zero Tolerance” was hatched in the first few weeks after Trump’s inauguration, embraced by John Kelly, then Homeland Security secretary. It is also on view with the way he has unleashed deportation raids, snatching those with American spouses and children, cancelled legal status of refugees who have lived in the US for decades.

It’s remarkable to contemplate (since the administration isn’t saying) how much money is being spent on this sadistic policy – one private prison operator has a contract for $500 million –   and who in the Trump orbit is pocketing the millions and millions of tax dollars.

But let’s be reminded: the reason there are so many undocumented immigrants (11 million by some accounts) and so many thousands crossing “illegally” (though just 20% from the peak) is because the Republicans have effectively shut down legal immigration and refused to take up Comprehensive Immigration reform.

If this really were about controlling illegal immigration, the Trump administration would have spent those millions staffing ports of entry, setting up immigration courts, and creating detention centers that could accommodate families. They could release parents with an ankle bracelet (as they did under Obama) so they could be tracked; 99% of immigrants turn up to their court hearings.

 

Other presidents appropriately tried to deal with the problem at their source: the heinous violence that has prompted these parents to flee with only what they could carry, taking their children on the most perilous 2,000-mile journey – violence the US bred with the export of MS-13 from Los Angeles. That was one of the reasons for NAFTA – to improve the living standard in Mexico through trade – and it worked to a great extent (the refugees aren’t coming from Mexico, in fact, more Mexicans are leaving than are coming). Obama, faced with an unprecedented flood of refugees seeking asylum, thousands of unaccompanied teenagers among them, attempted to improve conditions in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador (along with an information campaign to discourage people from coming). Indeed, the numbers of those being apprehended at the border fell sharply, from a peak of 1.6 million in 2001, to 300,000 in 2017 – hardly an invasion, or “infestation” in the White Nationalist language that Trump spews or a “crisis” except by Trump’s own concoction. Instead, Trump has said he would cut off aid to these countries, which would only exacerbate the desperation.

Trump has no such interest in actually solving a problem, certainly not improving the lives of others. And he thinks his Zero Tolerance policy plays well to his (deplorables) base, especially since they are catching on to the Republican tax scam that redistributed $1.5 trillion from working families into the pockets of the already obscenely rich and corporations (83% going to top 1%, a mere 4% of workers receiving a bonus or pay hike because of tax cuts).

So he needs to motivate his base somehow, and is literally handing them red meat.

His fear-mongering, which mimics the propaganda campaign used by Nazis, brands immigrants as “animals,” “infestation,” “aliens” “invaders” stealing jobs and harming the economy in order to dehumanize them. In fact, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than “native born,” and even a study by the Trump Administration found that instead of “costing” jobs, immigrants added $63 billion to the US economy over a 10-year period (the report was suppressed because of its finding, and leaked to the New York Times two months later). And aren’t we constantly told that unemployment is at record lows?

These asylum-seekers violating laws? Actually, not. It is Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who are violating the Constitution and international law and should be prosecuted for human rights abuses. And this only adds to the ever growing list of Trump’s impeachable crimes: crimes against humanity.

Now he is insisting that these immigrants have no right to due-process to make their claim in front of an immigration judge. In fact, Trump, who first used the 800,000 DACA recipients as bargaining chips, now has upped the ante in using infants. Trump is using these children, who are suffering crippling trauma that can impact their entire lives, in order to get legislation that effectively shuts down even legal immigration. He has said so: he only wants “merit” based immigration (as in the Chinese who invest in his properties in order to purchase visas).

This is a man who embraces torture and proudly proclaimed he would kill family members to “discourage” would-be terrorists. His internment camps and the legal limbo invented status he has created are akin to Guantanamo Bay, where there too, due-process and American values of “innocent until proven guilty” have been violated, and where torture has made those cases unresolvable, his use of child abuse, kidnapping to extort their parents into agreeing to deportation and Democrats to accept unacceptable legislation akin to Abu Ghraib.

Be reminded that Obama did have a compromises comprehensive Immigration Bill that passed the Senate in 2013, 68-32, but John Boehner blocked from a vote in the House, causing Obama to institute DACA; and that Trump, himself, in that brief interlude that suggested sanity when it was only the 800,000 DACA recipients being held hostage, said he would accept any compromise out of “love” and “compassion” but then promptly betrayed every deal agreed to and torpedoed every bill proposed.

If Trump really wanted to solve the problem, he would add, not detract, from the impossibly overworked 330 immigration judges required to meet a quota of cases (basically tipping the scales against petitioners, compromising the fairness and integrity of a case) and never get to wind down the backlog of 720,000 cases, rather than ridicule the plea to hire 5,000 more judges because, as Trump tweeted, “they are corrupt.” (That might be true for his judicial appointees, starting with Neil Gorsuch.)

There may be pernicious strategy to Trump’s politics, but yet another example of the complete ineptitude and corruption in the implementation – like Puerto Rico, like the Trump Travel Ban – scandals, violations of law and the Constitution that would have toppled any other administration and triggered impeachment.

The Trump administration had no plan and actually no real care, and had no process for reuniting the children with their parents, who received a receipt for their property but not their child, even infants who cannot speak; what is more, there are reports of children being drugged and abused while in custody.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has said, “Family separation can cause irreparable harm to children’s health, disrupting their brain architecture and affecting short- and long-term health.” He is also inflicting torturous anxiety on parents. What is more, the administration has not developed a mechanism to insure the parents are reunited with their children, let alone contact them, who are often removed hundreds or thousands of miles away, and have already begun deporting parents without their children, or even knowing where the children are.

The very secrecy built around Trump’s internment system should spur Congressional oversight, but Republicans, who spent 4 years and 11 separate investigations into Benghazi, have no appetite and no interest, making their own political calculations.

Trump has slapped that claim of “national security” on this and every other heinous policy (Travel Ban, illegal tariffs) but his policy has made the country less safe – pulling resources from detaining actual drug-smugglers and criminals, further enraging and alienating allies, and making the US toothless in condemning human rights abuses anywhere in the world, turning the US into a rogue nation. Moreover, its treatment of migrating mothers and small children are likely to be a recruitment tool for terrorists, just as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were. It’s no coincidence the US pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

But making the country safe was never the issue, just as there was no real immigration “crisis,” and certainly no actual “invasion”. Trump sees “Zero Tolerance” as a winning political issue for those who fear more than anything, as Pat Buchanan warned, the loss of White Power and White Supremacy as America evolves into a minority-majority nation.

What do they fear from an “infestation?” That “these” people or their children, will someday vote, or at least be counted in a census determining representation in Congress (that so far has worked in the favor of the Southerners, much as the 3/5 rule for slaves gave White Supremacists outsized power in Congress).

But this extortionist style of “negotiation” has worked for Trump throughout his corrupt career and will only continue, especially if it works now. What’s next? Stepped up deportation raids? Strip nationalized Americans of their citizenship? Suspend due process? Purges and loyalty oaths for federal workers? Lock up journalists? Martial law? Cancel elections? Imprison political opponents? Extra-judicial killings? Expand the Travel (Muslim) Ban? Because he can, because nobody will stop him?

Trump, in a familiar pattern of accusing others of doing the offences he actually commits, said these desperate immigrants have been prompted by lawyers to use the password “fleeing violence” to gain the rights of asylum-seekers. But the five Supreme Court conservatives, including Neil Gorsuch sitting in the seat stolen for him by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, gave him the password which Trump will no doubt use liberally, to expand a travel ban, to deny asylum seekers due process, to commit the unconscionable crime of separating children from their parents: “national security.”

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