Outstanding reporting by Tanvi Misra in Roll Call last week uncovered memos that state that U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service has “stopped” processing applications for residence. While we have not seen the memos at issue, we are going to try to piece together what it means. In our opinion, it is not as nefarious as it seems, though it sure is bad. Let’s start with this basic premise: this administration is resolutely and completely anti-immigrant.
The law as passed by Congress is very clear as to who may seek asylum in the United States. Immigration & Nationality Act Section 208 states: Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable section 235(b).
It’s another rough day to be an immigration attorney in America. Yesterday, a decision was issued that seriously undermines the ability of immigrants to seek asylum in this country. The administration is continuing its war against immigrants, building its invisible wall to complement the one they want to put on the border and finding new ways to keep immigrants from coming here or from obtaining protections. A crazy thing about our immigration system it is that the Immigration Courts are entirely under the control of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
We have heard a lot about the “Caravan” of immigrants making its way north through Mexico from the Northern Triangle- El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala- of Central America. Once numbering over 1200 people, the remaining 150-200 members Caravan arrived at the U.S. border to request refuge in the United States. When they got there, they were told that the U.S. was full. There was not even a manger to house them.
DACA lives! Maybe? Yesterday, U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled that the Department of Justice’s termination of the DACA program rested on a lack of legal reasoning and was unlawful. Judge Bates was the third federal judge to rule that the administration’s termination of DACA was unlawful. However, Judge Bates went even further than the other courts and Judge ordered not only that the DACA program must stay in place, but that the government must accept NEW applications.
Nearly every discussion I have with someone who is opposed to immigration eventually includes my opponent saying something like this: “I am not against immigration. I am against illegal immigration. I have no problem if immigrants come here legally.” I have always had a strong skepticism of this particular position. Most anti-immigrant people are unaware how limited the options for legal immigration are. Most anti-immigrant people are unaware of backlogs, priority dates, age-outs, one year filing deadlines, stop-time rules, and the fact that, for many people, THERE IS NO LINE.
Of all the stupid, dirty, slimy, no-good, treasonous, villainous, putrid, double-crossing treachery, low life, vengeful, mean-spirited, spiteful, nasty, pin-headed, pathetic, weak, ugly, traitorous, short-sighted, weak-kneed, unbecoming, dumb, awful, smelly, vile, cruel, vicious, unjustifiable, illogical, unfriendly, basic, ungrateful, pig-nosed, trashy, small-minded, ham-handed, mercenary, ruinous, bad, fallacious, godawful, crummy, abominable, bad trip, lame, poor, slipshod, cruddy, wicked, corrupt, mean, discouraging, unpleasant, sulfurous, harsh, rotten, scandalous and just plain uncool things that Donald Trump has done, his elimination of DACA, after promising to treat the Dreamers with “great heart,” has to be the worst, the lowest, the meanest, the weakest and the dumbest thing his administration has done.
The future of President Obama’s program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is the subject of intense speculation and even more significant anxiety. Worry over the fate of the program increased significantly this week after Secretary of Homeland Security General John Kelly told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that it was not clear that DACA could survive a court challenge being threatened by ten states against the program.
Back in November, we made some predictions about what might occur in a Trump presidency as it relates to immigration. Generally, we were very pessimistic and presumed that almost all areas of immigration would become more difficult and challenging for immigrants, families and communities. This has proven to be true, but not in all of the ways we anticipated. In some areas, such as refugees and admission policies, the administration has been as bad as expected.
Today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am thinking about the M.S. St. Louis. In 1939, while war waged in Europe, the M.S. St. Louis, a transatlantic ship carrying Jewish refugees fleeing the Third Reich, reached U.S. waters by way of Hamburg and Havana. Seeking protection from persecution and a safe place to start over with their families, these refugees hoped to be admitted to the United States of America.