Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he is taking away a vital lifeline to immigrant victims of severe domestic and gang violence. Sessions issued a decision unilaterally overruling important precedent recognizing that such individuals may qualify for asylum in the United States.
Critics say Sessions’ decision to end asylum for most victims of domestic abuse and gang violence takes US “back to the Dark Ages,” according to The Washington Post. The American Immigration Council has also criticized the decision.
The following is a statement from Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. “From its earliest days, the United States has opened its doors to individuals fleeing oppression and persecution. Today’s decision by the Attorney General is yet another attempt to close our doors. Through our work serving detained mothers and children in Dilley, Texas, we see firsthand the trauma of domestic and gang violence and the desperate need for protection. The Attorney General’s decision—if permitted to stand—will no doubt result in sending countless mothers and children back to their abusers and criminal gangs. Turning our backs on victims of violence and deporting them to grave danger should not be the legacy sought by any administration.”
Sessions’ decision on asylum follows another controversial action that allows the separation of immigrant parents from their children.
Leila Fajardo-Giles was scheduled to receive her law degree from Suffolk University Law School this week, but she’s already chosen the path she’ll be focusing on in her new legal career: immigration. Fajardo-Giles is a dreamer, one of the hundreds of thousands of young people whose future remains cloudy because of the ongoing legal and political battles regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by the Obama administration that is under siege from his successor. During her last year at Suffolk, Fajardo-Giles got some valuable experience working for the university’s immigration clinic, and helped a teenager gain asylum status. Read more about her ambitious plans at The Boston Globe.
The Justice Department is imposing quotas on how quickly immigration judges can close cases in an effort to speed up the process, raising serious questions about the independence of the judicial branch of law. The ABA Journal, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal report that the Justice Department is taking the action to help relieve a backlog of immigration cases. According to The Washington Post:
The judges will be expected to clear at least 700 cases a year to receive a “satisfactory” performance rating, a standard that their union called an “unprecedented” step that risks undermining judicial independence and opens the courts to potential challenges.
The new measures will take effect October 1, at the start of the new fiscal year. The quotas were announced by the Executive Office of Immigration Review.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been in the news a lot lately, and not always in a good light. Does the US need a mass deportation strike force? A civil rights lawyer who’s running for Congress doesn’t think so. In an interview with The Nation, Dan Canon says he believes ICE should be abolished. “I don’t think a lot of people have any kind of direct experience with ICE, so they don’t really know what they do or what they’re about. If they did, they’d be appalled,” Canon told The Nation. He says ICE is “devoted almost solely to cruelly and wantonly breaking up families. The agency talks about, and treats, human beings like they’re animals.” Read more about Canon’s argument at The Nation.
As Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ war on asylum cities and states continues, the Justice Department has begun to change the definition of who qualifies for asylum protection. Sessions is placing stricter limits on who can qualify for asylum in America. Immigration lawyers are warning that this could result in thousands of people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries being turned away once they reach the US. NPR takes a look at how these changes could affect those seeking asylum.
The National Advocates member Garrett Wilkes helped one of his immigration clients win a one-year stay of deportation after he sought refuge in a Phoenix church. 30-year-old Jesus Armando Berrones-Balderas was granted the yearlong stay on a humanitarian basis. Wilkes says Berrones checked in regularly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement every six months until December. That’s when ICE agents told him he’d be deported in January. CNN has more on Berrones’ fight to stay in the US.
A CBS News interview is available here.
While a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress aims to address two of the more pressing issues on immigration, a path to citizenship for ‘dreamers’ and spending more on border security along the Mexican border with the US, the proposal may not have a good chance of getting President Trump’s signature. If Washington is unable to agree on a solution to the expiration of the DACA program in March, one immigration advocate is calling on cities, counties and states to find the courage to stand up to the Trump administration’s tougher policies and actions on immigration. Juan Escalante says with some states like Florida considering their own stricter immigration legislation, more states need to step up on behalf of dreamers like New York, New Jersey and California. You can read more in Escalante’s column at HuffPost.
As lawmakers in Washington continue to wrangle over the best possible solution for ‘dreamers,’ or undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children, columnist Ryan Cooper suggests at The Week that the best solution may also be the simplest: complete amnesty. While some conservative critics have derided President Trump as “Amnesty Don” for his administration’s offer to make a DACA deal in exchange for limits on legal immigration, Cooper says the pathway to citizenship for dreamers may be the easiest:
Therefore, I would like to offer a contrary bold argument: All unauthorized immigrants, and all residents with some form of temporary permit, should be immediately granted permanent legal status.
Read more about Cooper’s radical recommendation at The Week.
The Trump administration says it will bring an end to the provisional residency status of about 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the US since at least 2001, according to the Washington Post. The move means the Salvadorans will now face deportation unless they meet a September 2019 deadline to either leave the country or find a way to obtain a green card. It’s the latest step by the Trump administration to limit the number of immigrants living in the US, either by limiting the number allowed to enter the country or by forcing those without legal status to leave. The Salvadorans affected by the move had been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) after earthquakes ravaged the South American country in 2001.