Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump's Week One anti-immigrant policies

Oliver Laughland reports for The Guardian that US could face human rights crisis after Trump's xenophobic immigration orders 01/26/2017. A human rights crisis that will also mean more profits for the private-prison industry, one of the most miserable offspring of the dominance of neoliberal economic policies since the 1980s:

The US will now mandatorily detain any migrant that is caught crossing the border without documentation. Doing away with the era of so-called catch and release that allowed immigration authorities greater freedom to release those claiming asylum ahead of proceedings in immigration court, the order paves the way for a huge expansion of detention facilities at the southern border and is likely to have devastating humanitarian effects.

Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied minors and close to 80,000 families were apprehended at the border in 2016, the vast majority of whom came from countries in Central America plagued by violence.

Now these groups of migrants, who received a degree of flexibility under the Obama administration, will be kept in detention by order.

Advocates routinely report substandard medical care and poorly managed basic facilities in these centres, many of which are operated by for-profit security companies. Coupled with this, the order instructs the US justice department to assign immigration judges, who are already in short supply and heavily overburdened, to these centres.

This in effect makes it far more difficult for these vulnerable migrants, many of whom are likely to have claims for asylum, to reach independent legal counsel and will mean many more are likely to face deportation – perhaps in violation of America’s legal obligations under the UN Refugee Convention.
Trump's new policies lay the groundwork for a literal reign of terror in Latino communities. Inclduing a drastic change in federal policy on the treatment of even legal immigrants and residents:

Trump’s orders also implement aggressive enforcement action inside the country, away from America’s borders.

The president repeatedly claimed throughout the transition period he would deport between 2 million and 3 million undocumented migrants in the country who he claimed were serious criminals. That notion itself is a fallacy, as there are nowhere near that number of undocumented migrants with felony records in the US (researchers estimate the number is closer to 300,000).

Indeed, elements of Trump’s second immigration order acknowledge that fantasy by essentially broadening the definition of serious criminality, giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agents a vast remit to target almost anyone within undocumented communities and perhaps even those holding visas as the order simply targets “removable aliens” – a broad, catchall term that could encompass non-citizens as well. [my emphasis]
Anne Brice discusses the effects of Trumpist anti-immigrant policy on the DREAMers in For undocumented students, Trump era brings fear and uncertainty Berkeley News 01/25/2017:

DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], a 2012 executive order by President Obama, allows children of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents to receive temporary protection from deportation, work permits and a path to citizenship if they haven’t committed any crimes.

Students would face special hardships, says Meng So, who directs the Undocumented Student Program at Berkeley. Without DACA, he says, students would also lose work-study, leaving big holes in their financial aid packages. For graduate students like Fernandez, it would strip them of their tuition and fee remissions for their graduate research.

So also points to students’ heightened fears about what the government will do with the personal information they were required to provide when they applied for DACA.
And it gives ICE broad discretion in treatment of Latino residents:

Not only will Ice agents be allowed to target immigrants with any sort of criminal conviction on their record whatsoever, from minor misdemeanours such as trespassing or vandalism to serious felonies, they will also be able to apprehend individuals who have simply been accused of crimes and subject to investigation.

But the order goes broader even than that, allowing Ice officers the ability to target people they assess to be a “risk to public safety or national security”. The order offers no guidance at all on how such a broad definition could be applied, leaving it to the “judgment” of individual Ice agents. [my emphasis]
Brice reports that the leadership of the University of California and of UC-Berkeley is committed to protecting the DREAMers:

In November, UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement that UC’s 10 campuses will “protect the privacy and civil rights of undocumented students and will continue to welcome and support students, regardless of their immigration status.”

And the Undocumented Student Program promises to do what it takes to support these students. “We’re going to stand with our students,” says So. “We’re going to fight with them. We’re going to prioritize the highest degree of safety and security for them and their families.”

“Losing DACA would be like going backwards in time,” says Fernandez. “Instead of moving forward, like you thought you’d be — establishing your life, settling down, moving forward — now it feels like a lot of that is being taken away from you.”

So, however, says his program’s commitment to students and their families remains steadfast, and promises to do what it takes to support them.

“We must prioritize courage over comfort” he says, “and keep moving forward in a direction of growth and compassion.”
I hope they University leadership is serious about this.

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