August 22, 2019
Immigration policy has driven a wedge between the federal government and state governments for some time. But the current administration has encouraged a level of resistance to enforcement policies that is unusual. Among the more recent states to push back against the administration is Illinois.
In June Governor Pritzker signed into law two bills. One bans state and local governments from entering into contracts with private companies that detain immigrants. The other law bans local law enforcement from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on operations in the state. The governor was clear on the motivation:
“Let the word go out from today that the state of Illinois stands as a firewall against Donald Trump’s attacks on our immigrant communities,” Pritzker said just before signing the measures. “In the face of attempts to stoke fear, exploit division and force families into the shadows, we are taking action.”
Experts say the new Illinois laws also highlight how immigration enforcement can vary depending on where people live.
“What you are seeing is the different levels of government — federal, state and local — they are responding in varied ways when you don’t have one single national policy that governs immigration policy,” said Francisco Pedraza, an assistant professor of public policy and political science at the University of California at Riverside. “This is part of a patchwork. It depends on where you live if you are going to be subject to immigration policing.”
This week Pritzker followed up with legislation that targets another theme of Trump’s war on immigration - housing. Though Pritzker is not able to address Housing and Urban Development seeking to push out unauthorized immigrants from public housing directly, he was able to address how immigration policy is used to threaten immigrants and their housing situation:
Illinois on Wednesday became the second state to prohibit landlords from evicting tenants solely because they’re living in the U.S. illegally.
The measure Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law also prohibits landlords from reporting or threatening to report tenants’ immigration status to authorities in order to intimidate them, or as retaliation for exercising their rights as tenants, or to force them to move out. The legislation was modeled after a similar law in California.
As the political terrain has become so polarized, it is unlikely that any national legislation will solve the tensions and gaps in enforcement between states and the federal government on immigration. Which means, increasingly, the battle over immigration policy and rights must be localized, even as we press for changing national standards.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services looking to end "parole in place"
CBS News has a feature today that profiles a soldier’s mother who has lived in the United Stats for nearly 30 years unauthorized. If she decided to regularize her presence under current law, she would have to wait ten years in Mexico before returning. As a result, she, like many other people in her situation, never travel back to their home countries. However, from CBS,
Through a little-known U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) program for certain family members of U.S. service members known as "Parole in Place," Galindo obtained a document in late July that allows her to remain in the U.S. while she seeks permanent residency. Under this program, she does not need to return to Mexico — and risk being banned from the U.S. for 10 years — to go through the process usually required for people who entered the country illegally to adjust their status.
Soon, the family will file a green card application for Galindo, since one of Vargas' brothers is a U.S. citizen who can sponsor her.
"I'm very happy and very proud of him because he achieved his dream of joining the Army," Galindo said of Vargas, who graduated from basic training earlier this year after a nearly two-decade-long journey from undocumented immigrant and trail-blazing attorney to U.S. Army soldier. "And he helped me as well, because, what other way would I have been able to fix my papers?"
USCIS is now, of course, seeking to end this program. Though technically under review, the current administration has sought to end every such program it can, and so the future of the program is not looking good...As an example, in the past few weeks, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service agency announced formal suspension of the Haitian Family Reunification Program, a special program that allowed Haiti family members awaiting visas – and otherwise fully qualified – to be allowed into the United States to “parole in place” while awaiting a final determination of their status. The program had resettled just over 8,300 Haitians since 2014 – though USCIS had not issued any new invitations to Haitians to participate in the program since Trump took office.
More on Trump’s end around Flores
Finally, as we discussed yesterday, the administration is seeking an end around the Flores Settlement Agreement in order to be able to detain families indefinitely. Some reaction to this from around the news-interwebs.
From New York Times:
The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled a regulation to allow it to indefinitely detain migrant families who illegally cross the border. The rule replaces a decades-old court agreement that mandates a level of care for migrant children and limits how long the government can hold them in custody.
For more than a year, the White House has pressed the Department of Homeland Security to find a way to eliminate the agreement, known as the Flores settlement, which limits the time children can spend in detention and establishes minimum standards for the holding facilities for families and children. Immigration hard-liners inside the administration say the move is crucial to halting the flow of migrants across the southwestern border.
The administration’s goal with the new rule is deterrence, and its message to families fleeing Central American is blunt: Come here and we will lock you up. Critics say it is the latest in a series of policies by President Trump meant to close off the United States from the rest of the world.
Mark Morgan, acting head of Customs and Border Protection, repeating his bogus claim that children represent a “passport” into the U.S., claimed the change in rule was a “game changer.” I share this, only to make clear that the administration’s deterrence framework is rooted on an assumption that people are simply gaming the system, and that asylum claims are largely false. It is hard to get to any kind of sane immigration policy if this is your starting point.