For the first time since his campaign in the primaries, Donald Trump is visiting California. This visit comes a week after Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to sue the state for three immigration protection laws that he said were in violation of the constitution. His agenda for the short visit is as follows: On Tuesday, Trump is flying into San Diego to examine prototypes for his border wall and visit with a military base. Later in the evening, he is supposed to attend a Republican fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. On Wednesday morning, he will fly back to Washington.
No California leaders are going to be met during this visit, an intentional snub against the state’s government. Tensions between California and Washington have remained high and continue to increase over many issues, but most importantly, immigration issues. General dissatisfaction with the president in California is evident, as the 30% approval rate lies far below the (already low) 40% approval rate of the nation. As per his last visit, Trump is likely to be met with much resistance from Californians. Many immigration activist groups are said to be organizing protests in response.
California leaders have used this upcoming visit to try to draw attention to the state’s successes as well as long term projects. This includes the creation of a high speed train from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Governor Jerry Brown poignantly stated, “In California we are focusing on bridges, not walls”.
VERDICT: Trump’s insistence on coming to California to focus on his border wall, shows the sharp disregard he has for state and its values. While the funding still does not exist, and opposition runs high, he continues to bulldoze ahead. Additionally, his refusal to meet any local government leaders shows the complete lack of respect he has for those that do not agree with his policies.
Another hit to immigration, the Trump Administration is looking into ways to limit who can receive asylum in the United States. As the number of applications for asylum have increased significantly in recent years, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a special interest in limiting who qualifies for asylum.
Attorney General Sessions personally intervened in two separate cases that could have serious future implications for people who desire to come to the United States and seek asylum. In the first case, Sessions overturned a precedent that asserted that most asylum-seekers have a right to a hearing in front of a judge before their case is rejected. In the second case, Sessions is deciding whether victims of “private crime” should qualify for asylum.
By tightening the restrictions on the asylum application process, Sessions believes that the backlog in the immigration court system will be reduced. And yes, immigration courts in the United States face a huge backlog – approximately 600,000 cases still sit in the court system, triple the number of 2009.
VERDICT: Attorney General Sessions sees “rampant fraud and abuse” in the asylum application system. From his perspective, closing loopholes in the asylum application process would ensure a speedier process to lessen the backlog in the immigration court system.
However, taking away from asylum seekers the right to a hearing in front of a judge before their claim can be rejected reduces the government’s ability to determine which applications might be fraudulent and which are genuine. There must be a middle ground between ensuring a speedy process and a fair one.
In San Francisco, CA, there are 24 hour staffers who help field calls about potential issues with immigration enforcement. Others flood neighborhoods to film arrests and interview witnesses. Many local governments are hiring immigration lawyers to help those facing deportation hearings.
California and the White House have, for the better part of 2017 and now 2018, faced off over immigration enforcement, creating a pseudo referendum on state's rights and how federal intervention should play a role. It is a deeply personal battle in the nation’s most populous and economically powerful state, where 27 percent of the 39 million residents are foreign-born.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed a lawsuit against California, stating its immigration practices violated the Constitution. He stated that California local and state practices were on par with “secession” and a “radical open-borders agenda.” California, shot back, with San Francisco mayor Mark Farrell (D) saying Sessions was a “moron” and has recently proposed expanding the budget for public defenders. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg (D) told public radio he would “proudly resist.”
Eric Cohen, the 57-year-old executive director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in the Mission District of San Francisco, stated, “Local governments and state government have stepped up in a way to protect immigrants like never before in my lifetime.” Currently, California has granted undocumented immigrants privileges they can’t get in most other states: driver’s licenses, in-state college tuition and even some financial aid.
OUR VERDICT: California might be on the front lines of the immigration effort, but questions on how long they can stay will be left up to the courts. California officials say they are not stopping immigration agents from arresting criminals and are making allowances so agents can take serious offenders into custody at state prisons. But ICE says California’s efforts puts its workforce in danger, forcing agents to pursue criminals on the streets, often without local police backup.
A leaked proposal by the Department of Homeland Security, includes the stipulation that immigrant use of public benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrtition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as food banks, can be factored in when deciding whether to grant a visa or green card. This is to make sure that these immigrants will not have to rely on the government for assistance, once they are permanent residents of the U.S. The timeline and future of this proposal is not yet known, but the leak has stirred fear in immigrant communities.
Fearing the risk of deportation or ineligibility for citizenship, immigrants are rushing to drop out of these public nutrition services. Sharp drops between 7 and 9 percent decreases can be seen in several high immigrant areas that use these programs as panic increases. For many programs, immigrant status has never been a factor in the application process, but in 2014 then Governor Pence required WIC applicants to disclose their immigration status, causing many women to stop enrolling.
VERDICT: While this proposal leak has caused panic across immigrant communities, the timeline of if or when the proposal will be enacted is unclear. The proposal is a classic example of discrimination against immigrants and another way in which to spread the fear of deportation further.
After Sunday’s elections in Italy, two differing populist political parties are attempting to form governments following the collapse of the status quo. After being attacked for ignoring working-class Italians (a similar attack seen in the United States), the ruling Democratic Party (no relation to the U.S. Democratic Party), only received 19% of the vote.
The two parties that are attempting to take the lead in forming a government in Italy are the far-right, anti-immigrant League party and the anti-establishment, Five Star Movement. Though the League party is leading a coalition that together received 37% of the vote, the party by itself received 17%. The Five Star Movement, on the other hand, received 32.6% on its own. Both parties are claiming the duty to form a government.
Neither party or coalition, however, has achieved the 40% threshold required to win a working majority in Italy’s parliament, per their election rules. The party’s will spend weeks negotiating in an attempt to establish a ruling coalition in Italy.
VERDICT: The revolt against the establishment parties in Italy in favor of populists is the first success for populism since Britain’s 2016 ‘Brexit’ vote to leave the European Union. Since then, centrist Emmanuel Macron of France was elected President by defeating Marie Le Pen of the right-wing National Front party. Additionally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was able to bring together a working majority coalition in Germany after five months of talks.
The election in Italy, then, illustrates the fact that populist, anti-establishment sentiments are something not unique to the United States, and so long as immigrants are coming into countries with perceived economic hardships, populism is here to stay.
END Act in Georgia
The END (Ensuring Necessary Deportations) Act in Georgia is a bill being considered for legislation whose goal it is to ensure that undocumented immigrants who commit crimes are deported. Essentially, it aims to help federal immigration authorities by requiring local authorities and courts to increase accountability to “make the state safer” (AP). The bill requires that any criminal offender believed to be in the country illegally be detained, and that federal immigration authorities be notified immediately. In court, judges would have to determine the legality of the suspect’s status, and, again, notify federal authorities if the suspect is undocumented. Finally, before releasing an undocumented suspect, federal authorities must again be notified.
The constitutionality of the bill has been brought into question, with immigration advocates claiming that it could result in suspects being held unlawfully; they have stated that if the bill were to pass, they are more than ready to challenge it in court. Supporters, on the other hand, claim that it is well within their constitutional right to propose a bill of this nature. They also believe that local police stations release “potentially deportable (people)” (AP) without enquiring into their immigration status, which they claim is not right.
The bill passed the Senate this past Monday and will be read over by the House in the next few weeks.
VERDICT: This act grossly oversimplifies the complexity of the immigration system. The legal status of an immigrant is not necessarily easy to determine, and inquiring into it during a court case could result in jury bias and require both intensive time and money. It also asks a great deal of local authorities who have their own proceedings that operate independent of the federal government.
La ley “END” (Asegurando Deportaciones Necesarias) en Georgia es una ley la cual está bajo consideración cuyo quiere asegurar que inmigrantes indocumentados quien han cometido crímenes son deportados. Esencialmente, quiere ayudar a autoridades federales de inmigración por medios de requerir que autoridades locales y cortes aumenten responsabilidad para “hacer el estado más seguro” (AP). La ley requiere que cualquier ofensor criminal quien es creído de no estar legalmente en los Estados Unidos sea detenido, y que autoridades federales sean notificadas inmediatamente. En corte, jueces tendrían que determinar el estatus legal del sospechoso y contactar a las autoridades federales si el sospechoso es indocumentado. Finalmente, antes de dejar libre al sospechoso indocumentado, autoridades federales deben ser notificados.
La constitucionalidad de la ley ya ha sido cuestionada, con defensores de inmigrantes diciendo que esto podría resultar en le detención ilegal de sospechosos; han dicho que si la ley pasa, están preparados para lucharla en corte. Los simpatizantes dicen que tienen el derecho de proponer una ley de esta naturaleza. También dicen que autoridades locales a veces dejan libres a personas quienes tienen “la potencia para ser deportados” (AP) sin investigar su estatus legal, lo cual ellos dicen que no es correcto.
La ley paso el Senado el Lunes pasado, y será leído por la Casa en las próximas semanas.
VEREDICTO: Esta ley sumamente simplifica la complexidad del sistema de inmigración. El estatus legal de un inmigrante no es necesariamente fácil de determinar, e investigar ese estatus en una corte podría resultar en un prejuicio del jurado y también requiere plata y tiempo. También pregunta que hagan mucho la autoridades locales, las cuales tienen procedimientos independientes del gobierno federal.
When President Donald Trump announced he would revoke the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order on March 5, Congress was given a six-month window to finally codify the program shielding approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from being deported. However, the Supreme Court’s recent decision to not entertain the legal challenges to the DACA program until they made their way through lower courts essentially lifted any pressure either Democrats or Republicans were facing to make a deal on immigration.
Despite the incredible need for legislation on DACA, there are also very understandable reasons that Congress has moved on to other discussions. After the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, Congress came back from a break determined to focus the national conversation on gun control.
Activists are trying not to let the momentum subside, as they plan a rally for Sunday in Washington, D.C., Sunday being the day President Trump originally stated DACA would no longer be in effect.
VERDICT: Obviously, it is impossible to plan for tragedies such as the shooting in Parkland. DACA activists are doing what they can to keep the topic in the public discussion given the circumstances. Unfortunately, most of the work accomplished in Congress is under the pressure of an imminent deadline, so until the courts act and force action from Congress, it is unlikely much will be done.