Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are facing an uncertain future. Members of Congress are debating whether or not to allow them to become citizens and the best deal to make it happen. More than 80 percent of Americans support giving DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship and George Lopez is one of them. TMZ recently asked the comedian what he thought about the State of the Union address and the response was not what you’d expect.
When asked about the State of the Union, George Lopez laughed it off then talked about golf.
There is tough news out of Washington this week that could make chasing the American Dream cost a lot more. According to a report published on Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security is proposing raising a range of fees for those seeking legal immigration and citizenship, as well as an increase in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal fees. There would also a proposed charge for asylum applications, which would charge $50 for applications and $490 for work permits. As of now, only Fiji, Australia and Iran currently do this for asylum applications.
The price hikes would make the cost of citizenship applications go up by 83 percent, from $640 to $1,170. This would primarily affect roughly 9 million immigrants that are eligible to become U.S. citizens. DACA fees would also see a substantial rise as they would increase from $495 to $765. News of this fee hike comes in the same week that the Supreme Court heard arguments on the validity of President Trump’s justification to terminate DACA.
The reasoning for the proposed price hikes and new fees is to help cover new expenses at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS, said that this will help the agency cover new costs in the last few years due to an increase in citizenship applications.
“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimize subsidies from an already over-extended system,” Cuccinelli said in a press release. “Furthermore, the adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request.”
As of now, the agency will have a period of 30 days to receive public opinion, as established by law. The plan then is expected to go into effect Dec. 2, while the comment period will remain open until Dec. 16.
After the comment period ends next month, USCIS is then obligated by law to consider comments on the proposal before any of the new fees can put forward. This time period is key for millions of immigrants that are eligible to naturalize and become U.S. citizens before such fees rise. Immigration advocacy groups are calling forward to those groups as they may have only a few weeks before these price hikes go into effect.
“If you were lacking motivation before, it’s now even more important because this outrageous rule aims to price out low-income and working-class immigrants from U.S. citizenship and so many other immigration benefits,” Diego Iñiguez-López, NPNA’s policy and campaigns manager, said in a statement to NBC News.
These proposed price hikes come at a time when the overall percentage of lawful immigrants living in the country that are willfully applying for and gaining citizenship has reached its highest level in more than 20 years. That can’t be said for Mexican Americans who fall behind other groups when it comes to naturalization rates. This is also despite being the biggest group of lawful immigrants in terms of country of origin.
“This is one more way under the administration that they are making legal immigration unattainable,” Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at USCIS under the Obama administration, told Buzzfeed News.
Advocacy groups call the price hikes an attempt to further hurt those with already limited resources.
Boundless, an immigration services firm, called the proposed price hike another blow to immigrants trying to come into the U.S. The firm says that increased fees target the poor and those in vulnerable positions by pricing them out of citizenship.
“Once again, this administration is attempting to use every tool at its disposal to restrict legal immigration and even U.S. citizenship,” said Doug Rand, the group’s co-founder, told the Washington Post .“It’s an unprecedented weaponization of government fees.”
President Trump lied to the American people, tweeting that “some” of DACA recipients are “very tough, hardened criminals.” In fact, any significant criminal activity would disqualify someone from receiving DACA’s protections. So, calling just one of “the people in DACA” “a very tough, hardened criminal,” is a false statement. It misleads the American people and further fans the continued rise of racism against Latinos in a ploy to appeal to his base. While the new normal may be to scoff at the consistent lies and Twitter-fueled intimidation tacts employed by Trump, we must hold each lie accountable. Just over three months ago, a white supremacist wrote a manifesto using much of the language the president uses. Then, he drove to El Paso and slaughtered 22 Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans.
The morning of a Supreme Court hearing regarding Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Trump tweeted this lie:
“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” Trump tweeted on November 12. Later, he tweeted, “DACA recipients with arrest records: 53,792! That is a very large proportion of the total.” The percentage is in fact 7.76 percent of approved DACA recipients, according to a report released by The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Trump continues to pander misleading statistics to the American people to allude that any kind of “deal with the Dems” would be generous.
Those “arrests” include apprehensions from ICE. The USCIS website clearly states, “An arrest indicates the individual was arrested or apprehended only and does not mean the individual was convicted of a crime… Further, individuals may not have been charged with a crime resulting from the arrest, may have had their charges reduced or dismissed entirely, or may have been acquitted of any charges.”
An arrest is not a charge or even a conviction of a crime. Arrests do not necessarily indicate criminality.
We all know that people of color are often scrutinized by law enforcement more harshly, and often, inappropriately. Innocent people are arrested all the time. Less frequently, innocent people are convicted, though we know it happens. Ruben Martinez, Jr., an innocent man, was just exonerated of all charges this month after serving 11 years in prison. Fact: arrest records do not indicate criminality in any individual. Convictions do.
There are no public records that offer conviction histories of DACA recipients. The entire basis of this report by USCIS is contrary to the American values of “innocent until proven guilty.” Arrests do not indicate guilt. It is also important to remember that having no criminal record is a necessary stipulation in order to receive DACA status.
Nearly a quarter of the arrest offenses are immigration-related.
Effectively, the exact legal basis of why DACA exists: to allow children brought into the country illegally to thrive without fear of arrest for their parents’ actions. Examples of such immigration-related offenses include over-staying visas. The most common type of offense, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all arrests are driving-related (excluding DUIs). Remember all those times you’ve gotten a speeding ticket, or didn’t make a complete stop before making a right on red? That’s your arrest record. That’s the bulk of the “hardened” crimes DACA requestors have on record (not necessarily with conviction).
If an immigrant has been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanor offenses, they are ineligible for DACA.
In fact, immigrants with any type of significant arrest history will likely pass on applying for DACA, because it effectively places them on the federal government’s radar. A good immigration attorney won’t allow their clients to give up so much information about their criminal record, place of work, or home address if they feel they’ll be denied by DACA, because it may trigger an arrest warrant by ICE. Arguably, “hardened criminals” don’t even apply for DACA, let alone receive it by the federal government. DACA recipients must reapply for DACA status every two years. So, if a DACA recipient becomes a “hardened criminal,” then they would lose their deportation protections.