Judge Jack H. Weil is a federal immigration judge who trains other judges across the country on immigration laws and procedures. Recently, this man, who went through lots of schooling and who has enough years of experience that he’s teaching others how to do their jobs, said that children as young as 3- and 4-years old are capable of understanding immigration law enough to the point where they can represent themselves in court.
Judge Weil straight up claimed that little humans like the one pictured below can lawyer for themselves.
Credit: John Moore/Getty Images
He made those comments back in October at a deposition speaking on behalf of the State Department. His testimony was part of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other pro-immigrant rights groups demanding that the federal government provide adequate representation to minors.
He claimed three times that he has taught immigration law to children like this one:
Credit: John Moore/Getty Images
“It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done,” Weil said in the deposition.
Naturally, child psychology experts are calling B.S.
“I nearly fell off my chair when I read that deposition,” Laurence Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple University who is a witness for the plaintiffs in the Seattle case. “Three- and 4-year-olds do not yet have logical reasoning abilities,” Laurence Steinberg psychologist and expert for the ACLU, told the Washington Post. “It’s preposterous, frankly, to think they could be taught enough about immigration law to be able to represent themselves in court.”
The absurdity of this claim isn’t stopping the Justice Department from fighting a lawsuit demanding that they provide lawyers to kids.
We’re talking about children who went through hell to reach the United States because it was preferable than the hell they left behind. And how does our country, which was supposed to be founded on Christian values, respond? By saying “Tough shit, kid. You’re on your own.”
The sweeping Coronavirus stimulus packaged signed into law by President Trump promises a huge infusion of cash into a struggling economy. However, the bill explicitly denies much-needed benefits to some of the most vulnerable communities in the county – including most undocumented residents.
Several progressive politicians have called out the original bill for this major omission but so far have failed to get a bill passed that would bring benefits to communities currently not eligible.
Meanwhile, city and state officials have been working to make sure their programs are eligible to all residents – regardless of legal status.
Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot is leading the way by making sure all residents in her city who need help – can get it.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday issued an executive order granting undocumented immigrants and refugees, who are sometimes forgotten, a variety of city benefits, including money from the city’s Small Business Resiliency Loan Program.
”This order is more than just an official decree, it is a statement of our values as a city and as Americans,” she said in a statement on Tuesday. “Since COVID-19 first reached our city’s doorstep, we have been working around the clock to ensure all our residents are secure and supported, including our immigrant and refugee communities, who are among the most vulnerable to the impact of this pandemic.”
“Here in Chicago, saying ‘we are all in this together’ means that during this crisis, no one gets left out and no one gets left behind,” she added.
The city of Chicago has launched several programs in order to help residents cope with the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the executive order, Lightfoot’s office said all residents in the city, regardless of their birthplace or citizenship status, will have access to the city’s newly-established COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant program and online resources offered through Chicago public schools for students, among other benefits.
Michael Rodriguez, who serves as alderman of the 22nd Ward in Chicago, praised Lightfoot for the move in a statement, while pointing to coronavirus relief legislation recently passed by Congress that will give relief checks to most Americans but not nonresident aliens and people who don’t have Social Security numbers.
“Not all of Chicago’s residents qualify for federal stimulus checks, state unemployment insurance or other economic assistance due to their documentation status,” Rodriguez said. “These Chicagoans are vital community members who work in various industries and help our great city to thrive every day.”
The Mayor has overwhelming support for her plan from much of the city.
Many City Council members have bemoaned that the federal government didn’t do enough to help undocumented immigrants with legislation. But the city can also do more, said 35th Ward Alderman, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. That includes creating an immigrant resiliency fund, which he has asked the mayor to do, according to the ChicagoSun-Times.
George Cardenas, alderman for Chicago’s 12th Ward, also commended the mayor for the executive order in a statement.
“Most individuals in our immigrant community labor in industries pummeled by the COVID-19 crisis, such as restaurants and hotels,” he said. “Although many of these workers collectively pay billions of dollars in taxes, they are excluded from the federal aid package signed by Congress. We must meet this moment together; no one should be excluded.”
The mayor’s plan tries to fill the gap left behind by Congress’ federal stimulus bill.
Congress passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill in late March that provides major financial assistance to Americans struggling under the coronavirus pandemic. The stimulus package includes a $1,200 payout to eligible U.S. citizens, and allocates $350 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses.
However, progressive politicians have criticized the bailout package for excluding some of the most vulnerable communities among us. House Democrats introduced the Leave No Taxpayer Behind Act, a bill that calls for extending much-needed benefits to tax-paying undocumented residents.
The Chicago mayor is not alone in setting aside benefits for the undocumented community.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that his administration has established a state fund to provide relief to businesses run by individuals living in the U.S. without proper documentation.
Lightfoot, for her part, has long been a virulent critic of immigration enforcement, and has established sanctuary policies that forbid local police cooperation with ICE.
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For millions of Americans waiting on much-needed coronavirus stimulus checks, that help will never come.
The $2 trillion stimulus package passed last month was intended to help displaced workers stay afloat as the coronavirus shuts down the economy. For immigrant communities, there’ll be little financial relief coming from the government.
As part of the nation’s largest ever stimulus bill, Congress and President Trump agreed to spend trillions of dollars on economic measures meant to shore up the economy. Although the bill includes payments of up to $1,200 for everyone who makes less than the limit, many Americans will fall through the cracks.
Millions of workers aren’t getting any help from the largest emergency aid deal in US history.
The bill, known as the CARES Act, delivers direct payments to most taxpayers, vastly expands unemployment benefits, and makes testing for the virus free, among other provisions.
But although unauthorized immigrants are no more immune from the effects of the current crisis, the stimulus bill conspicuously leaves them out in the cold — potentially putting them at greater economic and health risk, and impeding public health efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.
There are an estimated 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the USA who are ineligible for emergency federal benefits or state unemployment insurance because they don’t have valid work authorization.
That’s left an extra layer of anxiety for immigrants without legal status who have lost their jobs or seen work hours reduced amid the statewide shutdown of “nonessential” businesses. Many turned to local organizations for help to put food on the table and pay other expenses.
Undocumented residents are already at greater risk of being affected by Covid-19 because of inadequate resources and access to health care.
The unauthorized worker population is particularly vulnerable to the virus due to inadequate access to health care. Noncitizens are significantly more likely to be uninsured compared to US citizens, which may dissuade them from seeking medical care if they contract the virus.
Compounding matters are the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies — including wide-scale immigration raids and a rule that can penalize green card applicants for using Medicaid — which have made noncitizens afraid to access care. These factors pose a problem for America’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 12,000 in the US as of April 7.
Where the government is failing, advocates and organizations are stepping up to help.
Some immigrant advocates lobby for the undocumented to be included by allowing payments to those who file taxes using individual tax identification numbers, which are often used by workers without legal immigration status.
“They should include at least the individual taxpayers,” said Diana Mejia, founder of the Wind of the Spirit, an organization that helps immigrants in New Jersey’s Morris County. “They are paying taxes,” she added in an interview with CNN.
Filers who use ITINs contribute about $11.74 billion in state and local taxes each year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington think tank.
For those who qualify, payments will start going out from the IRS in mid-April.
The IRS is using 2019 tax returns to determine eligibility or 2018 returns for those who haven’t filed for 2019 yet.
If you’re eligible, the IRS and Treasury Department will deposit the money directly into your bank account or send you a check. This includes people who regularly receive Social Security payments.
The total amount of your stimulus check will be based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI, from your 2019 federal tax filing or — if you haven’t filed this year — your 2018 filing. A single US resident must have a Social Security number and an AGI under $75,000 to receive the full amount of $1,200. The sum decreases as your AGI goes up. If your adjusted gross income reaches $99,000, you won’t be eligible for the stimulus.
If you don’t have direct deposit set up with the IRS but want to receive the payment electronically, the federal government will create an online system that will let you set up electronic payments so you get the money deposited directly into a bank account, according to US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.
Aside from millions of undocumented migrants, millions of others are also being left out of the stimulus:
College Students and 17-Year-Olds: If someone else claims you as a dependent on their taxes, you won’t get your own check. Parents will get an extra $500 payment per child, but that’s only for kids under 17.
Most 17-year-olds, some young adults and many of the country’s roughly 20 million college students are claimed by their parents as dependents. They won’t get checks, and their parents won’t get an extra $500.
Disabled People: People who get disability benefits from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs are eligible for the payments — but not disabled adults who are claimed as dependents by their parents or other relatives on their taxes
Seniors Who Live With Family: Senior citizens who are on Social Security or make less than the income cap are eligible. But the “dependent” rule applies to them, too. Some seniors who live with their adult children or other relatives are claimed by them as dependents on their taxes. Those seniors won’t get checks.
Immigrants are eligible for some free testing.
Here’s one thing the bill does offer to unauthorized immigrants: free coronavirus testing at government-funded community health centers through a $1 billion federal program. But some community health centers have already reported shortages of tests.
There is also a larger, state-level testing program funded through Medicaid, but that’s only available to Medicaid-eligible immigrants — green card holders who have lived in the US for at least five years, immigrants who come to the US on humanitarian grounds such as asylum, members of the military and their families, and, in certain states, children and pregnant women with lawful immigration status. Those groups, however, make up only a small proportion of immigrants living in the US.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that it won’t consider use of free testing services when evaluating whether immigrants will likely end up relying on public benefits under the “public charge”rule, which went into effect in February
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