It has been almost a year since a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to end their “zero-tolerance” policy. The administration was instructed to reunite all families within a month, yeat hundreds of families remain separated. We know that some forms of separation between child and parent are still happening at the border and we are now learning that the government needs more time to reunite families cruelly separated.
The government says they didn’t keep track of the thousands of families that were separated before their “zero-tolerance” policy began in early 2018.
According to The New York Times, officials have to sort through an estimated 47,000 children “who were referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and subsequently discharged.”
However, the main issue is that because so many undocumented children have gone through the system, the kids before Trump’s policy and after are all mixed up. It is hard to tell whether they’re in foster care or shelters as they await reunification. Officials have to go through each case and see which children were part of the 2018 separated families policy, and make them first priority.
Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told The NYTimes that if the government really wanted to, they could reunite these families faster than they’re claiming.
“If the government believed finding these children was a priority, they could do it quicker than two years,” Gelernt told The NYTimes.
Gelernt went on to say that “the administration refuses to treat the family separation crisis it created with urgency. We strongly oppose any plan that gives the government up to two years to find kids. The government swiftly gathered resources to tear families apart. It must do the same to fix the damage.”
“When a government agency takes custody of a child, it should always be looking out for the child’s best interests. But the Trump Administration has instead seen children as a way to go after their parents or relatives,” Jorge Baron, Executive Director for theNorthwest Immigrant Rights Project, said in a press release. “We hope this court case will lead to families being reunified as soon as possible.”
First, was a Supreme Court decision that found the Trump administration wasn’t being totally honest about it’s reasoning for including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census – so the court effectively removed the question from the census.
Then, Trump tried to delay the constitutionally mandated census to give his administration more time to come up with a better reason to tell the courts.
None of that worked as planned by the administration, and the Census has continued as normal. However, so many in minority communities – particularly migrant communities – have been fearful of completing this year’s census. Well, a new Supreme Court case could erase all the progress we made to make sure all residents – regardless of immigration status – were fairly counted.
The Supreme Court will hear a case that could allow the Trump Administration to exclude undocumented residents from Census data.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments next month over whether President Trump can exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count used to apportion congressional districts to the 50 states.
The court’s announcement means that the court – which could soon have a 6-3 conservative majority – will hear arguments in the case on November 30.
In July, Trump issued a memorandum asking the Census Bureau to subtract undocumented immigrants from the count for the purposes of congressional apportionment — the reallocation of the nation’s 435 House districts every 10 years. Trump’s memo came after the Supreme Court had rejected his last minute efforts to add a citizenship question to the census.
By the time the high court hears this case, federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett could be confirmed as the ninth justice, cementing a conservative majority. Senate Republicans hope to confirm her nomination to the Supreme Court before the election on Nov. 3.
However, the U.S. Constitution explicitly calls for the counting of all residents within the country.
The 14th Amendment requires districts to apportion congressional seats based on “counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”
Since the first U.S. census in 1790, the numbers of U.S. residents who are counted to determine each state’s share of congressional seats have included both citizens and noncitizens, regardless of immigration status.
“President Trump has repeatedly tried — and failed — to weaponize the census for his attacks on immigrant communities. The Supreme Court rejected his attempt last year and should do so again,” said Dale Ho, a lead plaintiffs’ attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who successfully argued against the now-blocked citizenship question the administration wanted on the 2020 census forms.
Removing those immigrants from the population counts would shift power to less diverse states. A Pew Research Center study last year found that it could result in House seats that would otherwise be assigned to California, Florida and Texas going instead to Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio — each of which is set to possibly lose a House seat in the next decade due to population shifts.
And drawing new districts within the states based only on the counts of citizens and legal immigrants would likely benefit Republicans, shifting power from cities and immigrant communities to rural parts of the states, which vote for GOP candidates at higher rates
The announcement comes shortly after the court also allowed the Trump Administration to end the Census count early.
Earlier last week, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to stop the census count, blocking lower court orders that directed the count to continue through the end of the month.
The decision, which the Trump administration favored, came with a candid dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor – the court’s only Latina justice.
“Meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Especially when the Government has failed to show why it could not bear the lesser cost of expending more resources to meet the deadline or continuing its prior efforts to seek an extension from Congress. This Court normally does not grant extraordinary relief on such a painfully disproportionate balance of harms.”
But it wasn’t long ago that Trump tried to completely derail this year’s census.
The Trump administration has decided to print the 2020 census forms without a citizenship question, and the printer has been told to start the printing process, Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco confirms to NPR.
The move came shortly after the Supreme Court ruled to keep the question off census forms for now and just a day after printing was scheduled to begin for 1.5 billion paper forms, letters, and other mailings.
President Trump had said he wanted to delay the constitutionally mandated headcount to give the Supreme Court a chance to issue a more “decisive” ruling on whether the administration could add the question, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” A majority of the justices found that the administration’s use of the Voting Rights Act to justify the question “seems to have been contrived.”
An overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting Dreamers. Hundreds of thousands of young adults rely on the protection from deportation and work authorization to live with dignity and out of the shadows. Presidential nominee Joe Biden wants to make sure they stay protected.
Dreamers are looking to a Biden administration to finish what an Obama administration started.
According to the official Biden campaign website, the presidential nominee will work with Congress to reinstate DACA protections and to create a pathway to citizenship. DACA was won by undocumented activists putting fear aside and publicly fought to change the minds of Americans and politicans.
“Undocumented ‘youth’ are no longer youth,” says Moises Serrano, DACA activist and the man profiled in the documentary “Forbidden.” “DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants have been living in fear and instability for decades now. We survived eight years under the Obama administration and four years under the Trump administration. Immigration reform was promised under the Obama-Biden platform; a promise that is still unfulfilled.”
He added: “We hope that President Biden puts an end to the instability in our lives once and for all, or we are ready to hold him accountable in the same way we held Obama accountable in our fight for Administrative Relief.”
Biden’s policy proposes protecting Dreamers and helping them advance in this country.
Biden promises to reinstate DACA to protect Dreamers and will be looking into ways to protect their families. The policy put forth by a potential Biden administration is pivotal in giving those who are DACA recipients a chance to live without fear and with all of the rights as their fellow citizens.
“After living through a deep loss in 2016 after losing my second mother and only being granted access to be on her deathbed in Mexico through my ability to get advanced parole through DACA I learned that no loss would ever be greater than that,” said Cindy Nava, a DACA recipient, political operative and policy advocate. “However, November rolled around and another loss took place. One that impacted my life, that of my family and my community.”
DACA is a very important issue as hundreds of thousands of Dreamers are on the line.
People like Nava are hopeful that a Biden administration will bring that dignity back to the immigrant community. It is a community that is vibrant and has contributed vastly to American culture. A BIden administration would be a chance for Nava to see herself reflected in government.
“I am hopeful to see the daughter of immigrants, a woman of color, and a woman I can finally feel represented by be sworn in as the first woman VP of this country,” Nava says. “I will look forward to an administration that listens to the communities it intends to represent. An administration that empowers the entire country to work with each other to support, strengthen, respect and uplift each other each and every day. An administration that values and is grateful for the contributions that immigrants bring to the foundation of our country each and every day.”
Nava wants to see an immigration reform that puts immigrant humanity at the forefront. One that understands the needs for people to seek refuge and a better life in a foreign country.
“No immigrant seeks to find a fix on a silver platter. Nor do they believe that this will be an easy task,” Nava says. “The only thing our families ask for is a chance. Una oportunidad para recordarle a este pais that their lucha and determination comes from a deep sense of ganas to create a life filled with more opportunities than they ever had.”
The battle over DACA is far from over but it is clear that the Trump administration is on the wrong side of public opinion. Biden’s plan would strengthen DACA and restore the program to its full functionality.