Things That Matter

House Democrats Pass The DREAM Act And Millions Of Lives Could Change Forever

Undocumented immigrants. Children of undocumented immigrants. People in the US with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) fleeing violence or war in their countries. Everyone is celebrating the huge milestone made in the House of Representatives yesterday, as the chamber passed the DREAM Act.

The House of Representatives passed a bill that prevents immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children from being deported and gives them permanent residency along with a path to citizenship.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 237-187.

Credit: @CBSNews / Twitter

With a handful of Republican votes, House Democrats passed the latest version of the DREAM Act, an ambitious expansion of a nearly two-decades-long legislative effort that would place millions of young undocumented immigrants and immigrants with temporary status on a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

The Democratic-led chamber approved the sweeping immigration bill, dubbed the DREAM and Promise Act of 2019, by a vote of 237 to 187.

Seven Republicans in the House joined 230 Democrats in voting for the bill. No Democrats voted against the measure.

Although it’s unlikely to be brought to a vote in the Senate, and Trump has already issued a veto threat, people couldn’t help but celebrate the achievement.

With the changes to this bill, entire communities would face new, more certain futures.

Credit: @UNITEDWEDREAM / Twitter

The proposal would grant young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, including those shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an opportunity to acquire permanent lawful status if they meet certain requirements. The bill would also allow hundreds of thousands of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients — as well as Liberian immigrants covered by Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) — to gain permanent residency.

Many Latino and Latina politicians took to Twitter to share their excitement and pride.

AOC herself reminded everyone that moments like these make all the drama, fighting, and campaigning worth it.

Rep. Ilhan Omar shared her own story and how much this bill means to her.

Credit: @IlhanMN / Twitter

Rep. Omar, who has been a vocal critic of the Trump administrations approach to immigration, said the fight wasn’t over yet.

The reactions on the Latino Twitter-sphere were everything.

Credit: @MamiChampangne / Twitter

Some woke up to the news and couldn’t believe what it could mean for their lives.

Many wanted to address their undocumented hermanos right away.

Credit: @zripena / Twitter

Even if this bill doesn’t become law, the community is a familia and will keep fighting until it does.

Many saw this as proof that their parents were right and that they hoped to do their parents proud.

Credit: @AlanRRosales / Twitter

If this bill were to become law, tens of thousands of students would be eligible for tuition assistance and would be able to attend college. They’d be able to help work towards that better life their parents so badly want them to have.

Some were just flat out emotional over the breaking news.

Credit: @orrchards / Twitter

To be placed on a pathway to citizenship under the bill, these young immigrants must earn a college degree or complete two years of a degree program in an institution of higher education or technical school. They would also qualify if they served honorably in the military or have been employed in the U.S. for more than three years.

The proposal would also grant this group of young undocumented immigrant access to federal financial aid for college.

DED and TPS recipients, meanwhile, would be able to obtain permanent residency if they have resided in the U.S. for more than three years before the proposed legislation is enacted and if they do not have any felony convictions or more than one misdemeanor.

Despite the bill’s bleak prospects in the Senate, House Democrats believe the passage of one of their signature legislative issues will convey to the electorate that they continue using their majority to push through meaningful legislation.

“This is a day that glorifies what America is to the world. A place of refuge, a place of safety, a place of opportunity,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said at a press conference before the vote, citing a speech in which Republican President Ronald Reagan said the U.S. is a “better nation” because of immigrants.

“We will send it to the Senate and then we’ll keep on keeping on until it is the law of the land,” Hoyer added.

These Are The Changes Likely Coming To Immigration Policy In 2020

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These Are The Changes Likely Coming To Immigration Policy In 2020

ImmigrationEqualityNow / Instagram

Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from reality, you likely know that this year is a presidential election year. Both Donald Trump and candidates for the Democratic primary have been touring their policy positions ahead of the election and regardless of who ends up in the White House, there will be serious changes to the United States’ immigration policies.

Even before the November election, we can expect major policy changes under the Trump Administration. And given the president’s previous stance on immigration, we shouldn’t expect him to stand before the Statue Of Liberty and tout the USA as a beacon of hope for migrants and its tradition as a nation of migrants. But here’s what we should expect in the new year:

DACA

On November 12, 2019, the Supreme Court heard a challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which currently grants work authorization and administrative relief from deportation for up to 700,000 individuals who came to America before the age of 16. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the administration, then talk of a legislative compromise will increase. However, the closer it gets to the November 2020 presidential election, the less likely a deal may become.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

A November 1, 2019, Federal Register notice automatically extended “the validity of TPS-related documentation for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador through Jan. 4, 2021.” However, a decision in the case of Ramos v. Nielsen, which blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind Temporary Protected Status for several countries, could end long-term stays in the United States for approximately 300,000 people.

Refugee and Asylum Policies

SYDNEY TOWN HALL, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – 2016/02/08: Protesters at Town Hall Square gathered to demonstrate against offshore detention. With mounting public and political pressure against the Australian Federal Government an estimated 4000 protesters rallied at Sydney Town Hall to demonstrate their opposition to the deportation and detention of asylum seeker children to the offshore processing centers of Manus Island and Nauru. The protesters called for the abandonment of all offshore detention with the vocal message of ‘let them stay’. (Photo by Richard Ashen/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In September 2019, the Trump administration announced a historically low annual refugee admission ceiling of 18,000 for FY 2020, a reduction of 84% from the 110,000-limit set during the last year of the Obama administration. “The administration betrays our national commitment to offering refuge and religious freedom to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities,” said World Relief in a statement. There is no reason to anticipate the administration will raise the refugee ceiling for FY 2021. 

In response to an executive order mandating consent from state and local authorities to resettle refugees, more than 30 governors have written letters to the State Department pledging their states will continue to resettle refugees. Three organizations have filed a lawsuit over the executive order.

Numerous lawsuits have challenged the administration’s asylum policies toward Central Americans. In one respect, the administration has already “won” on asylum, since the policies to block most asylum seekers and send them to Mexico and other countries have been allowed to remain in place while litigation has continued.

The Wall

Credit: US DHS / CBP

Donald Trump is determined to build as much of a “wall” as possible before the November 2020 election. Anticipate stepped-up seizures of private landand fights with judges and environmental groups.

The Public Charge Rule

On October 4, 2019, a presidential proclamation used Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to bar new immigrants from entering the United States without health insurance, potentially reducing legal immigration by hundreds of thousands of people per year. A similar reduction in legal immigration could result if the administration’s rule on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds goes into effect. 

Judges have blocked both measures, at least temporarily, but if a court clears either for use, then it could be the Trump administration’s most far-reaching immigration measure. A permanent reduction in the flow of legal immigrants would reduce the long-term rate of economic growth in America, making these actions potentially the most significant policies to affect the U.S. economy under the Trump presidency.

Workplace Enforcement Rules

Since Donald Trump took office, investigators with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement opened about four times the number of workplace investigations as compared to the Obama administration. That trend is likely to continue in 2020. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kansas v. Garcia may represent a more significant immigration enforcement threat for companies. Paul Hughes, who represented Garcia, said in an interview if the court rules in favor of Kansas, then “local city and county prosecutors could engage in mass prosecutions of employees and employers” for “the employment of immigrants who lack work authorization.”

Decriminalizing Illegal Border Crossings

If a Democrat wins the White House come November, we can expect increased conversations on decriminalizing illegal border crossings. Julian Castro first floated the idea during a Democratic debate and since then the idea has been picked up by other candidates as well. This would be a major shift in US policy but one that could bring immense change to migrant communities.

ICE Is Threatening To Reopen Deportation Proceedings Against All DACA Recipients Regardless Of DACA Status

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ICE Is Threatening To Reopen Deportation Proceedings Against All DACA Recipients Regardless Of DACA Status

ImmigrationEquality / Instagram

DACA is supposed to protect those who qualify for the protected status from deportation proceedings. This is how the program has worked (or was intended to) since 2012, when President Obama enacted it via executive order. However, many DACA recipients are now facing the uncertain futures they had hoped to avoid by signing up for DACA in the first place as ICE has moved to reopen their deportation cases.

This has thrown people’s futures into doubt and cast a dark shadow over their status and the lives of their families.

ICE has moved to reopen long closed deportation cases against DREAMers.

In an escalation of its pursuit of undocumented immigrants, the Trump administration is moving to deport members of the very group that seemed until a few years ago the most protected: DACA recipients.

ICE has begun asking immigration courts to reopen administratively closed deportation cases against DACA recipients who continue to have no criminal record, or only a minor record. Immigration attorneys in Arizona confirmed at least 14 such cases being reopened since October, and according to a report by CNN, there are also cases which were recently reopened in Nevada, Missouri, California, and New York.

And that is just the beginning. ICE confirmed that all DACA recipients whose deportation cases have been administratively closed can expect to see them reopened. In an email, the agency stated that “re-calendaring of administratively closed cases is occurring nationwide and not isolated to a particular state or region.”Administratively closing a case removes it from the court calendar, in effect putting it on hold indefinitely. Immigration courts are part of the Department of Justice, unlike civil or criminal courts.

The move to reopen deportation cases against Dreamers comes as the US Supreme Court considers whether to let the Trump administration end the program.

During oral arguments in November, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority signaled Tuesday that it may let the Trump administration shut down the Obama-era program that granted temporary protection from deportation to roughly 700,000. Some justices made it clear that they were accepting the president’s assurances that ending DACA would not mean deporting Dreamers.

But immigration attorneys say the cases they are now seeing reopened show how ICE is preparing to deport DACA recipients if the Supreme Court ruling terminates the program.

It has long been the case that Dreamers who are charged with or convicted of a serious crime risk losing DACA status and being deported, since applicants had to have no felonies, significant misdemeanors, or three or more other misdemeanors to qualify for deferred action in the first place.

According to CNN, cases against DACA recipients began being reopened in October.

“It wasn’t until October that DHS (Department of Homeland Security) started to reopen the DACA cases,” Tucson attorney Jesse Evans-Schroeder wrote in an email to CNN. She said five of her DACA clients saw their cases reopened in October or November.

Before May 2018, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions barred the practice of administratively closing cases, immigration judges as a matter of routine administratively closed deportation cases against people who received DACA, since that status protected them from deportation.

In a statement provided by spokeswoman Paige Hughes, ICE said that it is required under Session’s May 2018 decision “to reopen approximately 350,000 administratively closed cases so they are litigated to completion,” and the applicant is ordered removed or obtains relief. ICE did not break down how many of the 350,000 administratively closed cases involve DACA recipients versus other people who are simply a low priority for deportation, but Hughes said there is no stipulation that would exempt DACA recipients.

Just this week, a DACA recipient in California was arrested by ICE while at her job at a Marriott Hotel.

According to her family and friends, ICE agents took Daniella Ramirez, 23, into custody at 5:30 a.m. Friday. 

According to NBC 4, Ramirez worked full time in the kitchen and as a receptionist at the hotel for the past two years. Ramirez came to the U.S. from Mexico with her sister when she was 10-years-old. She graduated from Azusa High School, and her DACA status expired. She told NBC 4 she neglected to renew it out of fear. She says she’d heard she’d be sent to jail if she did.

And a mother driving her 5-year-old to school was stopped, arrested, and held in jail despite having an active DACA status.

Paula Hincapie-Rendon was on her way to drop off her kid at school when an unmarked car started following her. Hours later, her parents were in an ICE detention center and her house had been burglarized.

But on the morning of May 8, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested her a block away from her house in Englewood. 

Hincapie-Rendon said she was taking her 5-year-old daughter to school when an unmarked car pulled her over. Two agents approached her car and told her to get out. She asked them to identify themselves three times, but they refused. On the fourth try, they answered.

Hincapie-Rendon asked if she could take her daughter back to the house and leave her with her parents. The agents obliged, with one caveat — they would be driving her car while she sat in their van, handcuffed.

Once at the house, agents found Hincapie-Rendon’s dad, Carlos Hincapie, leaving for work. They arrested him on the spot. Agents then went into the house and arrested Hincapie-Rendon’s mom, Betty Rendon, a Lutheran minister who was set to start her doctorate at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in June. Agents also arrested Hincapie’s cousin, who was staying with the family.

The agents drove the family to ICE’s field office in the Loop. The agency released Hincapie-Rendon that same afternoon under an order of supervision.