Things That Matter

Trump Administration Is Attempting To Violate State Laws By Requesting Driver’s License Information

There is growing concern about Trump administration’s latest efforts to collect citizenship data based on state driver’s license and ID records. After President Trump signed an executive order, it was announced back in July that the U.S. Census Bureau would be collecting five years’ worth of data, including driver’s license records, provided by state motor vehicle agencies with the agreement that the information would be kept confidential. These efforts have been stalled mostly due to the fact that states have either refused to supply the data or haven’t decided what to do yet. 

According to an AP survey of 50 states, as of now there are 13 states that have refused to share data, 17 are weighing options and another 17 have yet to receive a request. Three states didn’t respond to the AP poll. The states that have yet to respond are still researching the legal and privacy implications if they did comply with the data requests.  

What is the biggest concern for many states and activist groups is what the Trump administration will be doing with the gathered information and if it will be used to harm the political power of minorities.

These data efforts began shortly after the Supreme Court stopped the Trump administration’s lengthy battle to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census back in July.

Credit: @timelywriter / Twitter

The goal of these efforts is to supply information for the Trump administration to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. Yet there are questions about the reliability of using data mostly from state driver’s license records. Various civil rights organizations say using this information to base citizenship data off could result in inaccurate findings and could violate the rights of minorities and immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already urged states to turn down the Census Bureau data requests. The organization says that these data requests are part of a plan to lessen the political power of minority groups when it comes to voting. By states being encouraged to use counts of citizens only as opposed to the total population, it can drastically change state and local electoral districts elections.

“This endeavor appears to be part of a scheme motivated by an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose to dilute the political power of communities of color. In addition, efforts to rely on citizenship data in DMV files have previously been highly unreliable due to poor database protocols and stale citizenship data,” Dale Ho, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a press release. “The Census Bureau should drop this latest distraction and instead focus on the important work of ensuring a full and accurate count.”

Civil rights groups have already taken legal action against the Trump administration to stop it from using government records to compile citizenship information. 

Credit: @democracynow / Twitter

Just last month, Latino community groups in Texas and Arizona filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop it from using government records to compile citizenship information. The groups, represented by attorneys with the Mexican American Legal Defense (MALDEF) and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), argue that basing citizenship data off of government records will only harm minority communities when it comes to using their political power.

“The Census Bureau usually plans for these types of big changes in their operations many, many years in advance, but they don’t have enough time right now to actually plan and provide clear information to the public about how they are going to use these administrative records,” Andrea Senteno, a lawyer for MALDEF, told the AP. “They know that many people who don’t respond are going to be communities of color.”

The data requests have also raised questions from both sides of the political aisle who are asking about privacy implications.

 Credit: @mherz67 / Twitter

The Census Bureau is already facing roadblocks from both Republican and Democratic states who have begun denying requests mainly due to state laws and privacy implications. 

In Utah, state officials said no the requests citing personal data can only be shared only for public safety reasons. Even in Arkansas, there has been no response to the requests as the state decides what to do.  “We are currently working to determine whether the requested information is eligible for release,” Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Arkansas agency, said. 

It’s going to be interesting to see how other states respond or don’t respond at all to these data requests over the next few months. The Trump administration hopes to compile this information to release for state redistricting in 2021.

READ: This Latina Used Her Business Savvy to Launch An App That Helps Undocumented Students Find Financial Aid

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Things That Matter

9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

Things That Matter

Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

The Biden administration inherited more than an out of control pandemic when they got to work in January. The former administration also left the Biden administration an orchestrated crisis at the border. For some, President Joe Biden is not acting fast enough to fix the problem.

President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the response to immigration at the border.

The approach, according to Politico, is going to be a two-pronged approach to effectively curb irregular immigration. First, the vice president will focus on stopping the migration journey by addressing the issues in the countries that people are fleeing. Particularly, Vice President Harris will be focusing on the issues in the Northern Triangle countries, which are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

At the same time, the vice president will be working with the countries directly to solve the root problems. Vice President Harris will be working to strengthen the nation’s relations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” President Biden told reporters at the White House.

There is a lot of talk about the U.S.-Mexico border right now from both Democrats and Republicans.

Bruno Lozano, the Democratic mayor of Del Rio, Texas, is calling on the Biden administration to take steps to curb the issue. Mayor Lozano was a guest on Fox News recently and spoke about what he saw as an influx of migrants coming into his town. Mayor Lozano told Fox News that the number of people coming to the border has strained Customs and Border Patrol in his city.

“You have a breach on national security levels that have never before been seen in modern history and you’re not even batting an eye about it, you’re not even calling it a ‘crisis‘, you’re calling it a quote-unquote challenge,” Mayor Lozano, told the New York Post on Sunday. “It’s a slap in the face.”

Some residents of Del Rio are critical of their local leaders shifting blame for their own shortcomings.

The brutal winter storm that recently shut down Texas depleted many municipalities of their resources. Residents in Del Rio are putting the blame on their local leaders who have tried to pass the buck. Weeks after the winter storm crippled Texas, grocery store shelves remained empty and residents felt overlooked.

Mayor Lozano has been pleading with President Biden to step up and help them deal with the influx of migrants. Del Rio has one processing center for migrants and the increase has left the city and the processing facility strained.

The Biden administration has faced backlash after photos of detention centers show people sleeping on floors.

There have been several reports that the Biden administration is building new places to hold migrants that have come to the border seeking asylum. The administration is currently taking in unaccompanied minors who are arriving at the border while preventing other migrants from crossing the border.

The Biden administration promised to change the approach to the border, but Title 42 has been left intact. Title 42, which was enacted by the former administration at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeps people from entering the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that invoked Title 42, which closed the border indefinitely due to public health concerns.

At the root of the attention is the claim that there is a surge of migrants.

Some Republican politicians are claiming that news of more lenient immigration laws is prompting a “surge” of arrivals. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California claims that what is happening is a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”

Yet, a Washington Post report debunks the idea that there is a sudden surge. Rather, what is happening, according to the report, is a usual seasonal trend. CBP has reported a 28 percent increase in apprehensions at the southern border in January and February but data shows an annual spike in migrants from March to May every year.

The issues on the border are complex and will require a lot of time and energy to handle effectively and compassionately. The Biden administration promised to tackle the complex issue of immigration during the campaign.

READ: Biden Is Counting On Mexico’s President To Help With Immigration But That’s A Risky Move

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com