Things That Matter

Trump Administration Is Looking Into Laws Allowing Undocumented Immigrants Driver’s Licenses

Last month, several Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in New York had lines of people around their buildings. It was quite a sight to see so many people standing in the cold temperatures waiting to finally get their driver’s license. For many of us, going to the DMV can be quite a drag. It’s a process we take for granted. For undocumented people, getting a driver’s license is one major step toward living out of the shadows. Not many states allow undocumented people to obtain driver’s licenses. But just last month New York became the 13th state to authorize licenses to undocumented people. Now the President of the United States is seeking to end it. 

The Trump Administration is seeking to study the security ramifications of states that authorize licenses to undocumented people.

Credit: @SpoxDHS / Twitter

Chad Wolf, the latest acting secretary of Homeland Security, sent a memo to all agencies of security including  U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration, and inquired whether authorizing licenses to undocumented people affects “its enforcement efforts for both immigration and other investigations into human trafficking, drug smuggling, and counterterrorism,” NBC News reports. 

This inquiry is particularly interesting because President Donald Trump has always had issues with the separation between federal and state laws, particularly in states where undocumented people benefit from Sanctuary laws.

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As we have noted in the past, Trump has threatened state lawmakers that protect undocumented people from being turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by state authorities including in California and New York, among others. 

Now that more states are granting driver’s licenses to undocumented people, Homeland Security is attempting to rewrite these laws if they see proper cause to do so. Meaning, if Homeland Security finds that undocumented people with official driver’s licenses are committing crimes such as human trafficking and drug smuggling, they do have the ability to prohibit access to driver’s licenses. 

According to NBC News, “Wolf’s directive asks that each agency survey what DMV information is already available, how it is used in day-to-day operations, and what are the security consequences without the data.”

However, Homeland Security having access to information obtained by the DMV could be problematic especially if documents provide data on how is a U.S. citizen and who is not.

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“The Trump administration takes the mission of protecting the Homeland very seriously,” DHS spokeswoman Heather Swift told the network. “These types of laws make it easier for terrorists and criminals to obtain fraudulent documents.”

With the start of the New Year, more DMV offices have granted undocumented people access to driver’s licenses including in Colorado. 

While Colorado passed a law in 2013 that allowed undocumented people access to driver’s licenses, in 2020 at least ten more DMV offices will provide driver’s licenses to this community.

Credit: @ConorMichael28 / Twitter

“Expanding access to driver’s licenses will improve the quality of life of countless working families Colorado, will increase our economy and make our state stronger in all aspects. This is the result of the tireless work of the community in defense of immigrants in Colorado and are proud to be their allies by the Coalition I-Drive to create more opportunities for Colorado families,” FWD.us, a bipartisan political organization, said in a statement. 

Some may be wondering why it’s so important for undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses if they’re already living here without documentation. The answer is easy: for safety reasons.

Credit: @TheToddSchulte / Twitter

Without any form of identification, undocumented people have a harder time finding work because they have no way of getting there without a car. By having a license they can now have car insurance as well and this provides safer road conditions for everyone. More so, having a formal ID allows this community to come out of hiding, and gives them a freedom they didn’t have before. 

In California, statistics show that undocumented people with driver’s licenses didn’t lead to more hit-and-runs, as some anti-immigrant groups thought it would. It led to a decrease “in the rate of hit-and-run accidents between 7 and 10 percent.”

In 2015, California experienced 4,000 fewer hit-and-run accidents because of the new licenses issued. However, just because state officials have allowed these licenses to be issued, doesn’t mean county clerks are willing to do it

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

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Undocumented Residents Could Be Excluded From The 2020 Census After All, Thanks To New Supreme Court Case

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Undocumented Residents Could Be Excluded From The 2020 Census After All, Thanks To New Supreme Court Case

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The drama over the 2020 Census continues.

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.

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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.”

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ICE Launches Billboards With Images Of Undocumented Migrants In An Unprecedented Attack On The Community

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ICE Launches Billboards With Images Of Undocumented Migrants In An Unprecedented Attack On The Community

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In what many say is an unprecedented move, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Friday it is launching a billboard campaign in Pennsylvania highlighting immigrants who have been labeled “at-large immigration violators.”

The billboard campaign is taking place in one of the nation’s most hotly contested swing states, just weeks out from the 2020 presidential election. And ICE says they’re want to highlight immigrants who were released by local law enforcement under so-called sanctuary policies who ICE says, “may pose a public safety threat.”

The agency has launched the billboard campaign as a boost to Trump’s “law & order” campaign, despite evidence showing that so-called sanctuary policies often have a positive impact on crime rates.

ICE has plastered immigration billboards across Pennsylvania.

In its continued attacks on the immigrant community in the country, the Trump administration has launched a billboard campaign across Pennsylvania that highlights immigration violators. ICE announced that it had placed several “WANTED” billboards across the state depicting immigrants recently arrested by local authorities in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Experts are calling this an unprecedented move taken in a swing state a month before the November election.

The immigrants, who ICE said were not authorized to be in the U.S., were released after being charged — but not convicted — with crimes ranging from public intoxication and disorderly conduct, to robbery and aggravated assault. The billboards don’t attach a name to the mugshot but include charges like assault. A phone number for an ICE hotline is also listed.

According to John Sandweg, former acting ICE director, in an interview with CNN, billboards singling out immigration violators raise questions about what purpose they serve. “How are they getting funding for it? How does that advance their mission?” he said. “Running billboards, it’s political messaging.”Hotlines to solicit tips or campaigns to recruit personnel are common, Sandweg noted, but those are more clearly linked to helping to advance the agency’s enforcement mission.

The move is meant to target sanctuary cities and to bolster Trump’s campaign message of ‘law & order.’

The billboard campaign is part of a larger strategy meant to target the policies of so-called “sanctuary cities,” which limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. Trump has repeatedly gone after these jurisdictions, arguing that they put public safety at risk, despite several studies that contradict his claims.

“Too often sanctuary policies limiting cooperation with ICE result in significant public safety concerns,” said Tony Pham, the senior official performing the duties of the ICE director. “ICE will continue to enforce immigration laws set forth by Congress through the efforts of the men and women of ICE to remove criminal aliens and making our communities safer.”

Many of the largest cities in the country have sanctuary policies in place. The leaders behind them argue that such policies make communities safer because undocumented immigrants are more likely to report crimes  if they don’t fear deportation.

Several ex-officials have come out against the move, calling it “wildly inappropriate.”

As many experts call the billboard campaign an unprecedented move, several former U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have criticized the Trump administration for erecting the billboards. They say that the public messaging campaign exacerbates concerns about the politicization of immigration enforcement.

“The placement and the timing — the placement being Pennsylvania and the timing being a month before the election — make it clear that this is a political move, not related to operational matters,” David Lapan, a retired U.S. Marine colonel and former DHS press secretary during the Trump administration, told CBS News. “We’re almost four years into the administration. Why wasn’t this done sooner if that was something they thought was important?”

John Sandweg, who led ICE on an acting basis during the Obama administration, said he doesn’t believe the agency “has ever done anything” like the billboards. “It’s a political advertisement in favor of the president or at a minimum, against politicians that they disagree with. And that’s just wildly inappropriate,” Sandweg told CBS News.

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