Things That Matter

Trump Issued An Executive Order Allowing States To Refuse Refugees And It Might Be A Step Too Far Even For Republicans

The Trump administration has had a few tug-of-wars with city and state governments. The dimes y diretes in which POTUS and former Californian governor Jerry Brown are now legendary, for example. However, so far Trump’s administration has had a very smooth sailing with Republican incumbents, who even if they didn’t fully agree with POTUS, would follow directives from the White House.

However, a recent development has made some pundits believe that certain Republican governors have had enough and might be breaking ranks with the president when it comes to the highly contested issue of refugee migration policies. Whether this is an honest act of compassion or a political move in face of this years elections remains to be seen, but the fact is that Trump’s isn’t always the last word even in red states. 

So, Trump gave an executive order that allows local and state governments to block refugee resettlements.

Credit: @TheNation / Twitter

Yes, this is a continuation of the Trump administration’s harsh (and some argue, cruel) stance on migration issues. Detention centers, family separations, privately-run companies that are put in charge of the welfare of vulnerable populations… the list goes on and on. There has been wide criticism for the executive order and three refugee resettlement agencies have sued the Trump administration – the agencies are HIAS, a Jewish nonprofit, Church World Service and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.

But there are plenty of states that will continue to accept refugees, even some governed by Republicans.

Credit: Axios

This graphic, published in Axios, shows the states that have established that they will continue accepting refugees. These local and state governments are unwilling to block the resettlement of people who have escaped danger in their home countries and gone through the stringent and tortuous process of becoming a United States refugee, a status that is very, very hard to obtain.

Those who apply for this status are put under the microscope and have to undergo seemingly endless bureaucratic processes that guarantee that their claim is indeed valid under the law. This means that successful applicants were in the riskiest situations imaginable.

Just this week, the Republican governors of Tennessee, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Nebraska wrote letters to the State Department or stated loud and clear that they would continue to accept refugees. Some key states haven’t stated their decision yet and promise to be battlegrounds for opposing political views. Texas, for example, has a very conservative governor on Greg Abbott, but many of its cities, such as Austin, have more progressive majors. 

Refugee resettlement is often seen as a tool to obtain goodwill both domestically and internationally, and history has seen plenty of bipartisan efforts to guarantee it.

There is a push against this executive order. As The Washington Post reports, even conservative states like Utah want to continue receiving refugees and even increase their numbers. Governor Gary Herbert, who aligns with Donald Trump on most issues, wrote a letter to the president stating: “”We empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life”. He added that newcomers become “productive employees and responsible citizens”. 

Trump’s position is unprecedented: even Ronald Reagan was proud of the refugee resettlement program.

As The Washington Post also notes: “From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, every president in recent decades had sought to bolster the program, identifying it as a way to generate goodwill and prestige internationally while strengthening bonds in communities at home.”

Refugees are a key element of American multiculturalism. From the pilgrims in the Mayflower escaping religious persecution to migratory waves of Jewish, Italian and Polish refugees during and after World War II, the United States has been accomodating to those in despair. The recent move from Trump’s White House can lead us to believe that the executive order could potentially have ethnic or racial connotations given the Brown and Black background of those seeking a refugee status today. 

Trump has already cut the number of annual arrivals to 18,000, a record low.

Just picture this. In a rally he mentioned Somali refugees and the crows began to boo. He then said that he would order the executive decision, something that no other president would do. He got that right: no one else would do it. He seems to be catering for his core base, as the WP further reports: ” He has repeatedly attacked refugees, suggesting they may be a “Trojan horse” intent on violence or a Muslim takeover”. This is just not true and only echoes the sentiments and rhetoric of far-right politics 

Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

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Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

Win McNamee / Getty

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller is still in office, despite mounting proof that he harbors white supremacist’s beliefs and numerous politicians and activists calling for his resignation. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” vertical published a series of Miller’s emails leaked by an ex-Breitbart news editor. 

In the emails, Miller expressed fear that DREAMERs would replace white Americans and suggested deporting immigrants on trains to scare them. SPLC’s Michael Hayden says Miller is a supporter of the “great replacement theory” championed by white supremacists who fear white people will become a racial minority. The theory has been echoed in the manifestos of mass shooters and prominent white supremacist leaders. 

Miller believes his fellow Republicans aren’t hard enough on immigrants. 

“Demanding DREAMers be given citizenship because they ‘know no other home.’ That principle is an endorsement of perpetual birthright citizenship for the foreign-born,” Miller wrote in an email.  “Not only will the U.S.-born children of future illegal immigrants and guest workers be made automatic U.S. citizens, but their foreign-born children will too because, as [former Republican House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor said, ‘Our country was founded on the principle.’”

Miller praised Florida’s very own former governor Jeb Bush for his use of moderate rhetoric to push extreme policies. The emails leaked are from around 2015, when Miller was an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions before being selected by Trump.

 “Jeb [Bush] has mastered the art of using immigration rhetoric to sound ‘moderate’ while pushing the most extremist policies,” Miller wrote in an email. 

Former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh provided over 900 emails to SPLC in which Miller expressed disdain for non-white immigrants. McHugh says she leaked the emails addressed to her from Miller to expose the hidden “evil” of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. 

“In a November 2015 email that Hatewatch has not previously published, Miller forwarded an interview with Phyllis Schlafly from far-right conspiracy website WorldNetDaily that argued undocumented immigrants should be shipped out on trains to ‘scare out the people who want to undo our country,’” according to SPLC. 

25 interfaith groups call for the resignation of Stephen Miller. 

Yesterday, 25 faith groups, among them many prominent Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders including the Anti-Defamation League, The Nation’s Mosque, and African American Ministers in Action, signed a letter calling for Miller’s resignation. 

“Stephen Miller authored many of these destructive policies and helped ensure their enactment via his network of anti-immigrant officials throughout the federal government. Further, these policies have been paired with heightened and unrelenting anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric coming from the White House,” the organizations said. 

The group also called out the Trump administration for allowing white supremacist views in the White House. 

“At one point in history, harboring a white supremacist in the White House could harm an administration. Today, President Trump appears unbothered by his close official’s ties to white supremacy. This cannot stand. As organizations of many faiths, who feel love and respect where Miller advances disdain and hate, we call for his resignation immediately,” the letter stated

Last November 100 lawmakers demanded Stephen Miller resign. 

Miller has been in the hot seat for a while. Last year 100 lawmakers demanded the advisor’s resignation, a couple of weeks ago 25 Jewish members of congress joined that call following Rolling Stone’spublication of a different set of leaked emails that further establish his support of xenophobic ideas. 

“A documented white nationalist has no place in any presidential administration, and especially not in such an influential position,” the 100 representatives wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump. “Miller’s white supremacist influence on your immigration policy, and it seems like that his perfidious adherence to extremist ideology has shaped your administration in ways that are not yet public.”

In the Rolling Stone emails, Miller called refugees “foreign-born terrorists” and expressed a fondness for a book called “Camp of Saints” which is a favorite of neo-Nazis.

“The dystopian 1973 novel is widely regarded as racist and traffics in fear-mongering about immigrant invasions. It is popular among white nationalist circles and has been invoked by former White House aide Steve Bannon and Iowa Congressman Steve King,” according to Newsweek

Other emails show Miller is using his influence in the White House to coordinate anti-immigration policies that reflect his views. 

“In the emails, [senior advisor at ICE Jon] Feere strategizes with Miller about how to use the federal government to amplify their anti-immigration message; tees up potential attacks on prominent Democratic politicians; directly briefs Miller in great detail about upcoming enforcement actions and policy changes in the works; and recommends to Miller people the administration should hire to expedite its immigration agenda,” according to Rolling Stone

While Miller has still not resigned, the pressure is continuing to mount in Congress and among activists. 

Despite Trump’s False Claims, Facts Are Facts: More Than 99% Of Asylum Seekers Show Up To Their Court Dates

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Despite Trump’s False Claims, Facts Are Facts: More Than 99% Of Asylum Seekers Show Up To Their Court Dates

Jorge Benez-Ramon / Getty

One of the biggest myths that the Trump administration has perpetuated is that asylum seekers do not conform to the legal requirements and processes required to guarantee their cases are being heard in court. The Trump administration has claimed that the only way to guarantee that asylum seekers’ cases will reach the court is to keep them in detention centers (yes, you read that right).

This seems a bit counterintuitive: if they are seeking asylum it is because they have a cause they find justifiable for entering the United States undocumented in the first place. A recent study sheds light on the fallacy of “missed court appointments” and reveals that if not in detention, a vast majority (let’s just say the totality) of asylum seekers do show up for their hearings.  

Numeritos hablan: 99% of who were not detained or who were released from immigration custody show up to their hearings.

Credit: AZFamily / Instagram

New data from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC, a think tank that tracks data in the immigration courts) at Syracuse University reveals that most of asylum seekers who are not detained do attend their court hearings.

This finding basically trumps Trump’s assertion that they do not, which misrepresents them as individuals who prefer to live in the shadows and at the risk of being deported rather than doing due legal diligence. On average, migrants who are caught at the border or who hand themselves in have to wait for more than two years before their cases are dealt with in court.

But there are some others who have to wait even longer, as the TRAC report tells us: “Overall, asylum applicants waited on average 1,030 days – or nearly three years – for their cases to be decided. But many asylum applicants waited even longer: a quarter of applicants waited 1,421 days, or nearly four years, for their asylum decision.” Four years is a long, long time… wouldn’t anyone want the wait to be over?

Other previous research also disregards the idea that migrants want to live in the United States illegally rather than seeing their cases go through.

For those who have been lucky enough to never have to flee their home country or live in constant fear of being deported, it might feel like migrants would rather hide than face the law. This is also the driving rationale behind the Trump administration’s move to send asylum seekers to Mexico and wait there until their cases go through court. However, studies have shown that they want their migratory status to be cleared so they can go on with their lives, free of worries of being deported at any time. 

When in doubt, use science! 

As Vox reports, the numbers gathered by TRAC are pretty definitive: “The latest data from TRAC shows that nearly every migrant who applied for asylum and whose case was completed in 2019 showed up for all of their court hearings”. Boom! However, the Department of Justice has raised concerns about the accuracy of TRAC’s data analysis. TRAC does not disclose its methodology but uses information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. 

The Department of Justice claims numbers are much lower.

FILE PHOTO: Children walk inside an enclosure, where they are being held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), after crossing the border between Mexico and the United States illegally and turning themselves in to request asylum, in El Paso, Texas, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Data from the Department of Justice contradicts the stunning 99% published by TRAC. According to 2018 numbers, the government says actually 75% of asylum seekers show up to their court hearings, a significant drop compared to TRAC’s analysis. And Trump’s numbers are even lower… yes, really.

He has said: “Tell me, what percentage of people come back? Would you say 100 percent? No, you’re a little off. Like, how about 2 percent? And those people, you almost don’t want, because they cannot be very smart… Those two percent are not going to make America great again, that I can tell you”. Wow, can you imagine a more deceitful way of framing reality?

TRAC’s report also reveals that more asylum seeker cases were decided in 2019 than in any other year… 46,735 people were denied asylum.

Yes, the courts are being busy. As the report reads, in 2019 “judges decided 67,406 asylum cases, nearly two-and-a-half times the number from five years ago when judges decided 19,779 asylum cases. The number of immigrants who have been granted asylum more than doubled from 9,684 in FY 2014 to 19,831 in FY 2019.”

But it is not all good news, as “the number of immigrants who have been denied asylum or other relief grew even faster from 9,716 immigrants to 46,735 over the same time period.” The three countries of origin that top the charts of successful asylum seekers are China, El Salvador and India.