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Immigrant Stories by Christopher Kerosky - California vs. Trump - May 2019

The efforts of the Trump Administration to restrict immigration into the U.S. and target immigrants already here go far beyond the well-publicized separation of families at the border or the termination of the DACA program.

Closing the Door to Immigrants

The fact is that the Administration has implemented a comprehensive agenda to dramatically reduce legal immigration, deport undocumented immigrants, and deny asylum-seekers fair review of their claims. This has included:

• Deporting wider numbers of immigrants, even those with clean records and children born in the U.S.;

• Penalizing cities, counties and states that offer immigrants “sanctuary” from ICE arrest and deportation;

• Delaying the processing of citizenship and residence applications, sometimes doubling or tripling waiting periods for immigration benefits;

• Denying significantly more visas at Embassies abroad, especially in developing countries or those with predominantly Muslim populations;

• Aggressively pressuring Congressional Republicans to oppose any benefits for DACA recipients, which Trump views as “amnesty”;

• Alocking many individuals from eligibility for asylum by changing policies to exclude victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence or gang violence abroad;

• Making it more difficult for victims of crime here including domestic violence to obtain U visas provided by law;

• Forcing asylum applicants to wait long periods in Customs & Border Protection camps at the U.S. border or more recently, in Mexico; they have also incarcerated many more asylum seekers and for longer periods.

• Asylum applicants finally allowed in are frequently rushed through expedited court proceedings, denying them due process and often causing them to be unable adequately prepare their case.

These measures have been coordinated and carried out by many branches of the Trump Administration but most notably the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House itself.

California with its foot in the door

Fortunately, California and its leaders are playing a prominent role in the fight against this stridently anti-immigrant agenda. To wit:

San Francisco Representative and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has led a united and strategic opposition to Trump in the House of Representatives that has consistently blocked the passage of anti-immigrant legislation Trump proposed. This has prevented major changes in statutory immigration law including the proposed scaling back of family unification so often maligned by Trump.

Our Governors Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra have filed more than four dozen lawsuits against the federal government, including court challenges to Trump's immigration initiatives on the border, his "Emergency" Declaration, his attempts to penalize sanctuary cities, among others.

Presidential Candidate, California Senator and Oakland native Kamala Harris has stridently opposed Trump in the Senate and now on the campaign trail. Senator Harris has been a consistent advocate for immigrants; for example, recently introducing legislation to allow DACA recipients to work in Congress. [If successful in her campaign, Kamala Harris would be the first U.S. President to be a fully first generation American – both her parents are immigrants (India and Jamaica)].

Numerous other California members of Congress have been outspoken in the fight against Trump Administration’s policies: Eric Swalwell (Dublin), Adam Schiff (Burbank) and Maxine Waters (Inglewood) and even first-termers Katie Porter (Irvine) and Katie Hill (Santa Clarita). Our own North Bay members of Congress Michael Thompson (St. Helena) and Jared Huffman (San Rafael) are well-informed and tireless advocates for our immigrant community.

On the judicial side, it has largely been California judges who have repeatedly stopped Trump's illegal anti-immigrant moves: his cancellation of DACA, his separation of refugee children from their parents, his various Muslim bans, his latest moves to deprive asylum applicants of their legal rights under the Refugee Act of 1980. All of these illegal policies have been struck down by our federal judges and most affirmed by the California-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

And last but certainly not least: it is our California citizenry that deserves the greatest credit. From the state’s financial support for deportation defense to county sanctuary policies to simply marching in the streets in defense of immigrants – our fellow Californians have been on the front lines of the battle against Trump’s war on immigrants.

Makes one proud to live here. Viva California!

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