Feb 27, 2018
by Christopher Kerosky, Kerosky, Purves & Bogue, LLP, Sonoma County Human Rights Commissioner
What the Trump Administration has done and how these changes affect our local immigrant community.
Now that we are over one year into the Trump era, I thought I would summarize here how the new administration has impacted the everyday lives of our documented and undocumented immigrant communities.
Cancellation of the DACA Program. In September, the Trump Administration announced the rescission of the DACA program, starting March 5th. The Administration closed the program to new applicants; that means children turning 15 years old who would have been eligible for a reprieve from deportation, are out of luck and now subject to deportation.
Those who have DACA status were to begin to lose their status this month. A San Francisco judge ordered the government to continue renewals for now, but the Administration has appealed this ruling and hopes to overturn it. In fact, their lawyers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the appeal out of order because, they argued, the federal judge’s ruling halting the deportation of young people with DACA creates “a national emergency”. A decision by the Supreme Court on their petition is expected soon. As of this writing, applications for DACA renewals are still being accepted.
Sonoma County alone has an estimated 4,000 young immigrants who may lose their DACA status soon, barring some legislative solution. In February, Congress failed to approve any of four proposed bills in Congress that would have provided that solution. Donald Trump vigorously fought all the proposals other his own, which would have made relief for DREAMers conditional upon $25 billion for his border wall and an end to most family immigration.
End of Temporary Protected Status for Central Americans and Others. For almost two decades, our federal government has given a reprieve from deportation—known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS)—to about 320,000 persons from 10 countries. Recently, the Administration took steps to end this reprieve and force these people to return to their native countries.
California alone has about 50,000 Salvadorans with TPS and another 50,000 U.S.-born minor children of TPS holders from El Salvador. Many are in the Bay Area. These are families that have been here legally since 2001. Many TPS holders in Sonoma County have long-term jobs in the hospitality, winery and construction industries; many others in medicine, finance and high-tech. Many own homes here and they are virtually all integrated into our community. This Administration is now expecting them all to return to countries where they haven’t lived for 20 years.
Deportation of the Undocumented. Shortly after his election, Donald Trump went on national TV and vowed to deport 2-3 million immigrants “immediately”. The truth is that it is not possible to deport most immigrants quickly; it takes 5 years to go through the deportation process now and there are only a fraction of that number currently in the process. An expansion of deportation on the scale Trump promised would require increasing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget about five-fold.
However, the Trump Administration has changed deportation policy by no longer focusing on immigrants with criminal records as Obama had. Now, everyone here without papers—and there are about 11 million people like this—is subject to deportation. So far, the impact on our community is rather random, but tragic for the individuals involved. The unlucky undocumented immigrant who has contact with ICE is now put into deportation proceedings; the family with a deportation order frozen by Obama is now routinely removed from the country; visa recipients who let their status lapse are now deported without a hearing.
Moreover, the Director of ICE told Congress that all undocumented immigrants “should be worried” and he has made publicized statements about his intention to focus deportation efforts on sanctuary communities like ours. It becomes ever more important that we support and defend our immigrant communities in case they are pulled into the deportation dragnet that ICE promises is coming.
Slashing Legal Immigration. The Administration is pushing legislation that would restructure our existing immigration system, eliminating many of the current ways people immigrate. As of now, adult U.S. citizens can petition their elderly parents to immigrate, something traditionally known as family reunification, but what Donald Trump calls “chain migration”. His proposal would eliminate that possibility, and also prevent U.S. citizens from sponsoring their adult children or siblings – something that takes 20 years or more for Mexican citizens under current waiting periods. (Importantly, the proposal would apply these limits to the future only, continuing to process pending applications.) Trump’s proposal would also reduce our legal immigration by 50%.
CONCLUSION: We did not expect a lot of good news for immigrants from the Trump Administration and the result has been largely what we expected. It has taken his administration almost a year to fill the top positions in the Department of Homeland Security, but now we’re beginning to see real changes in the implementation of existing immigration law. The pro-immigrant factions in Congress have so far blocked any of his proposed legislative changes; hopefully they will continue to safeguard the limited paths to legalization that currently exist.
But as for comprehensive immigration reform, we will likely have to wait for a new administration to see any hope of that coming to pass.
Thursday, March 8th to host a Free Naturalization and DACA clinic from 3:00 - 7:00 PM.
We would really appreciate it if you could help make an announcement about our upcoming event for people who need Free Immigration Services in Petaluma, post our flyer. share with your networks, or hand out the flyers. We rely on organizations like yours who are trusted in the community to give out our information,
Just to provide a bit of background, this event is part of OneJustice’s Justice Bus Project initiative.
The mission of the JusticeBus Project is to increase the capacity of legal service providers and community based organizations serving isolated and vulnerable populations throughout the state. The clinic is an opportunity for residents of San Joaquin County to meet one-on-one with a law student supervised by an expert immigration attorney about their eligibility to apply for citizenship and be screened for other forms of immigration relief.
In the past year alone, the Justice Bus Project has organized free legal clinics in 23 counties throughout California and partnered with over 25 community based organizations to coordinate legal services for more than 1,000 low-income individuals. I invite you to learn more about OneJustice and the Justice Bus Project by visiting our website at onejustice.org/probonojustice/.
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