2018 Anti-Immigration Politics and Rhetoric under Trump – Family Separation, Asylum Ban, Wall

Courtesy of , Axios.com

In 2018, we saw a wave of anti-immigration policies, rules and proclamations intended to obstruct U.S. immigration.

Driving the news: The House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on immigration legislation, leaving the Trump administration to use everything within its executive power to address the issue. Many of those efforts were blocked (at least temporarily) by the courts.

AT THE BORDER:

The Justice Department and Homeland Security announced a “zero-tolerance” policy in May that resulted in the traumatic separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents at the border. In the face of global backlash, Trump signed an executive order calling for an end to family separation. But it took government agencies weeks of chaos to reunite migrant families.

Through the executive branch:

IN THE COURTS:

The Supreme Court upheld Trump’s travel banbut blocked his asylum ban for migrants who cross the border illegally. The court did not take up the DACA case —protecting thousands of immigrants who came to the U.S. as children until at least next year.

Federal judges blocked (at least temporarily) administration efforts to end:

ON THE GLOBAL STAGE:

The U.S. was one of a small number of nations to vote against the UN Compact for Migration and Compact for Refugees.

  • A wave of anti-immigration politics and rhetoric continued to sweep Europe, mirroring some of Trump’s 2016 platform.
  • Most recently, the U.S. cut a deal with a Mexico to keep migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. on Mexican soil until their applications are processed. The U.S. pledged billions of dollars in aid to Central American nations and southern Mexico.

Asylum Denials and Decisions Jump in 2018

Fiscal year 2018 broke records for the number of decisions (42,224) by immigration judges granting or denying asylum. Denials grew faster than grants, pushing denial rates up as well. The 42,224 decisions represented a 40 percent jump from decisions during FY 2017, and an 89 percent increase over the number of asylum decisions of two years ago.

In past year, 65% of cases received asylum denials.  This is the sixth year in a row that denial rates have risen. Six years ago the denial rate was just 42.0 percent. See Figure 1. (For year-by- year figures, see Appendix Table 1 at the end of this report.)

Figure 1. Immigration Court Asylum Decisions
FY 2001 – FY 2018
(Click for larger image)

What Do Immigration Court Asylum Grant and Denial Rates Really Mean?

Immigration judges’ decisions on asylum applications are not necessarily the same as the outcome of each case. A asylum denial does not automatically result in a deportation order. The individual could have qualified for some other form of relief, or was otherwise found by the immigration judge to not be deportable and was accordingly allowed to remain in the country.

Currently the government does not publish or provide public access to data that would allow complete tracking of the final outcome from all asylum cases. This occurs in part because multiple agencies are involved, often with separate tracking systems. Only a partial portrait is therefore available from Immigration Court data.

The situation is particularly confusing for unaccompanied children from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and other countries that do not directly border this country. While the Immigration Court generally has jurisdiction over their cases, their actual applications for asylum are typically submitted directly to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If asylum officers at USCIS determine they are entitled to asylum, the Immigration Court will use the USCIS decision as a basis for closing the child’s case. However, the decision to allow them to remain in the country will not be recorded as a grant of asylum in the court’s records. This is because court records only separately track asylum decisions made by immigration judges.

Table 1 compares case outcome in FY 2018 for the top four nationalities seeking asylum, and compares these with asylum grant and denial rates.

Table 1. Asylum Grant and Denial Rates and
Overall Immigration Court Case Outcomes in FY 2018
Asylum Decision Grant/DenyAll Asylum ApplicationsAll Immigration Court Cases
NumberGrantedNumberOutcome:
Can Remain in U.S.
NumberOutcome:
Can Remain in U.S.
All Nationalities42,22435.0%64,97439.2%215,56933.2%
El Salvador8,23223.5%12,07331.1%28,66537.6%
Honduras6,24021.2%8,74523.9%30,24227.2%
Guatemala6,05218.8%9,21424.9%37,57126.2%
Mexico5,37914.5%10,89633.5%65,79224.7%

Note that for El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala the proportion allowed to remain in the country is higher than the asylum grant rate. As a result, the proportion of those allowed to remain in the country is somewhat higher than the simple grant and denial rate suggests.

Of course, not all individuals from these three countries apply for asylum in Immigration Court. The last two columns in Table 1 include the outcome for all Immigration Court cases. The proportion of those allowed to stay from these three countries is somewhat higher even than on those submitting asylum applications to the court.   This partially reflects the inclusion of favorable outcomes for many unaccompanied children’s cases who submit their application to USCIS rather than directly to the Immigration Court.

Judge-by-Judge Differences in Asylum Decisions

The outcome for asylum seekers continued to depend on the identity of the immigration judge (more…)

U.S. Border Asylum Seekers Face Trump 90-day Ban to Apply for Asylum

Trump administration enacted an interim immigration rule effective midnight November 9, 2018 and for the next 90 days,  that invoke national security powers to prevent asylum seekers from entering the U.S. and prevents them from applying for asylum if they entered without paper (or valid visas).  The strategy appears to be aimed at preventing members of a Central American caravan from entering the U.S.  The president will use the same authority that he relied upon to ban travel from mostly Muslim countries just days after he became President.  Trump is trying to use his executive discretion to override a specific thing that Congress wrote into the law.

The text of the Immigration and Nationality Act specifies that people may apply for asylum “whether or not” they enter the US at a port of entry. When someone enters the U.S., if he or she has a “credible fear” of persecution (in other words, that there’s a significant possibility they would be persecuted if deported based on her race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group), then he or she is allowed to go before an immigration judge.  This can take some time, so the person is released on bond and can be granted work authorization while awaiting their day in immigration court.

If he or she is ineligible for asylum but still has reason to fear persecution, he or she can receive a lesser form of protection — called withholding of removal — that allows her to stay in the US but gives her no path to permanent legal status.

Trump interim rule or executive order will force asylum seekers to choose between having to wait for weeks or longer at overloaded ports of entry — unless they’re prevented by smugglers from coming to a port at all — and risking near-immediate deportation by crossing illegally and turning themselves in to Border Patrol.

It is near-certain that the policy will be subject to a lawsuit in the immediate future — maybe even before the policy even goes into effect at midnight Saturday. It is extremely likely that the policy will be put on hold by a federal judge ruling against the administration soon after that. (more…)

Trump Travel Ban #3 Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court – Comparison to Travel Ban #1 & #2 |

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump Travel ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, delivering to the president on Tuesday a political victory and an endorsement of his power to control immigration at a time of political upheaval about the treatment of migrants at the Mexican border.

In a 5-to-4 vote, the court’s conservatives said that the president’s power to secure the country’s borders, delegated by Congress over decades of immigration lawmaking, was not undermined by Mr. Trump’s history of incendiary statements about the dangers he said Muslims pose to the United States.

Below is a New York Times comparative of Travel Ban 1, Travel Ban 2 and Travel 3 (ultimately held to be lawful):

 

(more…)

Travel Ban 3 upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s September 24, 2017 Proclamation (Travel Ban 3.0), which currently excludes nationals from seven countries, stating that the proclamation was “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the INA.” (Trump v. Hawaii, 6/26/18)

As a result of this review, the following countries were deemed to have inadequate identity management protocols, information sharing practices and risk factors: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. While it was also determined that Iraq did not meet the baseline requirements, nationals of Iraq will not be subject to any outright ban on travel, but will be subject to additional screening measures.

Currently, nationals of seven countries, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen are subject to various travel restrictions contained in Presidential Proclamation 9645, as outlined in the following table, subject to exceptions and waivers set forth in in the Proclamation. (more…)

Asylum Seekers who Fear Domestic Abuse or LGBTQ Persecution Ineligible for U.S. Asylum

Asylum seekers can no longer seek asylum in the U.S. citing fears of domestic abuse, gang violence or fear as a LGBTQ individual .  On June 11, 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred a Board of Immigration Appeals case to himself and issued a decision stating members of particular “social groups,” including domestic violence victims and LGBTQ individuals cannot file a petition for asylum.  He reversed an immigration appeals court ruling that granted it to a Salvadoran woman who said she had been sexually, emotionally and physically abused by her husband (Matter of AB-, 27 I&N Dec. 227 (A.G. 2018)).

Asylum, the right to remain in the country,requires proof that an immigrant faces persecution because of his or her race, religion, nationality, political views or membership in a particular social group. It includes private abuses that the home government is unable or unwilling to control. (more…)

Five Ways Trump Successfully Cut Immigration Benefits

“When it comes to putting immigrants on a path to deportation, it doesn’t seem to matter how long they’ve been here, the conditions they fled in the first place, the contributions they have made or the impact on their families, employers and communities, or the fact that they’ve had legal status for years and years,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a progressive immigration reform advocacy group.  “The bottom line seems to be this: get ready to get out; this is especially true if you are from what the president calls ‘shithole countries,’ ” he added.  The termination of special protection programs show that Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen are “intent on driving millions of immigrants out of the country.” 

#1: DACA

In September 2017, Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the decision directly affected around 690,000 so-called Dreamers — immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as minors who were given an employment card and deportation protection.

The 690,000 pre-enrolled DACA recipients can currently maintain and renew their two-year permits thanks to a federal court order against Trump’s move to end the program. But uncertainty over the program’s future has created a slew of other issues for the program’s beneficiaries.

#2: TPS

Under Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has announced the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 260,000 Salvadorans, 60,000 Haitians, 5,000 Nicaraguans and a few hundred Sudanese.  Salvadoran TPS has been renewed every 18 months since 2001, after two earthquakes hit the country.  TPS allows citizens of countries that are going through man-made or natural disasters to live and work in the United States.

#3: ICE

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the federal government’s top immigration law enforcement agency.  Under Trump, the agency has become “unshackled,” allowing it to prioritize for deportation immigrants who were deemed out of bounds by previous administrations.  ICE can no longer use prosecutorial discretion to stop or pause deportation so the deportee can remain united with his U.S. citizen spouse or minor child.  Trump implementation of the Criminal Alien Program also denies bond to permanent residents facing criminal cases (even though not convicted and simple charged with deportable offense).  Trump has also placed new performance matrix on immigration judges creating unattainable timeframes for completing an immigration case resulting in a deportation mill at the immigration court.

#4: USCIS

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency that grants visas, permanent residency and citizenship to foreign applicants.  Under Trump, USCIS Director Francis Cissna changed the agency’s mission statement, removing references to the United States as a “nation of immigrants” in favor of language about “protecting Americans.”

USCIS is considering a proposal to tighten the rules on foreign citizens’ use of tax breaks and welfare programs, said Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for Homeland Security.  If the White House approves the proposal, foreigners on visas or with permanent residency could be barred from using popular tax breaks, like the earned income tax credit or public health subsidies.

#5: Refugees and travel ban

Trump issued an executive order in January 2017 banning the entry of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States.  The so-called travel ban was blocked by three courts using Trump’s public statements as evidence that it unfairly targeted Muslims.  But after each reversal in court, the administration released a new set of rules to impose a travel ban that could pass constitutional muster.  The Supreme Court is scheduled to permanently rule on the travel ban’s constitutionality in early May 2018.

(more…)

U.S. Supreme Court Reject Trump request to block DACA – DACA Renewals will Continue

(CNN) February 26,2018 – The Supreme Court announced it will stay out of the dispute concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for now, meaning the Trump administration may not be able to end the program March 5 as planned.

In an order, the justices declined a request from the Trump administration to review a lower court opinion that temporarily blocked the government’s effort to end the program.

The court’s order means the case will continue in the lower courts and DACA renewals can continue. (more…)

DACA Deportation – Federal Judge Rules Trump Cannot End #DACA

By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times – Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A federal judge in New York ruled Tuesday that the government must fully restart the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty and accept brand new applicants as well as renewals, throwing a potential wrench in the ongoing debate over the fate of “Dreamers” on Capitol Hill.

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis said the administration does have the power to revoke DACA, but it must give a sound reason for doing so — and the Homeland Security Department’s September 2017 rationale fell far short of what is required in that regard.

He becomes the second judge to rule President Trump’s aides bungled the phaseout — but his decision is the most wide-ranging, ordering the government to not only allow those already in the program to renew their applications but also ordering the government to accept new applications.

“The question before the court is thus not whether defendants could end the DACA program, but whether they offered legally adequate reasons for doing so,” wrote Judge Garaufis, a Clinton appointee to the court. “Based on its review of the record before it, the court concludes that defendants have not done so.”

The judge said the Trump administration can still rescind the program in the future if it does it the right way.

And he said the administration doesn’t have to approve any specific DACA applications. But it must begin to process applications again.

Trump Immigration Framework = End Chain Migration + End Visa Lottery + Border Wall + Legal Status for DACA

No bill or legislation has been introduced by the Trump administration and no legislation has been signed into law.  All you have heard is a whole lot of talk on immigration.  The one page outline introduced by the Trump administration proposed a long path to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA (or young immigrants who entered the U.S. before age 15) in exchange for a massive border package, cut to chain migration, and complete elimination of the diversity visa.  The language in this one page outline is very vague and gives very few details.

Border Wall

The one page outline proposes massive increases in enforcement dollars including a $25 billion “trust fund” for a “border wall system,” as well as additional funds for the Department of Homeland Security’s other enforcement activities. The bill would also expand the use of a fast-track deportation process, known as expedited removal, to remove those who overstay their visas.

Visa Lottery

Secondly, the framework criticizes and eliminates the diversity visa lottery program, claiming it is a program “riddled with fraud and abuse and does not serve the national interest.” Although the framework states that it would reallocate those visas to reduce the lengthy backlogs in the family-based and high-skilled employment-based categories, it is unclear how exactly it would be done.

End Chain Migration (aka Family Immigration)

The framework also proposes drastic cuts to legal immigration, in what could be a 50 percent decrease in green cards issued annually. These cuts to legal immigration are accomplished in two ways. First, it redefines the nuclear family by only allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor only their spouse and minor children, ending the visa categories that allow them to reunite with adult children, siblings, and parents.

In other words, U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents would no longer be able to file an immigration petition for brother/sister, adult children (over age 21) or parents under Trump immigration framework.

The issue really comes down to is restricting immigration. Immigration restrictionists want to see lower total numbers of immigrants coming in to the U.S. – even if that means targeting legal immigration vehicles like the family visa programs. Currently, family-sponsored immigration tools account for 65% of new legal immigrants to the U.S. every year, so restricting use of the tool would dramatically reduce immigration numbers.

The reality is that 2018 is a mid-term election year and Republicans will NOT be on-board to grant 1.8 million DACA immigrants legal status even if it means cutting chain migration (family immigration).  Again, immigration is FEDERAL LAW and laws start out as proposed bills that get introduced into Congress and must pass by majority vote and then get signed into law by a President. None of the above has happened – no bill, no legislation, no voting, no signing. (more…)