A year of challenges for immigrants and refugees, with more on the horizon in 2018


As we near the end of a very long year -- punctuated by punitive, racist and downright disgusting pronouncements and decisions by Donald Trump -- we provide a round-up of issues and and actions. We have been left with a horrible tax reform bill, a short-term spending bill, no "resolution" to the DACA challenge, and a blizzard of rhetoric about ending "chain migration" and touting family separation as a tool against undocumented immigration. 

No doubt, this has been a tough year -- but we end it as we began the year: committed to fight back against hate, repression and injustice. Thank you for your support as we enter this new yearWe urge you to contribute to our year-end fundraising, always an important part of our grassroots fundraising effort, and which provides critical support for the following year's program and operations. Reading on, you will see what challenges lie ahead.

On the frontlines: the fight to save DACA

Dream activists and supporters rallied in Washington these past weeks to push for a clean Dream Act, but Congress adjourned for the holidays without its consideration. Congress approved a short term spending bill (at same levels, until Jan. 19, 2018) to avoid a government shutdown and pushed any legislative action to address the ending of DACA to next year. Democrats had said they would not act on a spending bill that did not include the Dream Act; they now say they have just "postponed" their advocacy until Congress returns in January. 

Prior to the vote on the spending bill, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus had crowded into Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer's office to press him on plans for a "no" vote on the bill, given the refusal of Republicans to allow any consideration of a DACA solution. 

As has been widely reported, the "DACA issue" has become a political football, with the White House and other conservatives insisting on support for increased immigration enforcement as the price for consideration of a "DACA fix". One GOP proposal, which Trump reportedly "loves", would require that any DACA legislative solution include an end to family-based immigration, the diversity visa program, increased border enforcement -- including funding for the wall -- and several proposals to heighten interior enforcement.

These are complex, multiple political threats, especially in the hands of politicians and their parties jostling for leverage towards the looming midterms. There will also be considerable pressure to support "practical solutions" and compromises to protect DACA recipients from pending deportations. For the immigrant rights movement, this is an important time to work together across the issues, with consistent rights-based positions as Trump and Republicans continue to hold DACA recipients hostage to their divisive and anti-immigrant agenda. 

When Congress resumes in January, the next big window for a "DACA fix" will be January 19, the deadline of the spending bill just passed to avoid a government shutdown. Through the holiday period and right after New Year's, we need to urge Congress to support a clean Dream Act. 

Be sure to check out WeAreHereToStay.org and United We Dream for updates and actions.

TPS - Temporary Protected Status in jeopardy

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants will face deportation with the ending of TPS -- Temporary Protected Status. These programs had been approved for nationals from several countries on the basis of extraordinary and temporary conditions in their home countries, such as the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. But the Trump Administration has announced that it will most likely be ending these designations, and has already determined that TPS will end in 2019 for some 49,000 Haitians in the U.S., despite numerous assessments that Haiti still cannot support the return of these nationals.

Various legislative proposals have been introduced in Congress to provide relief from deportation and/or to provide a longterm solution for TPS holders, many of whom have lived, worked, and raised families in the U.S. for several years. "The American Promise Act" (HR 4253), a bill introduced by Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY), is one such proposal and would provide access to permanent residency to all TPS holders. Here is the current TPS status per country:

  • Nicaragua: Some 2,500 Nicaraguans may face deportation effective Jan. 5, 2019, with the announcement that TPS will not be extended.
  • Haiti: TPS for some 49,000 Haitians in the U.S. will end on July 22, 2019. 
  • Honduras: TPS expiration date for some 57,000 Hondurans extended to July 5, 2018.
  • El Salvador: The TPS determination will expire on March 9, 2018. If not renewed, about 200,000  Salvadorans could face deportation.
  • Syria: March 31, 2018 expiration would affect 5,800 Syrians.
  • Yemen: TPS expiration on Sept. 3, 2018 for 1,000 persons.
  • Somalia: Sept. 17, 2018 for 270.
  • Sudan: 450 affected by a Nov. 2, 2018 expiration date.
  • South Sudan: TPS expiration set for May 2, 2019, affecting 200.

There are numerous organizing initiatives to support TPS extensions and to pass legislative solutions. Stay posted for action steps!  

More border enforcement a central issue

Increased border enforcement, including more wall construction, has been a cornerstone of Trump's immigration platform, and he and other GOP politicians have declared that no consideration of a "DACA solution" will come about without these and other immigration restrictions. Dream Act advocates have been firm about passage of a "clean" bill -- one that does not include more enforcement as a "trade off". Border community activists and groups, such as the Southern Border Communities Coalition, have made connections with these demands for the Dream Act, mobilizing Dreamers from the border and pointing out that the border is also home to thousands of DACA recipients. As the debate moves forward, they are adding arguments for border policy transparency and accountability of border agents and practices, citing the pattern of human rights abuses and violations by border agents.

In the meantime, work on proposed border wall prototypes has proceeded, with models erected in the San Diego area; Trump has said he plans to visit these soon -- an event not to be missed.

Trump's attack on family-based immigration and more

Not satisfied with just attacking the undocumented, the Trump Administration has not missed an opportunity to denounce current family-based immigration policies -- stroking racist anxieties about "chain migration" -- and calling for an end to the diversity visa program. Trump has purposely mischaracterized the diversity visa as just a 'lottery' in which names are picked by chance and 'countries send their worst people'!

In the meantime, the Administration is reportedly also considering separating parents and children in detention as another punitive measure. And as for refugees, Trump had already slashed refugee admissions to 45,000 for 2018 and has called for even stricter vetting. The Supreme Court has allowed the latest version of Trump's "Muslim Ban 3.0" to go forward, although legal challenges are pending. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled against the ban, but other lawsuits remain. And on the international front, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the important UN process on the Global Compact on Migration, to be negotiated this coming year, using "America First" rhetoric to defy a multilateral approach to addressing migration.

And there's more, especially pending legislation that includes more (and worse) guestworker programs, making immigration merit-based, and other proposals to implement Trump's immigration agenda. The build-up to the November mid-term elections will certainly impact how immigration and other issues are addressed, and the first quarter of 2018 looks to be another intense political period. Stay tuned!

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Best wishes for the new year, from all of us at NNIRR!

It's been quite a year -- we hope you will find renewed hope,

energy, peace and happiness this holiday season!

Thank you again for your generous support

and enthusiastic solidarity