Immigration Raids to Continue in US

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In a political climate rife with contentious and emotional immigration debate, with coverage from everyone from NPR, to USA Today, to BuzzFeed covering the presidential election and the centralized issue of immigrating, U.S. Immigration has announced earlier this month that officials plan sweeping raids throughout May and June in an effort to deport immigrant families who have entered the country illegally.

 

According to statements from the Homeland Department the raids are part of a plan implemented in January of removals and targeting “convicted criminals and others who constitute threats to public safety and national security, as well as recent border crossers.” The department described the recent border crossers as those who were caught at the border after Jan. 1, 2014, “have been ordered removed by an immigration court, and have no pending appeal or pending claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief” under U.S. laws.

 

They have said that in all but emergency cases the Department of Homeland Security would avoid arresting migrants at “sensitive locations,” such as schools, hospitals, and places of worship. They are removing families that the administration says did not show up for their court appearances or those who have refused to comply with orders to leave the country. They also said that the raids are in response to a surge of undocumented immigrants from Central America. From CBS News: “Apprehensions at the southwest border are up, with 32,117 family units (a child with an adult family member) for fiscal 2016 through March, compared to 13,913 for the same time period in 2015. Similarly, in fiscal 2016 through March, 27,754 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the border, compared with 15,616 last year in the same period.”

 

However, all of this is ignoring the fact that the focus here is undocumented mothers and children. The Department of Homeland Security is is making targets out of women and children who should be protected rather than deported. These mothers and children from Central America are not coming here to work, they are coming here to flee the brutal and violent situation in their home countries. Instead of seeing these Central American immigrants as refugees or asylum seekers, we are currently treating them as undocumented workers smuggling themselves over the border. In fact, there are more and more cases of women walking across the border openly and appealing a case to stay to the Border Patrol agents.
From CNN: “Defending the raids, on Friday White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “If this serves to discourage people from considering to make this journey, that would be a good thing.” Still, nothing can change people’s minds when they are literally fleeing for their lives. The women and children targeted by the Obama administration are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, three countries that regularly rank among the world’s most dangerous nations. In these countries, forced gang conscription, sexual violence and homicides are a fact of daily life; one El Salvadoran dies every hour due to violence.”

Obama Fights For Immigration Reform

Despite the fact that our country was founded by immigrants, America has always had a complex and tumultuous relationship with its newcomers. Yes, Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus,” and its famous promise to take in the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” may be engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, but the truth is, over the past few hundred years, we’ve consistently taken measures to ensure that we are doing the exact opposite. These measures have made it very difficult for people who were not born in the USA to become naturalized citizens. From the Act of 1875, which banned convicts and prostitutes from entering the country, to a multitude of federal laws that have prevented various races and nationalities from obtaining American citizenship over the past few hundred years, the messaging of America’s personal brand has always been directly at odds with the actions of our federal government when it has come to taking in people from other countries who want to become naturalized Americans.

Unfortunately, we are still experiencing this phenomenon today. Even though President Obama unveiled his proposal for immigration reform – a proposal that sought to protect the rights and interests of the over 5 million law-abiding immigrants who reside in the US – 14 months ago, we are still awaiting the Supreme Court’s verdict on whether or not it will be put into practice. Thankfully, it was announced this week that the Supreme Court is finally ready to discuss President Obama’s plans for reform, and that the future of his proposal will be decided upon this term. The anticipated timeline of this decision is that it will be reached by summer of 2016, and, if the Court decides to move forward with Obama’s policy, then it will be implemented before he leaves office next year.

One component of the proposal, Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), would allow included residents – most commonly the parents of naturalized citizens who do not have American citizenship themselves – to apply for, and receive, “temporary residency,” which would come with the ability to apply for work authorization and some benefits. The other component would be an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which protects children and teenagers who were born outside of America but raised within its limits.

Since the President’s initial announcement, his proposal has been widely challenged by House Republicans and vocal opponents, who believe that with this suggestion for reform, President Obama has behaved unconstitutionally and with blatant disregard for the governmental checks and balances meant to limit a sitting President’s regulatory power. Still,  the Supreme Court’s announcement about bringing this immigration reform proposal to the floor and giving it the due diligence it should receive is good news for the millions of hardworking, honest residents of the US who contribute to America’s economy and well-being but are not being adequately recognized or compensated for their contributions today.

Texas Denying Birth Certificates to U.S. Born Children

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Based on a federal judge’s ruling earlier this month, Texas can continue denying undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain birth certificates for their children born in the United States. There is no immediate relief while the legal issue is sorted out. In a complex case, the District Judge behind this current decision has gone on to explain the tough predicament he found himself in.

The US District Judge Robert Pitman did not give a preliminary injunction for the civil rights lawsuit which was filed back in May against the state of Texas. The suit began when the state decided to not adhere with the 14th Amendment which grants citizenship to anyone who is born on U.S soil irrespective of their parentage.

Citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants was raised as an issue during the primary debates and primary campaigns in November 2016, where the Republican candidate Donald Trump questioned how citizenship can be automatically granted and Jeb Bush was criticized heavily on his comments about the matter.

Two non-profit organizations, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. filed a lawsuit on behalf of the 6 children & their parents who were immigrants. They were denied birth certificates because the parents did not have what the state considered proper identification. In some cases, parents attempted to present an official ID card, a matricula, which is issued through Mexican consulates as well as Mexican passport. But the lack of a U.S. visa makes it so that the state refuses to accept those forms of ID.

The groups which filed the lawsuit argued that the entitlement for birth certificates was one of the constitutional rights, which was being violated in Texas. In this case, Judge Pitman had to weigh whether or not to force the state to accept those forms of identification.

While the legal procedure is taking its course in the court, the group had asked the judge to give a preliminary injunction that will make the state take two forms of identification that the mother can easily provide to issue birth certificate to her children.

Judge Pitman acknowledged that the evidence that has been raised points to extremely grave concerns on how children who were born in the United States to immigrant parents are treated. But he also said that a preliminary injunction is a very extreme relief and he could not issue it without further exploring the case. Furthermore, the Judge has upheld that the State does have a right to ensure that the forms of identification that it accepts are reliable and valid.