Nancy Pelosi promised to pass legislation protecting Dreamers and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) once the House Democratic majority convenes in January. Colleagues are urging Pelosi to schedule a vote on bills that protect Dreamers and TPS immigrants from deportation and provide pathways to citizenship within the first 100 days of the new Congress.
In a statement Saturday, Pelosi said, “America draws strength from our long, proud heritage as a nation of immigrants. In the majority, Democrats will work to reverse the Republicans’ destructive anti-immigrant agenda. Our House Democratic majority will once again pass the Dream Act to end the uncertainty and fear inflicted on patriotic young men and women across the country… We will protect TPS recipients and those fleeing unimaginable violence.”
Representative Adriano Espaillat from New York stated that the Democrats need to “expeditiously” move forward once the new Congress convenes to pass immigration reform and protections without providing funding for a border wall. Espaillat argued that “these young [DACA recipients] are still in limbo. Had it not been for the courts, they would probably be underground, they would be in the shadows.”
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus wrote Pelosi a letter calling for the immigration bill to also include allowing deported U.S. military veterans to return back to the US; stopping “militarization” at the US – Mexico border; reuniting families that were separated or deported; and providing a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The Caucus stated in the letter that “these hardworking, taxpaying undocumented workers have enriched our country, while contributing their knowledge, traditions, and intellect to the fabric of our culture. They are part of America’s economic engine.”
Nancy Pelosi also stated that Democratic House committees will investigate President Trump’s policies of forced family separations for migrants and refugees that reach the US border, including those applying for asylum. Pelosi stated that the Democratic majority in the House “will hold the Trump Administration accountable for their inhumane policy of separating families, and the trauma and anguish they have inflicted on vulnerable children and families at our border.”
In November, the US court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to end DACA, a two-year program protecting young immigrants who entered the United States as minors, from deportation. The 3-judge panel unanimously concluded that DACA was not illegal but rather a “permissible exercise of executive discretion.” Moreover, the court found that the then-acting Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke was incorrect when she claimed that DACA should end because it was illegal.
Since his inauguration, Trump has been moving forward with his mass deportation agenda which includes executive orders that have tripled the size of the Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, allowed ICE the authority to deputize countless local law enforcement agents to act with the authority of federal officials in arresting and detaining undocumented immigrants, and implemented a family separation policy aimed at prosecuting as many border-crossers as possible. Under this policy, parents were immediately sent into criminal custody, while children are classified as “unaccompanied alien children.” This classification used to only apply to minors crossing the border without an adult relative and allowed Border Patrol to forcefully separate the children from their parents. After rescinding this policy via Executive Order, the Trump Administration instated the “Binary Choice” policy. This policy allows for the detainment of asylum-seeking families together for 20 days. After 20 days of detainment, the government forces parents to make a choice: to be detained with their children for months or years until their immigration case advances, or to allow their children to be taken to government shelters and to potentially be adopted by relatives or other individuals in the U.S.
Recently, roughly 2,000 unaccompanied minor children were quietly removed from shelters and transferred to a temporary Tent City in Texas as part of a mass reshuffling by the Trump administration. The Tent City in the border town of Tornillo currently holds roughly 3,800 children who do not have access to schools, and have limited access to legal services.
Media Resources: CBS News 12/2/18; Feminist Newswire 6/20/18; Feminist Newswire 11/9/18; Feminist Newswire 8/21/18; Feminist Newswire 10/16/18