Our immigrant communities, our allies -- all of us -- can take heart and inspiration from the words and actions of Dr. King, not just on his birthday, but in our daily struggle for justice. We are reminded of the persistence and commitment of the civil rights movement of decades past and as it continues today as we push back against the calls to racism and xenophobia by Donald Trump.
Just Say 'No'...to the Deal
Donald Trump's "major announcement" Saturday was another version of his Jan. 8 televised proposal, employing his now-familiar tactic of hostage-taking. There don't seem to be many takers, as Democrats quickly denounced his proposal of a trade-off for border wall funding, while hard-liners claimed that he was proposing some type of "amnesty" (he's not).
[UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to introduce a bill ('End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act') in the Senate this week, with a vote set for Thursday on this and the Democrats' short-term spending bill, that excludes wall funding and would re-open government until Feb. 8. Just over 1,300 pages, the Republican bill adds more troubling measures to Trump's "deal", including changes to asylum programs. We will share an overview and analysis separately, along with proposed actions over the next 2 days.]
The federal government has now been on shutdown for a month as Trump insists on $5.7 billion for his border wall construction -- a proposal that has been rejected by Democrats. In return for the wall funding and his other asks, Trump would "release" his hostages -- recipients under DACA, which he is trying to end -- and over 300,000 immigrants with TPS status, which he has refused to renew for several countries. $800 million would be allocated for humanitarian assistance, medical care (which should be provided anyway) and "temporary housing" -- which appears to largely be more tent cities, already underway. Other elements of Trump's proposal include:
- $783 million for 2,750 border and enforcement agents and staff;
- $805 million for technology, canine units for drug deterrence;
- $563 million for immigration court support, including 75 more immigration judges (most likely intended to speed up deportations);
- $4.2 billion for 52,000 detention beds and other detention supports.
Trump proposes a 3-year provisional status is proposed for DACA and TPS recipients, with additional restrictions. However, DACA recipients will now continue their status for at least a year, as the Supreme Court has just decided it will not take up the Trump Administration's challenge to a lower court ruling, so the program stays in place, for now. Similarly, there are legal challenges to ending TPS, and various legislative proposals are being considered to provide permanent solutions for both DACA and TPS recipients.
The prolonged shutdown has put pressure on both the White House and all members of Congress, and the Trump/Republican Senate proposal is supposedly aimed at ending the shutdown with some type of compromise. However, the Republican and Democrats' bills are wide apart and neither is expected to get the 60 votes for passage.
Moreover, Dreamers, affected communities and most advocates have consistently called for no trade off for the border wall. Trump's obsession with building the wall has been transparent: to reinforce his racist campaign promise to his supporters to keep immigrants out of the country.
Increased border enforcement and militarization, including border barriers, have forced migrants and asylum seekers to travel under more dangerous conditions, sometimes resulting in deaths; these border enforcement measures have undermined environmental protections and health; and they are extremely costly. Most illicit drugs enter the country through ports of entry, not between them, and the emphasis on drug trafficking has had little effect on the health crisis of drug addiction in the U.S. As for terrorism -- even DHS has had to admit that no terrorist has ever been arrested at the southern border. The wall and border control proposals do not constitute responsible and humane border governance, and certainly do not facilitate U.S. responsibilities and obligations towards asylum seekers.
We do need to address the complex, short and long term issues of immigration. But these proposals undermine any informed consideration and do not move us towards more just and fair policies untainted by racism and xenophobia and the intentional criminalization of immigrants.
Join the chorus of opposition to a deal cut on the backs of asylum seekers, DACA, TPS recipients and unpaid federal workers! Send a message to your members in Congress -- they need to hear from ALL of us!