The Week Ahead: June 11-15


Negotiations Continue as Discharge Petition Approaches 218 Signatures

House Republicans are continuing negotiations on immigration legislation to avoid moving forward on Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s discharge petition, which would require votes on four bills that address the future of DACA recipients. The petition is three signatures away from the 218-signature threshold.

Following a meeting last week, moderate House Republicans including Curbelo, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-California) and others are continuing to negotiate with their party’s leadership and more conservative members in hopes of reaching a Republican immigration deal. Some advocates have expressed concern that a Republican-only deal could include harmful cuts to legal immigration in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. Such an agreement would bypass floor votes on bipartisan solutions for Dreamers.

Without a Republican agreement, the discharge petition is expected to reach 218 signatures this week. That would force votes on the bipartisan DREAM Act and USA Act, as well as the restrictionist Securing America’s Future Act — which couples only temporary status for some Dreamers with serious reductions to legal immigration — and a fourth  bill of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) choice, which could mirror President Trump’s immigration framework.

Faith and law enforcement leaders in key districts across the U.S. have urged their representatives to support the discharge petition, which currently represents the only viable opportunity to pass a permanent solution for Dreamers while maintaining the legal immigration that drives the nation’s economic vitality and competitiveness.

Sessions to Target Survivors of Domestic Violence, Gangs with New Asylum Policy

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he will release a decision today aiming to limit the reasons why people can claim asylum in the U.S., essentially foreclosing survivors of domestic violence and people targeted by gangs from receiving asylum.

In a speech to federal immigration judges earlier this morning, Sessions announced that his decision will limit who is eligible for asylum, excluding victims of particular forms of violence and potentially sending thousands of people back to their home countries where they may face abuse, extortion and even death.

The overly narrow view of asylum law would exclude from eligibility people fleeing domestic violence as well as gang-related violence, whom Sessions argues do not qualify for protections in the U.S. as their persecution is not based on membership in a “particular social group.” Immigration courts have previously interpreted “particular social group” to permit these types of claims in certain circumstances. The decision comes less than two months after the Justice Department imposed quotas on immigration judges, further undermining due process for survivors of gang violence or domestic abuse who seek asylum.

The asylum decision is Sessions’ latest attempt to use his authority to deter immigrants and asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution from seeking refuge in the U.S. Last month, the Justice Department imposed a zero-tolerance policy that has torn apart families and overwhelmed immigration courts.


Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:


BOSTON GLOBE: Down on the border, there’s a new trail of tears
By Liz Goodwin
June 10, 2018

McALLEN, Texas — Every night before bed, Wil, who is 6 years old, says his prayers and then kisses two printed-out photos of his mom and dad that are taped on the wall by his bed goodnight.
A few hours later, he’s likely to wander out of his bunk bed and stand outside the door of his foster parents’ room, crying and saying his stomach hurts.
His foster parents, Coryn and Silas — who asked to be identified only by their first names to protect the privacy of the immigrant children staying in their Michigan home — try their best to comfort him. You’re safe now, they tell him. But Wil’s anxiety remains.
“You can’t take away that they miss their family,” Silas said. “They miss their parents.”

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NEW YORK TIMES: ICE Came for a Tennessee Town’s Immigrants. The Town Fought Back.
By Miriam Jordan
June 8, 2018

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — One morning in April, federal immigration agents swept into a meatpacking plant in this northeastern Tennessee manufacturing town, launching one of the biggest workplace raids since President Trump took office with a pledge to crack down on illegal immigration.
Dozens of panicked workers fled in every direction, some wedging themselves between beef carcasses or crouching under bloody butcher tables. About 100 workers, including at least one American citizen, were rounded up — every Latino employee at the plant, it turned out, save a man who had hidden in a freezer.
The raid occurred in a state that is on the raw front lines of the immigration debate. Mr. Trump won 61 percent of the vote in Tennessee, and continues to enjoy wide popularity. The state’s rapidly growing immigrant population, now estimated to total more than 320,000, has become a favorite target of the Republican-controlled State Legislature.

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PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (Opinion): ‘Never again’? ‘Again’ is happening right now on America’s border. What will you do?
By Will Bunch
June 10, 2018

I want to write today about a suicide that has profound moral implications for what it means to be an American in 2018. And no, I’m not talking about either Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain (although Bourdain is oddly relevant … stay with me on this.) This is about Marco Antonio Muñoz, a 39-year-old Honduran who died all alone last month in a rural Texas jail cell, with an item of clothing around his neck and a small pool of blood on a padded floor.
Muñoz was a casualty of the Trump administration’s cruel and inhuman “zero tolerance” policies. Fleeing Honduras — the Central American nation wracked by a murder epidemic, gang violence and numbing poverty, Munoz, his wife and his 3-year-old son were seized by Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande into south Texas.

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