The Week Ahead: April 9-13

Communications Assistant

April 9, 2018


White House, DOJ Crack Down on Illegal Border Crossings

The White House released a memo Friday directing the administration to end the release of asylum seekers while their cases are being processed, which the Trump administration has referred to as “catch and release.”

Following up on early Trump administration executive orders, the memo directs officials to report the steps they are taking to change current immigration detention practices in these circumstances.” Changes could lead to widespread denial of due process for migrants who present themselves at the border, including expanded immigration detention or expedited deportation.

The directive threatens to expand dramatically the number of immigrants placed in indefinite detention as they wait for their cases to be resolved in a chronically backlogged system, worsening current overcrowding problems and raising constitutional concerns.

The memo came hours after the Justice Department announced a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings, directing federal prosecutors to criminally charge all immigrants caught illegally entering the country. The shift would exacerbate current court backlogs, placing an even greater burden on federal dockets near the border.

Following Trump Directive, Governors Deploy National Guard to Border

Three of the four Southwest border state governors have deployed or plan to deploy National Guard troops to their border this week following an order President Trump signed last week calling for military presence at the U.S.-Mexico border until his proposed border wall is completed.

The purpose of the operation is to combat illegal border crossings, despite border apprehensions of illegal entrants decreasing by almost three-fifths between 2000 and 2017, to a 46-year low  the administration previously touted. In 2017, each Border Patrol agent apprehended just 16 people on average over the course of the year, approximately one every three weeks.

While Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both deployed the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, those operations occurred in times of higher border crossings and were criticized as costly and inefficient.

House to Hear Testimony This Week on Budget, Border Security

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will testify at a House Appropriations Committee budget hearing Wednesday, where she will field questions on fiscal year 2019 appropriations for the department.

Other hearings scheduled for this week include another budget hearing, on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and a House Oversight Committee hearing on border security in response to news coverage of the caravan of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico, some of whom hope to reach the U.S. border and seek asylum. (For more on the caravan, listen to Ali Noorani’s interview with one of its organizers, Alex Mensing, on our “Only in America” podcast.)


Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:


WASHINGTON POST (Editorial): America needs more workers. Trump’s war on immigration won’t help.
April 8, 2018

PRESIDENT TRUMP makes no secret of his distaste for immigrants, nor of his support for measures to slash both legal and illegal immigration. Even as his crusade to close borders intensifies, however, American employers in an array of industries — manufacturing, agriculture, trucking, home building, energy, food service, retail and others — are warning that a long-brewing labor shortage is reaching crisis proportions.
The causes of America’s worker shortfall include an aging population and a birthrate that recently hit a historic low. With the jobless rate bumping along at just above 4 percent, companies desperate to fill orders and meet demand are pumping up their recruiting budgets and in some cases turning to ex-convicts to fill jobs.

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LOS ANGELES TIMES: In New York’s ‘Little Liberia,’ some immigrants get ready to leave – or go underground
By Nina Argawal
April 6, 2018

At 67, Rose Knuckles Bull has had enough. The onetime government administrator and Liberian refugee says she put in her time working, paid her taxes and now just wants to go home. Bit by bit, she is packing her things and saving up for a container to ship everything back to Careysburg.
That’s not an option for Prince. The 52-year-old has a teenage daughter in school here and nothing to return to in Unification Town.
As for 50-year-old Alexander Morris? The clergyman from Monrovia is leaving his fate to God.
Across America, time is running out for thousands of Liberians who came here in the face of a grinding civil war, staggering poverty and disease. Some have already lost their legal status to be here. For others, their protected status will expire in less than a year.

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NEW YORK TIMES: Thousands of Indian Women Find Their American Dreams in Jeopardy
By Miriam Jordan
April 6, 2018

For seven years, Deepika Jalakam sat at home. Bored, unfulfilled and dependent on her husband for every dime, she struggled with the notion that her professional life was doomed in the land of opportunity.
So when the employment card arrived in the mail in 2015, Ms. Jalakam did what she often does when good fortune comes her way: She placed it before the gods in the Hindu shrine mounted in her kitchen cabinet, blessed it with a dab of red “kum kum” powder and recited a prayer of gratitude.
Within weeks, Ms. Jalakam, who has a degree in biotechnology, landed a job as an analyst at an insurance company. The next year, she and her husband, Vinay Kumar, a software engineer, bought a house. In 2017, the finances of the Indian immigrant couple were secure enough that they decided to have a second child.

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HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Sessions orders ‘zero tolerance’ policy to prosecute migrants at border
By Lomi Kriel
April 7, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday ordered federal prosecutors along the southern border to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy and criminally charge all immigrants caught entering the country illegally, capping a week in which the administration railed against policies it said was drawing migrants here.
The new memorandum would swell already overburdened federal dockets at the border and expands a controversial program known as Operation Streamline that started in Del Rio more than a decade ago. Though simply being here without authorization is a civil offense, improper entry is a federal misdemeanor, and the conviction can result in a felony if migrants return and potentially prevent them from gaining asylum.

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