Indivisible’s Response to Immigration Raids and Attacks Against Immigrants and Refugees

Read and download more resources at https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

 
A priority for the Trump administration is to wage a concerted attack against immigrants and refugees. We’ve already seen what this looks like: Muslim and Refugee bans, ramped-up internal immigration enforcement, racial profiling, harassment, and privacy violations at the US border. This is only the beginning. Trump is gearing up to unleash a wave of raids that will be unprecedented in both number and intensity.

It is no exaggeration to say that ICE agents are now terrorizing our communities, our neighbors, and our families. Immigrants fearful of being detained and separated from their families are being pushed deeper into the shadows. This is not who we are, and this is not what the majority of Americans voted for.

WE STAND INDIVISIBLE WITH IMMIGRANTS

Trump won’t stop terrorizing immigrants on his own—it is up to all of us to stop him. Fighting back on these attacks remains a top priority for Indivisible. We strongly believe that all of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies can be stopped by Congress. Indivisible will continue to pressure MoCs to do their job, to protect families from being torn apart, and to protect democracy from this aspiring tyrant. But protecting our communities will require an even greater commitment. To this end, we will support local efforts intended to shield immigrants and other vulnerable communities from the terror brought upon them by this administration.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?

While Indivisible’s mission is to empower groups to realize their constituent power through congressional advocacy, we also want to recognize how important this issue is for all of us. Below are some suggested local activities to help protect immigrants and to fight back these anti-immigrant attacks.

  1. Connect and support local immigrant rights organizations. Local immigration groups will be on the front lines protecting families against Trump’s deportation force—and they need your help! We recommend connecting with these groups in your area. Invite them to your meetings, share their resources, sign up for their alerts. You may need to do a little bit of research to find out what groups operate near you, but here is one directory to get you started.
  2. Help spread “Know Your Rights” materials in your community. You and your neighbors may have lots of questions about what legal rights and protections immigrants have. Being informed can be the key difference between a parent being able to come home to their kids or finding themselves in ICE custody. We encourage you to read up on what those rights are and help disseminate them with your friends and family. You can find resources here and here.
  3. Make sure local officials aren’t facilitating immigration raids. In some cases, local officials, including police departments, are assisting ICE officers in their immigration raids. This should not be their job. Turning police officers into immigration officers does more harm than good and undermines the community’s trust of police officers. Talk to your local officials and let them know that you don’t want them acting as immigration officers. For talking points see here.
  4. Push your local government and other institutions to adopt “sanctuary” policies. Cities, local and state governments, colleges and universities, hospitals and clinics, and places of worship are adopting policies to help protect immigrants from immigration enforcement. A sanctuary policy is not a refusal to follow the law – it is a commitment to refuse to unnecessarily cooperate with immigration officers. For more information about sanctuary policies, see here.

Border Boondoggle

The GOP’s “just build a wall” simpletons don’t know what they’re talking about.

Jim HightowerGood fences, wrote Robert Frost, make good neighbors.

But an 18-foot high, 2,000-mile wall? That’s another story. It just antagonizes your neighbor — and shows your own fear and weakness.

Yet this is what self-described conservatives running for president propose to build to stop migrants from coming across our country’s southern border. Simple, right? Just fence ’em out!

Haven’t we already tried this?

In 2006, Congress mandated the construction of a wall along the 1,954 miles of our border with Mexico. A decade later, guess how many miles have been completed? About 650. It turns out that erecting a monstrous wall isn’t so simple after all.

U.S.-US-Mexico-border-crossing-fence-wall

Tony Webster / Flickr

First, it’s ridiculously expensive — about $10 billion just for the materials to build from the tip of Texas to the Pacific, not counting labor costs and maintenance.

Second, there’s the prickly problem of land acquisition: To erect the first 650 miles of fence, the federal government had to sue hundreds of property owners to take their land. Odd, isn’t it, that right-wing politicos who loudly rail against government overreach now favor using government muscle to grab private property?

Third, it’s impossible to fence the whole border. Hundreds of miles of it lie along the Rio Grande’s flood plain, and more miles cross the steep mountainous terrain of southern Arizona.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and the other “just build a wall” simpletons either don’t know what they’re talking about or are deliberately trying to dupe voters.

Before you buy a 2,000-mile wall from them, take a peek at the small part already built. Because of the poor terrain and legal prohibitions, it’s not one long fence, but a fragment here and another there, with miles of gaps. Anyone wanting to cross into the United States can just go to one of the gaps and walk through.

But when they’re just trying to stir up fear of foreigners, what’s honesty have to do with it?


OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower LowdownOtherWords.org

Key Points of Obama Immigration Reform Proposals

America’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country.

It is time to act to fix the broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone —both from the workers here illegally and those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules.

Read the full article at http://ramirezgroup.com/key-points-of-obama-immigration-reform-proposals

Border Fears Riddled with Holes

Despite the rhetoric from immigration hardliners, we are indeed securing our borders.

By Raul A. Reyes

Raul A. Reyes

Senator John Cornyn recently discussed immigration reform at a meeting of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “I think there have to be some conditions satisfied. One is that people know we’ve done everything we can to secure the border,” the Republican said at the Austin event.

The Texan lawmaker warned that a “porous” border could leave the country “vulnerable to the sorts of attacks that we sustained on 9/11.”

Cornyn and other Republicans just don’t get it. Although securing the border is important, studies show that we’ve already done that. The biggest problem facing our immigration system isn’t border security. It’s what to do with the undocumented immigrants who are already here. The solution is to create a path to citizenship for them, and the time to do it is now.

Regarding immigrants and the threat of terrorism, recall that all 19 of the 9/11 hijackers had valid tourist visas. Increased border security alone wouldn’t have prevented them from entering the country.

GOP lawmakers like Cornyn have long favored an enforcement-first approach to immigration. A new study conducted by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute shows that this is already in place. Consider that the U.S. spends more on immigration enforcement than on all other law enforcement agencies combined. Last year, we spent nearly $18 billion on immigration enforcement, roughly 24 percent more than the total spending on the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, and other agencies.

Meanwhile, government statistics show that deportations hit a record high in 2012, and the Pew Center reports that illegal immigration is at “net zero” or even lower. So despite the rhetoric from immigration hardliners, we are indeed securing our borders.

Still, Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA) told The New York Times that the Obama administration was weak on enforcement. He pledged to “continue working to secure our borders and enforce existing immigration law.” However, the Center for American Progress notes that the border security benchmarks set by Republicans during the 2007 immigration debate have largely been met. In fact, the goals for increasing border agents, increasing border barriers, and increasing penalties for illegal crossings have all been surpassed. More than 80 percent of the border meets one of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) three highest standards for control.

Cornyn, Gingrey, and other conservatives are stuck on the notion that we need more and more immigration enforcement, and they ignore the reality of what’s already in place and clear signs that undocumented immigration is declining. We can further militarize the border and throw more money at programs like Secure Communities — yet we will still have 11 million undocumented people living among us.

image

The American public recognizes that this is unacceptable; 62 percent of registered voters favor a path to citizenship for the undocumented, according to a December poll by Politico. Although Republicans may dislike the idea of citizenship for the undocumented, which they incorrectly term “amnesty,” it’s an essential component of immigration reform.

By the way, no one is proposing amnesty for the undocumented. Amnesty is a free pass. Comprehensive reform would require undocumented immigrants to pay fines, back taxes, and undergo background checks before they qualify for any adjustment in their immigration status. That’s not amnesty. That’s earned citizenship.

True, our border is not 100 percent sealed. But Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano is correct in her opinion that people who want the border totally secured are misguided. “There’s no border in the world that doesn’t have some form of migration, legal and illegal,” she told NPR. “So saying it has to be zero is like saying we have to put the United States under some sort of Tupperware container and seal it off. That’s not how our country operates.”

The calls for border security have become little more than an excuse to defer comprehensive immigration reform again and again. Enough already. Good sense and sound policy dictate that lawmakers craft a path to citizenship for our undocumented population — and finally solve our immigration mess.


Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and columnist. He lives in New York City.
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

New “Gang of 8” to Address Immigration Reform

A new “gang of 8” in the Senate, who’ve assembled to deal with immigration reform, introduced their “framework” for addressing various immigration-related issues.  We need to be vigilant as their discussions continue and as formal legislation is introduced to ensure it fairly addresses issues of importance to us, the American public.  Will they create more problems than they intend to solve, will they make us safer, or will we be forced to live in fear of drones and the collateral damage produced by trigger happy drone-drivers?  Right now, drones being used to patrol our southern border are supposedly unarmed.  Will they start arming them in the future as a means to bolster defense contractor profits, and at the expense of some teacher and a classroom of kids out on a field -trip?

With all the emphasis in this framework placed on the US-Mexican border, we need to ensure that all of our borders are treated equally with similar forms of surveillance, not just our southern border.  We need to ensure that this bill isn’t just a means to burden people with brown skin with burdens not confronted by potential white immigrants.

Four members from each party — Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado, plus Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Jeff Flake of Arizona — put together the framework that will ultimately need to be fleshed out. Here’s a copy of the framework they released today that they hope to be able to actually introduce by some time in March:

Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake

Introduction
We recognize that our immigration system is broken. And while border security has improved significantly over the last two Administrations, we still don’t have a functioning immigration system. This has created a situation where up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows. Our legislation acknowledges these realities by finally committing t he resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here. We will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited.

Four Basic Legislative Pillars:

  • Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
  • Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
  • Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
  • Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

I. Creating a Path to Citizenship for Unauthorized Immigrants Already Here that is Contingent Upon Securing the Border and Combating Visa Overstays

  • Our legislation will provide a tough, fair, and practical roadmap to address the status of unauthorized immigrants in the United States that is contingent upon our success in securing our borders and addressing visa overstays.
  • To fulfill the basic governmental function of securing our borders, we will continue the increased efforts of the Border Patrol by providing them with the latest technology, infrastructure, and personnel needed to prevent, detect, and apprehend every unauthorized entrant.
  • Additionally, our legislation will increase the number of unmanned aerial vehicles and surveillance equipment, improve radio interoperability and increase the number of agents at and between ports of entry. The purpose is to substantially lower the number of successful illegal border crossings while continuing to facilitate commerce.
  • We will strengthen prohibitions against racial profiling and inappropriate use of force, enhance the training of border patrol agents, increase oversight, and create a mechanism to ensure a meaningful opportunity for border communities to share input, including critiques.
  • Our legislation will require the completion of an entry-exit system that tracks whether all persons entering the United States on temporary visas via airports and seaports have left the country as required by law.
  • We recognize that Americans living along the Southwest border are key to recognizing and understanding when the border is truly secure. Our legislation will create a commission comprised of governors, attorneys general, and community leaders living along the Southwest border to monitor the progress of securing our border and to make a recommendation regarding when the bill’s security measures outlined in the legislation are completed.
  • While these security measures are being put into place, we will simultaneously require those who came or remained in the United States without our permission to register with the government. This will include passing a background check and settling their debt to society by paying a fine and back taxes, in order to earn probationary legal status, which will allow them to live and work legally in the United States. Individuals with a serious criminal background or others who pose a threat to our national security will be ineligible for legal status and subject to deportation. Illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes face immediate deportation.
  • We will demonstrate our commitment to securing our borders and combating visa overstays by requiring our proposed enforcement measures be complete before any immigrant on probationary status can earn a green card
  • Current restrictions preventing non-immigrants from accessing federal public benefits will also apply to lawful probationary immigrants.
  • Once the enforcement measures have been completed, individuals with probationary legal status will be required to go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants, pass an additional background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment, among other requirements, in order to earn the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. Those individuals who successfully complete these requirements can eventually earn a green card.
  • Individuals who are present without lawful status – not including people within the two categories identified below – will only receive a green card after every individual who is already waiting in line for a green card, at the time this legislation is enacted, has received their green card. Our purpose is to ensure that no one who has violated America’s immigration laws will receive preferential treatment as they relate to those individuals who have complied with the law.
  • Our legislation also recognizes that the circumstances and the conduct of people without lawful status are not the same, and cannot be addressed identically.
    • For instance, individuals who entered the United States as minor children did not knowingly choose to violate any immigration laws. Consequently, under our proposal these individuals will not face the same requirements as other individuals in order to earn a path to citizenship.
    • Similarly, individuals who have been working without legal status in the United States agricultural industry have been performing very important and difficult work to maintain America’s food supply while earning subsistence wages. Due to the utmost importance in our nation maintaining the safety of its food supply, agricultural workers who commit to the long term stability of our nation’s agricultural industries will be treated differently than the rest of the undocumented population because of the role they play in ensuring that Americans have safe and secure agricultural products to sell and consume. These individuals will earn a path to citizenship through a different process under our new agricultural worker program.

II. Improving our Legal Immigration System and Attracting the World’s Best and Brightest

  • The development of a rational legal immigration system is essential to ensuring America’s future economic prosperity. Our failure to act is perpetuating a broken system which sadly discourages the world’s best and brightest citizens from coming to the United States and remaining in our country to contribute to our economy. This failure makes a legal path to entry in the United States insurmountably difficult for well-meaning immigrants. This unarguably discourages innovation and economic growth. It has also created substantial visa backlogs which force families to live apart, which incentivizes illegal immigration.
  • Our new immigration system must be more focused on recognizing the important characteristics which will help build the American economy and strengthen American families. Additionally, we must reduce backlogs in the family and employment visa categories so that future immigrants view our future legal immigration system as the exclusive means for entry into the United States.
  • The United States must do a better job of attracting and keeping the world’s best and brightest. As such, our immigration proposal will award a green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university. It makes no sense to educate the world’s future innovators and entrepreneurs only to ultimately force them to leave our country at the moment they are most able to contribute to our economy.

III. Strong Employment Verification

  • We recognize that undocumented immigrants come to the United States almost exclusively for jobs. As such, dramatically reducing future illegal immigration can only be achieved by developing a tough, fair, effective and mandatory employment verification system. An employment verification system must hold employers accountable for knowingly hiring undocumented workers and make it more difficult for unauthorized immigrants to falsify documents to obtain employment. Employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers must face stiff fines and criminal penalties for egregious offenses.
  • We believe the federal government must provide U.S. employers with a fast and reliable method to confirm whether new hires are legally authorized to work in the United States. This is essential to ensure the effective enforcement of immigration laws.
  • Our proposal will create an effective employment verification system which prevents identity theft and ends the hiring of future unauthorized workers. We believe requiring prospective workers to demonstrate both legal status and identity, through non-forgeable electronic means prior to obtaining employment, is essential to an employee verification system; and,
  • The employee verification system in our proposal will be crafted with procedural safeguards to protect American workers, prevent identity theft, and provide due process protections.

IV. Admitting New Workers and Protecting Workers’ Rights

  • The overwhelming majority of the 327,000 illegal entrants apprehended by CBP in FY2011 were seeking employment in the United States. We recognize that to prevent future waves of illegal immigration a humane and effective system needs to be created for these immigrant workers to enter the country and find employment without seeking the aid of human traffickers or drug cartels.
  • Our proposal will provide businesses with the ability to hire lower-skilled workers in a timely manner when Americans are unavailable or unwilling to fill those jobs.
  • Our legislation would:
    • Allow employers to hire immigrants if it can be demonstrated that they were unsuccessful in recruiting an American to fill an open position and the hiring of an immigrant will not displace American workers;
    • Create a workable program to meet the needs of America’s agricultural industry, including dairy to find agricultural workers when American workers are not available to fill open positions;
    • Allow more lower-skilled immigrants to come here when our economy is creating jobs, and fewer when our economy is not creating jobs;
    • Protect workers by ensuring strong labor protections; and,

    • Permit workers who have succeeded in the workplace and contributed to their communities over many years to earn green cards.

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