In the resistance, as in so many of our personal battles, we often forget to pause and reflect upon what we have accomplished. But this week marks an important victory—neither the Senate’s revision of the healthcare bill nor the motion to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement has the necessary votes to pass. Your senators are hearing you—Republican senators included. In the last forty-eight hours, Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Susan Collins of Maine have all crossed party lines and stood up for the health and well-being of our citizens. As the HuffPost’s headline read yesterday afternoon, “3 Republican Women Effectively Killed McConnell’s Latest Repeal Plan.” What a wonderful reminder—not only of the power of women in the face of a bill that neglected them—but also of the impact of the resistance.
Of course, now that Donald Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare has fallen flat, he and his supporters will be working harder than ever to deliver on his other promises. Already, this administration has branded immigrants—in our nation of immigrants—as the enemy. As Christina Jiménez, executive director and cofounder of United We Dream, explains, “In the history books, our story looks no different from that of the Irish, Germans, or Italians before us. But in the twisted view of Donald Trump and his ardent supporters, we are a menace that needs to be wiped off the face of the country.” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests are up, deportation rules are changing, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is under attack.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The monthly arrests made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have increased sharply since Trump took office—from around 9,000 a month at the end of the Obama administration to an average of over 13,000 a month since February of this year.
- USA Today reports, “Between Jan. 22 and April 29, ICE arrested 10,845 people whose immigration violations were the only marks on their record. That’s nearly triple the 4,242 people [whose only violation was immigration] arrested during the same time period in President Barack Obama’s final year in office.” (emphasis mine)
- Undocumented immigrants can now become deportation priorities if they are merely arrested for a crime—not even convicted. This dangerous violation of rights is in stark contrast to the policy under Obama.
- ICE agents can now arrest anyone they encounter who is in the country illegally—whether or not that person has done anything else wrong.
- Being in the country illegally is now crime enough for deportation; under Obama’s administration, by contrast, “prosecutorial discretion” was used to close deportation cases and allow the arrested individual to remain in the country if that person proved to have a clean record and established ties to the community.
- Trump is working behind the scenes with conservative senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia to create a bill that promises to cut legal immigration by as much as 50% by allowing fewer refugees to enter the country and by making it much more difficult for family members of legal immigrants—other than spouses and minor children—to enter the country.
- Trump’s nominee for head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Lee Francis Cissna, is likely to be confirmed by the Senate this week, despite the opposition of more than 300 immigration advocacy organizations who are worried about Cissna’s opposition to humanitarian programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
- The DACA program—which grants a reprieve from deportation to undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children—is under attack. Last week, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he could not promise that the Trump administration would defend DACA against the 10 state attorneys general who have threatened to sue the federal government if it does not begin to do away with DACA by September. Trump himself also refused to commit to support the program, saying, “It’s a decision that I make and it’s a decision that’s very, very hard to make.”
- On June 29th, the House passed two anti-immigration bills that Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the ACLU, says “are riddled with constitutional violations that completely disregard the civil and human rights of immigrants.” Kate’s Law sharply increases the penalties for undocumented immigrants who come into this country after already being deported. The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act blocks sanctuary cities from receiving federal funds—effectively punishing them—while also, as the ACLU explains, forcing “state and local law enforcement agencies to violate the Fourth Amendment by requiring them to imprison people without due process or probable cause at the request of federal immigration agents.”
- On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to the National District Attorneys Association, that “Operation Streamline, the addition of 50 immigration judges, more AUSAs in key districts, more border patrol and ICE officers are already turning the tide and just beginning” this administration’s attack on immigrants.
1. Advocate for the rights of Americans and for civility toward immigrants. (From Jen Hoffman’s Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience)
- Call: Your governor’s office (look up).
- Script: I am deeply concerned about ICE’s increasing aggression in our communities throughout the state. In Virginia, for example, ICE is stopping legal citizens to ask for proof of citizenship because of how they look. This creates a hostile environment for citizens and immigrants–and makes us all less safe. I am calling to request that Gov. [name] contact Homeland Security Sec. Kelly and express his/her desire to “insure domestic tranquility.”
2. Participate in protests, rallies, and other demonstrations for immigrant rights.
- Find out about events happening near you via the Resistance Calendar, WeBot, or your city’s local activism calendar. (Here’s the calendar for NYC.)
- If you are an immigrant, make sure you know your rights and how you to protect yourself while protesting.
3. Stand up for DACA kids. (From Jen Hoffman’s Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience)
- Visit and sign this petition to support immigrant youth.
- Bonus: If you are in AL, AR, ID, KS, LA, NE, SC, TX, TN, or WV, call your Secretary of State to protest his efforts to deport DACA kids.
4. Stand against the confirmation of Trump’s nominee for head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- Call: Your senators (look up or leave message).
- Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] calling to ask Senator [name] to vote against the confirmation of Lee Francis Cissna as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Cissna does not support or even recognize the humanity of immigrants, their families, or their communities. He will do nothing but undermine the mission of the USCIS “to secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.” Can I count on Senator [name] to vote against his confirmation?
5. Stand against deportation.
- Visit the #Not1More deportation case database. There you can read the stories of people facing deportation and sign petitions asking authorities to stop the deportation of these individuals.
6. Stand against anti-immigration bills that disregard the civil and human rights of immigrants.
- Call: Your senators (look up or leave message).
- Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] calling to ask Senator [name] to to vote against Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. I agree with the American Civil Liberties Union that these bills “are riddled with constitutional violations that completely disregard the civil and human rights of immigrants.” Will Senator [name] commit to protecting the rights of immigrants by voting against these bills?
7. Donate your time, money, and skills to immigrant justice efforts. Here are some great places to start.
- United We Dream, “the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation. Our powerful nonpartisan network is made up of over 100,000 immigrant youth and allies and 55 affiliate organizations in 26 states. We organize and advocate for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status.”
- UnidosUS, the largest Latino nonprofit advocacy organization in the country: “Together we will build a stronger America by creating opportunities for Latinos. We envision an America where economic, political, and social advancement is a reality for all Latinos, where all Hispanics thrive, and where our community’s contributions are recognized.”
- The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), which “works to defend and expand the rights of all immigrants and refugees, regardless of immigration status.”
- The National Immigration Law Center: “Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of immigrants with low income.”
- Immigration Advocates Network: “The Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) is a collaborative effort of leading immigrants’ rights organizations designed to increase access to justice for immigrants and strengthen the capacity of organizations serving them. IAN promotes more effective and efficient communication, collaboration, and services among immigration advocates and organizations by providing free, easily accessible and comprehensive online resources and tools.” The IAN also provides valuable resources for pro bono attorneys representing immigrants.
8. Read. Reflect. Resist.
- Delve into Jodi Paloni’s compilation of readings about the immigrant experience.
- Reflect upon the words of Ilhan Omar, the first Somali American legislator in our country’s history: “It is complacent to assume that America—The Great Experiment—or any nation will inevitably provide equality. An Athenian lawmaker, Solon, is quoted as saying, ‘Wrongdoing can only be avoided if those who are not wronged feel the same indignation at it as those who are.’ That was 2,500 years ago, yet today we still decide: What does America stand for?”
- Keep going. We are doing this—we are fighting for a more equitable America.