An undocumented immigrant who worked for years at President Trump’s luxury golf resort in New Jersey and later revealed that he employed many immigrants who are in the country illegally has been placed in deportation proceedings.
Victorina Morales, 47, worked for more than five years as a housekeeper at the club in Bedminster, N.J., using counterfeit identification that she said her supervisors knew to be falsified. Her revelations, first disclosed by The New York Times in December 2018, prompted undocumented workers at several Trump properties to come forward.
Dozens of others were fired in ensuing months by the Trump Organization, which owns and operates golf resorts in several states, after the company began investigating employee records.
Ms. Morales, a Guatemalan immigrant, was notified by the federal authorities this week that she had been placed in removal proceedings that could result in deportation. She can remain in the country only if an immigration judge approves her petition for asylum.
In a letter reviewed by The Times, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said that the agency had not approved her initial application for asylum because she had not proved that “extraordinary circumstances” had prevented her from making an asylum claim within a year of arriving in the country, as required.
Ms. Morales, who witnessed her father being murdered, crossed the border illegally in 1999. She filed the asylum application jointly with her husband late in 2018, and the latest decision applied to both of them.
The immigration agency emphasized that it was not denying her asylum application but was instead referring her case to the immigration courts for removal proceedings, where a judge will review her asylum status.
Because of the backlog in immigration cases, Ms. Morales almost certainly will be allowed to remain in the United States for several years while her case is under review. She was not available for an interview on Thursday.
Anibal Morales, her lawyer, said that the agency’s ruling this week “is a serious legal matter, and my concern right now is for the safety and well-being of my client.” He said that he would have no other comment.
After Ms. Morales arrived in New Jersey, she worked at warehouses packing consumer goods, such as soap and baby diapers. She was hired at the Trump property in 2013.
During her time at the golf resort, she said, she often cleaned Mr. Trump’s personal quarters and had several personal interactions with him. She said he had praised her for her meticulous cleaning and work ethic, at times dispensing large tips to her.
But Ms. Morales said that she had been hurt by Mr. Trump’s disparaging public comments after he took office about Latin American immigrants, equating them with violent criminals.
It was that, she said, along with what she said were abusive remarks from a supervisor at work about her intelligence and her immigration status, that made her decide that she could no longer keep silent.
“We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money,” she said at the time.
Ms. Morales was trained by Sandra Diaz, a native of Costa Rica who is now a legal resident of the United States. Ms. Diaz also came forward admitting that she had been in the country without legal permission while employed at Bedminster.
Trump Organization executives have said that they had no way of knowing that the workers had presented false employment documents, and Mr. Trump has said that he was also unaware that his properties had hired undocumented immigrants.
During the presidential campaign, when the Trump International Hotel opened in Washington, Mr. Trump boasted that he used an electronic employment system, E-Verify, to check that only those legally authorized to work there had been hired.
“We didn’t have one illegal immigrant on the job,” Trump said then.
But throughout his campaign and after he became president, Ms. Morales had been reporting for work at his golf course. A fellow employee drove her and other undocumented workers to the resort each day, she said, because it was known that they could not legally obtain driver’s licenses.
After coming forward, Ms. Morales shot to fame. In February last year, she was among 20 immigrants, many of them facing possible deportation, on the list of those seated in the secure gallery for the annual State of the Union address. In December, she visited Las Vegas and received a hug from Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. At a campaign event, she brandished a copy of a certificate of service that she had received from the White House Communications Agency.
After applying for asylum, Ms. Morales received a work permit, which enabled her to secure a housekeeping job as a legal worker at a hotel in Manhattan. She lost that job because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Among nearly 50 undocumented workers identified as having worked at Trump properties since Ms. Morales’s revelations, none are known to have been deported.
Archives for July 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2020
– Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, (213) 375-3149, firstname.lastname@example.org
– Alejandra Lopez, The Legal Aid Society, (917) 294-9348, email@example.com
– Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 614-6449, –firstname.lastname@example.org
– Yatziri Tovar, Make the Road New York, (917) 771-2818, email@example.com
Judge Issues Two Nationwide Injunctions Blocking “Public Charge” Immigration Rules Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
New injunctions will allow immigrant communities across the U.S. to safely access critical health care and public assistance during health crisis
NEW YORK, NY — Today, a Manhattan federal court issued two nationwide injunctions temporarily blocking the Trump administration’s “public charge” rules. An injunction issued against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prevents DHS from enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective the “public charge” rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The ruling came after immigrant rights attorneys successfully argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the DHS public charge rule lethal to immigrant communities by chilling the use of health care and other benefits. The court also enjoined the U.S. State Department from applying its parallel “public charge” rules, including the president’s Health Care Proclamation, to applicants for visas at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
“Since the Trump administration announced the public charge rules, it has caused immense harm to our communities — harm that intensified, as our country is in the midst of a health crisis,” said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director at Make the Road New York. “The public charge rules by both DHS and DOS attacked our loved ones by imposing a racist wealth test on the immigration system, leaving working immigrants to choose between vital services or remaining together with their families. At Make the Road, we have seen the devastating effect this rule has on families scared to seek out healthcare and basic forms of assistance from food pantries and even their children’s schools. We applaud the court’s decision and will continue to fight to stop the Trump administration’s reckless and inhumane attacks on immigrants.”
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the same New York court’s October 2019 decision to block DHS’s “public charge” rule. As a result, DHS began enforcing the rule on February 24, 2020, just before the coronavirus outbreak became a nationwide pandemic. The new injunction against DHS was issued in response to a joint motion filed by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Legal Aid Society, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, who joined New York State Attorney General Letitia James, representing the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont and the City of New York in arguing that immigrants should not be deterred from accessing health care and government benefits and services, especially during this unprecedented health crisis.
The second nationwide injunction was issued in a separate case challenging the State Department’s public charge rule as well as the president’s Health Care Proclamation requiring visa applicants to show proof of private health insurance. Because of the ruling, immigrants seeking to go through consular processing will not be subject to the public charge test utilized by the State Department. That case was brought on behalf of individual and organizational plaintiffs by the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Legal Aid Society, the National Immigration Law Center, and Paul Weiss. Today’s ruling is the first decision fully addressing these policies, and it enjoined those policies indefinitely.
In his decision today, Judge George B. Daniels wrote: “Much has significantly changed since January 27. Today, the world is in the throes of a devastating pandemic, triggered by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. In six months, approximately 16.5 million people around the globe have been afflicted by the disease caused by this virus. That disease (COVID-19) has claimed over 650,000 lives worldwide. In the United States alone, COVID-19 has spread rapidly, infecting over four million people. Close to 150,000 American residents have died. All of these staggering numbers continue to climb on a daily basis…. Thousands continue to die indiscriminately. Attempting to effectively combat this plague has immediately come in conflict with the federal government’s new ‘public charge’ policy, a policy which is intended to discourage immigrants from utilizing government benefits and penalizes them for receipt of financial and medical assistance.”
Susan Welber, staff attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, said: “Today’s decisions are a great victory for our plaintiffs and immigrant communities which have been disproportionately impacted by the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Immigrants, especially people serving as essential workers combating the spread of the coronavirus, need access to life-saving healthcare, food assistance, and other essential services in order to both tackle the pandemic and protect their families without fear of immigration consequences. The Court’s nationwide injunction against the Department of State public charge rule also protects immigrant families across the nation. We hope the court’s decisions sends a clear message to the government to withdraw these unlawful, racist, and anti-family rules, and that if they don’t, we will continue to fight them in court.”
Brittany Thomas, Bertha Justice Fellow with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “In times like this, today’s decisions signify great victories for the plaintiffs and immigrant communities, who can now access life-saving benefits without fear. The Court’s issuance of a nationwide injunction halting the public charge rule issued by the Department of State signifies a rejection of this administration’s radical position that they are above the law. We are pleased that the Court recognized the public charge rules as yet another attempt by this administration to undermine congressional authority and harm immigrant communities of color in the process. Today, immigrant communities throughout the entire country are protected and can focus on staying healthy and safe.”
Joanna E. Cuevas-Ingram, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, said: “By implementing these regulations, the Trump administration has shown flagrant disregard for both the rule of law and community health in the middle of a pandemic. The Court’s decision recognizes that every member of our communities, including immigrants, must be able to access the tools they need to keep themselves healthy and safe. This is a great victory and we will not rest until these hateful, unlawful, and discriminatory regulations are gone for good.”
Make the Road New York v. Cuccinelli challenges changes to the public charge provisions implemented by the Department of Homeland Security and was filed by The Legal Aid Society, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP on behalf of Make the Road New York (MRNY), African Services Committee (ASC), Asian American Federation, Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS), and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).
Make the Road New York v. Pompeo challenges changes to the public charge provisions of the Department of State (DOS) Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) and a DOS Interim Final Rule, which changed public charge regulations that affect immigrants who must undergo consular processing before entering the country. The Legal Aid Society, Center for Constitutional Rights, National Immigration Law Center, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP brought the case on behalf of Make the Road New York (MRNY), African Services Committee (ASC), Central American Refugee Center New York (CARECEN-NY), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS), and individual plaintiffs.
The post Two Nationwide Injunctions Block “Public Charge” Rules Amid Pandemic appeared first on National Immigration Law Center.
WASHINGTON — President Trump will not try again to immediately terminate President Barack Obama’s program that protects young undocumented immigrants, after the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Mr. Trump’s first attempt to make good on a crackdown that is at the core of his political identity.
Instead, the administration announced new restrictions on the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has allowed about 650,000 undocumented immigrants to live and work in the country legally.
Amid a “comprehensive review” of the program, Chad Wolf, the acting homeland security secretary, announced in a memo that immigrants who already had protections would be allowed to renew their status under the program for one year, rather than two. The memo, which is intended to replace the one that originally established DACA in 2012, also said that first-time applicants to the program would be rejected.
The announcement appears to directly contradict an order by a federal judge, who ruled last month that the administration must immediately begin accepting new applications for the program. It will most likely face immediate legal challenges.
“We obviously have no choice but to go back to court,” said Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer on the case against the administration’s move to eliminate DACA that reached the Supreme Court. “It was illegal the first time, and now it’s a constitutional crisis. It’s as if a Supreme Court decision was written with invisible ink.”
Immigrants rights groups saw the revised memo as a first step toward completely eliminating DACA. It could also energize Mr. Trump’s base by suggesting that the program would eventually be scrapped, while helping the president avoid the blowback from images of young people being deported just before the election.
A Pew Research Center poll conducted in June found that three-quarters of Americans support not only allowing so-called Dreamers to remain in the United States, but also providing them a path to permanent residency.
“I think they made the calculation that by deferring the final blow to DACA until after the election that they would be able to escape taking the hardest hit,” said Omar Jadwat, who directs the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
Officials declined to say how long the review would take or whether it would be completed before the general election in November, although the decision to allow one-year renewals suggested that Mr. Trump and his aides did not envision making another attempt to end the program before the vote.
Many of the hundreds of thousands of DACA beneficiaries who have felt their futures to be in peril reacted with exasperation to the latest development.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” said Pierre R. Berastaín, whose application for a two-year renewal of his DACA status, which allows him to work at Harvard University, his alma mater, was approved this past month. “I’m very cognizant of the tremendous anxiety of people who are in limbo.”
Mr. Berastaín said that as he waited for a Supreme Court decision on his fate, he dusted off an old safety plan he had developed as a student and updated it with current contact information for his loved ones, his lawyers and any elected officials who might be able to intervene on his behalf if he was arrested by immigration authorities.
“I had this extreme anxiety and depression because of the instability of my situation,” he said.
Groups that favor tighter restrictions on immigration were gratified that the program would at least be curtailed.
“It’s a smart move,” said Jessica M. Vaughan, the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, one such group. “In this way, he manages to keep the ball in Congress’s court without having to keep the program going on autopilot.”
Ms. Vaughan said she thought Congress should ultimately decide the fate of the program, but that for now lawmakers should remain focused on responding to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.
Mr. Trump’s promised assault on immigration, including a pledge to end DACA, was critical to his election victory in 2016 and became a central part of his administration’s agenda as he moved to keep out refugees and asylum seekers, to build a wall across the southwestern border and to reduce legal immigration.
Mr. Trump’s initial move to end DACA in 2017 was blocked for more than two years by federal judges who said he had failed to provide proper justification for ending a program that allowed some young undocumented immigrants to live and work in the United States without the threat of deportation.
The Supreme Court agreed last month.
The president has long argued that DACA was an illegal use of executive authority by his predecessor. But he has wavered about what should be done to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who benefit from it. At a White House news briefing Tuesday evening, Mr. Trump said, “We are going to make DACA happy and the DACA people and representatives happy, and also end up with a fantastic merit-based immigration system.”
He again said he was working on a merit-based immigration bill that he could enact without Congress, an assertion that is false.
Thousands of undocumented young people who have turned 15 since the original rescission — the minimum age required to apply — had expected the government to begin accepting new applications to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision.
However, the agency that processes DACA applications has been rejecting them, according to immigration lawyers, while it has continued to process renewals for current recipients.
Most legal scholars interpreted the ruling to mean that the original program had been revived and that, therefore, new applications must be accepted. An administration official said on Tuesday that the memo issued that day would legally justify the decision against approving new applications.
Mr. Obama created DACA in 2012 after Congress refused to provide a permanent path to citizenship for the young immigrants. Most of the Dreamers are in many ways indistinguishable from the American citizens with whom they attended elementary, middle and high school.
The program has strict requirements. To be eligible, applicants have to show that they had committed no serious crimes, had arrived in the United States before they turned 16 and were no older than 30, had lived in the United States for at least the previous five years, and were in school, had graduated from high school or had received a General Educational Development certificate, or were honorably discharged from the military.
Mr. Trump has at times expressed sympathy for the immigrants who are protected by the program even as he denounced it as an illegal use of presidential authority.
In 2017, his hard-line advisers — including Stephen Miller, the architect of his immigration agenda; Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist; and Jeff Sessions, his attorney general — urged him to end the program, which at the time faced a legal challenge from several conservative attorneys general.
Michael Crowley contributed reporting from in New Haven, Conn.; Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington; and Miriam Jordan from Los Angeles.
In an effort to combat Chinese espionage in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has recently launched a nationwide investigation aimed at Chinese student visa holders suspected of having undisclosed Chinese military ties.
FBI officials interviewed Chinese student visa holders in more than 25 American cities—an initiative that some experts call the largest known crackdown since the United States and China restored diplomatic relations in 1979.
Chinese espionage via student visa programs has become an increasing threat to the nation’s national security. Many of these students have direct ties to Chinese military and its ruling Communist Party and are sent to acquire knowledge of U.S. technological, military, and cyber operations.
The seriousness with which the FBI is taking the Chinese espionage threat is not unwarranted. Chinese visa holders represented more than a third, or approximately 370,000, of the 1.1 total number of student visa holders in the 2018-2019 school year. Some of these holders committed high-level crimes including recruiting spies for Chinese intelligence agencies, transporting U.S. cancer research cells to Chinese universities, and sending U.S. military documents and information to China.
Chinese spying operations against the U.S. do not end at universities. In the past few decades, China has also attempted to infiltrate American embassies and the highest levels of American corporations. In 2017, members of the Chinese military were indicted for breaching the credit reporting company Equifax, which exposed the personal information of some 150 million Americans to fraud and abuse.
In addition to the FBI’s nationwide investigation, there have been other recent increased efforts to help address espionage concerns. In May, the State Department prepared to revoke the visas of some 3,000 Chinese students in the U.S—an all-time high—citing national security concerns as its primary reason. In July, the Trump administration considered travel restrictions on members of the Chinese Communist Party to the United States. During the same month, the administration also barred new foreign students, many of them Chinese nationals, if they were taking classes solely online as a way to prevent fraud and other national security risks.
Before the opening session of trade negotiations between U.S. and Chinese trade representatives at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, February 14, 2019. /Reuters
The vast majority of Chinese students are not compromising the nation’s national security, but it remains critically important to mitigate real threats posed by the Chinese government. Student visa programs should benefit both the United States and students seeking to advance their education. Yet, China continues to exploit these programs to gain a competitive advantage over the U.S. economy, military, and technology sectors.
Since the first census of the United States in 1790, counts that include both citizens and noncitizens have been used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives, with states gaining or losing based on population change over the previous decade. If unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. were removed from the 2020 census apportionment count – which the White House seeks to do – three states could each lose a seat they otherwise would have had and three others each could gain one, according to a Pew Research Center analysis based on government records.
If unauthorized immigrants were excluded from the apportionment count, California, Florida and Texas would each end up with one less congressional seat than they would have been awarded based on population change alone. California would lose two seats instead of one, Florida would gain one instead of two, and Texas would gain two instead of three, according to analysis based on projections of Census Bureau 2019 population estimates and the Center’s estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population.
This blog post explores the role of the nation’s unauthorized immigrant population in apportionment of congressional seats. Every decade, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a count of all people living in the country, which is then used to distribute seats in the House of Representatives to the states. The analysis in this blog post is based on projections using Census Bureau population estimates, Pew Research Center estimates of the size of the unauthorized immigrant population and established formulas for assigning congressional seats.
The Method of Equal Proportions assigns congressional seats to states based on their populations after each state is given their first seat. The method requires 50 state population figures and assigns seats sequentially; it stops after the 435th seat is assigned. Our population figures for 2020 are based on the Census Bureau’s official population estimates for 2018 and 2019 projected to April 1, 2020. We use these for our baseline apportionment.
The Pew Research Center has published estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population for states through 2017. The estimates for 2016 and 2017 show very little change, and external indications suggest few changes since then. Accordingly, we use our 2017 estimates for 2020 and subtract them from the total to provide the populations for an apportionment which excludes unauthorized immigrants.
Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio would each hold onto a seat that they would have lost if apportionment were based only on total population change. Alabama filed a lawsuit in 2018 seeking to block the Census Bureau from including unauthorized immigrants in its population count.
In addition to these states, 11 more would gain or lose seats based on population change alone, whether unauthorized immigrants are included or excluded. Five states would gain one seat each: Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon. Six states would lose one seat each: Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.
The apportionment of seats in Congress is required by the U.S. Constitution, which says that the census will be used to divide the House of Representatives “among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State,” except for enslaved people, who, until the late 1800s, were counted as three-fifths of a person, and certain American Indians. The 14th Amendment eliminated the partial count of enslaved people, and the total American Indian population was added later to congressional reapportionment calculations. The number of seats in the House was fixed at 435 following the 1910 census. Each state gets one seat, and the remainder are assigned according to a complex formula based on relative population size.
The census count includes everyone living in the United States, except for foreign tourists and business travelers in the country temporarily, according to Census Bureau rules. For apportionment purposes since 1990, military and civilian federal employees stationed abroad and their dependents are counted as living in a state if they provided a state address in their employment records. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Island area populations are excluded from the apportionment total because they have no voting representation in Congress.
Federal law requires the population totals from the decennial census be delivered to the president nine months after Census Day, meaning Dec. 31, 2020. The Census Bureau has requested Congress extend the deadline to April 30, 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic, although the White House reportedly may push for a “timely census” fueled by $1 billion in additional funding. States would redraw congressional district boundaries to fit the new totals. The results would take effect for the Congress that meets in 2023.
In his memorandum announcing a new policy “to the extent practicable” in how congressional seats are divided up, President Donald Trump asserted that the president has discretion to decide who is considered an inhabitant of the U.S. for apportionment purposes. Some of the same groups that successfully challenged the White House attempt to add a citizenship question to the census last year said they also would sue to block any change in apportionment policy. Democrats announced they would hold an emergency congressional hearing to respond.
The Census Bureau does not regularly publish counts or estimates of unauthorized immigrants, although the Department of Homeland Security has done so. Last year, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against including a question about citizenship on the 2020 census, the president ordered the Census Bureau to assemble a separate database, using other government records, on the citizenship status of every U.S. resident. This has also been challenged in court.
The Center’s analysis relies on assumptions about populations to be counted in the 2020 census and estimates of unauthorized immigrants. The actual figures used for apportionment will be different from these, and so the actual apportionment could differ regardless of whether unauthorized immigrants are excluded from the apportionment totals.
Environmentalists are making a last-ditch effort at the Supreme Court to stop the continued construction of parts of President Trump’s border wall.
The Sierra Club asked the justices to undo their decision from a year ago that allowed construction now that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the administration’s use of funds for the wall is unlawful.
Without the Supreme Court’s action, say lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the Trump administration could simply run out the clock.
“The Trump administration has lost in every lower court, but is still rushing to complete the president’s border wall before the Supreme Court can review the merits of this case,” said Dror Ladin, an ACLU lawyer. “If the administration succeeds, there will be no border wall construction left to stop by the time the Supreme Court hears this case.”
A panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled last month that Trump’s transfer last year of $2.5 billion in military funds to pay for border wall construction was an illegal overreach of executive authority.
The president, who ran for office in 2016 promising that Mexico would pay for the border wall, has obtained more than $15 billion in U.S. federal funds for his signature project, including $5 billion provided by Congress through conventional appropriations. The president has tapped into Pentagon accounts for the remaining $10 billion, including the $2.5 billion transfer last year that the Ninth Circuit said was unlawful.
Last summer, the Supreme Court on a 5 to 4 vote allowed the administration to proceed with the transfers and contracts for construction even though House Democrats, affected states and environmental groups said that violated the will of Congress, which withheld the funds from the administration.
The fight over funding the wall led to a government shutdown.
But in allowing the administration last summer to proceed, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority said that the government had “made a sufficient showing at this stage” that private entities could not challenge the transfer of money by the executive branch.
Now, the Ninth Circuit panel in San Francisco agreed with a district judge who said that was not so. “It is for the courts to enforce Congress’s priorities,” the panel said in a 2 to 1 decision, and it found the Sierra Club “may invoke separation-of-powers constraints, like the Appropriations Clause, to challenge agency spending in excess of its delegated authority.”
The great Trump Wall: impenetrable! pic.twitter.com/GqyEuzJpmi
— Ken (@kensmiles) June 26, 2020
The ACLU in its filing Wednesday said that the high court needs to step in now, or else it will be too late.
The administration has 150 days to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s decision, the ACLU petition says. Absent emergency action from the Supreme Court, “defendants will complete the entire wall before they even need to file a petition for certiorari with this court,” the petition states.
Outrage is mounting across the United States over the abusive tactics of federal agents, led by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), against protesters in Portland. Video footage and reports from protesters in Portland appear to show agents using excessive force against protesters and journalists and arbitrarily arresting and detaining people.
But the Trump administration shows no signs of changing course. Today the president announced that federal agents would also be sent to Chicago and Albuquerque.
Chicago Mayor Lightfoot has said that her admin. would be working with federal agents to help address recent violence, but she warned the White House that she would not tolerate any abuse of power.
“We see what’s going on in Portland…which is why I’ve drawn such a sharp line.” pic.twitter.com/y23SCRQRqo
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 23, 2020
“This is the kind of thing we see in authoritarian regimes, ” Mary McCord, a Georgetown Law professor and former national security official at the US Department of Justice, told the New York Times.
A Navy vet asked federal officers in Portland to remember their oaths. Then they broke his hand.
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 20, 2020
While the actions of DHS agents in Portland are disturbing, they are also familiar. Human Rights Watch researchers working on US immigration policy have for many years seen DHS agents engage in lawless and abusive tactics against non-citizens in communities across the country. Numerous reports by Human Rights Watch and other organizations have documented frequent abuses, with little accountability.
Kayleigh McEnany White House Press Secretary just played two videos from my reporting on the ground in #Portland@RichieMcGinniss reporting was also featured in today’s briefing! pic.twitter.com/6aQiQ8GNGR
— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) July 24, 2020
The events in Portland are also part of a continuing pattern of DHS agents violating the rights of US citizens. In 2019, Customs and Border Patrol agents were revealed to have harassed, surveilled, interrogated, and detained journalists, lawyers, and activists at the US-Mexico border, interfering with their freedom of speech and movement. Border Patrol agents have been accused of racially profiling US citizens in border communities – in one case, two US citizens filed suit after being detained in Montana because Border Patrol agents had heard them speaking Spanish.
We have been watching President Trump stigmatize migrants and asylum seekers as dangerous and a threat to the US for years. We are now seeing him describe US protesters in similar broad strokes. Sending agencies with a long track record of abuse and little relevant training to police US cities highlights the contempt this administration has for the rights of US citizens and non-citizens alike.
Over the past few weeks, the Trump administration has decided to close the door to engineers, executives, information technology experts, doctors, nurses, and others who come to the United States on work visas. It has attempted to ban international students from attending American colleges and universities that hold classes virtually in the fall. And it has shown an unwavering commitment to canceling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
Taken together, these are the most restrictionist immigration policies in nearly a century. This is a fundamental mistake at a time when our nation’s economy is already suffering.
If you want businesses to grow and the economy to rebound, you allow skilled workers to come here legally to work and contribute to the well-being of our nation; you don’t lock them out. If you want the next revolutionary start-up to be founded in America, you welcome foreign students; you don’t threaten to upend their lives and send them home during the middle of a pandemic. And if you want children to grow up to reach their potential and live their American dream, you give them the tools and certainty to succeed; you don’t kick them out of the only country they’ve ever known.
How did we get to this point?
Last month, the administration issued a proclamation severely restricting legal immigration into the United States for work purposes. The executive order puts up a “Do Not Enter” sign for all sorts of skilled workers who come to our country legally to contribute to the economy. The sweeping order will push jobs and investment overseas and slow our economic growth at a time when we need it most.
Take for example a manufacturer we heard from who is opening up a new production line here that will create jobs for American workers. To ensure that this new facility and its equipment function properly when it opens up, the company needs to temporarily employ technical experts from overseas. The administration’s proclamation directly prevents this from happening — meaning no international experts, no new production line, and no new jobs for American workers. Unfortunately, there are many other businesses across a host of industries in similar predicaments.
This week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of trade associations and businesses, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, and TechNet, filed a joint lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department from implementing the administration’s proclamation restricting the use of various nonimmigrant worker visas.
Not only does the policy threaten America’s economic interests, but these restrictions clearly exceed the authority of the executive branch, as they take a sledgehammer to the immigration laws that Congress crafted over many generations.
The administration should learn a lesson from its other attempts to restrict legal immigration.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security wisely reversed course on its policy banning international students from staying in the United States if their college or university holds classes virtually in the fall, but only after widespread condemnation of this idea and numerous lawsuits. The policy would have denied places in colleges and universities for tens of thousands of talented students and future leaders while choking off tuition revenue at a time when many schools are struggling financially. We supported the lawsuit filed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that ultimately led to the administration rescinding this policy.
“It’s basically a ‘Not Welcome Here’ sign for engineers, executives, specialists, doctors, nurses, etc — and we cannot do that.”
— U.S. Chamber (@USChamber) July 23, 2020
The administration also can learn from its ill-fated attempt to repeal the DACA program. The program protects young people who have lived here since they were children. Last month, the Supreme Court gave the administration an out — blocking on procedural grounds the administration’s 2017 decision to rescind the DACA program. Rather than taking the opportunity to work with Congress on a permanent fix for Dreamers, the administration is considering another effort to end the program, pulling the rug out from 700,000 DACA recipients.
Taken together, these decisions form a broader policy that essentially says, “keep out the skilled, the brilliant, the young seeking to help us grow.” The administration prudently changed course on the student visa issue; it should now take the opportunity to promote economic growth and job creation by rescinding last month’s proclamation limiting legal immigration and abandoning its efforts to repeal DACA.
The Chamber hopes to work productively with the administration on these issues, as we have on a broad array of other policies like tax reform and streamlining regulation. But if the administration persists with its job-killing immigration restrictions, we will see them in court.
Thomas J. Donohue is the chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
President Trump issued an executive order on June 21 that laid out a plan to violate the U.S. Constitution by excluding undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census. An accurate census count is vital to ensuring that each state receives their fair share of seats in the U.S House of Representatives. It also directs hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding for more than 100 programs.
Today’s Executive Order is another attempt to exclude people from being counted in the Census based on their immigration status. It is wrong and unconstitutional. We must make sure #EveryChildCounts in the #2020Census. https://t.co/eBSTWzjgpk
— Amer Acad Pediatrics (@AmerAcadPeds) July 21, 2020
1. What Does the Census Executive Order Say?
The executive order states that in January 2021, the president intends to submit a reapportionment plan to Congress that excludes all undocumented immigrants. Under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the census counts “the whole number of persons in each State” every 10 years. Between January 3 and January 10 following a census year, the president is required by law to submit a statement with that number to Congress. After that point, Congress uses the count to reapportion seats between states for the House of Representatives.
The order says that when the president submits that statement next January, he will exclude all undocumented immigrants from the count. He declares he has the discretion to determine that the word “persons” does not include undocumented immigrants. The executive order compares immigrants to tourists, who aren’t counted. That ignores that the average undocumented immigrant has been in the United States for over 15 years.
— FAIR (@FAIRImmigration) July 21, 2020
2. What Does the Census Executive Order Do?
Why did President Trump issue this order? It might be to retaliate against sanctuary cities and liberal states that disagree with his immigration priorities.
Parts of the executive order strongly suggest this. The president declares that “States adopting policies that encourage illegal aliens to enter this country and that hobble Federal efforts to enforce the immigration laws passed by the Congress should not be rewarded with greater representation in the House of Representatives.” The order also says, without naming it, that one state gets additional members of Congress because it has over two million undocumented immigrants living in it. That state is California, which has long been a target for the president.
The census therefore becomes a weapon against these cities and states, which could lose out on representation and funding with an inaccurate census count.
Trump may use executive order on census question (YouTube July 2019)
3. Is the Census Executive Order Legal?
The president’s extreme argument is legally indefensible.
Since the late 19th century, the Supreme Court has been clear that the word “persons” in the Constitution refers to all people, regardless of immigration status. In 1982 in Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court also made clear that the protections of the 14th Amendment, which apply to all “persons” in the United States, also apply to undocumented immigrants. And since 1790, the U.S. Census Bureau has counted every person residing in the United States during the census, regardless of immigration status. Even international students attending a university during a census year are counted.
But even if the executive order was legal, it would still be almost impossible to carry out. In 2019, the Supreme Court blocked the Census Bureau from adding a citizenship question. This means the Census Bureau will be unable to accurately determine who is or is not an immigrant and further, who is or is not undocumented.
President Trump’s abuse of power shows the lengths to which he will go to distract and divide the country in his war on immigrants. Hopefully, this illegal plan will be swiftly squashed in court.
WASHINGTON —President Trump directed the federal government on Tuesday not to count undocumented immigrants when allocating the nation’s House districts, a move that critics called a transparent political ploy to help Republicans in violation of the Constitution.The president’s directive would exclude millions of people when determining how many House seats each state should have based on the once-a-decade census, reversing the longstanding policy of counting everyone regardless of citizenship or legal status. The effect would likely shift several seats from Democratic states to Republican states.
“There used to be a time when you could proudly declare, ‘I am a citizen of the United States,’” Mr. Trump said in a written statement after signing a memorandum to the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau. “But now, the radical left is trying to erase the existence of this concept and conceal the number of illegal aliens in our country. This is all part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the rights of Americans citizens, and I will not stand for it.”
The action directly conflicts with the traditional consensus interpretation of the Constitution and will almost surely be challenged in court, potentially delaying its effect if not blocking its enactment altogether. But it fit into Mr. Trump’s efforts to curb both legal and illegal immigration at a time when he is anxiously trying to galvanize his political base heading into a fall election season trailing his Democratic opponent.
“I think the Donald Trump view is: ‘I can look like I’m trying to do something by stoking anti-immigrant fervor, and if I lose in court then, I just stoke anti-court fervor too,’” Joshua A. Geltzer, the director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown, said in an interview. “It should be legally impossible as well as factually difficult to do.”
The move comes a year after Mr. Trump was blocked by the Supreme Court from adding a citizenship question to the census on the grounds that its ostensible reasoning “seems to have been contrived.” The administration has been trying ever since to collect information on undocumented immigrants through separate means like driver’s license files.
A study last year by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that supports limits on immigration, found that excluding immigrants from the count for purposes of drawing congressional districts would take away seats from some states while giving more to others.
Excluding unauthorized immigrants in 2020 would redistribute three seats, the study found, with California, New York and Texas all losing a seat that they would have had otherwise, while Ohio, Alabama and Minnesota would each gain one. The study found even more sweeping effects if the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants were excluded, but the president’s directive made no mention of them.
Steven Camarota, the research director for the center, said the administration’s effort would be difficult administratively and likely tied up in court. “Nevertheless,” he said, “the president has done the country an important service by reminding us that tolerating large-scale illegal immigration creates a number of unavoidable consequences, including diluting the political representation of American citizens in Congress and the Electoral College.”
The White House separately asked congressional appropriators last weekend to include $1 billion into the next coronavirus relief package for the purpose of conducting a “timely census.” The Census Bureau had previously sought permission to extend the tally of the hardest-to-count people into October and delay delivery of reapportionment population totals to next year.
The $1 billion could allow the bureau to abandon that plan and accelerate the counting to deliver a reapportionment count to Congress in December, before Mr. Trump leaves office if he loses the election to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. It could mean that less time is devoted to counting the marginalized people than in a normal census, which experts believe would benefit Republicans.
The president’s directive on Tuesday amounted to his latest election-year effort to restrict immigration and immigration rights in the United States, lately predicated on the need to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The administration decided last month to suspend new work visas and bar hundreds of thousands of foreigners from seeking employment in the United States, drawing immediate opposition from business leaders and several states.
But last week administration officials backed away from a separate plan to strip international college students of their visas if they did not attend at least some classes in person. Earlier this month, Mr. Trump told Telemundo that he would sign a “much bigger bill on immigration” through an executive order, although that has not come to fruition.
The president’s move to exclude unauthorized immigrants from congressional apportionment upends a long history. Even as he signed his memorandum on Tuesday, the Census Bureau’s own website continued to say in a question-and-answer section that undocumented residents are to be counted: “Yes, all people (citizens and noncitizens) with a usual residence in the 50 states are to be included in the census and thus in the apportionment counts.”
The president’s policy appeared at odds with the Constitution, which requires the government to conduct an “actual enumeration” of all people living in the United States without distinguishing whether they are citizens. But the memorandum signed by Mr. Trump argued that the government has always made distinctions like not counting foreign diplomats or temporary visitors even though they are in the United States physically. Therefore, the memorandum argued, the government can make the further distinction of not counting people who have no legal right to be in the country in the first place.
Critics said the administration’s efforts first to include a citizenship question and now to disregard undocumented immigrants from apportionment would lead to undercounts of even legal noncitizens and minority residents, resulting in less representation and federal funding in areas where they live, which tend to vote Democratic.
Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center Immigrant Justice Fund, said that regardless of whether Mr. Trump’s latest action was legal, it would discourage compliance with the census among Latinos, who already complete the survey at lower rates than people of other races.
“This is his go-to play every time that he’s feeling cornered or he’s feeling like he’s losing,” Ms. Hincapié said. “He uses immigrants and immigration to divide and distract, and at the same time he sends that chilling effect through all immigrant communities who have already been living in fear under his administration.”
Michael Wines contributed reporting.