If you’d like to learn more about the history of immigration to the US and current policy options for improving our system, the National Immigration Forum should be your first stop. They’ve got a lot of great resources, and offer opportunities for employers, faith leaders, law enforcement, and ordinary citizens to work together for a better immigration system.
MALDEF, which originally stood for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, is one of the country’s leading civil rights organizations working for the broader Latinx community. Many of the people being targeted by Trump’s immigration policies are originally from Latin America, so now is a great time to support organizations like MALDEF with a donation.
Why are there so many undocumented immigrants in the US in the first place? Economic and political crises in Latin America obviously give people an incentive to emigrate. However, as Daniel Connolly writes at PRI, our own restrictive immigration policies have also played a role. As he notes,
Away from the borders, the federal government rarely enforces immigration law. Why? For one, businesses want a reliable, low-cost work force. But for years, immigration has been so politically explosive that Congress hasn’t increased the number of legal visas.
The solution: tolerate illegal immigration. Both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations have quietly permitted the continued presence of people — particularly Mexican immigrants — who managed to enter illegally or overstay visas.
“If there is one constant in US border policy, it is hypocrisy,” Princeton University scholar Douglas Massey and colleagues wrote in their 2002 book about Mexican immigration, Beyond Smoke and Mirrors. “Throughout the twentieth century the United States has arranged to import Mexican workers while pretending not to do so.”
Prior to Trump’s increased law enforcement, immigrants who were not stopped near the border on arrival and who did not commit any violent crimes were highly unlikely to get deported. The risk of coming to work in the US without documents looks more reasonable in this light.
If you’re undocumented or know others who are, check out United We Dream‘s deportation defense cards, which specify the rights that immigrants have in encounters with ICE. They’re available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Korean. Save a copy to your phone and print out others to distribute.
The Trump administration has ordered Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to step up deportations of all undocumented immigrants, even those not suspected of any violent or drug-related crime. One of the first casualties was a woman in El Paso, Texas, who was deported when she went to court to ask for a restraining order against an abusive ex-boyfriend. It seems likely that the ex-boyfriend tipped ICE off to the location of her court hearing, according to the Washington Post. It’s the perfect example of how this disastrous policy promises to uproot millions of people without doing a single thing to make our country safer.
There’s a lot to dislike about Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General who was once deemed too racist to be a federal judge. Alongside the probability that he’ll use the Justice Department to undermine rather than support civil liberties, it’s important to note that he’s one of Trump’s key policy advisors. He and his staff played key roles in drafting many of Trump’s executive orders during his first weeks in office, including the refugee ban. The Washington Post has a good overview of Sessions’ policy influence.
If you missed the first wave of airport protests against the refugee ban last weekend, not to fear — there are still additional protests going on around the country. GroundGame has a useful list of locations and dates, including several scheduled for this upcoming weekend.