Trump v Immigration
April 25, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to end the temporary protected status (TPS) granted to 15,000 Nepalis in 2015, after a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake hammered their country, The Washington Post reports, citing internal planning documents. There are only about 9,000 of those Nepalis left in the country, according to Congressional Research Service estimates, and they will have until June 24, 2019, to leave the U.S., once Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signs off on the order.

The Trump administration has been reviewing all communities covered by TPS permits, and it has already revoked the special status for 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians, and smaller numbers of immigrants from Nicaragua, Sudan, and Liberia, and Nielsen is likely to end TPS for 57,000 Hondurans in May. In January, Nielsen extended the TPS status for about 6,000 Syrians. Congress created the TPS designation in 1990 so the U.S. had a mechanism to not send people back to countries hit by natural disasters, wars, and other destabilizing tragedies. Peter Weber

June 6, 2017

"We have ended dangerous catch-and-release enforcement policies," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in April. He was referring to a procedure in which illegal immigrants are caught by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and then, if determined not to pose any serious security risk, released to live freely in the United States while waiting for their court date, a delay that can take months or years. Many of those released are women and children, for whom there are legal limits on length of detention.

ICE agents interviewed in a new report from Reuters contradict Kelly's account. A Texan ICE field office director named Daniel Bible said his team "look[s] at each case the same way we always have" because he has not received new guidelines since Trump took office. Reuters confirmed with a DHS representative that no new instructions pertaining to catch-and-release have been issued.

President Trump described catch-and-release on the campaign trail as "the release of dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals from detention" and pledged to end the practice. "Under my administration, anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country and back to the country from which they came," he said. "And they'll be brought great distances. We're not dropping them right across [the border]." Bonnie Kristian

April 24, 2017

America's agricultural sector uses more undocumented immigrant labor than any other U.S. industry, Pew Research Center has found, and The Associated Press estimates that about 46 percent of America's 800,000 crop farmworkers are working in the U.S. illegally, citing federal data. Farmers say that American citizens typically have neither the skills nor dedication to do farm labor in sufficient numbers, and some research backs that up.

Worrying about the perceived uptick in immigration raids on farmworkers under President Trump and the very real fear that has engendered in the immigrant community, farmers have begun lobbying their representatives in Congress and local politicians to deal with immigration in a manner that doesn't jeopardize America's farms, AP reports. Even Republican farmers who support Trump and favor more immigration restrictions say otherwise law-abiding immigrant farm workers should be shown clemency.

And if mercy doesn't work, agriculture interests are pointing to the hard costs of deporting immigration laborers. The American Farm Bureau Federation says that food prices would go up 5-6 percent under strict immigration enforcement, and the National Milk Producers Federation predicted this month that milk prices could rise to $8 a gallon, from about $3.30 a gallon today. About 79 percent of dairy farms employ immigrants, a 2015 Texas A&M study found, and 71 percent of dairy farm owners have low to medium confidence that the employment documents their immigrant laborers provide is valid.

In the meantime, farm owners are warning their farmworkers to be careful and attending immigration rights workshops. You can get a sense of how Trump's perceived crackdown is affecting vineyards and plant nurseries in Oregon in the AP video below. Peter Weber

April 17, 2017

In the first weeks of President Trump's tenure, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made 32.6 percent more arrests than a year earlier — 21,326 undocumented immigrants arrested from Jan. 20 to March 13, versus 16,104 in the same period a year earlier — and 5,441 of those immigrants had no criminal record, The Washington Post reports. The number of immigrants with criminal records was up 15 percent, but the arrests of immigrants with no criminal criminal record more than doubled, or even tripled at some field offices.

Overall, deportations were down 1.2 percent in that same January to mid-March period, at 54,741 people deported, but while deportations of immigrants with criminal records fell, the number of noncriminals deported actually rose. ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said it can take time to deport people; some countries, like China, have not been willing to take their citizens back.

Trump has also just begun his push to increase staffing at ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CPB) — the Department of Homeland Security is working out ways to quickly create Trump's nationwide deportation force, according to internal documents, including identifying 33,000 more detention beds, and the CPB's U.S. Border Patrol is looking to ease its hiring requirements, since 60 percent of its applicants fail at required polygraph test, The Wall Street Journal reports. ("The polygraph has given us a difficult time," Border Patrol Chief Ronald Vitiello said last week. "Not a lot of people are passing.")

The big change under Trump isn't necessarily the numbers, however — immigrant advocates called former President Barack Obama the "deporter in chief," especially before he shifted focus to new immigrants and those with criminal records in late 2014, and The Washington Post notes that Trump's numbers so far are lower than Obama's in 2014.

It's the tactics Trump's ICE agents use — arresting immigrants in state and local courthouses and on the way to work, as well as apparently targeting immigrant advocates who speak out — that has struck terror into immigrant communities. "My sense is that ICE is emboldened in a way that I have never seen," Dan Satterberg, the top prosecutor in Seattle and King County, said last week. "The federal government, in really just a couple of months, has undone decades of work that we have done to build this trust." Peter Weber

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