November 2016

Polls Indicate Majority of Americans Don’t Want Undocumented Immigrants to Leave

(ESPAÑOL) Despite Donald Trump’s campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration, a majority of Americans would like to see undocumented immigrants stay in the country and get a chance to become citizens, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

The response, 60 percent, was the highest since the Quinnipiac polls started asking the question four years ago.

“Though it drew cheers on the campaign trail, the fiery rhetoric about redirecting the path to citizenship in the U.S. back to the Mexican border is actually losing support,” Tim Malloy, the poll’s assistant director, said in a statement.

Trump has vowed to deport millions of immigrants in the United States illegally, focusing on those with criminal records, and strengthen border security. He has also met with potential Cabinet picks who have espoused anti-immigrant policies, most notably Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who warned last week that no undocumented immigrants would get a “free pass.”

But Trump himself hasn’t said much since the election about his plans for broader immigration policy. In an interview with the New York Times this week, Trump said he wanted to pass an immigration law “that’s fair.”

Immigration doesn’t appear to be all that important to Americans, according to the poll, which was conducted Nov. 17-20 among 1,071 respondents. The results have a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Asked what Trump’s top priority should be when he takes office in January, only 6 percent of respondents said immigration. The top issue was the economy, with 24 percent naming it as the most important.

Another majority, 55 percent, said they opposed building a wall along the Mexican border, one of Trumps’s signature pledges. Forty-two percent said they wanted a wall.

But 50 percent said they supported suspending immigration from “terror prone” regions, even if that meant turning away refugees. Forty-four percent said they opposed doing that.

On the question of what to do with undocumented immigrants living in the United States, the divide was deeper. Sixty percent said they were in favor of allowing them to stay and to eventually apply for citizenship; 12 percent said they should be allowed to stay but not be allowed to apply for citizenship; and 25 percent said undocumented immigrants should be forced to leave.

Across the board, partisan differences were even wider, with Democrats holding a much more lenient view toward immigrants than Republicans.

Jeff Sessions Potential Impact as Attorney General

(ESPAÑOL) Tougher immigration judges. More prosecution of low-level immigration-law violations. And a cut-off of some law enforcement funds to cities that don’t hew to a harsher immigration policy.

Even without changing a single law, these are some of the major changes in immigration policy that Sen. Jeff Sessions could pursue if he is confirmed as U.S. attorney general.

Sessions, a four-term Republican senator from Alabama, successfully led efforts to kill immigration reform bills in Congress and is considered a fierce opponent of any pathway to legal status for the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally.

He would oversee the Bureau of Justice Assistance, which reimburses local jails for holding federal prisoners under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

In Senate speeches, Sessions has repeatedly called for cutting those funds to push local authorities to identify migrants in the country illegally and hand them over to federal agents.

Trump’s transition policy team has drawn up plans to pressure so-called sanctuary cities — including Los Angeles and Chicago — to help immigration agents identify those here illegally.

“The issue of sanctuary cities is substantially in the hands of the attorney general,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank in Washington that advocates for lower immigration levels.

Under Sessions, Justice Department lawyers could try to get federal court orders for local officials to cooperate with federal immigration agents.

Also under Sessions, the Justice Department is likely to support states that give local police authority to enforce immigration laws. In 2012, after the Obama administration objected, the Supreme Court struck down Arizona’s so-called “papers, please” law on the grounds that the state was trying to enforce federal immigration laws.

Sessions also can instruct federal prosecutors to be more aggressive in filing criminal charges against migrants for illegal entry and reentry after deportation, convictions that can speed up deportation orders.

Florida Bar Warns About Notarios

(ESPAÑOL) The Florida Bar sent out a warning this week: Don’t get a nonlawyer, especially a notary (or notarios), to do an immigration lawyer’s job.

The warning appears on the Florida Bar website in English and Spanish.

Notary publics or notarios got called out pointedly:

“In [Hispanic immigrants’] home countries, notaries often play a much larger role,” the warning reads. “In Florida, however, these people are not attorneys unless properly licensed to practice law in this state, and they should not be relied on for legal advice, because they cannot give legal advice.

“Some people in Florida have been harmed after mistakenly seeking legal assistance from notaries or other nonlawyers who offer such services in immigration matters. In fact, incorrect advice can even begin or accelerate a deportation process.”

That’s what Kendall resident Leonardo Morales’ family claims happened to him.

As detailed in a Nov. 14 Miami Herald story, Morales faces deportation after living 11 years in the United States. Morales, his wife and two children, now teenagers, came from Colombia on a tourist visa, then applied for asylum to escape the violence they felt too prevalent in their native country.

Morales’ wife says the problem starts with Fredy Barragan, who has run a business in Hialeah since 2001 helping fill out immigration forms. Barragan told the Herald he never claimed to be an attorney and all paperwork he gives clients says he’s not an attorney. The website for his business declares that prominently.

While statements regarding deportation by President-elect Donald Trump would seem the logical spur for such a warning, Florida Bar public information coordinator Mark Hohmeister said the Bar issued a similar warning in 2014 after President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration. Any change or imminent change in immigration law mushrooms the number of people seeking legal advice, as a Tampa Bay Times article from last week demonstrates.

“We were planning to put this out after the holidays,” Hohmeister said. “When the Times came out with their story, we thought it was a good time to hit it.”

Trump’s Immigration Stance Likely to Fuel Private Prison System

(ESPAÑOL) The population of the American private prison system is likely to rise for the first time in nearly a decade with President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to detain and deport millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally and his selection of tough-on-crime Sen. Jeff Sessions to the nation’s highest law enforcement post.

If so, one of the prime beneficiaries would be the private companies that operate many of the nation’s prisons. The stock market seems to agree.

A day after the election, CoreCivic Co., formerly Corrections Corporation of America, saw the biggest percentage gain on the New York Stock Exchange with shares climbing 43 percent.

Shares of Geo Group, another private prison company, also jumped 21 percent.

The federal prison population had been trending down for nearly a decade when the Obama administration announced in August that it would phase out its use of some private facilities.

The announcement followed a Justice Department audit saying private facilities have more safety and security problems than government-run lockups.

The policy change did not cover private prisons used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, though federal officials have said they are considering phasing out private contractor immigration facilities.

Trump, however, said during his campaign that the nation’s prison system was a mess and voiced support for private prisons.

“I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better,” Trump told MSNBC in March, though he didn’t offer any details on what that might mean for the federal prison system.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds up to 34,000 immigrants awaiting deportation. Forty-six of the roughly 180 facilities in which ICE holds those immigrants are privately run, with about 73 percent of detainees held in the private facilities, the agency says.

“Trump was saying during his 100-day plan that mandatory minimums for people re-entering the country would be set at two years — that’s going to require a longer-term need for beds,” said Michael Kodesch, a senior associate with financial services firm Canaccord Genuity Inc.

Tech Sector Worries of Trump’s Immigration Policies

(ESPAÑOL) The U.S. tech sector was broadly opposed to the candidacy of Donald Trump, motivated by concerns from data privacy to telecom regulation. But the biggest concern may have been the potential impact of Trump’s immigration stance on tech staffing.

Trump essentially made his political name by broadly opposing immigration, from illegal migrants to Syrian refugees. But he has sent mixed messages about the issue most relevant for tech companies, the H-1B visa program for temporary foreign workers. The majority of H-1B workers are in technology fields, and the tech sector says it needs more workers than the program currently provides because there aren’t enough skilled Americans to fill those jobs.

But President Elect Trump has characterized the program as a way for companies to undercut American wages with cheap foreign labor. He proposed that the program be restricted, that companies be required to hire Americans first, and that the prevailing wage for H-1B workers be raised.

Trump has also threatened to end or renegotiate America’s NAFTA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, which created another visa path for professionals.

That mix of threat and uncertainty has Silicon Valley on tenterhooks about what happens next. Speaking with Bloomberg, Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham said Silicon Valley would be “the first to suffer if it got harder to come to America or if increasing xenophobia made fewer people want to.”

The consequences could come in myriad forms, not only by limiting staffing efforts, but because those foreign workers would, by necessity, go to the competition in other countries. Indeed, China is already inviting talent who may be blocked from the United States to consider its tech sector. Not to mention that the U.S. tech industry already struggles with diversity even with the H-1B visa program and current immigration policies in place.

If they can’t get the workers they need, tech companies’ growth could be severely throttled. And with tech a major ingredient in U.S. job and GDP growth, the consequences could reach well beyond the Valley.

Students Resist Trump Policies, Demand “Sanctuary Campuses”

(ESPAÑOL) Students at college campuses across the country led walkouts on Wednesday, protesting the immigration proposals of President-elect Donald Trump and calling on their universities to protect undocumented immigrants.

Through petitions and protests this week, students have asked universities to declare themselves “sanctuary campuses,” a term that mirrors the classification of “sanctuary cities,” which have pledged to do what they can to protect residents from deportation. On Wednesday, at schools from Amherst College in Massachusetts to East Los Angeles College in California, students walked out to request the same of their campuses.

“Given the outcome of the Presidential election, we call on Oberlin College to stand with other colleges and universities and investigate how to make Oberlin a sanctuary campus that will protect our community members from intimidation, unfair investigation, and deportation,” students at Ohio’s Oberlin College wrote Monday in a letter to the college president, signed by more than 2,400 students, faculty, alumni and family members.

Similar petitions, asking universities to shield undocumented students from immigration enforcement actions, have circulated at other colleges across the country.

“Undocumented migrants are a population directly at risk as a result of one of Trump’s campaign promises,” students at New York City’s New School wrote in a letter to university leaders. “This is not an abstract issue: his promise to increase deportations and end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program puts some of our students, staff members and their family members at risk.”

Trump has said he plans to deport about 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants. President Barack Obama this week said he will urge Trump’s administration not to deport participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides a temporary deportation reprieve to people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

“These are kids who were brought here by their parents,” Obama said Monday. “They did nothing wrong. They have gone to school. They have pledged allegiance to the flag. Some of them joined the military. They’ve enrolled in school. By definition, if they are part of this program, they are solid, wonderful young people of good character. And it is my strong belief that the majority of the American people would not want to see, suddenly, those kids have to start hiding again.”

LAPD Will Not Deport Immigrants Under Trump

(ESPAÑOL) Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday that he has no plans to change the LAPD’s stance on immigration enforcement, despite President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to toughen federal immigration laws and deport millions of people upon taking office.

For decades, the LAPD has distanced itself from federal immigration policies. The LAPD prohibits officers from initiating contact with someone solely to determine whether he or she is in the country legally, mandated by a special order signed by then-chief Daryl Gates in 1979. During Beck’s tenure as chief, the department stopped turning over people arrested for low-level crimes to federal agents for deportation and moved away from honoring federal requests to detain inmates who might be deportable past their jail terms.

On Monday, Beck said he planned to maintain the long-standing separation.

“I don’t intend on doing anything different,” he said. “We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job.”

Fear among immigrants and their families has rippled across the country in the days following Trump’s election to the presidency. Trump made illegal immigration a central issue of his campaign, vowing to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, deport people who are in the country illegally and unwind immigration relief created under President Obama.

In Los Angeles, officials have tried to alleviate some of those concerns by signaling their support for the city’s immigrant residents. At a meeting Friday at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would question Trump’s decisions on immigration.

“If the first day, as president, we see something that is hostile to our people, hostile to our city, bad for our economy, bad for our security, we will speak up, speak out, act up and act out,” Garcetti said.

The mayor also said that the LAPD would continue to enforce Special Order 40, the Gates-signed directive that bars officers from contacting someone solely to determine their immigration status.

“Our law enforcement officers and LAPD don’t go around asking people for their papers, nor should they,” he said. “That’s not the role of local law enforcement.

Kamala Harris to Defy Trump on Immigration

(ESPAÑOL) Kamala Harris said Thursday that in her new role as California’s U.S. senator she will to do everything in her power to protect immigrants, both legal and those who entered the country illegally, and criticized Donald Trump’s demands for mass deportations and a giant border wall as “absolutely unrealistic.”

“Today we are rededicating ourselves to fighting for the best of who we are. And there are a lot of people, as a result of this election, that are feeling dispirited at best,” she said. “Part of what we have to say is that you are not alone, you matter and we’ve got your back.”

Trump has vowed to overturn many of the president’s executive actions on immigration, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which temporarily shields from deportation people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Angelica Salas, executive director of the immigration center, said now is the time for Californians to come together to protect all immigrants from the “hate and division” stirred by the presidential campaign.

Along with protecting the rights of immigrants, as well as women, the LGBT community and others, Harris said Democrats must work to appeal to the disaffected working-class voters whose support was critical to Trump’s surprise victory. Her idea for doing so hewed toward union-friendly policies, including job training, workplace protections and preserving collective bargain rights.

Harris, California’s two-term attorney general, said she’s an “optimist” that a bipartisan accord can be reached to fix the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system, adding that, despite the rhetoric from Trump, most Republicans realize it cannot be ignored.

With Trump now in a position to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, Harris said she doesn’t expect Democrats in Congress to engage in the same obstructionism the GOP used to block Obama’s nominee to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia.

“It’s basically what we teach our children, just because somebody does something bad in the classroom, you don’t do something bad in return,” Harris said. “It is time for all of us to perform our duties. There’s too much work to be done. I don’t expect the Democrats are going play those kinds of games.”

Donald Trump’s 10-point Immigration Plan

(ESPAÑOL) President-elect Donald Trump’s tough stance against illegal immigration and pledge to enforce immigration laws became one of his most powerful rallying cries during his campaign for the White House.

Trump supporters cheered him on as he vowed to end President Barack Obama’s plans to shield from deportation millions of undocumented immigrants, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and to temporarily suspend immigration from areas with “a proven history of terrorism” against the United States, Europe or allies.

Here’s a recap of Trump’s 10-point immigration plan:

  1. Build an “impenetrable physical wall on the southern border” that he says Mexico will pay for.
  2. End “catch-and-release.” If anyone is caught illegally crossing the border, that person will be detained until deported.
  3. Deport immigrants in the country illegally who have been convicted of crimes.
  4. End sanctuary cities (cities where local law enforcement officers aren’t required to alert federal authorities to people in the country illegally).
  5. End Obama’s executive actions, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and triple the number of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
  6. Suspend issuance of visas to people in places where “adequate screening cannot occur, until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put into place.”
  7. Make sure countries take back their own citizens when the United State orders them deported.
  8. Fully implement at all land, air and sea ports a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.
  9. “Turn off the jobs and benefits magnet” that attract immigrants who come to the United States illegally.
  10. Reform legal immigration and keep it “within historic norms,” to serve the best interests of America and its workers.

Whether Trump will actually follow through on these pledges remains to be seen, said Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School.

“Some actions, like reversing President Obama’s immigration executive actions, can be done unilaterally,” Yale-Loehr said. “Others, like building a wall and strengthening border security, will require Congress to change current law or to agree to spend the billions of dollars such proposals will require.”

Trump is expected to be sworn into office Jan. 20, 2017. His administration will work with Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Donald Trump Expressed Support for “Amnesty” in 2011

(ESPAÑOL) Donald Trump expressed support for “amnesty” for some undocumented immigrants during a 2011 interview on Fox News.

In an appearance in November of 2011 on “Fox and Friends,” Trump defended former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, then a candidate for the Republican nomination, who was being criticized by his opponent Michele Bachmann for saying at a debate that he wanted “a humane” approach to the subject of illegal immigration which would avoid deporting families rooted in American communities. Trump signaled he liked Gingrich’s approach, agreeing with a Fox host’s description that it could be called amnesty.

“I tell you, I know Michele,” said Trump. “And if you told Michele, ‘Go across the street. You see that family? They’ve been here, they’ve been really producers for this country for 25 years. They’re great people, their children are educated, their children are producers, you go tell that family to get out of here and get into their own country,’ I don’t think she could do it, because she’s a good person.”

“This isn’t conservative, I’m the world’s most conservative person, this isn’t conservative. This is compassion,” added Trump.

“Is it amnesty?” asked “Fox and Friends” host Steve Doocy.

“I guess to a certain extent, for a very limited number of people, it would be considered amnesty, but how do you tell a family that’s been here for 25 years to get out?” responded Trump.

The 2011 exchange is significantly different from the central theme of Trump’s 2016 campaign, which has been a hardline position on immigration that emphasized the deportation of undocumented immigrants. In an August speech on immigration, Trump laid out his plan to deport undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds, and made clear that the only path to becoming a legal resident would be for immigrants to return to their home country first.

In the 2011 Fox News interview, Trump added that Gingrich’s comments would help him with voters in the general election, even if it hurt him with conservatives.

“With a very strong conservative group of people he did himself harm, with the overall electorate he did himself a lot of good,” said Trump.