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August 13, 2018
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If Stephen Miller had his way, his own family may never have made it to the U.S.

The senior policy adviser's uncle, David Glosser, told the tale of Miller's immigrant heritage in a Politico article published Monday, revealing that Miller himself is a beneficiary of the immigration programs that he is now dismantling.

"I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family's life in this country," said Glosser. Miller's great-great-grandfather migrated from Belarus, arriving at Ellis Island and working to bring family members to the U.S. through what Miller would disparagingly call chain migration.

"I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses ... been in effect," said Glosser, pointing to his family's escape of Nazi persecution. Glosser said that Miller and President Trump have likely become "numb to the resultant human tragedy and blind to the hypocrisy of their policy decisions," drawing parallels between the current administration and the Nazi effort to whip up fear and anger toward immigrants.

Miller, who is working to sharply limit legal immigration and have the U.S. accept fewer refugees, is creating disadvantages based on ethnicity and religion, writes Glosser. The normalization of such policies is a "gateway to tyranny," he continued, and amounts to a threat to all Americans. Read more at Politico. Summer Meza

August 7, 2018
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The Trump administration is preparing a proposal that would make it more difficult for legal immigrants to obtain a green card or become citizens if they have used public welfare programs, NBC News reported Tuesday.

The proposal would limit the path to citizenship or reduce the odds of obtaining permanent legal status for migrants who have ever used ObamaCare, children's public health insurance, food stamps, or other benefits. Experts say it would affect around 20 million immigrants, hitting low-income families the hardest.

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who has been tasked with reducing the number of migrants who obtain permanent legal status, is leading the way on the proposal, reports NBC News. It would not require congressional approval. The details are still being finalized, but sources said a nearly-finished version of the plan has been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

In 2016, about 1.2 million immigrants became lawful permanent residents, and more than 750,000 became naturalized citizens. The Trump administration's new immigration policies have put the U.S. on track to decrease those numbers by 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively. A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman said that the proposal "is clearly intended to protect the American taxpayer by ensuring that foreign nationals seeking to enter or remain in the U.S are self-sufficient." Read more at NBC News. Summer Meza

July 10, 2018
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A new bill introduced Tuesday would make first-time illegal border crossing a felony, the Washington Examiner reports.

The legislation, put forward by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), seeks to "set up a huge disincentive" for crossing the U.S. border outside of an official port of entry. The "Zero Tolerance for Illegal Entry Act" would charge first-time offenders with a felony, punishable by a minimum prison sentence of one year and one day. Currently, the offense is classified as a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum six-month sentence.

"It is utterly ridiculous that a speeding ticket and ILLEGALLY crossing the U.S. border can result in the same consequences — a misdemeanor," Black tweeted. She told the Washington Examiner that her bill would discourage migrants from using smugglers to enter the U.S.

In addition to reclassifying illegal crossing, the bill would cut funding from all 400 sanctuary cities and counties across the country, punishing any municipality that opts not to comply with requests from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The funds cut from sanctuary cities would instead go to ICE, Black said.

The bill doesn't currently have widespread support, but Black said she hopes to drum up some GOP co-sponsors who would help bring the legislation to a vote. Read more at the Washington Examiner. Summer Meza

July 9, 2018
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The Trump administration is not on track to meet the court-mandated deadline to reunite separated immigrant families.

Officials have until Tuesday to return children younger than 5 to their parents, but the American Civil Liberties Union said that it looks like "less than half" of those cases will be successfully completed on time, The Associated Press reports.

The Justice Department requested an extension, citing a need to thoroughly identify and vet each migrant parent, but a California judge declined the request, saying only certain cases might qualify for an exception. The ACLU received a list from the government detailing the 102 children under 5 years old who must be reunited by Tuesday, but said that it "appears likely that less than half will be reunited" on time.

The immigrant children, separated from their parents as a result of the administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, have been in government custody while officials criminally prosecute their parents or proceed with asylum requests. The DOJ was instructed to submit a request for possible deadline exceptions by Monday.

"It's extremely disappointing that the Trump administration looks like it will fail to reunite even half the children under 5 with their parent,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt told AP. "These kids have already suffered so much because of this policy, and every extra day apart just adds to that pain." Read more at The Associated Press. Summer Meza

July 3, 2018
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Immigrant parents who have been separated from their children by the Trump administration must make a choice: Accept deportation to be reunited with their child, or leave the country without them.

New documents show that there is no option for families to be reunited while they wait for their asylum request to be processed. On the form, obtained by NBC News, detained migrant parents must request to "reunite with my child(ren) for the purpose of repatriation to my country of citizenship," or "affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily" request to return without their children, who "will remain in the United States to pursue available claims of relief."

Advocates say this aspect of the zero-tolerance immigration policy may violate international asylum laws, since both options on the form spell out deportation for the adult migrants, rejecting their asylum requests without due process. Some migrants who have already gone through initial asylum screenings are given the form, NBC News reports, meaning their pending asylum cases will be abandoned. Because President Trump signed an executive order ending the separation of migrant families without providing a clear path forward to reunite thousands of children with their parents, migrant parents are now being forced to decide whether to rescind their child's asylum request, too. Read more at NBC News. Summer Meza

June 18, 2018

The horrors of the Trump administration's decision to separate immigrant families at the border can be hard to fathom, even as images and descriptions of the detention facilities circulate the web. On Monday, ProPublica published alarming audio from a facility where children had just been separated from their parents, illustrating the trauma and desperation inflicted by the practice.

In the excruciating recording, children sob and wail for their parents, begging to contact their family members and desperately trying to figure out what's going to happen to them. ProPublica reports that the children are between 4 and 10 years old, and were only separated from their parents for about 24 hours at the time of the audio, which was recorded last week. As many as 30,000 children could be detained by August if the Trump administration continues to separate families at its current pace, a senior administration official said.

The "zero tolerance" policy announced in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions has led to hundreds of children being held in facilities where they spend most of the day in cages awaiting placement with temporary foster families or to be picked up by a family member who is legally authorized to live in the U.S.

It's a difficult listen, but the recording demonstrates just how painful these separations are for children and families fleeing violence and instability in their home countries. Listen to the devastating audio below, via ProPublica. Summer Meza

June 13, 2018
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The Department of Homeland Security has launched a new office dedicated to rooting out applicants who are suspected of lying or cheating to obtain citizenship, and they've already referred 95 cases to the Justice Department.

The DOJ will strip immigrants of citizenship and possibly bring criminal charges after the new office identifies people who created fake identities or lied during the application process, The Associated Press reports. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Michael Bars told the Washington Examiner that dozens of lawyers and immigration officers will be tasked with "the civil denaturalization process" in a more coordinated effort. DHS has stripped immigrants of citizenship before, but on a rare basis and only as a small portion of agency duties.

Bars said that 95 cases have already been sent to the DOJ, where a judge will determine whether to denaturalize each immigrant after an in-person interview with immigration officers. More than 2,500 cases have been identified, reports the Examiner. Another official told AP that "a few thousand cases" would be handled to "start denaturalizing people who should not have been naturalized in the first place."

The office will be paid for by the agency's existing budget, which is funded by immigration application fees, but officials declined to say how much the new effort would cost in total. Only about 300 people have been denaturalized since 1990, said an immigration attorney who worried that immigrants who made innocent mistakes on paperwork could be targeted and wrongfully denaturalized and deported. Read more at The Associated Press. Summer Meza

June 11, 2018
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared Monday that only immigrants who are victims of crimes perpetrated by the governments of their home countries will be considered eligible for asylum in the U.S.

The move would disqualify tens of thousands of people, reports the Los Angeles Times, particularly victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. Sessions previewed the order in a speech to immigration judges in Washington, claiming that "the asylum system is being abused" and alleging that the "vast majority" of immigrants who apply for asylum are coming to the U.S. with "illegitimate" claims.

U.S. asylum policies, which are mandated by international law, allow people to request entry based on a "credible fear" of persecution in their home countries, whether it be over their race, religion, or political views. Sessions claimed that only about 20 percent of asylum-seekers are actually facing "dangerous conditions," and pledged to decrease the number of immigrants entering the U.S.

His new mandate will be a binding precedent for immigration judges, the Times reports, as officials determine whether an immigrant is a victim of a "private" crime or a governmental one. "The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim," Sessions wrote in the ruling. Read more at the Los Angeles Times. Summer Meza

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