TASK FORCE NEWS:
The next From the Chair will be sent on Aug 21st. Items must be received by Wednesday, noon on Aug 19th.
Our first Meeting of the year (via ZOOM) will be held on September 14th
Personal comment:There is a VERY powerful 6 part documentary on Netflix entitled “Immigration Nation”. The statement “a picture is worth a thousand words” is never more apt than in this production that shows what really happens with ICE. The producers were given unprecedented access. In several scenes, an officer says he is only enforcing the law and following orders. Sounds like something I read about during the Nuremberg Trials following WWII. MISN has asked (see item below) we send letters of support to those imprisoned. This documentary shows in no uncertain terms what is happening behind the scenes. It highlights arrests, detention, wage theft issues and more. If you do nothing else in the next week or so, watch this show.
NOT GOOD NEWS: Bev Freeman received the following letter, in part, from Sen. Brownsberger: “Over the past weeks and months, you’ve been in touch with me about providing drivers licenses for immigrants and/or keeping communities safe for immigrants…. The right to drive should not depend on documentation status, especially now when the MBTA is less safe. And everyone should be able to rely on the services of the police without fear. Unfortunately, it was not possible to develop consensus to take action on either issue in the waning months of the session. Final pushes on the licensing issue were made last week in both branches, but did not succeed.… However, this year we have extended the formal session. So, there is a theoretical possibility that we could return to these issues in the fall. However, in practice, we will need to continue these efforts starting in January. It might be well to start writing to our State Reps and Senators seeking reconsideration of both of these important bills.” How did your senator and representative vote? Maybe you should factor in that vote with other matters when considering your ballot choices in the upcoming state primary.
>>NOT OFTEN I CAN REPORT GOOD NEWS: On July 29, 2020, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York enjoined the government from enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective the USCIS Final Rule on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds (84 FR 41292, 8/14/19)during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court also issued a separate order granting an injunction that enjoins the government from implementing, or taking any actions to enforce or apply, the 2018 FAM Revisions, the DOS Interim Final Rule on Visa Ineligibility on Public Charge Grounds (84 FR 54996, 10/11/19), or the President’s October 4, 2019 Proclamation, Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System in Order to Protect the Availability of Healthcare Benefits for Americans (84 FR 53991, 10/9/19) during the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 31, 2020, USCIS posted guidance, stating that “As long as the July 29,2020, SDNY decision is in effect, USCIS will apply the 1999 public charge guidance that was in place before the Public Charge Rule was implemented on Feb.24,2020 to the adjudication of any application for adjustment of status on or about July 29,2020. In addition, USCIS will adjudicate any application or petition for extension of nonimmigrant stay or change of nonimmigrant status on or after July 29,2020, consistent with regulations in place before the Public Charge Rule was implemented; in other words, we will not apply the public benefit Condition.” The court’s injunctions are nationwide.
>>Judge Orders Inquiry Into DHS False Statements in Trusted Traveler CaseU.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered a “limited inquiry” to address “deeply troubling revelations” about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) false statements in court related to a lawsuit New York Attorney General Letitia James filed to prevent the Trump administration from excluding New York applicants from the Trusted Travelers Program. DHS admitted that its statements were inaccurate, for example, a claim that New York’s Green Light Law was the only such state law in the country that shielded information about driver’s licenses from the federal government. The Department of Justice reinstated New York to the program and apologized for the misleading statements, asking to have the case dismissed as moot, but Judge Furman ordered the additional inquiry for “the sake of ensuring an accurate record and to help the court in deciding how to proceed down the line.” Judge Furman said that “it is necessary for defendants to make a comprehensive record of any and all ‘inaccurate’ or ‘misleading’ statements in their prior submissions, adding that even if the case is dismissed as moot, “the court would retain jurisdiction to pursue such an inquiry and take appropriate action.” The judge therefore ordered DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan to detail all such statements in a report to be filed by August 12, 2020.
>>US Chamber of Commerce, Trade Associations Sue Trump Administration to Stop Restrictions on Nonimmigrant Visas The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the National Retail Federation, and several others sued the Trump administration on July 21, 2020, seeking an injunction to block President Trump’s recent proclamation suspending new nonimmigrant visas. Thomas Donohue, US Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the lawsuit ” seeks to overturn these sweeping and unlawful immigration restrictions that are an unequivocal ‘not welcome’ sign to the engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other critical workers who help drive the American economy.” He said that left in place, the restrictions would “push investment abroad, inhibit economic growth and reduce job creation.” Linda Kelly, NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel, said the visa restrictions would “hand other countries a competitive advantage because they will drive talented individuals away from the United States.” Marcie Schneider, President of Intrax, another party to the lawsuit, noted that J-1 cultural exchange programs “contribute more than $1.4 billion to the
American economy each year.”
>>Georgina and the LWV have sent the following: Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) Parity: Contact your legislators to urge them to provide ongoing support for the bill in committee. Feel free to use the email template provided below.
Dear Representative _______:
It is vitally important for Massachusetts to treat taxpayers who have paid their taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number with fairness. Policies like the stimulus provisions of the CARES Act that discriminate against tax-paying families because they are immigrants devalue the worth of people in our communities and should be rectified at the state level. The bill (House 4726) is now before the Revenue Committee and the committee’s deadline to report it is Friday, 7/31. Please contact Revenue Chair Cusack and Speaker DeLeo to tell them that you support this bill and want to see it move forward promptly. For your convenience, here are the email addresses for the Speaker and Revenue Chair.
Speaker DeLeo (Robert.DeLeo@mahouse.gov)
Revenue Chair Cusack (Mark.Cusack@mahouse.gov)
Signed ______________Your name and address (so your rep knows you are a constituent)
Find your rep here: https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Members/House
Here’s an additional resource to support your advocacy. Feel free to share this with your legislators as you reach out to them. https://cssp.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Policy-Stronger-Together-Immigration-Brief.pdf
[Thanks to LVMA and Jen for this information.]
>>On March 12, 2019, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced H.R. 6 to allow Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients to apply for permanent legal status. On June 4, 2019, H.R. 6 passed the House of Representatives by a recorded vote of 237-187. AILA endorses this bill.The Senate must act immediately to protect Dreamers—many of whom are first responders, essential workers, our friends, and our neighbors. Take action now to support the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) by contacting our US Senators.
NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
WBUR reports on increasing naturalization wait times in Mass., a crisis driven by USCIS policies, which, said AILA’s Sharvari Dalal-Dheini, “deliberately decrease USCIS efficiency, drive up the cost of adjudication, slow down case processing and discourage individuals from applying.”
>>Politico reports Trump is still looking for a DACA deal SEE: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/10/trump-daca-deal-356789 Sounds like a political hope he’ll convince LatinX voters, but without any substance.
>>ProPublica reports (https://www.propublica.org/article/after-a-year-of-investigation-the-border-patrol-has-little-to-say-about-agents-misogynistic-and-racist-facebook-group?utm_ )that despite
vowing to provide a full accounting after the revelation of hateful posts in a private Facebook group, CBP leaders are blocking congressional investigators and revealing little about the agency’s internal
investigations. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform said its probe into the group has been derailed by a lack of cooperation from CBP leaders, who have refused to provide the names of
employees who made offensive posts or even identify the agents who’ve been disciplined.
>>Newsweek reports (https://www.newsweek.com/immigration-officers-union-backs-court-challenge-trumps-remain-mexico-program-1522771) the union representing 14,000 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service employees has filed an amicus brief supporting a challenge to the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program.Under the controversial program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), more than 60,000 asylum-seekers have been forced to wait in Mexican cities, in some cases for more than a year, while their immigration cases are processed in the U.S.
>> You will recall that immigration judges are appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the Attorney General. On August 9, 2019, DOJ petitioned the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) in an attempt to strip immigration judges of their right to unionize. DOJ claims that the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) is no longer a valid union because the judges are managers who can’t form unions under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations statute. DOJ cited a series of “factual and legal developments” it says have added managerial weight to the judges’ authority and rendered moot the FLRA’s 2000 ruling rejecting the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s bid to break up the union. On July 31, 2020, the FLRA issued a decision rejecting EOIR’s petition to decertify the NAIJ – “IJs are not management officials within the meaning of section 7103(a)(11) of the Statute and EOIR’s petition is dismissed.”
>>USCIS Postpones Staff Furloughs After ‘Surplus’ Memo SurfacesU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on July 24, 2020, that planned furloughs of more than 13,000 of its employees have been postponed for a month to allow Congress to move on the agency’s emergency funding request for $1.2 billion. Jessica Collins, a USCIS spokesperson, said that recent assurances from Congress and an “uptick” in receipts allowed the agency “the flexibility to responsibly delay the start date” of the furlough until August 30, 2020. Regarding the previously projected USCIS deficit, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that he is “committed to addressing this issue in the next coronavirus supplemental so that USCIS can continue accomplishing its missions without a furlough.” He noted that new revenue estimates show the agency could end the fiscal year with a surplus rather than a deficit, based on an internal staff memorandum. Shortly before USCIS announced the one-month delay in furloughs, Sens. Leahy and Jon Tester (D-MT) had called for the Trump administration to call off the furlough plans inlight of the new estimates. Ms. Collins said the funding request remains unchanged “and the agency is depending on Congress to provide emergency funding to ensure agency operations continue uninterrupted.”
>>Aug 4, 2020.President Trump Signs Executive Order on Federal Contracting and Hiring Practices. President Trump signed an executive order on federal contracting and hiring practices, directing the heads of federal agencies to review federal contracts; assess any negative impact of contractors’ use of temporary foreign labor or offshoring of work on U.S. workers; and to recommend corrective action, if necessary. In response to the order, AILA’s Executive Director Ben Johnson stated, “He is choosing to put America last in line for innovation, last in line for talent, and last in line for economic growth. We need to get back to a place where it didn’t matter where you came from, you were welcome to make the American Dream your own and we all benefitted.”
REQUESTS FOR ASSISTANCE
MISN(Metrowest Immigrant Solidarity Network) has sent the following request: Write Letters & Cards to Detained Families: A project of the American Immigration Council
53 families detained in Dilley, TX have been there for over 100 days, 35 of those have been there for over 300. They have waited out 3-10 months of depression, medical neglect, reheated food, nonexistent education, and the anxiety of an uncertain future, all just hoping for the chance to be safe in the United States. They have had to sue for their rights to a fair asylum process. They have watched their friends sue over other unfair parts of the asylum process; and even after those friends won their lawsuits, these 53 families have not been able to benefit from those decisions. They are now watching guards come in to work after a weekend at the bars in one of the states hardest-hit by COVID-19, and then leave their masks off and hug the detained children. They have seen judge after judge decide they can’t force ICE to release them. They are now preparing themselves to be asked if they want to send their children alone to sponsors, or keep them detained in a congregate setting where their growth has stunted, development has been repressed, and behavior has regressed– and where coronavirus is slowly but surely spreading among the staff. These 53 families have no idea what future is in store for them. They have loved to see themselves, their friends, and their advocates fighting for them in the news or protesting for their rights in Dilley. They would love to hear from people all over the country who are supporting them and rooting for them. That’s why we’re renewing our call for letters of encouragement for our detained families.
The vast majority of our families speak Spanish; we have one family each who speak Haitian Creole and Portuguese. If you’re multilingual, please apportion your cards accordingly. Subject of the letters may include:
-your support for these plaintiffs
-your belief that they deserve justice
-your encouragement to fight for their own families and those that will come after them
-your best wishes/prayers/blessings for them
-your thanks for having the courage to stand up to a government doing everything it can to wear them down and get rid of them
-what you/ your family/ your friends/ your community/ your congresspeople have been doing to fight for them
Children are also welcome to send drawings. Unfortunately, due to STFRC rules, we cannot pass out any food or gifts of any kind, even stickers.
Please mail letters to:
C/o Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid
1111 N. Main Ave
San Antonio TX 78212
OPTIONAL REQUEST: Due to privacy concerns, and the fact that we are no longer physically present in the detention center due to COVID, our paralegal Mackenzie will collect all of the letters and mail them individually to each family. If you are writing multiple letters, or you and a group of others are getting together to write letters, and you would like to make Mackenzie’s life easier, please place each letter into a blank envelope and then place all envelopes into one larger package to send together.
Please stay well
Newsletter from the Chair – August 9, 2020
TASK FORCE NEWS: