TASK FORCE UPDATES:I am including items that many of you may have missed during the past two weeks. Next From the Chair will be emailed on 7/31.

If you have any computers or flat screen monitors you are not using that are younger than eight years old, Will may be able to refurbish the unit and then pass it on to MISN to be used by those who do not have a computer.  Contact Will to learn whether your unit would be acceptable and to arrange delivery to him.If you have any items you wish to have included in the next From the Chair , please email me before noon on Tuesday, July 28.
WEBSITE NEWS: https://www.immigrationneedham.org   Responding to a question posed at the last meeting, Will reports there are an average of 70 hits a month.

Are you bored and looking for something to do?  I would really like to have a couple of volunteers help with updating our website.  It shouldn’t take more than an hour to review its current content and make suggestions to Will Rico as to proposed additions or deletions. As the commercial of a couple of years ago stated, “You only get one chance to make a first impression!”  Will would appreciate receiving some current photos, as well as any proposed new content.  If possible please use MSWord docx or Google docs for written materials when sending him materials to be posted on the our web page. 

LOCAL REQUESTS:Metrowest Immigration Solidarity Network (MISN) has sent the following:   Help Us Build up EMERGENCY HOUSING Resources There are times when temporary emergency housing is needed on short notice by our immigrant neighbors.  MISN’s Centro de Apoyo is surveying our volunteers to see if there are those who would be willing to donate hotel and/or frequent flyer points to cover a few nights in a local residential hotel.  If you have points you are willing to donate, please click on the following link to a survey which will gather the information we need to coordinate this service.  We anticipate this need occurring a few times a year.  Our plan would be to contact those folks who have said they are willing to donate points at the time they are needed and will coordinate directly with you using the points.  Thanks very much for considering this; it will be immensely helpful to our neighbors and also help safeguard MISN’s limited emergency funds for other purposes.  Contact MISN directly for further information, framcompaneras@gmail.com

A group of Needham residents is seeking information about whether you or anyone you know has faced racial or ethnic discrimination in Needham: Have you experienced racism or identity-based prejudice in Needham? If yes, please tell us your story. ‘Lived Experiences’ is a story collection initiative created by a racially diverse group of Needham residents with expertise in social psychology, behavioral economics, social work, communications, anthropology, and human development and psychology. We know that Needham is a lovely place to live, but every place can be improved. Our goal is to collect stories that document experiences with all types of racism and prejudice in Needham–from people who live, study, visit, or work in Needham. The stories we collect will be anonymous–we do not want your name or any other identifier to be included. The resulting story bank will be made into a publicly available report and used to inform town-wide reflection, discussion, and policy. f you would like to share a story on behalf of yourself or someone else, please click on this link:  Lived Experiences Questionnaire or directly contact John Kirk ( johnpkirk12@gmail.com).

NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY:>>. July 1, 2020.Houston Chronicle.  Cruz blocks Senate Democrats’ attempt to pass DACA bill, using as excuses that it would be granting amnesty to illegal entrants and would take away jobs from unemployed Americans caused by the pandemic.  Read the full article at:  (https://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/texas/article/Cruz-blocks-Senate-Democrats-attempt-to-pass-15380319.php)
>>.  July 1, 2020.MSNBC.  Trump’s reverse Midas touch: Americans back more immigration
For a half-century, Americans wanted less immigration, not more. Then Donald Trump took office, and public attitudes went in the other direction.(SEE: https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-s-reverse-midas-touch-americans-back-more-immigration-n1232670)
>>.  July 2, 2020. The ECONOMIST.  Will Trump’s H-1B visa freeze really help American job seekers?  There is little credible evidence to suggest these travel bans have any positive impact on the US unemployment.Read more at: (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/nri/visa-and-immigration/will-trumps-h-1b-visa-freeze-really-help-american-job-seekers/articleshow/76751036.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst)
>>.  July 7, 2020.  CNN has published a lengthy list of immigration restrictions imposed by the Trump administration, citing the Pandemic as causing the restrictions.  SEE: https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/07/politics/trump-administration-pandemic-immigration-changes/index.html  CNN had earlier published a list as of April.    SEE: https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/18/politics/immigration-changes-coronavirus/index.html.  

>>.  BUZZ FEED NEWS:  Trump has appointed the Chief Prosecutor for ICE as the new Chief Immigration Judge.  He has had no prior judicial experience and is another example of the potential politicalization of the Immigration Court.  One expects to receive a fair hearing in court, but as long as the judges in the Immigration Court serve at the pleasure of the Attorney General and recent appointments are heavily weighted in favor of former ICE prosecutors, that expectation is beginning to fade. Further a higher than usual number of current judges are resigning.  Time to write to our Senators and Representatives.  SEE:  https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hamedaleaziz/immigration-court-official-called-impartiality-memo?utm_source=

NEWS OF PENDING LEGISLATION at the STATE HOUSE: >>.  The League of Women Voters has sent this along for your consideration: ITIN parity:   Deadline for reporting it out of committee is 7/31. 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 (ITIN)  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
Thank you.
Signed ______________Your name and address (so your rep knows you are a constituent)
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 )
>>.  VERY Good news:  July 15th:  The LWV sent a notice that the House and Senate favorably voted the SAFE COMMUNITIES Bill out of the JOINT COMMITTEE on PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY and referred it to the HOUSE Ways and Means Committee!!

ADMINISTRATION NEWS>>.  July 1, 2020. The Inspector General of ICE has published a Report entitled “Capping Report:Observations of Unannounced Inspections of ICE Facilities in 2019 ( https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2020-07/OIG-20-45-Jul20.pdf ).  And if you think it has gotten better since the report issued,  NBC News reports (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/nearly-half-employees-arizona-ice-detention-center-have-tested-positive-n1233101?utm) that CoreCivic, the company contracted to run the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, said that 127 of about 300 total CoreCivic employees at Eloy have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. One guard died of the disease, and according to two employees and 14 migrants, a shortage of staff has left detainees confined to their cells without access to showers, laundry, and other necessities.
>>.  I am including this items so you might have some background.  The best part is at the end of this item. 

  • Harvard and MIT sue ICE, supported by an ever increasing list of corporations and other colleges and universities.  Numerous other lawsuits filked by Attorneys General of several states. Hearing scheduled in Boston Federal District Court for 7/14. 
  • On July 9, 2020, 99 members of Congress sent a letter to DHS and ICE urging the agencies to withdraw the new guidance issued by ICE that states that international students may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.
  • EVEN BETER NEWS:  July 14, 2020:  The Trump administration RESCINDED its policy that would bar international students who only take online courses from staying in the US, a federal judge announced in Boston.Under extreme pressure from major US companies and lawsuits brought by Harvard, MIT and other universities as well as a number of states, the Trump administration has agreed to rescind a directive that would have barred foreign students from the United States if their colleges cancelled in-person classes and the student’s program was completed online during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that for now international students in status can study in the US even if their courses are entirely online. Presumably individuals with student visa who are still overseas will now be able to enter the US to begin classes.

>>.  Now back to business as usual: Next Monday, July 20th is the day ICE has been ordered by the Federal Court to release CHILDREN from detention.  But the fight against family separation and detention isn’t over. ICE was ordered by a U.S. District Judge to release all children currently imprisoned in family detention centers for more than 20 days by this Friday. ICE is creating a draconian conditions for family separation 2.0 by refusing to release parents along with their children. Parents are faced with the dilemma of whether to separate from their children or to waive any further hearings on asylum applications and “voluntarily”  agree to deportation of the family back to the country of citizenship from which they fled. RAICES asks you join them in calling ICE and Members of Congress  RAICES needs hundreds of people to commit to joining a phone bank party to make as many calls as possible – it wants to shut down the lines of ICE and Congress with calls from outraged Americans who refuse to accept another family separation crisis.  Maybe with sufficient calls this outrageous condition will be rescinded as was the initial policy regarding international students.  Silence is condonation.  Thanks to Mark Swartz for bringing this to our attention.  SEE the attached notice from RAICES.
>>.  USCIS coming to a grinding halt.  As you may know, funding for USCIS is not part of the budget, but is rather based upon application fees. Since USCIS has been closed due to the pandemic, very little applications have been filed.  In addition, the Administration re-programmed some of the income to pay for the construction of the Trump Wall.  Thus, unless Congress acts to provide emergency funding to keep USCIS in operation,  owing to a $1.2 billion shortfall, it will need to furlough approximately 13,400 employees starting August 3, 2020. A bailout request and the potential impact USCIS furloughs will have dire consequences: no naturalization processing; no petitions to extend status of those legally in the US, such as students, employment authorization, no processing on family based petitions to bring wives, parents or children of US Citizens.  (Trumps has previously issued an Executive Order barring all employment based visas from entering the US due to the pandemic and to save jobs for US Citizens.)  It is time to let our senators and representatives know how you feel. 
Stay well and hopeful that this too shall pass. 

Gerry RovnerGerry80059@Comcast.net