The Immigration Committee Plans

by Polly Maier and Barbara Eriv

This year, the League of Women Voters of PBC has launched a new Immigration Committee. In its organizational stage, the Committee has adopted general goals that align with the League’s Public Policy Position on immigration. The Committee will initially focus on two priorities: public education and Welcoming Cities initiatives. Additional immigration matters will be taken up as the Committee grows.  We are seeking more members for our committee.  For those interested, contact Barbara Eriv at eriv6296@bellsouth.net to join us at our next meeting on May 22, 5:30 pm at the Lantana Public Library.

Anti-immigrant hate speech and harassment are on the rise in the US.  President Trump has characterized immigrants as “bad hombres,” rapists, and members of the criminal gang MS-13.  Meanwhile, new federal policies attempt to:
– Cast an increasingly broad net to detain and deport undocumented immigrants;
– Decrease legal immigration and asylum seekers entering this country
– Preempt local authority by requiring local jurisdictions to cooperate with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The National League, within the framework of its non-partisan character, has developed a Public Policy Position on immigration. It states that US immigration policies should “promote reunification of immediate families; meet economic, business and employment needs; and be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises”. Accordingly, the League is:
– For comprehensive immigration reform
– Against deportation without due process
– Against federally-mandated diversion of local government resources to implement federal law
– Against discrimination, including discrimination in immigration based on religion.

On education, our local League’s Immigration Committee will challenge common myths related to economic and criminal impacts of immigration, particularly timely in this election year.   We want to keep all our members, the general public and local officials abreast of judicial and legislative developments that impact PBC voters and communities as well as work with other League committees to encourage candidates to articulate clear positions on immigration matters.  The Committee’s Welcoming Cities initiative will provide both local office-holders and the public with information about how Welcoming Cities programs work and succeed, particularly in integrating immigrants into local communities and economies.

Finally, with so many judicial rulings on immigration in April, we wanted to take note of a few:
– In an April 19 decision, the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s injunction against the Department of Justice’s attempt to make federal public safety grants to local authorities contingent on those authorities’ participation in federal immigration initiatives.
– On April 24, the Federal District Court in Washington DC ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reopen Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to new applicants. The DACA program, which protects certain undocumented young adults from deportation, was ordered rescinded by President Trump last September. California and New York courts quickly enjoined the recision with regard to existing recipients but did not require DHS to accept new DACA applications. The April 24 decision, ruling in favor of plaintiffs, including the NAACP, Microsoft Corporation and Princeton University, required DHS both to continue DACA protections for existing recipients and to accept new applications. However, the decision is stayed for 90 days to permit DHS that time to present a viable reason for ending DACA.
– On April 25, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the third and latest version of the Administration’s travel ban. The ban provisions at issue before the Supreme Court affect citizens of five predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and restrictions on Venezuelan officials and North Korean immigrants. Affected persons are generally barred from immigrating to the US, and from entering the US for temporary work, study or tourism purposes. The Justices will decide:
– May states challenge the President’s ban, or is the ban within the Administration’s authority over immigration?
– Does the ban violate the Constitution’s establishment clause, which bars the government from favoring one religion over another?

We welcome any comments you may have on the current immigration environment in the US.  Most of all, we invite you to join us at our May 22nd Immigration Committee.