Emails Outline Anti-Immigration Group’s Connection to Stephen Miller

Not a surprise:

Stephen Miller, President Trump’s hard-line immigration adviser, has long relied on data produced by the Center for Immigration Studies, a right-leaning think tank, to shape policy at the White House. Shortly after Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Miller became well-known in the West Wing for putting printouts of studies published by the group on the president’s desk.

A new set of emails first published by a civil rights advocacy group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and shared with The New York Times illustrates the degree to which Mr. Miller used the work of the think tank, which advocates restricting immigration, to shape coverage at Breitbart News, a conservative news site, while he served as a communications aide to Jeff Sessions, the former Republican senator from Alabama.

“He was almost a de facto assignment editor for the political writing team at Breitbart,” said Kurt Bardella, the site’s former spokesman and now a frequent critic of the Trump administration.

In one instance in January 2016 — around the time he joined Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign as a senior policy adviser — Mr. Miller sent Breitbart employees a study from the think tank that tracked Muslim population growth in the United States: “Huge Surge in U.S. newborns named ‘Mohammed,’” Mr. Miller wrote in the subject line. A related story appeared on Breitbart the next day.

Conservative Supreme Court justices lean toward Trump on ending immigrant program

And so it goes…:

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority signaled support on Tuesday for President Donald Trump’s bid to kill a program that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants – dubbed “Dreamers” – who entered the United States illegally as children, even as liberal justices complained that the move would destroy lives.

The court’s ideological divisions were on full display as it heard the administration’s appeal of lower court rulings that blocked the Republican president’s 2017 plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2012 by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

DACA currently shields about 660,000 immigrants – mostly Hispanic young adults – from deportation and provides them work permits, though not a path to citizenship. Trump’s bid to end it is part of his hardline immigration polices.

Conservative justices questioned whether courts even have the power to review Trump’s action and also seemed to reject the views of lower courts that his administration had failed to properly justify ending DACA, a program Obama implemented after Congress failed to pass bipartisan immigration reform.

The court’s 5-4 conservative majority includes two Trump appointees – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – who both indicated support for the president’s action.

Liberal justices emphasized the large number of individuals, businesses and others who have relied on the program and indicated that the administration did not sufficiently weigh those concerns. Justice Sonia Sotomayor referred to Trump’s decision as a “choice to destroy lives” and indicated that his administration had failed to supply the required policy rationale to make the move lawful.

Kavanaugh said he assumed that the administration’s analysis of the impact rescinding DACA would have on individuals was a “very considered decision.”

“I mean, this is a serious decision. We all agree on that,” Kavanaugh added.

A ruling is due by the end of June.

Trump’s administration has argued that Obama exceeded his constitutional powers when he created DACA by executive action, bypassing Congress. Trump has made his hardline immigration policies – cracking down on legal and illegal immigration and pursuing construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border – a centerpiece of his presidency and 2020 re-election campaign.

The challengers who sued to stop Trump’s action included a collection of states such as California and New York, people currently protected by the program and civil rights groups.

Even if Trump were to lose this time, his administration would be free to come up with new reasons to end the program in the future, a point picked up by Gorsuch.

“What good would another five years of litigation over the adequacy of that explanation serve?” Gorsuch asked.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, who could be the pivotal vote in deciding the case, likewise indicated he was satisfied with the administration’s rationale.

Roberts, however, had appeared sympathetic to Trump in a case this year on the administration’s attempt to add a contentious citizenship question to the 2020 census – a move critics said was intended to deter immigrants from being included in the nation’s official population count. Roberts cast the decisive vote against the president in a 5-4 ruling.

TRAVEL BAN

The Supreme Court previously handed Trump a major victory on immigration policy last year when it upheld as lawful his travel ban blocking people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, finding that the president has broad discretion to set such policy.

Lower court rulings in California, New York and the District of Columbia left DACA in place, finding that Trump’s move to rescind it was likely “arbitrary and capricious” and violated a U.S. law called the Administrative Procedure Act.

The young people protected under DACA, Obama said, were raised and educated in the United States, grew up as Americans and often know little about their countries of origin.

Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, wondered if the court should take into account the fact that Trump has said he would look after “Dreamers.”

“He hasn’t” taken care of them, she said. “And that, I think, is something to be considered before you rescind a policy.”

Much of the administration’s reasoning was based on then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ conclusion in 2017 that the program was unlawful. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pressed U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who argued the case for the administration, on the government’s reliance on the assertion that DACA was unlawful.

The administration could have just said “we don’t like DACA and we’re taking responsibility for that instead of trying to put the blame on the law,” Ginsburg said.

Francisco, who also argued the travel ban case, said the administration was not trying to shirk responsibility for ending a popular program.

“We own this,” Francisco said, referring to Trump’s decision to kill DACA.

Trump has given mixed messages about the “Dreamers,” saying in 2017 that he has “a great love” for them even as he sought to kill the program that protected them from deportation.

Trump on Tuesday took to Twitter to attack “many” DACA recipients as “tough, hardened criminals,” without offering evidence, and again dangled the possibility of a deal with congressional Democrats to allow people protected under the program to remain in the United States. Trump has never proposed a detailed replacement for DACA.

Several hundred DACA supporters gathered outside the court on a gray and chilly Tuesday morning, chanting, banging drums and carrying signs that read “home is here” and “defend DACA.”

Source: Conservative Supreme Court justices lean toward Trump on ending immigrant program

Trump wants to nearly double US citizenship application fees

Yet another deliberate barrier to citizenship. Hard to see how the processing costs could be that high (over twice Canada’s, which, of course, the re-elected Liberal government has promised to eliminate):

The Trump administration is considering raising the cost of U.S. citizenship applications, according to a Department of Homeland Security rule filed on Friday.

The fee for the U.S. citizenship application would increase to $1,170 – from $640, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

A number of other cost increases were proposed, as well as the addition of a $50 fee for asylum applications.

According to the document, a biennial fee review determined that current fees “do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services” at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Without an increase in funding, the government predicts the agency would experience an average annual shortfall of $1.2 billion.

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed adjusting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration fees “by a weighted average increase of 21 percent,” in addition to adding fees for some benefit requests. U.S. immigration services is primarily funded by fees charged to applicants and petitioners.

Written comments must be submitted within 30 days from the date the rule is published in the federal register, which will be on Thursday.

The last time the fee schedule was adjusted was at the end of 2016.

Source: Trump wants to nearly double US citizenship application fees

Bipartisan bills proposed on Capitol Hill to help children of service members overseas acquire citizenship automatically

One of the even less explainable citizenship policy changes of the Trump administration:

A bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill is underway to make the children of service members stationed overseas automatically Americans, responding to a new federal policy that forces some parents to apply for their child’s U.S. citizenship.

In August, Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new policy addressing the definition of “residence” in the Immigration and Nationality Act. It affects children of service members and civilians living abroad who did not acquire citizenship at birth or while they were living in the United States.

Under section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a child born outside the United States can automatically become a citizen if they are physically living in the United States with their parent who is a citizen. With the new policy that goes into effect Tuesday, these children will no longer be considered “residing in the United States” as they had been in the past and a parent will have to apply for their child’s citizenship before the child turns 18 years old.

When the policy was announced, President Donald Trump’s administration was criticized for its immigration policies and how the change would negatively impact military families. There was also widespread confusion about what the change actually meant and who was affected, with some initial reporting interpreting the policy to mean that military children were being denied citizenship.

On Wednesday, Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., announced they have introduced a bill called the Citizenship for Children of Military Members & Civil Servants Act that would modify section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act so children of service members who are stationed overseas can automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

“Children of Americans serving their nation abroad are just as worthy of automatic citizenship as any other children,” Duckworth said in a prepared statement. “Forcing military families to jump through bureaucratic hoops and spend hundreds of dollars applying for citizenship on behalf of their children is not right.”

The USCIS policy change would force families to pay an application fee of $1,170 per child, according to the senators’ statement.

The policy change was estimated to affect between 20 and 25 people annually, based on data compiled by the USCIS during the last five years from overseas applications with Army or Air Force Post Office and Fleet Post Office mailing addresses, according to a USCIS official in August who spoke about the issue on the condition of anonymity.

Isakson called the bill “commonsense legislation” to help military families that is overdue.

“We should be doing all we can to ease the lives of our all-volunteer force, not add needless hurdles for them and their families,” he said in the prepared statement.

A bipartisan companion bill was also introduced in the House by Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Doug Collins, R-Ga., according to the statement.

Source: Bipartisan bills proposed on Capitol Hill to help children of service members overseas acquire citizenship automatically

Trump’s hard-line immigration rule could disproportionately hurt Asian immigrants

Not the first article examining the likely effects on particular groups and likely not the last:

A hard-line Trump administration immigration policy that would deny immigrants residency if they are deemed likely to become a “public charge,” or need public assistance, could significantly affect the Asian American community.

The Department of Homeland Security rule, which was published in August, greatly expanded the definition of who is considered a public charge. Given the community’s use of certain social services, high rates of limited English proficiency, and heavy reliance on the family reunification system to come to the United States, immigration advocates fear that the rule would create serious barriers for Asian immigrants or those who wish to change their status.

Research from the Migration Policy Institute reveals more than 941,000 recent green card holders would have fallen under the Trump administration rule had it been in effect when they applied. Of those, 300,000 are from Asian countries.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the rule earlier this month, allowing a total of 15 days — which ends Friday — for parties to submit filings. The policy is currently enjoined and cannot be implemented by the administration, but it has already impacted many in the community who fear their use of public benefits could compromise their immigration status.

“The policy itself, the mere suggestion that the administration was considering the policy, has resulted in Asian immigrants and other immigrants pulling out of public benefits,” John C. Yang, executive director of the civil rights nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, told NBC News.

Yang added: “This [rule], to us, is just a made-up reason to exclude certain classes of immigrants.”

The current definition of public charge is rather specific. Those who would need cash assistance or institutionalized care would fall under the category. However the Trump administration’s expanded definition would include individuals who would need food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing. The administration rationalized the rule, claiming that “self-sufficiency has long been a basic principle of U.S. immigration law.”

Roughly 70 percent to 80 percent of Asian immigrants come to the U.S. through family-based immigration, which means they would be scrutinized under the Trump administration rule. Of the more than 420,000 green cards that were granted to Asian immigrants in Fiscal Year 2017, almost 40 percent were given to immediate family members, while more than 20 percent were given to family-sponsored waiting list registrants.

In some urban areas, the Asian American community experiences particularly high rates of poverty. In New York City, Asian Americans have the highest poverty rate compared to all other racial groups. The racial group has one of the fastest growing populations in poverty. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of Asian Americans in poverty grew by 37 percent and Pacific Islander poverty ballooned by 60 percent, higher compared to any other group. The national increase was significantly lower at 27 percent.

Almost 18 percent of those who participate in government assistance programs are Asian Americans. However those in the community already underuse social services, Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the New York City-based social services nonprofit Asian American Federation, said. Not only would underprivileged immigrants meet challenges in obtaining permanent residency, but Yoo said that the proposed rule would further intimidate them from utilizing public services.

According to the new public charge rule, immigrants would also be assessed on English proficiency. The Asian American population already has the highest proportion of residents who speak a language other than English at home. And more than one-third of Asian American and Pacific Islanders have limited English proficiency.

“The Trump administration has a very narrow view of what types of immigrants are so-called desirable in the United States and frankly it is a racist and xenophobic view,” Yang told NBC News. “That view is that only people who are desirable are already proficient in English, already have a certain level of wealth or high skills.”

Since the rule was proposed back in 2018, roughly 13 percent of immigrant adults are reported to have withdrawn their use of public benefits out of fear of risking their future green card status, according to a report by Urban Institute. Yang added that some individuals who would not be subject to the rule have actually pulled out of public services due to misinformation.

“It does not affect refugees. It does not affect existing citizens,” he said. “We don’t want people to be fearful of using public benefits when they are entitled to use them.”

Asian Americans have long confronted restrictive immigration policies tied to the potential use of social services. The first public charge rule in U.S. history coincided with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The two separate legal rules ultimately carried the same function.

“There’s an absolute linkage between the discrimination of Asians and public charge,” Yang said. “[The first public charge rule and the Chinese Exclusion Act] were rooted in the same thing: which was this notion that Chinese immigrants were coming into the country in numbers that were too large and that they were somehow deemed to be undesirable.”

Yang pointed out that since that time, public charge has been used to exclude other immigrant communities, including Mexican immigrants and those in the Jewish community.

Source: Trump’s hard-line immigration rule could disproportionately hurt Asian immigrants

USCIS’s Cuccinelli Boasts Of Increasing Immigration Bureaucracy

Not something to boast about, normally:

In a new press release, USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli boasted that the Trump administration has increased red tape and bureaucracy for U.S. companies. It’s the latest example of administration officials lauding efforts to make it more difficult for employers to obtain what economists often consider to be a company’s most valuable resource – talent.

Since 2017, Trump administration policies have focused on restricting the entry of immigrants and foreign nationals, including scientists and engineers. “Denial rates for new H-1B petitions have increased significantly, rising from 6% in FY 2015 to 32% in the first quarter of FY 2019,” according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis.

In addition, expensive and time-consuming Requests for Evidence (RFEs) reached an unprecedented level of 60% in the FY 2019 first quarter. The percentage of completed H-1B cases with a Request for Evidence has doubled between FY 2016 and FY 2019. Many companies have resorted to lawsuits in federal court against USCIS to gain approvals for employees they have identified as valuable.

However, Ken Cuccinelli and USCIS describe the increased bureaucracy facing businesses in positive terms and the fulfillment of a mission. “Consistent with President Trump’s call for enhanced vetting, USCIS plays a key role in safeguarding our nation’s immigration system and making sure that only those who are eligible for a benefit receive it,” according to the October 16, 2019, press release. “USCIS is vigorous in its efforts to detect and deter immigration fraud, using a variety of vetting and screening processes to confirm an applicant’s identity and eligibility. The agency also conducts site visits, interviews applicants, and requests evidence for benefits that offer individuals status in the United States.”

The meaning of the bureaucratic language used by USCIS is clear: USCIS has made it more difficult for employers to gain approval for high-skilled foreign nationals and others.

Here are examples of increased bureaucracy and added burdens on companies hiring foreign-born scientists and engineers:

•          Government documents reveal USCIS adjudicators were directed to restrict approvals of H-1B petitions without the legal or regulatory authority to justify those decisions. The documents became public following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

•          A USCIS internal document – “H-1B RFE Standards” – encouraged adjudicators to demand more information of employers, leading to such requests being made in 40% to 60% of H-1B cases.

•          Another USCIS document changed the standard for what qualifies as a “specialty occupation” for an H-1B visa holder – without any change in the law or regulation. While initially used to deny H-1B status to computer programmers, this analysis explains that the USCIS document states the new USCIS policy is “Applicable to Many Occupations.”

•          USCIS adjudicators have taken the unusual step of approving H-1B status for periods of very short duration. In an ongoing court case, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer cited the plaintiff’s example of USCIS granting one applicant an H-1B approval valid for only a single day – from February 1 to February 2, 2019. (See USCIS decision here.) Such actions force businesses to waste time and money filing repeatedly for the same employees.

•          A Trump administration decision to compel employment-based green card applicants to sit for in-person interviews contributed to “increased delays in the adjudication of employment-based benefits [that] undermined the ability of U.S. companies to hire and retain essential workers,” according to an American Immigration Lawyers Association report. It also caused increased backlogs in other types of applications.

•          USCIS now often requires – without a new law or regulation – a company to list every contract on which an H-1B visa holder will work during a three-year period to prove a “valid employer-employee relationship.” This was not done previously, and companies consider it unduly burdensome and out of touch with how businesses operate in a modern economy. The policy is a source of litigation.

•          USCIS also issued a memo instructing adjudicators to no longer defer to prior determinations when adjudicating extension applications for existing H-1B visa holders. That policy change has contributed to a significant increase in denials and Request for Evidence for continuing employment for H-1B petitions, resulting in a three-fold increase in the denial rate for companies trying to retain current H-1B employees between FY 2016 and FY 2019. Employees who spent years working in the United States have been forced to leave the country after being denied H-1B extensions.

“By increasing the many hoops and hurdles that employers and foreign-born workers must negotiate to work in the United States, USCIS is making it harder for American companies to recruit and retain global talent,” said attorney Vic Goel, managing partner of Goel & Anderson, in an interview. “It is doing this through trumped-up claims of increased workload and fraud referrals, when many of those challenges are the result of its own efforts to create more work for itself and further grow the immigration bureaucracy.”

The available U.S. domestic talent pool is limited in many key fields. Approximately 80% of full-time graduate students at U.S. universities in computer science and electrical engineering are international students who need a visa to work long-term in the United States.

Research by Britta Glennon, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, found the types of government restrictions applauded by the acting director of USCIS are not good for America. Glennon found H-1B visa restrictions carry the unintended consequence of pushing jobs outside the United States and lead to less innovation in America. “In short, restrictive H-1B policies could not only be exporting more jobs and businesses to countries like Canada, but they also could be making the U.S.’s innovative capacity fall behind,” concluded Glennon.

When USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli ran for and held public office in Virginia, he had the support of the Tea Party and advocated against overreaching federal bureaucracy, including by filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times, they are a-changin.’”

Source: USCIS’s Cuccinelli Boasts Of Increasing Immigration Bureaucracy

USA: Immigration Head Says No Amendment Needed To End Birthright Citizenship

Stating it doesn’t make is so:

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Wednesday that ending birthright citizenship does not need a Constitutional amendment.

“I do not think you need an amendment to the Constitution. I think the question is do you need congressional action or can the executive act on their own,” Cuccinelli said during a breakfast event hosted by Christian Science Monitor.

The discussion of birthright citizenship, which is citizenship conferred on those born in the United States regardless of the citizenship status of their parents, has been a topic of debate under the Trump administration.

In August 2019, President Donald Trump told reporters that his administration was “very seriously” looking at birthright citizenship “where you have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby,-congratulations, the baby is now a US citizen…It’s frankly ridiculous.”

In an interview with Axios in October 2018, Trump claimed that he intended to end birthright citizenship through an executive order, but received considerable push back on the legality of that approach.

Then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded to the comments saying that birthright citizenship could not be ended by executive order because “the 14thAmendment is pretty clear.”

Despite strong rhetoric from the White House on pursuing the agenda, experts in constitutional law assert that an amendment would be required.

“Yes, it would require a constitutional amendment, and almost everyone else working on this topic would agree,” Ian Bartrum, a law professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas told Newsweek.

Birthright citizenship is protected by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. ”

Bartrum mentioned that the 14th Amendment was created to overturn the Dred Scott case, which allowed states to deny citizenship to the descendants of former and freed slaves. He noted that overturning that amendment would be questionable.

A constitutional amendment can be proposed either by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress or by a call for a constitutional convention by two-thirds of the state. The proposed amendment would require ratification for three-quarters of state, making the possibility of such action quite low.

The Crackdown On Illegal Immigration Is Hurting Oil Drillers

Interesting. Yet another sector feels the impact:

U.S. crude oil production growth may have slowed down this year, but the largest oil-producing counties in the Permian basin continue to feel a shortage of labor.

The predicament for small oil services business owners in New Mexico is aggravated by the surge in worksite audits, investigations, and arrests as part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tougher stance on illegal immigration.

There are still oil field services business owners who continue to hire an illegal labor force.

Yet, those who want to play by the rules find themselves between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, President Trump’s pro-oil policies clash with impact from the crackdown on immigration, which makes business owners idle drilling rigs and equipment not because they have drilled out all the shale wells in Lea County, but because they can’t find legal immigrant workers to do some of the dangerous difficult jobs on the oil field that some Americans shun.

Oil field business owners say that the lack of a system to get illegal oil workers documented or given working visas is impeding the oil industry from having enough labor force to take full advantage of the unprecedented—albeit slowing—oil boom in the United States.

“They’re demanding more rigs, more swabbing units, but you don’t have enough employees,” Johnny Vega, who runs Mico Services in New Mexico, told Reuters’ Hay.

Vega’s company generates some US$17 million in revenues per year. But right now, during the period of booming oil production in New Mexico, the firm has equipment idled, because there aren’t enough legal immigrant oil workers to operate it. That idled equipment could make Mico Services as much as US$700,000 per month. The lack of documented workers, however, has had Vega thinking about hiring out the company’s idled equipment.

Other oil field businesses also feel the labor shortage, especially as oil production in the U.S. and New Mexico continues to grow.

Lea County in New Mexico is the second biggest oil producing county in the United States, second only to McKenzie County in North Dakota.

“Our production has roughly tripled in the last five years,” Steve Vierck, former CEO and president of the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County, told Hobbs News-Sun in May this year.

“It really reflects not only how much oil production there is, but how much growth there has been in oil production to move up the chart as fast as Lea County has,” Vierck added.

New Mexico, as a whole, is the third-largest oil producing state in the U.S. after Texas and North Dakota. In 2018, New Mexico’s oil production accounted for 6.3 percent of total American production, EIA data shows.

But at the same time, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has significantly stepped up criminal investigations, business audits, and arrests. In the fiscal year 2018, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) opened 6,848 worksite investigations, initiated 5,981 I-9 audits, and made 779 criminal and 1,525 administrative worksite-related arrests—all of these categories surged by 300 to 750 percent over the previous fiscal year, ICE said.

In New Mexico’s oil industry, business owners playing by the rules feel the labor shortage, while those who turn a blind eye to oil workers’ documents (or lack of thereof) fear the immigrant clampdown.

Source: The Crackdown On Illegal Immigration Is Hurting Oil Drillers

British Family Detained By ICE After Unlawfully Entering U.S. From Canada

Bureaucratic ineptitude and cruelty, that may help some understand what those caught on the Southern border are facing:

A British couple and their 3-month-old son are being detained in a federal immigration facility in Pennsylvania after they say they accidentally strayed across the U.S.-Canada border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents arrested the family for unlawfully entering the country while on vacation in British Columbia. The family said that while driving, they swerved down an unmarked road to avoid an animal.

“This is how the scariest experience of our entire lives started,” wrote Eileen Connors, 24, in a sworn statement shared by immigration attorneys with Aldea — The People’s Justice Center, a pro bono legal clinic in Reading, Pa.

The Connors family was taken into federal immigration custody in Washington state on Oct. 3 and slept on what they describe as “a dirty floor” in a border patrol station. Connors said the family was asked about family members in the United States they could be released to, but instead of being freed they were transferred to the Berks Family Residential Center, outside Reading, on Oct. 5.

There, they say treatment worsened. Connors said that the Berks County-run facility was not equipped to care for such a young child and that normal caretaking items — such as a container of formula and teething powder — have been confiscated. At one point, her baby had no clothes while staff washed the clothes he arrived with.

“This facility is frigid,” said Connors. “The staff here first told us they cannot turn on the heat in the building until the end of next month,” even though temperatures are in the 50s at night.

As a result, her son’s health is suffering, she says.

A few days ago, “[he] woke up with his left eye swollen and teary … also his skin is rough and blotchy,” Connor wrote.

In an echo of events at the U.S. southern border, where parents were separated from their children through a “zero tolerance” policy, the family wrote that in response to complaints about conditions, an ICE employee offered to remove their baby.

“If we wanted, we could sign papers to allow him to be separated from us and taken to some other facility,” Connors said. “We were shocked and disgusted.”

Few safeguards

An ICE spokesman confirmed that the family is in custody at the Berks Family Residential Center but denied any mistreatment.

“BFRC provides a safe and humane environment for families as they go through the immigration process. BFRC supports all sanctioned local, state, and federal investigations into the safety and welfare of our residents,” he said in a statement, adding that reports of abuse or inhumane conditions “are unequivocally false.”

In addition to the couple and their son, the Connorses’ extended family, which includes two other young children, was also taken into custody.

As British citizens, the family was entitled to visit the U.S. without a visa.

“They could just come to the United States with a passport,” said attorney Bridget Cambria, who worked on the civil rights complaint that has been filed on behalf of the family with the Department of Homeland Security. “The reason it sounds silly is because it is silly.”

Instead, Eileen and her husband, David, 30, are locked into an immigration process with few safeguards. People in federal immigration custody are not entitled to legal counsel and even the wrongful arrest of U.S. citizens can take weeks to sort out, as they struggle to prove their identities while in detention.

Other foreign tourists have also found themselves in dire straights. Last June, a French citizen visiting her mother in British Columbia was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after jogging on the beach near the border of Vancouver and Blaine, Wash. She was held in federal immigration detention for two weeks.

Unlawful border crossings in the north are also on the rise, with 4,316 people apprehended at the Canadian border in 2018, up from 3,027 the previous year.

CBP has not yet responded to questions about why the Connors family was taken into custody.

Attorneys familiar with the case say they hope the family will be released later in the week, based on communication with the British Embassy.

In her statement, Connors said conditions at the facility slowly improved after she was able to speak to someone from the British Embassy on Oct. 8. Still, she wrote that the experience will haunt them.

“We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights, and lied to,” she said. “We will be traumatized for the rest of our lives.”

Source: British Family Detained By ICE After Unlawfully Entering U.S. From Canada

The U.S. might be about to send us these two immigration and refugee problems

Good insight on the next series of headaches:

Of the many files landing on the next government’s desk following this month’s election, at least two may give it an immigration headache. Both come from decisions made by our neighbour to the south: President Donald Trump’s reversal of his country’s post-Reagan refugee policy and his rewriting of “safe third country” rules. Addressing each will involve a difficult balance of humanitarian principles, foreign policy interests and our relationship with the U.S.

The first headache has to do with Canada’s unexpected surpassing of the United States in resettling the world’s greatest number of refugees. Resettlement is the organized transfer of refugees to countries like Canada, relocating them away from countries like Turkey and Lebanon that often host millions of refugees inside their borders. Canada’s newfound leadership has less to do with our natural benevolence, however, than with an unprecedented reduction in American refugee admissions under the Trump administration. In both Canada and the U.S., resettlement has generally enjoyed support from both conservatives and liberals. Since 1980, America has led the world both in resettling refugees and also in successfully encouraging other countries to increase their refugee intake, trends that continued until 2018. In that year, Canada resettled 28,000 refugees, up from an average of 11,000 annually in the years prior to 2015. By contrast, U.S. admissions dropped to a record low of just 23,000 in 2018, down from a 20-year average of 66,000 and a one-year record high of 96,000 in 2016.

Our Canadian moment, even if it is a moment by default, has global implications as the U.S. announces further cuts to refugee admissions in the coming year. Resettlement has acted as a fiscal and social pressure valve for countries hosting millions of refugees, some of them Canadian friends or allies, like Bangladesh and Turkey. It is also a foreign policy and national security instrument, facilitating the recruitment of translators in war zones and embarrassing strategic foes via the admission of citizens fleeing their countries. Canada must weigh these considerations, as well as humanitarian ones, against rising pressure on Canadian funds and a recent drop in public confidence in Canada’s overall immigration system. Nor do we have the same clout as the Americans in helping redistribute the refugee load more fairly throughout the world, especially now that, following the U.S. lead, more countries are reducing their resettlement programs than are expanding them.

In addition to formal resettlement, Canada faces a growing number of asylum claims. Over 170,000 asylum-seekers have sought protection here since the past federal election, 50,000 of whom crossed the border to do so — either “illegally” or “irregularly” depending on who you talk to. Both the Liberals and Conservatives have promised to staunch the flow of border crossings by renegotiating the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement and to return asylum-seekers walking across our southern border to the U.S. for processing. The current agreement applies only to official border crossings, however. A strengthened agreement could apply this arrangement to claimants crossing the border elsewhere, as well. Unfortunately, a strengthened agreement may not be in the cards. In fact, recent changes in U.S. asylum policy may hand the next prime minister a completely suspended agreement, rather than a renegotiated one, which will be bad news both for relations with the U.S. and for an already backed-up Canadian asylum system.

Under a new policy, the Americans will deport asylum-seekers if they passed through another country on their way to the U.S., even if they face a demonstrated risk of torture or persecution in their home country. This violates one of the founding principles of the Safe Third Country Agreement — namely, that countries not return asylum-seekers with credible fears to their home country. It also strengthens the possibility of a successful challenge of the agreement in a current case before the Federal Court of Canada. If the case were to result in the agreement’s suspension, asylum-seekers could make their claims directly at official border crossings without the risk of being turned back to the U.S. This would eliminate the incentive to cross the border to claim protection but it might also invite a correspondingly greater number of claims than before, as prospective claimants would have a more direct route into Canada from the U.S. Canada would not be obligated to approve their claims, but we would have to assess them, further impacting an already backlogged and beleaguered process. It would also risk offending the U.S. by in effect labelling it an unsafe country for refugees. That is not an outcome we want in a time of already tense trade relations.

The potential impact of these changes is hard to overstate. Canada has a proven track record when it comes to processing and integrating refugees. The next federal government may want to leverage our new position as the world’s number one resettlement destination to introduce its own model sponsorship program among like-minded partners on the international stage. It should also consider investing in a more rapid and flexible claim assessment system, one able to respond to large and sometimes unpredictable flows of claimants whatever agreements we do or don’t have with other countries and whatever choice they do or don’t make about re-electing mercurial leaders.

Source: The U.S. might be about to send us these two immigration and refugee problems