Immigration update

July 31, 2017

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Updates and news

Examples of individuals and communities welcoming immigrants: Harrisonburg, VirginiaLancaster County, PennsylvaniaMancos, Colorado; and New York, New York.

Raids on sponsors of unaccompanied minors: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is targeting the parent/guardian sponsors of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum and has pledged to charge them with criminal smuggling if they paid someone to bring the minor to the U.S. MCC and other religious organizations denounced these actions. NIJC statement | Know-your-rights resources

Lawsuit regarding asylum seekers: The American Immigration Council and other groups are suing the U.S. government for turning away asylum seekers at the border, alleging border agents have used “misrepresentations, threats an

d intimidation” to tell asylum seekers they cannot enter the country. Text of complaint | Audio recording | LAWG report

Safe third country: The Trump administration and members of Congress are reportedly looking at granting Mexico “Safe Third Country” status, which would force Central American refugees traveling through Mexico to apply for asylum there and effectively block them from entering the U.S. Ironically, groups in Canada, including the Canadian Council of Churches, are suing to remove the “Safe Third Country” designation for the U.S.

U.S.-Mexico border: The House passed a budget bill funding $1.6 billion in new border wall construction (August recess toolkit). More funding will be needed for eminent domain lawsuits to seize private land in Texas. Preliminary preparations for construction are already underway at some sites. Proposals for a “solar wall” are meeting criticism: Vox | Popular Science. A desert aid camp is now turning away migrants after a border patrol raid.

Sanctuary cities and criminalization: On June 29, the House passed two anti-immigrant bills, one to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary” cities and the other to increase criminal penalties for reentering the U.S. without documentation. On July 21, a federal judge refused to lift an injunction blocking portions of an executive order removing federal funding from sanctuary cities. (Check this map to see how local law enforcement in your community cooperates with ICE.)

DACA/Dream Act: Ten state attorneys general are threatening to sue the Trump administration if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is not ended by September. It is unclear whether the administration will defend the program in court. On July 20, the Dream Act was reintroduced in the Senate, which would protect the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients and many others.

Refugee/travel ban: A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on June 29 allowed the Trump administration refugee and travel bans to go into effect provided they did not exclude those with “bona fide” relationships in the U.S. A subsequent ruling on July 19 clarified that those relationships must include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Contact with a refugee resettlement agency is still not considered a “relationship.”

Enforcement: ICE agents are reportedly being told to apprehend all undocumented immigrants they encounter. As a result, fewer cases are being closed by “prosecutorial discretion” (fewer than 100 per month from an average of around 2,400 per month in 2016), more people are being apprehended during regular check-ins with ICE, and the court backlogs have increased to record numbers. A budget bill making its way through the House would add 4,700 more detention beds, 1,000 more ICE agents and 500 more Border Patrol agents. August recess toolkit

Detention: A federal judge found that unaccompanied children seeking asylum are still being detained too long, in violation of a long-standing court agreement. A new hunger strike began at the Adelanto Detention Facility in San Bernardino County, California. A new law in California bans new immigrant detention centersPhotos: Inside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington.

Farmworkers: Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, plans to introduce a bill to expand the number of guestworkers in the U.S. but also remove many labor protections. An amendment to a House budget bill would expand the current guestworker program without offering a path to legalization for the estimated 1 million undocumented guestworkers. Read more.

More news

Photo: This yard sign, which stands in the front yard of a house in Akron, Pa., was the brainchild of Immanuel Mennonite Church, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and has been reprinted in batches by people across the United States. MCC photo/Brenda Burkholder


Take action

August recess toolkit (Interfaith Immigration Coalition)

Take action web page


Upcoming events

September 11-15: MCC Immigration Law Training


New resources

MCC articles and video:

Know your rights: ICE raids toolkit: Defend against ICE raids and community arrests (Immigrant Defense Project)

Sanctuary churches: Sanctuary: A discernment guide for congregations (Presbyterian Church USA)

Detention: Exposed: The Injustice of Immigration Detention (5-minute video, CIVIC / NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic)

Border: Is border enforcement effective? What we know and what it means (report, Center for Migration Studies)

Central American migration:

Trade: No one should be forced from home: corporate trade deals, climate change, and mass deportation (fact sheet, Sierra Club)


Local stories, events and resources

Welcoming the newcomer: In the current climate of fear and unrest surrounding immigration, MCC is finding ways to welcome our neighbors in northern Indiana and Chicago.

On July 14, the New York Mennonite Immigration Program held an “Immigration Resource Day” in the Bronx, New York. To inquire about future events in the New York City area, contact HyacinthStevens@mcc.org.

ICE detains northern Virginia pastor; faith groups pray he can return to family

Send us your local stories and events


Connect with us

Email: mccwash@mcc.org

Phone: 202-544-6564

Social media: Facebook | Twitter

Invite Washington Office staff to speak


Update created July 31, 2017, by Tammy Alexander, Senior Legislative Associate for Domestic Affairs.

Did you receive this update from a friend? Sign up for immigration action alerts and updates from the MCC U.S. Washington Office here.

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