July 14, 2017

The MinKwon Center's Response to Trump’s Travel Ban and Attack on DACA

In the past several weeks, we have witnessed new attacks on immigrants on several fronts:  a renewed travel ban, restrictive immigration laws, and a legal challenge to DACA, brought by attorneys general in several states.  We have also seen that same travel ban be ruled too restrictive with regards to grandparents, relatives, and refugees in the latest pushback against a wave of anti-immigrant actions taken since Trump took office.

On June 26th, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case concerning the presidential travel ban and partially reinstated the anti-Muslim travel ban sought by the Trump administration. Almost immediately, visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries were barred from entry to the United States, as were refugees hoping to travel to the U.S. - unless they fell under one of the “exempt” categories. Examples of these categories included dual citizens, current green card or visa holders, and any refugee or visitor with a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity” in the United States. However, the Trump administration had used an absurdly narrow definition of “bona fide relationship,” barring entry to grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and other relatives.

On July 13th, a federal judge challenged the definition of “bona fide relationship” being used by the State Department.  The U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson, who originally blocked the travel ban in March, took issue with how the federal administration defined close familial relationships: “[T]he Government’s definition represents the antithesis of common sense...Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government's definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.” The U.S. Supreme Court will hold off until the fall to address this challenge.

The MinKwon Center is disappointed by the hateful rhetoric and divisive actions that the federal administration continues to pursue. While this ban may be in the name of national security, it serves to alienate and exclude people on the basis of their religion and country of origin. Rather than separate families, discriminate on the basis of religion, and criminalize immigrant communities, MinKwon urges the administration to undertake inclusive policies and work to create a long-term plan for immigration reform that provides a clearer pathway to citizenship. We remain committed to comprehensive immigration reform and will continue to be a steadfast champion of immigrant rights.

On the same day that the travel ban went into effect, the House of Representatives passed two restrictive immigration measures, S.2193 and H.R.3003. Known as Kate’s Law, the first bill raises penalties for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the country and establish a mandatory minimum sentence for undocumented immigrants that have committed a crime and then re-entered the country.  Kate’s Law is a shortsighted measure that criminalizes the immigrant community and fails to address any of the deeply rooted problems in our nation’s immigration system. The other bill, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, threatens to cut large amounts of federal funding from sanctuary cities and protects local law enforcement officials who detain immigrants for the federal authorities from lawsuits.  This bill threatens to strip immigrants of their right to due process, and is a blunt and hateful measure to disenfranchise immigrants that make up an integral part of our society, culture, and economy. The MinKwon Center has been an advocate for immigrant communities for over three decades and remains committed to resisting the administration’s attempts to criminalize immigrants and violate their constitutional rights. These measures will soon move to the Senate, and we urge you to contact your representative, voice your opposition, and ensure that these bills do not become law.

In the midst of the travel ban and the passage of these bills, another attack on immigrants in America was underway. On the very same day, attorneys general from ten states—Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia—signed a letter threatening to sue the Trump administration over the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. This letter calls for the DACA program to stop accepting new applications and cease renewals, effectively killing the program.

We are outraged by this display of anti-immigrant sentiment, and will continue to support all DACA recipients who call this country their home. This call to end this program and risk the livelihoods of over 750,000 people who have grown up in the United States contradicts our nation’s values of acceptance and diversity. Currently, DACA does still remain in effect. The MinKwon Center will act to protect this vital program, and will continue to stand up against efforts to marginalize immigrant communities. We urge you to do the same.

Sign this petition to keep the DACA program alive: https://action.unitedwedream.org/petitions/keep-the-deferred-action-for-childhood-arrivals-daca-program

Support MinKwon’s work in the immigrant community: https://www.nycharities.org/give/donate.aspx?cc=3017

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