Immigration Issues

Immigration Action Team 

Whether they arrive by wading across the Rio Grande, trekking thru Mexico or by plane – today’s immigrants are seeking freedom and a better life for themselves and their families. 

Current immigration law is complex, and the resulting system is broken with waits of 10+ years to immigrate legally. At the same time fear of those from a different culture with unfamiliar customs is fueled via misinformation by parts of the media and vocal leaders.  

To help validate the wide differences in viewpoints – the Immigration Action Team has stepped into this arena with FACTS sourced from the US Constitution and authenticated research. 

Our FACT Sheet format provides an easy way to familiarize yourself with an issue or current immigration topic. They can easily by printed or forwarded to others. 

 

Current Immigration Landscape

Daily — new immigration policies are announced, and then many are retracted following strong public and Congressional reaction. Keep speaking out and contacting your congressional representatives and senators. 

Meanwhile the courts have been doing their job and have issued legal setbacks to some of the more egregious ideas. 

Migration patterns from Latin American have undergone a big shift. Unlike previous surges, the latest involves few single men from Mexico. More Mexicans now leave the U.S. than arrive as migrants. Central American families now account for the large majority of new arrivals, and most are seeking asylum as they cross a port of entry along our southern border.

Currently, the Trump Administration is detaining most asylum seekers. They are placed in expedited removal proceedings by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and referred for a credible fear screening interview conducted by an asylum officer. Based on the interview, the officer then decides whether the applicant has a “significant possibility” of being eligible for asylum. If so, the officer refers them  to immigration court. If not, the applicant is ordered removed. 

The length of the asylum process varies, but it typically takes between 6 months and several years. Applicants who must go through the immigration court system face significant backlogs. As of the end of September 30, 2019 there were over 990,562 pending immigration cases and the average wait time for an immigration hearing was 700 days. 

Previously — asylum seekers were logged into a system and then released until their court hearing. The current Administration began detaining these families. Because there are not adequate facilities to house them, they began the “remain in Mexico” strategy. 

 

Critical Questions 

As you get bombarded with conflicting headlines and “facts” we suggest that you keep these questions in mind: 

  • Does the credible fear screening interview meet the right of due process as defined in the US Constitution?
  • Is the U.S. meeting its international commitments to protect refugees and asylum seekers? The United Nations Human Rights Commission guidelines state: “detention should be exceptional and a measure of last resort.”
  • If families were released while awaiting their court date — would we have a crisis at the Border? 
  • Are immigration courts adequately funded to handle the backlog of cases?  

Many groups came together to protest the continued separation of families and detention of children. It worked! On October 28, 2019 — it was announced that the Homestead, FL Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children was permanently closing, and  the for-profit company operating that facility would not have its contract renewed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Get the FACTs on Immigration Issues

Our FACT Sheet format provides an easy way to familiarize yourself with an issue or current immigration topic. They can easily by printed or forwarded to others. 

Keep Informed, Get Involved,  Make a Difference

Your LWVSPA Immigration Action Team needs your help to achieve its education and action goals! There are a variety of

ways to participate — depending on your interest and availability.

  • Mailing list –the easiest is to be on our e-mail list and receive immigration updates with periodic requests to take action, such as emailing or calling your Congressman and Senators. To join simply email kcoale@tampabay.rr.com
  • Review the FACT Sheets and share them with friends and family when they have questions. 
  • Table events such as the Saturday Morning Market, postcard signing at League events and attend immigration forums. 
  • Immigration Conversations — these are offered 3 times a year and entail in-depth conversations about current immigration issues followed by taking action — such as writing postcards to elected officials. These informal gatherings  are a great way to delve into a particular immigration topic. 
  • More active role – lots of ways to help out, such as monitoring issues and proposed legislation. Design educational tools and organize actions. Plan events. Engage with partner organizations. 
  • Planning meeting — takes place on the 4th Monday from 1:30 to 3:30pm at a League member’s home.  We are exploring have these meetings in the early evening. Please let me know if that works for you. All of our events and meetings are open to everyone. 

Contact Team Chair Karen Coale at kcoale@tampabay.rr.com for more information. Also check the web calendar in case of updates https://lwvspa.org/events/lwvspacalendar/

As Congressional hearings or bills are scheduled– we will ask that you join us in taking action that supports the LWV Position on Immigration. Joining with League members across the country – we CAN collectively have an impact!