The Golden Door: March 2019
Legal and Policy Issues
We are closely monitoring state and federal immigration law and policy. Please check our social media accounts for more frequent updates.
Supreme Court Upholds Indefinite Detention of Immigrants
This month, the Supreme Court of the United States dealt another blow to immigrants' rights in Nielsen v. Preap. At issue in the case was whether the government could detain noncitizens indefinitely and without a bond hearing at any point after they had been released from criminal custody.
One plaintiff in the lawsuit is a green card holder since 1981 who was picked up and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without an opportunity to present community ties and other reasons to be let out on bond. ICE was able to do that because the plaintiff served time in prison for a marijuana conviction nearly a decade prior to his detention. The Court decided, 5-4, that the government CAN hold noncitizens indefinitely and without a bond hearing at any point after being released from criminal custody.
In his dissent, Justice Breyer pointed out the implications of the ruling. He wrote, "[noncitizens] subject to detention without a bail hearing may have been released from criminal custody years earlier, and may have established families and put down roots in a community." Further, he explained that "they may have been convicted of only minor crimes—for example, minor drug offenses, or crimes of “moral turpitude” such as illegally downloading music or possessing stolen bus transfers; and they sometimes may be innocent spouses or children of a suspect person."
We are very concerned about the consequences that may stem from this decision. However, Congress has the power to change the mandatory detention provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. We must continue to advocate for changes to our inhumane immigration laws.
Congress Rejects Border Wall, but President Overrules with Veto
The House of Representatives and Senate passed a resolution to block the President's emergency declaration to build the border wall. Maine's entire congressional delegation voted against President Trump's unconstitutional declaration. This was the first time in history that Congress has voted to block a presidential emergency declaration. President Trump vetoed the resolution, his first veto.
There are also several lawsuits challenging the emergency declaration. In one lawsuit, 16 states, including Maine, have sued the government over the declaration. The states argue that the emergency declaration would cause "significant harm" to public safety, natural resources, and financial stability of the states. There are also lawsuits on behalf of environmental organizations, the City of El Paso, and a governmental ethics organization, to name a few. See here for an updated list.
Government Targeting Immigrants With Final Orders of Removal
The Trump administration has increased detention and deportation of immigrants with final orders of removal who are from countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, and Somalia. A final order of removal is when a judge has ordered someone deported, and can be based on anything from a criminal conviction to simply having missed a court hearing. Some immigrants from those countries were erroneously advised by criminal defense attorneys to plead guilty to a conviction because the U.S. would never deport them back to their home countries. Historically, immigrants from those countries had not been subject to deportation due to agreements between the U.S. and those countries or extremely dangerous country conditions. However, that is no longer the case, and those final orders of removal have now made immigrants from those countries vulnerable to ICE raids and deportation.
If you have a final order of removal and are worried about an upcoming ICE check-in, call ILAP at 207-780-1593 to request an intake appointment.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Extended For Many Countries
The government has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) until January 2, 2020, for TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, due to ongoing litigation. Plaintiffs won a preliminary injunction in federal court in Ramos v. Nielsen. In Ramos, plaintiffs allege that the Department of Homeland Security’s decisions violated rule-making procedures, was based on racial animus, and violated the constitutional rights of TPS holders and their US citizen children.
Advocates were concerned because TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal were not included in that lawsuit. However, the administration has agreed to link Honduran and Nepali TPS to the outcome of Ramos.
The government has also extended TPS for South Sudan and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberia. DED is a lesser known humanitarian program that is authorized by the president and allows recipients to obtain a work permit, but provides no pathway to permanent legal status or citizenship.
The only real way to ensure safety for TPS holders is to pass a law providing them with a pathway to permanent status. See below for information about H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act.
Call to Action - H.R. 6 "American Dream and Promise Act"
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, H.R. 6, establishes a path to citizenship for immigrant youth and current or potential holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
Researchers estimate that this bill could help up to 2.5 million individuals pursue lawful permanent residence, and eventually citizenship. This bill would remedy Congress's failure to pass a solution for DACA recipients and TPS holders, which has caused stress and uncertainty for Maine residents who are simply trying to go about their daily lives. TPS holders and DACA recipients should not have to read the news each day to find out their future in this country. TPS holders and DACA recipients have lived in Maine for sometimes decades and many have US citizen children, work, and are an integral part of our communities.
Representative Pingree is a co-sponsor of this bill, so please call her office and thank her. Call Representative Golden and urge him to sign on as a co-sponsor in order to help the many Mainers who would be eligible for immigration relief under this bill. Call Senator Collins and Senator King and urge them to support a similar bill in the Senate.
Representative Jared Golden: 202-225-6306
Representative Chellie Pingree: 202-225-6116
Senator Susan Collins: 202-224-2523
Senator Angus King: 202-224-5344