The Golden Door: May 2018
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.
We are happy to report that the anti-immigrant bills introduced in the state legislature this session have failed. These bills included: LD 1833, an anti-sanctuary city bill; LD 1873, a bill to cut immigrants from vital anti-poverty programs; and LD 1893, a bill to require all employers to use E-Verify (a computerized system set up by the Department of Homeland Security for employers to verify an applicant’s immigration status). ILAP testified against LD 1833, and the other bills never made it to committee.
Further, LD 1740, a bill establishing the crimes of criminal forced labor and aggravated criminal forced labor, passed over the governor's veto and is now law. ILAP testified on behalf of the bill, which will lower the hurdles faced by immigrant labor trafficking survivors in their applications for humanitarian immigration relief.
Administration Erodes Due Process for Immigrants
While this administration is chipping away at due process and other rights for immigrants in myriad ways, lawsuits and public outcry have kept them from accomplishing everything they wish to do.
- The Department of Justice (DOJ) terminated a legal advice program for unrepresented immigrants in court, despite an internal report arguing for the expansion of the program. DOJ promptly rescinded the program’s termination after pressure from Congress.
- The DOJ is setting new quotas for immigration judges by requiring each of them to clear 700 cases a year, with fewer than 15% of decisions sent back by appeals courts. This raises enormous due process concerns, as judges are more likely to push a case through quickly so as to keep their jobs. The independence of immigration court is already compromised by the entire system being housed within the Department of Justice. This move by the administration will only further weaken its independence.
- In a win for due process, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, in Dimaya v. Sessions that a part of a law used to deport noncitizens who commit certain crimes is unconstitutionally vague. The provision in question is designed to catch deportable crimes not specifically listed and categorizes them as "crimes of violence." James Dimaya is a green card holder who has lived in the US for 26 years and was convicted of home burglaries in 2007 and 2009. The immigration court took his green card away and ordered him removed, stating that burglary is a "crime of violence." The Supreme Court disagreed.
Travel Ban Update
Lawyers argued Trump v. Hawaii on April 25 in the Supreme Court. You can hear the oral argument and read the transcript here. Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965, involves the third travel ban from September 2017. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled against the ban in November 2017, but the Supreme Court allowed the ban to remain in effect until it had made its decision.
Since early December, the United States has prevented people from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Venezuela from entering the country. (Chad was originally on the list but has been removed). While individuals from those countries are technically eligible for waivers, a report found that only 100 waivers have been granted after at least 8,400 applications in the one month between December 8 and January 8.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
The administration has continued its attacks on humanitarian immigration by terminating TPS for Nepal and Honduras. The administration has now ended TPS for six countries. Between terminating these TPS programs and DACA (currently continuing because of an injunction), nearly one million immigrants will lose work authorization and legal status if this administration succeeds.
ILAP has helped dozens of Honduran TPS holders renew their TPS since the program started in 1998. Many Honduran TPS holders have US citizen children and have been working for the same employers for years. Honduran TPS holders are now facing deportation when TPS designation expires on January 5, 2020, after decades of following US laws and becoming integral members of our communities.
Individuals from Honduras who currently have TPS will be required to re-register in order to maintain their status and work authorization until January 5, 2020. The time frame to re-register has not yet been announced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). ILAP will provide free legal assistance in helping people re-register once this announcement is made.
ILAP is currently available to provide free legal consultations for affected Hondurans in Maine. ILAP will also conduct outreach to affected communities and advocate for a legislative solution to this crisis.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
On April 24, a federal judge ruled that the US government must accept new DACA applications. This goes further than the other two federal court DACA decisions that had forced the government to accept DACA renewals.
IMPORTANT: The decision is stayed for 90 days so the government can address the judge's concerns. So, nothing has changed yet. Check ILAP’s social media for updates.
Call to Action
Congress has not yet acted on behalf of TPS holders or DACA recipients. We ask you to contact Maine’s congressional delegation and urge quick action on behalf of Dreamers and TPS holders.
Senator Susan Collins (202) 224-2523
Senator Angus King (202) 224-5344
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (202) 225-6116
Congressman Bruce Poliquin (202) 225-6306