The Golden Door: November 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.

Urgent Call to Action on Public Charge – Comment by December 10!

The Trump administration published its proposed "public charge rule" changes on October 10th.  We should be defined by how we contribute to our communities, not by how much money we have.  However, the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the so-called "public charge rule" would ensure that only wealthy immigrants could build a future in the United States. 

We still have a chance to make our voices heard, but the clock is ticking. 
You can fight back against the proposed public charge rule by commenting against it by December 10. Go here and click "Comment Now!" to submit your comment. Remember, your comment does not have to be long, it just has to explain why you are opposed to the proposed public charge rule. When you’re gathered with your family around the Thanksgiving table, you can all take the time to submit a short comment opposing the proposed public charge rule changes.

Why are comments important?

  • Lots of comments will show the government and the public how important this issue is to people across the country.

  • If the rule does get finalized, legal challenges will use the stories from the comments.

  • The administration must consider individual comments and may take them into consideration.

  • This is our chance to tell the government and the public how this will hurt families.

Should I submit a comment?

  • Absolutely! Not only should you submit a comment, but you should encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to submit one as well. Even if you aren’t personally impacted by public charge, you can talk about how your community will be impacted.

What if I want to submit a comment anonymously?

  • You do have to put your name when you submit a comment. If you do not feel comfortable, find a friend to submit your comment under their name. If you do not have anyone who can do this, email Julia Brown or call Julia for assistance at 207-780-1593.

What should I include in my comment?

  • Say that you oppose the regulation, and then say why. Some questions to consider:

  • Do you come from an immigrant family? If so, how would the proposed rule have impacted you or your family members? Did someone in your family who got a green card have children? Did they use public benefits? Did everyone speak English perfectly when they arrived? Did they make 250% of the federal poverty level ($63,000 for a family of four)?

  • If finalized, this rule would impact millions of families hoping to gain a secure future in this country. Even before the rule has been finalized, immigrant families are taking their children off of essential health, nutrition and shelter programs out of fear. How does this impact your community?

  • Are children and older adults important to your family or community? This rule would make being under 18 or over 61 a “negative factor.” How would this hurt your community?

Over the two month comment period, ILAP has given dozens of public charge presentations to the immigrant community, agency providers, and general public.

ILAP is hosting a public charge information session for anyone who wants to know more on Thursday, December 6, at the Portland Public Library from 5:30-6:30.

Thank you for doing your part to oppose the proposed public charge rule!

Attacks on Asylum Continue

The President has issued a Proclamation that suspends entry of asylum seekers at the southern border, except at ports of entry. On November 19, a federal judge temporarily stopped the Proclamation from taking effect.

ILAP strongly condemns this illegal and immoral Presidential Proclamation. The Proclamation violates the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which states: “Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival) … may apply for asylum.” The portion that says "whether or not at a designated port of arrival" is clearly violated by this Proclamation.

The administration has manufactured this crisis of migrants coming to the United States. In reality, the number of migrants apprehended by Border Patrol at the southern border last year was the lowest number since the 1970's.

Not only are those numbers low, but asylum seekers who try to enter the United States at official ports of entry face extremely long waits to gain access to the country. Waiting outside the ports of entry exposes families to violent crime. These families then feel forced to have to enter the United States at the southern border, not at a port of entry.

These vulnerable families are fleeing violence, leaving their homes and belongings, and making a dangerous journey to gain safety in the United States. The legal system is already set up to handle asylum seekers, and this cruel, illegal, and inhumane "solution" will only cause families to suffer.

Moreover, these attacks on asylum are occurring when the number of immigrant children in federal custody is at an all-time high. More than 14,000 children are being held in government facilities. Potential sponsors for unaccompanied children are scared of coming forward due to a new policy in which ICE can run background checks on the sponsors. Many immigrants have been arrested by ICE when trying to come forward as sponsors for these children.

New Federal Policy Targets Victims of Crime

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that applicants for T and U visas and VAWA self-petitions will be sent directly to immigration court for removal proceedings if their applications are denied and the applicants are not lawfully present in the United States. Applicants for those statuses are victims of domestic violence, certain crimes, and trafficking. Previous to this policy, merely being denied a humanitarian visa would not lead to removal proceedings.

This cruel tactic will lead to even less of this vulnerable population coming forward to report crimes. For example, many non-citizens who are experiencing domestic violence seek VAWA, U, or T status, and are able to leave the abusive relationship.  These domestic violence survivors may now be discouraged from applying for protections for which they are eligible, keeping them in abusive and unsafe relationships and defeating the purpose of those humanitarian visas. Essentially, the government is punishing victims of domestic violence, certain crimes, and trafficking for coming forward.

We are concerned that USCIS, traditionally a service-oriented agency, is transforming into an enforcement agency. USCIS was designed to administer immigration benefits, not to initiate deportation proceedings for immigrants. Moreover, this policy removes all discretion from USCIS and mandates that they send the court notices. This is another example of the myriad ways the administration is attacking immigration.

Ninth Circuit Stops Administration From Ending DACA

The Ninth Circuit ruled this month that the Trump administration cannot end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This means that the preliminary injunction in place in the lower courts is still in effect and that the administration must accept DACA renewals. The DACA fight will almost certainly end up in the Supreme Court of the United States.

DACA recipients should not have to read the news every day to determine their status in this country -- we need Congress to act and pass legislation giving DACA recipients a pathway to permanent status. Call Maine's Congressional delegation at 202-225-3121 and urge them to create a pathway to permanent status for Dreamers!