The Golden Door: April 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.
ILAP in Augusta and Washington, D.C.
ILAP is active at the State House this year! Earlier this month, ILAP testified in support of LD 1317, "An Act to Restore Services To Help Certain Noncitizens Meet Their Basic Needs." You can read our testimony here. This bill would restore MaineCare, TANF, and SNAP for noncitizens who had access to these services prior to 2011.
ILAP has also been working with a coalition of other organizations on LD 1596, “An Act to Enhance the Long-Term Stability of Certain At-Risk Youth.” LD 1596 fixes the age gap between Maine and federal law regarding the age of someone applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). SIJS is a pathway to permanent status for vulnerable abused, neglected, or abandoned noncitizen children in the United States. While the federal immigration laws provide SIJS protection for children under age 21, there is no way for a child between 18 and 20 in Maine to get the special state court order needed to apply for SIJS. This bill would allow Maine courts to make those findings for children between the ages of 18 and 20. The public hearing is scheduled for May 8, 2019, at 1pm.
On the federal side, ILAP's Advocacy and Outreach Attorney traveled to Washington, D.C. this month to meet with Maine's congressional delegation as a part of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's National Day of Action. She met with Senators Collins and King and their staff as well as staff from the offices of Representatives Pingree and Golden. She urged our congressional delegation to support legislation such as H.R. 6, the “American Dream and Promise Act,” as well as to push back against the administration’s policies that are hurting Maine's immigrant community.
Battle Over Census Citizenship Question Reaches Supreme Court
This week, the Supreme Court heard Department of Commerce v. New York, a case challenging the legality of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. By including a question about citizenship on the census, the government's own data shows that it will lower census responses by almost 6% (6.5 million people!), most of whom would be people of color.
Accurate census data is vital for calculating the number of representatives each state has in Congress, distributing food assistance money, and even allocating aid in response to natural emergencies and disasters. If the Supreme Court rules for the government, there will be enormous consequences for the country.
New Attorney General Issues Cruel Decision That Will Hurt Asylum Seekers
Attorney General William Barr has issued a decision that greatly hurts people at the border fleeing violence and seeking safety in our country. In Matter of M-S-, the Attorney General ruled that detained asylum seekers who have shown they have a credible fear of returning to their home country can no longer ask a judge to grant them bond.
For years, detained asylum seekers who pass a credible fear test could request a bond hearing to be released on bail while awaiting their hearing in immigration court. This ruling, which is not to take effect for 90 days, guarantees that the numbers of people in detention will skyrocket. The ACLU has already vowed to sue to block this cruel new policy.
***This decision DOES NOT impact people seeking asylum who are already in the United States.***
"Remain in Mexico" Policy Blocked By Court Then Allowed To Continue
Earlier this month, a federal court in California blocked the administration's illegal "Remain in Mexico" policy in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. The court found that not only do our laws not allow the policy, but even if they did, the policy "lacks sufficient protections against [asylum seekers] being returned to places where they face undue risk to their lives or freedom." You can read the full order here.
The Ninth Circuit, however, granted the government's emergency motion and issued a stay on the lower court's injunction, so the administration was allowed to continue its cruel policy of forcing families fleeing persecution to wait out their cases in Mexico. This week, the Ninth Circuit heard arguments in this case.
With the recent resignation of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who repeatedly disregarded national and international laws and human rights, the Senate must take its role in confirming the next DHS secretary seriously.
Call to Action - H.R. 1011 "Protecting Sensitive Locations Act"
The Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, H.R. 1011, would put the Department of Homeland Security’s sensitive locations policy into statute. This policy currently limits immigration enforcement in places such as schools, hospitals, and places of worship. The bill would also expand protection to locations such as: courthouses, public assistance offices, and human service organizations that assist children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.
These protections are vitally important so immigrants, as well as their family and friends, can feel safe in carrying out daily activities such as taking children to school, showing up to traffic court or attending a hearing as a witness, going to a place of worship, or even taking a sick family member to the hospital.
Call Maine's congressional delegation and tell them to support the "Protecting Sensitive Locations Act"!
Representative Jared Golden: 202-225-6306
Representative Chellie Pingree: 202-225-6116
Senator Susan Collins: 202-224-2523
Senator Angus King: 202-224-5344