News, Trump Administration

Public comments still being accepted on Trump proposal that would leave 55,000 citizens without a home

On May 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published a proposed rule affecting “mixed-status families” in public housing.

“Mixed-status families” are those with members eligible for public assistance and ineligible based on their immigration status. The current rule states that these families are permitted to live in public housing, but the ineligible family members would have to “pay their own way,” out-of-pocket, and would not receive personal federal assistance.

Crucially, not every immigrant who is ineligible for public housing is necessarily undocumented. Immigrants can have legal status and still be ineligible for public housing.

As we reported earlier, the new HUD rule states that every member of a family would have to be eligible in order to live in public housing.

According to data from HUD, an estimated 25,000 families would be forced to make the choice between breaking up their family and becoming homeless. It is estimated that 55,000 U.S. citizen children around the country would lose their subsidized housing as a result of this rule.

The rule would also require residents under 62 years of age to have their immigration status verified through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements or SAVE Program. Families with members judged to be ineligible through this program would be evicted from their housing within 18 months.

The proposed rule is not yet in effect. It is open for public comment until tomorrow, July 9. HUD is accepting comments here.

Commentary, Trump Administration

Demise of Census question is an important reminder in battle to combat Trumpism

As the New York Times and numerous other outlets have reported since yesterday afternoon, the Trump administration has finally backed off of its harebrained scheme to intimidate immigrant communities by adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. This is, of course, great news. The decision represents a stinging defeat for the anti-immigrant movement that Trump has championed and ought to send a message to caring and thinking people all over that the fight for immigrant rights is a battle that they can win.

But a lot of damage has already been done.

As Thomas Saenz, of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund told the Times, “No matter what happens, there’s still a lingering hardship from how long the administration had this hanging out there, and the publicity it got.”

And, of course, there’s no indication that Trump and his minions have decided to retreat from their barbaric, fear-based strategy in other places and forums. As Raul Pinto observed yesterday over on the main Policy Watch site, legislation currently being advanced at the North Carolina General Assembly is based on the same premise as the now-rejected Census question and the horrific treatment of asylum seekers at the border: fear.

Of course, the most important antidote to fear is courage — courage to stand up to the bullies who seek to poison America’s longstanding heritage as a beacon — however flawed — of freedom in the world and a hope for the future. Especially as we celebrate the Independence Day holiday tomorrow, let’s take renewed courage from yesterday’s victory and celebrate it as a hopeful sign, and maybe even a turning point, in the fight to defeat the wretched, small-minded, bullying approach to life that Trumpism represents.

News, Trump Administration

U.S. Senate passes border aid bill, heads to battle against House

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved its own $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package for the southern U.S. border, setting up a clash with U.S. House lawmakers who passed a dramatically different version the night before.

The Senate version passed on a vote of 84-8 with broad bipartisan support after the chamber voted to reject the House version.

The aid package has become the latest battleground over President Trump’s immigration policies. Government officials say the cash influx is urgently needed as agencies run low on funding needed to care for migrants, but Democrats and Republicans are divided over how much leeway to give the administration in using the funds to pursue its policy agenda.

Six Senate Democrats voted against the aid package that ultimately passed the chamber: Mazie Hirono of Hawaii; Ed Markey of Massachusetts; Robert Menendez of New Jersey; Jeff Merkley of Oregon; Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

“We are not going to stop the Trump administration’s inhumane and hateful assault on immigrants by giving more money to ICE and CBP,” Markey wrote on Twitter. “We must take a stand and say no more. That’s why today I voted NO on the border funding packages.”

Two Republicans voted against the bill: Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Another eight senators didn’t vote, including seven Democratic presidential candidates. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) also did not vote.

The House version passed Tuesday night, largely along party lines. That $4.5 billion aid bill includes more health and safety protections for migrants and more congressional oversight requirements.

Trump has pledged to veto the House version, and administration officials have said it would hamper their enforcement activities at the border.

The Senate rejected the House version earlier on Wednesday by a vote of 37-55.

Congressional leaders said they wanted to finalize the aid bill before lawmakers head home for the Fourth of July recess, but it’s unclear whether the chambers will be able to reconcile their differences in time.

Robin Bravender is the Washington Bureau Chief of the Newsroom network of which NC Policy Watch is a member.

News, Trump Administration

Researchers debunk Trump administration claim that immigrants don’t show for court hearings

U.S Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan testifies before a House Homeland Security Subcommittee in 2018. Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Immigration court data from Sept. 2018 to May 2019 shows most migrant families attend their immigration hearings, according to an analysis by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

The data refutes testimony from CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who shared at a Congressional hearing on June 11 that 90 percent of migrant families don’t show up to court hearings.

That figure is based on 7,000 cases of migrant family members who recently crossed the border and participated in an expedited docket pilot program, McAleenan said. The pilot program launched at the end of 2018 and sought to adjudicate immigration cases within a year.

“In our experience, the majority of people aren’t showing up for their hearings,” McAleenan said.

But data recorded over the past nine months show otherwise.

The TRAC analysis is based on 46,743 cases flagged in immigration court as family cases and that had held one or more hearings from Sept. 2018 through the end of May.

About 86 percent of families showed up for the initial hearing, and 81 percent attended all hearings, the analysis shows. The attendance numbers are close to 100 percent for families with a lawyer. According to TRAC, almost all families who had a lawyer attended their initial and subsequent hearings.

Of the 46,743 cases, only 21 percent were navigating the immigration proceedings represented by a lawyer.

Unlike criminal proceedings, people in immigration courts are not provided an attorney if they can’t afford one. When migrants seeking asylum have an attorney, their success rate is five times higher than those who go through the process without representation, according to a separate TRAC analysis.

Immigration courts are administered by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Laura Gomez is a reporter for the Arizona Mirror, where this story first appeared.

News, Trump Administration

Rev. Barber takes moral movement to the White House

In case you missed it yesterday, North Carolina’s Rev. William Barber brought the moral movement that he helped make famous via protests at the General Assembly to the nation’s capital yesterday. Adrienne Masha Varkiani of Think Progress reports:

Rev. Dr. William Barber leads activists into Lafayette Park, after Secret Service had previously closed it off. Activists had gathered for Repairers of the Breach’s “Moral Witness Wednesday,” June 12, 2019, Washington, D.C. (Photo Credit: ThinkProgress/Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani)

Secret Service interferes with ‘Moral Witness Wednesday’ protest in front of White House

“Love is radical, truth is radical, justice is radical.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 300 religious leaders and activists protested outside the White House on Wednesday to bring attention to administration policies they say are immoral. The U.S. Secret Service repeatedly interfered with the protest, first closing off Lafayette Square and then gating off access to the front of the White House an hour later.

The protest, called “Moral Witness Wednesday,” was led by Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a Protestant minister, social justice advocate, and president of Repairers of the Breach, a non-profit organization that “seeks to build a moral agenda… to redeem the heart and soul of our country.” Barber was joined by a 17 other religious leaders of different faiths, as well as activists of different religions.

Activists were attempting to deliver a petition signed by more than 5,000 people calling on the White House to abide by the 14th Amendment, stop mandating a census question on immigration status, end its attack on the Affordable Care Act, focus on providing clean air and water, create a humane immigration policy, and end child detention.

The day began at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, where Barber and Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner and Rev. Rob Stevens, who also work with Repairers of the Breach, welcomed activists and stressed the covenant of nonviolence. The church served as the downtown headquarters for the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington in the spring of 1968, making it a symbolic place for Barber, who is leading a new Poor People’s Campaign, to gather activists.

Tanner told ThinkProgress that this Moral Witness Wednesday coincides with holy days in several religions, including Eid al-Fitr in Islam, Shavuot in Judasm, and Pentecost in Christianity. “We feel it’s our call during one of the times of injustice to go to one of the seats of injustice,” she added, referring to the White House.

Barber also told activists that this event follows several religious leaders’ vision to have a Jewish seder in a mosque, with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian activists all speaking.

“This president, his administration, and those upholding him in Congress … are extremist leaders, driven by the idols of racism, greed, and power,” said Barber, adding that Trump and his ilk “have broken the two covenants — the deepest values of our religious traditions and the moral commitments of our Constitution.” Read more