This month’s news stories highlight ways in which U.S. government policy both domestically and abroad separates families, expends resources to create unnecessary suffering, and violates human and constitutional rights.
- Immigration Bills Passed in the House: The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of two Trump-backed immigration bills. The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act expands the range of federal funds that could be withheld from sanctuary cities refusing to cooperate with immigration authorities (though requiring local police to enforce immigration law is widely considered counterproductive and dangerous to community safety since the policy discourages undocumented victims and witnesses from reporting crimes). The second bill, known as Kate’s Law (for Kathryn Steinle who was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant in 2015), increases prison terms for those who re-enter the U.S. without documentation. Despite the great tragedy endured by victims of violent crimes and their families, this legislation—which would penalize vast numbers of non-violent individuals simply seeking reunion with their families—does not address the issue and diverts attention from the reality that U.S.-born citizens commit such crimes at much higher rates than immigrants. Both bills bring up constitutional questions, likely to be debated when the Senate votes. Here are more details: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/29/us/politics/house-passes-strict-immigration-bills-at-trumps-urging.html?emc=edit_th_20170630&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230&_r=1.
- Supreme Court to Rehear Detention Case: The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will rehear Rodriguez v. Jennings regarding a lower court ruling that detained immigrants are entitled to a bond hearing every six months. This development points to the possibility of detainees being stripped of their right to post bond and be released to await their court dates. Longer detentions are already the norm (averaging 404 days, and costing taxpayers $158 per day for each detainee), and the number of detainees over the past 20 years has increased four-fold while immigration courts are experiencing an unprecedented backlog. A reversal of the lower court decision would only worsen this scenario, at taxpayer expense and with greater burdens on vulnerable immigrants. Read more here: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/06/supreme-court-delivers-a-bad-omen-for-immigrants-in-detention/.
- S. Policies to Deter Central American Migration: The Trump administration is moving to create conditions in Central American countries and Mexico that will discourage migration by shifting support and incentives away from political and humanitarian projects and toward law enforcement. The strategy is reminiscent of earlier “drug war” policies that prioritized militarization and crackdowns over human rights concerns. This article explains more: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-fg-trump-latin-america-20170614-story.html.