Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Refugees: Between Zero and One

{1:42 minutes to read} The opening paragraph of a recent front-page New York Times profile of Chief of Staff John Kelly tells you most of what you need to know about the Trump Administration’s position on refugee admissions:
This past summer, the Trump administration debated lowering the annual cap on refugees admitted to the United States. Should it stay at 110,000, be cut to 50,000 or fall somewhere in between? John F. Kelly offered his opinion. If it were up to him, he said, the number would be between zero and one.
The Statute of Liberty wept.
The US immigration laws define a refugee as an individual unwilling to return to their home country due to a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” The law gives the president the power to “set numbers.”
A “refugee” is distinguished from an “asylee.” Although the law applies the same persecution standard to both terms, they are not the same. An asylee is an individual applying within the United States while a refugee is an individual applying from abroad.
Although international treaties commit the United States to providing a haven for those whose life or freedom would be threatened in their country of origin, it does not commit the US to accept any specific number of refugees.
Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.
5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dreamers Held Hostage

{1:54 minutes to read} No one should have been surprised when the Trump administration announced that it would require massive new immigration restrictions in exchange for agreeing to extend benefits for 800,000 Dreamers.
Most expected that the price for the Dreamers would be paid for in a wall along the southern border, but many hoped the payoff would stop there. It has not. Instead, the administration is pushing its entire anti-immigrant agenda, pitting the Dreamers against virtually every other immigrant group.
The Trump plan would:
  • Reduce legal immigration by half within 10 years;
  • Build a wall along the southern border (which virtually no one believes will halt illegal immigration, including ranchers who live along that border);
  • Impose new restrictions on children who enter the US to escape abuse and gang violence in their home countries by making it easier to deport them;
  • Limit family sponsorships to spouses and minor children, making it impossible for citizens to sponsor parents or siblings;
  • Hire 370 new immigration judges, 1000 new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and 300 additional federal prosecutors. (Where the money will come from for all these additional expenditures remains a mystery.)
The tactic is both obvious and ineffective. Trying to divide the pro-immigration forces will not work, and Congress will not pass such a bill. The entire Democratic coalition and many Republican lawmakers in the Senate will most likely oppose it. This will all go nowhere. But it does appease the Republican base that supported Mr. Trump and that, apparently, is all that matters anyway.

Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.
5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779