Even though the number of refugees being admitted to the United States has reached an historic low, the Trump administration is considering reducing that number even further. The U.S. refugee program is meant to offer a chance at stability for people forced out of their homes by disasters or unrest.
A federal appeals court has just struck down the Trump administration's plan to punish so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions by refusing to issue approved criminal justice grants. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that separation of powers and the constitution's Spending Clause vest spending decisions exclusively with Congress.
When Davinder S. came to America, he arrived without any travel documents or proof of identity. He petitioned for asylum under a different first name, Baljinder, but he abandoned that petition. Eventually, he married a U.S. citizen and became a lawful permanent resident. Years later, he became a U.S. citizen -- again under the name Baljinder.
There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about immigration crackdowns. We’ve seen the pictures of parents torn from their children at the border. We’ve heard stories about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) showing up at workplaces, arresting undocumented immigrants on the spot.
From the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump has been trying to issue a travel ban against people from certain nations -- mostly majority-Muslim ones. His original ban was overturned by the federal courts, however, largely because it appeared to be unlawfully discriminatory against Muslims. It was replaced with a second version that was also overturned.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) provides protection from deportation and grants work authorization to qualifying non-immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before age 16. Currently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is no longer accepting new applications, although it is processing renewals. However, an April court decision, currently on hold, could potentially open the program up to new applicants.
While previous administrations focused on deporting only those immigrants who commit serious crimes, the Trump administration has made clear that anyone in the United States without proper authorization is fair game for deportation. Furthermore, immigration agents will arrest unauthorized immigrants wherever it finds them.
The U.S. immigration courts, which handle civil cases involving immigration law, are technically a part of the Department of Justice. That gives them quite a bit less independence than traditional courts. The U.S. attorney general has the right to set court policy and even to change precedential rulings. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has just set new quotas for immigration judges in an effort to resolve a massive case backlog and, some say, to speed up deportations.
Each year, approximately 15 million people apply for U.S. visas. The State Department has just announced that it will require every one of them to provide their social media user names, past email addresses and previous phone numbers with their application. Previously, the information had only been required from people who had been selected for additional scrutiny.