Fighting Back Against Family Separation and the Expansive Anti-Immigrant Agenda

July 3, 2018

The recent news of children being torn from their families at the border is  a chilling reminder of the threats currently facing vulnerable communities. The Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy has violated and traumatized the families of over 2,300 children. The executive order that purports to halt family separation neither fixes the irreparable harm nor seeks to reunite already-separated families. Rather, it now allows families to be detained indefinitely. The crisis is far from over.

The heartbreaking news appears to have  awoken the sleeping giant in America. Leaders from both political parties, including former first lady Laura Bush, have spoken out against this heinous policy. But this moment demands more. It demands that we examine how our immigration system has been tearing apart families since long before Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy was enacted at the border. It demands that we commit to fighting against the expansive anti-immigrant agenda that the current Administration has been aggressively pushing.

In addition to forcibly taking children from their families at the border, the Trump Administration has implemented numerous other immigration enforcement policies that threaten to uproot the lives of thousands of immigrants and refugees previously protected from deportation, including Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees who fled their war-torn countries more than 20 years ago. The number of immigrants in ICE custody has also risen since Trump took office. In November 2017, ICE reported that its total average daily population for 2018 was 39,322 people, marking the second year in a row that figure has reached a record high.

The Administration has also taken several measures aimed at cutting back on legal immigration, such as ending temporary protection status for Salvadorans, Haitians, Nepalis, and Hondurans; issuing a travel ban barring immigration from several majority-Muslim countries; and lowering the annual cap on refugee admissions. A policy change that targets lawfully present immigrants who use public benefits may also be on the horizon. Under the current “public charge” rule, an immigrant who is deemed likely to become financially dependent on the government can be denied lawful permanent residence and face potential deportation. A leaked proposed change to this rule shows the Administration’s intention to drastically expand the types of public services that would be considered for a public charge determination. This potential policy change would punish lawfully present immigrants if they or their family members, including U.S.-born children, use basic public services, such as medical care, food assistance, and housing assistance. This “public charge” policy change would threaten the 10.3 million who are at risk or live in mixed-status families where someone received such public benefits. These immigrants would now risk deportation and having their families torn apart.

We are a nation mostly of immigrants. Yet, our current immigration system is broken. It seeks to penalize and criminalize people who come here to seek opportunities and a chance at survival – the very reasons upon which this nation was originally built.

We can do better. And we must do better. We must fight for  comprehensive immigration reform that is common sense and humane  and that lives up to the promise of America as a land of freedom and opportunity.

At PIVOT, we urge all to take action to not only stop the inhumane policies but to remove those who continue to viciously target vulnerable populations. We recommend the following actions:

1. Invest in progressive local, state, and federal candidates by contributing money or volunteering for a campaign. Electing diverse leaders who will take a stand for our communities and push for policies that broaden protection for immigrants is a crucial resistance strategy. MoveOn and Emily’s List are both good resources for identifying progressive candidates running for local, state, and federal offices around the country. For a list that focuses specifically on AAPI candidates, check out AAPI Victory Fund. Or consult our list of candidates that PIVOT supports below:     

Bee Nguyen for Georgia

Kathy Tran for Virginia Delegate

2. Donate to one of the countless organizations who are on the front lines fighting for immigrant and refugee communities. We will start with the following three and will continue to highlight more in the coming weeks:     

3. Call your Member of Congress to ask for the following:

  • Oversight hearings of ICE and Customs and Border Protections (CBP) policies regarding families and children;

  • Complete reform of the ICE and CBP agencies; and

  • To pass the DREAM Act.

4. Write an op-ed and submit to PIVOT for publication and dissemination (English and Vietnamese)