The shocking reality of Donald Trump’s plan to deport millions

Posted on MSNBC.com by David Leopold

DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets have been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

DALLAS, TX – SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets have been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty

It’s not clear what was the most shocking about Donald Trump’s rally Monday night in Dallas, Texas: his description of undocumented immigrants as part of a “dumping ground for the rest of the world,” or the reaction of the nearly all-white crowd who awarded his rhetoric with a standing ovation and chants of “USA, USA.”

One day – hopefully soon – when the presidential candidacy of Donald Trumpreaches its ignoble end, perhaps we’ll better understand how a real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star turned-politician could become the front-runner in the Republican primary. But for now, we must take Trump at his word: If elected president, he plans to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants – including their U.S. citizen children. What’s more, Trump claims he’ll do it all within 18 months to two years. It is, according to Trump, just a question of “good management.”

It is surprising, then, that as we head into the second Republican debate Wednesday night at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, that Trump’s brazen call for mass expulsion of all undocumented immigrants has largely escaped scrutiny in the media, either because he isn’t taken seriously or journalists are afraid of offending him and losing access. But now that the “summer of Trump” has turned into fall, it’s high time that someone call on Trump to explain what he means when he declares that undocumented immigrants “have to go.”

We’re left asking this question in 2015: How would Trump actually deport 11 million people in less than two years?

The leading GOP candidate is talking about ferreting out, arresting, and forcibly removing a population of men, women and children roughly the size of the state of Ohio. Setting aside the Constitution for the moment – something most of Trump’s immigration platform ignores – let’s imagine what a grand scale deportation would mean in real terms. It’s frightening, extreme – and decidedly un-American.

First there would be the rooting out of undocumented men, women and children throughout the entire United States. Department of Homeland Security enforcement agents would have to fan out all over the country looking for undocumented immigrants. Since many work in agriculture, we’d likely see agents combing through rural areas and small town America – places like Painesville and Findlay, Ohio.

We got a glimpse of what that would look like in 2008, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the Agriprocessors kosher meat packing facility in Postville, Iowa. Hundreds of armed ICE agents swooped into the town – population 2,000 – with helicopters and prison buses to arrest nearly 400 undocumented immigrants, most of whom were Guatemalan laborers. ICE then locked up the immigrants at the National Cattle Congress – which had been turned into a makeshift immigration prison – in nearby Waterloo, where they awaited criminal trials and deportation.

But Postville was just one small town in Iowa. Trump’s mass deportation plan would recreate that disturbing scene in every American community in all 50 states – every county, town and city. As Malcom Harris recently observed, “Sending an amped-up ICE on a mass-deportation mission wouldn’t just be an assault on undocumented people and their families, it would be an attack on American cities, where more than 90 percent of them live.”

Trump’s deportation dragnet would likely start by wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of U.S. citizens. To find undocumented immigrants, immigration enforcement agents would have to whittle down who they question about their immigration status, and that would include interrogating U.S. citizens. Further, because so many undocumented immigrants are part of mixed immigration status families, Americans would be put in the untenable position of having to decide whether to stay in their country, separated from their loved ones facing deportation, or leave the U.S.

In Trump’s America, where the newly inaugurated president would seek to make good on his campaign promise to deport 11 million people within 2 years, what would happen to core American values including family, hard work, community and fairness?

Would our citizens be coerced into becoming immigration informants? Would Americans rat on their neighbors, friends or relatives out of a misguided feeling of patriotism or, perhaps worse, vengeance and retribution? Would undocumented women, children and elderly be exposed to abuse by those who would take advantage of Trump’s deportation machinery to extract control, money or other unspeakable forms of abuse under threat of being exposed to homeland security agents?

Would non-white American citizens and lawful residents be at greater risk of stop, arrest and investigation based on their manner of dress, accent or skin color? And what about unscrupulous employers? One of the strongest arguments in favor of comprehensive immigration reform is that a pathway to earned legal immigration status will reduce workplace exploitation, including sweatshop wages and sexual abuse. One can only imagine the horrible price a corrupt employer might extract from an undocumented immigrant who is desperate to avoid deportation and separation from her family.

Even if Trump were elected president, he would not be able to fulfill many of his draconian promises on immigration – including mass deportation of all undocumented immigrants. Trump’s ugly agenda assumes there is no Constitution, no separation of powers, and no checks and balances which would prevent him from carrying out mass expulsion of undocumented immigrants. Nevertheless, the media has a professional and ethical obligation to the American people to press Trump for specifics on how he would implement his stated immigration agenda, so that voters know exactly what they’d be signing up for if they accept Trump’s offer to “make America great again.”

Tomorrow night in Simi Valley would be a good time to start.

David Leopold practices immigration law in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The Texas Lawsuit Challenging Obama’s Immigration Executive Actions Will Be Thrown Out — If the Judge Follows the Law

Originally posted in Huffington Post by David LeopoldUS-POLITICS-OBAMA-IMMIGRATION

Supporters of immigration reform are gearing up for what many expect to be bad news out of a federal court in Brownsville, Texas. Judge Andrew Hanen is about to decide whether or not to block the executive actions on deportations President Obama announced late last year. The actions, which have been challenged in federal court by the State of Texas and 25 other states, expand DACA — the deportation reprieve offered to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children — and create DAPA, a temporary deportation reprieve for undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents.

The conventional wisdom is that Judge Hanen will enjoin implementation of the executive actions, perhaps as early as this week. Observers cite to a 2013 opinion Judge Hanen wrote in U.S. v. Navara-Martinez, an unrelated criminal prosecution for alien smuggling. There Judge Hanen, using extremely harsh language, lamented what he described as “the apparent policy of the Department of Homeland Security of completing the criminal mission of individuals who are violating the border security of the U.S.” He went on to say the “Department of Homeland Security should enforce the laws of the United States — not break them.”

To many that sounds like a jurist itching to rule against Mr. Obama’s executive action on deportations. And it’s likely why the State of Texas filed the case in the Southern District of Texas where Judge Hanen presides. The 30 page lawsuit prominently citesNavara-Martinez in an obvious effort to remind the judge that he has already found that the Administration has colluded in a criminal conspiracy to violate the law.

But the conventional wisdom could be way off. In fact, there’s a strong chance that Judge Hanen will throw the case out — if he correctly follows the law.

Here’s why:

First, and perhaps most importantly, the State of Texas has filed a bogus complaint; it reads more like a factually inaccurate press release than a legal document. It fails to describe exactly how the plaintiff states are or will be concretely harmed by the temporary deportation reprieves; especially when the Administration has used all resources allocated to it annually by Congress to detain and deport undocumented immigrants — approximately 400,000 people a year — leading some to label President Obama the “deporter-in-chief.” Further, at least one federal court has dismissed a similar challenge to the President’s executive actions brought by Joe Arpaio, the infamous anti-immigrant sheriff of Maricopa County Arizona, concluding Arpaio lacked standing to sue. While the decision is not binding on Judge Hanen, its cogent analysis of the complex legal doctrine of standing certainly provides persuasive authority for the dismissal of the Texas lawsuit.

Second, there’s no question Judge Hanen is extremely frustrated with DHS’s policy of reuniting unaccompanied minors with their undocumented parents in the U.S. But his opinion in Navara-Martinez was just that, an opinion. While reasonable minds may differ as to the prudence of using a judicial forum to express such views, nothing Judge Hanen did exceeded the bounds of his authority as a federal judge. Indeed, he noted judges are not authorized to make policy. “This Court takes no position on the topic of immigration reform,” Judge Hanen wrote, “nor should one read this opinion as a commentary on that issue. That is a subject laced with controversy and is a matter of much political debate which is not the province of the judicial branch.”

Third, while Judge Hanen severely criticized what he termed the Administration’s “failure to enforce current United States law,” he did so in the context of an alien smuggling prosecution. Whether or not one agrees with the judge’s views, it’s clear he was neither criticizing the Administration’s civil immigration enforcement priorities nor questioning prosecutorial discretion in general, including deferred action on deportations. “This Court is not opposed to the concept of prosecutorial discretion,” wrote Hanen, “if that discretion is exercised with a sense of justice and common sense.” And it would seem — at least to me — that common sense immigration enforcement includes processes like DACA and DAPA which allow the Administration to focus limited resources on deporting dangerous felons, national security risks and recent border crossers rather than DREAMERS and mothers and fathers of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Judge Hanen, like all federal judges, has sworn to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform” his duties under the Constitution. That is a serious oath which requires him to fairly apply the law — regardless of whether or not he personally agrees with the President’s executive actions on deportations. In the meantime many will take comfort in knowing that whatever Judge Hanen decides he will not likely have the last word. That’s all but certain to come from the appellate courts.

What the #Immigration Executive Actions Mean for You and Your Family: 8 Things You Need to Know

Originally posted on Huffington Post

Last week President Obama announced he will take series of executive actions designed to strengthen the border, hold undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents accountable by giving them a chance to register, pass criminal background checks and pay taxes. The Administration also plans to use the existing immigration law to promote investment and make the immigration system work better until Congress finally passes immigration reform.

1. There’s Nothing to Apply for Yet And Immigrants Should Be Careful Not to Get Scammed.

While the President has a released a broad outline of his immigration executive actions, the details, including the application process, have not been finalized. In other words, there is nothing to apply for yet and potential applicants should heed the warning posted on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s website:

Important notice: These initiatives have not yet been implemented, and USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time. Beware of anyone who offers to help you submit an application or a request for any of these actions before they are available. You could become a victim of an immigration scam.

2. The Deferred Action Program Will Apply Only to The Undocumented Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents.

Perhaps the most dramatic of the executive actions is the President’s decision to offer a temporary deportation reprieve — formally known as Deferred Action — to undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children.

The intent is to give parents a chance to come out of the shadows and get right with the law — register, pass criminal background checks and pay taxes.

To qualify an applicant will have to show, among other things, that he/she has been in the U.S. since before January 1, 2010, and is the parent of a citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014. The Administration hopes to have the application process in place within 180 days.

3. DACA Will Be Expanded To Make More DREAMERs Eligible.

Two years ago Mr. Obama offered a temporary deportation reprieve to qualified undocumented youth who had arrived in the U.S. as children. The process, known asDeferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, brought hundreds of thousands of DREAMERs out of the shadows so they could work and study. To be eligible a DREAMER had to show, among other things, that he/she had arrived before June 15, 2007 and been in the U.S. and under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012. While the process was a game changer for many DREAMERs, others did not qualify because of the entry deadline and age cap.

The executive actions will extend the entry requirement to June 1, 2010 and remove the age cap, permitting many more DREAMERs qualify for a temporary 3 year reprieve from deportation.

While the expanded DACA program is not yet in place, it is expected that the USCIS will begin receiving applications within 90 days.

4. Provisional Family Unity Waivers Will Be Expanded to Included the Undocumented Husbands and Wives Of Lawful Permanent Residents.

Most people think that if an undocumented immigrant marries a U.S. citizen or lawful resident he/she can get a green card. That’s both right and wrong. Many undocumented immigrants who qualify for a visa must apply at a U.S. consulate abroad, not from within the US. But when they leave the U.S. to apply, another part of the law bans them from returning for up to ten years.

The pain of this legal Catch-22 was eased somewhat in 2013 when the Obama Administration tweaked the application process so that undocumented husbands and wives of U.S. citizens could apply for family unity waivers before traveling abroad. The change spared many American families from prolonged separation from their loved one she traveled abroad and waited — sometimes for years — for the waiver to be processed.

The executive actions announced last week tweak the Family Unity Waiver process a bit more by a permitting undocumented spouses of lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to apply for waivers before departing the U.S, shielding many more American families from the pain of prolonged separation. The change will also save tax dollars by making the visa processing system more efficient and reducing the burden on government agencies.

5. Family Unity Will (Hopefully) Become the Rule Rather Than the Exception.

Some immigrants that are eligible for green cards first have to prove that their deportation would impose “extreme hardship” on their U.S. citizen or lawful resident spouse, parent or child.

The executive actions promise a new interpretation of “extreme hardship” which, hopefully, will recognize that separating parents from (American) children or spouses from (American) spouses is, by nature, an “extreme hardship.” A pro-family interpretation of the standard would ensure that, absent negative factors, more families remain whole.

Stay tuned on this one.

6. Immigrants With Green Card Applications or Other Temporary Status May Travel Abroad With Greater Assurance of Their Ability to Return.

The legal Catch-22 that keeps husbands and wives separated from their families for up to 10 years after foreign travel can also bar immigrants with lawful green card applications or other temporary status — even if they traveled home to visit an elderly parent or attend a funeral with advance permission (parole) from the Department of Homeland Security.

The President’s executive actions will give greater assurances to immigrants that they will be permitted to return to the U.S. and complete their pending green card applications or continue their authorized presence after necessary foreign travel on advance parole.

7. Existing Law Will Be Used to Expand Opportunities for Business, Investment and Job Creation.

The executive actions will include efforts to strengthen the economy and create jobs for U.S. workers by enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs, attracting investment and generating tax revenue to ensure economic growth and extending existing post-graduate training programs for science, technology, engineering and math graduates of U.S universities. The Administration will also look for ways to improve the legal immigration system by reducing government costs, reducing burdens on employers and families and eliminating fraud.

8. The President’s Immigration Executive Actions Are An Important First Step, But They Are Not A Substitute Congressional Action.

The actions Mr. Obama has taken to make the immigration system work better are a bold and courageous (and yes-solidly legal) use of his lawful authority as President of the United States. But only Congress has the power to fix the antiquated, rigid and outdated immigration policy that plagues this country, devastates families, stymies American business and inhibits job creation.

We can only hope that amid the calls for lawsuits and legislation to block the President’s executive actions Republican congressional leaders will find the guts to do the right thing by the American People.

Mr. Speaker, Please Don’t Let The ‘#Immigration Grinch’ Steal Christmas

Originally posted on Huffington Post

It’s almost Christmas, the House has left town for the holidays, and many American families are wondering whether they’ll get a visit from Santa Claus or the dreaded Grinch — that nasty old creature with a heart two sizes too small.

Every day the Grinch wreaks havoc on thousands of American families. Disguised as an unforgiving and inflexible immigration law, he thinks nothing of ruining lives, sometimes banging on the door of a home in the wee hours of the morning to take away a father, mother, sister, brother or grandparent who doesn’t have proper immigration documents or is unlucky enough to be at the wrong end of a deportation order. And he does so at the astounding rate of 1,120 deportations a day. In fact, if the Grinch is not stopped soon, he will have removed 2 million people by Christmas — many of whom came to America to build a better life for themselves and their children, like so many immigrants before them.

Sadly, before the House went home this week, there was someone who missed an opportunity to stop the Grinch this year. That man is Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives. With the snap of his fingers, Mr. Boehner could have calmed the fears of millions of American families by allowing the House to vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill — one which was sure to have passed.

But Speaker Boehner refused to act, bowing to the will of extremists in his party — “the Grinches in the House” — who themselves offer no positive immigration solutions but are quick to obstruct any proposal that provides a safe, orderly, and fair immigration system for the nation.

Of course, the GOP leadership talked a good game as they turned out the lights at the Capitol to head home for the holidays. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said that immigration reform should be a priority for 2014. But the House GOP’s slow walking has contributed to nearly 200,000 deportations since the Senate passed its bipartisan immigration bill in June. This is unacceptable in a country that President Reagan once imagined would welcome “anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

Happily, there is still time for Speaker Boehner to show real leadership, even before Congress returns next year. He can take immediate action to help ensure that millions of American families remain safe and together during the holidays while the nation waits for the House to pass immigration reform. As a show of good faith, Speaker Boehner should ask the administration to give a temporary deportation reprieve to all undocumented immigrants who would qualify for provisional immigration status under the House and Senate bills.

Everyone agrees that the immigration system is broken and must be fixed. It’s unfair to continue destroying families just because the House hasn’t finished its job. And until it does, America’s leaders — in Congress and the White House — should work together to stop removing people who may not have the right papers but contribute to our nation’s social, economic and cultural fabric.

I’m willing to bet that if Speaker Boehner allows himself to feel the injustice and pain caused by America’s broken immigration system, then his heart, like the mean old Grinch’s, just might grow three full sizes. Maybe then he’ll do what’s in his power to make sure that Christmas is not once again stolen from the most vulnerable among us.

Cowardice or Courage? The Republicans’ Choice on #Immigration

Originally posted on Huffington Post

There are two types of Republicans on Capitol Hill; those who are willing to forge a consensus on immigration reform for the good of the country, and those who are not. Both were on full display this week.

In a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday Republican lawmakers grilled San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D-TX) with questions calculated to suggest that the Democrats’ support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is tantamount to opening up the nation’s borders to anyone who wants to come here. “Do you believe there should be a limit to the people brought into the United States?” Representative Steve King (R-IA) sarcastically asked Castro. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chair of the committee, went so far as to characterize a “pathway to citizenship for those not lawfully present in the United States” as an extremist position. And it got uglier. “Whatever else we disagree on” declared Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), “I think we can agree that that’s a more toxic and contentious issue — ramming [through] full amnesty.”

Never mind that a recently released Gallup poll found that Americans widely support a broad overhaul of the dysfunctional immigration system, including a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people living in the U.S. without lawful status.

Worse than the GOP grandstanding were the witnesses called to back up the Republicans’ rhetoric, including Chris Crane, president of the ICE agents’ union. Despite his union’s affiliation with the AFL-CIO which supports immigration reform, Crane has been a vocal opponent of President Obama’s use of prosecutorial discretion to prioritize the deportation of immigrants who pose a threat to American citizens. In his testimony Crane made the outrageous claim that the administration has ordered ICE agents not to enforce the immigration law. Perhaps Crane should tell that to the 1.5 million people who have been deported since Mr. Obama took office, including hard working fathers and mothers of U.S. citizens whose only crime was to dream of a better life for their children. It’s a good thing for Mr. Crane that he did not testify under oath.

Elsewhere in Washington, another House Republican offered a very different message. In a speech before at the American Enterprise Institute, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told his audience that he supported a pathway to citizenship for DREAMERs, a guest worker program, increased employer verification, and more visas for science, technology, engineering and math graduates. Like other Republicans who have re-calibrated their views since the November elections, Cantor spoke of fixing the broken immigration system without peppering his speech with incendiary terms like “illegal alien” or “amnesty”.

Unlike his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, Cantor had the guts not to fall back on what Greg Sargent of the Washington Post termed “rhetorical gimmickry,” which, simply put, amounts to cynically conflating complex issues to scare the public into opposing immigration reform. Cantor struck a tone similar to other Republicans, such as Senators Marco Rubio, Lindsay Graham and John McCain who have recognized that the American people deserve better than a mean spirited debate chock-full of racially charged phrases like “illegal immigrant” and limited to inhumane policy proposals like “self-deportation”. Cantor, who has never before supported giving DREAMERs a shot at citizenship, appears to understand that it will take political courage on both sides of the aisle to construct an immigration policy designed to keep America’s borders secure, its families safe and together, and its businesses globally competitive.

The good news is that Cantor is not alone. Others in the House GOP are evolving on immigration reform. While he has not yet followed Cantor’s lead and endorsed the DREAM Act, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has recognized that the busted immigration system must be fixed. Other Republicans in Congress have joined a bipartisan group quietly working to forge an immigration reform plan.

Hopefully the GOP antagonism on display during Tuesday’s House Judiciary hearing represents an increasingly rare breed of Republican on Capitol Hill. Immigration reform advocates may not agree with everything Republicans like Cantor, Rubio, Graham or McCain propose. But they should applaud them for having the sense to contribute to the national conversation on immigration reform.

The nation is presented with an historic opportunity to finally build an immigration policy worthy of America’s proud history as a nation of immigrants. And the Republicans in Washington have a choice. They can continue to cower in the dark corner of the restrictionist fringe, eschewing any positive policy proposal as an unacceptable “amnesty” and parroting the same old racially charged nativist talking points. Or they can follow leaders like Eric Cantor and others who are now thinking about what is best for their party and, more importantly, for the country.

Follow David Leopold on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DavidLeopold
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