1. Update
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

Immigration Update: Deportation and Protection

By Hannah Graf Evans, April 26, 2017

An immigration update on what's happening with Congress and the Administration, how FCNL is responding, and how you can get involved.

Crunch Time for Congress on Budget

Congress has until Friday (April 28) to figure out how they will fund the government through the rest of the year before the current spending measure runs out.  It’s possible they will pass another short term measure at the end of the week if they don’t come to agreement in time.

A memo obtained by the Washington Post on April 12 outlines that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is going forward with planning immigration enforcement expansion before securing congressional funding. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has located 33,000 more detention beds (almost doubling the 34,000 beds allocated for FY 2017). The memo also indicated that DHS is considering lowering hiring standards to hurry the process of hiring more enforcement agents. Customs and Border Patrol doubled over the past ten years without corresponding accountability mechanisms. Communities patrolled by CBP are still suffering from the lack of oversight and rampant corruption.

How is FCNL responding?

FCNL and a broad base of organizations committed to immigrant rights are urging members of Congress to reject the $3 billion supplemental funding request that includes money for the wall, additional enforcement personnel, and expanding detention space. FCNL also opposes the proposed $30 billion increase in military spending.

What action can you take?

We are hearing that legislators are backing off including money for additional construction of a physical, concrete wall in the FY17 funding measure. However, it is important that members of Congress do not write a blank check for DHS for overspending allocated funds or exponential enforcement growth that will adversely affect U.S. communities.

Members of Congress are coming under increased pressure from the Administration to fund these requests in some way. They need to hear from constituents that this funding – both for additional border wall and increased immigration enforcement or detention space – is not in line with our values. You can take action today:

Action Alert A More Peaceful Budget 

Deadline: Friday. That's when the government will shut down, unless Congress reaches a deal on federal spending. Negotiations are tense and ongoing, but the message your members of Congress needs to hear is simple: Don't pour more money into our country's militarized approach to foreign and domestic policies.

Active DACA Recipient Deported

News broke on April 18 that a DACA-recipient – Juan Manuel Montes – was wrongfully deported in mid-February to Mexico after he was unable to retrieve his government issued Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) ID to show Customs and Border Patrol agents. The Trump Administration is placing the onus on Juan to demonstrate wrongdoing and is refusing to let him return to the United States.

How is FCNL responding?

Faith leaders – including FCNL’s Executive Secretary Diane Randall – issued statement of support for Juan, echoing his lawyers’ demand for answers from the Administration as to why his DACA status is not serving as adequate protection.

What action can you take?

Juan’s deportation demonstrates that without congressional action, DACA recipients will continue to live with excruciating uncertainty as to their future.

Advance Meaningful Reform, Not Endless Enforcement

Act now 
Congress must make DACA – put into place by the Obama administration – a congressional program by expediently pass S.128/H.R. 496, the BRIDGE Act, bi-partisan legislation that would meet this goal, or they must offer a permanent solution with a pathway to citizenship.

Attorney General Sessions Expands Directive for Criminal Prosecutions and Threatens ‘Sanctuary’ Localities Funding

Attorney General Sessions sent a memo on April 11 to all federal prosecutors directing them to criminally prosecute a wider array of immigration violations, many of which are generally considered ‘civil’ in nature, rather than ‘criminal’. Sessions also sent a warning letter on April 21 to eight localities that are purportedly in violation with a federal grant program because they have somehow limited interaction between local authorities and federal immigration authorities. They have until June 30 to prove they are in compliance. On April 25, a U.S. district court judge blocked a key piece of President Trump’s directive to withhold funding from ‘sanctuary’ localities in his January 25 executive order. The ruling re-affirms that without congressional action only three federal grants can be revoked in limited circumstances, not merely because the administration has dubbed a locality a ‘sanctuary’ city.

How is FCNL responding?

FCNL is committed to federal policies that reduce the number of individuals in prisons and detention centers – we therefore oppose Attorney General Sessions’ directive that advises against the use of discretion. Even before this announcement, over half of all federal criminal prosecutions are immigration-related. Prosecutors and judges should be able to take individual circumstances into account when determining next steps for a case. We are urging members of Congress not to include additional funding for border prosecutions in fiscal year 2018.

FCNL staff is in conversation with advocates who are pursuing a legal strategy in order to protect localities that limit interaction with federal immigration authorities. We are supportive of separating local policing from federal immigration law. Most localities that limit interaction with federal authorities craft policies to be in compliance with existing immigration law. Others limit interaction because of existing litigation or district court rulings. After the court ruling, we are monitoring any federal legislation that would change the conditions of grants or direct the administration to withhold additional funding from localities acting in their community’s interest.

What action can you take?

Localities limit interaction to protect community safety and relationship with law enforcement officials. Learn about the interaction that your locality or state has with federal immigration authorities, and affirm your state and local officials if they protect individuals regardless of their immigration status.

Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in Jeopardy

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was extended to Haitians who were displaced after the 2010 earthquake and is set to expire on July 22. The administration has indicated that they will revoke the protection. Haiti is still struggling to rebuild after the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and is in the midst of a devastating cholera outbreak. There is bi-partisan support for extending this protection.

How is FCNL responding?

FCNL is joining a faith letter urging the administration to re-designate TPS for the 50,000 Haitians currently protected. National, state, and local faith-based organizations and individual faith leaders are encouraged to sign on to the letter by Friday, April 28.

What action can you take?

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition has an action alert for constituents to urge their supportive members of Congress to increase pressure on the administration to keep this protection in place.

Hannah Graf Evans

  • Former Legislative Representative, Immigration and Refugee Policy

Hannah Graf Evans led FCNL's lobbying for compassionate immigration and refugee policies, with a particular focus on detention practices, the rights of border communities, and protection of vulnerable communities. Hannah served as co-chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition steering committee for three years.