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The Trump Administration’s Multi-Pronged Assault on Immigrants’ Rights

ICE on a Building in New York
ICE on a Building in New York
Lorella Praeli,
Former Deputy National Political Director,
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March 19, 2018

At first glance, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ lawsuit against California, the current federal budget negotiations, and the continuing crisis facing Dreamers may seem like separate storylines. But they are intertwined, key planks of the Trump administration’s sustained assault on immigrant communities and fundamental constitutional values.

Right now, President Trump and Congress seek to pass a federal budget that would put the deportation machinery into even higher gear. The administration’s budget request asks taxpayers for $21.5 billion for its immigration and border enforcement agenda, an amount greater than the budgets of all other law enforcement agencies combined. This would mean more agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and border patrol agents, more detention beds in private immigration prisons, and the further militarization of border communities. In light of what we are witnessing across America, we should be ending, not enabling, the Trump deportation agenda.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit against the state of California over three pro-immigrant state laws is the latest effort by the Trump administration to force states and local communities into carrying out its deportation agenda. But California and other states resisting this agenda have the Constitution and the public’s interest on their side. The administration continues to lie about immigrants and crime, and it’s obvious that its actions are not motivated by public safety concerns. Indiscriminate arrests and practices such as detaining witnesses at courthouses sow fear in immigrant communities and make it harder for local law enforcement to maintain trust with the entire community.

Multiple courts have already ruled against the administration’s attempts to force state and local governments to serve its goals. The outcome in the suit against California should be no different. Disentangling local law enforcement from ICE is needed in the face of continued sweeping and indiscriminate arrests, detentions, and deportations. Under Trump, arrests by ICE have already spiked 41 percent compared with 2016.

And if Congress doesn’t hold the line against this agenda, these immigration raids will soon have a new target: Dreamers. The lives and futures of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers, either too young or too old to apply for DACA, are in peril as the Trump administration moves to increase arrests and deportations while Congress does nothing.

The federal courts have temporarily blocked a full rescission of the DACA policy, allowing those who have DACA to renew their status, but the courts cannot deliver the permanent solution Dreamers need. Young undocumented immigrants deserve certainty to live their lives in this country, which is their home.

It’s time for all of us to take a clear-eyed view at what is happening in this country and to stand up for our vision of a humane and inclusive America. As Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California recently said of his state’s approach, “we’re in the business of public safety, not deportation.” And the Trump agenda, clearly, is in the business of deportation, not public safety.

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