Border Security and Immigration Trump scapegoats immigrants with “Office of Victims of Immigration and Crime Engagement” Continued from page 19 VOICE is a “poor use of scarce resources for crime victims and may actually block victims from exercising their rights.” They rightly point out that Trump has promised severe funding cuts to existing offices within the Department of Justice (DOJ) – like the Office for Victims of Crime and the Office on Violence Against Women – with proven records of helping victims. 3. This administration’s policies interfere with the ability of local police to fight crime. Trump has threated to take DOJ funding away from law enforcement agencies that have “sanctuary” policies intended to allow immigrant victims to come forward and report crimes without fear of deportation. Police authorities have stated that enforcing immigration laws makes it harder for them to maintain good community relations and steers scare resources away from crime fighting. 4. Trump’s anti-immigrant polices may interfere with efforts to prosecute criminals and hold them accountable. For example, U visas are for victims of crime who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. Since the election, immigrants and advocates have been concerned about the future of the U visa. While eliminating the visa category would be difficult, the Trump administration could slow processing or issue far fewer visas. Regardless, immigrant victims may be far more hesitant to come forward and report crimes. Immigrants contribute a great deal to this country. The fact that some have committed serious crimes is reprehensible, but it is one small piece of a complex story. To counter VOICE, Rep. Jared Polis launched a database intended to tell positive stories about immigrants called SAINT – Saved by American Immigrants National Taskforce. The purpose is to collect stories of immigrants who have performed heroic or lifesaving acts. In this environment, telling positive stories about immigrant contributions is more important than ever. 26 Immigration enforcement program has a troubled history, and Trump wants to restart it Continued from page 20 serious criminal offenders. In fact, half of all detainers issued through the program were on people who committed misdemeanors and traffic offenses. MPI also found that jurisdictions tend to use their 287(g) authority in different ways. Some do target serious criminals, while others operate a “universal” model designed to deport as many unauthorized immigrants as possible, regardless of criminal history. Critics also identify racial profiling and pretextual arrests as a serious problem with the 287(g) program. The most egregious example was Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona who conducted sweeps in Latino neighborhoods and stopped drivers who “looked” Latino. But similar patterns of racial profiling have also been found elsewhere. The DHS Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) both issued reports on the 287(g) program and found that ICE managed the program poorly. ICE failed to articulate the program’s objectives and priorities consistently, did not comply with the express
objectives of the program, and did not provide sufficient oversight. In light of these concerns, and with the rise of the Secure Communities program, the Obama administration eventually drew down the 287(g) program. With Secure Communities, ICE could share information with local enforcement without the hassles of directly supervising local cops. Now the Trump administration wants to re-boot 287(g) program. However, it’s unclear whether Congress will fund an expanded program. The upcoming appropriations season is likely to include a battle over funding for the program. While some locals may be open to the revival of 287(g) program, many other local jurisdictions are limiting their cooperation and have restricted compliance with the federal government’s immigration detainers. Therefore, these places are unlikely to enter into formal agreements of this kind. The 287(g) program has a long and troubled history. States and localities should take a good, hard look at its track record before making a decision to restart this program that could have a harmful impact on their communities. Trump’s immigration remarks packed with inaccurate statements Continued from page 21 priorities recognized that there is a finite budget available for immigration enforcement, thus making prioritization important. The approach now being pursued by the Trump Administration casts a very wide net and will result in an aggressive and unforgiving approach to immigration enforcement moving forward. 4. Trump believes a merit-based immigration system will improve the economy. The idea of a merit-based system is not new but it usually has been discussed as one piece to updating our immigration system, not the only piece as discussed in this speech. At its core, the allocation of points is not a neutral act, but instead reflects a political view regarding the “desired immigrant.” Since the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965, legal immigration to the United States has been based primarily on the family ties or the work skills of prospective immigrants. The contributions of family-based immigrants to the U.S. economy, local communities, and the national fabric are many. They account for a significant portion of domestic 27 economic growth, contribute to the well-being of the current and future labor force, play a key role in business development and community improvement, and are among the most upwardly mobile segments of the labor force. And if cutting family-based immigration becomes part of a trade-off for a merit-based system, we would be turning our back on a centuries’ old tradition of family members already in the United States supporting newcomer relatives by helping them get on their feet and facilitating their integration. 5. Trump attempted to make the link between immigrants and crime through his newly created office of Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE). Despite the implications of this new office at DHS which seeks to demonize all immigrants, immigrants are actually less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born. Additionally, high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.