Making Sense of the Headlines | July 17, 2019

Erick Widman

We’ve heard some unsettling news coming from the White House this week, including plans to overhaul the asylum process, impending raids in search of undocumented folk, and controversial remarks directed at legislators.

Third Country Asylum

The White House announced a new asylum policy on Monday that could essentially make it impossible for Central Americans and many others to apply for asylum at the Southern border.

Trump’s new law will require asylum-seekers to apply for asylum in at least one of the countries they pass through after leaving their home country. This means that individuals fleeing South and Central American countries will need to apply for asylum in other Central American countries instead of heading straight to the US. Applicants from Africa, Haiti, Cuba, and Guatemala would likely need to apply in Mexico before reaching the US. Only those who apply and are denied asylum in another country will become eligible to apply in the US.

This new policy would have a huge impact on the future of the asylum process in the US, and, in the more immediate future, would make thousands of migrants who have already been waiting their turn at the border for months to lose their place in line. Their asylum claims would immediately be rendered invalid since they did not first request asylum in another country that they passed through.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others have already announced they will be filing lawsuits in response to this new restrictive policy.

ICE Raids

Fear of impending ICE raids has been spreading throughout communities nationwide spurred by Trump’s ominous Tweets. While the original planned raids were postponed in many cities and states, more recent updates suggest the raids were set to officially launch over this past weekend. So far, most news outlets are reporting the raids are coming at a slow pace and are still largely routine at this point.

Community members, organizations, and immigration advocates have been working to spread information about the potential raids and provide resources to undocumented immigrants who may be targeted. “Know Your Rights” pamphlets and other helpful resources are being circulated with instructions to refuse to open the door to ICE agents and to plead the 5th Amendment (AKA don’t say anything) if you are questioned. This guidance is proving useful for many targeted communities.

While many major cities are still reporting few or no raids taking place, it is likely that the agency may ramp up their efforts in the near future. Resources and advocacy groups are available in most cities and regions with large immigrant populations.

Trump’s Tweets

President Trump sent out a series of tweets over the weekend that sent the internet into a frenzy. The tweets were directed toward “‘Progressive’ Democratic Congresswomen” who happen to be the children of immigrants.

Trump’s tweets suggest that these elected officials should return to the “crime infested places from which they came” to help fix the broken governments there instead of working to address and fix systemic problems in the United States.

While it is common for Trump to elicit anger and controversy with his tweets, this one in particular hit a nerve with a large majority of the country.

Trump’s message targeted four women of color who are all elected US Representatives. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib were all born and raised in the US, while Rep. Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia but immigrated to the US when she was young and became a US citizen as soon as she turned 18.

Despite significant differences of opinion between these “Progressive” Congresswomen and Trump, his indication that they have such ties to any other country than the one they were born in is certainly misguided and problematic.

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