Tag Archives: sanctuary cities

Trump orders construction of border wall and punishment for sanctuary cities

President Donald Trump on Jan. 25 ordered construction of a U.S.-Mexican border “wall” and punishment for cities shielding illegal immigrants while mulling restoring a CIA secret detention program.

Also, a draft executive order seen by Reuters that Trump is expected to sign in the coming days would block the entry of refugees from war-torn Syria and suspend the entry of any immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen while permanent rules are studied.

Trump’s executive orders on Wednesday signaled a tough action toward the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, whom he already has threatened to deport.

In a move critics called a slight to the integrity of American democracy, Trump also said he would seek a “major investigation” into what he believes was voter fraud in the November election, despite overwhelming consensus among state officials, election experts and politicians that it is rare in the United States.

“We are going to restore the rule of law in the United States,” Trump told an audience that included relatives of people killed by illegal immigrants at the Department of Homeland Security after signing two executive orders.

The directives ordered the construction of a multibillion-dollar “wall” along the roughly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, moved to strip federal funding from sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants and expanded the force of U.S. anti-immigration agents.

His plans prompted an outcry from immigrant advocates and Democratic lawmakers who said Trump was jeopardizing the rights and freedoms of millions of people while treating Mexico as an enemy, not an ally, and soiling America’s historic reputation as a welcoming place for immigrants of all stripes.

“The border wall is about political theater at the expense of civil liberties,” said Christian Ramirez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition immigrant advocacy group.

“It is not national security policy. Border communities are among the safest in the nation, and patrolling them with tens of thousands of heavily armed, poorly trained, unaccountable agents puts lives at risks. This will turn these communities into de facto military zones,” Ramirez said.

The White House said the wall would stem the flow of drugs, crime and illegal immigration into the United States.

The immigration crackdown has sparked fear among  “dreamers,” whose parents brought them to the United States illegally and who received deportation relief and work permits from President Barack Obama’s administration.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said “dreamers” should not be worried. “We’re focused on physical security of the border, we’re focused on those who are coming to do us harm from terrorist states and things like that,” he told MSNBC.

TENSION WITH MEXICO

Trump’s actions could further test relations with Mexico.

Trump’s policies, including his demand that the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada be renegotiated or scrapped, have put Mexico’s government on the defensive. Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto are due to meet next week.

Pena Nieto said he “regrets and disapproves” of the push by Trump to build a new wall along the border.

Officials in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Denver, Washington, San Francisco and Seattle offer some forms of protection to illegal immigrants. Billions of dollars in federal aid to those cities, often governed by Democrats, could be at risk under Trump’s move.

Trump said construction on the wall would start within months, with planning starting immediately and he said Mexico would pay back to the United States “100 percent” of the costs. Mexican officials repeatedly said that is not going to happen.

The cost, nature and extent of the wall remain unclear. Trump last year put the cost at “probably $8 billion,” although other estimates are higher, and he said the wall would span 1,000 miles because of the terrain of the border.

END OF ‘CATCH AND RELEASE’

Trump’s directives would end the practice known by critics as “catch and release” in which authorities apprehend illegal immigrants on U.S. territory but do not immediately detain or deport them.

The directives also include hiring 5,000 more U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

They also create more detention space along the southern border to make it easier to detain and deport people.

Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg, Roberta Rampton, Jonathan Landay, Mark Hosenball, Doina Chiacu, Andy Sullivan, Mohammad Zargham, Eric Beech and Susan Heavey; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney.

From voucher school funding to concealed carry on campuses, GOP senators have unresolved issues in Madison

Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly say they finished their work for the two-year legislative session on Feb. 18, but things aren’t going to quiet down at the state Capitol.

Senate Republicans plan to return for at least one more day in March. They’ll have to decide whether to take final votes on several bills that passed in the Assembly last week. Some other contentious measures that neither chamber has touched need action or they will die, too. Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, didn’t immediate respond to a message inquiring about Republicans’ plans.

Here’s a look at the most notable legislation the Senate faces as well as some of the bills in limbo:

IN THE SENATE

DRUNKEN DRIVING: The Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill that would strip repeat drunken drivers of their licenses for at least a decade.

DEMENTIA CARE: The Assembly approved a 10-bill package designed to help people cope with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The package, developed by a task force Assembly Speaker Robin Vos created, would devote more money to dementia specialists, research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the state’s Alzheimer family and caregiver support program.

‘SANCTUARY CITIES’ BAN: The Assembly passed a bill that would prohibit municipalities from banning police from asking about someone’s immigration status if they’re charged with a crime. The bill and a companion proposal that prohibits local governments from issuing identification cards drew about 20,000 protesters, most of them Latino, to the Capitol on Feb. 18. Tanck told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the bill was “not a high priority” for Senate Republicans, suggesting they are unlikely to take it up.

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY: The Assembly passed a set of bills Republicans say are intended to help college students with debt. The proposals include plans to lift the cap on tax-deductible student loan interest, boost grants for technical college students and two-year students in the University of Wisconsin Colleges, create internship coordinators and require colleges to update students annually on their debt levels. Democrats say the bills are little more than GOP campaign talking points and won’t do much to contain student debt.

VOUCHER SCHOOL FUNDING: The Assembly approved legislation that would limit public school districts’ ability to recoup their losses when students leave for schools in the state’s voucher program. The program subsidizes private school tuition. The state pays for it by cutting aid to public schools that lose students to the program. Under language in the state budget, districts can recoup those losses and more by raising property taxes. The Assembly proposal would allow districts to raise taxes enough to recoup only actual losses.

IN LIMBO

FETAL TISSUE RESEARCH: Republicans have drafted a bill that would ban research using tissue from fetuses aborted after Jan. 1, 2015, and prohibit the commercial sale of such tissue. Researchers say the measure would chill work on life-saving cures and treatments. Neither house has voted on it. Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, has said such research should continue. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business group and a big Republican supporter, also opposes the bill. If the Senate were to pass the measure the Assembly would have to return to concur. That seems unlikely. Vos told reporters the Assembly won’t come back to deal with any new issues.

TRANSGENDER BATHROOMS: Another GOP bill would require public school students to use bathrooms and locker rooms assigned to their physical gender at birth. The bill’s authors argue Wisconsin needs such a law to create a unified standard. Neither house has taken up the bill; Fitzgerald has said he thinks individual schools should deal with the issue as they see fit. Even if the Senate were to vote on the bill, the Assembly would have to return to concur.

GUNS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS: Several Republicans support a bill that would allow people with concealed carry permits to carry their guns on school grounds. Vos said in January the bill was going nowhere in his chamber, saying he hasn’t heard anyone clamoring for it, and neither house has voted on it.

CONCEALED CARRY IN UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS: Another GOP bill would let people carry concealed weapons in university classrooms, buildings and stadiums. That measure has gone nowhere in either house amid scathing opposition from UW System leaders.

Wisconsin needs to be welcoming place for immigrant workers

Thousands rallied on Feb. 18 in Madison to protest two pieces of legislation. The bills deal with restrictions on issuing local identification cards and a ban on “sanctuary cities,” where police and other public employees are not allowed to ask about someone’s citizenship status.

It’s critical that Wisconsin be a welcoming place for Latino and other immigrant workers who play such an important role in many parts of the economy.

Dairy farmers face significant struggles in finding and retaining workers because of the demands of the job. This is a very real problem and one that poses a major threat to our farms as well as the host of businesses and services connected to dairy.

Dairy accounts for $43.4 billion of Wisconsin’s annual economy, almost half of agriculture’s overall impact. Immigrants, particularly Latinos, are key.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison study in 2009, the most recent available, found that about 40 percent or 5,300 of all employees on dairy farms in the state were immigrants, with 90 percent of them from Mexico.

Ultimately, federal immigration reforms are needed to provide some avenue for those workers to remain in the country regardless of their status.

The state bills could have limited practical impact, but they signal that Wisconsin does not value immigrants’ contributions.

That’s not the sort of message we should be sending. Driving away immigrant workers is not the answer.

Editor’s note: The Dairy Business Association is a nonprofit organization of Wisconsin dairy farmers, milk processors, vendors and business partners.


House votes to punish ‘Sanctuary Cities,’ Obama threatens veto

The U.S. House has passed legislation against “sanctuary cities” that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. Angry Democrats accused Republicans of aligning themselves with Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant views and the White House threatened a veto.

“The Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party is clearly ascendant here today,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said in heated floor debate ahead of the largely party-line vote of 241-179. “This bill is not about grabbing criminals; it’s about grabbing headlines.”

Republicans countered that action was desperately needed in the wake of the July 1 shooting of Kathryn Steinle, allegedly by an immigrant in the country illegally despite a long criminal record and multiple prior deportations. The man, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, had been released by San Francisco authorities despite a request from federal immigration authorities to keep him detained.

“There are criminals motivated by malice and a conscious disregard for the lives of others, and there are cities more interested in providing a sanctuary for those criminals than they are in providing a sanctuary for their law-abiding citizens,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. “This is more than an academic discussion. … It is quite literally life and death.”

San Francisco and hundreds of other jurisdictions nationally have adopted policies of disregarding federal immigration requests, or “detainers,” which have been found invalid in court and which advocates say can unfairly target innocent immigrants and hurt relations between immigrant communities and law enforcement authorities.

The House bill, by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., would punish jurisdictions that prohibit the collection of immigration information or don’t cooperate with federal requests, by blocking them from receiving certain law enforcement grants and funding.

In its veto threat, the White House said the bill would threaten the civil rights of all Americans by allowing law enforcement officials to gather immigration status information from any person at any time. The White House statement said such an approach would lead to mistrust between local communities and law enforcement agencies.

As debate unfolded on the House floor, Gowdy chaired a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that included testimony from Kathryn Steinle’s father, Jim Steinle, who was with his daughter when she was shot and killed. As he did earlier this week in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Steinle recounted his daughter’s shooting as they strolled arm in arm, and her final words asking him for help. He told lawmakers that “hopefully some good will come from Kate’s death,” if laws could be changed to keep criminal immigrants off the street.

Members of both parties endorsed Steinle’s plea but offered dramatically different diagnoses of the problem, with Republicans calling for more enforcement of the law and Democrats calling for a comprehensive immigration overhaul, something House Republicans have blocked for years.

The comments echoed the years-long national debate over immigration, but this latest chapter comes at a moment when immigration has become a hot-button issue on the presidential campaign trail, thanks to Trump’s provocative claims about Mexican immigrants being “rapists” and “criminals.”

Trump traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border last week to continue his focus on the issue, to the dismay of many Republicans who fear his campaign risks further alienating Latino voters from the Republican Party. House Republicans rejected Democratic attempts to connect their legislation with Trump’s incendiary campaign.

“We have a horrible tragedy that was preventable,” said Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, when asked about the linkage. “Cities do not have the right to ignore federal laws that require them to incarcerate people who have committed serious felonies.”

All but five House Republicans backed the bill. One who didn’t, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., a supporter of a comprehensive overhaul, said the legislation wouldn’t have prevented Kathryn Steinle’s death to begin with.

“This is an exercise, this is not a solution,” Curbelo told reporters. “This may generate a headline, but it’s not going to solve a problem.”

But other House Republicans viewed Thursday’s vote as just the first step in advancing a slate of enforcement-focused immigration bills centered on beefing up border security and cracking down on immigrants with criminal records. Such an approach would ignore the advice of some Republican Party leaders who’ve urged the party to reach out to Latino voters by embracing comprehensive overhaul legislation including a path to citizenship for the 11.5 million people in the country illegally.

“The appetite for amnesty has diminished dramatically after we see the carnage in the streets of America at the hands of criminal aliens that should have been removed from the country,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. “And so that means that now the climate is much better to try to move down the line on enforcement.”