March 2, 2017 – While the President pretends to be open to immigration reform, his enforcement agents are ramping up, deportations continue, the Muslim and refugee ban is expected imminently, and another young DACA recipient, this one in Mississippi, has been arrested and detained. It is against this backdrop that advocates and policy experts gave their take on the developments of the week. A recording of today’s call is available here.

Bill Chandler, Executive Director, Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA), said:

From the Administration and Trump’s out-of-control ICE agents down to the state level, immigrants are being targeted. Mississippi Senate Bill 2710, a massive anti-immigrant, anti-sanctuary city bill, passed the state Senate today and will now move to the House. This strips funding for any and all political subdivisions in the state – including colleges and universities – that provide a safe space for undocumented immigrants. This will affect hundreds of DACA-recipients and undocumented students across the state.

Greg Chen, Director of Advocacy,  American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), said:

During his address to Congress this week, President Trump offered no real immigration plan but instead repeated rhetoric aimed at pitting U.S workers against immigrants, rather than celebrating the immense benefits immigration has brought to America. He also mentioned a merit-based immigration system, not a new idea, but there are already merit components to the U.S. system.  President Trump’s comments on a merit-based system, then, are merely code to exclude those who seek to join family members in the United States, a short-sighted plan right out of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ playbook. There is a wealth of research proving that immigrants improve the economy through purchasing power and their participation in the labor force. Immigration is good for our economy and our nation.

Greisa Martinez Rosas, Advocacy Director, United We Dream, said:

I am undocumented, unafraid, and here to stay. Like 750,000 other young people, including Daniela Vargas, I am a beneficiary of DACA. Dany Vargas is 22 and the manager of a small store in Mississippi. Today, she sits behind bars because of Trump and his immigration agents. It’s clear that Trump’s immigration executive orders have released the worst in every ICE agent – they are using every tactic possible to target all immigrants. They are the true threat to our nation’s security and to the moral fiber of our country. Secretary Kelly must reign in his agents, who are terrorizing our communities, and release Dany Vargas and Daniel Ramirez. To Donald Trump and his Deportation Force, we say: Let Our People Go.

Melanie Nezer, Vice President, Policy & Advocacy, HIAS, said:

The United States has successfully welcomed millions of refugees since the U.S. refugee resettlement program began almost 40 years ago. They are teachers, business owners, doctors, neighbors, and citizens, who contribute to communities across the country in countless ways.  A few weeks ago, President Trump, for no justifiable reason, said “no more.”  When the courts gave him a chance to reconsider, he said “I’m doing it anyway.”  There is no way to make the refugee ban reasonable or humane. Because of the way our security clearance process for refugees works, a 120 day “pause” will turn into years more of waiting for people who have done nothing wrong and only want a chance to live in safety and freedom.

Dr. Angela Stuesse, Author of Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South and longtime friend of the Vargas family, said:

Daniela is a bright, selfless young woman who spoke out with the hope that by sharing her story she could help others. The fact that she was detained by ICE immediately following her participation in a media event looks an awful lot like retaliation, and it flies in the face of President Trump’s own directives to leave DACA recipients alone.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, said:

ICE and CBP are two of the worst law enforcement agencies in the country. They have acted with impunity and with a rising budget for years. Across the nation, we’ve seen a growing number of local law enforcement agencies that have restricted their cooperation with ICE and CBP. They’ve done this for two reasons. First, to reassure their populations that they’re prioritizing the safety of all, including immigrants, because they want everyone to report crimes and serve as witnesses in order to take criminals off the street. Second, they don’t want to be associated with federal law enforcement agencies that have a well-deserved reputation for racial profiling and trampling rights. It’s predictable that the growing number of cases we are seeing today — where ICE and CBP are overreaching and abusing immigrants, refugees and visitors — will become a pattern and practice under this administration. President Trump has ‘unshackled’ ICE and CBP agents, in effect giving them a green light to target anyone and everyone in this community, and, evidently, they’re going full speed ahead.

The mission of America’s Voice (AV) and America’s Voice Education Fund (AVEF) is to harness the power of American voices and American values to enact policy change that guarantees full labor, civil and political rights for immigrants and their families.