6 Things You May Have Missed On The US Immigration Scene

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A protester is arrested near the Longworth Building office of Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., while calling for passage of a clean Dream Act on behalf a undocumented black immigrants on February 27, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By Felicia J. Persaud

News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Fri. Mar. 2, 2018: This past week, there were several important news items that broke on the US immigration landscape that makes it hard to simply focus on one aspect of this hot button issue. In order to bring you up to speed, here are six major aspects you should know of:

1: Snakes And Immigrants

On the same day when immigrant parents were burying their teenage children who were slaughtered at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool by an American-born, White teen in Parkland, Florida, Donald Trump had the audacity to equate immigrants with snakes. During what can only be described as a racist rant to his base at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, 45 repurposed the lyrics of a black songwriter and singer, to serve his anti-immigrant agenda. Using the lyrics of the late Oscar Brown Jr., which tells the story of a woman who takes in a frozen snake she finds on her way to work and after the snake is nursed back to health, it bites the women and kills her, Trump suggested that immigrants who come to the United States in search of a better life may end up hurting the country in the end.

“So this is called … ‘The Snake’ and think of it in terms of immigration. And you may love it or you may say, ‘Isn’t that terrible.’ And if you say, ‘Isn’t that terrible,’ who cares?,” the person who is supposed to be the President of the entire USA said to applause and cheers from a far right fringe.

No Donald Trump! The snakes biting us all are the assault rifles in the hands of crazed, native born Americans who should never have access to any weapons in the first place. Just ask the parents of the dead immigrant students – Joaquin Oliver, Martin Duque and those with immigrant roots – Helena Ramsay and Peter Wang – who the real snakes are.

2: Remembering The Immigrants Of The Parkland Shooting

This past week was another sad one for Broward County, Florida.  On Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, Peter Wang, a 15-year-old Brooklyn born, China and Florida raised teen was laid to rest after an emotional funeral, which saw veterans come out of bid adieu as his family fell apart in grief. Wang, who family moved to the US from China, was a member of the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), a school program for potential U.S. military officers, and his dream was to attend the West Point Academy. He was killed while helping other students to escape gunman Nikolas Cruz. West Point accepted him posthumously and Wang was buried in his JROTC uniform. The US Military, in a statement said: “It was an appropriate way for USMA to honor this brave young man.”

Also laid to rest on Friday was Helena Ramsay, 17, whose roots ran straight to the Caribbean. Her mother was born in Jamaica and her father in Trinidad & Tobago. The final victim of the massacre was 14-year-old Mexican immigrant Martin Duque, who was laid to rest on Sunday. Of course Joaquin ‘Guac’ Oliver, a Venezuelan immigrant turned US citizen, was also killed by Cruz. He was laid to rest on Feb. 17, 2018.  Let us never forget them.

3: What Nation Of Immigrants?

Forget about America being a “nation of immigrants.” It’s now all about enforcement under the Donald Trump U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, (USCIS.) As of last Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, the agency dropped the term from its mission statement.

Prior to Thursday, the USCIS’ mission statement read: “USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”

But as of Thursday night, the new statement is more in line with the Trump agenda of enforcement, now stating: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”

In a statement, the USCIS immigrant roots Director, L. Francis Cissna, who admits to speaking Spanish at home, said the new statement is “clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and the commitment we have to the American people.”

4: DACA Win For Dreamers For Now

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt the Trump administration a setback on DACA Monday and essentially handed DACA recipients a small but temporary victory. The justices, to their credit, refused to hear the administration’s appeal of a federal judge’s Jan. 9th injunction that halted Trump’s move to DACA, which was implemented by Barack Obama. In a brief order, the justices did not explain their reasoning, but said the appeal was “denied without prejudice,” indicating they will maintain an open mind on the underlying legal issue still being considered by a lower court, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Feb. 13th, a second U.S. judge issued a similar injunction ordering the Trump administration to keep DACA in place. The rulings allow those Dreamers who had previously applied for protections and whose two-year status was soon to expire to apply beyond the deadline set by the administration in September. The original plan put on hold by the court rulings said that only those who re-applied by October and whose status was due to expire by March 5th could re-apply. But no new applications will be processed.

5: ICE Crackdown Continues Unabated

The US Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency is continuing its raids across the country, targeting undocumented immigrants whose only crime is being in the US without legal working papers. At least 11 were taken into custody in Northern California Sunday including a man who came to the US as a four-year-old child and is now in his 30s. Hundreds have been previously detained in Southern California, home to many Latino immigrants.

6: US Conference of Catholic Bishops Steps Up For Dreamers

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with USCCB vice-president, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration, on Sunday issued a call to U.S. Catholics across the nation to take part in a “Call-in-Day” for the Protection of Dreamers. The call-in day was Feb. 26th. The call was announced via church bulletins nationwide as well as online at masses this past weekend. The bishops are urging Members of Congress to: protect Dreamers from deportation; provide them a path to citizenship and, to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process. I’m proud to be a Catholic!

felicia-j-persaud-hard-beat-altThe writer is CMO at Hard Beat Communications, Inc. which owns the brands: NewsAmericasNow, CaribPRWire and InvestCaribbeanNow.