Mon -12/30: Write against the insane increase of immigration fees. Deadline tonight 11:59 pm EST!

Quote by Doug Rand, a founder of Boundless Immigration, a technology company in Seattle that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship.

(ilrc.org) In its latest attack on immigrants, on November 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security published a proposed rule increasing the filing fees on many immigration applications, eliminating most fee waivers, and transferring over $207 million to ICE. This include:

  • forcing asylum seekers to pay application processing fees of $50 and $490 for work permits, making the U.S. one of only 4 countries to charge people for asylum. (Iran, Fiji, and Australia)
  • steep increases in fees for:
    • work permits,
    • citizenship applications ($725 to $1,170 = 65% increase),
    • DACA – young undocumented immigrants hoping to renew protections from deportation ($495 to $765, every two years)
    • crime victims who seek to stay in the country through their assistance to law enforcement
    • green card status renewals.
  • elimination of fee waivers for financial hardships that has kept naturalization, green card renewals, and other benefits accessible.
  • although not related to current immigrant struggles, the proposed rule also proposes steep increases in fees for historical records of immigration between between the late-19th and mid-20th centuries, possibly up to 500%.

If implemented, the proposed fee increases will make immigration benefits inaccessible to low- and moderate-income families. Both immigrant and mixed-status families will be forced to delay or lose their immigration status due to the financial burden of this proposed rule, while transferring the burden of enforcement onto the backs of immigrants, U.S. citizens and U.S. companies, all of whom would be forced to pay higher fees.

These increases are designed to target and increase fear among low-income people of color as well as to force immigrant communities to live without protection from deportation.

  • Comment here. DEADLINE IS TONIGHT, 11:59 pm EST, 8:59 pm here.
  • Proposed rule change here.
  • Other comments for inspiration here. Please do not copy any comment verbatim. The government eliminates copies.

Deeper dive

Trump’s DHS intends to significantly increase fees on immigration applications—effectively weaponizing them, to price out millions from citizenship, lawful permanent residency (or green cards), work permits, asylum, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) and more. This issue may seem relatively innocuous compared to his child-separation policies, but if you’ve ever sat down to help citizenship-seekers fill out their paperwork, you will realize immediately how these proposed fees could block their path – to better jobs, better places to live, better lives for their kids, and productive tax-paying lives that help all of us. Even the $495 application fee for DACA, while minuscule to most middle-class Americans, has played a large role in preventing young undocumented immigrants from applying for work permits. According to a recent MPI report, 35% of those eligible for DACA live in families with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level. That means a family of five lives on annual income of $27,570 or less.

How far do we allow ourselves to fall? In the future, will we be try to excuse our current reign of crimes against humanity as simply being in the thrall of one man?(timelines of immigration issues under Trump – (ballotpedia)(buzzfeed)

Using fear as a tool:  High up on the list of creating a cult, (or a political party) that is impervious to reason or logic, is installing a sense of fear and paranoia within its members.  “Trump would have us believe that there is a “crisis” of criminals, terrorists, drugs, child smugglers and “illegal immigrants” flooding into the country from Mexico. Although there are legitimate security issues at the southern border, Trump’s assertions simply are not true. Unauthorized migration has been declining for years; there is no wave of terrorist operatives waiting to cross into the United States by land; by far, most drugs entering the country are smuggled through ports of entry; and, between April and September last year, only 0.25 percent of all family units apprehended involved children who were not related to the adults with whom they were traveling.

In fact, many of the men, women and children at our southern border have fled their native Central American countries in fear of persecution, torture and death. Rather than being criminals and terrorists themselves, they are persecuted innocents, fleeing those same problems that Trump says they’re bringing with them. They have arrived at our border to exercise their legal right to seek safe harbor through the asylum process. But rather than safe harbor, these asylum seekers have encountered the administration’s relentless efforts to demonize, criminalize and dehumanize immigrants through sweeping stereotypes and hate-filled rhetoric.” (Wapo)

Fear made manifest: Some of Trump “solutions” to the panic he has created are physical, such as his destructive, yet ineffective wall, and his infinitely cruel system of private prisons that detain peaceful people indefinitely, or until they die.

Fear allows atrocities:  Voltaire has stated: “Those who can  make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”The Trump administration has created a  concerted and deliberate campaign to separate and destroy families as a matter of policy. Currently 14,000 migrant kids are packed into crowded shelters, with resulting trauma which can cause possible lifelong damage.

Walls of paper: Along with bans on certain countries, repeals of temporary protected status and DACA applications and threats to end birthright citizenship:

  • Administration proposal to use a “public charge” rule that would deny poor immigrants green cards if they were deemed likely to use government benefit programs like food stamps and subsidized housing. (Currently blocked by federal judge)
  • Administration proposal to deny visas to immigrants who cannot prove they will have health insurance or the ability to pay for medical costs once they become permanent residents of the United States. (Currently blocked by federal judge)

Weaponizing “running government like a business”: Mr. Cuccinelli, head of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stated that the agency is strapped for resources as it works to tackle a backlog of more than one million cases in immigration court, and he “is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis.”

But real “businesses” aren’t supposed to transfer millions of dollars to another “company” and then plead poverty. The administration transferred $207 million from USCIS to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency in charge of deportations and detention of migrants, to conduct DNA tests on migrants to expose what the administration calls “fraudulent families”.

“Real businesses” don’t turn potential employees or customers into prisoners, although predatory businesses are happy to profit off them. In addition to its new fixation on DNA, ICE will use the funding from USCIS to continue its abuse of authority and to terrorize immigrant communities.

“Real businesses” wouldn’t have given away money to those who don’t need it to help drive a $1 trillion deficit.

Government functions and business are not the same:not everything that is profitable is of social value (think reality TV, and gambling) and not everything of social value is profitable (think fire departments and parks). The proper role of government is the latter. Those arguing for a business model for government must necessarily be ready to shut down all government functions that do not earn a profit, regardless of their contribution to our well being.” (forbes)

Immigrants are good for our country. Making it easy and affordable for immigrants to naturalize and take their full place in American society is a good thing, even if that means subsidizing fees. Not only do they pay taxes and commit less crimes than native-born, they contribute to our economy and our Social Security Trust fund. (ACLU)(PSmag)(NewYorker) 20 countries have been identified as facing population collapse, which ultimately will be devastating to their economies.

Putting up barriers to naturalization is an economically short-sighted decision for the whole nation, as recognized by past administrations of both parties. All research points to naturalization leading immigrants to further integrate into American society, earn higher incomes, and pay more in taxes. These are people who have waited years or sometimes decades to become U.S. citizens.” said Xiao Wan,g co-founderof Boundless Immigration.

Reading

  • Is There Really A ‘Line’ For Immigration? (npr)
  • True American patriotism prohibits the persecution of immigrants (WBUR)
  • Economic Impact of DACA (small business.house.gov)

 

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