Mon 2/10: Deadline tonight (11:59pm EST) Start by telling Immigration that asking people running for their lives to pay an entrance fee is morally wrong.

The story behind the poem on the Statue of Liberty

The USCIS has started “an unprecedented weaponization of government fees.

Once again, this administration is attempting to use every tool at its disposal to restrict legal immigration and even U.S. citizenship,” said Doug Rand, a founder of Boundless Immigration, a technology company in Seattle that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship. The Trump administration is planning on charging asylum seekers for entry, a dubious distinction shared by only three other countries in the world. Here’s an overview of their fee weaponization for the most common uses:

  • Asylum seekers would be charged $50.
  • DACA renewals would go up 55% from $495 to $765, and would still have no access to fee waivers for financial hardship.
  • Citizenship fees would rise from $640 to $1,170, a $530 or 83% increase, and fee waivers for low income people earning between 150-200% of poverty level would be eliminated.
  • Genealogy fans – Index search and records requests are proposed to go up from $65 each to $240 (175% increase) and $385 (320% increase) respectively.

How to comment. You have until 11:59pm EST tonight

  • Comment here.
  • Read the proposal here. The proposed fee schedule is here.
  • Read other comments here for inspiration ONLY. Direct copying with get your comment removed.

Making the poorest and most vulnerable populations pay a fee that costs more to collect than the fee itself is disrespectful to our own immigration history.

This administration is working assiduously to put up more barriers to immigrants,” said Melissa Rodgers, the director of programs at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco. She described the naturalization fee increases as part of “a pattern of attack” by the Trump administration “to undermine the opportunity for immigrants to become citizens. It’s saying if you aren’t wealthy, you are not welcome here.” This is contrary to our country’s history of people landing on our shores with little more than the clothes they were wearing. According to familytreemagazine.com, there are three persistant myths about European immigrant back stories that we need to understand.

#1 – My ancestors came here legally. – “There was no legal (or illegal) immigration for most of US history. Until the late 1800s, anyone could step off a boat or across the (unsecured) border, no questions asked.” “Illegal” as a concept didn’t happen until 1882, when the first immigration law, which “prohibited from entering the U.S. “any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge” and the specific Chinese Exclusion Act went into effect. In 1924, the racist, xenophonic and anti-Semitic National Origins Act, legislation pushed by the KKK,  cut down on the entry of non-white people, Southern and Eastern Europeans, and Jews.

#2 – My ancestors immediately learned English and assimilated. – No. Rather, they settled together with their countrymen in ethnic neighborhoods where everyone spoke the native language.According to historical US census data, in Wisconsin, “German remained the primary language of commerce, education and religion well into the early 20th century. The study goes on to state that “some second- and even third-generation German immigrants who were born in Wisconsin were still monolingual in German as adults.Benjamin Franklin saw them as a threat to English-speaking society. “Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.” (People with German ancestry, over 49 million, are the largest group in the US, with 17% of the population, followed in number by those with Sub-Saharan ancestry.)

#3 – My ancestors didn’t take handouts. – Yes, they did. “Immigrant aid societies and charitable organizations, including the YMCA, YWCA, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Salvation Army, had representatives on Ellis Island. They helped new arrivals with funds, employment, living arrangements, transportation, education and more.” During the 1850s, New Yorkers saw destitute Irish immigrants “in an almost naked and famishing state, in Broadway, begging the charity of the passers.” Between 1846 and 1855, about 1.5 million men and women fled famine-stricken Ireland, migrating to the United States. This rapid influx of Irish immigrants who walked off the boats with nothing in their pockets, overwhelmed the operation of state-level immigration control, allowing people to enter the United States without proper inspection and bonds. (People with Irish ancestry are currently the third largest group in America.)

The “public charge” issue remained a concept without clear definitions, at least for white people. Said (INS) Counsel Charles Gordon in 1949: “It is wrong to assume that poverty alone will disqualify an immigrant. Such an assumption is refuted by the epic American story which tells of millions of immigrants—largely the poor and oppressed of other lands—who have found vast opportunities in America… What is more important than immediate assets is the desire to become a productive member of the community, coupled with freedom from serious physical and mental deficiencies.” However, now, even demonstrable willingness to work isn’t enough. Starting on Feb. 24, “public charge” can be used against an immigrants admissibility for green cards, visas or admission in the US, restarting a shameful eugenics policy that began with the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, that will harm children and families.

 

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