On January 31, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order, banning individuals from mainly seven Muslim countries from entry into the United States. Individuals, organizations and State attorneys responded by suing the administration in Federal District Courts. The issue went all the way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which eventually upheld the lower court ruling, temporarily staying the ban from being implemented.
Although Trump’s Executive ban has been stayed, immigration authorities have carried out a series of raids across the country rounding up immigrants for deportation. In response to this uptick in immigration raids, many states are either implementing legislations barring local police from assisting or enforcing federal immigration laws to creating “safe zones” for immigrants. For example, states are attempting to creatively come up with laws that might shield immigrants from deportation through legislation and proclamations. California has considered prohibiting immigration enforcement on public schools, hospital and courthouse grounds under a new bill by state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) called “safe zones.” According to The Los Angeles Times (Patrick McGreevy Dec 7, 2016) this law among other things would “require California schools, hospitals and courthouses to adopt policies that limit immigration enforcement on their premises to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law.” New York has also moved to protect its data base from the Trump administration in accessing the potential names of undocumented immigrants. According to Spencer Woodman (The Verge, February 2, 2016), “New York City mayor, Bill De Blasio proposed a plan to keep data out of Trump’s hand by deleting information contained in a database of municipal ID cards that had been marketed to undocumented immigrants in the city.” And these are just some of the methods states are using to thwart Trump’s ban.
Trump has made immigration enforcement a corner-stone of his campaign and the recent immigration raids show he is living up to the promise he made to his base to enforce the country’s immigration laws. The immigration raids by ICE from a design perspective is systemically immoral and undemocratic. Yes, the immigration laws need to be reformed. But going into brown communities and rounding up law-abiding legal or undocumented immigrants reinforces the perception of selective justice. If the raids are based on a need, then one would imagine ICE also conducting raids in affluent areas, such as, Park Avenue-NYC, SoHo, Bal Harbor-Ft Lauderdale or Palm Beach Florida.
For non-starters, the president’s plan for building a wall on the Mexican-US border is misguided thinking at best and vacuous analysis at worst. Most undocumented immigrants don’t cross the US-Mexico border, but are individuals that came here legally and over-stayed their visas. The perception of Mexicans representing the face of “all illegals or undocumented immigrants,” is an example of malignant racism and syllogism. If the point of having a wall at the border is to deter drug smuggling, then by all means create a barrier, but if it is a matter of policy in stopping the influx of immigrants, then it is as fool-hearted policy as believing in Christmas in July.
I expect to see many more state challenges to federal immigration laws in the form of precedent state court rulings, passage of immigrant-friendly local council legislations and states challenging the federal government in court on whether the federal government has the right to interfere in state affairs.
Our immigration laws are antiquated and broken and with a divided congress, it seems the tasks of temporarily fixing the immigration quagmire lies with the progressive states for now.