Washington Post: Like Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan tried to keep out asylum seekers. Activists thwarted him.


The Trump administration is working to make it impossible for people fleeing violence in Central America to gain asylum in the United States. If it succeeds, the family separations and family detentions we have already seen are only the beginning of the suffering, and even death, that will result from these brutal changes to U.S. immigration policy.

That the United States should be a haven for the persecuted is an old idea, one that has been made concrete through international agreements and domestic laws governing refugees since the end of World War II. Yet the country has not always lived up to these ideals, and ensuring that immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are treated fairly and humanely has often been left to activists and other people of conscience. Indeed, when President Ronald Reagan attempted to deny asylum seekers in the 1980s, a movement formed to stop him, creating a model for activists today.

Read more at the Washington Post.

Washington Post: Angry that ICE is ripping families apart? Don’t just blame Trump. Blame Clinton, Bush and Obama, too.


Last week, about 200 federal agents swarmed a gardening business in Ohio. They arrested 114 workers suspected of being undocumented, carting them off to immigration jails in the surrounding area. Their children, who had been dropped off at day care and school that morning, were left without parents to pick them up. In just a few hours, hundreds of lives were disrupted and families ripped apart.

Arrests, detentions and deportations are happening routinely as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for immigration enforcement in the interior of the country, targets and seizes workers, parents, children and neighbors in U.S. communities. But these kinds of brutal actions — which appear to have intensified under President Trump — are not simply a result of his election. Rather, they are the product of our country’s narrowing view, formed under both Democratic and Republican administrations, of immigration as primarily a national security issue.

Read more at the Washington Post.

Washington Post: Why Donald Trump could win the immigration fight, with Dr. Marisa Gerstein Pineau

Family reunification has long been the heart of U.S. immigration policy, and a source of strength and resilience in our communities. Now the system is under threat. The White House insists that several categories of family immigration be eliminated as part of any deal to protect “dreamers,” which would reduce legal immigration severely — even as polling shows that near-record majorities say immigration is a good thing and would like to see the level of immigration increase or remain the same. This demand has dimmed the possibility of any sort of bipartisan immigration deal.

How is the president building support for a proposal that would harm U.S. citizens, keep families apart and radically remake the immigration system?

He is framing the debate.

Read more at Washington Post.

The Hill: Trump doesn’t recognize foreign-born black and brown people as American

The Diversity Visa lottery has been an incredibly successful policy, beyond the expectations or even the intentions of its creators. Since 1995 it has diversified the source countries of immigrants to the United States. In particular it has brought in more immigrants from African countries that historically were restricted from sending many immigrants to the U.S.

It is a small program — it issues about 50,000 immigrant visas annually in a system that each year admits about one million lawful permanent residents — that packs a big punch.

Washington Post: For 50 years, keeping families together has been central to U.S. immigration policy. Now Trump wants to tear them apart.

Family, not fear, should be at the heart of our immigration policy.

Last week, President Trump launched his most recent assault on immigrant communities. The new target: families. He renewed his call to end two of the pillars of legal immigration: a program that allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to bring their immediate families and close relatives to join them, and the diversity visa lottery.

Not only is Trump wildly mischaracterizing how these programs work, but he is also using this distortion to advance dangerous, racist ideas about immigration.

Over the past 50 years, our immigration admissions system has served key values to which our country aspires. Central to this policy has been embracing family, welcoming diversity and recognizing the humanity of all people no matter where they were born.

It was not always this way. In 1965, American reformers and policymakers took dramatic steps to integrate these values into immigration policy, ultimately making family, not nativism, the bedrock of U.S. immigration.

Read more at Washington Post.

Read at Toronto Star.

The Hill: Diversity visa lottery doesn’t make us less safe, but ending it might (with Dr. Charles Piot)

By Dr. Carly Goodman and Dr. Charles Piot, professor of African & African American Studies and Cultural Anthropology at Duke University.

In an autumn marked by several tragic incidents of mass violence, only the attack in New York City spurred President Trump to take to Twitter and call on Congress to take action. That’s because the alleged perpetrator of that attack, a native of Uzbekistan, had entered the United States as an immigrant through the diversity visa lottery.

Although there is ample evidence that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens, the president seized upon the attack as an opportunity to crack down on immigration and to reinforce a link between immigrants and crime that is not substantiated by the evidence. He called on Congress to end the diversity visa immigration program.

But ending the visa lottery program would do nothing to make Americans safer, and it could damage America’s standing in the world.

Read more at The Hill.

Washington Post: This program has saved thousands of lives. Now Trump is threatening to end it.

How activists enacted the law — and how they can save it

In recent days, President Trump has heightened his anti-immigration rhetoric, now signaling that he will not renew the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that shields more than 300,000 immigrants from deportation. Since 1990, TPS has provided a haven for people already residing in the United States who are fleeing or reluctant to return to 10 specific countries affected by dangerous situations, including ongoing armed conflict and environmental disaster. While TPS does not offer a path to citizenship, it does allow people to live and work in the United States until it is safe to return home.

Terminating TPS would have dire humanitarian consequences for people who have lived in the United States for years and cannot safely return to their countries of origin. Indeed, it was alarm at the humanitarian failures of existing immigration and asylum policies that spurred activists to push policymakers to create TPS. Their efforts throughout the 1980s show that sustained legislative pressure by grass-roots activists matters — an important lesson for immigrants and advocates as they challenge the rhetoric and policies coming out of the White House today.

Read more at Washington Post.

Washington Post: The visa lottery wins America goodwill. Ending it is a mistake.


Yes, security is a priority. Diplomatic outreach should be one, too.

After reports that the accused perpetrator of Tuesday’s violent vehicle attack in New York City entered the United States via a visa “lottery,” the Diversity Immigrant Visa program drew sudden and unexpected scrutiny, with President Trump stating Wednesday morning that “I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity visa lottery program,” adding, “It sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good.”

Of course, security must be a priority, but the president’s view of this program is shortsighted.

Each autumn, cafes and campuses across Africa are transformed when the time comes to enroll in the Diversity Immigrant Visa program — the diversity visa lottery. In cities and towns across the continent, there are signs, banners, and people with laptops and cameras advertising offers to help register, for a small fee, aspiring lottery entrants. Of the millions who enroll in the lottery worldwide, only about 50,000 are admitted each year to the United States. The lottery, while a minor component of the U.S. immigration system, has taken on major significance in many African countries, where winning a diversity visa is one of the only ways to emigrate to the United States. And ending it would only play into the hands of anti-immigrant hard-liners with a narrow view of who belongs in the United States, cutting off an important avenue of African immigration and a vital source of goodwill toward the United States.

Read more at Washington Post.

Read in Spanish at El Diario.

Washington Post: Commercialization brought the Internet to the masses. It also gave us spam.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Speaks At American Enterprise InstituteHow the net neutrality debate exposes the consequences of a profit-driven Internet.

Internet users and activists are launching the final phase of a summer campaign to protect “net neutrality” in the Trump era. Under the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to classify Internet service providers (ISPs) as “common carriers” that, like telephone lines, are required to distribute service equally. If the FCC reverses this classification, as it intends to, the big telecom and cable companies that connect you to the Internet could block, slow or prioritize access to Web content based on who is willing to pay. They could even censor political content. This favors powerful companies with deep pockets, and threatens to squash both innovation and the democratic spirit of the Internet.

The net neutrality issue has reignited a debate that is as old as the Internet. Once limited to tech-savvy users with access to networked computers at academic institutions, laboratories and government agencies, the Internet has become a fundamental part of nearly everybody’s life.

Billions of new users have come online over the past two decades. But the commercial interests that have enabled their entry have also threatened the core values of openness, freedom of expression and access that were so critical to the Internet’s early pioneers. During the 1990s, public policies dramatically transformed the Internet by encouraging its privatization. As is true today, these changes sparked activism as individuals grappled with the tension between the technology’s commercial potential and its democratic ideals.

Read more at Washington Post.

Read more at Common Dreams.

Washington Post: In the 1980s, diversity meant more white immigrants

1980s dvHow undocumented Irish immigrants transformed the U.S. visa system.

Each October, millions of people around the world submit applications for a lottery with a unique prize: a U.S. green card. For people in countries that have sent few immigrants to the United States, the annual Diversity Visa lottery is one of the only ways to legally immigrate to the United States, turning it into a symbol of the American Dream for many aspiring immigrants.

Now, however, some visa lottery winners may find themselves shut out. The Supreme Court’s decision to let the Trump administration enact certain provisions of its Muslim ban, as well as new guidance from the Department of State on how to do so, may slam the door shut on visa lottery winners from the six majority-Muslim countries affected by the ban.

The lottery program is small — it issues just 50,000 visas a  year — but it looms large abroad, where it has become a symbol of U.S. openness. By implementing the ban against visa lottery winners, the Trump administration not only thwarts their individual hopes and dreams, but also sends a message that the United States no longer stands as a beacon of hope.

Read more at Washington Post.