Trump’s SOTU Criminalizes Immigrants, Offers Unacceptable “Compromise”

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Trump’s SOTU Criminalizes Immigrants, Offers Unacceptable “Compromise”

Volunteers phone bank Schumer for a clean DREAM Act.

WASHINGTON - In the hours before President Trump’s first State of the Union address, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) hosted a phone bank to push New York voters to pressure Senator Charles Schumer to include a clean DREAM Act in the federal budget. During his address, Trump proposed a “bipartisan” bill which would pit one group of immigrants against another, calling it a “fair compromise” that puts “America First.”

Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, issued the following statement:

“Tonight Trump attempted to veil his rapacious, white supremacist efforts to end immigration of people of color and criminalized immigrants for their very existence with a package of false reforms. There is no fair compromise that pits one group of immigrants against another. We will continue to fight for a clean DREAM Act and for justice for all New Yorkers, no matter who they are or where they come from. In our New York, America First includes our immigrant friends and family.”

The four points of his plan include:

  1. Creating a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants (DREAMers) who were brought here by their parents at a young age. Those who meet certain requirements will be able to become full citizens over twelve years.

  2. Funding to fully secure the border including building a “great wall on the southern border” and hiring more ICE agents to keep our communities safe.

  3. Closing loopholes “exploited by terrorists” to enter our country and ending catch and release.

  4. Eliminating the “visa lottery” and moving toward a merit-based immigration system. Additionally, ending “chain migration” by eliminating sponsorships for spouses and to children.

Background

Since taking office, President Trump and his administration have committed to and continue to enact an anti-immigrant agenda starting with signing the first Muslim ban, repealing DACA, terminating TPS for multiple countries, threatening to eliminate Diversity Visas, and deriding family reunification.

Additionally, his administration has conducted immigration deportation sweeps and used law enforcement to target immigrants. Operation Matador on Long Island was a recent ICE program that profiled innocent immigrant men of color in a wide-ranging dragnet using unknown criteria to define “gang affiliation,” “gang membership,” or “gang associate.” The program came under scrutiny from law enforcement experts and others for being a cover for the administration’s far reaching anti-immigrant agenda.

These tactics also betray the fact that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes relative to the general population. A 2012 study found that in New York City “there is no evidence that crime rates are higher in places with higher immigration rates,” and that “immigration actually appears to be a protective factor that reduces crime”. However immigrant communities are still disproportionately targeted by law enforcement. Black immigrants face more than twice the enforcement levels that native citizens do; Latino and Asian immigrants are policed 30% more.

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The New York Immigration Coalition aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all.  The NYIC promotes immigrants’ full civic participation, fosters their leadership, and provides a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

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