HIAS PA Issues Digest #10: Sukkot Edition

Tenth Edition                                                                                      October 5, 2017

HIAS Pennsylvania Immigration Issues Digest 

A Sukkot Message from the Executive Director:
Sukkot is a joyful holiday. But it is a holiday that commemorates insecurity: the insecurity of the Jewish people as they wandered for 40 years in the desert before reaching the Promised Land, the insecurity of modern peoples who are expelled from their homeland for any number of reasons – racial/ethnic/religious persecution, political difference, hatred of one sort or another. Given this, how is this commemoration joyful? Read more here.

Philadelphia immigrants hit hard during ICE raids


President Trump sets Refugee Ceiling at
45,000 refugees

Despite bi-partisan anger that President Trump did not consult congress, President Trump announced September 29 that the refugee ceiling would be set at 45,000 refugees. This is the lowest number set for the refugee ceiling since the current refugee program started in 1980 with the Refugee Act. As noted earlier, the low number actively ignores the positive economic impact refugees have on the U.S. economy, not to mention the negative message the U.S. is sending our allies such as Jordan and Turkey who welcome a large percentage of the world’s refugees.

What does this mean for refugees and HIAS PA?

At a time when there are 22.5 million refugees in the world, the U.S. government has chosen to leave many more in limbo, with no permanent home. Refugees like Ahmed—a child with leukemia who couldn’t get medical treatment he needed in war-torn Syria or in limbo in Turkey. It was only here in the U.S. that he could get the medical treatment he needed to survive.

HIAS Pennsylvania will likely receive somewhat fewer refugees than the 215 we expected this coming year, but we will continue to help the refugees like Ahmed get the support they need.

What can you do?

Support the refugees who are allowed to come to the U.S. Volunteer to tutor refugees in after-school or accompany refugees to doctor’s appointments. Donate household goods for refugee’s new homes. Donate money to ensure the refugees here get the help need.

President Trump Unveils Travel Ban 3.0

Before lowering the refugee ceiling, President Trump issued the newest version of the travel ban on September 24 to go into effect October 18. The newest version bans permanent immigration and business and tourist visas for Chad, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. All visas except for student and exchange visas are discontinued for Iran, and all visas are discontinued for North Korea and Syria. Tourist and business visas for certain Venezuelan government employees and their families were also banned. According to the administration, the bans have been issued because the countries “remain deficient at this time with respect to their identity-management and information-sharing capabilities, protocols, and practices.”

Compared to earlier bans, Sudan has been removed, while Chad, North Korea and Venezuela were added. More worrisome, this ban is indefinite. Although two non-Muslim majority countries were added (North Korea and Venezuela), the effects on non-Muslim countries are negligible, because there is very little travel from North Korea and the Venezuelan ban is targeted towards government officials. The ACLU and others are bringing law suits against the administration arguing that it is still a Muslim ban.

What does this mean? 

This ban means that people trying to come to the U.S. from Chad, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and Yemen to reunite with their families or work will no longer be able to do so—indefinitely. The ban also means that people who use travel or business visas in order to escape the tyrannies of the Syrian, Somalian, Iranian, or Libyan government will no longer be able to get to the U.S. to claim asylum because their governments won’t cooperate with our current government’s vetting standards. As noted in arguments against the earlier travel bans, there is little evidence that the ban will keep Americans safe, and will likely complicate relationships with the banned countries.

What can you do?

Like the original Travel Ban, this ban is unacceptable. Help bring this problem to the public eye. Write an op-ed piece about why the ban, as well as the refugee ceiling goes against not only American ideals, but American self-interest. Continue to write and call Congress as well as the White House. Send us copies of what you send so that we can post your letters of outrage on our facebook page and share them.

Republicans Unveil Alternative to the DREAM Act

On September 25, Republicans unveiled the SUCCEED Act, a more conservative alternative to the DREAM act. The bill would give conditional permanent resident status to Dreamers for a period of five years, which could then be renewed for another five. Only after ten years would a dreamer be eligible for a green card. The bill would also bar Dreamers from petitioning for family members until they become citizens. While 2.6 million people could eventually be eligible under the SUCCEED Act, 3.3 million individuals would be eligible under the DREAM Act. It would also only take individuals two to three years to gain green cards, rather than ten. Most distressingly, the bill requires that Dreamers relinquish almost all forms of immigration benefits and relief if during the time they have conditional status they fail to meet the bill’s requirements. They will also be subject to removal without a hearing if DHS finds they committed a crime prohibited by their residency.

What does this mean for DACA recipients?

The SUCCEED Act would provide DACA recipients with a path towards citizenship, but with harsh restrictions not imposed on other immigrants, such as giving up their right to a hearing and limiting the ability to sponsor relatives. Republican legislators argue that it is more likely to pass Republican controlled Congress than the DREAM Act. Democrats, on the other hand, are trying to move the DREAM Act to a vote through a rarely used procedural move.
HIAS Pennsylvania has been helping dozens of Dreamers reapply for DACA, and something must get passed by March 5, or hundreds of thousands of individuals will lose their status.

What can you do?

Call your Congressperson or Senator to vote for the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act treats Dreamers like all immigrants, rather than enforcing unfair limits like waiving the right to a hearing. We will let you know when either bill comes to a vote.


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