Talking Points

Do you know what DACA means? Having a hard time explaining what a Sanctuary City is? Here are some talking points around immigration and refugee issues.


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DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

4th Amendment Cities (AKA Santuary Cities)

What is a refugee? What is an Asylum seeker?

How does the US government decide how many refugees to admit?

How are refugees admitted into the country?

Why are refugees and immigrants good for Philadelphia?

Common Myths about Immigration 

Talking points about HIAS Pennsylvania 





DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

What is DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)?

After the failure of immigration reform, President Obama created a policy calling for deferred action for certain undocumented young people who came to the US as children (aka “Dreamers”)

What is deferred action?

At the Department of Homeland Security’s discretion, certain individuals can be granted deferred action which allows them to remain in the U.S. without fear of prosecution for immigration law violations. Eligible individuals who came to the US as a child, are in school, and have not committed any crime, are given deferred action as well as the ability to apply for  employment authorization. However, a DACA recipient, unless eligible for other reasons, is not eligible for lawful permanent residence/citizenship, and DACA status can be revoked at any time.

What can change?

President Trump has come out against DACA, although he has recently softened his stance. Because DACA was created through an Executive Order rather than signed into law, so that is why it can be ended at any time, although courts have ruled against taking it away from those who have it.

What would permanently recinding DACA for those who have it do?

 According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, if DACA recipients were kicked out of the workforce, it could

  • cause employers and business to incur turnover costs of $3.4 billion
  • reduce tax contributions by $24.6 billion
  • wipe away $433.4 billion from the US gross domestic product over a decade.



4th Amendment Cities (AKA Sanctuary Cities)

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."

What is a 4th Amendment City?

4th Amendment Cities uphold the core notion enshrined in our Constitution that the government cannot detain someone without following established rules and procedures.  Towns and cities who have adopted 4th amendment city policies uphold the very best about our country because they will not detain an individual without a warrant from the court signed by a judge.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a federal law enforcement agency that, among other duties, enforces US immigration law. ICE asks local police departments to “cooperate” by detaining individuals without providing a warrant. 4th Amendment City police will detain individuals for whom ICE has a warrant (including those convicted of a violent felony) but will not detain individuals without evidence that detention is warranted and proper.

Why does ICE ask police to hold individuals?

ICE issues detainers in order to gain custody of undocumented individuals to start deportation proceedings. It is using local police to do their work for them.

Does that mean that dangerous individuals will be released to the streets?

No, any law enforcement officer, local or federal, who seeks to detain someone who they believe is dangerous can get a warrant to detain that person.

Why become a 4th Amendment City?

In order to uphold the rule of law. A 4th Amendment City is a city that requires warrants before detaining people and sends the clear message that law enforcement can be trusted.

In communities where unlawful detentions fall most heavily on immigrants, immigrants will quickly learn that they should not cooperate with police or they could be unlawfully detained. Detaining individuals unlawfully erodes trust and cooperation between local police and community members which undermines the mission of creating safe communities. Being a 4th Amendment City makes all residents, immigrant and native born alike, feel safe to report crimes.



What is a refugee? What is an Asylum seeker?

What is an immigrant?

An immigrant is any individual who comes to live permanently in another country. This includes individuals who come to reunite with a family member, individuals fleeing persecution, or an individual coming to work.

What is a refugee?

A refugee is any person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or a natural disaster. As a legal term in the US, refugee refers to one of these persons (described above) who has been given refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) before entering the US.

What is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who has been forced to leave their country who is directly seeking legal status in the US rather than abroad. In order to obtain this status, they must go to a US court and claim asylum. Once they are granted asylum, they have an equivalent legal status to a refugee and are eligible for the same benefits.



How does the US govenment decide how many refugees to admit?

  • Each year in late September, the President issues a determination of the number of Refugee Admissions for the upcoming Fiscal Year (October 1st-September 30th).
  • In that determination, the President determines the overall number of refugees, as well as sets quotas for the number of refugees from various parts of the world.
  • This number is a ceiling, and there have been a number of years when the number of refugees admitted has been significantly lower than this ceiling.
  • In October 2016, President Obama set the ceiling for refugees at110,000. The previous year, the number of refugees was 85,000.
  • The lowest number of refugees admitted since passage of the Refugee Act of 1980 was 27,110 in 2002, while the highest number ever admitted was 207,000 in 1980.
  • The determination of refugee numbers is based on both humanitarian concerns and foreign policy, and certain groups have been excluded, such as Afghanis after 9/11 and Jews after WWII



How are refugees admitted into the country?

The process to come to the United States as a refugee is long and arduous. Every potential refugee is vetted by the US government again and again. Here is the vetting process as it currently functions:

STEP 1: A refugee flees their country of origin due to persecution or fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group or due to a natural disaster. They end up in another country.

STEP 2: In the new country, the refugee identifies him or herself to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) which confirms refugee status and need for resettlement

STEP 3: The refugee is received by a Resettlement Support Center that collects identifying documents and starts the process of Biographic Security Checks.

STEP 4: The National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and State Department Screen the candidate. Refugees are subject to the Highest Level of Security Checks of any category of traveler to the US.

STEP 5: USCIS officers interview the refugee and collect biometric information (including fingerprints).

STEP 6: Biometric Security Checks are run.

STEP 7: The refugee undergoes medical screenings.

STEP 8: The refugee completes cultural orientation and is assessed to determine the best resettlement location.

STEP 9: The family travels to the US and is met by a resettlement agency, such as HIAS Pennsylvania, that helps provide housing, connects the refugee to school. jobs, healthcare, etc.

STEP 10: After a year, refugees can apply for a green card.

See more here.



Why are refugees and immigrants good for Philadelphia?

1. In 2008, the Brookings Institute found that nearly 75 percent of greater Philadelphia’s labor force growth since 2000 is attributable to immigrants.

2. The same study found that immigrants have a higher tendency towards entrepreneurial activities than the U.S. born. 11% of the foreign-born population are self-employed compared to 8% of the U.S. born.

3. The Partnership for A New American Economy estimates that immigrants are nearly 50% more likely to start a business than native-born workers.

4. Immigrants’ total share in the output in terms of wage, salary and business proprietor income was about 14.7% between 2009-2011, which is larger than immigrants’ share of the population (13%) (Economic Policy Institute [EPI]).

5. There is consensus among economists that immigration has a positive effect on labor market outcomes,but can slightly reduce employment in the short run (EPI).



Common Myths About Immigration 

Immigrants need to wait in line to get in legally.

There are only 4 ways to get into the US legally: 1) offered a job by US employer because of a skill; 2) escaping persecution; 3) joining close family in the US; or 4) winning the green-card lottery. There is no line for most individuals.

My ancestors waited in line, why don’t they?

For the first 100 years, the US had an open immigration system that allowed any able-bodied immigrant in. There was no line at that time either. Under current policy, most immigrants arriving between 1790-1924 wouldn’t be allowed in.

Immigrants bring crime.

Both legal and undocumented immigrants have far lower crime rates than native-born Americans do. According to the Cato Institute, immigrants are 1/5 as likely as native-born to be incarcerated for crimes.

Refugees are likely to be terrorists.

Refugees are the most vetted category of any traveler to the US. According to the Cato Institute, of the 3.25 million refugees let in from 1975-2015, 20 have become terrorists. The chance of dying in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.4 billion a year. The chance of dying in a car crash is one in 47,718.



Talking points about HIAS Pennsylania

Driven by the Jewish value of "welcoming the stranger," HIAS Pennsylvania provides legal, resettlement, citizenship, and supportive services to immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers from all backgrounds in order to ensure their fair treatment and full integration into American society.

Immigrants and refugees are more under attack today than any time in our lifetime. As an organizations that has been around since 1882, we have witnessed and fought against periods of nativism in the past. Today we stand ready but need your help:

  • To increase our capacity to meet increased and shifting demand for:
    • representation during removal proceedings
    • Know Your Rights Presentations,
    • screenings to determine potential eligibility for relief
  • To increase our ability to mobilize and respond to proposed legislation that would be harmful to immigrants and refugees

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