The title is a quote from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer to a woman seeking asylum.
“Like it or not, these aren’t our kids.” — Brian Kilmeade, co-host of “Fox and Friends” on June 22, expressing support for dividing immigrant families at the border and placing the children in cages.
“These aren’t people. These are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.” The unpresident, May 16, 2018.
If you ever doubted that the unpresident and his administration held racist feelings toward immigrants and refugees, the immigration policies they introduced this year regarding these populations should forever put those doubts to rest.
While many of us were paying attention to the funerals for Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and U.S.Senator John McCain two weeks ago, the unpresident was busy preparing his next policy onslaught on immigrants.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, who also assisted the unpresident with creating the “zero tolerance” undocumented immigrants policy, allowing ICE officers to separate parents and their children at the Texas-Mexico border and place the children in cages, came up with the new policy. It would deny citizenship to legal immigrants who ever used any public assistance programs, like food stamps, health insurance for low-income children (CHIP), or the Affordable Care Act. The new policy would be signed as an Executive Order, going into effect without approval from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Immigrants who have “green cards” are considered legal permanent residents of the U.S., and are permitted to work. They can use public assistance programs, but the immigration system frowns upon such use. That’s because it supposedly places an undue burden on U.S.-born (read “white”) taxpayers, whose taxed earnings fund the programs. Immigrants have to prove they can be model citizens without having to ever ask for help — even though they also pay taxes, and should be able to avail themselves of public assistance if and when they have to. Many work jobs where they earn less than the minimum wage, supporting families on next to nothing.
One example is Louis Charles, a Haitian permanent resident who has been cited in news accounts about the impact of this new policy. He works 80 hours a week in a psychiatric hospital near Boston as a nursing assistant, but doesn’t make enough to support his disabled adult daughter, who can’t do anything for herself. He relies on public assistance for his daughter’s care. A year ago, he was denied U.S. citizenship. He is appealing the decision. In addition, Charles’ wife was one of hundreds of Haitians who came to the U.S. following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Haitians, including Charles’ wife, were granted temporary protected status, which the unpresident says he will discontinue. If Charles can’t obtain U.S. citizenship, his wife will also be deported.
Immigrant and refugee advocates say the new policy could affect 20 million immigrants. Among them are immigrants of color. A large number of immigrants and refugees are seeking asylum from domestic violence or gang violence in their Central and South American countries of origin. They could be beaten or murdered upon returning “home.”
Along with Central and South American immigrants, the number of Black immigrants, both naturalized citizens and undocumented, is growing. One in 10 Black people in the U.S. are foreign-born, according to a Pew Research Center study. Most came from Jamaica, Haiti and Nigeria. The population of African immigrants in the U.S. increased to 1.6 million between 2000 and 2016. In 2015, there were 619,000 undocumented Black immigrants living in the U.S. How long will it take for the unpresident to target Black immigrants and refugees for deportation?
Not long, apparently. There’s already one such case pending in Detroit, Michigan, that of a deaf and intellectually disabled Nigerian man, Francis Anwana, who came to the U.S. at 14. He is now 48. He entered the country on a student visa. His mother realized that his severe disabilities would keep him from getting the care he would need in Nigeria, and as he had about ten siblings, she was unable to afford his care.
For a few years, Anwana lived in Flint, where he attended the Michigan School for the Deaf. He can’t speak, but he communicates through sign language, which he learned at the school. From there, he moved to Detroit. where he lives in an adults’ foster care facility, cleaning and maintaining the property.
Anwana had applied for asylum, with an attorney’s help, based on the inability to access the medications and care he needs in Nigeria, if he was deported. His mother is too old to care for him. To the shock of his supporters, ICE ordered his deportation to Nigeria anyway, a country he hadn’t lived in since he was a teenager. ICE had scheduled his deportation for September 11, but has postponed it. Anwana is set to meet with ICE on September 21, even though he does not understand what deportation means.
And there’s still the matter of reuniting the Central and South American refugee children with their parents. There are 416 children left in the U.S., down from more than 2,000 who were finally reunited with parents. The administration and the ACLU can’t locate all of the parents. Many were deported. There were parents that ICE tricked into signing a document agreeing to be deported with their children, but the parents were deported without them. In the future, as more undocumented parents and children are arrested at the border, the unpresident wants to ignore immigration rules, which limit the amount of time undocumented parents and children can be detained to 20 days, and be able to hold them indefinitely.
Immigrants and refugees in these desperate situations need legal help, and the lawyers need financial contributions in order to provide it. Among them:
The Texas Civil Rights Project
RAICES Bond Fund (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project