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Thursday, February 16, 2017
Immigrant Group DISCOURAGES ILLEGALS From Going Straight
Immigrant group discourages illegals from signing up for Obama’s deportation amnesty. Warn against providing data as Trump breaks ‘promise’
A prominent immigrant rights advocacy group said Wednesday that it is telling folks not to sign up anymore for President Obama’s 2012 deportation amnesty, saying the risks of turning over information to the Trump administration are simply too great, particularly after recent raids.
The issues became even more pointed over the past week after a Seattle man who had been approved twice under the 2012 amnesty was arrested by immigration agents, sparking a furious response from activists who said agents were breaking a promise from Mr. Obama.
“We are telling people not to apply,” said Greisa Martinez, advocacy director of United We Dream, the leading proponent of the 2012 amnesty and the “Dreamers,” or young-adult illegal immigrants, who qualify for it.
The National Immigration Law Center said it is urging illegal immigrants to think twice before showing up for regular check-ins with Homeland Security. A mother in Phoenix was deported when she showed up for her six-month appointment last week.
One illegal immigrant mother in Denver was heeding that advice. Instead of showing up for her check-in appointment Wednesday, she took sanctuary in a church. Her stay of deportation expired last week, and she feared she was to be transported out of the country.
“If this system thinks that it can break me, that it can make me kneel, the system’s wrong,” said Jeanette Vizguerra-Ramirez, speaking through a translator.
Mr. Trump left immigration activists fuming last month when he issued two executive orders reversing Mr. Obama’s enforcement framework and freeing Border Patrol and interior agents to more zealously enforce the laws on the books.
The advocates’ anger turned to outrage this month as an initial series of raids rounded up 680 illegal immigrants. Even though that number was smaller than from similar raids under Mr. Obama, and even though the vast majority of those picked up had criminal records, activists said they sent a frightening signal to immigrant communities.
They were particularly upset at the arrest Friday of Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old who had been approved twice for Mr. Obama’s 2012 amnesty program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
To qualify, an immigrant needs to have come to the U.S. before age 16, to have kept a relatively clean record and to have attempted to finish high school or earn an equivalent degree. The more than 750,000 who have been approved over the past five years dubbed themselves “Dreamers.”
Immigrant rights groups said the Dreamers act amounts to an unbreakable vow that the government won’t deport those who have been approved. They said that should have prevented the arrest of Mr. Ramirez.
“That is a solemn promise,” Mark D. Rosenbaum, one of his attorneys, said on CNN.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents came looking for Mr. Ramirez’s father, who had been deported but sneaked back into the country.
Homeland Security said Mr. Ramirez has admitted to being a gang member. That would make him ineligible for the DACA program and a priority for deportation under the Obama administration standards and the Trump standards.
Indeed, some 1,500 immigrants who had been granted DACA status were later removed from the program because of criminal records or gang ties, Homeland Security said Wednesday.
Mr. Ramirez’s defenders deny that he is a gang member and are challenging his arrest in court.
Mr. Rosenbaum said he has begged government attorneys for their proof and said they told him there wasn’t any. Marielena Hincapie, executive director at the National Immigration Law Center, called the gang accusation “completely BS.”
“We categorically deny there’s anything. He has gone through the criminal background checks, he has been approved for DACA twice. He should not have ever been detained,” she said.
The case is the first test of the limits of Mr. Obama’s amnesty, and a number of high-powered lawyers have joined Mr. Ramirez’s defense. They include Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Tribe and University of California Irvine School of Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky.
The government is due to submit a brief Thursday explaining the arrest.
Rosemary Jenks, government relations manager for NumbersUSA, which supports stricter enforcement, said it should be an easy ruling against Mr. Ramirez.
“This is turning on its head 200 years of established law, starting with the 9th Circuit. If this case is not immediately dismissed, with a judge laughing, then this is a big problem, and it’s a huge opening for the left,” she said.
She said courts have made a mess of immigration laws, including a decision this month by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halting Mr. Trump’s extreme vetting executive order. That ruling said immigrants, including those in the country illegally, have rights to travel and to have relatives travel to see them.
For now, the set of cases serves as a warning to other immigrants, advocates said.
In the case of DACA, those who have been approved should apply for renewal, Ms. Martinez said, since the government already has their forms.
But those who are thinking about applying for the first time should withhold because the risk of giving their information to Homeland Security is too great, she said.
Ms. Hincapie said all immigrants should keep their proof of legal status on them at all times. She herself is a naturalized citizen and carries the documentation with her.
She also warned those who are detained not to sign anything because agents are using “horrific” pressure to try to force migrants to sign away some of their rights.
Ms. Hincapie said illegal immigrants need to be aware of the risks of checking in with ICE agents.
“If you show up you might be detained, but if you don’t show up you might be a fugitive,” she said.
That was the choice facing Ms. Vizguerra-Ramirez, the Mexican mother who skipped her appointment Wednesday to take sanctuary in a Denver church.
ICE said she has two misdemeanor convictions and has twice sneaked into the country illegally, including most recently in 2013.
She was ordered deported in 2011, but the Obama administration had granted her six stays of removal. ICE now considers her a priority for deportation based on her criminal record and her deportation order, a spokesman said.
As long as she stays in the church, however, she is likely to be safe. ICE has a policy of avoiding arrests at “sensitive locations” such as churches, schools and hospitals.