Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey holds a copy of his “Under the Radar” report on Trump immigration policies at a press conference at the Chelsea Collaborative Center. Photo by Jordan Frias
US Senator Ed Markey is trying to get his colleagues to push back on the Trump administration’s immigration policies with a new report authored by his office.
Markey unveiled his “Under the Radar” report, a 30-page document detailing the president’s actions and proposed changes to immigration policies over a two-year period, in Chelsea on May 30 alongside a mother seeking asylum in the United States and, the spouse of an immigrant who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Markey said his report shines a light on “a systematic effort to upend the lives of every single immigrant in our country” by the Trump administration on several fronts.
“Taken together [the report] makes clear that the Trump administration is the most anti-immigrant administration in the history of the United States,” Markey said.
The report looks at the amount of refugees resettled in the United States since Trump took office, which is at a record low compared to previous administrations. The report also explores how the administration makes it it harder for unaccompanied minors to get asylum at the border, and notes that new guidelines adopted by the Department of Justice under Trump’s direction have led to the denial of asylum claims in immigration courts.
Angelica Gonzalez, a Guatemalan national, described her efforts to file an asylum claim as a victim of domestic violence.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on June 11, 2018 that being a victim of domestic violence would no longer be part of the criteria for evaluating asylum claims.
Gonzalez said she was kidnapped at age 16 and didn’t want the same fate for her 7-year-old daughter, who she says was separated from her at the border.
“I am seeking asylum due to extreme circumstances of domestic violence in my country,” Gonzalez said through a translator. “I’ve been suffering a lot of violence and discrimination in my country … that’s why I’m seeking asylum in this country, to be able to give my daughter a better life.”
Katie Hernandez, a mother of two, said that her husband Carlos of El Salvador was apprehended by ICE despite having no criminal record. Hernandez said his arrest occurred shortly after an immigration official said they passed their marriage interview.
“It was shocking in retrospect how long it took me to realize these were ICE officers,” Hernandez said through tears. Hernandez also noted that her lawyer told her, “There is no risk of detention at this, you just go and tell you love story and everything is going to be fine … no one has ever been detained under your circumstances before in this country.”
Though they were able to post bond two weeks later, Hernandez described the process for her husband to obtain legal status as uncertain.
Eva Millona, executive director of MIRA, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Action Coalition, said Markey’s report shows how “safeguards to ensure due process” have been undermined by Trump administration policies, even for those seeking to gain legal status like Carlos.
“They are no longer told if there’s a problem with their papers until they are denied, and if they are denied they go straight to removal proceedings,” Millona said about those trying to obtain Green Cards.
She said the report should encourage lawmakers at the state level to protect immigrants locally.
“It’s also important for the Massachusetts lawmakers to pay attention to this report because there are a lot of things that can happen at the state level that would make life easier for everyone residing in the commonwealth,” Millona said.
Markey said that the report should raise the profile on harmful policies beyond those that have gotten much media attention, such as the travel ban, family separation and Trump’s desire to build a wall along the southern border.
He said there will be “a monumental battle” over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status in Congress.
“On these other issues we need to raise the profile of them, what is happening in our country, so that they get injected into the 2020 presidential race, so that the American people understand again what is being done to all of these people in their name,” Markey said.
Read “Under the Radar: The Trump Administration’s Stealth Attack on the U.S. Immigration System” report here: https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/UNDER%20THE%20RADAR.pdf