Unions, activists demand Trump end immigration policies

Stephon Johnson | 6/14/2018, 4:05 p.m.

A letter sent to President Donald Trump, signed by 113 unions and activist groups, called on him to end his current immigration practices that separate families at the border.

The letter, signed by unions such as SEIU, the American Federation of Teachers and the AFSCME and organizations such as the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and the Hispanic Federation, outlined why the Trump administration’s policies are unethical and spiteful.

“Increased family separation at the border comes at a time when immigration enforcement has already torn apart families across the country, at places of worship, schools and workplaces,” read the letter. “Mothers and fathers who have lived in the U.S. for decades are being forced to decide whether they should leave their American children behind in the care of others for a secure and brighter future, or take them with them to a country now foreign to them.”

“Children and young people are having to grow up fast as their mothers and fathers are forcibly taken away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” the letter continued.

Last week, the Department of Justice and Homeland Security released their “Quarterly Alien Incarceration Report,” which states that one in five of all persons in Bureau of Prisons custody were known or suspected undocumented immigrants and that 93 percent of confirmed undocumented immigrants in DOJ custody were unlawfully in the U.S.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised the Trump administration’s work on the matter while espousing facts that have long been disputed.

“It is outrageous that tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year because of the drugs and violence brought over our borders illegally and that taxpayers have been forced, year after year, to pay millions of dollars to incarcerate tens of thousands of illegal aliens,” said Sessions in a statement. “That is another reason why the Department of Justice under President Trump’s leadership has instituted a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border.”

Sessions also said “we must continue this policy and help fulfill President Trump’s goals of restoring lawfulness to our immigration system and ensure that immigration serves the good of this country.”

This week, Sessions overturned a ruling that allowed domestic violence victims to seek asylum in the U.S., meaning the Trump administration won’t grant asylum to victims of domestic abuse. Immigration judges, unlike judges in the judicial system, report directly to the attorney general, who shapes the views and has the final say. Sessions believes that many asylum seekers make claims that are fraudulent or invalid and wants to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible.

One elected official took to social media to criticize Sessions.

“Jeff Sessions’ move to deny asylum to women fleeing domestic violence does not reflect our country’s true values,” said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Twitter. “These strong, brave women come to America in search of safety and freedom. We should welcome them with compassion—not slam the door in their faces.”

The letter to Trump from unions and activist groups echoed similar sentiments and vowed to fight against the official White House policy of deportation at all costs.

“These tactics are devastating American communities. Most recently, however, this administration’s policies are resulting in another needless, self-made crisis: that of hundreds of parents and children—many of whom are seeking asylum in this country—torn apart thanks to the Justice Department’s and Department of Homeland Security’s recent ‘zero tolerance’ policy, which calls for the prosecution of all who cross our southwest border,” read the statement. “This policy traumatizes families, undermines our country’s once honored commitment to ensuring fairness and protection for those fleeing persecution and only exacerbates the burdens already overwhelming our immigration system.”