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Faith Talking Points for Immigration DHS 
(Department of Homeland Security) 
Memos, 
Related to IMMIGRATION Interior Enforcement and Borders
 
On February 20th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued two memoranda: Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies and Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, to implement President Trump's Executive Orders on border security and on interior enforcement

The two memos solidify the intention of the Trump administration to deport people at mass levels that will cause tremendous fear and family separation.

These executive orders and their implementing memos violate our core values as Americans, as they mandate the immoral treatment of men, women, families, children, youth, and adults. We do not believe in an America that detains women and children fleeing violence and persecution. We are encouraged by the outpouring of opposition to these orders all over the country. We reject hate and demand real solutions.

As faith communities, we are called to welcome the stranger and love our neighbor. Our role within the community to minister to vulnerable communities will be significantly more difficult as the xenophobic messages that this administration is using to justify these orders send chills into the broader community. We continue to declare that our places of worship are welcome to all people regardless of nationality, language, race or documentation status. (For Sanctuary: We continue to be committed in resisting discrimination and deportations through the work of Sanctuary for all vulnerable populations.)

Many faith communities have been involved in helping stop deportation orders and keep families together through the Prosecutorial Discretion guidelines under the Obama administration that helped many undocumented people get a stay of their removal order. Now the Trump administration is issuing sweeping guidelines to broaden the net for deporting and expediting removals.

Here are some summary talking points, which may be helpful in offering explanations and statements about immigrant and faith community impacts:

Targets ALL of our Undocumented Community Members
Further Militarizes Border Communities
  • The executive orders and memos militarize our immigration enforcement system by mandating the hiring of 5,000 additional CBP agents and 10,000 additional ICE agents.
  • Directs CBP to develop a plan and begin construction of border wall and requires "complete operational control of the border" -- this is an unattainable goal requiring 100 percent control. DHS has estimated that it will cost $21 billion to build an additional 1250 miles of fencing and other physical barriers by 2020, not including maintenance costs.
Penalizes Asylum Seekers and Family Members who Help Children Seek Safety
  • The expansion of mandatory detention will erode the rights and wellbeing of thousands of people, including the disabled, children, elderly, or pregnant women. Already, ICE's current capacity of 34,000 detention beds costs taxpayers more than $2 billion each year.
  • DHS will significantly expand expedited removal, fast tracking deportations for individuals, including asylum seekers, with no due process. This has the potential to broadly sweep up individuals who have been here for years but cannot provide the necessary paperwork at the time of apprehension. The new memo stipulates that expedited removal may be used for anyone who has been in the U.S. for less than two years. Expedited removal allows DHS to deport individuals in as little as 24 hours without the opportunity to appear before an immigration judge or to consult with legal counsel. The implementation of ER to cover the entire country would eviscerate due process for tens of thousands of immigrants in the U.S., including those with family ties and deep roots in our communities.
  • Authorizes DHS to return individuals picked up by border patrol to Mexico to await their asylum hearing. Women, children, and other vulnerable individuals will be at risk of violence in Mexico as well as increased likelihood of deportation without due process by the Mexican authorities.
  • The memo denies many children vital protections currently provided under the Trafficking Victim Protection and Reauthorization Act and calls for restricting the interpretation of "unaccompanied alien child," mostly likely to those children who arrive at the border alone and do not have any parent or guardian in the U.S. This will leave many children without protections such as placement in a care facility suitable to their needs, and access to social services. Children who do not meet the definition will not have the opportunity to appear before an immigration judge before being ordered removed.
  • The memo directs DHS to deport and criminally charge anyone who "directly or indirectly" facilitates the smuggling or trafficking of children into the U.S., including sending money to help children make the journey. The memo states that undocumented family members hire smugglers, and by doing so "conspire to violate our immigration laws." The memo does not take into account the dangerous and violent country conditions that drive children to reunify with their families in the United States.
Forces Local Police to Serve as Immigration Agents
  • This memo expands the 287(g) program, allowing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to enter into such agreements, and contemplates resuming "task force" agreements authorizing local police to arrest potentially removable noncitizens. The use of "task force" agreements had been discontinued due to significant concerns that it encourages the use of racial profiling by local law enforcement.
  • This memo reinstates the Secure Communities (S-Comm) Program, wherein local police are asked to hold immigrants who are suspected to be undocumented. Often times, detainer requests are issued on minor infractions, such as traffic stops, and there have been cases in which victims of crime, even women abused by their husbands who call for police support, end up detained and deported.
  • S-Comm is a mass deportation program that criminalizes all immigrants. S-Comm conscripts local and state law enforcement agencies to act as federal immigration officers through the use of detainer holds issued by ICE, raising serious civil rights and due process concerns and damaging trust between immigrant communities and local police. Notably, S-Comm operates pre-conviction, meaning that low-priority, non-violent offenders and even the wrongfully accused are caught in this program, needlessly separating hundreds of thousands of families.
  • In 2014, S-Comm was terminated after it became mired in controversy and litigation due to constitutional concerns regarding ICE detainers and racial profiling. More than 350 localities have limited their relationship with immigration enforcement, including detainer requests, to better protect their communities and ensure their law enforcement officials comply with the Constitution.
  • ICE will also begin regularly reporting on local law enforcement agencies who release immigrants from custody.
Perpetuates False Narratives About Immigrants
DHS established a new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office - which is clearly geared toward reinforcing a false public narrative that treats immigrants as criminals. Immigrants are members of our communities, part of the fabric of our society, and benefit the U.S. economy.

Please be in touch about further resources that might offer assistance as you respond in your communities--and please provide updates about how you are raising your voices to Sharon at:  sstanley@dhm.disciples.org
Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director of Refugee & Immigration Ministries
Disciples Home Missions, 
Five Thomas Circle, N.W.
(202) 957-7826 (Cell), 
@StanleyRea

Refugee & Immigration Ministries is a ministry of Disciples Home Missions in Partnership with 
the Christian Church Capital Area and the Disciples Center for Public Witness
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