July 2015 immigration news at a glance
Written by Kara DeDonato
This month’s immigration news digest looks at different states’ fight to offer financial aid and tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants — or their refusal to do so. July also saw the continued backlash against Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant remarks, as well as ongoing news on the family detention centers at the nation’s southern border. Lastly, we’ll take a look at what’s going on locally in New York City.
Tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants
In July, many states refused to offer tuition breaks to undocumented immigrants. States like Missouri and Arizona have pushed back against a growing number of states that have chosen to make college more affordable by giving undocumented immigrants access to in-state tuition rates and other financial aid.
In response, many Dreamers, i.e. undocumented immigrants protected by DACA, have gone to such “battleground states” to fight for greater access to financial aid. They are using their own stories to help sway public opinion.
Further backlash against Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant remarks
The nation also continued to respond to the offensive remarks made by presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump, who is running for the Republican ticket, has been widely criticized by both the GOP and Democrats alike. Writing for the New York Daily News, New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan criticized Trump’s revival of anti-immigrant rhetoric. He instead encouraged Americans to embrace immigrants as an act of both good spirit and patriotism, saying “all of us here are descendants of newcomers.”
Progress on family immigrant detention
The detention of immigrant families along the border in Texas received a lot of attention in June. The new policies announced last month were enacted in July. Immigrant families, many of whom are applying for asylum in the US, were released from detention centers without bonds or ankle monitors. Immigrant advocates hope that this will lead to the end of family detention practices entirely.
The Immigration Policy Center issued a report to that effect, advocating for a more humane approach. The report cites quantitative studies indicating that the vast majority of asylum seekers comply with proceedings such as court hearings and interviews. Furthermore, compliance is more likely when the individuals believe they are being treated fairly. Studies on alternatives to detention also show high rates of compliance. The report also catalogs the adverse effects of detention, including psychological harm, lack of access to legal assistance, and removal of applications for asylum despite legitimate threats to personal safety.
Zooming in on New York immigration news
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a growing issue in the US, and in New York in particular, due to its large African immigrant population — more than 500,000 young girls are at risk. The practice is still common in many countries in Africa and many families who have immigrated to the United States still take their daughters back to Africa during school vacations to have the procedure performed. FGM is illegal in the United States and recent legislation has made it illegal to have the procedure done outside of the US, as well.
In mid-July, Governor Andrew Cuomo opened a task force that will investigate worker abuse in several industries, including restaurants and child care services. This decision comes on the heels of an exposé on the treatment of nail salon workers. The task force will focus on undocumented workers in particular. Governor Cuomo stressed that undocumented workers are no different from other workers in the eyes of the state.
New York City also received recognition for its work with unaccompanied minors. The city has been very successful in supplying free legal representation to unaccompanied immigrants, so that none have to face court proceedings alone.
The city’s municipal ID program has also proved a success. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month that over 400,000 New Yorkers — about 5 percent of the city’s eligible population — have registered for the ID cards in the opening six months of the program.
Last month, immigrants from Peru, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic celebrated their heritage with national parades. Voices of NY reported that the three celebrations honored each nation’s unique traditions and cultures, and kept attendees busy with dancing, good food, and community.