So many of you have expressed your inability to put into words exactly
how you feel regarding the current political and immigration climate in
our country since President Trump signed the EOs. As a practitioner directly
involved in defending and advocating for all of those effected, I too
have struggled to put into words how I feel, I too have struggled to explain
to my clients if and how they are effected, and apparently, the leadership
at USCIS also struggles. On February 24, 2017, my colleagues and I met
with USCIS leadership in Newark, NJ to discuss the implementation memos
issued by DHS Secretary John Kelly and to discuss the impact the EOs will
have on the immigrant communities generally.
I quote, verbatim, USCIS District Director John Thompson, "Quite incredible.
A big change. I've been doing immigration since 1975 and I have never
seen anything like this." Director Thompson went on to say that he
was "stunned" at the expansion of the expedited removal program
as it gives immigration officers nearly blanket authority to remove aliens
from the United States and essentially no recourse to those effected.
Also shocking was the reinstatement of secure communities, particularly
because in the past it encouraged racial profiling by local law enforcement
and was essentially the reason it was discontinued by the Obama administration.
Additionally, Director Thompson noted that he read the memos three times
and every single time he found something more shocking than the last.
And infuriating is the fact that USCIS leadership has received virtually
no guidance on how to actually implement these policies.
This was astounding to me, and quite honestly, a breath of fresh air. First,
his statements reassured and solidified the fact that sections of the
memos are exceptionally vague and over broad. Second, that the policies
violate due process and other humanitarian protections guaranteed under
the law, that the Department also feels uneasy about implementing policies
that make no exceptions for certain categories of aliens, and finally,
that implementing these policies just feels wrong. The memos are simply
just hard to read. Another practitioner noted that in Bergen County, attendance
at the grade school level had declined by 50%...50%!!!!! Children are
scared of going to schools, and significantly, children are scared of
going to school and coming home to an empty home because their parents
were picked up by ICE.
The battle before us will be a long one, but it will be fought. To those
that feel voiceless, we are listening. The courts have answered quickly
and swiftly and we will keep doing our part to make sure you are heard.
It is my privilege to advocate for you during these historic and trying times.
Yolanda Mendoza-Flores, Esq.