Recent Developments in Federal Immigration Policy Underscore the Importance of the 2018 Elections for Immigrants and Refugees in Washington State

In the last 24 hours, there were two major developments in immigration policy.  Yesterday a federal district court in California blocked implementation of the Trump administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status for legal immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan as the lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security challenging the termination, Ramos v. Nielsen, is being litigated.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a humanitarian designation assigned to nations that have experienced significant disruption, for example natural disasters or civil strife, that allows their citizens living in the United States to remain here.  And last night, President Trump officially announced that the federal government’s cap on refugee admissions for fiscal year 2019 will be 30,000, a decline of 33 percent from the cap set for fiscal year 2018 and a decline of nearly 65% from the cap set in fiscal year 2016.  Refugees are individuals identified and vetted by the United States who are fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries and resettled through an orderly process in the United States.

Statement by Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica Votes:

“We are heartened by the decision of a federal district court to temporarily block the deportation of immigrants with Temporary Protected Status.  This is a significant, though temporary, legal victory.  The case is still to be decided in the Courts, but for the moment hundreds of thousands of individuals who have built deep roots in our nation for years will not be ripped away from their families and returned to nations still recovering from disasters, averting a family separation crisis.

Hours later, the Trump Administration announced yet another significant decline in the number of refugees that can be admitted to the United States.  The cap of 30,000 is the lowest number in the history of the nation’s refugee resettlement program.  At a time when the world is facing a refugee crisis – more people are in motion than at any time in human history, driven by armed conflict, climate change and economic dislocation – we condemn the President’s decision to effectively turn our nation’s back on its own history as a refuge for the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Taken together, the President’s actions on both TPS and refugee resettlement are extreme, anti-immigrant and un-American.  These decisions are consistent with the President’s racist remarks aimed at non-European nations and immigrants and refugees of color.  The actions underscore in so many ways that elections matter and have real consequences on our lives and families.  This fall, OneAmerica Votes is organizing and mobilizing voters and potential voters in communities across Washington State to elect candidates who are willing to stand up to immigrant scapegoating and race baiting and to fight for an inclusive vision for our communities and our democracy.  The only path to repairing the damage caused by this President is through the ballot box.”