House Judiciary Committee Questions Legality Of Trump Policy

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Donald Trump clearly does not like people of color. He still has not given Puerto Rico all of the Congress-appropriated money to help after Hurricane Maria in 2017. He holds people of mid-eastern descent in special holding cells longer than other immigrants. Now that the House Judiciary Committee has finished most of its impeachment hearing duties, its members are tackling one of Donald Trump’s worst policies.

House Judiciary Committee chair Representative Jerrold (Jerry) Nadler (D-NY) and Immigration Subcommittee members Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) sent a letter to the Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf questioning the legality of one of its protocols.

DHS’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) also known as the Remain in Mexico policy for people seeking asylum may be illegal. It causes Central Americans to stay in Mexico while their claims are processed. That forces them to stay in dangerous locations for long periods of time.

The Judiciary Democrats announced its investigation one year after DHS introduced the Keep Families Together Act. Trump gave one of his top advisers, Stephen Miller, the responsibility for immigration. Miller has had a strong affinity for White Nationalism according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

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Judiciary Committee Letter to DHS.

Judiciary Democrats announced they were investigating the Keep Families Together Act. It followed the president’s Zero Tolerance Policy that removed children from their families. The Judiciary’s letter announced the investigation. It read:

‘As we have previously written to you, MPP is inconsistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) statutory authority, while exposing thousands of people to threats of murder, sexual violence, and kidnapping as they are forced to wait in extremely dangerous conditions before their asylum claims may be heard.’

The letter also questioned why Trump was “sending children and families’ into ‘certain harm:”

‘As of today, there are 31 active travel advisories for Mexico, including 5 warnings in which the State Department explicitly advises Americans against travel. It is difficult to understand why this administration is sending children and families to areas where they will face certain harm.’

Asylum officers argued in court that America did not meet its tradition regarding immigration:

‘[O[f providing a safe haven to the persecuted and violates our international and domestic legal obligations.’

The letter to Wolf accused the policy of removing protections available to the immigrants of being “dangerously flawed:”

‘The policy has nearly eliminated the already scarce due process protections available to asylum-seekers—such as access to counsel—further reducing the likelihood that legitimate asylum-seekers can obtain asylum.  Moreover, MPP forces women, children, and families to remain in areas that the federal government recognizes as especially unsafe.  As of today, there are 31 active travel advisories for Mexico, including 5 warnings in which the State Department explicitly advises Americans against travel.[1]  It is difficult to understand why this administration is sending children and families to areas where they will face certain harm.’

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Judiciary Committee Letter to DHS.

The committee asserted that the White House officials either been “unable or unwilling” to respond:

‘The House Judiciary Committee has held hearings, sent oversight letters, and participated in a variety of staff-level briefings in which administration officials have been unable or unwilling to answer basic questions relating to MPP.  A comprehensive review of the policy, its implementation, and its impact on vulnerable populations is necessary.  Therefore, we respectfully ask that you produce the relevant documents, data, and communications listed below by January 30, 2020.’

These documents included:

  1. ‘Documents and communications dated from December 20, 2018 to January 2, 2020 relating to the implementation of MPP along the southern border.
  2. The total number of individuals subjected to MPP and breakdown of this number by nationality, gender, and age.
  3. The total number of family units subjected to MPP and a breakdown of this number by nationality.
  4. The total number of individuals initially placed in MPP but later removed from the program, including the reason an individual (or family unit) was removed from MPP.
  5. The total number of nonrefoulement interviews, including the number of people given nonrefoulement interviews, that have been conducted for individuals in MPP, including the results of those interviews.
  6. An unredacted copy of “The Migrant Protection Protocols Red Team Report,” including the “MPP Flow Chart” and “MPP Recommendations Matrix Summary” attached to the report.
  7. Documents and communications, dated from December 19, 2018 to January 4, 2020, referring or relating to policies, processes, or resources needed to implement or expand MPP.
  8. Documents and communications referring or relating to “tent courts”[2] being erected along the southern border for MPP, including policies related to access to tent courts or other nonpermanent facilities by attorneys, the public, and media.
  9. Documents and communications referring or relating to individuals in MPP who were granted relief by an immigration judge and then were subsequently transported or sent back to Mexico.’

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