Immigrants, Refugees & Citizenship

Call Your Senators & Representatives to Oppose Immigration Policies

The Trump administration has announced that it will deny permanent residency status (i.e. “green cards”) to immigrants who are in the country legally, but have used any form of government assistance, including Food Stamps, Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  And, even if an immigrant has not used any type of public assistance, the immigrant will be denied permanent residency status if government agents deem he/she/they are likely to seek public assistance sometime in the future.

Currently, individuals who arrive with a valid temporary visa, or with a work permit, may apply for permanent residency status, even if they need some government assistance.  Or, in some cases, legal immigrants already in the US may run into hard times and need to temporarily seek government assistance until their situation improves.  Under this new policy, should any legal immigrants need such assistance,  their applications for  permanent residency status will be denied, and they risk losing their legal status.

This would be true even in cases where parents may need government assistance for their children who are U.S. citizens. Particularly onerous is that an agent can simply decide, based on nothing more than but his/her own opinion, that an individual with no record of ever having used government assistance, might someday in the distant future need such assistance. This would be enough to deny that person their request for a green card.

ACTIONCall your Senators and Representatives and demand that they do whatever it takes to stop the Trump administration from  discriminating against legal immigrants who need social services and government help.  Tell them that children who are American citizens could be hurt.

The Trump Administration has announced plans to allow immigrants to be detained indefinitely, ending a procedure known as the Flores Settlement Agreement that requires children to be held no longer than 20 days.

ACTIONCall your Senators and Representative and demand that they do whatever it takes to stop the Trump administration from trying to undermine the Flores Settlement. Tell them the administration’s treatment of migrants and their children has been unconscionable

U.S. SEN. ROY BLUNT:                                             
(314) 725-4484
202-224-5721  (D.C.)
.

U.S. SEN.JOSH HAWLEY:

(202) 224-6154  (D.C.)
314-436-3534
REP LACEY CLAY   

              
314-383-5240 or 314-367-1970

202-225-1621 (D.C.)

REP. ANN WAGNER: 636-779-5449 (Ballwin Office)

 

Reflections on the Trip to Fort Sill

By Ruth Ehresman

Early on July 31 almost 100 people gathered at the Jewish Community Center Association parking lot for a bus trip to Fort Sill. But it wasn’t just a bus trip. It was a mission. Heartland for Human Justice brought together an assortment of committed individuals of varied races, ages, genders, and religious affiliations. Women’s Voices was one of the original four founding members of Heartland for Human Justice, and was well represented on the trip.

Our mission was to express our outrage at the inhumane treatment of families seeking asylum in the United States. We wanted to use our bodies and voices to protest the separation of families, and the trauma for children and families caused by this separation and lack of basic food and shelter.

Fort Sill was the destination since it had been identified as a next detention site. As we stood at the visitor center there, the weight of its history lay on us. Fort Sill was an outpost in the wars against Native Americans to push them off their lands. Geronimo was imprisoned and died there. During World War II it was an internment camp for Japanese Americans unconstitutionally imprisoned solely because of their ancestry and without any charges filed against them.

Just before we began the trip, the plans to open Fort Sill as a detention center were put on hold. But we decided we needed to push forward. A detention center is wrong at Fort Sill, and it is wrong anywhere. Asylum seekers must be treated humanely, families must be kept intact, and a timely process to review requests must happen now.

Over 40 hours together old friendships re-kindled and new friendships ignited. We practiced chants for the protest, learned new songs, sang old favorites, watched educational and fun films, traipsed on and off the bus to stand in interminable bathroom lines, ate Subway sandwiches and an amazing assortment of snacks, read, shared our lives, and laughed a lot.

The heart of the trip was the time in Lawton, OK, for the protest at Rev. Jack’s Methodist Church and at the Visitor Center at the Fort. It was touching that members of the Lawton church came and joined us in our action. We lamented the history of Fort Sill and honored the memory of the adults and children who died while in detention as we read their names, ages, and where they died. We listened to the voices of youth as they described what it was like to be apart from their family; what it was like to be cold, hungry, and confused. We prayed for forgiveness for the suffering of these men, women, and children. We prayed for the courage to make our country a land of hospitality. Many of us wept.

After the protest at the church we drove to Fort Sill’s Visitor Center. Once again, we sang, prayed, and chanted. NO HUMAN BEING CAN EVER BE ILLEGAL! THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE! THIS IS WHAT JUSTICE LOOKS LIKE! THIS IS WHAT COMMUNITY LOOKS LIKE! Rabbi Susan Talve closed by reminding us that when Moses and the people crossed the Red Sea, it was not Moses’ raised hand that saved them. What saved the Israelites was the “holy chutzpah” of the people. It was their belief, and their courageous standing together that saved them.

We boarded the bus filled with “holy chutzpah.” We are a community that cares enough to not allow the atrocities and injustice that are happening on our borders to continue to happen on our watch. We know that it is our diversity that makes us great. Together we will make a difference. This trip was a first step. This was not just a bus trip.

—————————————————————————————

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Aisha Sultan also participated in the vigil. Read her column about the trip here.

Vigil to Protest Detention of Families and Children

August 1, 2019

Marilyn Sue Warren

Ruth Ehresman

Women’s Voices members

Women’s Voices Raised For Social Justice and our newly formed partner coalition Heartland for Human Justice headed to Lawton, Oklahoma to protest the separation of children and their families in immigration detention centers and to participate in an interfaith vigil in remembrance of the children who have died while in detention. See videos of the vigil here.

Heartland for Human Justice believes a nation’s immigration policy is an expression of its humanity. The current situation with immigrants entering our country lacks common decency. Separating children from their parents and failing to provide decent shelter, food and medical care is inhumane.

Heartland for Human Justice calls for the following:

  • Stop separating families–separating children from their parents causes undue trauma.
  • Reunite the families that have been separated.
  • Treat immigrants as humans with dignity and care.
  • Safe living conditions for those in our custody.
  • Allow people to seek liberty in our country.

Women’s Voices member Marilyn Sue Warren, speaking at a vigil in Lawton, OK, site of Fort Sill where a detention center to hold 1,400 children may be opened, urged people to contact MO Senators Blunt and Hawley to support Senate Bill 2256, which will protect children when parents are detained by immigration authorities. Roy Blunt 202-224-5721, Josh Hawley 202-224-6154. The bill has been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

Squalid Conditions for Detained Immigrants Documented

July 2, 2019
An article in the New York Times documents the squalid conditions for detained immigrants. Women’s Voices condemns the separation of families and inhumane treatment of immigrants. Tell your legislators to ban separation and detention of families and children; fund humane treatment of immigrants; and stop turning asylum seekers away at the border.

The Coming Round-Up of Immigrants

June 24, 2019

(Excerpts from letter by Sarah John, of Interfaith Committee on Latin America IFCLA)

Even though President Trump just announced that he is not proceeding with the round-up this week, we can expect that ICE will proceed in the coming weeks with mass round-ups. So the letter below from Sarah John of IFCLA still is important to read.

Action to Take this week: “Please call your elected officials at all levels of government to denounce the targeting of immigrants and their families. Please call your members of Congress (210-702-3059) and demand they cut all funding from the Deportation Force.” 

“I know that many of you are worried, scared, angry, confused, and eager to take action in light of all of the news and information circulating regarding threats of increased immigration enforcement…

“It is important that we actively work together against the fear and hatred that are already traumatizing our communities. We must be prepared to respond to the needs of the targeted and impacted communities. We must not contribute to fear, panic, chaos, or trauma. We must remember that immigrants and their families are the ones who should make decisions for their own lives. Whatever those decisions may be, as allies, accomplices and people of faith and good will, we are called to honor their integrity and liberty in ways that are supportive, respectful, and selfless….

“In the St. Louis region during the last several decades, immigration enforcement has not stopped, waned, or ceased to impact immigrants and their families, loved ones, colleagues and friends on a daily basis. Raids are not new. Targeting immigrant families is not new. Threatening massive deportations is not new. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is present in St. Louis, in Missouri and in Illinois. Local police regularly collaborate with and facilitate immigration enforcement in our region every single day.

Judge Orders Administration to Remove Citizenship Question from 2020 Census

January 15, 2019 – National Public Radio

In addition to the two lead cases before Furman at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the administration is fighting five more lawsuits across the country filed by dozens of states, cities and other groups that want the question removed. A second trial over the question began earlier this month in California, and another is scheduled to begin in Maryland on Jan. 22.

Research by the Census Bureau suggests asking about citizenship status in the current political climate will scare households with non-citizens from participating in the head count. That, in turn, could jeopardize the constitutionally mandated head count of every person living in the U.S.

Read the full article here

Women’s Voices opposes DHS proposed rule change affecting immigrants 

December 4, 2018

Women’s Voices has submitted the following statement to the Department of Homeland Security regarding the proposed “public charge” regulation for immigrants.

Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice is appalled at the proposed change to the “public charge” policy. We believe that one of the strengths of our nation is a recognition that we are a stronger and better nation because of our diversity. The United States has a unique position in being able to welcome immigrants and provide opportunities for them and their children. The United States is also in a unique position to benefit socially and economically from the contributions of these immigrants. The proposed change to “public charge” policy stands in stark opposition to these realities.

By punishing families for accessing healthy food, health care, and housing, the regulation would make the United States sicker, hungrier, and poorer. Experiencing stress and instability – such as economic security, not having enough to eat, and lacking access to needed health care – harms parents, children, and individuals with disabilities.

Equating wealth with worth is wrong. This proposed change will jeopardize the health and well-being of those in our country who are on the path to citizenship or are seeking legal residence. This is inconsistent with our values.

Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice strongly opposes the Department of Homeland Security’s shameful proposed rule change to “public charge.” Please withdraw it immediately.

Women’s Voices Opposes Indefinite Detention of Children

October 15, 2018

The 1997 Flores Agreement limits the amount of time immigrant children can be held in detention centers to 20 days and requires that they be released to their parents, other adult relatives or licensed programs, without unnecessary delay. The administration is seeking to make changes to the current agreement to enforce their “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, arguing for the indefinite detainment of children. This will result in children being held in detention facilities for as long as the administration deems necessary.

Women’s Voices voiced opposition to the new proposal writing:Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, an organization based in St. Louis, Missouri, opposes the proposed rule “Apprehension, Processing, Care and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children.” Indefinite detention of families is abusive and detrimental to a child’s physical and mental health. This regulation will allow the current administration to operate facilities with no oversight, will be costly to taxpayers and damage our reputation with our international allies. Please, preserve the Flores protections for immigrant children.

White House Considers Reducing Refugee Admittance Further in 2019

August 8, 2018
From the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), St. Louis: “This year’s refugee cap of 45,000 is already an historic low and, devastatingly, the United States will have resettled less than half that number by the end of the fiscal year. With a lower goal for next year, actual admissions will continue to plummet.” Read more from the New York Times: White House Weighs Another Reduction in Refugees Admitted to U. S.

The president must establish a number of refugees to be admitted by Oct. 1. JCRC suggests the following actions: 

    1. Call congressional offices directly using your local contacts. You can also reach US Representatives in DC by calling 202-225-3121, and US Senators by calling 202-224-3121. Ask the operator to connect you to the individual office. Call them more than once! 
    1. Use social media to make your position clear and encourage followers to contact members of Congress. You can also tweet at your Senators & Representatives.
  1. Visit your Member. House members are in-district for recess and Senators will be as well. Even if they aren’t in-district, meet with their staff.

Sample Script: “I am your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and I urge you to support the U.S. refugee resettlement program. I strongly oppose any attempts to limit refugee admissions into the United States. I urge you to do everything in your power to see that the administration resettle at least the 45,000 refugees they have set as the goal for 2018 and see the administration commit to resettling at least 75,000 for 2019. Resettlement is a core American legacy that allows refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity as people have since they first imagined our country. My community welcomes refugees and immigrants, and I urge you to do the same.”

Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban on Majority Muslim Countries

June 26, 2018

Women’s Voices is opposed to the travel ban and applauds Justice Sotomayor’s dissent; she spoke in court for about 20 minutes and extensively quoted Trump’s words during and after the 2016 campaign. She wrote, “A reasonable observer would conclude that the proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.”

You can read an article about the ruling here. 

Parents Are Facing a Nightmare at the U.S. Border

June 25, 2018 issue of Time

“Immigrants’ advocates offer wrenching accounts of how, exactly, federal authorities remove children from their moms and dads. On some occasions, advocates told TIME, kids are pulled, sobbing, from their parents’ arms. On other occasions, agents have allegedly lied. “They say, ‘We’re just going to take your kids to have a bath,’” Gilman says. “But then they don’t bring them back.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a letter noting that taking a child from a parent can do “irreparable harm, disrupting a child’s brain architecture and affecting his or her short- and long-term health.” Read the article here. 

The ACLU Sues Administration to Stop Family Separation

March 10, 2018

“The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in San Diego, asks a judge to declare family separation unlawful and says hundreds of families have been split by immigration authorities.” Read more here

Where Do We Stand On DACA?

March 5, 218

The court battle (see article below) removes some of the urgency for meeting the March 5 deadline to renew DACA. “DACA advocates are using the Monday deadline to intensify pressure on the White House and Congress for permanent protection.” Where do the Courts stand? Where does congress stand? Is the March 5 deadline meaningful? Read the answers to the questions here.

Supreme Court Declines to Decide Fate of DACA

February 26, 2018

The Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s highly unusual bid to bypass a federal appeals court and get the justices to intervene in the fate of a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

The announcement means the case affecting “Dreamers” will have to work its way through the lower courts before any Supreme Court ruling is possible. The case could also become moot if Congress takes action in the meantime. Right now, however, efforts to address the issue in Congress have hit a stalemate.

Read more here

Travel Ban Heads to the Supreme Court

January 23, 2018

“Travel ban 3.0 tweaks the details and reshuffles the list of banned countries (removing Sudan and adding Chad, North Korea and Venezuela). On October 17th, the same federal judge in Hawaii who blocked the second ban wrote a decision freezing the third.” Read the latest news about the ban and the courts.