Last month, the Trump administration sent 5,000 troops to our southern border to prevent anyone from a migrant caravan from entering the United States. The caravan is composed of many refugees – including women and children. Earlier this week, there were reports that troops at the southern border indiscriminately used tear gas to repeal immigrants from the border. Some video footage captured even showed the tear gas being thrown towards women and children who were desperately trying to run away.
We, the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association (“MHBA”), are an organization whose purpose is to provide a voice to legal issues affecting the Hispanic community. Because we believe in the humane treatment of others, the MHBA strongly condemns the use of tear gas against women, children, and asylum seekers. We feel that this action is immoral and inhumane. We also condemn the actions of this administration as they relate to the migrant caravan.
In addition, we condemn the recent steps this administration has taken affecting immigrants and refugees. A recent memo issued by USCIS states that as of Nov. 19, 2018, USCIS will begin deportation proceedings against both applicants of denied U and T visas and Violence Against Women Act self petitions and their derivative family members. These immigration petitions are specifically set aside for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, and other qualifying crimes. This policy change effectively targets the most vulnerable crime victims, creates additional risks to victims and deters victims from reporting crime and trusting law enforcement.
The administration also issued a new proposed rule expanding the definition of “public charge” which deters individuals from claiming benefits to which they are entitled. This proposed regulation changes policies that have been in place for decades that exempt an individual’s use of health care, nutrition and housing programs from consideration of their immigration status. This rule targets immigrants and their families by creating fear and mistrust in the government and making it harder for immigrants‘ relatives to get visas to come to the U.S. We stand with Baltimore city, which recently filed suit against this proposed regulation for being unconstitutional.
Lastly, we disagree with the administration’s new immigration policy of not accepting asylum applications unless an individual has entered through a U.S. port of entry. We stand with U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tiger, who issued a nationwide temporary injunction halting the execution of this policy. The MHBA strongly believes that this new policy runs against both our immigration laws and international refugee norms.
The MHBA notes that our condemnation of such actions and policies do not stem only from our organization’s mission to champion Latino rights but also from our basic belief in the humane treatment of others and from our duty as practicing attorneys to uphold the laws of this country.
Emmanuel “Manny” Fishelman
President, Maryland Hispanic Bar Association