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Supreme Court Rebuffs Trump’s Attempt to Dismantle DACA

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On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Pres. Donald Trump’s
administration cannot immediately end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals, which was created in 2012 by former Pres. Barack Obama when Congress
would not create immigration reforms.

The participants in DACA are called “DREAMers”

In 2017, Trump targeted DACA and vowed to end the program that allowed about
700,000 people brought to the U.S. as children to apply for a temporary status that
prevented their deportation.

Trump tweeted his reasoning for ending the program, saying that DREAMers “are far
from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals.”

Prospective DREAMers, when applying to DACA, go through a background check and
cannot be felons or commit a “significant misdemeanor offense.” At this time, it is known
that 29,000 health care professionals working on COVID-19 are DREAMers.

“The appropriate recourse is, therefore, to remand to DHS so that it may reconsider the
problem anew,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the majority opinion and was
joined by Justices Elena Kagan, Steven Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia
Sotomayor.  In the split decision, 5-4, the justices seemed to suggest that the Trump
Administration may have violated the law by attempting to end DACA so abruptly
without considering the overarching impact of the end of the program not only on people,
but on organizations and educational institutions.

Under Trump’s directive, according to the Supreme Court, the Dept. of Homeland
Security’s (DHS) methodology in attempting to end DACA  was “arbitrary and
capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

Sotomayor added that Trump initially told the DREAMers that they were “safe” and then
started on his campaign to end DACA.  She said the termination of DACA would
“destroy lives.”

Of the 700,000 DREAMers/undocumented immigrants, many are from Mexico and
Central America.

Oral arguments were held Tuesday morning, June 16. A plaintiff, Antonio was present
during oral arguments and other DREAMers were in line to be present also.

According to a CNN interview, Antonio said “they will decide my fate.”  CNN also
interviewed DREAMer Cynthia De la Torre Castro from Fort Worth, Texas, who
said:  “This decision is historic and can disrupt everyone’s lives”

Plaintiffs, including Antonio, other individual DREAMers, the University of California
and individual states argued that the Trump Administration’s proposal to end DACA was
in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that lets agencies know
how to establish regulations and, in this case, dismantle programs.  In other words,
the administration would have to follow certain regulations to eliminate DACA and those
regulations were not followed.

Briefs in support of DACA were filed by 143 business associations and
companies.  Research from the Cato Institute found that it would cost companies  $6.3
billion to replace DREAMers “if they can even find new employees to fill the empty
positions.”

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, filed a brief in support of DACA.  Apple employs 443
DREAMers from 25 different countries and four continents.  Cook said:  “We did not
hire them out of kindness or charity.  We did it because DREAMers embody Apple’s
innovative strategy.  They come from diverse backgrounds and display a wide range of
skills and experiences that equip them to tackle problems from different perspectives.”

Through a tweet, Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court’s decisions
on DACA and on granting employment protections for the LGBTQ community:
“These horrible and politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are
shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or
Conservatives.  We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd Amendment & everything
else.  Vote Trump 2020!”

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Members of Congress Demand Answers About California DMV $50M Personal Data Sale

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When news broke about Facebook collaborating with data mining companies during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, it may have broken the dam. Now almost four years later, more citizens are raising concerns about their data and who’s sharing it.

Several members of California’s delegation to the U.S. Congress, including Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, are demanding information from the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV). They say the DMV has been selling California drivers’ personal data.

According to Motherboard, a tech publication that is part of the Vice network, DMV generates about $50 million a year from selling drivers’ data.

“We’re troubled by press reports about the California DMV’s disclosure of vast quantities of data which could enable invasive biometric policing and be a symptom of a deeper privacy malady,” said the letter addressed to Steve Gordon, director of DMV.

“The California DMV receives more than $50 million annually from selling the personal information of Californians, according to press reports. The individuals whose data are being sold are reportedly not informed of this practice or given the opportunity to opt-out. What information is being sold, to whom it is sold, and what guardrails are associated with the sale remain unclear.”

Eleven U.S. Representatives from California signed the letter including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) and Hon. David S. Kim, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency.

The letter also addressed concerns about data possibly being shared with federal agencies such as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI. Since California allows undocumented immigrants to gain driver’s licenses, their personal data may be used by ICE to track and deport people in the country illegally.

“What types of organizations has the DMV disclosed drivers’ data to in the past three years? In particular, has the DMV sold or otherwise disclosed data to debt collection agencies, private investigators, data brokers, or law enforcement agencies?” the letter inquired.

According to a statement responding to the letter, the DMV says the money generated from the data sale helps offset some of the agency’s operating costs.

The practice is not confined to California. Both Virginia and Wisconsin DMVs also sell drivers’ personal data. The practice is sanctioned under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), which was passed in the 1990s.

“In this day and age, unfortunately, government entities don’t resist the lure of selling Americans’ personal information for private exploitation. This problem will only get worse as cities, trying to be ‘smart,’ collect more information about what we do and where we go,” said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an e-mail to Motherboard.

 

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COVID-19

ICE Says Foreign Students Must Attend In-Person Classes to Stay in U.S. in Fall

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced modifications July 6 to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester.

Under the new rule, foreign nationals participating in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) who are enrolled in U.S. educational institutions will have to leave the country unless part of their course load this fall is taken in-person. 

Due to COVID-19, SEVP instituted a temporary exemption regarding online courses for the spring and summer semesters. 

This policy permitted nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted by federal regulation to maintain their nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.

In its announcement, SEVP said foreign students who do not transfer to in-person programs and remain in the United States while enrolled in online courses could face “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

Students taking in-person programs will be allowed to remain in the country, while schools with hybrid online/in-person courses will be required to certify their programs are not entirely online. 

Students in English language courses and certain students pursuing vocational degrees will not be allowed to take online courses.

“There’s so much uncertainty. It’s very frustrating,” Valeria Mendiola, 26, a graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government told CNN. “If I have to go back to Mexico, I am able to go back, but many international students just can’t.”

On the surface, it appears that the ICE decision is in line with the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies. But the facts belie this action.

Rather than being on the upswing, international enrollment is down in every category — undergraduate, graduate and non-degree — with 269,383 enrolled in the 2018-2019 school year, compared with a high of 300,743 new students in 2015-2016.

Further, international students contributed $45 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018, according to the Commerce Department. 

The American Council on Education, a higher education lobbying group, condemned the rule change in a statement issued Monday afternoon. ACE President Ted Mitchell said the guidance “provides confusion and complexity rather than certainty and clarity” and called on ICE to rethink its position.

 “At a time when institutions are doing everything they can to help reopen our country, we need flexibility, not a big step in the wrong direction,” he wrote. “ICE should allow any international student with a valid visa to continue their education regardless of whether a student is receiving his or her education online, in person, or through a combination of both, whether in the United States or in their home country, during this unprecedented global health crisis.”

 

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Coronavirus

A Crisis on Two Fronts: Black Immigrants Face COVID-19 in California and Back Home

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California is home to an estimated 11 million immigrants and many of them are Black — from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and other parts of the world.

According to the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) at the University of Southern California, immigrants make up 6.5% of California’s Black population. That figure has doubled since 1980.

In California, 35% of all healthcare professionals are immigrants, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Many more are other essential workers, toughing it out on the frontlines working in the service industry or in medical, transportation and sanitation jobs.

Mawata Kamara, who is originally from Liberia, works as an emergency room nurse in San Leandro, a suburb east of the San Francisco Bay in Alameda County. She said that her hospital currently sees about two to three COVID-19 patients a day.

According to Kamara, she gets confused trying to keep up with the government’s guidance regarding the pandemic. For example, she’s currently re-using N-95 masks, which used to be forbidden, she says. She also gets a stream of e-mails with constant updates — sometimes conflicting news — about the virus itself, safety changes or how to treat the disease.

“The general feeling of unpreparedness is everywhere,” said Kamara.

As an African immigrant, Kamara says she sees the unique challenges that Black people, both immigrants and American-born Blacks, face in dealing with COVID-19. One of the reasons the disease has affected the Black community is because many people live in multi-generational families, Kamara says.

This makes it very difficult to self-quarantine. Kamara said one of her African co-workers faced this situation when she contracted the disease and didn’t want to take it back home where she lived with several relatives.

Kamara is also concerned about her native country, Liberia, which has been affected by the disease. The country currently has more than 210 COVID-19 infections. About half the patients have survived. Twenty people have died from the disease.

Liberia, which has an underdeveloped healthcare system, was devastated by the Ebola pandemic, which started in 2014 and resulted in more than 11,000 deaths.

In Los Angeles, Lyndon Johnson is publisher of CaribPress.  A native of Jamaica, Johnson said the disease presents a unique danger to people from his country because many of them also work in the healthcare field.

Jamaica currently has more than 500 infections and nine deaths. Johnson said people coming in from certain countries are automatically quarantined.

Many Caribbean community organizations in California and around the country organize annual health missions, where they return home and perform healthcare checkups. Those have all been canceled as well, said Johnson.

Back on the frontlines of the crisis in California, Kamara says she believes we are not over the worse of the pandemic.

That’s why she is discouraged by protesters who are demanding businesses reopen. Kamara said too many Americans don’t realize the dangers of  COVID-19 because of misinformation.

“Until that’s addressed, people won’t take it seriously,” she said.

Undocumented Black immigrants who want to apply for California’s coronavirus emergency assistance program should contact the following groups representing their area:

Bay Area:

Catholic Charities of California

Alameda and Contra Costa: www.cceb.org

Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo: www.catholiccharitiessf.org/ Santa Clara: www.catholiccharitiesscc.org/

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