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US Election Fuels Discussion of Immigration Issues

U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to autograph a plaque commemorating the construction of the 200th mile of border wall while visiting the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in San Luis, Arizona, June 23, 2020.
U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to autograph a plaque commemorating the construction of the 200th mile of border wall while visiting the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in San Luis, Arizona, June 23, 2020.
US Election Fuels Discussion of Immigration Issues
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U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have issued more than 400 executive actions that changed America's immigration system. Some of those measures are being discussed in the days before the U.S. presidential election.

Family separation

There were reports that the federal government misplaced information about the parents of 545 migrant children. The parents were separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border under a Trump administration policy of "zero tolerance" for illegal border crossers. The policy was later cancelled.

Activists working to aid immigrants said they do not know where the children are now, or why the parents, returned to their countries of origin, cannot be found.

"[The children] are no longer in [Department of Homeland Security] custody, no longer in [Health and Human Services] custody, no longer in the government's custody," said Lee Gelernt. He is with the American Civil Liberties Union, a non-profit group.

"They [the children] were sponsored out. And that could mean [they are with] a relative who – maybe – they were lucky enough to know. It could be a very distant relative they didn’t know. But it could also mean a stranger in a foster family [in the United States],” Gelernt said.

The Department of Homeland Security said federal officials have not found “a single family that wants their child reunited in their country of origin.”

Gelernt noted that, if found, the parents of the children face a horrible choice “of having either be separated permanently or bring their child back to danger [in the home countries] rather than bringing the parent back to the U.S."

Last year, a federal judge ordered the U.S. government to reunite children with parents separated under the 2017 program. The program was part of the administration's efforts to limit asylum-seeker entry into the United States along the Mexican border.

Supreme Court cases

The Supreme Court has set November 30 as the day to hear arguments on the administration's push to remove undocumented immigrants from the U.S. Census count. Census information is used to decide how many U.S. representatives each state has in Congress.

Looking to next year, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases involving policies at the U.S.-Mexico border. One is about the Trump administration's decision to move federal money to pay for part of a border wall. Trump promised to build such a wall in his 2016 election campaign, but Congress, which controls public spending, refused to give him any money.

The second case relates to the administration's "Remain in Mexico" program. It forced asylum-seekers to await a decision on their U.S. immigration court cases on the Mexican side of the border.

Asylum rules

Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security proposed a rule that blocks some groups of individuals from getting asylum. The rule would bar those jailed for a crime and those who have been found guilty of illegal reentry into the United States.

The rule would also block those who have illegally sheltered undocumented immigrants, used false identification or unlawfully received public financial assistance.

Under current immigration law, asylum-seekers who fail to ask for asylum within one year of entering the United States are barred from receiving asylum. Those tried and sentenced for a serious crime are also barred.

The new rule is set go into effect in November.

Fast-track deportations

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, said it is moving forward with a system that bars some immigrants from asking a judge to remain in the United States.

Tony Pham is the senior official acting as the director of ICE. He said that the new, faster system will allow “us to protect our communities” and uphold “the integrity of our nation’s…immigration laws.”

I’m Susan Shand.

VOA’s Aline Barros reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words In This Story

tolerance - n. the act of allowing for many different aspects of something

origin - n. place of birth

foster - adj. a person who takes on a parental role

census - n. the required counting of the US population every ten years

uphold - v. to keep in place

integrity - adj. high principles and character