How many immigrants are denied citizenship each year? Curious Texas took an oath to find out – The Dallas Morning News

Naturalization — the process immigrants go through to become citizens — was first built into U.S. law with the passage of the Naturalization Act of 1790.

Back then naturalization was open only to “any alien, being a free white person.”

Nowadays naturalization is open to immigrants of all races and ethnicities who are ready to take the final step at the end of the long-winding bureaucratic path that is the U.S. immigration system.

After taking the Oath of Allegiance at what are often emotional swearing-in ceremonies, immigrants are bestowed the same fundamental rights as citizens born on U.S. soil. They go forward being able to vote and get U.S. passports.

But naturalization requires more than simply filling out an application.

Immigrants usually spend thousands of dollars in application and legal fees and must reside in the U.S. for a number of years as legal permanent residents before they can become eligible to naturalize.

Even then, tens of thousands of immigrants are denied citizenship each year and many see their applications stall for months or years.

One reader asked The Dallas Morning News — as part of our ongoing Curious Texas series — how many immigrants are denied citizenship each year. We took a look at three naturalization stats from 2009 to 2018:

  • Naturalizations each year.
  • How many petitions for naturalization the federal government receives.
  • And how many of those petitions are denied.

Close to 78,000 naturalization applications were denied on average between 2009 and 2018, though numbers varied each year.

Requirements for citizenship

Before immigrants can apply for naturalization, they need to have been legal permanent residents for three to five years. Immigrants who obtain green cards through a spouse can naturalize in three years.

Immigrants must also:

  • Be at least 18 years of age when filing for naturalization.
  • Speak, read and write English in some capacity.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. civics.
  • Must be of “good moral character.”
  • Must demonstrate attachment to the U.S. and its constitution.

Getting legal permanent residency sounds like a straightforward process, but immigrants can find themselves waiting years to hear back about their green cards or being admitted to the U.S., said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.

Legal permanent residency can be obtained through family, employment or a wide variety of other categories. But limits exist on how many green cards are issued to each country and all immigrants aren’t eligible for just any visa categories.

Some immigrants wait up to 20 years to be approved for family-based legal permanent residency, she added.

“The devil is in the details and usually these details are lost in public discussion and how we talk about the immigration system,” Batalova said.

Why some immigrants don’t naturalize or get denied

About 9 million legal permanent residents were eligible to naturalize in 2015, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security.

About 1 million Texas immigrants were eligible to naturalize in 2016, according to an analysis from the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California. And close to 260,00 live in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.

Batalova said immigrants are sometimes happy with the benefits a green card offers them and are comfortable staying with that status. Some are worried that they won’t pass the English test.

Sometimes it’s a criminal record, not paying taxes, providing incorrect information, owing child support or failing the civics test that keeps immigrants from naturalizing. Nationwide, about 90% of immigrants pass the civics test.

“Some immigrants have their own reasons. It could be financial constraints or it could be their choice because they don’t want to give up citizenship in their country of origin,” Batalova said.

The cost of applying for naturalization -- the final step before an immigrant becomes a U.S, citizen -- is jumping up by 83% because of a new policy from the Trump administration.

Mexico, for example, didn’t allow Mexicans living abroad to hold dual citizenship until 1998 and that kept many Mexicans from seeking U.S. citizenship.

There’s also the costs that come with seeking naturalization. Right now it costs about $640 — plus an $85 fee for a fingerprints and photo session — to file an application for naturalization. Those costs don’t include legal fees.

“If you have three or four family members, that’s a lot of money,” Batalova said.

Those costs may soon go up. The Trump administration has proposed increasing the cost of applying for citizenship from $640 to $1,170. Batalova said she expects to see a surge in naturalization petitions due to this potential price increase.

Some immigrants simply find themselves waiting for their naturalization applications to be approved or denied. As of September 2019, there were close to 650,000 pending naturalization applications nationwide.

“It’s important to convey that the fluctuations we see in naturalization numbers can be explained by how difficult it is to apply for citizenship in the first place,” Batalova said.

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Government immigration policies are harming trafficking survivors | TheHill – The Hill

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness and help prevent human trafficking in our communities. Throughout the month, we can expect the government to highlight its accomplishments and efforts in assisting survivors and combating human trafficking.

Many of these efforts and policies, however, are completely undermined by an even more significant threat to trafficking survivors than the traffickers themselves: this administration’s war on immigrants.

Immigrants are particularly vulnerable to traffickers because of their lack of status, inability to speak English, unfamiliarity with our legal system, lower levels of education, and lack of access to employment. 

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At Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project, we help immigrant victims of violence, abuse, trafficking, and torture. Over the last couple of years, we have witnessed this administration’s relentless attempts to dismantle our country’s immigration system.

Many of these policies have a direct impact on human trafficking. The consequence is the exacerbation of a problem this government claims it wants to address.

Fewer T Visas

Recent policy changes have made T visas; the visa created for trafficking survivors, a risky venture. For one, the Notice to Appear (NTA) Policy, which provides that applicants may be placed in removal proceedings if USCIS denies their applications for benefits. 

This dramatically raises the risks for trafficking survivors applying for the T visa. One of the requirements to apply for a T visa is reporting to law enforcement.

If a law enforcement agency decides to prosecute the trafficker, very often, the survivor must testify or serve as a witness in the prosecution, which places the survivor at great risk of harm from retaliation by the trafficker if the survivor is not protected. 

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Not having the safety net of a T visa and facing possible removal to a country where a trafficker can harm the survivor, and potentially the survivor’s family has a huge chilling effect on the willingness of survivors to come forward. 

This can account for the low number of prosecutions by the Department of Justice in 2019. Not being able to bring traffickers to justice completely undermines Congressional intent and one of the primary purposes underpinning the statute that created the T visa. If traffickers are not held accountable, they can continue to exploit more victims.

USCIS also began issuing more frequent and onerous Requests for Evidence (RFEs). RFEs were typically issued when there is missing information or if a possible issue is discovered and more information is needed. We are now seeing more RFEs that seem to raise the bar for a T visa. When a survivor is unable to satisfy an RFE, her application will be denied, putting her at risk of removal under the NTA policy — a further disincentive to come forward.  

Increased RFEs, plus other bureaucratic hurdles, have contributed to a crisis-level backlog at USCIS such that a T visa application now takes 19.5 to 26.5 months to decide, compared to about 12 months under previous administrations.

Fewer T visas are also being granted: the fiscal year 2019 marked a record low for T visa approvals 

Aggressive enforcement

2017 saw the start of a disturbing new trend — a spike in arrests of folks in and around courthouses, including the Human Trafficking Intervention Court.

The presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in and around courthouses have had a chilling effect on the willingness of noncitizens to come forward to exercise their rights and seek justice. As with our client, Carrie*, a trafficking survivor who was evicted by her trafficker. 

The trafficker’s attorney told Carrie that if she continued to come to court to fight her eviction case, that ICE would be there to deport her. The threat worked — fearing arrest and possible removal back to her country. Carrie stopped fighting back and agreed to an eviction order forcing her to become homeless until she could find new housing. 

Policies that create barriers for immigrant survivors to come forward, report crimes, cooperate with law enforcement and apply for protection in the United States, push survivors further into the shadows, making them more vulnerable to being trafficked or re-trafficked, harmed or even killed. 

It’s time for this government to recognize the harmful effects its anti-immigrant policies are having on trafficking survivors.

It’s time to roll back the harmful policies that make it almost impossible for survivors to seek protection under our country’s immigration laws. And beginning this January, this administration should finally make its immigration policies support its anti-trafficking rhetoric.

*Name changed to protect the identity

Evangeline M. Chan is the director of the Safe Horizon Immigration Law Project based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Follow her on Twitter @EvangelineMChan

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ICE, judges deny protections for disabled immigrants in custody, attorneys say – San Francisco Chronicle

Lawyers representing undocumented immigrants detained by ICE allege that courts and government authorities under the Trump administration are not complying with a federal court order that protects mentally disabled immigrants in California, Arizona and Washington.

The order, established in 2013 after a class-action lawsuit known as Franco-Gonzalez, applies to detained immigrants who suffer from serious mental illnesses or disabilities — such as bipolar disorder and autism — by providing them free access to counsel. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is required to flag individuals who show symptoms, and those immigrants then go before a judge for a competency hearing to determine if they qualify for protections.

But immigration judges are granting these protections to fewer people, and ICE is referring fewer of them to the courts, attorneys say. That is forcing perhaps hundreds of disabled and mentally ill immigrants to represent themselves in court even though they are unfit to do so, putting them at risk of being deported without due process.

There are no publicly available statistics on the number of immigrants deemed incompetent to represent themselves in court in recent years, and the results of individual cases are often difficult to track, according to several attorneys who handle Franco cases.

Anecdotal records of these alleged violations prompted attorneys for plaintiffs in the Franco-Gonzalez case to file a motion in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, asking that the Department of Homeland security submit information — including data — on how it’s handling current Franco cases.

A judge granted the motion Jan. 10, saying the evidence attorneys presented is “more than adequate to raise serious questions about potential ongoing noncompliance.”

Attorneys laid out in court documents nearly a dozen cases they say are violations. They include:

• A man who was not given Franco protections until a third-party legal organization stepped in, despite several indications he was suffering from a psychotic disorder. The man, who was not identified, experienced a psychotic break while detained at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona and reported hearing voices telling him to jump off the roof of the jail’s housing complex.

• An individual who waited seven months for Franco protections despite a reported history of schizophrenia and hallucinations.

• An individual who was ordered deported without ever receiving a competency hearing, despite a schizophrenia diagnosis and a previous stay in June 2019 in a psychiatric hospital, where he completed a criminal sentence.

The government said the allegations do not raise serious questions about their noncompliance, according to court documents. In response to arguments that diagnoses by qualified mental health providers should have prompted timely competency hearings for the detainees, the government said that “is not enough to establish class membership, rather, it must be accompanied by significant symptoms.”

Attorneys representing detained immigrants in the Bay Area say an incident that occurred in court late last year illustrates the tougher approach some judges are taking in Franco cases.

During a hearing in San Francisco on Nov. 13, attorney Kelly Wells requested a competency hearing — known formally as a Judicial Competency Inquiry — to determine whether her client, Carlos Saavedra, was eligible for Franco protections.

Judge Patrick O’Brien denied her request, despite diagnoses from two psychologists saying Saavedra, 21, has an auditory processing disorder that prevents him from comprehending complex verbal communication.

When Wells pressed the issue, O’Brien removed her from the courtroom — a highly unusual move that several attorneys and at least one judge said they have never witnessed in their careers. O’Brien later recused himself from Saavedra’s case.

“There was overwhelming, voluminous evidence that this young man suffers from a disability. And yet, the judge literally said to us, ‘I don’t have a doubt that he is competent,’” said Wells, deputy public defender for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Immigration Defense Unit, which provides pro bono legal representation to detained immigrants facing deportation.

O’Brien, a former ICE attorney who took the bench in August 2017, is not authorized to give interviews, said Kathryn Mattingly, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Immigration Review, an office in the Justice Department that oversees U.S. immigration courts.

“EOIR remains committed to ensuring that all who come before its courts will receive due process and a timely and fair adjudication,” Mattingly said in an email.


The Franco-Gonzalez class settlement is named after Jose Antonio Franco-Gonzalez, a Mexican immigrant with a cognitive disability who was detained in federal immigration facilities for nearly five years without a court hearing or an attorney. He sued the federal government in 2010. A settlement followed a few years later.

The court order covers only jurisdictions that fall under the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. But the government offers similar protections to mentally ill detainees in other states.

Detainees undergo a variety of screenings as soon as they’re processed into an ICE facility. If the screening shows evidence of a serious mental disorder, a mental health assessment follows within 14 days.

If ICE authorities note symptoms that would likely make an individual qualify for legal protections as a Franco class member — such as hallucinations, psychosis, traumatic brain injury, dementia or intellectual developmental delays — they’re required to notify the ICE Office of Chief Counsel, which must follow up on the notice. A judge then has three weeks to hold a competency hearing.

Not all potential class members are flagged by ICE. Attorneys and other individuals who come in contact with the detainee may also raise concerns to the government or the court.

And, if an immigration judge has a “bona fide doubt” about an immigrant’s ability to represent him or herself in court, the judge can also order mental health screenings to determine competence.

Under Franco, if an individual is deemed incompetent, the person is appointed a lawyer paid for by the U.S. government and granted bond hearings every six months, among other protections.

But medical staff in ICE facilities often underreport mental heath issues, despite previous symptoms or diagnoses, according to Valerie Zukin, an attorney with the Northern California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice. Medical records are also difficult for detainees to obtain, she said.

“We have huge concerns about what’s happening,” Zukin said. “Even if they get past that first hurdle and get a competency hearing, judges have the authority to determine whether the person is competent. They’re increasingly hesitant to find people incompetent except in the most extreme cases.”

The three-year monitoring period established by the court to ensure the government was complying with Franco ended two years ago, leaving attorneys in the dark about how these cases are playing out in court.

“After that we’ve had a couple of years where we don’t really know what’s going on,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California who represented plaintiffs in the Franco case. “We don’t even know how many class members there are on any given day. We used to know that.”

About 1,000 class members were deemed incompetent to represent themselves between January 2015 and April 2018 due to serious mental disorders, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs.

Unlike other court judges, immigration judges fall under the executive branch, appointed by the Department of Justice.

Under a policy established in 2018, judges are required to complete 700 cases a year or risk poor performance evaluations, in an effort to diminish a backlog of 1 million immigration cases across the county.

That may be a factor in the reduction in Franco approvals, said Dana Leigh Marks, a San Francisco immigration judge for more than 30 years and former president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.

“The pressures have been unparalleled in the 33 years I’ve been an immigration judge,” said Marks, who spoke as a union member.


In the Nov. 13 court hearing in immigration court in San Francisco, Wells was acting as a “friend of the court,” when she appeared before O’Brien, meaning she was advocating on Saavedra’s behalf but was not formally his attorney at the time. She has since taken him on as a client.

The Chronicle obtained an audio recording of the hearing from the public defender’s office. After asking Saavedra three questions — how he was doing that day, if he’d found an attorney and whether he was trying to find an attorney — O’Brien said, in part, “I have no doubt as to the respondent’s competence at this point.”

Wells argued that diagnoses by two credentialed psychologists in the past seven years — the most recent in 2013 — made Saavedra eligible for legal protection. O’Brien said he did not see that as a qualified health professional making a mental health diagnosis.

“I’m sorry your honor, I don’t think your personal doubt comes into play here,” Wells said. “I believe that’s a misreading of the settlement, and frankly it gives me great concern for those individuals who don’t have the benefit of a public defender tracking their case.”

O’Brien declined to hold a competency hearing for Saavedra, saying, “I have enough experiences in these cases now where I think I can tell reasonably well that we could hold a (hearing) but this respondent is going to pass with flying colors.”

Wells told O’Brien he was forcing the Department of Homeland Security to violate Franco. She threatened to file a complaint against him.

A security guard removed her from the courtroom at O’Brien’s request. The judge said Wells was being disruptive.

Saavedra, who has been detained at the Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield for four months, was arrested by ICE in September following convictions for DUI and possession of a controlled substance.

He was enrolled in an adult school in Roseville (Placer County) at the time of his arrest, and faces possible deportation.

He said he didn’t feel like O’Brien made an effort to listen to Wells’ arguments or to understand his case.

“I don’t think he liked her standing up for me,” Saavedra said in a December call from Mesa Verde. “I don’t think he liked that about her and he decided to do something about it.”

Tatiana Sanchez is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @TatianaYSanchez

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“He Has Made Wild Shifts”: How Bernie Sanders Has Changed His Approach To Immigration – BuzzFeed News

Scott Olson / Getty Images

When Bernie Sanders joined the Senate, he and his allies in the labor movement took on a big target: a new comprehensive immigration reform bill.

“I believe we have very serious immigration problems in this country,” Sanders said during a 2007 press event, with AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka behind him. “I think as you’ve heard today, sanctions against employers who employ illegal immigrants is virtually nonexistent. Our border is very porous.”

“And I think at a time when the middle class is shrinking, the last thing we need is to bring over in a period of years, millions of people into this country who are prepared to lower wages for American workers,” he later added. Sanders voted against the 2007 bill, but went on to vote in favor of a similar 2013 bill while making plain his fears that it could exacerbate the issue of immigrant workers “making it harder for US citizens to find jobs.”

That rhetoric stands in stark contrast to how Bernie Sanders sounds today. Just four years after a contentious presidential primary where his immigration record was a consistent point of attack, Sanders has changed, people who have worked with him closely on immigration issues told BuzzFeed News. Sanders, they said, has spent time closely listening and working with immigrant rights activists, forming new policy and finding new ways to talk about the issue, in line with the more progressive conversations in this primary And he is now running for president with the support of grassroots Latino activists and major immigrant rights groups.

“He has made wild shifts,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, a former Hillary Clinton campaign advisor and now the political director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance and chair of Families Belong Together. “And you know what, it’s incredible. Where he is now is absolutely outstanding. I am impressed. It’s hard to impress me when it comes to him, but he has made a shift that is quite significant.”

Sanders’ old approach to immigration — which included a focus on the potential harm new skilled and unskilled workers entering the US under guest worker programs would inflict on unemployed American citizens — stood out against his otherwise consistently progressive record. The stances were reflective of elements of the labor movement that saw immigrant workers as a threat, both in terms of lowering wages and reducing job prospects for union workers. Sanders has also pointed to one major Latino advocacy group, the League of United Latin American Citizens, which initially opposed the 2007 bill because of its potential for immigrant workers to be exploited.

“The bills that were put forth were not good bills and Bernie knew that. He knew that work visas were going to be used to severely exploit workers,” said Belén Sisa, the Sanders campaign’s Latino press secretary. “Those bills in 2007 included a lot of provisions in which workers would be put in a position where their boss would have the power to basically do whatever they wanted to them … I think that’s the perspective that no one’s really looked at.”

Sanders was concerned about a lack of protections for immigrants brought in for low-wage jobs. But he also repeatedly leaned on the idea that immigrant workers were taking American jobs, and played into a narrative — disputed by immigrant rights groups and most economists — that immigrant workers reduce wages for everyone across the board. That’s also an argument that Trump advisor Stephen Miller, known for his anti-immigrant, white nationalist rhetoric, has made more recently.

Sanders in those years still was in favor of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people in the US, and he was a critic of the Obama administration’s deportation policies. He impressed immigration activists when he pushed Barack Obama in 2014 to stop delaying DACA, a program that protects some people brought to the US illegally as children from deportation. His 2016 campaign focused on DACA and addressing the mass deportations under Obama, which Sanders said he would drastically reduce.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign still saw immigration as a vulnerability for Sanders, and her allies consistently raised his record to attack his position as the primary’s progressive champion. Clinton castigated Sanders over his vote against the 2007 immigration bill in a debate just ahead of that year’s Nevada caucus, which she went on to win.

David Mcnew / Getty Images

Sanders after a campaign rally at Lincoln Park on May 23, 2016 in East Los Angeles, California.

Sanders’ immigration plan has expanded from what he was proposing in 2016, and he has so far almost entirely avoided any attacks from other candidates on his old votes.

While DACA is still a core part of Sanders’ platform and how he talks about immigration, it’s significant, activists said, that he’s now talking about using executive action for a broader moratorium on deportations that would protect many more people, while working on immigration reform that would need to happen through Congress.

Sanders’ plan also calls for the decriminalization of border crossings — which would make crossing the border without documents a civil rather than criminal offense. That’s particularly relevant for two reasons: The Republican Party has framed that position as being equivalent to wanting “open borders,” which Sanders has vehemently said he opposes in the past, and decriminalizing border crossings gets to the heart of Trump’s family separations policy, which is based on parents being criminally prosecuted for crossing the border and therefore held in criminal custody, where their children cannot be held with them.

What’s more explicit this time around, too, is Sanders’ call to break up ICE and CBP — a move that’s more progressive than any other plan left in the Democratic field — which would mean redistributing their responsibilities to existing agencies like the State Department and the Treasury.

This week, one of the largest national immigrant rights groups, Make The Road Action, endorsed Sanders for president and specifically pointed to his labor-related policies as being inclusive of immigrants, in addition to other parts of his policy platform.

Members of the group “were really excited and engaged by him and especially standing up for workers rights, standing up against big corporations like Amazon,” said Barbara Lopez, Make The Road Action’s Connecticut Director. “Making sure our undocumented folks are protected, regardless of their status, regardless of where they work, is really important.”

The group, which has members in several states and a particularly strong presence in crucial early-voting state Nevada, is affiliated with the Working Families Party, which endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren over Sanders last September.

“He’s just really demonstrated this time around eagerness to learn and really engage with directly affected people,” she said. “What really moved our members was around the moratorium on deportations, breaking up ICE and CBP. The deep conversation we had around that this time around, we wouldn’t have had a deep conversation about those things a few years back. So I think for us, there’s been a shift, and that’s why we’re excited to endorse him.”

She added that she sees Sanders’ plan as “a really strong, humane immigration platform,” in addition to immigrant-friendly policies in other areas — just cause eviction requirements and national rent control in Sanders’ housing plan, universal health care, and a plan to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

In the lead-up to this year’s election, and in a climate where Trump is likely to keep returning to immigration as a central campaign issue, several immigrant advocates said Sanders is more convincingly making the case that he sees progressive immigration policy as a key part of his broader plan for a more equitable system.

“I think that it’s very, very encouraging to see that Senator echoing the demands that for so many years so many immigrant activists have been calling for,” said Adrian Reyna, director of strategy for immigrant rights group United We Dream Action. “The truth of it all is that one of the biggest things that a new president has to do in regards to immigration is to move us away from this lie that in order to protect people it has to come at the expense of other people.”

Morales Rocketto, the former Clinton advisor, argued that Sanders was still not comfortable talking about immigration even earlier on in this campaign cycle. She pointed to a press conference last April in which an audience member asked Sanders why he supports “open borders.”

“I’m afraid you may be getting your information wrong,” Sanders responded. “What we need is comprehensive immigration reform. If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world. And I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it. So that is not my position.”

Morales Rocketto said she saw that as a sign that “despite the fact that he was willing to go as left as basically the field was willing to go, he still wasn’t on immigration.”

But when his policy came out a few months later, Morales Rocketto said she saw a marked change and a move towards a progressive stance on immigration more in line with his approach to other issues. She said she’s seen a change in the way he’s been talking about the issue on the campaign trail, as well.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Sanders at a detention center for migrant children on June 27, 2019 in Homestead, Florida.

Activists and insiders told BuzzFeed News those changes came about because Sanders has taken advice from grassroots activists and his own advisors with direct experience of the complexities of the immigration system.

“We literally took what they told us and put it into a policy, so we invited them into the process and looked at the things that they were proposing,” said Sisa, a DACA recipient herself who also worked on Sanders’ 2016 campaign. “We also took in their thoughts and what they had been seeing on the ground for years now.”

“I think that represents either considerable work on his part or a shitload of staff lobbying that really, really worked,” Morales Rocketto said. “He has Faiz [Shakir] as his campaign manager. He is a major immigration expert. So if anything, it suggests that around that issue in particular he’s trying to make changes.”

Morales Rocketto added that in a general election, being able to articulate progressive immigration policies and engage comfortably on the issue is crucial, because the Democratic candidate will be up against Trump and the GOP constantly focusing on anti-immigrant rhetoric.

It’s a sign of evolution for both Sanders’ campaign and the national conversation around immigration, according to one of the advisors who helped Sanders formulate his immigration plan in 2016, Erika Andiola, who’s now an immigration activist with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

“Bernie hasn’t necessarily been an anti-immigrant politician, he does have a very close connection to the issue. I think he has really taken a lot of education from activists. He is a grassroots person,” said Andiola.

Democrats, she said, have had an “entire narrative that is like, ‘Yes, we like immigrants, but at the same time we understand that immigrants also can be detrimental to the country.’ I mean, they don’t say it that way, but that’s how it sounds. I think Bernie has really, in the way that he talks about the issues, he doesn’t really sound like that to me anymore.”

“I definitely don’t know what’s in his head,” she added. “I do know that one of the things that I did admire about Bernie is that he was really willing to change his positions when he saw that there were people he trusted” advising him to reconsider, she said.

Some activists said the shift in the conversation — partly because the Trump administration has shown the damage immigration enforcement agencies can cause to communities — has forced progressive Democrats to engage on the issue in a substantive way beyond DREAMERs and comprehensive immigration reform bills that don’t get passed.

“I think it’s often an issue that the Republican Party tries to kind of create a dilemma or a political pickle for Democrats, and many Democrats kind of fall for it,” said Marisa Franco, co-founder of immigrant rights group Mijente. “The activism of folks has really created a mandate and an expectation, and peoples’ willingness to then hold Democrats accountable.”

Franco said she sees Sanders’ shift on immigration as more “an expansion and less of a departure” from the past. “I think both his talking points and the push inside the campaign for immigration was not as strong. I think this is a testament to the team and the staff inside the campaign,” she said.

That means his take on immigration is more in line with the rest of his platform, she said: “It’s not like he’s saying wealth tax, eliminating student debt, but let me go a little vanilla on immigration.”

Sisa said the shift has been driven by a combination of that changing national conversation on immigration and the personal experiences of people on the campaign.

“We actually organically came together as immigrants, as the children of immigrants, from very different walks of life, and we built upon what the 2016 plan had because we knew from our own experiences that we were not in the same political climate that we were in in 2016,” she said. “So that meant that our policy needed to be more progressive.”

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Scoop: Trump to target “birth tourism” in new immigration fight – Axios

The Trump administration has a new target on the immigration front — pregnant women visiting from other countries — with plans as early as this week to roll out a new rule cracking down on “birth tourism,” three administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has threatened to end birthright citizenship and railed against immigrant “anchor babies.” The new rule would be one of the first tangible steps to test how much legal authority the administration has to prevent foreigners from taking advantage of the 14th Amendment’s protection of citizenship for anyone born in the U.S.

  • “This change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry,” a State Department official told Axios.
  • The regulation is also part of the administration’s broader efforts to intensify the vetting process for visas, according to another senior administration official.

The big picture: “Birth tourists” often come to the U.S. from China, Russia and Nigeria, according to the AP.

  • There’s no official count of babies born to foreign visitors in the U.S., while the immigration restrictionist group Center for Immigration Studies — which has close ties to Trump administration immigration officials — puts estimates at around 33,000 every year.

How the new regulation would work: It would alter the requirements for B visas (or visitor visas), giving State Department officials the authority to deny foreigners the short-term business and tourism visas if they believe the process is being used to facilitate automatic citizenship.

  • It’s unclear yet how the rule would be enforced — whether officials would be directed to consider pregnancy or the country of the woman’s citizenship in determining whether to grant a visa.
  • Consular officers who issue passports and visas “are remarkably skilled at sussing out true versus false claims,” the senior official said.
  • “The underlying practical issue is that very few people who give birth in the U.S. got a visa for that specific purpose. Most people already have visas and come in later,” according to Jeffrey Gorsky, former chief legal adviser in the State Department visa office.

This is but one step in the administration’s plans to make it harder for people from other countries to benefit from birthright citizenship.

  • “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” the senior official said. “Just the legal recognition that this is improper and wrong and not allowed is a significant step forward.”
  • The plans to address the use of B visas for birth tourism were included in the latest version of the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.
  • Immigration experts expect there to be a similar rule for Customs and Border Protection to go along with the State Department’s regulation.

What to watch: Most of Trump’s major immigration moves have been met with lawsuits. If the regulation leaves it to officers’ discretion to ensure that B visas aren’t used for birth tourism, it would be difficult to challenge in court, according to Lynden Melmed, an attorney and former chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  • “State Department officials have all the discretion in the world to deny people visas,” said Sarah Pierce of the Migration Policy Institute. Foreign nationals who are outside the U.S. and have not yet received visas “don’t have a lot of legal standing.”
  • But specific restrictions that could keep out non-birth tourism visitors — such as pregnant women coming to the U.S. for business, etc. — would be legally questionable, according to Melmed and Gorsky.

Go deeper: Trump’s most effective border wall isn’t a physical one

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