ICYMI: New polling from Fox News, CNN, Quinnipiac show majority of Americans support Dreamers, oppose family separation

Posted by FWD.us Press on 06/21/2018

New polling this week from Fox News, CNN and Quinnipiac University show the majority of Americans support letting Dreamers continue contributing to our country, while also opposing the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from parents at the border.

American voters overwhelmingly support allowing Dreamers to remain in the U.S. and ultimately earn U.S. citizenship, with 79 percent of respondents in favor, according to Quinnipiac University. All surveyed groups support Dreamers, ranging from 61 percent among Republicans to 94 percent among Democrats. Half of respondents from the same poll also found the Trump Administration has been too aggressive in deporting undocumented immigrants.

On the issue of family separation, two-thirds of Americans — a full 66 percent — disapprove of the Trump Administration’s practice of taking immigrant children away from their families along the U.S. – Mexico border, according to CNN.

A Fox News poll from June 14 also found that 52 percent of registered voters surveyed disapprove of how President Trump is handling immigration.

All living first ladies have spoken out against family separation. On Monday, former First Lady Laura Bush penned a scathing op-ed in The Washington Post calling the policy cruel, saying, “our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities.”

“I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” she added.

FWD.us Statement on Immigration Legislation H.R 6136 Proposed by House Republican Leadership

Posted by FWD.us Press on 06/19/2018

WASHINGTON, DC – FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement today on the immigration legislation HR 6136 proposed by House Republican Leadership:

“For months, members on both sides of the aisle have worked in good faith to try and pass bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers. We’re grateful for this work and the recognition that DACA recipients deserve a pathway to citizenship. We appreciate the inclusion of language to eliminate arbitrary per-country caps that keep legal immigrants from populous countries like India trapped in decades-long backlogs, waiting for green cards they may never get, as well as measures to ensure children of highly-skilled workers, who otherwise would be forced to leave once they reach 21, also have a pathway to stay in legal status. We supported their efforts just as we supported the bipartisan Rounds-King amendment in the Senate and the bipartisan USA Act introduced by Congressmen Hurd and Aguilar in the House. Those bills were compromises that included tough choices and challenging tradeoffs in exchange for protecting millions of deserving Dreamers across the country. Unfortunately, H.R. 6136 falls short of these standards. It has no bipartisan support, includes substantial and harmful cuts to legal immigration, and protects only a narrow population of Dreamers.

“Further, and particularly in light of the Administration’s new policy of separating children from their parents at the border, it is the wrong approach that this legislation also includes changes to the asylum process that will permit the indefinite detention of children and families. Rather than fixing the policy created by the Administration, this legislation would make the situation far worse. Children should not be separated from their parents who are seeking asylum – but neither can the answer be the indefinite jailing of these children with their parents. We reject this false choice. We as Americans should expect more, and so we oppose this bill.”

FWD.us Update on the Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy

Posted by FWD.us Press on 06/19/2018

WASHINGTON, DC – More than 2,342 children have been taken from their parents at the U.S. border since May 5 as a result of the Department of Justice’s new family separation policy. FWD.us head of Policy and Coalitions Alida Garcia, who has been in Texas for the last three days working on the ground with groups supporting immigrants impacted by this policy, issued the following update:

“Just over a month ago, the Department of Justice established a new zero tolerance policy that has led to the United States of America prosecuting parents in mass trials and separating thousands of children from their parents. Many of these families are trying to claim asylum as they fled violence and persecution in their home countries. This is unconscionable and it must stop.

“For the past few weeks, FWD.us has been supporting groups on the ground – experts that we hope people will directly support – and for the last three days members of our team have been working down here at the border with these groups in Texas to help immigrants and their families who have been impacted by this horrific policy. We have seen first hand the damage and horror that separating and jailing children and families has inflicted on these kids. We have seen buses filled with shackled parents who are criminalized as a result of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, all of whom are set to be sentenced for seeking hope, safety and security in the United States. We have heard first-hand accounts from those in this region aware of the regular turning away of families at ports of entry trying to seek asylum.

“We want to uplift local experts showing what the best America has to offer in this critical moment for our country and invite people to support groups like: like Neta, The Texas Civil Rights Project, La Union Del Pueblo Entero (L.U.P.E.), and Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

“A cautionary note that as policymakers increasingly offer solutions to this manufactured crisis we cannot accept the false premise that jailing families will solve this problem – and we should be very clear that creating this false choice is exactly what some people want to happen. We continue to call on the administration to end their ‘zero tolerance’ policy immediately and we hope the loud chorus of faith leaders, bipartisan lawmakers, and people across the country screaming for this policy to be repealed will be be heard and the Trump Administration will take immediate action to end this horrific practice.”

ICYMI - Assembly Members on why New York should eliminate cash bail for smaller crimes

Posted by FWD.us Press on 06/15/2018

Wanted to make sure you saw this op-ed in City and State New York by Assemblywoman Latrice Walker and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol entitled Why New York Should Eliminate Cash Bail for Smaller Crimes. In it, they write: “New York has an opportunity to correct one major injustice – the flawed bail system – but only if the state Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo act. The Bail Reform Act (A.10137A), which passed the Assembly on Tuesday, would significantly reduce wealth-and race-based disparities in the pretrial justice system.”

With just three legislative days remaining this session, the 16,000 New Yorkers awaiting trial in jail cannot afford to wait for long overdue pretrial reforms.

City and State New York // Latrice Walker and Joseph Lentol // Why New York should eliminate cash bail for smaller crimes

At the United States’ founding, we were told that all men are created equal, but chattel slavery thrived. During the Jim Crow era, Southern states separated people by race, treating African-Americans as second-class citizens.

Today, the hypocrisy continues: We are told that American justice is blind to a defendant’s race or wealth, but we incarcerate people because they are poor and because of racist policing practices targeting black and brown people – a successor to slavery. These contradictions have no place in our society or in our criminal justice system.

New York has an opportunity to correct one major injustice – the flawed bail system – but only if the state Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo act. The Bail Reform Act (A.10137A), which passed the Assembly on Tuesday, would significantly reduce wealth-and race-based disparities in the pretrial justice system.

Today, 67 percent of people in New York jails are there before their trial, rather than because they are serving a sentence. They have only been charged with a crime and they are presumed innocent.

Yet they are incarcerated because they cannot afford to pay cash bail. The bail system allows those with money to purchase their freedom, while poor people charged with the same crimes languish in jail, away from their families, jobs and communities. Harvey Weinstein walks free while awaiting trial for rape, but Kalief Browder languished in jail because he was charged with stealing a backpack.

Money should not be the determining factor for someone’s freedom. That’s why our bail bill carefully balances public safety concerns with the need for fairness and justice, and protects the presumption of innocence.

The bill eliminates cash bail for all nonviolent felonies and almost all misdemeanors. Instead of setting cash bail, judges would have the authority to release people with non-monetary conditions, such as having someone check in with pretrial services agencies.

It levels the playing field by eliminating the shameful practice of imprisoning persons simply because they are too poor to pay their way out of jail. This change will go a long way towards advancing equal justice and making pretrial release the norm and pretrial detention the exception.

In many cases, bail is simply unnecessary. Studies have found the vast majority of people who are released, with or without supervision, show up for their court proceeding.

Our bill will also help eliminate the unfair disparity between downstate and upstate communities. In some upstate New York counties, an average of 60 percent of people held on bail had only a misdemeanor or violation as their most serious charge. In New York City, misdemeanor cases make up only 20 percent of cases in which bail is set. In short, you are more likely to spend time in jail on a misdemeanor if you are accused of the crime upstate than if you commit the crime in New York City.

Keeping someone in jail is expensive, and we can save scarce county resources through significant reductions in the number of people who are jailed pretrial.

The bill also increases existing protections for survivors of domestic violence by allowing judges to impose electronic monitoring of defendants in such cases to mitigate the risk of flight. Generally, however, there are limits on the use and length of time a person can be monitored to ensure that electronic monitoring does not become another mechanism of mass surveillance of African-American and Latino communities.

Finally, the bill improves due process protections for people who have bail set or are remanded without bail while facing serious allegations. Our bill requires a prompt judicial hearing and the disclosure of relevant evidence to ensure that innocent people, like Kalief Browder, are not detained for months or years before evidence showing the weakness of the prosecution’s case comes to light.

Across the country, courts are striking down cash bail as a violation of the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

It is time for us to mean what we say when we declare that justice is blind. New York must end the race and wealth-based disparities that plague our criminal justice system with devastating effects for poor people and communities of color. A more fair and just bail system is within our reach; but the state Senate and governor must act boldly and pass comprehensive reform this year.h