Clarke condemns Trump’s ongoing onslaught on immigrants

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke delivers keynote address Saturday night at Isaiah Temple 2018 Awards Ceremony.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Friday night launched a scathing attack on United States President Donald J. Trump’s immigration policies, describing them as ongoing assaults on immigrants.

“In the White House, we have a man who is not of sound mind, morals or values who has made decisions and implemented policies that have been a full frontal assault, an attack on our humanity and our livelihoods — decisions that benefit only those at the top, the one percent like himself,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, in delivering the keynote address at an Awards Ceremony of the Jamaican-owned Isaiah’s Temple of Mt. Hope Spiritual Baptist Church in Brooklyn.

“Brooklyn continues to be in the bulls-eye of his administration’s most cruel and inhumane attacks,” added the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “The immigrant community is no exception. I have constituents who are green card holders from the very countries listed on Donald Trump’s immoral and unjust Muslim ban.”

She said family separation at the US-Mexican border is “a direct result of the Trump Administration’s racist ‘zero tolerance’ policy of criminally prosecuting migrants at the southern border.”

Clarke said this particular policy “calls to mind the worst of our history, including the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, our refusal to grant safety to Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, and the treatment of slaves during the Middle Passage from Africa, and centuries of Chattel slavery and forced and imposed state sanctioned segregation.”

The congresswoman lamented that children are now being shipped all over the country, including to New York City, “where there were at least 239 children being detained just a few miles from my district and thousands of miles away from their caregivers.”

Clarke also said the Trump administration is “trying to undermine” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, “which puts 800,000 ‘Dreamers’ at risk of deportation.”

She said there are currently over 42,000 “Dreamers” in the state of New York, most of which are enrolled in school or employed.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act) legislation was introduced in the US Senate, in 2001, as a bipartisan bill. Its aim was to provide a means for undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants who arrived in the US as children to gain a pathway to permanent legal status. Individuals who would have qualified under the DREAM Act are often referred to as “Dreamers.”

But Clarke said Trump “hasn’t stopped there,” referring to the US president’s “full frontal” attacks on immigrants.

“If you recall, he even went as far as to spew disgraceful and disdainful rhetoric regarding the fate of undocumented immigrants of African descent, using vulgar descriptions of their nation of origin,” she said. “You know the S-hole countries. His racist rhetoric is reflective of his true intentions and proves that he is not serious about developing policy to mend our broken immigration system.

“But be not dismayed,” Clarke said. “We, the people, have great power. We can defeat this racist, xenophobic, sexist, and frankly un-American agenda.

“As a community, we must utilize our resources to strengthen our families and stay in the communities we have chosen, labored in, and call home, regardless of what policies are coming out of the White House,” she added.

“Let us remember the thousands of Brooklyn residents who desire a path to citizenship but whose livelihoods are being threatened by the Trump Administration and not take this opportunity for granted.

“We must make citizenship a priority,” Clarke urged. “We must get out to vote. This may sound cliché, but the elections in November may be some of the most important elections in our lifetime. There’s so much at stake.”

In the latest development, the Trump administration is targeting Caribbean and other immigrants who overstay their visas.

Last week, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Entry / Exit Overstay Report.

The report provides data on departures and overstays, by country, for foreign visitors to the United States who entered as nonimmigrants through an air or sea Port of Entry (POE) and were expected to depart in FY 2017.

The in-scope population for this report includes temporary workers and families, students, exchange visitors, temporary visitors for pleasure, temporary visitors for business, and other nonimmigrant classes of admission.

DHS said it “has determined” that there were 52,656,022 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea POEs with expected departures occurring in FY 2017.

It said the in-scope admissions represent the vast majority of all air and sea nonimmigrant admissions. Of this number, DHS said it calculated a total overstay rate of 1.33 percent, or 701,900 overstay events.

The report also breaks down the overstay rates further “to provide a better picture of those overstays who remain in the United States beyond their period of admission and for whom there is no identifiable evidence of a departure, an extension of period of admission, or transition to another immigration status,” according to DHS.

At the end of FY 2017, it said there were 606,926 Suspected In-Country Overstays. The overall Suspected In-Country Overstay rate was 1.15 percent of the expected departures.

“The US government is using a multifaceted approach to enforce overstay violations, including improving entry and exit data collection and reporting, notifying visitors of an impending expiration of their authorized period of admission, cancelling travel authorizations and visas for violators, recurrent vetting of many nonimmigrants, and apprehending overstays present in the United States,” DHS said.

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