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Trump ‘a direct threat’ to Carib community: Clarke

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As the Trump administration in the United States heightens its draconian immigration policies, a Caribbean American legislator has warned that the president is “a direct threat” to the Caribbean American community in the United States.

Without calling his name but referring to him as “Number 45,” meaning the 45th president of the United States, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, said that there were “critical perspectives we need to incorporate into the debate on immigration; for example, the perspective of people from the Caribbean.”

Clarke, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, said there are more than three million immigrants in the New York City area, who are members of the Caribbean Diaspora.

She said more than 400,000 of these immigrants currently lack legal status.

“Today, we are confronted with an enormous challenge from a man, whose name I will not say at this celebration — number 45,” said Clarke in addressing Sunday the gala 34th Anniversary Luncheon of the Brooklyn-based group, Vincentian American Independent National Charities, Inc. (VINCI), at the El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn.

“He represents a direct threat to this community — a white supremacist who has surrounded himself with other individuals who share his bigoted and wicked ideology,” added Clarke, to cheers from patrons. “But our community will not back down. It’s not in our blood to do so.

“We will not step aside, or sit down,” she continued. “Just like our ancestors did, we will resist. We all know from our own personal experience that immigrants and their children and grandchildren, from every part of the world, are not only the foundation of Brooklyn, but, indeed, are Brooklyn itself.

“Washington, D.C. needs to hear the voices of Brooklyn,” Clarke said. “The renewal of our commitment to the best traditions of this nation – instead of the worst — will come from us. Your voices will sound the alarm for a renewal of purpose, a restoration of faith in ourselves as a people who believe that every person should have an opportunity to participate in the American Dream.”

Late last week, the Trump administration began unraveling an Obama-era program shielding from deportation Caribbean and other nationals brought to the United States illegally as children, while a split in the US Congress has made no progress on writing similar protections into law as Trump has asked.

The phase-out of the five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, began at midnight Thursday, the Tribune said.

After that, it said the administration will no longer accept or process new or renewal applications for DACA protection, even if they were mailed before the deadline. The renewed applicants are known as “Dreamers.”

Now, with five months to go before people begin losing their legal status, the Tribune noted that the US Congress is struggling to respond to Trump’s request for a legislative solution over an issue that has traditionally divided lawmakers along partisan lines.

The popularity of the so-called “Dreamers,” however, has prompted an unusual number of Republicans to favor action to provide them with legal status, even as conservative hard-liners continue to denounce such legislation as “amnesty,” the Tribune said.

Permits issued before the deadline to live, work and serve in the military will begin to expire after March 5, continuing over the following two years, the Tribune said.

It said that when Trump announced last month that he was ending the program, he said the delay gave the US Congress six months to send him legislation to put alternative protections into law for the roughly 800,000 “Dreamers” who have qualified for two-year permits to remain in the US without threat of deportation.

Of the estimated 154,000 people eligible to apply for renewals, about 118,000 had sent in applications to the three federal processing centers in Phoenix, Dallas and Chicago by Wednesday, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Officials will only process applications received by the end of the day Thursday and will not consider forms postmarked on Thursday but arriving later, said David Lapan, spokesman for the Homeland Security Department.

That left some 34,000 DACA beneficiaries — just under one in four of those eligible for renewal — who had yet to file in the final days before the deadline and could lose their protected status or their authorization to work, the Tribune said.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of beneficiaries, alleging that, even before its DACA phase-out, the Trump administration has been revoking beneficiar­ies’ protections for minor offenses, like traffic infractions, or charges for which they are ultimately cleared, the Tribune said.

It said Democrats in the US Congress, including Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, have repeatedly urged the Homeland Security Department to extend Thursday’s deadline, especially for people living in disaster zones in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also asked the administration to reset the deadline to January, the Tribune said.

But it said the Trump administration refused to move the dates.

Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy at the ACLU, said Thursday’s deadline was “both cruel and arbitrary.”

Last week, a United States federal judge in Brooklyn, New York ripped as “heartless” the Trump administra­tion’s refusal to extend its deadline for “Dreamers” to apply to stay in the US.

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced last month, on Trump’s behalf, that immigrants shielded from deportation by DACA would have until Oct.5 to reapply for their two-year protected status.

United States Justice Department lawyers told Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis last week that the Trump administration was sticking with the deadline, according to the New York Daily News.

“It’s unacceptable to me, quite frankly, as a human being and as an American. I’m just glad I was born in Patterson, New Jersey, and not Mexico City,” Garaufis responded. “You can’t come into court to espouse a position that is heartless.”

When Garaufis met weeks earlier with lawyers for the government and “Dreamers” fighting the halt, he strongly urged a pause on the renewal deadline, the Daily News said.

US Justice Department lawyer Brett Shumate said the decision to stick with the deadline was “not made lightly,” adding that the purpose was to kick off an “orderly wind down” of the program.

But Judge Garaufis said DACA’s end would not only affect its estimated 800,000 recipients — it would affect their families, employers and communities, as well.

He said the recipients were “making the country stronger,” arranging schedule for the sides to file their arguments on the case, which will stretch into January, the Daily News reported.

Immigration lawyers have filed a federal complaint saying that ending DACA was an “arbitrary, capricious” move “based upon animus toward Latinos,” according to the New York Times.

It said the complaint, which revived a prior lawsuit filed in support of DACA last year, was the first legal assault on the program’s repeal.

A group of 16 Democratic state attorneys general have also submitted a similar suit opposing the rollback, which has also ended up in front of Judge Garaufis, the Times said.

At the hearing, Garaufis, who was appointed by former United States President Bill Clinton, said that “the ultimate outcome of this case should not be heard by a court of law — it should be handled by the political branches.”

But he sternly warned that if Trump and Congress were unable to reach a solution, he might be compelled to “protect” the 800,000 young immigrants who stand to be affected, the Times said.

Earlier, United States Democratic leaders said they had struck a deal with Trump to quickly extend protections for young, undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants and to finalize a border security package that does not include the president’s proposed wall, according to reports.

Senator Minority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer, of New York, and the House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, said in a joint statement that they had a “very productive” dinner meeting with the president at the White House that focused on DACA.

“We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” they said.

Updated 2:24 pm, October 20, 2017
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