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What is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?

The number of asylum seekers has tripled between 2014 and 2017, with141,695 persons applying during the 2017 fiscal year.  The backlog of court cases has grown to 318,000.  In June of 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that in general, domestic or gang violence is not grounds for asylum.  Currently 50 percent of migrants to the U.S. are fleeing Central America’s Northern Triangle (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala)—a region of trouble.  And 46 percent are from Mexico.  

Situation at the border drawing public outrage

June 22, 2018—The Trump administration policy of separating children from their parents upon illegally entering the United States has caused the public to demand a change in the policy.  On Wed., June 20, President Trump reversed his policy, thereby allowing parents and children who enter illegally to be housed together.  The executive order did not address the issue of children who are presently held separately from their parents.  Congress is working diligently to construct a new bill but has been unable thus far to muster enough votes to pass the legislation.  

Please write your congressional delegates ASAP to let them know your thoughts.

Your representatives: 

Zero Tolerance" fills courts, separates families

June 14, 2018—This policy, implemented by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is taxing the immigration system of the courts beyond their capacity to respond.  In one court district, the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Texas, before the policy was implemented, the court saw 20 to 30 immigrants a day who were charged with crimes.  Today that number has risen to 150. According to Azalea Aleman-Bendiks,an assistant federal public defender with the court, "the numbers are staggering.  I don't know how much longer we're going to be able to keep up with this flow."   Last month (May) nearly everyone who crossed the border illegally was charged was a federal misdemeanor. According to law, children with the parents who are charged, must be put under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement while the criminal cases are pursued. U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, went to the border to investigate the situation.  "It's a mess.  This is essentially an unaccompanied minor crisis manufactured by the president of the United States."  Since mid-May more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents.  Aleman-Bendiks asked the ORR for lists of the children to help reunited the families but hadn't received a reply.  Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby of the U.S. District Court of Texas determined that his court did not have jurisdiction to order the agencies to release information.

Deportation Up in Iowa

Adapted from the Waterloo Courier, Feb. 20, 2018—Since President Trump’s election, deportation and arrests have increased significantly.  In a region that includes Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and that Dakotas, immigration arrests are up 67 percent and deportations 55 percent.  From 2013 to 2016, during Obama’s administration, arrests were decreasing.  Trump’s 2017 actions have brought levels back to the 2013 numbers.  This naturally is causing a lot of apprehension, fear, and uncertainty among the immigrant population.  During his campaign, prior to his election, Donald Trump made immigration reform a major emphasis for his campaign.  Now that he is president, Trump says they are simply enforcing the laws.  This enforcement does not just focus on immigrants with a prior criminal record, but also on those with no criminal record.  According to Iowa immigrant advocacy groups, 64 families have reported deportation, detention or surveillance by federal agents.  The targets have lived in Iowa from six months to 15 years.