Last month the Secretary of Homeland Security issued two memos on immigration enforcement One of the memos directed Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to start issuing regular reports on state, county and local jurisdictions who refuse to give full support to ICE’s enforcement of immigration laws. The first report came out today.
This morning US Magistrate Judge James Donohue held another hearing in the case of DACA recipient Daniel Ramirez, who has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for nearly a month.
Yesterday the Seattle Police Department submitted a report to Council member Lorena Gonzalez on its mutual aid agreements with other police departments in Washington state, and on how those are impacted by the city’s refusal to enforce federal immigration laws.
Today the legal team for Daniel Ramirez filed an emergency motion for his conditional release pending a final determination on his petition for habeas corpus.
The day began and ended with activity related to President Trump’s executive order on immigration.
One of the big stories this week — locally and nationally — has been the arrest and detention of Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old resident of Washington State who was brought to the US illegally as a child and has been a beneficiary of the Obama Administration’s Deferred Access for Child Arrivals (DACA) program since 2014. Last Friday he was arrested and is still being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). And at a time when immigrants — both legal and illegal — are living in fear of the Trump administration’s saber-rattling about immigration policy, this has become a key test for the fate of DACA under Trump.
Tomorrow morning at 10am, there will be a hearing in his case before a U.S. district court magistrate judge. The government filed their brief this morning; Ramirez’s legal team filed their response tonight. And the stuff that’s in them is mind-blowing.
What happens when a police force exhausts the resources it can deploy to handle a crisis situation such as a riot, a larger-than-expected mass action event, or a natural disaster? Most police departments use “mutual aid” agreements to call on neighboring police departments as needed to supplement their own resources. These agreements benefit small towns and large cities alike, not to mention special public-safety organizations such as the Port of Seattle Police. But they can also create issues when the two departments work under different policies. This has come up twice for the Seattle Police Department, and by extension the City Council, in the last three days.
The big news this morning is, of course, Trump’s declaration of war against so-called “sanctuary cities” yesterday, and Seattle’s fierce response.
Earlier this week Council member Lorena Gonzalez, the chair of the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, and New Americans Committee, circulated a letter for her colleagues on the City Council to sign. The letter is addressed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and raises concerns about their proposal to increase fees for naturalization.
The fee for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, will increase from $595 to $640 — though they are also proposing a reduced fee of $320 for those whose household income is between 150% and 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
The application fee for form N600/600K, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, will increase from $600 to $1170 — almost doubling. As the letter points out, this certificate is often required for a naturalized citizen to work or vote.
The fee for filing Form N-565, to replace a naturalization or citizenship certificate, will increase from $345 to $555.
Why is USCIS doing this? Simple: the entire department — all immigration and naturalization services — are funded by these fees. That includes adjudication of refugee and asylum processing, the operation of the Office of Citizenship, and the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program. As the Council’s letter points out, that’s fundamentally broken.
Why should we care? Because as a recent study points out, naturalization of permanent residents provides significant economic benefits both to the new citizens as well as to the local, state and federal government.
As of 2012, Seattle had 86,130 foreign-born residents — 18% of the population — of which 56,171 were already naturalized citizens and another 22,648 were eligible to naturalize. 49% of those eligible residents have at least 2 years of college education, and only 20% have limited English proficiency, making them highly employable in our growing local economy.
The study claims that nationally naturalization causes individual earnings to increase by an average of 8.9%, the employment rate to rise 2.2 percentage points, and home ownership to increase 6.3 percentage points. That also means there is a decrease in government benefits paid to those new citizens for many programs (with the exception of SSI — a program for extremely low income citizens), and additional tax revenues from their increased income (and personal spending).
For San Francisco, which is similar in many ways to Seattle, that results in the following economic benefits of increasing naturalization:
Seattle’s numbers would actually look better than San Francisco per capita, since it has a higher percentage of eligible immigrants with college educations and a lower percentage of those with income at or under 150% of the federal poverty level.
USCIS is moving the only lever it has to raise revenues, but it does seem counter-productive to raise additional barriers to becoming a U.S. citizen when the benefits to naturalization are so clear.
Negative response to HALA tops the news this morning.