SA reacts to immigration crackdown

By Kristian Jaime

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San Antonio has been the site of many protests concerning immigration reform and amnesty policies including the designation as a “Sanctuary City.” (Photo/ Courtesy)

With over a week since President Donald Trump was sworn into office, the deluge of Executive Orders has made his tenure tumultuous to say the least.

With strong borders and national security as the linchpin of his campaign, President Trump wasted little time in signing a series of Executive Orders concerning the construction of a border wall, additional border patrol agents and increased deportations. But perhaps the most divisive was the ban on refugees from selected countries in lieu of “comprehensive vetting.”

“With [these actions], the United states gets back control of its borders. The Secretary of Homeland Security, working with myself and my staff, will begin immediate construction of a border wall,” said President Trump concerning the key details of his plan.

Yet with construction along the 1900-mile border with Mexico grabbing much of the attention, it is the details within the newly minted federal orders that have many up in arms. While construction will begin with funds already available in the Department of Homeland Security budget, additional money will come with a Congressional spending bill to foot the estimated $10 billion price tag.

While Mexican officials, including President Enrique Peña Nieto, have all strongly rejected paying for such a wall, the Trump administration claims they will do so by placing a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports.

According to data by The Office of the United States Trade Representative, U.S. goods imports from Mexico totaled $295 billion in 2015, up 0.2 percent from 2014, and up 73 percent from 2005. U.S. imports from Mexico are up 638 percent from 1993, a time before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). With Mexico, the nation’s second largest goods importer since 2015, any policy concerning a potential trade war is bound to touch all aspects of the domestic economy.

With much of San Antonio’s role in Mexican trade taking place at Port SA, it is still yet unknown how the President’s policies will affect the Alamo City.

Among other provisions includes an additional 5,000 border patrol agents and withholding federal monies to “Sanctuary Cities” that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants. In an effort to end the “catch and release” practices of previous administrations, President Trump has also called for for more detention facilities to house those in the deportation process.

“We are a country of immigrants. The recent executive order on immigration, which has flung members of our community into panic and confusion, is wrong,” said District 8 City Councilman and Mayoral candidate Ron Nirenberg. “It is wrong to arbitrarily exclude people who have already been approved to travel to this country and, in some instances, have lived here legally for years.”

Air terminals across the country, including San Antonio International Airport (SAIA) are the new battle grounds for strict measures to keep certain refugees from entering the United States.

Those seeking political asylum from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia have all been barred even if they are already in transit to American soil. San Antonio has acted as a destination for those escaping both natural disasters and political turmoil. The current move by the White House places cities like San Antonio on the hot seat.

“The Executive Branch continues to enact discriminatory policies under the guise of national security, leaving many immigrants and refugees on the outside looking in,” said District 1 City Councilman Roberto C. Treviño.”Given the makeup of our city and our proximity to Mexico, many San Antonians have family and friends who are directly impacted by the new immigration policy.”

Efforts by the Trump administration seek to cap refugees in the 2017 fiscal year to 50,000 from 110,000 under former President Obama a year ago.

Other city leaders echoed the sentiment from San Antonio City Council calling these measures the antithesis of the American way of life. In especially diverse districts, a hard line against immigration often means politics on the most personal level.

“The executive actions taken by the new administration in recent days only scapegoat men, women and children who contribute so much to our city and country.  These actions threaten families, entire communities and the fabric of San Antonio and Texas,” said District 3 City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran.

Such a policy is already facing numerous legal challenges, most notably in Brooklyn with U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly when she ordered the release of two Iraqi men as part of a nationwide stay on part of Trump’s Executive Order. Her ruling temporarily blocked the deportation of valid visa holders, including those from countries listed in Trump’s ban.

The White House decried national protests in recent days by pro-immigration supporters across the country. With more legal challenges likely to come, the rocky road to immigration reform is far from concluded.

 

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