Members of congress are shocked after touring a minor migrant detention facility. Some children have been held 9 months after being separated from their families at the border. (Feb. 19)
Immigration has been one of the leading issues in the news in recent years. However, with immigration comes a host of terms, some of which might be unfamiliar. Here are definitions for several often-used immigration-related terms.
People who flee their home countries because they have been persecuted – or fear persecution – due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Asylum-seekers make their request while in the U.S. or after arriving at a U.S. port of entry.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created by President Barrack Obama in 2012 and has protected more than 800,000 Dreamers from deportation and granted them work permits. President Donald Trump is trying to end the program, but has been blocked by federal courts.
Department of Homeland Security
The largest law enforcement agency in the country with more than 240,000 employees, Homeland Security oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes Customs officers who work at ports of entry and Border Patrol agents who patrol regions in between. Homeland Security also includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which arrests undocumented immigrants living in the interior of the country, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which interviews foreigners seeking to gain entry to the country, the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Coast Guard.
An estimated 3.6 million undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before their 18th birthday. The name derived from the DREAM Act, a bill that’s been proposed in Congress since 2001 to grant them U.S. citizenship, but the bill has never passed.
The U.S. has historically allowed most immigrants to enter the country based on their family ties, but some, including President Trump, want to switch to a system that measures immigrants based on their education, language skills and ability to contribute to the U.S. economy.
Similar to asylum-seekers, refugees are people who fear returning to their home countries. The difference is asylum-seekers make their request in the U.S., while refugees go through their entire application process abroad. They are generally interviewed by United Nations officials, and then referred to U.S. officials for more background screening and placement in the U.S.
A term used to describe more than 300 state, county and city government agencies that do not fully comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
A special status created by Congress in 1990 that allows foreigners to legally live and work in the U.S. if their home country has been hit by violence or a natural disaster. TPS has been granted to more than 300,000 people from 10 countries. President Trump is trying to end the program, but has been blocked by federal courts.
People on both sides of the immigration debate use different terms to describe foreigners who either entered the U.S. illegally, or legally entered the country and stayed after their visas expired. USA TODAY uses the term “undocumented immigrant” because it is the most neutral descriptor of that population.
In April of 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration would implement a “zero tolerance” policy for all those who cross the border illegally. Before, first-time illegal entry was treated as a civil infraction, but the new policy required government prosecutors to fully charge all cases. That sent parents to adult detention centers to face criminal hearings, but children cannot be housed there, leading to at least 2,800 migrant family separations.
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