Anti-Immigrant Law and Policy



(reported by


Beginning in April 2018, the Trump Administration ordered a Zero-Tolerance policy on migrants coming to the border.  The policy extended even to those persons fleeing terrorism and gender violence in their home country, migrants who properly present themselves to border officials invoking their right to refuge and protection under International human rights/asylum law.   Under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, asylum seekers must show that they have a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political  opinion or membership in a particular social group, and are unable or unwilling to seek protection from the authorities in their home country.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have defended Trump’s Zero-Tolerance policies which require a) a presumption that every single person, even petitioners for asylum and protection, presenting themselves without proof of the right to be in this country are criminals under federal law; and  b) that children and toddlers as young as 18 months with these presumed criminals at the time of arrest are to be held elsewhere while their parents face prosecution and deportation orders.  As implemented,  the policy has justified aggressive ICE raids in workplaces and using racial profiling on workers. ICE agents have made searching sweeps of neighborhoods demanding proof of legal residence and arresting those lacking documents,  including immigrants with legal residence,   Children have been removed from families and placed in special shelters, including tent cities.     Thus, whether at the border by asylum seekers, or as the result of racially profiled harassment, raids and arrests, ICE is separating families and caretakers in record numbers.

By early June, 2018 reports indicated that at least 2,000 children were in detention. Their adult caretakers are treated as presumed criminals.  For many the only crime is a plea for refuge and protection.  Others cannot qualify for legal residence.    Trump has implemented a policy that punishes even those only seeking the human right to travel, shelter, safety and protection. In August 2018 punitive practices included a retaliatory re-separation of children from parent detainees at Karnes detention center, whom ICE believed were planning a hunger strike to protest their prisoner-like confinement.   The prisoner-like treatment is a standard feature where the staff who operate the detention center are employed by such global prisoner corporations as The GeoGroup, Inc. or Corrections Corporation of America.  These immigration policies are having a racial and ethnic discriminatory impact since the ICE raids focus on immigrants who c0me here from Mexico or Central America.

In September, 2018, The New York Times reported that the detention of migrant children had reached nearly 13,000.

In Ms. L. v. ICE  (2018), the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of an asylum-seeking mother and her 7-year-old daughter who fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and then were separated from each other pursuant to Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy.  Afer the kidnapping by ICE the mother and child were detained separately, 2000 miles apart from each other.  The Ms. L. lawsuit successfully raised violations of the Constitution and federal law that protects asylum seekers. Mother and child’s case brought important court relief that reunited many other families that had been separated arbitrarily by the governmet.  As a national-class action lawsuit efforts to reunite all families continues.

Click here for updates on the ACLU’s Ms. L. lawsuit. 


  1. Donate to organizations opposing the impact of Zero Tolerance on families and children: ACLU, AILA , RAICES, C.A.R.A, KIDS IN NEED OF DEFENSE,  PUEBLO SIN FRONTERAS, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT.
  2. Lawyers can volunteer at detention centers and help prepare migrants for their credible fear interviews.   If you are on Facebook, join the group @Lawyersforgoodgovernment.
  3. Asylum seeker migrants are often struggling to rebuild their lives.  DONATE TO MIGRANT RELIEF EFFORTS.   Learn more about the Credible Fear Interview.