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Immigration Activist Denies That Illegals Skip Court

Venezuelan migrants crossing the Rio Bravo to request humanitarian asylum in the United States
Venezuelan migrants crossing the Rio Bravo to request humanitarian asylum in the United States | Image by David Peinado Romero / Shutterstock.com

Illegal alien advocacy groups held a press conference on Thursday to express their opposition to President Joe Biden’s recent executive order limiting asylum, but their comments were often dismissive of concerns raised by conference attendees.

The speakers, who convened on Zoom, repeatedly made dubious claims about illegal immigrants and the legal system.

Biden’s order authorizes U.S. immigration officials to deport large numbers of illegal aliens without processing their asylum claims, CBS News reported. The order also imposes limits on daily asylum claims and the time allotted to illegal immigrants to seek legal counsel after crossing the border. One speaker at the conference called the order the “most draconian, anti-asylum regulation to date,” as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

DX called attention to one long-standing issue with the asylum process, asking, “What measures do you recommend to ensure that asylum seekers attend their court dates and comply with legal requirements?”

Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigration Defense Law Center, chose to respond by dismissing the question.

“[It] isn’t a problem. They are going to their hearings,” Toczylowski claimed.

This assertion directly contradicts the findings of most inquiries. Figures vary depending on the source, but the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) found that roughly half of illegal immigrants who are released into the interior of the country for whatever reason do not appear for their court dates. According to CIS figures, between 2013 and 2017, U.S. courts issued almost a million deportation orders in absentia to immigrants who entered the country illegally.

Welcome With Dignity’s campaign manager, Melina Roche, who organized the press conference, minimized the significance of entering the country illegally.

“Seeking asylum is a form of legal migration, regardless of how they enter,” Roche said.

Toczylowski echoed this sentiment.

“Asylum seekers who cross the southern border are availing themselves of the system [by seeking out border patrol to claim asylum],” she added.

Neither activist emphasized the inherently illicit nature of non-citizens crossing the border through anything other than a port of entry. It is a federal crime to cross the border without proper documentation. Likewise, Texas made it a state crime late last year to cross the Texas border with Mexico without lawful authorization.

Similarly, neither woman explored the question that was raised about how the Welcome With Dignity campaign would address the concerns of legal immigrants who may feel alienated by a perceived preference toward individuals who cross the border illegally and then claim asylum.

However, both women were technically correct in the sense that crossing the southern border illegally does not immediately preclude someone’s ability to claim asylum. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website:

You may apply for asylum with USCIS regardless of your immigration status if:

You are not currently in removal proceedings.

You file an asylum application within 1 year of arriving to the United States or demonstrate that you are within an exception to that rule.”

In another exchange, DX asked Marisa Limon Garza, executive director of Las Americas Immigration Advocacy Center, why she advocated for new and expanded pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants rather than other forms of legal status. She and Roche, who also led the press Q&A, ignored the question.

Interestingly, Garza’s remarks were the only time any speaker mentioned citizenship in any context. Speakers never discussed the meaning of citizenship nor referred to existing citizens directly, aside from one implied warning that executive orders like Biden’s could encourage random mass killings of illegal immigrants by native-born Americans. However, the direct connection between a stricter border policy and mass murders perpetrated by citizens was never completely fleshed out.

The word “newcomer” was frequently substituted for “illegal alien,” and citizens were called “established neighbors.”

Welfare programs for illegal immigrants, both public and private, were also veiled in euphemisms. Each speaker referred to such programs as “welcoming.” The phrase “welcome” or “welcoming with dignity” had shifting meanings throughout the conference, depending on context.

The press conference’s general tone was outrage and indignation over Biden’s executive order. Many of the speakers disparagingly compared the order to something from the Trump era, and one speaker compared it to governmental actions that enabled the Holocaust, as DX previously reported.

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