Week Fourteen: National Immigrant Justice Center

“Extreme vetting” is the process of performing more rigorous security checks on individuals trying to enter the U.S. such as demanding cell phone contacts, social media passwords, and answers to questions regarding ideology. These cell phone searches are already occurring at the U.S./Mexico border, and the current administration is considering expanding extreme vetting to entry points across the country. The administration’s actions so far to ban and restrict immigration and visitation are already harming the U.S. economy. Tourism experts predict a $1.6 billion loss in direct economic spending from Mexico alone resulting from travel deterred by U.S. policy. European and Asian travelers also report being less likely to visit the U.S., and early signs show a 7% decrease in travel likely with current policies. The economic impacts could be even more substantial if extreme vetting is implemented.

This week, we donated to Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). For three decades, this important organization has been dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. NIJC provides legal services and public education, as well as advocates for policy reform. The organization serves over 8,000 people per year and achieves a 90% success rate in obtaining asylum for individuals fleeing persecution in their home countries.

We are a nation of immigrants, and our democracy is built on the principles of freedom and justice. These “extreme vetting” policies infringe on individuals’ privacy and create an insider/outsider mentality that portrays the United States as a nation of fear and exclusiveness. We believe that organizations such as the NIJC are especially crucial during this divisive time in our history, helping to protect people in danger of persecution and violence, and working to secure justice for immigrants facing discrimination. We all come from an immigrant heritage, and we need to help each other. As George Washington himself said: “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…”