Showing posts with label ICE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ICE. Show all posts

April 2, 2020

On Thin Ice: Why Ice Loss Matters {Vid by NASA}

Over 90% of Earth’s ice mass is locked up in Greenland and Antarctica. As our greenhouse gas emissions warm the planet, those areas, along with glaciers worldwide, lose more ice, contributing to sea level rise. Watch the video to learn how many people are threatened by this phenomenon worldwide and how much global sea level is projected to rise by 2100.


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

March 25, 2020

ICE Asks For Masks~ Masks Doctors, Nurses and Patients Need

                         Image result for ice asking for masks

ICE is asking for 45,000 N95 masks, the crucial surgical masks in short supply at hospitals around the country during the coronavirus outbreak. 
Last week, the agency said it was slowing immigration enforcement in light of the global pandemic and wouldn’t carry out actions at or near medical facilities, “except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.” But even to conduct its reduced operations, the agency says it needs masks and put out a request on Friday asking companies to bid to supply the agency with them.  “These items are part of standard employee protective equipment (PPE) for all law enforcement officers,” an ICE spokesperson told VICE News. 

The request specifies the masks will go to all 26 of ICE’s Enforcement and Removals Operations field offices within the next 30 days. From those field offices, ICE dispatches officers to identify and arrest undocumented immigrants, as part of the criminal detentions the agency will contintue to conduct during the outbreak. 
“ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) will focus enforcement on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds,” the agency said in a statement on March 18. “For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, ERO will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.”
Doctors and nurses working in hospitals and emergency rooms around the country have told VICE News that they can’t get the masks they need to treat patients and, without them, they’re concerned they could contract the virus themselves. If healthcare workers are exposed without a mask to a patient who tests positive for the virus, they may have to be quarantined, which keeps them from treating patients. 
“We are disease vectors,” said Michelle Gutierrez Vo, a 46-year-old nurse in Fremont, California. On Friday, she was home sick but was back at work Monday morning. “The refusal to give nurses and healthcare workers, the appropriate PPE [personal protective equipment] is just unconscionable.” 
The same is true in New York City, where Mayor Bill De Blasio warned on Sunday that the state is just 10 days from running out of necessary medical supplies to treat COVID-19 patients, including masks. The federal government is scrambling to send masks to the states hardest hit by the virus, including California, New York, and Washington State. 
As the coronavirus outbreak was spreading throughout the U.S. last week, ICE continued its arrests. Agents, with N95 masks in their vehicles, took a man who was on his way to a grocery store into custody on Tuesday, during California’s shelter-in-place order. The next day, the agency announced it would slow enforcement operations. 
The coronavirus outbreak has also already crept into immigration facilities. Two inmates tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday at a county correctional facility in New Jersey that houses people held on civil immigration violations. 
After ICE placed the request for masks, the agency also published a new directive on its website Saturday that ordered all visitors to immigration detention centers to wear personal protective equipment. Now, lawyers representing immigrants say they need to choose between seeing their clients and using masks sorely needed at hospitals. 
That prompted the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the National Association of Immigration Judges, and the ICE Professionals Union to issue a joint statement that called for the closure of all in-person hearings at immigration courts during the pandemic.  
“There is a severe shortage of PPE across the nation,” Jeremy McKinney, a vice president with the lawyers association said in a statement. “This requirement will make it impossible for lawyers to represent their clients unless they rob health care providers who are working to save the lives of thousands of patients of desperately needed equipment. All live in-person hearings need to be immediately suspended.”
ICE referred VICE News to the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review for comment on the call to shut down in-person hearings at immigration courts. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

July 12, 2018

As Families Get United Some Smaller Kids Do Not Recognize Their Own Moms

 A Guatemalan father and scared to death son who crossed over the US
were apprehended by Border agents last month. Associated Press  
Image result for border babies

One mother had waited four months to wrap her arms around her little boy. Another had waited three months to see her little girl again.

When the reunions finally happened Tuesday in Phoenix, the mothers were met with cries of rejection from their children.

“He didn’t recognize me,” said Mirce Alba Lopez, 31, of her 3-year-old son, Ederson, her eyes welling up with tears. “My joy turned temporarily to sadness.”

For Milka Pablo, 35, it was no different. Her 3-year-old daughter, Darly, screamed and tried to wiggle free from her mother’s embrace. 

“I want Miss. I want Miss,” Darly cried, calling for the social worker at the shelter where she had been living since mother and daughter were separated by federal agents at the southwestern border.

The tearful reunions — ordered by a court in California — came as the government said that it would release hundreds of migrant families wearing ankle bracelet monitors into the United States, effectively returning to the “catch and release” policy that President Trump promised to eliminate.

[Traumatic experiences like family separations pose great psychological risks, mental health experts say.]

Faced with a pair of court orders restricting immigration detentions, federal officials said that they could not hold all of the migrant families who had been apprehended. They said that their hands were tied by dueling requirements to release children from detention after 20 days and also to keep them with their parents or other adult relatives. 

Denis Espinoza, 33, holding his 13-month-old daughter, Carmen, at a bus station in Phoenix on Tuesday. Mr. Espinoza was released from detention and allowed to reunite with her 20 days after their separation.CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times
Trump administration officials also said that they have stopped referring migrant adults who enter the United States with children for prosecution. 

“Parents with children under the age of 5 are being reunited with their children and then released and enrolled into an alternative detention program,” Matthew Albence, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s executive associate director of enforcement and removal operations, told reporters on Tuesday.

He said that means the migrants will be given ankle bracelets “and released into the community.”

Government officials said they were struggling to meet Tuesday’s court-ordered deadline to reunite 102 migrant children under 5 with their parents; only about one-third were expected to be reunited by then.

The reunions that did happen were chaotic. Parents were warned that pickup and drop-off times could change throughout the day. The federal agency that oversees the care of migrant children, the Department of Health and Human Services, was still conducting background checks on parents into Tuesday morning.

In Phoenix, the reunions were marked by confusion and heartbreak.

As Ms. Lopez and Ms. Pablo waited at a Greyhound station to board eastbound buses, their children called each other sister and brother. They were yet to utter the word “mami,” Spanish for mother, to the women cuddling, stroking and feeding them. But they were calmer, the mothers said.

Darly, who had been potty-trained before the separation, had regressed to diapers. Ederson bounced up and down on his mother’s lap and downed Doritos with gusto. All of the adults were fitted with ankle monitors.

“I want to go with my little sister,” he said, pointing to a 13-month-old named Carmen in the arms of Denis Espinoza, her Honduran father who was released from detention to recover her 20 days after they were separated. 

The Justice Department has maintained that its “zero tolerance” immigration policy — which focuses on prosecuting all adults who illegally enter the United States but not necessarily detaining them — is still intact. The department has also said that it is prosecuting all of the cases it receives from immigration agents. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has predicted the tough immigration stance will discourage people from illegally entering the country. 

Ms. Pablo wearing an ankle monitor, with her daughter, Darly.CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times
Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, called the return to catch and release unfortunate and said that it would serve “as a pull factor for increased future illegal immigration.”

She added, “D.H.S. will continue to work with Congress to find a solution to this problem.”

Mr. Trump has for years railed against catch and release, blaming it for crimes and violence committed by illegal immigrants during the Obama administration. But the Trump administration has similarly struggled with deterring waves of migrants from Central and South America — and, once they enter the country, processing them through the legal system humanely.

Migrants with children who are apprehended in the United States are now given a notice to appear in court and being told, “Welcome to America,” according to a senior Department of Homeland Security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be identified by name.

Mr. Albence said the ankle monitor would track the families being released, but that ICE would consider other methods to ensure migrants show up for court. A total of about 80,000 migrants wearing tracking devices currently live in the United States, including migrants who were released from detention before the zero-tolerance policy was enacted in April.

Soon after the policy was announced, images of children in cages and audio of toddlers crying as they were separated from their parents prompted widespread public outrage, including from the Republican Party and Christian conservatives. 

In response, on June 20, Mr. Trump issued an executive order that said migrant children could no longer be separated from their adult relatives. That effectively limited detention to 20 days — a timeline set under a 1997 court settlement known as Flores — for migrant adults apprehended with children.

The Trump administration has asked Judge Dolly M. Gee of Federal District Court in Los Angeles to amend the Flores settlement to allow children to be detained for longer periods of time. It also has asked Congress for new laws to override the court order.

On Monday, Judge Gee refused to amend the settlement.

“Defendants seek to light a match to the Flores agreement and ask this court to upend the parties’ agreement by judicial fiat,” Judge Gee, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, wrote in her order.

Mirce Alba Lopez, 31, said her 3-year-old son, Ederson, “didn’t recognize me” when the pair were reunited in Phoenix.CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times
She called the Justice Department’s request to amend the settlement “cynical” and said it was an attempt to “shift responsibility to the judiciary for over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate.”

The Trump administration is expected to appeal her decision. But for now, it has little choice but to release families with ankle bracelets and hope they will show up for court appearances.

Catch and release is a term with no legal definition and has been used as a pejorative alternative to jailing illegal immigrants. Leon Fresco, a former senior Justice Department immigration lawyer, said putting ankle bracelets on migrants is a return to what the Trump administration itself has described as catch and release; ending its practice was a top priority of the labor union that represents Border Patrol agents and endorsed Mr. Trump’s 2016 candidacy. 

The use of ankle bands for migrant families may be short-lived. Judge Dana Sabraw of Federal District Court in San Diego said that he would consider a motion to let migrant families choose between remaining in long-term detention with ICE or voluntarily giving their children to Health and Human Services while they await legal proceedings.

Chris Rickerd, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, accused the Trump administration of largely manufacturing the current immigration crisis.

“Border residents and people around the country realize it’s this administration making people stand in the sun, waiting to cross into the United States,” Mr. Rickerd said. “It’s this administration separating children from their families. And it’s this administration taking this zero-tolerance policy stance when illegal immigration numbers historically have declined.”

That chaos was highlighted Tuesday by the government’s struggle to comply with the court order in San Diego to reunite children under 5 with their families. Federal officials said that they had reunited four families so far, with another 34 reunions scheduled by day’s end.

Additionally, officials gave no indication of whether they would meet a July 26 deadline to reunite all remaining migrant children who had been separated from their parents.

A Guatemalan father and son, who crossed the United States-Mexico border illegally, were apprehended last month by Border Patrol agents in San Diego.CreditJae C. Hong/Associated Press
“These are firm deadlines; they’re not aspirational goals,” said Judge Sabraw, admonishing the government. 

Chris Meekins, a senior Health and Human Services Department official, pointed to safety concerns to explain the delay and insisted that the reunifications could not be rushed.

“Our process may not be as quick as some might like, but there is no question that it is protecting children,” Mr. Meekins said in a conference call with reporters.

In some cases, he said, “If we had just reunited kids with the adults, we would be putting them in the care of a rapist, a kidnapper, a child abuser and someone who was charged with murder in their home nation.”

One of the biggest operators of migrant-youth shelters in the United States, Southwest Key Programs, said its staff had dispatched several children on Tuesday from its shelters to return to their parents.

“Our staff came in early, made sure every backpack was full and every child got a hug and a goodbye,” Juan Sánchez, the nonprofit group’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “And the kids hugged us back. They were excited to be on their way to be with their families. And we were thrilled for them.”

The nonprofit declined to discuss how many children under 5 were released.

The reunification process has highlighted how traumatic separations stemming from the zero-tolerance policy have been.

One Honduran father had been warned by border agents that his child would be taken away, and he had been given an opportunity to explain to his son what would happen. He beamed while his son asked questions and played with toys when they were reunited Tuesday at a federal immigration office in Michigan. 

A second father was not given a chance to tell his 3-year-old son that they would be separated, according to Abril Valdes, a lawyer for both men. His child had stopped talking soon after being taken into government custody. The father and son cried throughout the reunification meeting. The boy said little and refused to take any toys or leave his father’s arms.

Miriam Jordan reported from Phoenix, Katie Benner and Ron Nixon from Washington, and Caitlin Dickerson from New York. Manny Fernandez contributed reporting from Houston, Maggie Haberman from New York, and Kirk Semple from Guatemala City. 
A version of this article appears in print on July 11, 2018, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Migrant Families Reunite Uneasily As Rules Change.

June 27, 2018

Federal Judge Orders Halt to Trump's Separation of Children's and Families Orders Reunification

 [NY Times photo]

A San Diego federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday at the request of the ACLU that calls for all children affected by the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy to be reunited with their parents within 30 days.
In a toughly worded opinion, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw wrote “the facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making. They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution. “The unfortunate reality is that under the present, system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot satisfy the requirements of due process,” he added. 

Under the order, children younger than 5 years old must be reunited with their parents within 14 days, while older children must be reunited with their parents within 30 days. Within 10 days, federal authorities must allow parents to call their children if they're not already in contact with them. “This is a complete victory for these families and children who have been suffering for months,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. “Many of these parents and children thought they might never see each other again. They have literally been living through a nightmare and the court has now ended their trauma.” 

The ruling comes after President Donald Trump last week responded to mounting public pressure by signing an executive order that halted the practice of separating children from parents who had been detained at the U.S.-Mexico border for illegal entry. 

The shift prompted confusion as to how subsequent family arrests at the border will be handled and questions as to what the government’s plans for reunification are.
Attorneys for the government argued in a response filed Tuesday morning that the executive order already addresses the family separation concerns outlined in the ACLU lawsuit and that federal agencies are working on the reunification of the 2,000 or so families that remain apart.
“This Court should give the agencies time to take action, rather than issuing an injunctive order,” the government’s motion urges. “A court-imposed process is likely to slow the reunification process and cause confusion and conflicting obligations, rather than speed the process of reunifying families in a safe and efficient manner.” Under U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions’ “zero-tolerance” policy, which criminally charges all unauthorized immigrants caught crossing the border, defendants are detained within the criminal system, often allowed to plead guilty and sentenced to serve little to no prison time. That process usually takes a few weeks to a month, then they are taken into immigration custody for the civil deportation process to begin.
It is during the civil process in immigration custody that the American Civil Liberties Union is calling for reunifications.
In declarations, two officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services describe existing ways children are reunited with parents before deportation and how parents in civil immigration custody can speak with separated children via video or phone.
The declarations do not detail a process for reuniting families prior to deportation and says family residential centers where children and parents can be detained together have limitations.
The ACLU said that is why the court must intervene — and points out that the executive order can be rescinded at any time.
“The government has no meaningful plan for swiftly ensuring that such reunifications occur,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt’s motion argues. “Thus, thousands of families remain separated, and many parents have no idea where their children are or how to find them. With each added day of separation, the terrible trauma inflicted by the government on both parents and children continues to mount. Many of the children are babies and toddlers who every night are crying themselves to sleep wondering if they will ever see their parents again.”
The ACLU is making the injunction request as part of its class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of two women — one who was arrested after crossing the border illegally and one who claimed asylum at the border — who were separated from their children. Sabraw earlier this month had decided the lawsuit against the government’s family separation practice could move forward, calling the practice “brutal, offensive” and contrary to “traditional notions of fair play and decency.”
Then, after Trump’s executive order last week, Sabraw ordered a status conference to discuss the effect on the lawsuit. The ACLU requested the injunction then, but Sabraw said he wanted more briefing from both sides before ruling. He set out a briefing schedule for this week, but on Monday asked for expedited deadlines.
The ACLU is asking for the court to order the following: 1) reunify all children with their parents within 30 days, and within 10 days for children under 5 years old, except when the government has clear evidence that the parent is unfit or a danger to the child, or the parent is in a criminal facility that does not house minors; 2) provide parents telephonic contact with their children within seven days; 3) stop separating children from their parents except when there is clear evidence that the parent is unfit or a danger to the child, or the parent is in a criminal facility that does not house minors; 4) not remove separated parents from the United States without their children, unless the parent affirmatively, knowingly and voluntarily waives the right to reunification before removal.
“Parents who are facing imminent deportation without their separated children are in particularly grave need of immediate relief,” the ACLU’s brief argues.
In its filing, the ACLU included several declarations from attorneys and immigrant advocates who provide specific examples of clients who are awaiting deportation. They said they were given an option to be deported with their children, but after hearing of others who have been deported without their children, they fear the same will happen to them.
The process for parents to find where their separated children are located has also been challenging, Gelernt argues. A hotline number parents can call regularly puts callers on hold for 30-minute periods, a stretch that is “infeasible for detained parents.” Lately, callers have been met with a busy signal.
Lawyers with the Department of Justice argue that a court injunction would unnecessarily restrict the ability of immigration authorities “to carry out its immigration enforcement mission and address smuggling concerns,” and that the government must follow standards that protect children from parents who would pose a risk to the child’s welfare or from smugglers.

Los Angeles Times

June 20, 2018

These Are Alll The Things You Can Do to Help End Child Incarceration and Separation

If you are among the two-thirds of Americans who disapprove of the Trump administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy of separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents at the US-Mexico border, you might be wondering what you can do about it.
There’s growing pushback against the policy, both at the grassroots level and among politicians on both sides of the aisle. In this week alone, dozens of prominent Republicans have joined their Democratic colleagues in clamoring for US president Donald Trump to stop the practice. Even if you’re not an elected official, you have a role to play in reversing the separation of thousands of migrant children from their families. Here are a few ways to do that:

Support organizations fighting against the policy

  • The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking a preliminary injunction in California to end the practice of family separations and reunite all families currently in ICE custody.
    • You can sign the ACLU’s petition against family separations, or donate to help fund the organization’s legal efforts.
  • The Texas Civil Rights Project is also litigating family separations: The organization filed an emergency request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of five parents who were separated from their children in South Texas.
    • You can donate here, or join their Generation Justice advocacy network here.
    • If you speak Spanish, Mam, or K’iche’, and have any sort of legal or paralegal training, you can help take declarations from separated families at the border, in McAllen, Texas. Sign up here.
  • Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is one of the leading organizations dedicated to the legal protection of unaccompanied minors who enter the US immigration system alone.
    • You can sign their petition here, or donate here.
  • The Catholic Charities of Houston are looking for volunteers of all kinds, including babysitters, licensed counselors, shelter volunteers, translators, and mentors.
    • You can fill out their volunteer application here and donate here.
  • Al Otro Lado, a binational organization that offers legal services to deportees and migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, is soliciting donations and has a specific list outlining how those donations will be used.
    • You can donate here.
  • Human Rights First is suing the Trump administration for its policy on behalf of asylum-seekers.
    • You can donate here.

More ways to take action

  • Call your senator. If you don’t know who they are, the ACLU can help you place the call.
    • Urge your member of Congress to cosponsor the following legislation:
      • S. 3036 – Keep Families Together Act
      • R. 2572 – Protect Family Values at the Border Act
      • R. 5950/S.2937 – the HELP Separated Children Act
      • R. 2043/S. 2468 – Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2018
  • Attend a non-violent protest. The organization Families Belong Together can help you find one near your area.
  • Become a child advocate. The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights can help train you through the process, which involves visiting the child each week, mentoring the child, accompanying the child to court hearings and other important immigration meetings and interviews, and generally advocating for the best interest of the child.
  • Post on social media. You can help raise awareness and take a stand. Families Belong Together even has some handy graphics you can download and post freely.

If you’re an immigration lawyer

The following organizations have pro bono networks or ways for immigration lawyers to volunteer their time and their legal services to immigrants in need:
Posted on Quartz Media Originally written by Annabelle Timsit

May 31, 2018

ICE Repudiation of Its OWN Rules Are Placing LGBT Detainees At Risk

The perimeter fence of the T. Don Hutto detention facility of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement center is seen.
Getty/Corbis//Robert Daemmrich Photography IncThe perimeter fence of the T. Don Hutto detention facility of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement center is seen. 
Laura Monterrosa is a queer asylum seeker from El Salvador. After being targeted by homophobic gang violence and having her life threatened, she decided to seek safety in the United States. In May 2017, she presented herself at the border, seeking asylum, and was detained at the T. Don Hutto detention center, an all-women immigration detention facility run by the private prison company CoreCivic. In November, she reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that a guard had sexually abused her on multiple occasions. After ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the local sheriff’s office looked into the allegations, ICE closed her case, saying that her account “could not be corroborated” and “lacked evidence to pursue any further action.” Laura’s attorney reported investigators even asked if the relationship with the guard was consensual. After ICE closed the case, the FBI intervened and picked up the investigation. Despite a pending FBI investigation into these incidents, ICE would not release Laura—nor would it fire the guard. Laura remained trapped inside Hutto with her alleged abuser. Desperate, Laura ingested 51 prescription pain pills in an attempt to kill herself. In February 2018, ICE reportedly placed her in isolation for three days, during which time she claimed ICE tried to get her to recant her accusation of sexual abuse. A month later, Laura was finally released from detention after a judge orderedICE to provide mental health care outside the detention facility.
The Center for American Progress received information about ICE’s treatment of LGBT immigrants in detention for fiscal year 2017 from a congressional letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen from Rep. Kathleen Rice’s (D-NY) office. This information reveals that LGBT immigrants are being held in detention for long periods of time, in unsafe conditions, and at a far greater risk of sexual violence than the general population. These facts indicate that Laura’s story is not unique under the Trump administration’s policy of treating every unauthorized immigrant as a deportation priority.

LGBT immigrants in detention report high rates of sexual assault and sexual abuse

ICE’s 2014 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regulations require an annual publication of sexual assault data. Making the data publicly available is important as a means of helping advocates hold ICE accountable for its response to sexual assault in detention. While ICE has not yet publicly released any of the required annual data since 2014, Rep. Rice requested data from ICE on sexual assault of people in detention, and these findings are staggering—even compared with the high rate of sexual victimization of LGBT people in U.S. jails and prisons. ICE reported to Rep. Rice that it received 227 reports of sexual abuse and assault in FY 2017. Twenty-eight of these reports involved an LGBT victim. In FY 2017, ICE detained 323,591 people. ICE reported to Rep. Rice that in FY 2017, 467 immigrants disclosed being LGBT during intake to a detention facility. This means that although LGBT people were 0.14 percent of the people ICE detained in FY 2017, they accounted for 12 percent of victims of sexual abuse and assault in ICE detention that year. In other words, assuming each report of sexual violence is substantiated and involves a separate victim, LGBT people in ICE custody are 97 times more likely to be sexually victimized than non-LGBT people in detention.

ICE is housing transgender immigrants in unsafe situations

ICE is placing LGBT immigrants in harm’s way by not releasing them from detention when they should be and has reverted to its practice of detaining transgender women with men or in solitary confinement, contrary to its own rules. In recognition of their heightened vulnerability to sexual abuse, DHS’ PREA rule requires an individualized placement determination for transgender people. In its response to Rep. Rice, ICE claims it is making these assessments. However, the custody data that Rep. Rice received indicate this is not the case. Despite the continued existence of an Obama-era memo on caring for transgender immigrants, not one of the nearly 250 facilities ICE detains immigrants in is bound to comply with this guidance. Rather than automatically applying across DHS detention facilities, this guidance requires a contractual agreement with the facility. ICE opened a pod for transgender immigrants in Cibola County, New Mexico, but that facility’s contract with ICE does not include a requirement that it comply with the transgender care memo. ICE reported to Rep. Rice that it detains transgender women in 17 facilities. Four are all-male facilities. Thirteen have a mix of male and female populations. Except for the transgender pod at Cibola, ICE has not provided information about whether ICE detained transgender women with other women, with men, or in isolation in these facilities. The average amount of time transgender people were detained in FY 2017 was 99 days, more than double the 43.7 day average all immigrants spent in ICE custody. With nearly 80 countries criminalizing LGBT people, the extended period of time they spend in detention may be due to waiting for a judge to review their cases for relief from deportation, such as asylum.
Rep. Rice’s office also obtained information about the use of solitary confinement for LGBT immigrants in detention. In recognition of the risks that come with placing vulnerable populations, such as LGBT people, in solitary confinement, ICE’s own rulesstipulate that solitary should only be used as a last resort. In those cases, solitary confinement should “not ordinarily exceed a period of 30 days.” According to Rep. Rice’s office, 1 in 8 transgender people detained by ICE were placed in solitary confinement in FY 2017. The United Nations recognizes the placement of LGBT people in solitary confinement for their own protection as a form of torture. After 15 days, solitary confinement may cause irreversible psychological damage. According to the information that ICE provided Rep. Rice, LGBT immigrants who were detained in solitary for more than 14 days spent an average of 52 days in solitary confinement.

ICE must stop wasting resources on detaining vulnerable populations

Rep. Rice’s office emailed ICE on February 14 asking how it could justify expending its limited detention resources on vulnerable populations such as LGBT people. Rice’s office shared this exchange with CAP, including ICE’s reply, which was dated April 3:
ICE is committed to faithfully executing our duty to enforce immigration laws. In Executive Order (EO) 13,768, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, the President directed that ICE “[m]ake use of all available systems and resources to ensure the efficient and faithful execution of the immigration laws of the United States.” 82 Fed. Reg. 8799 (Jan. 25, 2017). As made clear in former Secretary Kelly’s February 20, 2017 memorandum, Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, “the Department no longer will exempt classes or categories of aliens from potential enforcement.” To that end, in EO 13,767the President directed that the “Secretary shall immediately take all appropriate actions to ensure the detention of aliens apprehended for violations of immigration law pending the outcome of their removal proceedings or their removal from the country to the extent permitted by law.” 82 Fed. Reg. 8793, 95 (Jan. 25, 2017).
This response indicates that ICE does not prioritize how it expends its enforcement resources and no longer meaningfully takes into account the threat that detention poses to vulnerable populations, such as LGBT people, in making its custody decisions. This is reckless and unacceptable and will lead to more LGBT people being sexually victimized on ICE’s watch.


The Trump administration’s policy of detaining immigrants without parole or bond pending the resolution of their case or deportation—combined with its rejection of policies meant to protect vulnerable populations from abuse in detention—has led to horrifically high rates of sexual abuse and solitary confinement of LGBT immigrants. Not only are these abusive conditions inhumane, but they are also in violation of the department’s own rules implementing the PREA. ICE must end its dangerous practice of arbitrarily detaining LGBT people in unsafe conditions and ensure that its standards, guidance, and rules are rigorously enforced.
Sharita Gruberg is the associate director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress.

May 30, 2018

33 Yr Old Transgender From The "Caravan" Dies While in ICE Custody

Luc Forsyth
Roxsana Hernandez, 33, who died in ICE custody Friday after arriving in the US with the Central American migrant caravan.
A transgender woman who was part of the caravan of Central American migrants that arrived at the US border earlier this month died in custody Friday from what appeared to be cardiac arrest.
Roxsana Hernandez, 33, died in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She had been taken to another hospital in New Mexico more than a week earlier with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration, and complications associated with HIV.
Hernandez asked for asylum at the San Ysidro port of entry on May 9, according to Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which organized the caravan. The group said she was first detained by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in holding cells known as "iceboxes" because of how cold they are.
In addition to being cold, Pueblo Sin Fronteras said, Hernandez lacked adequate food and medical care and was held in a cell where the lights were turned on 24 hours a day. On May 16, she was then taken to a transgender unit at the Cibola County Correctional Center, a federal prison facility in Milan, New Mexico, that contracts with ICE.
The following day Hernandez was admitted to Cibola General Hospital and was later transferred via air ambulance to Albuquerque's Lovelace Medical Center, where she remained in the intensive care unit until she died on May 25. The preliminary cause of death was cardiac arrest, according to ICE.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News last month, Hernandez said she had fled Honduras in part because of the discrimination and violence she faced for being transgender.
Four months before joining the caravan, Hernandez said, she was walking home when MS-13 gang members started screaming "We don't want you in this neighborhood, you fucking faggot" at her before gang-raping her.
"Four of them raped me and as a result I got HIV," Hernandez told BuzzFeed News. "Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces, then dumped inside potato bags."
Standing in front of a church in Puebla, Mexico, playing with a silver cross around her neck, Hernandez said that gangs had continued to threaten her and told her she had to leave the area where she lived in Honduras.
"I didn't want to come to Mexico — I wanted to stay in Honduras but I couldn't," Hernandez said. "They kill trans people in Honduras. I'm scared of that."
Hernandez said she was able to put some money together to head to Guatemala. Her plan was to return to the US, from which she had previously been deported three times. She had some family in the US but said they did not accept her because she was trans.
From Guatemala she went to Mexico, where she eventually linked up with the caravan of 1,200 to 1,500 migrants heading north.  Hernandez  explained she left Honduras because of fear because she was Transgender.  
Immigrant advocacy organizations — including Pueblo Sin Fronteras, Diversidad sin Fronteras, and Al Otro Lado — blamed Hernandez's death on US immigration authorities.
"Roxy died due to medical negligence by US immigration authorities," the groups said in a statement. "Why incarcerate and torture her like this? She had a home waiting for her in the United States. They could have let her go there. If they had, she would still be with us."
Irving Mondragón, a cofounder of Diversidad sin Fronteras, a collective of LGBTQ migrant advocates, said immigrants are denied medical attention inside CBP holding cells.
"Everybody's human rights are violated. From the moment they enter there are no guarantees," Mondragón told BuzzFeed News. "People have said that she was safe because she made it to the US, that the hardest part was over. But it's not true — the US is an imperial democracy and tyrannical. Asking for asylum can lead to death."
Mondragón said Hernandez had been sick when she turned herself in to US border authorities but was in good spirits.
"She told me she loved me. She had courage, but was nervous at the thought of entering the US again," Mondragón said. "I'll remember her as a timid, respectful person, always giving the other girls advice and sharing her food."
Mondragón said he's worried about the other trans women from the caravan who remain in detention, many of whom are on medications for hormones and at least one who is taking medication for HIV.
In a statement announcing Hernandez's death, ICE said comprehensive medical care is provided to detainees for the duration of their stay at the agency's detention centers.
"All ICE detainees receive medical, dental and mental health intake screening within 12 hours of arriving at each detention facility, a full health assessment within 14 days of entering ICE custody or arrival at a facility, and access to daily sick call and 24-hour emergency care," the statement said.
Hernandez was set to be deported without seeing an immigration judge, a process known as expedited removal, ICE said.
Hernandez had entered the US illegally twice between 2005 and 2009, and was granted voluntary return to Mexico because she claimed Mexican nationality to authorities, according to ICE's statement. She later entered the US illegally a third time and was deported on March 11, 2014, after being convicted of illegal reentry.
ICE's statement also noted that Hernandez was convicted of lewd, immoral, indecent conduct and prostitution while in Dallas in May 2009, and was also convicted of theft while in the US in 2006.
Jennicet Gutiérrez, national organizer for Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, said Hernandez's record is irrelevant to the fact that she died in ICE's custody.
"They are responsible for her death. Trans women continue to face violence inside and outside detention centers, and are oftentimes forced to do sex work as a means of survival," Gutiérrez said. "She was trying to find safety in the United States and sadly she’s no longer with us. We demand answers and justice for Roxana.”

Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.
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