Showing posts with label Immigration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Immigration. Show all posts

March 31, 2020

Judge Urges The Release of Migrant Children After a Few Test Positive For COVID

US Opens Mass Shelter in Texas for Migrant Children | Voice of ...
 Texas opened new Detention Unit

 Concerned that thousands of migrant children in federal detention facilities could be in danger of contracting the coronavirus, a federal judge in Los Angeles late on Saturday ordered the government to “make continuous efforts” to release them from custody.

The order from Judge Dolly M. Gee of the United States District Court came after plaintiffs in a long-running case over the detention of migrant children cited reports that four children being held at a federally licensed shelter in New York had tested positive for the virus.

“The threat of irreparable injury to their health and safety is palpable,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in their petition, which called for migrant children across the country to be released to outside sponsors within seven days, unless they represent a flight risk.

There are currently about 3,600 children in shelters around the United States operated under license by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, and about 3,300 more at three detention facilities for migrant children held in custody with their parents, operated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. 

Advocates for immigrants have tried for decades to limit the government’s ability to detain children apprehended after crossing the border, arguing that it is psychologically harmful, violates their rights and undermines their long-term health.

Now, some say, the coronavirus represents an even more immediate threat.

In addition to the four children who tested positive in New York, at least one child is in quarantine and awaiting results of a test for the virus at a detention facility operated by ICE, according to documents filed with the court.
In her ruling on Saturday, the judge declined to order an immediate release of all the detained children, given current travel restrictions and the need to ensure that children are released to suitable sponsors, most often family members.

She said, however, that both of the agencies operating migrant children detention facilities must by April 6 provide an accounting of their efforts to release those in custody. 

“Her order will undoubtedly speed up releases,” said Peter Schey, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the court case.
Judge Gee’s jurisdiction stems from a 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores agreement, that established a 20-day limit on the secure detention of migrant children, as well as standards for their care.

In September, Judge Gee rejected new regulations that would have let the government hold children and their parents in detention for indefinite periods, one of the Trump administration’s signature efforts to curtail the large number of families that had been arriving from Central America.

In her order, Judge Gee said the plaintiffs had a strong likelihood of succeeding with their claim that both ICE and the refugee resettlement office had breached the Flores agreement by failing to release minors in a prompt manner, especially in light of the widening coronavirus outbreak.

The court found that the Office of Refugee Resettlement “appears to be in substantial compliance” with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control for protecting children from the threat of disease. But it found that ICE, which operates two facilities in Texas and one in Pennsylvania, “appears deficient.”

The agency had not included social distancing, increased personal hygiene or coronavirus testing as part of its protocol for detainees as of March 15, when reports were submitted to the court.

Nor did it recognize the potential psychological harm of quarantining or isolating children for disease control purposes, the court said, adding that recent observations showed “uneven implementation” of recommended public-health measures. 

Last week, the refugee office said it had halted placements of unaccompanied children in California, New York, and Washington, where there have been large outbreaks of the coronavirus. It also reported that several staff members at shelters for migrant children had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

January 7, 2020

Trump, Pence and Allies Get Money From Private Prisons As They Increase The Number

Incoming and outgoing immigration detainees are processed at the Krome Service Processing Center.
Incoming and outgoing immigration detainees are processed at the Krome Service Processing Center.

Since the 1990 election, for-profit prisons, their political action committees and employees have given $9.5 million to candidates and the groups that support them, according to a USA TODAY Network analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission and the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in Washington. Over that time, 78% of those funds backed Republican candidates or causes. 

Since the 1990 election, for-profit prisons, their political action committees, and employees have given $9.5 million to candidates and the groups that support them, according to a USA TODAY Network analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission and the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in Washington. Over that time, 78% of those funds backed Republican candidates or causes. 

GEO Group and CoreCivic each donated $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee that helped fund the festivities as he was sworn into office. Hininger of CoreCivic said the company supported inaugurations of Presidents George W. Bush and Obama but did not provide specifics on how much they donated to those committees.

GEO Group gave $225,000 to a super PAC that supported Trump. GEO Group’s PAC and its CEO gave a combined $225,000 to Trump Victory, a committee that collects money and distributes it among the Trump campaign and other Republican efforts.

A checklist is used to record the state of detainees every 15 minutes in the segregation unit at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Adelanto processing Center in Adelanto, California.
A checklist is used to record the state of detainees every 15 minutes in the segregation unit at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Adelanto processing Center in Adelanto, California.

The GEO Group has taken the controversial step of frequently using Trump properties for business events and trips.

In 2017, GEO moved its annual conference, normally held near its Boca Raton headquarters, to the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort 53 miles away. Venturella, the GEO Group vice president, said in court filings that he stayed at least 10 times at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. 

Speaking to the USA TODAY Network, Venturella did not rule out holding GEO events at Trump properties but said the company would take into account the publicity that would probably follow such a decision.

“Obviously, the negative attention we received would be discussed,” he said.

Two donations to a pro-Trump super PAC became the subjects of a lawsuit and Federal Election Commission complaint. 

Under Obama, the Justice Department, which oversees the Federal Bureau of Prisons, published a memo Aug. 18, 2016, stating it would wind down relationships with private prisons, either allowing contracts to expire or reducing the scope of the contracts. 

The next day, a subsidiary of GEO Group – GEO Corrections Holdings – gave $100,000 to Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump Super PAC led by two former Trump staffers. 

On August 29 of that year, then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson ordered a review of ICE’s use of privately run detention centers. About a month later, GEO Corrections Holdings donated $125,000 to Rebuilding America Now.

In response, the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group based in Washington, filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that GEO Group violated the ban prohibiting government contractors from making contributions to political committees. GEO Group said the donation was made by a subsidiary that has not won any government contracts, so it did not break any campaign finance laws. The complaint is pending. 

“All of our political contributions to federal super PACs comply with all applicable federal laws and regulations,” said Paez of the GEO Group.

Hininger of CoreCivic said it doesn’t matter to him whether a candidate is liberal or conservative, even though the company and its employees gave to Republicans 78% of the time since 1990. Venturella of the GEO Group said part of that disparity is due to the increasing number of Democrats who refuse or return their contributions.

“We meet with members of both parties,” he said. “So while the records may show that some organizations accepted our contributions, we certainly provided contributions to other candidates. Some have kept them, and some have returned them.”

The scope of the private prisons’ donations to Republican causes was seen during an event Trump hosted at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club.

In August 2018, Trump held a meeting to discuss prison changes, reentry issues “and other subjects,” according to the president’s remarks at the event. Guests included five governors and two state attorneys general – all but one of whom had received donations from the private prison industry in their state elections, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in Politics. 

They included former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky ($2,000), Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi ($6,000), former Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia ($78,000), Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana ($13,500), former Republican Florida Attorney General Bondi ($2,000) and Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ($15,000), according to data compiled by the National Institute on Money in Politics. Perry and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, were among other guests at the table.

“It’s easy to see how they’ve been making money off this investment,” said Jordan Libowitz of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. 

Private prison companies hire immigration, Trump administration officials
In 2018, private prison companies spent $3.8 million on federal lobbying. Their lobbying efforts during the Obama administration peaked at $2.75 million in 2016, according to federal disclosure reports and data from the Center for Responsive Politics. 
Hininger said those contributions are necessary given the level of polarization in the country and falsehoods about how ICE detention centers are run.

“It’s hard to have a rational conversation” about the industry, he said.

GEO Group has traditionally spent the most on lobbying efforts. In 2018, it paid a total of $4.3 million to state and federal lobbyists, according to the company’s political engagement report.

“Yes, we have ratcheted up our efforts because the attacks and the rhetoric against our company have increased,” Venturella said.  

In October, CoreCivic, the GEO Group, and Management & Training Corp. formed an advocacy group called the Day 1 Alliance. Its national spokeswoman is Alexandra Wilkes, who worked for America Rising and a PAC with the same name that backed Republican candidates in part by digging up damaging information on their Democratic opponents. 

Wilkes said the alliance was formed to set the record straight on the private industry’s role in immigration detention. 

“We know that we’re up against incredibly well-funded special interests that will say anything and stop at nothing to distort the role we play,” she said.

The money involved in ICE detention can be seen in the close ties between the federal government, presidential campaigns, and private prison companies.

In 2017, the GEO Group tapped a firm founded by Ballard to lobby on its behalf in Washington. Ballard ran the Trump campaign’s Florida financing strategy, chaired Trump’s joint fundraising committee and was the finance vice chairman on Trump’s inaugural committee. Florida lobbying records show Ballard represented the GEO Group on the state level from 2011 to 2013 and again in 2019. Ballard did not respond to a request for comment.  

Alan Zibel, research director for good government group Public Citizen
It’s pretty clear that the private prison industry saw the Trump administration as an opportunity to expand its business and work with like-minded people.

Next came Bondi, the former Florida attorney general who also represented the GEO Group for Ballard Partners. Bondi came under scrutiny during her time as attorney general when a group called “And Justice for All” supporting her campaign accepted a $25,000 check from Trump’s charity. A month later, Bondi announced that her office would stop investigating fraud allegations against the now-defunct Trump University. Trump later paid a $2,500 fine for the donation because it violated tax laws, and Trump reimbursed the donation.

Bondi went on to serve on the president’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis worked on his transition team and was hired by the White House in November to work on “proactive impeachment messaging.”

In Louisiana, Scott Sutterfield left his position in September as acting director of ICE’s field office in New Orleans and immediately took an executive position at LaSalle Corrections. Sutterfield denied any impropriety in the move, arguing that he was not involved in policy setting at his previous job, which focused on overseeing the immigration deportation process and ensuring detention facilities in the region were in compliance with federal requirements. He said he recused himself from decisions involving LaSalle before applying for the new job.

When asked whether Sutterfield had made decisions affecting LaSalle’s business while working for ICE, Kevin Sumrall, the company’s director of operations, said, “Not extremely a lot.”

Alan Zibel, research director for Public Citizen, a public policy advocacy group based in Washington, condemned the close relationships between government and industry. 

“There are a lot of connections,” said Zibel, who wrote a report on private prison influence. “It’s pretty clear that the private prison industry saw the Trump administration as an opportunity to expand its business and work with like-minded people.”

Private prison companies donate to Vice President Pence, sheriffs
In central Louisiana, LaSalle Parish Sheriff Scott Franklin was up for reelection this year and received $5,000 in campaign donations from LaSalle Corrections and its affiliates, according to records filed with the Louisiana Board of Ethics. The donation represented a quarter of his total fundraising haul of $20,000.

In nearby Catahoula Parish, Sheriff Toney Edwards was also up for reelection and received $2,500 in October from LaSalle. That was a quarter of his fundraising during that reporting period, ethics board records show.

The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, includes a courtroom for immigration cases.

Both counties started holding ICE detainees this year. Neither sheriff responded to requests for comment, but critics say the donations show how much influence private prison companies exert on the local level, where ICE pays for detainees to be housed in jails. In many cases, the local government agency contracts the detention work out to a private prison company, which gives the agency a cut of the profits.

In the past two decades, the industry has given at least $13 million to Republican state candidates and state political committees, according to a USA TODAY Network analysis of data compiled by the National Institute on Money in Politics. 

Those contributions have also ended up in the hands of state officials who have close ties to Trump or have a chance to bend his ear.

One deadly week reveals where the immigration crisis begins — and where it ends

Pence loves Private Prisons and the $money he gets from them!

Pence received about $36,000 from the industry for his 2016 campaign before ditching his reelection bid for Indiana governor to become Trump’s running mate, according to the data. He and his running mate collected $33,000 in donations in the 2012 gubernatorial election. 

Perry, the former governor of Texas and Trump’s former energy secretary, received at least $59,000 during campaigns from 1998 to 2010, according to data compiled by the National Institute on Money in Politics. 

Before Trump named her ambassador to the United Nations in 2016, Haley received at least $23,000 for her successful campaigns for governor of South Carolina in 2010 and 2014, according to the institute’s data. 

Immigration detention generates taxes, jobs for rural America
The lure of an ICE detention center for small, financially troubled towns can be irresistible.

In Adams County, Mississippi, the median household income is $30,359, less than half the national average, according to U.S. Census data. That partly explains why leaders embrace the Adams County Correctional Center, a private facility owned by CoreCivic that holds more than 1,200 ICE detainees.

The detention center is the largest taxpayer in the county, said Adams County Administrator Joe Murray. The facility generates more than $1.8 million in real and personal property taxes that help fund the county and the school district. ICE, which started placing detainees at Adams in June, promised to pay the county 50 cents per detainee per day, which could generate an additional $800,000 a year for the county.
An ICE officer walks by a cart of books meant for detainees in the segregation unit at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Adelanto processing Center in Adelanto, California.
An ICE officer walks by a cart of books meant for detainees in the segregation unit at the U.S. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Adelanto processing Center in Adelanto, California.
An ICE officer walks by a cart of books meant for detainees in the segregation unit in the U.S.  

September 19, 2019

Trump Sent Him Back to Mex But Kidnaped Within 5 Hours latter{This Sort is The Norm)



"David's story is not unique" but a lot of people don't know it. I know through adamfoxie there will a few hundred in the US that will find out within the next 12 hrs and the same for our international audience. Thanks to Emily Green and Vice.  It took me an hour or so to work on this story with this just becoming pea soup once I was about to save it. but is done and apologize if one or two (at the most) items are not line up perfectly. The story is there and is important to know what we are doing as Americans. I believe in a strong health border but not like this. You don't need to walk with the devil to open

open door s for you.What happened to your god?

As people in other nations, you have to be aware that this United States you heard off is not the same as 5 years ago. Hopefully, some of us will try to show to the people that think they know the way because they know God but are lost and need encouragement to be good and go in the right path. I always say when I encounter one of these guys, read your bible, listen to your Christ.
doors for you when you have the keys but are too dumb cozy to check which ones will fit.

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico — David wept as U.S. immigration agents marched him and his child across the bridge into Mexico. “They say here in this country, where we are, they kidnap a lot of people," he said.
They didn't even last the night. Hours later and just three miles away, cartel members surrounded David and a dozen other migrants at a bus station. They were forced into trucks, and abducted.
David is among the estimated 42,000 asylum seekers who’ve been returned to Mexico in recent months under President Trump’s new asylum policies. The Trump administration calls the policy “Migrant Protection Protocols,” but far from offering protection, the policy has led to a brutal wave of kidnappings in some of Mexico’s most dangerous border cities.  
“They are sending them to a place that is too dangerous,” Laura, David’s sister, told VICE News. “Why are they doing this? Why, if Mexico is a place that is so dangerous?” 
Powerful criminal organizations have seized on Trump’s changes, targeting asylum seekers with family in the U.S. by holding them hostage until their relatives come up with thousands of dollars to pay for their release. 
VICE News spoke with multiple asylum seekers who have been kidnapped or narrowly escaped being kidnapped upon being returned to Mexico. All of them said they suspected Mexican immigration officials were working in coordination with the cartels. Often, they were grabbed at the bus station or along the three-mile stretch from the Mexican immigration office to their shelter. The stretch between the border and the shelters may be a few miles, but it is among the most dangerous part of a migrant’s journey. 
“[The U.S. agents] told us they were going to bring us to a shelter,” David told VICE News, a few hours before he and his child were kidnapped. “They lied.” VICE News has changed names and withheld certain details of David’s story to protect the identity of him and his family. 

The Phone Call

Trump's asylum policies

Nuevo Laredo is one of the most dangerous cities in one of the most dangerous regions of Mexico. It’s marked not only by the near constant crime that fuels the city but also by the impunity with which criminals here operate. The corruption and crime is so prevalent that local news barely covered the recent kidnapping in broad daylight of a minister who ran a shelter for migrants, deeming it too dangerous to report on. 
“Why are they doing this? Why, if Mexico is a place that is s o dangerous?”
At the Mexican immigration offices, David was frazzled and desperate to reach Laura, who lives in the U.S., and was prepared to wire him money so he could get a bus ticket to a safer city nearby. He borrowed the cellphone of a man he said identified himself as an immigration agent and wore the agency’s typical white-shirt uniform. Outside the office, men in a white four-door truck kept an eye on who came and left the building’s parking lot. 
The man who lent David his phone spoke with Laura, also identifying himself to her as an immigration agent. He told her he would help David and instructed her to send the money directly to his account. David didn’t have a Mexican ID or passport to receive a wire transfer on his own, but the man assured them their money was in safe hands. 
But after Laura sent the money, the man stopped picking up. At 8 p.m. that night, Laura received a call from a different number. “A man got on the line and said my brother had been turned over to him.”  David believes the immigration agents never intended to help them. 
He said when he and another dozen or so asylum seekers who had been returned that day to Mexico arrived at the bus station in Nuevo Laredo, a group of 20 men were already waiting for them. Immediately, the men forced David, his child, and the other migrants into trucks, as an immigration official looked their way but did nothing. 

Mexico’s Institute of Migration, which is in charge of carrying out Mexico’s immigration policies, said that it is “committed to combating any behavior that violates the rights and integrity of migrants,” and that it has not received any recent complaints regarding Mexican immigration officials turning migrants over to cartels or turning a blind eye to their kidnapping. 
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard downplayed the issue on Thursday, saying he didn’t see the kidnapping of migrants “as a massive phenomenon.” But minutes later, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the government was attentive to the issue. “The more migrants that arrive at the [border], the more criminal groups there are, and the higher the risks.”

Ebrard’s office later contacted VICE News to say it was looking into the problem. 
David said the kidnappers took his few belongings, including the paperwork U.S. Customs and Border Protection had given him. Without it, he and his child can’t enter the U.S. to attend their hearing in December.  The kidnappers took a dozen pictures of each of the migrants who were being held, and they took notes on everyone — their full names, where they were from, their family members. The cartel was also holding at least 20 other men, plus dozens of children and women, who “were treated like pieces of meat,” David said.
They separated the women from the men, and beat any of the men who turned to look. David said one man tried to escape and they shot him dead. 
Back in the U.S., Laura was desperately trying to negotiate the release of her brother and his child. But she works in a factory earning $10.50 an hour. She didn’t have a dollar to spare, much less the thousands the kidnappers were demanding. 
“It’s absolutely pointless to go to the police” 
Over the course of several days, Laura received up to three calls a day from them, recordings of which VICE News has reviewed. She was passed between an underling and his boss, as they alternately comforted and threatened her while demanding money. 
“I need you to send me the money as fast as possible, Grandma,” one of the men told her. 

When she told them there was no way she could pay the extortion fee, they said she didn’t need all the money at once and could start depositing it in pieces. “You’ll get all the money, mother, don’t worry.” 
Trump's asylum policies

Kidnapping and extortion stories like these have become the norm in Nuevo Laredo since the U.S. started returning migrants there in mid-July. 
There is no way to know exactly how many migrants have been kidnapped because most victims and family members are too terrified to file a report to the police, who are also believed to have ties with the cartels. It’s estimated that hundreds, if not thousands, of migrants have been kidnapped, raped, and targeted for extortion after being returned to Mexico under Migrant Protection Protocols. 
“It’s pretty clear that the Department of Homeland Security is essentially delivering asylum seekers and migrants into the hands of kidnappers, and people who are attacking the refugees and migrants when they return,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First. She added that in these regions of Mexico, “it’s absolutely pointless to go to the police.” 
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to queries about whether it was aware of the widespread kidnapping of migrants returned under Migrant Protection Protocols. Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said earlier this month that he has heard “anecdotal allegations” of migrants being kidnapped, but that “Mexico has provided nothing to the United States corroborating or verifying those allegations.”

The Business of Kidnapping

Trump's asylum policies
The business of kidnapping migrants is so entrenched in Nuevo Laredo that it’s referred to as “passing through the office,” according to victims and one person with knowledge of the process. 
One woman, whom VICE News is calling Ana to protect her identity, was kidnapped with her husband and two children the day after the U.S. sent them back. She said they were at the bus terminal buying a ticket for a nearby city when a group of men surrounded them and said the family needed to go with the men.
The first night they stayed at an abandoned house. Then they were taken to a hotel, where they spent the next six nights. Ana, her husband and children slept in one bed. Many others were forced to sleep on the floor, she said. Every day captives were taken out and more were brought in. The hotel door was guarded by a single man. Meals were provided daily. Unlike David, Ana said the kidnappers never showed force. But they didn’t need to. She said the man guarding the door made clear the consequences if they tried to escape. “I promise you won’t make it two blocks before we will catch you again and the situation will be much worse for you,” he told them. 
The kidnappers searched Ana, looking for slips of paper with U.S. telephone numbers. They didn’t find any and demanded she give them numbers of family members. She gave them Honduran phone numbers. “We don’t want those. We want numbers from the U.S.,” they chastised. 
Ana gave her the number of a brother in the U.S. In a separate room, hidden from her, the kidnappers negotiated over the phone. Over the next week, the brother scraped together more than $15,000 for their release and wired the money. 
Trump's asylum policies

Ana said when they were released, they were given a keyword as a form of security: If they were kidnapped again, the keyword would indicate what cartel they pertained to and that they had already paid the ransom fee. 
The cartels keep records of the people they kidnap, according to the person with knowledge of their operations. That includes how many people they have kidnapped, where they are from, who could pay, who couldn’t pay, where they crossed into the U.S., and how many opportunities the coyotes gave them to cross. 
Throughout Mexico, migrants who travel with smugglers are given keywords that indicate what smugglers they have traveled with — and by extension, what cartels have been paid off. If the migrants don’t have a keyword, or the keyword corresponds to the wrong region, they are vulnerable.  
“Here, organized crime is actually organized,” said the person with knowledge of the cartel’s operations. “It’s a company that functions like a clock. Exactly like it should.”

The Threat 

In the U.S., Laura was getting desperate. The kidnappers had promised to call back at 3 p.m. but hadn’t. 
She managed to pull together a few thousand dollars from family members to pay the kidnappers. When they called the following afternoon, the man on the other end of the line berated her for not having more. 
Still, he told Laura that she should deposit what she had into Mexican bank accounts, and that he would talk to the boss. VICE News has reviewed records of the money deposits.
“I can’t sleep thinking about it. Every night, I dream about everything that has happened to us” 
After Laura deposited the money, members of the cartel drove David and his child back to the bus station. They told him the cartel would be watching him from there, that they had people everywhere. Dozens of migrants remained behind, including at least 10 children, he said. 
“They told me they would kill me if I talked,” he said. 
He has no idea how he will pursue his asylum claim in the U.S. since the cartel took away his paperwork that allows him to enter the U.S. for a hearing before a judge. But even then, the idea of staying in Mexico until December is untenable. 
David can’t stop crying, and his young child has stopped talking altogether.  
“One of the kidnappers told me that the kidneys of my [child] were good for removal,” David said, sobbing so hard he could barely get the words out. “I can’t sleep thinking about it. Every night, I dream about everything that has happened to us.” 
Cover: Migrants who were returned to Mexico under Migrant Protection Protocols prepare to be taken to a processing center in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Sergio Flores/Vice News
Design and illustrations by Hunter French.

April 9, 2019

On Monday Late PM, Judge Blocks Trump’s Efforts To Have Asylum Seekers Wait in Mexico

Image result for judge won't let asylum seekers wait in Mex
"Any American satisfied with what is going on at the border at the hands of a despot should be return to their family country of origin"

A California judge on Monday blocked President Trump’s efforts to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated by the immigration courts — a practice that immigration advocates called inhumane and illegal.

Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California found that existing law did not give the Trump administration the power to enforce the policy, known as “migrant protection protocols,” which were introduced in San Diego and expanded to other parts of California and Texas.

The judge said in his ruling that in addition to violating immigration laws, the protocols did not include “sufficient safeguards” to comply with the Department of Homeland Security’s obligation against returning migrants to places where their “life or freedom would be threatened.”

Immigration advocates hailed the decision, calling it the latest victory in the legal battles with the Trump administration that began when the president imposed a travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries just days after taking office in 2017. 

“Today’s victory is especially important amidst reports that the Trump administration is planning to move toward even more extreme immigration policies,” said Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The decision will prevent incredibly vulnerable individuals from being trapped in dangerous conditions in Mexico.”

The Trump administration had negotiated the protocols with the Mexican government because of the president’s longstanding anger with so-called catch and release policies in which asylum seekers are temporarily released into the United States while they wait for their court hearings.

Mr. Trump has angrily denounced those releases, saying the migrants do not appear for their hearings and end up staying in the United States illegally. The policy of forcing some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico was an effort to stop that from happening.

But the court ruling means that the president will have to abandon that policy, at least for the time being. That is likely to add to the president’s anger, which erupted over the weekend when he forced Kirstjen Nielsen, his homeland security secretary, to resign.
Editors’ Picks

Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Eileen Sullivan contributed reporting from Washington

February 18, 2019

EXTRA-EXTRA Help wanted! The US Needs Immigrants

A farmer in Hull, Iowa. (Melina Mara/ The Washington Post)

By Art Cullen

 Art Cullen is the editor of the Storm Lake Times in Northwest Iowa. He also recently wrote the book “Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper.

President Trump argues that keeping immigrants and refugees out of our country is a matter of vital national security. He has made it his campaign thesis and shut down the government over it. Here in Storm Lake, Iowa, where the population is about 15,000 and unemployment is under 2 percent, Asians and Africans and Latinos are our lifeline. The only threat they pose to us is if they weren’t here.

That’s been the case for years all over rural Iowa and southern Minnesota, in the heart of the Corn Belt, where anyone who wants a job cutting hogs or laying block or working as an orderly can get one.

One part of the rural condition in American today is that, after college, our young people go to Des Moines or some city beyond for a job in finance or engineering that simply doesn’t exist in the old, county-seat towns of 5,000 people. “Everybody has to go someplace else,” Iowa State University regional trade economist Dave Swenson says of the youth exodus. “There isn’t a Plan B or Plan C.”

As rural counties are drained of young people with higher educations, immigrants flow into the vacuum. The influx began 40 years ago and continues today. First, Laotians from Thai refugee camps (they fought alongside us in Vietnam) came to Iowa in the 1980s. A land debt crisis later that decade blew up the family farm and foreclosed the future of so many young people and small businesses. The farm boys who once raised hogs by day and worked the night shift at the packing houses lit out for Texas and the oil rigs. Young Latino men, mainly from the Mexican state of Jalisco, came in to work the meatpackers’ kill floors. Now, the pigs are raised in huge confinement buildings, not family farms, and Latinos keep them clean.

So long as there is corn, there will be hogs and turkeys and eggs in Iowa. Somebody will have to do that work. Now, the Storm Lake Elementary School is 90 percent children of color, and about three-fourths of those are Hispanic — mainly from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. We could employ 500 more workers easily if we could find, and find housing for, them.

Without the newcomers we do have, Storm Lake would be half its current size. Next door, the population of Pocahontas County has been nearly halved since 1970; if the current trend continues, there will be nobody left to turn out the lights by 2050. We’re fortunate by comparison. Storm Lake grows its own welders, nurses and food processing machinists. A student who attends high school for five years can take vo-tech or college-prep classes through a unique, charter-school program involving the local high school, Iowa Central Community College and Buena Vista University. Those kids graduate with a training certificate or an Associate of Arts degree. Those students enter the workforce as teacher aides, machinists or certified nursing assistants. The pay is about $25 an hour.

The big agricultural processing companies will bid for low skills until there simply is no one left to bid for. The demand for meat cutters seems endless. Smaller towns run buses to Storm Lake to pick up immigrants for day work in those factories. They’ll pay you $18 an hour at Tyson to slice pork, plus a hefty signing bonus. The workforce is overwhelmingly immigrant, well over half Latino. Tyson insists they are all legal, yet we figure about a third of the immigrant community, in general, there might be without papers — who knows? If the meatpackers can’t find workers here, they will pick up shop and move somewhere else, like so many Iowa manufacturers before them.

In keenest demand here are health-care workers — orderlies, nursing assistants, and cafeteria workers to toil for about $12 to $15 an hour in one of Iowa’s largest industries: nursing homes. Iowa has more than 510,000 residents over the age of 65. The average age of an Iowa farmer is 63.

The need for workers has made it hard for those who can’t find them to stay in business. Masonry contractor Steve Tate has decided at age 63 to wind things down. “If I were 20 years younger, I’d stick my neck out,” said Tate. “But even when jobs are out there to bid now, I don’t know how I could bid them if I didn’t know I could get reliable help.”

Storm Lake’s crime rate last year reached a 27-year low. It is more diverse than ever. Some 30 languages or dialects are spoken here. But the community knows it will wither up and blow away without its young people. Like it or not, legal or not, our young people are predominantly Latino. If there is to be a wall, there will have to be a door for immigrants to find their way here as the better-educated leave for the brighter lights and greener urban pastures.

January 24, 2019

Thousands of Migrant Children Were Released Before Their Families Were Identified

Image result for migrant children lost
A new report reveals many more children were released before official counts. Mario Tama/Getty Images. Are you a decent person, an American? How can you not do something?

A new report says “thousands” of migrant children were released before officials started identifying separated families.
A new report from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services finds that an unknown number of children — possibly “thousands” — were separated from parents at the US-Mexico border before June 2018 but hadn’t been included in official government tallies of separated families.
The Trump administration’s practice of separating families who crossed into the US without papers (by prosecuting parents for illegal entry into the US and sending them into criminal custody, while children were reclassified as “unaccompanied” minors) became a nationwide scandal in the late spring of 2018, leading to a Trump administration executive order ending the policy and a federal court order requiring the administration to reunite the separated parents and children in its care.  
But separated children who had already been released from the government’s custody — usually by being placed with a sponsor — weren’t identified and reunited as part of that lawsuit. In the new report, HHS is admitting that there could be thousands of such children and that they’ll never have any way of knowing how many for sure.
The new report doesn’t — and can’t — identify where separated children released from custody were placed. But despite fears (among politicians and the public) of widespread “loss” or trafficking of immigrant children, the available evidence suggests most separated children (like children who arrive unaccompanied) were placed with close relatives in the US.
But the point of the report is the government’s admission that it will never be able to know for sure how many children were separated and exactly what happened to them. Even the estimate of “thousands” is offered without much explanation, as an estimate of officials at the Office of Refugee Resettlement and HHS’ office for preparedness and response.
Because of the federal government’s failure to keep records about which children in its care had been separated from their parents, the public will never know the full scope of the Trump administration’s use of family separation against border crossers in Trump’s first year and a half in office. 
The federal government has never offered an official tally of how many families have been separated by immigration authorities. It couldn’t produce one if it tried.
When families are separated at the border, the children are classified as “unaccompanied alien children” (the label put on children who come to the US without a parent or guardian) and sent into the custody of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for placing them with a sponsor.
Until summer 2018, there was no official way to record the difference between a child who’d come without a parent and a child who’d been separated from one in the files that were sent from DHS to HHS.
HHS’s job isn’t to hold children until a parent can be identified, but to place them with a suitable sponsor — a parent, another relative, family friend, or (if needed) unrelated adult — as soon as safely possible. And if a child turns 18, or decides to return to their home country, they’re no longer HHS’s responsibility.
Family separation was an occasional practice going back as far as late 2016, but it ramped up hugely as the Trump administration instituted a “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting as many adults as possible for illegal entry into the US, and separating parents from their children to be sent into criminal custody.
A Customs and Border Protection official told Reuters in June 2018 that from October 2016 to February 2018, 1,800 families were separated by DHS. Of those families, 281 were separated as part of a “pilot program” along the El Paso sector of the border from June to November 2017.
According to the new inspector general report, the staff at HHS started noticing in summer 2017 that more of the children being sent to them by DHS seemed to have been separated from parents. (Informal HHS tracking, according to this report, showed that in late 2016, only 0.3 percent of children sent from DHS appeared to have been separated from their parents; by August 2017, 3.6 percent were identified as possibly separated from family.)
In the spring of 2018, that pilot was expanded across the US-Mexico border, and separations rapidly spiked. From October 2017 to April 20, 2018, an HHS official told the New York Times, about 3.46 families were separated a day; over 12 days in May of 2018, DHS told Congress, that rate spiked to 42.8 separations a day.
On June 26, 2018, Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the federal government not only to stop separating families (something the Trump administration had promised to do as a matter, of course, the week before) but to reunify them. To do that, it had to identify the number of separated children who were in the government’s care at that time. That number — about 2,737 as of December — is what’s typically taken as the number of separated families.
But Sabraw’s order only applied to children who were in HHS custody on June 26. It didn’t apply to children who had already been released.
The inspector general’s report is estimating that that is what happened to “thousands” of children: They were separated from their parents when they entered the US, but by the time HHS started identifying separated children, they were no longer under HHS’s care.
Generally, children are released to close relatives, but we don’t know how many of the separated children were released to nonrelatives
HHS has strict rules about who it’s supposed to allow to sponsor an immigrant child. The first priority is a parent or legal guardian; the second priority is a close relative; the third priority is a distant relative or family friend, and only failing that, an unrelated adult.
In general, this means that the overwhelming majority of children whom HHS places with sponsors are sent to parents or close relatives. (A 2016 government report found that about 60 percent of immigrant children who came unaccompanied from Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador were placed with a parent living in the US.) There have been some high-profile cases of insufficient vetting of would-be sponsors, but the Trump administration has reacted to that by substantially tightening vetting, to the point of keeping kids in custody a lot longer than they were under the Obama administration.
Because HHS doesn’t actually know how many of the children it released from custody before June 26, 2018, were separated from parents at the border, it’s impossible to go back through those records and find out where the separated children went.
But by that same token, there’s no indication that HHS had different standards for the placement of separated children. So it’s reasonable to believe that most children were placed with relatives or family friends in the US (possibly even with parents who had been released from detention, or a parent already living here).
Overall, from the fiscal year 2017 to the first eight months of the fiscal year 2018, the share of kids placed with parents dropped from 49 percent to 41 percent, but the share placed with other close relatives rose from 41 percent to 47 percent. In other words, in both years, parents and close relatives made up about 90 percent of sponsors.
But it is possible that a disproportionate number of separated children were placed with unrelated sponsors as foster children — or released because they chose to be returned to their home country (perhaps to reunite with their parents). We don’t know. We’ll never know.

January 18, 2019

Born in Grand Rapids, Vet From Fighting in Afghanistan But The Sheriff Turned Him in To ICE for Deportation



 Jilmar Ramos-Gomez

As an American Citizen I am ashame when I see these injustices for people that love this county. While drugs and trains of paying illegal immigrants cross underneath electrical lit tunnels and are dropped off at their destination indifferent about walls at the border. Meanwhile an ageing baby president insist in keeping the government shut as you read this. This is what some people elected for the rest of us. They call it democracy, I call it racism and the wish to go back to what things were before the the 1960's. Everything in it's place. Brown with brown, white bathroom for white only. Black, gays and other that don't fit the mold burning and lynching will keep them from demanding what is for white's only.
But if you live long enough you know that nothing last forever and when the pendulum reverses everything that went on on the last swing will no loner be.Pleasse read this story and see what is happening in our country. How long can we let it go on?

When Maria Gomez showed up late one December afternoon at a Grand Rapids, Michigan, jail to pick up her son, an American-born Marine who served in Afghanistan, the deputies told her something that, frankly, made no sense.

“Your son was just sent with immigration,” she recalls the deputies telling her. “He is in their hands.”

It must be a mistake, she told them. “My son doesn’t have anything to do with immigration. He is a US citizen,” she said. “They said ‘we don’t know anything about that. He’s in their hands now.’ It almost gave me a heart attack.” 

When she returned to the jail’s parking lot, she saw him enter a white van and be driven away.

Her son, Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, had served in Afghanistan as a lance corporal from 2011 to 2014 and returned to the United States suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He’s had episodes where he’ll disappear for days, and no one in his family will know where he’s gone.

It happened again Nov. 21, when Ramos-Gomez was arrested on suspicion of attempting to start a fire in a stairwell at a Grand Rapids hospital and trying to reach the facility’s helipad, according to his attorneys and local law enforcement. Ramos-Gomez, 27, pleaded guilty to a trespassing charge and was ordered released on Dec. 14 on his own recognizance to await sentencing, his attorneys said.

Instead, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office held him for more than an hour so he could be picked up by another county that transports and detains individuals for ICE.

Chuck DeWitt, undersheriff for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, said that his officers had followed procedures and that everything about the case appeared routine. He regrets what happened to Ramos-Gomez but says that it was ICE, not the sheriff’s department, that made the ultimate decision to identify him as a target.

“It sounds very harsh but there isn’t anything we could’ve done differently in this situation that could have prevented that,” he said. “It is regretful but under these circumstances, I don’t know where we would have prevented that.” 

ICE put the blame squarely on Ramos-Gomez, saying that when ICE officers interviewed him in jail he claimed he was “a foreign national illegally present in the US.” Because of that, ICE asked the sheriff’s department to hold him after he was released from local custody, and the sheriff’s department complied.

The ACLU of Michigan, which has taken up Ramos-Gomez’s case and has called for an investigation into the detention, said ICE’s statement opened up many questions.

“This shows how flimsy the evidence is that ICE relies on to deport people from this country,” said Miriam Aukerman, a senior attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, who said the organization was investigating whether Ramos-Gomez had in fact told ICE he wasn’t a US citizen.

Ramos-Gomez had a US passport and identification that noted his veteran status, Aukerman said.

“It is appalling that a comment by a mentally ill individual is enough to get you deported. What kind of investigation is that?”

The ACLU attorney also wondered why ICE had interviewed him in jail.

“If his name is John Smith, ICE isn’t interviewing him,” she said.

Because Ramos-Gomez had been transferred to ICE on a Friday, his family was unable to secure his release until the following Monday, when his lawyer called ICE officials.

“I don’t have words to say this because I feel like they don’t care,” Gomez told BuzzFeed News. “They don’t care that my son served this country.” 

Aukerman said the incident reflected a larger problem with immigration enforcement.

“This is what immigration enforcement has come to in this country. It is so indiscriminate that we take people who served our country and try to deport them,” Aukerman said. “This is a tragedy. He risked his life and mental health for our country, came back and did not get the services he needs, and now ICE is trying to deport him. It is outrageous and appalling.”

“His immigration attorney said to ICE: Here is his military record, birth certificate, and ICE was like: ‘Oops, we got a US citizen,’” she added. ICE officials said that once they received the information they authorized his release, and no further action will be taken.

The case highlights what advocates believe is the problem with cooperation between some sheriff’s departments and ICE. When a person is arrested, fingerprints are compared with prints in federal databases that alert immigration authorities if the person is wanted. It’s at this point that ICE officials will often request a “detainer” to hold the individual until their officers can show up and take them into custody.

While in some areas, “sanctuary” policies limit cooperation between local authorities and ICE, that’s not the case in Kent County. The sheriff’s department has an agreement with ICE to hold individuals for up to three days and to be reimbursed for the extra detention.

The Michigan jail also allows ICE access within the facility to interview inmates, like Ramos-Gomez, whenever they’d like. In sanctuary areas, like California, inmates must sign forms consenting to an interview with ICE officials and are told that an attorney can be present with them. 

DeWitt said that his office has asked ICE to review its policies so that a similar situation doesn’t happen.

DeWitt said he still supports cooperation between federal and local law enforcement, saying such cooperation is necessary to protect residents. But advocates see it differently, saying such cooperation actually chills trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

For her part, Ramos-Gomez’s mother, who came to the country from Guatemala, said that she will not trust law enforcement any longer.

The case is indicative of the problems that can come up when such interactions are rampant, Aukerman said.

“It’s terrible but it is the predictable consequence of this blind willingness to hand people over to ICE without looking,” she said, noting that ICE utilizes “administrative” warrants and not warrants signed by judges to request and hold individuals. “If ICE says ‘please, hand him over’ that is not enough. That is not what we should be doing.”

ICE has detained American citizens in the past, including a Queens man whose case was detailed by BuzzFeed News. Late last year, an American-born man sued ICE for detaining him.

“There’s sometimes complex questions about citizenship, but in this case it is 100% obvious. He was born in a US hospital,” Aukerman said. “It reflects an incredibly sloppy approach by ICE.”

The ACLU sent a letter Wednesday to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and the county Board of Commission demanding an investigation. DeWitt said that a US passport was not listed as one of Ramos-Gomez’s possessions but that often items are not marked by deputies. 

The county’s agreement with ICE is up in September, and Ramos-Gomez’s case will be a factor in the decision-making on whether to continue with it or not, DeWitt said.

Meanwhile, Ramos-Gomez’s family is just happy he’s home and not in ICE custody or deported to Guatemala, where his family had initially come from. His mother said she couldn’t sleep the weekend he was in ICE custody.

But when he was released Dec. 17, she waited for him in the detention center parking lot. When he walked out of custody, they immediately hugged.

“I can’t believe they did this to you, son,” she told him. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” he told her. “They didn’t believe me.”

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