Author Topic: Immigration  (Read 29617 times)


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #506 on: November 10, 2018, 08:53:32 am »
Migrant Caravan: Military Has Seen No Evidence to Support 270 Criminals Figure Touted By White House, DHS

Soldiers deployed to the U.S. southern border in anticipation of a caravan of Central American migrants have not been briefed on hundreds of criminal suspects allegedly traveling with the convoy itself, despite the Pentagon aiding the Department of Homeland Security with intelligence support along the southwest border.

Last week, DHS claimed that “over 270 individuals along the caravan route have criminal histories, including gang membership.”

However, on Tuesday, a senior Defense Department official told Newsweek that the Pentagon had yet to receive any intelligence from DHS pointing to 270 high-risk migrants traveling with the caravan.

“While there is a chance of people with some kind of criminal record to be traveling with the convoy,” the defense official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to Pentagon media regulations. “The current threat matrix does not offer any concrete indication of that.”

While the U.S. military seems to be in the dark, the White House has also touted the DHS’ numbers, with Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp mentioning the 270 figure last Friday during an interview on the border situation with Fox & Friends.

“What we’re seeing right now is you’re having this influx of illegal aliens, you’re talking about 1,000 to 2,000 illegal aliens crossing our border daily,” Schlapp said. “I mean we’re talking about a daily caravan coming into America.

“Then you have the larger caravan, where they have documented about 270 criminals part of that caravan, putting women and children on the front line,” Schlapp continued. “And we’re not going to allow them to come and invade our country.”

The White House told Newsweek via email that Schlapp received the information from DHS. However, it’s not clear how DHS has concluded that there are over 270 individuals that have criminal histories, including those with known gang members.

Newsweek sent multiple requests to DHS asking how the agency arrived at the figure and whether it had shared its information with DoD. DHS declined to give any information, asserting that such data was law enforcement sensitive.

It is unclear how DHS had pre-emptively identified at least 270 migrants in the caravan and determined they have criminal backgrounds and are ineligible to request asylum when migrants traveling to the southern border had yet to reach any port of entry.

“From an immigration standpoint, migrants in the caravan have not yet presented themselves to DHS, so there’s no paperwork, no personally identifiable information to even begin to start the vetting process to include biometrics which identifies with certainty the individual presenting themselves to the U.S.,” a former senior DHS official, who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution, told Newsweek ​

The official, who worked at DHS over the past three presidential administrations said that it’s questionable how DHS was able to obtain personally identifiable information on individuals within the caravan and match that information against other government agency databases to determine a specific number of criminals within the caravan with time

To put this into perspective, the security vetting of allied foreign U.S. military translators who have served honorably alongside U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan under the special immigrant visa program has a wait time of one to two years.

“I hesitate to accept DHS's findings due to the expediency with which they were announced and the accuracy of the claim given these individuals have not presented themselves formally for an immigration benefit or asylum," said the senior official.

"Once they have presented themselves or filed papers, DHS would have jurisdiction and be able to capture biometrics to match an individual with any background information they claim to have to make such allegations of criminal background or national origin.

On Thursday, the Trump administration tightened its stance on migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. by issuing a new rule that would prevent them from seeking asylum unless they enter the country through a designated port of entry. Many migrants who cross the border illegally after fleeing violence and persecution in their home country, file for asylum immediately.

“They’re flooding our country, we’re not letting them in, but they’re flooding our country,” President Donald Trump said on Friday outside the White House before boarding Marine One, adding that congressional Democrats need to vote to change current immigration laws.

The rule changes, set to publish Friday in the Federal Register, will invoke executive authorities the Trump administration used in 2017 to institute the “travel ban.”

The figure of 270 criminals first appeared on the agency’s website in a release titled, “Myth vs. Fact: Caravan.”

While the release does not indicate where the information comes from, it does reference an October 29 NPR interview with Geronimo Gutierrez, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., describing the caravan members as “very violent,” adding, “Unfortunately, some of the people in the caravan have been very violent against authority, even though they have offered the possibility of entering in compliance with immigration law and refugee status.”

DHS also cited a radio broadcast with Mexico’s Interior Minister Navarrete Prida, who claimed that criminal organizations had infiltrated the caravan, saying: “I have videos from Guatemala that show men dressed in identical clothing, sporting the same haircuts, handing out money to women to persuade them to move to the front of the caravan…We know, for a fact, that some members of the caravan threatened [Mexican] Migration Institute personnel and we have images showing many of them preparing Molotov cocktails.”

The department has claimed that it continued “to see individuals from over 20 countries” from nations including Somalia, India, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

It made no mention of Middle Eastern countries, which Trump had previously claimed members of the caravan had traveled from, before later admitting there was “no proof” of that being the case.

DHS declined to respond to a question from Newsweek asking what other countries were among the department’s 20-nation list.

As of January, DHS said they are facing a “crisis-level backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases,” with the backlog surging by more than 1750 percent over the last five years. The rate of new asylum applications has more than tripled.

Todd Rosenblum, a former senior-level executive with both DHS and the DoD, as acting assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and America’s security affairs and as deputy undersecretary of intelligence, told Newsweek that there is no reason why DHS would withhold information from the Pentagon on the 270 criminals it has alleged are traveling with the caravans headed towards the U.S.

“If they are foreign nationals, there’s no reason they couldn’t share information at any point with the DoD,” he said.

However, Rosenblum said that he was “dubious” about the 270 figure in the first place. “You know, you could define criminality any way you want,” he said. “Everyone who enters the country and overstays a visa is a criminal in our system.”

“So, when they say 270 criminals, my guess is that, in fact, they have identified people who have previously entered the U.S.”

Rosenblum said that if DHS “had something clearer, that was fact-based, they would say it,” adding, “I’m pretty convinced that this is all hype,” the former DHS and DoD official said. “If they had something scarier to say, they would say it.”

Rosenblum said that he believed DHS had released the number in a bid to support Trump’s rhetoric about the caravan, which he has branded as an “invasion.”

“The [Trump] administration is constantly trying to make this some dangerous threat of potential terrorists,” he said. “[DHS] would like to say there are terrorists among them, narco-traffickers, organized crime, leftist-funded groups doing all this stuff and they’re throwing everything against the wall," said Rosenblum.

"But the fact that they’re about to say there’s up to 270 people they claim have criminal records in this group of people…that’s a really weak hook to hang out hat on for why this should be called an ‘invasion.'

“They’re just looking for anything to justify it,” Rosenblum added.

A day after the midterm elections, the Pentagon announced they would no longer call the U.S. military mission at the southern border “Operation Faithful Patriot.”

"We are not calling it 'Operation Faithful Patriot,' we are calling it 'border support,’” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis told CNN on Wednesday. Davis did not provide a reason for the name change.

When asked about the decision to send U.S. forces to the border last week, Defense Secretary James Mattis said, "We don't do stunts."

The White House press credentials of CNN's Jim Acosta were revoked on Wednesday after a heated back and forth with the president after Acosta challenged Trump characterizing the caravan of migrants as an "invasion."

"I consider it an invasion, you and I have a difference of opinion, Trump said. When asked if he had demonized migrants, Trump said, "No, not at all, I want them to come into the country, but they have to come in legally."


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #505 on: November 09, 2018, 07:19:42 am »
Trump moves to sharply restrict asylum, as major immigration issues head toward Supreme Court

The Trump administration announced a major new effort to restrict people from claiming asylum at the U.S. border, setting up a legal battle over the president’s authority over immigration.

The announcement Thursday came only hours after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against President Trump in another high-profile immigration dispute — this one involving treatment of the so-called Dreamers, young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Immigrant rights groups promised to challenge the new asylum rules as soon as they go into effect, calling them a clear violation of U.S. law.

Administration officials expect both cases to be headed to the Supreme Court this spring. That would test the willingness of the court’s newly reinforced conservative majority to back up the president on his signature issue.

The new asylum rules, the latest salvo in Trump’s effort to shut off the flow of people, mostly from Central America, crossing into the United States from Mexico, aims to bar ten of thousands of claims for refuge filed each year.

The rules would seek to deny asylum to the vast majority of those who cross the border illegally rather than at a designated port of entry.

Roughly 97,000 people in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 claimed they had a “credible fear of persecution” — the legal test for asylum — and surrendered to the Border Patrol, according to government statistics. Most entered illegally, rather than at the official entry ports, which in the last year have often had huge backlogs.

Although most eventually lose their asylum claims and are deported, about 6,000 people in the last year won asylum cases.

The 9th Circuit ruling involves the fate of nearly 700,000 young people who have been shielded from deportation by an Obama-era program known as DACA, for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Trump has been trying for more than a year to end DACA, despite claiming sympathy for the young people involved. He has repeatedly been stymied in court. The latest ruling marked the first time that an appeals court has ruled on the issue.

The 3-0 ruling, in a case brought by the University of California on behalf of students covered by DACA, upheld a decision by a federal judge in San Francisco that in January halted Trump’s order. Issuing a nationwide decree, the judge said the president and his top advisors failed to set out a legitimate reason for revoking the Dreamers’ shield.

In his announcement last year, Trump said he was ending DACA because then-Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions determined that President Obama had exceeded his authority in setting up the program. The appeals court said that Sessions was wrong.

Obama’s order was “a permissible exercise of executive discretion” that allowed the Department of Homeland Security to “devote much-needed resources to enforcement priorities such as threats to national security, rather than blameless and economically productive young people with clean criminal records,” appeals court Judges Kim McLane Wardlaw, Jacqueline H. Nguyen and John B. Owens wrote.

Trump ultimately could rescind DACA, but the decision cannot rest “solely on an erroneous legal premise,” they added. All three judges are Democratic appointees.

Although the administration lost in court, its lawyers will be happy to have a ruling. They’ve been eager to get the issue before the Supreme Court, where they are confident they will prevail.

The president has also been looking forward to a Supreme Court test of the DACA issue. Asked at his news conference Wednesday whether he thought that the administration and Congress could work out a deal on the issue, he said that would come only after court action.

“We could have done some pretty good work on DACA,” he said. “But a judge ruled that DACA was OK. Had the judge not ruled that way, I think we could have made a deal. Once the judge ruled that way, the Democrats didn’t want to talk anymore. So we’ll see how it works out at the Supreme Court.”

If the court follows its normal schedule, the justices could grant the administration’s appeal on the issue in January, hear arguments in April and issue a ruling by late June.

By then, the justices could also be facing a test of the administration’s new asylum rules.

Under U.S. law, anyone who claims a credible fear of being persecuted in his or her home country has a right to an asylum hearing. Those who ultimately are granted asylum can live and work in the U.S. legally.

Trump has made the asylum system a central political issue, claiming repeatedly this fall that caravans of thousands of migrants from Central America are forming an “invasion” of the U.S. He has suggested, without evidence, that some of the people in the migrant caravans could be terrorists.

Reporters who have traveled with the caravans have found thousands of bedraggled people, many of them women and children, fleeing violence and other conditions in their home countries that many describe as desperate.

Administration officials have been telling reporters that they expect legal challenges to the new rules and that while they might lose cases in the lower courts, they expect the Supreme Court to rule on their side.

Officials say that many migrants are being coached by smugglers to say the “magic words” that trigger an asylum hearing, knowing that the wait for a hearing can be from six months to years in some cases. Although government data show that most migrants show up for their hearings, many don’t, and administration officials say the system is being abused.

In a joint statement Thursday, acting Atty. Gen. Matthew Whitaker, whom Trump appointed Wednesday, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen cited the same legal authority for clamping down on asylum claims that Trump relied on for his controversial ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries.

“The president has the broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens into the United States if he determines it to be in the national interest to do so,” the statement said.

“Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it,” it continued.

The new rules are expected to take effect late Friday after an official proclamation by Trump, officials said.

Currently, those who claim asylum outside ports of entry are interviewed by an asylum officer and released with a court date if they are determined to have a credible fear of persecution.

Under the new rules, people who are caught crossing illegally will still have the right to claim asylum but will be given a negative determination in most cases unless they can show they are victims of torture or meet a higher standard for proving persecution. They can then be scheduled for removal from the country within 20 days.

Asylum applicants will still have a right to an appeal, according to an administration official who was not authorized to speak about the policy on the record. That could allow some to receive asylum, but officials expect the vast majority will be deported.

Adults arriving alone will be prosecuted for illegal crossing, the official said. That’s a misdemeanor for which the sentence is typically time already served awaiting trial.

The administration has been trying to get criminal convictions on the record of as many illegal border crossers as possible. People who have been convicted once and are later caught crossing illegally again are subject to felony prosecution and a heavier sentence.

Adults who are caught crossing with children will not be prosecuted, but will also receive a negative decision on most asylum claims, officials said.

Immigration advocates said Thursday that those moves violate long-standing U.S. law and international treaties that give those fleeing persecution a right to have their claims heard.

“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Jodi Goodwin, an immigration attorney based in south Texas who has handled asylum cases for two dozen years, said the administration’s new approach “will mean an awful lot of people being processed at the ports of entry, which is fine if our government actually processes people — which is not what they have been doing.”

Immigration advocates say the U.S. and Mexican governments often have closed access to the entry points, creating delays that can last weeks, with potential asylum applicants stranded in dangerous territory.

Trump began his day at the Supreme Court where he watched as new Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh took a ceremonial oath in the courtroom. Trump also visited briefly with eight justices to take photos.

Missing was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, who fell in her chambers on Wednesday. She went to a hospital during the middle of the night. She had three fractured ribs and was “admitted for observation and treatment,” the court said in a statement.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #504 on: November 08, 2018, 03:38:47 pm »
Appeals court rules against Trump on DACA immigrant policy

A federal appeals court won't immediately let President Trump end an Obama-era program shielding young immigrants from deportation.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday decided to keep in place an injunction blocking Trump's decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Lawsuits by California and others challenging the Trump administration's decision will continue in federal court while the injunction remains in place.

DACA has protected some 700,000 people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with families that overstayed visas.

In January, U.S. District Judge William Alsup rejected the argument that President Obama had exceeded his power in creating DACA.

The Trump administration has said it moved last year to end the program because Texas and other states threatened to sue, raising the prospect of a chaotic end to DACA.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #503 on: October 23, 2018, 07:26:27 am »
Is the U.S. really facing a border crisis?

The images convey a deepening U.S. immigration crisis: a two-mile-long stream of more than 7,000 Central American migrants marching into Mexico, heading north toward the United States.

President Trump has seized on the mass exodus, taking to Twitter to call it an “assault” on the southern U.S. border. Two weeks shy of the midterm election, he continues to characterize the border as out of control, threatening to send troops there and telling a crowd of supporters in Montana: “Remember it’s gonna be an election of the caravan.”

But is pressure on the U.S. border really getting worse?

Overall, illegal immigration has been at historic lows the last several years.

The U.S. government gauges trends in illegal immigration by looking at the number of people who are apprehended each year trying to cross the border. That figure climbed steadily from the 1970s through the 1990s, peaking at 1.64 million in fiscal year 2000.

It has dropped sharply since then, hitting 303,916 in 2017. Based on the first 11 months of this fiscal year — the most recent data available — the annual total was on pace to rise past 390,000. That would still be lower than all but four of the previous 45 years.

That’s because illegal immigration from Mexico has been falling.

Traditionally, the vast majority of people crossing the border illegally have been Mexican citizens. For decades, a booming U.S. economy pulled many Mexicans fleeing poverty.

They accounted for more than 99% of all people who were caught in the peak year of 2000.

But in recent years, increasing economic opportunity in Mexico has reduced clandestine immigration.

Another factor driving down the numbers is that women in Mexico have been having fewer children on average, reducing poverty rates and the motivation to seek work in the U.S. A beefed-up border enforcement presence is also thought to be a deterrent.

In 2016, Mexicans made up about 47% of people apprehended at the border, according to federal data provided to the Pew Research Center.

At the same time, illegal immigration from the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — in Central America is far higher than it was a decade ago.

The number of migrants from these three countries rose from 45,709 in 2010 to a peak of 239,229 four years later, according to Pew. It has since dropped, hitting an estimated 163,000 last year.

But for the last two years, there have been more apprehensions of migrants from the Northern Triangle than from Mexico.

Record violence and political instability are the primary factors driving Central Americans to the United States.

The first big wave of migration from Central America occurred during the region’s civil wars of the 1980s. The U.S. helped fuel those wars, backing right-wing governments and rebel groups against what it saw as the threat of communism.

The biggest factor in the current exodus is gang violence, and once again U.S. policy has played a role.

In the late 1990s, the U.S. deported hundreds of early MS -13 and 18th Street gang members back to Central America, where they created offshoots and grew more powerful. As gang extortion and killings became prevalent, many people fled.

Many of these immigrants have surrendered to U.S. border officials and requested asylum, studies show. More migrants from the Northern Triangle asked for asylum in the U.S. between 2013 to 2015 than in the previous 15 years combined.

The current caravan is unusual for its size.

Migrant caravans from Central America are nothing new. People have long traveled in large numbers but away from public view and with not much fanfare.

Some have been organized to draw attention to the plight of Central Americans. They also offer migrants protection from rape, extortion and other dangers along the journey, as well as a way to get to the United States without hiring a smuggler for thousands of dollars.

At more than 7,000 migrants, the current caravan is the largest to date. It dwarfs the group of about 1,200 people that garnered extensive media coverage in the spring.

Many will probably not be granted asylum.

It’s perfectly legal to show up at a U.S. port of entry and request asylum. Getting it is another matter.

Migrants must first demonstrate to border officials a “credible fear” of persecution based on religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. It can take weeks and even months just to be allowed to enter the U.S. ports of entry for an interview, and encampments have sprung up along the southern border in the last couple of years.

Applicants who pass the interview must then make the case before an immigration judge. Decisions can take years because of a shortage of judges and an increase in cases.

Between fiscal years 2012 and 2017, immigration judges denied about 75% of the nearly 11,000 asylum cases brought by Guatemalan immigrants, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a Syracuse University project that collects immigration data. The percentage of denials was slightly higher for Salvadoran and Honduran asylum seekers.

The Trump administration has made the process even more difficult by ordering immigration judges to stop granting asylum to virtually all those claiming to be victims of domestic or gang violence, a move that could block tens of thousands of people from gaining permanent entry into the U.S.

Once they reach the border, some families in the caravan may be separated.

In May, the Trump administration announced a new “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute every adult who enters the country illegally. The policy resulted in immigration officials separating migrant children from their parents.

That triggered widespread outrage, and in June the government scrapped the policy.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean family separations will end. Some lawyers for immigrants say the government has been taking children from their asylum-seeking parents by abusing a long-standing policy designed to protect children.

The government can take custody when the child is deemed to be in danger or an adult cannot prove he or she is related to the child. But lawyers say in court filings that in some cases immigration officials have been falsely making such determinations.

The Trump administration denies that and says it is acting only in the interest of the children.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #502 on: October 19, 2018, 07:47:31 pm »
Migrants in U.S.-bound caravan break through fence at Guatemala-Mexico border

Thousands of Central Americans in a U.S.-bound migrant caravan began pushing their way from Guatemala into Mexico on Friday, pulling down border fences and storming toward the Mexican immigration post.

“One way or another, we will pass!” the migrants chanted as they approached the gates in the Guatemalan town of Tecun Uman.

The migrants rushed past Guatemalan soldiers onto a bridge that crosses the muddy Suchiate River, which separates the two countries.

But Mexican police in riot gear, at one point using tear gas to keep the crowd at bay, appeared to have stopped the group, which originated in Honduras last week, from bypassing immigration controls and illegally advancing further into Mexican territory.

The caravan of more than 2,000 people — men and women, teenagers and infants — on foot and in vehicles has become politically explosive. President Trump has made it an issue in the midterm election and threatened to cut aid to Central American nations, close the U.S.-Mexico border and deploy troops there if Mexico failed to stop the migrants.

At a campaign stop in Arizona on Friday, Trump expressed gratitude to Mexican officials for their efforts to deter the caravan. “It’s being stopped as of this moment by Mexico. So we appreciate very much what Mexico is doing,” he told reporters in Scottsdale. “As of this moment, I thank Mexico. I hope they continue.”

As they neared the Mexican side of the bridge, the migrants clashed with Mexican authorities, and several people were injured — including migrants, police and at least one Mexican journalist.

While a Mexican federal police helicopter hovered overhead, hundreds of migrants remained massed on the bridge, demanding that they be allowed to cross.

Migrants gathered outside the Mexican immigration headquarters shouted “Ayuda!” for help, as some women in the group appeared to be fainting in the sweltering heat.

The Mexican government brought a large bus to the crossing, and a small number of migrants, mostly women and children, were allowed to board. It appears they were to be processed for refugee status or other potential protections.

Mexican authorities, who have also sought help from the United Nations, said each migrant would be subjected to immigration inspection and that those lacking legal papers to be in Mexico would be detained and deported. Those seeking asylum would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Many shops here in Ciudad Hidalgo, on the Mexican side of the border, were closed because of fears of violence and looting. But residents of the town lined up to watch the spectacle.

As the day wore on, migrants began jumping from the bridge and swimming to the Mexican side or climbing aboard makeshift rafts, which ferried them to shore.

Darling Mejia, 20, had been waiting on the bridge for two hours before he began to worry that he might suffocate and decided to jump. He emerged on the shore shaking and dripping wet, his red shirt hanging off his thin figure.

“You have to understand,” he said. “All we want is a better life.”

It was the kind of chaotic scene that Mexican authorities had hoped to avoid.

In recent days, as the much-publicized caravan traversed Guatemala, Mexico dispatched planeloads of federal police and other authorities in anticipation of an influx.

Most of the migrants are citizens of Honduras, and many waved its blue-and-white national flag.

It was not immediately clear how many had entered Mexico.

One who made it in was 19-year-old Mario Leon, who abandoned the caravan after a week and crossed Thursday in a raft.

He left Honduras, he said, because he had no choice. “There’s no work. There’s no money,” he said. “The work there pays just three dollars a day. How can I make a life?”

Now Leon was waiting for two of his aunts who he said were stuck on the bridge. Waving a Honduran flag to cheer on the migrants, he didn’t seem particularly worried about Mexican immigration authorities.

Stopping illegal immigration and erecting a wall along the border with Mexico have been hallmark promises of Trump since he was a presidential candidate.

Late Thursday, Trump retweeted an image of reinforcements arriving at Mexico’s southern border and wrote: “Thank you Mexico, we look forward to working with you!”

For Mexico, the caravan had posed a major dilemma, pitting compassion for the migrants and respect for human rights against the country’s relationship with the United States.

Mexican authorities have vowed to respect the human rights of the migrants but said those lacking legal authorization to cross into Mexico would be detained.

“The essence of our position is the respect of the human rights and dignity of the people, and the protection of this migrant group, particularly the most vulnerable,” Mexico’s foreign secretary, Luis Videgaray, said Friday at a meeting in Mexico City with U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo.

Pompeo said the situation was reaching “a moment of crisis.”

Mexico’s interior secretary, Alfonso Navarrete Prida, denounced violence and acts of “provocation” by some of the migrants in the caravan and vowed that Mexico would respect the rights of those seeking entry into Mexico.

Some in the caravan had broken an accord with Mexican authorities to proceed in an orderly fashion at the border, Navarette said.

Mexico has long been the major route for Central Americans seeking to make it to the United States. Organized groups of smugglers assist the migrants on their way north, charging $5,000 or more a person.

In recent years, Mexican authorities have stepped up efforts to stop Central Americans from illegally entering the country, and set up checkpoints to catch those who get past the border.

Between January and August, Mexican authorities deported 69,929 Central Americans, an almost 40% increase compared with the same period during 2017.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #501 on: October 17, 2018, 08:05:01 pm »
Mexico sends federal forces to its southern border as migrant caravan heads north

Mexico sent federal forces to its southern border Wednesday after President Trump called on several Latin American nations to stop a large caravan of Honduran immigrants heading toward the United States.

Mexico’s federal police released images of two planes arriving in Tapachula, a Mexican city on the border with Guatemala that is a popular crossing point for migrants heading north. News reports showed hundreds of agents disembarking from the planes, some carrying riot gear.

In a series of sternly worded statements, the government has made it clear in recent days that it will not allow any of the estimated 2,000 immigrants traveling with the caravan to cross into Mexican territory without proper documentation.

Anybody entering the country “in an irregular manner” will be apprehended and, if appropriate, returned to their home country, one statement said. Immigrants fleeing violence or other threats who want refugee status to stay in Mexico must request it at the border and wait up to 45 days in immigration detention, the government said.

The last time a similar caravan of immigrants captured international headlines, back in April, Mexican authorities gave immigrants short-term visas that allowed them to transit through Mexico and reach the United States border.

That angered Trump, who sent National Guard troops to the border and said the caravan’s participants posed a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

This time Mexican officials appear eager to please Trump, who has threatened to withhold funding from countries that don’t seek to curb illegal immigration.

“They are clearly responding to Trump’s outbursts,” political analyst Carlos Bravo Regidor said of Mexican authorities. “I think that for a really long time, Mexico has outsourced its decisions about our southern border to the U.S.”

Immigration crackdowns are also popular within Mexico, Bravo said. Some Mexicans resent Central American immigrants, who are sometimes willing to work for lower wages than Mexicans.

The caravan, which includes people fleeing violence and political repression as well as migrants in search of jobs, departed Saturday from the violence-plagued Honduran city of San Pedro Sula — two days after Vice President Mike Pence prevailed on the leaders of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to urge their citizens not to enter the United States illegally.

On Monday, the migrants pushed past authorities at the Guatemalan border, and the next day Trump threatened to withhold aid from Central American countries if the caravan is not halted.

“Hard to believe that with thousands of people from South of the Border, walking unimpeded toward our country in the form of large Caravans, that the Democrats won’t approve legislation that will allow laws for the protection of our country,” he tweeted Wednesday.

But the caravan pushed on, mostly on foot. On Wednesday, it was still hundreds of miles from the Mexican border.

U.S. officials announced that Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will visit Mexico City on Friday to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The caravan will be on the agenda, a senior State Department official told reporters.

“I’m certain that there’ll be conversations with Mexico about how we can work together on this issue,” the official said. “Certainly we’re looking for concrete results and for solutions that work for both countries.”

Under Peña Nieto, Mexico has greatly increased security along its southern border and has deported hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Central America. But incoming President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is set to be sworn in Dec. 1, may be less willing to cooperate.

On Wednesday, he said deportations alone do not solve the problem of immigration.

Speaking at a conference, he said he plans to increase the number of work visas granted to Central American immigrants.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #500 on: October 11, 2018, 08:24:58 am »
I don't buy that he didn't know he wasn't an American citizens.

Officials: Husband Of ‘Real Housewives Of New Jersey’ Star To Be Deported To Italy

Authorities say the husband of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice will be deported back to Italy once he’s released from prison next year.

Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice appeared before an immigration court in York, Pennsylvania, via teleconference Wednesday. He can file an appeal by Nov. 9.

Giudice is an Italian citizen who came to the U.S. as an infant and wasn’t aware he wasn’t an American citizen.

He’s currently serving a more than 3-year sentence for fraud and failing to pay about $200,000 in taxes. He’s incarcerated at FCI Allenwood, about 165 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Prison records indicate he is set to be released in March.

Teresa Giudice served just under a year in prison for the same crimes.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #499 on: October 02, 2018, 05:14:28 pm »
Why is the Trump administration even bothering with this? As it is, it only affects about and 105 couples. Why should the government even care if these couples aren't "legally" married?

U.S. stops issuing visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats unless they are married

The State Department has stopped issuing visas to the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats sent to the United States or the United Nations in New York unless they are legally married, officials said Tuesday.

The shift, which began Monday but was announced Tuesday, is likely to make it difficult for some diplomats to bring their partners to postings in the United States because few countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East recognize or allow same-sex marriages.

The State Department said waivers would be granted in hardship cases. It said the change would affect about 105 couples or families now in the United States, including 55 that work for the United Nations or other international organizations.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo has pushed for religious freedom to be paramount among human rights that the United States advocates overseas, a shift from previous administrations.

Some activists worry that religious liberty is often used to deny rights to gay, lesbian and other non-heterosexual people.

David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Council, which advocates for gay rights, said the State Department decision was “unnecessary, mean-spirited and unacceptable.”

“This is an unconscionable, needless attack on some LGBTQ diplomats from around the world,” Stacy added.

State Department officials defended the move, saying it was a matter of “parity” because under the new policy, U.S. diplomats in same-sex relationships also had to be married in order to receive benefits and be posted abroad together.

“The purpose of the policy is to promote the equal treatment of all family members and couples,” a State Department official said, briefing reporters anonymously in keeping with department protocols.

“This is certainly not an attack,” another State Department official said. “It is not meant to be punitive. It is a recognition and a codification of the fact that same-sex marriage is legal in the United States.”

The new policy reverses an order by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who required all domestic partners of foreign diplomats or U.N. envoys to be given visas.

The State Department became increasingly receptive to gay members on its staff and LGBT rights around the world. A special LGBT envoy was appointed under the Obama administration, but the Trump administration has not filled that slot.

Same-sex marriage is legal in the United States, one of about 25 countries that grant marriage equality, according to activist groups.

In countries where gay sex violates the law, or gays are openly persecuted, same-sex couples obviously cannot marry before traveling to the United States.

The State Department said they could marry after they arrive, but that would require the non-diplomatic partner to obtain a separate travel visa to enter the United States.

“This will have an insidious impact on same-sex couples from countries that ban same-sex marriage or only offer civil unions,” said Akshaya Kumar, deputy U.N. director at Human Rights Watch.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #498 on: September 30, 2018, 02:25:00 pm »
Faced with migration ‘crisis,’ U.S. border chief finds no easy fix in Central America

Kevin McAleenan, the United States’ top border security official, was halfway through a three-country tour of Central America, worriedly looking at his phone.

Photos sent by Border Patrol agents in Arizona showed a long column of Guatemalan migrants, mostly women and children, trudging through the desert single file as they were taken into custody.

“Look at that,” McAleenan said, scrolling through images that resembled the refugee caravans of Syria, or Myanmar, not the mountains west of Tucson. “One hundred seventy people,” he said.

Groups of Central Americans nearly that large had been coming across the Rio Grande in South Texas in recent months, turning themselves in and claiming a fear of return to prevent their quick deportation. Now it was happening in Arizona.

McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, traveled last week to Central America’s Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — to seek their governments’ help and bring attention to a migration surge he has declared “a crisis.”

But instead of quick solutions, his trip mostly highlighted the deep structural forces threatening to send even more migrants north: hunger, joblessness and the gravitational pull of the American economy. The Trump administration has already tried to stop them with one of the harshest measures in its tool kit — separating parents from their children — and the strategy failed.

In the three months since President Trump halted the separations amid a public outcry, the trend it was intended to deter has gotten significantly worse. In August, 12,774 migrant family members were taken into custody along the Mexico border, a 38 percent jump from the previous month, and agents say September’s numbers appear to be headed even higher.

Trump erupted earlier this year when border arrests skyrocketed, but on Friday he signed a spending package that did not include the billions he sought for construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico. The measure requires lawmakers to revisit the issue after the November elections.

The stream of families arriving at the border each week has left McAleenan and other Homeland Security officials making futile appeals to Congress to fix the problem, while maneuvering to detain migrant parents and children long enough for courts to process their immigration claims, which could take months.

In the meantime, parents who arrive with children and cite a fear of return are typically released from immigration custody within days of arrival. U.S. family detention centers don’t have enough bed space to accommodate them, and U.S. courts are too clogged to process their cases within the 20-day period that children can be held in immigration jails.

“Our legal framework continues to act as a powerful magnet for families and children seeking a better life,” McAleenan, who invited a small group of reporters on his trip, said in an interview. “As a result, transnational criminal organizations are profiting from a billion-dollar human smuggling industry that treats people like a disposable commodity.”

“We see it every day on the border and at our ports of entry,” he added. “High-speed chases, people being smuggled in tractor-trailers, and bodies found in the desert and on our riverbeds are all terrible symptoms of the same complicated problem. CBP cannot fix this problem by ourselves.”

The number of Guatemalan migrants arrested at the U.S. border this year has nearly doubled as more indigenous villagers abandon the country’s impoverished western highlands, where malnutrition rates exceed 65 percent, the highest in the Western Hemisphere, according to U.S. Agency for International Development data. That crisis has been exacerbated by consecutive years of drought and meager harvests.

Guatemalan community leaders told McAleenan that smuggling guides who charge $10,000 for a trip to the United States capi­tal­ize on the dysfunction of the American immigration system.

“They say that if you bring a child they’ll let you into the United States and give you citizenship,” said Dora Alonzo Quijivix, describing the sales pitch during a meeting McAleenan attended with indigenous leaders in Quetzaltenango, the largest city in the western highlands. “Now they’re saying pregnant women who go will also get citizenship.”

Quijivix said she’s heard smugglers say this on local radio stations.

McAleenan told the group such claims were false and that the United States needed to do a better job of countering them. “There’s no ability to stay in the U.S. if you bring a child with you,” he said. “There’s no ability to just stay if you are pregnant. But our court system is very slow, so you might actually have a false promise of being able to stay in the U.S. for a year or two before you are repatriated.”

For years, the United States has funded advertising campaigns warning Guatemalans of the dangers of illegal migration, but in a country where mistrust of the government runs deep, that message is belied by the large homes and other trappings of prosperity among those with a son, sibling or spouse living abroad. Guatemalans send home nearly $9 billion a year in remittances, according to the latest government data, twice as much as they did a decade ago.

The smugglers’ hook is also supported by the latest statistics showing how few families who reach the United States have been sent back. The United States deported 333 underage Guatemalan migrants between January and August, according to the U.N.-affiliated International Organization for Migration. Mexico, which does not afford children and families the same legal protections, deported 7,910 during that same period.

The IOM data shows the United States sent back 524 children and teens to the three Northern Triangle countries combined between January and August, while Mexico deported 14,499.

According to U.S. Homeland Security statistics, only 1.4 percent of the family members from Northern Triangle countries who entered the United States illegally during the government’s 2017 fiscal year have been returned to their home countries. The vast majority remain in the United States waiting for their asylum cases to be adjudicated, but an immigration court backlog of nearly 750,000 cases means it may be years before they appear before a judge.

Homeland Security officials say these “loopholes” are facilitating an increasingly dangerous and lucrative smuggling system that subjects migrants to horrific abuse. But they are not easily deterred.

“If people feel threatened by a gang and don’t have job opportunities, or their child is getting what they perceive as a marginal education, then the risk of the journey outweighs the reality that they would otherwise live in,” said Heide B. Fulton, the top U.S. diplomat in Honduras. The nation was the second-largest source of illegal migration this year.

The latest border data shows an especially large increase in the number of adult men arriving with children, from 7,896 in the government’s 2016 fiscal year to 16,667 this year. Homeland Security officials have also documented a threefold increase in fraud cases of migrants claiming to be the parents of children who are not their own.

McAleenan found little evidence in Guatemala that the latest migration surge is fueled by worsening violence. Homicide rates in the Northern Triangle countries remain among the highest in the world, but they have fallen over the last several years, and Guatemala’s murder rate is at a 17-year low.

“While violence is a factor in some areas, it is no longer a key driver for migration in the region,” he said.

Instead, during meetings with business groups, community leaders and Central American officials, McAleenan heard that more traditional migration factors are pushing families to leave: too many young people, too few jobs and widespread rural poverty. Guatemala has the highest population growth rate in Latin America, and nearly half the country is under age 19, according to U.S. data.

Those young people are a relatively short trip away from the booming American economy, where jobs are plentiful, wages are 10 to 15 times as high and Guatemalans have family members willing to loan them money for the journey.

“Economic opportunity and governance play much larger roles in affecting the decision for migrants to take the trip north to the United States,” McAleenan said, calling for “a sustained campaign that addresses both push and pull factors” as “the only solution to this crisis.”

New instability and political polarization in Guatemala could make things worse in the coming year. President Jimmy Morales in early September barred the director of a U.N. anti-corruption body, known as the CICIG, from returning to the country, accusing him of abusing his authority.

Widely credited for strengthening the country’s justice system and the rule of law, CICIG investigators have charged Morales’s son and brother with campaign finance crimes. But Morales has declined to renew the U.N. body’s mandate, sparking protests amid warnings of eroding democratic rule.

American officials have been hesitant to criticize Morales, but when McAleenan asked a group of coffee producers how to help them create more jobs to slow illegal migration, one executive, Italo Antoniotti, told him the United States needs to stand up for the U.N. body.

“Corruption is the main source of poverty,” he said.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #497 on: September 27, 2018, 10:42:51 am »
Why do we let border agents run checkpoints 100 miles from the border?

A year after the end of World War II, Congress quietly amended the Immigration and Naturalization Act to grant border agents wide latitude to interrogate people they suspected were in the country illegally, provided that the agents were “within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States.” Congress left it up to the Justice Department to determine what “reasonable distance” meant, and in 1953 Atty. Gen. Herbert Brownell Jr. set it at 100 miles. There was no public discussion of why he picked that distance, and if there was an internal discussion the details are buried deep in the National Archives.

Yet even at the time of the 1946 amendment, members of Congress raised concerns about granting such extraordinary power to border agents to set up checkpoints, to stop people on a mere suspicion and to freely enter private lands (though not buildings) within 25 air miles of the border. But the desire to crack down on illegal immigration won out.

Courts later concurred, ruling that the government’s interest in enforcing immigration laws outweighed 4th Amendment protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” They allowed agents to question someone if they had a “reasonable suspicion” that the person might be here illegally, rather than the probable cause standard used in criminal cases. That set the table for the current Border Patrol practice of maintaining three dozen permanent checkpoints and dozens more temporary checkpoints on highways within 100 miles of the southwest border, with additional checkpoints similarly scattered in the northern tier of states.

The government doesn’t keep track of how many cars it stops, but Harper’s magazine recently reported that checkpoint agents “interact with more than 27 million people annually” — an astoundingly large number. According to a General Accounting Office report last year, the Border Patrol made only 2% of its arrests at the checkpoints but 43% of its seizures of marijuana and other contraband there, with 40% of the seizures coming from U.S. citizens with an ounce or less. n 2013, the Center for Investigative Reporting discovered that roughly 8 out of 10 people arrested for drug possession at checkpoints in the Big Bed, Texas, Border Patrol sector between 2005 and 2011 were Americans traveling through the state, not smuggling drugs from Mexico. The vast majority of drug cases were turned over for local prosecution.

The relatively small number of undocumented migrants caught at the checkpoints, combined with the high number of American citizens being charged with drug possession in stops local police couldn’t make on their own, raise significant questions about whether the “reasonable distance” standard enables what seem to be clear 4th Amendment violations. American citizens getting queried by Border Patrol agents scores of miles from the border should not be arrested for crimes the government otherwise would not have known about.

In fact, this year a New Hampshire judge ruled that drugs confiscated from 16 people at a checkpoint 90 miles from the border could not be used as evidence. “While the stated purpose of the checkpoints in this matter was screening for immigration violations,” Judge Thomas A. Rappa Jr. wrote, “the primary purpose of the action was detection and seizure of drugs.” The balance of interests the courts have cited in allowing such checkpoints crumbles when comparing the number of valid immigration arrests against the number of drug arrests of American citizens.

Two out of 3 people in the U.S. live within the 100-mile zone, which extends from all boundaries, not just the land borders with Mexico and Canada. Oddly, Lake Michigan is considered a border even though its coast comprises three states and no foreign nations, which means the entire state of Michigan and sections of Indiana and Illinois are within the zone. Here in California, most of Interstate 5 lies within 100 miles of the coast. That’s not what people typically think of as the border. Outrage by drivers stopped at mostly Southwest checkpoints has fueled a small cottage industry on YouTube.

So what is a “reasonable distance?” One mile? Ten miles? We’re sure analysts can offer a more reasonable line than 100 miles. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have introduced a bill to limit checkpoints to within 25 miles of the border and confine warrantless entry to land within 10 miles. That seems like a reasonable starting point for discussion. But the current standard grants way too much power to the government to interfere in private lives — something that should outrage civil libertarians regardless of political party.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #496 on: September 17, 2018, 04:00:40 pm »
U.S. slashes the number of refugees it will allow into the country

The United States will admit no more than 30,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday, the lowest number in decades and a steep cut from the 45,000 allowed in this year.

The new number is a small fraction of one percentage point of the almost 69 million displaced people in the world today. But Pompeo said the United States remains the most generous nation in the world when other aid to refugees is taken into account.

He said the lower cap should not be the “sole barometer” of American humanitarian measures, but “must be considered in the context of the many other forms of protection and assistance offered by the United States.”

Pompeo said the new ceiling would be less than a third of the 110,000 refugees when President Trump came to office. After he was done reading his statement from the podium in the State Department’s Treaty Room, Pompeo turned and left the room, ignoring questions shouted by reporters.

New refu­gee numbers must be announced at the end of every fiscal year. But with the midterm elections less than two months away, the decision reflects the administration’s gamble that current immigration levels are widely perceived as still being too high.

The new number is the lowest level of refugee admissions since the Refugee Act was enacted in 1980.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis, last year was the first time the United States resettled fewer refugees than the rest of the world combined. But on a per capita basis, the United States is far less generous than countries like Canada, Australia and Norway, all of which resettled more than 500 refugees per 1 million residents. The United States last year resettled 102 refugees per 1 million residents.

In a letter sent to Pompeo last month, a bipartisan group of former officials and heads of humanitarian organizations had urged him to raise the cap.

Criticism of the decision came swiftly from many quarters.

“Reducing the refugee number to another all-time low signals to the world that we are abdicating our moral leadership, which undermines our foreign policy and national security interests,” said Kevin Appleby, senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies. “Congress should exercise its oversight responsibility and push back hard on this low number through every tool at its disposal.”


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #495 on: September 11, 2018, 05:16:44 pm »
Trump administration to triple size of Texas tent camp for migrant children

A tent camp for migrant children in the desert outside El Paso will expand to accommodate a growing number of Central American children crossing the border, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

HHS, the federal agency tasked with caring for migrant children and teenagers in U.S. custody, said it would more than triple the size of its camp at the Tornillo-Guadalupe Land Port of Entry from 1,200 beds to as many as 3,800.

The Trump administration established the camp in June as a temporary shelter because its facilities elsewhere were running out of space. That occurred at the height of Trump’s “zero tolerance” prosecution initiative, a crackdown that separated some 2,500 migrant children from their parents.

Widespread condemnation forced Trump to reverse course and stop the separations in June, but since then HHS has taken in greater numbers of underage migrants. The number of families illegally crossing the border jumped again in recent weeks, according to border agents and administration officials. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is scheduled to release its latest arrest totals Wednesday.

Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, said the need for emergency capacity was the result of the latest surge at the border, not the administration’s decision to separate families during the crackdown this spring.

“ ‘Family separations’ resulting from the zero tolerance policy ended on June 20, 2018 and are not driving this need,” Wolfe said in a statement.

HHS officials have “worked round the clock to add beds or add shelters to avoid any backup” at the border,” Wolfe added. He said the agency has 12,800 minors in its custody, the highest number ever. Minors spend an average of 59 days in HHS custody, up from 51 days in 2017.

HHS has used the Tornillo site primarily to house older teens, channeling younger children in its custody to more “permanent” sites among the roughly 100 shelters where migrant children are housed.

At the Tornillo camp, teens sleep in large, climate-controlled canvas tents, and the site offers a full range of services including recreational and educational activities, according to HHS.

Wolfe said 1,400 of the 3,800 beds at the expanded site would remain on reserve status, so they could be ‘brought online incrementally as needed.” The camp will remain open at least through the end of this year, according to HHS.

Underage migrants who arrive without a parent may include teens traveling alone as well as younger children sent for by parents or relatives already living in the United States. After crossing from Mexico, they typically turn themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol, which is legally obligated to transfer minors to HHS within 72 hours.

Underage migrants who enter the United States are often seeking some form of humanitarian protection, citing threats to their lives and their families by gangs and lawlessness in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

For children in its care, HHS works to identify and vet an adult sponsor who can assume custody and ensure the minors comply with immigration proceedings and court appointments. In nearly 90 percent of cases, that sponsor is a parent or close relative.

A new information-sharing agreement between HHS and the Department of Homeland Security has increased concerns that some potential sponsors living in the United States illegally will be too scared to come forward, knowing their information could be accessible to immigration enforcement agents.

To accommodate more migrant children and longer stays in U.S. custody, the Trump administration has asked the Pentagon to host additional camps and shelters on military bases, but Wolfe said the government has not broken ground on any new facilities.

Homeland Security officials says immigration and asylum laws make it difficult to deport children who arrive illegally. According to the latest DHS statistics, 98 percent of the 31,754 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who were taken into custody during the 2017 fiscal year were still present in the United States as of June 30.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #494 on: September 06, 2018, 08:18:56 am »
Trump administration to circumvent court limits on detention of child migrants

The Trump administration said Thursday it is preparing to circumvent limits on the government's ability to hold minors in immigration jails by withdrawing from the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal consent decree that has shaped detention standards for underage migrants since 1997.

The maneuver is almost certain to land the administration back in court, where U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee, who oversees the agreement, has rejected attempts to extend the amount of time migrant children can be held with their parents beyond the current limit of 20 days.

Under changes proposed Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services, the administration said it would issue new regulations that "satisfy the basic purpose" of the Flores settlement and ensure migrant children "are treated with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors."

"Today, legal loopholes significantly hinder the Department's ability to appropriately detain and promptly remove family units that have no legal basis to remain in the country," said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement. "This rule addresses one of the primary pull factors for illegal immigration and allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress."

The proposal sets up a new immigration battle in court, and comes less than three months after the Trump administration's short-lived attempt to halt an increase in illegal migration by separating children from parents who entered unlawfully. The practice was widely condemned and forced the administration to reverse course and regroup.

Thursday's proposed changes amount to the administration's new attempt to eliminate what it views as major obstacles to effective immigration enforcement. Homeland Security officials say the limits on detaining families have effectively sent a message to would-be migrants that any parent who brings a child can expect to be quickly released from custody after entering the country illegally.

The changes proposed by the administration would allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to expand its family detention facilities in order to keep parents and children together in custody for lengthier periods. ICE currently has three such facilities, which it calls "family residential centers," with a combined capacity of about 3,500 beds.

But those facilities are almost always full, and the limitations on child detention under the Flores settlement have been a disincentive to build more. The settlement also mandates that children can only be held in licensed facilities, and the government has struggled to find states willing to do so.

While states typically license child-care facilities, none currently issues licenses to family detention centers.

According to the changes proposed Thursday, the government will ensure new detention facilities meet current standards, "as evaluated by a third-party entity engaged by ICE." The announcement does not indicate who the third party would be.

Homeland Security officials say that will ensure that those families, many of whom are Central Americans seeking asylum, appear in immigration court.

The Trump administration said Thursday's proposed changes would also "formalize" the way Health and Human Services cares for migrant children in its custody. The agency oversees a network of about 100 shelters for underage migrants who arrive without a parent or who have been separated. But in recent months allegations of mistreatment and sexual abuse at several shelters have emerged, and HHS has been sharply criticized for not keeping better track of children after they are released to family members or other approved "sponsors."

The administration's plans to lift limits on child detention is likely to trigger new legal challenges and could revive still-simmering anger over the Trump administration's separation of 2,600 migrant children from their parents under a border crackdown this spring. As of last week, more than 500 children were still in federal custody without their parents.

The 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement resulted from a class-action lawsuit over the treatment of migrant children in federal custody.

The proposed regulations would not take effect immediately. Publishing them in the Federal Register triggers a 60-day period for public comments. Then, advocates say, the Flores counsel who represents all migrant children in federal custody would have 45 days to challenge those regulations in court.

The proposal comes weeks after the Trump administration failed to obtain permission to detain children for unspecified periods of time from Judge Gee in Los Angeles.

Justice Department lawyers had asked for permission to detain children and parents together until their cases are adjudicated, a process that can take months.

In July, Gee sharply rebuked the Justice Department's request, calling it "a cynical attempt, on an ex parte basis, 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."

Advocates say the Trump administration has the authority to create regulations to replace the court agreement, but they worry that officials will ignore the substantive protections in its quest to deport immigrants.

In August, the mother of a Guatemalan toddler filed a claim alleging the little girl died in May as a result of negligent medical care while detained with hundreds of other families in Texas.

"The Trump administration is seeking to expand its power to jail families for longer in worse conditions and lock up children indefinitely in unlicensed and inhumane facilities," said Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, in a news conference last month.

"We're talking about an administration that intentionally and forcibly separated children from their parents knowing the torment and trauma that that would cause and we're now allowing them to set a new standard ... of care for immigrant children."


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #493 on: August 31, 2018, 03:52:27 pm »
Federal judge rules against states that wanted DACA declared unconstitional

A federal judge in Texas has declined to order that the U.S. government stop the Obama-era program shielding young immigrants from deportation.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's ruling Friday is a blow to opponents of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They filed a lawsuit in hopes Hanen would rule the program unconstitutional.

That would have triggered a conflict with three federal orders that have required the U.S. government to keep accepting DACA renewals even after President Trump tried to end the program last year. Legal experts say such a conflict would have drawn the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Texas led a group of seven states suing the U.S. government to end DACA. With federal officials also now opposing the program, other states intervened to defend it, as did the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #492 on: August 31, 2018, 08:57:17 am »
Thousands of Vietnamese, including offspring of U.S. troops, could be deported under tough Trump policy

Robert Huynh is the son of an American serviceman, although he never knew his father. His mother is Vietnamese, and he was conceived during the Vietnam War. In 1984, nine years after the last American troops left the country, 14-year-old Huynh moved to Louisville with his mother, half brother and half sisters under a U.S. government program to bring Amerasians and others to the United States.

Today, at 48, with a son and two young grandsons in Kentucky, he faces the prospect of being sent back to Vietnam, a country he has not visited since he left and where he has no relatives or friends.

Huynh is one of about 8,000 Vietnamese potentially caught up in a tough new immigration policy adopted by the Trump administration, significantly escalating deportation proceedings against immigrants who have green cards but never became U.S. citizens, and who have violated U.S. law.

Huynh, who helps out these days in his family’s nail salons, has had some run-ins with the law. In his 20s, he served nearly three years behind bars for dealing in the recreational drug ecstasy; more recently, he served a year’s probation for driving under the influence and was given another period of probation for running illegal slot-machine “game rooms” with his girlfriend in Texas, where he now lives.

He acknowledges that he made mistakes but says he accepted his punishments and tried to build a life here. Now he risks losing it all.

“My mother is 83 years old right now, and I want to be here when she passes away,” he said by telephone from Houston. “I don’t have anybody in Vietnam. My life is here in the United States.”

Nearly 1.3 million Vietnamese citizens have immigrated to the United States since the communist takeover of South Vietnam in 1975. Many came in the wave of “boat people” who made headlines in the late 1970s as they fled Vietnam in overcrowded and unsafe vessels.

The new arrivals were given green cards when they reached the United States, but many — Huynh among them — lacked the education, language skills or legal help needed to negotiate the complex bureaucratic process of acquiring citizenship.

Many came as children, attended schools and colleges in the United States, worked, paid taxes and raised families. Decades on, their lives and families could be ripped apart again.

The Trump administration, in a policy shaped by senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, has reinterpreted a 2008 agreement reached with Vietnam by the George W. Bush administration — that Vietnamese citizens who arrived before the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1995 would not be “subject to return.” Now, the White House says, there is no such immunity to deportation for any noncitizen found guilty of a crime. 

Critics of the shift accuse the administration of reneging on the 2008 agreement. The State Department disputes that, citing a line in the agreement noting that both sides “maintain their respective legal positions” regarding the pre-1995 arrivals.

“The U.S. position is that every country has an international legal obligation to accept its nationals that another country seeks to remove, expel, or deport,” the State Department said in a statement, declining to respond on the record specifically on the issue of Vietnam.

The Trump administration’s view is that the 2008 agreement was not aimed at protecting a certain population of immigrants from political persecution if they were returned to Vietnam.

Rather, the administration asserts that the deal was reached after a “stalemate” between the United States and Vietnam over the pre-1995 immigrants that has not been resolved, said one senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

“We were in a situation in which for a long time they were accepting zero people back,” the official said. “The theory [in 2008] was, ‘Let’s try to create a functioning system and try to get them to take back at least some portion of the convicted criminal population.’ ”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement public affairs officer Brendan Raedy said enforcement resources are focused “on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”

Opponents of the new policy say the Vietnamese in question were refugees from a communist regime and deserving of a haven in the United States.

At least 57 people who arrived before 1995 were in ICE detention in mid-June, according to figures supplied by ICE to attorneys. An additional 11 have been sent back to Vietnam, where they are certain to face suspicion from the security services for their perceived loyalty to the defunct South Vietnamese state. Several are struggling to obtain the identity cards they need to work, or even drive, attorneys say.

Vietnam does not want them back, said former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

“The majority targeted for deportation — sometimes for minor infractions — were war refugees who had sided with the United States,” he wrote in an essay for the American Foreign Service Association’s Foreign Service Journal after leaving office. “And they were to be ‘returned’ decades later to a nation ruled by a communist regime with which they had never reconciled.”

Some committed violent crimes but have served their prison terms. Others were convicted of various nonviolent crimes, including possession of marijuana, passing counterfeit money or driving under the influence, attorneys say.

“Some of the crimes took place in the nineties when people were initially being resettled here, growing up in poor neighborhoods and often being bullied,” said Phi Nguyen, litigation director at the Atlanta chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, who has filed a class-action lawsuit in California requesting a stay on the detentions.

Huynh was served a deportation order after being released from prison in 2006 and was kept for four more months in immigration detention before the authorities acknowledged that Vietnam would not take him back.

In 2017, after his conviction for running unlicensed gambling, he was ordered to report to a probation officer every month.

“The first month I went to report, it was Obama as president and it was okay,” he said. “The second month it was still Obama, and it was still okay. But the third time when I went to report, Donald Trump had taken over. It was February 2017, Donald Trump had only taken over 17 days before. ICE picked me up outside the probation office.”

He was to spend another year in immigration detention.

Tung Nguyen came to the United States in 1991 as a 13-year-old: His parents had adopted an Amerasian daughter, and the whole family was allowed to immigrate under the Amerasian Homecoming Act. But with his parents working long hours in low-paid jobs just to put food on the table, he was often left alone and struggled to adapt.

“I was young, I didn’t speak English, and I was bullied at school, so I took refuge in people who had a similar identity, to give me a sense of belonging,” he said by telephone from Santa Ana, Calif. That meant a group of Vietnamese boys who were living a “gangster-like” existence, he said.

In 1994, when he was 16, he was involved in a fatal stabbing stemming from an argument over “respect.” Tung held a knife but didn’t carry out the stabbing; nevertheless, he was tried as an adult and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. But after Tung served 18 years, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) reviewed his case and released him on parole on the basis of “exceptional rehabilitation.”

Tung has since dedicated himself to helping crime victims and offenders in the Vietnamese American community and working for juvenile justice reform. In 2014, he got married. In 2018, the Open Society Foundations awarded him a Soros Justice Fellowship, recognizing him as an “outstanding individual” working to improve the U.S. criminal justice system.

“I don’t have a child of my own, because I can’t live with the fact that any day they can come and take me,” he said. “This is my life; this is my home.”

Former ambassador Osius calls the new policy “repulsive” and racist.

“To me it is very tragic, and very un-American,” he said in an interview. “That we would treat people in this way, people who sided with us in the war and the children of our soldiers.”

Huynh finally reunited with the American side of his family in 2016, after a DNA test led him to a cousin who was trying to find his own father — the younger brother of Huynh’s father.

There was bad news and good news. Huynh found out that the man he had wondered about all his life had died when Huynh was just 4, in a car accident in the United States in 1974. But he also found an older half brother and a half sister, and his father’s two younger sisters, who live near him in Houston. “Both my aunties really love me,” he said. He can’t imagine leaving his entire family behind now.

“For years America was a country that used to help people escape communist repression in Vietnam,” said Tom Malinowski, who served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor in the Obama administration. “Now here we are forcing people to go back to it, and asking the government of Vietnam to be complicit in that.”


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #491 on: August 13, 2018, 08:49:59 am »
Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle.
If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out.

Let me tell you a story about Stephen Miller and chain migration.

It begins at the turn of the 20th century in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence farmers in what is now Belarus. Beset by violent anti-Jewish pogroms and forced childhood conscription in the Czar’s army, the patriarch of the shack, Wolf-Leib Glosser, fled a village where his forebears had lived for centuries and took his chances in America.

He set foot on Ellis Island on January 7, 1903, with $8 to his name. Though fluent in Polish, Russian, and Yiddish he understood no English. An elder son, Nathan, soon followed. By street corner peddling and sweat-shop toil Wolf-Leib and Nathan sent enough money home to pay off debts and buy the immediate family’s passage to America in 1906. That group included young Sam Glosser, who with his family settled in the western Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, a booming coal and steel town that was a magnet for other hard-working immigrants. The Glosser family quickly progressed from selling goods from a horse and wagon to owning a haberdashery in Johnstown run by Nathan and Wolf-Leib to a chain of supermarkets and discount department stores run by my grandfather, Sam, and the next generation of Glossers, including my dad, Izzy. It was big enough to be listed on the AMEX stock exchange and employed thousands of people over time. In the span of some 80 years and five decades, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous, educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals, and, most important, American citizens.

What does this classically American tale have to do with Stephen Miller? Well, Izzy Glosser is his maternal grandfather, and Stephen’s mother, Miriam, is my sister.

I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.

I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants— been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America First” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family would likely have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him.

Like other immigrants, our family’s welcome to the USA was not always a warm one, but we largely had the protection of the law, there was no state sponsored violence against us, no kidnapping of our male children, and we enjoyed good relations with our neighbors. True, Jews were excluded from many occupations, couldn’t buy homes in some towns, couldn’t join certain organizations or attend certain schools or universities, but life was good. As in past generations there were hate mongers who regarded the most recent groups of poor immigrants as scum, rapists, gangsters, drunks and terrorists, but largely the Glosser family was left alone to live our lives and build the American dream. Children were born, synagogues founded, and we thrived. This was the miracle of America.

Acting for so long in the theater of right wing politics, Stephen and Trump may have become numb to the resultant human tragedy and blind to the hypocrisy of their policy decisions. After all, Stephen’s is not the only family with a chain immigration story in the Trump administration. Trump's grandfather is reported to have been a German migrant on the run from military conscription to a new life in the USA and his mother fled the poverty of rural Scotland for the economic possibilities of New York City. (Trump’s in-laws just became citizens on the strength of his wife’s own citizenship.)

These facts are important not only for their grim historical irony but because vulnerable people are being hurt. They are real people, not the ghoulish caricatures portrayed by Trump. When confronted by the deaths and suffering of thousands our senses are overwhelmed, and the victims become statistics rather than people. I meet these statistics one at a time through my volunteer service as a neuropsychologist for the Philadelphia affiliate of HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), the global non-profit agency that protects refugees and helped my family more than 100 years ago. I will share the story of one such man I have met in the hope that my nephew might recognize elements of our shared heritage.

In the early 2000s, Joseph (not his real name) was conscripted at the age of 14 to be a soldier in Eritrea and sent to a remote desert military camp. Officers there discovered a Bible under his pillow which aroused their suspicion that he might belong to a foreign evangelical sect that would claim his loyalty and sap his will to fight. Joseph was actually a member of the state-approved Coptic church but was nonetheless immediately subjected to torture. “They smashed my face into the ground, tied my hands and feet together behind my back, stomped on me, and hung me from a tree by my bonds while they beat me with batons for the others to see.”

Joseph was tortured for 20 consecutive days before being taken to a military prison and crammed into a dark unventilated cell with 36 other men, little food and no proper hygiene. Some died, and in time Joseph was stricken with dysentery. When he was too weak to stand he was taken to a civilian clinic where he was fed by the medical staff. Upon regaining his strength he escaped to a nearby road where a sympathetic driver took him north through the night to a camp in Sudan where he joined other refugees. Joseph was on the first leg of a journey that would cover thousands of miles and almost 10 years.

Before Donald Trump had started his political ascent promulgating the false story that Barack Obama was a foreign-born Muslim, while my nephew, Stephen, was famously recovering from the hardships of his high school cafeteria in Santa Monica, Joseph was a child on his own in Sudan in fear of being deported back to Eritrea to face execution for desertion. He worked any job he could get, saved his money and made his way through Sudan. He endured arrest and extortion in Libya. He returned to Sudan, then kept moving to Dubai, Brazil, and eventually to a southern border crossing into Texas, where he sought asylum. In all of the countries he traveled through during his ordeal, he was vulnerable, exploited and his status was “illegal.” But in the United States he had a chance to acquire the protection of a documented immigrant.

Today, at 30, Joseph lives in Pennsylvania and has a wife and child. He is a smart, warm, humble man of great character who is grateful for every day of his freedom and safety. He bears emotional scars from not seeing his parents or siblings since he was 14. He still trembles, cries and struggles for breath when describing his torture, and he bears physical scars as well. He hopes to become a citizen, return to work and make his contribution to America. His story, though unique in its particulars, is by no means unusual. I have met Central Americans fleeing corrupt governments, violence and criminal extortion; a Yemeni woman unable to return to her war-ravaged home country and fearing sexual mutilation if she goes back to her Saudi husband; and an escaped kidnap-bride from central Asia.

President Trump wants to make us believe that these desperate migrants are an existential threat to the United States; the most powerful nation in world history and a nation made strong by immigrants. Trump and my nephew both know their immigrant and refugee roots. Yet, they repeat the insults and false accusations of earlier generations against these refugees to make them seem less than human. Trump publicly parades the grieving families of people hurt or killed by migrants, just as the early Nazis dredged up Jewish criminals to frighten and enrage their political base to justify persecution of all Jews. Almost every American family has an immigration story of its own based on flight from war, poverty, famine, persecution, fear or hopelessness. These immigrants became the workers, entrepreneurs, scientists and soldiers of America.

Most damning is the administration's evident intent to make policy that specifically disadvantages people based on their ethnicity, country of origin, and religion. No matter what opinion is held about immigration, any government that specifically enacts law or policy on that basis must be recognized as a threat to all of us. Laws bereft of justice are the gateway to tyranny. Today others may be the target, but tomorrow it might just as easily be you or me. History will be the judge, but in the meanwhile the normalization of these policies is rapidly eroding the collective conscience of America. Immigration reform is a complex issue that will require compassion and wisdom to bring the nation to a just solution, but the politicians who have based their political and professional identity on ethnic demonization and exclusion cannot be trusted to do so. As free Americans, and the descendants of immigrants and refugees, we have the obligation to exercise our conscience by voting for candidates who will stand up for our highest national values and not succumb to our lowest fears.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #490 on: August 12, 2018, 10:15:43 am »
Under Trump, the rare act of denaturalizing U.S. citizens on the rise

Working a Saturday shift in the stuffy Immigration and Naturalization Service office in downtown Los Angeles in the 1970s, Carl Shusterman came across a rap sheet.

A man recently sworn in as a United States citizen had failed to disclose on his naturalization application that he had been arrested, but not convicted, in California on rape and theft charges.

Shusterman, then a naturalization attorney, embarked on a months-long effort to do something that rarely happened: strip someone of their American citizenship.

“We had to look it up to find out how to do this,” he said. “We’d never even heard of it.”

Forty years later, denaturalization — a complex process once primarily reserved for Nazi war criminals and human rights violators — is on the rise under the Trump administration.

A United States Citizenship and Immigration Services team in Los Angeles has been reviewing more than 2,500 naturalization files for possible denaturalization, focusing on identity fraud and willful misrepresentation. More than 100 cases have been referred to the Department of Justice for possible action.

“We’re receiving cases where [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] believes there is fraud, where our systems have identified that individuals used more than one identity, sometimes more than two or three identities,” said Dan Renaud, the associate director for field operations at the citizenship agency. “Those are the cases we’re pursuing.”

The move comes at a time when Trump and top advisors have made it clear that they want to dramatically reduce immigration, both illegal and legal.

The administration granted fewer visas and accepted fewer refugees in 2017 than in previous years.

Recently, the federal government moved to block victims of gang violence and domestic abuse from claiming asylum. White House senior advisor Stephen Miller — an immigration hawk — is pushing a policy that could make it more difficult for those who have received public benefits, including Obamacare, to become citizens or green card holders, according to multiple news outlets.

Shusterman, now a private immigration attorney in L.A., said he’s concerned denaturalization could be used as another tool to achieve the president’s goals.

“I think they’ll … find people with very minor transgressions,” he said, “and they’ll take away their citizenship.”

Dozens of U.S. mayors, including L.A.’s Eric Garcetti, signed a letter sent to the citizenship agency’s director in late July, criticizing a backlog in naturalization applications and the agency’s commitment of resources to “stripping citizenship from naturalized Americans.”

“The new measure to investigate thousands of cases from almost 30 years ago, under the pretext of the incredibly minimal problem of fraud in citizenship applications, instead of managing resources in a manner that processes the backlogs before them, suggests that the agency is more interested in following an aggressive political agenda rather than its own mission,” the letter stated.

But Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports tighter controls, said “denaturalization, like deportation, is an essential tool to use against those who break the rules.”

“It’s for people who are fraudsters, liars,” he said. “We’ve been lax about this for a long time, and this unit that’s been developed is really just a question of taking the law seriously.”

From 2009 to 2016, an average of 16 civil denaturalization cases were filed each year, Department of Justice data show. Last year, more than 25 cases were filed. Through mid-July of this year, the Justice Department has filed 20 more.

Separately, ICE has a pending budget request for $207.6 million to hire 300 agents to help root out citizenship fraud, as well as to “complement work site enforcement, visa overstay investigations, forensic document examination, outreach programs and other activities,” according to the agency.

The stage for increasing cases of denaturalization was set during the waning days of the Obama administration.

In September 2016, a report released by the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security showed that 315,000 old fingerprint records for immigrants who either had criminal convictions or deportation orders against them had not been uploaded into a database used to check identities.

It turned out that because of incomplete fingerprint records, citizenship had been granted to at least 858 people who had been ordered deported or removed under another identity. USCIS began looking into cases.

John Sandweg, who headed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Obama, said that when it came to denaturalization, officers considered it on a case-by-case basis, “looking at the seriousness of the offense and then deciding if it made sense to dedicate the resources.”

“It was looked at more in that context — let’s look for serious felons who may have duped the system because we didn’t digitize fingerprints yet. Not so much … let’s just find people where there’s eligibilities to denaturalize because we want to try to reduce the ranks of naturalized U.S. citizens.”

Even during the communist scare of McCarthy era, citizenship revocation was so rare that often the cases made the news.

“The constant surveillance of communists in this country is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, 52-weeks-a-year job,” President Eisenhower declared in 1954, according to a Los Angeles Times article headlined: “Eisenhower cites U.S. war on reds.”

The government in 1981 took citizenship away from Feodor Fedorenko, who had worked as a guard at a Poland death camp, fled to the U.S. and illegally obtained citizenship by omitting references to his Nazi service. After he was denaturalized, he was deported to the Soviet Union and executed as a war criminal.

“It’s always taken expertise and finesse to bring those cases to court and successfully finish,” said Bruce J. Einhorn, former litigation chief for Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations. “I think an office like this, in theory, could do a great deal of good, depending also on their exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”

Citizenship and Immigration Services began training officers last year on how to review cases and on the burden of proof necessary to revoke a person’s citizenship. About a dozen people are in the L.A. unit — a number expected to rise to about 85 with the addition of support, analyst and administrative staff.

The case of Baljinder Singh, of India, is among those the agency referred to Justice officials.

Nearly three decades ago, Singh arrived in San Francisco from India without any travel documents or proof of identity, claiming his name was Davinder Singh. He was placed in exclusion proceedings but failed to show up for an immigration court hearing and was ordered deported.

He later filed an asylum application under his true name but withdrew it after he married a U.S. citizen who filed a visa petition on his behalf, according to the Justice Department. He became a citizen on July 28, 2006.

In January, a federal district judge revoked Singh’s citizenship.

“I think that if individuals saw these cases and really took time to understand the length to which some of these individuals went to fraudulently obtain immigration status, they too would want us to pursue these cases,” Renaud said.

Einhorn said that what many view as the Trump administration’s anti-immigration agenda makes it hard to see denaturalization and the citizenship agency’s role in it in a neutral way.

“The immigration law and the civil rights community are understandably going to be very suspicious of an office like this in the age of Trump,” he said. “The question will be: Is this office simply trying to apply the law in a bad way or in an unsound way just to effectuate the extremist views of the president? Or is it in fact going to be a professional group of people who are going after serious offenders of the naturalization law?”


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #489 on: August 10, 2018, 03:23:19 pm »
US judge halts deportation, threatens Sessions with contempt

A federal judge on Thursday halted a deportation in progress and threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt if the mother and daughter weren't returned to the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington learned in court that the two plaintiffs in a lawsuit before him were being removed from the United States and confirmed later that they were on a plane headed to Central America. He said any delay in bringing them back would be intolerable.

If they fail to comply, the judge said, Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other senior Homeland Security officials would have to convince him not to hold them in contempt of court.

The Department of Homeland Security was bringing the pair back to the United States on Thursday after the plane landed in El Salvador. The mother and daughter did not disembark in the Central American country.

"This is pretty outrageous," Sullivan said in court, according to The Washington Post. "That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?"

"I'm not happy about this at all," the judge said, according to the Post. "This is not acceptable."

The woman — identified in court as Carmen — is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed this week against the administration by the American Civil Liberties Union over efforts to prevent immigrants from seeking asylum because of domestic and gang violence in their home countries. The lawsuit asks the judge to invalidate Sessions' June 11 decision to restrict the kinds of cases that qualify for asylum.

The judge imposed a halt Thursday on deporting Carmen, her daughter and six other plaintiffs. The Justice Department declined to comment on the judge's threat of contempt.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #488 on: August 03, 2018, 09:04:45 pm »
A federal judge slaps the Trump administration for arbitrarily ending DACA just because it wanted to

A U.S. district judge ruled late Friday that the Trump administration must fully reinstate the Obama-era Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program because President Trump’s decision to end it was “was arbitrary and capricious” and the government’s legal justification was “inadequately explained.”

Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia affirmed his earlier finding that the Department of Homeland Security failed to offer a reasonable argument for ending DACA, and that a more recent DHS memo rationalizing the decision to end deportation protections for the Dreamers “fails to elaborate meaningfully on the agency’s primary rationale for its decision: the judgment that the policy was unlawful and unconstitutional.”

 “And while the memo offers several additional ‘policy’ grounds for DACA’s rescission,” Bates continued, “most of these simply repackage legal arguments previously made.”


Bates stayed his order for 20 days to give the government a chance to decide whether to appeal, so exactly how this will all play out is about as clear as the Rio Grande after a rainstorm. But if Bates’ decision holds up, this would be a significant victory for the rule of law, a “yuge” loss for Trump (check your Twitter feeds early and often on Saturday morning) and a victory for the 700,000 or so people who currently are enrolled in DACA.

To remind, DACA offers protection from deportation to about 700,000 people living in the country illegally after having been brought here as children (some were smuggled in; some overstayed visas). Those eligible for protections must have arrived in the U.S. before age 16, been here continuously since June 15, 2007 and been physically within the U.S. on June 15, 2012. Further, as the U.S. Citizenship and and Immigration Services lays out, they must be “in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.”

Just the sorts of people most Americans like to see as part of our society.

Interestingly, Bates also rebuked the administration for what has been its practice (though he stuck to this one instance) of simply deciding it wants to do something and then going full steam ahead without following well-established laws and procedures for how regulations and programs must be created or dismantled. In short, the government can’t just say, “We don’t like this one anymore so shut it down,” as it has tried to do to environmental, energy, federal land use, education and other policies.

The Administrative Procedure Act, among other governance rules, says the government must present a reason for doing something, and if it wants to undo something, it must also have a reason.

“The Court did not hold in its prior opinion, and it does not hold today, that DHS lacks the statutory or constitutional authority to rescind the DACA program,” Bates wrote. “Rather, the Court simply holds that if DHS wishes to rescind the program — or to take any other action, for that matter — it must give a rational explanation for its decision.”

That’s a basic level of competence that lies beyond the reach of this administration.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #487 on: August 02, 2018, 03:58:43 pm »
Decorated soldier discharged from Army over immigration status

A decorated solider was discharged from the Army last month because of her immigration status, reportedly leaving her vulnerable for deportation.

Army Spec. Yea Ji Sea, a medic at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, was honorably discharged after more than 4 1/2 years in the military, according to The Washington Post.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has now filed a lawsuit on her behalf against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, alleging they improperly failed to process her naturalization application.

“My biggest fear right now is my commander calling [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement],” Sea said as she prepared to leave the base. “I’ve been unofficially warned that ICE might come to pick me up. After 4.5 years, once I get my discharge papers, my reality is ICE might come pick me up.”

Sea, 29, came to the U.S. in 1998, when she was 9, the Post reported.

She joined the Army in 2013 with the goal of earning her citizenship through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program.

“I figured I’d join, work for it, get my citizenship and have a chance at a normal life,” Sea said.

The health-care specialist served in Oklahoma and Texas before working overseas as an ambulance aid driver and pharmacy tech in South Korea.

In a character assessment, her supervisor said Sea's “drive and professionalism” was the future of the Army.

“She represents the best that the Army has to offer: a smart, agile young leader capable of handling immense challenges with marked success,” the supervisor wrote.

Sea told the Post that she was stunned when she learned that her F-1 student visa, which had been allowing her to stay in the country, was fraudulent.

She had obtained the documentation in 2008 at the Neo-America Language School, according to the newspaper.

Sea did not know that the school’s owner had been working with a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent to issue fraudulent visas in exchange for bribes.

The Post reported that the officer pleaded guilty in 2013 and was sentenced to six months in prison.

“The fraud was actually perpetrated by the corrupt CBP officer,” ACLU attorney Sameer Ahmed said. “She had no idea there was this ... document that was put in her student visa application. No one told her.”

Because of the inaccuracy on her naturalization application, Sea was deemed by the U.S. government as a person who is not of “good moral character," according to the Post.

“They knew about the student visa at least since 2014, and she’s been honorably serving the military since then,” Ahmed told the Post. “Throughout the entire time, they never sought to discharge her. They’re claiming now the reason for discharging her is based on her being an alien, which makes no sense. Everyone in the MAVNI program is an alien.”

More than 40 MAVNI participants have recently been discharged or had their status put on hold in recent months, The Associated Press reported last month

Ahmed said the sudden discharge is because of President Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration.

“They’re trying to discharge her now, and it’s part of a larger anti-immigration scheme of the Trump administration,” Ahmed said.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #486 on: July 29, 2018, 09:21:48 am »
Trump threatens U.S. government shutdown over immigration

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats refuse to back his demand for a wall at the Mexican border and other major changes to immigration laws his administration wants.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!” Trump said on Twitter.

The Republican president has used the threat of a government shutdown several times since taking office in 2017 in a bid to get his priorities in congressional spending bills, especially funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border.

A disruption in federal government operations in the months before November congressional elections could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans, who control Congress, for the interruption in services.

Trump wants Congress to pass legislation that addresses immigration issues, including the border wall, changing the way visas are allotted and other immigration restrictions.

Although Republicans control Congress, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party have impeded a speedy legislative fix.

Standoffs over spending levels and immigration led to a three-day government shutdown, mostly over a weekend, in January and an hours-long shutdown in February.

The Republican president has made tougher immigration laws a centerpiece of his administration, from the first ill-fated travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations to the current battle raging over the separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A federal judge on Friday urged the U.S. government to focus on finding deported immigrant parents so it could reunite them with their children who remain in the United States.

Trump has requested $25 billion to build the border wall and $1.6 billion has already appropriated for the project.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said lawmakers were considering an appropriations measure seeking an additional $5 billion for the wall.

However, its passage in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority, is a long shot.

Lawmakers met with Trump last week to discuss the appropriations process to fund the government by the September deadline.

“We really just want to get the military funded, on time, on budget on schedule this year. And that’s the primary concern,” Ryan said Wednesday on Fox News.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #485 on: July 28, 2018, 10:46:04 am »
Spain's overwhelmed coastguard says it can't cope with migrant influx, as 700 rescued in one morning

Spain’s coastguard union has warned the service was completely "overwhelmed" by surging numbers of migrant crossings, as more than 600 people were rescued from rafts in the Gibraltar Strait in just one morning. The union for Spain’s Maritime Rescue agency issued an urgent call for resources to help it cope with the “massive arrival of immigrants” on the country’s shores. The warning came as the Spanish coastguard pulled 774 people from 52 rafts in the Gibraltar Strait on Friday morning, bringing arrivals to more than 2000 this week alone.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #484 on: July 28, 2018, 04:47:14 am »
How do you think you shit heads got here?


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #483 on: July 16, 2018, 04:37:04 pm »
Judge temporarily halts deportation of reunified families

A federal judge Monday ordered a temporary halt to any deportations of reunited families who were separated by the Trump administration after crossing the Southwest border.

The American Civil Liberties Union had asked Judge Dana Sabraw to delay deportations a week after reunification. The ACLU said in a court filing that its request is a response to "persistent and increasing rumors ... that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon reunification."

The ACLU said parents need a week after being reunified with their children to decide whether to pursue asylum.

The decision "cannot be made until parents not only have had time to fully discuss the ramifications with their children, but also to hear from the child's advocate or counsel, who can explain to the parent the likelihood of the child ultimately prevailing in his or her own asylum case if left behind in the U.S. (as well as where the child is likely to end up living)," the ACLU says.

Sabraw said he would temporarily halt deportations until the Justice Department could file a response to the ACLU's documents. He gave the government attorneys one week, and said he'd formally rule after that. Justice attorneys opposed halting the deportations.

The request by the ACLU followed a flurry of weekend activity in the case. The judge said late Friday that he was having second thoughts about whether the government was acting in good faith. He was responding to an administration plan to reunite more than 2,500 children ages 5 and older by July 26.

The administration's reunification plan uses "truncated" procedures to verify parentage and perform background checks, excluding DNA testing and other steps it took to reunify children under 5. The administration said the abbreviated vetting puts children at significant safety risk but is needed to meet the deadline.

During a hastily scheduled hearing after the plan was released Friday, Sabraw said the government was presenting a "parade of horribles" that misrepresented his orders. He insisted that the deadline be met.

"The task is laborious, but can be accomplished in the time and manner prescribed," he wrote in a subsequent order.

Sabraw has scheduled four hearings over the next two weeks, including one Monday, to ensure compliance with his order.

Evelyn Stauffer, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department, said Saturday that the administration proposed its plan "in the interests of transparency and cooperation" after concluding that the abbreviated vetting was necessary to make the deadline.

"Within the time the court allows, we will strive to implement the most comprehensive procedures possible to ensure child welfare," she said. "We look forward to continuing our close work with the court to accomplish the goals we share of safe, expeditious reunification."


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #482 on: July 05, 2018, 05:11:17 pm »
Federal judge denies Trump administration effort to block California's 'sanctuary' law

A federal judge refused Thursday to block California from restricting local law enforcement cooperation with immigration agents, an early legal victory for the state’s “sanctuary” law that drew caustic but predictable reactions from both sides.

U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez, in rejecting the position of the Trump administration that California’s law is an attempt to stymie immigration enforcement, wrote that “refusing to help is not the same as impeding.”

“Standing aside does not equate to standing in the way,” Mendez wrote.

The judge also upheld the legality of a second California law, allowing the state’s attorney general to visit federal immigration detention centers. He rejected part of a third state law — one which imposes fines on private business employers who voluntarily allow immigration agents into the workplace.

Taken together, the three laws represent perhaps the clearest attempt by Democrats in California to push back against the Republican president’s zeal in curtailing illegal immigration. Leaders of the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown have insisted the efforts by Trump and federal agents have had a chilling effect in communities across the state, an agenda they maintain California isn’t required to help carry out.

Brown said the federal judge’s ruling served as a reminder of the inaction in Washington on a comprehensive overhaul of federal immigration law.

“Only Congress can chart the path forward by rising above mindless, partisan divisions and working together to solve this problem, not exacerbate it,” the governor said in a statement.

Mendez heard lengthy arguments from federal and state attorneys on June 20 in a Sacramento courtroom. The judge said at the time that given the high-profile nature of the case, he expected his ruling would ultimately be appealed.

Federal officials didn’t make their next steps clear Thursday, though they praised the limited court victory covering the workplace inspection law.

“While we are disappointed that California's other laws designed to protect criminal aliens were not yet halted, the Justice Department will continue to seek out and fight unjust policies that threaten public safety,” department spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a written statement.

The marquee law of the three statutes that were challenged, Senate Bill 54, has eliminated much of the discretionary power that local law enforcement previously had to privately share information with federal immigration agents about people who have been arrested and put in county jails. Attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice argued last month that the state had no right to interfere with the enforcement of immigration law.

But Mendez’s ruling said because Congress had not explicitly required state or local cooperation, the Trump administration could not block what was otherwise the cancellation of a voluntary effort.

“SB 54 does not add or subtract any rights or restrictions upon immigrants,” the judge wrote. “Immigrants subject to removal remain subject to removal. SB 54, instead, directs the activities of state law enforcement, which Congress has not purported to regulate.”

He also found that the California law doesn't limit the kind of information-sharing that’s required under federal law — agreeing with state attorneys that it’s only “information strictly pertaining to immigration status” of a person and not additional information such as a release date from a local jail or a home address.

“The state tried to pass legislation that came as close as it could to the federal law without interfering with it,” said Rory Little, a law professor at UC Hastings.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), said the statute was carefully crafted with the help of Eric H. Holder, Jr., who served as attorney general under President Obama.

“We made it very clear that we’re not interfering in the functions of immigration authorities to execute their job,” he said.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said the ruling confirmed that the state’s immigration-minded efforts will “work in concert — not conflict — with federal law.”

Nor did the judge find any legal justification for blocking Assembly Bill 103, a law Brown signed in 2017 that ensures nine federally operated detention centers in California should be open to inspection by state officials. Trump administration attorneys argued in court that the law was a thinly disguised effort to thwart the government’s ability to hold those suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

Mendez, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2007, saw no such impediment. Instead, he ruled that the detention centers are supposed to comply with long-standing state and local laws, and that AB 103 simply ensures this is happening.

“For all its bark, the law has no real bite,” he wrote.

One law, however, was seen as going too far. Mendez ruled that Assembly Bill 450, which forbids business owners from voluntarily allowing federal agents to inspect their work sites, should not have also imposed fines of $2,000 or more on employers. He wrote that federal agents could be visiting a work site for more than one reason and, even then, federal immigration law doesn’t allow “additional penalties on employers” beyond those imposed by Congress.

“These fines inflict a burden on those employers who acquiesce in a federal investigation but not on those who do not,” Mendez wrote.

Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who authored the workplace immigration law, said he was glad the judge left standing a provision that requires employees be notified when federal agents review their paperwork. And he said nothing in the ruling prevents employers from voluntarily demanding a warrant before allowing agents access to workplace locations that aren’t otherwise accessible to the public.

“It is up to all of us, in our individual ways, to resist the war on immigrants in the United States,” Chiu said in a statement on Thursday.

De León, the author of the centerpiece statute that governs law enforcement cooperation in cities and counties across the state, said the judge’s ruling suggests that the lawsuit — announced by Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in a scathing speech delivered in Sacramento in March — wasn’t sound public policy.

“Sessions is more obsessed with immigrants and people of color than the rule of law,” De León said.

Little, who studies constitutional law, said Thursday’s court action does not appear to offer the Trump administration room for an appeal. “I think the ruling is pretty strong and on solid legal ground,” he said. “But there might be political reasons to appeal it.”


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #481 on: July 03, 2018, 11:21:51 am »
Finally judges with balls
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #480 on: July 02, 2018, 09:01:13 pm »
Federal court blocks ICE treatment of asylum seekers

A federal judge on Monday determined the U.S. government is violating its own rules regarding the treatment of people seeking asylum.

Judge James Boasberg issued a preliminary injunction ordering the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to stop what opponents called the arbitrary detention of legitimate asylum seekers. The case in question continues, but the injunction opens up yet another legal front in the multi-directional battle being waged by the Trump administration over immigration.

"This ruling means the Trump administration cannot use indefinite detention as a weapon to punish and deter asylum seekers," said Michael Tan, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project.

All immigrants seeking asylum must initially pass a "credible fear" screening to determine if they face a threat of persecution in their home countries. Those who fail that standard are deported immediately. Previously, those who passed were usually given humanitarian parole while awaiting an immigration hearing, provided they were not considered flight risks or dangers to the public.

Under former President Barack Obama's administration, ICE granted humanitarian parole to more than 90 percent of asylum seekers.

Lawyers for the ACLU and other groups argued in May that since the start of President Donald Trump's administration, the number of people granted such parole has dropped to almost zero in five key ICE field offices: Detroit; El Paso, Texas; Los Angeles; Newark, New Jersey; and Philadelphia.

Those denied parole have instead been detained; in one case, a former ethics teacher from Haiti has spent more than 18 months in prison.

Judge Boasberg, in a 38-page memorandum opinion, concluded that "the numbers here are irrefutable," and ordered a case-by-case review of all asylum seekers awaiting parole. Meanwhile, the lawsuit will continue with a status hearing July 10.

"The denial letters that they were issuing were just boiler-plate — deny deny deny," said Hardy Vieux, legal director for Human Rights First. "This is the court saying, 'I've seen enough to tell (the government) to stop what you're doing and we'll talk later.'"


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #479 on: June 29, 2018, 07:42:12 am »
Seeking a split from ICE, agents say Trump's immigration crackdown hurts investigations, morale

The political backlash against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has turned so intense that leaders of the agency's criminal investigative division sent a letter last week to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen urging an organizational split.

The letter, signed by the majority of special agents in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigative Division (HSI), offered a window into growing internal tension at the agency as an "Abolish ICE" protest movement has targeted its offices and won support from left-wing Democrats.

Though ICE is primarily known for immigration enforcement, the agency has two distinct divisions: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which carries out immigration arrests and deportations, and HSI, the transnational investigative branch with a broad focus on counterterrorism, narcotics enforcement, human trafficking and other crimes.

The letter signed by 19 special agents in charge urges Nielsen to split HSI from ICE, because anger at ERO immigration practices is harming the entire agency's reputation and undermining other law enforcement agencies' willingness to cooperate, the agents told Nielsen.

Since President Donald Trump's inauguration, the state of California and several of the country's largest cities have barred their law enforcement agents from cooperating with ICE by declaring themselves "sanctuary" jurisdictions. That has made it increasingly difficult for HSI agents to fight drug cartels and conduct major criminal investigations in the country's largest urban areas, the letter said.

"The perception of HSI's investigative independence is unnecessarily impacted by the political nature of ERO's civil immigration enforcement," the agents told Nielsen.

Trump took office promising to quickly deport "two or three million" foreigners, and following his inauguration, ICE interior arrests jumped nearly 40 percent. In recent months, the agency resumed carrying out large-scale workplace raids, winning glowing praise from the president, who said Wednesday at a rally in North Dakota that ICE agents are "mean but have heart," and that they are "liberating" U.S. communities from the MS-13 gang.

Trump officials say they fear the transnational gang, whose members the president calls "animals," could take advantage of lax enforcement at the border.

In their letter to Nielsen, the agency's top investigators painted a starkly different picture - telling her their crime-fighting capability is being stifled by the political heat.

"Many jurisdictions continue to refuse to work with HSI because of a perceived linkage to the politics of civil immigration," the investigators wrote. "Other jurisdictions agree to partner with HSI as long as the 'ICE' name is excluded from any public facing information."

In one indication of eroding morale, the special agents told Nielsen that making HSI its own independent agency, "will allow employees to develop a strong agency pride."

The letter, marked "Law Enforcement Sensitive," was first reported by the Texas Observer.

ICE's acting director, Thomas Homan, has been a vocal Trump supporter and an unabashed enthusiast of the president's immigration agenda. But he has announced his retirement and is stepping down this month. A nominee to replace him has yet to be named.

Nielsen has not publicly responded to the letter.

A senior ICE official in Washington said the HSI agents' letter was "not well received" at the agency's headquarters, calling it "ill conceived and poorly timed" at a moment when so many staffers feel besieged by the backlash.

The proposal to reorganize ICE is not a new one, the official said, but "has never been taken seriously" and would "require congressional action."

The senior official spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss reaction to the letter within ICE's top ranks.

The official conceded that the special agents' arguments have "some merits," adding, "the concerns they raise in the letter are certainly operational obstacles and worthy of discussion."

But the official called the notion of breaking up ICE "a non-starter" and said it was inappropriate for the agents to go outside established internal channels to take their gripes directly to Nielsen in a letter that quickly leaked to reporters.

"Our employees are being protested, threatened and unfairly attacked," the senior official said.

The Abolish ICE movement has gained new momentum in recent weeks amid public outcry over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" crackdown that separated more than 2,500 migrant children from their parents along the Mexico border. A federal judge this week ordered the government to reunite them with their parents - many of whom are currently held in ICE custody - within 30 days.

In New York City this week, Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won an upset primary victory Tuesday after taking up the Abolish ICE cause as one of her campaign promises, while in Portland, Ore., protesters have set up a sprawling tent camp outside ICE's local office.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #478 on: June 27, 2018, 03:35:27 pm »
Republican-drafted immigration bill fails in the House as Congress prepares for holiday break

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted down a broad immigration bill negotiated by moderate and conservative Republicans, effectively killing chances for significant immigration legislation before the November midterm elections.

The bill, which failed by a margin of 121 to 301, would have attempted to resolve the child separation crisis at the Southwest border by allowing children to be held in detention along with their parents. The House failure gives lawmakers few options, and little time, to intervene before Congress adjourns Thursday for the July 4 recess.

The bill that was initially drafted to provide legal status to the “Dreamers” who were brought to the country illegally as children years ago. The bill also would have provided $25 billion to build President Trump’s long-sought wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and would have imposed steep cuts to legal immigration programs.

The House still may seek to pass a slimmed-down bill that only targets how families are treated after they are apprehended by immigration officers. But it’s unclear if it would pass, or if the Senate would take it up and give their approval.

A federal judge in San Diego has ordered the Trump administration to reunite with their parents more than 2,000 migrant children now in detention over the next 30 days, but the Justice Department insisted Wednesday that Congress needs to do more to support the administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

The bill’s impending failure was evident Tuesday evening, when its lead sponsor, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), told reporters he would no longer agree to changes demanded by hard-line conservatives who wouldn’t commit to voting for the bill.

In the end, none of their requested changes — such as preventing Dreamers from eventually sponsoring the citizenship applications of their parents — were included in the proposed bill.

Republican leaders weren’t aiming for an immigration fight in an election year, but the issue was thrust upon them when Trump ordered the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September.

Congress failed to reach a solution by his March deadline, leaving more than 800,000 people brought to the country illegally as children in limbo as the issue makes its way through the courts.

After the Trump administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy in May and began prosecuting all adults accused of crossing the border illegally, and separating them from their children, the House bill was also seen as a potential vehicle for a legislative fix for a 21-year-old court settlement limiting how long, and where, the government can detain migrant children.


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Re: Immigration
« Reply #477 on: June 26, 2018, 08:10:24 am »
Border Patrol stops handing over most immigrant parents for prosecution, but won't say when families will be reunified

U.S. Border Patrol agents have stopped handing parents over to the Justice Department for prosecution when they are caught crossing the border illegally with their children, the head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said Monday.

The statement by Commissioner Kevin McAleenan marked a significant, if temporary, step back from the “zero tolerance” policy that the Trump administration has pursued for the last two months, which has led to more than 2,000 children being taken from their parents. President Trump issued an order Wednesday to stop separating families.

“I directed the temporary suspension of prosecutions for families in that category while we work through a process … where we can maintain family unity while enforcing prosecution efforts,” McAleenan said.

He said he hoped to find a way to resume prosecutions more quickly, so that families would be separated for less time.

His statement came as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the government was starting to “run out of space” to house people apprehended crossing the border. “We’re simply out of resources,” Sanders said.

The country’s three family detention centers can house 3,326 immigrants, according to an April report by the Government Accountability Office. As of last week, they housed 2,623, according to a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE officials did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

The largest processing center for immigrants, on the border in McAllen, can house 1,500 people and held 1,100 on Monday, officials said during a tour. Guatemalan consular officials could be seen meeting with women as children waited in line for burritos or watched cartoons on televisions suspended over their chain-link fenced holding areas.

The administration has refused so far to say when — or if — most children who were taken from their parents in recent weeks would be reunited with them.

McAleenan said 538 children who had been taken from their families for short periods but had remained in the custody of the Border Patrol have been reunited with parents.

But the fate of the considerably larger group of children who have been transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services remains much more uncertain.

Advocates have expressed concern that the government may have difficulty figuring out which children belong with which parents. McAleenan said immigrant children are issued identifying numbers upon arrival, and family members are now being issued an additional grouping number so they can be tracked. It was not clear when this procedure began, however.

On Saturday, the department said that as of Wednesday, it had 2,053 “separated minors” in its custody. HHS officials and the White House have declined to provide updated figures to members of Congress or the public. Lawyers working with parents to find their children say they have faced a confusing and often unresponsive bureaucracy and no assurance that families will be reunified.

Advocates for immigrants say that in some cases, parents separated from their children and detained while awaiting a hearing on a claim for asylum are being given a choice: If they want to see their children, they must withdraw their asylum claims and agree to be deported.

“They went in and told the parents if you sign this, you can get your kids back,” said Jodi Goodwin, an attorney coordinating a “rapid response team” of about 10 volunteer lawyers aiding immigrants at Port Isabel detention center in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

Under U.S. law, people who enter the country and say they fear being persecuted in their home countries are entitled to hearings to determine if their claims are valid. In many cases, immigration judges reject those claims and the migrants are deported, but thousands of asylum claims have been approved.

Trump, in a Twitter message over the weekend, suggested he opposes that process, saying that “when somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.”

On Monday, he repeated that sentiment. “We want a system where, when people come in illegally, they have to go out. And a nice simple system that works,” Trump told reporters during a photo session with King Abdullah II of Jordan. Abolishing asylum hearings would require Congress to change the law.

Advocates for the immigrants caught up in the enforcement process have filed at least three lawsuits challenging the administration’s policies. A fourth suit has been filed by Democratic state attorneys general.

One of the cases, filed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in federal court in Washington, argues that the government was separating children from their parents to punish the families, a penalty not authorized by law. The suit also accuses the government of denying the immigrant families their right to due process.

Regardless of whether an asylum claim is valid, a person who crosses the border illegally can be charged with illegal entry, a misdemeanor. The administration since early May has been insisting on prosecuting all adults who are apprehended. Typically, after a brief stay in jail, they plead guilty and are sentenced to time served. But because minors cannot be sent to an adult jail, the prosecution has served as a reason for removing children from their parents.

Now that the administration says it has reversed that policy and will detain families together while they await asylum hearings, lawyers working with families said many questions remained unanswered. Among them are how many parents had been deported without their children, whether any child has been deported or whether children have been released to family members other than their parents.

Another unanswered question is what will happen when the clock runs out on the administration’s legal authority to detain families together. Court rulings have limited the government’s authority to hold children in detention facilities to no more than 20 days. Sanders declined to say what the administration planned to do when that 20-day period expired.

“This is a temporary solution,” she said. “Hopefully, Congress will pass a law” that would resolve the issue.

That’s unlikely. The House plans to consider immigration legislation this week, but Republican leaders have indicated they’re uncertain about having the votes to pass anything. Divisions among Republican lawmakers have stymied efforts at legislation, and Trump recently tweeted that Republicans should “stop wasting their time” on the effort.

Democrats oppose the legislation, which would limit current legal immigration.

The administration is taking steps to increase its capacity to hold migrants in detention. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White confirmed that the military has been directed to build tent camps at two bases in Texas to temporarily house migrants. The camps will be built at Ft. Bliss, an Army base in El Paso near the U.S.-Mexico border, and at Goodfellow Air Force Base, which is near San Angelo in central Texas, White said.

The facility at Ft. Bliss will be designed to hold families with adults, while Goodfellow will be used to hold children who arrive on the U.S. border without a parent.

It’s unclear how many people the camps will be constructed to hold, although officials have previously said that the government was looking to build space for as many as 20,000 migrants. Initial construction of the facilities could be completed next month.

On Monday, as McAleenan visited border facilities where families were being held, lawyers demanded that the government pick up the pace of reunifications.

At the Port Isabel detention center on Monday, Goodwin said none of her clients had been reunited with their children and only about a quarter had spoken with their children by phone. The Central American parents told lawyers they had been separated from children as young as 18 months. One child was deaf. Others suffered chronic illnesses such as asthma.

Anne Chandler, Houston director of the Tahirih Justice Center, a national immigrant advocacy organization, was working with a Central American immigrant father detained in Houston who had agreed to be deported after a Homeland Security official told him he would be reunified with his 12-year-old daughter at the airport after being separated for more than a month.

“I just want some clarity from the government,” Chandler said. She wondered if the immigrants are “giving up their asylum claims … because they’re so desperate?”

Goodwin said it wasn’t clear how children would be reunified with detained parents, since facilities such as Port Isabel, although designated as a “reunification center,” are not designed to house children.

“It’s disingenuous for the government to say they’ve had a plan all along, because they didn’t, and they wouldn’t have let someone sit in there for two weeks without talking to their kid,” Goodwin said. “It’s something they’re scrambling to develop right now.”

After visiting Port Isabel on Sunday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she’d seen no evidence of family reunifications. She said she spoke with nine women. “In every case, they were lied to,” she said. “In every case, save one, they have not spoken with their children. And in every case, they do not know where their children are.”

In El Paso, 32 immigrant parents who had been separated from their children were released Sunday after U.S. Customs and Border Protection withdrew federal criminal charges against them. The parents must still appear in immigration court.

Ruben Garcia, founder of Annunciation House, a nonprofit that runs a shelter where the families were staying, said when they call a hotline for Health and Human Services, they are promised a response in five days.

“They were all released with just the phone number. The firewall with HHS is really strong. I’m not sure even ICE can get through,” Garcia said.

Advocates were also trying Monday to prevent parents from being deported without their children. Lawyers Ruby Powers and Cynthia Milian were helping a 24-year-old Honduran father detained near Houston and due to be deported soon without his 6-year-old daughter, who has asthma and was being held in a shelter in Arizona, the lawyers said. The pair were separated after they crossed the border illegally last month, fleeing Honduras after the man’s cousin was killed.

The man was not allowed to speak to his daughter for three weeks — and then only after he signed paperwork agreeing to be deported, Milian said. The attorneys are trying to rescind that deportation order this week.

“What they’re telling them now is if they sign a voluntary departure order, they’re going to meet their child at the airport,” Milian said of immigrant parents separated from their children. “People are forgoing their asylum claim just to be with their child.”