Watching the children and other immigration news – June 29, 2017

rini border fence

Inadequate food, bad-tasting water, unsanitary conditions, and cold temperatures were among conditions cited by parents detained with their children in facilities not licensed to hold children. Judge Dolly Gee, who two years ago ordered the government to stop holding children for long periods of time and to stop holding them in unlicensed facilities, once again chastised government officials for continuing to do so and ordered the appointment of a “Juvenile Coordinator” to monitor compliance. Read Judge Gee’s order here.  Continue reading

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Travel ban and more immigration news – June 28, 2017

The very limited travel ban reinstated by the Supreme Court will go into effect Thursday morning — but exactly who is banned remains unclear. Under a very narrow reading of the decision, only tourists with no other connection to the United States would be barred.Most visa applicants from the six targeted, mostly-Muslim countries will have the “bona-fide connection” to a person or entity within the United States that would exempt them from the travel ban.

Refugees, all of whom have undergone years of vetting before approval for visas, can arguably claim connection to the resettlement agencies working with them.However, it seems likely that the Trump administration will continue to resist admission of refugees.

The limited reinstatement of the travel ban is temporary — the Supreme Court has not ruled on the merits of the case, and will not do so until its October term.  Continue reading

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Travel ban partially upheld and other immigration news – June 27, 2017

Roeder Supreme Court

Photo by Phil Roeder, published under Creative Commons license

Today the U.S. Supreme Court took up Trump’s travel ban and the preliminary injunctions from the 4th and 9th Circuits that have prevented it from going into effect. The Supreme Court’s ruling had three important parts:

Certiorari: The Court granted certiorari – that is, it agreed to hear the Trump administration’s appeal from the rulings in the 4th and 9th Circuits. This case will be heard in the Court’s October 2017 term, so a definitive ruling is months away.

Partial travel ban: The Court ordered that part of the 90-day and 120-day travel bans could be implemented. Citizens from the six targeted, mostly-Muslim countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – and refugees can be temporarily barred from entering the United States unless they have “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” That connection might be family, work, school, previously arranged speaking engagements, etc. This part of the order is temporary – the Court will issue a final order only after hearing the case on the merits, including arguments about religious discrimination and executive power.

Mootness: The Court said that “We fully expect that the relief we grant today will permit the executive to conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments.” That would mean the 90-day ban would expire before the Court reconvenes in October. So the Court also told lawyers to consider whether the case will be moot by the time they hear it.  Continue reading

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Legal protection, from Minneapolis to Supreme Court and other immigration articles – June 26, 2017

Today’s news starts with a series of legal decisions and actions — and there will be more tomorrow, as the Supreme Court issues its final decisions of the term later today.

First, a Michigan federal court ordered a temporary halt to deportation of about 100 Iraqis arrested there. The ACLU is suing, saying that they will be subject to religious persecution if they are deported back to Iraq.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that if an attorney fails to advise that deportation could result from a guilty plea, that’s ineffective assistance of counsel and the guilty plea can be withdrawn.

Of local interest – attorney Bruce Nestor said that the Minneapolis city attorney dropped all charges against Ariel Vences-Lopez on Friday. Vences-Lopez is the Minneapolis Blue Line rider whose questioning about his immigration status by an LRT cop was caught on video and shared on Facebook. He remains in custody, with deportation still pending.  Continue reading

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H-2B visas creating U.S. jobs, and other immigration news – June 23, 2017

Pantagoet Inn

Pentagoet Inn in Maine needs H-2B workers.

Bloomberg’s story of “the lauded farm-to-table restaurant at the Pentagoet Inn in Castine, Maine” illustrates a paradoxical truth about temporary immigrant work visas: giving jobs to foreigners creates more jobs for U.S. citizens. The Inn depends on a small but essential number of temporary workers each summer, many of whom return each year. This summer, it couldn’t get them. The Foreign Visa Crackdown Is Putting Americans Out of Work (Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/21/17) explains:

“Congress failed to extend H-2B’s returning worker exemption when it expired in late 2016, reducing the number of visas by half, to 66,000 nationwide. Congress passed a measure this spring that would have doubled the number of visas available. But the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the program, didn’t act. In an open hearing on May 25, DHS Secretary John Kelly was asked about the delay by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, where the seasonal fishing industry relies on temporary workers. “This is one of those things that I really wish I didn’t have discretion over,” Kelly told Murkowski. He said his agency was still consulting with the Department of Labor and planning to release more visas, though he refused to say when or how many.”

Without the six women from Jamaica who work there every summer, the inn has closed its restaurant, which puts U.S. employees out of work. Reports from the Chamber of Commerce and the American Enterprise Institute agree that the H-2B temporary worker visa program creates more American jobs.  Bloomberg’s article concludes:

“BOTTOM LINE – By not extending a key portion of the H-2B visa program for seasonal workers, Congress has robbed many businesses of a key source of labor that can’t easily be replaced.”

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Big Brother is watching you, too, and other immigration articles – June 22, 2017

Biometrics, drones with facial recognition capacity, cell-site simulators: these weapons developed for the war on terror are being used in immigration enforcement. The Atlantic reports that Deportation Is Going High-Tech Under Trump (6/21/17). Obama began using some of these tools and tactics, but only at the border. Now Trump is unleashing all of it  for use anywhere. The Big Brother-style surveillance is not limited to deportation or to immigrants.

“Donald Trump brings two fundamental changes. The first is animus. When Trump calls Mexican immigrants drug traffickers and rapists, when he says a judge cannot do his job because of his Mexican heritage, when he implies that Muslim immigrants are party to a vast, Islamist conspiracy (we have to “figure out what’s going on”), it could send a signal to rank and file immigration enforcement.

“Second, Trump is starting to use his surveillance arsenal to its utmost legal and technical capacity—within the U.S.”

Trump’s January 25 executive order revoked Privacy Act protection for “persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents.” (Section 14) That may leave Privacy Act protections in place for citizens and legal residents, but when it comes to use of high-tech surveillance, we are all at risk.

“State legislatures have passed dozens of laws restricting geolocation tracking, cell-site simulators, drones, and other technologies; Congress has passed zero such laws for criminal law enforcement, let alone ICE….

“For years, Congress pressed DHS to use biometrics to track foreign nationals leaving the country. This year, DHS launched face scans through Delta and JetBlue—and both systems scan the faces of foreign nationals and citizens alike.”

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World Refugee Day, protecting children, and other immigration news – June 21, 2017

Refugees welcome.png

June 20 was World Refugee Day, in a year when the worldwide number of refugees and forcibly displaced people reached a record 65 million. More than half of the refugees are children, and on June 21 the U.S. House Judiciary Committee will mark up a bill called the “Protection of Children Act of 2017.”

What this bill does is the opposite of protection: It removes current protections for refugee children and makes it far more difficult for them to tell their stories, to get a hearing before an asylum officer, and to get legal representation. The “protection” includes lengthening the time that they can be held in immigration jails rather than being turned over to Health and Human Services for placement. Keep reading for World Refugee Day reporting, summaries of the “Protection of Children” legislation, and more.  Continue reading

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