Good News / Bad News

no-human-is-illegalStart with good news/bad news: Good news is that DHS is extending Somali Temporary Protected Status until March 2020, with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen acknowledging that “that “the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support Somalia’s current designation for TPS continue to exist.” Bad news: This applies only to about 500 Somalis who already have TPS, and no new applications will be accepted. Nor will any refugees, family members, or other immigrants from Somalia be allowed to enter the United States, due to the Trump travel ban.

The  Center for Constitutional Rights estimates that 1,000 passports of Yemeni nationals with U.S. citizen family members are being held at the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti. The travel ban is keeping out people like the Hussein family:

“U.S. citizen Salah Hussein has been in Djibouti waiting for his family’s visas for four months. Three of his five children are also citizens, but he would be unable to take care of them without his wife, whose visa was denied. He also supports his 3-year-old nephew, who he said cries every day because the toddler’s petition to join his U.S. citizen mother was rejected.”

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Circus in Congress Over Immigration

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On Wednesday, the House GOP passed an “ICE is Nice” resolution, while Democrats refused to vote. That came after the House GOP first proposed and then refused to bring a Democratic “Abolish ICE” bill to the floor for debate.

Immigration legislation may get nowhere in Congress, but Trump’s immigration policies are getting trashed by federal courts, reports TPM, with a detailed discussion.

Appropriations legislation scheduled for mark-up by the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, July 19, provides $5 billion for immigration enforcement, including building 200 miles of border wall, hiring 375 more border patrol agents, and funding more detention centers. Continue reading

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Immigration Prison Industry: Children, Families, Profits

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Reveal reported in early July that a private contractor, MVM, held children in an unlicensed facility in Phoenix. After initially denying reports, MVM said it was only transporting them, not holding them in custody, even though children remained in the building overnight. On July 17, Reveal reported that MVM also held children in a second office/warehouse building in Phoenix.

“Bill Weaver, an insurance executive who used to lease the 20th Street space now occupied by MVM, told Reveal that for the past two years, he’s seen children from babies to teenagers come through the office….

“Weaver said three office suites share a set of bathroom stalls and sinks. To bathe, he said, the children would use a pair of bathroom sinks. He said he’s seen it on multiple occasions.” [Emphasis added]

According to the Arizona Republic, MVM was founded by three former CIA agents and is “the primary contractor to provide transportation services for unaccompanied children and is the only contractor identified to “dispatch reunited family to pre-identified release location” after families are reunited.” Continue reading

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While we were watching the children, the feds made deportation easier

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Photo by Joe Frazier, DACA rally in Portland, published under Creative Commons license.

Three recent changes make it easier to deport victims of domestic violence or gang violence, applicants who are denied a benefit by USCIS, and applicants who don’t have all their paperwork in order.

Victims of domestic violence or gang violence are the newest targets of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said in June that they do not qualify for asylum. Last week, USCIS issued a directive implementing the Sessions order, and going even further. The directive says that pleas for asylum based on domestic or gang violence must be immediately rejected by agents. The directive also says that illegal border crossing can count against any asylum seeker. Continue reading

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‘It is best not to cry. Doing so might hurt your case.’

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As more children are reunited with their parents, a clearer picture of the physical and psychological damage of their confinement in prison-like shelters emerges. Children were ordered not to touch one another—no hugging, not by friends, not even by brothers and sisters. A second-grade girl reports separation of girls and boys and punishment “if we went near each other;”  Another girl says ““They told us to behave, or we’d be there forever.” At least two children reported seeing “a troubled 5-year-old boy repeatedly injected with something that made him fall asleep at his desk.”  

The New York Times summarized:

“Do not misbehave. Do not sit on the floor. Do not share your food. Do not use nicknames. Also, it is best not to cry. Doing so might hurt your case.

“Lights out by 9 p.m. and lights on at dawn, after which make your bed according to the step-by-step instructions posted on the wall. Wash and mop the bathroom, scrubbing the sinks and toilets. Then it is time to form a line for the walk to breakfast.”

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Just saying no—to asylum seekers, kids, parents, grandparents

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Mayra Lucrecia Arriola Hurtarte’s husband tortured her. She moved 15 times in a year, and he found her every time. She went to police in Guatemala—repeatedly—and they did nothing. One officer finally told her she should leave the country. She did, and is now in a U.S. immigration detention center. Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump say she doesn’t deserve asylum. 

Under a July 11 USCIS guideline, there is no asylum for victims of domestic violence or gang violence. The new guideline implements a ruling made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this summer. The draconian directive also says that crossing into the country illegally should count against asylum seekers, even though international law says otherwise. The directive tells officers who hear asylum claims made at the border to reject these claims, without giving asylum seekers any opportunity to make their case to an immigration judge—who would also be bound by Sessions’ order. Continue reading

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‘Don’t you know that we hate you people?’

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“When I first spoke with ICE officers,” the Guatemalan mother said in an affidavit filed in a pending court case, “they told us, ‘Why did you come from your country?’, ‘Don’t you know that we hate you people?’, ‘We don’t want you in our country.’

This immigration officers’ words epitomize what’s wrong with immigration enforcement and policy under the Trump administration. Continue reading

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