Links and stories – March 27, 2017

rini border fence

Lots of people heard about “immigration detainers” for the first time this year. A “detainer” is a formal request by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) to a local law enforcement agency to hold a prisoner past their judicially mandated release date. IF you think that doesn’t sound right, you are not alone — federal courts have held that this is unconstitutional, and many local law enforcement agencies won’t do it.

Detainers are in the news now because the Trump administration has identified non-compliance with detainers as a main reason to call a jurisdiction a “sanctuary city” and try to deny federal funding. Last week, ICE issued the first weekly report (mandated by the president) identifying “non-cooperative” jurisdictions.

The law and practice around detainers can be complicated. The American Immigration Council just published Immigration Detainers: An Overview, a fact sheet that offers clear, detailed explanation. One example of little-known information from the fact sheet:

“…ICE has issued detainers erroneously. Even U.S. citizens have experienced this when, for example, there was an error in ICE’s database, the person’s claims to citizenship were disregarded or difficult to prove, or the individual’s name was similar to someone else in their database.”

Hennepin County was named in the ICE report as a “non-cooperative” jurisdiction. But that’s not exactly true, according to Sheriff Rich Stanek.

Sheriff disputes ICE determination Hennepin County was uncooperative (MPR News, 3/24/17) In fact, Sheriff Rich Stanek says, ICE picked up the two people named in the report – and he’s got the photos to prove it.

“Stanek contends such detainer requests are illegal unless they come with a court order. While jail staff won’t hold someone without a judge’s OK, Stanek says his office cooperates with ICE on a regular basis.”

 Refugee news

Minors crossing to U.S. find help in Minnesota courts, but worry about changes (Star Tribune, 3/26/17) About 1,000 youth fleeing deadly gang violence in Central America have settled with relatives in Minnesota since 2014.

“Some won asylum. Many more obtained legal status through a visa program for abused and abandoned children that involves appealing to local courts. A major increase in applications for that program has led to an unprecedented backlog….

“Now, the Trump administration is weighing major changes: More minors could be subject to speedy deportation, and parents in the United States who pay smugglers to ferry their children north could face criminal charges. “

“The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) heard testimony today about policies that prevent access to the U.S. asylum process for those fleeing grave danger in their home countries.

“U.S. law guarantees the right to seek asylum to all who flee persecution and arrive at our border looking for protection. And yet, the testimony heard in Washington, D.C. today demonstrated that U.S. officials regularly deny individuals this right.”

Singapore teen blogger Amos Yee granted U.S. asylum (BBC, 3/24/17)

“In September 2016, the teenager was given a six-week prison sentence in Singapore after being found guilty of “wounding religious feelings”.

“He had posted a video critical of Christianity and Islam.

“He was also jailed by a Singapore court for four weeks in 2015, for criticising Christians and for posting a video about the country’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.”

By not taking refugees, the U.S. may make them more dangerous (Washington Post, 3/24/17)

“The reluctance to accept asylum seekers and resettle refugees has kept many of those fleeing conflict in Syria in neighboring countries, where they face deteriorating conditions and few prospects. The growing refugee populations place extreme pressure on poor and middle-income countries, increasing the risk of state collapse.  Refugees themselves are often targets for militant mobilization and radicalization — thus expanding the conflict in the Middle East….

“The concentration of refugees in the poorest regions of countries in the Middle East echoes the plight of refugees from the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s, when over three million Afghan refugees fled to Pakistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion…. These camps became the primary recruiting ground for some of the most radical and brutal mujahidin militias…”

In other immigration news:

Challenges for Visa Waiver Program overstays (American Immigration Council, 3/20/18) The Visa Waiver Program allows people from 38 countries to enter the United States for business or pleasure for 90 days, without a visa. (And, of course, U.S. citizens get the same privilege from those 38 countries.)  Participants “must sign a waiver agreeing to forfeit the ability to challenge a decision preventing them from entering the U.S. or, if admitted, from remaining there, including forfeiting the statutory right to appear in immigration court if they remain in the U.S. for longer than 90 days and have an opportunity to seek continued lawful status.”

The strengthened screening procedures instruct consular officials to develop criteria for identifying “populations warranting increased scrutiny,” according to a March 17 cable obtained by Reuters. The cable does not offer further definition for the “population sets” it refers to in its instructions.

Among those warranting deepened scrutiny are applicants who have ever been “present in an ISIS-controlled territory.” Those who have must undergo a mandatory review of their social media accounts.”

Immigration lawyers warn of visa delays and more denials with beefed-up vetting (Washington Post, 3/24/17) With increased vetting by consular officials, the entire process will slow down. The slowdown will be worse “if you’re from certain countries or religions.”

From field to truck to plate: how undocumented workers feed a city (The Guardian, 3/24/17) In the second part of a three-part series on undocumented workers in North Carolina, the Guardian interviews workers, restaurant owners, farmers, and others who work to grow, process, package, cook, and serve food.

“There are about 7,000 undocumented people in Charlotte’s county estimated to be working in hospitality, such as restaurants, bars and hotels, according to the Migration Policy Institute. (The national figure is around 1.3 million.) This suggests roughly one in ten people working in hospitality positions across the city are likely undocumented, according to 2014 American Community Survey data. And that’s not to mention the people who work in the city’s food supply chain: the state’s farms and fields employ another estimated 17,000 undocumented people, according to MIP.

Worried about Trump’s travel ban, Canada’s largest school district calls off U.S. trips (Washington Post, 3/24/17) The Toronto school district joins other school districts and some organizations, including Canada’s Girl Guides, an organization like the U.S. Girl Scouts, which have banned field trips to the United States.

“Canada isn’t named in the [Trump travel] ban, but the board expressed concerns that some of its students would face trouble on U.S.-bound trips, even if they had the proper paperwork. The district serves about 246,000 students and includes nearly 600 schools throughout Toronto, home to one of Canada’s largest immigrant communities.”

Churches answer call to offer immigrants sanctuary in an uneasy mix of politics and compassion (Los Angeles Times, 3/24/17)

“The number of churches willing to offer sanctuary has doubled to more than 800 since Trump’s election and is still growing, said the Rev. Noel Andersen, national grassroots coordinator at Church World Service, which works with and tracks the loosely organized movement….

“Faith leaders say an increasing number of congregants are also offering their own homes as sanctuary. They question whether ICE will continue to honor its policy against detaining people in churches and count on private homes being protected by the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure.”


U.S. targets more than 270 Indians for deportation, says India’s top diplomat (Washington Post, 3/24/17)

My undocumented friend: Carlos does the work few in Vermont want to do (The Guardian, 3/25/17) Mexican workers, many undocumented, keep Vermont’s dairy farms going.

“What keeps farmers awake at night – besides the callous vagaries of weather and fluctuating milk prices that sometimes fall below costs – is the lack of cheap, dependable labor. The larger farms have hundreds of cows. With two milkings a day, 12 hours apart, the farm must be staffed 14-16 hours every day. Carlos’s typical workday starts around at 3am; after a midday break, he works another full shift. 

Farmers complain that many local workers cannot tolerate the long hours, low wages and punishing labor through blizzards, rainstorms and summer heat. Indeed, there are few jobs as miserable as trudging through frozen piss and excrement in the pre-dawn dark to milk and tend cows when the thermometer plunges to 20 below zero. Mexican workers are filling a gap and saving the farms.”

Trump supporter thought president would deport only ‘bad hombres.’ Instead, her husband is being deported. (Washington Post, 3/25/17) He has never had so much as a parking ticket, and has lived here since 2000 on an “order of supervision, which allows immigrants with a removal order to remain in the country for a humanitarian reason, such as having sole custody of children or taking care of family members.” That means reporting once a year to the ICE office. Then Trump changed the rules. When Roberto Beristain made his annual visit to ICE offices on February 6, he was taken in custody for deportation.

 “Critics on the right have inundated the family with racist threats and attacked Beristain for giving refuge to the love of her life, a man they consider a foreign interloper. …

“Supporters say the 43-year-old has never broken the law and doesn’t have so much as a parking ticket on his record. The mayor of South Bend, Ind., the conservative community that the Beristains call home, called him “one of its model residents….”

 What if you held an African summit and no Africans could come? (NPR, 3/25/17)

“The end result of this year’s visa outcome, says Flowers, is going to be fewer connections between American business and the continent.

“I don’t know whether there’s some secret message going to the U.S. embassies in these African countries but it’s ridiculous,” she says. “The [visa] process was already somewhat discriminatory against the African nations in the past. We don’t know what the story is now but I do hope that America remains open to the world.”

Immigrants Fear Data Collected Under DACA Could Give Government Deportation Power (NPR, 3/25/17) Young immigrants granted DACA protection under President Obama worry that they are now in jeopardy.

“Trump has vowed to ramp up deportations of unauthorized immigrants. And under a little-noticed provision in one of his executive orders on immigration, the president stripped non-citizens of federal privacy protections. Immigrant advocates worry that data collected under DACA can now be used to find and deport people in the country illegally.”

Alabama’s 2011 anti-immigrant law H.B. 56 still on books, gets new life under Trump (Alabama Media Group, 3/24/17)

The 2013 agreement between the state and the SPLC and other civil rights groups combined with earlier decisions by local law enforcement agencies to not enforce key parts of H.B. 56 to create a situation in which many Alabamians have believed for more than three years that the law is no longer in effect….

But, said Jessica Vossburgh, director of the Adelante Worker Center, a Birmingham nonprofit advocacy group,

“The most important part of H.B. 56, which clearly hasn’t been overturned by the courts, is this environment of suspicion and discrimination of people who are brown and people who don’t speak fluent English.”


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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