Thoughts for May Day and other immigration articles – May 1, 2017

Fight ignorance not immigrants

Photo from 2006 immigrant march in St. Paul

The ‘Caravan Against Fear’ Wants You to Stay Home from Work on May 1 (Moyers & Company, 4/27/17) The Caravan is traveling through the western United States, “lifting up resistance efforts across the country and asking: How can we demand more from our local communities and our city councils to fight back against the Trump administration’s rhetoric of anti-immigrant policies and fear tactics?”

“We have seen a fight around issues of class, wages and benefits for workers, but the issues of racial justice, immigration justice and environmental justice are really at the forefront of our members’ lives every single day. Before they are a worker, they are an immigrant. Before they are a worker, they are a black human being. Before they are a worker, they are a mom and dad and friend and a sister and a daughter.”

Two marches in the Twin Cities on May 1: The St. Paul march takes place at noon, along the traditional Cathedral-to-Capitol route. The Minneapolis March for Immigrant and Workers Rights will begin in East Phillips Park (24th & Cedar Ave S) with a gathering at 3 p.m. and march at 4:30 p.m.

Amid immigration setbacks, one Trump strategy seems to be working: Fear (Washington Post, 4/30/17)

““The bottom line is that they have entirely changed the narrative around immigration,” said Doris Meissner, who served as the commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Clinton administration. “The result of that is that, yes, you can call it words and rhetoric, and it certainly is, but it is changing behavior. It is changing the way the United States is viewed around the world, as well as the way we’re talking about and reacting to immigration within the country.””

Immigration agents in Minnesota, neighboring states making more arrests under Trump (Star Tribune, 4/27/17)

“From the inauguration through mid-March, agents working out of ICE’s St. Paul office, which also covers the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska, arrested more than 620 immigrants — up roughly 80 percent over the same period last year.

“Immigrant advocates highlighted the increased percentage of immigrants without criminal convictions: about a quarter of those arrested locally, compared with 10 percent in 2016. That increase reflects a return to a more traditional enforcement approach, ICE said.”

A charter flight left the U.S. carrying 8 Iraqis. A community wonders who will be next. (Washington Post, 4/28/17) Like Cambodians from Minnesota, Iraqis from Detroit are now being deported back to dangerous countries they have not seen since they were small children.

“For one 46-year-old father of three, it was a drug conviction when he was a teenager that landed him in prison for 15 years, stripped him of his green card and earned him a deportation order — a fact he never mentions when he’s doing advertising for local supermarkets or coaching his son’s Little League team. For the 48-year-old owner of an auto body business, it also was drugs and a 17-year stint in prison, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in finance management; he was released with an order of deportation to Iraq, a country he hadn’t seen since he was 4. For a 30-year-old construction worker and father of four small children, it was a nine-month sentence for drugs and assault. And for a 43-year-old in the process of purchasing a trucking company, throwing a bottle at a wall after getting turned away from a nightclub landed him in prison for two years on assault charges — time he served two decades ago.”

ICE data shows half of immigrants arrested in raids had traffic convictions or no record (Washington Post, 4/28/17)

“Many of the most serious criminals were given top billing in ICE news statements about the operation.

“The largest single group — 163 immigrants convicted of traffic offenses — was mentioned only briefly. Over 90 percent of those cases involved drunken driving, ICE said Friday. Of those taken into custody in the raids, 177 had no criminal convictions at all, though 66 had charges pending, largely immigration or traffic offenses.”

Judges take Trump at his word — and that’s not been good for the president (Washington Post, 4/28/17)

“In temporarily striking down Trump’s order threatening to strip funding from “sanctuary cities,” a federal judge this week in San Francisco used the president’s own comments against him. That in itself was not unusual since judges had done the same thing in blocking Trump’s travel ban.

“What was curious was the Justice Department’s argument: Trump’s statements and the order itself should be taken as mere use of the “bully pulpit” — rather than specific policies that should be acted upon.”

One of Minnesota 8, Willmar man awaits possible deportation as his son is born (Willmar Tribune, 4//17) Posy Chheng was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, came to the United States at age 4, and was convicted of killing a man at age 14. After serving 17 1/2 years of a 25-year sentence, he began life outside prison walls as an adult. He has settled in the community – married, now a father, steadily employed, volunteering with Willmar Golden Gloves, a member of the Assemblies of God Church. And he is about to be deported to Cambodia – a country he has never seen.

ICE Detains Former Unaccompanied Minor With Pending Asylum Case On His 18th Birthday (LAist, 4/29/17)

“Erik Javier Flores Hernandez arrived in the United States of America last year as an unaccompanied minor seeking refuge from horrific drug violence in his native Mexico. Hernandez, who was 17 when he arrived in the States, was placed in a children’s shelter while lawyers from the Immigrant Defenders Law Center fought his deportation case and helped him apply for asylum. Both Hernandez’s mother and grandmother had been disappeared at the hands of narco-traffickers when he was much younger, and the boy had also been the victim of abuse, according to representatives from the law center.”

Refusal to Join Gang as a Particular Social Group and Political Opinion (Immigration Prof Blog, 4/29/17) Many youth and families have fled Central America because of gang activity. The United States has been reluctant to grant asylum to them, saying that fleeing gang violence or recruitment is not the same as fleeing political persecution. In 2004, an immigration court ruled differently:

“In an unreported case before the San Antonio Immigration Court in 2004, Immigration Judge Susan E. Castro, found that the respondent was a member of a particular social group: young men who have been actively recruited by gangs, but who have refused to join because they oppose the gang. The IJ also found that respondent had a political opinion claim because  his “anti-gang opinions are political in nature. His refusal to join the MS is an expression of an ‘anti-crime’ opinion.”

Read the full 17-page ruling here. In part, the judge wrote:

“The respondent’s anti-gang opinions are political in nature. His refusal to join the MS is an expression of an “anti-crime” opinion. … Opinions and views  concerning crime are ultimately political opinion…

“The record shows that Honduras has experienced “serious” gang prob lems for decades. [Exhibit 5, page 10; Exhibit 6, page 5]. Amnesty International reports that from 1998 the exrajudicial killing and murder of young people in Honduras has increased dramatically and that ‘the involvement of members of the security force and other people acting with the implicit consent of the authorities has been reported in an alarming number of cases…’

“The record contains numerous examples of the effects of gangs on society in Honduras and the government’s inability to control them. … The court is satisfied that the Honduran government is unable to protect the respondent from persecution by the MS, a group which the government is unable, and in some instances unwilling, to control.”

Can Trump ‘absolutely break up a federal court that’s standing in his way? (Washington Post, 4/28/17)

“So, no. President Trump cannot wave his pen and break up a federal court like he suggested he wants to do. But there are ways he can work with Congress to split up a federal court — doing it just might be more trouble than it’s worth.”

Private Prison and Border Security Contractors Lobby Congress Over Trump’s Wall (Moyers & Company, 4/27//17) Lobbyists have been busy, swimming happily in the D.C. swamps.

“Consider GEO Group, a private prison company that runs jails for immigrants facing deportation. The company spent $350,000 on lobbying during the first quarter of 2017, more than it has ever spent over the same time frame, according to a Truthout review of lobbying records provided by the research organization MapLight. Federal filings show that a subsidiary of GEO Group also donated $250,000 to President Trump’s inaugural festivities and another $225,000 to a super PAC that supported his election….

“Raytheon, a major military contractor that has reportedly shown interest in building Trump’s border wall, spent nearly $1.5 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2017, more than it spent in any quarter last year.”

The Private Prison Industry Is Licking Its Chops Over Trump’s Deportation Plans (Mother Jones, 4/21/17) Last fall, the number of detainees held daily was at a record high of about 41,000.

“In the same executive order that called for the construction of a southern border wall, Trump instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to build out its sprawling network of immigration detention centers. Starting “immediately,” his order said, ICE should construct new facilities, lease space for immigrants alongside inmates in existing local jails, and sign new contracts—likely with private prison companies. The scale of that expansion became clearer on February 5, when the Los Angeles Times reported on a memo handed down in late January from White House immigration experts to top Homeland Security officials. The document called for raising the number of immigrants ICE incarcerates daily, nationwide, to 80,000 people.”

DACA student at Rutgers to be interviewed by immigration (NorthJersey,com, 4/27/17)

“Immigration officials have told an undocumented Rutgers University student who was brought to the United States as a child and later granted protection from deportation that she needs to report to their office in the coming weeks for an interview, a move that has raised concern among professors, who have asked that the school declare itself a sanctuary for undocumented students.”

What Does the Future Hold for Haitians with TPS? The Trump Administration May Terminate It (American Immigration Council, 4/224/17)

“Since a massive earthquake ravaged much of Haiti, nationals of the country have been allowed to live and work in the United States under a benefit called Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Their status, however, may soon be terminated by the Trump administration. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must decide the fate of Haiti’s TPS designation by about May 22, two months in advance of the date it is due to expire. Haiti provides the first test case of whether this administration is willing to renew a temporary immigration benefit to a single nationality.”

Ivanka Trump Parts Ways With Her Father on Syrian Refugees (New York Times, 4/26/17)

“I think there is a global humanitarian crisis that’s happening, and we have to come together and we have to solve it,” Ms. Trump told NBC when asked about the refugee crisis in Syria, which has created a nativist backlash in European countries.”

Asylum seekers fleeing U.S. may find cold comfort in Canada’s courts (CBC, 4/27/17)

“Canadian refugee tribunals are wary of “asylum-shopping” and look askance at people coming from one of the world’s richest countries to file claims, the refugee lawyers said.”

ICE detains undocumented dad who took sanctuary in Denver church (CNN, 4/28/17) Hernandez took refuge in the church in 2014. He was arrested last week and held for deportation.

“Hernandez lived in the church for nine months — getting his daily exercise by walking up and down a flight of stairs — until he got a letter from ICE telling him he was no longer an “enforcement priority,” he said. The church’s pastor confirmed to CNN that Hernandez received a letter to that effect. ICE has not responded to CNN’s request for further information about the letter.”

Congress could soon make it harder for rich people to move to the United States (Washington Post, 4/27/17)

“The original plan was to attract foreign investment to blighted neighborhoods. But instead, the controversial EB-5 investor visa enabled affluent Chinese to park their cash in high-end real estate in Beverly Hills and Manhattan — benefiting developers such as President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“Now the visas criticized as “green cards for cash” face a questionable future, with some members of Congress refusing to reauthorize the program, which expires Friday, unless there is significant reform.”

How Lives On Both Sides Of Border Towns Have Changed Since Trump Took Office (NPR, 4/30/17)

“What I’ve noticed as a journalist, just being a reporter out in the field, is people are a lot more afraid. And there’s just a lot more uncertainty, not just among immigrants, who are perhaps here illegally, but also their families and friends, businesses that rely on cross-border trade, who aren’t sure how the NAFTA renegotiations are going to affect them, also people who live in Tijuana, who cross the border regularly and aren’t sure if they’re going to have to face longer wait times, and also Trump supporters, who because we’re in a border town, they fear they’re sort of a minority group here and don’t always want to share their thoughts.”

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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, www.tcdailyplanet.net, 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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