Making America Meaner and other immigration news, May 16, 2017

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EDIT 5/16/2017 –   More immigrants are being deported for “Things that stem purely from immigration status, such as driving without a license or using a different Social Security number for work…” Like Jessica Colotl – whose DACA status is being revoked for a 7-year-old charge that was dismissed after community service.

Unauthorized immigrants, living in fear of the new deportation priorities that make everyone a target, are making plans to authorize guardianship for their U.S. citizen children.

And in Seattle, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on an appeal from the Hawaii U.S. District Court blocking Trump’s travel ban. These and other stories below …


7 Years After Arrest and Outcry, Young Woman Again Faces Deportation (New York Times, 5/10/17)

Jessica Colotl embodied the debate over illegal immigration when she was locked up for 37 days and nearly sent back to Mexico after an Atlanta-area police officer caught her driving without a license in 2010.

Since then, she has completed college, gotten DACA status and renewed it under the Obama administration, and is working. She was charged with giving a false address in connection with the drivers’ license case. She did community service and the charge was dismissed – but now the Trump administration is moving to deport her anyway.

“We are taking an innocent girl who has done nothing but contribute to the society she has been a part of since she was 11 and making her a villain and poster child for Trump’s deportation policies,” Mr. Baxter said in an interview.

‘What if I’m not there?’: Deportation threat has undocumented immigrants seeking guardians for U.S.-born children (Washington Post, 5/12/17)

“About 5.1 million children in this country have a parent who is here illegally, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute. Nearly 80 percent of those children are U.S. citizens….
“Although the Obama administration deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants in some years, the former president said he prioritized security threats, not families. Under President Trump, those rules are gone.”

Where ICE Already Has Direct Lines To Law-Enforcement Databases With Immigrant Data (NPR, 5/12/17)

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) documents show that for years, law enforcement in hundreds of jurisdictions nationwide, including major sanctuary cities like Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, are feeding information into regional databases that can be combed through by ICE. When ICE needs information on residents for raids or criminal investigations, these regional databases can give ICE crucial information, like phone numbers, addresses, and comments about individuals’ scars, marks and tattoos that may have not made it into federal records. Such locally-specific information can be helpful for ICE agents, especially in sanctuary cities where ICE often conducts immigrant raids in lieu of formal cooperation with local authorities.

“Local law-enforcement experts say their information may be particularly useful to ICE, given that federal databases often lack information captured during arrest, booking, and jail encounters. “ICE doesn’t itself collect the granular information we get from our jail, where we have emergency points of contact, phone numbers, and addresses,” says Joel Rivera, a Division Chief of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, whose department feeds into a Texas state database accessible to ICE. “The database will also show case file numbers, so they can call us to get access to the full case files with even more information, like who has visited and called them in jail.””

Expedited Removal Hurts the Most Vulnerable In an Already Complicated Immigration System (American Immigration Council, 5//17) Article summarizes a new report: The Perils of Expedited Removal: How Fast-Track Deportations Jeopardize Asylum Seekers

“The government often relies on “fast track” deportation methods to bypass due process protections in an effort to more rapidly process asylum seekers who come to the United States seeking humanitarian protection. One such deportation method, expedited removal, disadvantages the most vulnerable non-citizens currently in the United States: women and their children held in detention centers in rural, isolated locations in Texas and Pennsylvania.

Without legal counsel, asylum seekers may be unable to navigate these pitfalls and risk falling through the cracks of the system. The protection needs of asylum seekers, and asylum-seeking mothers and their children in particular, must be met with robust legal services and legal assistance from the start to ensure that no one is sent back to their deaths.”

9th Circuit hears travel ban appeal

9th Circuit panel in Seattle peppers Trump lawyer with questions over travel ban (Seattle Times, 5/15/17)

“Federal judges on Monday peppered a lawyer for President Donald Trump with questions about whether the administration’s travel ban discriminates against Muslims and zeroed in on the president’s campaign statements, the second time in a week the rhetoric has faced judicial scrutiny….

“The 9th Circuit panel was hearing arguments over Hawaii’s lawsuit challenging the travel ban, which would suspend the nation’s refugee program and temporarily bar new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The judges will decide whether to uphold a Hawaii judge’s decision in March that blocked the ban.”

Appeals Court Reviews Decision blocking Trump’s Travel Ban (NPR, 5/15/17)

Will Trump’s travel ban go to the Supreme Court? (The Atlantic, 5/15/17)

And other immigration news

Beset by backlogs, Minnesota immigration court due to add judges (Star Tribune, 5/15/17)

Bloomington Immigration Court is filling a judge position that has been vacant since 2016, and later this year it is slated to add two new judges, bringing its judicial team to five. The court, which is based at Fort Snelling but also handles cases in the Dakotas and Western Wisconsin, has about 5,440 pending cases, with an average wait time of nearly two years.
‘Perfect Storm For Exploitation’: Program To Defend Immigrants Draws Scrutiny (NPR, 5/15/17)

“Bronx businessman Carlos Davila started selling the ID card for immigrants who don’t have legal status last year. After President Donald Trump took office, Davila upped the price of the cards to $200 and created a new Spanish language website featuring one of his YouTube ads.”

Davila told immigrants his card would keep them from getting deported. That’s a lie. The whole thing is a scam. And Davila is a criminal who served 12 years in jail for sexual abuse and manslaughter charges. So why would anyone believe him?

“Davila literally has the government’s seal of approval. He’s one of 1,800 people currently accredited by a Department of Justice program that lets non-lawyers represent low-income immigrants in court and with citizenship matters. To qualify, representatives have to work at a nonprofit and demonstrate knowledge of the law.”

Now the Department of Justice says it will start requiring criminal background checks and will be more careful about who they authorize to represent immigrants.

Luis Cortes lives ‘surreal life’ as immigration lawyer – and Dreamer (Seattle Times, 5/14/17)

“Before lawyer Luis Cortes visits clients at the Northwest Detention Center, defends them in court or accompanies them to check-ins with immigration officers, he lets a colleague know. That way if he doesn’t come back, someone will look for him.

“Sometimes it hits the 28-year-old Kent attorney: “I’m in front of an immigration judge who could very well be ruling on my case,” he said. “It’s a little surreal.”

High Court Could Soon Signal View on Trump Immigration Plans (New York Times, 5/14/17)

“Supreme Court decisions in a half-dozen cases dealing with immigration over the next two months could reveal how the justices might evaluate Trump administration actions on immigration, especially stepped up deportations.”

Congressional Hispanic Caucus slams DHS pick for immigration ombudsman (Washington Post, 5/11/17)

“We do not believe that a person who has spent over a decade attacking immigrant communities will now work effectively and thoughtfully to advance the rights of immigrants and fulfill the important duties that are required of this role,” said the letter sent Wednesday and signed by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-New Mexico), who chairs the caucus, and 18 other Democrats.”

Hispanics ‘are going further into the shadows’ amid chilling immigration debate, police say (Washington Post, 5/12/17)

Police say the problem is twofold: Not only might undocumented immigrants be too nervous to report violent crimes against them, but they might also be less willing to report crimes they witness….
“The fear is palpable, and it’s manifested in how the community has altered its behavior or, I should say, it’s altered its relationship with the police department in a reluctance to communicate with us,” Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson said.”

How immigration became a hot topic for Minnesota arts groups (Start Tribune, 5/12/17)

“Across Minnesota, very different arts groups are tackling the same charged topic, one close to the state’s heart: immigration. Stories of refugees and takes on immigration policy are popping up onstage, in photographs, in galleries. Some projects and performances were spurred by recent politics, including President Donald Trump’s travel ban for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries. Yet most groups, including the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, planned their themes of migration and immigration long before the election.”

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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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