Travel ban goes back to Supreme Court and other immigration news – July 17, 2017

The travel ban is back in the Supreme Court, after Hawaii Federal District Judge Derrick Watson expanded the definition of “bona fide connection” to include grandparents and other family members, as well as refugees already vetted and scheduled for placement through a U.S. agency.  The Trump administration immediately appealed Judge Watson’s ruling to the Supreme Court, which ordered challengers to respond to the government motion by noon on Tuesday.  

Federal government asks Supreme Court to clarify order in travel ban litigation (UPDATED), SCOTUSblog, 7/15/17)

“The challengers in the Hawaii case went back to court, asking U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson to clarify that the second group of relatives also qualified as “close” family relationships for purposes of the Supreme Court’s June 26 order. Judge Watson initially declined to do so, but – on appeal – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit suggested that he had the authority to enforce or modify an existing order blocking the implementation of the ban. When the challengers returned to his court, Judge Watson did exactly that, adopting an expanded definition of “close” that included the second group of relatives. He also ruled that, for purposes of the June 26 order, the ban would not apply to refugees for whom the federal government has entered into an agreement with a resettlement agency, because those refugees have the kind of genuine relationship with a U.S. institution that the justices envisioned.”

In rebuke to Trump, federal judge in Hawaii expands travel ban exceptions (Los Angeles Times, 7/14/17)

“A federal judge in Hawaii on Thursday ordered the Trump administration to vastly expand the number of people exempt from a controversial travel ban to include those who have grandparents and other non-immediate family in the U.S., as well as refugees without family ties to the country….

“The decision means that potentially thousands of refugees who had been vetted for U.S. admission but were blocked after the government cut off most refugee admissions on Wednesday — the day the country hit a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions for the fiscal year — may now be let in.”

And as soon as the ruling was published, this: Trump will ask Supreme Court to block judge’s ruling on travel ban (The Hill, 7/14/17)

Who needs ELL services in schools?

With increasing numbers of immigrant students, as well as second- and third-generation students, in schools, learning English is an issue. According to MinnPost:

“The paperwork involved in identifying and assessing students for English language services starts with a three-question, state-mandated home language survey with that parents fill out upon enrollment. If any language other than English is listed in any response, that student is flagged as a potential EL student.”

Should schools routinely place students in English language learner programs if a language other than English is spoken at home? Should they consult first with parents?How should they evaluate the need for EL placement?

Criticism of ELL placement comes both from families who say their students are inappropriately identified as needing EL testing or services, and from parents who say their children do not get the support they need to learn English.

Why the English Learner label is troublesome for many Minnesota parents — and what schools are trying to do about it (MinnPost, 7/14/17)

“Sambath Ouk, the EL coordinator at Faribault Public Schools, uses the home language survey as a starting point, but he also has face-to-face conversations with new families so he has a deeper sense of how they identify with the various languages they and their children speak.

“As the sole EL coordinator in his district, Ouk registered and assessed 140 students this past school year. Before he had any student take the English proficiency test, however, he scheduled an in-person meeting with the family to talk with them about the purpose of the test, what EL services actually entail, and what rights they have to refuse services.

“It took me a couple hours per family, per student,” he said. “But it’s something that’s necessary to do because you want families to have buy-in in the program.”

St. Paul schools sued on behalf of English language learner (Star Tribune, 7/15/17) The family’s lawsuit claims that the student, who moved to the United States from Thailand in 2012, was inappropriately mainstreamed, despite lack of language skills to keep up with classes in Como Park Senior High School. The parents say the district also waited too long – 14 months – before assessing special education needs.

“Their father, George Thawmoo, said in a statement Friday that the family filed the suit, and is seeking class-action status, to force changes in district practices and to obtain “relief for the many refugee and immigrant families in our community who are facing discrimination.”

 And in other immigration news

‘Let the world know who we are,’ say refugees in Minnesota (NPR, 7/15/17)

“As a refugee, life is, you don’t have tomorrow,” said Johnny. “This is a moment, this is a time for me and my family and my people to let the world know who we are.”

“The celebration comes at a time when refugees have faced new scrutiny. The U.S. has reached the Trump administration’s limit of 50,000 refugees for this budget year.”

In memo, Trump administration weighs expanding the expedited deportation powers of DHS (Washington Post, 7/14/17) The change could be made without Congressional action.

“Since 2004, the agency has been authorized to bypass immigration courts only for immigrants who had been living in the country illegally for less than two weeks and were apprehended within 100 miles of the border.

“Under the proposal, the agency would be empowered to seek the expedited removal of illegal immigrants apprehended anywhere in the United States who cannot prove they have lived in the country continuously for more than 90 days, according to a 13-page internal agency memo obtained by The Washington Post.”


Iraq veteran facing deportation speaks out from jail: ‘I would feel utterly alone’ (The Guardian, 7/14/17) A legal resident of the United States since the age of 5, he now faces deportation because of a felony conviction.

“The deportation case, based on an old criminal record, is particularly disturbing to his friends and family given that Kim is an Iraq war veteran who struggled with drug abuse after his deployment, but had recently turned his life around.”

My Family and I Were Detained at Gunpoint and Then Held for Hours at the US-Canada Border. I’m Afraid It Will Happen Again. (ACLU blog, 7/13/17) Sagal Abdigani and her husband, Abdisalam Wilwal and their three children were detained at the border in 2015. Parents and children are U.S. citizens. Now the ACLU is suing the Department of Homeland Security on their behalf.

“When we got to the border to cross into North Dakota, officers suddenly surrounded our minivan and pointed guns at the entire family. My children, who had been sleeping, woke up and started screaming, afraid we would be killed. The border officers took my husband away in handcuffs in front of my children, who were sobbing.

“We didn’t know where they took Abdi, and they wouldn’t tell us. We didn’t know if we’d ever see him again. They took the rest of us to another room. I asked if I could take my children home and come back for my husband or if a family member could come take the children. “No. You’re all the same,” they said to us. “You’re all detainees, including the children.”

My children were very scared, and there was nothing I could do to soothe them.

“Maybe they’ll kill us after sunset,” my 8-year-old daughter said. I can’t forget these words.”

ACLU sues over family’s border ordeal (Time, 7/15/17)

“In this case, given that Wilwal was included on the terror watch list, the government could argue that they have a right to detain him at the border. Courts also often side with the government on issues regarding immigration and national security. Lawyers at the ACLU say the terror watch list—which as of 2016 includes more than 1 million people—as well as the system surrounding it are a “due process disaster.” They’re also concerned that border detentions will only worsen under the Trump administration, which has prioritized cracking down on illegal immigration and specifically targeted people from some Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia.

“I came to this country seeking safety and freedom, and I’m proud to be an American,” Wilwal said in a statement. “But our own government just shouldn’t be treating my family and me or anyone else this way. It’s wrong.”

Jeff Sessions used our research to claim that sanctuary cities have more crime. He’s wrong.  (Washington Post, 7/14/17)

“The attorney general’s summation of our study, however, is not true. In fact, our study suggests a different conclusion: Municipalities that chose to designate themselves as sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants experience crime rates no higher than they otherwise would. We state this clearly throughout our study.”

Two Democratic senators want to block House bill that waives polygraphs (Washington Post, 7/14/17) The House anti-immigrant bill passed in June waives polygraph tests for new immigration agent hires.

“Our nation’s border and immigration enforcement officers must be held to the same standard of integrity as other federal law enforcement,” Durbin said in a statement. “This legislation would require just that.”

Stories of St. Paul’s Immigrant Teens (Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, 7/12/17) The latest Green Card Voices book features immigrant students telling their own stories, in their own words.

How Trump’s immigration policies are impacting one 13-year-old (TeenVogue, 7/7/170 TeenVogue is at it again – publishing serious, well-written journalism for and about teens.

“Next month, Eric Lara of Willard, Ohio, will turn 14. He is in sixth grade. He likes to play the trumpet and dance. He loves math. He hopes to be a lawyer one day. And all he wants is for his dad to be around to celebrate his birthday with him.

“But on July 18, Eric’s dad, Jesus Lara, is scheduled to be deported to Mexico.”

Iraqi facing deportation after aiding U.S. military takes refuge in NM church (Chicago Tribune, 7/13/17)

“Al-bumohammed, who arrived as a refugee in the early 1990s, worked as a linguist contractor with all four branches of the U.S. military from 2004 to 2009 in Fort Irwin, California. Al-bumohammed trained tens of thousands of soldiers in his five years and earned more than 15 medals for his service, Kitson said.”

A Refugee Family Arrives in Arkansas, Before the Door Shuts (New York Times, 7/13/17)

“But eight years ago, six militiamen invaded the family compound, murdered his oldest son and his son’s wife and briefly kidnapped Mr. Mwenda. The family left everything behind, and after four days of travel by foot, car and dinghy made it to safety in a refugee camp more than 1,000 miles away in Malawi.

“This month, they were again lucky to make a skin-of-their-teeth escape, when an International Organization for Migration vehicle pulled into the camp and transported them to an airport, with one-way tickets to the United States.

“That made them one of the last refugee families without close relations in the country to be allowed in before President Trump’s moratorium took effect.”


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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