Only one possible headline today – the awful plight of 10-year-old Rosamaria Hernandez. She came to this country when she was three months old. She has cerebral palsy. And while she was being rushed to a hospital for emergency gall bladder surgery, U.S. immigration officers stopped the ambulance to place her in custody. They then allowed the surgery to proceed before taking her into custody, on a stretcher, and putting her in detention and in deportation proceedings.
Immigration authorities refused to release her to the custody of her grandfather, who is a legal permanent resident. (Her mother is undocumented.) Immigration authorities said they would “expedite” her case, so that she might be released from detention to family members in two or three weeks. One of Rosamaria’s lawyers says that, because of her handicaps, she has the mental status of a 5- or 6-year-old.
Newsweek’s URL refers to “unparalleled cruelty” of U.S. immigration enforcement. That sounds about right.
Putting little kids in jail may explain why ICE needs more jail beds. On October 26, 14 organizations, including the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Advocates for Human Rights, Mid-Minnesota Legal Services, Minnesota ACLU, and the University of Minnesota Detainee Rights Clinic, told ICE that its plans to get three thousand more jail beds in four cities are wrong, wrong, wrong.
Federal Immigration Agents Target Ten-Year-Old Girl Straight Out of Surgery (Newsweek, 10/26/17)
“Rosa Maria’s story highlights the newfound relentlessness in immigration arrests and detentions. Schools, churches, courthouses and hospitals—once ‘safe zones’ from immigrant detention—are now open to arrests.
“‘This wouldn’t have happened during the [Barack] Obama administration,’ one of Rosa Maria’s lawyers, Alex Galvez, told Newsweek. ‘This current administration wants to send a clear message to all undocumented immigrants—that if you want to go to [a] hospital, you better think twice about it because you might be deported.’ …
“In the meantime, Rosa Maria will live at the Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center, where visitors are allowed to come and check up on her—only if said visitors are U.S. citizens.”
The Border Patrol agents followed the ambulance to the hospital. When the hospital discharged the child, Border Patrol agents took the 10-year-old into custody instead of allowing her cousin to take her back to her parents, who are also in the country illegally, in Laredo.
The young Mexican national has now been transported to a government-contracted juvenile shelter in San Antonio, 150 miles from Laredo, and put into deportation proceedings.
10-Year-Old Immigrant is Detained After Authorities Stop Her on the Way to Surgery (New York Times, 1026/17)
“Rosamaria’s cousin, Aurora Cantu, a United States citizen who was riding with her in the ambulance and accompanied her to the hospital, told Rosamaria’s mother and others working on the case that the agents had at first tried to persuade the family to agree to have the girl transferred to a Mexican hospital, pressing the family to sign a voluntary departure form for her. They declined to do so. The entire time Rosamaria was in surgery and then in recovery, several armed Border Patrol agents stood outside her hospital room, the family said.
“Her mother, Felipa de la Cruz, 39, said in an interview that her family had moved to Texas from Nuevo Laredo, the city in Mexico just across the border from Laredo, when her daughter was still an infant, hoping to get better treatment for her cerebral palsy.”
ICE detention center/prison news
ACLU Condemns ICE Plan to Expand Use of For-Profit Prisons for Immigrant Detention (Common Dreams, 10/26/17)
“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently asked officials in Chicago, Detroit, Salt Lake City, and St. Paul, Minnesota to identify private prisons in their cities that could be used to detain undocumented immigrants.
“’ICE’s intention to expand detention in areas surrounding four of the nation’s largest cities is an attack on the freedom of long term residents, including Dreamers, and asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries,’ said Lorella Praeli, the ACLU’s director of immigration policy, in a statement accompanying the letter.”
“The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) joined with 13 other legal services providers and human rights advocate to tell ICE that new immigration detention facilities it seeks would undermine due process and civil rights for thousands of detained immigrants. The joint letter responded to ICE’s October 12 request for information (RFI) to assist in the identification of new detention sites to detain up to 3,000 people each day within 180 miles of St. Paul, Chicago, Detroit, and Salt Lake City.“
Inside a Private Prison’s $150M deal to detain immigrants in New Mexico (Reveal, 10/26/17)
“ICE is the primary source of contracts for the private prison giant, whose CEO, Damon Hininger, recently highlighted ramped-up immigration enforcement in the interior of the country under Trump as a harbinger of new demand….
“The facility’s new role took shape after inmate deaths involving medical neglect came to light last year, prompting the federal Bureau of Prisons to cancel its contract with CoreCivic as part of a drive to minimize private prisons in its operations. That reliance conversely has grown under ICE, which commenced talks with CoreCivic to adopt Cibola soon after. Heralded as a job savior, the announcement of the new deal came without any mention from local officials about prior inmate deaths at Cibola….
“According to the subcontract and county treasurer, the county keeps 50 cents per detainee per day, while CoreCivic, a $3.7 billion company, receives a lump sum fixed payment of $2.5 million monthly, whether zero or 847 detainees are being held. … Documents obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting show daily counts ranging between 268 and 784 detainees over March, April and May.”
And in other news:
How Trump is expanding the government’s secret deportation weapon (Reveal, 10/26/17) Immigration arrests have jumped under Trump, dramatically increasing immigration courts’ backlogs. His solution?
“The Trump administration has a plan to solve this problem: It wants to dramatically expand the authority of on-the-ground officers to expel immigrants without a judge’s review.
“This fast-track deportation is called ‘expedited removal,’ and it was designed to quickly deport a certain kind of migrant: those who had recently arrived. For the past two decades, it has been used in a more targeted way near the border. Past administrations have expanded it gradually. Trump’s proposed expansion would take it across the nation.”
We Sued for Records About Trump’s Muslim Bans. Here’s What We Found Out. (ACLU, 10/24/17) Basically – that top government officials “were confused about the first Muslim ban,” that implementation was confused and uncoordinated, that this ban affected at least 1,926 individual travelers, and that DHS still has not complied with FOIA requests. Documents that were released are now published by ACLU.
Opinion: I Prosecuted Terrorists for President Bush. Now My Family in Iran May Be Banned From Visiting. (New York Times, 10/25/17) His family lived in the United States for decades; he served as a federal prosecutor. When his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, his mother wanted her sister to come from Iran to help.
“But on Jan. 27, President Trump issued an executive order that revoked visas from Iranians, as well as from citizens of six other Muslim-majority countries.
“To this day, my aunt has not been able to get her visa, even though she has passed background checks twice.
“I worked shoulder-to-shoulder with special agents, analysts and other prosecutors using targeted, data-based enforcement. We tore apart files looking for information that we could use to make our cases. Because of this, we were very effective. In contrast, President Trump’s Muslim ban ignores data and facts, relying instead on Islamophobia. “
“In 2008, anti-vaccine advocates — including the Organic Consumers Association and Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor who falsified data suggesting vaccines are linked to autism — began targeting local Somali Americans who had concerns about autism among their children. The activists saw an opening, offering an explanation when the health department couldn’t provide one.
“Vaccination rates plummeted in the community over the next several years, making its members more susceptible to preventable diseases such as measles and mumps. Of the 79 cases in the 2017 measles outbreak, 65, or 80 percent, involved children of Somali descent.”