Immigrants and presidential lies

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Wrong, and wrong, and wrong again. Trump keeps on tweeting and speaking lies about immigrants and immigration.

The New York Times first reported, and then challenged the president’s statements in West Virginia:

“At an event on Thursday billed as a round-table discussion on tax overhaul, President Trump aired a litany of familiar — and often inaccurate — grievances on immigration, trade and voter fraud.”

The Washington Post regularly fact checks Trump, debunking both his early-in-the-week Twitter tantrum and Thursday’s speech

President Trump has returned to the controversial — and unproven — claim that arguably launched his 2016 campaign, accusing migrants headed for the United States of epidemic rape and the countries they come from of sending criminals northward.”

The president’s lies do real damage, both to the targets of his vitriol and by poisoning national discourse. Repeating the lies—even to debunk them—seems to amplify their effect. Back in 2007, the Washington Post reported

“The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.”

When the president lies, we need to refute those lies. But how can we avoid amplifying both the lies and the damage? I’m not sure, but it’s a question we need to think about.

In other news: Biometric measurement kiosks in Mexico, stories from the caravan, Sessions’ “zero tolerance” at the border and unilateral changes in immigration courts, and more.

For DACA recipients, Trump’s tweet storms can be panic-inducing (Boston Globe, 4/8/18)

What if President Trump kept talking about you? There are the 280-character bursts that equate undocumented immigrants to criminals storming the border. The repeated calls to build walls to keep immigrants out. And tweetstorms that treat DACA like a deal to be bartered and not a lifeline protecting more than half a million young people from deportation.

“It’s just so volatile,” said Jin Park, a 22-year-old senior at Harvard University who was brought to the country as a child but now has legal status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program created by President Obama that Trump has sought to end. “In the beginning, I consistently went on Twitter and read everything that the president tweeted out. It weighed on me. What the president says matters.”

The kiosks and the caravan

The caravan and the president’s attacks on it have highlighted a little-publicized U.S. program that gives the United States government biometric data from migrants inside Mexico. The DHS program is one more way that Mexico gets U.S funding to implement U.S. immigration policy.

After Trump’s lies focused attention on the caravan, news stories now include interviews with people in the caravan, explaining why they left home and why they feel safer traveling in a large group.

Trump’s attacks on migrant caravan underscore how U.S. outsources immigration enforcement to Mexico (The Intercept, 4/5/18)

In 2017, the departments of Defense and State implemented an $88 million program to increase Mexican immigration authorities’ capacity to collect migration data and share it with DHS, according to a WOLA report. The two departments are also funding a $75 million project to improve communications between Mexican agencies near the southern border. (As The Intercept previously reported, the U.S. government has also been increasing its Defense Department funding to Mexico for security assistance. State Department funding previously used to support Mexican capabilities is going down, while Pentagon funding is increasing.)

There’s a plan, which must be pretty advanced now, to put biometric kiosks in several of the official border crossings,” Isacson told The Intercept. “If you cross at Ciudad Hidalgo now” — a city on the Mexico-Guatemala border — “there is something that looks at your fingerprints, maybe takes your photo, and sends the data to a central database in Mexico City that is shared with ICE” — U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

U.S. gathers data on migrants deep in Mexico, a sensitive program Trump’s rhetoric could put at risk (Washington Post, 4/6/18)

“Operating in detention facilities in southern Mexico and here in the capital, Department of Homeland Security officials have installed scores of screening terminals to collect migrants’ fingerprints, ocular scans and other identifying features, including tattoos and scars….

“The information gathered is immediately forwarded to DHS and other U.S. law enforcement and intelligence databases, alerting American officials if an individual in Mexican custody is a convicted criminal or in a category known as “Special Interest Aliens,” which includes potential extremists, according to current and former U.S. officials who described the program on the condition of anonymity because many of its details have not been publicly disclosed.”

‘If our countries were safe, we wouldn’t leave’: the harsh realities of Mexico’s migrant caravan (Guardian, 4/6/18))

“The kids here have bibs, not guns,” said Irineo Mujíca, one of the caravan’s conveners as he stood amid a sea migrant children in a playground. “We don’t pose any threat to the United States.”…

“The Mexican authorities may not have spoken out firmly against Trump’s comments, but neither have they bowed to his demands.

“They didn’t act the way [Trump] wanted,” Mujíca said. “When Trump started tweeting, we were afraid. But the Mexican government responded humanely and sensibly. We didn’t expect that. We thought they would cave to Trump, but they didn’t.”…

“The only thing we want is security for our children,” said [Isabel Nerio] Rodríguez, whose own daughter had been grabbed by gangbangers and gang-raped after refusing to become their leader’s girlfriend.

“If our countries were safe, we wouldn’t leave,” she continued. “Who would want to leave and suffer like this?”

Fear, solidarity drive migrants to stick with Mexico “caravan” (Reuters, 4/5/18)

“Despite knowing the permit protected him, and that traveling alone would be faster, he feared if he left the caravan he would be exposed to the robbery and assault that befall many migrants on the long slog to the U.S. border.

“It’s much safer,” he said. “Everyone is supporting us. One person alone is much more vulnerable. Much more dangerous.”

“Rodriguez, a builder, said he fled his home in El Salvador in the middle of the night with only the clothes on his back, a few dollars, a nephew, and his son, a student who had received a written death threat from a gang he had refused to join or pay. ”

And in other news

Sessions orders ‘zero tolerance’ policy to prosecute migrants at the border (Houston Chronicle, 4/6-7/18)

“Criminally prosecuting migrants allows the government to detain them in federal prisons, where there is more capacity than immigrant detention centers, before deporting them after they have served their sentence. It also enables the administration to separate families, as children cannot be held in federal prison, necessitating their placement in foster care and allowing the government to detain parents until they are deported….

“Advocates say such separations pose great risk as parents and children are not always reunited before the parents are deported….

“The sheer number of offenders charged with the misdemeanor means federal judges often have to see some 80 at a time, which critics have likened to a “cattle call in the courts.”

“Since there is no real defense to the crime, most plead guilty in a fast-tracked mass hearing that lasts about an hour.”

SPLC sues DHS for unconstitutionally blocking detained immigrants’ access to lawyers (SPLC, 4/4/18)

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is violating the Constitution by blocking immigrants held in extremely isolated civil immigration prisons from accessing lawyers, according to a federal lawsuit filed today by the SPLC.”

Lawyers see immigration court as Trump ‘deportation machine’ (Bloomberg, 4/4/18)

“The Trump administration’s new quotas for immigration judges who rule on deportations is straining an an already overloaded system and threatens its credibility, according to the unions representing those judges and the lawyers who appear before them.”

Opinion: The case for non-government sanctuary for immigrants (Los Angeles Times, 4/5/18) Can anyone provide absolute sanctuary, a complete defense against ICE? Probably not: but individual and group action can provide powerful protection and support.

“Leveraging these long-standing rights, a restaurant owner in Ann Arbor, Mich., lawfully refused to grant ICE officials entry to his restaurant’s kitchen last summer. “Sanctuary restaurants” abound, and now advocates are pushing for Greyhound to exercise its property and civil rights protections and bar ICE officials from their buses.

“Universities and colleges that are safeguarding undocumented students from immigration enforcement have rights to protect the physical space of their campuses from undue intrusion. Federal privacy laws allow educational institutions to protect information about undocumented students without fear of legal reprisal.

“Our Constitution and federal and state laws empower nongovernment actors to provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. These groups and individuals are therefore engaged in lawful forms of resistance, not civil disobedience. If they were to coordinate their efforts, these institutions and local actors could form a formidable sanctuary network for undocumented immigrants.”

H1-B cap has been reached in first week, for sixth consecutive year, USCIS announces (Immigration Impact, 4/6/18) H1-B visas generally apply to specialized knowledge and at least a college degree in science and technology and engineering fields.

Demonstrating a critical demand for educated foreign workers in the United States, the annual H-1B cap has been reached within 5 business days. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting H-1B petitions on April 2, and on April 6, USCIS announced that it had received more petitions than the entire H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2019 allows. As in years past, USCIS will conduct a lottery to determine which employers will be able to employ the workers they chose to sponsor.

Real people, real stories

Immigration raid takes 97 into custody at Tennessee plant (Washington Post, 4/6/18)

“Several children had both parents placed in detention and many did not show up for school Friday because of fear in the immigrant community, Teatro said.

“Many of the people employed at the plant had worked there for years and are long-standing members of this rural community, she said.”

Liberians hold key roles in Twin Cities health care fields, some say deportation may weaken workforce (Pioneer Press, 4/7/18)

“His words slurred but resolute, David Birkholz calls medical assistant Sevelle Kamara his “Liberian princess,” and with good reason.

“You’re always positive,” said Birkholz, who uses a wheelchair as a result of a physical assault that left him severely crippled more than 20 years ago. “She’s super cool to me.

I was in a traffic accident. Instead of helping, police called ICE. (ACLU, 3/22/18)

I legally entered the United States from Mexico when I was only 11-years-old. It was hard at first to be in a different country and I didn’t speak any English. But I had a really good English teacher who was kind to me. She’s the reason that I thrived in school. I started to get “Student of the Month” and I could see how much joy that brought my family. They sacrificed everything so that my siblings and I could have a better education and a safer future. I wanted to make them proud and to show them that their sacrifice was worth it….

“I take responsibility for driving without a license, but I didn’t deserve to be treated like this. Most people who drive without a license don’t get arrested. The police officer who arrested me didn’t care that I had been in a traffic accident. He only cared that I am undocumented. No matter who you are, you should be able to call the police when you are a victim of a crime. But instead of helping me, Coon Rapids police just called ICE.

Teen who faced deportation after he informed on MS-13 gets temporary reprieve (Pro Publica, 4/6/18)

“Judge Thomas Mulligan declined to issue a ruling. Instead, he gave the teen’s lawyer a list of evidence and testimony he wants to see before deciding the case in May. The judge seemed to be sketching a path to a successful asylum claim, and mentioned an alternative defense if asylum cannot be supported.”

Amid deportations, those in U.S. without authorization shy away from medical care (Los Angeles Times, 4/6/18)

“The patient calls started shortly after Trump took office, said Dulce Valenzuela, who works the front desk at St. John’s.

“Their No. 1 concern was, ‘If I go in, is my information going to be given to him?’” she said.

“Though Valenzuela reassures patients they’ll be safe, St. John’s has experienced an 8% drop in visits among patients lacking legal status across the clinic’s 14 Southern California sites, Mangia said….

“Elba Gonzalez-Mares, head of the nonprofit Community Health Initiative in Napa County, said her organization has been been helping county workers with urgent requests. Immigrants who lack legal status are eligible for certain public programs, such as food stamps for pregnant mothers or Medi-Cal for those younger than 19.

“They’ve received phone calls and actual people walking in and saying, ‘I need to end it today,’” said Gonzalez-Mares, who pointed out that several people in Napa County were detained during a raid in February. “Anxiety is really high.”



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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