Blizzard in MN; Avalanche of immigration news


I’ve been under the weather, both personally and as a Minnesotan snowed under by our April blizzard. With that as a sort-of excuse for missing Friday’s blog post, here’s the avalanche of immigration news accumulated over the weekend. Look for the next post on Tuesday when—maybe—the snow will have ended.

Top stories:

  • One more win for sanctuary jurisdictions
  • What’s wrong with Sessions’ draconian rules
  • A Pro Publica exposé on sexual assault in immigration jails

And more real stories of individual immigrants, including a Somali fighting deportation in Minnesota, Pennsylvania’s open season on immigrants, and an ICE storm in North Carolina.

Sanctuary wins again

Los Angeles wins suit against DOJ over immigration policy (Bloomberg, 4/12/18) Federal judges have issued similar rulings invalidating Trump’s war on sanctuary in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

The ruling in a lawsuit Los Angeles brought against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions marks a new setback in President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities where police forces have refused to get involved in enforcing immigration law.

Money for police cannot be pegged to cooperation with ICE, judge rules (Los Angeles Times, 4/12/18)

“U.S. District Judge Manuel Real issued a permanent, nationwide ban against a Justice Department policy that gave an edge to obliging police departments applying for a community policing grant program. In doing so, Real dealt a legal setback to the Trump administration in its aggressive campaign to crack down on illegal immigration and to force compliance from law enforcement officials.”

Restricting immigrant rights in courts and at the border

Commentary: I’m an Immigration Judge. Case Completion Quotas Are a Really Bad Idea. (Fortune, 4/9/18)

“If quotas and deadlines are applied, judicial time and energy will be diverted to documenting our performance, rather than deciding cases. We become bean-counting employees instead of fair and impartial judges. Our job security will be based on whether or not we meet these unrealistic quotas and our decisions will be subjected to suspicion as to whether any actions we take, such as denying a continuance or excluding a witness, are legally sound or motivated to meet a quota. Under judicial canons of ethics, no judge should hear a case in which he or she has a financial interest. By tying the very livelihood of a judge to how quickly a case is pushed through the system, you have violated the fundamental rule of ensuring an impartial decision maker is presiding over the case.”

AG Sessions’ plan to clear immigration case backlog will make things worse, judges and attorneys fear  (Dallas News, 4/10/18)

“Quotas planned for the nation’s 334 immigration judges will just make the backlog worse by increasing appeals and questions about due process, says Ashley Tabaddor, Los Angeles-based president of the National Association of Immigration Judges….

“We believe it is absolutely inconsistent to apply quotas and deadlines on judges who are supposed to exercise independent decision-making authority,” Tabaddor said.”

Sessions’s call for ‘zero tolerance’ at the border could lead to incarceration spike (The Hill, 4/12/18)

U.S. attorneys are widely expected to shift resources in response to Sessions’s memo Friday ordering them to criminally prosecute every illegal entry case referred to them by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), even first-time offenders….

It’s just going to jam up the court system,” Kantor said, since the cases will be heard by federal district courts rather than immigrant courts.

Group prods state on bid to close immigrant detention center (U.S. News, 4/12/18)

Lawyers for asylum-seeking families being held at a detention center in Pennsylvania are petitioning to intervene in a case that will determine whether the facility can keep its license, arguing the state should move faster to shut it down.

“The Berks County Residential Center, north of Philadelphia, is one of three family detention centers in the United States that hold children and parents who have entered the country illegally. The low-security facility is run by the county through a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Take it from a former judge: Quotas for Immigration Judges are a Bad Idea. (Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan Blog, 4/11/18)

“Sessions’ mandate that the judges decide cases “faster” and more “efficiently” ignores the fact that the immigration court judges are currently rendering decisions in a timely manner.  However, immigration judges must also follow the constraints of due process, which means giving both sides an opportunity to present their case and then for the judge to fully consider the applicable law and issue a thoughtful decision.  A system that evaluates immigration judge performance based on how fast they can complete cases will certainly undermine the quality and thoroughness of decisions.” 

ICE age in the courts (WNYC News, 4/13/18)

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have made 150 arrests in and around New York state courthouses since President Trump took office, their targets ranging from a traffic court in upstate Onondoga County to a family court in Brooklyn, according to records compiled by immigrant advocates….

“The “Secure Communities” program transfers data collected at the point of an arrest, including fingerprints and criminal records, to an FBI database. Those records are then forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security where, if a match is spotted with an individual, a red flag goes up.”

Sexual assault in immigration jails

Detained, then violated (Pro Publica, 4/14/18)

“A woman held at an immigration detention center in Washington state said she was raped by a medical worker and a private facility contractor as she sought help in the center’s medical unit. Another woman said officers cuffed and maced her following an argument with a fellow detainee at an immigration detention center in Florida. Then, as she lay on the ground, an officer sat on her “like a person would sit on a horse,” his “erect penis on her butt.” Officers then filmed her as she showered to wash off the mace, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.” …

“[T]he sheer number of complaints — despite serious obstacles in the path of those filing them, as well as the patterns they reveal about mistreatment in facilities nationwide — suggest that sexual assault and harassment in immigration detention are not only widespread but systemic, and enabled by an agency that regularly fails to hold itself accountable. While the reports obtained by The Intercept are only a fraction of those filed, they shed light on a system that operates largely in secrecy, and they help hint at the magnitude of the abuse, and the incompetence and complicity of the agency tasked with the safety of the 40,000 women, men, and children it detains each day in more than 200 jails, prisons, and detention centers across the country.”

Real people, real stories

As the United states seeks to deport more Somalis, Minnesota attorneys push back (Star Tribune, 4/12/18) Abdulkadir Sharif Abdi faces a deportation order, but his attorneys are fighting and so far he is still in the country.

“In 2007, a rival gang member stabbed Abdi in the neck, damaging his vocal cords and almost killing him. After a lengthy hospital stay, Abdi resolved to leave gang life.

For the past four years, he has worked as a housing manager at the Park Avenue Center, a Minneapolis alcohol and drug treatment facility. He and his wife, Rhoda Christenson, are also active in the local recovery community. Abdi’s sobriety sponsor and others credit him with encouraging Somali-Americans to join recovery programs, dispelling the misconception that they are not for practicing Muslims.”

In Pennsylvania, it’s open season on undocumented immigrants (Pro Publica, 4/12/18) Two stories among many, as immigration agents fan out across Pennsylvania under the Trump mandate to arrest and deport everyone they can find:

Anne and Ludvin Franco married in 2013, had twins, and were happily awaiting the birth of their third child. On lawyers’ advice, they had waited to start legalizing his status until late in 2016. Then came the traffic accident. The arrest and speedy deportation. And now Ludvin Franco sits thousands of miles away from home, back in Guatemala. In October, when his wife gave birth to their third child, he could join them only via Skype.

Guillermo Peralta was arrested last year, by ICE agents looking for someone else.

“It should have been immediately apparent that Peralta, who has difficulty speaking, had serious cognitive disabilities. A neuropsychologist who later examined him wrote in an assessment for the court that Peralta cannot read, write, or identify colors and that he is not competent to give informed consent “or to understand any but the simplest instructions, requests or commands.”

“Yet ICE maintained in its arrest report that Peralta not only willfully engaged with Vankos but confessed his undocumented status, stated he was 46, and claimed he had a child in Florida.

“Peralta, however, is childless and does not know his age, his pro bono lawyer, Craig Shagin, said. He was abandoned as a youth in rural Pennsylvania and has for decades made ends meet as an apple picker, pumpkin harvester, and construction worker in the Gettysburg area.”

For Cops Who Want to Help ICE Crack Down on Illegal Immigration, Pennsylvania Is a Free-for-All (Pro Publica, 4/12/18)

It was Easter morning in central Pennsylvania, and Luke C. Macke, a state trooper, was patrolling I-81 for speeders, swervers, texters, and seat-belt shirkers. Shortly before 8 a.m., he clocked a Ford Econoline van going 81 in a 65-mph speed zone near Carlisle.

“Inside the van were 10 Latino men returning to New York from a two-day Alcoholics Anonymous conclave in Georgia. Many were dozing, and they startled awake when Macke, having asked the driver for his license and registration, swung open the van’s rear door and demanded everyone’s “papers” — passports, visas, work permits.

It was not the first time, and not the last, that Macke, 35, with nine years on the state police force, converted a routine traffic stop into an immigration arrest.

ICE arrests up to 25 people in immigration raids across the Triangle (Durham Herald-Sun, 4/13/18) The two brothers were cleaning up a mobile home men with badges came to the door asking about someone with a drunk driving charge. Trying to help, they called a third brother to translate. Then they were all arrested.

At least half of the men that immigration agents arrested this week in Orange and Chatham counties were not the intended targets, including three brothers who worked at a family-owned Franklin Street restaurant.”

When is a faith ID better than no ID? Always for those who can’t get a state one. (News Observer, 4/14/18)

On Saturday, more than 100 people came to the Century Center in Carrboro for long-planned Faith ID drive. They did so despite a spate of immigration-related arrests in Orange and surrounding counties this week.

The ID is an unofficial identification for people who are unable to obtain a state-issued ID. The nonprofit El Centro Hispano issues the ID, which contains the person’s photo and address….

“We are concerned that the events of the last few days have damaged what we have done to build trust in the community,” [Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris] Blue said. “No agency here has anything to do with immigration. We serve everyone in our community, and you are our community.” 

Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Muslim-Australian Activist, Denied Entry to U.S. (New York Times, 4/11/18)

“Australia’s most prominent female Muslim activist, an outspoken critic of her country’s immigration policies, was denied entry into the United States on Wednesday.

“Yassmin Abdel-Magied, 27, an award-winning author and broadcaster, was scheduled to speak next week at the Pen World Voices Festival in New York. When she arrived in Minneapolis around 4 p.m., she said on Twitter, she was detained by border agents.”

In other news

GOP lawmaker says he has enough support to force immigration votes (The Hill, 4/10/18) Using a maneuver known as “Queen of the Hill,” Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA) is trying to bring immigration legislation back up for consideration. With 40 Republican votes, he may be able to do so.

“The four bills that would be considered are the conservative bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.); a Democratic measure that would be the Dream Act; a bill offered by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that would mirror President Trump’s immigration plan; and the bipartisan USA Act, a narrow bill limited to border security measures and protecting so-called Dreamers.”

Under Trump, immigrants back away from Medicaid, Obamacare subsidies (Washington Post, 4/11/18)

Enrolling in Medicaid or an Obamacare plan doesn’t hurt immigrants’ chances of gaining permanent residency in the United States. That might change soon, under a major policy shift the Trump administration is considering that could curtail legal immigration….

“Providers told me they’re already feeling the effects, as immigrants hoping to gain a green card or even citizenship back away from public safety-net programs, for fear it will score against them.”

Trump suggests immigrants want to harm US. But they just want to make America great, a new report says. (NBC, 4/11/18)

“But a new report released Monday by a Washington-based think tank suggests that Trump’s dire warnings about those who seek asylum in the United States may be unfounded. In fact, the report indicates, they’re helping make America great.

“The nonpartisan Urban Institute crunched Census and refugee survey data and complied recent academic studies, among other sources, to show that over time refugees integrate into nearly all aspects of American life. And the longer refugees remain in the U.S., the report says, the more likely they are to embrace tenets of the traditional American dream — buying homes and starting their own businesses.”

Bringing evidence to the refugee debate (Urban Institute, 4/9/18)

“Today’s policy debates are not grounded in the evidence that underscores how successful refugee integration has been and how refugees differ from other immigrants. To that end, this report provides context on resettled refugees and the policy conversation, synthesizes evidence on integration outcomes, and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the data sources and methods on which researchers rely.

“Recent research shows that after a period of adjustment after arrival, refugees integrate on economic, linguistic, and civic measures. On average, they participate in the labor force at high rates, their earnings rise, and their use of public benefits declines. Their English language skills improve, and those arriving during their youth have strong educational attainment. Set on a fast track to obtain green cards and citizenship compared with other immigrants, most refugees become US citizens, and many own homes and businesses.”


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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