Minnesota immigration news: private prisons, economics, doctors


Three of the weekend’s immigration stories have Minnesota focuses: proposals to reopen the private prison in Appleton and/or build new immigration prisons; the economic impacts of immigrants; and obstacles to licensing highly qualified immigrant doctors to meet Minnesota’s need for more physicians. Another story on the conflict between immigration and criminal court systems quotes Hennepin County Public Defender Mary Moriarty.

Recent Washington shenanigans include White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s denunciation of immigrants and the debunking of his statements, as well as Trump’s cabinet meeting tirade directed to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nelson.

Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced legislation requiring ICE agents to document their stops and interrogations, which is not now required by law.

Minnesota immigration news

Companies propose immigration detention centers for Midwest (U.S. News, 5/11/18)

“The proposals, all preliminary, include one to build a 640-bed detention center in Pine Island, Minnesota, not far from Rochester, submitted by Management & Training Corp. …

“CoreCivic Inc. proposed reopening the vacant Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minnesota, to supply ICE with up to 600 beds…

“In addition to the proposals by companies, local governments have submitted plans. …Sherburne County, Minnesota, offered space for 300 detainees in its jail, with new construction possible to hold 200 others. …

“Officials in some of the locations identified as possible sites for detention centers said they had very limited knowledge of the proposals or their status.

“The list provided by ICE included a site in Oronoco, Minnesota, but local officials said it is, in fact, in the nearby city of Pine Island. Devin Swanberg, the executive director of the Pine Island Economic Development Authority, said that a corrections company and a California real estate development firm that owns a local site spanning more than 1,200 acres spoke with local officials five or six months ago about the possibility of a detention center that would create 50 to 75 jobs. But they’ve heard little since.”

No reason to be afraid of immigrants (St. Cloud Times, 5/10/18)

The Economic Impact of Immigrants in Minnesota” by Professor Katherine Fennelly and Anne Huart of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at University of Minnesota reported the following in response to those who only look at on the initial costs of immigrants: “Analyses that focus exclusively on short-term costs greatly underestimate the fiscal benefits and the fact that over the course of their lifetimes, immigrants provide a net benefit to state and national economies.”

Could the state-funded International Medical Graduate Assistance Program do more for immigrant doctors — and help address Minnesota’s looming doctor shortage? (MinnPost, 5/11/18)

Before Mervat Lotfalla immigrated to the United States eight years ago, she spent more than 15 years working as a doctor at various hospitals in Egypt.

“In that period, Lotfalla — who graduated from Cairo University School of Medicine in 1994 — served as the head of Mallawy General Hospital’s emergency department, leading hundreds of staffers to provide adequate health services for rural communities there….

Lotfalla is one of many foreign-trained immigrant and refugee physicians who often struggle to put their decades-long experience to use — even as many parts of Minnesota face a shortage for doctors.

U.S. denies some immigrants accused of crimes of a day in court (MPR, 5/10/18)

“Some immigrants living in the country illegally and accused of crimes sit in legal limbo, caught in a tug of a war between local prosecutors and federal immigration authorities who won’t let them appear in court because they fear being denied the opportunity to deport them….

“In one case, a man accused of raping a child was deported — essentially set free in his home country — instead of facing trial….

“Sometimes detainees are sent to distant detention centers, making their return to court virtually impossible. …

“Mary Moriarty, chief public defender in Minnesota’s Hennepin County, estimated that ICE has kept about 30 people from having their criminal cases resolved or even being assigned public defenders, meaning no one advocates for their appearance in criminal court.”

Washington shenanigans

Transcript: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s interview with NPR (NPR, 5/11/18)

“The vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. …. But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from – fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English, obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well, they don’t have skills.”

John Kelly’s terrible immigration lies (Washington Post, 5/11/18)

“Unlike his boss, Kelly speaks calmly and carefully, but his ideas are rooted in the same kind of misconceptions and even bigotry that drive both President Trump’s thinking and the policies of his administration.”

Trump unloads on Homeland Security Secretary in lengthy immigration tirade (Washington Post, 5/10/18) Some reports said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen drafted a resignation letter after a tirade from Trump during a cabinet meeting, but spokespersons from the agency denied the reports.  

“Trump lashed out at his Cabinet, and Nielsen in particular, when told that the number of people arrested for illegally crossing the Mexico border topped 50,000 for the second consecutive month. The blowup lasted more than 30 minutes, according to a person with knowledge of what transpired, as Trump’s face reddened and he raised his voice, saying Nielsen needed to “close down” the border. ”

The battle inside the Trump administration over TPS (The New Yorker, 5/11/18)

“I spoke with a former Trump Administration official who was involved in the decision-making on T.P.S. last fall. The official told me, “You had career people arguing in favor of extending T.P.S. When they sent along their recommendations, their memos would stop dead in their tracks or get rewritten.” The official blamed one particular office at the State Department—the policy-planning shop—which Tillerson had revamped as part of an initiative to streamline the bureaucracy. In the past, the office functioned as an in-house think tank, offering policy advice to the Secretary; under Tillerson, it became a centralized decision-making body that further concentrated influence at the top of the department hierarchy. Though the idea was to make the State Department more agile, the effect was often the opposite. “It’s the place where memos go to languish until they’re O.B.E.—overtaken by events,” a former State Department official told me. According to a former D.H.S. official, “The gridlock was a real problem for us when it came to T.P.S. Sometimes we would get reports from State on country conditions after the Secretary had made her decision.”

And in other news

Kirsten Gillibrand introduces a bill to crack down on immigration agents (Vox, 5/11/18) Under current law, there’s no requirement to document stops, and ICE agents stop people in all kinds of places to ask about their citizenship.

“The Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Act would require border patrol and immigration enforcement agents to document every instance when they stop, search, or interrogate people. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The law applies to all stops by agents who work for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “

How Trump is really changing immigration: making it harder for people to come here legally (Los Angeles Times, 5/13/18)

“In some cases, the methods are strict quotas or new rules. But paperwork and red tape work, too. For instance, this administration tripled the number of pages in green card applications. Forms for sponsoring a foreign-born spouse are nine times longer than they used to be….

“Trump precipitously cut the number of refugees the U.S. will accept. If admissions for 2018 continue at their current pace, 75% fewer refugees will arrive this year than in 2016.”

Breaking up immigrant families: A look at the latest border tactic (New York Times, 5/12/18)

“With few exceptions, the United States has historically treated immigration violations as civil, rather than criminal, offenses, and thus parents have not typically been separated from their children when they enter the legal system.

“This is an additional punitive measure the administration is imposing on parents in an effort to frighten Central Americans, to discourage them from seeking asylum,” said Reuben Cahn, executive director of the Federal Defenders of San Diego, who is representing several of the caravan migrants.”

Under a Trump proposal, legal immigrants might shun health care (NPR, 5/10/18)

Forty-eight-year-old Marnobia Juarez battled cancer successfully and is hoping her husband’s green card application is approved; she also dreams of one day getting her own.

“Juarez says she never wanted to apply for public benefits until she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Since then, she has been treated at no cost under a program run by the state of Maryland.

“I’m alive thanks to this program,” says Juarez, who is a community leader at CASA de Maryland, an immigrant advocacy group. “You don’t play with life, and they are playing with life.”

The Trump administration shoves Honduran immigrants back into danger (Washington Post, 5/10/18) John D. Feeley was U.S. ambassador to Panama from 2016 until March. James D. Nealon was U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 2014 to 2017. They say revoking Honduran TPS is a mistake.

“Canceling TPS takes hard-working, legal immigrants and puts them in the shadows. It ensures that U.S. taxpayer assistance, designed to help Hondurans see their future in Honduras and not in the United States, works against itself. Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants, recently visited Honduras and applauded the U.S. assistance programs designed to improve conditions there. When accused of “being a liberal,” she smiled and said, “I’m a conservative who understands that prevention saves us money in the long run.”

Homeland Security Secretary defend separating families who cross the border illegally (NPR, 5/10/18)

“Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that calls for separating families who cross the border illegally, saying the undocumented immigrants shouldn’t get special treatment.”

Ten years after Postville immigration raid, a priest calls for solidarity (Des Moines Register, 5/11/18) This op/ed was written before this week’s ICE raid in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

“The horrors of the Postville raid may seem to be in the distant past, yet increasingly hostile political rhetoric and the adoption of new Department of Homeland Security policy is bringing on a new wave of hardship and fear for our immigrant sisters and brothers….

“Now, our solidarity needs to look different. Now, more than ever, it is important to find out who is under threat of deportation in our community and be ready to stand with them, whether through forming trusting friendships or accompanying our neighbors to ICE check-ins.”

‘I think I saw my dad get arrested’: Mount Pleasant teenager recounts immigration raid (Des Moines Register, 5/10/18)

“Oscar Lopez was in his third-period woodworking class at Mount Pleasant High School when he learned that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had raided his stepfather’s workplace just outside of town.

“As the family’s best English speaker, he rushed with his mother to Midwest Precast Concrete in time to see vans loaded with workers and ICE officers standing guard at the plant’s entrances and exits.

“I think I saw my dad get arrested,” the 15-year-old said hours later in a dining room at the First Presbyterian Church, a designated safe place for immigrant families.”


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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