Detention and Denial

HHS tent city Tornillo

The week’s news begins with a trio of stories of immigrants in detention, and news on increased denials of legal immigration applications.

Kids in detention: One more record set: as of Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services held 14,056 unaccompanied immigrant minors in its custody, topping all previous records. At least until next month.

New Hampshire: Abdigani Hussein came to the United States as a Somali refugee in 1996. Some six years later, he was convicted of possession of khat and sentenced to one year of probation, which he successfully completed. Then came Trump’s crackdown on all immigrants everywhere, leading to his immigration arrest in New Hampshire earlier this year on the basis of the 16-year-old drug conviction. He was held without bail for nine months, but now an ACLU lawsuit has led to a federal judge’s order to free Hussein on bail. He still faces a battle, as ICE continues to pursue deportation.

New Mexico: CoreCivic, one of the biggest private prison operators in the United States, is augmenting its profits by paying detained immigrants as little as a dollar a day. They call it a “volunteer” work program, and say that means they do not have to pay minimum wage. The immigrants disagree. They have not been convicted of any crime: they are being held while awaiting a hearing on political asylum cases. According to the lawsuit, “The men were sometimes paid around $0.50 an hour or $15 a week regardless of the number of hours they worked in violation of state and federal wage laws.”

Arrest the activists: Migrant Justice, an activist organization in Vermont, is suing the federal government for its use of informants and retaliatory arrests:

“Members of Migrant Justice, an activist group, claim they were targeted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as part of a large-scale campaign to suppress immigration activism in the US.

“It’s had a severe and drastic impact on our ability to carry out our mission, which is to bring immigrant farm workers together to defend and advance their human rights,” Will Lambek, an organizer at Migrant Justice, told the Guardian.”

And in other news:

President Trump threatens to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t give him the money he wants to pay for a border wall.

Denials of applications for legal immigration increased by 37 percent last year. So the message from the administration is not just “get in line,” but rather “get in line so we can say no.” These applications include requests for temporary or permanent work permits, fiancé visas, green card applications, etc. One example:

“The denial rate for I-485 family-sponsored adjustments to permanent residence (i.e. a green card) increased from 10.2 percent to 13 percent from FY 2016 to FY 2018 (Figure 8). These applications are primarily from spouses and parents of U.S. citizens in the United States in temporary statuses (or possibly no status) who are seeking to become legal permanent residents.”


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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