Immigration News Over the Weekend, June 26-27, 2021

As Pride Month draws to a close, one of the weekend stories focuses on mistreatment of trans immigrants. Many people seek asylum because of persecution in their home countries based on LGBTQ+ identity. They continue to face discrimination in the United States. Trans people in immigration detention face severe abuse. Biden has supported trans rights in schools, the military, federal prisons, and healthcare. He needs to act to release trans people in immigration detention. (The Guardian)

“’I am a human being. I’m just asking for an opportunity to stay in the United States and to be free and be safe,’ said Maura Martinez, a 41-year-old trans woman from Nicaragua, in a recent call from inside a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jail in San Diego. She has been held in ICE detention for more than two years.

“The hardships of trans people in Ice jails have been well documented since the Obama administration. Trans women are often housed with men, and vice versa. A 2013 US government report found that nearly one in four substantiatedcases of sexual assault in Ice detention involved a trans victim, with multiple cases of of trans women abused by guards.

“Data has also shown that trans detainees are routinely placed in solitary confinement, allegedly for their own protection, sometimes for weeks or months on end. One report found that trans detainees were held in Ice for 99 days on average, twice as long as the overall average length of detention. In recent years, two trans women who had HIV and were seeking asylum in the US died after they were, according to legal complaints, denied medical care.”

A Washington Post op/ed maintains that Democrats can and must pass immigration policy changes without Republican votes. 

“Biden is seeking a broad reversal of the Trump administration’s policies, which were all focused on restricting legal immigration so that it would be as difficult and time-consuming as possible for anyone to come to the United States. Biden would streamline the system to increase the numbers of immigrants coming through a variety of pathways, and provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (especially dreamers, those brought to the United States as children) and improving conditions and administrative processes for those who arrive at the border….

“The problem is getting from some ideas that people broadly support to actual policy change, which can be significantly more complicated — especially if it requires legislation in a closely divided Congress where the filibuster is intact….

“So if there’s going to be reform legislation, advocates hope it can be included in a budget reconciliation bill, which only requires a majority in both houses and would include hundreds of other things Democrats support. ‘There’s finally a chance to get it done without relying on Republicans,’ said Frank Sharry, the executive director of the advocacy group America’s Voice. ‘We have a path to victory that does not rely on one Republican vote.’” 

Private, for-profit detention centers fail at providing even baseline medical care, abuse immigration detainees, and are generally unsafe and unhealthy. ICE needs to release detainees, not transfer them farther away from lawyers and family. (The Gothamist)

“In interviews, three detainees who were transferred from New Jersey described the trauma of the experience. They’re awakened at 4 a.m. and told they’re leaving New Jersey to parts unknown—ICE won’t tell them where they’re going for ‘security reasons,’ they said.

“Shackled at the wrists and ankles, they’re flown to detention centers without all of their personal items, like legal paperwork they need to fight their deportation cases. One lawyer lost touch with a client for two weeks after a transfer. Others haven’t gotten the medication they need at the new facilities.

“Transfers have also been linked to Covid outbreaks among immigrants. 

“It is unclear what the reason is for the rise in transfers, which attorneys liken to people being ‘disappeared.’ …

“Those detained by ICE are not charged with crimes; they are held to ensure that they show up for immigration court hearings and deportation flights. Those who are released while their cases wind their way through the court system, which can take years, are often fitted with electronic ankle bracelets.” 

Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to the border included a tour of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, an operational briefing, and meetings with advocates and with five Central American girls, ages 9-16, at a port of entry. Her statements focused on the Biden administration’s determination to change Trump-era practices and policies.  (Roll Call)

“’We’re talking about children. We’re talking about families. We’re talking about suffering. And our approach has to be thoughtful and effective,’ she said.

“Harris also said the El Paso trip reinforced her belief that the historically high border crossings which have strained government resources in recent months are best addressed by focusing on the reasons migrants leave their home countries.”

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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