Let’s get local: Immigrants and detention centers near you

Immigrant detention centers are not just along the border, and not just giant for-profit prisons or military bases. CItyLab and ESRI have mapped local government contracts with ICE, showing 850 local detention jails and prisons in 669 counties that have contracted with ICE to detain immigrants. The map shows current utilization, as well as some history of each individual contract.

Population growth through immigration is the focus of a Migration Policy Institute report. Their study covers the years 2010-2016, and shows the number of immigrants in the United States increasing, and foreign-born population growing by 15 percent or more in 15 states: North Dakota, West Virginia, South Dakota, Delaware, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Indiana, Florida, Nevada, Washington, Iowa, and Maryland. Immigration keeps many states growing: About half of Minnesota’s population growth is due to immigrants. And about half of all Minnesota immigrants already have become U.S. citizens. Continue reading

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Just saying no: Judges rule on Trump immigration policies

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In separate cases, three federal judges ruled against the Trump administration’s immigration policies on Monday.

Judge Dana Sabraw heard reports on progress—and lack of progress—in reuniting 102 immigrant children under the age of five with their parents. He set the next reporting date for Tuesday, as all parties seemed to acknowledge that the government had not kept adequate records to make reunification possible for some of the children. Government lawyers said they cannot locate parents of 38 of these children. The government plans to allow about 50 children to reunite with their parents on Tuesday. The 30-day deadline for reuniting all of approximately 3,000 children taken from their parents remains in force.

Federal District Court Judge Dolly Gee refused the administration’s request to modify the Flores decree and allow indefinite detention of immigrant families. The Flores decree says that children cannot be held in detention longer than 20 days, before being released to licensed child care facilities.  Judge Gee called the government’s motion “a cynical attempt” that came after “over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate.”

In a third case, U.S. District Judge John Mendez ruled against an administration challenge to California’s so-called sanctuary laws, allowing limits on local and state law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities to stand, and allowing California to exercise oversight of immigration detention facilities. Continue reading

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Ready for some good news?

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A large and growing majority of Americans want to see immigration levels remain the same or increase. According to Pew Research Center:

“Since 2001, the share of Americans who favor increased legal immigration into the U.S. has risen 22 percentage points (from 10% to 32%), while the share who support a decrease has declined 29 points (from 53% to 24%).”

Bicycles are an immigration story in Minneapolis, where the Spokes bike center offers a Learn to Ride initiative for adults. “Though participants include some native-born Americans,” reports Ibrahim Hirsi at MinnPost, “most of them are immigrants and refugees from Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Romania, Somalia, South Africa, Turkey and Uganda.”

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Horror stories: ‘That’s when she fainted’

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A Los Angeles Times article with links to a collection of hand-written letters from parents in immigration detention includes this heartbreaking story, among many others:

“I asked about my son and they wouldn’t respond. I insisted on knowing and they told me, ‘Ma’am, your son is not here, he is far away and you’re being deported to your country.’”

“She said that’s when she started to cry and “pleaded with them to let me stay with my son.”

“The official told me, ‘Don’t make me use a Taser gun on you,’” she wrote.

“Friends later told her that’s when she fainted. At the time she wrote the letter, she had not heard from her son in 23 days.”

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The immigration crisis is in Washington DC, not on the border

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Unauthorized border crossings are at a historic low, and have been decreasing for at least a decade. Crime in border cities is falling, as is crime across the United States. El Paso’s Republican mayor says Trump is wrong: his city is safe, and claims of a border security crisis are “just hyperbole that is misplaced.” FBI crime statistics back him up. The mayors of Brownsville, Texas and Nogales, Arizona also insist that there is no crime wave and no immigration crisis in their border cities. Continue reading

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Abolish ICE?

h2wZc3+eQvSWASfJjyGxFQ[Correction 7/3/18**] The Abolish ICE movement is growing, with more organizations and politicians taking stands for and against it.  Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced a bill to abolish ICE and set up a commission to figure out what to do to replace it. Other early supporters of the legislation include Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR),  and Jim McGovern (D-MA). Jayapal explained to The Intercept:

“The argument to shut ICE down revolves around its cultural ecology. The agency has become corrupted with a military mentality that doesn’t respect civilian oversight and has little effective oversight. Once an institution’s culture has metastasized, reforming it can become impossible, with the only solution to abolish it and disperse its various authorities elsewhere.”

Some Democrats are not signing on: Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) are among those saying they don’t support abolishing ICE because some enforcement agency is needed. Politicians and activists in the Abolish ICE movement may not have exactly the same aims in mind: Pocan’s bill calls for a study commission and redistribution of ICE enforcement responsibilities, while Mijente wants an end to deportations. Trump says he hopes Democrats will continue to focus on the issue as he believes it will get Democrats beaten in mid-term elections.

In Los Angeles, ICE agents say, “Even the cops don’t like us anymore because they’re listening to the news also.Continue reading

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This is what resistance looks like

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Hundreds of thousands of people across the United States protested punitive immigration policies on Saturday, June 30. From tens of thousands in New York and Chicago, to dozens in Albert Lea and hundreds more in other Greater Minnesota communities, people turned out to say no to family separation, no to the travel ban, no to turning away asylum applicants, no to everything about Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-immigration policies, and to demand the abolition of ICE. 

In Minneapolis, downtown streets filled with more than 7,000 protesters, stopping downtown traffic and light rail trains for hours as they marched from the Minneapolis Convention Center to the Hennepin County Jail and back again. The crowd was so large that most could not even hear the speakers, who included nine-year-old Miranda describing her own fear of separation from her undocumented parents and her dream of a United States where her whole family could live without fear.

The latest developments in Washington include the Trump administration’s plan to jail all family members together for months on end, ignoring court-ordered limits on detention of children.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans new restrictions on asylum seekers. While the text of proposed new regulations has not yet been finalized, leaked documents reveal plans to bar all asylum applications from

  • Anyone who has crossed the border without authorization;
  • Anyone who has crossed through two countries or has spent more than two weeks in one country on their way to the United States;
  • Anyone making a claim based on domestic violence or gang violence.

If enacted, that regulation would bar almost all Central Americans, and would violate U.S. asylum law and international human rights standards.

People keep coming, driven by fear and violence. More than 1,000 waited in Tijuana, trying to request asylum at the official U.S. border checkpoint, only to be turned back by U.S. officials insisting that there was no room for them.  The New Yorker tells the story of Mabel Gonzalez, separated from her sons and imprisoned eight months ago when they crossed the border and approached the Border Patrol to ask for asylum. A pastor in Honduras, she has continued to help other women while in immigration detention, telling their stories, connecting them with outside agencies, and consoling them as they, too, endure separation from their children. Last month, she testified to the dangers she faces back in Honduras. “The judge looked me in the eye and said he understood the situation I was in,” Gonzales told me. “But he said that the law didn’t leave him with anything he could do to help me.” 

Stories of children separated from their parents continue. Immigration authorities move ahead with fast-tracking deportation for parents, while their children are placed with relatives or in foster homes and detention centers across the country. Sometimes parents are told that they need to consent to deportation in order to be reunited with their children—and are then deported without their children anyway. Recent stories include:

 

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