What You Can Do

img_2522-e1561851352966.jpgThis is not a comprehensive list, because a comprehensive list would be book-length. This is a start, a list of seven simple steps you can take today and tomorrow and next week, and then do over again and again until we end the madness of locking up children without soap or toothbrushes and making them sleep on concrete floors under bright lights, of cramming adults into cells so tightly that they cannot sit or lie down, of using solitary confinement as a punishment for being gay or lesbian or trans or disabled or just asking to see a doctor, of sending asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait for months for a hearing, when that means sending them back to criminal violence, to shelters with no room, to no contact with attorneys, Continue reading

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What’ s Wrong With More Money for Border?

Screen Shot 2019-06-14 at 8.37.27 AM

Figure 1: Overcrowding of Adult Females in PDT Holding Cell Observed by OIG on May 8, 2019

Yesterday, the House caved in and passed the Republican Senate version of “supplemental emergency” funding for the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and the U.S. military to use in border enforcement. The bill’s backers said it was necessary to meet humanitarian needs at the border. That’s a perversion of the term “humanitarian.”

The main problems with the bill:

  1. It imposes no new safeguards on a clearly abusive system that has left adult detainees crammed into cells so tightly that they cannot sit or lie down and has deprived children of soap, water, food, and medical care.
  2. The money appropriated can be used to build new detention facilities, or to contract with private prisons to lock up more desperate. asylum seekers.
  3. The bill provides massive additional funding for enforcement, giving money to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and to CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and to the U.S. military for operations on the border. This is money to chase and detain and deport—not for humanitarian aid.  Continue reading
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St. Cloud, Somali Refugees, Border Patrol Two-Step, and What You Can Do

Refugees welcome

After last week’s New York Times article, the St. Cloud Times fired back with an eloquent editorial and call to action. The Star Tribune chimed in with an explanation of how Somali refugees came to Minnesota. On the national scene, the  Border Patrol moved around children and directors on Tuesday. If you were horrified by the reports of detention conditions for children, get in line—and learn how you can help.

Spotlight on St. Cloud

Last week, the New York Times featured St. Cloud racists in a long article that also included comments from Center for the American Experiment vice president and general counsel Kim Crockett about  how “visible” refugees are because “They aren’t coming from Norway.”

The St. Cloud Times published an extremely strong and well-written editorial:

“St. Cloud, we have a problem. And it’s costing us dearly in respect, dignity and treasure.

“Our problem is not refugees….

“Our real problem is that there are too many cowards in our midst.

“Cowards who blanch at the idea of Somalis “just walking around” on a public trail….

“Cowards who are too afraid to shop, dine or relax in contrived “no-go zones” also used by people “not from Norway” who like to shop, dine and relax….

“America is struggling with its original sin — racism — more openly now than it has in decades. St. Cloud just became a poster child for the wrong side. Again.  

“That is because of the un-American cowardice of the minority who hide their deep-seated insecurities behind the bravado of false patriotism — a milquetoast patriotism that venerates the flag and Lee Greenwood songs over the bedrock principle of America: All men are created equal.

“Prove your courage. Speak up.”

The Center for the American Experiment suspended Crockett for 30 days and she said her quotes did not represent what she thought. An interesting position, to say the least.

Border Patrol Two-Step

The Border Patrol started by transferring 300 children out of the miserable detention center in Clint, Texas, where lawyers reported children being told to care for babies, and denial of adequate food, toothbrushes, soap, and showers. But then, in a neat little two-step move, the Border Patrol brought 100 of the children back. Lawyers and advocates said that the detention centers to which the children were moved were also overcrowded and lacking in basic necessities.

“The lawyers’ accounts prompted a significant public backlash, after which all but 30 of the roughly 300 children who were being housed in Clint were transferred elsewhere. Some 249 were placed in a shelter network for children run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, while others were moved to a tent facility in El Paso run by Customs and Border Protection.

“But on Tuesday, the C.B.P. official said that those moves had alleviated overcrowding in Clint, and allowed for the return of more than 100 children there. The spokesman said that no additional resources had been provided to the children who were sent back.”

That wasn’t the only significant move by the Border Patrol: the acting chief, John Sanders, resigned on Tuesday.

“Chaos intensified on Tuesday inside the agency responsible for securing the nation’s borders as a top official was replaced by an immigration hard-liner and former Fox News contributor who last week pushed for nationwide deportations.

“Mark Morgan, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director who pushed for raids to deport undocumented families, will lead Customs and Border Protection, administration officials said Tuesday.”

What You Can Do Right Now to Help Immigrant Families

Want to help the kids? A lot of people have offered everything from teddy bears to homes, but the Border Patrol is turning away donations and offers of help:

“A slew of other sympathetic people, advocacy groups and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have expressed a desire to lend a hand to the kids housed in the facilities. But after purchasing items like toys, soap, toothbrushes, diapers and medicine — especially as news reports circulate of facilities having drinking water that tastes like bleach and sick children without enough clothing — they’ve been met with a common message: No donations are being accepted.

“It makes me feel powerless knowing there’s children taking care of toddlers and little kids,” said Gabriel Acuña, who grew up in Clint and attempted to visit the facility in his hometown Sunday morning. “Knowing what’s happening in your community and that you can’t give these kids supplies to clean or clothe themselves — it’s heartbreaking.

“For God’s sake, they’re kids, man.”

You can help: the best way is by getting the kids out of detention. For those with parents in the United States, that may mean raising funds to bond their parents out of immigration detention. In Minnesota, that means the MInnesota Freedom Fund.

For other kinds of help, see the great list of humanitarian organizations helping families on the border compiled by the Texas Tribune.

Other how-to-help pages:

And if you want to show your anger about the injustices, you don’t  have to go as far as the religious leaders who shut down the Milwaukee ICE office. Instead, you could  join others in a protest at Lake and Nicollet on Sunday, June 30.

And in other news

The House passed the “emergency supplemental”  appropriations bill sending more money to ICE and the Border Patrol and other immigration-related agencies by a 230-195 vote. The only Democrats voting against the bill were Representatives Ocasio, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib, who oppose any additional funding for immigration agencies.. Republicans and the White House back the Senate version of the emergency supplemental appropriation.

“The backdrop for the vote is not only the humanitarian concerns about the surging numbers of migrants but also Trump’s threats — delayed but not canceled Saturday — to begin a mass deportation of illegal immigrant families. Democratic lawmakers has expressed concerns about passing a border aid bill that would not address both of those issues.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) unveiled changesto the bill Tuesday morning that would require CBP to establish new health and safety standards for migrants in its custody, as well as protocols for dealing with migrant surges, within 30 days. The changes would also limit children’s stays at “influx shelters” used by the Department of Health and Human Services to no more than 90 days and require the department to report to Congress on their use.

“Additional changes Lowey unveiled Tuesday afternoon would bar HHS shelter contractors who do not provide adequate accommodations, food and personal items, such as toothbrushes, as well as routine medical care, schooling, leisure activities, and other basic services.”


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Children on the Border: “A Chaotic Scene of Sickness and Filth”


If your stomach still churning from the past week’s roller coaster deportation drama, @Jonathan Blitzer tweeted a quick timeline to bring you up to date (below). An even bigger drama is unfolding on  the border, as a few lawyers and advocates report from overcrowded, filthy camps crammed with migrant children: camps so unsanitary that armed border guards wear face masks to protect their own health. In a Ninth Circuit federal court hearing, a Justice Department lawyer argued that detained children do not need toothbrushes or soap. Republicans say that Congress should give more money to DHS and HHS and then  the camp conditions will improve. Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib say that giving more money to the people running the camps is  no solution at all.

Concentration Camps on the Border

The Department of Homeland Security’s own Inspector General reported earlier this month on the horrific conditions for adult detainees, including spoiled food, mold, unsanitary conditions, and crowding so severe that cells were described as “standing room only,” with some detainees standing on toilet seats because there was no other space. Now a team of lawyers and law professors who visited children’s detention facilities is speaking out on their findings. HuffPost reports:

“The children, all under age 3 with teenage mothers or guardians, were feverish, coughing, vomiting and had diarrhea, immigration attorneys told HuffPost on Friday. Some of the toddlers and infants were refusing to eat or drink. One 2-year-old’s eyes were rolled back in her head, and she was “completely unresponsive” and limp, according to Toby Gialluca, a Florida-based attorney….

“It’s intentional disregard for the well-being of children,” Gialluca said. “The guards continue to dehumanize these people and treat them worse than we would treat animals.”

The New York Times reported:

“A chaotic scene of sickness and filth is unfolding in an overcrowded border station in Clint, Tex., where hundreds of young people who have recently crossed the border are being held, according to lawyers who visited the facility this week. Some of the children have been there for nearly a month.

“Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met, the lawyers said. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.

“Most of the young detainees have not been able to shower or wash their clothes since they arrived at the facility, those who visited said. They have no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap….

“The reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at Clint and elsewhere came days after government lawyers in court argued that they should not have to provide soap or toothbrushes to children …

“Ms. Mukherjee said children were being overseen by guards for Customs and Border Protection, which declined to comment for this story. She and her colleagues observed the guards wearing full uniforms — including weapons — as well as face masks to protect themselves from the unsanitary conditions.”

And in the New  Yorker:

“Children described to us that they’ve been there for three weeks or longer. And so, immediately from that population that we were trying to triage, they were filthy dirty, there was mucus on their shirts, the shirts were dirty. We saw breast milk on the shirts. There was food on the shirts, and the pants as well. They told us that they were hungry. They told us that some of them had not showered or had not showered until the day or two days before we arrived. Many of them described that they only brushed their teeth once. This facility knew last week that we were coming. The government knew three weeks ago that we were coming….

“This is important. So, on Wednesday, we received reports from children of a lice outbreak in one of the cells where there were about twenty-five children, and what they told us is that six of the children were found to have lice. And so they were given a lice shampoo, and the other children were given two combs and told to share those two combs, two lice combs, and brush their hair with the same combs, which is something you never do with a lice outbreak. And then what happened was one of the combs was lost, and Border Patrol agents got so mad that they took away the children’s blankets and mats. They weren’t allowed to sleep on the beds, and they had to sleep on the floor on Wednesday night as punishment for losing the comb. So you had a whole cell full of kids who had beds and mats at one point, not for everybody but for most of them, who were forced to sleep on the cement….

Deportation Drama

Here’s a short summary from @Jonathan Blitzer:

“For those scoring at home, here’s the plot arc of the ICE enforcement operation slated to start this weekend: (i) The President preempts the operation by announcing on Twitter that there will be one, thereby surprising ICE officials & forcing them to scramble. 1/

“(ii) hasty preparations are made & ICE officers are annoyed & frustrated that Trump has exposed them. Some voice concerns abtt their own safety in carrying out the operation given how Trump has made their plans public. 2/

“Others worry that the more targeted operation they’re trying to plan will fall short of Trump’s announcement that “millions” will be arrested. (iii) The Admin calls off the operation because of all the chaos and uncertainty. 3/

“(iv) Then, members of Trump Admin insinuate that the head of DHS leaked details of impending raids to the press in order to hobble their execution, even though the WH actively kept him out of the loop on its preparations and messaging around them. (v) Prez blames the Dems. end/”

Emergency Supplemental Appropriation

Democratic leadership in the Senate has agreed  to sign off on $4.5 billion in “emergency supplemental” funding for the Department of Homeland Security and  Health and Human Services. They seem convinced by the argument that more money for more detention beds will help the children and families now suffering inhumane detention. The bill may come to the Senate floor this week. Will other Senate Democrats fall in line and support the leadership?

Even if they do, the bill faces a less-receptive House of Representatives. Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib issued a press release urging a vote against the emergency border supplemental bill or any other funding for ICE and CBP::

“It is absolutely unconscionable to even consider giving one more dollar to support this President’s deportation force that openly commits human rights abuses and refuses to be held accountable to the American people.

“That is why in good conscience, we cannot support this supplemental funding bill, which gives even more money to ICE and CBP and continues to support a fundamentally cruel and broken immigration system.”

The Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the “shelters,” said that it is running out of money and “will no longer fund English classes, art supplies, soccer coaches and other nonessential services for children in custody.”

So here’s the question: is it  better to vote for more money, in order to relieve overcrowding and provide funding  to care for detainees? Or is it better to deny increased funding, demanding that ICE and CBP quickly process and release people on bond? 

One of the oversight team of attorneys visiting the child detention center in Clint, Texas said money isn’t the problem:

“Gialluca says border officials shouldn’t need more resources to treat immigrants like human beings.

“Money isn’t keeping guards from allowing people to access toilets,” she said. “Money isn’t causing guards to take clothing and medicine away from children.”


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Racists, Refugees, and Following the Money


June 20 was World Refugee Day, so the New York Times showed Minnesota’s worst side, with a long article spotlighting the most racist, anti-refugee voices in the state. Minnesota looks much better in stories of two Minnesota refugee stories, and in a story of immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs in Austin, Winona, and Owatonna. Meanwhile, Trump administration plans to bar asylum seekers and to deport families continue, and Senate Democrats may be caving in and voting more money for enforcement and detention. Continue reading

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Terror by Tweet and Other Breaking Immigration News

Cruelty Is Not a Family Value

From photo by Fibonacci Blue, published under Creative Commons license.

As the president’s tweets threaten unauthorized immigrants inside the United States, a new report says that the death toll for migrants trying to enter the United States is up 50 percent over last year, with at least 380 Latin American migrants dying en route so far this year.  More are likely to die in border cities  as they are forced back into Mexico in what Human Rights First  is calling the Migrant Persecution Protocols. The administration has implemented cuts to foreign aid for Central American countries, which will only make the situation of people in those countries more desperate.

On Monday night, Trump tweeted that ICE will begin arresting and deporting “millions” of unauthorized immigrants. Two-thirds of the unauthorized immigrants in the United States have lived here for more than a decade, so the latest Trumpian terror tweet threatens them with the loss of homes, jobs, and U.S. citizen children. The threat, however, may not be real: Continue reading

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Minnesota Immigration News: Dinner Parties to Detainees

All are welcome here 1

As the International Institute in St. Paul celebrates its 100th anniversary, Executive Director Gane Graupman told the Midway Monitor:  “Where people come from has changed over the years, but their desire for opportunity, education, jobs, freedom, and safety have not changed. We remain committed to our original mission of helping immigrants and refugees achieve full membership in American life.”

From Moorhead to Minneapolis to Kurdistan to Norway: this week’s Minnesota immigration news comes from communities all over the state and from immigrants who have come from all around the world. Continue reading

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