Monday, December 31, 2018

Under Trump: ICE Becomes a Deportation Force

December 30, 2018 5:07 pm TPM.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The officers suit up in the pre-dawn darkness, wrapping on body armor, snapping in guns, pulling on black sweat shirts that read POLICE and ICE.
They gather around a conference table in an ordinary office in a nondescript office park in the suburbs, going over their targets for the day: two men, both with criminal histories. Top of the list is a man from El Salvador convicted of drunken driving.

U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement’s enforcement and removal operations, like the five-person field office team outside Richmond, hunt people in the U.S. illegally, some of whom have been here for decades, working and raising families. Carrying out President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies has exposed ICE to unprecedented public scrutiny and criticism, even though officers say they’re doing largely the same job they did before the election — prioritizing criminals.

But they have also stepped up arrests of people who have no U.S. criminal records. It is those stories of ICE officers arresting dads and grandmothers that pepper local news. Officers are heckled and videotaped. Some Democratic politicians have called for ICE to be abolished.

ICE employees have been threatened at their homes, their personal data exposed online, officials said.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Immigration Policy

The Hill.

The midterm elections are over and the new year is upon us. As new members get sworn in, the 116th Congress will be split with a House Democratic majority and a Senate Republican majority.

Despite the partial shutdown, a divided Congress can bring bipartisan opportunities to legislate towards modernizing our outdated immigration system. At the same time, the new House Democratic majority must also investigate President Trump’s erratic immigration policies.

Until now, only the federal courts that have remained resolute in their constitutional obligation to restrain the president’s arbitrary actions including dismissing the Justice Department policies that made it harder for immigrants to claim asylum because of domestic violence or gang violence.

It’s time for Congress to step up and work on meaningful immigration legislation. One of the first opportunities of this will be the DREAM Act.

Of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, more than 1 million are Dreamers or undocumented young people who were brought to the U.S. as children.

In 2012, then-President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to temporarily protect Dreamers from deportation. Trump terminated the program five years later. Fortunately, federal courts have blocked the White House from fully ending the immigration protection.

Congress still needs to find a permanent solution for the Dreamers, however. The DREAM Act has been introduced countless times over the past two decades with overwhelming bipartisan support. Giving Dreamers a path to citizenship — through education or military service — will allow these young people to transition out of DACA and out of the shadows to fully contribute to their communities.

Another opportunity for bipartisan support is to pass legislation that will bring more resources to clear bureaucratic red-tape and reduce the average processing time for green card applicants and permanent residents applying for naturalization.

Among a recent change causing delays is the expansion of in-person interviews to all employment-based applicants who are filing for green cards. Interviews for employment-based green cards were largely waived unless there were major issues, like criminal arrests, that needed to be reviewed in person.

Because the small number of immigrations officers will now have to schedule thousands of extra interviews, this delays processing times for other types of cases.

In fact, more than 700,000 immigrants are waiting on applications to become citizens, a process that once took about six months but has stretched to more than two years in some places under the Trump administration.

Another congressional opportunity will be to demilitarize immigration enforcement. While the president is the commander-in-chief, Congress ultimately has the power to declare war and defund the president’s military actions, especially when there is no immediate threat to our nation.

Bipartisan efforts continue to grow against Trump’s decision to deploy thousands of soldiers to the border to intercept asylum seekers from Central America. The military deployment has been deemed wasteful and unnecessary even in the eyes of military officials. The total price of the military deployment could reach $200 million.

Despite international outcry over the travel ban of people from majority-Muslim countries or the separation of children from their parents at the border, Republican-led committees held zero oversight hearings.

Trump hid behind a national security veil as an excuse to enact policies that have resulted in the violation of U.S. and international laws

Friday, December 28, 2018

Another Child Death on the Border

Felipe Gomez Alonzo
HOUSTON — The Latest on the death of an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala who U.S. officials say has died in government custody (all times local):
5:50 p.m.
The father of the 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died in U.S. government custody says his son had shown no signs of illness before falling sick Monday, the same day he died.
That's according to Oscar Padilla, the Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, who met Wednesday with Agustin Gomez, the father of Felipe Gomez Alonzo. Guatemalan officials have identified Felipe as the child who died on Christmas Eve.
Padilla says Agustin Gomez told him Felipe wasn't sick when they were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border on Dec. 18 or in the five days to follow. Felipe was hospitalized Monday after a border agent noticed he was coughing. He was released from the hospital Monday afternoon, but taken back that night.
Gomez told the consul that he carried Felipe in his arms as they were taken to the hospital for the second and last time.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Facing the Border Wall

Two thousand years ago, a young mother and father fled for their lives and left everything behind for the safety of their child. Their names were Mary and Joseph.
I can’t help but think what would happen to this migrant family and their brown-skinned baby at our southern border today. This child, Jesus, would likely be torn from his mother’s arms.
These thoughts passed through my mind as I knelt, praying, at Tijuana Beach, near the border fence that separates Mexico from the United States. Migrant families could see us from the other side; I could see their eyes. “I’m here with you,” I thought, as I looked through the gaps in the fence. “There are people in this country who deeply, deeply care for you, and who are willing to put our bodies on the line to say this is not right.”
Moments later, I was arrested. Border agents in body armor and helmets zip-tied my wrists and took me away.
I was one of the faith leaders from many denominations who answered a call from the American Friends Service Committee to gather at the border as the culmination of a week of action, “Love Knows No Borders: A Moral Call for Migrant Justice.” 
We came together, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, to offer “prophetic moral witness,” something all of our faith traditions invite us to share. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Trump Imposes new asylum procedure

Rini Tempelton
   The Trump administration announced a new migration policy Thursday that will require asylum seekers who cross the Mexican border illegally to return to Mexico while their cases are decided.
The United States has been trying for months to get Mexico’s leaders to agree to house those migrants, and on Thursday Mexico’s new government reluctantly agreed.  ( agreed?) 

“This deal is a stark violation of international law, flies in the face of U.S. laws passed by Congress, and is a callous response to the families and individuals running for their lives,” said Margaret Huang, the executive director of Amnesty International.

The program is almost certain to be challenged in the United States courts by human rights groups and advocates

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Roberto Velasco, said the move did not represent an agreement between the two countries, but rather “a unilateral move by the United States that we have to respond to.”
The American secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen M. Nielsen, said the move would prevent people from using the asylum process as a way of slipping into the United States and remaining in the country illegally.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Who Killed Jakelin(Call) Maquin ? The Border Patrol

U.S. To Support Investment in Central America- Sort of

U.S., supporting Mexico’s plan, will invest $5.8 billion in Central America. NYT: “The United States, joining an effort by Mexico, will commit to investing billions in Central America in hopes of ending the poverty, violence and drug-trafficking that are driving thousands of people in the region to undertake the difficult trek to the United States, the State Department announced on Tuesday. Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, introduced what he called a ‘Marshall Plan’ last week to address the root causes of Central American migration: a $30 billion initiative to invest in the region and welcome migrants into Mexico with visas, health care and employment. On Tuesday, the Trump administration signaled its support for the plan, saying it was committing $5.8 billion in private and public investments in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Much of that amount, however, was previously committed or contingent on the identification of ‘commercially viable projects.’ The promise comes amid tensions between the administration and Mexico over a caravan of migrants traveling from Central America, with President Trump pushing Mexico to allow those seeking asylum in the United States to remain in Mexico while they wait. The United States ‘welcomes the historic commitment by the government of Mexico to development in southern Mexico and to promote our shared goals with the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,’ the State Department said in a statement.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

International Migrants" Day

Join the Migrants' Day 'Tweet Storm' Today

Today, December 18, is International Migrants' Day --  a day when worldwide we recognize and celebrate the role and contributions of migrants in our communities and countries -- and mourn the loss of of those whose often desperate journeys have taken their lives. The UN theme for today is "Migration with Dignity".
Please join us on International Migrants' Day in calling for justice and dignity for ALL migrants in the U.S. and globally. 
Appropriately today, communities across this country are rallying in support of asylum seekers, organizing solidarity trips to the border, calling for an end to border militarization funding, for an end to detention, and to provide protection for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holders who may face deportation this year. (Click here for organizational sign-on to letter to Congress for TPS holders. Deadline 8 pm Eastern today)
Shout out against racism and xenophobia on social media, in community activities and actions. Let's lift up our demands for an end to immigrant detentions and deportations, and for a halt and rollback of border militarization.

Share your messages, photos and activities for migrant rights and justice throughout the day on both Twitter and Facebook with these tags:

Let's storm social media with our call for rights and justice!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Truth Act Forum and ICE

Truth Act Forum - Board of Supervisors Special Meeting Monday, 12/17 9:30 a.m. 700 H Street

Dear folks, this is a critical forum in which we need your support and attendance and willingness to provide a public comment.  Please share widely with all your networks. See attached flyer.  Thanks for your support

Join us in a show of solidarity to support transparency and accountability.   

What is the TRUTH Act Community Forum? 
The TRUTH ACT requires the local governing body of any county or city in which local law enforcement has provided federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) access to an individual during the previous year to hold a community forum to provide information to the public about ICE’s access to individuals and to receive and consider public comment. 

Here in Sacramento County, immigrants are a vital part of our families and communities.
  • We need to recognize the humanity of every person who calls our county home, no matter their background, what they look like, or where they were born. Immigrants are our friends, our neighbors, and us.
  • Nearly one in five residents of Sacramento County is an immigrant and are deeply rooted in our neighborhoods and communities.
  • We know that true victory and liberation of our community is unattainable until there is an end to mass incarceration — an end to the profiteering of communities of color.
If we uphold our values, we’ll move Sacramento County forward.
  • With relentless attacks on immigrant communities coming from Washington, we need to stand for compassion and shared humanity, and stand up against Sheriff Jones’s adoption of the Trump administration’s aggressive anti-immigrant agenda.
  • We will continue to stand by our values of shared humanity, equality, fairness, and justice to fight for a more compassionate Sacramento County.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Young Girl from Guatemala Dies in ICE Custody

7-Year-Old Migrant Girl Dies From Neglect In ICE Custody

Jakeline Maquin  NBC News

A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who crossed the southern border into the United States illegally earlier this month died of dehydration and shock after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in New Mexico.
The girl and her father were part of a group of 163 people who surrendered to Border Patrol officers on the night of Dec. 6, south of Lordsburg, N.M., according to The Washington Post, which first reported the story.
She was identified on Friday as Jakelin Caal Maquin, in a statement by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan. 
7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion. WaPo:“A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday. The child’s death is likely to intensify scrutiny of detention conditions at Border Patrol stations and CBP facilities that are increasingly overwhelmed by large numbers of families seeking asylum in the United States. According to CBP records, the girl and her father were taken into custody about 10 p.m. Dec. 6 south of Lordsburg, N.M., as part of a group of 163 people who approached U.S. agents to turn themselves in. More than eight hours later, the child began having seizures at 6:25 a.m., CBP records show. Emergency responders, who arrived soon after, measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees, and according to a statement from CBP, she ‘reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.'”

Monday, December 10, 2018

Faith Leaders Insist Migrants Have a Right to Refuge

Dec.10, 2018
Faith Leaders at the border Monday.

Faith leaders to U.S. authorities: Migrants have international right to U.S. asylum. NBC: “Over 200 religious leaders and advocates gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border on Human Rights Day to send a message to the Trump administration, arguing that migrants stalled in Mexico who have not been allowed to enter the U.S. have a right under international law to seek asylum. AFSC brought faith leaders from different religious denominations together for a press conference at the Border Field State Park in San Diego on Monday to call on the U.S. to respect people’s human right to migrate, end the militarization of border communities and end the detention and deportation of immigrants. Once the conference ended, the hundreds of people gathered at the park started a procession towards the San Diego-Tijuana border in solidarity with the thousands of migrants who are living in crowded tent cities and shelters after having traveled more than 2,000 miles towards the U.S.-Mexico border in a caravan that started in Central America. ‘We can do better. Our sacred texts tell us to tear down walls, to welcome the immigrant and to treat everyone as if they are God’s children,’ said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis as she walked in the procession, holding a sign that read ‘El Amor No Conoce Fronteras,’ Spanish for love knows no borders.”

Lopez Obrador's Plans to Lead Mexico out of Neoliberalism

The Global Left

Progressive International from MEANS OF PRODUCTION on Vimeo.


Mexico Elects a New President.

Among the first acts of the new government was the signing of an “Integral Development Plan” with the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, many of whose citizens have joined the continued exodus through Mexico toward the United States. Although few details are known, the agreement includes development measures for the three countries to reduce forced migration. The leaders signed the pact without the U.S. government—a departure from the Washington-led initiatives that in part have caused the exodus.  

Amlo promised the migrants alimientacion y medical treatment.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Why the Central America Caravan ?

Sunday, Dec 9, 12:30pm, Central American Refugee Caravan: How do we ensure a moral and lawful response? Dr. Duane Campbell and Cori Ring-Martinez provide caravan updates and background on the root causes of the refugee crisis, followed by discussion of our individual, collective, and national responsibility to asylum seekers based on human rights and international law. Refreshments. First United Methodist Church, 2100 J St. Sacramento. FMI: 916-225-8511

Dec 6th Day of Action- Sacramento

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Central American Refugee Caravan- How you can help

Sunday, Dec 9, 12:30pm, Central American Refugee Caravan: How do we ensure a moral and lawful response? Dr. Duane Campbell and Cori Ring-Martinez provide caravan updates and background on the root causes of the refugee crisis, followed by discussion of our individual, collective, and national responsibility to asylum seekers based on human rights and international law. Refreshments. First United Methodist Church, 2100 J St. Sacramento. FMI: 916-225-8511

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Autoridades mexicanas reubican a cientos de migrantes centroamericanos e...

AMLO Becomes President of Mexico

AMLO Becomes President of Mexico
Ciudad de México. En la primera acción del gobierno de Andrés Manuel López Obrador, en política interna, la Secretaría de Gobernación anunció un programa intersecretarial para proteger a los integrantes de la caravana migrante que se encuentran en la frontera norte del país.
El plan emergente será operado con instancias de los tres niveles de gobierno; consiste en la revisión de albergues y en el reforzamiento de las medidas de seguridad, en torno a los centroamericanos, mediante un operativo coordinado con elementos de protección ciudadana del gobierno federal, así como elementos estatales, de Baja California, además de los locales, del municipio de Tijuana.
Estas acciones serán encabezado por David León, coordinador nacional de Protección Civil; el comisionado Nacional de Migración, Tonatiuh Guillén, y el titular de la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (Comar), Andrés Ramírez, quienes se reunieron la noche del viernes en Gobernación con el gobernador de Baja California, Francisco Vega de Lamadrid.
En la reunión de trabajo para definir los pormenores del plan emergente participaron los subsecretarios Zoé Robledo (Gobierno) y Alejandro Encinas (Derechos Humanos, Migración y Población).
Los albergues serán revisados, en especial los ubicados en Tijuana, "a fin de que se determine si son suficientes, además de que se pueden dotar de los insumos básicos necesarios para su buen funcionamiento y que los integrantes de la caravana migrante tengan un lugar digno donde alojarse, entre otras acciones a ejecutarse", dijo Gobernación en el comunicado número 2 de esta adminstración.

Met with the leaders of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala to plan a way to work together to develop the region and reduce migration. 
What Mexico has offered is:

In Mexico, the government of President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has signaled it will hold Central American migrants on Mexican soil while they wait to hear whether their applications for political asylum are granted by the U.S. Mexico’s incoming foreign minister said Tuesday the Trump administration should, in return, pay at least $20 billion for a Marshall Plan-style program aimed at developing the economies of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. It’s not clear what services Mexico would provide migrants hoping to win U.S. asylum. At the crossing between Tijuana and San Diego, U.S. officials are processing only about a hundred claims per day, even as thousands of migrants are living in squalid, open-air camps near the border while they await their turn to apply for asylum. CBP says the migrants may have to wait up to six weeks to have their appeals heard.
For comparison. 
In 2017 the U.S. gave Honduras 750 million for military aid and 67 million for humanitarian and development assistance.
Less for El Salvador. 

Monday, December 03, 2018

The (Re)emergence of Nativist Mobilization along the U.S.-Mexico Border

By Matthew Ward

With much of the national media attention directed at the Trump administration’s (1) increasingly restrictionist policy measures, such as: the travel ban from predominately Muslim countries, family separation, and the potential denial of birthright citizenship, (2) it’s xenophobic and racist campaign advertisements, and (3) it’s punitive use of ICE, which recently set records in both deportations and detainments (see here), one might be forgiven for overlooking the relatively quiet resurgence of grassroots nativist mobilization occurring along the U.S.-Mexico border. Since Trump’s election, national news outlets like the Washington Post (see article here) and local outlets like the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson (see article here) have documented the return of armed citizen patrol groups to the U.S.-Mexico border. Proximately spurred by the Trump administration’s portrayal of migrant caravans as an invasion, citizen patrol groups feel a renewed sense of urgency and purpose.
But nativist mobilization along the U.S.-Mexico border is nothing new. Vigilante and state-sanctioned groups have roamed the borderlands since at least the mid-1800s (Spener 2009). And few would be surprised to hear that members of the Ku Klux Klan had an official, ‘Klan Border Watch Program’ in the 70s and 80s. During the mid-90s, under the U.S. government’s new ‘prevention through deterrence’ strategy (Andreas 2009), growing numbers of U.S. residents began taking up patrol efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border (Doty 2009). From the mid-90s through the early 2010’s, numerous grassroots patrol organizations—such as The Border Solution Task Force, U.S. Citizen Patrol, Voices of Citizens Together, American Border Patrol, Ranch Rescue, and Civil Homeland Defense—took to the border. Among the most well-funded, media savvy, and influential of these organizations were (the still active) Minuteman Project (website here) and (the now defunct) Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (old website here). During the early 2000s, these minuteman border patrol organizations garnered national attention by bringing hundreds of volunteers to the U.S.-Mexico border to observe and report unauthorized immigrants crossing through the desert. However, in some cases, minutemen volunteers engaged in detainment and even outright murder. These organizations’ goals were multi-faceted but largely revolved around raising awareness among the public and policy-makers about the growing threat of unauthorized immigration. Of course, they also wanted to send a powerful message directly to migrants—continue to break the law and you will be met with force!
The movement would eventually expand beyond the border states of California, Texas, and Arizona. According to data collected by the Southern Poverty Law Center, by 2009 grassroots nativist organizations totaled over 300 and could be found in most states (Beirich 2010). Much of the growth during this period centered on interior enforcement measures targeting migrants where they worked as well as their employers. After losing the battle over HR 4437 (the ‘Sensenbrenner Bill’), which among other things would have criminalized violations of federal immigration law and placed the onus of immigration enforcement on state and local authorities, the movement shifted its focus to reshaping local and state immigration policies. This change in strategy proved quite successful in that the nativist agenda was largely normalized across the country as various local governments considered or passed restrictive ordinances (e.g., Arizona’s SB 1070).

Sunday, December 02, 2018

He’s Built an Empire, With Detained Migrant Children as the Bricks

The founder of Southwest Key made millions from housing migrant children. His nonprofit has stockpiled taxpayer dollars and possibly engaged in self-dealing with top executives.By Kim BarkerNicholas Kulish and Rebecca R. Ruiz
·      Dec. 2, 2018
Juan Sanchez grew up along the Mexican border in a two-bedroom house so crowded with children that he didn’t have a bed. But he fought his way to another life. He earned three degrees, including a doctorate in education from Harvard, before starting a nonprofit in his Texas hometown.
Mr. Sanchez has built an empire on the back of a crisis. His organization, Southwest Key Programs, now houses more migrant children than any other in the nation. Casting himself as a social-justice warrior, he calls himself El Presidente, a title inscribed outside his office and on the government contracts that helped make him rich.
Juan Sanchez earned $1.5 million last year as Southwest Key’s chief executive.CreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Southwest Key has collected $1.7 billion in federal grants in the past decade, including $626 million in the past year alone. But as it has grown, tripling its revenue in three years, the organization has left a record of sloppy management and possible financial improprieties, according to dozens of interviews and an examination of documents. It has stockpiled tens of millions of taxpayer dollars with little government oversight and possibly engaged in self-dealing with top executives.
Showing the ambition that brought him from the barrio to the Ivy League, Mr. Sanchez seized the chance to expand his nonprofit when thousands more unaccompanied children began crossing the border during the Obama era. When the Trump administration needed to house migrant children it had separated from their parents, Mr. Sanchez took them in.
As immigration intensifies as a flash point of the Trump presidency, with tear gas being fired at a migrant caravan and the price tag for separating families continuing to rise, Mr. Sanchez is central to the administration’s plans. Southwest Key can now house up to 5,000 children in its 24 shelters, including a converted Walmart Supercenter that has drawn criticism as a warehouse for youths. The system is nearing a breaking point, with a record 14,000 minors at about 100 sites — a human crisis, but also a moneymaking opportunity.
Read the entire story.