Daily Dispatch 1/18/19

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Daily Dispatch

January 18, 2019

After Speaker Pelosi disinvited ‘Individual 1’ from giving the State of the Union address, the latter sent a letter revealing plans for Pelosi and a small delegation of lawmakers to visit troops in Egypt and Afghanistan, telling them they should fly commercial because he won’t let them use government aircraft until he gets his wall – ‘wittingly or unwittingly’ revealing commercial travel plans already in place and thus putting the safety of the congressional delegation at risk.

So, the state of our union remains…

Situation Normal: All Shut Down

Still, the Department of Justice is seeking to fill multiple AUSA positions in the Southern District of Texas (Brownsville and McAllen offices) “in support of border wall civil litigation” – aka eminent domain claims on private land needed to build the border wall.

And ‘Individual 1’ is tweeting about prayer rugs at the border:

Meanwhile, yesterday saw two new revelations regarding child separation. HHS’s Office of Inspector General released a report on “Separated Children Placed in Office of Refugee Resettlement Care,” which reveals that the child separation policy was in effect for nearly a year before the “zero-tolerance” policy was announced. Those separated before June 26, 2018 were informally tracked via an Excel spreadsheet. The OIG concludes:

“The total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is unknown. Pursuant to a June 2018 Federal District Court order, HHS has thus far identified 2,737 children in its care at that time who were separated from their parents. However, thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the Court, and HHS has faced challenges in identifying separated children.” (More on the report.)

And more on family separation from NBC News: “Trump administration officials weighed speeding up the deportation of migrant children by denying them their legal right to asylum hearings after separating them from their parents, according to comments on a late 2017 draft of what became the administration’s family separation policy obtained by NBC News.”

The entire document is available. Here is a snippet:

Speaking of… Human Rights Watch released its World Report 2019, which includes this summary for the United States:

“The United States continued to move backward on human rights at home and abroad in the second year of President Donald Trump’s administration. With Trump’s Republican party controlling the legislative branch in 2018, his administration and Congress were able to pass laws, implement regulations, and carry out policies that violate or undermine human rights.

“Despite Trump signaling support for minimal reforms, his administration rolled back initiatives meant to reduce over-incarceration in the US, implemented an array of anti-immigration policies, and worked to undermine a national insurance program that helps Americans obtain affordable health care, including important reproductive care for women. The Trump administration also continued to support abusive governments abroad militarily, financially, and diplomatically.

“Though it has expressed support for some international initiatives aimed at sanctioning individuals and governments committing human rights abuses, overall administration policy undermined multilateral institutions and international judicial bodies seeking to hold people accountable for egregious human rights violations.”

Reuters reports on “$11 toothpaste: Immigrants pay big for basics at private ICE lock-ups.”

Finally, a timeline of Steve King’s very bad week.



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Daily Dispatch 1/17/19

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Daily Dispatch

January 17, 2019

Today’s news is pretty much the same as yesterday’s news: shutdown gridlock – no end in sight.

In an opinion piece for the Chicago Tribune, Rex Huppke has an idea: “End the shutdown; give Trump his wall. We need a monument to American stupidity.”

“This is all objectively stupid. So much so that this moment in our nation’s history deserves a monument, so we may never forget.

“And that’s what Donald Trump’s border wall should be: A poorly conceived, partially built memorial to mental mediocrity…

“Democrats in Congress refuse to fund the wall because they know it’s a waste of money and because it’s a lunkheaded symbol of isolationism and hate.

“So rebrand the concept. Consider it an investment in a national monument to the perils of willful ignorance and gamble that whatever fragment of a wall actually gets built will become a profitable tourist attraction, a must-visit national park that delivers a lesson in not believing everything you’re told…

“If Democrats let Trump proceed with the wall, it will become a testament to Trumpian incompetence and grift. And that will make for enlightening reading at the nearby Trump Border Wall Museum of American Stupidity, which will also feature a gift shop selling pieces of steel slats that were never used because construction was halted after the administration was busted for using Russian-made steel…

Insist that each brick (or slat) in the wall be inscribed with one of the more than 6,000 false or misleading statements, documented by the Washington Post fact-checker, that Trump has made since taking office. …

“It’s the year 2019 and our government is shut down and hundreds of thousands of Americans are suffering because one man who conned millions is obsessed over building a giant wall.

“That’s stupid. Dangerously stupid. And it’s worthy of a monument that will serve as a reminder of this dumb era, lest Americans ever forget the cost of stupidity run amok.”

Here is our artistic rendering of Huppke’s concept:


Pew has released a new report on border wall:  “A new Pew Research Center survey finds that majority of Americans (58%) continue to oppose substantially expanding the border wall, while 40% favor the proposal. Overall opinion on the wall is little changed from last year, but these views have never been more sharply divided along partisan lines: Republican support for the wall is at record high, while Democratic support has reached a new low. And both sides appear to be dug in.” Full report here. Topline here.

The Texas Tribune offers an overview of the shutdown’s effects at the border.

House Judiciary Committee Republicans release details of the “Fix the Immigration Loopholes Act,” which would end Flores protections.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jayapal (D-WA) reintroduces her budget amendment that would prevent transfer of funds from FEMA and other sub-agencies to pay for ICE detention.

More on the Shut Show:

Bloomberg Opinion: “Pelosi Knows How to Play Chicken. Trump Doesn’t.”

Politico: “Border agency officials push wall amid shutdown standoff”

USA Today: “5 reasons Trump may want a shutdown that have nothing to do with a wall”

Other Stories:

Los Angeles Times: “Trump doesn’t seem to understand anything about illegal immigration”

Detroit Free Press: “Detroit judge orders ICE to return Iraqi immigrant mistakenly deported”

NBC News: “ICE almost deported a U.S.-born Marine veteran, says ACLU”

The Charlotte Observer: “ICE agents ‘dragged’ man out of Mecklenburg courthouse Wednesday, witnesses say”

WaPo: “Top HUD official’s departure follows disagreements over housing policy and Puerto Rico disaster funds”




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Press Release: Freedom for Immigrants on Jayapal Budget Amendment

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Press Release
Freedom for Immigrants:

Rep. Jayapal Reintroduces Federal Budget Amendment To Prevent Transfer Of Funds To ICE

Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) re-introduced a federal budget amendment that would halt the growth of U.S. immigration detention by prohibiting the government from transferring funds to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the purpose of building or expanding immigration detention facilities. 

“The federal budget amendment would prevent more taxpayer dollars from being directed toward President Trump’s aggressive and unnecessary plans to expand U.S. immigration detention,” said Christina Fialho, co-founder/executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, a non-profit that provides support to detained individuals. “We urge Congressional Democrats to take action and vote for this small but powerful amendment.” 

This amendment was last heard on the House floor in August 2017, and 180 Democrats voted in favor.  Only 5 Democrats opposed.  Since then, we have seen this administration implement a draconian policy at the border, which separated 8,000 parents and children, and in the interior of the country.  We have seen the Trump administration, without any Congressional approval, transfer nearly $10 million <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/09/12/document-shows-the-trump-administration-diverted-nearly-10-million-from-fema-to-ice-detention-program/> meant for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ICE. 

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) diverted over $200 million <https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/dhs-transferred-169-million-other-programs-ice-migrant-detention-n909016> from other agencies, including $29 million from the U.S. Coast Guard, and even from other programs within ICE all for the purpose of detaining and deporting immigrants.  If this amendment to the FY19 supplemental appropriations bill passes the House, it will be one step closer to restricting DHS’s authority to transfer funding from the Coast Guard to ICE for immigration detention purposes.  

Freedom for Immigrants worked with Rep. Jayapal to draft this amendment, which takes a cue from California’s Dignity Not Detention Act. The Dignity Not Detention Act, which went into effect January 2018, in conjunction with an amendment to California’s budget bill, AB 103, prevents California municipalities from entering into new, or modifying existing, contracts with ICE for private and public immigration detention facilities, thereby halting the growth of immigrant prisons and jails in the state.


Rebecca Merton
Director of Visitation & Independent Monitoring
Freedom for Immigrants
1322 Webster Street, Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone/Text: (510) 806-1330 / Fax: (510) 422-5198
www.freedomforimmigrants.org <http://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/>


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Daily Dispatch 1/16/19

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Daily Dispatch

January 16, 2019


State of the Union is … a Shut Show:

The State of the Union address does not just happen. Each year, the Constitution requires the Speaker of the House to invite the President, in writing, to the Capitol to deliver the speech. This year, current Speaker Pelosi, issued a non-invitation invitation: open the government or no speech. We know how much Trump loves the spotlight, so denying him his primetime slot might be a motivator…

Excerpt from Pelosi’s letter:

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29.”

Meanwhile, a bipartisan “gang” of Senators is hoping to persuade Trump to reopen the government, meeting with him at the White House this morning. But according to Politico: “A bipartisan group of senators is trying to set up a gang to end the government shutdown. But Senate leaders might as well be an anti-gang task force.”

And 22 House and Senate members from Texas join the Texas Governor in a letter asking Trump not to use Hurricane Harvey money to fund his border wall.

Barr Room Brawl:

Highlights from former-and-aspiring AG William Barr’s confirmation hearing yesterday:

Cory Booker got Barr to commit to studying racial disparities in the justice system.

Barr backs border wall, government shutdown, and crackdown on “sanctuary cities”:

From the Daily Beast: “Attorney General Nominee William Barr on Gitmo ‘HIV Prison Camp’: We Were in a ‘Catch-22’”

More on Barr’s immigration legacy during his first go-round as AG.

Here’s all 7 hours of yesterday’s testimony:


As GOP leadership removes Steve King from committees, Politico asks, why now? “While the King drama played out over the past few days, some Republicans seized on the incident to reorient the party’s position — and maybe more importantly, its language — on race. Yet with President Donald Trump regularly stoking racial division from the Oval Office, it’s not clear the action against King will amount to anything meaningful for the GOP.”

From the Des Moines Register’s Editorial Board: “Steve King should resign for the good of Iowa”

From the Sioux City Journal’s Editorial Board: “Steven King should resign”

From The Daily Show: “Is Rep. Steve King Racist?”


More Stories:

From WaPo: “Beto O’Rourke’s immigration plan: No wall, few specifics”

From The Atlantic: “Why Did the Border Patrol Union Switch Its Position on the Wall?”

From CityLab: “Why America’s Largest Migrant Youth Detention Center Closed”



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Daily Dispatch 1/15/19

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Daily Dispatch

January 15, 2019

Happening now: Senate confirmation hearings for former and aspiring Attorney General Bill Barr. Here is the live stream as long as the hearing continues.


So far, both the border wall and sanctuary cities have come up, with unsurprising responses. As reported in the Washington Post:

Asked about the partial government shutdown, in its fourth week due to an impasse over funding for a border wall, Barr says he would like to see a deal reached where Congress recognized that it was “imperative to have border security.”

Barr also said he believed so-called sanctuary cities were hurting law enforcement’s ability to safeguard the public.

Breaking: Federal court blocks citizenship question on 2020 census.

The shutdown continues. Federal workers are filing suit. Furloughed workers are applying for unemployment insurance while essential workers are being denied. TSA agents are calling in sick. Airport terminals are closing. Things are likely to get bleaker, as there is no end in sight for what is now the longest shutdown in history.

Meetings are taking place between the various parties, but so far no one is budging. And Trump seems to have put off the idea of declaring an emergency to build the border wall. Trump is catching the lion’s share of the blame, but House Dems are a close second. Everyone is motivated to shut down the shutdown, but there remains the matter of that damned wall…

We’ve heard about how tall the wall will be, but how deep will it go?:  “As Trump pushes for a wall, authorities keep finding drug tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border” from WaPo.

More Stories:

A familiar story: As ICE continues what Trump called “catch and release,” charities are having to step-up, as ICE is no longer actively coordinating with them.

Republicans have FINALLY stripped Steve King (R-IA) of his committee seats due to his confusion as to why explicit racism is bad. He had been on the Judiciary Committee, and was chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. King says he has no plans to resign his seat. He calls this an “unprecedented assault on my freedom of speech.”

From PEW’s Stateline: “Urban Sheriffs Flee ICE Program as Small Counties Join Trump’s Deportation Push.” (Check out the lead photo on this one.)


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Daily Dispatch 1/14/19

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Daily Dispatch

January 14, 2019

Trump is reeling from two absolute bombshells that dropped this weekend: (1) the FBI opened an investigation into whether Trump was working as an agent of Russia and (2) Trump has confiscated all notes and records from all of his meetings and calls with Putin. Moreover, until this morning, Trump failed to deny he worked for Russia and Mike Pompeo, who was CIA Director at the time of the investigation’s launch, remains in non-denial denial mode – which is weird.

What does this have to do with immigration? First: “Given the investigations, Mr. Trump may prefer a battle over the wall as more favorable ground to fight even with 800,000 federal workers furloughed or forced to work without pay. Polls suggest he is not winning with the broader public but has rallied his base in the fight.” (NYT)

Second: The Senate Judiciary Committee begins confirmation hearings Tuesday for Jeff Sessions’ replacement, former AG Bill Barr. Expect a grilling over his anti-Mueller stance and expansive view of executive power. Last time Barr served as AG, he supported the capture of Haitian refugees at sea and their detention at Guantanamo and co-authored a report titled “The Case for More Incarceration.” Fun times.

More Stories:

Here is more on the effect of the government shutdown on already back-logged immigration courts (judges are booked 3 years out).

The NBPC, the union representing CBP agents, just deleted its FAQ page, which had included a section on the border wall, stating: “The NBPC disagrees with wasting taxpayer money on building fences and walls along the border as a means of curtailing illegal entries into the United States.”

Meanwhile, the new Democratic House is turning its attention to the question of border security at the northern border, where there are 200 CBP vacancies left unfilled.

Ooooooo, Canada: Speaking of…, Canada continues to be utterly Canadian, seeking to add another 1 million immigrants to its population, which is currently 20% foreign born. Ahmed Hussen, minister of immigration and himself a Somali immigrant, wrote in his report to Parliament: “Canada is a world leader in managed migration with an immigration program based on non-discriminatory principles, where foreign nationals are assessed without regard to race, nationality, ethnic origin, colour, religion or gender.” Thus an excuse to include a photo of their PM and the guy who makes us want to breach that northern border:

Listen: “Texas Chapel In Path of Trump’s Proposed Border Wall” from NPR.

A lengthy piece from Bloomberg Businessweek: “Two Towns Formed an Unlikely Bond. Now, ICE Is Severing the Connection: For years, rural Guatemalans traveled thousands of miles for jobs in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. A series of immigration raids is creating havoc in a town desperate for workers.”

Another caravan is forming in Honduras, with an ETD of 5am tomorrow (1/15).

From NYT: “Explaining Trump’s Tweet on Crimes by Immigrants”


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Daily Dispatch 1/11/19

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Daily Dispatch

January 11, 2019


Tornillo Tent City has closed.


Trump begrudgingly visited the border yesterday, along with new White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, and Senior Puppet-Master, Sean Hannity, who did not stand with the rest of the press pool but rather with DHS Sec Nielsen and Trump’s communication team.

(WaPo observes that Trump’s wardrobe was intended to mimic the optics of a natural disaster.)

It’s starting to look inevitable that Trump will be declaring a national emergency very soon. Could be today, though if the government remains shutdown through tomorrow, it will be the longest in history – and you know how this guy feels about superlatives.

BTW, can we just recall for a moment that Trump’s border wall obsession was planted by campaign aides who felt he needed a mnemonic device to remind him to talk about immigration on the campaign trail?

Related: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters is hoping to stage a performance of “The Wall” on the border in protest of Trump’s wall thing. (May I suggest he team up with John Mellencamp on this one…)

Trump is considering taking funds from flood control projects in Puerto Rico and Texas to build the border wall. A douchey thing to do, sure, but Trump says he has the “absolute right” to do it anyway.

Of the 17 Senators and House members along the southern border, Politico found that only 2 supported the border wall. You can guess which two: Martha McSally and Ted (🙄) Cruz. That’s less than 12% of border lawmakers.

(Landowners aren’t so keen on it either.)

Republican leadership, however, is warming up to the idea, seeing it as the only way out. (And most are assuming it would just end up stuck in the courts anyway, so no harm done…)

Meanwhile, Dems are debating whether to prepare for litigation and/or try to pass a joint resolution that would terminate the emergency, but which Trump could veto, requiring an unlikely 2/3 override.

DHS is portraying renovations as new construction in an effort to make-true Trump’s not-true claim that “tremendous amounts” of the wall “have already been built.” From the DHS website.

Related: “Once A Fence, Later Slats, Almost Always A Wall: Trump’s Border Wall Contradictions” from NPR.

Jay Root of the Texas Tribune interviewed two former drug smugglers for his latest piece: “Texas smugglers say Trump’s border wall wouldn’t stop immigrants, drugs from pouring across the border.”

More Stories:

Trump promises H-1B visa holders “a potential path to citizenship.”

From McClatchy: “These policy changes will impact legal immigrants in the U.S. in 2019”

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Haiti Update: Grassroots Victory in Caracol

In the wake of the 2010 earthquake, international donors pledged billions of dollars to help Haiti “Build Back Better.”  Once the earthquake receded into the background, however, commitments made with much fanfare in front of the cameras, deteriorated quickly. Five years after the earthquake, the U.S. had delivered $3.1 of the $4 billion committed for relief and recovery work  –  though a large portion of this represents the cost of the U.S. military deployment in the days immediately following the quake.  USAID’s portion of funding was $657 million, a third or more of which went to build the Caracol Industrial Park in the North East department.

Caracol was a controversial project from the beginning – miles away from the disaster zone, the United States’ major funding initiative in Haiti was essentially going to be an export platform for clothing manufacture i.e., a park for sweatshops. And U.S. expertise was thus on full display: create a project that makes millions of dollars for a handful of investors off the blood, sweat, and tears of underpaid garment workers and call it “development.” If the envisioned end result was far from anything one might call “better,” the process through which the park was constructed might simply be considered another disaster visited upon the local community.

To build the park, land was taken from local farmers. Nearly 400 families were displaced – indeed, they were given only 5 days to vacate the land on which their families had lived for generations. Five years later, only 5 of these families had received credit for the purchase of new land. Caracol was to provide employment – but, as with sweatshops everywhere, the target workforce was women in their 20s and 30s, not middle-aged farmers. ActionAid, which has worked with the community throughout most of the process, provides more detail here.

After several years of unfulfilled promises, the families displaced by the park created the Kolektif Peyizan Viktim Tè Chabè to begin to fight for redess. The community worked with another local non-governmental organization, AREDE and with ActionAid and Accountability Counsel internationally to press funders to provide compensation. Last year, the Kolektif entered into formal arbitration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), another major funder of the park, and the government of Haiti through the IDB’s Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism. Last month the parties reached a settlement that may well provide a template for other community action seeking accountability.

The agreement is divided into two sections: Corrective Measures for the Restoration of Livelihoods and Measures Concerning the Environmental and Social Impacts of the Caracol Industrial Park (PIC). The agreement includes a commitment for one member of each family to find employment in the industrial park, the granting of access to land and technical support to families that have not secured land since the park opened, vocational training and access to microcredit programs for the creation of small businesses. A full description of the provisions of the agreement can be found here (per IDB rules, the full text of the agreement is not publically available).

The agreement represents a major victory for the community, though full implementation of its provisions is far from certain, and will require continued monitoring. That said, the community should have never been put in this position to begin with. The placement of the park on some of the most fertile land in northern Haiti, near important watersheds already suffering from pollution from the park, represents a model of development in which community stakeholders are shut out of planning, and environmental concerns are pushed to the back burner. Haiti has seen too much of this kind of development over the years.

True, the park has provided jobs and the generation facility for the park has provided electricity to nearby communities. But on balance, the process was a disaster for the community and one is left to wonder what $260+ million might have achieved if local people had been included in the process of visioning a new approach to development from the beginning. As we mark 9 years since the earthquake, that remains an important question.


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The Disdain of a Formidable Neighbor: The U.S. in Guantanamo

Cuban intellectual José Martí lived in the United States for a number of years, giving him a broad perspective from which to consider U.S. relations with Cuba and, by extension, Latin America. In his frequently cited essay, “Nuestra America,” Martí – whose Cuban homeland was still part of the Spanish Empire – worried about a threat that was much closer than Europe.

Pero otro peligro corre, acaso, nuestra América, que no le viene de sí, sino de la diferencia de orígenes, métodos e intereses entre los dos factores continentales, y es la hora próxima en que se le acerque demandando relaciones íntimas, un pueblo emprendedor y pujante que la desconoce y la desdeña. […]

El deber urgente de nuestra América es enseñarse como es, una en alma e intento, vencedora veloz de un pasado sofocante, manchada sólo con sangre de abono que arranca a las manos la pelea con las ruinas, y la de las venas que nos dejaron picadas nuestros dueños. El desdén del vecino formidable, que no la conoce, es el peligro mayor de nuestra América.

[But our America may also face another danger, which does not come from within it, but from the differing origins, methods, and interests of the continent’s two factions. The hour is near when she will be approached by an enterprising and forceful nation that will demand intimate relations with her, though it does not know her and disdains her.[…]

Therefore the urgent duty of our America is to show herself as she is, united in soul and intent, fast overcoming the crushing weight of her past, and stained only with the fertilizing blood shed by hands that do battle against ruins, or by veins opened by our former masters. The disdain of the formidable neighbor who does not know her is the greatest danger that faces our America.]

Contrasting “our America” with the other America looming to the north, Martí feared U.S. influence would rival that of Spain. Martí himself died in an armed uprising against Spain in 1895 but his words would prove prophetic. While the United States publicly supported Cuban independence, the resulting Spanish-American War led to the imposition of a new imperial authority over the formerly “Spanish” Caribbean and the Philippines. Unlike Puerto Rico, Cuba was not subjected to outright colonialism but forced to agree to the Platt Amendment, allowing the United States to interfere directly in the affairs of the island. Soon after, the United States negotiated very favorable terms for the use of Guantanamo Bay as a continuing naval presence in the Caribbean. Cuba tolerated the U.S. presence on the island and, for several decades, little changed.

With the Cuban Revolution, came the demand for the U.S. to leave Guantanamo, but for 60 years now there has been no international legal forum with the force to vacate the lease and require the U.S. to leave. The United States continues to send lease payments to Cuba (since 1974 an absurd $4,000 a year) – though not a single payment has been deposited by Cuba’s government since 1959.

Incarceration in Guantanamo

Following a military coup in 1991, a large number of Haitian refugees took to the sea to escape the violence and seek asylum in the United States. Tens of thousands of Haitians were provided what was called “safe haven” in Guantanamo Bay while they were being screened for asylum. This practice, essentially detaining potential asylum seekers in large camps, was initiated in the administration of George H.W. Bush, paused briefly, then was resumed in the Clinton administration. Indeed, the limited capacity at Guantanamo Bay, where Clinton stated that 14,000 Haitians were interned, was a contributing factor to the decision to reinstate Aristide in the presidency of Haiti. At nearly the same time, the Clinton administration began to detain Cubans who wished to immigrate as well – also in Guantanamo –although this policy was relatively brief and impacted somewhat fewer persons. The detention practice was declared unconstitutional by a Federal District Court in 1993 (the ruling later vacated) – the last Haitian detainees left Guantanamo in 1995.

For a few years, Guantanamo was not known to be holding any detainees, but this door would not stay closed for long. On January 11, 2002, George W. Bush re-established the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, this time to house a population who were being described as “enemy combatants” in the “War on Terror.” The people in Guantanamo now are detained indefinitely, without trial, and many of the detainees have been tortured. Today these men – for they are all men – are 40 in number and a few have been charged and convicted but only in the Guantanamo Military Commission system, a tribunal of dubious legality. Indeed, the Supreme Court has sided with detainees in all four cases that arrived to the highest court. One of Obama’s first executive orders when he became president was a commitment to close the Guantanamo detention camp. He failed. One of Trump’s first executive orders was a commitment to keep Guantanamo open, indefinitely. 

January 11, 2019 marks 17 years since this detention center was established as part of the War on Terror but this is only the latest episode in the long story of U.S. imperial tactics in this place. In 2005, a group of concerned activists traveled to Cuba to attempt to visit the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and this trip gave birth to Witness Against Torture (WAT). Since 2007, WAT has been organizing actions in Washington, D.C. and around the nation leading up to the January 11 anniversary. In solidarity with the hunger strikes that have been started and maintained by detainees in Guantanamo and elsewhere to protest unjust treatment and living conditions, participants fast all week as a sign of their commitment to close down Guantanamo. This year, I have joined their number. Yet we know that our collective hunger pains are only a small reminder of the suffering of those held captive by our government in a foreign land. 

Taking our calls for justice one step further, once the closure of the detention center is finally complete, it is doubtless long past time to return full sovereignty of Cuba to its own people and vacate this base. Indeed, if we are serious about wanting to reduce the root causes of migration, we might revisit some aspects of U.S. foreign policy rather than build more spaces to hold humans captive.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a few lines from the Versos sencillos, also by Martí. These words have been immortalized in the classic Cuban song “Guantanamera,” a title referring to a woman from the Guantanamo region of Cuba, and they speak of a deep longing for an idyllic Guantanamo of the past, a land the poetic voice loves as his home. 

Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar:
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace más que el mar.

[With the poor of the earth,
I cast my lot:
The mountain stream pleases me
More than the sea.]



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Daily Dispatch 1/10/19

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Daily Dispatch

January 10, 2019

A 14 minute meeting between Donald, Chuck, and Nancy ended when the president stormed out of the room. 

Senator Schumer’s version of events:

“Unfortunately, the President just got up and walked out. He asked Speaker Pelosi, ‘Will you agree to my wall?’ She said no. And he just got up and said, ‘Then we have nothing to discuss,’ and he just walked out. Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way, and he just walked out of the meeting.”

Trump’s version of events:

Meanwhile, GOP Senators Graham, Collins, Tillis, Alexander, Portman, and Murkowski are putting together a plan that would offer some border wall funding and include protections for DACA recipients and TPS holders from El Salvador. The hope is that the proposal will draw in Democratic votes while still letting Trump claim victory. Will this plan work?

What’s next? One theory: Trump will declare a national emergency to fund the wall, then open the government and take credit for both, portraying the Democrats as being responsible for the shutdown. Problem with this: it might just work.


Are ICE and private prison companies breaking the law by operating during the shutdown? Probably: ICE has run out of money to pay private contractors running detention facilities. The agency has told local governments with IGSAs and CoreCivic / Geo Group that they won’t see any money until the government re-opens. However, the Antideficiency Act “makes it illegal for a contractor to provide the government free services in anticipation of future payments, unless the services are necessary to protect human life or property.” Therefore, holding immigrants with no violent criminal history would be a violation of federal law (aka a crime).

Related: Four CBP officers are suing the Trump administration for being required to work without pay.

About that speech:

A little discussed element of Trump’s Oval Office address is his pitting of immigrants against the black community, claiming that African Americans are “hardest hit” by the alleged negative economic effects of “illegal immigration.” Here is an op-ed on the subject.

Networks are still feeling the heat over their decision to air the speech.

More Stories:

From WaPo: “Three presidents, three speeches – and an immigration debate that has grown coarser”

From HuffPo: “White Supremacist Rep. Steve King Gets A Primary Challenger”

From CNN: “Stephen Miller is making America hostile to immigrants”

From the Hill: “Undocumented immigrant takes sanctuary while in ‘legal limbo’ due to shutdown”

From the Des Moines Register: “Iowa judge frees Palestinian man who had waited 2 years in jail to be deported”

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    Email: info@quixote.org

Direction to office:

For driving: From Baltimore Ave (Route 1) towards University of Maryland, turn right onto Hartwick Rd. Turn immediate right in the office complex.

Look for building 7307. We are located on the 2nd floor.

For public transportation: We are located near the College Park metro station (green line)