Annual Report 2018

The Quixote Center’s Annual Report for 2018 is now available. If you like the work we are doing, please consider a tax-deductible contribution. You can designate funds to a specific program, or put it toward general funds that support all of our work. 

 

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 3/7/2019


Read more about InAlienable.
Support Quixote Center’s InAlienable program!


InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

March 7, 2019


When we fight, we win (at least sometimes!): JP Morgan to Cut Ties with Private Prison Companies

JP Morgan has decided to stop financing private prison companies involved in immigration detention. The two largest companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic are deeply reliant on periodic bond issues to finance operations. Both companies are structured as real estate investment trusts, and thus required to deliver the bulk of profits over to shareholders. This leaves the companies in need of regular access to credit to fund activities. Though profitable firms, their operations are also highly dependent on changes in public policy. Geo Group’s share value shifts every time Trump opens his mouth. Which, one might imagine, could scare investors.

Fluctuations in stock prices  for GEO Group correlated with policy discussions in 2018

From U.S. News’ Business Report on JP Morgan decision:

“We will no longer bank the private prison industry,” a company spokesman told Reuters. The decision is a result of the bank’s ongoing evaluations of the costs and benefits of serving different industries, he said.

JPMorgan is one of several banks that have underwritten bonds or syndicated loans for CoreCivic Inc and GEO Group Inc, the two major private prison operators in the United States. In 2018, banks, including Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co, raised roughly $1.8 billion in debt over three deals for CoreCivic and GEO Group, according to Refinitiv data.

Wells Fargo said in January it was reducing its relationship with the prison industry as part of its “environmental and social risk management” process.

“Our credit exposure to private prison companies has significantly decreased and is expected to continue to decline, and we are not actively marketing to that sector,” Wells Fargo said in its “Business Standards Report” for 2018.

JP Morgan and others have been the target of campaigns trying to cut funding sources to private prison companies for some time. For more information check out Corporate Backers of Hate.

Guardian Investigation of Homestead Facility for Immigrant Teens

The largest detention facility for teenagers is located in Homestead Florida, just outside of Miami. Today, The Guardian has a detailed report on the facility, run by for profit company, Comprehensive Health Services. From the report:

Mixed with the children’s artwork pinned to the walls are notices of procedures for reporting sexual abuse – a reminder of last month’s bombshell claim that thousands of migrant children had been abused in US custody (the programme director insisted there had been no incidents at Homestead in the 12 months it has been open).

There is a strict no-touching rule, meaning that even a child who hugs a sibling could be written up and face disciplinary action. All the children must wake at 6am, seven days a week (lights out is at 10pm), and they are monitored from a central control room 24 hours a day through smart cards they wear on lanyards and that they must scan every time they change location.

They have no access to cellphones or the internet, and personal phone calls, which shelter managers insist are not monitored, are limited to two 10-minute calls a week.

The average length of each child’s stay, during which case workers attempt to locate and vet sponsors, is 58 days – almost three times longer than the 20-day limit for child migrant detention imposed by the 1997 Flores settlement, which Homestead is not obliged to honor because of its designation as a temporary shelter instead of a permanently sited detention facility.

Has the U.S. government been tracking immigration advocates? Apparently, yes

From NBC 7 in San Diego:

“Source: Leaked Documents Show the U.S. Government Tracking Journalists and Immigration Advocates Through a Secret Database,” by NBC 7 San Diego’s Tom Jones, Mari Payton and Bill Feather: “Documents obtained by NBC 7 Investigates show the U.S. government created a secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports. At the end of 2018, roughly 5,000 immigrants from Central America made their way north through Mexico to the United States southern border. The story made international headlines.

As the migrant caravan reached the San Ysidro Port of Entry in south San Diego County, so did journalists, attorneys, and advocates who were there to work and witness the events unfolding. But in the months that followed, journalists who covered the caravan, as well as those who offered assistance to caravan members, said they felt they had become targets of intense inspections and scrutiny by border officials.” NBC San Diego

 

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 3/6/2019


Read more about InAlienable.
Support Quixote Center’s InAlienable program!


InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

March 6, 2019


 

Deterrence as an immigration strategy is not only inhumane; it doesn’t work!

Though irregular crossings into the United States are well below peak years during the 1990s, February had the highest number of arrests for illegal entry in a single month in almost 10 years. The arrests are increasingly of family units or unaccompanied children, and the Trump administration’s crackdown at the border is making the situation worse. By restricting access for asylum seekers through regular points of entry, the administration’s policy may be encouraging more people to cross outside of official points, thus leading to the increase in arrests. More detail on the numbers from NPR.

A detail analysis of migration conducted a few years ago documented that deterrence strategies do not work. The primary reason people are fleeing Central America is violence and they will continue to flee as long as the violence continues, whatever is done at the border.

In June last year, the Vera Institute released a report on Operation Streamline that similarly found that prosecutions at the border had no effect on decisions to migrate:

The analysis reported here found no evidence to suggest that Operation Streamline had any impact on migrants’ decisions to enter the United States. Operation Streamline succeeded only in clogging federal courts, eroding due process, and incarcerating tens of thousands of people.

The failure to address the root causes of migration and new policies making it harder for people to cross into the country legally are driving the recent spike in arrests.

Spike in white supremacist propaganda

The Anti-Defamation League released a report documenting a dramatic expansion of white supremacist propaganda last year. The report covers new tactics that try to mainstream messaging in posters and flyers. There has also been an increase in public demonstrations, though they are often organized as “flash mobs” to avoid counter-protests. NPR on Anti-Defamation League Report:

ADL counted 1,187 incidents of propaganda in 2018, up from 421 incidents in 2017. While college campuses remain a primary target, most of that increase occurred off of college campuses, with 868 incidents in 2018, up from 129 the year before. The alt-right also uses banners to promote its message, the ADL said, counting 32 instances of white supremacist banners hung in high-visibility locations such as highway overpasses.

Increased propaganda efforts “allow them to maximize media and online attention, while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests and public backlash,” the ADL wrote.

A second report on Murder and Extremism by the ADL documents an increase in killings by political extremists last year over 2017, documenting that in nearly all of 50 cases of extremist murder in 2018, the perpetrator had a connection to some white supremacist organization. From the executive summary:

In 2018, domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in the U.S., a sharp increase from the 37 extremist-related murders documented in 2017, though still lower than the totals for 2015 (70) and 2016 (72).  The 50 deaths make 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.

The extremist-related murders in 2018 were overwhelmingly linked to right-wing extremists.  Every one of the perpetrators had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement, although one had recently switched to supporting Islamist extremism. White supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings, which is typically the case.

Deadly shooting sprees were a major factor in the high death toll. Five of the 17 incidents involved shooting sprees that caused 38 deaths and injured 33 people.

 

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 3/5/2019


Read more about InAlienable.
Support Quixote Center’s InAlienable program!


InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

March 5, 2019


Technology Edition…

The Nation released an article today on the impact of ICE and DHS’s outdated methods of tracking files and communication on people, who are ultimately held accountable for ICE’s failure. From the article:

Lost files, poor communication, faulty technology, and seemingly endless delays: federal audits show that Mikhail and Bayley’s experiences weren’t unusual for the agency, which spends $300 million per year on paper and has disastrously mismanaged a 13-year effort to go digital—often leaving immigrants to deal with the consequences.

And what used to be a time-sucking, stress-inducing inconvenience is now a question of visa denials and possible deportation: a new USCIS policy automatically initiates removal proceedings for many whose applications are denied, which means minor errors—even the agency’s—can have serious consequences. That’s especially threatening for immigrants who lack legal representation and language skills, or who just don’t know how to navigate a convoluted immigration system that runs on hefty application fees.

Behind the delays and inefficiencies may lie an intentional effort to cause problems for immigrants:

But Michael Jarecki, former chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Chicago chapter, isn’t sure the agency wants things faster or simpler–especially under a government that doesn’t hide its hostility to immigrants. “Part of my cynical response, knowing what we’re going through now in the last year and a half, would be an invisible wall type of thing,” Jarecki said, “where the agency wants to slow things down, and actually is happy to slow things down.”

Amazon “backbone” of ICE data mining operations

Though this report came out in October 2018, it seems relevant to juxtapose ICE’s difficulty with delivering mail, with the billions spent on data storage and processing – and that Amazon is raking in big money as a result. From MIT Technology Review:

In 2017, an Intercept investigation found that ICM pulled together data from an array of federal and private law enforcement entities to create detailed profiles that were then used to track immigrants. That data could include a person’s immigration history, family relationships, personal connections, addresses, phone records, biometric traits, and other information.

All of that data and the algorithms powering ICM are now being migrated to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in their entirety; Palantir pays Amazon approximately $600,000 a month for the use of its servers, according to the report’s authors.

Though the money doesn’t flow directly from ICE to Amazon, the tech giant had the right incentives in place for Palantir to choose AWS. In order for Palantir to secure its contract with the government, ICM had to be hosted on a federally authorized cloud service. An online government database shows that Amazon holds the largest share, 22%, of federal authorizations under the FedRAMP program, which verifies that cloud providers have the necessary security requirements to process, store, and transmit government data. More important, Amazon holds 62% of the highest-level authorizations, usually needed to handle data for law enforcement systems.

Nothing speaks more clearly to the underlying agenda and orientation of our immigration laws than the simple fact that billions are spent on technology to monitor miles of desert, build walls, and track people through government databases, but those same agencies’ software can’t handle a zip code with a dash in it when it comes to processing an immigration claim from someone in the country legally.

#abolishice

 

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 3/4/2018


Read more about InAlienable.
Support Quixote Center’s InAlienable program!


InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

March 4, 2019


“Big Labor” Endorses Protections for Dreamers and TPS Holders

30 labor unions sent a letter to Congress today, asking for a permanent legislative solution that includes a path to citizenship for holders of Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Enforced Departure, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“Dreamers”).

“As labor organizations representing millions of workers in the U.S., we urge you to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations and pass legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives as soon as possible, but no later than the first 100 days of the 116th Congress, to provide permanent protection and a path to citizenship for Dreamers and individuals with TPS or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)….

…When TPS holders and Dreamers are at risk, all workers are more vulnerable to employer abuses.  However, when workers, including TPS holders and Dreamers, have legal status and rights, all workplaces benefit from higher wages, safer workplaces, and the right and ability to form and join a union.”

Read the full letter here.

Immigrant activist detained after helping with film that debuts in Miami this week

ICE has detained an immigration activist, who is now slated to be deported, after he assisted with the making of a film exposing conditions at a for-profit detention facility in Broward County, Florida. From the Miami Herald:

Weeks after a documentary exposing injustices at a South Florida for-profit immigration detention center debuted at a national film festival, Claudio Rojas— the film’s inside source— was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miramar during his annual visa check-in, records show.

The film, “The Infiltrators,” also will premiere at the Miami Film Festival on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Silverspot Cinema. Rojas was planning to attend.

Records show Rojas remained detained at Krome detention center in South Miami-Dade as of Sunday. His attorneys say he was apprehended Wednesday without cause and is now facing immediate deportation.

“They called Claudio’s name and then three agents just grabbed him,” one of his lawyers, Sandy Pineda, told the Miami Herald over the weekend. “He has no criminal record. They did not allow us any due process, did not allow his attorneys to talk to him and took away his passport. They told us we had nothing to say to him and that his order for arrest came from the higher-ups. It’s grotesque.”

The film was based on an investigation conducted by undocumented youth, who intentionally got themselves detained in order to record conditions inside the facility. Their detentions and the original investigation took place in 2012, while Obama was still president, a reminder that conditions in these facilities have been horrendous for a long time. Trump’s contribution to the horror has been to expand the scale of detentions, and justify them with nationalistic jargon that has contributed to a deeper polarization in society. However, his “success” in doing is based on the precedents set during previous administrations – a fact we mustn’t ever forget because the problems here run deeper than Trump.

 

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 3/1/2019


Read more about InAlienable.
Support Quixote Center’s InAlienable program!


InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

March 1, 2019


TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan Extended until January of 2020

As the result of a lawsuit brought by TPS holders from these four countries, TPS has been extended until at least January of 2020. The extension is automatic – if TPS holders are currently registered, they do not need to re-register, but simply print this notice from the Federal Register. Lawyers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti had briefed us on this several weeks ago, as it was much anticipated. For more detail you can check our earlier report.

Healthcare crisis in U.S. jails and prisons

There are over 2 million people held in jails and prisons around the country. As the result of a Supreme Court ruling in a 1973 case, they all have a constitutional right to access healthcare. Nevertheless, healthcare is routinely denied or inadequately provided. Writing in The New Yorker, Steve Coll provides a detailed history of healthcare provision in prisons and jails, and breaks down elements of the current crisis.

The rapid expansion of people held behind bars (from 300,000 in 1980 to 2.3 million today), and the trend toward contracting with private companies to deliver healthcare has proved to be a deadly combination. The author examined 1,500 lawsuits brought over a 5-year period against just two companies. The pattern is clear: incentives to cut cost, often by understaffing, lead to inadequate service provision. Prisoners are also rarely afforded the benefit of the doubt by law enforcement officials when claiming illness, and thus may never get to see a healthcare professional at all.

The crisis is more acute in jails, which hold 700,000 people. Most of these folk are awaiting trial – i.e., they have not been convicted of a crime – and simply cannot afford bail. Others are serving shorter incarceration terms. The number of people suffering from mental health problems is extremely high in jails, and many are suffering medical complications as a result of being forced to break addiction to hard drugs. These are well documented, and thus predictable needs, to be served, and yet training and staff resources are lacking. From the report:

According to a study released in 2017 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly half the people held in jails suffer from some kind of mental illness, and more than a quarter have a severe condition, such as bipolar disorder. The same year, the bureau reported that about two-thirds of sentenced jail inmates suffer from drug addiction or dependency; that number was based on data from 2007-09, so it does not take into account the recent catastrophic rise of opioid addiction.

Similar patterns of abuse have been uncovered in immigrant detention facilities. 

A report from Human Rights Watch documents many patterns of neglect and denial of health services to people in detention. For profit companies are often at the root of the problem, as 75% of people in detention are held by private companies.See this video for a brief description of some of the issues:

 

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 2/28/2019


Read more about InAlienable.
Support Quixote Center’s InAlienable program!


InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

February 28, 2019


Workplace Enforcement Actions have Increased almost threefold under Trump

The Trump administration has overseen a huge expansion of workplace immigration enforcement actions. From Maya Srikrishnan of Voice of San Diego:

In fiscal year 2018, Homeland Security Investigations opened 6,848 worksite investigations. That’s roughly a 305 percent increase from the year before, when 1,691 investigations were opened. I-9 audits – random checks the government does to ensure that employees have proper work authorization – have also increased. In 2018, the government conducted 5,981 audits, compared with 1,360 the year before. The agency made 779 criminal and 1,525 administrative worksite-related arrests nationwide in fiscal year 2018, compared with 139 and 172 the year before. Administrative arrests are for non-criminal immigration violations.

Last year ICE engaged in some of the largest workplace raids in its history. A few examples:

In April, 97 people were arrested in a large operation in Morristown, Tennessee. Seven of the people detained that day have filed a suit against ICE.

In June, 146 people were arrested at Fresh Mark, a meat supplier in Salem, Ohio

Earlier in June, 114 people were arrested at a landscaping company in Castalia, Ohio

In August, 159 people were arrested in a raid at trailer manufacturer in Sumner, Texas

The number of workplace raids is up, but the practice is hardly new.

In 2006 ICE arrested 1,300 people in one day in a massive 6 state raid against Swift and Company meat packing plants. As part of the day’s operations they blocked all the roads out of Cactus, Texas the day of the raid, detaining 300 workers from the Swift and Company plant in that town.

Finally, you can’t make this up. In San Diego:

Golden State Fence Company’s founder and a vice president were sentenced in 2007 to probation and hit with large fines for knowingly hiring immigrants who were unauthorized to work in the United States. The company had to forfeit $4.7 million to the U.S. government, a total that represented “the amount of profit the government believed the company derived through its use of undocumented workers,” the Union-Tribune reported at the time. The company had been contracted by the government to work on parts of the border fence in 1997.

 Local and state actions:

Newly elected Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas ends regular communication with ICE over people in local jails.

From now on, unless they receive a judicial warrant, the sheriff’s office won’t talk with Immigration and Customs Enforcement about detainees in their jail.  “There won’t be any communication with ICE,” Lucas said.

In a party line vote, the Washington State Senate passed a bill to ban discrimination based on citizenship status. It goes to the state house next.

More on California’s inspection of DHS/ICE facilities in the state, where 75,000 people have been detained over the past three years.

 

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 2/27/2019

The failure to pass any kind of comprehensive immigration reform since 1996 (and this was not good legislation) has left states and localities going in different directions, simultaneously creating serious challenges to federal authority and deepening the partisan divide into red and blue geographic zones. For example, in the wake of Trump’s declaration of a national emergency (a probably unconstitutional end-around of Congress to get more money and authorization for a wall few people really want), 16 states filed lawsuits challenging the executive order. Meanwhile, Kentucky’s House passed a resolution thanking Trump for issuing the executive order.

Today we take a look at some other examples of state and local governments navigating immigration policy, inevitably leading to a hodgepodge of laws governed by local contingencies (and political coalitions) rather than a national standard of justice.

Florida expanding 287-g programs

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, used the modest expansion of an existing program as a photo-op to disparage what he calls “illegal immigrants.”

Standing beside a woman who lost a relative to a traffic accident 18 years ago, possibly caused by an undocumented migrant, DeSantis announced new 287-g agreements between the federal government and Hernando and Pasco Counties. 287-g programs are established through direct agreements between local and federal officials, and effectively deputize local police to act as immigration enforcement officers. Florida has five counties now participating in the program. DeSantis is thus not directly involved, but happy to take some pictures. He also states that he was hoping to expand monitoring into Florida’s expansive state prison system.

[Note: There have been many successful campaigns to suspend, or block implementation of 287-g programs. A list of 287-g agreements, and campaigns to end them here.]

Charlotte, NC facing divisions over ICE Activity

In Charlotte, North Carolina, a recent surge in ICE Activity has angered local residents, who are looking for the local government to intervene.

From the Charlotte Observer:

In the wake of a wave of mass arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier in February, Mayor Vi Lyles said she has created an ad hoc city council committee that will conduct outreach to the city’s immigrant communities.

But that response was too little and too late for many immigration advocates, who packed city council on Monday evening as they called on its members to take a stronger stance against the arrests.

They slammed Lyles and the council for failing to put out a statement condemning ICE. And they asked for the council to add immigration reform to its federal legislative agenda — a move it had declined to make at previous meetings.

ICE argued that they had no choice but to set up activity on the street in Charlotte because the county has no 287-g program.

California is pushing back against inadequate federal inspections

ICE facilities operate under direct contracts between ICE and vendors, usually private companies. DHS and ICE are supposed to oversee inspections of these facilities, and hold contractors who violate the law accountable. DHS does inspections. They do find violations. However, little changes as a result, and offending companies continue to get contracts.

California is now taking on inspection obligations for facilities inside the state. As reported in Associated Press coverage:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a report Tuesday that also found that detainees face long periods of confinement without breaks and language barriers in the 10 detention facilities state authorities inspected in 2017.

Becerra says the state Legislature requires the California Department of Justice to inspect and report on the facilities’ conditions over the next 10 years. That law was one of three “sanctuary state” laws the Trump Administration unsuccessfully challenged in federal court.

“We’re committed to upholding the welfare of all people in California, including those in local detention facilities pending immigration proceedings,” Becerra said. “At the California Department of Justice, we will continue to review detention facilities in our state and shine much-needed light on civil detention conditions.”

 

Continue Reading

A New Round of Dialogue Launches in Nicaragua

Representatives of the Nicaraguan government begin meetings with business leaders and other members of the opposition Civic Alliance starting today. Church leaders are present to witness the discussions, but unlike the dialogue attempted last year – where church leaders were “moderators” –  they have no formal role this time.

Last year’s rounds of dialogue were very public affairs, with plenaries held before cameras and smaller working sessions held in private. The new talks are being held completely in private; indeed the location of the talks has not been released. A small group, working together outside the temptation of live camera feeds, may be more likely to reach an agreement. On the other hand, there is also a danger that an agreement reached by this smaller gathering won’t be accepted by the myriad groups cut out of the talks.

Context for Discussions

Since the fighting ended in July, a sustainable peace has been hard to achieve. In July, the government passed an anti-terrorism law which has since been used as the basis for the arrest of hundreds of people involved in demonstrations last year. While there was certainly violence from opposition groups – a point largely ignored outside of Nicaragua – the scale of arrests seems out of proportion to those crimes. In some cases, the sentences handed out have been questionable*, far in excess of the constitutionally mandated maximum 30-year sentence, giving the whole process the feel of show trials meant to bolster Ortega’s authority rather than as an effort to achieve justice. That said, there were crimes committed and families clamoring for justice. Not all of the arrests can be dismissed as political posturing. Even so, the process to date has not inspired confidence and is being used outside of Nicaragua to legitimate further sanctions.

Meanwhile the economy has come undone. Nicaragua entered 2018 with economic growth projected at 4-5%. By the end of the year, the economy had actually shrunk; 150,000 jobs were lost (even more in the informal economy), and banks had sharply reduced new lending, creating the potential for a protracted recession. The immediate cause for this is the political crisis. Blockades erected during demonstrations stopped almost all commerce for the months of May to July. Tourism, which had become a major source of foreign exchange and represented 6% of GDP in 2017, collapsed. Over 800,000 reservations into Nicaragua were cancelled in 2018, leading to a 54% decline in revenue and widespread job loss. Foreign direct investment (FDI) took a huge hit as a result of the crisis. FDI fell to $10.7 million in the second quarter of 2018, its lowest level in years. By comparison, FDI in the second quarter of the previous year was $113 million. Capital flight passed the $1 billion mark in August, creating a liquidity crisis for banks. The Central Bank intervened with sales to banks from foreign reserves for a time, but the Central Bank was facing its own liquidity crisis given the falloff in international transactions. By the end of 2018, foreign exchange holdings had fallen to their lowest level in a decade.

On top of the broader economic problems, the threat of sanctions is freezing out investment and raising the costs of borrowing to the government. Nicaragua had already been hit by the secondary effects of new U.S. sanctions against Venezuela announced in August of 2017. Venezuela’s oil company PdVSA holds a 51% stake in Albanisa, a private holding company that uses a portion of proceeds from subsidized oil sales to invest in variety of energy projects. Under threat of sanctions, Albanisa was forced to transfer all of its funds from private banks in Nicaragua to the Banco Corporativo (Bancorp), which is also an Albanisa company. The U.S. congress passed the NICA Act in December, an immediate result of which was that U.S. banks began withdrawing services from Nicaragua for fear of being caught up in sanctions. The long-terms impact of the NICA Act could be devastating. If the U.S. were to veto any new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (as called for in the NICA Act), the ability of the government to borrow funds would be severely hampered.

What’s on the table

As the sides meet today, they will be hammering out an agenda and delineating the process for discussions. The government is clearly looking for a path out of the economic crisis, or at least an agreement that would forestall implementation of further sanctions from the U.S. and avoid sanctions threatened by the European Union. It is doubtful that a formal agreement on new tax policies and social security reform would even be on the table at this point. But positioning for those coming debates will certainly be an undercurrent in the discussions.

The Civic Alliance is coming with demands (as reported in El Nuevo Diario): Release of political prisoners and the restoration of freedoms, rights and guarantees, established by the Political Constitution, as well as electoral reforms that guarantee fair, free and transparent elections; and Justice for the people of Nicaragua. Not on this list is the specific demand for early elections. This may still be a part of the discussion, of course, but there is some light here. The government has committed, on paper at least, to introducing electoral reforms and has met some opposition demands on local election policy already. Last night the government prepared to release 120-150 prisoners to conditions of house arrest. This is far from the freedom being demanded, but might garner the government some small amount of goodwill on this point. As of this afternoon, the government has already begun to follow through and a partial list of those under house arrest has been made public. 

Whatever is decided at the dialogue faces at least two further challenges, a domestic one and an international one.

If the Civic Alliance members are seen as compromising too much to get an agreement, it might well be rejected on the streets. This is particularly true on the questions of prisoners and elections. The hardcore opposition wants Ortega gone, and will demand all prisoners released. The Civic Alliance negotiators are not likely to get either, but they may get a process to review arrests, with some additional people released to house arrest in the intervening period, and they may secure electoral reform that will provide more space for opposition candidates and, possibly, no fourth term for Ortega. Will that be enough?  

Then there is the so-called international community. Throughout the crisis, the U.S. government has been pressing for early elections. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently said that Ortega is on his way out, one way or another. Will this posturing from the sidelines make an agreement impossible to reach? Will the United States accept an agreement even if it does not meet all of their demands?

All of which is to say, I am hopeful that this process is underway again, and even hopeful that an agreement will be reached; but this hope is tempered somewhat knowing that any agreement will face further challenges to be seen as legitimate and to be implemented. Compromise has not been in the air much since last April, but maybe the economic situation, which impacts everyone (if not equally) will force the question. We can only watch from here – and hope Bolton stays out of the way, allowing Nicaraguan negotiators to come to an agreement without putting his thumb on the scale. 

 

 
*This was edited slightly following publication, from “In some cases, the sentences handed out have been laughable…” 
Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 2/26/2019


Read more about InAlienable.
Support Quixote Center’s InAlienable program!


InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

February 26, 2019


Another death in custody

A 24 year old woman from Honduras gave birth to a dead infant while being held at the Port Isabel Detention Center. She was picked up by the Border Patrol in Hidalgo, Texas on February 18.

CBP and ICE said the woman was taken to a hospital and released on Feb. 21 after undergoing two screenings. The woman was then transferred to ICE custody and was in the process of being released from the Port Isabel Detention Center when she complained of stomach discomfort. An ambulance was called, but the woman delivered the baby before she could be sent to the hospital.

Three other people have died in custody in recent months.

A 45-year-old Mexican man died while in Border Patrol custody last week, and two children died late last year while in custody. They include 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo Gomez, who died in custody at a New Mexico hospital on Christmas Eve, and the Dec. 8 death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal in El Paso.

Let’s be honest: For Trump, no one is welcome here.

Trump talks alot about illegal immigration, the U.S./Mexico border, and drug dealers. Little of what he has to say about all of this is true, but this emphasis on “bad guys” gives one the impression that other folks are welcome here provided they “get in line” and “do it right.”

Nope.

Trump’s administration has sought every way imaginable to limit legal immigration, including highly skilled professionals, whom he otherwise claims are welcome. As summarized by Suart Anderson in Forbes (with links from the original):

The first two years of the Trump administration has seen a series of actions to reduce immigration. These efforts have included the travel ban against citizens of several predominately Muslim countries, low levels of refugee admissions, supporting legislation to reduce legal immigration by 50% and numerous administrative measures to make it more difficult for employers to hire or retain high-skilled foreign nationals in the United States.

Mike Sedensky with AP reports on difficulties associated with H-1B visa program.

Immigrants with specialized skills are being denied work visas or seeing applications get caught up in lengthy bureaucratic tangles under federal changes that some consider a contradiction to President Donald Trump’s promise of a continued pathway to the U.S. for the most talented foreigners.

Getting what’s known as an H-1B visa has never been a sure thing — the number issued annually is capped at 85,000 and applicants need to enter a lottery to even be considered. But some immigration attorneys, as well as those who hire such workers, say they’ve seen unprecedented disruptions in the approval process since Trump took office in 2017.

“You see all these arguments that we want the best and the brightest coming here,” said John Goslow, an immigration attorney in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Yet we’re seeing a full-frontal assault on just all aspects of immigration.”

Trump’s war on immigration is costing him support in the business community – though many business leaders are still enjoying their tax breaks and increasingly regulation-free work environments. Nevertheless, Forbes offers Trump advice about ways to increase high skill immigration.

Working to overturn Texas Law

Campaigns are underway this legislative session in Texas to overturn the controversial Senate Bill 4 that passed in the last session.

SB4 allows local law enforcement officers to ask people their citizenship status once they’ve been arrested or detained. It also punishes local governments and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal law enforcement to turnover [sic] immigrants subject to possible deportation, also known as ‘detainers’, in the form of jail time and monetary fines.

Some cities have fought back – for example Austin’s City Council; though bound by the provisions of the law to ask about citizenship status, they have instructed police officers to inform people they have the right not to answer questions related to their immigration status.

State Senator Jose Menendez, of San Antonio has introduced a bill in the Senate, SB 672 to repeal SB 4. Representative Rafael Anchia, of Dallas, filed a similar bill last Friday, HB2266.

 

Continue Reading

Contact Us

  • Quixote Center
    7307 Baltimore Ave.
    Ste 214
    College Park, MD 20740
  • Office: 301-699-0042
    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)