Daily Dispatch 4/18/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 18, 2019


Where life is precious, life is precious

New York Times Magazine published a profile of Ruth Wilson Gilmore yesterday. Gilmore is long-time activist in the prison abolition movement, working for years to educate and organize folk to challenge new prison construction, while also working toward the kind of society where violence is not endemic. Gilmore was instrumental in the launching of the Prison Moratorium Project in California, and later helped to found Critical Resistance.

The article is also full of insights about the need to be more careful in how we frame issues surrounding incarceration.

Gilmore has come to understand that there are certain narratives people cling to that are not only false but that allow for policy positions aimed at minor or misdirected — rather than fundamental and meaningful — reforms. Gilmore takes apart these narratives: that a significant number of people are in prison for nonviolent drug convictions; that prison is a modified continuation of slavery, and, by extension, that most everyone in prison is black; and, as she explained in Chicago, that corporate profit motive is the primary engine of incarceration.

In speaking of equating imprisonment with slavery, Gilmore asks, “Why do we need that misconception to see the horror of it [incarceration]?”

The scale of the problem of mass incarceration is enormous. Most people by now know that we have the largest population of incarcerated people on the planet – standing at over 2 million. The number of people who have a record of arrest or conviction in the United States is 70 million. Gilmore says,

The key point here, about half of the work force, is to think not only about the enormity of the problem, but the enormity of the possibilities! That so many people could benefit from being organized into solid formations, could make certain kinds of demands, on the people who pay their wages, on the communities where they live. On the schools their children go to. This is part of what abolitionist thinking should lead us to.

Read the full article here. It is worth spending some time with.

Confronting the Bail Industry

The impact of bail on incarceration numbers is enormous. There are 465,000 people in local jails who have yet to be convicted of a crime, many simply because they cannot afford bail.

The United States and the Philippines are the only countries in the world that have commercial bail industries, and the companies involved in this industry are very committed to keeping pre-trial release conditioned on the payment of bail. The ACLU provides an overview of the bail industry as part of their work to end the practice:

The commercial bail industry profits off people faced with the impossible choice between sitting in jail or entering coercive contracts with bond agents. Furthermore, the industry fortifies structural racism. People of Color—particularly Women of Color—suffer the worst financial harms. And these companies exact further harms by serving as a roadblock to positive change: employing lobbying groups like the American Bail Coalition to spread fear-mongering misinformation, attempt to stymie reform, and to preserve their fiscal bottom line. Only the United States and the Philippines allow a commercial bail industry to exist.

The exploitation insurance companies perpetuate depends on our abusive money bail system. And our punitive, dysfunctional bail system is the key driver of our mass incarceration crisis. The truth is we don’t need profit motives to ensure a fair and safe pretrial justice system. In fact, actual “fugitive” status is incredibly rare, and the majority of people present no threat of violence if released pretrial.  

Read the full report here

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Daily Dispatch 4/17/2019


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April 17, 2019


Trump vetoes resolution to end U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen

Yesterday Trump vetoed a resolution to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war on the people of Yemen. The resolution had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and passed both by significant margins – but not enough to override the veto (unless Members decide that defending the constitutional obligations and power of congress are more important than short-term partisan interests). So, yeah, the veto will likely stand.

While Trump’s move has been widely denounced, as it should be, it is worth pointing out the hypocrisy of Trump’s war on immigration, which has, in recent weeks, included mocking people seeking asylum. To mock asylum-seekers and refugees, while spending billions to fuel the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet at the moment, is morally reprehensible. The war in Yemen has displaced 3 million people, 10% of the population, while half the population faces starvation. (Imagine over 30 million U.S. Americans displaced by violence, and another 160 million facing starvation). It is hard to imagine that level of destruction, and if we ever get to that point, thanks to Trump, no country on the planet will be willing to help.

That said, the war in Yemen and the U.S. government support for Saudi Arabia, has been a moral disgrace for a long-time. Trump, once again, is taking bad, long-standing policy, and making it worse.

Trump administration will block bond for asylum seekers

To only make the above point more clear, the Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, has issued new rules overturning a precedent that allowed asylum seekers to seek bond hearings while waiting the adjudication of their cases. Barr is seeking to change that rule, effectively denying bond hearings to people who cross the border outside of regular ports of entry. The impact will be horrendous for tens of thousands of people, who will now face indefinite detention.

With the immigration court backlog at an all-time high – there are close to 900,000 pending cases – asylum-seekers are waiting over 1,000 days on average for their cases to be processed, meaning Barr’s decision could lead to the indefinite detention of thousands of people.

Immigration enforcement is currently holding a record number of people, more than 50,000, in detention as part of the Trump administration’s broad crackdown on migrants. Barr’s decision is likely to significantly add to that number as the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] prepares to erect new tent detention facilities close to the border.

Good News (yeah sometimes we have this!): Court overturns Trump’s effort to end TPS for Haiti

From the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild press release:

“In a victory for due process and a blow to Trump’s racially-biased, anti-immigrant policies, yesterday, federal district judge William F. Kuntz II issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.”

Ten items to highlight from the ruling:

  1. In an unusual step, the Court issued the injunction not only against DHS, but also against President Trump, to ensure the White House operates in accordance with the law (pp. 67-70).

  2. The Court found that Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke sought to terminate TPS for Haiti due in part to President Trump’s “America First” policy of reducing the number of non-white immigrants in the U.S., and unrelated to conditions in Haiti (pp. 91-93).

  3. The Court found that former DHS Secretary Kelly unlawfully predetermined the termination of Haiti’s TPS when he made his decision to extend TPS for Haiti in May of 2017. The Court cited to a “privileged” email directive to the agency that it should announce a 6-month extension, but also make clear in the federal register notice that Haiti’s TPS will be terminated in 6 months. In other words, it was unlawful for DHS to predetermine to cancel TPS at the same that time that DHS extended TPS (p. 29, pp. 93-95).

  4. The Court found that high level officials furthered the agenda to dismantle the TPS program, including Gene Hamilton, then-Senior Advisor to Secretary Kelly and previously a member of President Trump’s transition team on immigration, who wrote, “African countries are toast…Haiti is next” (p. 115, p. 132).

  5. The Court found that after the Haiti termination decision was announced, a DHS official admitted in a privileged email that it was the White House who led the TPS decision-making process for Haiti and influenced Duke. This included a November 2017 meeting orchestrated by the White House, during which Jeff Sessions, attorney general at the time, and many other White House officials, leaned on Duke to terminate Haiti’s TPS status. The implication of this finding is that the White House did indeed pressure DHS to change its process about TPS decisions (p. 128, p. 129).

  6. The Court found that State Department officials manipulated the process to reach a pretextual decision by ignoring the views of U.S. embassy officials in contravention of longstanding practice, rescinding an already-delivered recommendation to extend Haiti’s TPS from June, labeled in a privileged email by Secretary Nielsen as a mistake, and coordinating its review with DHS to terminate Haiti’s TPS (pp. 36-42, p. 100).

  7. The Court found that DHS officials Kathy Kovarik, Robert Law, Francis Cissna, and others manipulated the facts to reach a preordained decision by omitting negative information of Haiti’s country conditions from its memos and searching for any positive facts. For example, DHS official Robert Law noted to Kathy Kovarik that the draft decision memo for Haiti is “overwhelmingly weighted for extension which I do not think is the conclusion we are looking for.” In fewer than thirty minutes, and thus with no time to conduct any factual or legal analysis, Law returned another draft director memorandum, that “made the document fully support termination” (pp. 95- 97).

  8. The Court also pointed to then Secretary Kelly’s atypical and unprecedented directives to his staff to “search for criminality and welfare data” as “further evidence the agency was fishing for reasons to terminate TPS for Haiti,” and as evidence of discriminatory intent (pp. 23-25, p. 134). The Court also took note of Kelly’s racist statement that Haitians are “not a bad people, but they are welfare recipients” (p. 31, pp. 98-99, p. 132).

  9. The Court found that DHS unlawfully changed its past practice of looking to all country conditions to determine whether it was safe for nationals to return to their home country to only conditions related to the originating event, without explanation and in contravention of the statute (pp. 105-110).

  10. While the decisions to terminate Honduras’ and El Salvador’s TPS were delayed, the Court found that those decisions were predetermined in 2017 for Haiti, as evidenced by privileged government memos about the implications of the impending terminations for those countries. This means that the Judge, after examining evidence he could only see, found that Honduras and El Salvador were treated in a similar matter as Haiti (p. 132).

 

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Daily Dispatch 4/16/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 16, 2019


Reshuffling of personnel at border creates major delays

The Trump administration’s decision to relocate border patrol agents from ports of entry to manage detention and processing of asylum seekers is stifling commerce at the border during Holy Week, traditionally a major shopping time for people crossing from Mexico into the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security said last month it was redirecting 750 Customs and Border Protection officers from the ports of entry in El Paso, Laredo, Tucson and San Diego to assist U.S. Border Patrol agents in processing undocumented immigrants. The reassignments have caused massive delays at international bridges for pedestrian, vehicular and cargo traffic in the weeks leading up to Holy Week.

That has merchants concerned about how the administration’s decision to pull hundreds of agents away from their duties at the international bridges will impact El Paso’s retail sector — especially now at the beginning of Holy Week, one of the busiest seasons for cross-border shopping.

Full story from Texas Tribune here.

ICE Deports Husband of U.S. Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

From CNN:

The husband of a US Army soldier killed in combat was detained and deported to Mexico last week by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement even though he had been granted permission to stay in the US, according to his attorney.

The man, who is now back in Phoenix, where he lives, had been granted “parole in place,” clearing him to remain in the US after his wife was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan, the attorney says.

Jose Gonzalez Carranza was arrested by ICE agents at his home in Phoenix on April 8 and was taken to Nogales, Mexico, on the border two days later, his lawyer, Ezequiel Hernandez, told CNN on Monday. Carranza was brought back to Phoenix and released Monday, hours after his deportation was first reported by The Arizona Republic.

Though Carranza had been granted “parole in place” following his wife’s death in Afghanistan, ICE began deportation proceedings against him last year. An order to appear before immigration court was sent to the wrong address. Having not received the order, Carranza never went to court, and the judge issued a deportation order. A few weeks back we reported about how DHS’s frequently makes such paperwork errors – and those can have a significant impact on people’s lives. As was reported at the time, there is no clear indication they actually want to be more careful.

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Daily Dispatch 4/15/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 15, 2019


21 Savage Describes the Uncertainty of Immigrant Detention

Back in February when the world learned that rap artist 21 Savage had migrated to the United States as a child and that he was being detained by ICE, many of his fans were stunned. Organizers from groups such as Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Black Lives Matter banded together for the #Free21Savage campaign and he was ultimately released on bond.

Despite prior arrests that had put 21 Savage in jail, he described his ICE detention as a harrowing experience because of the uncertainty of the process. From an interview with Billboard:

He says that his ICE detention, which lasted for 10 days, was unlike anything he had ever experienced. “The worst thing was sitting in there not knowing what was going to happen, or when it’s going to happen,” he recalls. “Whenever I went to jail before, it was, ‘You’re being charged with this and going to court on this date.’ But immigration ain’t like that. You’re just being held.”

Some Creative Resistance: Where Are the Children?

Local organizers in the DC area are planning to put a national spotlight on the issues of child detention and family separation that have been highlighted as particularly egregious practices to use for immigration enforcement. From the announcement from this coalition of organizations in Howard County, Maryland calling itself Where Are the Children?

Please join us on International Children’s Day, June 9, 2019  to oppose this injustice.

National Mall in Washington, D.C. between 12th and 14th Streets

We will display hundreds of pajamas hung on clotheslines to represent the separated children. Each pajama is a stark reminder of forcibly separated families and parents spending nights away from their children.

Americans must remember that our government continues to divide families and
forcibly detain children.

The pajama display will be available to other groups wishing to raise awareness in their communities.

Nothing New Under the Sun: Native American Family Separation

As much as family separation shocks the conscience, it cannot be forgotten that this policy of taking children from their parents has been used repeatedly by the U.S. government as a way of controlling populations of people it failed to treat as full and equal members of society.

The National Native American Boarding School Coalition recently announced that it is undertaking a study of how child removal affected Native communities in the United States. From a release on Indian Country Today:

Between 1879 and the 1960s, tens of thousands of American Indian and Alaskan Native children were forced to attend boarding school against their parents’ and tribes’ wishes. The goal of these schools was to eliminate the “Indian problem” that the United States had to its westward expansion by removing all traces of tribal existence — language, culture, spiritual traditions, communal and family ties, etc. and replacing them with European Christian ideals of civilization, religion, and culture.

Moreover, while we might like to believe that this practice has ended, it persists in practice:

Although the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) was designed to address this form of cultural genocide, Native families continue to face very high levels of child removal. For example, in Alaska, where Native children make up 20 percent of the general child population, they represent 50.9 percent of children in Foster Care.

To read more on this study or if you know someone who might be able to participate in the survey, check out the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.

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Daily Dispatch 4/11/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 11, 2019


Behind the Looking Glass: Trump’s Latest Propaganda on Family Separation

On Tuesday Trump went off the rails when asked whether he would re-start family separation at the border (let’s be clear, it never ended!).  Trump went on a Trumpian tirade in which he argued that Obama separated families and the he (Trump) was the one to stop it. See video below.

While the blogosphere goes crazy with liberal indignation, let’s be honest.  The policies of the Obama administration did lead to family separation on large scale. The conditions were horrible. From the report “Divided by Detention” issued in August of 2016 by the American Immigration Council:

Through its custody determinations, DHS splits family members—sending them to different facilities around the country—while failing to track and reunite those who arrive separately. While DHS claims that family detention keeps families together, the truth is that a mother and child who are sent to family detention will often have been separated by DHS from other loved ones with whom they fled—including husbands, fathers, grandparents, older children, and siblings. Minors who arrive with non-parent caretakers are often removed from their custody. These DHS custody determinations that divide families do not occur in a vacuum. The administration has targeted these families, while Congress maintains a controversial directive to fund a minimum capacity of 34,000 noncitizen detention beds.

Further:

For asylum-seeking families who arrive in the United States together and who are apprehended together, the first point of separation is likely to be CBP’s temporary detention facilities near the U.S.-Mexico border. These holding cells—which are designed for short-term custody of 12 hours or less, yet regularly detain people for days at a time—are commonly referred to by guards and detainees alike as hieleras [iceboxes] or perreras [dog kennels] because of their frigid temperatures and harsh conditions. Detainees are first taken to the hielera, which they describe as extremely cold, overcrowded, and unsanitary. They are denied showers and supplies like soap, diapers, sanitary napkins, and sufficient toilet paper. At night, the lights stay on while detainees sleep on the floor or benches without bedding. They are denied medical care and given inadequate meals and drinking water. Detainees are isolated from their loved ones, their consulate, and legal counsel. They report abusive and coercive behavior from CBP officers, such as pressure to accept their deportation. Some detained families are subsequently taken to the perrera for an additional day, or even for several more days.

It is in this frigid and coercive climate that asylum-seeking families report being separated by gender and age. The women interviewed described the painful experience in the hielera as the beginning of a prolonged and indefinite separation from their husbands or partners, from other adult relatives, and from minor relatives who are not their biological children.

Another report on family separation, Betraying Family Values, issued in January of 2017, prior to Trump taking office, makes clear that many of the institutional problems that have led to the current administration’s failure to properly track family members already existed.

So did Obama’s administration separate families, including taking children away from caregivers? Yes. And this process was just as horrible then as now.

But Trump is still lying. Unlike Obama, the Trump administration has utilized family separation as a specific tactic to deter immigration. Family separation escalated dramatically in the spring and summer of 2018. Trump did issue an executive order suspending family separation – temporarily – but the practice has not ended. The underlying institutional and legal problems that have created this nightmare still exist. They existed prior to Trump; they still exist today. As with everything Trump does, there is a precedent, a prior policy or practice that his administration cynically employs, expands, or abuses, in order to create this phony border crisis and divert resources from things that would actually help.

We have to push back against this administration with everything we have. But pretending that somehow things were tolerable under Obama for immigrants should not be part of the strategy. Trump is lying, as he always does, about his own heroics. But he is not lying about Obama separating families. He did.

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Daily Dispatch 4/10/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 10, 2019


The news on immigration is bad. But there are ways to engage. Here are a couple of opportunities for action and support. We are also doing a soft launch of our Local Action Map, which you can check out for other ideas.

Our goal is to profile local action and opportunities a couple of times a week as part of our news. Feel free to share a story or details about an organization with us. Email tom@quixote.org.

Latinx Therapist Action Network Launched
(Abridged from organizational announcement)

We are excited to announce the launch of Latinx Therapists Action Network and its online platform www.latinxtherapistsactionnetwork.org. We have been tirelessly working the past year as mental health practitioners, students, healing arts practitioners, and organizers who are guided by a deep love for our immigrant communities, to bring together a collective of Latinx therapists who believe in healing justice, immigrant rights, and abolishing ICE.

The Latinx Therapists Action Network believes that the criminalization, incarceration and disposal of immigrant people are an extension of unjust mass incarceration.  The suffering inflicted today on migrants has intensified during the current administration, thus further illuminating the need for culturally grounded organizing and justice-oriented healing that is accessible to frontline communities. This is an offering to our Latinx communities at the frontlines of the struggle against criminalization, detention and deportation.

Areas of Work

1)     Build the resiliency of the migrant rights movement and its leadership through emotional health education where therapists and grassroots organizations coincide geographically and through building a vibrant online platform of resources.

2)     Deepen the consciousness of Latinx Therapists about issues of criminalization, incarceration and migration.

3)     Stand in Solidarity with the migrant rights movement against criminalization, detention and deportation.   

4)     Build a directory of Latinx therapist committed to providing culturally grounding and financially accessible mental health services to communities on the frontlines of the struggle for migrant rights.

If interested in learning more, check the website and review the guiding principles here.

Lawyers needed for TPS Clinic on May 4 (Westbury, New York)

The national Labor & Employment Committee of the National Lawyers Guild has partnered with Working Families United (WFU) to plan a series of immigration clinics across the country for union members who are Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients. You can read more about WFU below. The next clinic is scheduled for May 4 at the UFCW local 1500 office in Westbury, NY.

For the May 4th clinic, WFU is looking for volunteer attorneys who have knowledge of legal protections for and issues affecting employees with TPS at work.  If you have this background and are interested in volunteering, please contact Setareh Ghandehari, of the national Labor & Employment Committee. Her email is nlglabor@gmail.com.  Please forward this request to others who might be interested in volunteering.

Project Unify

Project Unify is a program of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. They are currently looking for attorneys and interpreters to assist with a court-mandated site inspection of the family detention center in Dilley, TX (near San Antonio) that will happen April 15-17. Kind of last minute, we know. To get involved in this, or other activity in the future, check out the website.

From the Project Unify volunteer page:

We are looking for licensed attorneys, social workers, mental health specialists, pediatricians, health care specialists and interpreters to help us conduct interviews and on-site visits as well as provide consultations, assessments, and occasionally legal representation and health care services and referrals. We are also looking for organizations within these sectors that would like to volunteer. Please follow this link to the registration page if you are interested.

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Daily Dispatch 4/9/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 9, 2019


Disorder by Design

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has released a report on immigration policy, Disorder by Design: A Manufactured U.S. Emergency and the Real Crisis in Central America. The report is specifically focused on IRC’s work in El Salvador and more recent work in the United States. There is some great background in the report on policy initiatives by the Trump administration. The core theme of the report – that Trump is creating disorder at the border to create a sense of crisis for political purposes – is convincing.

The director of the URC, David Milliband, gave an interview with the Guardian about the report. From The Guardian:

In an interview with the Guardian from IRC’s headquarters in New York, Miliband said that Trump’s approach to immigration amounted to “disorder by design”.“The administration needs to create the evidence to justify its immigration policies – it is using the concept of crisis to create the justification for government by executive fiat.”

The national emergency declared by the US president in February to bolster his plans for a border wall were denounced by Miliband as “manufactured crisis”. He said: “By no standards of national or international precedent would you describe it as a crisis, even in the communities affected in the southern US.”

Meanwhile, thousands of vulnerable people are suffering because of the removal of US protections, slow processing of their asylum claims and cuts in federal aid, he said. “The people who pay the price for government policy failure are the most vulnerable and least able to cope, whether Americans who are on the edge or Central Americans who are over the edge. That is a great danger.”

Trump instructs border patrol agents to break the law…yeah

Jake Tapper writes for CNN online, that the president instructed border patrols agents to simply refuse entry to people seeking asylum, and that he is pressing to ramp up family separations again – even for families that present at ports of entry. Read the full story here.

Last Friday, the President visited Calexico, California, where he said, “We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple.”

Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.”

After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.

On family separation,

Senior administration officials also told CNN that in the last four months or so, the President has been pushing Nielsen to enforce a stricter and more widespread “zero tolerance” immigration policy — not just the original policy started by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and undone by the President once it was criticized — that called for the prosecution of individuals crossing the border illegally between ports of entry, resulting in the separation of parents from children.

According to multiple sources, the President wanted families separated even if they came in at a legal port of entry and were legal asylum seekers. The President wanted families separated even if they were apprehended within the US. He thinks the separations work to deter migrants from coming.

Sources told CNN that Nielsen tried to explain they could not bring the policy back because of court challenges, and White House staffers tried to explain it would be an unmitigated PR disaster.

With Nielsen out now, will the president look for someone even more compliant? It is a real danger.  “At the end of the day,” a senior administration official said, “the President refuses to understand that the Department of Homeland Security is constrained by the laws.”

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Daily Dispatch 4/8/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 8, 2019


Kirstjen Nielsen Out, What Next?

The top story over the last couple of days has been the forced resignation of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The move has been anticipated for a while. Trump’s decision to push Nielsen out, however, comes after several weeks of news about increased border crossings. Nielsen was hardly a voice for sanity in this administration. She fully supported the child separation policy, and worked to turn Trump’s demagoguery into policy in other areas as well. Thus, her departure is not unwelcome on one hand. On the other, it likely signals that the administration may go even further down the nationalist road, raising the “border crisis” to an even more maniacal cry under the leadership of hardliner Stephen Miller, and fully appeasing the talking heads at Fox News.

The ousting of Nielsen came on the heels of Trump pulling the nomination of Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Ron Vitiello, as permanent head of the department – “a move seen as part of a larger effort by Miller, an immigration hardliner, and his allies at the White House to clean house at the department and bring in more people who share their views, the people said.”  

As Nielsen departs, Trump has appointed U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan as Acting Secretary of DHS. McAleenan is not likely to last long in this position.

If this cleaning house is an effort to set up his team for the 2020 presidential election, the dynamics at the border are likely to disintegrate even further. We have some evidence of this from Trump’s rhetoric, which was, in the words of a CNN story, “scorching even by the standards of Trump himself,” over the weekend:

“Can’t take you anymore. Can’t take you. Our country is full … Can’t take you anymore, I’m sorry. So turn around. That’s the way it is,” Trump said in a message to asylum seekers during a trip to the border on Friday.

A day later, Trump mocked those fleeing persecution seeking a better life in the United States, portraying asylum seekers as criminals and gang members, rather than the families Nielsen described in a CNN interview last week.

“‘I am very fearful for my life,'” Trump said mockingly during a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday. “I am very worried that I will be accosted if I am sent back home. No, no, he’ll do the accosting!”

“Asylum, oh give him asylum! He’s afraid!” Trump said.

Trump can only play one note on immigration: fear. While so many of us are continually shocked, offended, or simply angered by the fact-free and mean- spirited way he spins the issue, it is sobering to know this approach is part of what got him elected. Certainly, that is his understanding. There seems to be no rhetorical bar too low for him to crawl under.

18. More. Months.

Meanwhile…

While Trump instructed asylum seekers to return home because “the country is full,” the Department of Homeland Security and the Labor Department are expanding the number of visas available to non-farm workers (H-2B visas) by 50% (from 66,000 to 96,000).  From the New York Times:

Unions and immigration opponents argue that hiring H-2B workers suppresses wages and deprives Americans of jobs. Advocacy groups say foreign workers are often exploited, and employers say the cap encourages businesses to hire undocumented workers.

Andrea Palermo, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, did not directly answer questions about what was behind the plan for additional H-2B visas. She also did not address questions about the apparent contradiction in the administration’s positions.

“Congress — not D.H.S. — should be responsible for determining whether the annual numerical limitations for H-2B workers set by Congress need to be modified, and by how much, and for setting parameters to ensure that enough workers are available to meet employers’ temporary needs throughout the year,” she said.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

The lost children of U.S. Immigration Policy

Two years. It will take up to two years to track what happened to children seized at the border and/or  separated from families. Two years!! From USA Today:

The filing Friday outlined the government’s plan to use data analysis and manual reviews to sift through the cases of about 47,000 children who were apprehended by U.S. immigration officials from July 1, 2017, to June 25, 2018, to identify which children might have been taken from family members. It estimated the process “would take at least 12 months, and possibly up to 24 months.” 

Last month, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw expanded the number of migrant families that the government may be forced to reunite under his previous order after an inspector general report revealed that the administration had an undisclosed family separation pilot program in place starting in July of 2017. The ruling was made as part of a lawsuit led by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

 

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Daily Dispatch 4/5/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 5, 2019


Walls and Bridges

Photo: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times

The Trump administration continues to reach new lows in its treatment of refugees from Central America. Last week, the situation of asylum seekers detained underneath a bridge in El Paso became a national story. It is worth taking a minute to watch this video from the Los Angeles Times to appreciate the conditions people were being held in.

The New Colossus, the poem by Emma Lazarus which adorns the Statue of Liberty, is worth reading in its entirety.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This notion of a nation of immigrants, in past times welcomed into a melting pot of culture, is an important part of the mythology of the United States. It constitutes the ideological sinews we flex under the banner of (U.S.) American exceptionalism. All are welcome!

The picture and video we have seen above, along with so many other stories we have shared and seen and heard, tell us this narrative is false. 

And yet, we actually want to be this country. Right? Not an imperial giant, “with conquering limbs astride from land to land;” but, rather, we can become the Mother of Exiles.

For now, it seems the United States remains a version of that very old Colossus, the one that seeks to dominate and exclude. A fading empire, holding onto power with sporadic explosions of extreme violence, visited upon the people of this earth.We lift no lamp. We offer walls to block passage, and bridges – usually understood as means of unifying two places – become pens under which we hold people like farm animals. Provisions are subcontracted out to companies that make millions on this immiseration.

The profits of pain grow. It is the endgame of empire, played with cruelty.

Yet those who resist, who welcome, who share, and work toward building a more world justly loving, are all around. The light snuffed out by official policy is reignited among us, among you.

Get connected. Make a difference. 

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Daily Dispatch 4/4/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 4, 2019


Good news! Phone Company Merger Blocked 

Within the prison industrial complex, a particularly profitable business is managing phone services. In state and federal prisons, and amid the growing complex of immigrant detention centers, two companies, Securus Technologies and Global Tel*Link, dominate this particular service constituting 80% of the market, and are notorious for charging exorbitant rates. A fifteen minute call in Kentucky, for example, costs the incarcerated person $5.70!  

Beginning last year, discussions of a merger between Securus and Inmate Calling Services – the third largest call provider – began. A campaign was organized to push back against the merger. On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced that the merger had been withdrawn by the companies. From the Human Rights Defense Center press release:

The non-profit Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), which co-founded the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice to advocate for reforms in the prison telecom industry, including lower phone rates, the elimination of ancillary fees and an end to “commission” kickback-based contracts with corrections agencies, had previously filed a comment with the FCC opposing the Securus merger.

In its July 13, 2018 comment, HRDC noted the proposed merger “would further increase the duopoly nature of the [inmate calling services] industry and thus result in even less competition within that market.” HRDC also called on Chairman Pai to recuse himself from all actions and decisions involving both Securus and the prison telecom industry, in part because prior to his appointment to the FCC he had represented Securus when he worked for the law firm of Jenner & Block. He also had dissented on all votes taken by the FCC during the Obama administration with respect to reforms and rate caps involving prison phone services.

Read the full press release here.

Breaking: 280 People arrested in ICE Workplace Raid in Texas

From USA Today:

More than 280 employees of a north Texas telecommunication repair company were arrested by federal immigration officials in the largest worksite operation in more than a decade, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit executed criminal search warrants Wednesday at CVE Technology Group and four related businesses. CVE is based in Allen, about 25 miles north of Dallas.

We reported earlier this year that workplace raids are up under Trump’s administration (as with most enforcement actions). But this raid is by far the largest raid in over 10 years! More details on how the raid was executed will be forthcoming. ICE is currently facing a lawsuit about its enforcement action in Morristown, Tennessee last year.

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