Posts Tagged ‘DHS’

Daily Dispatch 8/21/18

A new series in which we (will aspire to) offer a sampling of today’s headlines on immigration, race, and related stories.

August 21, 2018

Top Stories:

Today begins what is intended to be a 19 day strike by prison inmates across the nation, demanding an “end to prison slavery.” In prisons and immigrant detention centers, prisoners are made to work for as little as $1 a day, sometimes in life-threatening work – fighting wildfires or working kill lines. The strike, set to end on the anniversary of the Attica uprising, is largely organized by prisoners themselves in response to recent deadly riots in a South Carolina facility. Jailhouse Lawyers Speak issued a list of “national demands,” including the rescinding of recent prison reform laws, fair pay standards, and restoration of voting rights. 

The Policies:

There seems to be a theme here: first DHS began using kids as bait to lure undocumented sponsors for deportation. Then CBP and ICE began taking kids away from their parents as a punishment/deterrent for crossing the border. Now the Department of State is getting in on the hurt-the-kids-to-hurt-the-parents trend, making changes to the Foreign Affairs manual to expand the definition of “public charge” to include government benefits (including CHIP, Earned Income Credit, Obamacare subsidies) received by US citizen children if one of their parents is a legal immigrant, rendering that parent ineligible for a green card. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but a couple of articles today are worth a mention. Check out Salon’s “Trump’s immigrant family separation strategy 2.0 targets children as they return to school” and this segment from All Things Considered.

Immigration policy takes center stage at the VMAs, as Logic builds a human wall.

An exploration of the many Stephen Millers of American history.

Examining Trump’s immigration policies from the POV of an immigration restrictionist.

The New York Time’s “The Daily” podcast begins a three-part series on family separations. Today’s installment examines how it all started (also available via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and RadioPublic).

The Courts:

29 parents who were separated from their children and denied asylum have filed suit against the government for violation of due process.

From the Salt Lake Tribune: Warrantless genital inspections at baggage claim by Customs and Border Protection. These stories recounted in great detail in multiple lawsuits against the agency are very disturbing.

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) head discusses new national campaign and associated resolution to establish an Article I immigration court system. Another AILA representative also published an opinion piece.

After two years in ICE custody, court confirms US citizen’s status as US citizen.

A DOJ employee who joined a group of activists protesting DHS Sec Kirstjen Nielsen at a DC restaurant and criticized family separation online has not violated the Hatch Act, according to the US Office of Special Counsel, which is “closing this matter without further action.”

95 year old Nazi war criminal deported to Germany – which is, frankly, a little surprising.

The Circus:

Trump salutes ICE and… Canadian public radio?  Reading from a teleprompter, Trump refers to Customs and Border Protection as CBC eight out of eight times. It’s CBP. (Full video of the ceremony with transcript.)

And then this happened:

 

 

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Gov deports plaintiffs in lawsuit, Judge says no, threatens Sessions w/contempt

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, US District Court, ordered that a plane to El Salvador carrying a mother/daughter who are plaintiffs in an ACLU lawsuit be turned around or else Jeff Sessions could be placed in contempt of court.

The two are party to a lawsuit challenging Sessions’ exclusion of domestic violence and gang violence as objects of ‘credible fear’ in asylum cases. Despite government assurances, the two were put on a plane during a hearing in which attorneys were appealing their removal.

Judge Sullivan described the move as “outrageous,” saying: “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her? I’m not happy about this at all. This is not acceptable.”

After Judge Sullivan ordered the government to bring the plane back, threatening that Sessions and DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen would otherwise “be ORDERED to appear in Court to SHOW CAUSE why they should not be held in CONTEMPT OF COURT,” DOJ agreed to put the mother and daughter on another plane to the U.S. as soon as the outbound flight landed.

I guess Sessions doesn’t want a taste of prison life – yet.

Additional coverage.  And here is the order:

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Government says reuniting deported parents not its problem – it’s the ACLU’s

Yesterday, ahead of today’s 1:00 p.m. PST conference call, the Department of Justice filed a status report (see pp.3-4) in the federal court of the Southern District of California, suggesting that the responsibility for finding deported parents for the purposes of reunification with their children rests on… the ACLU.

DOJ argues that the ACLU is better positioned to locate the parents because of its “considerable resources” and extensive networks of volunteers, attorneys, and like-minded organizations. Once they have been located, the DOJ is offering to facilitate communication between parents and their minor children who remain in federal custody. 

To repeat: The government of the United States of America is suggesting (a) that it does not bear responsibility for reuniting the families it separated through detention and deportation and (b) that it does not have the financial or administrative resources to so.

The ACLU is, to be sure, a well-funded organization. However, a quick perusal of public records shows a fund balance of $118 million for the ACLU while the Department of Justice has $29 or so billion in discretionary budget authority.

Here is a brief comparative breakdown:

In light of the above, the government’s claim seems dubious.

One might surmise that the government is admitting either to incompetence or to what many have charged all along – namely, that the Trump administration intended family separations to be permanent from the beginning and thus has no motivation to establish procedures and best practices for reunification.

Want to take action? Call the attorneys who authored this court filing:

Sarah Fabian, Senior Litigation Counsel
Nicole Murley, Trial Attorney
DOJ Office of Immigration Litigation
(202) 532-4824

Adam Braverman, US Attorney
Samuel Bettwy, AUSA
Office of the US Attorney, Southern District of California
(619) 546-7125

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The other Q

I first learned about QAnon a few months ago when Amazon suggested I buy a “Q” t-shirt.

QAnon is the conspiracy theory-of-everything that incorporates all of the classics (the Illuminati, the Elders of Zion, the Rothschilds, J.P. Morgan and the sinking of the Titanic, etc.) as well as the more recent (Birtherism, Pizzagate, etc.).

“Q” alleges him-or-her-but-probably-him-self to be a high-level government agent who has been moved to reveal details of a “deep state” conspiracy – though only in small, cryptic posts that followers must decode.

According to QAnon, Trump was recruited by the U.S. military to dismantle a decades-long occupation of the U.S. government by an elite cabal of globalists who kidnap children by the thousands as part of their international (indeed, interplanetary) pedophile ring (it should be noted here that the only one who has been kidnapping children by the thousands is Homeland Security, taking them from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border). This countercoup (“the Storm”) is led by none other Robert Mueller himself, whose Russia investigation is actually a front for his sting operation against the “deep state.”

Trump speaks to followers in code in order to prophesy the imminent purge of these politicians (e.g. the Clintons, John McCain) and the exposure of complicit celebrities (e.g. Tom Hanks, John Legend).1 “Q” then drops “breadcrumbs” to help “bakers” interpret this complex code. It’s like Pokémon Go for the alt-right, but rather than collecting Pokémon, they’re scouring the deserts of the southwest for pedophiles as part of the coming purge. After this “storm” is over, there will be a new Christian golden age.

Of course, like every eschatological prediction so far, Q’s dates have been wrong (November 2017 was expected to bring hundreds of arrests, staged riots, marshal law, and Emergency Broadcast System messages with instructions for followers) and, also like every eschatological prediction so far, Q’s believers have nevertheless grown more entrenched in their faith.

So, why concern ourselves with some dark, musty corner of crazy-town-banana-pants idolatry? Because of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

QAnon is not a community that lives solely online, but is becoming increasingly active IRL. As Will Sommer noted last month:

In April, hundreds of QAnon believers staged a march in downtown Washington, D.C. with a vague demand for “transparency” from the Justice Department. “Q” shirts have become frequent sites at Trump rallies, with one QAnon believer scoring VIP access. In June, an armed man in an homemade armored truck shut down a highway near the Hoover Dam and held up signs referencing QAnon. And celebrities like comedian Roseanne Barr and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling have signed on.

And the Southern Poverty Law Center has taken note, tracking use of the #qanon on their Hate Tracker, writing that “the surprising rapidity at which ‘The Storm’ has spread is testament to the extent to which such claims gain real life and become widely believed.”

The visibility of the Q crowd at last night’s rally in Tampa was accompanied by an increasingly vicious hostility toward journalists covering the event. CNN’s Jim Acosta, a favorite target of Trump crowds, posted the following warning along with a video of what reporters experienced last night. The video is disturbing and Costa’s fear is justified:

 

WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin reacted this morning to Acosta’s video with this:

… this is the behavior Trump incites and amplifies with his attacks on the free press. When he says the media is the “enemy of the people” or the worst people or the most dishonest people, his followers take it as license to treat members of the media as something less than human. Trump has defined the press as part of “the other,” and his cult responds with the kind of venom used to keep a foreign body at bay …

Rubin recommends that we stop “infantilizing” the “Trump cultists” and “treating them as hapless victims of forces beyond their control.” Indeed, treating them as such is just another form of other-ing – making them alien to us and removing their agency. The Quixote Center will soon be launching a new program aimed at countering these kinds of “othering” tactics – especially in relation to immigration, but the principle extends in both directions.

Last week, Trump said to a crowd of veterans, “just remember: what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” Such is the Orwellian fever-dream in which we now live. When our social media is infiltrated by foreign actors to spread disinformation and fan the flames on already divisive issues and is an outlet for the President’s frequent rants about “witch hunts” and “fake news,” the conditions are ripe for the proliferation and escalation of hate speech and dangerous conspiracy theories, whether they target politicians, the media, minorities, or immigrants.

We’ve been here before. We know that this is how fascism/totalitarianism/despotism (and the accompanying atrocities) begins. We have to be vigilant about what we believe, check our sources, do our research, and take responsibility for the ideas and information that we ourselves choose to share.

We don’t have to let history repeat itself.

 

Notes

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Pushback from Immigration Advocates

I don’t need to repeat all the bad news on immigration this week (although I may do a little of that). Instead, I’ll begin by focusing on how grassroots activists, advocacy groups, and even some politicians are organizing to quash the oppressive and inhumane policies being propagated by the executive branch in the name of spurious national security interests. 

Yesterday, Quixote Center staff attended a rally in Baltimore, protesting the Trump administration’s “family separation” policy as part of the National Day of Action for Children

House Democrats have also released a letter demanding that the administration end the policy.

Representatives from Texas advocacy groups, law firms, and the Women’s Refugee Commission have filed a formal complaint, in the form of an Emergency Request with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, demanding that children be reunited with their parents and that the family separation policy end immediately. They maintain that this policy violates international human rights standards as well as U.S. asylum laws and due process.

The ACLU has released a report documenting instances of child abuse by Customs and Border Patrol and ICE. The report is chilling and can be read in full (along with FOIA documents) here.

Stephen Miller, speaking for the White House, echoed the tired refrain that asylum is a “loophole” that needs to be closed.

Earlier this month, DHS secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, said, “If you as a parent break into a house, you will be incarcerated by police and thereby separated from your family. We’re doing the same thing at the border.” Not to beat a dead horse, but we would remind DHS once again that asylum seekers are not lawbreakers.

At the same time, despite protests by senior staff, Nielsen defied the administration by dispersing federal grant money to sanctuary cities. So, there’s that.

In another example of one step forward, two steps back, John Kelly said that TPS status should be eliminated and those here under that status be given a path to citizenship. In the same interview, however, he praised the family separation policy and reassured the nation that the children will be cared for – put into foster care or whatever.”

In other news:

At a rally in Tennessee on Tuesday, Trump engaged in a dangerous call and response.

“They’re not human beings,” Trump said. “What is the name?”

“ANIMALS!” the Angry Mob responded.

Scary. Really.

Last Thursday, Trump appointed Ronald Mortenson to be Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. Mortenson is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think-tank and Southern Poverty Law Center-Designated Hate Group with associations to white nationalism. Last year, Mortenson wrote an opinion piece, for example, titled “Most illegal aliens routinely commit felonies.”

Coming up:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will introduce a bill that would put a halt to Trump’s family separation policy.

And finally:

Thanks to all of you who commented on the DHS Notice this week. We tripled the number of comments and drowned out its supporters. Good work!

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Take Action: Tell Homeland Security to Stop Using Children As Bait

Since publicly announcing the tactic of separating children from their parents when detained by ICE (including asylum seekers), the government has seen an increase in the number of unaccompanied children they need to house. 

Now, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a public system of records notice (SORN) detailing its intent to modify its system to allow greater sharing between DHS and Health and Human Services, which oversees the placement of unaccompanied children into foster care. Frequently, relatives come forward as sponsors but this measure will discourage family members from doing so. This seemingly dull and bureaucratic measure masks the intention of serving as an immigration check on the sponsor and all members of the sponsor’s household.

Let’s say Johnny has an aunt in the U.S. who is a citizen, but she lives with her sister who is undocumented. Johnny’s aunt knows that if she comes forward as a sponsor for her nephew, her sister will likely be detained and deported. She therefore chooses not to come forward and Johnny remains in a group home…or on a military base.

In short, DHS, HHS, and ICE are using children as bait.

The public comment period on this notice will remain open until June 7. We urge you to comment on the notice and perhaps to politely tell DHS where to shove it.  

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This Week in Immigration

Just to give a sense of the unrelenting and multi-pronged attack on immigrants being led by the executive branch and likeminded members of Congress, we decided to bring together some stories just from the past few days. It’s dizzying, so I tried to keep commentary to a minimum and let the volume of stories speak for itself.

Monday/Weekend

Jeff Sessions ruled that immigration judges can no longer close cases, opening the door to re-opening 350,000 closed cases, which could “result in the imprisonment and deportation of immigrants who now have a clear path toward legal immigration status,” says Dan Werner of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Steve King (R-IA, the pride of my home state of Iowa) has introduced a Bill to jail sanctuary cities officials (HR 5884) called the Libby Schaaf Act, named after the mayor of Oakland who alerted residents to pending ICE raids.

California is considering extending Medicaid to all adults regardless of immigration status, further flouting Trump’s ongoing attacks against sanctuary cities.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will allow the ban on sanctuary cities to become law without his signature (despite law enforcement’s opposition to the bill), saying “it’s time to move on.”

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn) proposed a bill to crowdfund the border wall (Border Wall Trust Fund Act).

 

Tuesday

Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, was asked in a hearing with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce whether teachers should report undocumented students. Devos responded with a resounding “I think that’s a school decision,” leading civil rights groups to say, “um… no.”

The House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a hearing they called Stopping the Daily Border Caravan: Time to Build a Policy Wall. The policy in question was asylum, which Republican lawmakers described as a “loophole.” Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) complained that asylum seekers get all the breaks but frequently fail to appear at their asylum hearings “most likely because their claim was unfounded in the first place” (not because they never received their Notice to Appear, or they’re afraid of deportation, or they reunited with family members elsewhere in the country…). Echoing Trump, she characterized minors as “vulnerable to gang recruitment.” Capitol Police were called on to remove peaceful protestors from the room. You can learn more by clicking the link, where you’ll find full video and transcripts.

 

Wednesday

The Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration held a hearing called TVPRA (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act) and Exploited Loopholes Affecting Unaccompanied Alien Children. This hearing also addressed MS-13 gang recruitment. Video and transcripts are available here.

The House voted on a prison reform bill cooked up by Jared Kushner, which threatens to make prison slave labor the norm, but prohibits pregnant women from being shackled, unless guards determine that they really, really need to be. 

Trump talked immigration on Long Island, doubling down on his use of the word “animals” to describe MS-13 gang members and suggesting that foreign aid be denied to those countries that allow criminal immigrants to come here (a policy that would likely make worse some of the problems that cause people to leave). In this same photo-op, Trump said the following about children crossing the border: “They look so innocent. They are not innocent.”

Also, in a post-game interview with FOX, Trump seemed to suggest that NFL players who kneeled during the anthem be deported…? Or leave voluntarily? It wasn’t clear.

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Fear as Strategy: Trump Administration Using Cruelty as Deterrence

Several articles in the past week have focused on the ways the Trump administration is employing fear tactics as means to punish migrants. To some degree deterrence has always been a part of U.S. policies aimed at limiting migration. Yet, the current administration seems intent on reaching a new level of cruelty that is both immoral—and illegal. By targeting asylum seekers, separating children and families, and using enforcement in a campaign to silence dissent among immigration activists, Trump’s team is reaching new lows.

Julianne Hing, writing for the Nation, underscores the ways Trump is using the exagerated threat of gang violence from Central America to justify crackdowns:

Without needing to change any laws, the White House has used the threat of gang violence and the need to protect national security as pretexts for draconian immigration policies. Yet the real aim has always been something else: to inflict maximum suffering as a means of pushing out unwanted newcomers as well as those whose extended presence in the country may threaten white supremacy.

She also notes the escalating attacks on immigrant rights activists:

In addition to ICE agents staking out courthouses, school drop-off corners, and even hospitals—violating the agency’s own guidelines about not making arrests in “sensitive locations”—agents have also arrested or deported at least four outspoken immigrant-rights leaders in what activists call a calculated stroke of political retaliation. Recently, ICE arrested another, activist Alejandra Pablos, at a regular Tucson, Arizona, check-in on March 7.

John Burnett of NPR has also covered the increasing arrests of activists:

Activists across the country say they are being targeted by federal immigration authorities for speaking out at protests and accusing the government of heavy-handed tactics. The Trump administration has warned that anyone in the country illegally could be arrested and deported under tough new enforcement rules. And federal officials deny allegations of retaliation. But the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups say they have documented two dozen cases of immigrant activists and volunteers who say they have been arrested or face fines for their work. They say many of the activists who are undocumented don’t have criminal records and only came to the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement because of their activism.

The ACLU, Human Rights First, and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies have filed a suit against the Department of Homeland Security regarding the Administration’s use of a deterrence strategy targeting asylum seekers and other. The practices violate U.S. law. From their filing on deterrence strategy:

Detaining asylum seekers to deter others, without even considering whether individuals are flight risks or dangers to the community, violates the Parole Directive (which generally bars the detention of asylum seekers who pose neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community), the Immigration and Naturalization Act (“INA”), regulations promulgated thereunder, and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Indeed, even if DHS’s current parole policy were not based on deterrence, it would be unlawful for DHS to engage in virtually blanket detention of asylum seekers without individualized determinations of flight risk or danger to the community. The fact that the Policy is based on general deterrence—which cannot be a basis for civil detention—makes it even clearer that the Policy is unlawful. See R.I.L-R., 80 F. Supp. at 189.

Read the full articles:

Julienne Hing, “For Trump, Cruelty is the Point” The Nation, March 15, 2018

John Burnett, “Immigration Advocates Warn ICE is Retaliating for Activism”, NPR, March 16, 2018

Class Action Suit Against DHS filed by the ACLU, Human Rights First, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies.

You can also read our recent blog, Torture by Another Name: Immigrant Detention in the United States evaluating abusive tactics employed by the administration in violation of international human rights.

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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)