Posts Tagged ‘Enforcement’

The Perils of Expedited Removal How Fast-Track Deportations Jeopardize Asylum Seekers Part II

Lunes, mayo 22nd, 2017
The Perils of Expedited Removal How Fast-Track Deportations Jeopardize Asylum Seekers Part II

By Kathryn Shepherd and Royce Bernstein Murray
“I was interviewed by a male asylum officer. He asked me if I wanted to be interviewed by a female officer and I said that I had no preference. At that moment I felt uncomfortable telling the officer that I didn’t want to be interviewed by him. I had been raped in Guatemala and I could not share that entire story with a male officer. But I didn’t feel like I could tell him that I wanted to change officials. If I had a female officer I might have been able to tell her my full story. I felt fear and shame at the interview. I also feared that my husband could find out that I had been raped if I had said it. I can’t tell my husband because he would reject me and blame me. In my culture, if a man does improper things to a woman, most of the time the woman is blamed. My people think that if a man “crossed the line” it is because the woman allowed him to. In the Mam culture, men are the ones who rule and women have to obey their fathers and husbands.”

These are the words of Valeria, a Guatemalan asylum seeker, who described the difficulty she had sharing critical aspects of her claim to the asylum officer during her screening interview. Valeria fled Guatemala with Idalia, her then 7-year-old daughter, after years of extreme physical violence at the hands of Valeria’s father, rape by her ex-partner, and, more recently, a brutal gang rape by members of a transnational criminal organization (TCO).

Valeria and Idalia sought asylum in the United States, but were detained and placed in the expedited removal process. They were required to undergo the credible fear interview process—the first step for asylum seekers in fast-track removal processes—before being released from detention and permitted to continue fighting their case in immigration court. During those weeks in custody, the U.S. government expected Valeria to quickly navigate a complex asylum system in an atmosphere that frequently impedes a fair hearing. Valeria was required to overcome the challenges of speaking a rare language and articulating a traumatic story before she could pursue her claim for asylum in a full merits hearing with an immigration judge.

In years past, Valeria and Idalia might have been given the chance to make their case directly to an immigration judge, providing ample time to seek legal counsel and prepare to tell their stories fully. However, protection for asylum-seeking families like Valeria’s has been more difficult to access since 2014. In response to the dramatic rise in Central American families arriving at the southwest border to seek asylum, the government sought to stem the number of asylum claims by reducing the time and opportunity available to make a claim for asylum. This has been accomplished largely by placing many of these families in remote detention facilities while subjecting them to fast-track deportation processes. These processes involve remarkably complex procedures designed to prevent the unlawful deportation of asylum seekers, yet in practice they create additional barriers for many families.

Given that very few asylum-seeking families speak English, most have experienced significant trauma in their countries or during their journeys north, and they have no right to government-appointed legal counsel, the bureaucratic hurdles can be insurmountable. The added stress of detention, particularly detention of children, further complicates most mothers’ ability to remain focused on presenting a clear case for asylum. Nuanced legal standards applied by government officials asking difficult questions about a family’s worst fears and experiences threaten to transform what is meant to be merely a preliminary screening process into a full-blown, high-stakes asylum interview.

For many families, the physical presence of pro bono legal counsel at family detention facilities has made all the difference in their opportunity to seek asylum. But even for those who successfully navigate the process with the help of legal counsel, the challenges are extraordinary. Identifying and categorizing these challenges not only illustrates the high barriers to accessing the asylum system and immigration court, but also demonstrates why attorneys are an essential part of the process. To understand these interconnected issues, the authors drew from thousands of case files of families detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in (STFRC) in Dilley, Texas—the country’s largest family detention center—to identify some of those who experienced challenges in their pursuit of protection. Although many of the families whose stories are highlighted in this report were ultimately able to forestall immediate deportation and will have their asylum cases heard by an immigration judge, in all of the cases the presence of legal counsel enabled the families to overcome the multiple challenges they faced. These accounts from women and children provide a window into how these challenges plague all asylum seekers subjected to fast-track deportations while held in detention facilities throughout the country.

U.S. “Expedited Removal” Policy and Asylum Seekers at the Border

Beginning in the spring of 2014, the United States saw a dramatic uptick in arrivals of Central American mothers with children, as well as unaccompanied children, at the southern border in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. While there is always a confluence of factors that drive a wave of migration at any one time, epidemic levels of violence and impunity in the Northern Triangle of Central America (comprising El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) unmistakably drove these vulnerable groups to flee their countries in search of protection. The murder rates in these countries are among the highest in the world. In 2016, El Salvador was the most violent nation in the Americas, while the murder rates in Honduras and Guatemala were among the five highest in the hemisphere.

Although most victims of murder in these countries are men, there is acute violence against women. In 2012, El Salvador and Guatemala were ranked first and third, respectively, as having the highest murder rates for women in the world. Gang activity is a major cause of the violence that plagues the region. Teenage boys are targeted for gang recruitment under threat of death, while women and girls are forced to become “gang girlfriends” and the “property” of gang members or face a similar fate. These threats are often compounded by rampant domestic violence and threats of political persecution that jeopardize the well-being and stability of many families fleeing the Northern Triangle and parts of the Caribbean.

The migration routes from many countries to the United States are well-trod; for decades asylum seekers and migrants have made the journey to flee civil wars, poverty, and environmental disasters. Many who are fleeing Central America turn to the United States as a strong option for safe haven, given family and community ties. Most who fled in recent years knew full well the risks and perils they would face on the journey—traffickers, cartels, and bandits prey on migrants along the way— but left anyway. The search for safety was a necessity and remaining at home was no longer an option.

When more asylum-seeking families arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014, the U.S. government quickly ramped up capacity to detain arriving families with the creation of large detention facilities in Artesia, New Mexico (closed in December 2014); Karnes City, Texas; and Dilley, Texas. Prior to this, only a small residential facility in Berks County, Pennsylvania, was in operation. By the spring of 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had approximately 3,300 beds and cribs to detain mothers and their minor children, who ranged from newborns to near 18-year-olds.

Most families placed in detention are in a fast-track deportation process called “expedited removal.” A person subject to expedited removal (which, under current U.S. policy, may include those apprehended within 100 miles of a U.S. land border and within 14 days of entry) can be immediately ordered deported by an immigration officer without ever seeing an immigration judge. Those who tell a DHS official that they are afraid to return to their home countries are given screening interviews with an asylum officer to see if they have a credible fear of persecution. If so, they are entitled to a full asylum hearing before an immigration judge. If not, they face swift deportation unless they seek review of the negative determination by an immigration judge, which is generally cursory.

This process, while complex, is supposed to ensure asylum seekers are not unlawfully deported to a country where they could face grave harm or death. In practice, however, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers do not always adequately screen migrants or ask if they fear return to their home countries. At times agents ignore expressions of fear and summarily deport asylum seekers. Less than 20 percent of the people ordered removed ever see an in immigration judge due to CBP’s use of summary removal processes.

Última Actualización: Mayo 22 de 2017
Source: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org

How Fast-Track Deportations Jeopardize Asylum Seekers Part I

Miércoles, mayo 17th, 2017
How Fast-Track Deportations Jeopardize Asylum Seekers

By Kathryn Shepherd and Royce Bernstein Murray

This report shows through the use of original testimony that the government’s reliance on “fast-track” deportation methods, such as expedited removal, in conjunction with detention often results in disadvantaging one of the most vulnerable groups of non-citizens currently in the U.S. immigration system: women and their children held in detention centers in rural, isolated locations in Texas and Pennsylvania.

Accounts from women and children detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, the country’s largest family detention center, illustrate the many obstacles a detained asylum seeker must overcome in order to obtain a meaningful day in court. The authors drew from a database of thousands of case files to identify families who experienced one or more of the challenges outlined in this paper.

Although many of the families whose stories are highlighted in this report were ultimately able to forestall immediate deportation with the assistance of legal counsel, all of them faced serious obstacles accessing the asylum process. Detained asylum seekers encounter numerous challenges, including the following problems detailed in this report.

  • High Incidence of Psychological Trauma among Detainees
    Many of the asylum-seeking women and children who are detained in Dilley experience psychological trauma as a result of their past persecution or fear of future persecution. This trauma is compounded by the experience of detention, the limited access to medical and psychological services in the detention center, and other policies outlined below.

 

  • Separation of Family Members after Arriving at the Border
    Current government policy mandates that women must be separated from their spouses, adult children, parents, siblings, and other family members before they are transferred to the detention center in Dilley, Texas. The emotional impact of family separation – and the possibility that a separated family member with the same claim for relief may be deported – may have a profound effect on the ability of a woman or child to testify during their fear interview with the asylum office or before the immigration court.

 

  • Medical Conditions Adversely Impact the Ability to Pursue Protection
    The women and children who are transferred to the detention center in Dilley suffer from a range of medical conditions. The prevalence of medical conditions may affect a worried mother’s ability to tell her story during her interview if her child is ill, or the sickness itself could affect a child or woman’s ability to articulate her story.

 

  • Limited Access to Language Services
    While the majority of families who are transferred to the detention center in Dilley speak Spanish, many do not. The languages spoken within the walls of the detention center in Dilley are diverse. Access to interpretation services is limited, which may present problems for women and children attempting to seek help at the medical clinic, ask questions about their legal cases, and, most importantly, undergo fear interviews with the asylum office or hearings with the immigration court.

 

  • Complexity of the Legal Standard Applicable to Credible Fear Screenings
    The immigration system is notoriously complicated, and the credible fear screening process is no exception. The legal standards to which asylum seekers are held are nuanced and complex, even for well-trained attorneys, let alone lay persons. Many of the factors outlined in this paper, including the prevalence of trauma and medical conditions, may further impede a person’s ability to understand the legal process and articulate a claim for protection.

 

  • Procedural Defects in the Credible Fear Interview Process
    The credible fear interview process is potentially rife with procedural errors. Asylum officers are required to conduct the interview in compliance with printed guidance and law, but occasionally fail to do so. For example, officers must ensure that an asylum seeker feels comfortable, ask sufficient follow up questions to reveal critical information in the person’s case, and evaluate a parent’s claim for protection separately from the child’s (and vice versa). However, an officer may not develop the rapport with the mother or child that is needed to fulfill these obligations. Such procedural pitfalls, and many others, may adversely affect the outcome of an asylum seeker’s claim.

 

While the voices in this report are predominantly of asylum-seeking mothers and their children from Central America and the surrounding region, the obstacles this population faces illustrate the high risk of error in asylum screenings for all noncitizens who are held in detention facilities around the country during their fast-track deportation proceedings.

Finally, the report looks at the critical role attorneys play in the cases of those who fail to pass their fear interview in the first instance due to one or several of the challenges highlighted above. The case stories illustrate how these pitfalls place families at risk of being returned to the very countries where they fear persecution.

Última Actualización: Mayo 17 de 2017
Source: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org

Trump’s Immigration Remarks at Joint Address, Debunked

Martes, marzo 7th, 2017
 Trump’s Immigration Remarks at Joint Address, Debunked

Written by Joshua Breisblatt in Border Enforcement, Enforcement, Executive Action, Interior Enforcement

This week, President Trump gave an address to a joint session of Congress where he continued his divisive, inaccurate rhetoric on immigration. Some analysts have said Trump moderated his tone in this speech, but in reality Trump isn’t shifting from his hard-line immigration policies. In his speech, he continued to falsely blaming immigrants for the underlying cause for many issues our country faces.

Below are five statements from President Trump’s Joint Address that need to be corrected and explained.

1. Trump claimed that we’ve left “our own borders wide open for anyone to cross.”

This is categorically false Since the last major overhaul of the U.S. immigration system in 1986, the federal government has spent an estimated $263 billion on immigration and border enforcement. Currently, the number of border and interior enforcement personnel stands at more than 49,000. The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents nearly doubled from Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 to FY 2016 with Border Patrol now required to have a record 21,370 agents. Additionally, the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents devoted to its office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) nearly tripled from FY 2003 to FY 2016.

2. Trump said that immigrants aren’t contributing to our economy and instead are “costing the country billions.”

Once again, Trump is incorrect. The study Trump cited and misconstrued was conducted by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), Engineering, and Medicine. The same report flatly states found that immigrants have “little to no negative effects on the overall wages or employment of native-born workers in the long term.” The NAS study also finds that immigrant workers expand the size of the U.S. economy by an estimated 11 percent annually, which translates out to $2 trillion in 2016. Further, the children of immigrants were found to be the largest net fiscal contributors among any group, native or foreign-born, creating significant economic benefits for every American.

3. Trump said that the government is “removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens.”

Despite the rhetoric, Trump has complicated immigration enforcement by making virtually all of the undocumented population a priority . The new administration is ignoring priorities that were put into place by the Obama Administration as a way to manage limited law enforcement resources and prioritize those who pose a threat to public safety and national security. The priorities recognized that there is a finite budget available for immigration enforcement, thus making prioritization important. The approach now being pursued by the Trump Administration casts a very wide net and will result in an aggressive and unforgiving approach to immigration enforcement moving forward.

4. Trump believes a merit-based immigration system will improve the economy.

The idea of a merit-based system is not new but it usually has been discussed as one piece to updating our immigration system, not the only piece as discussed in this speech. At its core, the allocation of points is not a neutral act, but instead reflects a political view regarding the “desired immigrant.” Since the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965, legal immigration to the United States has been based primarily on the family ties or the work skills of prospective immigrants.

The contributions of family-based immigrants to the U.S. economy, local communities, and the national fabric are many. They account for a significant portion of domestic economic growth, contribute to the well-being of the current and future labor force, play a key role in business development and community improvement, and are among the most upwardly mobile segments of the labor force. And if cutting family-based immigration becomes part of a trade-off for a merit-based system, we would be turning our back on a centuries’ old tradition of family members already in the United States supporting newcomer relatives by helping them get on their feet and facilitating their integration.

5. Trump attempted to make the link between immigrants and crime through his newly created office of Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE).

Despite the implications of this new office at DHS which seeks to demonize all immigrants, immigrants are actually less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born. Additionally, high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.

Photo Courtesy of C-SPAN

Publication Date: March 08 2017
Source: http://immigrationimpact.com