Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

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

Immigration Enforcement in Schools, Churches, and Courts: What the Government Can (and Can’t) Do

Martes, febrero 28th, 2017
 Immigration Enforcement in Schools, Churches, and Courts: What the Government Can (and Can’t) Do

 

Following the release of President Trump’s immigration enforcement executive orders and implementation memos, and the recent arrest of a transgender domestic violence victim at a courthouse in El Paso, Texas, there has been widespread confusion about where immigration enforcement can and cannot take place.

Questions and concerns stem from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) written policies regarding “sensitive locations,” which state that “enforcement actions at sensitive locations should generally be avoided, and require either prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action.”

DHS has stated that the sensitive locations guidance remains in effect and has not changed. But elected officials and community organizations, as well as immigrant and domestic violence advocates, have publicly questioned this assertion—pointing to the courthouse arrest and incidents near churches.

Memoranda from DHS component agencies Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2011 and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in 2013, along with FAQs currently posted on both the ICE and CBP websites, define applicable enforcement activities as “any action taken by ICE or CBP to apprehend, arrest, interview, or search an individual, or to surveil an individual for enforcement purposes.” Sensitive locations covered by the guidance include, but are not limited to:

  • schools (such as licensed daycares, pre-schools, or other early learning programs; primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools including colleges and universities; education-related events and activities; and marked school bus stops when children are present);
  • medical treatment and health care facilities (such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and urgent care facilities);
  • places of worship (such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples);
  • religious or civil ceremonies or observance (such as funerals and weddings);
  • during a public demonstration (such as a march, rally, or parade).

Notably, until this month both FAQs stated that while courthouses are not considered sensitive locations under the guidance, enforcement actions:

“will only be executed against individuals falling within the public safety priorities of DHS’s immigration enforcement priorities set forth in the November 20, 2014, memorandum from Secretary Johnson… Such enforcement actions will, absent exigent circumstances, not lead to arrest of non-targeted individuals and will, wherever practicable, take place outside of public areas of the courthouse.”

As of February 24, this clarification is only listed on CBP’s website. Advocates have pushed for years to include courthouses as sensitive locations, citing demonstrated concerns that the presence of immigration officials has a chilling effect on immigrants’ willingness to participate in the judicial system—including reporting crimes and providing testimony. Just this week, Representatives Val Demings (FL-10) and Kathleen Rice (NY-04) circulated a letter to congressional colleagues, calling for courthouses to be safe for victims of crimes. Reps. Demings and Rice stated:

“Unfortunately, these recent actions only encourage fear and run counter to decades of work to build relationships between law enforcement and victims of violent crime. We respectfully urge you to issue guidance making clear to ICE officers, special agents, and attorneys that victims of crimes should have no fear of seeking justice in our court systems.”

Community groups point out that the new enforcement regime under the Trump administration has also made students more fearful of attending school. Local officials throughout the country have pushed for greater assurance that schools remain off-limits for immigration activities. On Feb. 21, Chicago Public Schools Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson instructed school principals to keep immigration agents outside of schools and not to share student records.

Public school officials in at least seven other states have issued similar instructions or passed resolutions reaffirming their commitment to protect students. To date, school districts in Austin and Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Eugene, Oregon; Los Angeles, California; and Santa Fe, New Mexico have affirmed their support for students and families facing a new reality under Trump.

As the Trump administration continues pushing drastic changes in immigration enforcement, it is clear that states, localities, and organizations are tracking the government’s actions and will continue to expose violations and take steps within their power to protect all members of the nation’s communities.

Publication Date: February 28 2017
Source: http://immigrationimpact.com

 

The Outlook for DACA

Lunes, diciembre 26th, 2016
Navidad con los Refugiados

DACA
After a presidential election filled with hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric, immigrant communities face new risks and dangers when Donald Trump becomes president on January 20, 2017. It’s important to remember that EVERYONE in the U.S., regardless of immigration status, has rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. We will defend those rights. We are united in our resolve to fight for immigrant justice and protect our families, friends and communities. A growing number of state and local elected leaders are also committed to protecting those rights.

It’s too early to know exactly what changes will take place after January 20, 2017. But we know that President-elect Trump has promised to cancel every executive action issued by President Obama, including immigration executive actions, on his first day in office. That means that the 740,000+ people who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) need information to make important decisions.

Here is information that will help you make decisions about DACA between now and January 20, 2017. Stay informed and keep checking as this information may change if President-elect Trump makes new announcements.

IS DACA STILL IN EFFECT?
Yes. DACA is in effect until President-elect Trump acts to end it. That can’t happen until he becomes president on January 20, 2017.

I HAVE NEVER APPLIED FOR DACA AND JUST TURNED 15 YEARS OLD. I AM NOW ELIGIBLE FOR DACA. SHOULD I APPLY?
Applying for the first time now is risky. You will be exposing yourself to the government for the first time.

I HAVE DACA NOW, SHOULD I APPLY FOR A RENEWAL?
Yes, UNLESS you have a criminal arrest, charge or conviction, or have traveled outside the U.S. without permission. If you are going to apply for a renewal, you should apply right away. There is still time for the application to be approved. But if DACA is ended by the new president before your renewal is approved, you will lose your application fee ($465 now and $495 starting December 23, 2016).

I HAVE DACA AND I ALSO HAVE PERMISSION TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE U.S. WITH ADVANCE PAROLE. SHOULD I TRAVEL?
It depends. Traveling even with advance parole can be risky. Because of the uncertainty over DACA, there is even more risk. If you have permission and must travel, you should return to the U.S. as quickly as possible, by early January 2017.

I HAVE DACA BUT I DON’T HAVE PERMISSION TO TRAVEL. CAN I APPLY FOR IT NOW?
You can apply, but it is probably too late to get a decision before January 20, 2017 and you might lose your filing fee ($360 now and $575 starting December 23, 2016). If you have an emergency, it may be possible to get a decision faster. Check with a qualified legal representative right away before you decide to apply. Find legal help here. DO NOT TRAVEL WITHOUT PERMISSION.

I HAVE DACA BUT AM AFRAID THAT ICE WILL COME TO ARREST ME AFTER JANUARY 20. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
You have rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Find KNOW YOUR RIGHTS information here.

 The Outlook for DACA

 

Publication Date: December 26 2016
Source: www.iamerica.org

Border Children: ‘They Don’t Speak English, but They Understand Hate’

Viernes, agosto 15th, 2014

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas put a prominent, public face on the immigration crisis this week when he was detained by the U.S. Border Patrol in McAllen, Texas. After a number of hours and a national outcry, he was released. He first revealed his status as an undocumented immigrant three years ago in a New York Times Magazine article, and has since made changing U.S. immigration policy his primary work. Vargas was in Texas to support the thousands of undocumented immigrant children currently detained there by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Children are still fleeing violence in their native Central American home countries, seeking safety, at great risk, in distant lands. The issue is widely described here in the United States as a “border crisis,” but it isn’t that. We are experiencing a profound failure of economic globalization and U.S. foreign policy, amplified by failed, stagnant immigration policies here at home. The latest victims are the children seeking safety, who are instead being cruelly warehoused, shipped past threatening mobs of anti-immigrant extremists and deported back to life-threatening situations.

Tens of thousands of children are now crossing the border from Mexico into the United States, unaccompanied by adults, after making perilous journeys of thousands of miles, often riding atop freight trains that are controlled by gangs. The series of trains is referred to as “La Bestia,” or “The Beast.” Children riding the rails must pay hefty fees, and many are beaten, robbed, raped and killed when making the journey north. Some hope to be reunited with parents in the U.S. Others are sent away by their parents in a last-ditch bid to help their children avoid the epidemic violence of their hometowns, places like San Pedro Sula, the economic center of Honduras, which also now bears the distinction of being the murder capital of the world.

The influx of children has overwhelmed the government’s ability to house and feed these kids, let alone provide the level of care that is appropriate for refugee children. In response, the government has been shipping the children around sites across the Southwest.

This transfer has been a bonanza for xenophobes and racists, who have gained media attention for confronting the buses of distressed children. In suburban Murrieta, Calif., a small mob was protesting the transfer. Enrique Morones, the director of Border Angels, a San Diego-based nonprofit, heard about the scene and raced north to witness it. Speaking on the “Democracy Now!” news hour, he said: “It was horrific to see … the children inside the bus and their moms were crying. They don’t speak English, but they understand hate … of the 50 protesters that were there in total, about half of them eventually came out in front of the bus—the protesters were banging the American flag against the bus, screaming these racist taunts.”

Morones compared the scene to Selma, Ala., 50 years ago: “I want to make it very clear that those three buses were turned back by the Murrieta police, not by the protesters, because as the buses were approaching, the Murrieta police stepped in front of the buses and blocked the buses, which made absolutely no sense, because they could have just kept on driving and gone into the Border Patrol facility.” It was the police intervention that gave the protesters the opening they needed.

All sides should heed to message of Pope Francis this week. Referring to the “tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence,” he said, “This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.” The pope went on to make another key point: “These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin.”

The United States has a long and sadly bloody history of destabilizing democratic governments in the very countries that are now the sources of this latest wave of migration: most notably in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. In the 1980s and 1990s, U.S.-supported military regimes and paramilitaries killed hundreds of thousands of citizens in those countries. The drug cartels of today are the inheritors of that culture of violence. In Honduras, the U.S. supported the 2009 coup d’etat against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. After he was deposed, two successive U.S.-supported regimes have contributed to what University of California professor Dana Frank calls “worsening violence and anarchy.”

Jose Antonio Vargas, who came to the U.S. as an undocumented child himself more than 20 years ago, summed up the situation while in Texas: “These children are not illegal; they are human beings. And they are not a national-security threat. The only threat that these children pose to us is the threat of testing our own conscience.”
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.

Update Date: August 15 2014

Source: DemocracyNow.org and TruthDig.com