immigration crackdown
August 26, 2019

Federal immigration officials have told immigrant medical patients who have "medical deferred action" to leave the U.S. within 33 days, Commonwealth Magazine reported on Monday, citing attorneys from the Irish International Immigrant Center representing the families. The Trump administration reportedly ended the medical deferred action program on Aug. 7.

The patients, many of whom are children, are reportedly being treated for serious illnesses such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, HIV, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and epilepsy.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) was quick to respond, blasting the Trump administration for its "inhumanity."

Markey reportedly called the decision a "new low" for Trump, arguing that the government is "literally deporting kids with cancer." Dr. Sarah Kimball, who works with immigrant patients at Boston Medical Center, said her patients seeking medical deferred action are "desperate."

As for the rule change, the chair of the New England chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said it happened quietly, without a public statement or advanced notice. Similar denial notices have been reported in California and North Carolina.

The American Civil Liberties Union has pledged to fight the situation in court. Tim O'Donnell

August 17, 2019

As early as 2017, the Trump administration tried for months to grant states the power to deny undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in public schools, Bloomberg reports.

President Trump's senior adviser, Stephen Miller, who is known for his hardline stance on immigration, spearheaded the effort, people familiar with the situation said. Ultimately, however, the contingent supporting the measure abandoned the idea upon realization that the plan would likely violate Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 Supreme Court case that prohibited states from denying free public education based on immigration status. The court ruled that punishing children for their parents' actions "does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice."

Miller's efforts reportedly included consideration of a guidance memo issued by the Education Department that would tell states they had the option to refuse students with an undocumented status to attend school, but it was never issued. Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said it was never issued because it would never have even been considered.

While nothing came of the efforts, it fits in with the White House's larger efforts to discourage illegal crossings at the southern border. Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

July 30, 2019

The Trump administration is handing out massive fines to undocumented immigrants taking sanctuary in churches, The Associated Press reports.

Maria Chavalan-Sut, an indigenous woman from Guatemala, has been staying in a United Methodist church in Charlottesville, Virginia, as she attempts to avoid complying with a deportation order. Her efforts have made her one of several immigrants taking refuge in churches to receive letters from immigration authorities threatening them with fines. Chavalan-Sut's fine is currently up to $214,132. At least six people have received letters so far, with two of those fines reportedly costing $295,630 and $497,777.

Carissa Cutrell, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that Chavalan-Sut failed to appear for an immigration hearing in July 2017, though Chavalan Sut's immigration attorney, Alina Kilpatrick, said that the order did not have a date and time, which she says is common practice. Regardless, Cutrell said the Immigration and Nationality Act allows ICE to impose fines on individuals who fail to leave the U.S. after removal orders.

Chavalan-Sut, who fled Guatemala after her house was set on fire while she, her children, and their father were inside, says there's no way she could ever pay the sum. "Where am I going to get that money from?," she said. "I don't know." Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

July 27, 2019

Francisco Galicia, a Dallas-born 18-year-old, who was detained by Customs and Border Protection despite being a U.S. citizen, is suing both the CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, The Guardian reports.

Galicia, who is from Edinburg, Texas, was detained for 23 days before being released earlier this week. He said he was held in a crowded space and lost 26 pounds, adding that he wasn't allowed to call his family or a lawyer and was unable to brush his teeth, or get access to a toilet, shower, or bed.

Galicia's lawyer, Claudia Galan, said she believes Galicia was a victim of racial profiling, while Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement at the U.S. Border Patrol, testified on Thursday that Galicia "claimed to be a citizen of Mexico with no immigration documents to be in or remain in the U.S."

Galicia's family and Galan are also working to get Galicia's brother, Marlon, a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant who was traveling with Francisco when they were detained, back to the U.S. The younger Galicia voluntarily agreed to be deported to Mexico so he could alert their mother to what happened.

"We're conflicted," the Galicias' mother, Sanjuana, said. "Overjoyed that Francisco is home, but half our heart is in Mexico. We talk to Marlon every day, but we want him here at home." Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

July 23, 2019

An 18-year-old is being held in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, despite the fact that he's a Dallas-born U.S. citizen, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Francisco Galicia has reportedly been detained for more than three weeks, his attorney said.

Galicia and his 17-year-old brother, Marlon, were detained at a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, on June 27 after traveling for a soccer scouting event. Marlon, who was born in Mexico and lacked legal status, was only carrying a school ID and after two days in detention signed a voluntary deportation form so he could communicate with his mother.

Galicia was carrying his Texas ID, which requires a social security number to obtain, but he said he was still detained because he did not have a U.S. passport on him. His attorney presented CBP officers last week with Galicia's birth certificate, a congratulatory certificate his mother received from Dallas hospital staff after he was born, a high school ID, and a health insurance card. CBP reportedly did not budge, and reportedly didn't give him phone access for weeks.

"He's a U.S. citizen and he needs to be released now," said his attorney, Claudia Galan, who is planning on presenting the same documents to ICE officers later this week. Neither ICE nor CBP commented on Galicia's case.

Between 2006 and 2017 ICE wrongfully detained more than 3,500 U.S. citizens in Texas alone, The New York Times reports. Now, many U.S. citizens say they constantly carry their passport out of fear of detention or deportation. Read more at The Dallas Morning News. Tim O'Donnell

July 14, 2019

The immigration and Customs Enforcement raids that President Trump has been promising reportedly began on Saturday night in New York and a number of other jurisdictions.

"We are doing targeted enforcement actions against specific individuals who have had their day in immigration court and have been ordered to be removed by an immigration judge," Acting ICE Director Matt Albence told Fox News' Griff Jenkins."We are merely executing those lawfully issued judge's orders."

Immigrant communities in major U.S. cities have been preparing for the ICE raids, as confirmed by President Trump on Friday. Trump has said ICE will initially focus on searching for undocumented immigrants with criminal histories, but fears of deportation are widespread, and many people even say they are carrying their U.S. passports to avoid being mistakenly detained by ICE agents, NBC News reports.

Several cities seemingly will not let ICE conduct their searches quietly. San Francisco Mayor London Breed said her city's police will not cooperate with ICE. "If you want to come after them, you're going to have to come through us," Breed said. In some cities, government human-service workers are ready to find foster homes for any children left behind if their parents are detained and marked for deportation. In many cases, adult undocumented immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens.

Protests also sprouted up across the country in anticipation of the events. Tim O'Donnell

July 6, 2019

President Trump on Friday said that mass deportation roundups of undocumented immigrants would begin "fairly soon."

Trump warned about forthcoming mass arrests on June 17 in a tweet. He eventually said he called them off five days later, delaying them for two weeks to see if Democrats and Republicans could reach a solution to the crisis at the southern border. It appears that the operation will now go forward, however.

"They'll be starting fairly soon, but I don't call them raids, we're removing people, all of these people who have come in over the years illegally," Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement that its focus was arresting people with criminal histories, but any immigrant found in violation of U.S. laws was subject to arrest.

Migrant rights groups said the threat is harmful to communities and the U.S. economy — adults and children often skip work and school, respectively, to avoid being arrested. One undocumented immigrant told The Washington Post that she has stopped going to the park and only makes trips to the grocery store every few weeks. "I don't know when I leave in the morning if I'll come home in the night," she said. Tim O'Donnell

June 14, 2018

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops started their biannual meeting Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, and the dominant topic was immigration policy. The current USCCB president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, began by condemning "two very troubling recent developments": Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to severely restrict asylum claims for victims of domestic and gang violence, and splitting apart families. "At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life," DiNardo said. Pulling young children from their parents can cause "irreparable harm and trauma," he added, and "separating babies from their mothers ... is immoral."

The bishops discussed several ways to address President Trump's "zero tolerance" policy, including sending a delegate of bishops to inspect detention facilities "as a sign of our pastoral concern and protest against this hardening of the American heart," as Newark's Cardinal Joseph Tobin said, or directly lobbying conservative lawmakers.

Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson, a canon lawyer, suggested "canonical penalties" for Catholics "who are involved" in the separation of families. Canonical penalties, which can range from denying sacraments to excommunication, "are there in place to heal," Weisenburger said. "And therefore, for the salvation of these people's souls, maybe it's time for us to look at canonical penalties." Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, suggested pastoral outreach for border agents struggling with their consciences.

As they were meeting, CNN reported that immigration agents had pulled away a baby who was breastfeeding and handcuffed the Honduran mother when she protested, but the bishops had their own stories, too. Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima, Washington, told about an undocumented immigrant in his diocese who faces deportation after being pulled over for speeding while driving his wife to the hospital when she was in labor with their premature child. "If you want to save the unborn, you have to walk through the doors of the undocumented," he said. Peter Weber

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