Tuesday, January 17, 2017

House GOP, Trump team hatch border wall plan

The emerging proposal would rely on a law signed by George W. Bush and potentially spark a government funding showdown with Democrats.

By Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan, Politico
January 5, 2017

House Republicans and Donald Trump's team are coalescing around a multi-billion dollar plan to make good on the president-elect's campaign vows to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, according to top Republican lawmakers and aides.

Republican leaders, in tandem with Trump’s transition staff, are considering using a 2006 law signed by former President George W. Bush that authorized the construction of 700 miles-plus of “physical barrier” on the southern border. The law was never fully implemented and did not include a sunset provision, allowing Trump to pick up where Bush left off — with the help of new money from Congress.

Yet the plan could potentially provoke a showdown with Democrats over government funding. Republicans are considering whether to tuck the border wall funding into a must-pass spending bill that must be enacted by the end of April. GOP lawmakers and aides believe they could win a public relations war over the matter by daring Democrats — particularly vulnerable red-state senators up for reelection next year — to shutter the government over one of Trump’s most popular campaign pledges.

Bolstering their cause is a long list of Senate Democrats who voted for the border measure a decade ago, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — making it harder for Democrats to say no now, Republicans believe.[...]

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Family Life Under the Stigma of Undocumented Immigration

By Rebecca Schneider, CounterPunch
January 4, 2017

“You have reached the voicemail box of…”

“You have reached the voicemail box of…”

“You have reached the voicemail box of…”

Panic set in. I was supposed to get dinner with him at Chili’s, my pregnancy cravings running wild for those honey chipotle chicken crispers. We had just talked about it on the phone less than an hour before. After a few minutes of waiting in the car, his family saw me, came outside and said, “He was pulled over by the police driving home in the work truck and they took him.” I sped back home, tears streaming down my face, and frantically told my parents what was going on.

We rushed to the police station, even though he told me not to come. He didn’t want me to see him there under those circumstances. When we got there, an officer told us he didn’t have any documentation, so there was no way they could release him. I went back to his apartment, scrambling to find anything I could that would show that he had lived here a long time – his high school diploma, his bartending license, some cash he had, thinking maybe it would help. When I got back, the officer sneered, “I couldn’t release him if I wanted to.”[...]

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Raids of Illegal Immigrants Bring Harsh Memories, and Strong Fears

By Amy Chozick, New York Times
January 2, 2017

NEW HAVEN — Anthony Barroso was 13 and getting ready for school when they came for his father.

As soon as Anthony opened the door, he knew the half-dozen men outside were not local police officers. They carried heavy weaponry, and their bulletproof vests read “ICE,” short for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

They arrested and deported Anthony’s father, an Ecuadorean who had been illegally working as a contractor here for over a decade. One officer warned Anthony, as his infant sister cried, that they would soon return for his mother.

“Everything fell apart after that,” said Anthony, whose single mother fell deeper into poverty after the family breadwinner was deported. He is now a student at a community college and was allowed to stay in the United States under a reprieve signed by President Obama.

The 2007 raid was one of the hundreds of coordinated federal sweeps targeting illegal immigrant workers carried out during President George W. Bush’s second term.[...]

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Friday, January 13, 2017

5 Ways Unions and Workers Centers Can Defend Immigrant Members

By Sonia Singh, Working In These Times
December 20, 2016

This article was first posted by Labor Notes.

As the reality of a Donald Trump presidency sets in, unions and workers centers are gearing up for a massive fight to defend immigrant members, building on lessons from the past decade.

Undocumented workers are at risk both from the government and from their employers. Sometimes employers are under government pressure themselves. Other times they’re using the threat of immigration enforcement to discourage organizing or keep workplace standards low.

Besides workplace or home raids, over the past decade workers have faced:

I-9 audits, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigates employers to ensure workers have the right documentation to work legally
No-match letters, where the Social Security Administration notifies employers that the name or social security number on a worker’s W-2 form doesn’t match its records
E-Verify, an online system that checks workers’ eligibility to work, mandatory in some states and voluntary in others

The president-elect campaigned on promises to deport millions of undocumented workers and to target immigrants from Muslim countries. While we don’t yet know Trump’s game plan for attacking immigrant workers, here’s a checklist of five questions to ask as your union or worker center prepares to defend members.[...]

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Trump faces hurdles turning immigration pledges into reality

By Scott Glover, CNN
January 4, 2017

CNN)President-elect Donald Trump will face several significant hurdles if he attempts to quickly make good on a campaign promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants from the United States, according to multiple immigration experts and law enforcement officials interviewed by CNN.

The likely obstacles to any mass deportation effort include required congressional approval for increased spending, vows of resistance by leaders in several major cities that are home to large numbers of potential deportees and long waits for removal proceedings in US immigration court.
"He's hamstrung," said Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan Washington-based think tank. "He did not understand that we don't have a monarchy. We did not elect King Trump."

As Trump's inauguration approaches, there has been widespread handwringing among undocumented immigrants and their advocates as they wait to see how US immigration policy may change under a Trump administration. But there is mounting evidence that whatever actions he takes will not match the harsh rhetoric of the campaign trail.[...]

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Enemy Within: Bribes Bore a Hole in the U.S. Border

“It does absolutely no good to talk about the building of walls or tougher enforcement if you can’t secure the integrity of the immigration system, when you have fraud and corruption with your own employees.”

By Ron Nixon, New York Times
December 28, 2016

WASHINGTON — In 2012, Joohoon David Lee, a federal Homeland Security agent in Los Angeles, was assigned to investigate the case of a Korean businessman accused of sex trafficking.

Instead of carrying out a thorough inquiry, Mr. Lee solicited and received about $13,000 in bribes and other gifts from the businessman and his relatives in return for making the “immigration issue go away,” court records show.

Mr. Lee, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, filed a report saying: “Subject was suspected of human trafficking. No evidence found and victim statement contradicts. Case closed. No further action required.”

But after another agent alerted internal investigators about Mr. Lee’s interference in another case, his record was examined and he was charged with bribery. He pleaded guilty in July and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.[...]

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Women the United States Is Detaining and Deporting

Horrific conditions in the Northern Triangle led to a major policy crisis for the Obama administration. A new wave of refugees could do the same for Trump.

By Emily Gogolak, The Nation
December 26, 2016

Time passed slowly inside the detention center. It was the after noon of June 3, 2015, and the oppressive heat of South Texas reminded Lilian Oliva Bardales, a 19-year-old mother from Honduras, of home. For 239 days, she and her 4-year-old son, Cristhian, had been held inside the Karnes County Residential Center, a family immigration detention facility an hour southeast of San Antonio. Inside that day were 604 women, some of them pregnant, and their children, some of them still nursing, virtually all of whom were asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the violence-plagued region of Central America known as the Northern Triangle. Two hours west, a detention center in the small oil town of Dilley held another 1,459 mothers and children. Lilian had been informed the previous day that she and her son would soon be deported.

“I write you this card so you know how it feels to be in this damned place for eight months,” Lilian wrote in a small notebook, dotting her “i”s with open circles. She had been deported once before, in May 2014, when she came north without her son. “You humiliate all of us who have come to this country for the second time. If I do this it is because only God knows what I have suffered in my country. I come here so this country can help me, but here you’ve been killing me little by little with punishment and lies in prison when I haven’t committed any crime… I do this because I don’t feel any life going back to my country.” She signed her name and identification number, and left the notebook on her bunk bed.[...]

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