Thursday, December 31, 2015

Immigration Detention Bed Quotas: Private Prison Corporations, Government Collude to Keep Contracts Secret; Undue Corporate Influence Seen in FOIA Redactions, Attorneys Say

Center for Constitutional Rights Press Release
December 23, 2015

Revolving Door: Former Head of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Office, Now High-Level Official at Major Detention Contractor, Asks Court to Support Secrecy

December 23, 2015, New York – In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case related to the federal immigration detention bed quota, advocates today pointed to the government’s inclusion of several affidavits from private prison corporations who are not parties to the case as evidence of undue corporate influence. Detention Watch Network (DWN) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) brought the case against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to seek more information about a controversial measure by Congress to guarantee the funding of 34,000 beds each night to detain immigrants. The government has redacted substantive portions of the contracts with the private companies, claiming exemptions to protect trade secrets.

“Private corporations that profit off detentions have grown to have enormous influence over how and where immigrants are detained,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Ghita Schwarz. “Now they are controlling what information the public can get about the immigration detention system. The government is using what are supposed to be narrow FOIA exemptions to protect the interests of private corporations.”[...]

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Petition: Operation Streamline punishes immigrant families. Don’t vote it a success.

By Norlan Flores, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos
December 23, 2015

A few months ago, my wife gave birth to our beautiful daughter. After the birth, I rushed home to change clothes and shower, but on my way I was stopped by a police officer. I was undocumented at the time, and when he learned this the officer turned me in to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who sent me to an immigration processing center.

I had been deported from the U.S. six years earlier and because I came back, I was charged with “illegal reentry” and processed under a little-known program called Operation Streamline.

Operation Streamline punishes immigrant families for trying to be together and wastes taxpayer dollars. Please sign my petition asking both the Senate and the House to vote that this program is not a success.

Even though my only crime was crossing the border without authorization, under Operation Streamline I was processed through the court in minutes and then sent to federal prison, where I spent three months away from my wife and newborn daughter. As the primary provider for our family, this was not only emotionally painful but economically devastating.

This expensive program denies wastes taxpayer money by incarcerating people who have made valuable contributions to our country and denying immigrants the due process to which they have a right under the Constitution. These “en masse” proceedings give people fewer rights than someone charged with a speeding ticket. According to the Office of the Inspector General, it has not even proven effective in reducing migration, yet the Senate is currently considering a resolution that would call it a “success.” By prosecuting people with potentially valid asylum claims, we might even be in violation of international treaties. If this resolution passes, it will become much more difficult to stop these senseless prosecutions and easier to expand Operation Streamline.

Tell the Senate and the House that Operation Streamline is bad for taxpayers and bad for families.

I came to the U.S. to make a better life for my family; I work hard to provide for my children and send money home to my parents in Nicaragua. No one should go to prison for that.

Norlan Flores, End Operation Streamline and CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos

Sign the petition:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Former ICE prosecutor may face criminal charges over document forgery in deportation case

A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement prosecutor could face criminal charges for allegedly forging court documents in a 2008 deportation proceeding against a Mexican construction worker.

By Mike Carter, Seattle Times
December 21, 2015

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating possible criminal charges against a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prosecutor accused of forging court documents in a 2008 deportation proceeding against a Mexican construction worker.

Recent court filings in a 2014 civil-rights lawsuit by Ignacio Lanuza reveal that Jonat M. Love, formerly an assistant chief counsel for ICE in Seattle, is under investigation for his handling of Lanuza’s removal proceedings in Immigration Court. The quasi-judicial administrative process handles immigration and refugee issues and is overseen by the Department of Justice.

“This case presents the issue of whether a federal official may … be held accountable for indisputably corrupt actions taken in order to strip a noncitizen of his right to a full and fair hearing in immigration proceedings,” wrote Lanuza’s attorneys from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.[...]

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Trump’s Vegas Hotel Refuses To Recognize Its Workers’ Union

The workers — more than 80 percent of whom are immigrants and more than 50 percent of whom are women — are now attempting to negotiate with a boss known for making statements offensive to women and immigrants on the campaign trail

By Alice Ollstein, Think Progress
December 15, 2015

LAS VEGAS, NV — Just 24 hours before billionaire frontrunner Donald Trump took the stage for the fifth GOP debate, the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas launched a legal challenge to its 500-odd workers’ effort to form a union.

After a year of organizing, much of it in secret, a narrow majority of the workers voted earlier this month to join the Culinary Workers Union and Bartenders Union, which are part of the national hospitality workers union Unite Here. The text of the company’s complaint — filed with the National Labor Relations Board in D.C. — is not yet public, and multiple calls to the hotel’s management were not returned by the time of publication. But Trump hotel workers told ThinkProgress that their company is “objecting to the outcome of the vote and want it thrown out.”

“Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that he expects and insists on being treated fairly as he campaigns to be the next president of the United States of America,” said Jeffrey Wise, a food server at the hotel. “I also want to be treated fairly. My coworkers and I participated in a democratic election process, just like the one Mr. Trump is preparing for right now.”[...]

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Trade Efficiency and Border Security at Odds on the U.S. Mexico Border

Through technological fixes and greater collaboration, the U.S.-Mexico border prepares for a smoother interchange of goods, while becoming an even more dangerous barrier for everyday people.

By Paul Ashby, NACLA Report on the Americas
December 10, 2015

While Republican presidential candidates make outrageous statements regarding refugees, unauthorized migrants, and a supposedly under-resourced U.S. boundary policing regime, many pundits paint the Democrats as the party of reason. However, this simplified dichotomy, while no doubt reflecting certain truths and real disagreements, obscures how Republicans and Democrats are singing from the same hymn sheet with regard to a new reality for the policing of U.S. boundaries. This applies especially to the U.S.-Mexico border, and the movement of migrants moving northward from Central America and through Mexico and across the country’s divide with the United States, one result being ever-more dangerous barriers to human mobility.[...]

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Central American refugees should not be 'cast out'

By John Wagner, Washington Post via Tico Times
December 25, 2015

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Thursday that he is “very disturbed” by reports that the Obama administration has begun preparing for a series of raids that would target for deportation families who fled violence in Central America.

“Our nation has always been a beacon of hope, a refuge for the oppressed,” the Vermont senator said in a statement. “We cannot turn our backs on that essential element of who we are as a nation. We need to take steps to protect children and families seeking refuge here, not cast them out.”

The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that the nationwide campaign, to be carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as soon as early January, could affect hundreds of families who have flocked to the United States since the start of last year. The ICE operation would target only adults and children who have been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge.

As he competes against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Sanders has pledged, if elected president, to aggressively use executive action to offer protections to undocumented immigrants against deportation as he seeks comprehensive reform from Congress.

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Banks Reject New York City IDs, Leaving ‘Unbanked’ on Sidelines

By Michael Corkery and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times
December 23, 2015

Nearly a year ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed that a new municipal identification card would help thousands of New Yorkers “lead fuller lives, better lives, lives full of respect and recognition.”

More than 670,000 people have obtained the identification cards since the program began in January. One of the program’s goals is to help many of those people obtain bank accounts.

But some of the biggest banks in the city — including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup — will not accept the cards as a primary source of identification, even though their federal regulators and some smaller banks have approved their use.

The banks’ reluctance threatens to leave thousands of undocumented immigrants and others on the margins of the financial system. For now, many are stuck with costly alternatives like check cashing services that take out a big chunk of a worker’s pay. Or they carry wads of cash around, potentially jeopardizing their safety.[...]

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Refugee Dilemma What do we owe those we take in?

“In recent years, we’ve seen this trend of people who survived the big civil wars of the nineties—Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone—come to the U.S. as refugees, and now, many years later, are struggling with the traumas they endured.” Immigration detention, [Heidi Altman] said, is even less suited for the mentally ill than are jails and prisons, which have become the default provider for Americans who need psychiatric care.

By Rachel Aviv, New Yorker
December 7, 2015

Nelson Kargbo was eleven years old when rebel soldiers attacked his village, Kamalo, in northern Sierra Leone. He was playing soccer on a dirt field at the edge of the village. When he saw houses on fire, he and his best friend, Foday, ran toward the jungle, following Foday’s mother and dozens of other people. They walked until late at night, when they came across a cluster of abandoned mud houses. Foday’s mother, who used to cook for the boys after their soccer games, told them to sleep under a grove of mango trees. “Tomorrow, we’ll keep walking,” she said. “We’ll make it to the city.”

The country’s civil war, which had begun five years earlier, in 1991, had seemed remote to Kargbo. He’d considered it only when he overheard his adoptive father, Lennard, a pastor who had assumed custody of him when his parents died, talking about it with members of his congregation. Kargbo was the youngest child in the family—he had seven brothers and sisters, who were all the biological children of the pastor—and he was accustomed to being ignored. He was reserved and nearly invisible, except when he played soccer. He hoped to play for the national team.

At 3 A.M., he and the others were woken by soldiers from the Revolutionary United Front, an army that was fighting to overthrow the government.[...]

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Monday, December 7, 2015

For Undocumented Women Seeking Reproductive Healthcare, Policing and Politics Create a Maze of Barriers

By Xatherin Gonzalez, Bitch Media Bitch Magazine
November 16, 2015

In September 2015, an undocumented woman arrived at a healthcare clinic outside of Houston, Texas for a routine follow-up exam. Blanca Borrego handed a false driver’s license to the receptionist at the Memorial Hermann women’s clinic upon check-in and waited to be called into the examination room with her two daughters at her side. They sat in that waiting room for two hours. Finally, when her name was called, her daughters stayed behind as she was led to an exam room where a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy was waiting for her. He handcuffed her and brought her through the clinic’s office, where her daughters waited and her eight-year-old burst into tears when she saw her mother under arrest. Her 22-year-old daughter, who has an open application for legal status through Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, told The Houston Press that the sheriff’s deputy turned to her and said they were arresting her mom for false papers: "She's going to get deported.”

Borrego has been released from Sheriff’s custody, and it’s likely that the arrest violates federal patient-doctor privacy laws, but charges are still pending and she risks being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As Borrego’s case works through the courts, reproductive health experts in Texas are concerned that her highly publicized arrest will prevent many undocumented immigrants from seeking medical attention, with fears that they will also be delivered into ICE custody by their medical providers.[...]

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