US immigrant kids: Held in Tents Cities

Around 10,000 immigrant kids arrived alone in the U.S. and were held in tents. According to some media based in Washington, the Trump administration projects to build tents in different military posts with the purpose of locking them up in Texas.

Officers from the Department of Health and Human Service will visit soon the US army bases in Fort Bliss aiming for getting 5,000 of these kids there while the rest are supposed to be left in the other two military bases of the state.

According to journalist Franco Ordonez —El Nuevo Herald—, it occurs at the same time that shelters for children separated from their parents on the border with Mexico are 95% full.

The number of children in this situation increased in 20%. The US secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions placed a zero tolerance policy that separates children from their parents.

Trump’s government justifies itself by claiming that the Congress allows federal authorities to free illegal immigrants who wait for their hearings.

The Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a round table with the Head of State rallied against those measures that hinder the immediate deportation of those children.

He noted that “it can take months or even yearsonce they get into the federal immigration court system.

Rosenstein added “In fact, approximately 6,000 unaccompanied children each year fail to appear when they’ve been summoned.”

As we know, tens of thousands of families and children that came alone were arrested since 2014, when Central American mothers arrived in Valle del Rio Grande in Texas, fleeing from violence and extreme poverty.

Leon Fresco, Deputy Attorney General under Barack Obama, said “dividing families is not only controversial, but excessively expensive.”

There were people who accused the government of Donald Trump of using children as pawns to score some political points.

Clara Long, American researcher of the Human Rights Watch, highlighted that “arresting children by immigration purposes is never positive for them and the possibility of having those children living on tent cities is horrible.”

When Washington criticizes the human right subject in the world, they do not mention issues like this one.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz/CubaSi Translation Staff

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Trump-Immigrants: Choosing the fox to guard the henhouse

Ronald W. Mortensen was nominated by Donald Trump as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

The nomination took place on May 24th.

Thus reported last Sunday, Los Angeles Times journalist Tracy Wilkinson.

Mortensen was a former U.S. Foreign Service officer and member of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

He has been characterized by his tough opposition to the entry of immigrants into United States.

Both Democrats and immigration advocates objected the nomination.

Moreover, Republicans, who have a majority in the Senate, should pronounce themselves about his nomination.

There, Mortensen could face troubles for his writings and statements attacking both immigrants and Republican senators, including John McCain, and even Marco Rubio.

In 2015, Ronald Mortensen, originally from Utah, told Marco Rubio: “You are either gullible or just plain dishonest on immigration issues.”

After Donald Trump took office in February 2017, Mortensen praised him for stepping up deportations of immigrants and banning some illegal entries.

In his blog, he referred to the success of the president “in destroying the myth of the noble, law-abiding illegal alien.”

The Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, where he worked, has been listed as a hate group.

The theoretical aim of the aforementioned center is “to provide protection, ease suffering and resolve the plight of persecuted and uprooted people all over the world”.

However, in a post on March 10, 2017, Mortensen argued: “DACA grants amnesty to illegal aliens who are criminals and most of its recipients have committed multiple felonies to get jobs”.

According to Los Angeles Times, the number of DACA (Deffered Action for Childhood Arrivals) beneficiaries, known as Dreamers, who have been convicted of crimes is very low; all have been vetted to get their two-year permits to live in the United States.

According to official data, the crime rate among immigrants is lower than for the overall population of the northern country.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) said that “Mortensen’s racist, vile and dismissive comments against immigrants disqualified him for the post.”

Jennifer Quigley, an immigration advocate on Human Rights, termed Mortensen’s statements “extremist.”

She also added: “At a moment when the world is facing the worst displacement crisis since WWII, it is astounding President Trump would nominate an individual with a hostile attitude toward immigrants.”

Finally, she pointed out: “Mortensen’s nomination is like choosing the fox to guard the henhouse.”

CubaSi Translation Staff / Jorge Mesa Benjamin

US Appeals Court Rules Trump's Immigration Order Violates Rights of Muslims

President Donald Trump’s executive order-based travel ban against people from six Muslim majority countries violates the US Constitution by discriminating against people on the basis of religion, Virginia's 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals said in a ruling on Thursday.

In a 9-4 decision, judges from the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals said that its examination of the executive order, along with official statements by the president and other officials were "unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam."

The ruling was the second by a federal appeals court to challenge the travel ban, signed by President Trump last fall.

The US Supreme Court agreed to allow the executive order's restrictions to go into effect amid ongoing litigation, but is expected to hear arguments on its legality starting in April. The court is expected to rule on the matter in late June.

Presidential Proclamation 9645, signed by Trump in September, restricts entry into the US for persons from eight countries, including Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, as well as North Korea and Venezuela.

In December 2017, the San Francisco-based US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that President Trump's third immigration order exceeded the scope of his authority. According to the court, the president's interpretation of Article 8 of the Immigration and Nationality Act deviated from legislative history and prior executive practice, and the president did not have the constitutional powers to adopt the order.

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The Trump Effect: ICE Immigrant Arrests Rose by 30% in 2017

ICE carried out more than 140,000 arrests that year after Trump authorized federal agents to target all immigrants regardless of criminal record.

Arrests of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. rose by 30 percent in 2017 compared to a year earlier under the administration of Donald Trump who has expanded the authority of immigration agents and ramped up anti-immigration policies in the United States, an analysis by the Pew Research Center showed Thursday.

RELATED: ICE Continues Targeting Prominent Immigration Activists

Data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, shows that it made 143,470 arrests over the course of 2017 and that the biggest percentage increases of arrests were in Florida, northern Texas and Oklahoma.

Meanwhile from Jan. 20, when Trump was inaugurated, to the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 ICE made 110,568 arrests, 42 percent more than over the same time period in 2016, according to the research center.

“Recent immigration arrest patterns demonstrate a growing emphasis by federal authorities on interior enforcement efforts,” the center said meaning that ICE federal agents are targeting undocumented immigrants who live in cities around the U.S. rather than those around border areas with Mexico or Canada.

The rise in arrests stems from a Trump executive order signed shortly after he came to office expanding ICE enforcement to include all undocumented immigrants instead of the limits that had been placed on the agency by his predecessor Barack Obama to focus on those who committed serious crimes.

RELATED: Trump Goes For Anti-immigration Traction Through New Rules

However, the research center points out that the number of arrests made in 2017 is far less than those made in Obama’s first year in office. ICE arrested almost 300,000 undocumented immigrants in 2009, which had prompted pro-immigration activists to call Obama “deporter-in-chief”.

Also the 2017 record of arrests is only the highest over the past three years, meaning that arrests during Obama’s presidency were still higher the first few years of his eight-year tenure before declining towards the end of his presidency.

Official data shows that between 2009 and 2015 his administration deported more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders.

However, Trump might manage to beat Obama’s record as he has signed several orders in recent months that could see the the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and other countries.

RELATED: Immigration Activist Ravi Ragbir Facing Deportation After ICE Arrest

Some of the ICE arrests in recent months generated large backlash in the U.S. as they targeted immigration activists and immigrants who have been living in the country for decades with families and jobs and had not committed any crimes.

Jorge Garcia made international headlines last month when pictures of him hugging his family at the airport as he was being deported by ICE agents despite having lived in the U.S. for 30 years, paying taxes and having children in the country with no criminal record. The 39-year-old came to the U.S. when he was 10-years-old from Mexico and had sought legal status for years without luck.

Also last month, Jean Montrevil, Haitian immigrant rights activist and co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, was deported back to his country less than two weeks after he was arrested by ICE, agents, despite having lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years and having no criminal record.

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Hawaii becomes the first state to file a lawsuit against Trump’s new travel ban

On Monday, President Trump signed a new executive order banning immigrants hailing from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days; refugees will not be permitted to enter for 120 days. On Tuesday evening, attorneys for the state of Hawaii responded with a 40-page request for a temporary restraining order against the new ban, saying, in part, that “the Executive Order means that thousands of individuals across the United States and in Hawai‘i who have immediate family members living in the affected countries will now be unable to receive visits from those persons or to be reunited with them in the United States.”

In terms of its language and execution, this new attempt to expel immigrants is somewhat more temperate than the one before it, no doubt as part of an attempt to dissuade naysayers. Trump’s first ban caused national chaos when introduced on January 27, and the order was eventually shot down by the judiciary system. Regardless, activist groups have already vowed to retaliate: Immediately after the new ban was released, the International Rescue Committee commented that the new ban “heartlessly targets the most vulnerable, harming refugees and helping extremists.”

In addition to its agenda of forced exclusion, the administration’s efforts against immigration and proposed border wall require that the budget of the Coast Guard be cut by 14 percent, while the TSA and FSA budgets will each be reduced by 11 percent, which, ironically, leaves the country even more vulnerable.

According to The Guardian, Trump’s new order is scheduled to go into effect on March 16. The Hawaiia lawsuit proposes that a hearing regarding the order take place on March 15. Other states have yet to follow Hawaii’s lead.

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Trump Seeks to Cause Fear and Terror, Undocumented Immigrant Says

Donald Trump's speech seeks to cause fear and terror in communities around the country, undocumented immigrant Astrid Silva, who was chosen to deliver the Democratic response in Spanish to the US president's speech, said today.

Silva, a Nevada activist, recalled that she came to the United States at the age of four and this is the only home she has ever known, so she was proud to represent the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are an integral part of the nation.

For the young woman, the president's speech before the two chambers of Congress was divisive, and serves as a reminder 'that the plans and vision of President Trump and the Republicans go completely against our values as Democrats, as Americans and as human beings.'

'The United States is not a country guided by hatred, fear and division, as he makes it look like. Our country is guided by respect, hard work, sacrifice, opportunities, and hope,' said Silva, who is at risk of deportation under measures of the current Government.

To say of the activist, 'in this country there is no place for discrimination, racial prejudice or persecution, but this is what the administration of President Trump has brought about for Latinos and immigrants.'

'During his first few weeks as president, Trump signed executive orders that put our entire community in danger. He took actions that specifically aim to harm the immigrant community and refugees,' she said.

According to Silva, the president is spending resources to transform working families into targets for deportation, he wants to spend billions of dollars to build an unnecessary wall, and he is seeking ways to deny entry to our Muslims brothers and sisters.

'President Trump and the Republicans can use calmer rhetoric and appear moderate, but we know that the wind blows words away. Actions are what matter,' she said.

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Meet the Afro-Latinx Activists Empowering Black Immigrants

Attacks on immigrants in the United States are undoubtedly on the rise across the board, but the experiences of Black immigrants, who face particular forms of racism, are often erased from dominant narratives on migration.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump was elected last November, there have been over 1,000 reported hate crimes against immigrants across the country, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports. In 2015 alone, there were 5,850 reported hate crime incidents nationally, up 6.8 percent from 5,479 in 2014.

While anti-immigrant hate crimes were already heightening prior to Trump’s election, his tirades against immigrants have only made the situation worse.

In Washington state, for example, Trump supporters spray-painted a swastika with a racist message referring to the President on a Mexican family’s home in Spokane. The graffiti read “Can’t stump the Trump, Mexicans.”

“We’re afraid they’re going to do something,” Leticia Rosas told the Spokesman-Review. Rosas lives in the house with her husband and their three children.

And in Michigan, a Trump supporter called a Grand Rapids church with a large Latino population and left a racist voicemail.

“I hope Trump gets ya,” the suspect said. “Trump’s gonna get your asses out of here and throw you over the wall. You dirty rotten scumbags.”

These hate crimes are just a sample of the oppression that most immigrants, especially those who are undocumented, experience on a daily basis.

But for many Black immigrants, there’s an added form of oppression as a result of the anti-Black racism they face.

Black immigrants are much more likely than nationals from other regions to be deported due to a criminal conviction, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, BAJI, reports. Black immigrants also have the highest unemployment rates amongst all immigrant groups.

It doesn’t stop there.

Black immigrants are also least likely to receive Temporary Protected Status, TPS, preventing them from being deported back to often war-torn or environmentally-damaged countries.

It’s no surprise that this particular demographic is among the most persecuted, given the long history of racism against Black communities in the United States. But little known to many is that Black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean are one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in the country.

The immigrant rights movement tends to be dominated by non-Black Spanish-speaking Latinos. But as the population of Black immigrants in the U.S. continues to increase, a growing number of Afro-Latinx organizers are uniting to serve this disproportionately attacked immigrant group.

teleSUR spoke to three Afro-Latinx activists to discuss how they are organizing to empower Black immigrants in their communities and what life for Black immigrants looks like.

Rocio Silverio: Fighting anti-Blackness

Silverio is national coordinator for the Black Immigration Network, a project of BAJI that works for policy and cultural shifts promoting a racial justice and migrant rights agenda. Silverio, based in New York City, is of Dominican heritage and identifies as Black.

For Silverio, the struggle to empower Black immigrants is connected with the struggle against anti-Blackness.

“In our immigrant communities, anti-Blackness and colorism takes shape in different ways,” she said.

“For those in our communities who practice anti-Blackness, it won't save or spare them from the injustices of white supremacy.”

Silverio’s organization is involved in campaigns that bring visibility to Black immigrants through advocacy, organizing and coalition building. BAJI is active in assisting Black immigrants facing deportations with legal resources. The organization also works alongside families from African, Latin American and Caribbean countries to challenge immigration policies that separate children from their parents.

While Silverio believes Trump’s administration is presenting more problems for Black immigrants, she says that previous administrations have been complicit in their oppression.

“The groundwork was laid out with the Clinton and Obama administrations,” she said. “It started with the last comprehensive reform of immigration laws in 1996, which increased deportations and applied them retroactively.”

Silverio has also been involved in campaigns to defend Haitian immigrants living in the Dominican Republic facing persecution. In 2013, when the Dominican government issued a ruling denationalizing an estimated 250,000 Haitians living in the country, she and others immediately hit the streets in protest.

Since then, she’s been active in challenging racism within community spaces in solidarity with Black immigrants.

“As many of us in the African diaspora, we understand the plight of being marginalized under structural racism,” Silverio said.

“It is our responsibility to work with people from other Black immigrant groups fighting for their lives."

Fatima Murrieta: "Blackify-ing" immigrant rights

​​​​​​​Murrieta is co-founder of the UndocuBlack Network, a new organization whose mission is to “Blackify” the undocumented immigrant narrative in the U.S. and facilitate access to resources for the Black undocumented community. Murrieta, based in Los Angeles, was born in Colombia and identifies as Afro-Latinx.

Murrieta believes that the existing immigrant rights structure has not properly welcomed Black immigrants into accessing resources, thus inspiring her to take action.

“Many immigration groups think they should only focus on the ‘majority,’ who are oftentimes non-Black. That has been a huge barrier in integrating Afro-Latinx and Black immigrants,” she said.

“We need to have a movement that actively engages impacted people, and that includes Black immigrants. We need to build trust in their communities.”

UndocuBlack Network was founded in Miami, Florida, in January 2016 as a gathering of over 65 Black undocumented persons in the area. Since then, the organization has been involved in planning similar assemblies across the country, as well as developing mental health initiatives, resource guides and telephone-based support groups.

Murrieta, who spearheads UndocuBlack Network’s Los Angeles branch, has organized workshops for Black immigrants interested in applying for citizenship. While providing legal resources is an important part of empowering their community, she believes addressing their health issues is just as important.

“There is a huge physical and mental hardship that Black immigrants experience in this country,” she said.

“They live under constant stress that isn't healthy. This stress forces them to get things like high blood pressure, which they are disproportionately affected by.”

Murrieta is currently partnering with high schools and colleges in the South Los Angeles area to host “Know Your Rights” trainings, legal fairs and health clinics catered toward Black immigrant youth.

Pablo Blanco: Welcoming the Garifuna Diaspora

Blanco is the founder of Garifuna Nation, a new organization that promotes the culture, identity and economic well-being of the Garifuna diaspora. Blanco, based in New York City, is of Honduran heritage and identifies as Garifuna, an Afro-descendent community that has lived for centuries on the Caribbean coast of Central America, especially Honduras.

For Blanco, who works closely with newly-arrived Garifuna immigrants fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, immigration resources designed specifically for his community are hard to come by.

“We don’t have a strong support system for all this like other communities do,” he said.

“Since we come from rural communities in Honduras, we’re not used to dealing with other people on a personal basis. There’s sometimes a trust issue. We would rather deal with our own people in regards to something like this, especially because of language.”

Because of this, Blanco is working with other grassroots organizations to create legal clinics for Garifuna people who prefer to speak their native language when seeking immigration help. He is also working alongside elders of his community to create economic development plans for newly-arrived Garifuna immigrants.

He is also actively organizes cultural events across New York City that promote Garifuna history, culture, dance and tradition. For Blanco, it’s a way to teach and build relations with other immigrant groups, which he believes are necessary tasks.

“All of us have to work with each other because we are all fighting for the same dreams,” Blanco said.

“With other Black immigrant communities from Latin America, we can communicate in Spanish. We also have shared experiences travelling to the U.S. that unite us. That’s a starting point.”

Blanco takes inspiration from his grandfather, who helped over 38 Garifuna relatives from Honduras move to their neighborhood in The Bronx. Today, the area has become home to thousands of newly-arrived Garifuna immigrants from Honduras seeking refuge.

  • Published in Specials

Private Prisons to Profit Handsomely Off Trump Immigrant Raids

Prisons are already filled to the brim with immigrant detainees, and critics warns that Trump policies are likely to exacerbate already squalid conditions.

U.S. President Donald Trump has begun to follow through on his promise to crack down on immigration and roll out harsh border securitization, and while undocumented immigrants will face the suffer the gravest repercussions, private prisons, on the other hand, stand to be the biggest beneficiaries.

In just two weeks since Trump signed an executive order calling for the expansion of immigrant detention facilities at or near the border with Mexico, stocks for private prison companies have surged.

While the Obama administration implemented the most heavy-handed measures against immigrants compared to any other president — actions that earned him the monicker “deporter-in-chief” — Trump is expected to substantially ramp-up the mass immigrant detention system Obama put in place.

Prisons are already filled to the brim with immigrant detainees, and critics warn that Trump's anti-immigrant policies and mass apprehensions are likely to exacerbate the squalid conditions.

Carl Takei, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, told the LA Times that there is likely to be “an enormous boondoggle for the private prison industry.”

“The immigration system already lacks rigorous oversight and transparency,” he explained. “And now there’s this perfect storm — a push to rapidly expand the system, a lack of existing oversight and the profit motive driving these companies.”

Private prison companies already provide a much lower cost to keep inmates, compared to federally run Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. That profit motive is at the expense of decent conditions in these centers.

A prime example is the Willacy County Correctional Center, in Willacy County, Texas. Conditions in the prison were so bad that detainees engaged in a mass uprising, cutting and burning holes in their tents, wielding pipes and brooms and taking control of the prison for nearly two days. After the incident, the Bureau of Prisons shut down the facility in 2015, deeming it “uninhabitable,” and transferred all the inmates to other federal prisons.

“The level of human suffering was just unbelievable,” Kathleen Baldoni, a former Willacy nurse, told a congressional briefing in 2009.

In addition, a 2010 human rights report stated that for every 1,358 inmates, there was only one physician on staff. The next year, a PBS documentary investigated more than a dozen allegations of sexual abuse by Willacy guards.

With Trump and his anti-immigration policies in the White House, heavy-handed immigration enforcement is likely to continue to rely on private prisons with just as squalid conditions. And the private corporations are already salivating over the prospect.

According to the Associated Press, the largest private prison operator in the U.S., CoreCivic — formerly the Corrections Corporation of America — has said it is able to provide the extra detention facilities needed to enforce Trump's executive orders on immigration.

The corporation's stocks had slumped last year when the Obama administration inched toward easing private prison use, but the company's economic outlook bounced back with a 43 percent jump in its stocks the day after Trump's election.

Trump’s executive order requires the detention of all migrants that cross the southern border, including minors and women with children. In 2016, more than 400,000 migrants were apprehended when crossing the border.

John Kelly, Trump's pick for Department of Homeland Security secretary, will lead the crackdown by tripling the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to have more manpower to deport and detain any migrant who tries to cross, including families, minors and asylum seekers regardless of their rights under U.S. and international laws.

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