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Department of (in) Justice: We can lock up children in solitary confinement

The Department of (in) Justice recently submitted a motion in opposition to a lawsuit filed by mothers and their children who want ICE to stop torturing their children by placing them in solitary confinement.

The DOJ now can be called the DOIJ for its monstrous defense and advocacy for the following policy:

ICE also has family residential standards that govern discipline and cover, among other things, a situation where a resident has participated in the offense of “insurrection,” which is defined as “[p]articipation or encouraging another to participate in unauthorized activity such as protesting or rioting.” See ICE/DRO Residential Standard, Discipline and Behavior Management, at 17, attached hereto as Exhibit O.6

The ICE disciplinary standards state that their purpose is to “provide a safe and orderly living environment” at ICE family residential facilities, and to “manage discipline and behavioral problems in a manner that ensures the safety and welfare of staff, residents, and visitors.” Exhibit O at 1. “Insurrection” is considered a major offense at ICE family residential facilities, and under the standards requires separation from the general population. Id. at 16-17. Medical observation rooms may be used to facilitate this separation.

In other words, if a mother protests or encourages another to protest, DOJ,  led by the lawyer-warrior in favor of locking up toddlers and children, Sarah B. Fabian, ICE has a right to punish the mothers’ children with solitary confinement.

In other parts of the United States (like our office), the DOJ’s position is not only wrong, but endorses the federal crime of deprivation of rights under color of law, 18 U.S.C. 242.

Whatever interests that ICE has in providing a safe and orderly living environment, it clearly does not mean that ICE can punish children with something that is widely considered torture because it causes extreme psychological harm:

Deprived of normal human interaction, many segregated prisoners reportedly suffer from mental health problems including anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression and depression, Haney says (Crime and Delinquency, 2003).

To Haney, evidence of these effects comes as no surprise. “It borders on being common sense, but it’s common sense with a lot of empirical research that supports it,” he says. “So much of what we do and who we are is rooted in a social context.”

More here:

Since the 1970s, research has been amassed indicating that solitary confinement does alter neural and therefore psychological states. One study examining the development of psychopathologies found that those in solitary developed pathologies at higher rates than those in the general population (28% vs. 15%).4 Another study of 20 prisoners who volunteered for a week of solitary confinement found that the prisoners exhibited decreased EEG activity, indicative of increased theta activity, which is related to stress, tension, and anxiety.5 Prisoners in solitary confinement have been found to engage in self-mutilation at rates higher than the general population.6

And more:

Extensive research on the impact of isolation has shown that adult prisoners generally exhibit a variety of negative physiological and psychological reactions to conditions of solitary confinement, including: hypersensitivity to stimuli;13 perceptual distortions and hallucinations;14 increased anxiety and nervousness;15 revenge fantasies, rage, and irrational anger;16 fears of persecution;17 lack of impulse control;18 severe and chronic depression;19 appetite loss and weight loss;20 heart palpitations;21 withdrawal;22 blunting of affect and apathy;23 talking to oneself;24 headaches;25 problems sleeping;26 confusing thought processes;27 nightmares;28 dizziness;29 self-mutilation;30 and lower levels of brain function, including a decline in EEG activity after only seven days in solitary confinement.31 One can reasonably conclude that, at a minimum, children too experience these negative effects.32 Indeed, given their stage of growth and development, children may be even less able than adults to handle solitary confinement.33 Psychologically, children are different from adults, making their time spent in isolation even more difficult and the developmental, What Is it Like for Children in Solitary Confinement? The devastating effects of solitary confinement on children have haunting consequences, as shown by this first-hand account from Lino Silva, written about her experience in solitary confinement in a juvenile facility in California: “Being in a room over 21 hours a day is like a waking nightmare, like you want to scream but you can’t. You want to stretch your legs, walk for more than a few feet. You feel trapped. Life becomes distorted. You shower, eat, sleep, and defecate in the same tiny room. In the same small sink, you ‘shower,’ quench your thirst, wash your hands after using the toilet, and warm your cold dinner in a bag. I developed techniques to survive. I keep a piece of humanity inside myself that can’t be taken away by the guards . . . There’s no second chance here.” Reassessing Solitary Confinement: The Human Rights, Fiscal, and Public Safety Consequences: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights of the S. Comm. on the Judiciary, 112th Cong. (2012) (statement of Sumayyah Washeed & Jennifer Kim, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Books not Bombs Campaign). Alone & Afraid | 4 psychological, and physical damage more comprehensive and lasting. They experience time differently—a day for a child feels longer than a day to an adult—and have a greater need for social stimulation.34 The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has concluded that, due to their “developmental vulnerability,” adolescents are in particular danger of adverse reactions to prolonged isolation and solitary confinement. 35

It looks like ICE has set a new precedent by subjecting children under the age of 5 to solitary confinement.

Ms. Fabian, in her zeal to defend the interests of the federal government to incarcerate children, must have overlooked a sentence from an earlier affidavit written by Chief of the Family Detention unit in ICE, Stephen Antkowiak, written on April 23, 2015, in which he swears under oath that: “ICE fully respects the rights of all individuals to express their constitutionally-protected rights of expression including the use of hunger strikes.”

I hope Mr. Antkowiak is prepared to defend himself on perjury charges because separation of mothers and children from the general population for commission of the major offense of protesting is exactly the opposite of fully respecting “the rights of all individuals to express their constitutionally-protected rights of expression.”

Obama’s Fascist Propaganda In Support of Karnes County Children Prison

ICE filmed children incarcerated at the Karnes County Child Prison to make its unlawful practice of locking up kids look more humane.

Interestingly, these photos and video undermine the purpose ICE had in the first place: in part of the video, one can clearly see that the solitary confinement room (euphemistically referred to as medical) is equipped with a heavy steel door and a double lock.

Note the metal intercom and button on the side of the door. In the many jails in New York and New Jersey that I have visited, the same exact intercom and button are used at each door within the facility. The purpose is to maintain the doors locked and only open them when the person pressing the intercom button has authorization to leave.

The following are images and video of children incarcerated at ICE’s Karnes County Prison:

The heavy steel door of the Karnes Children Prision's solitary confinement room.

The heavy steel door of the Karnes Children Prision’s solitary confinement room.

The lock can only be opened by someone one the outside of the room.

The lock can only be opened by someone on the outside of the room.

The inside of the solitary confinement room at Karnes Jail used to punish children for the activities of their mothers, or if the child becomes ill.

The inside of the solitary confinement room at Karnes Jail used to punish children for the activities of their mothers, or if the child becomes ill.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 10.37.19 AM

Children prisoners filmed without consent by ICE to support their continued incarceration.

Children prisoners filmed without consent by ICE to support their continued incarceration.

A child prisoner looks back at her captors' cameras.

A child prisoner looks back at her captors’ cameras.

A New Low: Exploitation of Child Prisoners For Propaganda

Obama’s aggressive use of detention of child refugees in Texas and Pennsylvania is on the ropes given two recent rulings from federal courts in Washington D.C. and California.

One judge, in Washington D.C., already issued an injunction against the use of detention of children as a deterrent future children and mothers from seeking asylum in the United States.

Another Judge, in California, issued a tentative ruling on April 29 that would effectively end the current practice of detaining children in unlicensed, secure detention facilities such as the South Texas Family Residential Center and the Karnes County Residential Center.

Yet the Obama administration appears intent on going forward despite the clear fact that detaining children in these facilities is illegal. On the same day that the Judge in California issued the tentative ruling, ICE arranged a video and photo shoot at the South Texas Residential Center.

The footage’s purpose in clear: to use (exploit) the images and sounds of children to make the imprisonment of children look humane. Why would the Obama administration kick their propaganda machine into high gear at the same time that its practices are being dealt near-fatal blows?

DHS’s actions are extremely troubling. The purpose of the videos and photos–to support the practice of imprisoning children to deport them and their mothers to harm in their native countries–is directly against the best interests of the children in the videos and photos. It is not in the best interests of any of the children at ICE’s child jails to remain in jail, or to be deported to their home countries.

The use of these photos may also violate federal privacy laws that protect the children and mothers’ rights to confidentiality.

Note that lurking in the background of these supposedly positive images is evidence of incarceration. In the first photo, on the horizon, one can see a solid high wall and a mesh fence added to the top, making it nearly impossible for children, with toddlers in tow, to scale the fence to escape the jail.

This is the first of two posts. The second will contain the images taken from the Karnes County Residential Center.

Obama’s Child Prisoners have their photos taken without taken by ICE without their consent.

Residents walk through common campus area at the STFRC in Dilley, Texas.

An imprisoned toddler walks in the South Texas Children Prison.

Children at the South Texas Children Prison School.

Children at the South Texas Children Prison School.

A child and her mother in South Texas Children Jail

A child and her mother in South Texas Children Jail

A child walks in the barren grounds of the South Texas Children Jail

A child walks in the barren grounds of the South Texas Children Jail

The video footage of South Texas and Karnes Children Jails is eerily identical to a 1940s propaganda video on the Japanese Internment Camps. This quote from the narrator says it all: “Special emphasis was put on the health and care of these American children of Japanese descent” preceded and followed by these chilling images:

A still from a 1940s video justifying the incarceration of parents and children of Japanese descent.

A still from a 1940s video justifying the incarceration of parents and children of Japanese descent.

Change we can believe in: Obama, unlike Franklin Roosevelt, blurred out the faces of his child prisoners.

Change we can believe in: Obama, unlike Franklin Roosevelt, blurred out the faces of his child prisoners.

DHS: Our Policies Result in Torture of Immigrant Children in Border Patrol Custody

A typical border patrol holding cell, commonly known as an

A typical border patrol holding cell, commonly known as an “hielera” or “Icebox” in English.

In a sworn affidavit dated February 27, 2015, Chief Border Patrol Agent for the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, Kevin W. Oaks,  admitted to several policies that result in torture of children in border patrol’s holding cells.

The affidavit was filed by DHS in defense of Plaintiffs’ motion to enforce the Flores Settlement, which is close to a resolution in favor of all of the children victims.

In a separate filing, DHS admitted that the average time unaccompanied children spent in Border Patrol custody from March 1, 2014 to July 31, 2014 was 112 hours, or 4.6 days:

The Oaks affidavit fully corroborates the stories of hundreds of our unaccompanied minors, who suffered unspeakable horrors due to their detention in border patrols holding cells. Here are links to two accounts of our clients.

The worst is that of our 8 year old client, who was detained extremely cold holding rooms for 15 days with nothing to sleep on but the concrete floor.

An analysis of the actual conditions in border patrol holding cells compared to Oaks declaration and its own internal policy reveals that DHS has  intentionally created extreme conditions where virtually all children held in custody are deprived of fundamental constitutional rights such as food, clothing, water, and sleep.

In a policy memorandum dated June 2, 2008, the Chief of border patrol at the time, David V. Aguilar, issued a series of directives related to juvenile hold rooms. Section 6.24.6 states that all juveniles detained longer than 24 hours will be given access to basic hygiene services, a blanket, and mattress.The following section, 6.24.7, states that all hold room used for unaccompanied children must provide access to mattresses and a blanket, as well as adequate temperature control and ventilation; and meals which must be offered every six hours. 

Oaks declared stated in his affidavit that “In certain circumstances, aliens who are in Border Patrol custody may require some form of bedding” and that in the summer of 2014, mylar blankets were provided in “certain circumstances.” Oaks does not claim that children in border patrol custody are provided with mattresses. In fact, the vast majority of our children clients who have been in the holding cells have stated that there were no mattresses and that they had to try to sleep on the concrete floor. A small minority of our children clients reported than thin foam cushions were available to lay down on.

As such, Oaks admits that border patrol has and continues to blatantly ignore the directive that all children be provided with mattresses.

Oaks also stated in paragraph 20 that “In general the temperature in a Border Patrol station is maintained at a comfortable temperature, although, in my experience, those who are not accustomed to air conditioning at times find it cooler than they are accustomed to.”

In response to our freedom of information request, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) of DHS, released the recorded temperatures at border patrol stations in the Rio Grand Valley from visits in July of 2014. At one station, Fort Brown, the temperature in the holding rooms for juveniles was recorded at 50 and 56 degrees fahrenheit on two separate occasions. 50 degrees in air conditioning cannot be comfortable.

Again, the vast majority of our clients report that the holding cells were so cold that they were constantly shivering. Some children report that the temperatures are so low that their lips turn blue. Oaks is outright misrepresents the accounts of hundreds of our unaccompanied children clients and thousands more across the country: the temperatures in border patrol cells are far from comfortable: they are bone-chilling.

Another common horror experienced by children in border patrol detention is that the cells are so packed with people that there is not even enough room to lay down and that there was only one toilet for 100 plus individuals.

Oaks claimed that “hold room capacity for any room requires sufficient space and the appropriate number of toilets for the occupants it is designed to accommodate.”

Not surprisingly, the category “Staff-to-Uac ratio”–which would provide a concrete number of how many children were placed in each border patrol station on the day of inspection–on the OIG checklists were redacted. Oaks evaded the obvious: border patrol holding cells are often so overcrowded that the depravity of the cells is exacerbated even more by preventing children from even being able to lay down on the concrete floor.

Lastly, the OIG checklists itself raises troubling questions as to whether the OIG is wholly beholden to the leadership at DHS and at the White House.

Why does the checklist omit crucial requirements that border patrol must follow according to its own internal policy, such as mattresses and basic hygiene articles?

How does the OIG affirm that each border patrol is providing meals every six hours when the agent only visited at one specified hour in the day? Did the OIG agents spend 24 hours or longer at each inspection? Were border patrol stations given any advanced notice of the OIG’s inspections?

Why did the OIG only begin to inspect border patrol stations after the surge of children was already declining? The highest volume months in 2014 for unaccompanied minors were April, May, and June, in which 7,709; 10,585; and 10,631 unaccompanied minors were apprehended. In July, the month of the OIG inspections, the number dropped precipitously to 5,515.

When accountability was needed most, the OIG was a no show.

Whatever the final outcome of the Flores litigation is, all the parties involved need to implement siginificant reforms to the settlement to prevent DHS from its decades-long violations of childrens’  fundamental Constitutional rights.

When the agency in charge of preventing DHS misconduct is beholden to the leaders that are responsible for the misconduct, punitive measures for violation of the settlement–including a right to an aggrieved juvenile to termination of removal proceedings with prejudice–must be part of any eventual agreement.

Here is the affidavit:

1. I am the Chief Patrol Agent for the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). I have been employed in this capacity since April 6, 2014. I have been a Border Patrol agent for 30 years. In my capacity as Chief of the Rio Grande Valley Sector, I am responsible for executing the mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CBP as a whole, and also that of the Border Patrol within the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Our mission includes facilitating the flow of legal immigration and trade while preventing the illegal trafficking of people and contraband.

2. I make this declaration on the basis of my own knowledge, as well as the documents and the information made available to me in my position.

3. The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector is comprised of nine Border Patrol stations: Brownsville, Fort Brown Station, Weslaco, Harlingen, McAllen, Rio Grande City, Falfurrias, Kingsville, and Corpus Christi, Texas. I oversee all nine stations within the RGV Sector and am responsible for the oversight of more than 3,000 agents and support personnel combined, who work to secure 316 borderlzone miles and 317 coastal miles. I have oversight of the day-to-day law enforcement operations of U.S. Border Patrol in the RGV Sector including the apprehension and processing of aliens.

4. As part of my responsibilities, I also oversee the RGV Centralized Processing Center (CPC). The RGV CPC consists ofCPC-Ursula (short-term holding only), CPC-McAllen (McAllen Station processing area), and Weslaco Station (Weslaco Station processing area when operationally required). The CPC is an integral part of the RGV Sector’s strategy to develop a more efficient way to process all categories of aliens. CPC-Ursula currently has the ability to hold 1,000 detainees, with the ability to provide services associated with the care and temporary custody of children and families. These services include hot meals, showers, child monitors, and laundry services, among others.

5. I am familiar with the policies and procedures that govern the apprehension, processing, and temporary detention of aliens. As Chief, I am responsible for ensuring that those policies and procedures are implemented and adhered to on a daily basis.

6. Although I am the Sector Chief for the RGV, the policies and procedures discussed are implemented nationwide, and are not generally limited to the RGV.

7. Statistically, the RGV Sector sees more unaccompanied alien children and family units than any other Border Patrol sector.

8. Once a Border Patrol Agent encounters an individual the agent believes to be an illegal alien, the agent will first establish alienage and determine if the alien is a minor. Once the initial questioning is completed in the field, the alien is brought to a Border Patrol station for further processing.

9. If a Border Patrol Agent encounters an individual, regardless of alienage, who presents signs of an emergent medical issue, the Border Patrol Agent will render first aid if necessary and coordinate transportation of that individual to the appropriate medical center.

10. Once at the station, an agent or a medical contractor (depending on availability of contract medical personnel) will conduct a preliminary health screening. The purpose of the preliminary health screening is to determine if the alien has any serious contagious diseases, outward signs of illness, or complains of any illness or discomfort. If the alien displays any symptoms of illness/serious contagious disease, or complains of illness that may require medical care, the alien is taken to the appropriate medical facility, normally the local emergency department. However, if the alien is at a Cl’C facility the alien may be seen by a contract medical provider for an initial screening to determine if additional/emergent medical care is required.

II. If the medical issue presented at a Cl’C facility is one that can be addressed by a contract medical provider, such as lice, scabies, insect bites, fever, upper respiratory infections, ear and eye infections, minor scrapes/cutslbruises, body aches, or pregnancy testing, those issues will normally be addressed by the contract medical provider. Any medical issues that cannot be addressed by the contract medical provider at a Cl’C facility are still treated by the appropriate medical facility, normally the local emergency department.

12. After the initial health screening, aliens are normally separated by age and gender. However, every effort is made to keep young children with their parents. Moreover, Border Patrol Agents provide any reasonable opportunity for contact between family members who may be separated based on age or gender. Separation of family units is sometimes required in order to ensure the safety and security of all of those who are being held by Border Patrol.

13. Once in custody, aliens’ biographic information and biometrics are collected and record checks are run through eBP and other law enforcement systems. In connection with processing, aliens are questioned individually by a Border Patrol Agent on issues related, for instance, to their biometric and biographic results, ability to lawfully enter or remain in the United States, as well any fear of returning to their country of origin. Ultimately, aliens are then classified and processed consistent with DHS’s priorities and the governing legal framework.

14. Border Patrol stations are not designed for long-term care and detention. Every effort is made to promptly process, transfer, or remove those in custody as appropriate and as operationally feasible. As such, Border Patrol policy requires agents to seek to process and transfer all aliens within twelve (12) hours.

15. Border Patrol policy mandates that each facility be kept safe, secure, and clean. The size of hold rooms at Border Patrol stations varies. However, hold room capacity for any room requires sufficient space and the appropriate number of toilets for the occupants it is designed to accommodate. Typically a hold room is constructed of impervious materials that can be easily cleaned and are hygienic. Supervisors are required to ensure that each cell is regularly cleaned and sanitized.

16. In order to ensure the safety of detainees, there are cameras that monitor each hold room. These cameras provide agents the ability to visually inspect the hold rooms, although they do not provide sight lines to the toilet facilities. The agents will also visually check each hold room approximately every 15 minutes. There are no trashcans in the hold rooms for safety reasons. Trashcans are considered to be safety hazards, as they may be used as a weapon.

17. eBP’s Facilities Management and Engineering (FM&E) and the General Services Administration (GSA) fund custodial staff to regularly address sanitation needs and any required maintenance of the holding areas.

18. As for privacy concerns, and like any other detention-like setting, Border Patrol cannot guarantee absolute privacy. Hold rooms are designed to have no exterior windows. But, allowing locked or closed doors would be a safety and security concern. The hold rooms instead employ screen walls by the bathroom to address privacy needs. These screen walls allow for an environment in which detainees, especially children, can be monitored and protected.

19. Similarly, the lights remain on at all the time while detainees are in Border Patrol custody for security reasons and due to operational necessity. Border Patrol stations are 24/7 facilities, and there may be agents arriving with newly apprehended aliens at all hours of the night. The agents must be able to maintain visual control over the holding cells to ensure the safety and security of the detainees.

20. In general the temperature in a Border Patrol station is maintained at a comfortable temperature, although, in my experience, those who are not accustomed to air conditioning at times find it cooler than they are accustomed to.

21. In certain circumstances, aliens who are in Border Patrol’s custody may require some form of bedding. During the summer of2014, Border Patrol began using, in certain circumstances, mylar blankets. In the RGV sector, as well as in certain other localities, the use of these blankets was necessary in order to provide cost effective bedding which did not require routine laundering (which can be operationally challenging) and did not transmit communicable diseases such as lice or scabies.

22. Processed unaccompanied alien children who are not placed locally in the Rio Grande Valley by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, as well as individuals who are part of family units that have completed their Border Patrol processing but are pending a determination on whether detention is appropriate, made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, may be transferred to CPC-Ursula. This transfer is intended to segregate this population from the large population of Border Patrol detainees that may include criminal aliens. At CPC-Ursula Border Patrol provides additional services including showers, clothing, hot meals, medical, laundry, television, and age appropriate toys. CPC-Ursula also serves as a centralized collection point for the transfer of this population to ORR and ICE.

23. CPC-Ursula is a facility designed for the short-term detention of aliens and is not intended to provide long-term care. However, where individuals may need to be held for a period between 12 – 72 hours, it provides additional services as noted in paragraph 22.

24. At CPC-Ursula, all of the policies and procedures for Border Patrol, including for treatment of those detained by Border Patrol, continue to apply.

25. I have learned, based on information and documents available to me in my position, that prior to the increase in family residential facilities for detention by ICE, family units apprehended by Border Patrol, particularly those by Border Patrol in the RGY, claimed that a principal motive for entering the United States was to take advantage of the “permisos” that the United States was granting to family units. The term “permiso” in this context is used to refer to a Notice to Appear which permits aliens to depart the Border Patrol station without detention.

26. Based on information and documents available to me in my position as Sector Chief, I understand that aliens who have been apprehended by RGY Border Patrol Agents since the availability of family unit detention by ICE increased in July 2014 have indicated that they learned from family members, media, and other means that the United States was no longer providing “permisos.” Family units apprehended by RGY Border Patrol have indicated that others of whom they are aware in their home countries have chosen not to come to the United States because “permisos” are no longer being issued.

27. I have also learned that family units who have been apprehended by Border Patrol Agents in the RGY Sector in July 2014 were under the impression that the United States government was only going to issue “permisos” to individuals prior to some end date of June or July 2014. While this impression was incorrect, it speaks to the understanding of the family units that detention, and the ability to simply depart a Border Patrol station, factor strongly into their determination on when and whether to attempt to cross into the United States.

28. Based on my experience as a Border Patrol Agent, the use of detention has historically been effective at deterring aliens (specifically aliens from countries other than Mexico) from entering the United States through the South Texas region. For example, in 1989 when there was a dramatic increase of Central American aliens illegally entering the United States, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service detailed staff to South Texas, opened temporary detention camps, and instituted a one-day expedited review of asylum applications, which dramatically reduced the average daily apprehensions of non-Mexicans along the Texas border. Similarly, in 2005, when the RGV Sector was experiencing an influx of Brazilian nationals, the implementation of expedited removal with detention quickly and significantly reduced the number of Brazilian nationals illegally entering the United States.

29. Consistent with the information contained in paragraphs 26 and 27, Border Patrol apprehension statistics demonstrate that, year-over-year, there has been an approximate 16% reduction in family units apprehended in the RGV Border Patrol Sector. Moreover, from July 10,2014 until the present, there has been an approximate 63% reduction in family units apprehended in the RGV Border Patrol Sector as compared to the period between December 1,2013 to July 9,2014.

Pennsylvania Governor: Children free to leave Berks County Residential Center

This letter below is in response to a letter we wrote requesting the Pennsylvania (“PA”) State government to revoke the license it issued for the Berks County Residential Center (“BCRC”) given that it detains children in violation of numerous sections of the Pennsylvania law regarding child welfare.

As you can see, the PA government clearly states that there is nothing that should prohibit children and their families from freely leaving the BCRC.

As such, it is a mystery that no children or mothers have been allowed to leave the BCRC freely. It may have something to do with all of the locked doors and guards preventing the children and mothers from leaving the BCRC.

Given that there are in fact locks and guards preventing children and their mothers from leaving BCRC, the PA government will have to revoke the BCRC’s license and shut it down.

“Dear Mr. Johnson:

Thank you for your March 23, 2015, letter to Ms. Roseann Perry and Governor Tom Wolf regarding children housed at the Berks County Residential Center (BCRC). My office regulates child residential facilities, and Governor Wolf has asked me to respond.

On February 18, 2015, the Bureau of Human Services Licensing conducted a full licensing inspection of BCRC. At that time, the center was in substantial compliance with regulatory requirements and met all conditions for licensing under 55 Pa. Code Chapter 3800 (relating to child residential and day treatment facilities). Consequently, a license was issued effective February 21, 2015 to February 21, 2016.

During the renewal inspection, our regulators confirmed that BCRC is not operating as a secure care facility and has no locks preventing resident children or their families from gaining egress from the building. In addition, there were no children present at the facility who were not accompanied by a parent or other adult guardian.

I appreciate your concern for the health, safety and well-being of these children and families, and I hope this information is helpful to you. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Mr. Matthew J. Jones, Director, Bureau of Human Services Licensing, at…”

Obama’s Central American Refugee Program Is A Dangerous Fraud

Just in time for the peak season for migration to the United States, President Obama appears to be pushing his recently formed in-country refugee/parole program for Central American children.

The program is a fraud.

At the same time the administration is claiming that the program is “necessary to prevent children from risking their lives to cross the border and protect them from exploitation by smuggling networks”, it is working hard with the Mexican government to deport children caught in Mexico en masse back to harm in Central American

In 2014, Mexico deported 18,000 Central American children back to their native countries, a 55 % increase from the 8,350 deported in 2013, according to the Washington Office on Latin America (“WOLA”),

In January of 2015, President Obama applauded Mexico’s efforts, stating that:

“I very much appreciate Mexico’s efforts in addressing the unaccompanied children who we saw spiking during the summer. In part because of strong efforts by Mexico, including at its southern border, we’ve seen those numbers reduced back to much more manageable levels.”

In other words, the United States’ principal solution to prevent children from Central America from making the dangerous trip to to the United States is to make it even more dangerous through aggressive interdiction and deportation.

The Obama administration is using the Mexican government as a proxy to circumvent U.S. law so that it can advance its political agenda to not appear soft on illegal immigration. Worse, Obama is trying to muddy the waters by falsely asserting that the new in-country program will have a significant impact on ensuring the safety of children who desperately need to escape to the safety of the United States.

The maximum amount of children who will be allowed into the United States as refugees or as parolees is 4000 per year. How ironic that some of the children who request refugee status in-country will also have been deported from Mexico in the past.

Worse, the program has been 100 percent useless thus far. Although the State Department began accepting applications starting in December of 2014, not one child has been admitted to the United States to date.

The complete and utter failure of the program to address migration of children to the United States in 2015 and beyond was by design. In a November 2014 announcement detailing the procedures on how to apply, the State Department admitted only a small number of children would be admitted in FY 2015 because of how long the refugee process takes.

If the U.S. government was really concerned about the safety of children in the war-zones of Central America, it would have implemented an expedited parole system in which children are able to escape immediately. Instead, rigorous anti-fraud measures are taking precedence, such as DNA testing to ensure that the child really does have a biological parent living in the United States.

Even more disturbing is that the enhanced deportation efforts of Mexico have made the already-dangerous trip through Mexico even more dangerous.

WOLA reports that migrants are now less visible and further away from the few human rights activists in Mexico who provide support and protection from the criminals who prey upon the migrants.

Additionally, there are “concerns that enforcement operations are taking place with little regard for due process, that soldiers are participating in the operations, and that agents have used violence to detain migrants.”

Bill Frelick of Human Rights First said it best in an interview with NPR, stating that the program “is a pretext for denying asylum to those people who arrive irregularly. It’s a pretext for preventing them from leaving Honduras or El Salvador in the first place. It’s a pretext for interdicting them in Mexico and pushing them back with the idea that, oh, you know, there’s this legal mechanism here.”

What was the State Department officials response to Mr. Frelick’s concern that the program does not protect virtually any Central American children who face imminent harm or death in El Salvador or Honduras?

Even if a child is certain or likely to be killed, raped, or harmed in their home country,  the State Department official, Simon Henshaw, said: “Nothing is more dangerous than taking that illegal trip through Mexico – nothing.”

Tell that to our clients who have almost been killed in their country. Tell that to our clients that have been raped or sexually abused. Tell that to our clients who have witnessed multiple homicides in their country yet were not harmed at all on their trip through Mexico. 

Tell that to 13-year-old girl that was found strangled to death with signs of torture in March of this year in Honduras.

Tell that to 31 victims in El Salvador who were murdered just this past weekend, including a children of 16, 13, and 12 years old who were shot to death in El Salvador.

Tell that to the 148 Guatemalan children who were murdered in the first 2 months of 2015.

Request To Texas Rangers For Arrest of Persons Unlawfully Detaining Migrant Children in Dilley and Karnes City

Children Detention Camps in Texas violate section 54.011(f) of the Texas Family Code.

Community Activists and attorneys call for immediate enforcement of code and arrest of all individuals who are in direct violation of the code by detaining immigrant children in Texas

For immediate release:

Austin, TX – April 3, 2015  – A group of attorneys from various parts of the country who have represented or advocated for children detained by ICE submitted an arrest request to the Office of the Attorney General of Texas and the Headquarters of the Texas Rangers on April 2, 2015. The request calls for the immediate arrest of all individuals engaged in assisting and/or detaining children at the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) and the Karnes County Residential Center (KCRC).

Section 54.011(f) of the Texas Family Code states that “any person who knowingly detains or assists in detaining a nonoffender – defined as any child who has been taken into custody as is being held solely for deportation out of the United States – commits a Class B Misdemeanor.”

The Government of the United States has made it a priority to detain asylum-seeking migrant children and their mothers. The newest detention facility was opened in Dilley, Texas in December of 2014 in order to increase the government’s capacity to detain and deport migrant children.

Recently, both STFRC and KCRC have been the focus of various investigations, neither of the centers are accredited and numerous reports of sexual abuse have emerged from KCRC. Two weeks ago, a detained mother attempted to commit suicide when she learned that her bond amount was too high and she would not be able to afford it.

Currently, 78 women detained at the KCRC are undergoing a hunger and work strike to call attention to the horrendous prison-like conditions under which they are forced to live with their children. One of the parents described Karnes as a “prison for children”. The mothers are asking for immediate release given that most of them have passed credible-fear interviews but have either been refused bond or given bond amounts that are too high.

This is the link to the request submitted by the group of attorneys who affirm that KCRC and STFRC are in direct violation of the Texas family Code and that all individual involved in running both of these detention centers must immediately be arrested and charged according to the law.

For more information contact: Bryan S. Johnson, Esq. Bryan@amjolaw.com, 631-647-9701.

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