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2015: A Rewarding Yet Brutal Year

We espouse a philosophy that none of our children clients should ever be deported.

What this means is that we will wage fierce legal battles for any child even if it means that some cases will incur a financial loss. It’s the right thing to do.

In reviewing statistics from our Immigration Court accounts, we have determined the following figures:

In 2015, we permanently stopped the deportation of 151  out of 154  children whose cases were completed, a success rate of 98.05 percent.

94 percent of those children (145) have or will receive their green card and eventually become U.S. citizens if they so chose.

Only 3 children clients were ordered removed in 2015. It is worth pointing out that all 3 of these children were removed in their absence due to factors outside of our or their relatives’ control.

These results were not easy to achieve.

We have been under an almost-constant siege since late 2014 when the Obama administration decided the only way to deter children from fleeing death or serious harm in their countries was to unlawfully eliminate important due process protections for children and thus ensure the maximum amount of children possible would be deported.

With over 200 children’s cases still pending on the fast-track for deportation, we will fight on and continue to win virtually all of their cases.

In signing off for 2015, we wish all, especially our intrepid staff and clients, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

Battle Cry Against Obama’s Criminal Abuse of Children in Concentration Camps

To all the warriors out there battling against President Obama’s criminal abuse of children in detention camps in Dilley, Karnes, and Berks, a glimpse at an awesome lawyer, Wayne Collins, who aggressively fought against the illegal detention of Japanese Americans during World War II.

The following is an excerpt from the book titled, “Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II” written by Richard Reeves.

Wayne Collins

Wayne M. Collins, a lawyer who successfully restored citizenship 4987 Americans of Japanese ancestry

“Among other things, ACLU founder Roger Baldwin considered Collins incompetent and something of a wild man–and so did many who knew him. Besig said his friend Collins was “like a fox terrier”, a fast-talking, angry Irishman who came to cases as if he had a shotgun ready to blast in any direction. Man of his shots were at the Japanese American Citizens League, which he considered a partner in the evacuation.”

I detest them. They’re nothing but a bunch of jackals…The JACL pretended to be the spokesman for all Japanese Americans but they wouldn’t stand up for their people. They led their people like a bunch of goddamned doves to the concentration camps…I still feel biter about the evacuation. It was the foulest goddamned crime the United States has ever committed against a wonderful people.

“Whatever his skills and however deep his rage, the passionate and persevering Collins was already trying to represent the American Japanese behind the stockade fence at Tule Lake, the prison within a prison at Tule Lake. He was demanding to see the segregation camp and to get inside the stockade. Hoping to keep the attorney away, Best offered to come to Collins’s office in San Francisco with other WRA officials. Collins greeted them by saying he would file a writ of habeas corpus for all four hundred prisoners if the stockade was not immediately shut down. Three days later, he drove to Tule Lake. There was no sign of the barbed-wire and plywood enclosure. The stockade was gone.”

“Conditions at Tule Lake were dismal at best and, at the time, renunciations of U.S. citizenship, forced or voluntary, seemed irreversible. Despite opposition from ACLU headquarters in New York and Los Angeles, Wayne Collins, the driven San Francisco attorney, eventually represented more than five thousand Japanese Americans incarcerated in the Justice Department prisons and WRA camps–including the hopeless people who had given up their American citizenship. Even in the ensuing decades, Collins’s style and accomplishments made an impression in a 1985 issue of the Pacific Historical Review, John Christgau wrote on Collins in a piece aptly titled ‘Collins versus the World: The Fight to Restore Citizenship to Japanese American Renunciants of World War II.’

‘These renunciants whom I represent,’ Collins argued in a letter to the attorney general’s office in Washington, ‘have submitted to gross indignities and suffered greater loss of rights and liberties than any other group of persons during the entire history of the nation, all without good cause or reason. They have been misunderstood, slandered, abused, and long have been held up to public shame and contempt…and now these internees, faces with the loss of citizenship rights, are confronted with a threatened involuntary deportation to Japan.’

In court, he argues, ‘Herr Hitler was guilty of abusing segments of [his] own citizenry for racial reasons. We are inured, however, to like abuse of our own citizens by our own government.'”

“Collins, it happened, was arguing before the Ninth Circuit Cour tin San Francisco that the Renunciation Act of 1944 was unconstitutional. He won that case in 1955. Kiyota got his passport back and spent thirty years teaching religious studies at the University of Wisconsin. ‘I am,’ Professor Kiyota wrote of Collins in 1997, ‘one of the many beneficiaries of the man’s dedication to the American ideal.'”

 

 

 

A break from the Relentless Darkness and then Victory.

From the carefree paradise of Negril, Jamaica–where the most important question of the day is boils down to whether to order a pina colada or mai tai–I write to inform all of how justice prevailed against the full weight of an ongoing criminal conspiracy by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, ICE Director Sarah Saldana, and the entire DHS enforcement apparatus.

On June 9, 2015, ICE told the Huffington Post:

An ICE official confirmed by email that Oliva and her son had been deported, saying that she had exhausted “all of her legal appeals before ICE, the Executive Office of Immigration Review and the Board of Immigration Appeals.” The official said ICE allowed Oliva to speak with a lawyer by telephone before deporting her.

On November 2, 2015, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) issued a decision reopening the removal proceedings of Lilian and her son, proving that ICE lied on June 9 and that, in fact, several DHS officials, which likely include DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and ICE Director Sarah Saldana, intentionally acted (before and/or after her deportation to Honduras) to deprive Lilian and her son of their Statutory and Constitutional Rights so that she could be deported without any chance to obtain asylum or special immigrant juvenile status in the United States.

Cheers to vacation and justice coinciding at the perfect moment.

Over one year ago, starting in June of 2014, The Obama administration, through a small team of advisors that include Cecilia Munoz and through DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and ICE Secretary Sarah Saldana, have intentionally defied U.S. laws that are designed to protect children and refugees such as Lilian and her son, as well as tens of thousands of other families and unaccompanied children by doing anything possible to deport them back to harm in their home countries.

DHS officials have even been willing to commit federal civil rights crimes and then cover them up to effect their goals of deportation at any cost.

It has taken a heavy toll on us as advocates.

For so long, it has broken our hearts to see such powerful forces align to attack the most vulnerable people in need of protection from severe harm, including rape, beatings, and death.

But we have won a huge victory.

We will come back on the heels of the azure waters of Jamaica with a vengeance.

We will permanently stop the attacks against children and others fleeing harm in Central America.

We will hold the individuals responsible for their crimes, whoever they may be or however powerful, accountable.

Now for a celebretary Mai Tai. Cheers to justice.

http://www.slideshare.net/abogadobryan/motion-to-reopen-grant-lilian

Our Client’s Story on PBS News Hour’s “Inside the ‘pure hell’ of violence against women in Honduras”

Partial transcript below. The PBS special focuses on the domestic violence suffered by our client in her native country of Honduras. However, she was also a victim of violence at the hands of the United States Government, as can be read about here and here.

OHN CARLOS FREY: In this hillside slum in Honduras, 19-year-old Lilian is hiding from her ex-boyfriend. She says he beat her and raped her for years.

LILIAN: “He would go out with his lovers to drink away his money, have fun, and I would complain. He would punish me, hit me with a belt or whatever he could.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Their relationship began six years ago, when they met in her rural village in eastern Honduras. He was 22. She was only 13. Days before her 15th birthday, she gave birth to their son, who is now four and lives with her.

When Lilian met her boyfriend, she had quit school after third grade and could barely read and write. He promised opportunities she had never imagined.

LILIAN: “He offered me better things. He offered to let me study — that he’d take me to the city and other things.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Instead, she says, he ordered her to work in the fields, cutting lumber and cooking. There was no school…no trips to the city.

Lilian says the beatings worsened after she gave birth. When she refused to have sex with her boyfriend, she says, he forced her.

LILIAN: “It was pure hell day and night, fighting with me. When the baby was born, he would argue because of the baby. Fighting about the baby, that it was his, and that if I left and took him with me, he’d kill me.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: She wanted to run away, but had no job and no means to do so.

LILIAN: “If I told my mom, she would support me. But my father? Never. I also never wanted to bring my brothers into the problem, because they wouldn’t like it. Also he, my ex-boyfriend, is a very violent man and would tell me if I told anyone I was suffering he would kill me. He’d show up with a gun and point it at me. What was I to do?”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: How did he point it, I asked. Like this?

LILIAN: “Like this. To the head and threatened me with it.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: A pistol, here on the head, and he raped you?

LILIAN: “Yes, and he put it like this to my head. Loaded.”

GLADYS LANZA, WOMEN’S MOVEMENT FOR PEACE AND VISITATION PADILLA: “Every thirteen hours, a woman is murdered in this country.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Gladys Lanza runs a group working to stem the rising tide of violence against women in Honduras. She says ninety-six percent of domestic abuse complaints are never resolved.

GLADYS LANZA, WOMEN’S MOVEMENT FOR PEACE AND VISITATION PADILLA: “Ninety-six percent. That is the degree of impunity that exists in this country. Since there is no punishment, since there is no investigation, since the responsible assailants are never found, then there’s this permanent situation of crime and violence in the country. It’s a permanent state.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: In the past decade, the number of violent deaths of women in Honduras has risen 260 percent – from 175 in 2005 to 636 in 2013, according to the most recent data.

MARIA MERCEDES BUSTILLOS, CHIEF SPECIAL PROSECUTOR FOR THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN: “We feel impotence. We feel frustration.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Maria Mercedes Bustillos is the country’s chief special prosecutor for the protection of women, appointed by the Honduran president. Her office receives 20,000 domestic violence complaints every year. But only a fraction are prosecuted, because so many women fear testifying.

Lilian has no official documentation of her abuse — no medical or police records. Mercedes says that’s the case for many victims in Honduras.

MARIA MERCEDES BUSTILLOS: “The victims suddenly retract their cases because of the cycle of violence. And that’s where the weakness of the system lies, of not being able to reach them once the complaint has been made.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Mercedes says even when women seek help, there aren’t sufficient government services to assist them.

MARIA MERCEDES BUSTILLOS: “A victim needs a shelter to go to with her children — a place to eat, to bathe, to sleep before the legal process continues. The government doesn’t have any shelters.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Lilian says her boyfriend became increasingly dangerous after he got involved with a Mexican drug cartel called “Los Zetas.”

After the baby was a year old, Lilian managed to escape for months at a time and support herself — but each time her boyfriend tracked her down. Lilian felt she had nowhere to turn for protection.

LILIAN: “He’d threaten me if I spoke to the police or made charges against him. He threatened to set fire to the house. Since I was a little girl, I was really afraid. I was afraid of him for a long time.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Last year, an uncle in Texas offered to pay smugglers $4,000 dollars to help Lilian flee to the United States without a visa…a risky trip that thousands of other women opted to undertake as well.

Her uncle had only enough money for Lilian, so she left her son behind with a relative, hoping to send for him once she arrived.

Just 18 and alone, Lilian met smugglers in Guatemala and began the week-long trek through Mexico.

LILIAN: “Sometimes it’s 24 hours in a bus or walking. There are times that you’re locked up alone in a place without food.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Last May, Lilian arrived near McAllen, Texas, where US border guards questioned and detained her.

Did you tell them your history, I asked. That you had a boyfriend who was going to kill you?

LILIAN: “I didn’t tell them, because I thought that the government here or that he would find out. I explained about the baby. The most terrible things I didn’t explain there.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: University of California-Hastings law professor Karen Musalo represents women seeking asylum — a legal mechanism that allows people fleeing persecution — or fear of persecution — to live and work in the United States.

KAREN MUSALO, UC HASTINGS COLLEGE OF LAW: “From my own experience working with Central Americans and knowing what they know and don’t know and what their perception of the process is, I would doubt they have a sophisticated or clear or even correct understanding of what happens when they arrive in the U.S.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Musalo says migrants who enter the US seeking asylum are screened to see if they have a “credible fear” of returning home.

KAREN MUSALO, UC HASTINGS COLLEGE OF LAW: “If they don’t indicate right there at that initial interview that they left because of some kind of fear, they could be immediately returned.”

Lilian’s initial reluctance to tell her whole story – to prove a “credible fear” – led immigration officials to send her back to Honduras.

LILIAN: “I was deported and had to go home with no money, with nothing.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Stephen Legomsky – a former attorney for the US government’s Citizenship and Immigration Service – says the fear of violence is not always enough for someone to qualify for asylum.

STEPHEN LEGOMSKY, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: “If, for example, you were in danger of being killed because someone had a personal grudge against you, or even because a youth gang is angry at you for refusing to join their ranks, the present case law is that you generally would not qualify for asylum.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Asylum applicants must also then prove persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Women who face violence may or may not be recognized as a social group, depending on each individual case.

Back in Honduras, Lilian says her boyfriend contacted her at least three times after her return, threatening to take her son away. Last fall, just four months after being deported, Lilian tried to escape again – this time with her son.

With the child, you thought you had a better chance, I asked.

LILIAN: “Yes, with the hope not to be detained, I thought.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: In October 2014, a family friend paid smugglers $6000 dollars to help Lilian and her son again make the weeklong journey.

They crossed the border near Hidalgo, Texas, and presented themselves to immigration officials. This time, Lilian told her full story – and later presented sworn affidavits from two witnesses saying she and her son were in danger.

One wrote Lilian “was mistreated by her former partner, and he continues to look for her and claims to kill her when he finds her.” Another person in Honduras wrote of Lilian and her son: “their lives are in danger in this country.”

Like thousands of other migrants from Honduras – and Guatemala and El Salvador last year – Lilian and her son waited in a family detention center in Texas.

STEPHEN LEGOMSKY, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: “The immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals who decide most of these cases are notoriously understaffed. They for years and years have asked Congress for more resources so they can decide cases both fully and expeditiously. And thus far, Congress has not been willing to provide those resources. So there’s a long, long backlog.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: This June, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced a plan to reduce the backlog of cases and to wind down family detention, saying “long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued.”

After eight months in detention, Lilian learned her asylum request was again denied. She also says her boyfriend, who’d been working with the Zetas drug gang in Mexico, was sent back to Honduras.

LILIAN: “Then when I spoke to my mom, she told me the baby’s father had been caught by Mexican immigration, and he was back in my country.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: In June, immigration officials put Lilian and her son on a plane back to Honduras.

Lilian now has a lawyer in the US working on an appeal, and a new legal precedent may offer her a pathway to asylum.

In August 2014, the highest immigration court in the u-s – the Board of Immigration Appeals — granted asylum to a domestic abuse survivor from Guatemala — saying she was part of a particular social group under U.S. asylum law.

Though there’s no official count, advocates say anecdotally a handful of cases have been won using that precedent, but former immigration official Stephen Legomsky says the bar is still high.

STEPHEN LEGOMSKY, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: “Even with this Board of Immigration Appeals decision, and even assuming the woman is able to get here in the first place, she still faces a number of tough hurdles.”

JOHN CARLOS FREY: And of course an immigration judge has to believe Lilian’s story.

LILIAN: “I went to them with my case that is credible before God, above all things, and I swear that everything I told you and everything I told them is true. It is the truth and nothing but the truth.”

BREAKING: Jeh Johnson in Contempt of Family Detention Order To Release Children From Family Prisons

Jeh Johnson risks being imprisoned for contempt of Federal Judge's order to cease illegal detention of children.

Jeh Johnson risks being imprisoned for contempt of Federal Judge’s order to cease illegal detention of children.

According to the CARA Family Family Detention Pro Bono Project, it appears that DHS, led by Jeh Johnson, is intentionally detaining hundreds of families in unlicensed, secure prisons over the maximum amount of time permitted under the Flores settlement as ordered by Federal District Court Judge Dolly Gee.

Here is the press release from CARA sent out minutes earlier:

For Immediate Release

Government Continues Incarcerating Mothers and Children Despite Judge’s Ruling

October 23, 2015

Washington, D.C.–Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), partners in the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, are calling on the government to fully comply with U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee’s ruling concerning the inhumane incarceration of mothers and children fleeing violence and persecution.

For more than a year, the federal government has disregarded the Flores Settlement Agreement which, for nearly two decades, set the binding minimum standards for the detention and treatment of immigrant children. On July 24 and August 21, 2015, the court ordered the government to implement remedies by October 23, 2015. Although the government has appealed that decision, it did not request a stay of the order. Thus, the court’s ruling stands as the appeal moves forward, and as of today, children should be released “without unnecessary delay.”

As of October 23, 2015, the CARA Project’s data indicates that approximately 195 families that we represent have been confined in family detention facilities in Texas for more than twenty days. The number of client families detained for longer than five days is even higher. We estimate that 507 families, represented by the CARA Project, have been detained for more than five days. These numbers only include family units represented by the CARA Project, so the numbers of children and mothers held in violation of the Flores ruling is likely significantly higher.

The Department of Homeland Security has not taken the steps necessary to comply with the court order.  Moreover, its attempts to fast-track state licensing of the Texas facilities and to coerce mothers into accepting ankle monitors without their attorneys present, as well as the continuing deplorable medical care, show that they are betting everything on the success of an appeal to the court’s order.

Considering that the health and well-being of thousands of children and their mothers is at stake, the government’s continuing policy of detaining families is a slap in the face to judicial authority and our nation’s values. The government should immediately cease this abhorrent practice.  Until then, the CARA Project will continue to monitor and document the government’s failure to meet the Flores settlement standards.

A fact sheet answering some frequently asked questions about the Flores settlement is available here.

###

Press inquiries, please contact:

AILA: Belle Woods, bwoods@aila.org, 202-507-7675

Council: Wendy Feliz, wfeliz@immcouncil.org, 202-507-7524

RAICES: Mohammad Abdollahi, mo@raicestexas.org, 210-544-7811

CLINIC:  Patricia Zapor, pzapor@cliniclegal.org, 301-565-4830

Obama’s Shadow War Against Central American Children

Logo for the Salvadoran Transnational Criminal Investigation Unit.

Logo for the Salvadoran Transnational Criminal Investigation Unit.

In the last days of August, ICE Special Agents assigned to the U.S.-led Transnational Criminal Investigation Unit in Mexico apprehended  24 children and 15 adults who had fled Central America for the refuge of the United States.

The apprehensions of the 39 Central American migrants was the result of “Operation Lucero”, an initiative of DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson that kicked off in June 2014 in response to the tens of thousands of children crossing into the United States to escape the wars tearing apart their native countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

In addition to Mexico, the governments of El Salvador and Guatemala aided the operation, culminating in the arrest of 36 individuals suspected of smuggling the above-mentioned children and adults.

Speaking to the Spanish media, Jeh Johnson was ecstatic in describing the success of his agency’s plan:

“Operation Lucero signifies an important success in our efforts to continue to dismantle human smuggling networks and ensure the safety of our nation’s borders.

In the last year, when we experiences an increase in the illegal immigration from Central Americans that passed through Mexico on the way to South Texas, I instructed the law enforcement agencies of DHS to rapidly increase our efforts and focus on the smuggling networks that facilitated this illegal immigration.

In general, since the operations were implemented in June of 2014, HSI has started 594 investigations of human smuggling, obtained 1,224 criminal arrests, obtained 927 charges, and seized $807,117 in American dollars.

TCIUS, or Transnational Criminal Investigation Units, are investigative units comprised of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents working alongside foreign law enforcement for a variety of reasons. HSI is part of ICE.

For foreign police officers to be assigned to work under the direction of ICE,  the candidates are required to pass a strict vetting process and complete a 3 week training course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.

After training in the United States, the TCIU foreign officers work with ICE agents to “identify targets, collect evidence, share intelligence, and facilitate the prosecution of transnational criminal organizations (TCOS) in-country and through the U.S. judicial system.”

In Central America, TCIUS have caused an untold number of children to be killed or seriously harmed by directly acting on behalf of the United States Government to seal off the escape route to the safety of the United States.

In a unflinching account of the Obama’s war Central American refugees, Sonia Nazario wrote in the NY Times Sunday Review that:

IN the past 15 months, at the request of President Obama, Mexico has carried out a ferocious crackdown on refugees fleeing violence in Central America. The United States has given Mexico tens of millions of dollars for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 to stop these migrants from reaching the United States border to claim asylum.

An expert on the ground in Mexico, Christopher Galeano, added, “The U.S. government is sponsoring the hunting of migrants in Mexico to prevent them from reaching the U.S. It is forcing them to go back to El Salvador, Honduras, to their deaths.”

ICE agents are also directly hunting migrants to prevent them from reaching the United States. In addition to financing the Mexican government, the U.S. is itself directly enforcing foreign law to deport thousands of children that would be illegal in the United States.

In the August operation that nabbed 24 children, the ICE Director confirmed that U.S. agents were direct participants in preventing children from reaching the United States, and assuredly leaving them to be deported by Mexico to their native countries in Central America:

“This operation was the direct result of the partnerships we’ve built and we will continue working to reinforce and grow these partnerships,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “We are sending a clear message to human smugglers that crossing borders will not protect them from the long arm of justice.”

ICE agents, through the TCIU unit in Mexico, directly enforced Mexican immigration law by apprehending  and subsequently causing 24 children and 15 adults to be deported back to their native countries in Central America instead of reaching their intended destination of the United States.

In an October press release titled Salvadoran human smuggler arrested ICE went even further in describing the work of its special agents: “The Salvadoran Transnational Criminal Investigations Unit (TCIU) executed the search and arrest warrant at Acosta-Cortez’s home without incident.”

ICE agents enforced El Salvadoran law in El Salvador to prevent Salvadoran children or their families from paying a human smuggler to reach the United States to seek asylum or other humanitarian relief they are entitled to under U.S. law.

In Guatemala and Honduras, ICE-led TCIU’S are also working to bar children from escaping imminent risk of death or harm or to interdict children en route to the United States.

Glimpses of the TCIU’s presence in Mexico and all of the Northern Triangle Countries are evident from U.S. government purchases, available to the public at USASpending.gov.

Below one can see that as recently as last month, the U.S. government has made significant purchases–such as vehicles, uniforms, cell phones, or computer equipment–for TCIU units in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 11.09.21 AM

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Delegating the task of deporting Central American children to Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala gives the United States enough factual wiggle room to use the pretextual argument that the actions of the foreign governments are made under their own respective sovereign authority.

One is unlikely to find a contract signed by the President of the United States and his counterparts in Mexico and Central America to deport x amount of Central Americans for X amount of money.

As a result, the allegation that the United States government is intentionally acting outside of the geographical territory of the United States to circumvent U.S. asylum laws and the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act to deport children and others whom Congress intended to protect could never be proven.

But Jeh Johnson’s zeal for locking up children in the burning nations of Central America could not be limited to a mere delegation of the task.

The White House and DHS needed to make sure that the job was done right by playing a direct, leading role in a shadow campaign to do whatever necessary to prevent Central American children and adults as possible from obtaining safety in the United States.

From a soulless yet practical perspective, it is a brilliant idea to employ U.S.-led police units to interdict human smugglers en route to the United States with children already in their care. A significant part of the high price tag that most smugglers charge–from $7500+ per person for escort to the U.S. border with Mexico–is used to bribe local immigration officials for passage in the event the group is caught in Mexico or Central America.

In interviews with clients who made it the United States, we have learned that the largest obstacle in the United States’ contracting of deportation to Mexico and its southern partners comes down to low-level immigration officials allowing the smugglers to pass through in exchange for bribes.

The 24 children whose human smugglers were caught by the TCIU unit in Mexico were prevented from reaching the United States because specialized U.S. law enforcement agents under the scrutiny of senior DHS leadership did not accept a bribe.

The public reports by DHS on TCIUS are likely only the tip numerous other incidents where U.S. ICE agents direclty prevented Central American children and adults from completing their flight from their failed native countries to the United States. The TCIUs serve primarily as insurance on the US’s multi-million dollar investment to prevent corrupt Mexican officlals from allowing children to pass through to the United States.

And what about the White House’s  announcement in September of last year of in-country refugee processing for Central American children to “provide a safe, legal and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that children are currently undertaking to join relatives in the United States.”?

11 out of 4600 children who applied have been approved for refugee status in the United States through CAM as of this month.

The CAM program has failed as an alternative, legal means of escaping danger in Central America for 99.7 % of the Central American children who were eligible to apply.

Lest the reader has any remaining doubt as to the malicious intent of the Obama administration to harm Central American children for domestic political goals, remember President Obama’s request to Congress last summer at the height of the humanitarian crisis to change the law to cut out legal protections so that DHS could deport unaccompanied children without a hearing before a judge.

The White House’s attempt to roll back legal protections for vulnerable children was firmly rejected by Congressional Democrats.

But where is Congress now?

Where is the accountability for a President who has so brazenly defied Congress’ intent to protect refugees and vulnerable children by circumventing U.S. law with the use of U.S. government agents to deport children under foreign law instead?

Congress has failed.

The shadow war against children and refugees fleeing death and harm in Central America continues to rage on without any end in sight. How many have died as a result? How many children have been issued a U.S.-led ticket back to rape, beatings, or other serious harm?

There is a shocking lack of courage in Congress to stand up to the tragic consequences of the Obama administration’s all-out assault on Central American children.

Although many in Congress are still only vaguely aware of ICE’s activities in Mexico and Central America, they are fully cognizant of a parallel and equally unconscionable part domestic part of the war against refugee children–the incarceration of  young children and their mothers in jail.

Members of Congress have called on the Obama administration to end family detention, citing reports from mothers of shocking child abuse and neglect.

In a forum on family detention organized by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Dr. Olivia Lopez, a former social worker at the Karnes Family Jail, blew the whistle because she witnessed ICE and GEO officers commit child abuse  as a matter of policy at the jail.

She also confirmed the many reports from mothers of children being placed in solitary confinement for alleged minor violations of the rules by their mothers, as well as medical neglect that could have resulted in the death or serious injury of children as young as 7 weeks old.

Despite this damning evidence of U.S. officials committing crimes against children in its custody, no one in Congress called for an investigation into who was responsible.

Ending the war on children and adults fleeing harm Central America is a laudable but ultimately futile goal if the individuals responsible–Barack Obama, Jeh Johnson, and Sarah Saldana, for starters–are allowed to inflict such prolonged and severe harm with absolute impunity as individuals.

Without the threat of personal accountability for the current U.S. leaders’ acts that have and continue to directly harm tens of thousands of vulnerable children, the human rights violations of today will return with a vengeance tomorrow.

Recording: ICE Doctor in Charge of Family Detention Admits to Children Losing Weight

Dr. Jon Krohmer, MD the top doctor in charge of family detention.

Dr. Jon Krohmer, MD the top doctor in charge of family detention.

On September 24, 2014, a meeting took place between several advocacy organizations, ICE Headquarters Officials, and the Chief Physician of ICE Health Service Corps, Dr. Jon Krohmer, MD.

Below is a partial transcript of a 20 minute recording of the meeting, in which health concerns at the now-closed Artesia detention center and the Karnes County Detention Center were discussed.

The highlights provided immediately before the full transcript, seen in the light of medical abuse and neglect recently reported complaints from the CARA project and our office, show that family detention has and always will be extraordinarily harmful to the physical and mental health of children. More importantly, one can see that ICE officials have always been well aware that detention is harmful to children yet intentionally report to the public that is is safe, effective, and humane.

The individuals responsible for such grievous harm to children must be held accountable, starting the person who used his medical license to complete a conspiracy to commit crimes against children by detaining them with knowledge that it posed a grave risk to their health: Dr. Jon Krohmer.

HIghlight 1: Lost Weight

“Dr. Krohmer, MD: Well i can tell you in the research that we have done and the (unclear audi) there have been some situations of weight loss of a couple of pounds. There have been no situations of weight loss reported by some of the media and organizations of 10 to 15 to 20 pounds. It just has not happened.”

What this means: A failed attempt to massage the facts.

When a child under 5 loses 2-3 pounds over the course of several weeks, it is a failure to thrive.

Children are supposed to grow, not shrink. For example, a 2 pound drop for from 20 to 18 pounds for a toddler would equate to him losing 10 percent of his body weight. ICE records for one of our clients show that the precipitating diagnosis that led to the decision to hospitalize him was “cough, congestion, fever and no weight gain for 21 consecutive days.”

The age of the client? 15 months old and he in fact lost weight, from an already diminished 21 pounds due to illness in border patrol custody and trip to the United States from the 25 pounds he was measured at in his home country down to a low of 19 pounds at the time he was rushed to the emergency room one hour away in Roswell, New Mexico.

Furthermore, if a child who weighs 20 pounds loses 10 pounds, the child would probably be dead.

When confronted with specific allegations without fear of public accountability, ICE leaders directly conceded what they have not admitted to date: at least several children jailed in Artesia and Karnes were losing so much weight proportionate to their body size that it posed a serious and imminent risk to their life.

Highlight # 2: Reckless malnutrtion of children 

Unidentified advocate: (Inaudible question regarding food)

ICE Headquarters Official: “We work very hard to make sure that there is food you know the proper food the reality is that the food is different, the food is going to be different from what they are used to growing up so there is going to be some challenges with diet…i think there was a request for rice and beans but also we’ve had some requests for instead of apples and fruits and milk in the refrigerator, other types of snacks that aren’t necessarily healthy, so

(Laughter by several individuals in room after joke on snacks is made)

ICE official: “So I mean you all, like I have kids, we all have kids at home, so they are not going to reach for the apple, but the goldfish or the chips and candy so we are working through those challenges uh at the same time they have free access to fruit, and milk and juice and water. the refrigerators are open 24/7. They have free access in their dorms.”

What this means: a top ICE official acknowledged advocates reports that many children were not eating the food ICE provided in Karnes and Artesia because, allegedly, “the food is…different” from what they were accustomed to at home.”

The solution proffered to knowing that many children, some under 2 years old or even under 12 months, were not eating was to work “through those challenges and have free access to fruit, milk and juice, and water.”

The only reason these children had ceased to eat, according to ICE, was that the food was too unfamiliar. The only way to “work through a challenge” to ensure a child who is not eating starts eating is to eliminate the root cause: their detention so that the mother has the liberty to make sure her child does not become permanently injured due to malnutrition or suffer pangs of hunger from not eating or barely eating anything over spans of days, weeks, or months.

Highlight # 3: Policy To Detain Children Who Are Seriously Ill

Bryan Johnson: “If i could chime in, my name is Bryan Johnson I am an attorney in New York. I had a client, a 1 year old, that was detained at artesia for 72 days. He had a fever for 17 straight days that resulted in pneumonia and he was treated at the hospital and right after being released from the hospital he was sent right back to the detention facility in Artesia where he subsequently contracted a fever for another 13 days straight and he was very ill for the whole time so I was wondering if there was anything to address the concerns about the extremely ill children?ICE Headquarters Official: “Is there any question regarding medical care, because I do have Dr Krohmer here…”

(no response)

Krohmer: “I mean we’ve got the health folks going throughout the camp, you know, almost 24 hours a day they walk through at night…and uhh sick call rooms and clinic rooms and in dormitories…we have 3 pill lines in each of the dormitories there are more than adequate opportunities for folks expressing health concerns to be investigated.

Admittedly, you are hearing concerns expressed by the moms. We need to try to validate them. It is not the experience that our healthcare providers have seen.”

Bryan Johnson: “I can, I spoke before , Bryan Johnson, I can validate the concerns because i have the medical records of my client, um, and I have another client that is there and I know you didn’t address the fever issue yet, but in most states the law states that for a child day care center if there is a child that is sick, with a fever over 101, they have to be sent home, and I don’t think that’s happening at Artesia or Karnes, and that’s why i think it’s happening, it happened to my client, and i want to make sure it’s not happening to other children, because it was really scary for me as their attorney to hear my client had a 104 fever and was being sent to the hospital and he wasn’t even released after that.

Dr. Jon Krohmer: “Ok, well, he was appropriately cared for at the hospital I can assure you.”

(no further response until several minutes later)

Dr. Jon Krohmer: And I understand that, we have heard that on the rotations, and I guess, to be frank, I’m going to be politically inappropriate, I mean it does not surprise me at all that the information and the claims and information that some of the attorneys are getting are in fact what the clients are suggesting to them. When those situations occur, when there are concerns about healthcare, we need to have it brought to our attention. To be looked into. to be…and whether it is due to a lack of understanding…or a lack of…I mean I can tell you our health care providers are being told, and this is the politically inappropriate part of it, our health care providers are being told by some of the residents that they want to be returned home to be back with their families but their attorneys are telling them they can’t leave yet. So I say that only to suggest that it appears no matter what side of the fence you are on the information and the perspective that you, i mean i’ve got to be honest, your comment that getting folks with medical issues under detention is very difficult is wrong…(interrupted)

Bryan Johnson: With all due respect doctor, my client, I do have corroboration, and I I, was hearing things from my client that matched up exactly with what the report said and I don’t think you had answered it prior to, I am wondering why, since he was diagnosed with pneumonia what the procedure was, why the child was returned to the facility, um, I mean it seems to me that in my experience it did match up exactly with what the records said, so are there incidents where there are children that are seriously sick and what is the process to get them out?

Dr. Jon Krohmer: “Well, the the your particular client did get sicker um he didn’t respond to the antibiotics he was given in the facility because his infection was caused by a virus not a bacteria which can be treated with an antibiotic…”(Interrupted)

ICE Headquarters Official: “we probably, well…”

(Unidentified advocate also agreeing not to talk about individual case)

Bryan Johnson: “I mean i do not need to know the specifics of my client, I just as a general question, is there a procedure for children that get ill, what’s the procedure to release them?”

ICE Headquarters Official: “I don’t think there is a procedure per se but what we look at every case and if a decision or recommendation from the doctor that this particular adult or child would be better suited outside of the facility or elsewhere, that recommendation is made and normally decided immediately, but the reality is, like your example about daycare, I have kids that go to daycare, you are right, kids stay at home if they have a fever but this is not day care per se, so the medical decision is made by the doctors and uh we will never contradict the doctors and say, no, sorry, we are going to detain the person when the medical decision is to release”

Dr. Jon Krohmer: “The fact that somebody has a fever doesn’t qualify.”

Bryan Johnson: But not just the ICE doctors, what if they are in the hospital, what if the hospital doctor has one instruction and then the ICE doctor reverses it, because that is what happened in this case. The, I mean i don’t want to talk about my specific client but it’s just an example of the doctor at the hospital said stay away from other children that are sick and what actually happened was he was put in a place with other children that are sick so the decision was made against the doctors orders.

ICE Headquarters Official: “uh uh ok, well, Like you said I can’t speak to that but uh, we do, uh, the medical care is at the top of our list…”

Bryan: “Right.”

Unidentified Advocate: “I’m going to have to move us through this but maybe we could address in a follow up in a separate conversation, not only about the specifics of any case but on you know procedural issues that i think he is trying to raise here.”

What this means: Family detention was designed to detain children no matter what, even if a child became acutely ill and required emergency hospitalization. The health of children in U.S. detention facilities was entirely disregarded so that individual goals of President Obama could be carried out: to stop the appearance of a porous border by detaining children with no regard whatsoever to that child’s life.

Starting with Dr. Jon Krohmer, physicians who signed for children to be “medically cleared for custody” violated their duty to act in the best health interests of their patients.

This recording shows that several individuals acted in an agreement to continue to detain a child knowing it was harming them or posed an imminent risk of harm to their physical and mental health. The backdrop of this case also makes it highly likely that DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and President Barack Obama were directly implicated in this particular case, as it was covered by a major New York Times article by Julia Preston on August 5, 2014.

My client’s case is not the exception, shockingly. In Artesia, Berks, Karnes, and Dilley, children face life-threatening health emergencies and serious physical or mental health problems on a routine basis.

When will the individuals responsible for harming children be held accountable for their actions?

How can we stop this abhorrent serial criminal child abuse from continuing or returning in the future?

By holding the individuals responsible for the harm accountable. By creating a real price for them to pay for their wrongful conduct. Without that price, the current officials and future ones will be de facto given a license to violate the law for at least the several months or years it takes for a federal judge to be in a position to hold them in contempt of court.

Impunity for the harms inflicted on children in family detention is the main obstacle that has prevented achieving its permanent extinction.

ICE or CCA did not harm the children. Individuals with final authority or who were necessary for that authority to be exeercised over the children’s’ custody harmed the children.  Dr. Jon Krohmer harmed my client by signing repeatedly signing off on his detention, as he has done to every child who passed through the family detention camps.

Here are the top officials who must be held accountable for creating, planning, and executing the conspiracy of serial child abuse and neglect through the creation of family detention starting in June of 2014:

President Barack Obama

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson

ICE Director Sarah Saldana

ICE ERO Director Thomas Homan in addition to other ICE HQ officials with authority over custody determinations.

Field Office Director Enrique Lucero

Field Office Director Adrian Macias

Dr. Jon Krohmer (and all medical professionals that authorized detention of children)

The audio may be available by individual request. Bryan@amjolaw.com

————————————————————-start of transcript—————————————————————-

ICE Headquarters Official: “Is there any question regarding medical care, because I do have Dr Krohmer here…”

Unidentified advocate: “I would certainly flag, and invite others to chime in, something that we observed both in our karnes and artesia tours, were mothers are universally saying that their children were losing weight, that they were not eating, and even if they were eating they were having diarrhea. I was told at Karnes that they swipe cards for them to get into the cafeteria so they can track who has meals, but the fact that they enter room does not show if they are eating it or how their gastrointestinal system is handling it. So, um, at karnes we tried to make the suggestion that children who are weighed at intake be proactively weighed again to identify trends of weight loss because what we were told by the medical staff during our q and a session they would certainly look into any concerns that were raised if a mother made an appointment for their child. We were trying to flag that it was being universally expressed to us that you shouldn’t have to wait for that appointment so i think that that was one of our top concerns from our tours is that we would love to see some proactive engagement on the weight loss issue to the extent that it can be addressed for family detention, which is, as we’ve said, (unclear)

Bryan Johnson: “If i could chime in, my name is Bryan Johnson I am an attorney in New York. I had a client, a 1 year old, that was detained at artesia for 72 days. He had a fever for 17 straight days that resulted in pneumonia and he was treated at the hospital and right after being released from the hospital he was sent right back to the detention facility in Artesia where he subsequently contracted a fever for another 13 days straight and he was very ill for the whole time so I was wondering if there was anything to address the concerns about the extremely ill children?

Dr. Jon Krohmer.  “Well I’ll do the weight loss thing first. Um, actually at Artesia and Karnes both we are recording weights anytime there is a clinic engagement between a resident and a medical staff and that includes both physical health issues and mental health issues…Every time they engage in physical or mental health encounter they are being weighed.

Unidentified advocate: “I guess I would just reiterate request if possible during some headcount that everybody gets weighed, or some other opportunity where it’s done more proactively, hopefully…come to learn that it’s not a problem or if it is a problem we can address it systemically.”

Dr. Krohmer, MD: Well i can tell you in the research that we have done and the (unclear audi) there have been some situations of weight loss of a couple of pounds. There have been no situations of weight loss reported by some of the media and organizations of 10 to 15 to 20 pounds. It just has not happened.

Advocate, unidentified: “We can only report our encounters”…Dr. Krohmer interrupts.”

Krohmer,“I understand”

Unidentified advocate: (interrupted arguing) without objective data it’s hard…

DHS has consistently insisted thatDr. Krohmer: I am providing you with…

Unidentified ICE official: In…specific cases, if there is a child you feel like needs to be weighed or has health concerns, i mean, that’s the last thing we really want, somebody with health concerns in our custody…

Krohmer: “I mean we’ve got the health folks going throughout the camp, you know, almost 24 hours a day they walk through at night…and uhh sick call rooms and clinic rooms and in dormitories…we have 3 pill lines in each of the dormitories there are more than adequate opportunities for folks expressing health concerns to be investigated.

Admittedly, you are hearing concerns expressed by the moms. We need to try to validate them. It is not the experience that our healthcare providers have seen.”

Bryan Johnson: “I can, I spoke before , Bryan Johnson, I can validate the concerns because i have the medical records of my client, um, and I have another client that is there and I know you didn’t address the fever issue yet, but in most states the law states that for a child day care center if there is a child that is sick, with a fever over 101, they have to be sent home, and I don’t think that’s happening at Artesia or Karnes, and that’s why i think it’s happening, it happened to my client, and i want to make sure it’s not happening to other children, because it was really scary for me as their attorney to hear my client had a 104 fever and was being sent to the hospital and he wasn’t even released after that.

Dr. Jon Krohmer: “Ok, well, he was appropriately cared for at the hospital I can assure you.”

Unidentified advocate: (unclear question regarding how clinical interaction at facilities take place.)

Dr. Jon Krohmer: “It’s the same when you take your 2 year old to the doctor’s office. They take blood pressure…oxygen saturation, temperature, and the weight.

It’s no different than when your daughter is taken care of, you know, your doctor will say if she is not better in 2 days come back and see me. if they are better don’t worry about it.”

Unidentified advocate: (inaudible question)

ICE Headquarters Official: “It’s something we can look at. I mean, what i think you are asking is that we walk around every couple of days and weigh the kids and I don’t know necessarily if that is the best use of medical resources, but at the same time if there are challenges we want to know about them, but the medical care that is being provided is, I think you would agree, is good medical care. Some of these families have never seen a doctor before in their life, umm.”

Dr. Jon Krohmer: “And I would offer, that last factor aside, we have staff that is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week, sick calls.”

ICE Headquarters Official: “there’s no restrictions for them for requesting to see a doctor at family detention.”

Unidentified Advocate: “…At that initial wellness check, that baseline weight…”

(inaudible exchange)

So is there a baseline and you are saying that every encounter includes a weight check so there should be a record of weight…”

Unidentified advocate: (Inaudible question regarding food)

ICE Headquarters Official: “We work very hard to make sure that there is food you know the proper food the reality is that the food is different, the food is going to be different from what they are used to growing up so there is going to be some challenges with diet…i think there was a request for rice and beans but also we’ve had some requests for instead of apples and fruits and milk in the refrigerator, other types of snacks that aren’t necessarily healthy, so

(Laughter by several individuals in room after joke on snacks is made)

ICE official: “So I mean you all, like I have kids, we all have kids at home, so they are not going to reach for the apple, but the goldfish or the chips and candy so we are working through those challenges uh at the same time they have free access to fruit, and milk and juice and water. the refrigerators are open 24/7. They have free access in their dorms.”

Second  ICE Headquarters Official: “We heard this from advocacy community in artesia, and the way we message it back, again we have done family detention on a smaller scale at berks however these wellness checks are trained professionals persons, right? so when they see problems (with weight) that are clear they are going to be proactive engaged to say what’s going on, secondarily, we want to ensure that the wellness check that builds rapport so the mother feels comfortable so that after the time of the standardized wellness check the mother…I’m the parent, I know that my child has an issue that is flagged at wellness check. Two points where we can see observable demarcations at various weights,and the ability to build rapport first and foremost with the medical health providers which Dr. Krohmer spoke…so although we can talk about logistics, scale etc. it does not mitigate the fact that we have trained medical health professionals, public health service, doing positive, doing good healthcare the world over…”

Unidentified Advocate:” I want to raise one more point that i have heard from aila attorneys.”

The concern I wanted to raise, um, was that at least one attorney was told by her client that no medicine was given unless the fever was over 104.”

Dr. Jon Krohmer: “That is blatantly inaccurate.”

Unidentified Advocate: “And it may be but it may also be lost in translation or there may be problem with the rapport between the medical provider and the resident um i use that as an example of the perception at least of…available and we’ve also heard concerns regarding diarrhea where the resident have been under impression only that pain relief medication is available, so something is going on that rapport is not as seamless as it needs to be, and the mothers feel like medicine is not available.”

Dr. Jon Krohmer: And I understand that, we have heard that on the rotations, and I guess, to be frank, I’m going to be politically inappropriate, I mean it does not surprise me at all that the information and the claims and information that some of the attorneys are getting are in fact what the clients are suggesting to them. When those situations occur, when there are concerns about healthcare, we need to have it brought to our attention. To be looked into. to be…and whether it is due to a lack of understanding…or a lack of…I mean I can tell you our health care providers are being told, and this is the politically inappropriate part of it, our health care providers are being told by some of the residents that they want to be returned home to be back with their families but their attorneys are telling them they can’t leave yet. So I say that only to suggest that it appears no matter what side of the fence you are on the information and the perspective that you, i mean i’ve got to be honest, your comment that getting folks with medical issues under detention is very difficult is wrong…(interrupted)

Bryan Johnson: With all due respect doctor, my client, I do have corroboration, and I I, was hearing things from my client that matched up exactly with what the report said and I don’t think you had answered it prior to, I am wondering why, since he was diagnosed with pneumonia what the procedure was, why the child was returned to the facility, um, I mean it seems to me that in my experience it did match up exactly with what the records said, so are there incidents where there are children that are seriously sick and what is the process to get them out?

Dr. Jon Krohmer: “Well, the the your particular client did get sicker um he didn’t respond to the antibiotics he was given in the facility because his infection was caused by a virus not a bacteria which can be treated with an antibiotic…”(Interrupted)

ICE Headquarters Official: “we probably, well…”

(Unidentified advocate also agreeing not to talk about individual case)

Bryan Johnson: “I mean i do not need to know the specifics of my client, I just as a general question, is there a procedure for children that get ill, what’s the procedure to release them?”

ICE Headquarters Official: “I don’t think there is a procedure per se but what we look at every case and if a decision or recommendation from the doctor that this particular adult or child would be better suited outside of the facility or elsewhere, that recommendation is made and normally decided immediately, but the reality is, like your example about daycare, I have kids that go to daycare, you are right, kids stay at home if they have a fever but this is not day care per se, so the medical decision is made by the doctors and uh we will never contradict the doctors and say, no, sorry, we are going to detain the person when the medical decision is to release”

Dr. Jon Krohmer: “The fact that somebody has a fever doesn’t qualify.”

Bryan Johnson: But not just the ICE doctors, what if they are in the hospital, what if the hospital doctor has one instruction and then the ICE doctor reverses it, because that is what happened in this case. The, I mean i don’t want to talk about my specific client but it’s just an example of the doctor at the hospital said stay away from other children that are sick and what actually happened was he was put in a place with other children that are sick so the decision was made against the doctors orders.

ICE Headquarters Official: “uh uh ok, well, Like you said I can’t speak to that but uh, we do, uh, the medical care is at the top of our list…”

Bryan: “Right.”

Unidentified Advocate: “I’m going to have to move us through this but maybe we could address in a follow up in a separate conversation, not only about the specifics of any case but on you know procedural issues that i think he is trying to raise here.

———————————————End of Transcript Excerpt———————————————–

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