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Posts tagged ‘Immigration’

New York Times: “U.S. Setting Up Emergency Shelters in Texas as Youths Cross Border Alone.”

Though problematic because of its legally incorrect use of language to describe children migrants and other errors, Julia Preston of the NY Times wrote an important story today. The article is below, followed by our analysis:

With border authorities in South Texas overwhelmed by a surge of young illegal migrants traveling by themselves, the Department of Homeland Security declared a crisis this week and moved to set up an emergency shelter for the youths at an Air Force base in San Antonio, officials said Friday.

After seeing children packed in a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Tex., during a visit last Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday declared “a level-four condition of readiness” in the Rio Grande Valley. The alert was an official recognition that federal agencies overseeing borders, immigration enforcement and child welfare had been outstripped by a sudden increase in unaccompanied minors in recent weeks.

On Sunday, Department of Health and Human Services officials will open a shelter for up to 1,000 minors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, authorities said, and will begin transferring youths there by land and air. The level-four alert is the highest for agencies handling children crossing the border illegally, and allows Homeland Security officials to call on emergency resources from other agencies, officials said.

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Johnson said the influx of unaccompanied youths had “zoomed to the top of my agenda” after his encounters at the McAllen Border Patrol station with small children, one of whom was 3.

The children are coming primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, making the perilous journey north through Mexico to Texas without parents or close adult relatives. Last weekend alone, more than 1,000 unaccompanied youths were being held at overflowing border stations in South Texas, officials said.

The flow of child migrants has been building since 2011, when 4,059 unaccompanied youths were apprehended by border agents. Last year more than 21,000 minors were caught, and Border Patrol officials had said they were expecting more than 60,000 this year. But that projection has already been exceeded.

By law, unaccompanied children caught crossing illegally from countries other than Mexico are treated differently from other migrants. After being apprehended by the Border Patrol, they must be turned over within 72 hours to a refugee resettlement office that is part of the Health Department. Health officials must try to find relatives or other adults in the United States who can care for them while their immigration cases move through the courts, a search that can take several weeks or more.

The Health Department maintains shelters for the youths, most run by private contractors, in the border region. Health officials had begun several months ago to add beds in the shelters anticipating a seasonal increase. But the plans proved insufficient to handle a drastic increase of youths in recent weeks, a senior administration official said.

Mr. Johnson said Pentagon officials agreed this week to lend the space at Lackland, where health officials will run a shelter for up to four months. The base was also used as a temporary shelter for unaccompanied migrant youths in 2012. It became the focus of controversy when Gov. Rick Perry of Texas objected, accusing President Obama of encouraging illegal migration by sheltering the young people there.

Mr. Johnson said the young migrants became a more “vivid” issue for him after he persuaded his wife to spend Mother’s Day with him at the station in McAllen. He said he asked a 12-year-old girl where her mother was. She responded tearfully that she did not have a mother, and was hoping to find her father, who was living somewhere in the United States, Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson said he had spoken on Monday with the ambassadors from Mexico and the three Central American countries to seek their cooperation, and had begun a publicity campaign to dissuade youths from embarking for the United States.

“We have to discourage parents from sending or sending for their children to cross the Southwest border because of the risks involved,” Mr. Johnson said. “A South Texas processing center is no place for a child.”

Officials said many youths are fleeing gang violence at home, while some are seeking to reunite with parents in the United States. A majority of unaccompanied minors are not eligible to remain legally in the United States and are eventually returned home.

I am pleasantly surprised at Jeh Johnson’s swift action and his unequivocal message: The United States Government must not abuse children migrants regardless of the situation. Jeh Johnson is right that a South Texas Processing Center is no place for a child.

But his prior statement that parents of children must be discouraged from sending their children to cross the border because of the risks involved is not as straightforward as it sounds.

To be sure, the journey from Central America to the United States by land is extraordinarily dangerous. One minor client of ours was abducted right after crossing the U.S./Mexico border and held for ransom. Luckily, he was rescued after other victims escaped the house they were being imprisoned in and alerted authorities.

I could go on. But has Jeh  Johnson walked in the shoes of these children in their native countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, where the government is powerless to protect children from gangs and other predators?

The simple truth is this: There are often more risks for a child to stay in their native country than for them to take the journey to the United States.

More than half the children that walk through into our office did not live with their parents in their native countries. Without parents, children in Central America  are at an even higher risk of being exploited by powerful street gangs; sexual predators; and other bad actors.

The vast majority of Central American children who are brought to the U.S. unlawfully  have been abandoned by one  or both parent, or both, or their parents are residing in the U.S. to ensure their kids don’t go hungry.


Minors do not have the sufficient intent to violate immigration law. Yet the first sentence in this article states:  “With border authorities in South Texas overwhelmed by a surge of young illegal migrants traveling by themselves…”(emphasis added.)

Minors are brought to the United States. They do not commit the act of violating the law. So why does the NY times permit this patently false description  of children fleeing their homelands? It’s frankly a bit perplexing.

Preston also uses the word “young”, which is itself problematic. An 18 year old is still young, yet they are clearly not a part of the class of individuals described in the article because they are not under 18.

The following example would be an accurate for the vast majority of children entering the U.S. at the border: “a surge in children brought to the United States unlawfully.”  Granted, some children flee with just the clothes on their back without telling any adult. Another alternative example would be this: ” a surge in minor children entering the United States without legal permission.”

The article concludes that  “the majority of unaccompanied minors are not eligible to remain legally in the United States and are eventually returned home.” Both of these conclusions are very problematic.

For example, the vast majority of Mexican unaccompanied minors are in fact deported  to Mexico within 48 hours of arriving in the U.S. Many deported Mexican minors are actually eligible for relief as special immigrant juveniles, refugees, victims of trafficking, or other means.

The fact that most Mexican children are deported does not mean that they were not eligible to remain legally in the United States.

Also, Jeh Johnson and Julia Preston seem to be ignorant of the fact that in 2012 DHS deported 14,000  unaccompanied Mexican children. U.S. authorities will claim that the children return to Mexico voluntarily but this is impossible given that they are minors. They did not come for a golf trip. They came to live in the United States.

However, the vast majority of Central American unaccompanied minors are not deported to their native country, regardless of whether they are eligible to remain in the U.S. legally. The reasoning is simple: DHS cannot deport children back to Central American countries within the 72 hours that they have to transfer the child to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

In our experience, well over half of unaccompanied children from Central America are eligible for permanent residency in the U.S. through special immigrant juvenile status, asylum, or other means. Even if a child is not eligible to remain legally in the U.S., DHS cannot detain a minor under the age of 18. Therefore, once released, it would be near impossible for DHS to force a child to return to their native country.

Mayor Bill De Blasio: Another Fake Pro-Immigrant Politician

There has been a lot of talk about how Mayor Bill De Blasio is  more pro-immigrant than his predecessor. Reality tells a different tale.

In De Blasio’s State of the City address earlier this year, everyone applauded his warm words on undocumented immigrants. He promised that Municipal ID cards would be available to all residents of New York City regardless of their immigration status: “so that no daughter or son of our city goes without bank accounts, leases, library cards, simply because they lack identification.”

Veering away from the concrete, he concluded: “To all of my fellow New Yorkers who are undocumented, I say: New York City is your home, too, and we will not force any of our residents to live their lives in the shadows,”

Unless you are deported and ripped away from your family because of New York City’s voluntary cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”.)

New York City likes to pretend more than act as pro-immigrant.

In 2013, Christine Quinn announced the passage of two bills that purported to stop a significant amount of individuals from being handed over to ICE, saying that:

“We have seen too many families torn apart by current detention and deportation practices. Our legislation will ensure that the city does not enable such a harmful policy.”

With great dismay, I realized that this legislation was mostly just for show: New York City would still hand over immigrants with outstanding orders of deportations and of persons previously ordered deported who returned unlawfully afterwards. The two latter classes of individuals make up the vast majority of persons deported from the U.S. In other words, New York City’s 2013 legislation did almost nothing to stem the destruction of immigrant families living in its neighborhoods.

And the data backs this up. The Department of Correction granted 73 % of all requests submitted by ICE and transferred 3000 people to ICE between October 2012 and September of 2013, according to a Daily News Article. 

Two of those 3000 were our clients, Werner and Oscar.  Neither had ever been convicted of a crime.

Oscar was abruptly torn away from his two infant twin girls after being arrested for having an open beer can. Werner was forcefully separated from his U.S. citizen wife and stepdaughter after being arrested on bogus charges after a traffic stop. All charges were dismissed.

Bill De Blasio is still complicit in destroying families like that of Oscar and Werner.

A recent campaign called ICE-Free NYC is requesting that the city to “refuse to allow ICE into city jails to look for people to deport. Also, they say, it should stop holding people once they have finished serving time for their conviction and have paid their debt to society — with no exceptions.”

De Blasio’s response was to repeat that it was immigrant friendly while not addressing the fact that it still cooperates with ICE to separating families for no reason. 

Maybe De Blasio should give Barack Obama a call. He is, after all, the ultimate fake pro-immigrant.



Obama Administration: “We Only Pretend To Not Want To Deport Dreamers”

Dream 9

Lulu Martinez, Lizbeth Mateo, Marco Saavedra, Ceferino Santiago,  Maria Peniche, Luis Leon, Adriana Gil Diaz, Claudia Amaro, and Mario Felix are all immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and are for all intents and purposes as American as the proverbial apple pie. The 9 are known in the media as the “Dream 9.”

They are challenging the colossal and hypocritical immigration enforcement machine that the Obama administration has used to deport 1.7 million human beings from the United States.

This past Monday, on July 22, 2013, the Dream 9 applied for admission to the United States. Three of the nine left the United States recently, risking everything to illuminate the destruction that the Obama administration has wrought upon immigrant communities throughout the Nation.

Obama and his friends at DHS have repeated ad nauseam how important it is for Dreamers to be able to stay in the United States. They even created an unprecedented form of prosecutorial discretion in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect certain young people from being removed from the United States.

Obama recently described Dreamers as individuals who:  “study in our schools, play in our neighborhoods, befriend our kids, pledge allegiance to our flag,” and also that:, “it makes no sense to expel talented young people who are, for all intents and purposes, Americans.”

Yet Obama has done nothing to prevent the Dream 9 from being expelled and exiled from the country they call home since they attempted to re-enter on July 22, 2013. Instead, the Dream 9 have been locked up for 6 days like criminals who pose a danger to society.

If Obama considers the Dream 9 to be Americans, he is committing grave human rights violations against  them by refusing to allow their entry into the United States.

It is time Obama stands behind his purported convictions for once and order the Dream 9 released now! 

In the meantime, I urge anyone that reads this to sign the petition or call to bring these kids home. Here is the link: