TRUMP IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICIES: BOON FOR DOMESTIC ABUSERS, BUST FOR VICTIMS! — Many Victims Now Fear Reporting Abuse Or Seeking Help!

http://www.self.com/story/immigration-policies-domestic-violence-survivors

Haley Goldberg reports in Self:

Over the past several months, counselors at Laura’s House domestic violence agency in Orange County, California, have seen fewer and fewer undocumented immigrants coming in to report abuse. The agency’s legal director, Adam Dodge, does not see this as a good sign. He says undocumented domestic violence victims are facing a heightened fear that if they speak out against an abuser or take legal action, they could get deported—so they’re keeping quiet.

The trend started in February, when Dodge says the agency saw a dramatic change among the roughly 80 people who come in over the course of a typical month. “We went from 40 to 45 percent of our clients being undocumented—helping them get restraining orders for themselves and their children—to nearly zero,” he tells SELF.

Dodge says Laura’s House—which provides vital services like emergency shelter, counseling, and legal aid to survivors of domestic violence—first noticed a decrease in undocumented immigrant clients after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained an undocumented domestic violence survivor on Feb. 9, in El Paso, Texas, when she was in court filing a protective order against her alleged abuser. “That just spread like wildfire through the undocumented community across the United States and created this chilling effect where no one’s going in to seek restraining orders,” Dodge says. “People are just so scared of having their name in any system. We can’t tell them with any certainty that they won’t get picked up by ICE if they come to court.”

In the first few months following the El Paso incident, he says only one openly undocumented survivor came to their agency. Her situation was grave. “She thought she was going to die if she stayed in the relationship,” Dodge says. “She said she was willing to risk deportation to get a restraining order.” Now, the agency has seen a slight increase to one or two undocumented clients each week—but it’s still well below the norm. “The situation is still very dire,” he says.

El Paso was an early and powerful example of how ramped up ICE activity, spurred by President Trump’s aggressive and expansive new rules on immigration, can have a devastating impact on immigrants living in the U.S. without documentation. In February, the President issued new immigration policies, calling for the deportation of illegal immigrants even if they haven’t been formally convicted of a crime and an increase in ICE resources. In March, a video surfaced showing ICE officers poised to make an arrest at a Denver courthouse, a place where victims of domestic violence also appear when their cases go to court. NPR reported that after the video came out, four women dropped domestic violence cases in Denver, fearing they’d be spotted at the courthouse and deported.

When incidents like these happen, experts say the news—and fear of deportation—spreads, affecting how many survivors come forward. At the end of March, reports of sexual assault in Los Angeles had dropped 25 percent among the Latino population and reports of domestic violence had fallen 10 percent among the community compared to the previous year. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said similar decreases in reports weren’t seen in any other ethnic groups, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, tells SELF the perception of how survivors are treated matters—and it can affect how undocumented immigrants proceed if they find themselves in an abusive situation. “If you have a case and you’re thinking about going forward, and then this environment that we’re in right now does not seem supportive, then you’re not going to follow through,” Glenn says. “It’s very disturbing.”

Critics of the administration’s treatment of undocumented survivors sounded an alarm in May, when it was discovered that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new Victim Information and Notification Exchange—an online database created to track when criminals are released from or into ICE custody—publicly listed the names and detainment location of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking who’ve applied to stay legally in the U.S. on special protective visas. DHS is prohibited from releasing identifying information about immigrants seeking these protections because of the dangers it poses to them. The Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit that serves immigrant women and girls, first contacted the DHS about the issue on May 12. As of the May 25, the organization said the names of abuse victims were still searchable in the database. In response to the uproar, an ICE spokesman told BuzzFeed News they were working to “correct” and “prevent” any non-releasable information disclosed on the site.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

While the Trump Administration has turned the VOICE Program for victims of crime committed by undocumented aliens into a big showpiece, they have basically declared an “open season” on undocumented victims of crime. Years of hard work by local police and social agencies to get the undocumented community its to report crimes, help in solving them, and seek appropriate victim assistance are going down the drain. And, I suspect that once lost, that trust will be difficult, if not impossible to regain.

At the same time, by discouraging individuals from reporting crime, I suppose the Administration can achieve fake “reduction in crime” stats resulting from its enforcement efforts.

PWS

06-03-17

Lisa Rosenberg: Trump Administration’s Misinformation Campaign Targets Immigrants!

http://augustafreepress.com/trump-administration-using-campaign-disinformation-secrecy-target-immigrants/

Rosenberg writes in the Augusta (VA) Free Press:

“The Trump administration has yet to break ground for its promised border wall to keep the undocumented out of the United States, but by embarking on a campaign of misinformation and secrecy, it is rapidly moving forward with efforts to target and deport immigrants already here.
To advance the false narrative that the undocumented community includes an outsized and particularly dangerous set of criminals, the Administration ignores data that shows that high rates of immigration actually coincide with reduced crime rates, and that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than those born in the United States. As Alex Nowrasteh of the libertarian Cato Institute noted, “It is absurd to highlight the crimes committed by a small group of people without reporting on the crimes committed by everybody.” The misleading use of crime data not only results in questionable policy decisions, but also could lead to unwarranted fear of immigrants and an uptick in hate-crimes against them.
Such fear-mongering appears to be behind the new office for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) recently launched by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). VOICE will share selective data about alleged criminals’ immigration and custody status, but will omit information on other crimes, including crimes in which immigrants are victims. VOICE stems from the President’s Executive Order on internal safety and immigration enforcement, which also decreed that Privacy Act protections do not apply to the undocumented. The result is that when VOICE shares information about immigrants, their right to legally challenge potentially erroneous disclosures may be curtailed. The implications could be devastating for individuals who are wrongly targeted, especially given administration’s track record with the facts.
The launch of the VOICE office comes on the heels other efforts by the administration to manipulate facts to support misleading conclusions about immigration enforcement. In an apparent effort to name and shame, the White House ordered ICE to release weekly reports highlighting jurisdictions it claimed did not comply with requests to keep undocumented individuals in custody for up to 48 hours beyond their scheduled release—so-called “detainer requests.” Law enforcement officials in counties nationwide described the data as “unfair and misleading” and openly disputed ICE’s claims. Because complying with detainer requests has been held to be unconstitutional, jurisdictions also objected to the reports’ mischaracterization that they were not complying with federal law. Responding to pressure, ICE has temporarily suspended publication of its misleading weekly reports, but is now concealing data about its own immigration investigations and enforcement with its illegitimate decision to withhold information previously released under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
To be sure, the immigration enforcement and deportation machine grew to new levels under a cloak of secrecy during the Obama administration, with serious policy consequences that resonate today. Rights groups litigated with ICE for years to obtain information about its controversial deportation and fingerprint program, known as Secure Communities, which required local law enforcement to forward the digital fingerprints of everyone they booked, regardless of citizenship. ICE then used the information to determine who could be deported. To this day, the FBI continues to expand the massive biometrics database that grew dramatically under the Secure Communities program, and ICE’s ability to issue detainer requests continues because local law enforcement still forwards biometric information about suspects in custody.”

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One of the biggest lies repeated by the Trump Administration and many GOP politicos is that the Obama Administration “didn’t enforce immigration law.” On the contrary, as those of us who served during that Administration know well, Obama enforced the heck out of immigration law — sometimes wisely, sometimes not. Most of today’s real immigration problems (such as the total mess in the U.S. Immigration Courts) stem from over enforcement, not any type of mythical “under enforcement.”

PWS

05-25-17

 

How The Trump Administration Deliberately Uses The Term “Criminal” To Dehumanize Migrants!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/opinion/who-is-a-criminal.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170501&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=6&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

From Jason Stanley’s op-ed in the NY Times:

“In the United States, Donald Trump rode to victory with a call to expel “criminal aliens.” In his announcement of his run for office, he spoke of Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” Since he has taken office, he has harshly targeted immigrants in the United States; at his rally on Saturday in Harrisburg, Pa., he compared immigrants — as he did last year — to poisonous snakes, to great applause. It is worth noting that this tactic of dehumanization — referring to humans as animals — has historically been used to foment hatred and violence against chosen groups. In the lead up to the Rwandan genocide, for instance, Tutsis were regularly described as snakes.

Photo

The author’s grandmother, right, at age 10.

While President Barack Obama set deportation priorities by making a distinction between undocumented immigrants with serious criminal convictions and everyone else, Trump’s executive orders vastly expand the criminal category — so much so that it essentially criminalizes anyone in the country who is without status and makes the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States a top priority for deportation. Between January and March of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 immigrants, a 32.6 percent increase from the same period last year. Of those arrested, 5,441 of them had no history of violating a law.

The administration’s hard line on the standard for criminalization has gone so far as to alarm several members of the Supreme Court, as demonstrated during an argument before the Court last week (Maslenjak v. United States), in which a Justice Department lawyer argued that, as The Times reported, “the government may revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings,” including not disclosing a criminal offense of any kind, even if there was no arrest. To test the severity of that position, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., confessed to a crime — driving 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone many years ago without being caught. He then asked if a person who had not disclosed such an incident in his citizenship application could have his citizenship revoked. The lawyer answered, yes. There was “indignation and incredulity” expressed by the members of the Court. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy told the lawyer, “Your argument is demeaning the priceless value of citizenship.” Roberts put it simply. If the administration has its way, he said, “the government will have the opportunity to denaturalize anyone they want.”

EXILE FROM ONE’S HOME is historically considered one of the worst punishments the state could employ; it was, after all, one of the traditional Greek and Roman punishments for murder, their alternative to the death penalty. In the opening pages of her book, my grandmother speaks to its harshness, as well as to the complex relationship between expulsion and death:

“With millions of others, I was singled out to live two lives. One day, which seemed to be like any ordinary day, I was told: ‘“Stop just where you are. This life of yours is finished. Fulfilled or not — it stops right now. You are not going to die — go and begin another.’ ”

She continues:

“My roots were stuck deeply in their native German soil. Perhaps a part broke and remained there, for how am I to explain that my heart at times seems to be drawn by a force thousands of miles away?” The pain of being torn from her roots, she wrote, stayed with her throughout her life “as the stump of an amputated leg causes a man to say, ‘My foot hurts’; and yet he knows there is no foot to hurt.”

The president and his administration regularly stoke fear of immigrants by connecting them to criminality. Again and again, we are presented with the specter of “criminal aliens” — and not just in remarks but also in official documents, like the announcement of a new office in the Department of Homeland Security devoted to helping “victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens.”

The word “criminal” has a literal meaning, of course, but it also has a resonant meaning — people who by their nature are insensitive to society’s norms, drawn to violate the law by self-interest or malice. We do not generally use the term to describe those who may have inadvertently broken a law or who may have been compelled to violate a law in a desperate circumstance. Someone who runs to catch a bus is not necessarily a runner; someone who commits a crime is not necessarily a criminal.

Politicians who describe people as “criminals” are imputing to them permanent character traits that are frightening to most people, while simultaneously positioning themselves as our protectors. Such language undermines the democratic process of reasonable decision-making, replacing it with fear. Discussion that uses terms like “criminal” to encompass both those who commit multiple homicides for pleasure and those who commit traffic violations distorts attitudes and debates.

Deliberately obscuring the crucial distinction between someone who violates a law and someone whose character leads them to repeatedly commit serious crimes is an effective strategy for masking gross injustice. Our current administration is vigorously employing that strategy, and history suggests that it is rarely constrained to just one group. If we look away when the state brands someone a criminal, who among us then remains safe?

DR. NO? — DHS Appoints Restrictionist To “Ombudsman” Position!

https://thinkprogress.org/uscis-ombudsman-877d18a67d97

Dan Kowalski at LexisNexsis Immigration Community forwards the following item from Think Progress:

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is set to announce the appointment of a controversial former leader of an anti-immigrant policy center to be its ombudsman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Monday, according to two sources aware of the news.

Between 2005 and 2015, Julie Kirchner worked first as its director of government relations then as executive director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization founded by an alleged white nationalist who advocates for stricter immigration. During her time at FAIR, the organization proposed efforts to end birthright citizenshipand reduce legal immigration levels. She left FAIR in 2015 to become an immigration adviser on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.

Immigrant advocates are worried Kirchner’s role as ombudsman will give her direct access to include or exclude stakeholders with an immigration nexus who may shape her formal recommendations based on how the agency should exercise authority over policy implementation.

“The appointment of Kirchner to the position of CIS ombudsman is extremely troubling when you consider the fact that she spent 10 years working for FAIR, a group founded on racist principals that has spent decades demonizing and vilifying immigrants,” Heidi Beirich, the director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, told ThinkProgress in an email.

USCIS public affairs officer Katie Tichacek told ThinkProgress the agency “does not comment on potential personnel announcements. The two people who confirmed information of Kirchner’s appointment were one current DHS employee and one former DHS employee.

Congress created the role of the USCIS ombudsman under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 as an “impartial and independent perspective” to the agency housed within DHS, according to a DHS agency website. Among tasks like meeting with external stakeholders, ombudsman are responsible for resolving problems with pending immigration cases, sharing feedback on emerging trends in migration patterns, and issuing formal recommendations and proposals to address concerns. They cannot make or change USCIS decisions.

In her 2016 annual report to Congress, former USCIS Ombudsman Maria M. Odom said engaging with external stakeholders was “integral to our full understanding of the issues and their impact on the USCIS customer.”

January Contreras, a former USCIS ombudsman between 2009 and 2012 described her role as a DHS “watchdog.” She now works as the CEO of Arizona Legal Women and Youth’s Services (ALWAYS), which provides pro bono legal services for trafficking survivors and young people.

During her time, Contreras met with a wide variety of people that spanned the immigration spectrum, including human resource and vice presidents looking to expand high-tech visas, undocumented immigrants, and former refugees who pointed out which processes they had trouble with.

“[The role] is someone who is listening outside the DHS bubble,” Contreras told ThinkProgress Friday. “My job, when I was the ombudsman, was to listen to people who were dissatisfied at what was going on at the DHS. Sometimes people would bring complaints, sometimes they would bring ideas, sometimes they were long-simmering issues and sometimes they were rather new issues.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled FAIR as a hate group, pointing to a series of racist memos written by the organization’s founder John Tanton warning of a “Latin onslaught.” In the past, Tanton and other supporters promoted radical population control measures like sterilizing Third World women and making wider use of an abortion pill. FAIR has received $1.5 million from the pro-eugenics organization Pioneer Fund. Tanton also founded NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), two organizations that consulted Trump or senior administration officials during his campaign.

“At the end of the day, the ombudsman is still accountable to Congress to improve services, not restrict services,” Contreras said. “So in fact if there’s an ombudsman in place interested only in restricting immigration I hope that Congress will have some conversations, whether privately or publicly, to make sure they’re doing the job they’re hired to do.”

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Wishful thinking on Contreras’s part, I’m afraid. With the GOP firmly in control of the political branches of Government, and Secretary Kelly proving to be a “shill” for Sessions and the restrictionists, I wouldn’t bet on any meaningful oversight of the Ombudsman position.

Quite to the contrary, I expect the Ombudsman to become an extension of the VOICE program for “victims of crime” or, perhaps, a conduit for anonymous “tips” on how to locate individuals who potentially are removable from the U.S.

PWS

04-30-17

DHS Rolls Out VOICE Program To Mixed Reviews!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/trump-administration-launches-effort-to-help-crime-victims-whose-assailants-are-here-illegally/2017/04/26/70b27f1c-2a29-11e7-b605-33413c691853_story.html?utm_term=.53e57f278b40

Maria Sacchetti writes in the Washington Post:

“Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly on Wednesday unveiled a new effort to aid victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, catapulting the Trump administration into another pitched battle over whether the president is deploying federal resources to demonize foreign-born residents who are in this country illegally.

Kelly said the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or VOICE, will provide custody status, release dates and other information to victims, witnesses and their representatives. He said there is “nothing but goodness” in his intentions — a claim immigrant advocates disputed.

“We are giving people who are victimized by illegal aliens for the first time a voice of their own,” Kelly said, gesturing to crime victims gathered at Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s D.C. headquarters. “They’re casualties of crimes that should never have taken place because the people who victimized them should never have been here in our country.”

. . . .

“This really isn’t about helping victims,” said Brent Wilkes, chief executive of the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is considering the lawsuit. “It’s really about trying to vilify the immigrant population in this country and using that to their political advantage.”

Trump’s executive order also called for quarterly reports on crime committed by undocumented immigrants, though it is unclear when the government will begin producing those reports. Advocates for immigrants say research has shown that immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than people born in this country.”

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You might want to compare this article with the op-ed by Jennifer Rubin posted earlier: 

http://wp.me/p8eeJm-L0.

PWS

04-26-17

 

THE HILL: Nolan Rappaport Gives Thumbs Up To President Trump’s “VOICE” Program

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/321859-trumps-mostly-wrong-about-immigrant-crime-but-gets-1-thing

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“The VOICE office will create a programmatic liaison between ICE and victims of crimes committed by removable aliens. The objective is to facilitate engagement with the victims and their families to ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that they are provided with information about the offender, including the offender’s immigration status and custody status.
Secretary Kelly funds this program by ordering the director of ICE to reallocate the resources currently used to advocate on behalf of undocumented aliens (except to comply with a judicial order) to the new VOICE Office, and to terminate outreach and advocacy services to undocumented aliens immediately.

VOICE is not a completely new idea. ICE established a Victim Assistance Program in 2008, but it has worked primarily with victims of human trafficking.

A Huffington Post contributor says, “Let’s call this what it is: VOICE is racist government propaganda.” He claims that VOICE will embroil the media and the public in a constant debate about the merits of immigration in the United States.

Even if the contributor is right about President Trump’s intention in creating this program, and I do not think he is, I applaud the president’s attempt to help crime victims.

Moreover, I believe that the public is entitled to more information about crimes committed by immigrants, particularly the ones who are here in violation of our immigration laws. Then, we will be able to let the facts speak for themselves.”

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Nolan informs me that his article made “The Hill’s Top Five Hit Parade.”  Congratulations to Nolan, and many thanks for his timely and highly readable scholarship on immigration and politics.

Note that to fund VOICE, DHS will terminate all outreach programs aimed at assisting undocumented individuals involved in various DHS processes.

PWS

03/01/17