AMERICAN GULAG: NGOs Fear Administration’s Planned Detention Empire Will Be Deadly!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-immigrant-detention_us_58f0e2b7e4b0bb9638e34621

Elise Foley reports in HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― Human rights advocates spent years fighting for even small improvements to the system that detains men, women and children waiting to be either deported or released back into the U.S. Now they fear the progress they have made could disappear under President Donald Trump, who has promised harsher treatment of undocumented immigrants.

“This administration is prepared to make conditions at immigrant detention even worse than they already are, which, given that for some people they’re already fatal, is terrifying,” said Mary Small, policy director of the advocacy group Detention Watch Network.

Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is considering looser regulations for new contracts with jails to hold immigrants in deportation proceedings, The New York Times reported earlier this month. That agreement would allow jails to treat immigrants detained for civil offenses the same way they treat people charged with crimes.

The department also plans to eliminate an office at Immigration and Customs Enforcement that focuses on improving the detention system and to ramp up detention and deportation efforts.

Trump’s boosters consider these to be good things ― earlier this month, hosts on “Fox & Friends” gleefully remarked that the “party’s over” at immigrant detention centers, grumbling about detainees being given clean sheets and outdoor recreation time.

In reality, immigrant detention centers ― some of which are inside jails facilities or former prisons ― are bleak places. Inmates report being denied medical care, held in solitary confinement, given inedible food and other mistreatment. This is all on top of the struggle of being locked up, often far from family and legal help.

There’s always a tension between ‘Do we get rid of the cage or do we make a better cage?’Ruthie Epstein, formerly of Human Rights First

The facilities are supposed to be for civil detention, not criminal detention like a prison ― being in the country without authorization is not in itself a crime. Advocates are concerned that the Trump administration’s discussion of new contracts for jails to detain immigrants is more proof that officials will disregard standards meant to make immigrant detention less punitive.

Chris Daley, an attorney with Just Detention International, said his group is “very afraid” those standards aren’t going to be enforced and that “we’re just going to lose any sense that folks are not there under criminal charges.”

. . . .

“If ICE is no longer tracking the use of solitary confinement or no longer requiring that people who are in mental health crisis are checked on every 15 minutes, that can kill,” said Carl Takei, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project.

It would be difficult for ICE to dismiss the standards set forth in the Prison Rape Elimination Act because they are regulations. But weakening other standards would hurt PREA’s effectiveness, Daley said.

“You can’t have effective sexual abuse prevention programs if you have folks who don’t have access to appropriate materials in the right language; who can’t communicate concerns they have about threats or violence; who are just held in solitary confinement as a matter of course or who otherwise are just being treated in a demeaning way that compromises their dignity,” he said.

ICE hasn’t made any major changes yet, other than eliminating its Office of Detention Policy and Planning. The office’s staff and mission will be absorbed into other parts of the agency, according to ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez.

Officials are “examining a variety of detention models to determine which models would best meet anticipated detention needs” as part of one of Trump’s executive orders on immigration, Rodriguez said. “As new options are explored, ICE’s commitment to maintaining excellent facilities and providing first class medical care to those in our custody remains unchanged.”

The new contracts could be evaluated based on a checklist from the U.S. Marshals Service, The New York Times reported last week. That checklist is “ridiculous in its lack of detail,” Takei said. The contracts wouldn’t specify what policies jails holding immigrants must maintain for medical health, suicide prevention or solitary confinement, other than that they need to have some sort of policy, according to the Times.

Advocates are bracing for the worst.

“We’ve seen important but very incremental change, so to see change that’s taken so long to come about ― and that still had gaps but that was at least a step toward greater accountability and toward better conditions in these facilities ― to see that now be threatened to be reversed is troubling,” said Katharina Obser, senior program officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

They will be watching closely for human rights violations, from detainees being denied due process to poor conditions and even increased deaths in detention.

“These policies are a recipe for a human rights catastrophe in immigrant detention,” Takei said, “and we are prepared to sue as soon as that human rights catastrophe comes to pass.”

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Of course, an unstated reason for purposely allowing immigration detention conditions to deteriorate is to discourage migrants from 1) coming to the U.S. to seek refuge, 2) making claims for refuge, and 3) continuing to pursue those claims.

By locating U.S. Immigration Courts in private prisons and local facilities in obscure locations where counsel are not available, the Department of Justice purposely erodes due process for the purpose of making the courts part of the enforcement, deterrence. deportation mechanism.

At some point, the Article III Courts will have to decide how much of this unseemly travesty of justice they are willing to allow.

PWS

04-26-17

 

HuffPost Reports ICE Arrest Of DV Victim At El Paso Courthouse

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/el-paso-ice-detains-domestic-violence-victim_us_58a51f68e4b037d17d24cb2d

Elise Foley and Roque Planas report:

“AUSTIN, Texas ― Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained a domestic violence victim at an El Paso County Courthouse last week shortly after the undocumented immigrant obtained a protective order to shield her from the man accused of abusing her, according to a state news report.

The arrest, first reported by The El Paso Times on Wednesday, would mark a shift in ICE practice under President Donald Trump and has legal experts worried that it will dissuade women from seeking the protection of the courts when they face abuse.

Barbara Hines, who headed the immigration clinic at the University of Texas at Austin and still serves as a professor, said victims of domestic violence have options under the law to normalize their immigration status. The U Visa, for example, protects victims of violence from deportation if they agree to cooperate with law enforcement.

“That’s outrageous. That’s all I can say,” Hines told The Huffington Post, referring to the arrest. “This is very unusual. I would say it’s a terrible precedent and it will discourage survivors of abuse or people being abused from seeking the protection they’re entitled to under our laws…. This is going to make immigrant women fearful of going to the authorities, and it will result in more domestic violence because women will be too afraid to seek protection.”

ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

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The fear that police cooperation with ICE will dissuade the migrant community from reporting crime and cooperating with local police in solving crimes is one of the factors driving the so-called “Sanctuary Cities” movement.

PWS

02/16/17

DHS Officers Cheer President Trump’s Enforcement Initiatives!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-immigration-border-deportations_us_58a49e7be4b0ab2d2b1b6ed3?imubfp6pecuxwp14i&

Elise Foley reports on HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― When Donald Trump won the presidency in November, Shawn Moran’s border patrol colleagues high-fived and hugged each other.

“There was a real sense that we were going to be able to do our jobs again,” said Moran, vice president at National Border Patrol Council. “That turned out to be true.”

Border Patrol and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents complained for years that then-President Barack Obama constrained their ability to fulfill their mission. Trump campaigned on a promise that he would unleash them — and vowed to make large-scale deportation of undocumented immigrants a priority. This won Trump the endorsement of Moran’s group, which represents Border Patrol agents, and the National ICE Council, a union that represents ICE officers.

Now, Moran said, the president is keeping his promise. Immigrant rights advocates, who were horrified at a multi-state deportation effort that swept up more than 680 people last week, agreed.”

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PWS

02/15/17

HuffPost: GOP Senators Seek To Halve Legal Immigration — Mount Attack On American Families, Refugees, Africans, Asian Americans, Latinos!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cotton-perdue-legal-immigration-bill_us_589a4f4ee4b04061313a3090?425ff5si0vd9uow29

Elise Foley and Dana Liebelson write in HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― For decades, a central tenet of U.S. immigration policy has been that American citizens should be able to reunite with their siblings, parents and grown children who live abroad. The government doesn’t make this easy. But now, emboldened by President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant stance, two Republican senators want to make it almost impossible.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would bar immigrants from bringing almost anyone but their spouses and minor children to the U.S. Latino and Asian Americans, who are more likely to be recent immigrants with family living abroad, would be disproportionately affected by this change.

The bill would also eliminate diversity visas, which many recent African immigrants rely on to get to the U.S., and cap refugee resettlement at 50,000 people per year. The bill doesn’t affect the millions of Irish, German and Italian Americans whose families came to the U.S. in earlier waves of immigration and no longer have close relatives abroad.

The senators predict the bill would cut legal immigration per year by half. They also think it stands a chance of passing.

“Once you get here, you have a green card and you can open up immigration not just to your immediate family, but your extended family, your village, your clan, your tribe,” Cotton said of ending the diversity lottery. “I don’t think it works for American workers.”

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The new GOP “family values?” Would we even be having this discussion if most recent immigrants were “white guys” from Canada, Australia, and the UK? My guess is no. It’s not about protecting American workers. The GOP doesn’t give a hoot about them. That’s why they are anti-union, anti-minimum wage, anti-universal health care, anti-safety net, anti-Medicare, anti-consumer protection, anti-financial regulation, anti-pension, anti-equal pay for equal work, anti-environment, anti-science, anti-public workers, anti-education and anti just about everything that doesn’t directly or indirectly help their fat cat friends get fatter and their business buddies get bigger — more profits, more money for upper management, more tax breaks for the rich, less money, fewer benefits, and no chance at a comfortable retirement for workers. No, something else is at work here.

PWS

02/07/17

HuffPost: 100,000 Visas Revoked Under Trump Order!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-ban-revoked-visas_us_5894b9b9e4b09bd304bb126f?lfqs7aziux8suzyqfr&

Elise Foley Reports on HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― The Trump administration provisionally revoked 100,000 visas as part of its ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, a government lawyer said in court on Friday.

The revelation caused shockwaves on Twitter, but the State Department actually confirmed earlier this week that it had provisionally revoked most visas held by people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

State Department officials said later Friday that fewer than 60,000 individuals’ visas were provisionally revoked as a result of the order. “To put that number in context, we issued over 11 million immigrant and non-immigrant visas in fiscal year 2015,” a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs told The Huffington Post.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the discrepancy in numbers.”

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As I’ve noted before, to date lawyers have been the only real beneficiaries of the Trump immigration orders.

PWS

01/03/17