NYT: ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO FILL PRISONS WITH PARENTS WHOSE CHILDREN ARE SMUGGLED INTO THE UNITED STATES!

Caitlin Dickerson and Ron Nixon report for the NYT:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is stepping up its pursuit of parents who paid to have their children illegally brought into the United States, according to people familiar with the matter. The effort, part of a widening crackdown on illegal immigration, is aimed at discouraging families from paying human smuggling organizations.
As part of a new round of immigration sweeps, officials are targeting parents or other relatives who were deported, re-entered the United States and then had their children smuggled across the border. Legal experts say cases of illegal re-entry are faster and easier to prove than a smuggling charge.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said it was common for parents or family members in the United States to make illegal payments to smugglers to arrange for children to be brought to the border, where they turn themselves in and are often eventually handed over to their relatives. Tens of thousands of women and children have arrived at the border in the last three years, beginning with a surge of arrivals in the summer of 2014, many seeking refuge from gang violence and extreme poverty in Central America.
It was not clear how many people would be affected by the effort to arrest and prosecute family members for illegal re-entry, but officials familiar with the plan said it would serve as a deterrent to stop other parents and relatives from paying to have children brought to the United States as unaccompanied minors. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss enforcement policies publicly.
ICE officials said they had arrested hundreds of people for smuggling children and referred dozens of cases to the Justice Department for prosecution, including many for illegally re-entering the country and then paying to have children smuggled across the border.
“The risks associated with smuggling children into the U.S. present a constant humanitarian threat,” ICE officials said in a statement. “The sponsors who have placed children directly into harm’s way by entrusting them to violent criminal organizations will be held accountable for their role in these conspiracies.”
Some children reported being raped or held hostage by smugglers for more money. Others have been abandoned by smugglers as they try to cross the border.
Immigration advocates called the new enforcement policy a heartless way to try to reduce smuggling.
“It’s extremely cruel when you started shutting down refugee applicants and rescinding protections for children brought to the country at a young age, to send this kind of message to parents trying to get their kids to safety,” said Chris Rickerd, policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington.
Smuggling cases are among the most challenging to prove, and the biggest hurdle is identifying witnesses, who are likely to be undocumented and unwilling to help, according to Michael J. Wynne, who spent 12 years as an assistant United States attorney in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Targeting parents for re-entering the country illegally, rather than trying to go after them for smuggling, presents prosecutors with a higher likelihood of success.
“It’s a throwdown case,” he said. “You’re going to prosecute the crime where you get the biggest bang for your buck.”
Officials in ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division have been told to look for cases that can be brought to United States attorneys for possible prosecution, according to people familiar with the enforcement effort. Because prosecutions for illegal re-entry carry a five-year statute of limitations, ICE special agents are also looking to see if they can prosecute relatives of unaccompanied children for other immigration-related crimes, such as giving false statements, according to people familiar with the effort.
Convictions for illegal re-entry are politically popular among immigration restrictionists.
According to Justice Department data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group at Syracuse University, illegal re-entry made up the bulk of prosecutions for illegal immigration for the last five years.
The Trump administration has made no secret of its plans to go after parents living in the country illegally who bring in their children.
Earlier this year, administration officials said that the thousands of children who arrived each year as unaccompanied minors would no longer be protected against deportation, reversing an Obama administration policy. John F. Kelly, then the Homeland Security secretary and now the White House chief of staff, wrote a memo in February saying parents would be subject to criminal prosecution if they had paid human traffickers to bring children across the border.
The children, who turn themselves in to the Border Patrol, are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. The office will either place the children in a shelter or release them to a family member. Immigration officials said most of the unaccompanied children apprehended at the border were eventually turned over to a family member, most often a parent, already living in the United States.
Homeland Security officials acknowledge that many of the children are fleeing violence in their home country, but they say that paying smugglers to transport them to the border endangers the children.”

***************************************

Read the full article at the link.

Seems like a pretty typical Trump Administration approach: please the White Nationalist/restrictionist base, fill the prisons with nonviolent “criminals,” rack up some nice stats, and make sure not to deal with the root causes of undocumented migration.

PWS

09-26-17

WASHPOST: CALIFORNIA LEADS THE WAY WITH SANE IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-immigration-crackdown-hits-a-speed-bump/2017/09/18/d2cfe5e2-9caf-11e7-9083-fbfddf6804c2_story.html?utm_term=.71f46f2f1bb2

The Editorial Board writes:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP’S campaign against immigrants who are in the country illegally has triggered a backlash in some Democratic-leaning states and localities. Perhaps the most sweeping example just emerged from the state legislature in California, which extended so-called sanctuary protections to people who lack legal authorization to live in the United States. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) agreed to sign the legislation, known as the California Values Act, after insisting on changes that injected a much-needed dollop of restraint to the original bill, which disregarded public safety in its determination to shield illegal immigrants.

The bill’s supporters boast that it has made California, where at least a fifth of the nation’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants live, the first bona fide “sanctuary state.” Local police and sheriffs may no longer ask about people’s immigration status in many cases, nor hold most detainees behind bars at the request of federal immigration agents.

Similar if less sweeping laws in scores of cities and counties nationwide have infuriated the Trump administration, prompting the Justice Department’s counterproductive threat to withhold federal law enforcement funds from so-called sanctuary localities. In a challenge to that threat brought by Chicago, a federal judge ruled last week that the funds could not be withheld without Congress’s say-so.

The California bill, like the court ruling, limits the administration’s enforcement discretion. It does so in keeping with common sense.

In its modified form, the bill, passed by lawmakers on a straight party-line vote, allows — but does not require — localities to cooperate in detaining and handing over undocumented immigrants convicted of one or more on a list of some 800 violent and serious crimes. They include sex offenses, arson, domestic violence and even some lesser crimes chargeable either as misdemeanors or felonies.

It’s critical that even the state’s most liberal precincts — we’re talking to you, San Francisco — receive that message. It’s one thing to stand on the principle that illegal immigrants, most of whom have been in the country for 15 years or more, are a productive and vital part of America’s social fabric. It’s another to turn a blind eye to undocumented residents who have committed major crimes, imperil public safety and should be removed. As Mr. Brown put it on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” those who have committed serious crimes “have no business being in the country.”

 

The final bill allows more cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies than many advocates for illegal immigrants would like. Immigration agents will be allowed to interview people in jails, though they’ll be barred from setting up offices in them, and they’ll have access to some California enforcement databases under rules set by the state attorney general.

The attempt at striking a legislative balance prompted the state police chiefs’ association, but not the sheriffs’ association, to drop its initial opposition to the bill. The generally more lenient stance by police reflects the challenge they face in cultivating strong relations with immigrant communities, without which neither victims nor witnesses will cooperate with them. Such on-the-ground facts have carried the day in California. The administration should take note.”

********************************

Facts don’t matter in Gonzo Apocalypto’s White Nationalist crusade against immigrants and Latinos. His sanctuary cities threats have never had anything to do with effective law enforcement. He hasn’t shown any interest in understanding the legal and law enforcement issues here, nor has he ever tried to sit down with state and local authorities with an open mind to find common ground that accommodates the legitimate needs of both the Feds and the locals.

In a recent NY Times article, one sheriff pointed to Sessions’s willful ignorance of the law:

“A meeting this spring between Mr. Sessions and several sheriffs offered one reason the Trump administration may seem so far out of sync with local authorities on the issue. According to one sheriff who was there — Richard Stanek of Hennepin County, Minn. — when the federal court decisions from the last three years concerning extended jail holds came up in discussion, Mr. Sessions appeared to be unfamiliar with them.
“He was still living in 2014,” Mr. Stanek said. “He had no idea what we were talking about.”

Legal knowledge has never been a factor in Sessions’s long career built on bias, racism, White Nationalism, and reading false narratives from “cue cards” prepared by restrictionists.  I’m actually surprised that Sessions was only three years behind the times here; most of his policies, pronouncements, and “Gonzo” views are firmly rooted in the “Jim Crow” Alabama of the 1950s and 1960s (although current Alabama politics where twice-defrocked “judge,” racist theocrat Roy Moore is a likely winner to replace Sessions provides little evidence that the nearly all White Alabama GOP electorate has ever gotten out of the Jim Crow era — what a total disgrace!)

Compare Gonzo’s incompetent and tone deaf approach with that of a real public servant like Gov. Jerry Brown who knows how to bridge the gap to achieve a balanced approach. Compare California’s carefully constructed Senate Bill 54 with Texas’s overbroad and racially motivated SB 4, much of which was recently enjoined by a Federal Court. Compare real leadership with the pandering to white restrictionists and divisive actions of Tex. Gov. Greg Abbott and Tex. AG Ken Paxton, who steadfastly fail to represent or consider the legitimate interests of their many Hispanic residents while working with the GOP to disenfranchise minority, primarily Hispanic, voters.  Balance just isn’t a factor in the Trump/Sessions immigration enforcement program or in the actions of unfit public officials like Abbott and Paxton.

PWS

09-19-17