VA Says Treatment of Immigrant Teens Isn’t Abusive

A state review of the treatment of immigrant teens held at a Virginia detention center confirmed that restraint techniques there can include strapping children to chairs and placing mesh bags over their heads. The state says the treatment isn’t abuse or neglect. A lawsuit says children as young as 14 were handcuffed, shackled and beaten.

A state review into the treatment of immigrant teens held at a Virginia detention center confirmed that the facility uses restraint techniques that can include strapping children to chairs and placing mesh bags over their heads. Investigators said the treatment of detainees at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center did not meet the state’s legal threshold of abuse or neglect, the Associated Press reports.  A top state regulator conceded that investigators did not attempt to determine whether allegations of past abuse at the locally run facility are true. Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the review in June after the AP published accounts by children as young as 14 who said they were handcuffed, shackled and beaten at the facility. They also described being stripped of their clothes and locked in solitary confinement, sometimes strapped to chairs with bags over their heads.

The incidents are described in sworn statements from six Latino teens included in a class-action lawsuit filed in November. They are alleged to have occurred from 2015 to 2018, under both the Obama and Trump administrations. The teens who made those complaints were subsequently transferred by federal authorities to other facilities or deported to their home countries. Angela Valentine of the state juvenile justice agency said investigators interviewed only the 22 who were being held at the facility in late June, after the AP’s report. Investigators were not permitted to review the case files or medical records of past detainees who say they were abused. The legal advocacy group representing the Latino teens suing the facility called the state’s review “deeply flawed.” “The children in this facility are denied necessary mental health care and subjected to abusive conditions,” said Jonathan Smith of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “We look forward to proving our case in court.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Arrests of Immigrants With No Record Tripled Under Trump

Federal arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than tripled under President Trump and may still be accelerating. A lawsuit blames a new ICE tactic of arresting without warrants people who are driving or walking down the street and by using large-scale “sweeps” of likely immigrants.

Federal arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than tripled under President Trump and may still be accelerating, finds an NBC News analysis of Immigration and Customs Enforcement data from his first 14 months in office. Responsible for the surge is a new ICE tactic of arresting without warrants people who are driving or walking down the street and by using large-scale “sweeps” of likely immigrants, charges a class-action lawsuit filed in June by immigration rights advocates in Chicago. ICE “administrative” arrests of immigrants without criminal convictions have spiked 203 percent in the first 14 months of Trump’s presidency compared with the final 14 months of the Obama administration, growing from 19,128 to 58,010. During the same time period, arrests of undocumented immigrants with criminal records grew just 18 percent.

An administrative arrest is an arrest for civil violation of immigration law. A criminal conviction can mean any misdemeanor or felony from jaywalking to murder, including previous immigration offenses. Mark Fleming of at the Immigrant Justice Center, which filed the lawsuit, believes many of the kinds of arrests that ICE is making under President Trump are new. “What’s really different about this enforcement action is that they are literally doing roving stops, whether by car or on foot, stopping people without any sort of articulable facts,” Fleming said. “It sends a message to the Hispanic community that we intend to racially profile you in your communities.” ICE official Matthew Albence told to the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that in the current fiscal year, nearly 90 percent of people arrested by ICE came to ICE’s attention after an arrest for a local, state or federal criminal violation. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit say the Trump administration’s aggressive tactics are ensnaring non-criminal immigrants who are detained and questioned without warrants and without probable cause.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Judge Angry Over U.S. Removal of Asylum Seekers

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington, D.C., threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in contempt for allowing a mother and daughter seeking asylum to be deported ahead of a scheduled hearing with the court on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington, D.C., threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in contempt if they fail to return to the U.S. a mother and daughter seeking asylum. The immigrants were deported ahead of a scheduled hearing with the court on Thursday, NPR reports. Emmet Sullivan was angry after being told the asylum seekers had been deported and were on a plane out of the U.S. while a government attorney was telling him they wouldn’t be deported before midnight. “This is pretty outrageous,” Sullivan said, “Somebody in pursuit of justice in a United States court is just — is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?”

Sullivan also blocked the Trump administration from deporting eight other immigrants in detention who are part of the same lawsuit against the government for allegedly wrongfully rejecting their claims for asylum. The judge had scheduled Thursday’s emergency hearing on the motion to block the deportation after learning of their imminent removal. Despite the government’s guarantee, Sullivan learned from the American Civil Liberties Union that the two had been removed from the Dilley South Texas Family Residential Center. It wasn’t until after the hearing that the government confirmed in an email that the two plaintiffs “were, in fact, on an airplane while the Court was hearing arguments” on their case. The lawsuit involving a group of asylum-seekers still in custody and others already deported argues the administration is wrongly rejecting asylum claims based on domestic abuse and gang violence. The ACLU is asking the court to invalidate a Sessions order that most victims of domestic abuse and gang violence cannot qualify for asylum.

from https://thecrimereport.org

U.S.-Mexico Border Arrests Decline Again

The Trump administration contends that the drop means its hard-line policies are having an impact. Fewer than 4,000 unaccompanied children were arrested at the border in July, a decline of more than 1,000 compared with June.

The number of people arrested for illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border declined for the second consecutive month in July, the Wall Street Journal reports. Border Patrol agents arrested 31,303 southern border crossers last month, an 8 percent decline from June. July was the first full month after the Trump administration halted its policy to separate families and prosecute parents for crossing the border illegally. About 9,258 immigrants traveling as families were arrested in July, compared with about 9,400 in June. Most are expected to ask for asylum in the U.S. “This decrease shows that when there are real consequences for breaking the law, the conduct of those considering crimes will change,” said Tyler Houlton of the Department of Homeland Security.

The number of families and unaccompanied children caught crossing the border illegally had been on the rise in recent months, and the overall volume of illegal border crossers has been described as a crisis by Trump administration officials. Fewer than 4,000 unaccompanied children were arrested at the border in July, a decline of more than 1,000 compared with June. The administration’s hard-line immigration policies have been widely criticized. Immigration advocates have said would-be asylum seekers are fearful of how they will be treated in the U.S. but continue to enter amid widespread violence in their home countries. The number of immigrant families who presented themselves at legal U.S. border crossings rose slightly from June to July, when 3,027 people asked to come into the U.S. Trump administration officials have encouraged families and other immigrants seeking asylum to present themselves at such border crossings.

from https://thecrimereport.org

ACLU Sues Over Trump’s Removal of Asylum Protections

The lawsuit argues against “expedited removal” policies instituted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that remove asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence. “This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,” said an ACLU official.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to remove asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence, reports Politico. The ACLU is arguing against “expedited removal” policies put forth by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that it says “generally” deny claims of violence of that nature. “This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,” said the ACLU’s Jennifer Chang Newell. “It’s clear the administration’s goal is to deny and deport as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.”

The lawsuit, Grace v. Sessions, was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C. In June, the attorney general overturned asylum protections for certain victims of violence, effectively reversing a push by the Obama administration to provide refuge to women with credible claims of domestic violence. Sessions questioned in his decision whether victims of private criminal activity qualified as members of a “particular social group” eligible for asylum in the U.S. Asylum seekers must currently prove they have credible fear — based on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion — in their home country.

from https://thecrimereport.org

ACLU Sues Over Trump’s Removal of Asylum Protections

The lawsuit argues against “expedited removal” policies instituted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that remove asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence. “This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,” said an ACLU official.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to remove asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence, reports Politico. The ACLU is arguing against “expedited removal” policies put forth by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that it says “generally” deny claims of violence of that nature. “This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,” said the ACLU’s Jennifer Chang Newell. “It’s clear the administration’s goal is to deny and deport as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.”

The lawsuit, Grace v. Sessions, was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C. In June, the attorney general overturned asylum protections for certain victims of violence, effectively reversing a push by the Obama administration to provide refuge to women with credible claims of domestic violence. Sessions questioned in his decision whether victims of private criminal activity qualified as members of a “particular social group” eligible for asylum in the U.S. Asylum seekers must currently prove they have credible fear — based on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion — in their home country.

from https://thecrimereport.org

DOJ, Advocates Still Far Apart on Reuniting Immigrants

With a court hearing scheduled for Friday in San Diego, federal officials are trying to shift responsibility to the American Civil Liberties Union for reunifying families. The ACLU says it’s the government’s job.

New court filings indicate that the Department of Justice and immigration advocates are still far apart in working out a process for reuniting migrant families who were separated under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, reports NPR. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego had instructed the Department of Justice and advocates led by the American Civil Liberties Union to submit plans for reuniting families, especially some 400 parents who already were deported back to their homes countries without their children. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Friday.

The government appears to shift the responsibility for reunifying the families onto the ACLU. The ACLU insisted that the government “must bear the ultimate burden of finding the parents.” Finding the parents who were deported without their children is difficult  because some come from very remote communities in Central America, says Cathleen Caron of the nonprofit Justice in Motion. She says many of the parents initially fled their homelands out of fear for their safety. “So if they’re deported back they are concerned for their own safety in the country of origin. So who knows where they’re going to go because they’re going to hide because that was the reason that they left in the first place,” Caron said. According to data released Thursday, 1,535 children have been reunified with their parents in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Another 444 were discharged to a sponsor other than their parents; reunified with their parents in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security earlier; or the children turned 18. There are still 572 children in the custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement because their parents aren’t available or are considered ineligible for reunification if they have a criminal record.

from https://thecrimereport.org

States, Cities Divided on Trump Immigration Policy

Several states limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Austin, Tx., declares itself a “freedom city.” Other states require their cities to cooperate with the feds.

Austin, Tx., has taken a new tack in the ongoing war between “sanctuary cities” and federal immigration authorities. Declaring itself a “freedom city,” the Texas capital instructed its police officers to arrest fewer people for minor crimes in order to prevent their fingerprints from going to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and to inform people that they may refuse a request to present their immigration papers, Stateline reports. Austin’s policy fits into a broader pattern: As the Trump administration this year ratcheted up its efforts to curb illegal immigration, cities and states experimented with new ways to resist the crackdown, or in some cases, assist it. California declared itself a sanctuary state, prompting pushback from some of its counties. Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington enacted statewide measures to limit law enforcement cooperation with immigration authorities, while New Mexico weighed stricter state oversight of immigrant detention facilities.

Meanwhile, Iowa, North Carolina and Tennessee enacted anti-sanctuary laws requiring cities to cooperate with immigration authorities. Lawmakers in 16 other states tried but failed to do the same, including Virginia, where the majority Republican Legislature passed a bill and the governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, vetoed it. In Oregon, a group favoring a crackdown on illegal immigration put a measure on the November ballot that would undo that state’s 1987 sanctuary law. “The general trend is that Southern big cities are becoming more liberal than their state and suburbs, and less involved with [assisting federal officials with] immigration enforcement,” said Randy Capps of the  nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. “Some of the suburbs, smaller cities and rural areas, especially in Texas and Georgia, are getting more involved.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Loses in 9th Circuit Over ‘Sanctuary Cities’

President Trump’s order limiting federal funding to “sanctuary cities” was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said federal funding could be withheld only with congressional authorization.

President Trump’s order limiting federal funding to “sanctuary cities” was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court on Wednesday. A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said federal funding could be withheld only with congressional authorization. The appeals court noted that the U.S. District Court went too far by blocking the policy nationwide, and sent back the case for “reconsideration and further findings,” reports Politico. Trump signed an executive order in January 2017 that dealt with immigration enforcement. The 9th Circuit ruled against a provision that limited funding to jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement — also known as sanctuary cities.

The Trump order focused on a federal statute that prohibits federal, state and local officials from restricting the sharing of information related to an individual’s immigration or citizenship status. While the appeals court didn’t rule on that statute, U.S.C. 1373, a Chicago federal judge in July found it unconstitutional in separate lawsuit over withholding of federal grants over immigration enforcement. That ruling was limited to the city of Chicago. The Justice Department called the 9th Circuit ruling “a victory for criminal aliens in California, who can continue to commit crimes knowing that the state’s leadership will protect them from federal immigration officers whose job it is to hold them accountable and remove them from the country.” In the lawsuit against the Trump administration, Santa Clara County said that $1.7 billion in federal money was in jeopardy, while San Francisco cited $1.2 billion. Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Thomas cited a Trump statement to Bill O’Reilly that if the federal government were forced to give money to California and its sanctuary cities, “we give tremendous amounts of money to California … California in many ways is out of control.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Residents of IN County Oppose Migrant Detention Center

Many residents of Elkhart County, In., which backed Donald Trump for president, oppose plans for a federal detention center there for alleged illegal immigrants, The facility was proposed by the private prison firm CoreCivic Inc.

Many residents of Elkhart County, In., which backed Donald Trump for president, oppose plans for a federal detention center there for alleged illegal immigrants, the Associated Press reports. Since 2011, contractors have proposed detention centers in seven communities near Chicago, with activists blocking several. Demand has increased as the Trump administration steps up arrests. Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn’t own most of those facilities, instead contracting with companies whose for-profit lockups hold two-thirds of immigrant detainees; others are held in local jails.

Last fall, ICE requested new detention sites. CoreCivic Inc., one of the largest private prison companies, proposed Elkhart, two hours east of Chicago and the hub of the booming recreational vehicle industry. With 9,000 local job openings, immigrants have helped fill the gap. County Commissioner Mike Yoder sought support in a meeting with Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman, immigration activist Richard Aguirre and others. “I’d really like your help communicating calmness,” the commissioner said. “My reaction was, ‘No way!'” said Aguirre, a Goshen College administrator. At a pre-Thanksgiving rally, attorney Felipe Merino told the crowd, “I want you to raise your hands if you believe that we do not want an immigration detention facility in Elkhart County, Indiana!” “No!” they shouted. Many immigrants were apprehensive. When 19-year-old Lizeth Ochoa first heard about the detention center, she imagined a lockup filled with criminals. “Then I realized, oh, it’s for people like me,” said Ochoa.

from https://thecrimereport.org