Protecting Immigrant Communities Newsletter: 8/14/20

August 14, 2020 | Texas

Dear Partners and Friends,

Thank you so much for wanting to stay up to date on what’s happening. Here’s the latest roundup of immigration-related news, and our bi-weekly action opportunity.  Please let me know as things cross your desk that you think might be of value for our next newsletter, and as always, feel free to forward to folks who might want to join our list. If you wish to unsubscribe from this list, follow this opt-out link.

Lead Stories:

ICE Is Making Sure Migrant Kids Don’t Have COVID-19 — Then Expelling Them to “Prevent the Spread” of COVID-19
The Trump administration has used COVID-19 as a pretext to expel children while actively deporting children who have tested negative for the virus. These children are unable to access the usual process and protections available to them.

US To Start Charging Asylum Seekers Application Fees
Along with only three other countries world-wide, the United States will begin charging asylum-seekers a $50 fee to apply for protections, starting in October. This fee is accompanied by other charges in a rule issued by the USCIS, including a significant fee increase for the US citizenship application.
Buzzfeed News

The Number Of Immigrants Who Have Died In ICE Custody Is The Highest Since 2006
The total number of ICE deaths this fiscal year is 17, making it the highest since 2006 when 19 immigrants died. ICE had ample warning about the effects of COVID-19, yet the agency allowed these deaths to happen through negligence.
Buzzfeed News

Trump administration can enforce green card wealth test in most states, court rules
A federal appellate court on Wednesday limited an order that had blocked the nationwide implementation of the public charge test. The Trump administration can continue the policy in every state except New York, Connecticut and Vermont.
CBS News


Action Items:

Health Care Providers: Protect Your Patients from Border Patrol and ICE Interference
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Border Patrol agents continue to have an intimidating presence at hospitals and testing sites along the border. To ensure that immigrant patients can access care without fear, health care providers can access this guide and register for this webinar on Thursday, August 20th. Immigration experts will cover the legal rights of patients and providers, the best practices for protecting patients’ rights, and recommended policies that providers can put in place to protect immigrants’ access to care.

Watch Immigration Nation, Get Angry, and Tell Congress to Stop Funding Violence
The new Netflix documentary, Immigration Nation, emphasizes the violence that agencies like ICE and CBP carry out all over the nation. If you have yet to see this documentary, watch it as soon as possible. When you’re done, let your rage drive you to visit this link and tell Congress that violent raids, government-sponsored abuse, and the separation of families need to stop.

Assist Recently-Released Immigrant Families in San Antonio
The Interfaith Welcome Coalition has helped support families that have been recently released from ICE detention near San Antonio, TX. To continue with their efforts, they need your donations and your time. To donate, visit this site. To volunteer, text Jo Pendleton at (210) 478-8867 and Moon Sanchez at (210) 325-6690.

Take the Survey: The Impact of COVID-19 on Latinx Mental Health
Mijente and the Latinx Therapists Action Network want 5,000 Latinx people all over the United States to take their new survey. The survey will be used to examine the effect of COVID-19 on Latinx mental health and gather information that can aid organizations, service providers, and other advocates as they provide services and shape policy. To take the survey in English, visit this link. For the Spanish survey, click here.

Support Communities in the Rio Grande Valley
The RGV Equal Voice Network requests your support to help people detained by ICE in the Rio Grande Valley. By donating to this fund, your contributions will help those in detention make phone calls and purchase food, soap, hand sanitizer, and other items sold in commissaries that ICE and for-profit companies that run immigration jails refuse to provide free of charge.

Assist Hays County Families Who Have Been Excluded from the Federal Stimulus
Mano Amiga established a Grassroots Stimulus Fund to assist immigrant families in Hays County who have been excluded from federal assistance during this pandemic. This organization has received 50 applications for funding and needs community support to lift these families up. If you donate more than $50, you will receive one of three prints created by local artist and activist, Dayann Pazmino!

Attend a Webinar: DACA Beyond the US Supreme Court Decision
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center is hosting a free webinar on September 9th, 2020. By attending this webinar, you will understand the most recent changes to the DACA program and be armed with strategies to effectively advocate for DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants. Follow this link to register!

Resources and Reports for Immigrant Communities

Texans: Apply for P-EBT: Deadline Extended to August 21st
During this pandemic, immigrant families have been excluded from most forms of government assistance. Pandemic-EBT may be one of the only resources they can access, but many have yet to take advantage of this benefit. Visit this website before the August 21st application deadline to address all of your questions about what this benefit is, whether your family is eligible, and how you can access it. For a detailed explanation of the program in Spanish, watch this Univision interview by CDF-TX’s very own Mary Carreon.

Canopy Hotline
In order to help immigrant families navigate common barriers, RAICES created this national hotline to connect them to immigrant-friendly organizations in their area. Through this service, immigrant families can find employment assistance, educational resources, medical care, and more. To access the hotline, call or text 800-437-3071.

Black and Latinx Austinites, Tech Companies, and Surveillance
Grassroots Leadership, Mijente, and Just Futures Law have released a new report that connects the dots between big tech, surveillance, policing, and gentrification in Austin, Texas. Most relevant to immigrant communities, this report outlines the collaboration between local police, tech companies, and immigration enforcement.

Guide: Government Undermines Sanctuary Policies through Conditional DOJ Grants
Throughout the Trump administration, the federal government has sought to undermine sanctuary policies through enforcement conditions tied to federal DOJ grants. This has spurred dozens of lawsuits. This resource from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center explains more about the grant programs affected, the litigation, and what localities should know and do in the current environment.

Resources for Immigrants During the COVID-19 Crisis
The Immigrant Learning Center has compiled a list of resources for immigrants, refugees, parents, and educators. These include health, finance, legal and employment services, resources for combating discrimination, and immigration-related lesson plans and activities for distance learning.


Other Recent News of Interest: 

CDC team arrives at Virginia ICE detention center to address major COVID-19 outbreak
State officials pleaded for federal intervention as COVID-19 ravaged this Virginia ICE facility. The federal government only intervened after a COVID-19 related death at the facility. While immigration advocates acknowledge this first step, much more needs to be done to protect immigrants in ICE detention.

ICE deliberately limited testing at Bakersfield immigration facility with COVID-19 outbreak

Citing housing issues, ICE officials refused to provide site-wide testing at this Bakersfield facility. A chaotic situation has developed in this detention center, with 23 positive COVID-19 cases between staff and detainees.

Coalition demands Trump administration documents on family detention
A coalition of organizations submitted a FOIA request to DHS and ICE to uncover why the government has refused to release about 150 asylum-seeking families from family detention centers during the COVID-19 pandemic. See the full FOIA request here.

Citing COVID-19 risks, federal agents are expelling child asylum seekers
The federal government is using public health as a pretext to quickly expel children and other migrants. Whether expelled or navigating the United States immigration system, children who have undergone trauma are now left without access to the protections they are guaranteed.

‘End Of Asylum’: Using The Pandemic To Turn Away Migrants, Children Seeking Refuge

Citing American’s health, the Trump administration is effectively ending asylum even as public health professionals discredit any risk posed by asylum-seekers. Now, migrants and their families are continuously placed in dangerous situations without due process.

White House looks at plan to keep out US citizens and legal residents over virus

The Trump administration is looking at proposing an order that would give US border authorities the ability to block US citizens and permanent residents from returning to their own country through Mexico if they are suspected to have the coronavirus.

ICE contractor still holding migrant children in Arizona hotels
Acting DHS Secretary Wolf confirmed that migrant children are being held in Arizona hotels and that this is a decades-long practice by ICE. Advocates have raised concerns that the migrant children were held in violation of established protections and without due process.

Census Bureau To End All Counting Efforts On Sept. 30
Census takers now have less time to ensure that the most vulnerable and consistently undercounted people in the country, including immigrant communities, are counted. This is the latest obstacle for a complete count of immigrants, as Trump has repeatedly attempted to exclude this group from the 2020 Census.

Court hears challenge to Trump’s bid to exclude undocumented immigrants from Census

A federal judge on Wednesday heard cases filed by states and civil rights groups against the Trump administration’s executive order which hoped to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census.

Judge Issues Tight Schedule in District Redrawing Case

US District Judge Furman has set a compressed schedule for legal arguments which challenge the Trump administration’s recent attempt to exclude immigrants in the US from being counted in the census. Such actions are challenging the order as unconstitutional and a deterrent for immigrant’s participation.

In California, It Will Take More Than a Parade to Save an Imperiled Census

A 10-car parade was put on to raise awareness and generate conversation about the 2020 Census to make sure their community is accurately represented. However, this mostly Latino community is wary of the census, largely due to mixed messaging around this decennial count.

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Immigrants May Miss Out On Voting Amid Naturalization Delays

As USCIS faces a major COVID-19 related backlog, hundreds of thousands of immigrants must now wait to have their naturalization ceremony. This places them at risk of not being able to vote in November.

Opinion | The Trump administration’s no-blanks policy is the latest Kafkaesque plan designed to curb immigration
The Trump administration has added an arbitrary “no-blanks policy” to any and all immigration forms. Immigration attorneys and third-party actors, like law enforcement and medical staff, must fill in every single field in a form, no matter how irrelevant it is to the applicant’s circumstances.

‘See you in court’: ACLU files nearly 400 cases versus Trump

The ACLU has filed nearly 400 lawsuits against the Trump administration, as a majority of his decisions have targeted marginalized communities. Of the 400 lawsuits, 174 deal with immigration rights, targeting family separation, detention, and deportation practices.

Immigration Officers Union Backs Court Challenge to Trump’s MPP Program
The National CIS Council 119, which represents thousands of USCIS employees, supported the ACLU’s fight. The union stated that MPP was a betrayal of USCIS workers’ commitment to upholding America’s tradition of protecting individuals from persecution.

US Customs and Border Protection Raids Humanitarian Aid Station Near Southern Border
At a humanitarian aid station in the middle of the Arizona desert, CBP agents restrained station staff, trashed the aid station, and detained migrants. This station serves as an ER to migrants crossing through the desert.

The Profits of Private Prison Giants Largely Depend on Immigration Detention
This Twitter thread identifies prison industry trends through CoreCivic and GEO Group’s quarterly earnings call. These findings make it clear that declining prison and detention populations are a threat to business and highlight the company’s subpar response to COVID-19 in detention centers.

Americans Back Trump On Immigration — But Only To Stop COVID-19
This NPR poll found that a majority of Americans are in support of the Trump administration’s efforts to limit immigrant’s access into the United States, as long as this limitation helps slow the spread of COVID-19. Trump’s other immigration policies remain unpopular, except amongst his Republican supporters.

A Case of Family Separation

This article details the case of Idrissa Camara and how family separation and detention have derailed his family’s life, along with the lives of many others in the United States. The effects of family separation include distrust of public institutions and psychological distress that can even result in suicide.

Factbox: Trump and Biden Take Sharply Different Paths on Immigration

The New York Times looks at both President Trump and Vice President Biden’s views on immigration and how their ideas can impact immigrants in the United States.

Tech Giants Back Legal Challenge to Trump’s Foreign Worker Restrictions

Top US tech companies such as Amazon and Facebook have filed a legal brief to challenge President Trump’s temporary ban on the entry of foreign workers to preserve jobs for Americans during the pandemic.

‘Dreamers’ face a new twist in their college studies: Justify status every year

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, the Trump administration is reviewing justifications for eliminating DACA. As the administration reviews the program, it has limited renewals to one year instead of two, an action that has added stress for DACA recipients throughout the country.

Review: Netflix’s ‘Immigration Nation’ Is 2020’s Most Important Show
This documentary takes a 360-view to the immigration system and follows people on all sides of the immigration crisis. The documentary has unprecedented access to the inner workings of immigration enforcement. In fact, their findings were so revealing that ICE and the President attempted to block the documentary’s release.


Thanks so much for reading and staying informed.