Protecting Immigrant Communities Newsletter – November 4th, 2020

November 4, 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:

3 of Trump’s signature immigration policies are on the line at the Supreme Court
After the election, the Supreme Court will hear three major cases about immigration policies. The first case is about Trump’s attempt to exclude unauthorized immigrants from 2020 census population counts that will be used to draw congressional districts. The other cases concern Trump’s attempt to divert billions in Pentagon funds for the construction of his border wall and the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Parents of 545 Children Separated at the Border Cannot Be Found
In 2017, the Trump administration started a pilot “zero tolerance” program for family separation. However, it is now clear that the parents of 545 of the migrant children still have not been found, according to court documents. These children were all initially placed in shelters or foster homes under the supervision of Health and Human Services. Some of them were later released to relatives or family friends. The search for these children’s parents continues.
New York Times

Immigration fact check: ‘Who built the cages?’
After months of seemingly ignoring the issue of immigration, President Trump and Joe Biden faced tough questions in last week’s debate about their past policies.
Los Angeles Times 

Action Items:

Carry Out Action Opportunities supported by is a bipartisan political organization that believes America’s families, communities, and economy thrive when more individuals can achieve their full potential. Check out their blog Children and Families on the Border: 5 Ways You Can Help Today. You can also pledge to be part of their For the Families campaign that demands a path to citizenship for all families.

Resources and Reports:

Reimagining Children’s Immigration Proceedings: A Roadmap for an Entirely New System Centered around Children
Rather than addressing problems within the current system, The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights set out to develop a framework for a new system, built around the needs and capacities of children. The report focuses both on processes and substantive protections, addressing the roles of multiple federal agencies in determining the protections children should receive, including the right to remain in the United States if it is unsafe for them to return to their countries.

Protection Immigrant Families Facing Deportation Toolkit
With the Trump administration’s ongoing assault against immigrants in the United States, the Children Thrive Action Network created this toolkit to help people both advocate against immigration enforcement that harms children and families and assist families confronting it.

The Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy: Trauma, Destruction, and Chaos
This report by the House Judiciary Committee provides the first complete narrative of the inhumane family separation policy, in the Administration’s own words. The investigation revealed the Trump Administration’s family separation policy lasted far longer than is commonly known and was marked by reckless incompetence and intentional cruelty. Worse still, Administration officials knew that the government lacked the capacity to track separated family members and moved forward with separations anyway. As a result, efforts to reunify separated children continue to this day.

Family Separations Continue In South Texas, Years After They Allegedly Ended
This report by Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) documents the continued family separations in the Rio Grande Valley. After an Executive Order to the end the Zero Tolerance policy on June 20, 2018, TCRP has identified 939 additional children who were separated from a family member in McAllen, TX. This represents a fraction of the children separated across the nation.

Other Recent News of Interest:

Migrant parents could face fateful choice: Be separated from their children or stay together in jail
Migrant parents are facing what known as the “binary choice:” give a designated guardian custody of their child and thus separate from them or keep their children with them in dangerous detention conditions where COVID-19 is rampant for an indefinite amount of time. This policy shifts the “decision” regarding family separation from the government to parents.
Washington Post​

Border Officials Turned Away Unaccompanied Immigrant Children More Than 13,000 Times Under Trump’s Pandemic Policy
Since March, when the CDC issued an order allowing border officials to rapidly expel immigrants crossing from Mexico to prevent the spread of coronavirus,  13,000 children have been expelled. Immigrant advocates are concerned that this is a large number of children sent to potentially dangerous situations without any due process.
BuzzFeed News

Unaccompanied migrant children suffer ‘inhumane and cruel experience’ in CBP custody, report alleges
Americans for Immigrant Justice, a nonprofit legal organization in Miami, just released a report which draws upon interviews in 2019 with nearly 9,500 minors last year. The findings include: nearly 10 percent said they had been verbally abused by CBP officers; while 147 minors said they had been subjected to physical abuse; more than half of all children said they stayed in CBP custody longer than three days, in violation of the Flores Settlement; and over 40 percent reported a lack of adequate food or water during their detention.
Washington Post​

Endless Waits At An Immigrant Camp On The Mexico Border Push Desperate People To Make Tough Choices
Citing the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration indefinitely stopped holding what are known as MPP hearings for asylum seekers, and combined with dangerous conditions inside the camp, immigrants have been driven to try and enter the US undetected. Desperation has forced some to pay smugglers to get them into the US. Others have been sending their kids across alone, where they risk being quickly expelled from the US.
BuzzFeed News

U.S. detained migrant children for longer than previously known
In June, a 17-year-old girl asked to be deported back to Honduras after being in US detention since age 10. She is not the only child who has been detained for a prolonged period: more than 25,000 migrant children have been detained for longer than 100 days over the last six years; nearly 1,000 migrant children have spent more than a year in refugee shelters; and at least three children have spent more than five years in custody since 2013.
Los Angeles Times

Migrant Children From Other Countries Are Being Expelled Into Mexico
U.S. border authorities have been expelling migrant children from Central America to Mexico, where they may have no family to retrieve them and are put into the Mexican child welfare system. This violates a diplomatic agreement with Mexico in which it was agreed that only Mexican children and others who had adult supervision could be pushed back into Mexico after attempting to cross the border.
New York Times

Trump administration adds criminal disqualifiers to asylum
The Trump administration finalized a regulation that will add seven categorical criminal bars to accessing asylum in the U.S. starting November 20, 2020. The rule includes bars for re-entering the country illegally, using a false identity, driving under the influence, and a number of other defined felony and misdemeanor offenses. The rule will also expand the definition of immigrant smuggling and harboring.
Washington Post

Trump didn’t build his border wall with steel. He built it out of paper
Since Trump took office, his aides have undertaken some 450 mostly technical, executive actions that have disfigured the immigration system, making it nearly impossible to surpass all of the red tape. Without ever signing a single immigration law or completing his famous wall, Trump has cut the flow of foreigners by executive fiat. This fiscal year, the United States is on track to admit half the number of legal immigrants it did in 2016.
Washington Post

Trump aide Stephen Miller preparing second-term immigration blitz
The architect of Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policy, senior adviser Stephen Miller, is said to be ready to unleash executive orders reserved for a second term because they have been deemed too extreme for a president seeking re-election. Some of these expected policies include attempting to eliminate birthright citizenship, making the US citizenship test more difficult to pass, ending Temporary Protected Status, and slashing refugee admissions even further.
The Guardian​

More Than 40 Immigrants Have Died In ICE Custody In The Past Four Years. Here Are Thousands Of Records About What Happened
BuzzFeed has obtained and is releasing more than 5,000 pages of documents from DHS related to deaths in ICE custody. Collectively, these documents tell the story of how ICE has in some instances failed to provide adequate care to detainees, some of whom are locked up for months or years before their immigration cases are resolved.

Trump administration pressures CDC to back detention of migrant children in border hotels amid coronavirus
Even though they are facing pressure from the Trump administration, career CDC officials have declined to sign off on a declaration requested by the Department of Health and Human Services affirming that the use of hotels to detain migrant children is the best way to protect them from the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Washington Post

There Really Has Been a ‘Trump Effect’ on Immigration
Recently released Census Bureau data from the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) show that in the first two years of the Trump administration, growth in the immigrant population (legal and illegal) averaged only about 200,000 a year, which stands in stark contrast with the roughly 650,000 a year from 2010 to 2017.
Yahoo News

DHS names new ombudsman for immigration detention to receive and investigate allegations of misconduct and abuse
DHS named its first ombudsman for immigration detention, setting up a new designated office to field complaints and allegations of mistreatment, abuse and other problems inside the country’s sprawling network of immigration jails and detention centers.
Washington Post​

Biden if elected will form task force to reunite 545 separated immigrant children with family, campaign says
Joe Biden is pledging that if he’s elected president, he will sign an executive order on his first day to form a task force that will focus on reuniting the 545 immigrant children who were separated from their families and not reunited.

Trump Administration Secretively Deports Venezuelans
Senator Bob Menendez wrote a letter to White House officials expressing concern regarding the “surreptitious” deportations of at least 100 asylum-seeking Venezuelans in Fiscal Year 2020. According to the letter, the deportations continued after the Federal Aviation Administration banned all air passage to Venezuela in May 2019 due to “increasing political instability and tensions.” To continue to deport the asylum seekers, the administration first flew them to other to board third-party airlines that returned them to Venezuela.

U.S. Agents Returned Migrants to Honduras in Unauthorized Operation, Senate Report Says
U.S. border agents working in Guatemala detained Honduran migrants intending to make their way to the U.S. border and returned them to Honduras in an unauthorized operation in January. The agents were stationed in Guatemala, along with other countries across Latin America, to help train local police in counter narcotics and other efforts. They are strictly prohibited by the State Department from conducting direct enforcement operations in countries abroad.
Wall Street Journal

ICE arrests 172 immigrants in sanctuary cities within a six-day span
In early October, ICE arrested a total of 172 immigrants across six sanctuary cities (Baltimore, Denver, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, DC). A statement said that the operation focused on people who were already facing deportation and “were arrested for crimes but were released by state or local law enforcement agencies despite having active immigration detainers in place.”

Number of Women Alleging Misconduct by ICE Gynecologist Nearly Triples
The number of women held at the Georgia Irwin County Detention Center who say they underwent medically unnecessary gynecological treatments has risen to 57. The findings were reportedly submitted to Senators in a closed-door meeting set up by the Senate Democratic Caucus with attorneys representing the women. Currently, 17 of the confirmed patients remain detained at the Irwin detention facility, while at least 5 of the women have been deported.
The Intercept

Good News:

Los Angeles County votes to pay $14 million to former immigrant detainees
Los Angeles County agreed to pay $14 million to thousands of immigrants who were rearrested and held by the sheriff’s department so that federal agents could attempt to deport them after judges in their criminal cases had ordered them released. The class-action lawsuit affects an estimated 18,500-plus immigrants detained from October 2010 to June 2014 in Los Angeles County jails.
Washington Post

Children From Immigrant Families Are Increasingly the Face of Higher Education
U.S.-born children of immigrants or immigrant students raised in the United States accounted for nearly 60 percent of the growth in university enrollment since 2000.
New York Times

Thanks so much for reading and staying informed.