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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal


  1. House Democrats Recap Trip to Family Detention Facilities

    by , 06-24-2015 at 02:31 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    June 24, 2015
    Ben Soskin
    (202) 225-1766

    Rep. Roybal-Allard, House Democrats Recap Trip to Family Detention Facilities

    Washington, DC Today, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) joined seven of her fellow Democratic House Members – Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05), Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) – to recount a trip they took this week to visit two private family detention facilities in Texas used to detain mothers and children awaiting disposition of their asylum claims. The Members are among the 136 House Democrats who recently signed a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson calling for an end to family detention. Listen to an audio recording of the press conference here.

    During their trip, the members met with detainees at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City on Monday, June 22nd, and at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley on Tuesday, June 23rd, to discuss their experiences, living conditions, and more. At today’s press conference, members released videos and pictures they took during their visit, which show women and children pleading for their freedom. Click here to see pictures from the Dilley and Karnes visits. You can also see videos of the Dilley visit here, here, and here.

    Congresswoman Roybal-Allard’s remarks from today’s press conference are below.

    “I’d like to start by, first of all, responding to a description that ICE released yesterday about these facilities. And I want to do that by going back to when I was in the State Legislature. And I toured a place that, if I were to describe it, it had a gym, it had a library, it had classrooms where people could get their GEDs and even go to college. It had private rooms. It sounded really, really nice, if you had just gone by the description.

    “What I’m describing is a California State Prison.

    “Yesterday, ICE released a description of the facilities very similar to what I just described, and if you were just to go by that description, you’d say, what’s the problem? There’s recreation, there’s all these kinds of things. The problem is, as my colleagues have said, they are prisons. And when you go there, there’s a playground, but you know what? We didn’t see any children playing on that playground. They were holding on to their mothers.

    “And the stories that you heard from these mothers as to why they came: the stories of rape, of being threatened by gangs – not only threatening their own lives, but threatening their children, threatening their parents – they had absolutely no alternative.

    “But one of the things that was the saddest for me was the trauma they described once they got here – the treatment that they are getting in these facilities. One mother told me, ‘They treat us like we’re stupid. They yell at us and they demean us in front of our children, who are already traumatized.’ And they talked about the fact that any time their child was ill, they were basically told, ‘Well, just go drink some water.’

    “When we were out in the courtyard and we were talking with them, I asked them what was one of their biggest complaints, and one of them said, ‘I can’t get help for my daughter.’ And she showed me what she was talking about. She lifted a two- or three-year-old little girl, and she lifted her dress, and her entire back was just covered in a terrible, terrible rash. And she said, ‘They just told me that it’s okay, just drink some water.’

    “Another mother, unfortunately, who we met with, and then Zoe got word yesterday that she tried to commit suicide, talked about the fact that her daughter had an infection, and again, they kept telling her, ‘Well, tell your daughter to drink water. It’ll go away.’

    “This is happening here, in this country. Because the facility that they are in is a private facility, for profit, and they could care less about the human aspect of those who are there. And that has to stop. We have to get those children out of these facilities.

    “And I just want to end with this. During one of our private meetings, there was an eight-year-old girl who was just sitting there, and she was drawing as the women were talking about their plight and how long they had been there, what they were experiencing. As I was getting ready to leave, she hands me this. It was something she had been drawing. Her name is Helen. And over here, there are eyes with tears, and it says in Spanish, ‘Quiero ser libre.’ ‘I want to be free.’”


    Ben Soskin
    Communications Director
    Office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)
    2330 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515
    (p) 202-225-1766
    (f) 202-226-0350
  2. Deported teen mom who attempted suicide talks about time in family detention

    by , 06-22-2015 at 01:53 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    "In an exclusive interview, Lilian Oliva Bardales, 19, speaks out about her treatment at a Texas family detention center after she cut her wrist, was put on suicide watch and then abruptly deported." Nincy Perdomo/McClatchy

  3. Report: 43 Percent Increase in Deportations after Convictions for Drug Possession

    by , 06-17-2015 at 07:31 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)

    From Human Rights Watch:

    Deportations of non-citizens with drug convictions, and especially with drug possession convictions, increased significantly from 2007 to 2012. In addition to the 43 percent increase in deportations after convictions for drug possession during that period, deportations after convictions for sales, smuggling, manufacture, or trafficking increased 23 percent. For more than 34,000 deported non-citizens, the most serious conviction was for marijuana possession.

    Click here to read the 93-page report

    Updated 06-17-2015 at 07:52 AM by MKolken

  4. The Obama Administration Manufactured Evidence to Deport a Toddler

    by , 06-15-2015 at 09:36 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The Obama administration's singular goal in deporting women and children asylum seekers is to win at all cost, justice be damned.

    From AILA's amicus brief, Matter of M-R-R-, June 2, 2015, now pending at the Board of Immigration Appeals:

    Last summer, at a United States Border Patrol station along the U.S.-Mexico border, a parade of Border Patrol agents interviewed Y-F-. Addressing Y-F- directly in Spanish, a government agent told Y-F- that "I am an officer of the United States Department of Homeland Security." He informed Y-F- that "I want to take your sworn statement" and warned Y-F- that "[t]his may be your only opportunity to present information to me and the Department of Homeland Security to make a decision."

    Under oath, the agent interrogated Y-F-. "Do you understand what I've said to you? Yes. Do you have any questions? No." On and on the interrogation went. Near the end of the interrogation, the agent asked Y-F- "Why did you leave your home country or country of last residence?" Y-F- responded, "To look for work." The interrogation was memorialized in a writing – on the official government Forms I-867A/B Record of Sworn Statement (and the continuation sheet, Form I-831) to be exact.

    The testimony was written in a first-person, question-and-answer format which gives it the appearance that it is a verbatim transcription of the interrogation. The writings were sworn to by the government agent who administered the oath and they were even witnessed and counter-signed by yet another agent who attested to having witnessed the entire interrogation. On its face, it all seemed so official, so precise, and so full of due process and normal procedure.

    Here's why not: Y-F-‘s interview, so painstakingly transcribed, sworn, signed and counter-signed, almost certainly never happened in the format in which it was memorialized. The impossibility of the interview, in spite of the DHS officers’ affirmations of veracity and the rule of government regularity is plain on the face of the writings themselves: Y-F- was three years old at the time he was interrogated.

    Click here to be appalled.
  5. Church Offers Haven to Lesbian Facing Deportation

    by , 06-12-2015 at 08:06 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The following article was originally published on the Texas Tribune:

    Church Offers Haven to Lesbian Facing Deportation
    by Julián Aguilar, The Texas Tribune
    June 11, 2015

    If federal immigration agents want to send Sulma Franco back to Guatemala, they will have to get through the Rev. Chris Jimmerson and other worshipers at Austin’s First Unitarian Universalist Church.

    “We will resist it. We will invite a bunch of people with their yellow T-shirts to try and stand between [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and Sulma,” Jimmerson said, referring to gear the church's immigrant-rights supporters wear. “This is private church property, and it’s a tradition that law enforcement, including ICE, don’t [enter].”

    Immigrants seeking safe haven in U.S. churches isn’t new. The movement was in full force decades ago when Central Americans across the country sought shelter, and the effort was rebranded last year after Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform and the Obama administration continued deporting people at record levels.

    But Franco’s story adds a new dimension to the movement: Being a lesbian, she says, will place a target on her back if she is forced to return home.

    On Thursday Franco, 31, moved into a makeshift apartment at the Central Austin church in an effort to avoid being sent back to Central America, where she said she faces more abuse or possible death. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement had set Thursday as her deportation date, said organizers with United We Dream, an immigrant rights group that sponsored the event.

    “I don’t want to go back. I’ve suffered enough there,” she said. “I’ve been discriminated against, abused and beaten up in every form because of my lifestyle.”

    Franco sought asylum the United States in 2009. After passing her initial interview with immigration officers, who determined she had a “credible fear” of returning to Guatemala, she was released from detention and allowed to work. She reported to immigration officers every three months like she said she was asked.

    But in June 2014, she was arrested and legal proceedings to deport her began. She blames her former attorney for failing to file the necessary paperwork that would have continued her asylum case.

    The ICE field office in San Antonio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Franco's story is not uncommon for immigrants seeking asylum. Of the 4,250 immigrants from Guatemala who sought asylum in 2014, only 175 had their requests granted, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.

    But her perceived danger due to sexual orientation isn’t as widely known. According to the progressive Center for American Progress, there were 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants in the country in 2013, the year the first comprehensive study of the group was performed. For years, the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibited U.S. citizens or legal residents from sponsoring a same-sex partner for a family-based visa, though court rulings have since made sponsorships possible.

    A 2012 study conducted by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the George Washington University Law School International Human Rights Clinic concluded that Guatemala is one of the main offenders when it comes to violence against the LGBT community.

    "The frequency and severity of violence against women — including lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender (LBT) women — demonstrates that the State of Guatemala has failed to protect women and to ensure the equal treatment of men and women," the report states.

    Franco said she doesn’t know her fate – or even how long she will have to stay at the church. But for now she and her supporters are happy enough to draw attention to the unique plight the immigrants face.

    “We face specific circumstances and specific situations that put us in detention and put us at risk of death if we were returned,” said Sheridan Aguirre, an organizer with United We Dream.

    For Jimmerson, the church is in uncharted territory. He doesn’t know how long Franco will stay or whether the church can accept more immigrants in her situation. But he said offering the support makes sense.

    “Unitarian Universalists are completely open to the LGBT community,” he said. “I am a gay man myself serving as a minister, so it was a good fit for us. We believe that she has a legal case to be here and in fact it’s our government that is acting illegally by deporting her.”
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