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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal


  1. Billion Dollar Deal to Jail Central American Mothers and Children

    by , 08-15-2016 at 06:19 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Via the Washington Post:

    "As Central Americans surged across the U.S. border two years ago, the Obama administration skipped the standard public bidding process and agreed to a deal that offered generous terms to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum.

    The four-year, $1 billion contract — details of which have not been previously disclosed — has been a boon for CCA, which, in an unusual arrangement, gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility. Critics say the government’s policy has been expensive but ineffective. Arrivals of Central American families at the border have continued unabated while court rulings have forced the administration to step back from its original approach to the border surge."

    Click here for the rest of the story.
  2. 22 Mothers in Deportation Jail Launch Indefinite Hunger Strike

    by , 08-11-2016 at 09:33 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    UPDATE at bottom of post.

    The following call to arms is via immigration lawyer Carol Anne Mauer Donohoe:

    The following is an open letter of demand to Jeh Johnson written by 22 mothers detained at Berks Family Residential Center:

    The reason for this letter of demands is to make it known to you that since Monday August 8th we have started an “INDEFINITE HUNGER STRIKE.”

    The Immigration Department has made a public announcement stating that in family detention center parents and children are detained no longer than 20 days.


    We are 22 mothers who are detained at Berks Family Residential Center being mothers who have been from 270 days to 365 days in detention with children ages 2 to 16 years old, depriving them of having a normal life, knowing that we have prior traumas from our countries, risking our own lives and that of our children on the way until we arrived here, having family and friends who would be responsible for us and who are waiting for us with open arms and that immigration refuses to let us out.

    Seeing these injustices, we have decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike until we obtain our immediate freedom because all of us left our countries of origin fleeing violence, threats and corruption that not even the government of each of our countries in Central America can control.

    On many occasions our children have thought about SUICIDE because of the confinement and desperation that is caused by being here. The teenagers say BEING HERE, LIFE MAKES NO SENSE, THAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO BREAK THE WINDOW TO JUMP OUT AND END THIS NIGHTMARE, and on many occasions they ask us if we have the courage to escape.

    Other kids grab their IDs and tighten them around their necks and say that they are going to KILL themselves if they don’t get out of here. The youngest kids (2 years old) cry at night for not being able to express what they feel. For a long time, the children have not been eating well, but they have never paid attention to our complaints about the food until now.

    We are desperate and we have decided that: WE WILL GET OUT ALIVE OR DEAD.

    If it is necessary to sacrifice our lives so that our children can have freedom: WE WILL DO IT! Putting aside the threats we are receiving from one of the psychologists and some doctors in this facility.

    We are calling on the government to take action on this matter and open their eyes, letting them know that IMMIGRATION is acting against the law and is mocking them, making arguments that are false; besides our children are entitled to freedom according to the case of Flores, and still they are here with us.

    We hope that our voices are heard, so that we can have the FREEDOM that we NEED so much.


    HEY! Everyone who pretends to, or actually does, care about the fact that our government has imprisoned mothers and children who have committed no crime but to ASK FOR SAFETY, here's your chance to actually DO SOMETHING. Call Field Office Director Thomas Decker at 215-656-7164 and tell him to release these families. Call your spineless Berks County Commissioners at 610-478-6136 and ask why they're spending our tax dollars to make this suffering continue. Email Ted Dallas from the PA Department of Human Services, in charge of the WELFARE OF CHILDREN in the Commonwealth and ask why they are allowing the refugee prison to remain open even though the license has been revoked at

    Hunger strike day 14:

    Mothers are still striking. One mother recommended to stop due to deteriorating health.

    14 year old child was threatened by ICE officer - told that the mothers don't know who they are dealing with, that the moms are going to be in trouble, that they are going to prison and immigration will take their kids.

    Families had social visits today with staff sitting right next to them with paper waiting to write down the name of any mom who ate. Families brought tons of food for the kids and the moms ate

    NOTHING. Just drank coconut water. Smart families!

    Drs are on day 4 of monitoring and evaluations.

    Madres Berks are strong. They are united. And they are ready to keep talking and fighting back.

    Hunger strike day 15:


    Updated 08-22-2016 at 10:19 AM by MKolken

  3. Buffalo Has Welcomed Refugees with Open Arms

    by , 08-11-2016 at 10:46 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Buffalo, my hometown, has welcomed refugees from war-torn countries with open arms proving once again why we are called the City of Good Neighbors.

    Via PBS News Hour:

    "Refugees arriving in upstate New York in recent years have increasingly come from active conflict zones, including Syria and Iraq -- many fleeing with injuries of war and deep emotional scars. As the refugee populations in places like Buffalo change, the health care systems and cultures of U.S. cities welcoming these populations have been changing, too. Special correspondent Sarah Varney reports."

    Updated 08-11-2016 at 11:41 AM by MKolken

    Tags: buffalo, refugees Add / Edit Tags
  4. Lawsuit Alleges ICE used Deceptive Tactics to Detain 120 Women and Children

    by , 08-10-2016 at 06:00 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    A lawsuit has been filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center alleging ICE employed deceptive practices on more than 120 immigrant mothers an children potentially resulting in constitutional violations.

    From the lawsuit:

    On January 2 and 3, 2016, ICE agents conducted a multistate enforcement operation, sweeping into homes across Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. Upon information and belief, ICE agents targeted and detained 121 people during these immigration raids, all of whom were women and children. ICE agents removed these women and children from their homes, and transferred them to an immigration detention facility in Dilley, Texas.

    These raids have raised serious concerns about potential constitutional violations. Upon information and belief, in several instances, ICE agents entered homes without obtaining lawful and voluntary consent during these immigration raids. In these cases, ICE agents allegedly used deception to gain entry into the homes, stating that they were police officers looking for a criminal suspect and showing residents a photo of an African American man. In other instances, ICE agents allegedly stated that they were only taking the immigrants into custody for a short time to examine the women’s electronic ankle shackles.

    Upon information and belief, the ICE agents did not have warrants to conduct these raids. The agents did not show residents copies of warrants, which are required to enter a home without valid consent, regardless of a person’s immigration status. When asked for copies of warrants or orders to enter a home,ICE agents ignored the requests, threatened residents, or ordered them to “be quiet.”
  5. The Obama Admin Continues to Jail and Deport Mothers and Children

    by , 08-08-2016 at 06:15 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The following update is via immigration lawyer Carol Anne Mauer Donohoe:

    1. Three weeks ago, ICE tricked a Vermont mother and her 15 year old daughter to come to their office to "pick up their green cards." They have pending applications for permanent residence based on mother's marriage to a U.S. citizen.

    2. Upon arrival, instead of getting their green cards, they are arrested and placed in a car (mother and 15 year old daughter) with several male ICE officers.

    3. They are taken by the male officers on an 8 hour drive.

    4. They are deposited at Berks where they are detained.

    5. They speak English. They are white. They have lived here over 5 years.

    6. At Berks, the (female) deportation officer lies to the mother, saying her green card application was denied. Saying she had no choice but to sign their deportation papers.

    7. Yesterday mother and daughter got notice that their removal would take place that evening.

    8. Their private attorney had contacted Bridget. She drove to Philadelphia yesterday morning to file the application for stay of removal prior to their deportation.

    9. The stay should be a no-brainer. They are not an enforcement priority. They have pending green card applications.

    10. We/they/all wait. And wait.

    11. At first, this mother and the Central American mothers at Berks were at odds. They were different. They spoke different languages. It appeared that this mother was getting preferential treatment. Now the other mothers understand: they are all mothers. They are one and the same.

    12. Mother and daughter are told by county staff to start packing their bags. Daughter begins to cry inconsolably. She wants to go back to playing soccer. She wants to start her sophomore year.

    13. The large, gruff, male deportation officer tells them to get moving.

    14. Mother says "You have lied to me before, why should I believe you now?"

    15. The County Staff kicks the legal advocate out of the building, the only person on the mother's side. She is forced to wait in the car.

    16. Bridget is told there will be a decision on the stay application "before the plane takes off." This is not encouraging. The stay should take minutes to grant.

    17. Mother and daughter are placed in the van. They are driven to JFK.

    18. It is looking hopeless. Even though this mother and daughter have every reason to be granted a stay, there is no answer from ICE. They have been lied to, more than once. This is what injustice looks like. Smells like. Tastes like.

    19. We reach out to anyone and everyone who could help.

    20. The mother's U.S. citizen husband is livid. He tells his wife "they are playing psychological games." He is right.

    21. The daughter's biological father in the UK says do not deport my daughter. (What kind of country does that?)

    22. At night time, we get the news: stay denied. Denied. Denied. Denied. We are told, under all evidence we have supplied to the contrary, that this mother and daughter are somehow an "enforcement priority."

    23. We drink. Heavily. Nothing will ever make sense in this system.

    24. We come home late. We wake up early. We are devastated.

    25. In the morning, we get an email from a Berks mom. Miraculously, the mother and daughter have been returned!! We don't understand. We are elated but don't understand. The stay was denied.

    26. Mother reports that they were put on the plane. There were technical difficulties. The door wouldn't close properly. They sat on the plane for 2 hours. The flight was canceled.

    27. At 2:00 a.m. they were put back in the car with the male ICE officers and driven back to Berks. There aren't many flights taking off for their country in Central Asia. They nearly get in an accident on the way home because the driver is tired.

    28. At Berks, the mother immediately writes to the deportation officer. "I will not eat a bite of food until my daughter and I are released."

    29. She is told by the lying deportation officer that her actions will "depress" her daughter. That she is being selfish.

    30. The ICE psychologist asks to speak with her. Maybe he's going to counsel her? Maybe he's going to help her talk through her traumatic ordeal and provide some much needed support.

    31. The psychologist tells her she will traumatize her child by refusing to eat. The mother says "YOU traumatized my child by putting her here."

    32. The psychologist says "if you don't eat, we will put you in isolation." He shows her the isolation room. The mother says: "Okay." (She is unshaken.)

    33. The psychologist says "we will put an I.V. in you." The mother says: "Okay."

    34. The psychologist says "we will put your daughter in foster care." The mother says: "Foster care will be better than prison and you can't put her there anyway, you liar, because she has a father."

    35. The psychologist has run out of threats.

    36. The mother gets a call from the ICE Field Office Director, the very same one who denied her stay and said she and her daughter were enforcement priorities. He says due to the plane malfunction and their subsequent return to Berks he's taken some time to "reconsider" the denial of the stay.

    37. He says the stay will be granted. Granted. Granted. If not for the malfunction, they would have been on that plane, flying thousands of miles away from her husband, her daughter's stepfather, her daughter's school, their home. They were an enforcement priority until they weren't.

    38. Mother and daughter are on their way back to Vermont, in a car driven by her U.S. citizen husband, her daughter's U.S. citizen stepfather. They will not forget their 3 weeks of hell.

    38. Meanwhile, the remaining mothers look at the calendar. At the end of this month, several will have been detained a year. A 2 year old boy will have spent half his life in prison.

    Tell me why.

    Updated 08-08-2016 at 03:02 PM by MKolken

    Tags: children, ice, jails Add / Edit Tags
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