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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

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  1. Federal Judge Asked to Compel Disclosures About Deportation Interment Camps

    by , 08-16-2016 at 08:32 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    For Immediate Release
    August 15, 2016,

    Contacts: Armando Carmona, armando@ndlon.org, 951.966.6500; Angela Chan,angelac@advancingjustice-alc.org, 503.358.2795 (press only)

    Immigrant Rights Groups Ask Federal Judge to Compel DHS Disclosures About Embattled Jail-Based Deportation Program
    Pressure Grows on Obama Administration to Reconcile Conflicting Messages About Immigrant Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, and Transparency

    New York City – In response to the refusal of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide information about promised reforms to its controversial jail-based deportation program, immigrant rights groups asked a federal judge Monday to compel urgent disclosures required under the Freedom of Information Act. The move comes as President Obama’s history of broken promises on immigration and transparency is coming into sharper focus in his final months in office, and he seeks to turn attention to criminal justice reform.

    In November 2014, DHS formally ended the disgraced Secure Communities (S-Comm) deportation program, relying on entanglement with local law enforcement, and announced a new program, the Priority Enforcement Program, or PEP. Many of the details that led to the revolt against S-Comm were initially kept secret by the government and only uncovered as the result of prior FOIA litigation. Now DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) again seek to keep from public disclosure—for years—critical information about its modified jail deportation program even as evidence increasingly suggests that the new program suffers from the same fatal flaws that led to the termination of S-Comm, and as there are increased calls for police to cease actions undermining police-community relations.

    Tom Fritzsche, clinical teaching fellow at the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Cardozo School of Law, stated: “The Obama Administration has refused to provide basic information about a program that has radically altered not only immigrants’ relationship with local police, but also local law enforcement’s relationship with ICE.”

    In support of the motion to urgently release information, the organizations provided more than a dozen declarations from lawmakers, organizations, and victims of the divisive program. These statements detail the devastating impact of the program on individuals, families and communities. In one declaration provided to the court, Xochitl Hernandez, currently imprisoned and facing deportation in Adelanto, California, described being taken into custody by ICE after an arrest by the LAPD, even though she does not fit any of DHS’ stated deportation priorities.

    Policymakers explained the pressure imposed by DHS on lawmakers to toe the line regardless of legitimate concerns, the utter lack of oversight, and DHS’ blatant violations of its own rules. Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” García affirmed to the court that DHS “imposed public pressure” to urge his county to abandon a local policy intended to preserve family unity and protect against violations of the rights of immigrants.

    New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca added, “It is very important that we as New Yorkers have accurate information about how immigration enforcement is operating in our city. As chair of the immigration committee, I have serious concerns that PEP is continuing to harm communities.”

    “DHS’ refusal to provide even basic information regarding its jail deportation program brings to light two of President Obama’s biggest broken promises—his promise to pass immigration reform and his pledge to be the most transparent administration in history,” said Emi MacLean, staff attorney at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. She continued: “In reality, DHS under Obama has used coercion, misinformation, and deception to enlist local police as frontline immigration enforcers.”

    “The President continues to boast that he is deporting ‘felons not families.’ This disregards the reality that felons have families,” said Angela Chan, policy director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. “PEP further serves to doubly burden immigrant families by fusing together the worst elements of our mass deportation and mass incarceration systems.”

    “The Obama Administration needs to be held accountable for the transparency of its policies,” said Anthony Diana, Partner at Reed Smith LLP who is co-counsel in the case. “Policymakers should have the information they need to effectively establish policies regarding immigration and the criminal justice system. Local communities should be able to access information to protect their residents from the impact of such policies, particularly when there is a fear of potential constitutional violations.”

    The filing Monday comes the week after the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse reported that DHS has failed to live up to its promises in the rocky implementation of PEP—heavily targeting people with no or minimal criminal history and relying disproportionately on requests that local police hold people in custody beyond their release dates, a practice which federal courts have found to violate the constitution under S-Comm. Additionally, California lawmakers are considering a bill, the Truth Act, designed in part to provide greater information to immigrants and communities impacted by the deportation program.

    NDLON, et al. v. ICE, et al. was filed in January 2016 by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus and the Immigration Justice Clinic of Cardozo School of Law. Reed Smith LLP is co-counsel. The complaint is available here.
    ###

    Individual declarations that accompanied the motion are available in the following links:

    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Angelica Salceda ACLU Fresno Declaration - NDLON v. ICE.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Angelica Salceda ACLU Fresno Declaration - NDLON v. ICE.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Chris Newman Declaration - NDLON v. ICE.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Chris Rickerd Declaration NDLON et al v ICE et al.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Commissioner Chuy Garcia declaration - NDLON v. ICE.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Councilmember Menchaca Declaration Declaration NDLON et al v ICE et al.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/David Grosso Declaration_NDLON-v-ICE_DC City Council.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Felicia Arriaga Declaration - NDLON v. ICE.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Fernando Lopez NOWCRJ New Orleans NDLON vs ICE_Declaration.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Jamie Eldridge Letter - NDLON v ICE.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Laura Polstein Declaration - FOIA litigation_8_11_16.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Mia-lia Kiernan - Declaration NDLON et al v ICE et al.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Saira Hussain Declaration NDLON et al v ICE et al.pdf
    http://ndlon.org/images/docs/Xochitl Hernandez Declaration - NDLON v. ICE - FINAL.pdf
  2. 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.
  3. 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 WANT TO DISPROVE THIS INFORMATION!!

    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.

    Signed,


    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 tdallas@pa.gov.

    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:

    THEY HAVE CUT OFF ALL COMPUTER AND INTERNET ACCESS IN THE FACILITY FOR THE MOMS.

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

  4. 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
  5. 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.”
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