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DHS Won’t Deport Anyone in Flint While the Water Crisis Continues

Since 2014, the residents of Flint, Mich., had been paying for CONTAMINATED water:

Credit: Vox/YouTube

After this big f*ck up, government officials at the local and federal level have handed out bottled water…a short term solution.

FLINT, MI - JANUARY 21: Army National Guard Specialist David Brown loads bottled water into waiting cars at a fire station on January 21, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Residents can go daily to fire stations in the city to pick up more water. (Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

BUT up until the end of January, you needed a form of identification to have access to that water.

FLINT, MI - JANUARY 13: A sign points the ay for Flint residents to get bottled water, water testing kits, and water filters at a Flint Fire Station January 13, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. On Tuesday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder activated the National Guard to help the American Red Cross distribute water to Flint residents to help them deal with the lead contamination that is in the City of Flint's water supply. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Because of this requirement, the nearly 1,000 undocumented immigrants in Flint couldn’t access potable water.

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But wait, it gets worse!

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Even without the ID issue, Flint’s undocumented population won’t open their doors out of fear that an ICE agent will be on the other side.

ICE Agents Detain Suspected Undocumented Immigrants In Raids

It’s not an irrational fear. In early January, ICE arrested 121 mothers and children and sent them to detention centers.

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To fix this f*ck up, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently said agents wouldn’t conduct raids in Flint during the water crisis.

Jeh Johnson Administers Oath Of Allegiance At Naturalization Ceremony In NYC

Buuuuut, Johnson also went out of his way to say that he still could conduct raids at his discretion.

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Listen, Jeh (what kind of name is that even?), we get that it’s your job, but sometimes it’s okay to look the other way.

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Especially when we’re talking about a basic right for women and children.

FLINT, MI - JANUARY 21: Sandra Mendez and her son Alonzo Cabrera, 1, receive water from Red Cross volunteers at their home January 21, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Mendez said she had an appointment set up for next week to get her son's blood tested for lead. The Red Cross is supporting state and county efforts to bring water to every household in the city. (Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

Trump Finally Gave The Green Light To Start The Transition But Many Immigration Policies Are Already Affected

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Trump Finally Gave The Green Light To Start The Transition But Many Immigration Policies Are Already Affected

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Ever since election night, President Trump has been sowing discord and disinformation while showing himself to be the big sore loser he always has been. Basically, he’s been showing his true colors.

But his actions have real consequences. As he instructs many in his administration to avoid any contact with President-Elect Biden’s transition team, he is doing damage to the peaceful transfer of power. He’s also risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans as the country continues to struggle to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, his actions are impacting the future of immigration reform.

Trump has instructed his immigration department to avoid working with the Biden transition team.

As Trump’s General Services Administrator refuses to provide the Biden transition team with much-needed funds to begin preparing for office come January 20th, his immigration department is also keeping the transition team in the dark.

According to Buzzfeed News, an official that oversees US immigration and naturalization services told employees not to communicate with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team until a Trump appointee “deems the results ‘clear’” and recognizes the winner.

”It’s disturbing and disheartening that the agency is not permitting staff to aid the Biden transition team to ensure a smooth transfer,” said one USCIS employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. “These delays could hamper the new administration’s ability to hit the ground running on important issues facing the agency and our country.”

But the transition delay has also caused concern among officials in other agencies, especially those responsible for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

As president, Biden plans to undo many of Trump’s immigration reforms.

Credit: Natalie Sounders / Getty Images

President-Elect Biden has made it very clear that we will govern very differently that his predecessor. One of the areas where he’s looking to truly separate himself from Trump is on immigration.

Already, the transition team has promised to unroll Donald Trump’s legacy on immigration, but it faces an uphill battle to make good on that promise.

When it comes to DACA, the administration plans to reinstate protections DREAMers, but also to expand protections for their health care and education. A threat to the DACA program is making its way through the courts, so the Biden camp is under pressure to act quickly to make good on its promise.

For Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, Biden plans to bring that to an end as well. It is estimated that 20,000 migrants are waiting in northern Mexico in cities like Matamoros while seeking asylum in the U.S. But the exact number is not known for certain, in large part because the Department of Homeland Security has not yet shared such data with the Biden transition team.

Another big change would come in the form of revamping the country’s seasonal worker program. Biden wants to make it easier for both employers and workers to hire and find jobs while providing much-needed legal protections and fair pay to workers.

Biden has also committed to increase the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. annually to 125,000, a historic high and a dramatic increase from the historic low of 15,000 set by the Trump administration.

Biden can use executive action on many fronts but others will require congressional action.

Credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Although Biden can accomplish many of these immigration reforms through executive action, he’ll need to work with Congress to achieve many others.

His platform outlines larger goals to work on with Congress, such as increasing the number of employment-based visas, providing a path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country and creating a new, decentralized immigration stream for foreign workers that is based on local employers’ needs as well as a new visa option for entrepreneurs. 

These plans will be contingent on which party controls the Senate—to be decided in January by two runoff elections in Georgia—and the course of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spike across the country, leaving millions of workers unemployed.

Dreamers are celebrating President-Elect Biden’s plans but remain cautious.

Credit: Steve Marcus / Getty Images

While they aren’t eligible to vote, DACA recipients found ways to harness their political power ahead of the election. And it very much worked.

Over the course of the campaign, many politicans – including President-Elect Joe Biden – made serious promises to the nation’s immigrant population. And Dreamers show up, so if promises were made but progress isn’t, then DREAMers aren’t afraid to go show up in someone’s office and say, ‘Hey, I thought you were on our side.’

“Those are promises that would literally change my life,” said Mariana Castro, 26, a DACA recipient from Peru living in a mixed-status family in Florida.

So although much of the stress and weight has been lifted off immigrant communities shoulders with the results of this election, so much work remains to be done.

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This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

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This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

With homosexuality still illegal in more than 60 countries around the world and attitudes towards transgendered people often even less welcoming, it’s obvious why so many people risk their lives to migrate to the United States.

However, that journey to a better life is often one of many dangerous hurdles and often times, once swept up in immigration proceedings, things don’t get much better.

LGBTQ detainees across the country have shared harrowing experiences of being mocked or tortured for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Many others have been sexually assaulted while in ICE custody or while waiting for their asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border. And transgendered and HIV-positive detainees have both been denied medically necessary healthcare that has posed a risk to their lives.

LGBTQ migrants have the same issues and problems to worry about that all other migrants face, however, the LGBTQ experience comes with several extra hurdles.

LGBTQ migrants coming to the U.S. face unique challenges that often put them at increased risk of violence.

Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Like so many others, LGBTQ migrants are often fleeing violence and persecution in their native countries. But despite often fleeing sexual violence and trans- and homophobia, so many migrants are sexually assaulted while in U.S. custody.

While just 0.14 percent of ICE detainees self-identified as LGBTQ in 2017, they reportedly accounted for 12 percent of sexual abuse and assault victims.

Based on a new report from the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, LGBTQ migrants in federal detention centers are 97 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees.

Studies show LGBTQ migrants are among the most vulnerable, more likely to be assaulted and killed, especially trans migrants. Of Central American LGBTQ migrants interviewed by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2017, 88 percent were victims of sexual and gender-based violence in their countries of origin; two-thirds suffered similar attacks in Mexico.

Human rights group allege that ICE fails to provide proper medical care to LGBTQ migrants – particularly trans and HIV-positive detainees.

Migrant advocacy groups and several lawmakers have demanded that ICE release all LGBTQ detainees and anyone with HIV in the agency’s custody, because the government has repeatedly failed to provide adequate medical and mental health care to them.

“We know that lack of medical and mental-health care, including lack of HIV care, is the norm,” Roger Coggan, director of legal services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “By the Department of Homeland Security’s own count, 300 individuals identifying as transgender have been in custody and at the mercy of ICE since October of 2018.

For detainees with HIV, antiretroviral treatment is necessary to help kill and suppress the virus which ensures a healthy life but also reduces the risk of transmission to basically zero. Yet ICE is failing to provide this life-saving care.

Johana Medina Leon, a transgender woman who was detained at Otero and had tested positive for HIV, fell seriously ill and died at a hospital in nearby El Paso. Leon, 25, was the second trans woman to die in ICE custody in New Mexico in the past year. Roxsana Hernandez, 33, died in November 2018 after falling ill at the Cibola County Correctional Facility.

Meanwhile, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy is presenting additional challenges to the LGBTQ community.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

While the Trump administration has severely limited asylum qualifications for Central Americans fleeing gang violence and domestic abuse, migrants can still request asylum based on persecution because of their gender identity and/or their sexual orientation. But their path is far from easy.

The administration continues to return LGBTQ migrants to Mexican border cities where they face assaults, kidnappings and death while they await U.S. court hearings.

“Here, the same as at home, the police discriminate against us,” Alejandro Perez told NBC News in early October. “We’re very vulnerable. I don’t feel safe here in Mexico.”

Border Patrol officials initially said “vulnerable” asylum seekers would be exempted from the Remain in Mexico program, including those who are LGBTQ, pregnant or disabled. But that hasn’t been the case.

Thankfully, the LGBTQ Center Orange County is working hard to protect and help the most vulnerable.

Southern California is home to the nation’s largest undocumented community, which means organizations like the LGBTQ Center Orange County have their work cut out for them. However, the center has proudly stood up to help in powerful and life-changing ways.

The LGBTQ Center OC is one of the leading migrant outreach centers in the region, attending numerous events throughout the year and providing outreach at the Mexican consulate in Santa Ana – each year reaching more than 5,000 people. The center also played a pivotal role in ending the partnership of Santa Ana Police and the Orange County Sheriff with ICE, bringing an end to ICE detention within the county.

As those migrants were detained at facilities outside the county – sometimes more than two hours away – the center mobilized volunteers to help stay in touch with detainees. This team helps provide much needed companionship through letters and notes, as well as providing legal representation and even cash payments that help detainees get everything from a filling meal to in-person visits.

And the work the center does is so important because it shouldn’t just be on detainees to speak out. All of us as part of the LGBTQ and migrant communities should support those in detention and speak out about the injustices they’re suffering in detention.

The Center is hosting a digital posada and you’re invited!

We all know the tradition of a posada. So many of us grew up with a holiday season full of them and although this year will look very different (thanks to Covid-19), the LGBTQ Center OC wants to keep the tradition and celebration alive.

Posadas commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph in search of a safe refuge, a sentiment that so many migrants and refugees in our communities can relate to. It’s with this spirit that the center is hosting it’s annual posada – but virtually.

The important event is free for all to attend but is a critical fundraising event that enables the center to do all that it does for the LGBTQ migrant community across Southern California. You can learn more and RSVP here but just know that it’s an event you do not want to miss.

Not only will you be able to virtually hang out with members of the community and leaders from the LGBTQ Center OC but there will also be a screening of the short documentary, Before & After Detention, a spirited round of lotería, raffle, and a live performance by the LGBTQ Mariachi Arcoíris de Los Angeles.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com