Things That Matter

This Mother Was Allowed Into The US With Her Daughters But Her Partner And Son Were Forced To Stay In Mexico, Now They’re Suing

Remember their names: Maudy Constanza  and Hanz Morales. They are two Guatemalans who are suing the United States to keep their family together (they have two daughters who are with Constanza in the United States and one son, aged 9, who was returned to Mexico with Morales).

The recent crackdown on undocumented migrants and refugees under the Trump administration has produced all sorts of stories of broken homes, crushed dreams and near impossible survival. Chief among the many controversial steps that the government has taken in the last two years is the set of policies and transnational deals that have led many undocumented migrants to deportation.

The influx of migrants and asylum seekers into the United States comes from all over the world, and people fleeing dangerous situations in places as far as the Middle East or Africa use the southern border as an entry point into the US. However, the spotlight is usually placed on people of Latin American origin, mainly from Mexico and Central American countries that have long faced sectarian violence, social unrest, gangs and armed conflicts that, oftentimes, can be led back to what some critics claim is United States interventionism. Whatever the case is, the truth is that the American continent is experiencing a humanitarian crisis and governments will need to cooperate to ease human suffering and make asylum seeking processes more bearable. 

Most people whose families have been separated by the United States federal government remain silent in their powerlessness. After all, who would legally fight one of the most powerful countries in the world, right? Well, the answer lies in a Guatemalan couple that is actually suing the federal government in an effort to keep the family together. 

Maudy Constanza is an asylum seeker living in Massachusetts, her partner and son were ordered to remain in Mexico so they are suing.

Credit: Jonathan Wiggs / Boston Globe

The lawsuit claims that Trump’s asylum policy violates constitutional due process and does not guarantee equal rights. The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts in federal court in Boston last week.

The suit reads: “United States law protects asylum seekers like Ms. Constanza, Mr. Morales, and their children. The law forbids sending people to countries where they will be persecuted or tortured, and provides migrants with an opportunity to see an immigration judge before they may be sent to a place where they fear such persecution or torture.”

We have to remember that Guatemala lives unprecedented levels of violence and that the increasing flow of Central American migrants to Mexico has made them vulnerable as many individuals in the host country have perpetrated acts of violence and racism. 

Hanz Morales, Constanza’s partner, was shot four times in his home country of Guatemala, where criminality indexes are surging.

Guatemala is definitely not a safe place for Hanz Morales, and he fears for his life. The couple fled to Mexico with their three young children. They separated before crossing the United States border in July 2019. The Boston Globe details the ordeal that they escaped: “Hanz was a successful small business owner in a town 100 miles or so outside Guatemala City. Last year he witnessed a violent crime, during which he was shot. The family spent a year in hiding trying to evade the individuals who shot him, until they decided to move to the United States and seek asylum.” The rule of law not always holds true in Guatemala and other Latin American countries, so it was flee or die for the family. 

Constanza and her two daughters were allowed to stay in the United States, Morales and their 9-year-old son were sent back to Mexico, where unofficial refugee camps are dangerous and unsanitary.

Credit: Eric Gay / Getty

Morales and his son are among the approximately 50,000 individuals from Spanish-speaking countries that have been sent to Mexico to wait out their migration court process. This puts them in an extremely vulnerable situation and an economy of corrupt officials and lawyers, who take advantage of them, has sprouted in cities such as Reynosa and Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas.

As Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, told The Boston Globe: “In Matamoros, we now have what’s been called the worst refugee camp in the world.”

As the Associated Press reports, Morales and his son have experienced a hell on Earth while waiting in Mexico: “Morales and his son have survived an attempted kidnapping, struggled to find food and rarely leave their home because of the violent and dangerous conditions near the border, according to the ACLU. The organization wants a federal judge to declare the asylum policy unlawful and allow Morales and his son to await the outcome of their case in the U.S. with the rest of their family.” The ACLU has started similar processes in the Californian cities of San Diego and San Francisco. 

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As Trump Defends Family Separations, Biden Calls It “Criminal” And Outlines His Plan For Compassionate Border Policy

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As Trump Defends Family Separations, Biden Calls It “Criminal” And Outlines His Plan For Compassionate Border Policy

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Politicians understand that courting a broad and diverse coalition of voters is the key to winning the election. That is what paved the way for the 2008 victory of President Barack Obama as well as the House and Senate during the same election. So far, early voting numbers for young voters are way higher than this point in the 2016 election.

Likewise, Latinos are a large electoral voting bloc in the 2020 elections. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbers the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. This is a major step into democracy for the Latino community.

And with large numbers of Americans also supporting common sense immigration reform with a focus on compassionate policies, it makes sense that the Biden campaign is working hard to show the contrast between his policies and those of the Trump Administration.

During the last presidential debate before the election, President Trump was given the chance to address his cruel family separation policy.

Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

At the final debate, Trump was asked about the 545 children who still haven’t been reunited with their families after being separated from them because of his administration’s immigration policy.

The Trump Administration previously pursued a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy as a deterrent for immigrants by prosecuting adults who crossed into the country without authorization, resulting in systematic family separation. 

It was one of the few times Trump has been directly confronted about the worst human rights abuse of his four years in office.

At first, Trump blamed smugglers for bringing children over the border, not admitting that these children had come with their parents and been taken from them on orders from his administration. When the president finally acknowledged the reality, though, he gave us a window into what he actually thinks about family separation: In his view, it wasn’t that bad.

In his response, Trump defended those policies and failed to detail how we planned to help bring those families back together. In that same thought, he also claimed that the “they [the kids] are so well taken care of.”

“Yes, we’re working on it, we’re trying very hard,” Trump said when pressed on how his Administration was working to reunite the families.

Several recent stories about the conditions these kids are in contradict Trump’s talking points.

Credit: John Moore / Getty Images

To Trump’s point about the children being “so well taken care of,” though, his administration has also argued in court that it doesn’t need to provide detained children with a “toothbrush,” “towels,” “dry clothing,” “soap,” or “sleep.” This was while his Border Patrol was denying children those things and also while it was refusing donations of those things to give to the detained children.

But still, Trump thinks that the children who may never see their parents again “are so well taken care of.” He did not mention the at least six children who have died in CBP custody in less than a year.

As Biden fact checked Trump on the 545 children who still haven’t been reunited with their parents, Biden called the policy ‘criminal.’

Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

After Trump’s non-answer to how he plans to reunite these broken families, Joe Biden, clearly impassioned, went to work fact-checking Trump. In direct response to the administration’s inhumane and cruel policies, Biden said the policy “makes us a laughingstock and it violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”

As the two sparred over the policy, Biden went on to call it ‘criminal.’

“What happened? Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents and those kids are alone. Nowhere to go, nowhere to go. It’s criminal,” Joe Biden went on to say.

During the final presidential debate, Joe Biden outlined his vision to fix our broken immigration system – he outlined how he will lead with compassion and end the Trump Administration’s cruel policies that tear children away from their mothers.

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The immigration portion of the debate spanned several subjects. Asked about the Obama Administration’s immigration policy—which included record deportations— Biden sought to create rare distance between himself and the President he served.

When asked about Obama’s immigration agenda, Biden admitted “We made a mistake. He added “It took too long to get it right. Took too long to get it right. I’ll be President of the United States, not Vice President of the United States.”

One important policy Biden plans to follow through on is protecting DREAMers. An overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting Dreamers and Biden echoed these sentiments. During the debate he committed to creating a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented people. He specifically nodded to DREAMers, whose status the Trump Administration has challenged.

It’s also worth noting that one of the reasons these policies weren’t able to be implement during the Obama-Biden administration was the united Republican obstructionism. For example, the Republican-led House refused to take up the bipartisan immigration deal passed by the Senate in 2013.

Even when he wasn’t directly addressing the issue of family separations, Joe Biden kept families in the discussion.

During the debate, Joe Biden did his best to avoid getting into arguments and instead tried to keep the focus on the issues and they impact the American family – and families longing for a chance at the American Dream.

From Covid to family separations, Biden touched on all of the issues that keep American families up at night. And given the feedback from several post-debate polls, Americans support many of the progressive policies that Biden mentioned during the debate.

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ICE Admits It Made A Mistake In Deporting This Guatemalan Man So Why Hasn’t He Been Brought Back?

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ICE Admits It Made A Mistake In Deporting This Guatemalan Man So Why Hasn’t He Been Brought Back?

JOHAN ORDONEZ / Getty Images

Although the Coronavirus pandemic poses special risks to migrants who are returned to their countries – as well as the communities they’re put back into – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to deport migrants by the thousands.

There have been several reports of deportees spreading Covid-19 back in their communities after being removed from the U.S., which makes sense considering the U.S. is leading the world in Covid-19 infections.

However, ICE has admitted that they made a mistake with one recent deportation, when they removed a man who was legally awaiting his asylum process.

A Guatemalan man was wrongfully deported and ICE admits it was their mistake.

A 29-year-old Guatemalan man seeking asylum in the U.S. was mistakenly deported by authorities despite the lack of a deportation order – and worse, before he even had his first appointment in immigration court.

César Marroquín was deported August 19 – the same day he he was supposed to appear for the first time before an immigration judge. Instead, he was sent back to Guatemala – with dozens of other deportees – the country from which he fled after being the victim of aggression and kidnapping, according to his account.

“They told me that if I didn’t get on the plane, I’d be charged,” Marroquín told Noticias Telemundo. “There was some mistake with me in the system.”

His current attorney, Marty Rosenbluth, believes it is a flagrant error. “I’ve seen quite a few cases of people who were deported in error. I’ve never seen one quite like this where they were deported even before their first hearing, “ he told NBC News.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, said in a statement that Marroquín’s deportation was due to an “administrative error” while his case was still open.

Despite their mistake, Marroquín remains in Guatemala.

Although the mistake lay completely with U.S. ICE agents, Marroquín remains in his native Guatemala at risk of further persecution.

According to Marroquín’s official complaint filed in Guatemala, he said he suffered political persecution and physical violence after he supported a local politician and turned down a request to work with a rival one. After that, he said he was threatened and his home was damaged and raided; he also suspects someone tampered with his car. Marroquín said he was then kidnapped at gunpoint, tortured for several days and then left on the side of the road. He decided to leave the country after that and sought asylum protections in the United States.

The authorities and Marroquín’s attorney are now working on his readmission to the United States.

“This type of gross negligence is completely inexcusable,” said Rosenbluth, his current attorney. “The law is very, very clear that they can’t deport someone in the middle of their immigration court proceedings. They’re just not allowed to do it.”

Of course, not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time the immigration agency has made a mistake in deportations.

In 2018, ICE made a similar mistake with an undocumented inmate at a New Hampshire jail. ICE agents violated an appeals court order and deported the man back to El Salvador, where he lost 60 pounds and was subject to starvation, beatings, and overcrowding, according to the American Civil Liberties Union-New Hampshire, which represents the man.

“This is a very serious matter to us,” said Scott Grant Stewart, a deputy assistant U.S. attorney general, who appeared before a three-judge panel to explain the error. “We’re sorry for the violation of the court’s order. This was inadvertent. We do acknowledge the error.”

In fact, there are thousands of documented cases of U.S. citizens being deported by ICE.

According to a Northwestern University political scientist, Jacqueline Stevens, more than 1,500 U.S. citizens have spent time in immigration detention or even been deported between 2007 and 2015. More recent examples abound of the U.S. government detaining citizens after falsely accusing them of breaking immigration laws.

ICE authorities reportedly detained for three days Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a veteran born in Grand Rapids, Michigan who served with the Marines in Afghanistan, in 2018 because the agency did not believe he was born here.

ICE also detained for more than three weeks a man named Peter Brown who was born in Philadelphia and lived in the Florida Keys in 2018 because the agency confused him with an undocumented Jamaican immigrant – who was also named Peter Brown.

In 2007, the government settled a lawsuit arising from ICE’s detention of 6-year-old Kebin Reyes. ICE detained the California-born child for 10 hours when it picked up his undocumented father, even though his father immediately handed the authorities Reyes’ U.S. passport to prove the boy’s citizenship. And Justice Department records obtained by the Los Angeles Times indicate that a 10-year-old boy from San Francisco was mistakenly held in immigration detention in Texas for two months, according to his lawyer.

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