Things That Matter

Trump Targeted Migrants With Fines Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars But Now Those Fines Have Been Reversed

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have canceled fines received by undocumented immigrants living in sanctuary conditions, ranging from $300,000 to $500,000. According to NPR, the fine withdrawals are a turning point for the Trump Administration. 

In 2017, President Trump filed an executive order to begin fining undocumented immigrants, declaring “all fines and penalties that the Secretary is authorized under the law to assess and collect from aliens unlawfully present in the United States,” should be retrieved. 

ICE claims that under the Immigration and Nationality Act the agency has the right to collect “civil fines on aliens who have been ordered removed or granted voluntary departure and fail to depart the United States.”

Trump Administration withdraws fines up to $500,000 for at least five undocumented immigrants. 

The Natural Sanctuary Collective, which works with undocumented families, says that five undocumented immigrants living in sanctuary conditions have received notices that they no longer owe hefty fines. Edith Espinal Moreno has been living in an Ohio church for over two years and received a letter from ICE in June claiming she owed $497,000 for “failing to depart the U.S. as previously agreed.” However, last week Espinal received another notice withdrawing that same fine. 

“Following consideration of matters you forwarded for ICE review, and in the exercise of its discretion under applicable regulations, ICE hereby withdraws the Notice of Intention to Fine,” Lisa Hoechst, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, wrote in the letter to Espinal. 

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows fines of no more than $500 a day for undocumented immigrants who have been ordered removed or granted voluntary to departure but fail to leave the U.S. 

This is a small victory for undocumented immigrants. 

“This is a victory,” Espinal told NPR. She expressed that she found it unbelievable that the U.S. government thought she would be able to pay a fine of nearly half a million dollars. Espinal came to the United States from Mexico with her father when she was 16. Today she has three children, two of whom are United States citizens.

“They want to scare me,” Espinal told NPR. “Because they know I am in sanctuary. And they know I don’t have this amount of money.”

The mother believes her life belongs in the United States and says she cannot go back to Mexico. Rightfully, Espinal has had the support of the congregation at the church she lives in along with the community. 

“For almost three years now these women in sanctuary have been on the front lines of taking on the Trump administration,” Mohammad Abdollahi, advocate with the National Sanctuary Collective, said. “This victory shows that the women in sanctuary are not only fighting for themselves but everybody. Others should stand up with them.”

Immigrant advocates believe the tactic is used to instill fear. 

The fines target immigrants who have “overstayed” in the United States, thus immigrant advocates believe the fines are used to instill fear and paranoia in immigrant communities that will eventually drive them out. 

“ICE is committed to using various enforcement methods — including arrest, detention, technological monitoring and financial penalties — to enforce U.S. immigration law and maintain the integrity of legal orders issued by judges,” ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke told NPR in July.

Former deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Immigration Litigation Leon Fresco said he could not think of another time when ICE issued such high fines under the Obama administration when he worked there. 

“It’s a vivid illustration of the lengths the Trump administration will go to use any available authority to try to enforce immigration law,” Fresco said. “I have not seen a $300,000 fine for failing to facilitate one’s own removal.”

Espinal’s attorney continues to advocate for her. 

Lizbeth Mateo, Espinal’s attorney believes the fine is exorbitant and even laughed when she first saw the fee. 

“It’s almost half a million dollars. Are they for real? Do they really think that she’s going to pay this?” Mateo said. “I laughed, because there has to be someone in some basement in D.C. thinking, ‘Oh, what else can I do to mess with immigrants? What else can I do to hurt them?’ “

Mateo suspects the fines are not only intended to cause “self-deportation” by scaring immigrants, but that ICE may also belaying the foundation for future criminal penalties. ICE did not give a clear reason as to why fines were dropped for some but not for others, only that they were reviewing individuals on a case by case basis to see if they’ve fulfilled court orders. 

“We know we have strong legal arguments and ICE recognizes that, even if they claim that this decision was based only on discretion,” Mateo said in a statement. “But even if that were the case, ICE has demonstrated with this that they have the power to exercise discretion — the same way they can use discretion to drop these fines, they can use it to release the sanctuary families.”

Trump, Living In Alternate Reality, Says The U.S. Has Less Coronavirus Thanks To His Border Wall

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Trump, Living In Alternate Reality, Says The U.S. Has Less Coronavirus Thanks To His Border Wall

Evan Vucci / Getty Images

Trump has long framed the U.S.-Mexico border wall – his vanity project – as protection from outside forces. He’s claimed that his wall will not only deter undocumented migrants from crossing the border but it will also prevent terrorism and crime and now, it provides health security.

On several occasions, Trump has tried to link his wall with protection from the Coronavirus. However, the pandemic is raging out of control within the United States. In fact, it’s other countries that are putting up barriers for Americans as they try to protect themselves from America’s failure to halt the spread of the disease.

Trump claimed that his border wall has protected the U.S. from Coronavirus.

During a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace, Trump made an absurd claim that the U.S. was protected from Coronavirus thanks to his border wall. Wallace was pressing Trump on the U.S. response to the pandemic and how it’s number one in both infections and deaths.

“But you take a look, why don’t they talk about Mexico? Which is not helping us. And all I can say is thank God I built most of the wall, because if I didn’t have the wall up we would have a much bigger problem with Mexico,” Trump told Chris Wallace.

However, Trump must be living in an alternate reality if he truly believes that his border wall has helped prevent the spread of Coronavirus into the country. The U.S. currently has 11 times more cases and far more deaths from the outbreak than Mexico. As of today, Johns Hopkins totaled more than 144,000 deaths and 3.97 million infections in the United States.

Then there’s the fact that the Trump administration has actually been very slow to build Trump’s vanity wall project. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 245 miles of barrier have been built so far, including parts that replaced older barriers. That’s 245 miles of a 1,954 mile long border.

However, this wasn’t the first time that Trump has made such claims.

Long before Coronavirus had claimed it’s first known victim in the U.S., President Trump was already trying to connect the disease to the U.S.-Mexico border and his wall project.

At a rally in South Carolina on February 28, he argued that we needed to build more wall to keep the virus out, even though it was already in the country and spreading like wildfire.

“We must understand that border security is also health security,” Trump argued. “We will do everything in our power to keep the infection and those carrying the infection from entering our country.”

That same day, the U.S. had 63 known cases of COVID-19, and Mexico announced its first two confirmed cases. Nevertheless, Trump and some of his allies have continued trying to frame illegal crossings of the Mexican border as a top potential source of coronavirus in the United States.

Just this month at a visit to an Arizona segment of the border wall, Trump tried to credit his new wall with stopping both undocumented immigration and the Coronavirus.

“It stopped COVID, it stopped everything,” Trump said.

His comments sparked outrage on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump is known for uttering complete falsehoods – he’s told more than 20,000 since taking office. But these comments about his wall protecting the U.S. from Coronavirus (as it rages within our borders) left many shocked.

In Mexico, President AMLO was asked about Trump’s assertion that construction of the border wall has prevented Coronavirus contagion coming north from Mexico. Although AMLO acknowledged he doesn’t agree with Trump, he also wouldn’t confront him.

“I respect President Trump’s point of view,” López Obrador told reporters during a daily press conference. “Of course I don’t share his opinion, but I’m not going to confront [Trump],” he added.

Both countries have been hit hard by the pandemic, but the U.S. leads the world in infections and deaths.

It’s true that Mexico has also been hit hard by the pandemic. The country is currently ranked seventh globally in terms of the number of infections and fourth in number of deaths. As of July 22, Mexico has 356,255 confirmed Covid-19 cases and has suffered more than 40,000 deaths. Although those numbers are disheartening, they pale in comparison to the figures seen in the United States.

And although the virus has spread aggressively in both countries, Mexican governors of states that border the U.S. have called for stricter border controls to protect their residents. States along the southern border (including California, Arizona, and Texas) have become the new epicenter for the virus in the United States and Mexicans hope to prevent contagion into their states.

A California ‘Karen’ Harasses Landscape Worker As She Demands To See His Papers

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A California ‘Karen’ Harasses Landscape Worker As She Demands To See His Papers

Juan Carlos Andrade Mendez / YouTube

Yet another white woman has been outed as a ‘Karen’ thanks to a now viral video showing off her ignorant and racist behavior. The woman, who hasn’t yet been identified, decided it was OK to harass a landscape worker who was tending to her lawn at her California apartment complex.

‘Karen’ knew she was being recorded, but that didn’t stop her one bit from acting like a rogue ICE agent, demanding to see this man’s papers and questioning him on his citizenship. The video has since been seen more than a million times and officials are investigating the incident.

Another ‘Karen’ harassed a man doing his job and demanded to see his ‘papers.’

Landscape worker Juan Carlos Andrade Mendez was working at an apartment complex in Rancho Mirage, California when the woman seen in the video approached him. The unidentified woman first blows a kiss towards Mendez as he worked before approaching him and beginning her racist interrogation.

In the video you can see the woman with no mask and no respect for social distancing as she stands in front of him and his equipment, demanding to see his citizenship status.

“Like any other complex, I was just doing the work for all of them, mowing the lawn. I passed by her apartment and when I turned around to do the second round that’s when I saw her standing,” Mendez told NBC Palm Springs. “When she was harassing me, I started to feel mad because I was just doing my work,” said Mendez.

The smiling woman then circles Mendez before blocking his way, prompting the man to ask her to step aside as he shuts off his mower. “Can you move?” Mendez said. “I’m doing my work. Can you move?”

The woman then walked away briefly before returning and continuing to ask where the man was from. “No, you’re not Mexican,” she told Mendez after he made a playful reference to Mexico. “What am I?” Mendez replies. “I don’t know, you tell me,” said the woman, who later surmises he may Filipino or Vietnamese, according to the clip.

The woman stares at Andrade before the video ends with her saying, “Show me your papers, mariposa.” Mariposa is Spanish for “butterfly” and can also be used as a slang term for homosexual.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the woman has harassed Andrade.

According to Mendez, this woman has caused issues for him in the past. About three months ago, according to Mendez, the same woman told him to “go back to his country.”

In an interview with NBC Palm Springs, Mendez said: “Based on what I have seen from her, I think she thinks she didn’t do anything wrong. She believes she’s in the right, so I don’t think she’ll ever apologize.”

Immigration lawyers who have seen the video said some people think they’re acting as makeshift police, but their actions are simply racist.

“Unless you are law enforcement, but aside from that, they are using that conversation as just another way to intimidate and create objects out of human beings who appear to be different from them,” Megan Beaman Jacinto, an immigration lawyer from Coachella Valley, told NBC Palm Springs.

The now viral video has sparked an investigation that had been “pretty much” completed as of Sunday, the Desert Sun reports.

“It wasn’t very difficult,” city attorney Steve Quintanilla told the newspaper.

The investigation centered on city housing policy and whether any steps needed to be taken to prevent similar encounters from occurring, but officials decided it was an isolated incident. Still, property managers at the development are conducting a separate investigation that could lead to the woman’s eviction.

“I can say action will be taken,” Quintanilla told the newspaper, declining to elaborate.

Quintanilla also refused to identify the woman. City officials have said, however, she was a resident of the complex for people 55 and over.

“This matter will not be ignored, nor tolerated,” Mayor Dana Hobart said in a statement. “It is appalling to learn of the hateful misconduct of one of Rancho Mirage’s senior living residents. Racist conduct if any sort is strictly prohibited and not taken lightly in our public housing.”