His name is Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres. He is 30-years-old, and since 2013, he’s been trying desperately to enter the United States of America. He tried to re-enter this year, this time bringing his son, only to be told he’d have to return to Mexico. Now, this young man will never return to the U.S. ever again
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that 30-year-old Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres was found dead inside a detention center.
Investigators are looking into the cause of death, but according to an ICE press release, Balderramos-Torres was “found unresponsive in his dormitory. Attempts by medical personnel from ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to revive Balderramos-Torres were unsuccessful. EMS immediately transferred him to [the hospital] and medical staff pronounced him deceased on June 30 at 6:45 a.m. (CDT).”
This statistics does not include the death count of children.
While the man had originally been sent back to Mexico in May, under Trump’s new policy of “Remain In Mexico” — which is not the standard for asylum seekers, it’s unclear why they didn’t send him back when he was apprehended the following month.
According to BuzzFeed, “more than 15,000 individuals have been sent back to Mexico through the program, according to statistics released by the Mexican government. Last week, a group of asylum officers urged a federal appeals court to block the program, calling it ‘contrary to the moral fabric of our nation.’
Less than a month after being in detention, Balderramos-Torres died.
Several news reports that conditions in these facilities are inhumane due to the overcrowdedness, lack of hygiene products, lack of water, and freezing temperatures. Some detainees are also under quarantine due to an outbreak of the measles and chicken pox.
The death is just part of a trend of people dying in U.S. custody as they attempt to come to the U.S.
There is growing concern from American citizens and the international community about the increasing deaths. The conditions in several immigration centers is drawing outrage from people calling on the U.S. government to do better. Children are dying in detention centers for the first time in a decade and the trend seems to only be becoming the norm.
In what many are calling a landmark decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just handed a major victory to migrant’s rights advocates. Although the major ruling seems simple on paper, it has major legal implications and could truly change the way that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrest undocumented immigrants.
However, the decision is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court – where it would face an uncertain legal future given the possible future makeup of the nation’s highest court.
The 9th Circuit Court just issued a landmark legal decision that could greatly affect ICE arrests.
Long-standing rules for arresting migrants may soon need to change, thanks to a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The court says that ICE needs to align its arresting and detention procedures with those of all other law enforcement agencies in the country, which are guided by rules within the U.S. constitution. When police arrest people for suspected crimes, the constitution requires them to show probable cause to a judge within 48 hours. But ICE does not do that. When ICE arrests people, it typically holds them for weeks before any judge evaluates whether ICE had a valid legal basis to make the arrest.
But ICE’s policies may no longer be legal.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the usual constitutional rules that apply to normal police all over the country also apply to ICE. “The Fourth Amendment requires a prompt probable cause determination by a neutral and detached magistrate,” the court said. This really shouldn’t be a big deal. Prompt independent review by a judge of whether the government has a legal basis to take away a person’s freedom is an essential safeguard against tyranny.
ICE’s arrest and detention policies have long come under scrutiny for seemingly skirting constitutional rules.
For almost 200 years, immigration enforcement has existed in a sort of grey area, where the usual rules never applied. For example, when ICE arrests people, individual officers have much more legal discretion than other law enforcement authorities. Detainees may be held for weeks or months before going to a judge who will ask the person how they plead to ICE’s allegations against them.
Only then, long after the initial arrest, might ICE actually be required to show a judge any evidence to back up its case. The person would have spent all of that time detained, likely at a private detention center in a remote area.
For any other person in the U.S., this procedure goes against every legal protection in the constitution. But ICE has gotten away with treating immigrants this way for generations.
The ruling comes as other courts are making it easier for ICE to abuse migrant’s constitutional rights.
The ruling by the 9th Circuit comes less than a week after the 1st Circuit overturned a ban prohibiting ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses in Massachusetts.
In 2018, ICE created a policy of attempting to arrest undocumented immigrants when they appeared at state courthouses for judicial proceedings. However, a district court granted an injunction against the policy after migrant advocates filed a lawsuit against ICE. They claimed that ICE was in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and lacked authority to make civil arrests at courts.
Meanwhile, ICE has resumed large-scale enforcement operations, announcing roughly 2,000 arrests over several weeks amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The 9th Circuit’s decision raises an obvious question: How many of those people were detained for more than 48 hours without a review by a judge?
Becoming a U.S. resident or citizen has never been an easy process. The country’s immigration system is a convoluted mess that sharply leans in favor of high-wealth individuals and under the Trump administration that is becoming more apparent than ever.
But 2020 has been an especially challenging year for immigrants seeking to complete their citizenship process.
Although it’s common for interest in naturalization to spike in the months leading up to presidential elections, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the citizenship process to a grinding halt in March. The outbreak shut offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) all across the country. And although many of these offices reopened in July, there is a widening backlog of applications.
Meanwhile, on October 2, looming fee increases could leave applications and citizenship out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants, as the process becomes significantly more costly.
Many migrant advocacy groups are hosting events meant to help immigrants complete their applications before prices are set to rise.
In South Florida, the Office of New Americans (ONA) — a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade County and non-profit legal service providers — launched its second Miami Citizenship Week on Sept. 11. This 10-day event is designed to help immigrants with free legal support so participants can beat the October 2 deadline.
In addition, the event will host a mix of celebrations meant to highlight the social and economic contributions of South Florida’s large immigrant communities.
“I think in Miami we talk about how we are diverse and how we are adjacent to Latin America, but we never take a moment to celebrate immigrants and the amazing work that they do whether it’s the nurses in our hospitals, the drivers that drive our buses, small business owners,” said Krystina François, ONA’s executive director. “We need to reclaim the narrative around immigrants and around our communities because it’s what makes us great.”
However, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the events will all be hosted online.
Much like any other event, Covid-19 has greatly impacted this year’s “Citizenship Week.” Therefore, the event will be hosted virtually. That includes the Mega Citizenship Clinic, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20. At the event, pro-bono lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice and other groups will connect with attendees one-on-one on Zoom and walk them through the process of filling out the 20-page citizenship application form.
The clinic is open to immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens, meaning permanent residents who have had a green card for at least five years.
Cities like Dallas are also getting in on similar events, meant to welcome new residents and citizens into the city.
Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs is hosting a series of virtual events from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20 in honor of Welcoming Week. The virtual events aim to promote Dallas’ diverse communities and to unite all residents, including immigrants and refugees.
According to the City of Dallas, this year’s theme is Creating Home Together, and it emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community to build a more inclusive city for everyone.
A Council Member, Jaime Resendez, will host a virtual program on Tuesday at 11 a.m. that celebrates Latinx art and culture. The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayor Eric Johnson will read the Welcoming Week Proclamation, and the event will feature art exhibitions and performances showcasing the talents of performers and artists across Dallas.
Attendees will also have a chance to learn more about the availability of DACA and a citizenship workshop will take place where articipants will learn how to complete their N-400 application for citizenship. Volunteer immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from the Department of Justice will be there for assistance.
The events come as fees for several immigration proceedings are set to rise by dramatic amounts come October 1.
Starting on October 2, the financial barrier will grow even taller for many immigrants as fees are set to increase. The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $ 1,170 in paper filing, a more than 80% increase in cost.
“In the middle of an economic downturn, an increase of $520 is a really big amount,” François told the Miami-Herald.
Aside from the fee increase, many non-citizen immigrants never truly felt the need to become citizens. That was until the Coronavirus pandemic hit and had many questioning their status in the country.
“There are people who up until this COVID crisis, their status as a permanent resident didn’t impact their day-to-day life … but then the pandemic has given them another reason of why it’s important to take that extra step and become a citizen, because of the additional rights and protections that are afforded to you, but also to just have a sense of security and stability in a crisis.”