Things That Matter

Human-Trafficking Scheme Leaves 10 Migrants Dead, Dozens More Hospitalized

Early Sunday morning, around midnight, a Walmart employee in San Antonio, Texas called 911 because several people in the parking lot of the store needed help. When police showed up, eight people were found dead inside a semi trailer truck. As of Monday morning, two more people died, The New York Times reports. Police say the victims were undocumented immigrants who were being smuggled across the border.

For his involvement in human trafficking, the driver of the truck has been arrested and could be facing the death penalty or life in prison. But the driver, 60-year-old James M. Bradley Jr., claims he had no idea what he was hauling in the first place.

Bradley told police officers that he was simply hired to be a driver and was supposed to drop off the contents at a pre-determined destination.

Aside from those that were found dead in the truck, police found another 29 people. Several immigrants are in critical condition, with many of them suffering from dehydration and heat exposure. Temperatures in San Antonio this month have reached over 100 degrees.

The driver told police that when he initially opened the door to the truck (after he heard banging coming from the back), roughly 30 to 40 people that were inside fled the scene. The undocumented immigrants interviewed by police said that many more people had been loaded into the truck at various spots near around Laredo, Texas. At one point, as many as 200 people were inside the truck.

As of now, Bradley is the only person charged for this horrendous crime, but officials say more arrests will be made.

Police Chief William McManus and Fire Chief Charles Hood briefing on tractor trailer found with multiple deceased after being smuggled inside. 8538 IH35S

Posted by San Antonio Police Department on Sunday, July 23, 2017

Credit: San Antonio Police Department / Facebook

“Checking the video from the store, we found there were a number of vehicles that came in and picked up a lot of the folks that were in that trailer that survived the trip,” Police Chief William McManus said, according to CNN. “The driver and whoever else we find is involved in this will be facing state and federal charges.”

Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said that the human smugglers had to pack the truck with hundreds in order to “maximize their criminal profits.”

“Human smugglers have repeatedly demonstrated that they have absolutely no regard for human life,” Homan said in a press release. “Our ICE agents and officers, working closely with our law enforcement partners, will pursue these smugglers and bring them to justice.”

Richard L. Durbin, Jr. U.S Attorney for the Western District of Texas, released a statement calling the human-traffickers “ruthless.”

“The South Texas heat is punishing this time of year. These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters. Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer in 100-plus degree heat. The driver is in custody and will be charged. We will work with the Homeland Security Investigations and the local responders to identify those who were responsible for this tragedy.”

Polaris, a non-profit that works to curb human trafficking, reports that in 2016, cases of human trafficking increased by 35%.

In Texas alone, out of 300,000 victims of human trafficking, almost 80,000 of them are minors.

READ: The Innocent Behind Bars: Mexico Possible PR Mess

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California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

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California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Update: The State of California has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration against the announcement to deport international students. The Golden State filed after Harvard and MIT filed a lawsuit against the same announcement.

A judge has set the hearing date for the lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT for Tuesday.

A federal judge in Boston will start hearing the arguments for an injunction against the recent announcement from the federal government Tuesday. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ordered that all international students will be stripped of student visas if their classes go completely online.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that he will be filing a lawsuit as well.

Attorney General Becerra argues that the decision is arbitrary and only causes undue harm to the people impacted by the decision. Part of the argument is the disregard of the health of those who would be forced to leave. The U.S. has the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world and the health risks of making thousands of international students suddenly leave the U.S.

Original: Just as students begin to contemplate what a fall semester might look like amid a global health pandemic, the Trump Administration has thrown another curveball at foreign university students. In a new rule issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, foreign students must return to their home country if their school will no longer be offering in-person learning, effectively forcing students to decide between full classrooms or international travel during a health crisis.

Once again, a cruel and poorly thought out, hastily announced rule change has thrown the lives of hundreds of thousands into doubt.

The Trump Administration announced new rules that require foreign students in the U.S. to be part of in-person classes.

Despite the global pandemic that is currently spiraling out of control in the U.S., the Trump Administration has issued new immigration guidelines that require foreign students to be enrolled in in-person learning. With this new rule, foreign students attending colleges that will operate entirely online this fall semester cannot remain in the country to do so.

The new comes just as college students begin to contemplate what their upcoming semester might look like and leaves them with an uncomfortable choice: attend in-person classes during a pandemic or take them online from another country. 

And for students enrolled in schools that have already announced plans to operate fully online, there is no choice. Under the new rules, the State Department will not issue them visas, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow them to enter the country. 

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” read a release from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings

Already, several major universities have announced their intention to offer online learning because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

The strict new rule comes as higher education institutions are releasing information on their reopening plans. Schools are preparing to offer in-person instruction, online classes or a mix of both.

Eight percent of colleges are planning to operate online, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking the reopening plans of more than 1,000 U.S. colleges. Sixty percent are planning for in-person instruction, and 23% are proposing a hybrid model, with a combined 8.5% undecided or considering a range of scenarios. 

Harvard University is one of the latest institutions to unveil its plans, announcing on Monday that all undergraduate and graduate course instruction for the academic year will be held online. Joining Harvard’s stance are other prestigious universities, including Princeton and the University of Southern California.

The U.S. has more than 1 million international students from around the world.

The U.S. is the number one destination for foreign students around the globe. More than a million foreign students are enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, although that number has dipped slightly in recent years – largely attributed to the election of Donald Trump.

Mexico sends more than 15,000 students to the U.S. and Brazil is responsible for 16,000 foreign students in the country. By contrast, China and India send a combined almost 600,000 students to study in the U.S.

The new rule is expected to cost U.S. colleges and universities more than $4 billion.

Credit: Eva Hambach / Getty Images

Putting aside the very real health implications of forcing students to decide between attending in-person classes or traveling back to their home country amid a global pandemic, the U.S. economy is also going to take a hit.

International students in the U.S. contributed nearly $41 billion to the national economy in the 2018-2019 academic year. According to the Institute of International Education, the vast majority of funding for international students comes from overseas, rather than being funded by their host institutions, meaning that international students are big business for American universities. While students will still be required pay tuition fees, it’s possible that a hostile policy towards people seeking to study in the US could discourage prospective students.

If fewer international students are able to study in this country, it could spell trouble for the colleges that bank on them. Over the last decade, deep cuts in state funding for higher education have put pressure on schools to admit more students who need less aid, which is why so many schools have come to rely on the revenue from foreign students, who typically pay top dollar. 

“Those students are also, by and large, paying full tuition to study in this country,” Lakhani said. “That’s a really valuable tuition base.”

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Trump Administration Limit DACA Renewals, Blocks New Applications

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Trump Administration Limit DACA Renewals, Blocks New Applications

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Update July 28, 2020: The Trump administration is intentionally limiting DACA recipients from renewing properly and blocking new applications. On June 18, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration couldn’t end Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals the way it did but still could with a different tactic.

DACA recipients are facing another challenge created by the Trump administration.

After losing the battle at the Supreme Court, the Trump administration decided to create more blocks to hinder DACA recipients. The administration announced that DACA recipients will only be allowed to renew for one year instead of two. This is because according to the administration there is still a legal way to stop DACA. The administration is reviewing the SCOTUS decision to figure out the way to put an end to the program it has deemed to be illegal.

Recently, the Trump administration tried to put the program on hold but lost a legal battle in Maryland about that. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration could not pause DACA and had to allow the program as it was originally intended. After that loss, the Trump administration announced a change that supersedes all orders and places DACA recipients back on the chopping block.

This quiet announcement comes after President Trump claimed to be working on an order that includes a pathway to citizenship.

“I’m going to do a big executive order. I have the power to do it as president and I’m going to make DACA a part of it,” Trump told José Díaz-Balart. “But, we put it in, and we’ll probably going to then be taking it out. We’re working out the legal complexities right now, but I’m going to be signing a very major immigration bill as an executive order, which Supreme Court now, because of the DACA decision, has given me the power to do that.”

Original: For three years, people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status faced an uncertain future. The Trump administration was involved in legal battles after abruptly eliminating the program. For the third time this week, the Supreme Court has handed down a major loss for the Trump administration as they protected DACA from Trump’s attack.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration cannot end DACA.

The 5-4 decision is the third major legal loss for the Trump administration this week. SCOTUS ruled earlier this week that LGBTQ+ cannot be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The court also refused to take up a case challenging California’s sanctuary state law letting the law stand.

The decision to temporarily protect DACA was a split decision with all of the conservative justices (Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Samuel A. Alito Jr.) voting in favor of the Trump administration. Justice John Robert joined the liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan saving the program from the Trump administration, for now.

In the ruling, written by Justice John Roberts, the court cites that the acting secretary of state violated the Administrative Procedures Act when ending the program. Basically, the announcement was lacking substance and did not address key parts of the policy. This made the announcement void of an argument supporting the dismantling of the program.

The ruling is only temporary relief for the hundreds of thousands of young people on DACA.

While the program has been spared, it is not completely saved. The decision from the Supreme Court today focuses on the way DACA was eliminated, not the actual elimination. This means that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now has time to reevaluate its case against DACA to try again.

“The Court still does not resolve the question of DACA’s rescission,” Alito wrote in his dissent. “Instead, it tells the Department of Homeland Security to go back and try again.”

The conservative justices, while dissenting, did release statements that agreed with parts of the decision to block the Trump administration from eliminating DACA. The Trump administration first announced that they were ending DACA in 2017 with a press conference on the border led by Jeff Sessions.

Justice Sotomayor made her own headlines after calling the case a racist attack.

“I would not so readily dismiss the allegation that an executive decision disproportionately harms the same racial group that the President branded as less desirable mere months earlier,” Justice Sotomayor wrote in her concurrence of the decision.

Organizers and activists are giving credit to the DACA community for this victory.

The DACA community has led the charge to protect their status in the U.S. The movement has largely been done thanks to the work of DACA recipients fighting for their right to be here. For many, it is the only country they know after arriving to the U.S. without proper documentation when they were young children.

The president has tweeted his clear displeasure on the Supreme Court that he tried to stack in his favor by appointing two justices.

Both justice Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were Trump’s appointees. After three losses from the Supreme Court, President Trump followed his usual playbook and accused the Supreme Court of not liking him.

Now, it is time for Congress to act.

With DACA recipients temporarily spared sudden deportation, Congress must act and pass legislation protecting Dreamers from being deported. The Dream Act is one piece of legislation that offers DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship, something most Americans agree with.

READ: ICE Is Threatening To Reopen Deportation Proceedings Against All DACA Recipients Regardless Of DACA Status

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