Things That Matter

Neighbors Formed A Human Chain To Prevent This Man From Getting Deported And It’s The Most Beautiful Act Of Humanity I’ve Seen

Although the planned Trump ICE raids didn’t happen on the scale that many were expecting, there are still many heartbreaking stories of people being rounded up, arrested, detained, and even deported. However, in some cases entire communities have come together to fight back against ICE and to protect people from illegal arrests.

Case in point: this story out of Tennessee in which vecinos, advocates, and legal activists came together to protect a father and his son from an illegal ICE raid.

A group of vecinos created a literal human chain to protect their neighbor from ICE agents.

Credit: @NBCNews / Twitter

Hermitage, Tennessee community members rushed to a neighbor’s home to protect him and his son from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents early Monday morning, at one point forming a human chain around the van where the family had been stuck so they could safely exit into their home.

It started early Monday morning when ICE officers followed a man’s van and tried to pull it over. After the van’s driver pulled into the driveway of a house, the officers blocked him in. The man remained inside the vehicle and alerted local advocates and neighbors, the affiliates said.

ICE had come to arrest a man but the neighbors formed a chain to allow him to get into his home and then helped him drive away.

Credit: @dgordon52 / Twitter

A crowd gathered, with witnesses recording the tense scene on their cell phones and bringing supplies to the parked vehicle. Neighbors brought gasoline to keep the van running and food and water for the man and his 12-year-old son, who were holed up inside. “While there were immigrant advocate community members present, it was clear that a major thrust of the citizen response was being driven by the immediate neighbors of the man and child in the van. … It was striking to watch neighbors deliver food, water, and gasoline to help their neighbor stay in his car,” Nashville City Council Bob Mendes said in a statement describing what he watched unfold

ICE officers eventually decided to leave “to de-escalate the situation,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told CNN. Coxsaid he wouldn’t say “who the agency’s target or targets may have been so as to not compromise a potential future operation that would seek to arrest the individual at a different time and place.”

People were full of emotion once the story broke.

Credit: @odetteroulette / Twitter

With all the bad news in the world, many people have pretty much lost faith in ever hearing anything good again. So when the story of a group of people coming together to protect a man and his son from an ICE arrest broke, many were overwhelmed. It showed to many that even in the unlikeliest of places good people doing good things do still exist.

Like seriously, we dare you to watch this video and not at least get goosebumps.

When they form the chain so the man and his son can get to their car…omg it’s so powerful to watch a community spring into action.

Some took to Twitter to call for more of this community action.

Credit: @UnitedWeDream / Twitter

Many advocacy organizations used this story as an example of community-driven efforts to fight back against Trump’s racist immigration policies. Actions like this one protected a family from an illegal arrest. The agent’s warrant wasn’t legally sufficient to arrest the man and had it not been for the quick action of the community, ICE would of gotten away with it.

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Human Smuggling Is Suspected In The Tragic SUV Accident That Killed 13 Migrants

Things That Matter

Human Smuggling Is Suspected In The Tragic SUV Accident That Killed 13 Migrants

Another tragic story has unfolded at the U.S. – Mexico border, this time involving the deaths of at least 13 people who were allegedly being smuggled into the United States. Although investigators are still working to piece together the tragic chain of events, one thing has become clear: we need serious immigration reform now.

13 people died in a tragic SUV accident near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The tragedy unfolded when a Ford Expedition carrying 27 people smashed into a gravel truck near the town of El Centro, about 30 miles from the border. Officials say that the Ford SUV and a Chevrolet Suburban, which was carrying 19 people, were earlier caught on video entering the U.S. as part of a smuggling operation.

The Suburban immediately caught fire after entering the U.S., but all the occupants managed to escape and were taken into custody by Border Patrol officers. It’s still unknown why the first vehicle caught fire.

The Ford SUV continued along its route when it collided with a gravel truck. Ten of the 13 people who died in the accident have now been identified as Mexican nationals, Gregory Bovino, the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector chief told the Associated Press.

“Human smugglers have proven time and again they have little regard for human life,” said Mr. Bovino.

An SUV designed for 7 or 8 people was carrying 27 people.

California Highway Patrol said that the Ford Expedition was designed to hold seven to eight passengers safely. But in this case all of the seats had been removed apart form the driver and front passenger seats in order to pack people in.

“When I pulled up on scene, there were bodies everywhere,” Alex Silva, the Holtville fire chief, told the LA Times. “I’ve been doing this for 29 years and that’s the worst scene I’ve ever seen. I’ve been to calls where we’ve had four or five people dead. I’ve gone to calls where we had a bus accident that had 24 people. But it wasn’t the fatalities that we had in this one.”

“I’ve never seen an SUV with 25 people in it. I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like being cooped up in there.”

Officials are confident the tragedy is connected to a human smuggling operation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they suspected the deadly crash was tied to human smuggling after the Ford Expedition and a red Suburban were caught on surveillance footage coming through a breach in the border fence. Border Patrol agents insist they did not stop or pursue either vehicle, although community activists express skepticism. Either way, the outcome illustrated the high stakes involved in human smuggling.

While it’s unclear what caused the crash, Jacqueline Arellano, 38, who works with the nonprofit Border Angels, said crashes involving vehicles packed with people aren’t unusual in the region. Arellano, who grew up in El Centro, recalled a crash in 2003 in which she witnessed a Border Patrol vehicle chase an SUV packed with people on Highway 8 heading west toward San Diego.

Migrant advocates agree that major changes need to take place in our country’s immigration laws so that deadly tragedies such as this one never happen again.

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In Bombshell Report, ICE Agents Are Accused of ‘Torturing’ African Asylum-Seekers to Get Them to Sign Their Own Deportation Documents

Things That Matter

In Bombshell Report, ICE Agents Are Accused of ‘Torturing’ African Asylum-Seekers to Get Them to Sign Their Own Deportation Documents

Photo: Bryan Cox/Getty Images

A bombshell report published in The Guardian alleges that ICE officers are using torture to force Cameroonian asylum seekers to sign their own deportation orders. The report paints an even starker picture of Immigration and Customs Enforcement–an agency that is already widely criticized as corrupt and inhumane.

The deportation documents the immigrants have been forced to sign are called the Stipulated Orders of Removal. The documents waive asylum seekers’ rights to further immigration hearings and mean they consent to being deported.

The asylum seekers allege that the torture in ICE custody consisted of choking, beating, pepper-spraying, breaking fingers, and threats on their lives.

“I refused to sign,” recounted one Cameroonian asylum-seeker to The Guardian. “[The ICE officer] pressed my neck into the floor. I said, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ I lost my blood circulation. Then they took me inside with my hands at my back where there were no cameras.”

He continued: “They put me on my knees where they were torturing me and they said they were going to kill me. They took my arm and twisted it. They were putting their feet on my neck…They did get my fingerprint on my deportation document and took my picture.” Other witnesses recount similar violent experiences.

Experts believe that the escalation of deportations is directly related to the upcoming election and the possibility that ICE might soon be operated under a different administration. The theory is that ICE is coercively deporting “key witnesses” in order to “silence survivors and absolve ICE of legal liability.”

“In late September, early October of this year, we began to receive calls on our hotline from Cameroonian and Congolese immigrants detained in Ice prisons across the country. And they were being subjected to threats of deportation, often accompanied by physical abuse,” said Christina Fialho, executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, to The Guardian.

Many of the Cameroonians who are in the U.S. to seek asylum have legitimate claims to danger back in their home countries. Many of these Cameroonians come from an English-speaking minority in Cameroon that are violently target by the government there–some have died. The violence has been condemned by The United Nations and Amnesty International.

As with many immigrant stories of people who are seeking asylum, these immigrants’ lives are in danger in their home country. They are coming to the United States for a better life. But instead, they are faced with the agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whom they claim brutally mistreat them.

According to report, the U.S. is deporting entire airplanes full of asylum-seekers back to their home countries–deportations that have not been given due process and have been authorized under duress.

An ICE spokesperson contacted by The Guardian called the reports “sensationalist” and “unsubstantiated” while roundly refuting the claims. “Ice is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody. Ice provides safe, humane, and appropriate conditions of confinement for individuals detained in its custody,” she said.

Read the entire report here.

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