Things That Matter

It’s Official, The Homestead Detention Facility That Housed Hundreds Of Young Migrants Is Now Empty And Kids Won’t Be Returning

Over the weekend, the last of the children still detained at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Miami, Florida were removed from the facility.

Homestead is operated by Caliburn International, a private, for-profit company under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

It’s the largest facility of its kind with a capacity for 3,200 beds.

Credit: Department Health and Human Services

According to some reports, as many as 3,000 of those beds were filled as late as last month though official numbers place that number at roughly 2,700. 

The company was compelled to reduce the number of children being held there to comply with government standards for emergency response. In July, the government halted plans to send more children to the facility and started the process of reducing the number of detainees down to 1,200.

However, just because the children were removed does not mean that the children are free to go or have been provided due process.

In fact, the question remains of what exactly will happen to the kids that are leaving. While the official response from the government is that they are placed with appropriate sponsors or taken to permanent facilities, those aging out of the system may simply be moved to the adult facilities instead of being released.

According to officials, the facility will remain open but empty and maintained by a reduced staff. According to a statement by HHS’ Office of Communications, “We anticipate an uptick in the number of referrals made to HHS this fall, based on historical trends.” It’s probable that the 1,200 beds will again be filled by children awaiting placement or trial.

While at first glance, it seems like a bit of a victory that Homestead as of now will no longer be in use, activists are still concerned about the wellbeing of the children.

HHS’s history of relocating minors has been messy at best. Negligent, if you call the failure to provide an acceptable level of record keeping what it is. Last year, the New York Times reported on how poor management led to children being cycled into trafficking circles. The agency declined to answer questions about where the children will be taken to. Only that they are released into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

This is not the first time we have seen the mass incarceration of children in the U.S.

Credit: Ansel Adams / Library of Congress

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which forced Japanese-Americans to move into internment camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. With the perceived threat that spies could be hiding anywhere among anyone of Japanese descent, entire families were relocated to detention centers in California, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas, Colorado and Arizona. Many of those incarcerated in the camps were U.S. citizens and about half were infants, children, and teens.

It’s also not the first time Latinos as a group have been targeted by the U.S. government in regards to immigration. In 1954, under the Eisenhower administration, it is estimated that over a million people were deported to Mexico under the conceit that Mexican immigrants were taking jobs from U.S. citizens. 

The removal of children from Homestead follows months of reported mistreatment, abuse, and substandard living conditions. The Southern Povery Law Center filed a lawsuit in the beginning of the year against the Trump Administration citing the illegal prolonged detainment of these minors. The average stay of minors detained at Homestead was about 2 months. Advocates who work with detained youth populations insist that their experiences will have lasting physical and psychological effects through adulthood.As this situation develops, its important for those concerned with the humanitarian crisis at the border to keep watch and stay vigilent about advocating for better conditions and just treatment of individuals being detained at facilities across the U.S.

One Day After A Texas Sheriff Called Undocumented Immigrants ‘Drunks,’ His Son Is Arrested For Public Intoxication

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One Day After A Texas Sheriff Called Undocumented Immigrants ‘Drunks,’ His Son Is Arrested For Public Intoxication

A Texas sheriff is eating his words after his bigotted comments came back to bite him in the worst way.

A day after Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn referred to undocumented immigrants as “drunks” who would “run over” children, his own son was reportedly arrested on charges of public intoxication. It has also been revealed that his son Sergei Waybourn has been arrested before. In 2018 he was charged with assault and in recent years he was arrested for trespassing and theft.

Sheriff Waybourn’s comments sparked controversy when he spoke against undocumented immigrants at a press conference in Washington.

Last Thursday, the sheriff spoke at the conference alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence. Speaking in response to a ruling by a federal California judge made last month that imposed restrictions on ICE’s use of “detainers,” Waybourn underlined the consequences of releasing illegal immigrants with DWI and other crimes.

U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr.’s decision barred ICE from using online database searches to find and detain people based. Recently, the ACLU stated that since 2008, 2 million US citizens have been illegally detained because of such searches.

Waybourn pointed to his charge of inmates to give examples of high rates of repeat offenders. “If we have to turn them loose or they get released, they’re coming back to your neighborhood and my neighborhood,” Waybourn said according to New York Post. “These drunks will run over your children, and they will run over my children.”

After his comments, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens called for Waybourn’s resignation.

According to Dallas Morning News, Domingo Garcia said Waybourn ought to “resign and apologize for his bigoted comments immediately.”

In response, Waybourne said his comments had been taken out of contexts and his office released a statement saying that “Sheriff Waybourn was not referring to all legal or illegal immigrants when making his comments about DWI/DWI repeat offenders. He was speaking toward the charges of DWI and DWI repeat offender in the context of illegal immigration.”

In response to the news of his son’s arrest, the sheriff said he is “deeply saddened by Sergei’s choices.”

According to WFAA, he said that “It has been many years since he disassociated from our family. We, along with many family members have made efforts over the years to help him – all to no avail. It is always sad when drugs take control of a person’s life. His choices and actions have lead to this situation.”

A Colorado Church Has Provided Sanctuary To This Woman And Now She Just Gave Birth There To Avoid ICE

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A Colorado Church Has Provided Sanctuary To This Woman And Now She Just Gave Birth There To Avoid ICE

Denver Post

The humanitarian crisis product of the influx of undocumented migrants to the United States and the Trump administration’s tough policies and law enforcement techniques have resulted in stories of survival that are almost hard to believe. ICE raids all over the country have torn communities and families apart. But for all the bigotry there are some stories that reveal that there are still some good people out there and that human kindness and perseverance count for something. 

The recent tribulation of a 36-year-old Peruvian woman is one of such cases. 

Ingrid Encalada Latorre gave birth to a baby girl at a church in Boulder, Colorado

Credit: Twitter. @UUSC

She has been living at the Unitarian Universalist Church since 2017 with her two sons, after she moved from another religious site. Places of worship have a de facto status as a sanctuary and there is an unwritten agreement between law enforcers and religious organizations that dictates that once in a sacred building, migrants and refugees are safe from arrest. She has become an immigrant rights advocate based on her own traumatic experiences.  

The authorities have been persistent in their punitive actions against this outspoken woman.

As U-Wire reported in August, “In July, Encalada Latorre was fined nearly $5,000 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for not leaving the country”. The bill just keeps adding up. And this is an strategy that is increasingly being used by the current administration as U-Wire reported in July: “The Trump administration threatened to impose these fines on immigrants who seek sanctuary in locations where ICE does not conduct enforcement operations, such as churches. Although the penalties are not new, imposing the financial penalties has been rare, according to reporting by the Washington Post”.

Damn. Some migrants have been fined for more than $400,000. Of course, almost no one is able to pay that kind of money. 

Ingrid declined to go to hospital to give birth, and for a very good reason.

She feared that she would become a target for ICE if she left the place of worship. She had a 15-hour natural birth and she delivered her baby with the help of a midwife. Ingrid kept her birthing plans under wraps until the last minute because any information leak could very well put her at risk of deportation.

She told The Daily Beast: “Having a baby is always a light of life. I am excited to have my beautiful baby girl and my two sons, who I love very much. My life continues, and this broken system will not stop my fight to keep my family together.”

She moved into the church after a court appearance where she pleaded guilty.

Her crime: trying to buy a Social Security number so she could work and provide for her kids. She got bad legal advice and pleaded guilty to a felony, which is much worse than the correct category of a misdemeanor. The church has been more than accomodating, and a shower and proper living quarters have been provided for Ingrid and her children. 

The church’s reverend, Eric Posa, is like the coolest man of the robe ever.

Credit: Twitter. @TheLeftRev

Eric Posa has a long history of fighting for the dispossessed and the vulnerable, and his stern defence of Ingrid is proof of that. He told The Daily Beast, which first broke the story: “We talk about the joy of new life at the church, but I’ve got to say, in my career, it’s never been as literally true about new life being added to the church as happened here”.

And Posa also served some truths to the system: “In a system that would tell people that they are less human than those who are native-born citizens—and especially those of us with white skin—and in a system that would actively discourage the rest of us as treating Ingrid and others like her as fully human, she decided not to limit and pare down her life, but to expand her family”.

Some might get judgemental about Ingrid’s decision to have a baby under such circumstances, but bringing life is a way of resisting a bleak future. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about Ingrid’s case to highlight the faults in the system.

Ingrid ended up in this legal mess because she had to resort to a misdemeanor because even though she is part of the community in Colorado, she has lived under the shadows and in fear for too long, just like millions of migrants who are hard working and bring a sense of solidarity to social life in the United States. AOC also visited Ingrid and offered her support as part of a trip to Boulder, where she also spoke at a dinner.