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

Department Of Health And Human Services

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.

The Administration Ignores 22-Year-Old Precedent Of Flores Agreement, Plans To Detain Migrant Families Indefinitely

Things That Matter

The Administration Ignores 22-Year-Old Precedent Of Flores Agreement, Plans To Detain Migrant Families Indefinitely

raicestexas / Instagram

Today, we woke up to another announcement from the Trump administration regarding its immigration policies. Yet again, the administration has proven that cruelty is the point in their policy.

With today’s announcement, the administration announced a new rule that would add to the aggressive effort already underway to make life miserable for migrants and asylum seekers coming to the US.

According to today’s announcement, the administration will implement a new rule allowing for indefinite detainment of migrant families.

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced a proposal to detain undocumented families together indefinitely, replacing the agreement that set a 20-day limit for holding children, with President Donald Trump saying it would discourage migrants from coming to the US.

Today’s announcement is just the latest in a pattern of cruel policies directed as people attempting to make a new life in the US.

In recent months, the administration has proposed rules that could make it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards, worked to end temporary protected status for migrants from certain countries and limit avenues to declare asylum.

For Trump’s part, he says he’s only thinking of the children.

Trump said Wednesday that he’s concerned about the number of undocumented children attempting to travel into the United States, arguing the new rule would keep families together.

“I have the children on my mind. It bothers me very greatly,” Trump said.

He also reasserted his false claim that President Barack Obama was the person responsible for family separations, although it was the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy which led to thousands of children being separated from their parents after crossing the border illegally.

“I’m the one that kept the families together. With what we’re doing now, we’ll do even more of that, but it will make it almost impossible for people to come into our country illegally,” Trump said at the White House.

The new rule would also destroy the Flores Agreement, which the government has been following since a Supreme Court decision in 1997.

McAleenan said the new rule takes aim at a 2015 “reinterpretation of the Flores Settlement Agreement” in which a California district court ruled accompanied minors are subject to the same detention limits as unaccompanied minors.

The 2015 change, McAleenan said, “has generally forced the government to release families into the country after just 20 days, incentivizing illegal entry, adding to the growing backlog in immigration proceedings, and often delaying immigration proceedings for many years.”

The Trump administration has frequently blamed Flores for the spike in family border crossings over the last few years, claiming the promise of eventual release creates an incentive to enter the country illegally. On Wednesday, it defended the change as closing a “loophole exploited by human smugglers.”

Several politicians have already come out strongly against the new rule, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker Pelosi is convinced the new rule will be defeated in the courts before it’s ever allowed to go into effect.

While Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is running for President, vows to fight the new rule and noted that it goes against the landmark Flores Agreement.

While others were calling this what it is – concentration camps for migrant families.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought several Trump administration immigration policies, slammed the rule as “yet another cruel attack on children.”

“The government should NOT be jailing kids, and certainly shouldn’t be seeking to put more kids in jail for longer,” the group tweeted. They added, “This is yet another cruel attack on children, who this administration has targeted again and again with its anti-immigrant policies.”

A Breastfeeding Mother Being Held By ICE Says That She Hasn’t Been Allowed To Breastfeed Her Daughter In Days

Things That Matter

A Breastfeeding Mother Being Held By ICE Says That She Hasn’t Been Allowed To Breastfeed Her Daughter In Days

screenshot / clarionledger.com

At this point, we sound like a broken record talking about the Trump administration’s immigration policies and the traumatizing effects such policies have on migrants traveling to the U.S. seeking a better life. Every week brings either gun violence against communities of color (made easier under the influence of Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric against these same communities), more cases of ICE raids throughout the country, and even more cases of families being separated at the border. 

The most inhumane part of all of this continues to be the ways the Trump administration completely disregards children.

Guatemalan mother Maria Domingo-Garcia has been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody for nearly a week. 

She’s the mother of three and has been separated from her 4-month old daughter who she still breastfeeds. Maria Domingo-Garcia ended up in detention since being picked up during an ICE raid at Koch Foods in Morton, Mississippi. She was among the 680 undocumented immigrants that were detained earlier this month. 

According to CNN, Domingo-Garcia is being held at a facility in Jena, Louisiana. The facility is nearly 200 miles from Morton. The Mississippi Clarion Ledger, who first reported the story, followed the 4-month-old baby’s father new journey in having to raise his three young children on his own, after Domingo-Garcia’s detention. However, he’s still facing his own deportation proceedings with his next court date set for 2021.  

Now, the 4-month-old baby girl is left without her breastfeeding mother. According to CNN, when a woman is breastfeeding, the body continues to produce milk and if the milk isn’t “expressed” then it could cause pain and swelling. 

According to an ICE spokesman, all detainees receive a “medical screening upon intake” and if a woman says that she’s breastfeeding or nursing, she may be released. 

However, ICE is reportedly saying that Domingo-Garcia answered “no” when she was asked this question.  

But Domingo-Garcia’s attorney’s (Ray Ybarra Maldonado and Juliana Manzanarez with Justice For Our Neighbors) are saying that “ICE is, once again, lying. She said nobody’s asked her—not even one time—if she’s been breastfeeding.” 

Dalila Reynoso, an advocate with Justice For Our Neighbors and the two attorney’s are working with the family’s immigration case. “They hope the circumstances — the age of the infant, the breastfeeding and the woman’s lack of a criminal history — could convince immigration officials to let her out on bond quickly,” according to the Clarion Ledger.

Many on social media took to condemn ICE and the administration for keeping this mother away from her month-old daughter and other children.

“The Trump administration is keeping a mother from her four-month-old baby, who is still breastfeeding, and two other children after the ICE raids in Mississippi,” one tweet read. 

2020 Democratic Presidential nominee Kamala Harris also tweeted about the abuse of human rights by our own government.

“When will it end?” the California senator tweeted.

Of course, it didn’t take long for Ivanka Trump to share a social post that was severely ill-timed and out-of-touch.

The daughter of the president posted a photo of herself with her kids on the same week the news broke. Editor-in-chief of Rewire News, Jodi Jacobson, was quick to remind her of the mother being detained in ICE custody away from her children. Ivanka’s tweet could have been a coincidence but an ill-timed one at that. 

Twitter user Juan Escalante shared the story, adding that while she’s in her father’s care—her father is fighting his own deportation as he continues to raise the rest of his children without their mother.

According to Domingo-Garcia’s attorney’s, the mother is devastated knowing she can’t properly care for or nurture her daughter. 

Domingo-Garcia, originally from Guatemala, has lived in the U.S. for over 11 years. Aside from her 4-month-old baby girl, she has two songs, ages 3 and 11.

Her lawyers told CNN that the mother is “feeling the effects of having to suddenly stop breastfeeding.” The lawyer’s report, after visiting her in detention, that she’s “really depressed” and in pain from not being able to pump or breastfeed her baby girl.

This abuse of women’s rights in ICE detention facilities isn’t new and it also isn’t the only type. Earlier this year it was reported that nearly 30 women have miscarried while detained by ICE since 2017.

While her 4-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son might not fully grasp what’s happening to their mother right now, her 11-year-old son is a lot more aware and understands that his mother is gone. According to Domingo-Garcia’s lawyer’s, the 11-year-old son has said, “I want my mom back home. I don’t understand why they’re keeping her. She didn’t do anything wrong. We need her here.”

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