Things That Matter

Just Days After Latinos Were Targets Of A Mass Shooting, ICE Conducts The Largest Raid In A Decade

America’s Latino and immigrant communities are still reeling after a white terrorist directly targeted the Latino community in a mass shooting. But that didn’t stop ICE from conducting the largest single-state raid in history on Wednesday, netting 680 arrests of largely Latino workers across Mississippi.

Workers, many of whom had kids in daycare or at school, were arrested and booked into military hangers with no chance of communicating with their families. Images of children In tears waiting at school, assuming the worst had happened, quickly went viral.

And the rest of us are left wondering how is this happening?

ICE conducted massive raids across Mississippi that resulted in 680 arrests of undocumented migrants.

On Wednesday, ICE arrested undocumented workers in one of the largest worksite operations ever conducted by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. In total, some 680 suspected undocumented workers were arrested Wednesday after ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations agents swept through seven agricultural plants in the state as part of a criminal investigation. Deportation officers and HSI agents arrested the workers as they served criminal search warrants at the food plants.

The coordinated raids were conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations “at seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi,” according to an ICE statement. In addition to the arrests, agents seized company business records.

More than 600 ICE agents were involved in the raids, surrounding the perimeters of the targeted plants to prevent workers, mainly Latino immigrants, from escaping. The actions were centered on plants near Jackson owned by five companies, according to The Associated Press.

Many families were left wondering what was going on.

One woman, Dianne, told Buzzfeed news that her fiancé had called her to warn her that he would be arrested and she could hear the panic and commotion in the background. Her husband has three children from his previous marriage who Dianna has helped raise.

Dianne raced to the school to pick up the kids. On her way out of the school, she saw one girl looking confused, not knowing where to go because her parents had been arrested too.

“They were crying. They were shocked. They’re just worried,” Dianne said of her fiancé’s children. “I’m just trying to stay strong for them. I’m trying to remain as calm as possible. It’s one thing to know this could happen but it is another to see it happening. This is heart-wrenching. They are scared.”

ICE officials said the raids had been planned for sometime and that they’re a key strategy of the Trump administration’s attempt to clamp down on migrants.

The arrests Wednesday were part of the Trump administration’s renewed focus on cracking down on businesses suspected of employing undocumented workers. ICE officials have said that employers who hire undocumented workers gain an “unfair advantage” over others and take jobs from US citizens and legal residents.

The city of Jackson, where several raids took place, came out strongly condemning the raids.

The city of Jackson, Mississippi came out strongly against the raids. The mayor’s office said what many of us already know: these raids do not make communities safer and instead terrorize families, disrupt the economy, and instill fear in the community.

While John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE under the Obama administration, said Wednesday’s operation was massive in scope and would have a long-term impact on the immigrant community.

“This is a high-profile way to send a message and to create more fear in immigrant communities about ICE and about their ability to live and work in this country,” he said. “This burns an incredible amount of resources to apprehend people, few of whom pose any threat to the US. It’s for show more than for anything else.”

Photos of children left alone and scared when their parent’s couldn’t pick them up quickly went viral.

Many who were arrested had little time to contact their families or make arrangements for kids still at school or in daycare. So when it came time to be picked up and their parents never came for them, many children were distraught.

Local reports showed that some children were being taken to gyms and libraries by volunteers and people were donating snacks and food to the children. By late Wednesday, all the children left behind had been reunited with a relative.

Many were speaking out against the raids including democratic presidential candidates.

From Kamala Harris to Bernie Sanders and Julián Castro, many came out strongly against the raids. Each of them pointed out the trauma this can cause in a child’s life and the ineffectiveness of such raids.

When asked how a federal agency could leave behind so many kids, ICE didn’t have much to offer.

”What I can say is that every law enforcement agency in the nation arrests persons who may be parents when those persons commit arrestable offenses, and this agency has taken and is continuing to take extensive steps to take special care of situations,” ICE Southern Region Communications director Bryan Cox said in the statement. 

Cox said the detainees “were advised … to let ICE officers know if they had any children who were at school or childcare and needed to be picked up.”

The ACLU and immigrant’s rights organizations were warning people to be prepared and to know your rights.

In an unusually strong warning, the ACLU warned people that this is not a drill Massive raids of undocumented people are happening now. And they urged people to know their rights so they can speak up and fight back.

READ: Experts Are Warning There Will Be A Wave Of ICE Raids This Weekend But Here’s What You And Your Loved Ones Need To Know To Protect Yourselves

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A Trump Judge Has Blocked Biden’s Pause On Deportations And People Are Asking What’s Next?

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A Trump Judge Has Blocked Biden’s Pause On Deportations And People Are Asking What’s Next?

Sean Rayford / Getty Images

Within hours of Biden’s temporary freeze of some deportations going into effect, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton requested a temporary restraining order against the Department of Homeland Security. He requested the court suspend President Biden’s 100-day deportation ban.

Now, thanks to a Trump-appointed federal judge it appears that his case against the Biden administration is working.

A federal judge has blocked Biden’s 100-day freeze on deportations.

Judge Drew Tipton, an appointee of Donald Trump, agreed with the Texas Attorney General that there was a chance the state would “suffer imminent and irreparable harm” if a temporary restraining order wasn’t granted. He also said the order won’t harm the defendants or the public, while adding that the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.” Tipton said the nationwide injunction is effective for 14 days, according to court documents.

The restraining order is an early blow to the Biden administration, which has proposed immediate changes to Trump’s cruel and inhumane immigration policies – including a plan to offer a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without documentation.

Despite the setback, the Biden administration is expected to appeal the ruling, which halts the policy while both parties submit briefs on the matter.

Original Story Published January 22, 2021:

As soon as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, many across the country were ready to hold him accountable for the many promises he made on the campaign trail. Knowing the immense pressure he is under to keep these promises, President Biden wasted no time in getting to work through a flurry of executive actions in his first day on the job.

From the Oval Office, President Biden issues no less than 15 executive actions that impact everything from Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ to LGBTQ discrimination and immigration reform.

President Biden has placed a hold on most deportations for the next 100 days.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would pause deportations of certain noncitizens for 100 days starting on January 22, delivering on one of President Joe Biden’s key campaign promises on immigration policy. 

The agency said in a statement that the moratorium will allow it to “review and reset enforcement priorities” after the Trump administration sought to ensure that no undocumented immigrants — including families and longtime US residents — were safe from deportation.

“The pause will allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces, including immediate operational challenges at the southwest border in the midst of the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” the agency said.

So, who will be safe from deportation for the next 100-days under President Biden’s moratorium?

The 100-day deportation suspension applies to any noncitizen living in the interior of the United States, with some limited exceptions, not to people who recently crossed the border. Terrorists and suspected terrorists as well as anyone who engages in espionage or poses a threat to national security can still be removed, according to the memo

Also, noncitizens who entered the U.S. after Nov. 1 and people who volunteer to be removed can also be deported. The memo also says noncitizens can be removed if the director of ICE makes the determination they should be removed after consultation with other ICE officials.

The DHS memo also outlined who will be prioritized for deportation once the moratorium is over.

We’re also getting a better understanding of what will be President Biden’s enforcement priorities, which seem to reflect the president’s promises on the campaign trail that he would only deport people who have been convicted of a felony and explicitly not people with a DUI. Obama, by contrast, had deported immigrants with DUIs and minor offenses.

Most migrant advocacy groups praised the move even if they’re still raising lingering concerns.

It will give people fighting their deportation cases a chance to possibly remain in the U.S. and prevent more families from being separated while awaiting an overhaul of the immigration system including a legalization program for undocumented people that Biden has also promised, Sandra Solis, an organizer with the Phoenix-based Puente Movement, told AZ Central.

“This gives a small light at the end of the tunnel for folks of perhaps being able to fight their cases,” she said. “We are happy that right now there is a big pause but that is also where the organizing comes in where we have to put the agenda on the table of really getting more from this administration, not just the 100 days, but a pathway to citizenship.”

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This Inmate Firefighter Was Nearly Killed Battling California Blazes But Now He’s Facing Deportation

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This Inmate Firefighter Was Nearly Killed Battling California Blazes But Now He’s Facing Deportation

David McNew / Getty Images

Across the United States there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented Americans doing their part to protect and better the country. But far too often, our communities and our leaders don’t return the favor.

One man, a former inmate who was injured while battling California’s historic wildfires, was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after he was released from prison. Instead of being given a second chance, he faces likely deportation back to his native country of Laos – a place he hasn’t known since he was 4 years old.

A California man is facing deportation after nearly dying on the frontlines of the state’s wildfires.

A formerly incarcerated firefighter who helped battle California’s historic wildfires is now in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, after the state notified the agency he was being released.

Bounchan Keola, 39, left his native Laos at the age of 4. His home is here in the United States – in San Leandro, CA to be exact. But he’s facing the ultimate punishment of being sent back to a place he knows nothing about.

“He made a mistake as a child. He came here impoverished and he was resettled as a refugee when he was 6,” said his San Francisco Asian Law Caucus attorney, Anoop Prasad. “And he literally risked his life. California didn’t have to call ICE to deport him…This case is extremely sad and unfortunate. Society has failed him again and again.” 

Even more shocking is that Keola only had 14 days left on his prison term when he was crushed by a tree while battling the Zogg Fire in early October. He was soon released from prison but then taken into immigration custody by ICE.

While fighting a wildfire, Keyla was severely injured.

Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

Although Keola was convicted of attempted second degree murder, not only has he served his term but he also gave back to the community as one of the thousands of inmate firefighters battling the state’s blazes. In fact, he received a shorter prison sentence because of the extra credit he earned for fighting fires. 

Incarcerated firefighters get two days credit off their sentence for every day they’re working and are paid up to $5 a day. It’s estimated they save the state tens of millions of dollars a year. 

But then Keola got injured.

While he was stationed in Redding, CA., a tree fell on him while he was clearing brush to stop the fire from spreading. He is still in excruciating pain, his lawyer said, and he has not received the proper medical attention.

Since his release from prison, Keola has been in ICE detention.

Just seven days after being injured and with seven days left in his prison term, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation notified ICE that his release would be coming up. On Oct. 16, the day Keola finished serving his prison sentence in Sacramento, ICE came to pick him up. On Oct. 29, an immigration judge ordered his removal to Laos, records show.

Since being picked up by ICE, Keola has been held at a detention facility in Kern County. Although he faces a deportation order, Laos doesn’t have a repatriation agreement with the U.S., which means he could end up staying in California. But his fate is still unclear. And only a pardon from Newsom, his attorneys said, would expunge his record and allow him to go home freely to his parents and sister. 

I just want to go home and give my mom and dad a hug,” Keola told The Guardian, the first news organization to report the story. “All I know is I’m American. I’ve never thought of myself not being a citizen. I’m just asking for that one, second chance.”

Keola’s fate is in the hands of Gov. Newsom as he awaits a potential pardon for his crime.

Gov. Newsom has painted himself as a champion of those who have been incarcerated and fought on the front lines to save California during the wildfire season. That’s why Keola and his attorney say that his fate is in the hands of the governor. He has asked for a pardon from his prison sentence, showing that he has changed for the better and that his service to the state battling wildfires should count for something.

On Sept. 11,  Newsom signed AB 2147, a bill that will allow formerly incarcerated people to be able to try to expunge their records and become professional firefighters. Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter,” Newsom later said in a tweet after signing the bill. 

Yet Keola, an inmate fighting fire on the frontlines, hasn’t been given that chance. And although California is a sanctuary state, which forbids most cooperation with ICE, Keola was still handed over to the agency.

Newsom’s spokesperson, Jesse Melgar, said in a statement: “We are unable to discuss individual clemency applications, but can assure that each application receives careful and individualized consideration.”

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