Things That Matter

A Migrant Child Becomes Fifth To Die Under U.S. Custom And Border Protection Since December

A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died on Monday after being detained for a week by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Texas. The teen, identified as Carlos Gregorio “Goyitio” Hernandez Vasquez, was apprehended near Hidalgo, Texas, on May 13 and was then transferred to the Weslaco Border Patrol Station on Sunday.

Gregorio “Goyito” Hernandez Vasquez is the fifth Guatemalan minor to die under U.S custody since December.

Family members are mourning the tragic and avoidable death of “Goyito”. They described him as a well-behaved teen who simply wanted to help support his family. In an interview with Telemundo, relatives described the teenager as a fan of soccer and music, playing both the bass and the piano.

His family says that Vasquez made the journey with hopes of reuniting with family members already in the US. It was also to help support his eight siblings living in Guatemala, specifically, a brother who has special needs.

According to news reports, the teenager passed away just one day after being diagnosed with influenza A. On Sunday, Vasquez told the staff at the Central Processing Center that “he was not feeling well.” After seeing a nurse practitioner that determined he had the flu, Border Patrol agents went to a pharmacy to pick up medication, a CBP official said.

He passed away just six days after he was apprehended by Border Patrol agents.

Credit: @splcenter / Twitter

Vasquez continued to receive treatment at the processing center throughout Sunday and would be transferred midday to the Weslaco station. Upon arrival, he was segregated from other detained migrants due to his illness. He would be again medically assessed and have his medication turned over to the medical professionals at the station, officials said.

The next morning, Vasquez was found unresponsive. He had been at the border patrol station for about 17 hours. When officials were asked why he was not taken to a hospital, officials said that was a decision that was up to the medical care providers at their facilities.

“The men and women of US Customs and Border Protection are saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family,” said Acting Commissioner John Sanders in a statement. “CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody.”

Shortly after his passing, it was discovered that more migrants, that were in the same processing center as Vasquez, showed signs of fevers.

Credit: @LatinoUSA / Twitter

On Tuesday, CBP officials found a “large number” of migrants in custody with “high fevers who are also displaying signs of a flu-related illness” at the processing center in McAllen, where Vasquez was first held.

“To avoid the spread of illness, the Rio Grande Valley Sector has temporarily suspended intake operations at the [central processing center],” CBP said in a statement.

After a health screening of the detainee population at the facility, officials had quarantined 32 migrants that had contracted influenza. CBP would temporarily stop operations over fears that more migrants getting sick.

Back in March, Kevin McAleenan, the acting homeland security secretary, was seeing that more migrants coming into custody under ill conditions.

“We are doing everything we can to simply avoid a tragedy in a CBP facility,” McAleenan said. “But with these numbers, with the types of illnesses we’re seeing at the border, I fear that it’s just a matter of time.”

The latest migrant death shows the reality of what’s really going on at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Credit: @ErikaAndiola / Twitter

In April, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency responsible for unaccompanied migrant children, said it was on track to detain the most children in its history. Just last month, almost 100,000 families crossed the border, highlighting the growing crisis at the southern border.

Astrid Dominguez, director for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said the latest migrant death is an alarming sign of what’s going in detention centers. Last week, the ACLU filed a complaint concerning the conditions of migrants being detained in Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley facilities. The same place where Vasquez was held.

“We’ve received complaints from migrants about inhumane conditions, prolonged detention, lack of shelter, poor medical attention and abuse from agents,” Dominguez said in a statement. “We need more than an investigation, children ought to be protected. CBP needs to hire child welfare and medical professionals to humanely receive and process all arriving families.”

Lawmakers are raising their voice to point out the intentional nature of the harm done to children at the border.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

We have seen the horrible impact the dangerous policies are having on the border. Children are dying in detention and families remain separated because of the “zero tolerance” policy the Trump administration implemented.

Our elected leaders are not backing down and making the noise people want to hear about the disastrous border policies.

This is why we elect people to speak for us. The American people are against a border wall and in favor of immigration. Even more, people believe that the children should be taken care of.

READ: All of the Migrant Children That Have Been Killed At The U.S. Border

Supreme Court Hearing Arguments For DACA, Leaning Towards Elimination

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Supreme Court Hearing Arguments For DACA, Leaning Towards Elimination

JuanSaaa / Twitter

The United States Supreme Court heard over an hour and a half of arguments Tuesday on whether or not the Trump administration can end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The case has been brewing since the Trump administration first announced plans to end the Obama-era program in 2017. As of early reporting, it seems the justices are pretty closely split with the conservative members of the court seemingly leaning towards ending the program.

The Supreme Court heard more than an hour and a half of oral arguments in favor and against the preservation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The Obama-era program gave deportation relief, driver’s licenses, work permits, and access to student loans for hundreds of thousands of young people in the U.S. Despite Trump consistently telling the media that the issue of DACA will be handled with heart, the president’s former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced the end of the program in 2017.

According to The New York Times, Trump moved to end the program because of “the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.” Sessions stated that the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

Plaintiffs and attorneys for DACA left the Supreme Court today and chanted with thousands of protesters demanding the preservation of the program.

“Home is here! Home is here,” the crowd can be heard chanting as the plaintiffs all left the Supreme Court. The arguments helped determine where certain justices fall on the issue of preserving DACA and protecting hundreds of thousands of young people from being deported from the only home they know.

NBC News reports that the nine justices are closely divided on the issue with all of the conservative justices seemingly leaning against it. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh asking questions that seemed to confirm their alignment with the Trump administration’s decision. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer appear to be in favor of preserving the program. The deciding vote might come from Justice John Roberts, who in the court’s last term ruled against the Trump administration’s wish to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

A majority of Americans support the DACA program and the recipients who benefit from it.

Credit: @selenagomez / Twitter

Selena Gomez recently debuted a new docu-series highlighting the lives of undocumented people in the U.S. The show has given new perspective to the immigration debate that has been raging in the U.S. for decades.

More than 60 percent of Americans polled by the Pew Research Center also favor a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. That poll found that 48 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

All eyes are on the Supreme Court as more than 600,000 DACA recipients wait to know their fate.

With such overwhelming support, it would seem that passing legislation to protect DACA recipients would be easy. However, Democratic Representation Lucille Roybal-Allard of California introduced a bill in March of this year called The American Dream and Promise Act. The bill would enshrine the protections offered by DACA into law. The bill passed the House of Representatives on June 4 and is awaiting a vote from the Senate. However, the Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, has refused to take a vast array of bills up for a vote in an increasingly partisan pushback.

DACA and the lives of undocumented people in the U.S. are being evaluated at the highest court of the land today.

Credit: @JuanSaaa / Twitter

Americans overwhelmingly support the program. The president has used this vulnerable community as a political pawn. At one point, the president was willing to offer DACA protections in exchange for border wall funding.

The nation is watching the Supreme Court closely as they are waiting to hear the fate of hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S.

Students in Los Angeles joined in with major walkouts to demonstrate in favor of DACA and their peers benefitting from the program. We are all waiting to hear how the Supreme Court rules on this issue.

Check back with mitú as this story develops.

READ: Luis Cortes Is The 31-Year-Old Dreamer Attorney Fighting To Save DACA In The Supreme Court Case

Trump Administration Hikes Up DACA Renewal Fee To Support U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement

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Trump Administration Hikes Up DACA Renewal Fee To Support U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement

Juan Escalante @JuanSaaa / Twitter

A new proposal brought forth by immigration officials might hike up the cost of immigrants entering the United States as children. According to a New York Times report, the Trump administration proposal would increase fees for applicants by more than 60 percent and handover more than $200 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Friday, the Trump administration proposed increasing a “range of fees” tacked onto applications for those seeking legal immigration and citizenship.

If it is sent into motion, the proposal would increase citizenship fees by more than 60 percent. Under the new plan, fees for applicants would skyrocket from $725  to $1,170. The proposal would also allow the government to charge asylum seekers $50 for applications and $490 for work permits. Such a rule would make the United States one out of four countries in the world to force asylum seekers to pay for applications. Australia, Fiji and Iran all charge for asylum protection. 

If instituted, the proposal would be yet another roadblock implemented by the Trump administration to restrict immigration through legal means.

Over the past few months, immigrants and immigration advocates have seen similar attempts at hacking through the rights of immigrants before. Recently the Trump administration issued a series of policies that work to withhold permanent residency to immigrants in the United States have been deemed incapable of financially supporting themselves. They have also blocked entry to immigrants applying for visas on the basis of health insurance status. On October 4, 2019, Trump published a Presidential Proclamation that prevents entry to visa applicants are unable to provide proof of their ability to obtain health insurance within 30 days of entering the United States. 

“Healthcare providers and taxpayers bear substantial costs in paying for medical expenses incurred by people who lack health insurance or the ability to pay for their healthcare.  Hospitals and other providers often administer care to the uninsured without any hope of receiving reimbursement from them,” the proclamation read. “The costs associated with this care are passed on to the American people in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services.  In total, uncompensated care costs — the overall measure of unreimbursed services that hospitals give their patients — have exceeded $35 billion in each of the last 10 years.”

 Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at USCIS under the Obama administration called the new policy, “one more way under the administration that they are making legal immigration unattainable.”

“Currently, USCIS is conducting its biennial fee review, as required under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, to study the agency’s revenue, costs and needs,” a spokesperson for USCIS told BuzzFeed News. “As always, USCIS will publicly communicate information on its fee review through a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the federal register, should a decision be made to adjust its fees. No determination has yet been made.”

Immigration advocates on social media have been quick to slam the proposal as unfair. 

“The proposal to get rid of fee waivers is a whole statement and stand against the poor. From the public charge stuff to this. Worse thing too is this is how people actually feel,” film director Angy Rivera wrote in a thread that lambasted the policy. “The Department of Homeland Security’s plan will be open to public comment for 30 days starting Nov. 14. Make sure to flood them!”

Other users who quick to underline the significance of taking the funds from these applicants and transfer them to  Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration plans to “transfer money raised through the new proposed fee schedule to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency under DHS that carries out deportations, workplace investigations and other immigration enforcement actions. The money would be used to root out any potential fraud in future applications for citizenship, green cards, asylum and other immigration benefits.” 

“At this point I feel like they are just putting numbers in hat, and tossing it around. This is money we use to live and maintain our families, minimum wage ass job won’t cover this. This is just business to make money, y’all taking advantage of us,” Cristal Ruiz Rodriguez wrote in a tweet.

There’s no doubt that the Trump administration’s latest attack on immigrants is a wealth tax.

The Trump administration’s new policy would not be applicable to immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and asking for asylum. 

Melissa Rodgers is the director of programs for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and told the Washington Street Journal that the proposed fees would be unaffordable for those who could have had a chance at citizenship.

“This is a wealth tax on becoming a U.S. citizen,” Rodgers said in a statement. “It’s part and parcel of the assault on the naturalization process.”