Things That Matter

The Little Girl Crying For Her Father After An ICE Raid In Mississippi Has Finally Been Reunited With Him

Credit: Twitter/ @KNX1070

In August, an appalling scene came out of the small town of Morton, Mississippi, where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained more than 600 people. ICE agents suspected that after a yearlong investigation, Koch Foods (a food processing plant) had hired hundreds of undocumented people. On the morning of Aug. 7, after many of the workers had dropped off their children at school, they went to work as usual only to be detained by immigration agents. The people were instructed to get on a bus where they would be taken to a detention center. Many of the children didn’t have a ride after school and were left without their parents. One little girl, in particular, captured the heart of many. 

A young girl made national news when she cried out for her dad, who had been detained by ICE. Now, three months later, he has been released. 

Magdalena Gomez Gregorio pleaded on television that she wanted her dad back and that he was not a criminal. The poor girl could bearly speak because she was so emotional. Gomez Gregorio was one of several kids who were left without their parents in what was viewed as the most massive raid in the country’s history.  

“Government, please show some heart,” the 11-year-old girl said in August, according to WJTV. “Let my parent be free and everyone else, please don’t leave the child with cryness [sic] and everything. I need my dad … he’s not a criminal.”

At least 680 people were detained in August. ICE, in a rare move, said they would release at least one parent if both parents were arrested, so the children wouldn’t be completely alone. 

Credit: @astroehlein / Twitter

A couple of days after the raid, the Department of Justice in Mississippi said they would release 30 people based on “humanitarian grounds,” but it was unclear if one of Gomez Gregorio’s parents was released during that time. 

“As part of HSI procedures pursuant to this operation, if HSI encountered two alien parents with minor children at home, HSI released one of the parents on humanitarian grounds and returned that individual to the place from which they were arrested. HSI similarly released any single alien parent with minor children at home on humanitarian grounds and physically returned that person to the place where he or she was originally detained. Based on these procedures, it is believed that all children were with at least one of their parents as of last night,” the Department of Justice in Mississippi stated

The little girl’s dad, Andres Gomez-Jorge, was finally released from detention after his friends and family raised $7,500 for his bond.

Credit: @PNS_News / Twitter

CNN reports that the family is back together again, including with their mom. The main problem now is that they both are out of work. According to the network, Gomez-Jorge has to support his family of six, and as of now, are only surviving from generous donations. 

While agents say, they had been investigating the food plant for a year, after detaining more than 600 people, only 11 people were prosecuted. 

Owners of the food plant, the ones responsible for doing the hiring, were never charged for their participation in hiring people with fraudulent information. 

Credit: @newfoodeconomy / Twitter

“These are not new laws, nor is the enforcement of them new,” then-acting ICE director Matt Albence said in August, according to CNN. 

“The arrests today were the result of a year-long criminal investigation. And the arrests and warrants that were executed today are just another step in that investigation.”

However, not much came out of that raid that instilled fear in the Latino community. We should note that the ICE raid in Mississippi occurred just days after the El Paso shooting that left 22 people dead and another 24 injured. 

READ: Two Kids Were Left Alone For Eight Days After Their Parents Were Detained In The Mississippi ICE Raids

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Things That Matter

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Damen Wood / Getty Images

Becoming a U.S. resident or citizen has never been an easy process. The country’s immigration system is a convoluted mess that sharply leans in favor of high-wealth individuals and under the Trump administration that is becoming more apparent than ever.

But 2020 has been an especially challenging year for immigrants seeking to complete their citizenship process.

Although it’s common for interest in naturalization to spike in the months leading up to presidential elections, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the citizenship process to a grinding halt in March. The outbreak shut offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) all across the country. And although many of these offices reopened in July, there is a widening backlog of applications.

Meanwhile, on October 2, looming fee increases could leave applications and citizenship out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants, as the process becomes significantly more costly.

Many migrant advocacy groups are hosting events meant to help immigrants complete their applications before prices are set to rise.

In South Florida, the Office of New Americans (ONA) — a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade County and non-profit legal service providers — launched its second Miami Citizenship Week on Sept. 11. This 10-day event is designed to help immigrants with free legal support so participants can beat the October 2 deadline.

In addition, the event will host a mix of celebrations meant to highlight the social and economic contributions of South Florida’s large immigrant communities.

“I think in Miami we talk about how we are diverse and how we are adjacent to Latin America, but we never take a moment to celebrate immigrants and the amazing work that they do whether it’s the nurses in our hospitals, the drivers that drive our buses, small business owners,” said Krystina François, ONA’s executive director. “We need to reclaim the narrative around immigrants and around our communities because it’s what makes us great.”

However, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the events will all be hosted online.

Much like any other event, Covid-19 has greatly impacted this year’s “Citizenship Week.” Therefore, the event will be hosted virtually. That includes the Mega Citizenship Clinic, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20. At the event, pro-bono lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice and other groups will connect with attendees one-on-one on Zoom and walk them through the process of filling out the 20-page citizenship application form. 

The clinic is open to immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens, meaning permanent residents who have had a green card for at least five years.

Cities like Dallas are also getting in on similar events, meant to welcome new residents and citizens into the city.

Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs is hosting a series of virtual events from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20 in honor of Welcoming Week. The virtual events aim to promote Dallas’ diverse communities and to unite all residents, including immigrants and refugees.

According to the City of Dallas, this year’s theme is Creating Home Together, and it emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community to build a more inclusive city for everyone.

Participants will be able to learn about the voting process and what will be on the next ballot during the “Vontando Por Mi Familia: Enterate para que vas a votar” event. The event, hosted in partnership with Mi Familia, will be presented in Spanish.

A Council Member, Jaime Resendez, will host a virtual program on Tuesday at 11 a.m. that celebrates Latinx art and culture. The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayor Eric Johnson will read the Welcoming Week Proclamation, and the event will feature art exhibitions and performances showcasing the talents of performers and artists across Dallas.

Attendees will also have a chance to learn more about the availability of DACA and a citizenship workshop will take place where articipants will learn how to complete their N-400 application for citizenship. Volunteer immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from the Department of Justice will be there for assistance.

The events come as fees for several immigration proceedings are set to rise by dramatic amounts come October 1.

Starting on October 2, the financial barrier will grow even taller for many immigrants as fees are set to increase. The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $ 1,170 in paper filing, a more than 80% increase in cost. 

“In the middle of an economic downturn, an increase of $520 is a really big amount,” François told the Miami-Herald.

Aside from the fee increase, many non-citizen immigrants never truly felt the need to become citizens. That was until the Coronavirus pandemic hit and had many questioning their status in the country.

“There are people who up until this COVID crisis, their status as a permanent resident didn’t impact their day-to-day life … but then the pandemic has given them another reason of why it’s important to take that extra step and become a citizen, because of the additional rights and protections that are afforded to you, but also to just have a sense of security and stability in a crisis.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Even Though We’re In The Midst Of A Pandemic, ICE Just Conducted The Largest Immigration Sweep In Months

Things That Matter

Even Though We’re In The Midst Of A Pandemic, ICE Just Conducted The Largest Immigration Sweep In Months

Gregory Bull / Getty Images

Although communities across the country – particularly the Latinx community – continue to be ravaged by Coronavirus, U.S. immigration officials are still enforcing inhumane immigration policies.

In cities across the U.S., Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials made thousands of arrests over recent weeks. These arrests are part of the largest immigration sweep since the pandemic began and mean that more people will be put in danger as they’re forced into detention centers which have become a hotbed of Coronavirus infections.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers took thousands of people into custody in 24 cities across the country.

A six-week ICE operation resulted in more than 2,000 arrests of undocumented immigrants, in 24 cities across the U.S. The operation, which ran from July to August, led to arrests in communities across the country, CBS News reports.

Officials charge that the enforcement efforts were focused on those with criminal convictions and charges, but they admit that there were also arrests of some undocumented immigrants with clean records.

As part of the operation, ICE agents made “at-large” arrests, which could take place at residences, worksites and traffic stops, across the country, including in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, where the ICE field office apprehended the most immigrants. ICE said the operation targeted undocumented immigrants and others subject to deportation who had been charged or convicted of a crime involving a victim.

Asked by CBS News how the recent arrests of immigrants without convictions or charges conformed with that announcement, Henry Lucero, ICE’s executive associate director, offered a clarification of the so-called “enforcement posture.”

“We never said we were going to stop arresting individuals,” Lucero said in a call with reporters. “We said we were going to prioritize and focus on those that are public safety threats. And that’s exactly what we did during this operation.”

He added, “We never stated we’re … going to stop arresting any type of immigration violator. We continue to arrest immigration violators. We use discretion when appropriate. That will remain in effect until further notice.”

Although ICE says it’s limited its enforcement activities because of the pandemic, this is the largest sweep in months.

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

It took awhile for ICE to finally adjust its enforcement posture once the pandemic hit, but ICE did finally announce certain changes. The agency said it’s limited its operations to avoid outbreaks among detainees – and the hard numbers to paint this picture. So far this fiscal year, ICE has made 94,5000 arrests inside communities, compared to 143,000 at this time last year.

In March, ICE announced that it would focus its enforcement efforts on those with certain criminal records and those deemed a public threat.

ICE and its enforcement priorities under President Trump have become a focal point of the nation’s broader debate around immigration, with some Democratic lawmakers calling for the agency to be abolished. Advocates for immigrants have also criticized ICE’s response to the spread of the coronavirus inside its sprawling immigration detention system, which is the largest in the world. 

Meanwhile, many of these migrants will be forced into detention centers that are becoming hubs of Covid-19 infections.

Credit: Gregory Bull / Getty Images

Already the 2020 fiscal year (which ends September 30) is tied with 2006 for the highest number of migrant deaths in ICE custody – the vast majority of whom have died of Covid-19 related complications. Just this week, a 50-year-old man from Honduras became the system’s latest victim and the 19th to die so far.

Meanwhile, more than 5,300 immigrants have tested for the Coronavirus while in custody. That number doesn’t take into account the risks fro communities and employees.

ICE says that they’re making adjustments, pointing out that the agency’s detainee population has plummeted during the pandemic, declining to roughly 21,000 this week. However, raids like the ones over the last few weeks will likely increase that population.

“There is still a pandemic raging,” Reichlin-Melnick told CBS News. “ICE should not be engaging in large-scale enforcement actions that send people to detention centers where the virus is rampant.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com