Things That Matter

We Now Have A Better Look At What Migrants Are Facing In Detention Centers Thanks To Joaquin Castro And A Secret Camera

The growing list of allegations against ICE, DHS, and Border Patrol sent a group of members of Congress to Texas on Monday. Their mission was to get inside a for-profit migrant detention center.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Veronica Escobar, and Joaquin Castro were among the group that traveled to Texas to visit what many are calling a migrant prison.

While they had to check their phones with security, many of them took to Twitter to share the horrors they saw inside. Castro, however, managed to take photos and videos, further proving that the heartbreaking conditions at these facilities are unacceptable.

Castro’s secretly captured footage shows the shocking conditions inside migrant detention centers.

Credit: @thehill / Twitter

Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, led a delegation of more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers to tour the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities in southwest Texas on Monday.

The delegation was told to “surrender their phones” ahead of the tour, AOC wrote on Twitter. But Castro “was able to get a device in.”

Castro said in an interview that he had no second thoughts about taking and sharing the images after officials had asked the lawmakers on a facility tour to leave their cellphones behind. He posted the images after visiting a station in El Paso. 

The group was able to meet with women who wanted their photos and stories to be shared with the world.

Credit: @RawStory / Twitter

The congressional members met with a group of women in custody who agreed to be filmed and gave their names, according to a senior aide in Castro’s office.

His undercover videos showed women who had been denied showers for more than two weeks and others who had been denied medication.

Castro posted the video on his Twitter account purportedly showing the women, who he said were all from Cuba, sitting in sleeping bags on a concrete floor of a small cell, which he said had a toilet but no running water to drink from or to wash their hands.

“Many said they had not bathed for 15 days,” Castro tweeted. “Some had been separated from children, some had been held for more than 50 days. Several complained they had not received their medications, including one for epilepsy.”

And showers that are so tiny it would seem impossible to even turn around in them.

Next, the delegation toured a border patrol station in Clint, which Castro said houses children and some parents. Castro posted a video on Twitter purportedly showing the mobile shower units there, which he described as “dank, dirty” and “small in number for the hundreds of people there just a few weeks ago.”

Castro also recounted seeing a young boy in custody at the facility who smiled and “pressed his face against the dirty glass of a locked steel door,” trying to talk to them through the thick glass.

Credit: @carol_canderson / Twitter

Ingraham —a virulent racist who has cozied up to white nationalists and continued to downplay the inhumanity of separating migrant children from their families and placing them in cages — chimed in, comparing the conditions for children in detention to those of U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Castro shot back: ““You’re a white supremacist, Laura. And, no, I don’t think refugees should be kept in war-zone conditions in the most prosperous nation on earth.”

READ: According to AOC, Agents At Texas Detention Center Are Telling Migrants To Drink Water From Toilets

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Guatemala Shifted Tactics With The Latest Migrant Caravan And Here’s Why

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Guatemala Shifted Tactics With The Latest Migrant Caravan And Here’s Why

Jose Torres / Getty Images

The Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t reduced violence or poverty or many of the other reasons that people flee their homes in an attempt to reach the United States. In fact, in many places violence and poverty are at record levels as the virus leaves millions of people without work, access to medical care, or education.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that even though the Coronavirus pandemic continues to pose a serious health threat, thousands of Central Americans banded together in another caravan. However, this time it barely made it out of Honduras before being forced back by Guatemalan security forces.

The country has completely changed its approach to how it handles these ‘migrant caravans.’ Previously, the country had allowed many of them safe passage. However, under pressure from the Trump administration, the country’s president has decided a heavy-handed approach is better.

Under pressure from Donald Trump, Guatemala halted more than 3,000 migrants set for the U.S.

As a caravan containing roughly 3,500 Honduran migrants attempted to cross into Guatemala on their path to the United States, Guatemala halted their progress and ordered their removal from the country. This was a starch contrast to the migrant caravans of year past as many were allowed to seek asylum or even cross Guatemala’s border with Mexico.

In a televised message, Giammattei said Guatemalan security forces were able to “contain” the caravan, that according to the president was a factor in the transmission of the Coronavirus.

According to the Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM), the caravan entered eastern Guatemala on Thursday, pushing over a military barrier setup along the border before splitting into groups to reach Mexico, which had already closed its borders in anticipation of the caravan’s arrival.

By Friday and Saturday, hundreds of Guatemalan police and military personnel set up roadblocks forcing migrants — including young children and people in wheelchairs — to turn back.

Guatemala’s president said the containment efforts were to protect the country from further Coronavirus infections.

Credit: Jose Torres / Getty Images

Shortly after the caravan entered Guatemala by foot and overwhelming the border security forces, the country’s president – Alejandro Giammattei – vowed to send them back to Honduras, citing his efforts to contain the pandemic.

“The order has been given to detain all those who entered illegally, and return them to the border of their country,” Giammattei said in a broadcast address to the nation. “We will not allow any foreigner who has used illegal means to enter the country, to think that they have the right to come and infect us and put us at serious risk.”

Giammattei issued an order that would suspend some constitutional rights in the provinces they were expected to pass through, apparently in order to facilitate detaining them.

“We are experiencing a pandemic in Guatemala which has cost us to control with months of efforts,” said the president, adding it was an “obligation” to reduce the risk of further contagion.

At the onset of the pandemic, Guatemala instituted a strict lockdown of the country, even closing its airports and borders to all travel. So far, the country of about 17 million has seen more than 94,000 Covid-19 infections and 3,293 people have died since March.

These so-called caravans have become more common in recent years as migrants band together for protection.

In recent years, thousands of Central American migrants traveling in large groups have crossed into Mexico, with the aim of reaching the U.S. border. In the U.S., these caravans have become a hot-button issue for political conservatives, including President Trump.

During the 2018 caravan that occurred close to the midterm elections, Trump threatened Mexico with steep tariffs and economic pain if the country didn’t do more to stop the caravans before they reached the U.S. – Mexico border. The country bowed to Trump’s demands and deployed its National Guard and more immigration agents to break up attempted caravans last year. They dispersed large groups of migrants attempting to travel together in southern Mexico.

The odds of a large migrant caravan reaching the U.S. border, already low, have grown increasingly slim over the past year. In fact, crossing into the U.S. legally is virtually impossible now thanks to inhumane policies implemented by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, attempting an unauthorized crossing into the U.S. is as difficult as ever.

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Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

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Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

Gerald Herbert / Getty Images

In what many are calling a landmark decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just handed a major victory to migrant’s rights advocates. Although the major ruling seems simple on paper, it has major legal implications and could truly change the way that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrest undocumented immigrants.

However, the decision is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court – where it would face an uncertain legal future given the possible future makeup of the nation’s highest court.

The 9th Circuit Court just issued a landmark legal decision that could greatly affect ICE arrests.

Credit: Eric Risberg / Getty Images

Long-standing rules for arresting migrants may soon need to change, thanks to a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court says that ICE needs to align its arresting and detention procedures with those of all other law enforcement agencies in the country, which are guided by rules within the U.S. constitution. When police arrest people for suspected crimes, the constitution requires them to show probable cause to a judge within 48 hours. But ICE does not do that. When ICE arrests people, it typically holds them for weeks before any judge evaluates whether ICE had a valid legal basis to make the arrest.

But ICE’s policies may no longer be legal.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the usual constitutional rules that apply to normal police all over the country also apply to ICE. “The Fourth Amendment requires a prompt probable cause determination by a neutral and detached magistrate,” the court said. This really shouldn’t be a big deal. Prompt independent review by a judge of whether the government has a legal basis to take away a person’s freedom is an essential safeguard against tyranny.

ICE’s arrest and detention policies have long come under scrutiny for seemingly skirting constitutional rules.

Credit: Joseph Sohm / Getty Images

For almost 200 years, immigration enforcement has existed in a sort of grey area, where the usual rules never applied. For example, when ICE arrests people, individual officers have much more legal discretion than other law enforcement authorities. Detainees may be held for weeks or months before going to a judge who will ask the person how they plead to ICE’s allegations against them.

Only then, long after the initial arrest, might ICE actually be required to show a judge any evidence to back up its case. The person would have spent all of that time detained, likely at a private detention center in a remote area.

For any other person in the U.S., this procedure goes against every legal protection in the constitution. But ICE has gotten away with treating immigrants this way for generations.

The ruling comes as other courts are making it easier for ICE to abuse migrant’s constitutional rights.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit comes less than a week after the 1st Circuit overturned a ban prohibiting ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses in Massachusetts.

In 2018, ICE created a policy of attempting to arrest undocumented immigrants when they appeared at state courthouses for judicial proceedings. However, a district court granted an injunction against the policy after migrant advocates filed a lawsuit against ICE. They claimed that ICE was in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and lacked authority to make civil arrests at courts.

Meanwhile, ICE has resumed large-scale enforcement operations, announcing roughly 2,000 arrests over several weeks amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The 9th Circuit’s decision raises an obvious question: How many of those people were detained for more than 48 hours without a review by a judge?

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