Things That Matter

A Republican Representative Known To Crack Down On Undocumented Immigrants Stepped In To Stop This Man’s Deportation

A member of the House of Representatives with a history of supporting tough immigration policies recently saved a Guatemalan man from being deported.

Representative Duncan Hunter serves California’s 50th district, which includes San Diego’s East County, parts of Temecula and Escondido. Also included in his district is a town called Fallbrook, Calif., which is between Temecula and Escondido.

Rep. Hunter has been a pretty strong proponent of increasing border security through the Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act, a bill he authored that allows for 350 miles of “additional reinforced fencing” along the southwestern border, according to his website. He also supported appropriation bills from the Department of Homeland Security to fund 34,000 detention beds and 21,186 Customs and Border Patrol agents, and signed a letter to save the funding for the 287g program, which allows for local and state officers to join in partnerships with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain undocumented immigrants. Rep. Hunter also supports the deportation of U.S. born children with undocumented immigrant parents.

Yet, in late July, Rep. Hunter’s office intervened in the deportation of Mario Figueroa of Fallbrook, Calif.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Figueroa, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, was scheduled for deportation last week. Figueroa came to the U.S. when he was a child. His family was seeking asylum since they faced severe violence in Guatemala. The San Diego Union-Tribune also reported that Figueroa’s parents had been deported years ago. Figueroa says that he was stopped while riding in a friend’s car and was immediately asked about his immigration status.

“Elijah [the driver] and I believe it was racial profiling. First thing they asked was ‘are you guys citizens.’ Nothing else,” Figueroa tells mitú. “I got randomly stopped and detained by border patrol and as I was at the Murrieta Station [now known as the Theodore L. Newton, Jr. and George F. Azrak Station] they ran my prints and said I was a fugitive of ICE for supposedly skipping out on a judge or court.”

Figueroa, a 22-year-old husband and father of a young child, was in detention for ten days before he was released and spared the fate of deportation with the assistance of Rep. Hunter’s office. It’s unclear how Rep. Hunter became aware of the case, or why he stepped in to help Figueroa specifically.

Before being detained, Figueroa had applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and his application was pending. DACA is a program implemented by President Obama that allows for people brought to the U.S. as young children to receive work permits and are relegated to low-priority deportations.

“Whenever there’s a valid reason and opportunity to intervene or to accelerate a petition on behalf of constituents or families needing help, Rep. Hunter is always willing to do the legwork and make a case to officials,” Joe Kasper, Rep. Hunter’s spokesperson, told The San Diego Union-Tribune about the decision. “And that’s what happened in this instance. There was both reason and opportunity and we’re glad a decision was made.”

Mitú reached out to Rep. Hunter and his spokesperson for clarification about what compelled them to stop Figueroa’s deportation, but they did not respond. As reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune, Carlos Paz Martinez, a 25-year-old father of a young child with a pending application for DACA, was deported last month, which is the same situation as Figueroa. Paz Martinez is from El Cajon, which is partially represented by Rep. Hunter. There are no reports of Rep. Hunter attempting to aid Paz Martinez.

Figueroa says that he was unaware of Rep. Hunter’s involvement in getting him released until after he was free. He expressed gratitude for Rep. Hunter’s office stepping in to prevent his deportation.

“It feels good knowing there are people like him willing to help people like me who believed we were alone,” says Figueroa.

He believes that high ranking officials need to work to repair the nation’s immigration system. Figueroa also thinks that other people in his situation should see his story as proof that you can avoid deportation if you speak up.

“To the people who are in my situation or could be in the situation, I just want to say to them that they aren’t alone and they should speak out because you never know who can be listening,” Figueroa says. “I thought I was alone and look what happened. I got help from friends, family and even a congressman.”


READ: This Senator Live Tweeted His Desperate Attempt To Save A Mother And Child From A ‘Death Sentence’ Deportation

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Trump Told His Immigration Team Not To Work With The Biden Transition Team And That Could Have Serious Consequences

Things That Matter

Trump Told His Immigration Team Not To Work With The Biden Transition Team And That Could Have Serious Consequences

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Ever since election night, President Trump has been sowing discord and disinformation while showing himself to be the big sore loser he always has been. Basically, he’s been showing his true colors.

But his actions have real consequences. As he instructs many in his administration to avoid any contact with President-Elect Biden’s transition team, he is doing damage to the peaceful transfer of power. He’s also risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans as the country continues to struggle to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, his actions are impacting the future of immigration reform.

Trump has instructed his immigration department to avoid working with the Biden transition team.

As Trump’s General Services Administrator refuses to provide the Biden transition team with much-needed funds to begin preparing for office come January 20th, his immigration department is also keeping the transition team in the dark.

According to Buzzfeed News, an official that oversees US immigration and naturalization services told employees not to communicate with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team until a Trump appointee “deems the results ‘clear’” and recognizes the winner.

”It’s disturbing and disheartening that the agency is not permitting staff to aid the Biden transition team to ensure a smooth transfer,” said one USCIS employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. “These delays could hamper the new administration’s ability to hit the ground running on important issues facing the agency and our country.”

But the transition delay has also caused concern among officials in other agencies, especially those responsible for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

As president, Biden plans to undo many of Trump’s immigration reforms.

Credit: Natalie Sounders / Getty Images

President-Elect Biden has made it very clear that we will govern very differently that his predecessor. One of the areas where he’s looking to truly separate himself from Trump is on immigration.

Already, the transition team has promised to unroll Donald Trump’s legacy on immigration, but it faces an uphill battle to make good on that promise.

When it comes to DACA, the administration plans to reinstate protections DREAMers, but also to expand protections for their health care and education. A threat to the DACA program is making its way through the courts, so the Biden camp is under pressure to act quickly to make good on its promise.

For Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, Biden plans to bring that to an end as well. It is estimated that 20,000 migrants are waiting in northern Mexico in cities like Matamoros while seeking asylum in the U.S. But the exact number is not known for certain, in large part because the Department of Homeland Security has not yet shared such data with the Biden transition team.

Another big change would come in the form of revamping the country’s seasonal worker program. Biden wants to make it easier for both employers and workers to hire and find jobs while providing much-needed legal protections and fair pay to workers.

Biden has also committed to increase the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. annually to 125,000, a historic high and a dramatic increase from the historic low of 15,000 set by the Trump administration.

Biden can use executive action on many fronts but others will require congressional action.

Credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Although Biden can accomplish many of these immigration reforms through executive action, he’ll need to work with Congress to achieve many others.

His platform outlines larger goals to work on with Congress, such as increasing the number of employment-based visas, providing a path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country and creating a new, decentralized immigration stream for foreign workers that is based on local employers’ needs as well as a new visa option for entrepreneurs. 

These plans will be contingent on which party controls the Senate—to be decided in January by two runoff elections in Georgia—and the course of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spike across the country, leaving millions of workers unemployed.

Dreamers are celebrating President-Elect Biden’s plans but remain cautious.

Credit: Steve Marcus / Getty Images

While they aren’t eligible to vote, DACA recipients found ways to harness their political power ahead of the election. And it very much worked.

Over the course of the campaign, many politicans – including President-Elect Joe Biden – made serious promises to the nation’s immigrant population. And Dreamers show up, so if promises were made but progress isn’t, then DREAMers aren’t afraid to go show up in someone’s office and say, ‘Hey, I thought you were on our side.’

“Those are promises that would literally change my life,” said Mariana Castro, 26, a DACA recipient from Peru living in a mixed-status family in Florida.

So although much of the stress and weight has been lifted off immigrant communities shoulders with the results of this election, so much work remains to be done.

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Several California Politicians Go Against Covid Guidelines In Last Couple Weeks Sparking Outrage

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Several California Politicians Go Against Covid Guidelines In Last Couple Weeks Sparking Outrage

Gage Skidmore / Luke Harold / Flickr

California’s Covid outbreak is reaching record levels. Californians are catching Covid at higher rates than any time during the pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s family is currently quarantining and eight California state politicians traveled to Maui despite travel warnings as Covid surges.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and his family are going into a 14-day quarantine.

Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are on the rise in California as Thanksgiving approaches. The virus is spreading rampantly across the country and in several parts of the world as we enter the predicted second wave. The CDC has urged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving in an attempt to slow the inevitable spread.

Gov. Newsom and his family face a potential exposure because of a California Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for Covid. A spokesperson for the governor said that one of the children was likely exposed at their private school after a classmate tested positive for the virus, according to ABC 7 News.

Earlier this month, Gov. Newsom set off a firestorm of outrage after he attended an in-restaurant dinner.

Gov. Newsom attended a dinner at The French Laundry in Yountville, California on Nov. 6. A week later, a reporter was tipped off to the dinner being indoor and maskless and pressed the governor on the matter. Gov. Newsom maintained that the dinner was outdoor. However, the photos of the event showed Gov Newsom and his wife sitting at a table with 10 other guests and enclosed on three sides.

On Nov. 19, Gov Newsom started to bring restrictions back in California to combat the fast spread of Covid-19. Several counties are being limited in their restaurant services to control the virus. Los Angeles County restaurants can only offer drive-thru, delivery, and take-out to prevent people from gathering in groups and further spreading Covid.

Forty-one counties in the state are listed as purple tier, or as having widespread community spread. These counties are currently facing widespread non-essential indoor business shutdowns. There is also a curfew in place for the state forcing businesses to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Also during this Covid spike, eight Calfornia assemblymembers attended a conference in Hawaii.

Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, State Senator Andreas Borgeas, Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, Assemblyman Heath Flora, Assemblyman Chad Mayes, Assemblyman Jose Medina, and Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio traveled to Hawaii despite urgent travel advisories.

The Independent Voter Project hosted the event at the Fairmont Kea Lani resort in Maui despite the spike in Covid cases. The theme of the conference was about revitalizing America’s economy after these Covid lockdowns. Most invitees declined to attend in person because of the pandemic. The Sacramento Bee reports that at least 20 lawmakers from California and other western states chose to attend the conference.

A tweet from Carrillo brought light to the lawmakers who secretly went to Hawaii.

Technology is the biggest tattle tale, y’all. A tweet from Assemblywoman Carrillo marked her as in Kihei, Hawaii. It wasn’t long until people learned who from California was in Hawaii as millions went back into lockdowns.

“For those that are confused or angry as to why I’m here, I can assure you that I took great precaution and thought regarding my attendance,” Assemblywoman Carrillo told LAist. “I was informed that IVP is the first conference allowed and is being seen as a test as to what is possible. This helped inform my decision on what could be possible for California.”

READ: Here Are 13 Latino Innovators That Prove Latinos Can Do Anything They Put Their Minds To

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