Things That Matter

A Judge Has Barred Scott Warren From Mentioning Trump By Name In His Second Trial About Leaving Water For Migrants

For all the horrible stories we read about immigration policies in the Trump era, which has revealed perhaps the worst of some people, we sometimes get acquainted with the good deeds of unsung heroes who risk their safety and even engage in legal battles to help others. Such is the case of an 37-year-old Arizonan man who is going on trial for the second time due to his volunteer work for an organization that helps migrants in need. Learn his name: Scott Warren. He could be seen as a true hero even if the authorities seem to disagree.

So who is Scott Warren?

This activist works with the organization No More Deaths, which provides basic survival needs to migrants who cross the US-Mexico border with an undocumented status. He hails from the small Arizonan town of Ajo, a mere 40 miles from the border. The group’s activities include dropping water in the desert to prevent severe dehydration (and possible death) among undocumented migrants. They also run a camp to help injured migrants, a building known as “The Barn”.

Warren and the organization basically help in preventing horrible deaths in the desert. Is caring for fellow human beings a crime now? It is important to stress out the gravity of the situation: thousands of migrants have died since the 1990s trying to cross the border into the Arizonan desert, a fierce landscape where even a small injury, let’s say a sprained ankle, can mean imminent death.

The first trial ended in a mistrial last June when the jury was deadlocked.

Credit: TruthOut

So this is the second time that Warren will face a judge and jury. Back in June he was arrested for giving migrants water. He has said that he was just aiding two men who were trying to cross the border. Records show that an anonymous call alerted the authorities about No More Death’s activities. The authorities closed in on the organization and in January 2018 Warren was arrested on two harbouring felony charges. Alongside him, two male Central American migrants were arrested and then deported. Warren insisted that they were in distress and was merely saving their lives.

The prosecutors argue that they were not under an imminent threat to their lives, and therefore Warren was conspiring with the undocumented men. And here his troubles began. Prosecutors also said that the conspiracy was effectuated when Warren allegedly gave the men directions on how to avoid a border patrol checkpoint after they left “The Barn”.

Now the second trial has started and prosecutors are requesting some pretty outlandish things… like not naming Trump!

The prosecutors are well aware of how politicized this trial has become, and are presenting the judge with some pretty over-the-top requests. Chief among them: they want to forbid Warren and the defense from mentioning Donald J. Trump and his administration. The reason behind this: Warren and is group have expressed that, under the Trump government, humanitarian border groups have become increasingly targeted by the authorities. The prosecutor insists that any mention of Trump would trigger prejudice and affect the outcome. The judge ruled Tuesday on the request and said he won’t allow the defense to inject politics (ie. Trump’s name) into the case.

As reported by The Guardian: “Warren’s defense attorneys have said that the government’s request would violate Warren’s rights and that the prosecution has not shown in what way it would suffer if the president were mentioned”.

As ABC 15 Arizona reports: “Greg Kuykendall, Warren’s attorney, said Trump is responsible for the prosecution of his client, and contended the Republican president should be mentioned ‘as frequently and repeatedly as anyone wants.”

So Trump is now a Voldemort case then? He shall not be named…

Do the authorities want to make an example of Scott Warren? This case could set legal and ethical precedents for future trials.

Credit: NoMoreDeaths.org

Warren is not the first member of No More Deaths to be arrested, but he is the only one who has been presented with felony charges. In fact, other members have been accussed of vandalism (allegedly interfering with security cameras even). In the first trial, Defense Attorney Greg Kuyendall presented his counter in the closing arguments: “Everything in this case points to the fact that Scott Warren never committed a crime. Scott’s whole life is about preventing suffering, healing suffering, and providing humanitarian aid”.

This case goes beyond Scott Warren and it is important because it can set a legal precedent in which other cases concerning humanitarian aid could be based. This case presents both ethical and legal issues that are complex and very politically charged in a day and age in which more help is needed than ever, and immigration issues are the cornerstone of political platforms on both sides of the aisle.

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

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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.”

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A Federal Court Just Ended Temporary Protected Status For More Than 300,000 Immigrants, Here’s What You Need To Know

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A Federal Court Just Ended Temporary Protected Status For More Than 300,000 Immigrants, Here’s What You Need To Know

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A federal court just handed a huge ‘victory’ to the Trump administration, which has been eager to restart mass deportations. Despite a global health pandemic, the administration has been pressing forward with plans to deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.

Until now, many of these migrants were safe from deportation thanks to Temporary Protected Status, which shields some immigrants from deportation under humanitarian claims. However, the recent court decision – in San Francisco’s 9th Circuit – gives Trump exactly what he wants right before the elections.

But how will it affect immigrant communities across the country? Here’s everything you need to know about this major decision.

The 9th Circuit Court just ended TPS for more than 300,000 undocumented immigrants.

A California appeals court on Monday gave the Trump Administration permission to end Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan, clearing the way for officials to force more than 300,000 immigrants out of the country.

The decision affects people from all walks of life, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades, have U.S.-born children and have been considered essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

This week’s ruling from the circuit court comes after a district court (also in California) temporarily halted Trump’s plan to end TPS in late 2018 after a group of lawyers sued, arguing that Trump was motivated by racial discrimination.

“The president’s vile statements about TPS holders made perfectly clear that his administration acted out of racial animus,”Ahilan Arulanantham, a lawyer for the ACLU of Southern California, wrote in a statement. “The Constitution does not permit policy to be driven by racism. We will seek further review of the court’s decision.”

But today’s 2-1 decision reversed the district court’s temporary order and allowed the federal government to take away TPS protections while the court case continues.

ICE and DHS has promised to wait several months before taking away TPS status if the agency won in court. As a result, the ACLU told NPR that it expects the protections to start ending no sooner than March, meaning that Joe Biden could reverse the administration’s decision if he wins in November, though the organization plans to fight back in the meantime.

Temporary Protected Status was created to protect people in the U.S. from being sent back to dangerous places – and it’s saved lives.

Credit: Daniel Ortega / Getty Images

The TPS program was first introduced in 1990, and it has protected immigrants from more than 20 countries at various points since then. More than 300,000 people from 10 different nations currently use the program, some of whom have lived and worked in the United States for decades.

Trump has sharply criticized the program, sometimes along racial lines, and in one infamous and widely criticized incident two years ago, the president reportedly referred to the program’s beneficiaries as “people from shithole countries.”

TPS provides protection for short periods of up to 18 months, but the federal government has continuously extended it for the countries mentioned in the lawsuit “based on repeated findings that it remains unsafe to return.” 

As a result, it said, most TPS holders have been living in the U.S. for more than a decade, contributing to their communities and raising their families. Many of the more than 200,000 U.S.-citizen children of TPS holders have never been to the country their parents are from and would have to choose between their families and their homes.

The ruling will have a major impact on migrant families and communities across the U.S.

Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Immigration advocacy groups are slamming the court’s ruling, noting it will impact hundreds of thousands of TPS holders as well as their families and communities. In a statement, Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, said the decision will “plunge their lives into further turmoil at a time when we all need greater certainty.” 

As the global pandemic stretches on, immigrants with protected status make up a large portion of the country’s front-line workers. More than 130,000 TPS recipients are essential workers, according to the Center for American Progress. 

“TPS recipients have deep economic and social roots in communities across the nation,” said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “And, as the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, TPS recipients are standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans and doing essential work.”

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