Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Is Quietly Trying To Undo The Flores Agreement To Indefinitely Detain Children

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In 1985, there was a class action lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of unaccompanied minors being held in custody by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). In 1997, it was finally ruled that children held in detention centers could only be there for a limited of time.

Under the Flores Agreement: “Where the INS determines that the detention of the minor is not required either to secure his or her timely appearance before the INS or the immigration court, or to ensure the minor’s safety or that of others, the INS shall release a minor from its custody without unnecessary delay.”

But that may soon change.

The Trump administration wants to do away with the Flores Agreement in order for children to remain in detention centers for a longer period of time, possibly indefinitely.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that their proposal will be a “basic purpose” of the Flores Agreement, and adds that children will be treated with “dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.”

“Today, legal loopholes significantly hinder the Department’s ability to appropriately detain and promptly remove family units that have no legal basis to remain in the country,” Nielsen said. “This rule addresses one of the primary pull factors for illegal immigration and allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress.”

As of now, children are only allowed to remain in detention for 20 days unless they opt out.

The original agreement says that children (accompanied or not) who do not pose a flight risk can be released with their families while they await immigration proceedings. Now, under the new proposal, the kids and the families will remain in detention until their case is closed, which means they either gain asylum or get deported.

“The Trump administration has been whittling away at the basic rights of women and children since they came into office,” Michelle Brané, director of the migrant rights and justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission told The New York Times. “Efforts to weaken or eliminate basic child protection standards by calling them a burden or loopholes, and eliminating their obligations for the basic care of children, is just another example of the administration’s abdication of human rights.”

Immigrant rights organizations are already promising lawsuits if the protections are rescinded.

“We will oppose in court any effort to terminate the Flores settlement unless and until the Government proposes regulations that provide for the safe and humane treatment of detained children and that are fully consistent with the terms of the settlement we negotiated in 1997,” President of the Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Peter Schey, said to NPR.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) agreed with that sentiment. Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, had this reaction: “It is sickening to see the United States government looking for ways to jail more children for longer. That’s the complete opposite of what we should be doing — and it’s yet another example of the Trump administration’s hostility toward immigrants resulting in a policy incompatible with the most basic human values.”


READ: The US Government Is Questioning The Citizenship Of Some Latinos Along The Texas/Mexico Border

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A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

Things That Matter

A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

Adhy Savala / Unsplash

It is with unrelenting sadness that we report the death of Heydi Gámez García, 13, who took her life after her father’s asylum request was denied for the third time. Heydi’s father, Manuel Gámez, sent her to the U.S. after his father was gunned down by MS-13 for refusing to pay a “war tax” to the gang. He didn’t expect that Heydi would be granted asylum, but that he would be deported.

Manuel certainly didn’t envision that his goodbye hug and kiss four years ago would be the last time he would hug and kiss his daughter while she was still alive.

The Gámaz family was broken by MS-13 and failed again by the U.S. immigration system.

Credit: @amy_baker22 / Twitter

Heydi’s mother walked out on her and her dad when she was less than two months old. By the time Heydi was a year old, Manuel left for New York as an undocumented immigrant to make money to send back home. After his father was killed by MS-13, and his mother’s health started failing, he worried about who would care for Heydi and his younger sister, Zoila.

Manuel’s sister was granted asylum and cared for Heydi in his absence in New York.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

A year after his father’s death, he sent Heydi, Zoila and his brother to the U.S. Heydi and Zoila were granted asylum. Heydi learned English within a year and started teaching her father, via phone calls, how to correctly pronounce English words. They spoke every day, always asking when he’d come.

After two failed attempts to gain asylum, Heydi lost hope for being reunited and started cutting herself.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He never wanted to make promises he couldn’t keep, like being there for her quinceañera. Heydi watched her classmates complain about their parents’ visiting their school and fell into a depression. In December, she was brought to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after cutting her wrist at school. She was seeing a therapist until two months before her suicide.

“Please forgive me for failing you,” Manuel wants to tell his daughter.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there… I never meant to leave you,” he says to her. Heydi was Manuel’s only child. Heydi’s aunt is coping with impossible guilt. She told CNN, “I was supposed to be protecting her. I would never send her to Honduras. But I never thought something bad would happen to her here.”

Manuel was released on a two week ‘humanitarian’ visit to release Heydi from life support.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He finally got to hold her hand and comfort her as she left this life behind. “We love you,” he whispered to her. “Don’t leave us.”

The last thing Heydi told anyone was that she lost hope in being reunited with her father.

Credit: @MaryJaneKnows / Twitter

She was crying as she told her aunt that she feels hopeless and that one day, she’ll become a lawyer to help her dad’s case. She then said she wanted to be alone and was found two hours later in a closet. She didn’t leave a note.

She was declared brain dead a week later at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens.

Dr. Charles Schleien told CNN that she was in a “neurologically devastated state” upon arrival with “no hope for recovery.” He went on to disclose that the Gámaz family “chose to turn tragedy into the gift of life. Heydi is an organ donor and her final act will be to save others.”

The mental health impacts of family separation at our borders can only be told one story at a time.

Credit: @apbenven / Twitter

It is the only empathic way to relate to the emotional scars of our community. Every story is important. Every life lost to policies that don’t incorporate the most visceral human desires, like growing up with your father by your side, is one life too many. 

What on earth are we doing?

Credit: @JoeGould50 / Twitter

How can anyone go about business as usual? How do we humanize brown-skinned people to every voter and decision-maker? The only way we know how is to continually voice your concerns to your representatives and create space for these stories. Don’t look away. The grief of the Gámaz family is all of our grief. 

A Manuel, you did not fail your daughter. We all did. We are so sorry.

A Bay Area Family Admits They Have A Secret Room To Hide Their Parents In Case ICE Breaks Into Their Home, Reminding Many Of The Holocaust

Things That Matter

A Bay Area Family Admits They Have A Secret Room To Hide Their Parents In Case ICE Breaks Into Their Home, Reminding Many Of The Holocaust

icegov / Instagram

The president made a show last week of ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids last weekend. None were reported but the continued fearmongering used against the undocumented community for political gain is impacting families across the country. One family in San Francisco admitted to ABC 7 San Francisco that they created an elaborate plan to hide their parents if ICE breaks the law and forces themselves into the home.

The continuous threat of immigration raids has prompted immigrants across the nation to take action and protect themselves.

Credit: @abc7newsbayarea / Twitter

The president of the United States continues to call for immigration raids nationwide, leaving families and communities an edge. The political war waged from the White House on the immigrant communities is taking a toll on families wishing to live in peace.

In response to the raids ordered last weekend, ABC7 news interviewed a mixed-status family about how they planned to deal with the raids. They admitted that it is something they are constantly concerned about and a year ago they planned a way to avoid having their family ripped apart.

“This weekend was very scary. I don’t want to lose my parents,” a young woman told the reporter while standing next to her mother.

The ABC 7 reporter asked the family if they have a plan and they admitted that they do have a plan. Not only do they know their rights and acknowledge that they do not answer the door if there is a knock they were not expecting. The family has a plan if ICE breaks the law and forces themselves into the home, something we have seen happen to multiple families in the past.

“So, we always say that if we do have people knock at the door, to not answer, to pretend like we’re not even home,” the young woman said. “If there is, like, a forced entry, we also have a hiding spot for our parents.”

It might seem extreme, but immigration advocates are ringing the alarm about just how the ICE agency works.

Credit: @TheTinaVasquez Twitter

ICE has been terrorizing immigrant families for years. There have been several examples of immigration authorities breaking down doors to arrest undocumented people despite the laws restricting them from such actions.

The historical comparisons made by politicians and activists is startling for many Americans.

Credit: @hondanhon / Twitter

The camps along the southern border of the U.S. have been compared to concentration camps by many Americans. Jewish activists have drawn this comparison as well as calling on the end of such conditions. However, some politicians are fighting to change the semantics around the camps detaining migrants in inhumane conditions. For some, they fear being connected to a party allowing these concentration camps to reemerge in 2019.

Watch the video of a family admitting their desperate plan to stay together.

READ: What You Need To Know About Elizabeth Warren And Her Newly Unveiled Immigration Plan

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