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 New York City Landlord Is Facing A $17K Fine After Threatening To Call ICE On Tenant

Things That Matter

A New York City Landlord Is Facing A $17K Fine After Threatening To Call ICE On Tenant

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We’ve all heard stories of shady landlords doing crazy things to their tenants. Whether it’s raising rent without notice or using discriminatory practices to try to kick out a resident. But one landlord in New York City took it up a notch when she threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on her tenant if she didn’t pay overdue rent. An administrative judge in New York City ruled this month that the landlord should pay a $5,000 fine and $12,000 in damages for threatening to call ICE. 

The tenant, Holly Ondaan, is from Guyana with European Union citizenship and was undocumented when her former landlord, Dianna Lysius, threatened to call immigration officials on her. Now, Lysius is facing legal trouble and a hefty fine after a New York City judge called her actions a “human rights violation.” 

According to the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the judges decision is thought to be the first housing case in the country in which an individual was fined for threatening to call immigration authorities.

The situation began back in October 2017 when Ondaan, who lived on the Queens property since 2011, admittedly stopped paying rent due to financial difficulties in her life at the time. Shortly after, she began to receive texts from Lysius about the missing money that would lead to her falling behind in mortgage payments and eventually having to sell the property in foreclosure. In his ruling, Judge John B. Spooner said that Lysius’s “dire financial circumstances likely played a significant part in motivating her hostile messages.”

That’s when things started getting hostile. In January 2018, Lysius began eviction proceedings against Ondaan and would write in a text message that she would call ICE if she didn’t pay rent that same day. According to the judges report, some of the texts included:

“It was fun and games when you calling DOB now it’s fun and games calling immigration 12 times day. They can deport you.”

After a three months of discriminatory texts, New York’s Commission on Human Rights sent Lysius a cease-and-desist letter requesting that she stop harassing her tenant. The commission said that Lysius’s actions were discriminatory and unlawful. 

Lysius to this point has denied all the accusations of harassment towards her former tenant. While she has been fined, there are still more legal steps that must happen before it goes into effect.

The case is a first when it comes to a landlord using immigration services to threaten a tenant. The commission also saw it as a case setting precedent  and classified Lysius’s actions as discrimination under New York City’s human-rights law. 

“It sets important case precedent for the interpretation of our Human Rights Law to include the weaponization of ICE to intimidate or harass someone in housing as a violation,” Sapna V. Raj, deputy commissioner for the law enforcement bureau of the city’s Commission on Human Rights, told CNN. “We will not allow our city’s most vulnerable to be further marginalized out of fear for their safety in their own homes. Immigration status, citizenship, and national origin (perceived or actual) are protected categories under our law, and we will continue to fight to ensure those protections are enforced to the fullest extent.”

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Lysius said she never send the texts and emails to her former tenant and as of now, she plans to appeal the judge’s ruling. “Everything in that report is false,” Lysius said.

Ondaan has admitted that she wasn’t authorized to be in the U.S. at the time when Lysius threats began. She would obtain her green card in July 2018, according to the judges ruling. She would moved out of the property in October 2018, owing $14,400 in back rent. A court ruled that Ondaan would have to pay $6,895 of the past rent. 

Spooner’s decision won’t take effect before both parties have time to submit comments and the city human rights commission issues a final decision, according to CNN. Lysius can then file her appeal.

READ: ICE Has Made It Clear That The Cruelty In Its Policies Is The Point, Meanwhile An 8th Person Has Died In Their Custody

This MLB Team Just Swore In 15 New American Citizens And Our Hearts Are Overflowing With Emotion

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This MLB Team Just Swore In 15 New American Citizens And Our Hearts Are Overflowing With Emotion

Screen capture. CBS News.

As the 2020 presidential election draws near, every public act that involves issues of citizenship and migration becomes a political statement (perhaps involuntarily, but a statement nevertheless). That is why having a civic act involving issues of immigration in front of a stadium full of baseball fans is a super relevant ideological statement. Last weekend, at Citizen Bank Park in Philly, a few individuals had one of the most significant days of their lives. 

Fifteen new American citizens were sworn in before the Phillies-Red Sox game last Sunday.

Credit: Screen capture. CBS News.

Yes, 15 new American citizens of all kinds of origins were cheered as they waved flags and swore their allegiance to the United States. The new citizens, of all kinds of backgrounds, are a true snapshot of multicultural America, a representation that goes counter to the Trump Era vision of exclusivity and privilege.

As reported by CBS News, MLB has become an advocate for this kind of ceremonies: “Fifteen new Philadelphia-area residents from 11 different countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens Sunday at the game. The newly minted U.S. citizens are among the over 700 new citizens who have been naturalized at 11 professional ballparks this summer”. By the way, the Phillies lost 6-3 to Boston, but the evening had a celebratory vibe, of course!

And what could be more American than becoming a citizen in Philadelphia, right?

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous. 

After all, the United States Constitution was signed by the Founding Fathers there, right? What a moment it must have been for the 15 new citizens, some of whom surely had perilous migration paths, when they heard: “”Congratulation, you are now citizens of the United States of America. You now share the same rights, the same privilege, the same obligations as any citizen of this great country”. And to be honest, there are few things as American as a day at the ballpark. 

And let’s remember that Pennsylvania was all red after the 2016 presidential election, so statements like this are increasingly important for those who wish Trump to be kicked out of office.

Credit: Wikipedia

Just look at that red tide. Pennsylvania is heavily reliant on manufacturing industries that have been hit hard by global trade and the move of American companies overseas. The steel manufacturing industry, for instance, has lived under extreme duress for decades. This is perhaps why Trump’s message resonated with disgruntled workers. The state has large numbers of Latino presence, mainly Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. So statements of civil inclusion such as the citizenship ceremony at the stadium could send a message: we are all the same, we all deserve a shot, we are all equal. 

All it takes is a good hearted judge with a love for baseball.

Credit: Twitter. @PhillyInquirer

The ceremony was performed by Juan R. Sanchez, a judge of Puerto Rican origin who understood what multiculturalism really means on a personal level when baseball made him feel part of the community. He told CBS News: “We hope we remind people of the tremendous privileges we have under the constitution. And remind people that we have a responsibility to be engaged.” Preach, querido juez Sanchez. 

Last year the ceremony had 19 new Americans, so the trend is continuing that is just una chingonería.

Credit: Twitter. @GraceMarioano

The trend is constant now. Last year 19 new Americans were welcome at a Phillies game. By the way, those red hats are Phillies cachuchas, so don’t be alarmed!

But the trend goes back to the early 2010s, as reported by the Portland Press Herald. In 2012, before a Minor League game more than two dozen children were welcome as United States citizens: “The children were part of a pre-game ceremony that celebrated their new citizenship at Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs. The children, from Congo, Germany, the Philippines and Somalia, were presented certificates recognizing their citizenship, derived from their naturalized parents or adoption. After the ceremony was held between home plate and the backstop, the children and their families stayed for the Sea Dogs’ game with the Reading Phillies. The children held a giant American flag during the playing of the national anthem”.

Becoming a citizen of a foreign country is a big step in anyone’s life, particularly if they flee perilous circumstances at home, so having a whole stadium cheer you must be quite something!

Citizenship  ceremonies at Phillies’ games have a dual purpose: make new Americans feel welcome and educating the public.

Credit: Twitter. @SU2Citizenship

The best way to make a statement is a lived experience. The thousands of fans that have been overcome by emotion as new Americans are welcomed can see, and feel, how great cultural diversity is. This photo is from a ceremony in 2015. 

We are Los Dodgers fans, but the Philadelphia Phillies will always have a special place in our hearts.

Credit: Facebook. Philadelphia Phillies. 

As Angelenos and Latinos we remain loyal to our Dodgers, but we gotta admit that the Phillies are growing on us thanks to their approach. They make citizenship ceremonies a community affair