Things That Matter

Trump Administration Just Deported 120 Cubans On A Single Plane

We can’t imagine what the energy or conversations might have felt like on the ICE plane that deported 120 Cuban immigrants in one fell swoop. Many of the deportees had reportedly passed credible fear interviews, during which they showed proof of the violence and persecution they would face if they were sent back. This deportation is one of the largest deportation missions of Cuban immigrants in years. 

While Trump is the current president allowing for deportation, President Barack Obama is responsible for removing deportation protections from Cuban nationals, an agreement signed during his last days in office.

“South Florida should be up in arms,” immigration attorney, Randy McGrorty said.

Credit: Catholic Legal Services Archdiocese of Miami, Inc. / Facebook

One of his clients is a Cuban national who sought asylum in the U.S. through the Mexico border. McGrorty told The Miami Herald that his client was on that flight to Havana, but an eleventh-hour paperwork glitch allowed him to be removed from the plane. In a statement, ICE said that “ten special response team operators” were assigned to the flight given “the charter flight’s high number of removals” in order to “ensure adequate mission security onboard the flight.”

The majority of those on the flight didn’t have assigned attorneys.

Credit: @Power1051 / Twitter

The Miami Herald cites “ICE sources” who have said that the majority of those on the flight had passed credible fear interviews. Those interviews are simply the first entry point to being granted permission to apply for asylum, but it doesn’t mean they’re granted asylum. We can’t predict if they would have been deported had they been given attorneys. We don’t know whether the deported group were made up of recent migrants or long-time residents.

President Obama signed the “Joint Agreement” during his last week in office that requires Cuba to accept all deported Cuban nationals.

Credit: @Niketa2007 / Twitter

Word for word, the document says, “The United States of America shall return to the Republic of Cuba, and the Republic of Cuba shall receive back all Cuban nationals who … are found by the competent authorities of the United States to have tried to irregularly enter or remain in that country in violation of United States law.” Effectively, it ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cubans to be granted protections the moment they were on U.S. land. Those Cubans had the opportunity to gain legal residency.

Before the “Joint Agreement,” Cuba had a history of rejecting deportees from America, forcing the U.S. to fly the deportees back.

Credit: @albertodelacruz / Twitter

The ICE statement continues to explain that, “the large removal charter is made all the more significant given Cuba’s longstanding status with respect to accepting the return of Cuban nationals ordered removed from the United States and abiding by key provisions of the U.S.-Cuba Joint Statement. Cuba has a long history of being deemed an uncooperative country.”

As the U.S. relations with Cuba have changed, Cuba continues to remain a communist Castro regime.

Credit: @velvethehammer / Twitter

Fidel may have perished, but the regime remains strong. “Let’s see what happens to them upon arrival,” McGrorty told The Miami Herald. “Are they going to have access to employment, a place to live? Are they going to have benefits that the other Cubans have? Are they going to face persecution?” Cuba has historically rejected accepting its nationals back because of their public criticism against Castro, or even because they’re age might be a burden on the country’s healthcare. 

More than 37,000 Cubans in the U.S. have been given orders of removal.

Credit: @noticias24 / Twitter

Several attorneys confided in The Miami Herald on the basis of anonymity to raise awareness for a settled community in the U.S. facing persecution. Their clients have lived in South Florida for decades, remaining in compliance with their attendance orders from ICE, and, today, are sitting in detention centers awaiting a decision from Cuba on whether it will accept them back. Cuba can take as long as 90 days to make that decision, given that “The Joint Agreement” only applies to those Cuban nationals that immigrate after the January 12, 2017 accord. 

Cubans make up the largest number of asylum seekers right now.

Credit: @JusticiaLealTV / Twitter

Venezuelans and Nicaraguans take the second and third place in asylum-seeking. Compared to Trump’s first year in office, there have been 4.5x as many Cubans deported so far this year. It doesn’t matter how long Cuban nationals have been in the U.S. If they have a criminal record, they are likely going to be deported, and, now, suddenly, Cuba may actually accept them.

READ: More Cubans Are Being Detained And Deported One Year After ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Was Eliminated

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Is Getting Ready To Challenge Trump In The Supreme Court

Things That Matter

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Is Getting Ready To Challenge Trump In The Supreme Court

Molly Adams / Flickr / agbecerra / Instagram

As the Supreme Court is set to take on the task of deciding the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) this fall, attorneys general from across the country sent in a filing brief in favor of the program. The 2012 Obama-era policy provided temporary legal status for participants and protected them from deportation. More importantly, it included the ability to work in the U.S. It also became a focal point in the debate over Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall back in February and his plans to take on illegal immigration. 

The Supreme Court decided to take on the case in June and will then hear oral arguments on the case in November with an expected ruling in the 2020 election year, putting the highest court in the land at the center of this divisive issue. For California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, this issue hits close to home. 

Of the roughly 700,000 DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, almost 200,000 of them live in California.

Credit: @XavierBeccerra / Twitter

In a brief filed last Friday to the Supreme Court, Becerra and other fellow attorneys generals from Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota argued that the Trump administration unlawfully terminated the program back in September 2017. Becerra has been at the forefront of the fight defending DACA. In his state of California, there are roughly 200,000 recipients and many of them go to school and work there. 

“The Trump Administration continues to hide behind the flimsy excuse that their hands were tied and they had to end DACA,” said Attorney General Becerra said last week. “The truth is there is no basis for that conclusion. Dreamers who have called America home for decades contribute significantly to our communities as teachers, first responders, entrepreneurs, and so much more. Many of them know no other home than the United States.”

Back in September 2017, the Trump administration initially said it was going to end the program, making the claim it was an illegal use of executive power by then-President Obama. That resulted in various lawsuits and injunctions filed by three U.S. district courts, including one in California. This would allow those who were previously granted DACA the power to renew their applications. 

When it was announced that oral arguments would be heard in front of the Supreme Court, Becerra was one of the most vocal political figures defending the program. He said then that he would do everything in his power to fight the Trump administration. 

“DACA reflects our nation’s commitment to helping hardworking people and creates hope and opportunity for a new generation – many of whom were brought to our country as toddlers. So far, both lower courts in our legal fight to protect DACA have agreed with us that the Trump Administration’s attempt to end it was unlawful,” Attorney General Becerra said back in June. “In California and across our nation, Dreamers enrich our communities as scholars, entrepreneurs, first responders, and much more. We look forward to making our case before the Supreme Court.”

The brief emphasizes the economic contributions that DACA recipients have on the U.S. and the consequences of terminating the program would have on the job market.

Credit: Unsplash

“Getting rid of DACA will reduce economic growth and cost our federal, state, and local governments about $95 billion in foregone tax revenues, without any appreciable employment gains for U.S. citizens,” Ike Branon wrote in an op-ed for Forbes last month. 

Dreamers contribute almost $9 billion in federal, state and local taxes every single tear. The result of removing the program would cause businesses to lose billions of dollars in turnover costs if their DACA-recipient employees are no longer able to legally live and work in the U.S. The statistics also show creating a pathway for legal citizenship is beneficial for all and will only cause more harm than good is rescinded. 

President Trump has repeatedly used DACA as a way to try to get lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform. So far, there has been no progress on that front as both Democrats and Republicans have not been able to come pass any legislation. 

As we wait for the Supreme Court to hear the case on DACA, thousands of people wait as their futures and livelihood in the U.S. hang in the balance. It will take more people like Becerra to stand up and voice their opinion on the program if it stands any chance of surviving. 

READ: City Officials Tell Judge Deceased Undocumented Immigrant Has No Rights Under The Constitution After Police Accidentally Killed Him

In Another Dangerous Attack On Migrants, ICE Is Denying Women Lifesaving Medical Care At This Texas Facility

Things That Matter

In Another Dangerous Attack On Migrants, ICE Is Denying Women Lifesaving Medical Care At This Texas Facility

@RAICES / Twitter

It is undeniable that the flow of migrants towards a country presents all sorts of legal and financial challenges for a host country. Yes, we acknowledge that. But it is also true that the governments of developed nations to which Global South citizens try to migrate to escape poverty and armed conflict can choose to treat migrants (many of which are legitimate refugees fleeing real attempts to their lives and futures) in an ethical, humane way.

The recent influx of migrants to the United States has placed the spotlight on the conditions in which detainees at ICE Detention Centers are kept.

Credit: web18-detentioncenter2-1160×768 (1). Digital image. ACLU

We all, of course, remember the testimony of politicians such as Alexandra Ocasio-Cortrez, who witnessed first hand the dire situation. Children sleeping on the floor, people drinking water out of basins on top of toilets… a total recipe for a humanitarian disaster.  

And healthy conditions are an exception rather than the norm.

Credit: 180618-immigration-cages-ice-01 (1). Digital image. The New York Post

There have been reported outbreaks of lice, bed bugs and upper respiratory tract infections at detention centers, and the authorities have been unable or unwilling to provide basic healthcare for detainees. There have also been a fair number of deaths by suicide. The victims are usually detainees who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, which are unattended during detention. Since December, six minors have died while on ICE custody. Let that sink in. 

And now there are alarming reports coming out of an ICE facility in Texas that houses women.

Credit: karnes-frc. Digital image. ICE.gov

As the Huffington Post reports, interviews conducted by the advocacy group Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) reveal appalling episodes in the Karnes County Residential Center, where women are forced to stay for lengthy periods of time instead of being released on parole or bond. Some of these women face serious physical and psychological ailments. 

The interviews reveal cases of women with cancer that have not received any sort of treatment while at the facility.

Credit: _57298637.0. Digital image. VOX. 

The interviews conducted by RAICES revealed an appalling level of negligence. As HuffPost reports: “One Congolese woman who was diagnosed with cancer in her uterus said she has not been taken to a specialist for treatment since being sent to Karnes at the end of July. The pain in her back and abdomen has become so bad that she sleeps only two hours a night, according to her declaration”. Another woman from the African country (which has a bad reputation when it comes to women’s rights and that has been immersed in an on and off civil war for years) said that doctors told her she most likely had cancer (she had, they told her, a 90% chance), but she hasn’t had a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. 

Women at the facility are so desperate that advocates fear a wave of suicides.

Credit: migrant-detention-cetner (1). Digital image. WCCO

Andrea Meza, the director of family detention services at RAICES, told HuffPost: “We’ve heard so many women talk to us about wanting to kill themselves. It’s only a matter of time before someone dies at Karnes.”  They also heard stories of unattended miscarriages and psychotic episodes. 

The Karnes County Residential Center was originally built to house Central American migrants and their children, but things have changed.

Credit: port-isabel-detention-center. Digital image. Time. 

The facility was supposed to be a place where families could be kept together. But things have changed and now it is a real place of human anguish. The report by RAICES concludes that the site is being run with punitive purposes, to discourage people from crossing the border. Really, do authorities just sit around in meeting rooms plotting how to be even more inhumane? 

Now, the Trump administration announced that they will keep detaining families at this facility and Kamala Harris is against it.

Credit: download. Digital image. Politico

And Democrat lawmakers are not happy. As reported by Foreign Affairs New Zealand: “U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday sent a letter to Daniel Bible, San Antonio Field Office Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), demanding that ICE reconsider detaining families and children at the Karnes County Residential Center in light of multiple reports of insufficient medical care and attempted suicides. Given the inhumane conditions at Karnes, Harris also pressed Bible to use his discretion to consider each eligible woman currently detained at the facility for release from ICE custody”. 

There has been an increase in the number of undocumented migrants from Africa, and the Karnes County Residential Center houses a number of them.

Credit: abuse-texas-detenttion-center-1521822550. Digital image. The Intercept

The influx of Africans to the United States has increased dramatically in the past few years due to tougher immigration laws and enforcement in Western European countries and to the increased levels of violence in the region. Time reported earlier this year: “More than 500 migrants from countries such as Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola have arrived at the Del Rio border station in Texas since May 30, including a group of 116 people”. Reports suggest that instead of going through Mexico directly, African migrants first go to Brazil and then continue their perilous path to the United States.