Things That Matter

Fear And Anxiety Grip Undocumented Community Nationwide As Walmart Arrests Escalate

As our country protests what is happening on the southern border–children in cages without enough food, water or even a bed to sleep on, separated from their family–fear of ICE reaches nationwide. In a Vermont town, undocumented immigrants and allies rallied outside Burlington Church on July 2nd, demanding an end to those very child internment camps. While showing solidarity for migrants at the border, they took the opportunity to speak up for the undocumented members of their community recently arrested while shopping at Walmart.

Three Vermont dairy workers were arrested within a single month. All arrests were made while grocery shopping at Walmart.

Undocumented organizer, Zully Palacios carried a sign with all three of their faces.

Credit: @farmworkerjustice / Twitter

Palacios herself is risking her status by speaking out, and still, she is a spokesperson for Migrant Justice. She told Vermont’s Seven Days, “As we read about what’s happening on the southern border, we must not forget what’s happening here, on the northern border.”

Federal data proves that ICE arrests have escalated under Trump’s administration.

Credit: icegov / Instagram

“These three members of our community were going about their lives, fulfilling their daily needs, shopping for food, sending money to their families in Mexico,” she told the outlet. “For that, they were detained and now find themselves behind bars.”

Ismael Mendez-Lopez, Mario Diaz-Aguilar, and Ubertoni Aguilar-Montero were stopped in the parking lot.

Credit: @TheBaxterBean / Twitter

The three went to Walmart both to buy groceries and to wire money to their families back in Mexico. Before they did that, a U.S. Border Patrol agent in an unmarked car stopped them in the parking lot. They spoke briefly and went on their way. The agent followed them. After they finished shopping at Walmart, they were arrested for not having paperwork on them. 

They’re currently being held in a New Hampshire county jail pending ICE deportation proceedings.

Credit: @Articleableinfo / Twitter

A spokesperson for Border Patrol confirmed that they were arrested “based on the information from a concerned citizen.” This was the same reason for seven undocumented farmworker arrests outside that same Walmart Supercenter since February 2018. Matt Cameron, an immigration attorney, believes that these “concerned citizens” are actually informants.

Migrant workers in Vermont are struggling to feed themselves for fear of arrest.

Credit: walmart / Instagram

A newly published research study shows that each ICE raid or arrest creates an environment of fear that tangibly affects the rest of the roughly 1,500 migrant farmworkers in Vermont. They’re afraid that every trip to go get groceries might be one they never come home from.

All it takes is one racist shopper calling ICE because they saw a brown person.

Credit: icegov / Instagram

Just like how all it took was one customer complaint to report to Dunkin’ Donuts that they suspect undocumented workers. Now, Dunkin’ is suing its own franchise owners in a massive company crackdown on hiring undocumented workers.

Trump has confirmed that ICE raids will result in thousands of arrests Sunday.

Credit: realdonaldtrump / Instagram

Roberto Suro, a public policy professor at the University of Southern California suspects that, while Sunday will deport .2 percent of those with deportation orders, the true attack is “purely psychological.” He told the Los Angeles Times, “This is yet one more example of how the Trump administration is trying to use fear as an instrument of immigration control. It generates a lot of fear and anxiety but not a lot of control. This has nothing to do with actual enforcement.”

The ICE raids are designed to cause fear for immigrants and to appease Trump’s right-wing base.

Credit: realdonaldtrump / Instagram

After news surfaced that a raid was on its way, Trump revealed to reporters on Friday that it would be a “major operation.” “One audience is supposed to feel like something is happening,” Suro said, “and the other is supposed to be scared to death.”

Since then, immigrants across the country have called out of work, further destabilizing the community.

Credit: @CosechaMovement / Twitter

Activist tip hotlines have received an influx of calls, and an advocacy group in New York has already submitted a preemptive lawsuit. The more fear he creates, the more satisfied his base will be after his failure to deliver “The Wall.”

READ: If ICE Raids Dairy Farms, It Could Make Your Gallon Of Milk $8

One Day After A Texas Sheriff Called Undocumented Immigrants ‘Drunks,’ His Son Is Arrested For Public Intoxication

Things That Matter

One Day After A Texas Sheriff Called Undocumented Immigrants ‘Drunks,’ His Son Is Arrested For Public Intoxication

screenshot / youtube / fox news

A Texas sheriff is eating his words after his bigotted comments came back to bite him in the worst way.

A day after Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn referred to undocumented immigrants as “drunks” who would “run over” children, his own son was reportedly arrested on charges of public intoxication. It has also been revealed that his son Sergei Waybourn has been arrested before. In 2018 he was charged with assault and in recent years he was arrested for trespassing and theft.

Sheriff Waybourn’s comments sparked controversy when he spoke against undocumented immigrants at a press conference in Washington.

Last Thursday, the sheriff spoke at the conference alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence. Speaking in response to a ruling by a federal California judge made last month that imposed restrictions on ICE’s use of “detainers,” Waybourn underlined the consequences of releasing illegal immigrants with DWI and other crimes.

U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr.’s decision barred ICE from using online database searches to find and detain people based. Recently, the ACLU stated that since 2008, 2 million US citizens have been illegally detained because of such searches.

Waybourn pointed to his charge of inmates to give examples of high rates of repeat offenders. “If we have to turn them loose or they get released, they’re coming back to your neighborhood and my neighborhood,” Waybourn said according to New York Post. “These drunks will run over your children, and they will run over my children.”

After his comments, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens called for Waybourn’s resignation.

According to Dallas Morning News, Domingo Garcia said Waybourn ought to “resign and apologize for his bigoted comments immediately.”

In response, Waybourne said his comments had been taken out of contexts and his office released a statement saying that “Sheriff Waybourn was not referring to all legal or illegal immigrants when making his comments about DWI/DWI repeat offenders. He was speaking toward the charges of DWI and DWI repeat offender in the context of illegal immigration.”

In response to the news of his son’s arrest, the sheriff said he is “deeply saddened by Sergei’s choices.”

According to WFAA, he said that “It has been many years since he disassociated from our family. We, along with many family members have made efforts over the years to help him – all to no avail. It is always sad when drugs take control of a person’s life. His choices and actions have lead to this situation.”

More Than 700 Women Have Disappeared From A Texas ICE Detention Center And Their Lawyers Don’t Know Where They Are

Things That Matter

More Than 700 Women Have Disappeared From A Texas ICE Detention Center And Their Lawyers Don’t Know Where They Are

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Across a network of more than 200 migrant prisons and municipal migrant jails, the US government is detaining roughly 18,000 people at any given moment. And that’s not including the more than 12,000 minors who are held in other facilities under the supervision of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s.

And amid this network of for-profit private prisons and government-ran detention centers, migrants are constantly being shuffled around – often without little notice to their lawyers and even family.

This time, the agency is accused of moving more than 700 women without notifying their lawyers, family, or anyone else.

According to attorneys from the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), ICE has moved more than 700 women out of a Texas detention center. And ICE gave their lawyers zero way of locating them, which is especially damning considering many of the women face serious medical conditions.

Starting on Sept. 20, the women being held at the Karnes County Residential Center were sent to other centers around the country so that the facility could be used to detain families. More than two weeks later, their lawyers from RAICES have no idea where the majority of these women are being held, and they can’t find any updated information in ICE’s online detainee tracking system.

Many of these women have serious medical conditions and not being able to advocate for their health could have fatal consequences.

“I’m really fearful that their conditions could worsen,” Meza said. “I don’t want them to be in another ICE press release about death in detention.” 

The situation highlights a common problem for migrants in ICE custody: They can be transferred between facilities with little notice and yet their new locations are not promptly updated in the system. If their existing lawyers and family members can’t find them, they may have to go through their cases without legal representation, especially in remote areas where legal counsel is sparse. And those with serious health issues could die if advocates who don’t know where their clients were transferred are unable to fight for their right to medical treatment. 

According to ICE, advocates shouldn’t worry because “adequate medical care is being provided to all detainees.”

An ICE official told HuffPost that “Comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody” adding that staffing includes registered nurses, licensed mental health providers, a physician and access to 24-hour emergency care. The official acknowledged that the women at Karnes had been transferred to other facilities, but did not explain why their locations were not showing up in the online system.

But given the deaths that have occurred in ICE facilities and the overall cruelty towards people in their custody, few people trust ICE’s ability to care for migrants.

At Karnes, some of the immigrants were allegedly being denied lifesaving care, such as cancer and HIV treatment, and that suicidal patients were not receiving psychiatric counseling. One woman with cancer in her uterus said she had not received medical treatment for more than two months. Another immigrant, who is HIV positive, said she was not getting her medication or being evaluated by a doctor, even as her symptoms worsened.

The lack of medical care in immigrant detention facilities is well-established. Eight immigrants have died in ICE detention centers this year, and six minors have died in Border Patrol centers, in many cases because they didn’t receive proper medical help for their illnesses. 

Technically there’s no legal requirement for ICE to inform detainees’ lawyers that they are being transferred. 

According to Andrea Meza, Director of Family Detention Services for RAICES, ICE is not at all required to inform anyone when a detainee is transferred to a new location.

There is one exception: ICE is mandated to provide notice of transfer for Salvadorans, per the Orantes Settlement Agreement — but only Salvadorans.) Otherwise, Meza says, “There’s not really anything that requires them to give us notice as to where our clients are.” 

But even if ICE did update the platform used to track migrants in their custody, lawyers said it’s rarely that reliable.

It can take up to a few weeks for someone who is transferred to a new facility to show up in the system, which means families are often left wondering whether their loved ones have been deported back to life-threatening situations in their home countries.

“I think FedEx does a better job of tracking its packages than ICE does of tracking the people it detains,” Lincoln-Goldfinch, an immigrant rights attorney told HuffPo.  

Of the women RAICES has been able to locate, some are being housed at a private prison in Mississippi that the Justice Department found so poorly-managed it issued a scathing 65-page report detailing its problems. The Federal Bureau of Prisons to ended its contract with the prison earlier this year, but now immigrant women are being sent there.