Things That Matter

What You Need To Know About The Policy That Is Separating Undocumented Children At US Border

Over the last six weeks, 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border due to a new policy enacted by the Trump administration. The policy effects families legally arriving at the border seeking asylum. These children are taken into custody and placed in “detention facilities”, which often lack adequate bedding and are overcrowded. The Trump administration already has 10,773 immigrants under the age of 18 in custody due to its “zero tolerance” policy.

How is this all happening and why are children being separated?

Immigration officials can do this because of a “zero-tolerance” policy publicly announced in May. The policy allows the separation of families by transferring parents into criminal custody and reclassifying the children as “unaccompanied” minors. Parents are then taken to federal criminal prisons while the children are taken to separate housing centers. According to Vox, it’s more expensive to keep parents in detention while children are under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) care than to keep them together in one detention facility.

The Trump administration is falsely claiming that this is them following a law created by Democrats. There is no such law.

The maximum time a separated child is supposed to be held at these detention centers is 72 hours, but that hasn’t been the case.

DHHS says most detention centers are at 95 percent capacity because of insufficient space for the children. Also adding to the overcrowding is the process to place a child with a sponsor that takes an average of 45 days. This has led to the need for these “tent cities” where separated children are then placed with relatives or sponsors.

There are currently over 10,773 immigrant children being housed in centers across the United States.

Kenneth Wolfe, a DHHS spokesman, told the LA Times that the government currently has contracts with 100 shelters in 17 states with 27 of those shelters in Arizona, California and Texas. Southwest Key, an Austin-based nonprofit, is among the nation’s largest child migrant shelter providers, currently housing 5,129 immigrant children in those three states. According to The Washington Post, these facilities are currently close or full to capacity.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he opposes the separation of undocumented immigrant families at U.S. borders.

Ryan on Thursday said he was not comfortable with family separations occurring at the border but didn’t put blame on President Trump. Instead blaming the 1997 Flores settlement, which bars the government from detaining children for long periods, including with their parents. Republicans will present an immigration bill next week that will limit family separation at the border is expected to be part of that legislation, likely in the form of changes to address the Flores rule. Which might mean no longer removing children from their parents but detaining them together until their court hearing.

Rallies took place in support of keeping families together across the US on Thursday.

Events, including rallies and vigils, were planned in more than 60 cities and towns in the U.S., according to the organizer, Families Belong Together. Protesters in states including California, Texas, Michigan and New York, drew attention to the Trump administration’s policy with hopes of immediate reform to stop the separation of immigrant families.


READ: A California Woman Told Greyhound Bus Passengers Their Legal Right Not To Show Border Patrol Documentation

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Human Smuggling Is Suspected In The Tragic SUV Accident That Killed 13 Migrants

Things That Matter

Human Smuggling Is Suspected In The Tragic SUV Accident That Killed 13 Migrants

Another tragic story has unfolded at the U.S. – Mexico border, this time involving the deaths of at least 13 people who were allegedly being smuggled into the United States. Although investigators are still working to piece together the tragic chain of events, one thing has become clear: we need serious immigration reform now.

13 people died in a tragic SUV accident near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The tragedy unfolded when a Ford Expedition carrying 27 people smashed into a gravel truck near the town of El Centro, about 30 miles from the border. Officials say that the Ford SUV and a Chevrolet Suburban, which was carrying 19 people, were earlier caught on video entering the U.S. as part of a smuggling operation.

The Suburban immediately caught fire after entering the U.S., but all the occupants managed to escape and were taken into custody by Border Patrol officers. It’s still unknown why the first vehicle caught fire.

The Ford SUV continued along its route when it collided with a gravel truck. Ten of the 13 people who died in the accident have now been identified as Mexican nationals, Gregory Bovino, the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector chief told the Associated Press.

“Human smugglers have proven time and again they have little regard for human life,” said Mr. Bovino.

An SUV designed for 7 or 8 people was carrying 27 people.

California Highway Patrol said that the Ford Expedition was designed to hold seven to eight passengers safely. But in this case all of the seats had been removed apart form the driver and front passenger seats in order to pack people in.

“When I pulled up on scene, there were bodies everywhere,” Alex Silva, the Holtville fire chief, told the LA Times. “I’ve been doing this for 29 years and that’s the worst scene I’ve ever seen. I’ve been to calls where we’ve had four or five people dead. I’ve gone to calls where we had a bus accident that had 24 people. But it wasn’t the fatalities that we had in this one.”

“I’ve never seen an SUV with 25 people in it. I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like being cooped up in there.”

Officials are confident the tragedy is connected to a human smuggling operation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they suspected the deadly crash was tied to human smuggling after the Ford Expedition and a red Suburban were caught on surveillance footage coming through a breach in the border fence. Border Patrol agents insist they did not stop or pursue either vehicle, although community activists express skepticism. Either way, the outcome illustrated the high stakes involved in human smuggling.

While it’s unclear what caused the crash, Jacqueline Arellano, 38, who works with the nonprofit Border Angels, said crashes involving vehicles packed with people aren’t unusual in the region. Arellano, who grew up in El Centro, recalled a crash in 2003 in which she witnessed a Border Patrol vehicle chase an SUV packed with people on Highway 8 heading west toward San Diego.

Migrant advocates agree that major changes need to take place in our country’s immigration laws so that deadly tragedies such as this one never happen again.

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This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

Things That Matter

This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

Lawyers are working hard to get a deportation order removed against a woman who just left a church sanctuary after three years in the refuge. Although she was previously denied asylum in the U.S., advocates are hoping that under new direction from the Biden administration, her case will be reviewed and she’ll be able to stay with her family in Ohio – where she’s lived for more than twenty years.

A mother of three is back with her family after living three years inside a church.

A mother of three who sought refugee inside an Ohio church from immigration authorities has finally been able to leave three years later. Edith Espinal, who herself is an immigrant rights advocate, had been living at the Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017 to avoid being deported to Mexico. She’s now out of the church and back with her family following a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, who have agreed that she’s not an immediate priority for deportation.

“Finally, I can go home,” Espinal told reporters after meeting with the officials. With tears of relief, she celebrated the small victory in the presence of dozens of supporters who accompanied her to the ICE building.

“But it is not the end of her case. We’re still going to have to fight,” her attorney Lizbeth Mateo said.

ICE has agreed to hold off on her deportation proceedings pending her asylum request.

Espinal was released under an order of supervision, meaning that while she’s not considered an immediate priority for deportation, she must periodically check in with ICE officials to inform them about her whereabouts.

She has lived in Columbus for more than two decades and had previously applied for asylum, citing rising violence in her home state of Michoacán. But she eventually was ordered to leave the country, which is when she sought refuge inside the Columbus, Ohio church.

“We’re going to continue pressing the Biden administration to do the right thing, and try to get rid of that order of deportation against Edith, so she can walk freely like everyone else does without fear,” Mateo said during the press conference.

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