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Posts Tagged ‘children’

Last Week: In Our Community

In community impact on March 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday March 2 through Monday March 9.

Pelosi: End Raids Splitting Immigrant Families
On Saturday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined hundreds of families in the Mission District of San Francisco to call for an end to raids which tear apart families. To the crowd she said, “Taking parents from their children…that’s un-American.” She also called for comprehensive immigration reform as the solution to the broad immigration problems in the United States.

Revisions Could Prompt Arpaio’s ICE-Program Exit
After the Congressional hearing on the 287(g) program last week, Sheriff Joe Arpaio issued a statement saying that he would withdraw from the program if the federal government tried to implement oversight and regulations that would limit him to only arresting immigrants with serious criminal records. Arpaio has consistently been accused of using racial profiling as a means to identify undocumented immigrants, a frequent problem with the 287(g) program that regulations are meant to deter. Yet Arpaio states, “I like it [the program] the way it is now.”

U.S. Must Shield Its Child Citizens
Does the United States support intentionally orphaning the children of non-criminal immigrants? This article explores the fears and struggles of the some 3.1 million citizen children in the United States who have at least one undocumented parents. As the law stands now, judges to not have judicial discretion in cases where initiating removal proceedings would separate families or perhaps even orphan children. Immigrant families are then left with the choice to either bring their citizen children to a country where they will have fewer opportunities, or leave them in the care of the foster system. The Child Citizen Protection Act recently introduced to Congress would change this.

GAO Report- DHS: Organizational Structure, Spending, and Staffing for Health Care Provided to Immigrant Detainees
This GAO report examines the quality of health care provided to immigrants detained by the Department of Homeland Security. Overall, they found that the provision of health care was not uniform across all ICE facilities and there was a lack of data concerning organizational structure and oversight, spending, and staffing.

Who’s Running Immigration?
This NY Times editorial asks who is in charge of immigration under the current administration? Despite the fact that President Obama campaigned on comprehensive immigration reform and said that raids “terrorized” communities, a number of recent events have demonstrated that the new administration is so far maintaining the status quo as they prepare for immigration reform.

Many Immigrants Still Till the Land of Opportunity
This article tells the story of immigrants who make their living tending gardens in the United States. It provides an interesting perspective into the life of many immigrants in the United States.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard Introduces Positive Immigration Legislation

In enforcement, legislation on February 27, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Yesterday, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard introduced the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act of 2009 (H.R. 1215) which works to “better ensure immigrant detainees receive fair and humane treatment while in detention.”

This bill comes in response to the numerous deaths and cases of abuse in immigrant detention centers that have garnered media attention in recent months. These cases are not isolated however; in fact, over 80 people have died while in DHS detention during a five-year period beginning in 2003. A large portion of these deaths, it appears, could have been avoided if adequate and timely medical attention had been provided.

Although the federal government established immigration detention standards in 2000, these standards are not enforceable by law and not consistently implemented. The Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act seeks to correct the failure to provide safe and humane conditions by setting binding, clear, and enforceable detention standards.

In particular, the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act:

  • Improves detainees’ access to telephones and medical care, including treatment for survivors of sexual abuse
  • Improves mental health care standards, which are critical for persons who have suffered persecution, torture, or other trauma
  • Promotes alternatives to detention which enable detainees to be released on their own recognizance, bond, or other non-custodial supervision programs
  • Provides protections for unaccompanied children taken into DHS custody

While providing water and food to children who are sometimes held for 72 hours or more at the border seems like common sense, reports show that children on the border are often held in deplorable conditions.

FCNL supports this effort by Congresswoman Roybal-Allard to implement clear and binding standards for the detention of immigrants. We have joined other national, regional, and local faith-based organizations in writing a letter of support for this bill. To view the letter, click HERE.

Last Week: In Our Community

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Immigration news and updates from February 16th- Monday February 23rd.

There was a lot of interesting coverage last week (not even including all of the great media coverage the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s prayer vigils received!), so I’ll highlight a few articles with annotations up top, and then just include a list of links after that.

TRAILER- AbUSed: The Postville Raid
While I’m going to create a separate post on this later today, I figured I’d go ahead and link to the trailer for a new documentary coming out about the immigration raid at Agroprocessors, Inc. in Postville, IA last year. This trailer is extremely powerful (I look forward to seeing the documentary in full) and demonstrates the continued devastation facing the community of Postville emotionally, economically, and spiritually.

NYT Editorial: Enforcement Gone Bad

This NY Times editorial outlines the failures of the federal government’s enforcement-only immigration strategy.

NY Times: In Lonliness, Immigrants Tend the Flock
This heartfelt article discusses the work of (legal) temporary migrant workers who come to the US to work as sheepherders in the U.S.-American West. The article notes how, in particular, the “harsh, solitary lives of foreign sheepherders in the American West have remained virtually unchanged for more than a century. And government oversight of their circumstances remains piecemeal.”

Immigrant Removed During Church Service Near Conroe, Jailed
This article tells the story of Jose Juan Hernandez who was arrested for re-entering the country after deportation while sitting in a church santurary during a church service near Conroe, TX. Hernandez had no prior record of violence. The arrest inside the church caused great controversy in the community, many of whom felt ICE’s tactics violated sacred worship.

THE HILL: Immigration Reform Advocates Push Forward in Tough Economy
This article discusses the continued push for comprehensive immigration reform in the coming year. The article provides a nice overview of the political climate on the Hill around immigration given the current state of the economy, unemployment, etc.

Conflicting Accounts of an ICE Raid in MD: Officers Portray Detention of 24 Latinos Differently in Internal Probe and in Court
This Washington Post article discusses the controversial arrests of 24 Latino men at a 7/11 in MD over two years ago. The arrests were caught on security camera footage and the footage was then obtained by the Washington Post. The footage demonstrates how ICE agents tended towards random sweeps for undocumented immigrants–which perpetuated racial profiling–rather than focusing on their stated goal of apprehending fugitive criminals.

100,000-plus Citizen Children Find Parents Deported: Serrano Releases DHS Study Showing Families Being Torn Apart
Congressman José Serrano released a study last week which he commissioned from the Department of Homeland Security showing that DHS has deported more than 100,000 parents of U.S. citizen children. DHS also admitted that this number could be higher if their records were more accurate. In response, Congressman Serrano has re-introduced the Child Citizen Protection Act which would take allow the courts to take family unity into account when considering the cases of parents with U.S. citizen children. For further coverage, see this Associated Press article.

Helping Workers in Hard Times
This NY Times editorial does a great job at linking protection of labor rights to undocumented immigration. Pointing out that undocumented immigrants most often fill the “most dangerous, dirty, and low-paying jobs,” the editorial argues that the best strategy to combat undocumented migration and protect U.S. workers is to “fight back against abuses that make wages and job conditions worse for everyone.”

Now for the list:

LA Times: Illegal Immigration Case Stemming from Van Nuys Work Site Raid Is Dismissed: ICE agents violated regulations in 2008 raid, judge says in ruling that could affect dozens of other cases

Washington Post: ICE Halts Detentions at Piedmont Facility After Death

Chicago Tribune: Law Allows Religious Workers More Time With Jailed Immigrants

NPR: Napolitano Outlines Immigration Priorities

Politico: Rahm’s Immigration Turnabout

NY Times: U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship

Associated Press: Supreme Court Hears Immigrant’s ID Theft Case

Texas Observer- Access Denied: Countless women are sexually assaulted as they attempt to immigrate into the United States. What happens to their reproductive rights when they wind up in U.S. custody?

Brownsville Herald: America’s Immigration Gulags Overflowing With Mentally Ill Prisoners

Guardian- America’s ‘Toughest Sheriff’ Faces Lawsuit Over Crime Crackdown: Call for Investigation into Alleged Anti-Hispanic Sweeps

Omaha World-Herald: Mom Worries as Woman Faces Deportation

NY Times: Facing Graduation, Not Deportation

Associated Press: In Enforcement Era, Communities Prepare for Raids

Last Week: In Our Community

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Immigration Priorities Questioned
As the Obama administration sets up shop, they have a lot of work to do re-examining the immigration policies set up by the Bush administration. This article outlines some of the areas that it will be most pertinent to review, including immigrant detention, workplace and residential raids, family separation, and other human rights abuses.

NEW! Report: The Nativist Lobby: Three Faces of Intolerance

This new report put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “The Nativist Lobby: Three Faces of Intolerance” outlines how three well-known DC based organizations–the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA–stand at the center of the American nativist movement. As it turns out, all three have white supremicist roots even though the first (FAIR) puts itself forward as an anti-immigrant lobbying group, the second (CIS) as an independent think tank, and the third (NumbersUSA) as a grassroots organizer. To read the full report, click here.

US Faces Challenges in the Protection of Unaccompanied Children
A recent report, “Halfway Home: Unaccompanied Children in Immigration Custody,” put out by the Women’s Refugee Commission has determined that while the conditions and care of unaccompanied immigrant children in detention has improved markedly over the last six years, the U.S. still has a long way to go. To read the full report, click here.

Target of Immigrant Raids Shifted
This NY Times article discusses how, without consulting Congress, Immigration and Customs Enforcement switched its focus from apprehending dangerous criminal and terrorist suspects to finding and deporting “ordinary status violators.”

Books: Julia Alvarez embodies the human problems hidden in the politics>>Book gives voice to families caught up in immigration fights
Julia Alvarez’s new young adult book, Return to Sender, relates the complexity of global migration, in particular undocumented migration into the United States, through the eyes of a child. Getting rid of the usual bitter and angry politics of the immigration debate, this story humanizes immigration without simplifying the issue.

As the Global Economy Sinks, Tensions Over Immigration Rise

This TIME article discusses how the current economic crisis has sparked further tensions over immigration. As the article indicates, even though migrants typically do not compete for the same jobs as the native population, the current unemployment rate can create a ficitonal friction between working populations.

Immigration raid spotlights rift among the have-nots: The competition for jobs during a recession pits have-nots against have-nots

This article discusses how the current recession has deepened divides between immigrant and minority communities in the United States, as well as enboldened the work of white supremecist groups like the KKK.

As my colleague wrote: Underwear and Sunlight, what they have in common besides a human’s need for them

In Uncategorized on February 4, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Today, like most days, when I came into work I spent the first 45 minutes of my day siphoning through news articles, op-eds, and editorials that have been emailed to me since I left work at 5:30 the day before. These help keep me up-to-date on all that is happening in the immigration realm across the country, and in turn, enable me to better inform you (once or twice a week I post a blog with what I consider the top 5-6 most recent articles that talk about how immigration affects our community. To check last week’s out, click here or here).

Today, a couple articles in particular stuck out to me. One was titled: “The Big Business of Family Detention: It’s not just alleged terrorists who are suffering from our inhumane treatment of detainees. It’s also children.” The second was called: “ICE Raids–Detention Centers Not About Immigration, All About Money!

These titles disturbed me, even though the issues the articles discuss are well-known subjects to me.

They made me think about my own trip to a local detention center about two weeks ago. Some colleagues of mine had set up the trip so that those of us who work on immigration issues here in Washington could actually see firsthand some of the situations that immigrants deal with.

Overall, the facility was quite well kept and run in an orderly fashion. The guards and superintendent of the facility were unbelievably gracious to our group, spending over 4 hours with us and answering any question that we may have. The facility didn’t appear to be the harrowing place that we hear about in so many news articles where people are abused or dying because of substandard treatment.

However, I think my colleague Katrine from NETWORK (a Catholic social justice lobby) put it best when she wrote:

“Underwear and sunlight, sunlight and underwear. The two never seemed to go together as underwear would theoretically never see sunlight nor sunlight see underwear. I thought that the only commonality was the person, wearing the underwear, basking in the sunlight. I did not realize that at Hampton Roads they would have another thing in common: their classification as non-essentials. So non-essential that the sun is to be felt only through the small crack of one window in a gym, and bras worn only if one has five or ten dollars to pay for a pair from the jail commissary. In the end, a very intriguing and educational tour came down to the simplest of things: underwear and sunlight, sunlight and underwear.”

It’s the so-called small things that immigrants are deprived of that perhaps is most shocking: underwear, sunlight. No contact visits are allowed. Spouses cannot see each other if they are in the same facility. Parents cannot hug their children. Children are born while their mothers are shackled to the bed.

And you can be in there for years.

And in some facilities, children are held wearing criminal jumpsuits. Children raised behind bars without sunlight and underwear, underwear and sunlight.

All because of civil infractions that are about equal to a traffic ticket in legal terms.

When I think about these realities in relation to the economic gain made by companies who run the immigrant detention centers like those discussed in the two articles I received today, I can’t help but envision it as a caricature in which there is a huge corrupt traffic cop with his foot on the roof of a car that he’s pulled over, holding the people inside indefinitely and charging them $200 a day for their “criminal activity.”

Except in this case, it’s a private company and not a cop. And children and families seeking better lives after economic deprivation, war-torn countries, and exploitation rather than someone who drove to fast.

SCHIP Victory!

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Today, the Senate voted against an amendment that would deny health insurance to legal immigrant children living in the United States!

Children are one of the most precious resources of our community and nation. The health of a child is, in essence, the health of our future. Since 1997, the federal government has supported the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which provides low-income children in working families who make too much to receive Medicaid, but too little to afford private health insurance with viable health insurance. CHIP is an especially critical program in our current economy, when many people are losing their jobs and employer-based healthcare.

And for the first time, this year’s CHIP legislation took an important step by eliminating the five-year waiting period to access health services for legal immigrant children and pregnant women. As any parent or child caretaker knows, five years is like a lifetime to a child. For a child with autism, asthma, or hearing and vision impairments, waiting for five years for treatment could result in life-long or even life-threatening consequences.

But some Congresspersons tried to block this extension of healthcare coverage to legal immigrant children, attempting to turn the debate from children’s healthcare to immigration. The majority ruled, however, and this amendment failed by voice vote.

I think this can be claimed as a victory for our communities! For once, Congress was able to put aside labels and focus on the well-being of the individual, the child.