Criminalization & Trump's ICE Raids on Non-Whites: Two Immigrant Rights Organizers Facing Deportation Speak Out
From [HERE] and [HERE] A meeting between members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and the country's top immigration enforcement officer was canceled at the behest of Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and the White House, according to House Democrats.
The closed-door meeting, scheduled for Tuesday following a series of high-profile immigration raids, was canceled at the last minute.
"I will confirm that in my conversation with [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas] Holman, he made it clear to me that this decision came from higher up and I believe I’m accurately reflecting his statement when he said, ‘Kelly and the White House,’" said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), chairwoman of the CHC.
CHC members and other Democrats with a special interest in immigration were expected to ask Holman to produce specific data about people detained in ICE raids over the past two weeks, including why they were prioritized for removal.
A representative for ICE told The Hill the meeting had been canceled because the attendance had nearly tripled in size, forcing ICE to contact House leadership to coordinate a bipartisan meeting. But Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) didn't buy that explanation.
"Bullshit," said Napolitano.
Democrats at a press conference held to address the cancellation all agreed there is no House rule that requires meetings with administration officials of a certain size be cleared by leadership.
"Unless it's a new Trump rule," said Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.)
Lujan Grisham said Holman had confirmed to her that ICE reached out to House leadership to request the bipartisan meeting, tentatively scheduled for later this week.
Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen later confirmed the decision to postpone the meeting had been taken because of the growing number of attendants.
“ICE leadership agreed to meet with six Democratic Members of Congress who signed a request on Friday, February 10, with the purpose of updating them on ICE’s recent enforcement operations. Because the attendees list grew substantially, DHS reached out to the House leadership staff to arrange a bipartisan, in-depth briefing, which the Speaker’s office arranged and scheduled for Thursday of this week. ICE looks forward to sharing information on its enforcement operations and how they are humanely and professionally enforcing U.S. immigration law,” said Christensen
Still, Democrats said they were "more than disappointed" by the decision to cancel Tuesday's meeting, which they saw as an opportunity to provide clarity to immigrant constituencies in panic over the changes in immigration enforcement.
"It’s disappointing that we’re having this press conference. We hoped to have a press conference to express further clarification as to what ICE is doing," said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, "and instead we’re left in the lurch here and I’m being told they want to have a bipartisan meeting."
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), long a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, warned that the Trump administration's aggressive immigration tactics would eventually backfire.
"It is really immoral to divide and destroy families, especially to make cheap, cowardly, political points at the expense of those families. Yeah, you lost in court, but you’re going to lose in the most important court, the court of public opinion," said Gutierrez.
Rep. Nannette Diaz-Barragan (D-Calif.) said ICE agents in her Los Angeles-area district confirmed to her people who had not committed crimes had been arrested.
"I want answers because my constituents in particular are getting picked up," said Diaz-Barragan.
Trump's executive orders on immigration expanded the definition of criminality for immigration cases and the rules for considering an immigrant a deportation priority.
"The definition in the executive order broadens the concept of crime in an amazing way," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).
"If you did an act that would be considered a crime, you would be a target for enforcement. Well, what does that mean?"
Lujan Grisham said the group wasn't opposed to a larger, bipartisan meeting, but a meeting with the enforcement agencies directly targeting its constituency was the CHC's right.
"The request to have the meeting was to get real information, data about who was apprehended, who were the targets, where and confirm that information with our constituents for several reasons, but not the least of which is to make sure we’re following the law, that we’re clear people are getting due process, that they know their rights and in effect that we’re not causing, which we are, fear and panic in our communities," she said.
Kellyanne Conway, who serves as one of President Donald Trump’s main media surrogates, tweeted -- and subsequently deleted -- a Valentine’s Day message to a white nationalist Twitter account that has posted anti-Semitic and racist messages. Conway’s message is yet another example of the Trump team sending a nod to its supporters in white nationalist media.
As Media Matters has documented, Trump and his advisers have engaged in a disturbing courtship with the racist white nationalist movement. They have repeatedly retweeted white supremacist messages and accounts, such as “WhiteGenocideTM”; surrogates have directly courted white nationalists by giving interviews to white nationalist media outlets; and Trump’s team gave press credentials to a “pro-white” radio host to cover a rally. Trump has also appointed officials who are popular among members of the movement, including senior adviser Stephen Bannon.
The courtship has had its desired effect with white nationalist media: They have heavily defended Trump and his policies and harassed journalists who have questioned the president. White nationalist writers have also cited Trump and his team’s Twitter messages -- whether later deleted or not -- as a signal that the administration agrees with white nationalist policies.
The account @TrumpTrainNoBrk tweeted at Conway on February 14: “Your strength & resiliency in face of vile hatred, bigotry, & sexism of the unhinged Left is a daily inspiration! Love you!” In a since-deleted tweet, Conway responded:
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Conway implied she didn't send the tweet, claiming she didn’t “know who had access to my account. ... Let me see who sent this.” She added, “I denounce whoever it is. It will be immediately deleted. Everybody makes mistakes.”
The account’s white nationalist orientation is clear from just a cursory glance. The account has a cartoon frog next to its name. The frog represents Pepe, which has become the mascot for white nationalists and anti-Semites. The account's bio also says "#WhiteIdentity." As the Southern Poverty Law Center noted, members of the racist “alt-right” movement have been claiming “that ‘white identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ‘their’ civilization.”
@TrumpTrainNoBrk responded to a BuzzFeed reporter noting that Conway had just retweeted “a white nationalist” by writing, “#WhiteIdentity is a right, not bigotry, despite how much Marxists like you hate it.”
@TrumpTrainNoBrk has repeatedly tweeted or retweeted white nationalist themes about Jewish people, African-Americans, and “white genocide.” The account claimed: “By far the angriest, most aggressive tweets I get are from low-IQ black women... I wonder why?” and wrote that it posts “black on white violent crime stats” so African-Americans “will stop murder/raping us.”
The Trump administration said on Friday it delivered to a federal court vault in Washington, D.C., a Justice Department copy of the so-called Senate Torture Report on the CIA’s secret prison network during the George W. Bush administration.
The Obama administration had balked at turning over a copy to any court.
But Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler, who joined the Justice Department on Jan. 30 from the Jones Day firm, notified the court that “the government deposited for the Court Information Security Officers (CISOs) for secure storage a complete and unredacted electronic copy of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.”
The damning 6,700-page report documents abuses in the CIA program that waterboarded some captives, rectally abused others and held at least 119 foreign prisoners out of reach of the International Red Cross or attorneys during the Bush administration.
Lawyers at the Guantánamo war court had wanted military judges to obtain and preserve copies of the report for use in the Sept. 11 and USS Cole death-penalty cases of six men who spent years in the CIA prisons called Black Sites. The chief judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, refused but eventually ordered the Pentagon to safeguard one of its copies.
So attorneys turned to the federal court, where judges handling the mostly dormant unlawful detention cases of two Guantánamo captives — Abd al Rahim al Nashiri and Zayn al Abdeen Mohammed al Hussein, known as Abu Zubaydah — ordered a copy sent to their safe.
At issue had been concerns that, once the Democrats who created the report in 2014 lost control of the Senate, the Republican Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Richard Burr of North Carolina, would scoop up and make disappear copies that his predecessor, Dianne Feinstein of California, had distributed to select departments during the Obama administration. [MORE]
Private prison companies Owned by Whites likely to be big beneficiaries of Trump's plan to detain more Non-White Immigrants
When John Chavez peers through chain link and razor wire into the vast tent city that once housed one of the nation’s most notorious prisons for immigrants, he does not see a failed experiment.
Two years ago, inmates set fire to the sprawling complex in protest of poor medical conditions, slashing holes in their tents and forcing the government to shut it down. Yet many people in this struggling south Texas county— like Chavez, who once worked as a security guard at the privately run prison — have high hopes the abandoned detention center will reopen.
“If Trump is going to crack down on immigrants, we’re going to have to process them somehow,” the stocky 55-year-old said as he stood outside the empty shell of his old workplace. “Maybe there’s a shot I could get my job back.”
Stocks for private prison companies have surged in the two weeks since President Trump signed an executive order calling for expansion of immigrant detention facilities at or near the border with Mexico, specifically authorizing the use of private contractors “to construct, operate, or control facilities” in what is expected to be a substantial ramp-up of the massive detention system that thrived under the Obama administration.
With the number of immigrant detainees already at historic levels, critics warn that rapidly expanding prisons will only exacerbate squalid living conditions and substandard medical care. The big beneficiaries, they say, will be stockholders and executives of for-profit prison companies.
Carl Takei, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, predicts “an enormous boondoggle for the private prison industry.”
“The immigration system already lacks rigorous oversight and transparency,” he said, “and now there’s this perfect storm — a push to rapidly expand the system, a lack of existing oversight and the profit motive driving these companies.”
Private companies provide immigrant detention at a lower cost: about $144 per inmate a day, versus $184 in federally run Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. Immigrant attorneys and human rights groups have long argued the profit motive spurs private companies to cut corners and cram inmates into shoddy and overcrowded facilities.
For critics, Raymondville’s Willacy County Correctional Center is Exhibit A in the case against private detention centers. Not long before it was forced to close in 2015, the ACLU dubbed it a “physical symbol of everything that is wrong with enriching the private prison industry and criminalizing immigration.”
Officials in Willacy County are still banking on being a place to lock up immigrants, even though the county has filed a lawsuit against the private company whose “abysmal management,” it claims, caused inmates to riot.
“Everybody here wants it back because they need jobs,” Eliberto “Beto” Guerra, a Democratic Willacy County commissioner, said of the facility. “It means security for a lot of families.”
Well-paid jobs are scarce in Raymondville, a Rio Grande Valley hub of cotton and sugarcane fields whose main street is dominated by loan stores and pawn shops. More than a third of Willacy County residents live below the poverty line.
The idea for an immigrant detention center was born 15 years ago, when a large construction company approached local officials with a pitch to revitalize their economy: borrow $65 million from the public debt markets to build prisons.
In 2006, as President George W. Bush pushed to crack down on illegal immigration, the county hired a Texas construction company to build the detention center on a cotton field on the outskirts of town. It then contracted with a Utah-based company, Management & Training Corp., to run the complex.
This has become a common arrangement. As ICE detention has exploded in recent years — reaching more than 41,000 beds last November — about 65% of ICE detainees are now held in facilities operated by private, for-profit contractors.
As Joe Alexandre, Raymondville’s former mayor, remembers it, county officials were assured they would earn more than they needed to recoup their multimillion-dollar investment.
Built in just a few months, the sprawling complex, dubbed Tent City, could hold 2,000 inmates and was the largest immigrant detention camp in the country. Ten huge tent domes, made of Kevlar stretched over metal frames, were erected over concrete pads. Each oval tent held 200 men or women, with no partitions dividing the toilets or showers.
Almost immediately, there were problems. Inmates complained of rotten food, unsanitary conditions, poor medical care and limited access to the law library and telephones. [MORE]
Court Refuses to Reinstate Trump's Muslim Ban, Says "No Evidence" of Attacks from 7 Listed Countries
In a major victory for civil rights advocates, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has unanimously refused to reinstate Donald Trump’s executive order that banned people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States and sparked nationwide protests. The judges ruled that the administration "has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States." Trump has vowed to appeal the case, possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court. We get reaction from Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "It is the veracity of the administration that is at stake," Warren says.
A federal appeals court on Thursday said Pennsylvania prisons cannot keep housing inmates in solitary confinement on death row after their death sentences had been vacated, without meaningful reviews of whether such conditions remained necessary.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said the inmates have a constitutional due process right against such confinement, unless it was required for security and safety reasons, and could be justified on a case-by-case basis.
"Inmates in solitary confinement on death row without active death sentences face the perils of extreme isolation and are at risk of erroneous deprivation of their liberty," Circuit Judge Theodore McKee wrote for a three-judge panel.
"Accordingly, they have a clearly established due process right under the Fourteenth Amendment to avoid unnecessary and unexamined solitary confinement on death row," he said.
The appeals court nonetheless agreed with two lower court judges that prison officials who were sued over the old policy deserved qualified immunity, because they interpreted that policy reasonably and might not have known it was suspect.
Thursday's decision arose from lawsuits by Craig Williams and Shawn Walker, respectively convicted of first-degree murders in 1988 and 1992.
They each sought damages for having spent several years in solitary confinement after their death sentences had been vacated, but before they were resentenced to life in prison.
The office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, which defended the prison officials, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
James Bilsborrow, a lawyer for Williams and Walker, in an interview said that despite the qualified immunity finding, the decision "should give prisons pause before confining inmates in solitary confinement indefinitely."
Many critics of solitary confinement fault what the appeals court called its "dehumanizing effect," quoting a 2015 opinion from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
The more conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in a separate 2015 opinion with regard to solitary confinement that "years on end of near-total isolation exact a terrible price," and the judiciary might eventually consider "whether workable alternative systems for long-term confinement exist."
McKee said solitary confinement can trigger "devastating psychological consequences," and side effects such as anxiety, depression, panic and suicidal thoughts.
He said Williams and Walker were kept in their cells at least 22 hours a day, and when allowed out Williams was often put in a locked cage while Walker faced invasive strip searches.
Pennsylvania argued that such treatment fell within the "normal range" of permissible conditions, and was no more harsh than what similar inmates faced.
The cases are Williams v. Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Corrections et al, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 14-1469; and Walker v. Farnan et al in the same court, No. 15-1390.
With death penalty cases grinding to a halt across the state, the Florida Legislature is finally taking its first - and probably only steps - to fix the law so prosecutors can resume cases once again.
]Legislators are moving ahead with a measure that would require a unanimous jury verdict in cases where the death penalty is being sought.
Just a year ago legislators rejected the idea, but the state Supreme Court last October struck down a 2016 law that said the death penalty could be imposed after a 10-2 jury vote.
A Senate panel on Monday approved a bill requiring a unanimous jury verdict and a similar measure is being considered in the state House. The legislation could be among the first bills passed and sent to Gov. Rick Scott when the session officially kicks off in March. [MORE]
A bill requiring the government to obtain a warrant to search your email just flew through the House
A bill set to update online privacy laws dating back three decades just cruised through the House by unanimous vote for the second time. The bipartisan bill known as the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387), introduced by Colorado Rep. Jared Polis and Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder, would require the government to seek a warrant in order to access the email of American citizens.
As it stands, ambiguity surrounding the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) — a law passed in 1986 — lets the government exercise warrantless searches if emails are more than 180 days old and live on third-party servers.
Last year, the same bill passed in the House before stalling out in the Senate, partly at the hands of Trump-appointed attorney general and then Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama. Last June, Sessions proposed an amendment to the reinvented ECPA that would create exceptions for “emergency disclosures.” That surveillance-friendly loophole was just one of the tweaks that caused the bill to stall out before it could come to a vote.
Following the vote, Google Director of Law Enforcement and Information Security Richard Salgado issued a statement praising the House and urging the Senate to seize the “historic opportunity” for reform:
“The Email Privacy Act updates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require the government to obtain a warrant before it can compel companies like Google to disclose the content of users’ communications. Since 2010, Google has testified before Congress four times in support of this reform, which will protect all users, and we are proud of our efforts…
This Act will fix a constitutional flaw in ECPA, which currently purports to allow the government to compel a provider to disclose email contents in some cases without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Email Privacy Act ensures that the content of our emails are protected in the same way that the Fourth Amendment protects the items we store in our homes.
This is consistent with the practice around the country already and what the Constitution requires; the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in 2010 that ECPA is unconstitutional to the extent it permits the government to compel a service provider to disclose to the government a user’s electronic communications content without a warrant. Today’s vote demonstrates that this conviction is widely shared.”
In a statement on the bill, the ACLU’s Neema Singh Guliani also commended the House for once again passing the Email Privacy Act and implored the Senate to do the same:
“Last year, this bills’ progress was derailed by Senate efforts to water down its provisions and attach amendments that would have weakened Americans’ privacy. We urge the Senate to not repeat past mistakes; instead it should act quickly to pass legislation that ensures that Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights are protected in the digital age.”
With Sessions out of the way, the Email Privacy Act may find less friction in the Senate — but in 2017’s uncertain political climate, that doesn’t exactly have digital privacy advocates resting easy.
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel today backed a proposed state law to ban "sanctuary cities" in Ohio and hold municipal officials criminally and civilly liable for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
Mandel said he supports legislation to be introduced by a fellow Republican, freshman state Rep. Candice Keller of Middletown.
"This is about protecting parents and protecting kids here in Ohio," Mandel said in a telephone conference call this morning. "I believe we must have zero tolerance policy when the safety of our kids are at stake."
The bill would prohibit cities from sheltering refugees and immigrants who may be in the country illegally.
Mandel, who again is seeking the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 2018 to run against incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown, singled out Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, both Democrats, as targets of the legislation.
"They are putting families at risk," Mandel said. "What they're doing is playing partisan politics and this is a non-partisan issue."
Columbus has not declared itself a sanctuary city, but has said it would not use resources to enforce efforts to expel immigrants.
Mandel accused Ginther and Cranley of "totally ignoring" incidents in Europe causes by terrorists and "sticking their head in the sand."
Cranley issued a statement in response to Mandel, saying, "Josh Mandel continues to falsely declare Cincinnati is violating federal laws — that is a blatant lie. We have not and will not violate federal laws. Mandel's proposal is a straw man for his political ambitions, demonizing refugees fleeing oppression in the process. We are standing with refugees and disagreeing with President Trump's executive orders, which is our First Amendment right to do. Mandel's attempt to jail people who disagree with the president is an outrageous attack on the First Amendment."
The proposal, which has not been introduced in the General Assembly, would make city officials criminally liable if a crime was committed by an undocumented immigrant. The crimes that would trigger a violation were not specified.
Officials could be charged with a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine up to $5,000. A public official could he held personally liable for up to $1 million in damages if a person is injured by an immigrant.
Information provided by Mandel said the law would prohibit "any local jurisdiction from adopting or implementing a law, ordinance, rule, policy, or plan or taking any action that limits or prohibits an elected official, employee, or law enforcement officer from communicating or cooperating with an appropriate public official, employee, or law enforcement officer of the federal government concerning the immigration status of an individual residing in the state."
It would also prohibit "any local jurisdiction from deliberately obstructing immigration enforcement, restricting interaction with federal immigration agencies, or shielding illegal aliens from detection."
Mandel, who said recently that Cincinnati would become a sanctuary city "over our dead body," has repeatedly lashed out at "radical Islamic terrorists."
It is the first bill to be introduced by Keller, who was elected last fall.
She blamed immigrants and their "culture" for committing crimes, including assaults and rape, and bringing in "sexually transmitted diseases."
"My phone has been ringing off the hook with constituents in my district who are concerned about this," she said.
She said refugee resettlement is "not about humanitarianism, but about importing "cheap labor" and violence.
Kent Scarrett, executive director of the Ohio Municipal League, said he had not seen the Mandel-Keller proposal. However, he said it would "almost certainly be an encroachment on the home rule powers granted to cities by the Ohio Constitution." [MORE]
Ohio Governor John Kasich [official website] on Friday put on hold [press release] eight executions after a magistrate for the US District Court of the Southern District of Ohio [official website] on Wednesday refused to lift a stay [JURIST reports] on the first three of Ohio's scheduled executions. Ohio has since appealed the stay, initiated by death row inmates, to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit [official website], which is unlikely to issue its ruling before February 15th, the next scheduled execution date. Kasich said in a press statement:
While Ohio is confident its appeal will ultimately be successful given the United State Supreme Court [official website] decision in Glossip v. Gross [SCOTUSblog materials], the appellate court's scheduling will not allow the matter to be resolved in time to allow the state to move forward with its current execution dates. Accordingly, these delays are necessary to allow the judicial process to come to a full resolution, and ensure that the state can move forward with the executions.
Judge Michael Merz's grant of stay was premised on his finding that "use of midazolam as the first drug in Ohio's present three-drug protocol will create a 'substantial risk of serious harm' or an 'objectively intolerable risk of harm.'" Ohio's position is that the three-drug combination does not violate the Constitution [JURIST report] and that it should be allowed to go ahead with the executions. A revised schedule for the executions has been listed on the governor's website. There are currently 140 people on death row [NPR report] in Ohio.
Numerous states have switched to the three-drug protocol, which uses midazolam as a sedative before administering a second drug to paralyze and stop breathing and a third drug to stop the heart. In December the Mississippi Supreme Court allowed a challenge [JURIST report] to the use of the sedative. Also that month an inmate in Alabama coughed and struggled to breathe for 13 minutes [JURIST report] during the administration of midazolam, which death penalty opponents called an "avoidable disaster." In November the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a case involving the 2014 botched execution [JURIST reports] of Clayton Lockett, a death row inmate in Oklahoma.
The Federal Trade Commission said Monday that Vizio used 11 million televisions to spy on its customers. The television maker agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a case with the FTC and the New Jersey attorney general's office after the agencies accused it of secretly collecting — and selling — data about its customers' locations, demographics and viewing habits.
With the advent of “smart” appliances, customers and consumer advocates have raised concerns about whether the devices could be sending sensitive information back to their manufacturers. The FTC says the Vizio case shows how a television or other appliance might be telling companies more than their owners are willing to share.
“Before a company pulls up a chair next to you and starts taking careful notes on everything you watch (and then shares it with its partners), it should ask if that’s O.K. with you,” Kevin Moriarty, an attorney with the FTC's Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, wrote in a blog post. “Vizio wasn’t doing that, and the FTC stepped in.” [MORE]
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is requesting a meeting with U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officials over recent raids on undocumented immigrants.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), who chairs the caucus, sent a letter to ICE asking for “an open and candid discussion” on the enforcement changes, saying the raids "have struck fear in the hearts of the immigrant community.”
“It is critical that we meet with you in person immediately to discuss the impact these raids have had on our communities as well as obtain clarifying guidance on how ICE policies will differ from the last Administration,” the letter reads.
Democratic Reps. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.), John Conyers (Mich.), Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) and Judy Chu (Calif.) also signed the letter calling for a meeting by Wednesday.
The letter stated that congressional offices had contacted ICE and the Department of Homeland Security about the recent raids in California, but has yet to year back about the enforcement.
A report on Friday said more than 300 undocumented immigrants had been arrested in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Chicago in raids this week.
An ICE official in the Los Angeles office called the raid an “enforcement surge,” but maintained that they were routine.
Trump last month signed an executive order on immigration that ended the “catch and release” policy that allowed people who crossed the border to return to Mexico without being detained.
Almost three months after Bashir Yussuf watched Donald J. Trump win the presidential election, he made his way to Noyes, Minn., where he set off at night into the snow-filled woods and crawled across the unmarked border into Canada.
“I saw what was coming,” said Mr. Yussef, 28, who fled his home in Somalia in 2013 to make a circuitous, five-month voyage to San Diego, where he applied for asylum but was rejected. “I knew Trump was going to deport me.”
After a three-hour walk, much of it through deep drifts, Mr. Yussuf arrived in Emerson, a small farming town in sight of the snow-swept border with both North Dakota and Minnesota.
Emerson’s 700 inhabitants have long known “border hoppers,” often offering them lifts to the nearby Canadian Border Services Agency office. But they have never seen them coming in these numbers.
The morning before Mr. Yussuf arrived with another Somali last Sunday night, 19 other Africans had emerged on the Canadian side of the border, cold and hungry after walking much of the night across frozen farm fields. There were too many to fit into the small border office for processing, so the people of the town rushed to open the community hall, where the new arrivals could get warm, doze on sleeping mats and refuel on Nutella sandwiches, tea and coffee.
Noting a worrying trend, Emerson officials convened an emergency meeting on Thursday with the police and border agents to figure out a protocol for the next wave of arrivals — which they feared would be soon.
“The farmers are worried about what they’re going to find when the snow melts,” said Greg Janzen, the reeve, or chief elected executive, of the Emerson-Franklin municipality.
On Christmas Eve, two Ghanaians were picked up on the roadside north of town, some 10 hours after they had set off into a field near the border, sinking to their waists in snow. The temperature that morning was reported to be below zero, with windchill making it even worse. The men’s hands were so badly frostbitten that they lost almost all their fingers.
Over the past couple of years, a small number of people have been sneaking across the border at Manitoba from the United States and then filing for asylum, Canadian Border Service Agency statistics show. But since the fall, refugee workers in Winnipeg say, there has been a noticeable surge.
The Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, known locally as Welcome Place, typically serves 50 to 60 asylum seekers per year, said its executive director, Rita Chahal. “Since April, we’ve seen already 300,” she said.
While the government of Canada was unable to provide statistics on the number of people seeking refugee status who illegally enter the country, Sgt. Harold Pfleiderer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said “there has been an increase in illegal migration in Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia, with the largest increase being seen in Quebec.”
A loophole in the rules covering asylum seekers has led some to walk for as long as eight hours in the middle of the night, through wintry landscapes and biting prairie cold, before arriving in Emerson. While an agreement between Canada and the United States makes it impossible for them to simply present themselves at the border and claim asylum, those who make it into the country and then present themselves to border guards can do so.
Now, in light of the uncertainty and disruption created by President Trump’s executive order on immigration, refugee advocates and human rights groups in Canada are demanding that the government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspend or cancel the refugee pact, which is known as the Safe Third Country agreement.
“We are essentially encouraging people to come across the border through irregular means,” said Sean Rehaag, a York University law professor who specializes in refugee and immigration law.
On Wednesday, the immigration and refugee clinical program at Harvard Law School issued a report stating that Mr. Trump’s executive orders on immigration made the United States “not a safe country of asylum” for people fleeing persecution and violence.
“When Canada sends someone back to the U.S., we are saying we have confidence the U.S. is going to protect them if they need protection. We don’t see how we can have confidence to say that in the current context,” said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council For Refugees, a nonprofit umbrella organization of 170 refugee advocacy groups.
Bashir Khan, a Winnipeg lawyer, has represented 125 refugees before the Immigration and Refugee Board over the past five years. That is on top of the 17 he is representing currently. [MORE]
From [HERE] A New York judge has ordered the New York Police Department to disclose records pertaining to the undercover surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists during protests following the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Protestor James Logue filed a public records request for video and audio footage taken by uniformed and plain-clothed NYPD officers of the crowds during two Grand Central Terminal protests in 2014 and 2015. The NYPD refused to comply with the request, arguing that disclosing any records would obstruct its ability to do police work.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez ruled Wednesday that NYPD assistant intelligence chief John Donahue’s claims that releasing the data would expose details of ongoing terrorism investigations.
“His speculative and conclusive claims of potential related ongoing investigations of incidents against police officers, both in New York and outside of the state and generalized references to use of materials by the ISIS or ISIL terrorists, fail to provide a causal connection to the protesters and are insufficient to state a generic risk,” Mendez wrote in his decision.
Mendez also wrote that the NYPD made “blanket assertions and fail[ed] to particularize or distinguish their surveillance or undercover techniques and records.” The judge also insisted that using redactions would sufficiently protect the department’s intelligence tactics.
News broke of NYPD’s undercover surveillance efforts in September after the department responded to the petition indicating that it had multimedia records, metadata, and recorded conversations between police officers.
The NYPD has a history of controversial surveillance programs. The department increased its surveillance operations as part of their effort to combat terrorism, but they were forced to dismantle a 9/11-era program that monitored New York’s mosques and Muslim community. Their surveillance practices continued following the police choking death of Eric Garner.
Surveillance of communities of color and their allies isn’t new. Law enforcement agencies nationwide have increased their surveillance efforts in recent years as Black Lives Matter protests sprung up across the country to bring attention to incidents of police brutality. Beyond recording, police departments have also used online data to track prominent voices in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Wednesday’s legal victory, however, could pave the way for surveillance activity to be disclosed more readily.
From [HERE] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 2-1 Tuesday that immigrants who are caught entering the US illegally have no right to legal representation in an expedited hearing.
A law passed in 1996 allows Customs and Border Protection officers to use a process of "expedited removal" to remove immigrants who are caught within 100 miles of the border without valid documentation. Immigrants who are subject to expedited removal are not given a lawyer, nor do they receive a trial. The appeals court upheld the deportation of a Mexican immigrant who was returned to his country the day after being arrested while crossing the US border in 2012, finding that his "expedited removal was not fundamentally unfair." One judge dissented, stating he "would hold that there is a due process right to counsel during expedited removal proceedings."
Right to counsel in immigration proceedings remains a controversial topic. In September the Ninth Circuit ruled that children facing deportation proceedings may not file a class action suit [JURIST report] to determine whether they are entitled to an attorney as a due process right. The opinion reversed in part a ruling that determined the federal courts had jurisdiction to hear the class action lawsuit on constitutional grounds. The three-judge panel ruled instead that the Immigration and Nationality Act [text] exclusive review process applied, necessitating that each individual plaintiff file an appeal in the federal court after all deportation proceedings were exhausted. In 2014 then-US Attorney General Eric Holder argued in a speech at the Thirty-Ninth Annual Convention of the Hispanic National Bar Association hat migrant children who come across the border unaccompanied should have legal representation [JURIST report].
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Tuesday challenging President Donald Trump's controversial executive order [executive order] restricting immigration. The ACLU claims [press release] that the ban is unconstitutional under the First Amendment prohibition on government establishment of religion and the Fifth Amendment [text] guarantee of equal treatment under the law. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the president have argued [JURIST report] that the order does not fall under the First Amendment as it does not specify religion, but country. Furthermore, the Trump administration has stated that the Fifth Amendment does not apply as the government has no obligation to foreigners and non-US residents and citizens. In response, the ACLU and other advocates for argue that the order amounts to a Muslim ban that is reminiscent of when the US turned away Jewish refugees that were fleeing Germany before World War 2.
Trump signed the executive order [JURIST op-ed] in late January. Only a day later, a judge for the Eastern District of New York issued an emergency stay [JURIST report], temporarily preventing execution of the law, until the question of whether it applied to valid visa holders could be resolved. That issue was resolved by a district judge in Michigan, who ordered [JURIST report] that the travel ban could not be applied to legal citizens, including those holding visas. On Friday the US District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a stay [JURIST report] of Trump's order. Following appeal, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied [JURIST report] the Trump Administration's emergency motion [text, PDF] to reinstate the immigration restrictions, thereby suspending the order until arguments have been heard. The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments [JURIST report] Tuesday on whether the travel ban should be reinstated, and a ruling is expected this week.