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Tag: immigration and customs enforcement

How Trump’s Immigration Policy Makes Him An Accomplice Of Child Traffickers

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

President Donald Trump thinks of himself as a champion against human trafficking. He addressed a White House Summit on the issue in January claiming there was a "humanitarian crisis" at the border fomented by criminal organizations and that "traffickers victimize countless women and children." He signed an executive order and diverted $400 million in funding to combat the issue, boasting in his usual manner that "we have signed more legislation on human trafficking than any other administration has ever even thought about."

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ICE Guards ’Systematically” Commit Sexual Assaults On Prisoners, Say Lawyers

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

Guards in an immigrant detention center in El Paso sexually assaulted and harassed inmates in a “pattern and practice" of abuse, according to a complaint filed by a Texas advocacy group urging the local district attorney and federal prosecutors to conduct a criminal investigation.

The allegations, detailed in a filing first obtained by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, maintain that guards systematically assaulted at least three people in a facility overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement — often in areas of the detention center not visible to security cameras. The guards told victims that no one would believe them because footage did not exist and the harassment involved officers as high-ranking as a lieutenant.

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ICE Expels Migrant Kids 'To Prevent Virus Spread' — After They Test Negative

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

Since March, the Trump administration has pushed thousands of migrant children back to their home countries without legal screenings or protection, citing the risk that they could be carrying COVID-19 into the United States.

But by the time the children are boarded on planes home, they've already been tested for the virus — and proven not to have it.

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Federal Judge Orders ICE To Release Florida Detainees

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A federal judge has ordered federal immigration officials to free hundreds of people detained at three Florida facilities, ruling "there is record evidence demonstrating that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has failed in its duty to protect the safety and general well-being of the petitioners," and that social distancing while in detention "is not only practically impossible, the conditions are becoming worse every day," Miami Herald reports.

"In a strongly worded 12-page order filed late Thursday, U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has acted with 'deliberate indifference' to the condition of its detainees," Miami Herald continued, saying officials failed to provide them soap and other supplies to protect themselves. Officials are now ordered to immediately distribute masks to detainees, and to inform her of their plan to reduce population size—something they should have already done long ago.

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Trump Sending Tactical Units Into Cities To Round Up Immigrants

The Trump is administration is deploying tactical units into multiple sanctuary cities as part of an effort to assist U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in its campaign to detain migrants.

The units are being deployed “in order to enhance the integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security,” Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lawrence Payne told the New York Times.

According to an email sent to CBP personnel, the deployment of the tactical teams will run from February through May.

The elite units, described by the Times as the “SWAT team of the border patrol,” will have gear such as stun grenades and have gone through training like that of the Special Forces. According to the outlet, “the officers typically conduct high-risk operations targeting individuals who are known to be violent, many of them with extensive criminal records.”

The planned deployment will affect cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit, and Newark, New Jersey.

ICE already operates in those cities and the deployment will add an increased degree of militarism to its immigration operations.

Donald Trump has often attacked and criticized sanctuary cities as part of his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

“The state of California passed an outrageous law declaring their whole state to be a sanctuary for criminal illegal immigrants — a very terrible sanctuary — with catastrophic results,” Trump said in his recent State of the Union address.

At a campaign rally in New Hampshire, Trump complained about “left-wing politicians” who “support sanctuary cities that release criminal aliens directly into the American community.”

Under Trump, immigrant communities have expressed fears about agencies like ICE coming into communities and separating families from each other. In some instances, ICE has even apprehended and detained American citizens, despite claims that they only target migrants.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said that he would use a “deportation force” to remove 11 million immigrants from the United States.

“You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely,” he claimed at the time.

Multiple studies have shown that migrants are statistically far less likely to commit crimes than natural-born U.S. citizens.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Danziger: What Happens To A Dream Deported?

Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from theWall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. Represented by the Washington Post Writers Group, he is a recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army as a linguist and intelligence officer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. He was born in New York City, and now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.

Private Prison Companies Openly Boast About Soaring Profits From Locking Up Children And Mothers

Published with permission from Alternet.

The largest private prison companies in the United States are assuring their shareholders that profits are up, thanks in part to the windfall from locking up women and children in controversial “family detention centers.”

“We are pleased with our first quarter financial performance, which exceeded our first quarter guidance despite incremental startup expenses incurred during the operational ramp of our Trousdale Turner Correctional Center,” said Damon Hininger, chief executive officer of the private prison behemoth Corrections Corporation of America, in a press statement issued earlier this month. “Our financial performance was driven primarily by stronger than anticipated demand from our federal partners, most notably Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

According to the company’s assessment, the spike in revenue was “primarily attributable to a contract at the South Texas Family Residential Center,” which brought in over $70 million during the first quarter of 2016 alone—roughly double levels seen in the first quarter of 2015.

The prison-like facility is located in Dilley, Texas and holds up to 2,400 women and children. Atlantic magazine writer J. Weston Phippen reports that more than half of the people incarcerated there are children whose average age is nine.

Remarkably, the company’s statement came the same day a judge imposed a two-week restraining order on the facility to temporarily prevent the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from implementing a childcare license for the prison. The advocacy organization Grassroots Leadership has vigorously opposed such licensing, arguing that the facilities are prisons, not childcare accommodations.

“We’re talking about prison-like conditions, in that people are locked up with their kids in these facilities,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, in an interview with AlterNet. “When you talk to the moms there, they say that their kids are really suffering in detention.”

Meanwhile, Brian Evans, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the private prison giant GEO Group, reported in a late April conference call with shareholders, “Our revenues for the first quarter 2016 increased to approximately $510 million from $427 million a year ago.” This was attributed, in part, to the “activation of the 626-bed expansion of the Karnes residential center in December 2015.”

The Karnes camp, also located in Texas, has been the site of repeated hunger strikes over inhumane conditions, including nearly free labor, lack of legal representation and contaminated drinking water. In 2014, some women detained at the prison alleged that guards sexually assaulted them.

“The conditions in which our children find themselves, are not good. Our children are not eating well and every day they are losing weight,” dozens of women at the camp declared last year in a joint statement. “In the name of the mothers, residents of the Center for Detentions in Karnes City, we are writing this petition whereby we ask to be set free with our children. There are mothers here who have been locked in this place for as long as 10 months.”

In 2014, the Obama administration made the mass detention of families a cornerstone of its response to mass displacement from Central American countries where violence and poverty have been worsened by U.S. policies. This policy shift unleashed a humanitarian nightmare that has been condemned by human rights organizations, as well as the people who are locked up, most of whom have already endured trauma in their home countries and are seeking sanctuary in the United States. As ThinkProgress reporter Esther Yu-Hsi Lee pointed out, these facilities have been compared to Japanese internment camps.

The bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights determined in a report released last year that women and children are being detained in violation of their most fundamental rights. A federal judge last year ordered the Obama administration to release women and children held in family detention, condemning their incarceration as “deplorable.” (The ruling is currently being appealed.)

Private prison companies have an interest in ensuring that detentions and deportations remain high. A report released last year by Grassroots Leadership determined that GEO Group and CCA have spent millions of dollars to lobby for harsher immigration policies, including a directive to fill 34,000 detention beds on a daily basis. What’s more, private companies have an increasing share of an ever-expanding ICE detention system, which grew by nearly half over the last 10 years, according to the report. Today, nine out of the 10 biggest ice prisons are run by private companies, with GEO and CCA together accounting for nearly three-quarters of all private prison beds contracted by ICE.

“No one should profit from the incarceration of human beings,” said Libal. “That moral problem is compounded when you are talking about incentivizing, for corporate gain, the incarceration of children and their moms, almost all of whom have already been traumatized, which is why they had to flee their countries of origin.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

Judge Orders Release Of Immigrant Children, Mothers From Detention Centers

By Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

A federal judge has ruled that families held in immigration detention facilities must be released after finding that their detention was in serious violation of an earlier court settlement.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in California ruled that children and their mothers — many among the people fleeing from violence in Central America — no longer can be locked up. Gee found that federal officials had violated an 18-year-old court settlement regarding the detention of migrant children.

Gee blasted federal officials in his ruling, writing that children had been held in substandard conditions at two detention centers in Texas.

“It is astonishing that Defendants have enacted a policy requiring such expensive infrastructure without more evidence to show that it would be complaint with an Agreement that has been in effect for nearly 20 years,” Gee wrote.

The ruling is a major setback for Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who opened family detention facilities after a significant increase in children and parents at the U.S.-Mexico border — most from Central America crossing the Southwest border — last summer.

It’s unclear whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement will appeal the ruling. The government is detaining 1,700 parents and children at three detention facilities, two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania.

The judge gave Homeland Security officials until August 3 to devise a plan to release mothers and children.

Photo: Otay Detention Center in California. BBC World Service via Flickr