Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley was barred from entering an immigration detention center in Texas and had the police called on him during his visit, according to a live video of the encounter posted to Facebook on Sunday evening.
Merkley traveled to the facility in Brownsville, called Casa Padre (Father House), to criticize a recent Trump administration policy that will likely result in more undocumented immigrant children being separated from their parents. In the video, Merkley said he was going to try to tour the facility after his staff attempted to set up a meeting to do so last week.
“The reason why I came is this new policy that the attorney general has in place of families that are waiting for the adjudication of their application for asylum in the U.S., and the children are being separated,” Merkley tells police officers.
Merkley said during the livestream that the center “may currently be housing hundreds of refugee children who have been separated from their parents.” No member of Congress has visited the facility, Merkley noted, which is being run by a nonprofit group called Southwest Key Programs.
Leaked Photo Reveals “Mass Trial” Of Immigrants in Texas
A leaked photo showing a federal courtroom packed with dozens of immigrants in orange jumpsuits undergoing a “mass trial” in Texas has shed a light on an increasingly common practice.
Debbie Nathan, a journalist who first came across the image while covering mass trials in Texas said that, in recent months, she has seen similar mass trials in Brownsville and El Paso and added they were some of the most upsetting things she has witnessed in her three decades of covering border and immigration issues. Nathan said that a number of members of the legal community had told her about the photo before she found it on social media.
The journalist said public defenders are only given a handful of minutes with each defendant and that defendants are sometimes forced to answer a judge’s question in unison, rather than being able to make their case on an individual basis. “I’ve seen as many as 40, 41, 42 people all let in, men and women, all shackled at the waist, shackled at the feet, their hands shackled to their waist chains,” Nathan said. “It’s a very dehumanizing process,” the journalist said. “You’re just like, how could this possibly be considered American due process?”
Immigration Agents Arrest 114 At Ohio Landscaper
More than 100 workers at an Ohio gardening and landscaping company were arrested Tuesday when about 200 federal officers descended on the business and carried out one of the largest workplace immigration raids in recent years.
The operation was part of the White House’s increasing focus on businesses that hire people in the country illegally amid a broad range of immigration crackdowns under President Donald Trump that include stepped-up deportations, targeting of sanctuary cities and zero-tolerance border policies.
The 114 arrests occurred at two locations of Corso’s Flower & Garden Center, one in Sandusky, a resort city on Lake Erie, and another in nearby Castalia. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it expected criminal charges including identity theft and tax evasion. No criminal charges were filed against the company, but the employer is under investigation, authorities said.
ICE to Send 1,600 Immigration Violators to Federal Prisons
The Trump administration has started moving up to 1,600 immigration violators awaiting deportation hearings into federal prisons. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official said Thursday that the agency entered into an agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons to make the beds available for people caught illegally crossing the border.
The agreement, first reported by Reuters, follows the administration’s implementation of a “zero tolerance” policy that requires federal prosecutors to criminally charge everybody caught illegally crossing the border. Under previous administrations, first-time border crossers were usually put through civil deportation proceedings.
The result of the new policy has been a massive increase in the number of immigrants being detained, which led ICE to seek out additional bed space. The move to use federal prisons is the latest sign of how overwhelming the immigration crackdown has become under President Trump’s directives.
New U.S. Rule Will Make It Harder for Immigrant Children to Reunite with Families, Advocates Fear
The proposed Department of Homeland Security rule, which is expected to go into effect after the public comment period ends on Thursday, would allow immigration authorities to examine the criminal background and legal status of anyone who steps forward to sponsor unaccompanied migrant children, usually parents or close relatives already in the U.S., as well as any other adults living in their home. The rule would also allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement to collect biometric data, such as fingerprints, of the sponsors and other adults in the home.
The proposed rule has alarmed some immigration advocates who say it will force parents in the country illegally to choose between stepping forward to claim their children and protecting themselves from possible deportation.
“It could be chilling to sponsors who are guardians or parents but are undocumented, but who are in the best position to take care of and receive their children,” said Ashley Feasley, director of migration policy and public affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The group provides shelter and foster care for unaccompanied migrant children and tries to reunite them with relatives. “We’re in a climate of fear,” Feasley added, “and obviously if you’re going to put new conditions on sponsors coming forward, they are going to be more hesitant to come forward.”
Federal Judge Sides with Philadelphia in “Sanctuary City” Immigration Fight
U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson has ruled that the Trump administration cannot cut off grants to Philadelphia over the way the city deals with immigrants in the country illegally. He stated that the conditions the federal government placed on the city in order to receive the funding are unconstitutional, “arbitrary and capricious.”
“The public statements of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, asserting that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born citizens, are inaccurate as applied to Philadelphia, and do not justify the imposition of these three conditions,” Baylson wrote.
Philadelphia has said it will turn over immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement only if the agency has a warrant signed by a judge. The federal requirements included allowing ICE officers access to prisons to interview people of interest, providing advanced notice of release of those people and following rules prohibiting restrictions on disclosure of any person’s immigration status.
The city has also said that the requirements on federal grant spending were unconstitutional and that following them would promote a perception in the community that it was serving as an arm of federal immigration enforcement. City attorneys had argued that would create a barrier for immigrants to seek out city services ranging from health care to calling the police when they’re victimized.
Illegal Immigrant Making Pizza Delivery At New York’s Fort Hamilton Arrested by ICE
A pizza deliveryman, Pablo Villavicencio, an illegal immigrant who was making a delivery at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week.
His wife, Sandra Chica, told the newspaper El Diario that her husband was doing a routine delivery at the Fort location when a guard asked for a valid identification document. “Since he didn’t have one, the soldier called immigration to arrest him,” she said. Now, Villavicencio faces possible deportation to Ecuador.
New York City Council Member Justin Brannan said Villavicencio had made prior deliveries to Fort Hamilton and had used his municipal NYC ID, which had always been accepted. He called the sequence of events troubling and demanded more information from ICE and the Army. “Does the Army now have a new policy that demands all non-military personnel show proof of citizenship to gain access onto an Army base?” he asked in a statement obtained by Fox News.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for ICE in New York told Fox News on Wednesday that Villavicencio was granted voluntary departure status by an immigration judge in March 2010, but failed to depart by July 2010 as ordered. “As such, his voluntary departure order became a final order of removal” and he is “an ICE fugitive.
Fractured House Republicans Emerge from Meeting with No Final Deal to Protect Young Immigrants
House Republicans at odds over how best to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation emerged from a caucus meeting Thursday with no final deal on how to proceed.
Amid perceived inaction from GOP leaders, moderate Republicans have pushed to pass an immigration bill and are only a few signatures short of forcing a vote in the chamber. The centrist lawmakers’ demands clash with those of House conservatives, some of whom oppose proposals to offer immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children a special pathway to citizenship.
California Rep. Jeff Denham, a leader of the moderate group, said the lawmakers have agreed to a tentative offer from conservatives to protect the immigrants. However, he said the details are still murky, and they will not strike a final deal until they agree on all the particulars. The conservative House Freedom Caucus denied making an offer and said its members are working with colleagues to come up with a solution.