Washington Post: “Gratuitous cruelty by Homeland Security”
“What exactly, did a 7-year-old Congolese girl do to the United States to deserve the trauma that has been visited upon her — including forcible separation from her mother — by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and her immigration agents?
A U.S. asylum officer interviewed Ms. L, as the mother is called in a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, determined that she had a credible fear of harm if she were returned to Congo and stood a decent chance of ultimately being granted asylum. Despite that preliminary finding, officials decided that the right thing to do was to wrench S.S. from her mother, whereupon the mother ‘could hear her daughter in the next room frantically screaming that she wanted to remain with her mother,’ the lawsuit states.
Since being torn away in early November, S.S., who is being held at a facility in Chicago, has been permitted to speak with her mother, who is in a detention center in San Diego, just half a dozen times by phone. The girl, who turned 7 in December, routinely cries on the phone, according to the ACLU lawsuit. Is this the kind of protection Americans want from their Department of Homeland Security?”
Washington Post Editorial, March 4, 2018
This tactic — separating parents from their children — is now commonplace. It is but Trump’s latest tactic in his Administration’s war on immigrants.
See below for a round-up of the latest developments:
Closing the offices means the end of expedited citizenship for recruits immediately after they complete basic training, the key element of the popular Military Accessions Vital to National Interest program, or MAVNI, which has naturalized more than 10,400 military service members since 2009.
…Without the usual promise of gaining citizenship after basic training, however, these recruits “are unauthorized immigrants as soon as they enter the gates,” said Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer and an immigration attorney who designed the recruitment program. “And there’s no prospective date when they can expect to become legal again.”
In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the busiest border stretch for illegal crossings, agents are aggressively questioning migrants suspected of fraud.
During recent congressional negotiations over immigration, the administration pushed lawmakers to make it harder to win asylum, and for the right to jail families while they await hearings. Those talks ended in stalemate.
But the Department of Homeland Security, at times, is now separating children from parents at the border so the adults can be jailed while the children are released, often to family living in the U.S.
….Mr. Alfaro, who was having trouble recalling his daughter’s birth date, explained that he had fathered her with a woman other than his wife. As the agent continued questioning him, 3-year-old Reyna de la Paz burst into tears. “You are bad!” she shouted at the agent, her feet kicking and arms shaking in fury. “No!”
Operation Wagon Train hit Swift & Co. plants in six states on Dec. 12, 2006, arresting nearly 1,300 workers. In tiny Cactus, 300 were taken into custody — about 10 percent of the town’s population. It was the largest workplace raid in U.S. history.
Cactus and surrounding Moore County have bounced back from the raid, and the plant today is once more thriving, shipping steaks to Walmart and hamburger meat to Burger King. But finding workers remains a perpetual struggle. JBS USA, a Brazilian conglomerate that now owns the plant, has raised starting wages nearly 25 percent in recent years, but like other meat processors across the country, it survived by finding a different set of foreigners to do jobs that used to be filled by illegal workers: refugees.
The Trump administration already is putting its economic theories to the test, tightening immigration at a time of historically low unemployment. The number of refugees admitted into the United States has dropped by about 70 percent since Trump took office, and his administration is phasing out the provisional residency permits of more than 250,000 Haitians and Central Americans who have worked legally in the United States for years under temporary protected status.
Corbin [a volunteer who helps refugees] voted for Trump, but he does not agree with the president when he says the country needs a merit-based immigration system favoring those with advanced skills. “What we need is people willing to work hard, and people willing to work at JBS,” he said. “Their children will grow up to be engineers. But right now in our country, there is a great need for laborers.”
He was only 10 years old when an aunt brought him to the U.S. without authorization. Now 39, he had lived his entire adult life in the U.S. before his removal. [Jorge] Garcia has no criminal record, but the U.S. says that anyone without legal status can be removed. ICE has defended his deportation.
…Garcia lives with his aunt on the second floor of a tidy house that’s painted green, with pet cats roaming around. While he’s glad to at least have a family member to stay with, he has lost control of his life. He doesn’t have his own bathroom, he relies on others to buy and prepare food. He was unsure how to get his blood pressure medication until a cousin helped him figure out the bureaucracy in Mexico.
He misses his Michigan block, his dog, his steady, contented life in an American suburb. Most of all, he misses his wife, Cindy, and two children, Jorge Jr., 12, and Soleil, 15.
“I used to tell them good night, every night,” Garcia says. “And now, if I can get a signal, I’ll call them, but it’s not the same. I’m not actually there.”
The director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for deporting unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, likes to say that immigrants should be afraid of deportation: “If you entered this country illegally,” said Tom Homan in June 2017, “you should be looking over your shoulder and you should be worried.”
Two new studies offer evidence for a disturbing reality: The fear is real — but it isn’t limited to unauthorized immigrants. It’s affecting other immigrants who have reason to feel their immigration status isn’t secure. And it’s trickling down to US citizen children of immigrants, and even their children’s classmates. It’s shaping their behaviors and weighing down their inner lives.
We’re beginning to get a more detailed picture of the miasma of fear hanging over immigrants in the Trump era, and the ways it’s seeping into daily life. Two recent studies — one from researchers at George Washington University, based on a survey of Latino parents of teenagers, and another from the UCLA Civil Rights Project, which surveyed school professionals — help demonstrate that the fear of family separation is pressing down on immigrant parents and families. It’s a fear they aren’t equipped to handle, and that’s being passed on, deliberately or inadvertently, to children born in the US.
…One year in, it’s becoming increasingly impossible to deny that that’s what’s happening — that the Trump administration’s immigration policy is changing the way large numbers of families, including many US citizen children, understand and live their lives. But the broader public can’t fix the problem, and it’s unclear that the people who have — the government officials who set immigration policy — are paying attention to the effects of the fear factor, or care enough about it to step back from the policies they’re pursuing.
The cause is obvious. And with the slow dissolution of DACA and TPS over the next two years, it’s only likely to get worse.