Monday, June 15, 2015
Call for the "Disinvitation" of White House Assistant to the President Cecelia Munoz as AILA Keynote Speaker
A group of members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have made news by demanding that Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, be dropped as the keynote speaker at the the group's annual conference on June 17-20 in Washington D.C. next week. Many immigration law professors make the annual trek to this conference.
The attorneys in a letter claim that Muñoz is part of an administration that has implemented policies hostile and harmful to immigrants.The letter states in part:
"We hereby request that AILA rescind Cecilia Muñoz’s invitation to deliver the keynote address at our annual conference given that she is directly responsible for causing children to suffer severe and prolonged physical and mental harm in detention centers in Artesia, New Mexico; Leesport, Pennsylvania; Karnes City, Texas; and Dilley, Texas.
Additionally, Ms. Muñoz has fully backed President Obama’s multi-pronged policy to prevent Central American children from escaping death, severe bodily or mental harm, and rape. She is one of the principal architects of shocking, widespread, and ongoing human rights violations against vulnerable children fleeing Central America. As such, she should not be elevated or rewarded with the most prominent speech at AILA’s annual conference.
Ms. Muñoz’s actions and words, in part, directly caused the children described below to suffer unimaginable physical and mental harm.
- A 1 year old rushed to the hospital with pneumonia only to be sent back to detention immediately upon discharge.
- A 7-year-old boy raped and detained for months afterwards in the same facility as his abuser. He was released upon his family paying a $10,000 bond set by an immigration judge.
- A 4-year-old girl locked in an isolation jail cell with her mother for 9 consecutive days while suffering from untreated pneumonia and severe decay in all of her teeth.
- A 3-year-old who coughed up blood for more than 3 days who was told to just drink lots of water until finally she was brought to the hospital for treatment.
- A 2-year-old boy with a 107 fever whom, according to the emergency room doctor, was close to suffering cardiac arrest if he had arrived any later.
- A 4-year-old girl placed in foster care for two months after her mother attempted suicide in the Dilley internment camp because ICE extinguished her hope: she faced the certainty that life would end, either with indefinite detention or deportation to death in Honduras.
Dozens and dozens of similar accounts reverberate among us. Children suffer immense pain because of detention, and even death because of deportation. The above accounts are not unknown to Ms. Muñoz. Several high profile news outlets have reported on the physical and mental harm children experience as a direct consequence of detention.
Family detention is not even the worst of Ms. Muñoz’s acts. Starting last summer, she and the White House were desperate to do anything to stop Central American children from escaping into the U.S. in such high numbers. President Obama went so far as to request Congress to gut the 2008 Trafficking and Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”) so that unaccompanied children from Central America could be detained pending deportation without even seeing an immigration judge.
In the midst of the crisis, Ms. Muñoz told PBS News Hour that “the vast majority of those kids end up going back. There may be some isolated cases where there is some basis for them to be able to stay, but the borders of the United States are not open, not even for children who come on their own, and the deportation process starts when they get here, and we expect that it will for the vast majority of these kids.”
Contrasted with the reality that the vast majority of recent child arrivals are eligible to remain in the United States lawfully as special immigrant juveniles or asylees, Ms. Muñoz lied to the public to justify the unthinkable: deporting children back to be killed, abducted, raped, or harmed.
Opposed by Democrats in Congress, the White House was unsuccessful in eliminating the law’s protections. The President and his advisors went to plan B: hire Mexico to apprehend and rapidly deport Central American children back home while en route to the safety of the United States.
The White House’s plan is ongoing and the primary cause of the drop in Central American apprehensions in 2015: Mexico deported 3,289 Central American children in January and February of 2015 alone, a 105 percent increase from 2014.
The White House’s plan to trap children in countries torn asunder by a war even reaches the conditions of financial aid designated to ameliorate the crisis. In the 2015 budget bill, any Central American recipient of aid to improve conditions such as safety, security, and education would be stripped of all aid if the respective nations fail to keep their own citizens from fleeing harm to the United States."
AILA Executive Director Crystal Williams said on an online posting that she will keep Muñoz as the keynote speaker at the conference:
"we will not be disinviting Ms. Munoz. We will have her come and speak to our conference. We will behave professionally, but we will also challenge her to account for the Administration’s actions. Our mission as an organization requires no less."
Sounds like the annual conference will be interesting indeed.