Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Witnessing the Impact of the Border Security EO on One Immigration Detention Facility, by Lauren Gilbert


In this guest post, Lauren Gilbert describes the impact of the Executive Order on Border Security on one immigration detention facility:

"With all attention on the Muslim ban and building The Wall, the Trump Administration seems to have diverted our attention from their other plans to roll out the January 25, 2017 Executive Order on Border Security.  Although that Executive Order includes a lot of language regarding The Wall, there's also other troubling language that the Administration already appears to be implementing.  Two of my students and I spent all of Friday at a detention facility with students and a faculty member from another area law school.  We were amazed by the number and diversity of folks in detention.  Our students did know-your-rights presentations to different groups, intakes, and talked with as many folks as we could.  I would summarize my observations about what we saw as follows.  While the Executive Order on border security appears to authorize immediate construction of the wall, it also does the following:

  • Calls for the expansion of expedited removal to anyone not in U.S. for the last two years
  • Build and expand use of detention facilities and contracts with local law enforcement Detain Central American asylum seekers with pending claims, even those who've been released on parole and passed credible fear
  • Dramatically limit use of parole to humanitarian situations
  • Use ICE/ERO and alternatives to detention to round up parolees
  • Use local law enforcement to arrest and detain immigrants and asylum seekers

This implementation is bound to affect many of the women and children we served at Karnes, Texas last December, both those women who passed their CFIs as well as the women who were released on their own recognizance.  It also affects many other immigrants in our community without secure immigration status.   

One Guatemalan I spoke with who was out on parole and who had passed credible fear was taken back into detention when he went to his ICE/ERO appointment.  He went to the appointment with his wife and three kids, who had recently arrived and had been paroled for a year.  They took him into detention, but not his wife and kids, who have no means of support.  A Salvadoran with a pending asylum case in Texas whose motion to change venue was denied by an IJ in Texas seemed to be lost in the system and didn't know how he could present his case.  A group of about a dozen Mexican construction workers who one of my students met with were rounded up at the construction site at the end of the day.  Other people had been picked up on traffic violations.  ICE came to the home of a Middle Eastern student who was trying to transfer to another school, asked him about terrorist activities, and ordered him to appear at a local office, where he was arrested and detained.  And these were just a handful of the people we spoke with.   

The message that they are no longer welcome here appears to be getting through, and many folks who otherwise appear eligible for some form of relief just wanted to go home.   

The level of cruelty exhibited by this Administration is staggering, even though not unexpected."


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