Tag Archives: La-migra

US: Stop Using Untrained, Abusive Agencies at Protests

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. on February 9, 2017. 

© 2017 Reuters

(Washington, DC) – The United States federal government should immediately stop deploying federal agents without relevant training or those from abusive agencies to protests across the country, Human Rights Watch said today. The protests have focused on deadly police violence against Black people and structural racism in the United States.

On June 2, 2020, the US government deployed officers from nearly a dozen federal agencies to control protests in Washington, DC, and other cities. Many of these agencies were unlikely to provide training in crowd control, increasing the risk of abuse. The deployment of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raised particular concerns due to their histories of human rights violations and lack of accountability.

“Border Patrol agents have a disturbing record of killing people, including US citizens, with impunity, and ICE has a history of violating detainees’ rights,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, US program director at Human Rights Watch. “As people protest police brutality and encounter new police abuses, these agents risk infusing more danger into volatile situations.”

The Customs and Border Control acting commissioner, Mark Morgan, announced on June 4 in a tweet that his agency was deploying agents and aircraft across the country to work with local law enforcement. ICE confirmed to Roll Call that it had also deployed agents to work with local law enforcement agencies in response to “civil unrest.”

A 2014 independent review of 67 incidents in which Border Patrol agents used deadly force found that “Agents have deliberately stepped in the path of cars, apparently to justify shooting at the drivers and have fired in frustration at people throwing rocks from the Mexican side of the border.”

One policy organization found that of 809 complaints of alleged abuse lodged against Border Patrol agents between January 2009 and January 2012, 97 percent resulted in “no action taken” by the agency. A June 2015 interim report of the Customs and Border Protection Integrity Advisory Panel similarly found that “CBP did not have sufficient IA [internal affairs] investigators to investigate these incidents, nor until recently did its IA investigators have authority to conduct investigations involving potential criminal misconduct in the exercise of use of force by CBP’s LEOs [Law Enforcement Officers.]” 

A 2011 study by the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute on CBP workforce integrity found that its disciplinary system fails to “foster timely discipline or exoneration .” Five years later, the Homeland Security Integrity Advisory Council’s 2016 Integrity Advisory Panel found that the agency’s disciplinary system remained “broken” and its “disciplinary process takes far too long to be an effective deterrent.” 

Incidents involving use of force by firearm have declined in recent years, but there has been an increase in dangerous and sometimes lethal car pursuits by Border Patrol agents, even as police agencies have placed more restrictions on when to pursue fleeing suspects. The agency has not updated its use-of-force statistics since fiscal year 2018.

Residents of border communities have complained repeatedly about racial profiling by Border Patrol agents. A Justice Department “guidance” limiting the use of race, national origin, and other factors in making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions, such as traffic stops, has a broad exception for interdiction activities at the border.

In Washington State, the agency settled a 2012 lawsuit that accused the Border Patrol of failing to establish reasonable suspicion before stopping drivers in the Olympic Peninsula and seemingly making decisions to stop people “based on nothing other than the ethnic and/or racial appearance of a vehicle’s occupants.” In 2019, two women, both US citizens, filed a lawsuit alleging racial profiling after Border Patrol agents held them for 40 minutes in a parking lot in Montana after hearing them speak Spanish.

In 2019, ProPublica revealed a secret Facebook group in which current and former Border Patrol agents joked about migrant deaths and made racist and sexist jokes about migrants and US elected officials. In 2019, agents were revealed to have harassed, surveilled, interrogated, and detained journalists, lawyers, and activists at the US-Mexico border, interfering with their freedom of speech and movement.

Border Patrol agents have also failed to uphold and enforce US asylum laws, in their repeated failures to properly identify people who are seeking asylum. Asylum officers within the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and their union have repeatedly provided internal reports on multiple cases of intimidation, verbal, and even physical abuse against migrants by Border Patrol officers.

ICE also has a long record of rights violations against migrants in custody. ICE is responsible for maintaining a sprawling detention system in which the United States holds many people, with no individualized consideration of whether detention is necessary, and in which systemic failures in medical care have led to preventable deaths. People in detention, including transgender women, have long reported sexual harassment and abuse that has gone unaddressed. ICE has arrested or attempted to arrest people at courthouses, affecting domestic violence survivors’ safety and due process rights in general.

“The US government should be setting an example at this crucial moment by holding its law enforcement officers, including Border Patrol and ICE agents, accountable for abuses,” Austin-Hillery said. “Deploying abusive agencies to police protests instead sends a message of utter contempt for protesters’ rights and well-being.”


The US Deported Them, Ignoring Their Pleas. Then They Were Killed.

Asylum seekers in the United States face dangerous, even deadly, consequences when their claims are not taken seriously.

Those at risk are people like Santos Amaya, a Salvadoran police officer who had received death threats from gang members. He was deported from the United States in April 2018 and was shot dead, allegedly by gangs, that same month. People like a young Salvadoran woman who fled domestic violence and rape and was deported to El Salvador in July 2018. She now lives in fear, hiding from her abusers.

February 5, 2020Report

Deported to Danger

United States Deportation Policies Expose Salvadorans to Death and Abuse

These lives hang in the balance while the Trump administration attacks every legal means of protecting them in the United States.

On Feb. 5, Human Rights Watch released a report that identified 138 cases of Salvadorans who had been killed since 2013 after being deported from the United States; more than 70 others were beaten, sexually assaulted, extorted or tortured. These numbers are shocking but certainly an undercount, because no government or entity tracks what happens to deportees.

The Trump administration has put pressure on immigration judges to use overly narrow readings of the definition of a refugee. This approach may result in judges denying asylum to people like Amaya and the young Salvadoran woman — survivors of domestic violence, people who fear violence at the hands of gangs, or people who fear being targeted based on their family relationships. The administration has further proposed several new obstacles to gain asylum, including barring people convicted of illegal reentry into the United States, an offense often committed by people desperate to seek safety.

The Trump administration has tried to destroy the US asylum process in other ways — among them by forcing people to remain in dangerous and inhumane conditions in Mexican border towns while their claims are processed under its Migrant Protection Protocols. A Syracuse University analysis of government data revealed that as of December, 7,668 Salvadorans have been forced to wait in Mexico for their asylum claims to be processed. We have documented cases, included in a tally maintained by Human Rights First, of Salvadorans who have been kidnapped and attacked while waiting.

The United States is also returning asylum seekers to Guatemala, after pressing its government to sign an “asylum cooperation agreement,” despite the fact that many Guatemalans are fleeing for the same reasons as their Salvadoran neighbors.

Salvadorans in the United States are at risk for reasons other than the Trump administration’s attempt to eviscerate the right to seek asylum. More than 220,000 Salvadorans are affected by the administration’s decision to end temporary protected status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections. The administration also decided to end work authorization for Salvadorans with TPS, which allowed many Salvadorans to come to the United States in 2001 after a series of natural disasters.

These policies cover people who have worked, raised families, educated themselves and built their lives in the United States. This alone should be reason to value their relationship to the United States and regularize their legal status. But the killings and abuse that many Salvadorans will face if they are returned makes the need for Congress to enact legislation to protect recipients of these programs even more acute.

Former long-term residents of the United States face unique risks. Salvadorans who have lived in the United States are often extorted by gangs, as two cases we investigated in detail illustrate. In each, the person’s long-term residence meant that they were seen as having more wealth than most Salvadorans. They were repeatedly extorted by gangs and ultimately killed for their refusal to pay bribes.

But the Trump administration is not solely at fault here. Existing law, passed long before President Trump took office, has largely barred people with criminal convictions from seeking asylum, even when they face harm. They include a young man whose case we investigated, who at age 17, in 2010, fled gang recruitment and violence for the United States. After serving a sentence for two counts related to burglaries in the United States, he was denied protection, deported in 2017 and killed about three months later.

There is a simple way to prevent the murders and abuse we spent the past year and a half investigating: Give all noncitizens a full and fair opportunity to explain what abuses they fear before deporting them. As Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement after we released our report, the United States must stop “knowingly signing a death sentence by forcibly returning vulnerable people to the very place they fled.”

The right to a fair hearing on claims for protection should apply to everyone — including the more than 59,000 people waiting in dangerous and inhumane conditions in Mexican border towns, people who had been living under the TPS or DACA programs, or those who have paid their debt to society after serving criminal sentences.

Now US authorities are on notice about what is likely to happen when they deport Salvadorans without adequately considering their cases. This shameful and illegal practice should stop.

Pueblo leaders voice opposition to massive nuclear waste transport project

The All Pueblo Council of Governors, representing the collective voice of the member 20 sovereign Pueblo nations of New Mexico and Texas, convened Thursday affirming commitment to protect Pueblo natural and cultural resources from risks associated with transport of the nation’s growing inventory of high level nuclear waste from sites across the country to proposed […]

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South Dakota Governor drops anti-protest laws in settlement agreement with ACLU

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg yesterday backed down from their unconstitutional attempts to silence protesters. Under a settlement agreement, which was submitted for court approval yesterday, the state agreed to never enforce current state laws that prohibit protected speech and are aimed at suppressing protests against the Keystone XL […]

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Cuban Man Dies in US Immigration Custody

Undated photograph of Richwood Correctional Center, Louisiana, United States. 

© LaSalle Corrections

A second death this month in United States immigration custody raises disturbing questions about a system we know has failed to protect asylum seekers and other immigrants in its care over and over again. On Tuesday, Roylán Hernández-Díaz, a 43-year-old Cuban man, died in a detention center in Richwood, Louisiana, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and multiple news sources. His death came just nine days after the death of Nabene Abienwi, an asylum seeker from Cameroon, in ICE custody in California.

According to ICE, Hernández-Díaz came to a US port of entry on May 20 and entered ICE custody two days later. His wife told Buzzfeed News that Hernández-Díaz had applied for asylum because he had spoken out against the Cuban government and tried to leave the country multiple times. She said as a result, he had served nine years in prison.

After passing the “credible fear interview,” the initial stage for asylum screening, he requested “parole,” or release, while his case was pending. But – like the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers held in the South – he was denied. As a result, Hernández-Díaz stayed detained for months in one of three privately run jails that only began holding immigration detainees this year, in a state where there are few immigration attorneys and where immigration judges deny nearly all asylum cases.

A federal judge in September issued a preliminary injunction against denying parole without an individualized determination. It’s unclear if Hernández-Díaz received an individualized determination as required.

In response to his continued detention, Hernández-Díaz began a hunger strike just a few days ago, one of dozens of immigrants in detention in recent years who have taken this desperate step to draw attention to their continued detention, isolation, and poor treatment.

Other immigrants in detention reported ICE put Hernández-Díaz into segregation or “solitary confinement” in response. Under the most recent detention standards, people on hunger strike are to be put under medical observation, and only moved to isolation for medical reasons. Disciplinary segregation for a hunger strike would be unwarranted, but unsurprising. ICE has a history of misusing segregation, particularly for people with mental health conditions, and a corresponding track record of people dying by suicide after abysmal mental health care.

Hernández-Díaz came to the US seeking protection. Instead, he found an administration determined to make an already broken system even more indifferent toward human rights.

Navajo, Hopi will have objects, human remains repatriated by Finland

WASHINGTON – The Hopi and Navajo are among 26 tribes that will see the return of ancestral remains from Finland, where the items have been held in a museum after being taken from Colorado almost 130 years ago. The repatriation, announced Wednesday during Finnish President Sauli Niinistö’s visit to the White House, follows years of […]

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“It’s not the forest that is in danger, it is life itself”

As regional leaders gather for a summit on protecting the Amazon, where fires are raging, Indigenous leaders say they have forest knowledge politicians cannot afford to overlook. LETICIA, Colombia – Sitting in a circle in a wooden shack on the outskirts of Leticia, the capital of Colombia’s Amazonas province, Indigenous leaders savoured powdered coca leaves […]

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Elon Musk is Only the Second Worst Stock Manipulator

By Arturo Castañares / Publisher and CEO

Tesla’s founder and CEO has been dogged by the SEC for making false and misleading claims on Twitter that affected their stock price, leading to the tech guru’s removal as Tesla’s Board Chairman and a record $40 million fine.

Elon Musk is a charismatic yet volatile figure in the tech world who first struck gold as one of the founders of Paypal, the online payment system sold to EBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.

Since then, Musk founded Tesla, the electric car company, and SpaceX, a private company designing and launching rockets to carry payloads into space for private companies, as well as for NASA.

Now a true billionaire worth an estimated $20 billion, Musk is a giant among tech titans and a household name around the world.

Born and raised in South Africa, Musk moved to Canada for college but then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, known as UPenn, and home to the Wharton Business School. UPenn, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, is also the alma mater of Donald J. Trump.

Brash and unconventional, Musk shares more in common with Trump than just having graduated from the same university; both men use Twitter as the main form of communicating their thoughts, and that, at times, has caused them both some problems.

Musk is a marketing genius and master manipulator of news cycles. He has used Twitter to tease the coming of new electric cars and space rockets, as well as the launch his own Tesla Roadster car into space in what has become the universe’s longest test drive. Brilliant move.

But Twitter has also brought Musk huge problems.

In August 2018, Musk sent a Twitter message that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share and that he had financing secured.

That one tweet sent the stock soaring by 12% until NASDAQ suspending its trading to give the market time to digest the news.

Within a few days, Musk had to admit that he didn’t have funding secured beyond preliminary talks with investors, including Saudi Arabia’s national investment fund. AKA he lied.

Within weeks, the stock bubble had popped and the stock was down over $100 per share, having lost nearly $20 billion in market value.

Of course, investors that lost money on Musk’s rollercoaster ride filed lawsuits, as well as complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the SEC.

The SEC regulates the stock market and investigates stock manipulation, fraud, and other behavior that can affect the market and therefore investors.

In the end, Musk agreed to a settlement that included stepping down as Tesla’s Chairman, paying a $40 million fine, and agreeing to have his tweets approved by the Tesla Board before he posts them in an effort to control his impetuous outbursts that could impact the market.

Investors are still suing Musk and Tesla to recover billions in lost stock value caused by his misleading and damaging tweet, all because he wrote on Twitter whatever was going on in his head.

The damage from Musk’s tweets was mostly limited to Tesla stock and it’s value, yet the SEC saw it as damaging to the entire stock market because of the ripple effects on other investors.

If the tweets from one company CEO can wreak havoc on the market, than what about the words from the most powerful CEO in the world; the President of the United States?

Our Tweeter-in-Chief famously uses social media to deliver messages from the urgent to the absurd. He tweets insults about political opponents, brags about poll results, and even mixes in a few compliments to Fox News hosts that speak highly of him during their “news” shows.

But Trump’s tweets also make claims about the economy that cause worldwide economic impacts, and lead to billions of dollars in markets shifts for millions of affected investors around the world.

A single tweet from Trump on the status of trade talks with China, for example, can cause the stock market to veer wildly from positive to negative, and impact bond prices and interest rates as investors seek safer ground.

Just two weeks ago, the yield on US Treasury bonds passed a critical point where short term bonds were yielding higher returns than longer term bonds, a key indicator that has preceded every economic recession in 50 years. The inverted yield curve is a good predictor of recessions, an ominous sign of coming trouble.

Bond yields on long term bonds fell because panicked investors jumped out of the stock market and into bonds fearing a global recession brought on by Trump’s escalating trade war with China, a direct result of Trump’s tariff war that has affected nearly every manufacturing and farming sector around the world.

Trump’s tweets usually don’t have any verifiable information or news; they’re usually just the thoughts in his head spilling right out in 140 character messages seemingly without any filter, and without constraints.

But stock traders and analysts have to react to these messages because Trump can, as we’ve seen, directly impact the market on any given day.

He can impose tariffs on a whim. He can bully the Federal Reserve into lowering interest rates. And he can even order US companies to stop trading with China as he did last Friday on (you guessed it) Twitter.

Trump has over 65 million followers on Twitter, but that’s just the beginning of his audience. Every one of his messages is covered by media around the world, and the impacts are felt almost instantly.

Last week, while at the G7 summit, President Trump said China had reached out to him in hopes of securing a trade deal. Stocks went up.

Later the same day, Chinese officials said they knew nothing of new trade talks, and stocks went down.

When Trump and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were asked at a news conference to confirm the new talks with China, they both abruptly changed the topic and refused to explain the discrepancy between what he said and they said. It turns out it was all a lie that Trump intentionally told to ease market concerns, AKA manipulating the market.

If Elon Musk can be investigated, fined, and restricted by the SEC to protect markets and investors, than why can’t that also happen with Trump?

How can one man with a documented history of spinning, exaggerating, and flat-out lying about things both big and small, be allowed to impact world markets and make winners and losers out of millions of people without any constraints or consequences?

Anyone can and should be prosecuted for stock manipulation, insider trading, and fraud as we’ve seen with Musk, Martha Stewart, and Bernie Madoff, respectively.

Martha Stewart, the maiden of the kitchen and home, spent months in prison and stepped down as CEO of her company for allegedly using an insider tip to avoid about $45,000 in losses when that company’s stock fell the day after she sold hers.

If Martha Stewart was held accountable, so should bigger stock market manipulators like Musk, and the biggest one of all, Donald J. Trump.

Trump is the head of the largest economy of the world and he has the largest megaphone on the planet. His words can start wars and change history.

And he can also tweet the stock market into panic.

The SEC should have the courage to protect everyday investors and retirees from market shocks caused by an impulsive tweeter and carnival barker. Politics aside, Trump’s tweets are dangerous to the livelihood of millions of people.

We should all be protected from swindlers, hucksters, and shysters, starting with the one in the Oval Office.

Asylum Closure Could Increase Undocumented Crossings

By Manuel Ocaño

The closure of opportunities to apply for asylum from could force some migrants to try to enter the United States in an undocumented manner, warned José María García Lara, coordinator of one of the main shelters in Tijuana, the Juventud 2000 refuge.

The measure implemented last week “will push the (migrant) community to look for options to get out (of Mexico), regardless of what they see happening in security at the border,” said the leader of Angels Without Borders.

García Lara said that most of the people in the shelters are families that most likely would not be willing to risk crossing the border with their children in an undocumented way, but “it is not ruled out that some try, despite the pressure of border authorities. ”

“As we are in the border area, the conditions are set for some to try to cross,” he said.

He said that since the migrants in the shelter learned about the new disposition of the US government to deny practically all cases of asylum, except those of victims of human trafficking, they began to think about alternatives and one of the most mentioned is to seek refuge in Mexico.

The United States government canceled without warning the passage of migrants moving from Tijuana to San Diego to apply for asylum.

Migrants in the immediate vicinity of the pedestrian checkpoint of El Chaparral told Excélsior that no one has passed to apply for asylum since Thursday of last week, without the US authorities giving any explanation. On average, between 50 and one hundred people passed by.

“Since there is no way to enter legally, because they closed the possibilities of requesting asylum and no longer request it, obviously there are migrants who feel desperate and some of them think of crossing undocumented,” said Garcia Lara.

The three alternatives that migrants have mentioned are undocumented crossing, returning with their families to their places of origin and staying in Mexico as refugees if they get that option.

In the case of Guatemala, to prevent some migrants from trying to reach undocumented US territory, that country’s consul in Tijuana, Erick Cardona, offered to pay the return ticket to his country to Guatemalan migrants who request it.

With the new provision, which requires that Central American migrants first request asylum in Mexico and only if Mexico rejects it can they apply for it in the United States, asylum requests continue only for Mexican families who also seek asylum, originating mainly from Guerrero and Michoacán.

Immigrant Rights Groups: Congress Must Investigate Separation & Suffering Caused by Trump ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ Policy

July 12, 2019

Immigrant Rights Groups: Congress Must Investigate Separation & Suffering Caused by Trump ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ Policy

Recent Stories Demonstrate Great Harm to Children on Both Sides of Border

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of a congressional hearing today about family separation and the mistreatment of migrant children, a group of immigrant rights organizations working on behalf of asylum seekers released a statement and stories of families separated by the Trump administration’s “Remain-in-Mexico” policy:
The following statement is from Al Otro Lado, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Human Rights Watch, Kino Border Initiative, Latin America Working Group and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Today’s hearing of the House Oversight Committee regarding family separation and the mistreatment of migrants in detention facilities run by the U.S. government is incredibly important. As evidenced by the recent accounts summarized below, the Trump administration’s ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ policy has put migrant children in even greater danger and caused enormous harm on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.”
The groups cited the following examples:
  • A woman from El Salvador traveling with her 4-year-old daughter and two younger siblings entered the U.S. near Tijuana, Mexico, to seek asylum. The woman had been the primary caretaker for her siblings ever since their mother was murdered in El Salvador. Upon apprehension by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the woman and her child were detained and returned to Mexico to await their immigration court hearings, while her siblings were transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is responsible for the care and custody of unaccompanied children
  • A Guatemalan father and his 15-year-old son were detained separately in CBP holding cells known as hieleras (iceboxes) because of their frigid, cramped conditions. Before separating them, CBP officers tore up the son’s birth certificate and threw it in the trash. After four days in CBP custody, the father was returned to Mexicali under the ‘remain-in-Mexico’ policy. The son was transferred to ORR custody. Following the separation, the son was so traumatized that he had to be hospitalized.
  • After crossing the border in Texas, a Nicaraguan mother and her two sons, ages 7 and 18, were detained in a CBP hielera for four days. The mother and her younger son were then sent to California, where they spent four more days in CBP custody before being returned to Mexico. Initially, the mother had no idea where to find her older son but learned later that he was detained in Texas.
  • Fearing gang violence, a Salvadoran family of four fled to the United States to seek asylum. Following apprehension by CBP, the mother and two daughters were detained for seven days in a hielera. Although they became gravely ill, CBP did not allow them to see a doctor. The mother and older daughter have since been returned to Mexico, while the younger daughter and her father (who had been separately detained) were released to live with relatives.
“As this administration has continued to abandon its legal and ethical obligations to those seeking protection in our country, the crisis is as much across the border as it is here.
“Congress must drastically increase oversight regarding the human impact of the administration’s anti-immigrant policies. These policies have created a humanitarian crisis that demands an immediate response.”