immigration | KERA News

immigration

Despite the Trump administration's immigration clampdown, newly released data show the number of Central American families and unaccompanied children crossing the Southwest border illegally has risen sharply.

The government blames loopholes in U.S. immigration laws for acting as a magnet for immigrants. But there's another explanation. The push factors in impoverished regions in Central America are as powerful as ever.

The Trump administration's push to deport more immigrants in the country illegally has hit a legal speed bump.

For years, immigration authorities have been skipping one simple step in the process: When they served notices to appear in court, they routinely left the court date blank. Now, because of that omission and a recent Supreme Court decision, tens of thousands of deportation cases could be delayed, or tossed out altogether.

The Trump administration is expanding its shelter capacity to handle a record number of immigrant teenagers who crossed the border seeking work and asylum. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now overseeing the care of 12,800 immigrant children under the age of 18.

Just this week, a federally contracted tent camp on the U.S.-Mexico border in the barren desert near Tornillo, Texas, announced it is expanding from 1,200 to 3,800 beds. This is one in a network of 100 youth shelters across the country.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Miguel Oliva Esquivel was outside at work when he heard a helicopter flying overhead.

"What’s with the helicopter?" he wondered.

Mike Blake / Reuters

The immigration detention center at Tornillo used to hold undocumented immigrant minors will remain open through the end of the year, a government spokesperson said Tuesday.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

From the outside, the brick and metal building in Paris, Texas, looks like any other storefront. But inside, Iglesia Evangelica Filadelfia has become a place of refuge.

This church is not just a house of worship. It’s where immigrants caught up in a raid at a trailer factory — and their family members — have gone seeking information, financial aid and comfort.

A rumpled New York lawyer in khakis and a pin-stripe shirt is standing incongruously in the shaded plaza central of Chimaltenango, Guatemala, with a cellphone glued to his cheek. Lee Gelernt — a senior lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union — is a long way from the San Diego federal courthouse where he's been wrestling with the U.S. government for much of the summer.

This week, he came here to join the daunting search for the deported parents.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is proposing to lift court-imposed limits on how long it can hold children in immigration detention.

Julian Aguilar / The Texas Tribune

A federal district judge on Friday denied the state of Texas’ request that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program be put on hold after Texas and nine other states sued to halt the Obama-era program.

ICE Arrests More Than 100 Workers At North Texas Plant

Aug 28, 2018
via Texas Tribune

Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested over 100 workers at a trailer manufacturing plant in the north Texas town of Sumner on Tuesday. ICE expects it to be one of its largest workplace raids in a decade, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The death of a toddler is renewing concerns about the quality of medical care that immigrant families receive in federal detention centers.

Eighteen-month-old Mariee Juárez died after being detained along with her mother Yazmin Juárez at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Her mother says Mariee was a happy, healthy child when they arrived at the U.S. border in March to seek asylum.

Then they were sent to Dilley. Six weeks after being discharged, her mother says, Mariee died of a treatable respiratory infection that began during her detention.

This summer, at the height of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it needed more detention space. So the agency turned to federal prisons for help.

Omolara Uwemedimo says it's hard to imagine what her parents, who immigrated to New York from Nigeria decades ago, would have done if they had had to choose between food stamps and getting their green cards.

Her parents worked factory jobs back then, but when her mother got pregnant with her, Uwemedimo says, the doctor put her on bed rest.

"She actually used food stamps when she was pregnant," Uwemedimo said. "And she says that pretty much saved them in terms of not having to move out of their apartment because of the fact that they had that help."

The last time Pablo saw his son was in Texas.

Pablo and his 7-year-old son crossed the Rio Grande illegally and turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents. They were separated by force, and Pablo was deported back to Guatemala — without his son. Immigration officials tried to assure him that his son would follow in a week.

That was three months ago.

"You can't live without a child," Pablo said through an interpreter.

The Trump administration has come up with a framework for reuniting families whose children are still in government custody. Some of their parents have been released into the U.S. and others are now in other countries.

In documents filed Thursday, government officials told U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw that 559 children between the ages of 5 and 17 have yet to be reunited with their families. Of those, 365 have parents who were deported, and officials have contact information for all but five.

Updated on Aug. 10 at 4:45 p.m. ET

Immigration officials have returned a mother and daughter to the United States after they were deported, which had angered a federal judge who was hearing their lawsuit.

The Pew Research Center estimates that there are about 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States — and that approximately two-thirds of them have been here for more than a decade.

Journalist Frank Foer says that for many years, there was a tacit agreement among politicians of both parties that there would be a pathway to citizenship for many of the long-term undocumented immigrants.

Updated Aug. 8 at 5:24 p.m. ET

Immigration lawyers are challenging the Trump administration's crackdown on asylum-seekers in court.

Under a sweeping new policy announced in June by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the administration says domestic abuse and gang violence should "generally" not be considered grounds for asylum claims.

A federal judge said the Trump administration's plan for reunifying hundreds of migrant families who were separated at the Southern border under its "zero tolerance" immigration policy is disappointing.

U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw said that he will order the government to appoint a single point person to oversee the reunification process. He indicated that his order will come no later than Monday.

In America today, communities are sorting themselves into like-minded bubbles. There are red teams and blue teams, where you're less likely to run into people who disagree with you.

Lately, immigration has been a flashpoint for debate.

But in the border town of McAllen, Texas, it's a part of everyday life.

Carlos Garcia is an immigration lawyer. Ben Wilson is a border patrol agent. Garcia fights to keep people in the country — some of the same people Wilson might arrest.

Editor's Note: This story contains graphic language.

A former worker at a shelter for immigrant youths in Arizona has been accused of molesting eight teenage boys over a nearly yearlong period at the facility, according to federal records cited by nonprofit news site ProPublica.

Eric Gay / AP

The U.S. birth rate hit an all-time low last year, and if that trend continues, the lack of a robust workforce will start to drag the economy down.

George Mason University professor and Brookings Institution fellow Jack Goldstone says loosening up restrictions on immigration could be the solution. 

Recent news stories have been filled with the joyous reunions of migrant parents who had been separated from their children at the Southwest border. Yet hundreds of families were reunited only to be detained again, this time together.

Inside one of those detention centers in Texas, weary fathers are now staging a hunger strike to highlight their plight.

President Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump is again speaking out against the separation of children and parents accused of illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

At an Axios News Shapers event in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Trump was asked for her thoughts on the separations that occurred as a result of her father's immigration policies.

The interviewer noted that some White House officials saw that as a "low point" in the Trump administration.

Julian Aguilar / Texas Tribune

When the state of Texas successfully halted a proposed 2014 federal immigration program to aid adult immigrants, the state's attorneys were able to convince federal courts Texas would be irreparably harmed by the implementation of the sweeping initiative.

For weeks, the Trump administration has faced scorching criticism for separating migrant families at the border, and detaining immigrant children in inhumane conditions.

On Tuesday, the administration pushed back.

Matthew Albence, a top official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even compared family detention centers to "summer camps."

"We have officers in these facilities," he said. "I think the best way to describe them is to be more like a summer camp.

Judge Orders Government To Release Immigrant Kids From Troubled Texas Shelter

Jul 31, 2018
Pu Ying Huang for The Texas Tribune

A judge has ordered the federal government to stop drugging immigrant children without proper consent and to remove them from a problem-plagued south Texas shelter.

Elena Santizo sat by the departure gate in El Paso, Texas on Friday with a rosary around her neck, waiting nervously to board a plane for the first time in her life. Simply riding the escalator up to airport security gave the 39-year-old mother the jitters. She opted for the stairs instead.

"To tell my story is difficult," she said. "Everything I've lived through, so much, ever since I left Guatemala."

Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

The federal judge who ordered the reunification of thousands of migrant families says the Trump administration deserves "great credit" for its efforts.

But Judge Dana Sabraw also faulted the administration for "losing" hundreds of parents, leaving a significant number of families separated a day after the court-imposed deadline to reunite them.

Gregory Bull / AP

Shy children were given a meal and a plane or bus ticket to locations around the U.S. as nonprofit groups tried to smooth the way for kids reunited with their parents following their separations at the U.S. Mexico border.

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