immigration | KERA News

immigration

Marjorie Kamys Cotera

Once a hub for refugees starting new lives and reuniting with their families, refugee resettlement efforts in Texas are now a shadow of what they once were.

Reynaldo Leal for The Texas Tribune

BROWNSVILLE — It took four months of detention, a $13,000 bond, pressure from a U.S. congressman’s office and a network of attorneys to finally reunite Angela with her 16-year-old daughter on Friday. The Central American mother and child were separated at the border in May under the Trump administration's since-overturned “zero tolerance” policy.

Yet they're among the lucky ones.

A federal court in California has blocked the Trump administration from terminating the Temporary Protected Status program that allows immigrants from four countries to live and work in the United States.

The ruling issued late Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen Wednesday affects more than 300,000 immigrants enrolled in TPS from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan.

TPS was created by Congress in 1990 to allow people from countries suffering civil conflict or natural disasters to remain in the U.S. temporarily.

Two new reports from the Department of Homeland Security's internal watchdog say the agency was unprepared to implement the Trump administration's family separation policy and detail health and safety risks at a California ICE processing facility.

The Trump administration says it wants to move to a "merit-based" immigration system — one that gives priority to immigrants who speak English and are highly educated.

But critics say that rhetoric is at odds with the administration's actions.

"Show me any policy that's come out so far that has actually made it easier for highly skilled immigrants," says Doug Rand, who worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama.

Updated at 11:13 p.m. ET

Immigrants who benefit from various forms of public assistance, including food stamps and housing subsidies, would face sharp new hurdles to obtaining a green card under a proposed rule announced by the Trump administration on Saturday.

When people are crossing a U.S. border, they expect to be asked about their citizenship. But not when they're driving up the East Coast.

U.S. Border Patrol agents are boarding buses from private lines like Greyhound and Concord Coach within 100 miles of a U.S. border, asking passengers if they're American citizens. It turns out agents are empowered to do this through a little-known law called the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. There are more and more reports of officers stopping cars and buses.

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.

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