Category Archives: Refugee Issues

Black Sites for Kids: Rights Advocates Outraged Over Child Immigrants Being Held at ‘Off-the-Books’ Detention Facilities

“Good lord.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-19-2019

Immigrant rights advocates were horrified Tuesday by a new report which confirmed that the Trump administration is sending some immigrant children to clandestine facilities that are not known to their families and lawyers and are not equipped to provide care to vulnerable minors.

An investigation by Reveal on Monday showed that at least 16 young immigrants—as young as nine years old and in need of mental or behavioral health treatment—have been sent by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to “off-the-books” facilities outside the network of federally-funded detention centers. The administration is housing immigrant children with an even greater degree of secrecy than was previously known, in violation of U.S. law. Continue reading

Share

Attorneys and Reporters Interrogated at Border About Political Beliefs In ‘Outrageous’ Violation of Rights

“This is intimidation and violates the Constitution.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-19-2019

U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint, Tucson, Arizona, Screenshot: YouTube

Rights advocates are issuing fresh warnings of intimidation and repressive tactics in the wake of new reporting about U.S. border patrol agents detaining and interrogating journalists and immigration lawyers, including questions about their political beliefs.

NBC News reported Monday that at least one journalist and four immigration lawyers were stopped at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stations near the border in Texas and Arizona in an apparent attempt to identify individuals in the area who oppose the Trump administration. Continue reading

Share

As Second Judge Rejects Census Citizenship Question, Trump’s Backup Plan to Count Non-Citizens Exposed

“The administration’s determination to weaponize the Census Bureau is really something.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-7-2019

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the law when he attempted to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census, a federal judge found Wednesday. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

In the wake of the second legal defeat of President Donald Trump’s plan to count all non-citizens in the 2020 census, new reporting reveals the Census Bureau has been secretly working with Homeland Security officials to develop a new method of sharing immigration status data in order to identify individuals and target communities nationwide.

As the Associated Press reported Thursday, the Census Bureau has been working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for weeks to obtain information about the legal status of millions of immigrants. Continue reading

Share

‘Shocking’ Report Reveals Thousands of Migrant Children Have Been Sexually Abused While in US Custody

“The horrifying conditions these children face is a human rights emergency that won’t be solved with a wall.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-26-2019

The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., is seen in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, obtained by Reuters June 25, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Handout)

A House hearing on the Trump administration’s family separation policy on Tuesday revealed that thousands of children in U.S. custody over the past five years have been subjected to sexual abuse in migrant detention centers.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) released documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showing that more than 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse against minors were filed between 2014 and 2018. More than 1,300 complaints were referred to the Department of Justice. Continue reading

Share

‘The US Government Has Scarred My Daughter and Me for Life’: Families Sue Trump Over Deliberate and ‘Inexplicable Cruelty’

“The government’s use of emotionally traumatizing children to try to achieve a policy objective very clearly meets all the legal elements of the offense intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-12-2019

Photo: ACLU

Accusing the Trump administration of deliberate and “inexplicable cruelty” perpetrated against them under it’s so-called “zero tolerance” immigration policy, six families have filed suit against the U.S. government for the harm and “lasting trauma” they continue to suffer.

In the filing, six mothers described having their children torn away from them, with officials giving them little to no information about where their children were, if they were safe, and when they would be reunited—treatment that the lawyers involved in the suit argue fit the legal definition of intentionally inflicting emotional distress. Continue reading

Share

‘Crimes Against Humanity’: Abuses Persist at Immigrant Detention Centers as DHS Hands Out ‘Waivers’ to Contractors

Contractors have been granted waivers to use tear gas on detainees and after failing to report a sexual assault, an inspector general’s report found

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-4-2019

A new report by the inspector general of the Homeland Security Department found persistent abuses at immigration detention facilities that the department has done little to address. (Photo: Customs and Border Protection)

In another sign the Trump administration is violating the rights of immigrants, a poorly regulated system of handing out “waivers” to contractors which run immigrant detention facilities has allowed many abuses at the facilities to persist for years, according to a damning new report by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The report found that federal immigration authorities are failing to police both private and public contractors which run detention facilities currently holding more than 45,000 immigrants each day. Instead of revoking contracts, fining the businesses and public entities which are operating the centers, or taking other actions to ensure abuses don’t continue once they’re discovered, DHS is simply granting waivers to the contractors for violations including failure to report sexual assaults in their facilities. Continue reading

Share

Like Military at Gitmo, ICE Reportedly Using Nasal Tubes to Force Feed Migrant Prisoners on Hunger Strike

“By starving themselves, these men are trying to make public the very suffering that ICE is trying to keep hidden from taxpayers.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-31-2019

According to the Associated Press, the detained migrants said they began refusing food to “protest verbal abuse and threats of deportation from guards.” Photo: It’s Going Down

Employing what one critic described as “Guantanamo Bay style” abuse, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are reportedly using plastic nasal tubes to force-feed at least six detained migrants who have been on a prolonged hunger strike to protest conditions at an El Paso, Texas prison.

As the Associated Press reported on Thursday, detained migrants and an attorney representing the hunger strikers said “nearly 30 detainees from India and Cuba have been refusing to eat, and some are now so weak they cannot stand up or talk.” Continue reading

Share

Leaked Memo Reveals Trump Administration’s “Immoral” Plan to “Traumatize” Migrant Children

“It appears that they wanted to have it both ways—to separate children from their parents but deny them the full protections generally awarded to unaccompanied children.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-18-2019

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.) appeared on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” Thursday night to discuss a leaked document about the Trump administration’s family separation policy. (Photo: MSNBC)

Following reports on Thursday that federal officials forcibly separated thousands more migrant children from their families than previously reported, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.) released a document to NBC News revealing the Trump administration intended to “traumatize children and intentionally create a humanitarian crisis at the border.”

Continue reading

Share

Watch: Devastating New ‘Land of the Free’ Music Video Decries Violence and Cruelty of Trump’s America

Set to a short film by Spike Lee, The Killers take on Trump’s wall, tear-gassing of asylum-seekers, mass incarceration, and gun violence

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-15-2019

Filmmaker Spike Lee spent a few weeks in 2018 documenting migrants’ experiences at the U.S.-Mexico border for The Killers’ “Land of the Free” music video, over which he reportedly was given full creative control. (Photo: YouTube/screenshot)

In a powerful indictment of cruelty across the United States, The Killers’ new song “Land of the Free”—released Monday with a devastating music video directed by Spike Lee—decries President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, the dehumanization and abuse of asylum-seekers, mass incarceration, institutional racism, and the nation’s refusal to address the epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence.

Watch: Continue reading

Share

Merkley Calls for FBI Perjury Probe into Homeland Secretary Nielsen After Child Detention Memo Leaked

“Merkley deserves a ton of credit for his leadership here. This is good, honest,

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-18-2019

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Jan. 16, 2018. Photo: DHS/flickr

After releasing a damning draft memo that showed the Trump administration planned to “traumatize” migrant children with family separations and expedite deportation by denying asylum hearings, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Friday called for an FBI investigation into whether Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen lied when she testified before Congress about the policy.

In a letter sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the senator noted that “compelling new evidence has emerged revealing that high-level Department of Homeland Security officials were secretly and actively developing a new policy and legal framework for separating families as far back as December 2017.” Continue reading

Share