Daily Dispatch 8-16-18

A new series in which we (will aspire to) offer a sampling of today’s headlines on immigration, race, and related stories.

August 16, 2018:

Americans donate frequent flier miles to migrant families separated under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy.

This story of a Filipino family demonstrates the decades long effects of family separation.

California Senate will be debating a joint resolution today that will ask Trump and Congress to formally apologize to victims of family separation. Resolutions in Idaho are having a harder time getting passage.

UNICEF report indicates that families separated/deported by Trump will likely return to the U.S. because the situation they return to is made worse by efforts to flee. Here is more information and a link to the full UNICEF report, “Uprooted: Central America and Mexico.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation releases a study on toxic stress in immigrant families under the Trump administration.

A new study examines why so many DACA recipients are choosing not to renew their status.

Senators send a letter to DHS Sec asking the agency to crack down on privately operated detention centers using immigrants as forced labor. Several lawsuits are currently pending around the country against two of the largest contractors, GEO Group and CoreCivic, alleging human trafficking and other state and federal violations.

For viewers of Showtime’s The Affair (or other pop-culture aficionados), actress Catalina Sandino Moreno discusses her character’s complicated and timely immigration storyline in the series’ fourth season.

Continuing coverage of the Trump effort to denaturalize U.S. citizens through a new task force led by Frank Cissna, head of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In addition to recently removing“ nation of immigrants” from the agency’s mission statement (see yesterday’s Daily Dispatch), USCIS’s Frank Cissna spoke yesterday at the Center for Immigration Studies – an SPLC designated hate group. I would suggest that the agency vet such groups before agreeing to appear, but, sadly, I’m guessing they did.  

Trump immigration goon Stephen Miller’s plan to expand the phrase “public charge” to include even the Earned Income Credit and to apply to all household members (including US citizens) is aimed at preventing legal immigrants from gaining citizenship, a policy shift that deviates from core conservative principles, says Raul Reyes.  

House Majority Leader and Trump supporter Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was confronted by protesters during talk at Public Policy Institute of California. After claiming that Trump will “solve immigration,” the protesters began chanting “where’s your heart?” – leading McCarthy to lament the elected officials who seek to sow division ( = irony?).

Speaking of discord and irony, Sarah Sanders avoided uncomfortable questions at yesterday’s WH briefing by making the shocking announcement that John Brennan has been stripped of his security clearances due to his “erratic conduct” and “sow[ing] division and chaos” (wow, the country was full of irony yesterday, wasn’t it) and because of Russia – though we all know, thanks to the July date on the August release, that the announcement was intended to distract media attention – and Trump! – from a losing battle with Omarosa Manigault Newman over his use of racial slurs and misogynistic language. This distraction effort is not helped, however, by his threats to go after Susan Rice next, nor by the release of this recording in which Trump suggests a “blacks against whites” season of The Apprentice, nor by his asking for AG Sessions to have Omarosa arrested!! (It’s getting worse…)

 

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Daily Dispatch 8/15/18

A new series in which we (will aspire to) offer a sampling of today’s headlines on immigration, race, and related stories.

August 15, 2018:

Head of USCIS defends his decision to remove the phrase “nation of immigrants” from the agency’s mission statement, arguing that the agency exists to serve citizens, not immigrants.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed rule change, barring citizenship to those who have benefited from public programs, would prevent US citizen children from receiving benefits. The leaked draft of a proposed rule change is available here.

Scheduled closure of Tornillo tent city, “housing” children separated from parents at the border, has been delayed. The location is operated by BCFS (formerly Baptist Children and Family Services), which declined a billion-dollar government contract earlier this summer to expand the installation from 400 to 4000 beds, calling the administration’s family separation policy “stupid.” (The proposed contracts reveal just how far Trump was planning to take this policy – which is chilling…)

Temporary Protected Status for Yemen gets 18 month extension.

An interesting read from the Texas Tribune on the inherently conflicted structure of the immigration courts, where judges seek to be impartial but are supervised by the DOJ.

Boston mayor, Joseph Curtatone, during a trip to El Salvador and Honduras to speak to deported migrants and their families, vows to boycott Sam Adams beer, citing CEO’s implicit support of Trump’s immigration policy and white nationalism.

A report on a University of Alabama study examining the factors that lead people to white nationalism.

CNN’s Don Lemon says a tape of Trump using racial slur “would change nothing” (video).

PETA urges Trump to adopt a shelter dog, citing his misuse of the term “dog” with reference to Ms. Manigault Newman.

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Daily Dispatch 8/14/18

A new series in which we (will aspire to) offer a sampling of today’s headlines on immigration, race, and related stories.

August 14, 2018:

U.S. citizen parents fear their 4-year-old adopted daughter may be deported after her immigration case is denied and visa set to expire.

State review confirms that Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley detention center for immigrant children strapped kids to chairs and placed bags over their heads, but conclude that this does not rise to level of “abuse.”

NBC news reports that ICE has tripled number of arrests of non-criminal undocumented immigrants, largely in sanctuary cities.

Historical perspective piece on executive powers in enforcing immigration, and the role of public opinion.

ACLU files lawsuit against DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen, alleging coordination between USCIS and ICE to schedule arrests during citizenship interviews.

A Supreme Court decision causes some deportation orders to be thrown out of court.

Bribery scheme lands ICE agent 3 years in prison.

The first family expands as Trump’s in-laws become citizens through the same process Trump has derided as “chain migration.”

Omarosa releases tape of WH communications staff discussing how to “spin” Trump’s use of “the n-word.” Meanwhile, Trump continues his smear campaign against black celebrities.

Related / Other:
Sessions isn’t a “real” attorney general, says president who appointed him “attorney general.”

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Trump’s War on Immigrants has Many Fronts

The Trump administration is waging a war on immigrants with many fronts, including: Adopting “zero tolerance” policies at the border, expanding detention, seeking ways to limit legal immigration, making it harder for people to become permanent residents and citizens, and launching a massive review of people who have become naturalized citizens. On all fronts, Trump’s war is being waged using existing policy instruments and institutions. We must acknowledge this reality – as the entire system is deeply flawed. At the same time, Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to generate fear and make an inhumane system even more intolerable.

Family Separation

As we reported last week, the Trump administration declared that it was unable to locate the parents of over 500 children separated from their families at the border, and suggested that the ACLU would be better placed to find them. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said that this was unacceptable:

“Many of these parents were removed from the country without their child,” Sabraw said. “All of this is the result of the government’s separation and then inability and failure to track and reunite. And the reality is that for every parent who is not located there will be a permanently orphaned child. And that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration.”

Sabraw [also] said the government must identify a person or team to oversee the remaining reunification process, potentially from the State Department or the Department of Health and Human Services, and produce a plan as to how reunification would be accomplished.

Contrary to Trump’s assertion that family separation was simply a by-product of enforcement of federal law – it now seems clear (not that we ever doubted it) that the administration sought to target families for enforcement. The organization Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) has issued a new report, Death by a Thousand Cuts, which documents step by step the policy changes employed by the Trump administration to target children and families for enforcement.

All of this was done intentionally to spread fear and to discourage migration to the United States, and the administration is not done yet, as it seeks to alter the Flores Agreement in order to detain children and families longer. From Newsweek:

The Trump administration had argued last month that in order for it to end its family separation policy, it would need to be able to detain children with their families longer than the 20-day maximum period outlined in the Flores agreement.

The administration’s bid to modify the decades-old deal was shot down by Judge Dolly M. Gee of the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, however, with the judge saying there was no basis for changing the agreement and that it was an issue the legislative branch would have to solve.

“They are claiming that much of this is a deterrent, to deter future immigration,” [KIND spokesperson] McKenna said. “But, we see it as, if it’s a matter of life or death, they are going to come anyway—and for many of the children we represent, it really is a matter of life or death.”

Legal immigrants under fire

As reported by NBC News, the Trump administration is expected to issue an order that would make it more difficult for people to become permanent residents and then citizens.

The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare, four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News.

The move, which would not need congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.

The plan will move to the Federal Register soon – where some period of public comment should be available. Until then, you can call the White House and let them know that this is wrong! White House comment line: 202-456-1111.

De-naturalization

Just in case we thought creating a dragnet at the border, separating children from their families as a matter of policy, and seeking to block legal immigrants from obtaining green cards and or seeking citizenship is not enough, the Trump administration is also launching a “de-naturalization” task force that could potentially strip people of their citizenship. The announcement was made several weeks ago. Vox created an informative background piece on denaturalization, its history, and what the current mandate is (or at least, what it is supposed to be).

On the current mandate of the taskforce, it is really limited to reviewing fingerprint records on some 300,000 + applications, to check if anyone had applied for citizenship under a false name. As explained by Vox:

The denaturalization task force that USCIS is assembling now is the next phase of something that, under the Obama administration, was called “Operation Janus” — and that stretches all the way back to the Bush era.

In 2008, a Customs and Border Protection agent discovered that more than 200 people from four countries had become US citizens despite having past deportation orders — something that should have, legally, disqualified them from naturalization — because the deportation order was under one name and identity and the citizenship had been granted to another. The identity fraud hadn’t been caught because the fraudsters’ fingerprints hadn’t been digitized, and so they hadn’t turned up matches in an existing DHS database.

DHS subsequently launched a task force to figure out just how many fingerprint records it was missing from people who should be barred from citizenship. In 2011, it calculated that the answer was 315,000: people who’d been convicted of crimes or were fugitives, or who had been ordered deported from the US since 1990. About half of the 315,000 print sets ultimately got digitized, but the department ran out of money before it could finish the job.

This does not mean that there are hundreds of thousands of fraudulently naturalized citizens out there. It just means that any one set of missing fingerprints might theoretically match to someone who had become naturalized under a different identity.

In late 2016, the government started accelerating its Operation Janus efforts again. In September 2017, the DOJ filed its first three civil denaturalization suits under Operation Janus. (The first successful denaturalization order under the operation was issued in January.)

In June 2018, the director of USCIS, Cissna, announced that he was hiring a team of attorneys for a separate office in California for the purpose of investigating the remaining Operation Janus cases and making the necessary referrals to the Department of Justice for prosecution.

Every week seems to bring some new horror, some new step intended to make life harder for people who have migrated to this country. The Trump administration’s war on immigration has laid bare the inequities in our immigration system. It must be taken apart and rebuilt with a new set of principles at its heart; principles that recognize the fundamental rights of all people, wherever they are born, to live free of violence, intimidation and economic degradation.

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Gov deports plaintiffs in lawsuit, Judge says no, threatens Sessions w/contempt

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, US District Court, ordered that a plane to El Salvador carrying a mother/daughter who are plaintiffs in an ACLU lawsuit be turned around or else Jeff Sessions could be placed in contempt of court.

The two are party to a lawsuit challenging Sessions’ exclusion of domestic violence and gang violence as objects of ‘credible fear’ in asylum cases. Despite government assurances, the two were put on a plane during a hearing in which attorneys were appealing their removal.

Judge Sullivan described the move as “outrageous,” saying: “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her? I’m not happy about this at all. This is not acceptable.”

After Judge Sullivan ordered the government to bring the plane back, threatening that Sessions and DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen would otherwise “be ORDERED to appear in Court to SHOW CAUSE why they should not be held in CONTEMPT OF COURT,” DOJ agreed to put the mother and daughter on another plane to the U.S. as soon as the outbound flight landed.

I guess Sessions doesn’t want a taste of prison life – yet.

Additional coverage.  And here is the order:

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Lessons from Haiti: Another View on the Nicaraguan Crisis

Since April 18, the solidarity movement has been struggling over how to interpret events in Nicaragua and where to push in terms of advocacy and/or speaking out. As with many people following the situation, I have watched and listened to friends take a harsh line towards one another and with me about articles I have written. While the division in the solidarity movement is not in and of itself new, the tensions have boiled over. The gulf between people over how the situation is understood and should be represented is enormous. There are even calls from some to support U.S. sanctions against the government of Nicaragua, and to expand U.S. pressure on Ortega and the FSLN to step down. My sense is that we must resist this push for U.S. intervention; the potential consequences are dire.

For myself, the ghost hovering over my understanding of what is going in Nicaragua, and more to the point, my fear for the future, is not Venezuela or Syria, but Haiti in 2004. At the time, the solidarity community was deeply divided over Aristide’s rule. His effort to craft an institutionalized party (Fanmi Lavalas) from the Lavalas movement had created divisions within that movement; his embrace of some neo-liberal policy reforms, accusations of corruption, and accusations of political violence employed against opponents resulted in many on the left moving into an oppositional position against Aristide. As with Nicaragua today, much of this division was in response to division within Haiti. Groups like Batay Ouvriye and the Plateforme Haïtienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement Alternatif (PAPDA), all with deep ties to solidarity groups in the U.S., began denouncing Aristide and even calling for his resignation. This sounds all too familiar.

In late 2003 and early 2004, armed groups began moving from the Dominican Republic into Haiti, burning police stations and public facilities. As these groups approached Port-au-Prince, the business community was organized into the “Democratic Convergence” with other sectors of civil society, and stepped up their long-time opposition and expanded protests. On February 29, 2004 Aristide was forced to leave Haiti. Escorted to an airfield by U.S. special forces, he was put on a plane to the Central African Republic. His claim that he was forced out of office at the point of a gun, was dismissed out of hand. There was no investigation. Many on the left accepted this de facto coup. Convinced of Aristide’s failings, they accepted at face value the claim that he resigned freely. What might come next seemed to worry them not at all.

There was no constitutional transfer of power. With the parliament inactive, the United States, Canada and France essentially handed off leadership to a transitional authority under Gerard Latortue, who had worked previously with the United Nations, and was working as a business consultant and talk radio host in Boca Raton, Florida, when appointed as Prime Minister. The U.S. military was dispatched to “stabilize” the situation, eventually handing over occupation to a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the fall of 2004. Though officially ended last year, a smaller “follow-up” mission continues to be a presence in Haiti 14 years later.

Between Aristide’s removal from power and Preval’s re-election in February of 2006, thousands of people died. The international “community” which had denied access to funding to President Preval during his first term, and later Aristide, opened the the aid floodgates for Latortue. Billions of dollars flowed into the country, which, to this day, are largely unaccounted for. Concessions were granted to corporations for large swathes of Haiti’s resources. It was corruption on scale that dwarfed anything Aristide had been accused of (much less proven), all coupled with political violence on a scale that rivaled (and, by some measures, surpassed) the coup regime of 1991-1994.

The solidarity community in the United States with ties to Haiti was deeply divided – a division that, whatever else was on the table, constantly came back to the question of Aristide’s rule and his future. It is hard to know what might have been achieved otherwise, but ultimately there was no effective voice to push back against the United States’ propping up of Latortue amidst widespread violence and intensified neo-liberalization. People allied in the anti-Aristide camp, would point to violence by armed groups nominally aligned with Lavalas to justify and ignore the broader destruction taking place.

Since April 18 of this year, I have had a strong feeling of deja vu. Obviously there are enormous differences between Haiti and Nicaragua. The FSLN is deeply entrenched in the economic, social and political life of Nicaragua, in a way that Fanmi Lavalas was never able to achieve in Haiti. Nicaragua’s democratic institutions are more deeply embedded, and even if one accepts the worst about Ortega’s machinations, there is a baseline of stability in Nicaragua that Haiti, under constant intervention from the United States, has not been able to achieve.

On the one hand, this means that Nicaragua is able to resist intervention to a greater degree. This is evident whether one accepts the “coup has been defeated” narrative, or the “government remains intransigent” narrative, as both interpretations speak to the resilience of the state in the face of external pressure.

On the other hand, if Ortega is ultimately forced from power, what comes next could be accompanied by even greater bloodshed, given the embeddedness of the FSLN. I am convinced that there is no way Ortega’s resignation, or even early elections, will satisfy the United States and those in the opposition who have aligned with U.S. policy-makers in the long-term. Why? Because the FSLN will remain the largest, most stable party in Nicaragua even without Ortega. Indeed, even if Ortega were to resign, unless the constitution is simply thrown out the window, a Sandinista will replace him, as his replacement would be left to the National Assembly to choose. If early elections are held, the FSLN will very likely win a large portion of seats in the assembly, if not a majority – and possibly the presidency – depending on who runs. None of this will be acceptable to the United States and allied forces in Nicaragua.

What happened in Haiti is also instructive about the future of the FSLN under U.S.-brokered regime change. In the wake of Aristide’s “resignation,” the United States transformed the political arena, defended the pillaging of the economy, and practically destroyed Fanmi Lavalas (ironically by trying to take it over in an absurd effort to clear the way for Marc Bazan – a long-time opponent of Lavalas – to run as the Fanmi Lavalas candidate in 2006). Preval’s return to power at the head of the Lespwa coalition in 2006, despite all of the U.S.’s efforts, would mark the last “free” election in Haiti. In 2010, amidst the aftershocks of the earthquake, the vote was simply discarded. The U.S.-supported candidate, Martelly, was put into a runoff in place of the Lespwa candidate who had actually received more votes in the first round. With this decision made under unrelenting pressure and threats of sanctions from the U.S. government, Martelly would go on to win, amidst widespread abstention. Lavalas was excluded entirely from the election.

For those of us in the solidarity community, I suggest we take seriously the hard-earned lessons of the Haitian example in 2004. Calling for accountability regarding the violence in Nicaragua, both from state forces and armed groups aligned with the opposition, is important; but I would emphasize that this accountability should come through domestic channels or the multilateral forums that Nicaragua participates in. This week, the government has invited the United Nations, the Vatican and members of the European Human Rights community to help mediate a new, expanded round of national dialogue. This has the potential for achieving an accounting of what has transpired, and creating a path toward resolution and reconciliation.

Continuing to call for Ortega’s removal from power, and inviting further intervention from the United States in the form of sanctions that would only further destabilize and polarize the situation in Nicaragua, seems like a really bad idea. Marco Rubio, who has led the right-wing charge against the FSLN in the Senate, has even spoken of the possibility of war in Nicaragua, and has tried to recast the crisis as a national security issue for the United States. Rubio and his partners in Congress make strange allies for those on the left, and they are certainly not the allies of the majority of people in Nicaragua. Those with such a policy orientation have no track record of bringing democracy to any part of the world. Nor, clearly, is that their intention.

As the violence on the ground in Nicaragua has subsided dramatically over the last two weeks, there is space for a conversation about long-term political solutions. We should welcome and support this opening. But inviting alliances with those on the political right in the United States, which has long sought to dismantle the Sandinista government, is about the worst thing that could be done for Nicaragua.

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Inspirational and Influential Women of the World: Dolly Pomerleau Part III

I first met Dolly in January of 1996. I had just moved to Washington, D.C. and was looking for a job. I had contacted the Quixote Center a few months prior about the possibility of setting up a small project to donate funds to a clinic in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. The clinic served the neighborhood of the Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs, where I stayed in July of 1995 with a Witness for Peace delegation. This had been my first trip to Nicaragua, and the group I was with was eager to help out the community in a meaningful way. Friends directed me to “check out the Quixote Center” to see if they could help. I did. Bill Callahan helped direct some of our funds to the clinic, but a long standing project wasn’t in the works. It was my first experience of what I would come to love about the Quixote Center. The whole celebrating dreams bit is real – laced with enough realism to keep people from wasting time and money. When I came to Washington, D.C., I was reaching out to everyone I had come into contact with doing work in Nicaragua and solidarity with Central America more generally – asking if they needed help. Some of these cold calls would lead to lifelong friendships, with Chuck Kaufman and Kathy Hoyt of the Nicaragua Network, members of the Witness for Peace community (where I actually did get a job!), and, of course, the Quixote Center. I dropped by the Quixote Center that January. Bill was warm and welcoming. Dolly was equally inviting and funny. They took me to lunch and took a lot of time, it seemed to me, with a young guy who knew nothing, but had recently been to Nicaragua. If you’ve spent time with Dolly you know, she asks questions. She takes an interest in people. She can make you feel like you are interesting, like your story matters. Later, when I started working at the Quixote Center, I discovered she was also very honest. Never “brutally” honest, but she had high expectations about the work we did, and especially how we communicated that work to our “constituency.” She was always clear when she thought I (or anyone) could do better. And she was always generous with praise when warranted. On this first meeting, I did not land a job. But I got a few names and a much appreciated explanation for how the D.C. street grid worked. I went on to work for Witness for Peace that year and then I was off to grad school. But I kept running into Bill and Dolly. At Witness for Peace, I was part of organizing a fast on the capitol steps as one of the early SOAWatch actions. I invited Bill and Dolly to lead one of our evening reflections. I later would run into them at street festivals selling artwork and t-shirts for the Nicaraguan Cultural Alliance. Dolly was always cheerful and warm. In the Fall of 2001, I was finishing grad school and completing a semester teaching assignment at the University of Maryland. I found out the Quixote Center was hiring a policy coordinator for the Quest for Peace program and I applied. At the time, I was simply looking for a bridge between grad school and a full-time teaching assignment, but I ended up staying and staying, and then leaving only to return. Since that first meeting in 1996, there has been a gravitational pull of sorts that has kept me in the Center’s orbit and Dolly has been at the center of it. When I first started working at the Quixote Center, I established this rough schema about the relationship between Bill and Dolly and their respective roles. Bill was the charismatic leader. Always with the grand smile, unforgettable laugh, mischievous eyes that could pull you. He was the weaver of dreams, with his writing and his speaking. Dolly was the transactional leader. She was, in brief, the one who made sure things got done. Dolly has charisma to spare, and Bill could certainly finish a project, but their strengths I do believe lined up this way and reinforced each other, and through them, the Center.   For the years I have worked with Dolly she has been both a colleague and a mentor. Even now, I learn from her far more than I return. From my perspective, her greatest strength is her ability to mobilize people. She looks for ways to include others and does not hesitate to ask someone to take on a task. And though she can be a tough critic – a reputation she relishes I think – the result is that the end product is always better. With any other organizer all of this might sound a bit controlling, but Dolly’s genius is her ability to magnify her own expectations while making space for other people’s creativity. Dolly doesn’t want things done her way – she just wants whatever is being planned to actually get done and to be done well. In my time with the Quixote Center Dolly has handed me grant proposals to write, fundraising letters to layout, or the name of a donor to call. She has asked me to write poems and songs and to draw pictures for different programs. She’s been my strongest ally in encouraging me to try new, sometimes wacky tactics and she has also been the first person to say, bluntly, “that won’t work” (though she is willing to be convinced otherwise, provided you bring your best game to the conversation). She, more than anyone else, has taught me about the transactional part of organizing work. And not just me. From the current mayor of New York City, to heads of national organizations, to the current staff at the Quixote Center, Dolly has helped a generation of activists be better at the work they do. It is hard to imagine the Quixote Center without Dolly. Her wealth of experience, her insistence that our work make a difference, but also be interesting, even fun where it can be, and her enormous wit and energy will all be missed. I also fear our staff meetings will be longer now – Dolly had little patience for a lot of talking that seemed to lack direction. We all do, but she would actually stop it! I know that for Dolly retiring from the Quixote Center means passing along the legacy to a new cohort to carry the work forward. I don’t expect she will retire from the work of making this world more justly loving. She’ll continue to put her energies into new projects, enjoy her garden and travel. The Quixote Center will be fine though. She has implanted in all of us her passion for making impossible dreams possible. Dolly is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. She made me a better organizer and has shown more confidence in me at times than I have felt myself. Mostly, she has been a great friend. I will cherish all of the times I have worked with her at the Quixote Center, and I look forward to future adventures with her.  
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Government says reuniting deported parents not its problem – it’s the ACLU’s

Yesterday, ahead of today’s 1:00 p.m. PST conference call, the Department of Justice filed a status report (see pp.3-4) in the federal court of the Southern District of California, suggesting that the responsibility for finding deported parents for the purposes of reunification with their children rests on… the ACLU.

DOJ argues that the ACLU is better positioned to locate the parents because of its “considerable resources” and extensive networks of volunteers, attorneys, and like-minded organizations. Once they have been located, the DOJ is offering to facilitate communication between parents and their minor children who remain in federal custody. 

To repeat: The government of the United States of America is suggesting (a) that it does not bear responsibility for reuniting the families it separated through detention and deportation and (b) that it does not have the financial or administrative resources to so.

The ACLU is, to be sure, a well-funded organization. However, a quick perusal of public records shows a fund balance of $118 million for the ACLU while the Department of Justice has $29 or so billion in discretionary budget authority.

Here is a brief comparative breakdown:

In light of the above, the government’s claim seems dubious.

One might surmise that the government is admitting either to incompetence or to what many have charged all along – namely, that the Trump administration intended family separations to be permanent from the beginning and thus has no motivation to establish procedures and best practices for reunification.

Want to take action? Call the attorneys who authored this court filing:

Sarah Fabian, Senior Litigation Counsel
Nicole Murley, Trial Attorney
DOJ Office of Immigration Litigation
(202) 532-4824

Adam Braverman, US Attorney
Samuel Bettwy, AUSA
Office of the US Attorney, Southern District of California
(619) 546-7125

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Action Alert: End abuse of migrant children

On Tuesday, an employee of Southwest Key (a nonprofit contractor that operates shelters for migrant children, including the now infamous Casa Padre) was arrested for molestation, aggravated assault, and sexual abuse after confessing to touching and kissing a 14-year-old girl at one of Southwest Key’s Phoenix area facilities.

This comes just days after reports of sexual abuse in Southwest Key’s Casa Glendale facility near Phoenix.

Earlier this year, the ACLU uncovered documentary evidence of child abuse by Customs and Border Protection employees (the full May 2018 report by the ACLU and the University of Chicago can be found here). The following is from an ACLU press release.

Examples of the documented abuses include allegations that CBP officials:

  • Punched a child’s head three times
  • Kicked a child in the ribs
  • Used a stun gun on a boy, causing him to fall to the ground, shaking, with his eyes rolling back in his head
  • Ran over a 17-year-old with a patrol vehicle and then punched him several times
  • Verbally abused detained children, calling them dogs and “other ugly things”
  • Denied detained children permission to stand or move freely for days and threatened children who stood up with transfer to solitary confinement in a small, freezing room
  • Denied a pregnant minor medical attention when she reported pain, which preceded a stillbirth
  • Subjected a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they “forcefully spread her legs and touched her private parts so hard that she screamed”
  • Left a 4-pound premature baby and her minor mother in an overcrowded and dirty cell full of sick people, against medical advice
  • Threw out a child’s birth certificate and threatened him with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.

The ACLU has started a petition addressed to CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan: “Stop subjecting children in your custody to physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. Hold the responsible agents accountable and make it impossible for any future abuse to occur.”

You can sign the petition here.

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The other Q

I first learned about QAnon a few months ago when Amazon suggested I buy a “Q” t-shirt.

QAnon is the conspiracy theory-of-everything that incorporates all of the classics (the Illuminati, the Elders of Zion, the Rothschilds, J.P. Morgan and the sinking of the Titanic, etc.) as well as the more recent (Birtherism, Pizzagate, etc.).

“Q” alleges him-or-her-but-probably-him-self to be a high-level government agent who has been moved to reveal details of a “deep state” conspiracy – though only in small, cryptic posts that followers must decode.

According to QAnon, Trump was recruited by the U.S. military to dismantle a decades-long occupation of the U.S. government by an elite cabal of globalists who kidnap children by the thousands as part of their international (indeed, interplanetary) pedophile ring (it should be noted here that the only one who has been kidnapping children by the thousands is Homeland Security, taking them from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border). This countercoup (“the Storm”) is led by none other Robert Mueller himself, whose Russia investigation is actually a front from for his sting operation against the “deep state.”

Trump speaks to followers in code in order to prophesy the imminent purge of these politicians (e.g. the Clintons, John McCain) and the exposure of complicit celebrities (e.g. Tom Hanks, John Legend).1 “Q” then drops “breadcrumbs” to help “bakers” interpret this complex code. It’s like Pokémon Go for the alt-right, but rather than collecting Pokémon, they’re scouring the deserts of the southwest for pedophiles as part of the coming purge. After this “storm” is over, there will be a new Christian golden age.

Of course, like every eschatological prediction so far, Q’s dates have been wrong (November 2017 was expected to bring hundreds of arrests, staged riots, marshal law, and Emergency Broadcast System messages with instructions for followers) and, also like every eschatological prediction so far, Q’s believers have nevertheless grown more entrenched in their faith.

So, why concern ourselves with some dark, musty corner of crazy-town-banana-pants idolatry? Because of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

QAnon is not a community that lives solely online, but is becoming increasingly active IRL. As Will Sommer noted last month:

In April, hundreds of QAnon believers staged a march in downtown Washington, D.C. with a vague demand for “transparency” from the Justice Department. “Q” shirts have become frequent sites at Trump rallies, with one QAnon believer scoring VIP access. In June, an armed man in an homemade armored truck shut down a highway near the Hoover Dam and held up signs referencing QAnon. And celebrities like comedian Roseanne Barr and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling have signed on.

And the Southern Poverty Law Center has taken note, tracking use of the #qanon on their Hate Tracker, writing that “the surprising rapidity at which ‘The Storm’ has spread is testament to the extent to which such claims gain real life and become widely believed.”

The visibility of the Q crowd at last night’s rally in Tampa was accompanied by an increasingly vicious hostility toward journalists covering the event. CNN’s Jim Acosta, a favorite target of Trump crowds, posted the following warning along with a video of what reporters experienced last night. The video is disturbing and Costa’s fear is justified:

 

WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin reacted this morning to Acosta’s video with this:

… this is the behavior Trump incites and amplifies with his attacks on the free press. When he says the media is the “enemy of the people” or the worst people or the most dishonest people, his followers take it as license to treat members of the media as something less than human. Trump has defined the press as part of “the other,” and his cult responds with the kind of venom used to keep a foreign body at bay …

Rubin recommends that we stop “infantilizing” the “Trump cultists” and “treating them as hapless victims of forces beyond their control.” Indeed, treating them as such is just another form of other-ing – making them alien to us and removing their agency. The Quixote Center will soon be launching a new program aimed at countering these kinds of “othering” tactics – especially in relation to immigration, but the principle extends in both directions.

Last week, Trump said to a crowd of veterans, “just remember: what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” Such is the Orwellian fever-dream in which we now live. When our social media is infiltrated by foreign actors to spread disinformation and fan the flames on already divisive issues and is an outlet for the President’s frequent rants about “witch hunts” and “fake news,” the conditions are ripe for the proliferation and escalation of hate speech and dangerous conspiracy theories, whether they target politicians, the media, minorities, or immigrants.

We’ve been here before. We know that this is how fascism/totalitarianism/despotism (and the accompanying atrocities) begins. We have to be vigilant about what we believe, check our sources, do our research, and take responsibility for the ideas and information that we ourselves choose to share.

We don’t have to let history repeat itself.

 

Notes

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  • Quixote Center
    7307 Baltimore Ave.
    Ste 214
    College Park, MD 20740
  • Office: 301-699-0042
    Email: info@quixote.org

Direction to office:

For driving: From Baltimore Ave (Route 1) towards University of Maryland, turn right onto Hartwick Rd. Turn immediate right in the office complex.

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