Here are those missing documents from the DOJ’s July 3rd Press Release

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III celebrated Independence Day by issuing a press release touting his decision to rescind 24 guidance documents related to juvenile justice, immigration, school safety, and racial discrimination. 

When reporters and lawyers went to work searching for these documents on agency websites, several had already been removed.

As a service for those interested, we have embedded those missing documents below in order of their appearance on the DOJ’s July 3rd press release, with their original item numbers as listed. A list of all of the other rescinded documents, with for-now-still-working links, is available here

  1. March 17, 2011, OJJDP Memorandum re Status Offenders and the JJDPA.
  1. June 17, 2014, Revised Guidance on Jail Removal and Separation Core Requirements
  1. Disaggregating MIP Data from DSO and/or Jail Removal Violations: OJJDP Guidance for States, 2011
  1. OJJDP Guidance Manual: Audit of Compliance Monitoring Systems

    8. BJA State Criminal Alien Assistance Program Guidelines, 2016

We’ll do our best to update as necessary.

Inquiries: (301) 699-0042 or jessica@quixote.org

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Is Rap More Dangerous Than Rape?

Last month, a priest in Kenya, Father Paul Ogalo started his year-long suspension, his offense: rapping during Mass. In an attempt to connect with the youth in his area, Father Ogalo began using the art of rap music to “attract a young people to his church and using it to spread the message against drug abuse.” Although Father Ogalo has been using rap to bring community members “closer to God” for some time now, it was only recently, when a video of him rapping in his robe went viral, that it caught the attention of his boss, Bishop Philip Anyolo, causing him to lose his position in the church. When interviewed about the situation Bishop Anyolo stated this: “We have just barred him from preaching using rap music to allow him time to change his ways.”  

The speed with which Father Ogalo was punished is remarkable in comparison to that of the priests and bishops who have committed or been accused of sexually abusing members of their congregation, whose punishment has been administered very slowly. So slowly in fact that it’s almost non-existent. In the latest sexual abuse scandal, an Australian archbishop was sentenced to home detention for covering up sexual abuse incidents committed by a fellow priest forty years ago; by covering for the priest, the archbishop said he “was protecting the church and its image.”  But even with his disgraceful actions and the conviction, the Vatican continues to allow the archbishop to keep his position; although he is no longer the head of the archdiocese, he still has the title of archbishop. Why hasn’t the Vatican reacted to this issue in a more just manner?

All religious institutions have standards and models of integrity and the Catholic church is no different. But when comparing the two stories one must ask: is rap music really more dangerous than rape? What kind of model is the Catholic church promoting if they punish clergyman for rapping but not for being involved in sexually abusing individuals? These questions definitely need answers. 

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Guidance for Jeff Sessions and other news

Yesterday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a Policy Memorandum offering guidance for border officers in dealing with asylum cases, in accordance with Jeff Sessions’ ruling that domestic violence and gang violence will no longer constitute credible fears for asylum applications. The memo can be read here, the ruling here, and some news coverage here.

A couple of weeks ago, Sessions recounted some of the ugly crimes committed by MS-13 members while defending the family separation not-exactly-policy-but-definitely-not-law. Trump invokes them nearly every day to stoke the fires of his base and create straw-men for politicians and journalists. The problem with this tactic is that it shines a spotlight on the administration’s (a) lack of logical consistency and/or (b) blatant race-based hypocrisy. Trump and Sessions want to revel in the heinousness of the crimes in order to demonize the very people seeking asylum to escape those crimes.

Is the gang violence bad? Yes? Then asylum is a legitimate claim. Is asylum from gang violence legitimate? No? Then the violence must not be that bad. In case he is a more visual learner, I have created this helpful flowchart that Sessions might want to consult in order to understand that he cannot have it both ways.

By denying asylum to those fleeing gang violence, Sessions is telling us that Central American parents should just accept the fact that their children will either likely be recruited to commit such crimes or be killed in a manner he deems unacceptable – at least for (non-Central) Americans.

Frankly, the only framework in which Sessions’ argument is coherent is one that sees Central Americans as a virus to be subjected to quarantine until it dies out and children from these countries as less deserving of the protections we seek for kids in the United States; in other words, a racist framework. (Laura Bush wrote an op-ed comparing family separation and detention to FDR’s Japanese American internment camps during WWII.)

In other news:

  • CLINIC and ASAP released a study on In Absentia removal of asylum seekers.

  • Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, stated that the facilities for kids who have been taken from their parents by the government are “one of the great acts of American generosity and charity.”

  • Paula White, Trump’s “spiritual advisor,” said:

“I think so many people have taken Biblical Scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee.’ Yes, he did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years. But it was not illegal. If he had broken the law, then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.”

Setting aside the significant historical and theological problems with her statement, we are still left to ask: Is she suggesting that babies can be criminals? And is this part of her “spiritual advice” to Trump?

  • And finally, ICYMI, Sessions doesn’t mind joking about family separation:

 

 

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The Gospel According to Sanders

Yesterday, Sarah Sanders stood at the White House podium in her most realistic ‘person-suit’ and defended the Trump administration’s family separation policy, saying, “It is very biblical to enforce the law, that is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”

Given that she was being asked to comment on Jeff Sessions’s words (of which Sanders said she was “not aware of the Attorney General’s comments or what he would be referencing”) the day before, let’s just give a quick look at that theological tire fire here:

Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.

Let’s briefly begin with Sessions’s comments:

  1. What the #%@?!
  2. That usage of “cite,” though accurate, is weird – and antiquated enough to sound wrong. Just say  “I would cite” without the “you to.” Constructive criticism.
  3. The administration’s concern about context does not seem to extend to the biblical text. Any theologian worth his or her salt would point out that, according to the New Testament, Christ is the “Lord of all creation” (Barth, Church Dogmatics II/1, IV/4) and as such while Christians are subject to the law of the land, the law of the land is itself subject to the law of Christ, which is love, and therefore when the law of the land violates the principles of Christ, Paul’s exhortation to obey the law cannot apply. 
  4. Paul goes on to talk about paying taxes. Where are those tax returns again?  Tsk, tsk.
  5. Separating families is not the law. If biblical scholar Jeff Sessions is doing this because Constitutional scholar Donald Trump says it’s the law, and if Trump says it’s the law because the democrats made it so (false, by the way) then both Sessions and Trump are behaving in an uncharacteristically submissive way to the minority democrats. (Could this be insincere posturing?) Note: Trump undid DACA, instated by a democratic president, but he and his Jeff are utterly helpless in the face of this made-up law that recent Trump crony Jesus Christ is supposedly now commanding them to enforce? Mmm, I’m skeptical.

Moving on to Sanders:

  1. It is “very biblical to enforce the law” – this statement is very vague. Which law is she referring to? Does she mean the law of the Deuteronomist? If so, it is incumbent upon me to point out that Jesus said that thing about rescuing sheep from wells that one time – in violation of Sabbath laws, noting that laws must be violated when someone is in need, including…“animals.”
  2. I realize you’re busy, but isn’t “being aware” of Sessions’s comments sort of part of your job?
  3. Insulting the intelligence of the reporters in the room in order to deflect attention from your own moral embarrassment –  well, that sounds pretty… feckless … don’t you think?

Ugh. This week has been a sh…feces tornado for immigration policy – so much so that we’ve been unable to keep up with it on our blog. However, we will provide further updates and analysis next week … so watch this space.

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287(g) and the Community

In an effort to become more effective advocates on questions related to immigration, several team members at the Quixote Center have joined Sanctuary DMV as trained acompañantes. Accompaniment involves showing up to support our immigrant neighbors when they must engage with government authorities – or even private contractors – to comply with their immigration proceedings. For those neighbors, anything can happen when they reach the ICE office for their check-ins, including being detained in prison, being forced to wear an ankle monitor, driven to an airport and forced onto a plane out of the country, or leaving unscathed only to undergo this ordeal again before the month is over. 

Accompaniment is bringing us closer to the everyday realities lived by immigrant neighbors and one such miserable reality is captured in the legalistically labeled “287(g)” program.

287(g) is a program authorized under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 that allows state and local police officers to collaborate with the federal government in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. This collaboration consists primarily of renting out jails and prisons to house immigrants and allowing deputized officers to question and arrest alleged non-citizens if they believe that an individual has violated federal immigration laws (American Immigration Council). According to ICE, there are currently 78 local law enforcement agencies in 20 states that have a 287(g) agreement, including three counties in Maryland: Anne Arundel, Fredrick, and Hartford.   

The 287(g) program allows the federal government to intrude on the sovereignty of states while also exposing the public to the enormous risks of racial profiling. Moreover, if immigration violations fall under civil law, why are all sorts of immigrants (including those with green cards, seeking asylum, etc.) being arrested and treated like criminals? Yet these abuses are a consequence of law enforcement officials – whether intentionally or not – viewing “others” through a racist lens that perceives any non-caucasian who lacks an “American” accent as having entered the country illegally and who may therefore be subject to detainment. 

ICE officials and their “deputies” (aka local law enforcement) are rounding up immigrants, particularly Latinx migrants, who are being branded by this administration as a threat. They are forcing them to wear ankle monitors not only to keep track of them but also to publicly brand and shame as well as ostracize them. They are utilizing propaganda and the politics of fear by calling them criminals and “animals” to garner public support for policies that justify their abuse. And they are separating families and sending immigrants to forced labor camps or prisons

287(g) has become a conduit for the continuation of America’s racist history and local governments involved in this program risk paving the way for genocide or ethnocide. We can stop this from happening by ridding ourselves of this toxic program. The 287(g) program is allowed because communities allow it, as a local option, but not a mandate, which is why your voice is so important.

Here’s how you can take action against 287(g) in your community and nationwide:

Locally – Strongly urge local law enforcement agencies to terminate their 287(g) agreements with ICE. Law enforcement agencies are not being forced into these agreements.

Nationally –  Reach out to your representatives and encourage them to support the PROTECT Immigration Act of 2017 (H.R.1236/ S.303) as well as the Detention Oversight Not Expansion (DONE) Act (S.2849).

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Pushback from Immigration Advocates

I don’t need to repeat all the bad news on immigration this week (although I may do a little of that). Instead, I’ll begin by focusing on how grassroots activists, advocacy groups, and even some politicians are organizing to quash the oppressive and inhumane policies being propagated by the executive branch in the name of spurious national security interests. 

Yesterday, Quixote Center staff attended a rally in Baltimore, protesting the Trump administration’s “family separation” policy as part of the National Day of Action for Children

House Democrats have also released a letter demanding that the administration end the policy.

Representatives from Texas advocacy groups, law firms, and the Women’s Refugee Commission have filed a formal complaint, in the form of an Emergency Request with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, demanding that children be reunited with their parents and that the family separation policy end immediately. They maintain that this policy violates international human rights standards as well as U.S. asylum laws and due process.

The ACLU has released a report documenting instances of child abuse by Customs and Border Patrol and ICE. The report is chilling and can be read in full (along with FOIA documents) here.

Stephen Miller, speaking for the White House, echoed the tired refrain that asylum is a “loophole” that needs to be closed.

Earlier this month, DHS secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, said, “If you as a parent break into a house, you will be incarcerated by police and thereby separated from your family. We’re doing the same thing at the border.” Not to beat a dead horse, but we would remind DHS once again that asylum seekers are not lawbreakers.

At the same time, despite protests by senior staff, Nielsen defied the administration by dispersing federal grant money to sanctuary cities. So, there’s that.

In another example of one step forward, two steps back, John Kelly said that TPS status should be eliminated and those here under that status be given a path to citizenship. In the same interview, however, he praised the family separation policy and reassured the nation that the children will be cared for – put into foster care or whatever.”

In other news:

At a rally in Tennessee on Tuesday, Trump engaged in a dangerous call and response.

“They’re not human beings,” Trump said. “What is the name?”

“ANIMALS!” the Angry Mob responded.

Scary. Really.

Last Thursday, Trump appointed Ronald Mortenson to be Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. Mortenson is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think-tank and Southern Poverty Law Center-Designated Hate Group with associations to white nationalism. Last year, Mortenson wrote an opinion piece, for example, titled “Most illegal aliens routinely commit felonies.”

Coming up:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will introduce a bill that would put a halt to Trump’s family separation policy.

And finally:

Thanks to all of you who commented on the DHS Notice this week. We tripled the number of comments and drowned out its supporters. Good work!

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Fewer Books for Maryland Inmates

Research shows that education plays a major role in reducing recidivism rates. Whether through the GED programs being offered in prisons or the presence of libraries, access to education is an important element of self-development for individuals, including prison inmates. 

In an effort to keep prisons “safe” and to decrease drug smuggling, however, correctional department officials in Maryland have deemed it necessary to limit inmates’ access to books. When asked how often drugs were smuggled into Maryland prisons via books, J. Michael Zeigler, a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services deputy secretary, was unable to report that information. This form of inmate control is nothing new and was implemented recently in New York.  

“Books are important for everyone, but access to books is crucial for prisoners. Inmates have no or very limited access to the internet, so reading is a way to stay connected to society, if not to just pass time. Policies on book access for prisoners are widely divergent, and sometimes bafflingly inconsistent, across state, federal, and private prisons.” (Quartz Media)

Prisons have the opportunity to use tax dollars to benefit society as a whole, but instead they want to waste money by decreasing educational opportunities, which will send newly released individuals back to jail (because they’ve gained no other skills) only to start the cycle over again. Currently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is examining the legal remedies needed to stop this action.

As mentioned in Proverbs 16:27, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” and that same saying can be applied to one’s mind. 

Describing a 2014 RAND study on correctional education, Lois Davis, a senior policy researcher and co-author of the comprehensive report, said, “it really, for the first time, dispelled the myths about whether or not education helps inmates when they get out. Education is, by far, such a clear winner.”

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Take Action: Tell Homeland Security to Stop Using Children As Bait

Since publicly announcing the tactic of separating children from their parents when detained by ICE (including asylum seekers), the government has seen an increase in the number of unaccompanied children they need to house. 

Now, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a public system of records notice (SORN) detailing its intent to modify its system to allow greater sharing between DHS and Health and Human Services, which oversees the placement of unaccompanied children into foster care. Frequently, relatives come forward as sponsors but this measure will discourage family members from doing so. This seemingly dull and bureaucratic measure masks the intention of serving as an immigration check on the sponsor and all members of the sponsor’s household.

Let’s say Johnny has an aunt in the U.S. who is a citizen, but she lives with her sister who is undocumented. Johnny’s aunt knows that if she comes forward as a sponsor for her nephew, her sister will likely be detained and deported. She therefore chooses not to come forward and Johnny remains in a group home…or on a military base.

In short, DHS, HHS, and ICE are using children as bait.

The public comment period on this notice will remain open until June 7. We urge you to comment on the notice and perhaps to politely tell DHS where to shove it.  

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This Week in Immigration

Just to give a sense of the unrelenting and multi-pronged attack on immigrants being led by the executive branch and likeminded members of Congress, we decided to bring together some stories just from the past few days. It’s dizzying, so I tried to keep commentary to a minimum and let the volume of stories speak for itself.

Monday/Weekend

Jeff Sessions ruled that immigration judges can no longer close cases, opening the door to re-opening 350,000 closed cases, which could “result in the imprisonment and deportation of immigrants who now have a clear path toward legal immigration status,” says Dan Werner of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Steve King (R-IA, the pride of my home state of Iowa) has introduced a Bill to jail sanctuary cities officials (HR 5884) called the Libby Schaaf Act, named after the mayor of Oakland who alerted residents to pending ICE raids.

California is considering extending Medicaid to all adults regardless of immigration status, further flouting Trump’s ongoing attacks against sanctuary cities.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will allow the ban on sanctuary cities to become law without his signature (despite law enforcement’s opposition to the bill), saying “it’s time to move on.”

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn) proposed a bill to crowdfund the border wall (Border Wall Trust Fund Act).

 

Tuesday

Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, was asked in a hearing with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce whether teachers should report undocumented students. Devos responded with a resounding “I think that’s a school decision,” leading civil rights groups to say, “um… no.”

The House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a hearing they called Stopping the Daily Border Caravan: Time to Build a Policy Wall. The policy in question was asylum, which Republican lawmakers described as a “loophole.” Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) complained that asylum seekers get all the breaks but frequently fail to appear at their asylum hearings “most likely because their claim was unfounded in the first place” (not because they never received their Notice to Appear, or they’re afraid of deportation, or they reunited with family members elsewhere in the country…). Echoing Trump, she characterized minors as “vulnerable to gang recruitment.” Capitol Police were called on to remove peaceful protestors from the room. You can learn more by clicking the link, where you’ll find full video and transcripts.

 

Wednesday

The Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration held a hearing called TVPRA (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act) and Exploited Loopholes Affecting Unaccompanied Alien Children. This hearing also addressed MS-13 gang recruitment. Video and transcripts are available here.

The House voted on a prison reform bill cooked up by Jared Kushner, which threatens to make prison slave labor the norm, but prohibits pregnant women from being shackled, unless guards determine that they really, really need to be. 

Trump talked immigration on Long Island, doubling down on his use of the word “animals” to describe MS-13 gang members and suggesting that foreign aid be denied to those countries that allow criminal immigrants to come here (a policy that would likely make worse some of the problems that cause people to leave). In this same photo-op, Trump said the following about children crossing the border: “They look so innocent. They are not innocent.”

Also, in a post-game interview with FOX, Trump seemed to suggest that NFL players who kneeled during the anthem be deported…? Or leave voluntarily? It wasn’t clear.

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“Animals” – just another day in the Trumpian Hellscape

In a meeting with California officials to discuss Sanctuary Cities, Trump uttered the following: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”

News outlets tended to cover this in “Trump calls immigrants animals” fashion. I’m a fan of the mainstream media and the Deep State, but as the National Review rightly points out, Trump’s use of the word “animal” was in direct response to a question about MS-13 asked by the Sheriff of Fresno County, where MS-13 gang members have been convicted of murder and gun charges.

Fine, context is important.

But the context doesn’t really make it better. Recently, one of our contributors wrote a piece on MS-13 and the cycle of dehumanization that leads to violence. (I’ll give you a minute to read it before I continue…ready?)

One could argue that the press is in the wrong here because calling Trump out for dehumanizing immigrants (which he does regularly) without specifying which particular group of immigrants he happens to be dehumanizing today actually does his work for him – contributing to the lumping together of undocumented immigrants with the small percentage of those who have committed violent crimes.

In any case, calling a particular group of people “animals” is simply an explicit articulation of his dehumanizing policies on immigration, which have a much more concrete and immediate impact on people’s daily lives. For example:

  • Stripping people of TPS and shipping them back to their “shithole countries” (which actually contributes to gang violence, thus increasing the number of people seeking asylum).
  • Dehumanizing children by treating that as contraband to be confiscated at the border and storing them in military installations (distorting a law, that, whatever you think of it, was originally intended to protect children from human trafficking – and turning them into mere leverage) and referring to bringing one’s own child across the border as “smuggling.”
  • Dehumanizing the youth who get caught up in gang violence – “they’re not people” – by taking a lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to a criminal justice that essentially does throw away the key (storing inmates in solitary confinement for years at a time, for example).
  • Doing the same in federal detention centers filled not only with undocumented immigrants who have committed no other crime than existing within the borders of the United States without the right paperwork – but also with asylum seekers who have committed no crimes whatsoever (since it’s not illegal to enter the country if you’re seeking asylum).
  • Forcing detainees to work for $1 a day and then requiring them to use that little bit of money to purchase food, linens, and phone calls to family, friends, lawyers – threatening them with criminal prosecution or “the sensory and psychological deprivation of their humanity resulting from solitary confinement” if they refuse (incidentally, this is pretty much the definition of human trafficking, hence SPLC’s lawsuit against CoreCivic).

When corporations become “persons,” there is a financial incentive for treating people like animals and animals like machines. If we can start to think of criminals as “animals,” the next step is to criminalize whomever we perceive as undesirable or inconvenient so that we can hand them over to the private prison industry and store them away like so much clutter. Hence the criminalization of immigration, poverty, compassion, and so on.

Justice must be re-humanized.

 

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Contact Us

  • 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.

Look for building 7307. We are located on the 2nd floor.

For public transportation: We are located near the College Park metro station (green line)