February 22, 2019
Our New Attorney General Created a Concentration Camp for Haitians Who Were HIV+ last time he had the job.
Drowned out by the noise surrounding the budget deal and Trump’s executive order declaring a national emergency, the Senate confirmed William Barr last week as the next attorney general. Many concerns have been raised about Barr’s nomination, especially regarding his views of executive power and his prior comments on the Mueller investigation. Less discussed, but very relevant given the attorney general’s extraordinary powers over immigration law, is Barr’s history as the architect of a brutal immigrant detention program targeting Haitians.
From the Daily Beast:
Decades before President Donald Trump nominated William Barr to retake the reins at the Department of Justice, Barr used the post to indefinitely detain hundreds of HIV-positive asylum-seekers at a Guantanamo Bay detention center, deemed an “HIV prison camp” by a federal judge who ruled the quarantine to be in gross violation of the U.S. Constitution.
That policy, part of a program that at its peak held more than 12,000 Haitian refugees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, helped lay the legal groundwork for the indefinite incarceration of “enemy combatants” in the War on Terror—and institutionalized the detention system that President Trump has made a cornerstone of his immigration policy. Barr has since defended the detention of hundreds of HIV-positive asylum-seekers, some of them children, even though the government’s own lawyers admitted at the time that detainees had inadequate medical care.
This story came out before the hearings, but was little discussed during them. It is hard to imagine someone with less compassion than Jeff Sessions as Attorney General - but we may have just let that happen.
Vatican Sends Representative to El Paso
Trump went to El Paso two weeks ago and lied a lot about immigration and its impacts on the community. In the coming week Reverend Stark will join local organizations to discuss increased border security and the new crisis for families and asylum seekers that Trump’s policies have created.
From Texas Monthly:
“The meeting is about the emergency situation here on the border that’s been precipitated by the Trump administration,” said Dylan Corbett, director of the Hope Border Institute, which is helping to organize the event. It will include a gathering on Tuesday at the border fence in Sunland Park, New Mexico, just across the state line from El Paso. Reverend Robert Stark from the Vatican Migrants and Refugees Section will attend the meetings.
Although illegal border crossings are well below levels seen ten or twenty years ago, the numbers of families and unaccompanied children are now at record levels. Just over 120,000 family unit members and unaccompanied children were apprehended at the Southwest border in the first four months of fiscal year 2019, triple the numbers of a year ago, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. About two-thirds of those apprehensions have occurred in two Texas-based Border Patrol sectors: the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso. Families and children now account for about three of every five people apprehended at the border.
ICE Sued Over Raid in Tennessee
Last April, ICE engaged in one of the largest raids in recent history at a meat-packing plant in Tennessee. The operation involved dozens of heavily armed agents, who surrounded the facility completely before storming it, all with helicopters flying over head. This week a suit was brought against ICE for the treatment of some of the workers. All workers who appeared Latinx were detained, while white workers smoked cigarettes and waited out the raid in the parking lot. The raid had a devastating impact on the community. More on the case from Al Jazeera.