The Migrant Center works in collaboration with other organizations to stand up for immigrants’ rights.
Impact Litigation Cases
Briefing Submitted to Federal Court to Support Ending Title 42 Expulsions
May 5 – We joined 57 organizations in submitting an amicus brief in Arizona v. CDC, the case currently before the Western District of Louisiana challenging the Title 42 wind-down, being brought by 21 states. See this litigation tracker for more.
May 10 – A statistical analysis of Title 42 expulsions and COVID cases in the U.S. between March 2020 and February 2022 found no relationship between the number of expulsions under the Title 42 and the number of COVID cases in the U.S. Public health experts, including America’s top physician, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have been saying that Title 42 order has no scientific nor public health rationale.
May 20 – The District Court granted a nationwide preliminary injunction keeping the Title 42 expulsion policy in place. The judge ruled that the CDC did not follow the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirement of notice and comment. The Department of Justice appealed. Follow the litigation.
May 21 – CBP issued a memo that clarifies previous guidance implementing the CDC Order to ensure that it is consistent with Huisha Huisha v. Mayorkas, which found that the government may expel family units only to places where they are “not likely to be persecuted or tortured.”
We File an Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Against MPP
January 22 – We filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court, along with 107 other organizations and law schools, calling for the immediate end to MPP and the restoration of meaningful access to refugee protection in the U.S. Our legal commitment to the principle of non-refoulement, prohibits U.S. from sending individuals to any country where they would face a well-founded risk of persecution, torture, or other serious human rights violations. From the moment individuals are returned to Mexico under MPP, they face unrelenting violence that threatens their lives and effectively blocks their access to humanitarian protection in the United States. There are “at least 1,314 public reports of murder, torture, rape, kidnapping, and other violent attacks against asylum seekers and migrants returned to Mexico under MPP.” 25% had been threatened with or experienced physical violence while in Mexico. 75% returned to Nuevo Laredo under MPP in October 2019 alone had been kidnapped. Part of the danger is caused by the U.S.’ requirement that people show up to the bridge for court at 4:30am. Tamaulipas, where 30,000 migrants have been returned, is designated by the U.S. Department of State as a Level 4, “Do Not Travel” zone—the same threat level assigned to Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, and Syria. Children, many under five, make up at least 33% of those returned to danger under MPP.
U.S.-based pro bono attorneys have been threatened with kidnapping and violence in connection with their work with individuals subject to MPP. MPP applicants cannot meet with an attorney before their hearing unless they are already represented, limiting the ability of consultations and attorney case screening, and then for only an hour or less in non-confidential spaces. MPP substantially impairs their ability to communicate with their counsel. Many lack access to phones with reliable service (including at shelters to limit gang access), access to the internet or the financial resources necessary to facilitate remote communication. All of this increases the likelihood that their claims will be denied.
Among the 24,000 MPP cases still pending, 70 percent of those individuals will have been waiting in Mexico for a court hearing for one year or more, causing some to cross the Rio Grande into the U.S. Read here for a story from a Cuban refugee. Read our One Year update on MPP for more background and resources.
We Submit an Amicus Brief to the Fifth Circuit to Halt MPP
September 27 – We filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit in Texas v. Biden, arguing that any form of MPP would violate U.S. law and our treaty obligations to people escaping persecution. Our amicus brief argues that the district judge’s Administrative Procedures Act holding is grounded in numerous factual errors, including judge’s incorrect conclusion that the termination of MPP contributed to a border “surge;” that high rates of in absentia removal orders indicate high rates of meritless asylum claims; and that a 44% rate of in absentia removal orders is acceptable. Arguments are calendared for November 2.
A recent report based on government data of nearly 3,000,000 immigration court hearings found that 83% of nondetained immigrants with completed or pending removal cases attended all their hearings from 2008 to 2018, and 96% of those represented by a lawyer attended all their hearings. 15% of those immigrants who did miss a court hearing and were ordered deported were later able to successfully reopen their cases and had their removal orders rescinded suggesting that many of the individuals who fail to appear in court wanted to attend their hearings, but never received a hearing notice or faced some hardship in getting there. The study found that only 6% of those seeking asylum failed to appear, while only 3% of those seeking cancellation of removal and 2% of those seeking adjustment of status did. The results of the study support releasing far more people from custody.
September 24 – We filed an amicus curiae brief with 28 legal service and advocacy organizations in opposition to Texas’ motion for preliminary injunction that would end the Title 42 exception for unaccompanied children and families, subjecting them to forced expulsion to Mexico. In light of our expertise and experience working with individuals subject to the Title 42 Policy, we explained to the court why such an injunction would potentially harm tens of thousands of individuals, highlighting the exceptional vulnerability of children and their families. In addition, we argue that expelling unaccompanied children violates the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which affords special protections to unaccompanied children in recognition of their “specialized needs” and in response to the “special obligation [of the US] to ensure that these children are treated humanely and fairly.”
We assert that Title 42 is unlawful and should not be applied to anyone, as denounced by epidemiologists and public health experts as having no basis in science. More than 1,300 medical professionals from 49 states and territories signed Physicians for Human Rights’ e-action, calling on CDC Director Walensky to end Title 42. Since Biden took office, investigators havedocumented over 6,300 violent attacks on people expelled to Mexico.
One of the Migrant Center’s clients is participating as a plaintiff, victim, and witness to this harmful and unlawful practice.
The Migrant Center has provided information to class counsel about the cases we see and clients we represent on the ground.
The Migrant Center joined with around 50 immigrant rights advocates and community organizations around the country filed a “People’s Amicus Brief” to condemn Jeff Sessions’ latest power grab in Matter of M-S- to further constrict the power of judges to make decisions on whether people looking for refuge in the US should remain in detention centers or be allowed to have a hearing to pay bond. Read our op-ed on why the right to a bond hearing is so crucial and how taking away the right to a bond hearing will lead to the prolonged, unnecessary detention of people fleeing persecution in violation of our Constitutional due process and liberty rights.
The Migrant Center has added its voice to the following calls for justice.
Representatives Call for Funding for Attorneys
May 25 – 10 Senators introduced the LIFT the BAR Act (S.4311).The Migrant Center, along with more than 750 national, state, and local organizations sent a letter of support for removing the 5-year bar. The bill is the Senate companion to House legislation (HR 5227) sponsored by 80 Representatives. The LIFT the BAR Act restores access to public programs like Medicaid, CHIP, and SNAP, by removing the five-year bar imposed by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) and other barriers that deny critical care and aid to people who are lawfully present and their families. This includes people who hold “green cards,” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, crime victims, child maltreatment victims and orphans who hold Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), and other noncitizens residing lawfully in the United States. Polling finds that 3⁄4 of Americans favor the policy change proposed by the LIFT the BAR Act.
Joining Call to Make the End of the Muslim Ban a Reality
April 7 – We joined 78 organizations in a letter urging the government to review the denials of refugee admission to those refugees who were ready for travel on the day of the refugee-specific Muslim Ban – at a 53% denial rate after passing background checks – and to expedite processing. While President Biden revoked the ban on January 20, 2021, for hundreds of refugees the Muslim Ban has not ended. 26 Congress members also sent a letter to agency officials on the same issue.
February 1 – The Migrant Center joined 148 organizations in a letter to Biden and Congress urging increased funding for legal representation for people in removal proceedings. The Biden administration is launching the Legal Access at the Border (LAB) program in seven border cities in California, Arizona, and Texas with contractors explaining options for staying in the U.S., as well as general court practices and procedures individuals should be aware of prior to their appearance. The program is part of the government’s wider “Access EOIR” initiative, which the Department of Justice announced in September 2021 to provide “noncitizens and their representatives” more resources.
February 15 – 41 members of Congress sent a letter to House leadership calling for funding for legal representation for individuals in removal to be included in the FY2022 appropriations bill.
March 3 – 19 senators urged Senate leaders to fund legal representation programs.
February 9 – We joined a group of 84 organizations
for a formal review of the implementation of President Biden’s Executive Order 14006 phasing out the use of private prisons by the Department of Justice in light of ICE’s September 2021 announcement of the conversion of the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania that closed in March 2021 after the Department of Justice declined to renew its prison contract, despite a history of abuse and neglect. ICE is also negotiating with GEO to expand its Folkston ICE Processing Center after it closed in September 2021 at the end of the Bureau of Prisons contract, which would increase ICE detention capacity by 1800 beds to make it the largest immigration detention center in the country. The Folkston ICE Processing Center is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General for conditions that violate the rights of those detained there. In April 2020, the FIPC was the subject of a
filed by medically vulnerable individuals who identified deeply concerning human rights abuses, including medical neglect and inhumane living spaces. The
has been evidenced by issues of access to counsel, poor sanitation regarding pests and plumbing, confinement to rooms for 22 hours a day, and medical inattention that has endangered the health of people detained at the facility. Similar negotiations between ICE and private prison companies regarding closed prisons have been reported in Tipton County, Tennessee, Leavenworth, Kansas, and Howard County, Texas. We are asking that President Biden’s executive order be extended to include DHS contracts with private prison corporations and local governments given that 79% of people in ICE custody are held in private detention facilities. ICE, the Bureau of Prisons, and the U.S. Marshals Service account for more than half of all revenue for the two largest private prison corporations — CoreCivic and GEO Group. Rewarding the GEO Group with a lucrative contract after a federal court
for exploiting immigrants detained at a detention facility in Washington State is a shortsighted decision.
February 15 – We
that DHS create a designated parole program for at-risk Afghans who urgently require protection as a complement to other protection avenues. The threats of violence are particularly acute for Afghans who have partnered with the U.S., former members of the Afghan National Security Forces, women, journalists, human rights defenders, religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ persons, and others. The Afghan Parole Program should include, among others, all SIV-eligible Afghans, regardless of the phase or stage of their process, and their family members, refugees referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), including P1, P2, P3, and I-730 petitions. Humanitarian parole authority has been utilized since the end of World War II to protect wartime evacuees fleeing violence and persecution: following the Hungarian Revolution, the Vietnam War, Operation Pacific Haven in 1996, Kosovo in 1999, and Iraqi translators in 2007. Read more about how we are
and what we can do to help.
February 23 – We joined 65 groups in a
to Union Pacific calling on the company to stop submitting affidavits that support the illegal arrest and apprehension of migrants under Operation Lone Star, and to issue a public statement denouncing Operation Lone Star and white supremacy rhetoric that is harmful to all people of color; and find safe and humane alternatives to assist migrants apprehended on Union Pacific property and ensure these migrants have meaningful access to apply for asylum in the U.S. Under Operation Lone Star, approximately 2,500 migrants have been apprehended, charged with “trespassing,” placed in state prisons, and deprived of due process. There are substantiated accounts of law enforcement officers directing migrants to enter private property and subsequently arresting the migrants for trespassing. Because these charges lacked the probable cause required under the law, many of the trespassing cases against migrants have been dismissed, and a TX District Judge has ruled Operation Lone Star unconstitutional. As a result of the overwhelming evidence of constitutional and state violations, over 100 organizations, members of the Texas Legislature, and members of Congress have repeatedly called for a federal investigation of Operation Lone Star.
February 24 – We sent a letter to House and Senate leaders with more than 100 organizations calling for a decrease in funding for detention and an increase of funding for USCIS and DOS to address crisis-level processing delays that have led to families being separated, businesses unable to hire or keep essential workers on their payroll, people stuck waiting to naturalize, and individuals falling out of status while they wait. The President’s budget of $345 million would only address a little more than half of USCIS’s 4.4 million case backlog, and therefore an increase of funding to $500 million is imperative. The letter also calls for increased funding for legal representation for people in removal proceedings to improve fairness, efficiency of hearings, and appearance rates. We additionally ask for the rescission of all previously appropriated funding for the construction of the border wall and to transfer funds to land management agencies to mitigate environmental damage from wall construction.
March 10 – Over 100 House Democrats sent a letter to DHS urging the agency to halt the expansion of immigrant detention, phase out private for-profit facilities, and conduct a review of all ICE detention facilities.
February 25 – We join 176 organizations in
or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Ukraine due to Russia’s February 23 military invasion. There are up to 30,000 potential beneficiaries. Biden officials have estimated that the conflict will produce one to five million refugees.
March 3 – DHS
an 18-month designation of TPS for Ukrainians who have continuously resided in the United States since March 1. It will become effective upon publication of a Federal Register Notice.
March 24 – Biden announced that the U.S. would process
Ukrainians through our refugee resettlement program and other paths.
February 28 – We joined a community
urging DHS and DOJ to rescind in its entirety the December 2020 “
” rule issued by the Trump administration. This rule would bar asylum seekers from protection by labeling them a “danger to the national security of the United States” if they transited through or come from a country with a communicable disease, or exhibit symptoms “consistent with” such disease. The Departments have
in March 2021 and again in December 2021 the rule’s implementation due to ongoing litigation against a related regulation, for “
to modify or rescind” it. The Departments now
comment on whether to further delay implementation. Our letter argues that ample time to study the legality and impact of this baseless ban has elapsed. As explained by
, the classification of asylum seekers as a public health threat is “not based on sound epidemiological evidence.” The
, a bipartisan group of dozens of former immigration judges, similarly objected to the rule as inconsistent with domestic and international law. Human rights organizations, including
, condemned the rule as violating U.S. obligations under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, as well as U.S.’ obligations under the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and customary international law.
January 17 – We joined 34 organizations in a letter on Family Separation to President Biden, Vice-President Harris, Secretary Mayorkas, Attorney General Garland Garland, Director Rice and National Security Adviser Sullivan. The administration recently announced its decision to withdraw from global settlement negotiations regarding pending family separation cases and to litigate each of these individually. More than 5,500 children and families have been affected. By arguing that Trump’s family separation and detention policies were lawfully executed the administration is leaving the door open for future administrations to opt again for the criminal policies. Trump-era family separation and detention policies included practices equivalent to torture and forced disappearances, according to leading legal and clinical experts, because they involved acts which have been defined as “crimes against humanity” pursuant to Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. All victims of human rights crimes of this kind are entitled to just and adequate remedies. International crimes of this order of magnitude trigger state duties to fully redress victims’ rights to truth, justice, and material and symbolic forms of reparation, as well as guarantees of non-repetition, according to internationally recognized standards.
, there are over 6,880 detained and non-detained immigrants currently without access to legal representation. People facing deportation in the San Antonio area are over eight times more likely to achieve a positive outcome if they have a lawyer. At the Pearsall Immigration Court, 63% have gone unrepresented over the last five years. COVID-19 makes it even more urgent to provide lawyers for people in ICE detention, who are at high risk of contracting the fatal virus. As of September 21, 2021, a total of
detained at the South Texas Detention Center had COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic. San Antonio is home to more than 278,700 immigrants, including 175,000 immigrants who are noncitizens. Over 250,000 children have at least one undocumented parent, placing them at high risk of family separation. Individuals can sign the petition
We Demand Better Processing for Afghan Humanitarian Parole Cases
December 8 – We wrote to express our extreme concern regarding USCIS’ plan to largely exclude over 30,000 Afghans who have applied for humanitarian parole. As Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Blinken have separately stated, the United States has a moral imperative to protect vulnerable Afghans. USCIS is requiring types of evidence that are virtually impossible to obtain and that is more than needed to get asylum. The 2017 Humanitarian Parole and Significant Public Benefit Training Module allow USCIS to grant parole to individuals to come to the United States “Due to Fear of Harm Due to Generalized Violence that Occurs During a Civil Conflict, based on Ethnic, Tribal, or Religious or Political Violence.” Humanitarian parole is necessary as other pathways are inaccessible, backlogged, and insufficient for the urgent needs produced by the Taliban takeover of the country. Due to these USCIS-imposed limitations we urge the government to implement a special parole program for Afghans. We also feel that USCIS needs to favorably exercise its discretion in these matters, apply a reasonable evidentiary standard, and make information about processing publically available.
We Petition for Better Case Record Keeping
December 9 – We sent a petition to EOIR and DHS under the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 553(e), to ameliorate systemic access to records problems, explaining that requiring submission of a FOIA request to obtain an A-File violates non-citizens’ due process rights as the time needed for FOIA processing denies a meaningful opportunity to be heard in immigration proceedings. Respondents have the right to “examine the evidence against [them]” and access all records “pertaining to [their] admission or presence in the United States,” codified in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) at 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(b)(4)(B) and (c)(2)(B), respectively. The EOIR Proposed Rule to begin using electronic filing will only partially solve the problem of barriers to ROP access as it applies only to new cases and those with internet access. All of these limits stand in stark contrast to the access provided to ICE attorneys, who typically have convenient access to ROPs and DARs, on top of possession of the entire A-File of documents. We are calling on all records to be provided within 14 days for a detained respondent and within two months for a non-detained respondent.
Writing to Close Down Farmville Detention Center
December 13 – We wrote to DHS Secretary Mayorkas urging him to terminate the contract with the Town of Farmville, Virginia and close the Farmville Detention Center, to bring an end to over a decade of well-documented abuse, mistreatment and medical neglect of immigrants, including excessive use of force against people detained who protested their unsafe conditions, solitary confinement, and limited access to counsel and family members. Due to the facility’s mismanagement during the COVID-19 pandemic, in July 2020 more than 300 people (93%) became infected. Due to a court injunction resulting from ICA-Farmville’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis, the facility currently holds an all-time low of 12 people in detention, down from an average of well over 700 prior to the beginning of the pandemic. Our letter requests a meeting.
Decrying the Expansion of MPP
December 17 – We were part of a mass effort of over 240 organizations that sent a letter to the administration in response to the restart and expansion of Remain in Mexico (MPP) and the continuation of T42. As the union representing USCIS asylum officers and more than 50 former Immigration Judges and Members of the Board of Immigration Appeals have made clear, this deadly program cannot be implemented safely, humanely, or in compliance with U.S. law. The decision earlier this month to renew the Title 42 order issued by the CDC for another 60 days despite senior CDC scientists and other public health experts, including Dr. Fauci, repeatedly explaining to Congress and the public that this is unnecessary. Continuing to turn away asylum seekers is particularly galling, as vaccinated tourists and shoppers with visas are permitted to cross the border while people in search of refuge are turned away. Human rights organizations have documented more than 7,600 reported kidnappings and attacks against people blocked in or expelled to Mexico under Title 42. A group of refugees similarly urged President Biden to stop MPP and Title 42 expulsions and uphold the protections granted under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and welcome all people seeking safety with dignity and humanity. On December 29, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court for permission to end MPP and requested that the Supreme Court review the case this term.
There have been 152nd expulsion flights just to Haiti under the Biden administration, expelling over 15,423 Haitians, many who have not been screened for asylum beforehand and some of whom have been shackled (IOM reported 10,776 Haitians repatriated from September 19 through December 17, of whom 56% were men, 26% women, and 18% children; all 116 expulsion flights to Haiti since September 19 are here.)
Asking that Liberians Have Longer to Apply for Citizenship
December 17 – We joined an organizational sign on letter to Congressional leadership to request that Congress eliminate altogether, or extend for at least two years, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) deadline that is intended to provide a pathway to citizenship for Liberians who have lived in the U.S. for many years. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota has introduced a bill in the House that would reopen the program after the deadline on December 20, 2021). Out of potentially 10,300 eligible Liberians, only 3,529 applications have been submitted, with 69% still pending adjudication. Of those eligible, 96% speak English, 100% have a household income above the poverty level.
Remedying the Harms of the Muslim and African Bans
December 21 – We joined over 100 organizations in a sign-on letter urging the Biden administration to reconsider visa denials issued under the Muslim and African Bans, expedite cases that are still pending, and grant humanitarian parole to those who won the diversity visa lottery from FY 17 through FY 22, but whose visas were not issued as a result of the bans. Over 41,000 visa applicants from the banned countries were denied as a result of the Muslim and African Bans.
We Call for Expeditious Processing of Work Permits, Language Access, and Gender Neutrality
November 17 – We joined 74 organizations in a letter urging USCIS to decrease wait times for employment authorization documents (EADs) and rescind a harmful Trump regulation that increased the minimum wait time from six months to one year after submitting an asylum application. 19 state Attorney Generals oppose the proposed rule because it would make it harder for asylum seekers to work, “lower tax revenue for the States, harm the States’ industries, increase reliance on State-funded programs, and make it harder for the States to enforce their labor and civil rights laws.” A federal court found USCIS had “simply paid lip service” to the devastating economic hardship the regulation would inflict on asylum seekers. Yet President Biden ratified the regulation and is defending the regulation in court. Our letter further calls on USCIS to allow asylum applicants to apply for EADs when they indicate an intent to apply for asylum, lodge or file the application, or pass a credible fear determination; provide and accept the application in common languages and establish a translation service to help with their completion; and ensure more accurate gender options such as the “X” allowed on U.S. passports.
We Ask for an Investigation into the use of The WRAP to Restrain Immigrants
We asked for an investigation into the allegations voiced in The WRAP complaint filed with the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Office of the Inspector General; bring all parties to complaint back to the US under humanitarian parole so that they may participate fully in any investigations; and investigate ICE’s use of other full-body restraining devices, including the “Emotionally Disturbed Person” (EDP) restraint. The WRAP is a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) registered medical device meant to be used only in extreme situations, when a person has become a threat to him or herself and is in need of immediate medical attention. The complaint raises alarming allegations that it was instead used to threaten, coerce, and punish people who were already shackled. ICE agents cinch people until their upper bodies are at a 45 to 60° angle with their legs, a “stress position” as defined by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, agaist manufacter instructions that state it should immobilize the legs, leaving its victims sitting up at a 90° angle so their lungs and airways are not compromised. ICE also improperly used it on those with medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease; left people unattended for as many as ten hours on flights that lasted for 16 hours, including when they were shrieking in pain; and deployed it at detention centers, during transport on busses, and at ICE staging facilities when it is only authorized by the agency for use in flight. There are also reports that the device was left out on the ground before flights as a warning sign and that some individuals were hooded. Here’s how to file a Civil Rights Complaint. Read CBP’s FY2021 report on Apprehensions and Expulsions at the Southwest Border, including enforcement policies, encounters by demographic category and country, and more. See also this brief explainer on DHS’s new deportation priorities that went into effect on November 29.
Expressing Concern on Lack of Afghan Humanitarian Parole Adjudication
October 20 – We sent a letter to President Biden and Congress expressing extreme concern about the growing backlog of unadjudicated humanitarian Parole applications from Afghans expected to reach 30,000 with no adjudications happening since August 31. We are calling for a full public accounting including pending adjudication times and how fee waivers are being processed, a congressional oversight hearing to explain what the administration is doing to fix this delay, biweekly stakeholder update calls, and safe passage out of Afghanistan and third countries. Tens of thousands of Afghans who helped American forces over the two-decades-long war who are U.S. citizens, LPRs, or SIVs are now arriving in the U.S. as the Taliban-controlled country as it erupts into more violence. Most will start the new American chapter of their lives at military installations scattered across the U.S. where they’ll be vetted before moving on to more permanent destinations. Those who do not meet these criteria, including many who have worked as U.S. contractors, remain reliant on the humanitarian parole process to escape situations of imminent danger.
Calling for TPS or DED for Cameroonians
October 25 – The Migrant Center joined 203 organizations in a letter calling for TPS or DED for Cameroonians due to “extraordinary and temporary conditions” impacting most regions of the country, which make safe return to Cameroon impossible. The Migrant Center has heard many first-hand accounts of the government’s brutal repression of freedom of expression and association, crackdowns on political opposition and dissent, and frequent use of incommunicado detention and torture. There has also been a spike in Boko Haram attacks in the last two years with security forces arbitrarily arresting hundreds of individuals, detaining them in inhumane conditions, and subjecting them to torture and enforced disappearance. There are currently over 100 Cameroonians in ICE custody. An estimated 38,790 Cameroonians currently living in the United States would benefit from a TPS or DED designation. Deported Cameroonians have been arbitrarily detained and abused upon return, and had their IDs confiscated by the authorities, making them subject to one year imprisonment and fines, harassment, and barriers to freedom of movement, obtaining employment, registering for a SIM card, sending or receiving money, and finding housing.
Sending Recommendations to Biden on How to Fix Access to Legal Help Barriers
October 29 – We collaborated on a detailed letter to the Biden administration highlighting the host of obstacles to attorney access that exist in immigration detention facilities nationwide and making recommendations on ways to eliminate the barriers.
Seeing Immediate Success in Response to Civil Society Letter to Stop MPP
October 19 – In response to Biden’s October 14 decision that it would soon re-implement the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which has been used to return 70,000 asylum seekers to danger in Mexico, including sexual assault, injury, and even death, the Migrant Center joined 72 organizations, law schools, and firms in writing to President Biden to reiterate that there is no way to make this program safe, humane, or lawful. Conditions have worsened since MPP first started, rendering it far more dangerous for both the people seeking protection, as well as any who want to help them. Since the Biden administration took office, there have been another 6,356 reports of kidnapping, rape, torture, and other attacks against migrants blocked at ports of entry or expelled to Mexico by the U.S. government. U.S.-based attorneys have been threatened with kidnapping and violence in connection with their representation of people in MPP. Extensive territorial control by cartels and complicity by Mexican government agents in violent attacks and kidnappings against vulnerable asylum seekers and migrants makes clear that the U.S. government cannot re-implement MPP without subjecting vulnerable individuals to pervasive violence. There is no way for asylum seekers living in these conditions to have a fair chance in court. Only 7% of those in MPP have been able to obtain a lawyer and fewer than 1% won asylum in tent court videoconference hearings (521 people). Those inside the U.S. typically win asylum in 10-30% of cases, or more.
We also asked the Administration to inform the Government of Mexico that the United States cannot guarantee access to counsel. The Administration announced that it will reinstate the program in mid-November if Mexico agrees. In a statement, the government of Mexico declared it had multiple concerns that must be addressed before it would allow MPP to resume, including whether the U.S. government could guarantee increased access to counsel and better screening for vulnerable migrants. The Migrant Center was contacted by EOIR on October 28 to see if we would like to be placed on a list of MPP legal service providers. We responded:
Thank you for your efforts to increase access to legal representation for individuals in MPP. However, unless and until EOIR or DHS can guarantee that we will have access to a confidential space to meet with potential clients to conduct intakes with sufficient time before the hearing or interview to prepare the case, and provide a means for MPP respondents to scan and e-mail us documents, we cannot in good conscience, and for state bar ethical reasons, agree to show up to an MPP hearing or interview.
As you are aware, it is unreasonable to expect potential clients living in tent cities, shelters or other temporary housing in Mexico to have the confidential space and sufficient technology and funds to remotely and effectively communicate with counsel based in the United States. It is similarly not possible for us to travel to Mexico due to the extraordinary cost and serious risk of cartel violence.
To the extent that the U.S. government insists on continuing MPP, we believe strongly that access to counsel must be provided by the U.S. government, as it is our government’s current execution of this program that is preventing MPP respondents from consulting with us and other U.S. immigration attorneys.
I am forwarding your invitation to other potentially interested organizations and attorneys so that they can sign up if available. I sincerely hope that you are able to work with us to ensure a system of justice that guarantees respondents access to counsel and their other constitutional due process rights.
Thank you for your efforts.
We sent our position to other NGOs. Many others are similarly refusing to be complicit.
We also demanded the end to the unlawful Title 42 expulsion policy, which has largely replaced MPP. By the time Biden took office, MPP had largely been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with just 1.18% of people who crossed the border from March 2020 through January 2021 put into MPP. Since March 2020 CBP has conducted 1,163,000 expulsions, with only 3,217 migrants who made a “spontaneous and reasonably believable claim” referred for a Convention Against Torture interview (8% passed). The president of AFGE Local 1924, a union that represents hundreds of U.S. government asylum and refugee officers, stated that “officers are being prevented from carrying out their mission, which is to ensure that people asking for asylum have a fair hearing and are treated humanely.” During President Biden’s first seven months in office, U.S. border officials carried out 704,000 expulsions, 92,000 of which led to parents and children traveling as families being turned back, while 541,000 migrants were processed under U.S. immigration laws, which allow them to seek asylum. Public health experts, advocates, the United Nations, former Biden administration officials and lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have denounced Title 42 as an illegal policy. Three federal judges have also concluded the policy is likely unlawful. CBS News reported that CDC officials were pressured to authorize the expulsions by Trump administration political appointees, even though they did not believe there was a sufficient public health basis for such a measure. When asked about Title 42 recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mr. Biden’s chief medical adviser, said, “[f]ocusing on immigrants, expelling them or what have you, is not the solution to an outbreak.” Asylum expulsions continue while plans move forward to lift “nonessential” border travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers for tourism and family visits from the Schengen Area, the UK, Ireland, Brazil or South Africa. In its most recent order extending the Title 42 authority the “CDC believes that the gradual resumption of normal border operations under Title 8 is feasible.” Additionally, the administration has been applying it inconsistently by nationality as opposed to health threat. Since Biden took office, human rights investigators have documented over 7,647 violent attacks on people expelled to Mexico.
ICE Air Title 42 direct expulsion flights to Guatemala began on September 2. In October there were 37 flights to Guatemala, up 3 from September. Before Title 42 expulsions, there were 10 flights in August (10) and 3-5 per month during the prior 6 months. On August 5, Title 42 Expulsion flights began to Southern Mexico of Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, and maybe Nicaraguans to the cities of Villahermosa and Tapachula, with flights to each city almost every weekday. In August there were 36 flights, in September 42, and in October 35 for a 3-month total of 113. Once the people expelled reach these cities, Mexico subsequently expels them by foot into Guatemala. In all cases, it appears that no form of removal protection is made available. In October, as in September, there were only 8 total flights to Mexico City, Guadalajara and Morelia compared to 17 in August.
We called on Biden to issue a new memo terminating MPP that provides a more detailed explanation for the decision to terminate MPP to resolve any Administrative Procedure Act issues identified by the district court.
October 29 – DHS issued a second MPP termination memo to remedy issues the District Court found with the June 1 memo. On August 13 the District Court stated that the June 1 memo was not in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it failed to address all the relevant considerations. In Texas v. Biden the District Court ordered DHS to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith” until certain conditions are satisfied, including that MPP be “lawfully rescinded in compliance with the APA.” DHS has appealed and continues to contest several of the District Court’s conclusions, including that MPP discouraged unlawful border crossings and decreased the number of non-meritorious asylum claims. The new memo finds that the benefits of MPP are far outweighed by the costs of continuing the program, stating that while MPP “likely” reduced numbers it did so by “imposing substantial and unjustifiable human costs” and that “the United States has limited ability to ensure the safety and security of those returned to Mexico”. “Mexico has made clear that it will not agree to accept those the United States seeks to return to Mexico under MPP unless substantial improvements are made to the program.” The memo also highlights “the difficulties in accessing counsel and traveling to courts separated by an international border,” that “MPP detracts from other regional and domestic goals, foreign-policy objectives, and domestic policy initiatives,” “diverting attention from more productive efforts to fight transnational criminal and smuggling networks and address the root causes of migration,” and “unproductive, redundant screenings per case given the many different times individuals are returned to Mexico.” “I have concluded that there are inherent problems with the program [that “fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that all persons deserve”] that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix. DHS plans to restart MPP until the court’s injunction is vacated. We filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit in Texas v. Biden, arguing that any form of MPP would violate U.S. law and our treaty obligations to people escaping persecution.
Relatedly, on October 2 Department of State Senior Legal Advisor Koh resigned due to how the Administration continues to use Title 42 “to violate our legal obligation not to expel or return (“refouler”) individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture, especially migrants fleeing from Haiti”: “In my judgment, Title 42 is currently being implemented in a manner thatviolates the Refugee Convention’s Article 33 prohibition against direct expulsion or return to persecution and 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3)(A) (“the Attorney General may not remove an alien to a country if the Attorney General decides that the alien’s life or freedom would be threatened in that country because of the alien’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”)”. He explains that because migrants “are not screened for fears of persecution upon return unless they affirmatively raise their fear, in what is informally known as the “shout test…” this “inevitably create an unacceptably high risk that a great many people deserving of asylum will instead likely be returned to countries where they fear persecution, death, or torture.” He points out that although Trump officials pointed to an exception to our Article 33 non-refoulement obligation for refugees for whom “there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is” there is no “exception in the Refugee Convention applies or allows the US Government to exclude individuals categorically on a public health basis” as these exclusions “requires an individualized, evidence-based assessment into whether a particular asylum seeker himself or herself is an actual danger to the security of the country in which he or she seeks refuge. He cites a Migrant Center September 17 joint letter and explains that this policy “seriously degrade[s] U.S. credibility when advocating for other countries to welcome refugees and respect the principle of nonrefoulement.” As the UN writes: ““Discriminatory public discourse portraying human mobility as a problem risks contributing to racism and xenophobia and should be avoided and condemned.”
The UNHCR, along with IOM, UNICEF, OHCHR, has expressed “serious concern” with expulsions to Haiti without “individual assessments,” writing “International law prohibits collective expulsions and requires that each case be examined individually to identify protection needs under international human rights and refugee law.” From September 19 to October 31, over 8,000 Haitians have been expelled on 78 flights. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “[t]he back-to-back disasters are exacerbating preexisting vulnerabilities. At the time of the disaster, Haiti is still reeling from the 7 July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and still facing an escalation in gang violence since June that has affected 1.5 million people, with at least 19,000 displaced in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. Some 4.4 million people, or nearly 46 per cent of the population, face acute food insecurity, including 1.2 million who are in emergency levels… and 3.2 million people at crisis levels… An estimated 217,000 children suffer from moderate-to-severe acute malnutrition.” The head of Haiti’s national migration office, Jean Negot Bonheur Delva, requested a humanitarian moratorium on the mass deportation of Haitian migrants from the United States stating that the prospect of resettling thousands of new arrivals is hard to imagine, because Haiti cannot provide adequate security or food for the returnees. Mr. Koh called on the administration to, among other things, determine whether Haitian migrants may have legal status and family ties in other countries, which could be an alternative to direct refoulement to Haiti. DHS Secretary Mayorkas has indicated that more than 12,000 of the Del Rio Haitians have been processed and placed in immigration proceedings as of September 26. Mr. Koh calls for “this process should be applied to all similarly situated individuals.” Previously, Migrant Center Executive Director Sara Ramey spoke with KSAT on the evening news on the migrant caravan situation under the Del Rio bridge, where about 14,000 Haitians were camped.
According to one report, since the inauguration of President Biden there have been 4,547 likely ICE Air flights, almost 33% above the pre-inauguration pace in November/December 2020. Almost 70% of the removal flights in October are attributed to flights to Guatemala (37) and the T42 flights to Haiti (21), Villahermosa (20), and Tapachula (35). Adding Honduras (12) and El Salvador (11) we capture almost 85% of removal flights. The 2,144 flights recorded over the last 3 months is 1.5x higher than any prior 3-month period since we started recording in January 2020.
October 15 – The Congressional Research Service recommended that Congress clarify the framework governing inspection of immigrants seeking admission in light of recent metering practices.
- Oct 29 memo: http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2021/images/10/29/dhs.memo.pdf
- CRS: https://www.aila.org/infonet/crs-reports-on-legal-issues-with-dhs-metering?utm_source=Recent%20Postings%20Alert&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=RP%20Daily
- Two months after a federal court ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols, A federal judge in Texas agreed with their arguments, requiring Biden to “reinstate MPP in good faith” until the administration both issues a new memo terminating MPP and also has the capacity to detain nearly all migrants crossing the border.
- How an Internal State Department Memo Exposes “Title 42” Expulsions of Refugees as Violations of Law – From Kamala Harris’ Letter to the Koh Memo,” October 5 (Koh’s came in the form of an internal memo outlining his legal objections to colleagues.
- Multiple International humanitarian organizations have denounced these expulsions to Haiti because of the desperate and dangerous conditions there.( https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/press/2021/9/6155964b4/un-agencies-call-protection-measures-comprehensive-regional-approach-haitians.html.),and because of the potential violation of international law resulting from returning people without the possibility to request protection. (https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=27694&LangID=E.)
We Support the Fair Adjudications for Immigrants Act
We signed on to endorse the Fair Adjudications for Immigrants Act which will amend the definition of “conviction” in the Immigration and Nationality Act to “a formal judgment of guilt of the noncitizen entered by a court” and would except the following from being considered a conviction: 1) An adjudication or judgment of guilt that has been dismissed, expunged, deferred, annulled, invalidated, withheld, vacated, or pardoned; 2) Any adjudication in which the court has issued a judicial recommendation against removal, an order of probation without entry of judgment, or any similar disposition; and 3) A judgment that is on appeal or is within the time to file direct appeal. Immigrants with criminal convictions face serious immigration consequences – such as being barred from naturalization – even after a conviction is no longer considered valid in the court of conviction. Currently, the Immigration and Nationality Act defines a “conviction” as a formal judgement of guilt or a judge has ordered some form of punishment, penalty, or restraint on the immigrant. This Act would apply retroactively to any conviction.
Responding to the Permanent Injunction Restarting the Remain in Mexico Program
August 17 – In response to a district court’s August 13 nationwide permanent injunction halting DHS’s June 1 memo that ended MPP and ordering DHS to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith” we joined 107 organizations in a letter to DHS to take all measures necessary to prevent this order from going into effect, up to and including an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court. The decision requires DHS to detain every asylum seeker and falsely claims that ending MPP led to an increase in border crossings, although this was largely a result of the Title 42 expulsion policy that caused migrants to try crossing multiple times. From 2014 to 2019, before the Title 42 expulsion policy went into effect, only 15% of the migrants apprehended by CBP had been apprehended previously in the same year. In contrast, in May 2021, recidivists accounted for 38% of apprehensions. Since the enactment of the Title 42 policy, CBP has turned away over 980,000 migrants (fact sheet on 2021 increase in border apprehensions). Human Rights First has documented over 6,356 kidnappings, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes against expelled migrants from the day that Biden took office (read their report). Physicians for Human Rights concluded in an extensive report on the policy that “every aspect of the expulsion process, such as holding people in crowded conditions for days without testing and then transporting them in crowded vehicles, increases the risk of spreading and being exposed to COVID-19” instead of mitigating the risk as the policy is designed to do. Earlier this year, DHS medical experts filed a whistleblower disclosure condemning the policy for lacking a public health justification. A group of public health experts condemned the Administration’s August 2 renewal of the Title 42 policy. The district court’s decision also ignores extensive evidence of the way in which MPP violated the right to apply for asylum, including a representation rate of just 7% and an asylum grant rate below 2% — rates that are dramatically lower than those experienced by asylum seekers allowed to enter the United States (for October 2020 30% of cases were granted). See Important News below for more information.
Calling on DHS to Not List Asylum Seekers as Enforcement Priorities
July 13 – The Migrant Center joined in a letter to DHS raising up concerns of detention cases that should not be enforcement priorities. As we explain in the letter: “Punishing recently arrived asylum seekers by designating them as enforcement priorities is cruel and inhumane. It inflicts further trauma on those who have left everything behind to find safety… studies have repeatedly confirmed that asylum seekers overwhelmingly appear for hearings after they are released from DHS custody.” Detention is especially problematic during the pandemic, with at least nine people dying of COVID inside detention. ICE’s COVID data is incomplete, with at least one man having died from the virus following his release (which would not be counted), limited access to testing, and individuals who had been tested who never received their results. Find a list of ICE enforcement actions here.
December 14 – The Migrant Center joined over 120 organizations in a letter calling for Congress to establish an independent court system. This issue is of fundamental importance to ensuring that the immigration judiciary treats all parties equally and interprets the law in a neutral manner, so that everyone has a fair day in court as required by the due process clause of our Constitution. We have been working on this issue since our founding in the summer of 2017. For more, read our Op-Ed and our Public Comments.
December 8 – The Migrant Center joined more than 230 organizations in a call to Trump and President-elect Biden to grant immediate protection, in the form of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), to Nicaraguans, El Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Guatemalans due to the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Eta and Iota, that have exacerbated the challenges of extreme poverty, violence, and the adverse effects of COVID-19. More than 4.9 million people are affected and conditions are life-threatening. It is not the time to return people to their countries.
October 9 – The Migrant Center, along with St. Mary’s University, the University of Texas, American Gateways, and RAICES submitted a stakeholder’s letter to Field Office Director Correa to set up a meeting to resolve access to counsel issues presented by COVID-19, specifically the inability to have private phone calls and lack of access to video conferencing, at the South Texas Detention Complex.
The Migrant Center joined 147 organizations in a letter to Trump and DHS Acting Secretary Wolf calling for an 18-month designation of TPS (Temporary Protected Status) or DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) due to the recent Beirut explosions where approximately 200 people were killed, at least 6,000 injured, 2,500 homes were left “uninhabitable,” six hospitals, 20 health clinics, 120 schools, and 200,000 other homes were damaged, and at least 300,000 people are newly displaced. DHS may designate a country for TPS if conditions in the country meet requirements regarding ongoing armed conflict, natural disasters (including epidemics), or other extraordinary and temporary conditions in the country that temporarily prevent safe return. DED is similar but designated by the President directly. Before the explosion COVID-19 cases were quickly rising and 3.2 million people, more than half of Lebanon’s population, were in need of humanitarian aid due to economic collapse that has accelerated since 2019 with the currency losing 60 percent of its value and at least 70,000 people losing their jobs, making it difficult to purchase essentials like food and medication.
On July 17 the Migrant Center joined organizations around the country in a letter to DHS calling for the immediate release of children from detention with their parents. The Administration had been forcing parents to waive their children’s rights to be with their parents by offering parents the binary choice of having their children either leave detention without them or stay together locked up with them. As of July 2 ICE had completed voluntary COVID testing at the family residential centers and had no positive case. Since testing began at Karnes, 14 individuals have tested positive. Relatedly, a group of doctors previously wrote Congress warning that “poor conditions” at U.S. children detention facilities are increasing the risk of spreading deadly infectious diseases.
On July 21 the Migrant Center joined the community in writing a letter to Congress calling for immigrants to be included in any COVID-19 protection legislation. Immigrant families, workers, taxpayers, and their U.S. children and spouses, were previously excluded from the CARES Act and other COVID-19 recovery packages. We cannot protect the nation from COVID-19 and its economic impacts if we deny health care and financial relief to a large segment of our communities. The letter also calls on Congress to clearly state that uninsured immigrants with low incomes in all states can receive COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines for COVID-19. We urge everyone to contact their members of Congress and explain how important it is for immigrants to be included.
Standing in solidarity with detained Pennsylvanians the Migrant Center joined 47 organizations and over 500 individuals on the Release Our Loved Ones petition to call for their release.
On April 21 the Migrant Center joined a letter calling on Congress to pass legislation to ensure that everyone has access to health care, nutrition, and income support they need during COVID-19. We were deeply disappointed to see that the Families First and the CARES Acts left many low- and moderate- income immigrants out of its public health and stimulus policies. This exclusion threatens the well-being of immigrants, their families – which include millions of U.S. citizen children – and our communities as a whole.
The Migrant Center joined a petition to release immigrants from PIDC where they are on hunger strike due to the lack of safely measures, including the requirement that they buy their own soap.
On March 24 the Migrant Center signed onto a letter to Attorney General Barr to end arrests and criminal prosecution referrals for unauthorized entry (8 USC §1325) and unauthorized reentry (8 USC §1326), to drop all pending charges on these grounds, and to prioritize release and re-sentence people held in government custody on these grounds. While some federal courts in Arizona and New Mexico are suspending certain prosecutions others are continuing to prosecute and incarcerate migrants.We are calling on the Department of Justice, in conjunction with CBP, ICE, and the U.S. Marshals, to immediately enact changesto Operation Streamline to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
On March 23 the Migrant Center joined over 630 organizations in calling on Congress to include immigrants in the health and economic support measures being considered. Later that evening a House bill was introduced that reflected the language in our letter.
On October 17 the Migrant Center joined 100 advocacy organizations around the country in sending a letter to the Georgia Congressional Delegates urging them to investigate the human rights violations occurring at the Stewart Detention Center, including a severe lack of medical and mentalhealth care, the use of force on immigrants including gas bombs and rubberbullets, the misuse of solitary confinement, forced labor and more.
The Migrant Center joined 95 civil society organizations, and an additional 120 individuals with expertise in migration, refugee law and human rights, in submitting a request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asking that the Commission conduct a comprehensive visit to the US-Mexico border and to use all mechanisms available to protect the human rights of migrants. Read the letter in English here and in Spanish here.
The Migrant Center joined 153 organizations in sending a letter to Congress opposing Senator Graham’s S. 1494 bill, the Secure and Protect Act of 2019 in time for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s mark up. S. 1494 would eviscerate the United States’ current asylum system, enable the prolonged detention of children and families by eliminating the Flores Settlement Agreement, and does nothing to address the root causes of migration.
The Migrant Center joined organizations around the country in calling on nine major hotel chains to not sell their rooms to ICE for use as temporary detention of immigrants picked up in raids. Read the letters.
The Migrant Center joinedover 100 community organizations in demanding that DHS address our concern about surveillance and targeting of activists, journalists and lawyers that implicate First Amendment freedoms (speech, association, press), the Privacy Act of 1974, and access to legal counsel. There have been reports that CBP has created dossiersand targeted activists, journalists and lawyers working with individuals seeking asylum for heightened screening.ICE and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have hidden an undisclosed number of covert surveillance cameras inside streetlights, traffic barrels and road signs around the country, federal contracting documentsreveal. ICE Homeland Security Investigations monitored and disseminated a list of “anti-trump” protestsin New York City.Amazon has expressed interested in outfitting DHS with facial recognition, according to emails. First-hand accounts revealed a pattern of harassment including extended detentions and interrogations, electronic device searches at ports of entry, and denial of re-entry to Mexico. Subsequent to sending our letter, Senators Udall, Warren, Harris and Blumenthal sent a letter to DHS echoing the concerns raised in our letter.
The Migrant Center joined 400 organizations in signing onto an organizational letter in support of HR 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 which has 207 Congressional cosponsors. This bill would provide a pathway to citizenship for up to 2.5 million Dreamers – including those who do not have DACA – and TPS and Liberian Deferred Enforced Departure recipients. The legislation would allow 10 year conditional permanent residencyfor those who arrived in the U.S. before turning 18, who have been in the U.S. for at least four years, who are in a high school / GED program or have graduated, and who have not committed a felony or three misdemeanors with jail time of 90 days. In most cases they could apply for a green card after working ¾ time and completing two years of college or serving in the military for two years. Read more here. 795,000 U.S.-born children have Dreamer parents who would be eligible for residency.These individuals and their families contribute $75.4 billion in spending power, and $27.1 billion in taxes each year. Households that include Dreamers specifically generate $15.5 billion in federal taxes and $8.5 billion in state and local taxes annually. They hold $66.4 billion in spending power. State-by-state estimates are here. HR 6 subsequently passed the House and is now up for consideration in the Senate.
The Migrant Center joined organizations across the country in calling on Congress to decrease funding to ICE and CBP as increasing funds is unnecessary to ensure border security and the smooth operation of our immigration system. There are many other common-sense, and more humane, methods of money management. The letter states: “We are deeply disappointed with the passing of the 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act because it increases funding to both ICE and CBP, including a 12% increase for immigration detention and $1.375 billion for more border wall, and fails to rein in the agencies’ ability to overspend and siphon money from other accounts.” Read the full letter here.
The Migrant Center signed on to support the humanitarian aid work that NGOs like No More Deaths provide along the southern border and condemn the prosecution of those who provide this aid to migrants. The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross, Red Crescent Movement and NGO’s in Disaster Relief states that “the right to receive humanitarian assistance, and to offer it, is a fundamental humanitarian principle which should be enjoyed by all citizens of all countries.” Mid-February the government dropped criminal changes against four of the defendants but other cases are still pending and volunteers face up to 18 months in prison and fines of $15,000. Individuals can sign the petition here.
The Migrant Center joined onto a community public comment submitted as part of the federal Notice and Comment process opposing the Presidential Proclamation attempting to deny asylum to refugees who cross the border without documentation. As part of the comment we attached the Complaint in O.A. et al v. Trump, the case challenging this proclamation. The Administration asked for the court’s review of O.A. to be put on hold during the shutdown.
The Migrant Center joined organizations around the country in an NGO sign-on letter urging Democratic leadership in Congress to take steps to reduce funding for this administration’s harmful border militarization and immigration enforcement policies. Specifically, this letter calls for passing a clean (without border wall funds or extra enforcement funds for ICE and CBP), short-term continuing resolution for DHS when DHS’s current funding runs out on December 7th to allow for a more permanent resolution when the new Congress is sworn in in January.
The Migrant Center joined several organizations around the country in calling for the Administration to not redefine the meaning of the “public charge” ground of inadmissibility in such as way as to discriminate against low-income individuals. Under the proposed regulation, immigrants who rely on public assistance such as food stamps (SNAP), housing assistance, and Medicaid benefits will have a more difficult time achieving legal status. The administration estimates 382,000 low-income people per year will be affected.
The Migrant Center joined more than 175 other organizations in calling for Congress not to expand immigration detention any more. In fiscal year 2018 the budget for immigration detention already rose to 4.11 billion. In fiscal year 2018 the daily detained population has averaged 40,500 people, many of whom do not need to be in detention. Read the letter here.
In collaboration with over 200 other organizations the Migrant Center has asked Congress to decriminalize ‘illegal entry’ and ‘illegal reentry’. Under the Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy, criminal prosecution and incarceration of more than 200,000 people per year is possible. You can find a fact sheet on this decriminalization demand here. The letter calls on Congress to (1) repeal the laws that make migration a crime (8 U.S.C. 1325, 1326) and (2) oppose anti-immigrant legislation that expands these laws, that would make it easier to convict and incarcerate immigrants for longer periods of time.
We also signed on to a letter calling for greater transparency in detention centers by asking that Congress pass the Private Prison Information Act of 2017 (S.1728) which would strengthen accountability and oversight by requiring for-profit detention facilities under contract with federal agencies like ICE to comply with the same Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements as their government-operated counterparts. In 2017, ICE incarcerated a daily average of over 38,000 people, and the President is requesting that detention facilities be expanded to hold 52,000 people per day for fiscal year 2019. Therefore, we will likely see an increase in contracts with private prison companies. Read the letter here.
The Migrant Center joined 225 organizations calling for the defeat of the Goodlatte immigration bill Securing America’s Future Act of 2018 H.R. 4760. The bill was subsequently defeated 231 to 193.
We also signed on in opposition to Speaker Ryan’s repressive immigration bill, which under pressure never advanced. The Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 slashes our family-based immigration system, guts our asylum laws, waives laws that protect communities within 100 miles of the borders, wastes $23 billion taxpayer dollars to build a wall and militarize border communities, and puts children in more danger by keeping them in jail for longer periods of time with fewer standards for their wellbeing. Read the complete letter here.
The Migrant Center joined other organizations around the country in calling for ICE to reverse its recent change in policy that eliminates the presumption that ICE should not detain pregnant individuals except in extraordinary circumstances and also removes critical reporting requirements regarding the treatment of pregnant individuals in detention. The organizational letter was sent to ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan.
The Migrant Center joins with 250 organizations around the country in calling on Congress to pass a clean Dream Act, to stop unnecessary expansion of the country’s deportation force and the border wall, and to protect family unity visas and the diversity visa lottery program. Read the letter here.
The community requests that the Georgia congressional delegation investigate the conditions at the Stewart and Irwin County immigration detention centers in Georgia. Among other things, detained immigrants are denied access to a lawyer, discriminated against, and are forced to work without just compensation. Read the letter here.
The Migrant Center added its voice to calls for renewal of Haitian TPS. Read the letter here.
The Migrant Center joined 173 community organizations in demanding the release of Rosa Maria, a 10-year old with cerebral palsy detained after receiving treatment at the Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi. Rosa Maria was followed to the hospital by Customs and Border Patrol when they discovered she was undocumented while passing through a checkpoint. She was brought to the U.S. by her parents when she was three months old so that she would have access to good medical care. On Friday November 3, 2017 she was released and returned to her family. She had been separated for 11 days. The letter also asks for administrative closure of her removal case. The Migrant Center believes ICE should go further and terminate her removal case. Read the letter here.