For the second time in his presidency, Donald Trump is traveling to Long Island on Wednesday to inveigh against what has become one of his favorite bogeymen: the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
Trump catapulted the gang back into the headlines last week with an assertion that its members “aren’t people,” they’re “animals.” The phrasing was ambiguousenough that it led some to believe he was referring to all undocumented immigrants. The White House drove the point home a few days later with a “fact sheet” about “the violent animals of MS-13.”
The uproar largely ignored the fact that Trump has used the exact same language long before last week. In fact, during his last visit to Long Island in July last year, he called criminals “animals” and made news when he implored police officers to treat suspects roughly.
Despite its appearance on the government’s list of transnational criminal organizations, MS-13 is not a particularly large or well-organized group yet has commandeered outsize attention from the president and his top law-enforcement official, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It’s not a coincidence that MS-13 mixes several issues that Trump staked his candidacy on, including illegal immigration and a purported return to urban street crime and lawlessness.
Today’s roundtable, which will be held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage, NY, will likely feature similarly harsh rhetoric. Trump will be joined by several New York GOP congressmen, including Rep. Dan Donovan, who has tried to appear close to the president in the midst of a heated primary battle with disgraced former Congressman Michael Grimm.
Trump gets cold shoulder from local advocacy groups
Protests started on Tuesday in Long Island, a full 24 hours before the roundtable discussion is set to start. Leaders of groups representing Salvadorans, Haitians, Jews and Pakistanis, among others, gathered outside the Nassau County Executive Building to denounce Trump. Activists took issue with the president’s “animals” comments, as well as the administration’s stepped-up detention and deportation efforts, including anti-gang initiatives on the island that have been criticized as overly broad and aggressive. More protests are expected on Wednesday. Newsday, WABC-TV
State Democrats and Republicans gather for conventions
The Democratic and GOP state nominating conventions begin on Wednesday, and the parties will get to mull over their platforms for the upcoming elections. The Democrats have seen a renewed appetite for pro-immigrant measures like driver’s licenses and education funding for the undocumented. The race for attorney general, after former A.G. Eric Schneiderman resigned in disgrace, will also feature heavily. The office is involved in multiple lawsuits against the federal administration on immigration-related matters, including over the travel ban and the DACA phaseout, and is rumored to be planning more. Documented’s Max Siegelbaum will be at today’s Democratic convention. NY1, Gotham Gazette
Pressure builds for tuberculosis funding
City Council members are stepping up pressure on the mayor to increase funding to test for tuberculosis, a deadly yet treatable disease that manifests largely in the city’s immigrant population. There were 613 cases of tuberculosis in the city in 2017, a ten percent increase from the year prior. 86 percent of those cases involved patients born outside the U.S. Health specialists say that the relatively high cost of an initial TB test – around $30 – means they are missing cases that could be discovered early. The advocates are seeking an additional $6.7 million for tests. The Chief-Leader
One man finds the burden of proof is on him, while detained
Manuel Herrera’s attorneys believe that he has more than one legal claim to citizenship, yet the New Yorker has been in immigration detention for the better part of a year as the process slowly moves forward. He had been brought to the U.S. legally by his family from Honduras when he was just three months old, but a few drug convictions brought him to the attention of ICE, writes The Marshall Project’s Christie Thompson. He had a naturalization application “still pending” after 22 years, and he could have been automatically naturalized through his grandfather. The process of gathering documents held by the government through Freedom of Information requests in order to prove his case has been long and tedious, all while Herrera remains behind bars. Marshall Project
Doctors say they’re forced to give unequal care
Medical professionals say they are having to watch as their undocumented and uninsured patients wait for, or in some cases even induce, emergency situations in order to receive medical care. One Denver doctor described a patient who died of kidney failure after spending three years periodically going to the emergency room instead of being able to access regular dialysis. Some patients drank orange juice in the waiting room to keep their potassium levels at dangerous levels in order to qualify for emergency treatment, which one doctor likened to Russian roulette. The phenomenon is contributing to burnout by medical staff distressed by an inability to provide full treatment. NPR
Philadelphia and the federal government fail to reach compromise
The city of Philadelphia has rejected a potential compromise with the federal government in an ongoing dispute over how how the city responds to ICE detainers. The city sued the government last year over its intention to withhold grant funding over the city’s sanctuary policies, which prohibit it from handing immigrants over to the immigration agency unless ICE produces a warrant signed by a judge. In an effort to resolve the lawsuit, a U.S. District Court judge had suggested that ICE provide “criminal documentation” instead, but this idea was rejected by Philadelphia, causing the lawsuit to continue. Associated Press
Boston ICE office stops arrests of immigrants at USCIS appointments
The head of Boston’s local ICE office told a federal judge that his agents have ceased the controversial practice of arresting immigrants who show up for scheduled appointments at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, usually as part of applications to gain status. The move follows a series of much-publicized arrests of undocumented immigrants at their marriage interviews with their U.S. citizen partners and a subsequent legal challenge by five couples and the American Civil Liberties Union. It’s unclear if the shift applies only to the Boston office or represents a broader change. Boston Globe
Free health care for unauthorized immigrants in California? It’s being considered, San Diego Union-Tribune
Immigration-Related Arrests and Deportations Causing Fears in Community, WHO-DT
Kansas Man Pleads Guilty to Hate-Crime Charges, Associated Press
- Why “Abolish ICE” Is Not the Answer, by Slate’s Isaac Chotiner in conversation with Cecilia Muñoz, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council in the Obama administration. Slate
- The undocumented immigrants Donald Trump doesn’t rant about, by the Editorial Board. USA Today
- DOJ shouldn’t be in charge of immigration courts, by Sara Ramey, immigration attorney and executive director at the Migrant Center for Human Rights in San Antonio, Texas. The Hill
Washington – GOP revolts over immigration stalemate
Even as the federal administration keeps fighting in court to strip DACA recipients of their legal protections and open them up to deportation, the effort to force a vote for legislation that will shield them permanently is gaining steam among members of the president’s own party.
“We’ve had it,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told the Washington Post. “We’re boiling over. It’s got to get done.”
They would join Democratic colleagues in forcing a discharge petition in open defiance of House Speaker Paul Ryan, and their ranks include longtime immigration reform proponents as well as relative newcomers without many Dreamers in their districts.
Ryan can sense where the winds are blowing, and has dangled future votes and implored unity in closed-door meetings in a bid to prevent total insurrection. So far, his efforts seem to be failing.
The members would seek to force votes on bills that would largely trade Dreamer protections for increased border security or curbs on legal immigration. There are several ways it could go and it’s not yet clear which compromise would gain the most traction, but what is clear is that many GOP congress members are running out of patience. Washington Post, CNN
Queens, New York – April 27, 2018: Views of the Jackson Heights neighborhood can be seen near the 7 train. Photo: Christopher Lee for Documented.