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Early Arrival: Politicians Denied Entry to Facilities Holding Children

Monday's edition of Early Arrival: Politicians Denied Access to Youth Centers – Tourist Jogging Detained at U.S.–Canada Border – Family Separation Debate Heats Up in D.C

Max Siegelbaum

Jun 25, 2018

A woman participates in a vigil held outside a facility that held children separated from their parents.

More politicians were denied entrance to facilities holding minors

Three New York State representatives were denied entrance to Rising Ground, a facility that reportedly holds 20 immigrant children who were separated from their families at the Southwestern border. The Department of Health and Human Services denied the lawmakers’ request.

The denial echoes several other incidents where local and federal lawmakers have attempted to enter facilities where immigrant children were being held. Jeff Merkley, a senator from Oregon, sparked a national outrage after guards at a Brownsville, Texas, facility denied him entrance and called the police on him when he showed up for a tour earlier this month.

The politicians spoke outside Rising Ground. In attendance were Reps. Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel and Sean Patrick Maloney and Westchester County Executive George Latimer. Latimer told the crowd that Trump’s policy could create potential health problems. “If somehow a child here is not immunized and starts to transmit a communicable disease to other children, we have a legal responsibility to deal with it,” he said.

Rep. Engel told the crowd he introduced a bill that would require the State Department and its embassies in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, to help reunite parents with their children. He also said the bill would require the state department to address the psychosocial and health impacts that the separation caused and address some of the underlying social problems in Central America that contribute to migration. News 12, Lohud

Welcome back. I’m Max Siegelbaum, and I’m here to guide you through the day’s immigration news. If you have any tips, suggestions or story ideas, you can reach me at max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com.

Ellis Island

A Queens man who was detained at his green card interview was granted relief from deportation on Friday. Antonio de Jesus Martinez has been held at Hudson County Jail for almost eight weeks after Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers arrested him during an interview for his application for residency status. An ICE officer told his wife that his detention was part of a new policy in New York, according to the ACLU. The New York Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Jersey obtained a stay of deportation for Martinez in an emergency petition filed Friday afternoon, according to the ACLU. North Jersey Record

Attorneys for Pablo Villavicencio, the pizza delivery man detained at an Army base in Brooklyn by ICE agents are pushing back against the official narrative of his arrest. The Army claims they made him sign a waiver in order for a background check to be conducted for him to allow him on the base, which is how they were alerted to his immigration status. Villavicencio denies this. His lawyers at Legal Aid are searching for this document, and if it doesn’t exist, they will argue he was racially profiled. New York Daily News

New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance is the lead Republican sponsor of an act that would force the Trump administration to reunite the families split by his immigration policy. The Reunite Children with their Parents Act would require the secretary of Homeland Security to reunite the children separated by the “zero tolerance” policy with their parents. www.nj.com

Debora Barrios-Vasquez Took Sanctuary in a Church Because ICE Separates Families Every day, The Intercept

Hundreds of Immigrant Children in New York Are in Need of Lawyers, WNYC

Opinion: President Trump’s Immigration Policy is an ‘Unsolvable Riddle’ by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York Daily News


Cedella Roman, a French citizen, was in British Columbia on a vacation when she decided to go for a jog on the beach. Unbeknownst to her, she crossed the border into the U.S. during her run. As she ran on a dirt path, two U.S. Border Patrol officers stopped her and told her she had crossed the border illegally. The officers took her over 100 miles south to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center. “They asked me to remove all my personal belongings with my jewelry, they searched me everywhere. Then I understood it was getting very serious, and I started to cry a bit,” Roman told the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Roman was detained for two weeks while the U.S. and Canada sorted out the paperwork to return her to Canada. CBC.

Federal prosecutors in southern California have had to divert resources from investigating drug smuggling to handle the deluge of immigration cases brought by the zero-tolerance policy.  Shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions created the policy, Fred Sheppard, a Justice Department official, emailed border authorities that immigration would take up much of their resources. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego had to divert support staff and attorneys to handle the surge in immigration cases, according to emails acquired by USA Today. The official instructed prosecutors to streamline their work on smuggling cases, which would mean tighter deadlines for producing evidence and reports for cases, and if they couldn’t keep up, “the case will be declined.” USA Today

Kim Kingsley, the director of global communications for Airbnb made a colossal social media blunder last week. Kingsley posted a picture of herself and her coworkers on a San Francisco pier with the caption, “. . . that night i fell in love with new colleagues while children 2,000 miles away were being detained in cages. #whatyoudomatters #speakup #cantignorethis.” Kingsley told the New York Post, “Even as we experience moments with family and friends, we cannot forget these children and my hashtags make that very clear… Look at anything I’ve shared over the last few weeks and you will know my feelings on this issue.” Her Instagram is now private. Page Six, New York Post

Texas officials have allowed at least 15 immigrant youth shelters to exceed occupancy for legal standards of state child-care licenses, according the Texas Observer. The state government OK’d two shelters raising their occupancy by 50 percent. Child advocates told the Observer that the decisions could strain the staff and endanger children. Texas Observer

A California prison that recently began housing immigrant detainees has potentially dangerous medical conditions, according to former and current employees. Staff members at the Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville told HuffPost that initial medical screenings of the detainees are rushed, and inmates don’t receive checkups quickly enough. This could lead to the larger population becoming vulnerable to infectious diseases like scabies and chickenpox. The staffers said that many of the facility’s woes are due to understaffing. Dangers also lie in undiscovered mental health problems in the inmates. HuffPost

Male immigrant detainees who were separated from their children are being told they can reunite with their kids at the airport, if they agree to sign a form that would voluntarily trigger their deportation. A Honduran detainee told the Texas Tribune that 20 to 25 men he was detained with at a detention center near Houston received this offer. The man told the Tribune he was doubtful immigration authorities would meet him at the airport with his daughter. Texas Tribune

The Multibillion-Dollar Business of Sheltering Migrant Children, explained, Vox

Why Are Parents Bringing Their Children on Treacherous Treks to the U.S. Border? The New York Times

Is the Border in Crisis? ‘We’re Doing Fine, Quite Frankly,’ a Border City Mayor Says, The New York Times


  • How Trump can end the Family–Separation Mess and Still win by Alex Nowrasteh, a senior immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. New York Post 
  • My Immigration Dystopia Novel was Called ‘Far-Fetched’. Not Anymore by writer Sabrina Vourvoulias, The Guardian
  • There’s a Better, Cheaper Way to Handle Immigration by author and reporter Sonia Nazario, The New York Times


Trump administration officials clashed over how to enforce the family separation policy last week, according to The New York Times. The fights started Thursday night and continued to Friday. Kevin K. McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, challenged the White House as to how CBP was supposed to detain parents and children together, when law says children cannot be held indefinitely in jail.

The arguments echoed the chaos created by the travel ban, which rocked airports, the border patrol and the State Department when Trump abruptly signed the executive order. Officials at the Southwestern border are struggling to prosecute people who illegally enter the U.S. while also keeping families together as they are processed through the court system after an executive order signed last week ordered CBP to keep families together.

Just a day before Trump signed the executive order — keeping the families together — one person close to the president told The New York Times that Trump told advisers that separating families was an effective deterrent to illegal immigration and that Trump’s “people love it.”

Trump has demanded reform with U.S. immigration law and told Congress do so quickly. On Friday last week, he seemingly gave up the fight, telling lawmakers to “stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem,” in a tweet. It was the second time he told Republicans to hold on until the primaries. The New York Times, New York Post

Trump held a bizarre event on Friday, where he spoke of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants amid families of Americans who were killed by undocumented people. Trump appeared to have printed out photos of each of the victims and autographed them. At one point during the somber event, Trump held up one of the photos and quipped, “Tom Selleck, except better looking.” A fixation from his campaign, Trump has often appeared with family members of people killed by undocumented immigrants. During the election, he often referenced the case of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a man who shot and killed a woman in San Francisco after being deported five times. He called these crimes “permanent separation,” a nod to the administration’s family separation policy. Vox

Despite amending the zero tolerance policy last week, Trump took an even harder-line position on immigration on Sunday. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came,” Trump said in a tweet, while being driven to one of his golf courses. He continued by saying the U.S. “cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country.” The Guardian

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