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On Friday, federal judge Dolly M. Gee of Los Angeles ordered the government to release migrant children held in the nation’s three family detention centers by July 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic. ICE runs two family detention centers in Texas and one in Pennsylvania, where 124 children were detained as of June 8. Gee criticized the government for subpar compliance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The judge ordered ICE to either release the children with their parents or to suitable guardians with the consent of their parents. The New York Times
In other national immigration news…
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Immigration Courts Begin to Reopen
Boston’s immigration court is among a handful of courts nationwide that will be reopening for non-detained hearings on Monday. Buffalo, Dallas, Hartford, Las Vegas, Memphis and New Orleans will also begin hearings that had been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Honolulu have already begun. It is unclear why those cities were chosen for reopening. Local immigration attorneys are concerned about the court reopening for both health and due process reasons. People may go to court even if they’re symptomatic out of fear of being deported, and there is no guidance on how to seek waivers of presence in relation to the pandemic. WBUR
Foreign Workers and Families in Panic Over Visa Ban
The new ban on work visas has led to panic among the families of H-1B visa holders. Thousands of people are stuck abroad or have family outside the U.S. seeking answers on what President Trump’s latest order means for them. The order suspends some employment-based visas for foreigners. These executive orders have come to define the Trump era – broad by design, leaving people scrambling to understand if they are affected. The hashtags #excludeusfromban and #LetMeGoHome have spawned in response to the order. The State Department has been responding to tweets on the order’s particulars. BuzzFeed News
ICE Pepper Sprays Protestors
A peaceful protest by detainees at the Adelanto ICE Processing Facility in early June near Victorville, California, was shut down by ICE agents in riot gear who shot pepper spray at protestors. Detainees said they had been on lockdown after there was a demonstration in the detention center parking lot. When ICE said the detainees would be going under lockdown again, they agreed to all refuse simultaneously. Sitting in front of their cells instead at which point ICE began indiscriminately shooting them with rubber bullets and pepper spray. According to ICE, more than 150 detainees became disruptive and refused directives from staff, necessitating “the use of non-lethal force to preserve order” The Los Angeles Times
Embassy Closures Are Biggest Block on Immigrants
Despite explicit bans on certain countries and visas, travel to the U.S. has been brought to near a standstill during the pandemic mostly due to the closure of American embassies and consulates around the world. This prevents many people from getting their visas stamped or attending necessary interviews that need to take place for a visa to be issued. Routine visa processing is suspended, according to the State Department. It’s been the case since mid-March. People who were on the edge of getting their visa, sometimes after waiting years, are especially frustrated. The Wall Street Journal
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