Tag Archives: unaccompanied minors

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out on Border Situation

Photo: Congressman Cuellar

News that Republicans (and some Democrats) are having a freak-out over children escaping poverty and violence in Central America and heading to the US isn’t anything new. Hillary Clinton and other Dems had a freak-out during 2014’s unaccompanied minor influx, while posturing for elected positions, even going so far as calling for more immigration courts to speed up deportations.

That said, one possible candidate for Texas Governor, Beto O’Rourke, has been chiming in on the issue responding to current guv Greg Abbott’s bigoted tirades blaming unaccompanied children for increases in COVID-19 and whatever other things may develop from his anti-masking policies and Texas’ re-opening.

The false premise that immigrants would make the pandemic worse was used by Trump (and now Biden) to immediately expel asylum seekers at the border.

This caused a spike in attempts, as the same people tried multiple times to cross (e.g. one person could count for 10+ encounters).

Apples to apples, the number of unique individuals attempting to come to this country is similar to what we saw during this same period in 2019 (for my Republican friends & media who are absolutely losing their shit right now, this is when Donald Trump was in the White House).

What could we do to make it better?

Stop using Title 42– Lawfully process asylum requests.

– Free families & children from immigration detention

– Add independent immigration judges

– Re-write our immigration laws

– Prioritize the Americas in our foreign policy.

Beto on Facebook

Beto hit on the last one on the list last week in another comprehensive post and it is something that I’ve been writing about for decades. The US needs a whole different policy in Latin America. One that does not buttress corrupt and violent right-wing regimes (and does not assist them with coups and election interference) which mistreat and kill the poor and indigenous who continually elect left-wing (read: socialist) administrations.

Fact: Without “leftist” poor, black, brown, and indigenous people, Biden would not be in office. So, what’s the deal?

Anyway, as Beto stated:

This region that we are connected to physically, culturally & through our families is always an afterthought at best in our foreign policy, a priority only when there is perceived crisis.

We will not address the underlying issues that cause so many to come here if we do not work with the people, NGOs & governments of these countries. That should include working to repair the damage caused in part by U.S. policies and a commitment to change those policies. Our involvement in Central America’s civil wars led to death & devastation that is still felt in the region today.

And U.S. drug demand & drug war have helped hollow out civil society in these countries, contributing to government corruption & horrific gang violence.

Our failure to act in the face of the science and consequences of climate change has produced devastating storms and droughts that make it a challenge for many to feed themselves and survive in communities throughout Central America.

Beto on Facebook 3/17/2021

These kind of ideas coming from Beto aren’t new, but they have consistently caused think-tank types in the area of Latin American policy to clench up their hind sides and to embolden current policy. It is a discussion that needs to be demanded of the Biden administration and right now is the best time to do it.

Meanwhile, the shocked reactions to the current edition of huddled masses needs to stop and the work needs to begin.

Also, Beto O’Rourke seems to be the only Texas Democrat giving a damn about which direction we should be going on this issue.

Durbin Doubts Biden Immigration Plan Can Pass

I was surprised to see an article in which the US Senate’s top immigration reform pusher, Senator Dick Durbin, has deemed President Biden’s immigration reform bill as unlikely to be passed. Durbin does suggest that a peacemeal approach be taken, and various bills regarding undocumented farm worker citizenship and the usual DREAM Act have been discussed.

“I think Speaker Pelosi has discovered she doesn’t have the support for a comprehensive bill in the House,” Durbin said. “And I think that indicates where it is in the Senate as well.”

Biden has proposed a plan that would provide a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million people living illegally in the U.S., would bolster assistance to Central American countries and would ease immigration for people fleeing violence. Republicans declared the proposal, which did not include any added resources to secure the border, dead on arrival.

Bloomberg, 3/15/2021

Blaming the current surge on the border by children fleeing violence and poverty for not supporting immigration reform is the weakest excuse I have ever heard; however, the Republicans are doing a job of blaming Democrats for something that isn’t a new thing. And Democrats are doing their usual best to avoid a debate–the fight that is needed to educate the public. In this case, blaming children (victims) is pretty sick.

Congressional Republicans and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have seized the moment to place blame on “the other” while the Biden administration and a Democratic Senate and House have been left with the job of addressing COVID-19 and all the crises that go with that, the day to day governance of the nation, and the issues brought on by crappy US policies on Latin America.

After the wreckage that was left at Homeland Security by Trump, which includes the uncontrolled bad behavior of the Border Patrol and their union, a purposely broken asylum system, and an inhumane immigration and detention system, the Biden administration has been left with quite a job that must be done as crises continue. And without Republican cooperation.

Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas has stated that much is being done with “great speed” to address the issues that were worsened by Trump. However, these issues have been around for a long time and have been worsened by both sides of the aisle for decades. Unless root causes of migration (right-wing regime corruption, poverty and violence) are addressed, there is not much that can be done that will not include some semblance of inhumanity on our side of Trump’s border wall, be it kiddie jails in the middle of nowhere or the treatment of migrants at the border and elsewhere, or continued buttressing of right-wing zealots in Central and South America.

The Biden administration is attempting some more humane ideas, including ending the Trump administration detention trap of family members who would pick up (or claim) an unaccompanied minor. They have also called in FEMA to address the processing of the unaccompanied minors, which I hope means professional administrators and paper pushers and not your usual two-finger, law enforcement-type typists. Whatever gets these kids out of the freezer-like environment of immigration warehouses faster and efficiently.

As I’ve always said about immigration reform, it’s all about the fight. Republicans thrive on hate and there are a few Democrats who do so, as well. Democrats must go it alone, and that means putting the screws to “moderates” who will render a majority useless if left unchecked.

Biden Kiddie Jail Opens in South Texas

Out in my former neck of the mesquite, in Carrizo Springs, TX actually, an oil field worker tent and portable building camp that Trump opened for a month as a jail for unaccompanied minors has been reopened up again by the Biden Administration.

Blaming COVID-19, Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki pointed to a lack of room at the usual Health and Human Services facilities because of COVID-19 protocols that called for increased distancing as the reason to reopen the Carrizo Springs, TX facility located in the middle of nowhere.

700 teenagers will now reside at this reopened facility while they await placement with families or sponsors. Current rules call for the Border Patrol to hold these children for up to 72 hours before transferring them to an HHS facility. The 700 kids were currently being held in a border patrol tent prison because the original facility which became infamous for using cages for the kids is being renovated. Into what? I have no idea.

Also, current HHS facilities have more of a group home atmosphere.

No doubt, immigrant rights activists and attorneys are worried about how the children will be treated at this facility. Psaki and Biden can use whatever cleaner description of these facilities they can create, the bottom line is that children should not be kept in prison-like facilities in the middle of nowhere, whether in cages or not.

Of course, the optics are terrible. Biden made promises to not be like Trump at all when it comes to immigration. While we know immigration policy and process takes time to be put in place (although Trump did wonders with executive orders), detention and practices can be changed immediately. When in need of a solution, Biden basically ran back to a Trump-era idea. Some call that a lack of creativity on Biden’s part.

One other thing, the Carrizo Springs kiddie jail can be expanded to house thousands. Given the lack of creativity, the potential for this place to grow should scare us.

Yet, I’m not surprised. And I’m definitely not surprised at the haunting silence of Democrats in Congress or on the ground Dem activists who don’t seem to see a problem with this. We must demand more from Biden when it comes to migrant warehousing and detention–especially ending the private contracting of it. And while Biden has attempted some short strides in trying to curb deportations (which has been denied by a federal judge) and putting forth some sort of immigration package for Congress to consider, more must be done.

Ultimately, beyond a human rights issue, this is also a political fight. How hard a President and a Congress fights for an issue also makes for great optics. We have a Democratic majority put together by dollar store scotch tape (i.e., Manchin and Sinema), but a majority nonetheless. Use it!

UPDATE 3PM: Biden will reopen Homestead child prison, too.

Latino Rebels reports that the Biden administration will also reopen the Homestead child prison facility in Florida. During the Trump administration, the corporation running this prison was given a $300 billion no-bid contract with the help of former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly before it was finally shut down. During the 2020 Democratic primary, various candidates toured the facility and lobbied for its closing after charges of child abuse and horrible conditions. Today, it will be run under a different name–as if that changes anything.

Kids and Families Are Still Locked Up, Stop Celebrating

Nothing is more annoying than seeing liberal and/or Democratic activists  and politicians portraying Trump’s madman of a signature on a document that really does nothing about the current human rights crisis as some sort of victory.

Our friends at Mijente posted six things you should know about the Trump executive order:

  1. DHS will receive more money to create new family prisons that will hold parents and children together, while the parents are being criminally prosecuted and while their deportation cases are pending.
  2. Given that criminal prosecutions and deportation cases of parents can take long periods of time, and that children are supposed to be detained along with their parents, Sessions will try to get the courts to grant him the ability to detain children indefinitely.
  3. Trump and Sessions will continue to implement their “Zero Tolerance” policy and prosecute everyone detained at the border.
  4. The Department of Defense will help provide spaces, like army bases, for these family prisons, and build new ones as needed. Other cabinet-level departments are being recruited to do the same.
  5. Sessions will be given more resources to deport families faster after they are prosecuted, and appropriate the funding if needed.
  6. The order does not speak to any families that have already been separated — and existing policies place the responsibility on parents to find their children in HHS custody and seek to reunite with them.

If if you don’t want to listen to us, then listen to Elizabeth Warren.

As political as this fight is, it’s about human beings. Yes, children are being placed in cages and in “licensed child care facilities” adorned with prison-style razor wire all around, but we’re also talking about families seeking asylum, having escaped violence and poverty in their home countries; and, which must be repeated for the allies in the back, IS NOT A CRIME! Therefore, children, moms, and dads should not be locked up while waiting for what is an administrative hearing–not a criminal court.

Trump and his ilk are experts at public relations. He’ll throw out one-liners to appease his followers and the Republican Party. Allies must learn NEVER to give-in to their rhetoric–any of it. And yesterday was just another example that made it seem like some thought this particular fight was suddenly over and that victory could be declared just to poke fun at Trump. No, the fight continues. Lives are at stake.

 

 

FIEL Collecting Clothing for Refugee Children

Local immigrant rights organization, FIEL, posted on Facebook that they were collecting clothing and other supplies for the unaccompanied minors who are currently being housed across the state. They posted as follows:

In an effort to help out the humanitarian crisis along the border FIEL Houston will begin collecting supplies for the unaccompanied minors: We need the following items:
1. Gently worn (clean) children clothing
2. Childrens undergarments in new packages (ages 2 -17)
3. Toothbrushes
4. Toothpaste
5. Deodorants
6. Body Soap
7. Shampoo
8. Socks
9 Children Shoes
10. Backpacks and or large plastic bags to make welcome packages.

More info to come as the need arises.

We will also be needing volunteers soon to help put welcome packages together. But we will let you all know of specific opportunities for that.

All donations may be dropped off at FIEL HQ at 6610 Harwin #214 Houston, TX 77036 for more info please call (713)364-3435

PLEASE SHARE

En un esfuerzo para ayudar con la crisis humanitaria en la frontera, FIEL Houston empezara a recolectar articulos para los inmigrantes niños sin acompañamiento. Necesitamos los siguientes articulos:
1. Ropa para niñ@s en buens condiciones y limpia
2. Ropa interior para niños/as en paquetes nuevos (edades 2 a 17)
3. Cepillos de dientes
4. Pasta de dientes
5. Desodorantes
6. Jabon de Cuerpo
7. Shampoo
8. Calcetines
9. Zapatos para niños/as
10. Mochilas y/ o bolsas de plastico grandes para hacer paquetes de bienvenida.

Tendremos mas informacion conforme se nos presente.

Tambien estaremos necesitando voluntarios pronto para armas los paquetes de bienvenida. Les dejaremos saber de oportunidades especificas para eso.

Todas las donaciones pueden ser traidas a la oficinas de FIEL localizada en el 6610 Harwin #214 Houston, TX 77036 para mas informes por favor llamen al (713)364-3435