Originally published by Politico

House Progressive leader Pramila Jayapal will join a “caravan” of migrants seeking asylum as they try to enter the United States from Tijuana on Saturday afternoon – an attempt to spotlight what Democrats view as the inhumane effects of President Donald Trump’s border crackdown.

The Washington Democrat, a rising star in the House Democratic Caucus, flew to the border Friday and is gathering information on the treatment of migrants from Central America by both Mexican and U.S. authorities. In the afternoon she will follow a group of migrants trying to claim asylum to ensure they’re getting a fair shake, she said.

The president is lying about this caravan, he’s fear mongering, Jayapal said in a Friday interview before her trip. He’s trying to use people who are seeking asylum and literally running from death just for his own political benefit and that’s a disgrace.

The newly elected House Progressive Caucus co-chair added: He created a crisis at the border.

Jayapal’s visit comes amid a tense standoff at the border. The president railed about the dangers of the caravan – a group of mostly women and children migrants from Honduras – on the campaign trail in the final days of the mid-term elections. The president has tried to limit asylum claims including by executive order but has been rebuffed in part by the courts.

Earlier this week, migrants were sprayed with tear gas as they tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico border – one of the key reasons Jayapal decided to make the visit.

When I read the report about a week ago that kids and moms were being tear gassed, I just couldn’t sleep, Jayapal said. I want to go see for myself what is happening, what happens to asylum seekers as they get to the border, how are they turned back, what’s happening to them in between, where the conditions in which they’re living.

Jayapal has made several trips to the southern border in recent months. She was the first lawmaker to visit federal prisons housing migrant children who were taken from their parents or carers during Trump’s family separation initiative.

Hill Republicans, while expressing outrage about Trump’s family separation policy, have done little to counter his immigration crackdowns in recent years.

This particular trip, however, comes as power is shifting in the House. Investigators on the House Oversight and Judiciary panels are gearing up to probe Trump’s immigration policies, including family separation and his use of troops at the border. And Jayapal said she would bring back her findings to her colleagues in the House.

Indeed, Jayapal, whose goal Saturday is telling the stories of migrants fleeing from persecution, said she would present her finding to Democratic investigators. The Judiciary panel, of which she is a member, is already spinning up to probe who gave these orders and how it violates our Constitution, she said.

We’re going to dive into all of that because this is a central role of the Judiciary Committee, to have oversight on these issues, to make sure we’re in line with our Constitution and our internal human rights obligations, she said. We’re in violation of that on a number of fronts as far as immigrants go.

Jayapal’s trip is mostly focused on the Mexico side of the border. She crossed into Tijuana on Saturday morning and is meeting with both advocates on the ground and Mexican officials. She’s visiting migrant shelters women and children as well as LGTBQ migrants who have been separated from the rest of the marchers and are being kept in horrific conditions, she said.

Jayapal blames Trump for those conditions, arguing that large groups like the caravan have showed up at the border before without these sorts of issues. But Trump, she said, is forcing Mexico to create these conditions for people who are seeking asylum.

There is international and domestic law that governs that process that we are violating, so I put 95 percent of the blame on this president, she said.

After the crossing attempt, she’ll meet with advocates and international law experts in the U.S.

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Supporters of Nelson Pinos.png

Originally published by The Washington Post

 The Latest on a Connecticut protest by supporters of an Ecuadorian man facing deportation (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

Dozens of supporters of a man from Ecuador facing deportation have ended a protest at the federal building in Hartford, Connecticut, where some of them chained themselves to each other and trash cans filled with sand.

The four-hour demonstration Friday morning was in support of 44-year-old Nelson Pinos, who was ordered to leave the U.S. a few weeks before Christmas last year. He instead sought sanctuary in a New Haven church where he still lives.

No arrests were reported.

Pinos has been living in the U.S. illegally since 1992. He is married and the father of three U.S. citizen children.

His supporters are demanding that federal immigration authorities grant a stay of his deportation order and allow him to be with his family in time for the holidays.


9:32 a.m.

Supporters of a man from Ecuador facing deportation, some chained to trash cans filled with sand, have blocked the doors of the federal building in Hartford, Connecticut.

About 20 people holding signs and banners sat down in front of the building Friday morning in support of 44-year-old Nelson Pinos.

They are demanding that Immigration and Customs Enforcement allow Pinos to go home to his family in time for the holidays.

Pinos was ordered to leave the U.S. a few weeks before Christmas last year. He instead sought sanctuary in a New Haven church.

The New Haven resident has been living in the U.S. illegally since 1992. He is married and the father of three American citizen children.

Supporters say his situation has caused urgent and documented psychological harm to his children.

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Supporters of Nelson Pinos

Originally published by The Washington Post

Dozens of demonstrators, some of them chained to each other and barrels filled with sand, blocked the doors to a federal courthouse Friday in support of an immigrant from Ecuador who was been living in a church for a year to avoid deportation.

About 60 people joined the rally to demand that Immigration and Customs Enforcement stay the deportation order for Nelson Pinos, 44, and allow him to return home to his family. Protesters sang songs and chanted Bring Nelson home.

Pinos sought sanctuary in a New Haven church after he was ordered to leave the U.S. a few weeks before Christmas last year. A New Haven resident, he has been living in the U.S. illegally since 1992. He is married and the father of three children who are U.S. citizens.

Supporters say his situation has caused psychological harm to his children.

He’s been living in the U.S. so long, said Pinos’ friend Jesus Morales Sanchez, who was chained to another protester and a sand barrel. The amount of suffering this family is going through is cruel and inhumane.

ICE has an office inside the federal building in Hartford.

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Originally published by CNN

Florence Phillips was born in New York to Jewish parents who fled Europe before the Holocaust.

Growing up, she experienced first-hand the burden of being a child of immigrants who didn’t speak English. Helping her parents interact with the outside world fell on her shoulders.

“I did all the translations for them,” Phillips said. “I saw how they struggled being new to a country and not knowing the language.”
For most of her life, Phillips worked various desk jobs. Then, in her late-50s, she enlisted in the Peace Corps. She served three tours-in Kenya, Guatemala and Jamaica-working on community-building projects and teaching English.
After returning to the US in 1999, at age 69, Phillips realized there were countless people in her own backyard in need of her support.
“It came to me that I didn’t have to leave the US or my hometown to help. I could do here what I did overseas,” she said.
She became an AmeriCorps volunteer and moved around the country, eventually settling in Carson City, Nevada. There, immigrants make up roughly one in five of the state’s population. Phillips met many adult immigrants who were struggling to learn English.
To address the need, she started the ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada, a nonprofit that provides free ESL (English as a Second Language), citizenship, GED and computer classes.
Since its inception in 2004, the nonprofit has helped more than 5,000 immigrants and their families.
Today, at 87 years old-when most people are deep in retirement-Phillips shows no signs of winding down.
CNN’s Laura Klairmont spoke with Phillips about her work. Below is an edited version of their conversation.
CNN: What are some of the barriers that get in the way of immigrants accessing English classes?
Florence Phillips: It was amazing to see how many immigrants there were that wanted to learn English. I got calls from all over Nevada. Many of these immigrants could not attend ESL classes because the schools and other organizations have a set schedule, and their times were not convenient for the student who works three jobs. So, my program teaches morning, noon, night, weekends, holidays. We provide these services at the times and days that the student is available and wherever the student is or can be. My program is very flexible.
We teach English on all levels to immigrants and refugees in Northern Nevada who want to learn. There is no other program like this in the state. We give the students personal attention; I match them with a tutor. We teach at no cost to the student.
Play Video

CNN Heroes: American Dreams 03:33
There are people who were living in rural counties and in other counties where they did not have transportation if there was a class available for them to go to. If they lack transportation, just had a baby, are sick or disabled, we will tutor in their own homes or the tutor’s home.
CNN: Your program also provides free classes that help people prepare for their citizenship test.
Phillips: It is a very difficult test. A lot of Americans say they could not pass. These people have to know the answers to questions about the branches of government, how many senators there are, etc. It’s a lot of history, a lot of civics, a lot about our government. They have to know how to write, how to read. They have to know how to converse in English with the interviewer. We do all of that for them. We have a mock interview at the end of the class so that they know what to expect when they go for their exam. It takes a commitment of coming to a 12-week class. It takes a lot of memorization.
To apply for citizenship today, it costs more than $700. Many of our students cannot afford to apply. So, we help to raise money to help these students apply.
Whether they’re working two, three jobs, they have to sit down and study every single day, and they make that commitment because it is their desire to become an American. My students inspire me because of their dedication, their commitment, their motivation to learn.
CNN: How has your work affected the lives of your students?
Phillips: I have students that were promoted to be supervisor. I get students who call me and say, “I was able to talk with the teacher about my child.” And I’m being told by the students that they went to the market and the clerk understood them. Those are the rewards I get as they progress.
My students love this country. They are very proud about being here, learning English, learning our culture. I see the pride when they say, “I am an American.”
Want to get involved? Check out the ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada website and see how to help.
To donate to ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada, click the CrowdRise widget below.

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Originally published by The Washington Post

Who’s willing to get arrested if it comes down to that? Pastor Cleve May asked two dozen members of his congregation in the parking lot at CityWell United Methodist Church early Friday morning.

Hands shot up without hesitation. The congregants were preparing a sort of migrant caravan of their own, shuttling a single Mexican immigrant on a 15-mile journey from the church in Durham, N.C., to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Morrisville. The undocumented immigrant, Samuel Oliver-Bruno, had an appointment.

It was supposed to be routine, just a fingerprint – a step on the road to a deportation reprieve. Oliver-Bruno, a 47-year-old father to a U.S.-citizen son, had been living in a Sunday-school classroom in the church basement for the past 11 months, a refuge where immigration authorities couldn’t arrest him. His appointment with USCIS would mark the first time he stepped beyond the church property line since then, and what seemed like half his church went with him because, May said, we don’t really believe that sanctuary is just a building.

The sanctuary went with Samuel to this office, he told The Washington Post. We were going to go in this office together.

At about 8:45 a.m., the caravan arrived at the office, where nearly 100 other people had already gathered, May said. They prayed in the parking lot, and as Oliver-Bruno went inside with his son, his attorney and his pastor, the group started singing a Spanish hymn right outside the door.

It didn’t last long. Two minutes later, they traded the singing for screaming.

No! They’re arresting him! one woman yelled.

The congregants and other supporters began banging on the glass windows and doors, yelling as they watched U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in plainclothes tackle Oliver-Bruno and his son to the ground in the waiting room. The son wouldn’t let go as officers began dragging his dad toward a back door – and the dozens of gatherers followed, sprinting around the corner to meet the agents.

That marked the beginning of a nearly three-hour standoff with ICE, during which the congregants and other community members sought to physically block the arrest of Oliver-Bruno by surrounding a government van and refusing to move, singing Amazing Grace and chanting, Let your people go! The stakes for Oliver-Bruno, whose wife suffers from lupus, were too high to step away, May said.

We told the police chief, ‘We understand this is your job, but we need you to understand that as a matter of conviction we cannot move, and you will have to arrest us,’ May recounted.

A total of 27 people were arrested, including May and Oliver-Bruno’s son, the Morrisville Police Department said. Daniel Oliver-Perez, 19, faces charges of assaulting a government official, for the skirmish during which he attempted to prevent officers from arresting his dad.

In a joint statement, Democratic Reps. David E. Price and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina said they were alarmed by the manner in which Oliver-Bruno was arrested, describing it as entrapment at worst and a catch-22 dilemma at best, saying USCIS appeared to act in concert with ICE. They asked USCIS to grant Oliver-Bruno deferred action on the deportation, saying his wife and U.S. citizen son would suffer greatly if Mr. Oliver-Bruno is removed from the country.

USCIS spokesman Michael Bars later said in a statement: As a matter of policy, USCIS is unable to comment on specific cases related to pending litigation. Importantly, however, the agency does not schedule an appointment at our Application Support Centers for an applicant who does not have a pending immigration benefit application or other request. USCIS is committed to adjudicating all petitions, applications and requests fairly, efficiently, and effectively on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet all standards required under applicable law, policies, and regulations.

May said the church opened its doors to Oliver-Bruno last December under the decades-old church sanctuary program, in which congregations across the country offer to provide refuge to immigrants facing deportation. The congregation at CityWell United Methodist Church tried to make the former Sunday-school classroom homey for Oliver-Bruno, bringing him an air mattress, nightstand, TV and lamp.

But while they called it a sanctuary, May said, they also knew it was like being on house arrest. Oliver-Bruno didn’t leave to watch his son graduate from high school. He didn’t leave to accompany his wife to the doctor, or to run an errand or see a movie. He just stayed at church, leading a Bible study in Spanish and sometimes playing in the church band.

He became very intimately a part of who we are as a congregation. It was a really beautiful thing in a lot of ways, but also a really tragic thing, May said. It was never far from anyone’s mind, and it was often on our lips, that Samuel was experiencing a very cruel form of house arrest, almost in isolation.

Oliver-Bruno first came to the United States in 1994 to live and work in Greenville, N.C., and lived there with his wife, Julia, who had lupus, a serious autoimmune disease. In 2011, they decided to return to Mexico because Oliver-Bruno’s parents’ health was failing, according to his church. (May said the family was declining interview requests for the time being.)

But the lupus was a problem. Doctors in Mexico were no match for those in Greenville, who had treated and monitored Julia’s illness. Three years after arriving back in Mexico, they knew it was time to make the journey back over the border illegally when she started coughing up blood, May said. This time, however, Oliver-Bruno was arrested and convicted of attempting to enter the country with fraudulent documents.

In a statement, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told the Raleigh News & Observer that authorities decided he could stay in the country under an order of supervision. May said he was allowed to stay because of Julia’s failing health: Crossing the border months ahead of Oliver-Bruno, she underwent heart surgery upon her arrival in Greenville.

Oliver-Bruno’s reprieve and supervision order lasted until November 2017, when it was revoked and he was ordered removed.

Mr. Oliver-Bruno is a convicted criminal who has received all appropriate legal process under federal law, has no outstanding appeals and has no legal basis to remain in the U.S., Cox told the News & Observer, explaining why Oliver-Bruno was arrested.

Back in the USCIS parking lot Friday, the ICE agents were trying to tell the crowd to quiet down, competing for a chance to speak over chants of Shame! By then, protesters had fully surrounded the ICE vehicle, an unmarked minivan.

Listen up! yelled an agent who identified himself as an assistant field officer. The only way this is going to go down is this way: He’s been ordered removed from the United States. That’s it. I know the law, okay? So what we’re going to do now – you’ve got to disperse.”

The singing in Spanish began again.

Step back! he said to a woman wailing on the hood of the van.

She didn’t move.

You have the discretion, sir, a man yelled to the officer. You have the power, sir. There’s a higher law, sir.

Eventually the agent stepped out of the crowd’s center, and the police arrived, watching on the outskirts as the people again broke into song. They sang the civil rights anthem We Shall Not Be Moved, invoking Samuel’s name, and then Amazing Grace, extending their hands toward the van, where Oliver-Bruno and two ICE agents were listening. The crowd alternated between silence and singing and prayer, sniffling and sometimes crying out.

His only crime was wanting to take care of his family! one woman yelled.

By the end, nearly 30 people remained when police placed them under arrest for obstruction. They were booked into the Wake County Detention Center with Oliver-Bruno.

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Originally published by Mother Jones

When Jose Antonio Vargas came out as undocumented in the pages of the New York Times seven years ago, he had no idea what would happen next. Before he published that essay, My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant, Vargas was best known as a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. He’d achieved the career he had been working toward ever since he was a teenager, all while keeping his immigration status carefully hidden. To come out publicly would be to risk throwing away his life in America. One lawyer went as far as calling it, ‘legal suicide,’ Vargas writes in his new memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen.

Vargas did it anyway, providing a candid account of the years he spent hiding his status after his mother sent him over from the Philippines at age 12 to live with his grandparents in Mountain View, California. The revelation thrust him instantly into the center of the immigration debate. Since then, Vargas has been on the cover of Time magazine, produced documentary films, and founded a nonprofit called Define American, which seeks to change how immigrant stories are told by the media and entertainment industries. He’s even had a school named after him: Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School is scheduled to open in Mountain View next year.

In Dear America, which comes out today, Vargas tells the story of his tumultuous 25 years in the United States, his experiences of coming out (first as gay, then as undocumented), his newspaper career, and his newfound role as an activist/advocate/whatever-this-was. He’s explored this territory in his earlier work, but Dear America may be his most personal effort. Vargas writes with a newspaper reporter’s spare, forceful prose, but he’s searching and highly introspective. And he wanted, he told me, to explore what he describes as a mental health crisis among immigrants in America.

Vargas recounts his tense encounters with Fox News hosts-like the time Tucker Carlson joked about having him deported-and his complex position within the immigrant rights movement now that he’s the most privileged undocumented immigrant in America.

He also interrogates his own fame, which, in 2014, helped him get out of being detained by immigration officials in Texas: I didn’t want to know that while most undocumented immigrants are arrested, detained and deported, without due process, I was able to get out after eight hours of being locked up. Yet he’s quick to point to the common ground he shares with millions of other undocumented people. The contours of our experience, he writes, are much the same.

Mother Jones: Since 2011, you’ve told parts of your story in articles and a film. Why a memoir?

Jose Antonio Vargas: Well, I really didn’t want to write a memoir. When I was writing it, that’s not how I was thinking about it. Once my editor and I settled on the structure of the book, which is [three sections called] Lying, Passing, and Hiding, it took on a life of its own. Having that structure allowed me to really investigate my own psychology. The book is really about psychological trauma: these stages that an undocumented immigrant goes through to just exist in this country. When I was writing it, it became very apparent that it’s not only undocumented people who can relate to that-having to lie and having to pass. You can argue that the whole arc of American history is about passing as American…

A friend said to me that reading the book felt like getting to know me for the first time, which I thought was interesting because I thought I’d already shared a lot of things, but apparently, I haven’t, really. When I think about it, in many ways I think I did this book to make sense of myself.

MJ: What did you learn?

JAV: I didn’t realize how much I’d been hiding from my own friends and people who were close to me who had always had a problem getting close to me. This has been a very challenging few years, especially after the election of President Trump, and I went to this really dark place in which I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to see anybody. I get asked a lot to go on television to talk about immigration-I said no to lots of them. I wanted to figure out my emotional state, but also how we got to where we got. Originally, I was going to write a migration manifesto, but the book took on a whole life of its own. I said things in this book that I’d never really said to my own friends, my own family.

MJ: Your New York Times essay ran during Obama’s second term, before the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. Would it have been different had it come out in the current political moment?

JAV: Oh yeah, totally different.

MJ: Would you still have done it?

JAV: My biggest regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I could have done it in the Bush era, when I was still at the Washington Post covering the 2008 campaign. There were many moments in my career, during my 20s, when I was surprised I didn’t just blurt it out loud.

What’s interesting is there are people who have read the book who are surprised [it] is not all about Trump, given that Trump has put immigration front and center. Honestly, I think if I had called the book Dear Trump-anything Trump-people would be interested. But that would not have been accurate, given that what we’re living through has been a culmination and a manifestation of both Democratic and Republican administrations. I date that all the way back to the Clinton presidency. I mean, clearly, this has been a horrendous, terrible time. The only analogy I can think of, historically, is the 1920s. But this does not happen overnight; it’s been policy after policy, a bipartisan mess that both parties are responsible for.

MJ: In the book, you go much further back, to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, for example. Why was it important to include that history?

JAV: Gore Vidal called the United States the United States of Amnesia. For a country with a relatively short history, especially in comparison to the Indians or Chinese or Europe, the American public in general-this has been my experience traveling around the country-don’t know much about our own history. That’s why you have people saying, My great-grandparents did it the right way. Wait a second: what right way? [There are all these] misconceptions about quote-unquote legal migration and how illegal migration was created. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act benefited immigrants from Asian countries, but did not benefit immigrants from Mexico and other countries. As much as we talk about Mexico in this country, and as anti-Mexican as this country has gotten, most people probably don’t know the complicated, tortured history of US-Mexico relations. So that’s why. History gives us a lot of answers. And I feel strongly that we have to really study it and really face it.

MJ: You’re pretty critical in the book of how the mainstream media has covered immigration. Have you seen any improvements in the past couple of years?

JAV: It’s interesting that it took Trump getting elected for many members of the mainstream media to finally understand the moral corruption and the inhumanity of the issue. If you look back to the coverage during the Obama era, you see how willing political reporters are to keep just politicizing immigration and not look at it as an issue directly impacting families. It’s been interesting this summer looking back at the coverage of the Central American refugee crisis, especially with kids being detained and locked up in cages. If you compare that coverage with the coverage it got in 2014, it’s pretty remarkable.

However, I still think there’s an oversight when it comes to connecting the dots between the demographic changes that are not only unprecedented but irreversible. You cannot separate the undocumented population from the documented population. In the next 50 years, according to Pew, 88 percent of US population growth is going to come from the immigrants in this country. And yet when we talk about America, for the most part, I think there’s still the propensity to talk about a black and white America. Whenever we talk about Latinos and Asians, it’s very politicized and one-dimensional for the most part. That’s why the success of Crazy Rich Asianshas been so important. That’s why Jane the Virgin has been so crucial. But those are two examples. We need more.

MJ: Do you still think, given the actions of this administration, that your celebrity offers you some protection, or might it be a double-edged sword?

JAV: I don’t know. What did James Baldwin say? All safety is an illusion. I was prepared for anything and everything seven years ago, and I think that’s even more true now.

MJ: I was really interested in the parallels you draw between the LGBTQ rights movement and the immigrant rights movement.

JAV: I think it’s important to underscore the parallels-this whole idea of coming out. These are both movements that have benefited from the people who are directly impacted telling their stories. When I look back at being gay in the late ’90s, during Will & Grace, during the rise of Ellen DeGeneres, those were cultural moments. The No. 1 show on television was Will & Grace, and it was about this gay man with a straight best friend, and they were roommates. I like to say that for every Will, there’s a Grace. That’s been kind of a model for how we do our work at Define American. Clearly, Define American was founded and led by an undocumented person, but this issue is not only about the undocumented immigrants who live under these conditions, but about all the people that allow people like us to pass, who are hiding people like us.

I did this event in Aspen a couple months ago. After the event, this man came up to me and said that he employs thousands of undocumented workers. And I was thinking to myself, I wonder what would happen if anybody who’s ever employed or done business with an undocumented immigrant, if they all came out together and said, This is what I’ve been doing for decades now. To me, it’s this national need for us to really face the issue, which means facing people’s stories.

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Originally published by The NY Times

Over 100 activists gathered outside a jail in Phoenix on Wednesday to protest Sheriff Paul Penzone’s continued cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities.

Four activists who chained themselves to each other outside one of the jail entrances were arrested in an act of civil disobedience.

Authorities said the four were sitting down and blocking the entrance and refusing to leave.

TV video showed Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies dressed in riot gear pulling the four activists into the jail before the doors closed.

“Penzone has the power to stop ICE from entering the jails and he’s not doing so. This is to put pressure on Sheriff Penzone that he’s still continuing to do harm in our community,” said Cynthia Diaz, 23. Diaz’s mom was arrested by ICE during a raid at their home in 2011. She was deported to Mexico, but obtained asylum three years later and once again lives in the Phoenix area with her family.

Penzone, a Democrat, handily beat Joe Arpaio during the 2016 election, bringing hope to immigrant advocates that a new era of enforcement was coming in. But many now say Penzone is no different than Arpaio, who was convicted of disobeying a judge’s order stop his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants, pardoned by President Donald Trump and is now running for U.S. Senate.

The sheriff doubled down recently on his cooperation with ICE, saying it’s “both lawful and necessary in our effort to promote public safety while facilitating the mission and authority of other policing agencies.”

Wednesday’s protest was part of a national movement known as Abolish ICE, which aims to end the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. ICE was created after 9/11.

“I think communities have been talking about abolishing ICE for a long time and now it’s picking up steam and it’s really great,” said Brenda Perez, of the national group pushing to abolish ICE. “The sofa at my grandmother’s house is older than ICE … we don’t have to live in a world with ICE.”

The protest was peaceful with a few tense moments as protesters and counter protesters traded barbs. One man was reprimanded by police for shoving a protester who had gotten close to him with a megaphone.


Penzone says ICE has flagged more than 1,600 jail detainees this year for people arrested for everything from murder to sexual abuse to driving under the influence. The sheriff no longer participates in so-called detainers, or requests by ICE to keep holding someone while they investigate their legal status. But ICE officers are allowed in the jail and can ask anyone about their status.

In a written statement, Penzone said he remains committed to working with ICE and other law enforcement agencies.

“The most effective tactic to avoid these challenges is to be a law-abiding member of our community,” he said.

But Ernesto Lopez of Puente Arizona, which organized the protest, said there’s no legal reason why Penzone needs to allow ICE in jails.

“I think the one thing we want to accomplish is raise awareness to our people that they’re still vulnerable to deportation. The real threat of deportation is the police department and Penzone,” Lopez said.

The effort has gained traction and become a favorite topic for election candidates, especially in Arizona

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wrote in a USA Today editorial that he didn’t support the idea.

“As a border state governor who wakes up every day and goes to sleep every night with the safety and security of Arizona citizens at the top of mind, I want to be clear – this call to abolish ICE is not only wrong – it is reckless, and puts the people of my state and others in direct threat.”

The Republican Governors Association earlier this summer aired attack ads that linked David Garcia, one of Ducey’s Democratic opponents, to the movement. He hasn’t used that word choice, but Garcia has said publicly that he supports replacing and reforming the system.

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Originally published by The Washington Post

Wearing white T-shirts with the message We are All Human Beings, more than two dozen immigrant children and their parents joined Logic and Ryan Tedder on stage Monday night at the MTV Video Music Awards to protest President Donald Trump’s separation and detention policy.

The children, including some younger ones who appeared intimidated by the crowd, stood in a line as a human wall, some swaying and clapping to Logic’s new song, One Day. He debuted it Friday with a new music video depicting a teen forcibly separated at the U.S.-Mexico border from his parents and baby sibling.

On stage, their parents came out next from behind, simulating reunions with hugs. The protesters hoisted faux candles in the air as the song concluded.

Immigrant leaders from three advocacy groups, including United We Dream and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, participated. Logic wore a black T-shirt reading F(asterisk)ck the Wall.

Three weeks after a federal court-ordered deadline to reunify families, the Department of Justice revealed last week that the Trump administration is still holding 565 of the children forcibly separated from their parents in federal detention, including 24 under age 5 who were supposed to be reunited more than a month ago, according to a statement from coordinators of the demonstration.


Originally published by Politico

Rep. Kevin McCarthy knows history is against Republican efforts to retain control of the House – though perhaps not as against him as the immigration protesters who shouted him down during a talk in Sacramento.

Speaking at a Public Policy Institute of California event, the House Majority Leader noted that the party in power has almost always surrendered seats during the midterm elections and said that Republicans need to surmount an enthusiasm gap, saying the intensity level is greater on the Democratic side than on the Republican side. Tasked with helping to safeguard the Republican House majority, McCarthy has been working to generate cash for endangered incumbents.

I will leave here and get on a plane, I’ll go to Indianapolis, I’ll go to Iowa, I’ll go to Minneapolis, I’ll go to Omaha, Nebraska, and I’ll be back in California on Sunday and then I’ll be on the road again, McCarthy told the audience at the non-partisan think tank. But there, too, his opponents have been successful: Democrats have done quite well at raising money across the country outside of their districts, he said.

McCarthy argued that Republicans have a built-in advantage from relying more on suburban districts while Democrats have their base in urban areas, which he said means if we get 49 percent of the vote, we’ll get about 51, 53 percent of the seats. And he predicted voters would reward Republicans for economic growth while rejecting Democratic overreach on immigration, healthcare and the drive to impeach President Donald Trump.

Tom Steyer is out there wanting to capture government to impeach the president, McCarthy said, referring to the California Democratic political activist who just dumped $10 million into a get-out-the-vote campaign aimed at people who have signed onto his impeachment campaign. I don’t think America wants to turn over Congress to abolish ICE, destroy our healthcare system and just take over to impeach our president.

McCarthy also worked in multiple references to a California gas tax repeal effort, which the GOP sees as a critical turnout driver for disaffected conservatives and independents here, saying it would be the defining issue in this election.

Immigration looms over House races in a handful of California swing districts, where Republicans like Rep. Jeff Denham – who represents an agricultural district that relies substantially on immigrant labor – are trying to forge a centrist path on the volatile issue.

If McCarthy was looking for a sign of the issue’s potency, it came about 20 minutes into his talk. Protesters began drowning him out with chants of Where’s your heart? and If they don’t let us dream, we won’t let them sleep.

In the minutes before the outburst, McCarthy had touted votes on a pair of failed immigration measures as signs of Republican progress on immigration, saying that I believe this president will actually solve immigration.

But he also aligned himself with Trump’s positions by suggesting the Abolish ICE mantra indicates Democrats don’t support cracking down on the transnational MS-13 gang, assailing sanctuary cities and decrying the practice of freeing illegal border-crossers pending court dates, derided by Trump and his allies as catch and release. Demonstrators were clear on where they believe McCarthy stood.

We haven’t seen anything but words from McCarthy, Polo Morales, political director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Action Fund – which organized the protest and has spearheaded similar actions targeting incumbent California Republican Reps. Steve Knight, Mimi Walters and David Valadao – told POLITICO, saying he has not taken the necessary leadership to push back against this administration.

A lot of these bills are really punitive – it’s more funding for the wall, it’s more enforcement, Morales said in an interview.

After the protesters were led out, McCarthy lamented that this country has become too divided and faulted elected officials who are trying to create us to be divided. He did not answer reporters’ questions after the event.

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Originally published  by The NY Times

In 2006, an East Harlem high school’s upset victory in a New York City-wide robot-building contest proved to be bittersweet for Amadou Ly, a member of the winning team.

Not only was Mr. Ly prevented from boarding a plane to Atlanta for the national finals with the rest of his team, because he lacked government identification; he was also facing deportation as an illegal immigrant.

Mr. Ly (pronounced Lee) had immigrated from Senegal, West Africa, with his mother in 2001. A year later, after his visitor’s visa had expired, she abandoned him.

In 2004, when a car he was riding in got into an accident, the police reported him to the immigration authorities. But that encounter, after a series of frustrating court appearances, ultimately delivered him, to his good fortune, to Amy Meselson, a Legal Aid Society lawyer in New York.

Ms. Meselson had dedicated her career to defending hundreds of vulnerable immigrants from deportation and helping them navigate the gaps between the child welfare and national security bureaucracies. She recruited volunteers from corporate law firms to represent foster children in immigration cases, and she successfully lobbied for a special juvenile section in immigration court.

Mr. Ly had been pinning his hopes on the Dream Act, the legislation that would have granted a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children through no fault of their own.

When that legislation stalled in Congress, though, Ms. Meselson suggested that Mr. Ly’s impressive performance on the East Harlem Tutorial Program team at Central Park East High School might elicit public support for his case.

I was very scared at that time, he recalled, but I knew I could trust her.

Ms. Meselson helped bring Mr. Ly’s plight to public attention, namely providing information for a front-page profile in The New York Times. The article produced an outpouring of legal, public and political support.

Federal officials were persuaded to drop the deportation proceedings and grant Mr. Ly a foreign student visa. He graduated from Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, became a citizen, embarked on an acting career and moved to Hollywood.

Ms. Meselson, who had struggled with depression since she was teenager, committed suicide on July 22 at her home in Manhattan, her mother, Sarah Meselson, said. She was 46.

Mr. Ly, now 30, said in a recorded tribute that he sent to Ms. Meselson’s family: I was able to stay in this country, I was able to live my dream and grow up and feed my family and help out others because she helped me and she did it with open arms. She was my hero.

Ms. Meselson worked in the immigration law unit of the Legal Aid Society in New York from 2002 until 2016, focusing on unaccompanied migrant children. She had recently become the managing attorney of the Immigrant Justice Corps, a volunteer program to provide free counsel.

Chief Judge Robert Katzmann, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, who was instrumental in founding the Immigrant Justice Corps, described Ms. Meselson in an email as a life saver and life giver.

What Amy did was to give hope to immigrants and their families, to make it possible for dreams for a better life to be realized, for despair to be transformed into hope, Judge Katzmann said.

Amy Valor Meselson was born on Dec. 4, 1971, in Boston to Matthew Meselson, a molecular biology professor at Harvard, and Sarah Page Meselson, who researched human rights conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean for the political asylum division of the United States immigration service.

Ms. Meselson earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s from Harvard, both in philosophy. (Her senior thesis at Brown was about free will and determinism.) She earned her law degree at Yale.

In addition to her mother, she is survived by her father; her sister, Zoe Forbes; her stepmother, Jeanne Guillemin Meselson; her stepfather, Arthur Podaras; her stepsisters, Paola and Isabel Emerson; and her stepbrothers, Rob and John Guillemin and William Emerson IV.

Ms. Meselson earned her middle name by surviving a life-threatening respiratory disease. Besides dealing with depression, she had recently been given a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder and extreme anxiety – all aggravated when she traveled to Greece two years ago to volunteer at a camp for Syrian refugees, Sarah Meselson said at a memorial service.

At the service, she said she wanted to recount her daughter’s maladies for two reasons.

One, she said, is to emphasize what everyone already knows – that it is not always possible to comprehend the level of suffering that others may be experiencing, especially when they appear to be successful and to excel to the extent that Amy did.

The other, she added, is to applaud my daughter for all that she accomplished despite her mental illness.

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