Trump's War on Immigrants: The Latest

[Content Note: Nativism; abuse.]

Donald Trump's war on immigrants — migrants, refugees, undocumented, documented, and naturalized citizens — continues to expand in scope with each passing day and is doing untold harm to countless immigrant families. Here is some of the latest news.

1. Mary Papenfuss at the Huffington Post: 1-Year-Old Baby Appears in Immigration Court, Cries Hysterically. "A 1-year-old boy in federal custody who appeared in immigration court without his parents in Phoenix briefly played with a ball, drank from a bottle, then 'cried hysterically' as he was about to leave the courtroom Friday, according to The Associated Press. But he was eventually granted a voluntary departure order so the government can fly him to Honduras, where his father has already been sent. The little boy, identified in court only as Johan, was one of the children who appeared in the Arizona court Friday without parents. One boy held up five fingers when the judge asked him his age. Judge John Richardson said he was 'embarrassed to ask' if Johan understood the proceedings, AP reported. 'I don't know who you would explain it to, unless you think that a 1-year-old could learn immigration law,' he told Johan's attorney."

One boy held up five fingers when the judge asked him his age. Sob.

I've become increasingly concerned about the fact that many people, even progressives who generally follow the news, don't understand that Trump's executive order did not, in fact, stem the tide of abuse at the southern border.

Trump was clearly hoping — and anticipating — that his executive order would generate exactly the sort of headlines that give people permission to stop paying attention, which it did, because our political press is garbage.

Progressives have to get so much savvier about Trump's media strategy. We cannot take anything as permission to check out.

Resistance requires vigilance.

And, unfortunately, reports of tiny children being expected to represent themselves in immigration court is only the beginning of the mountainous evidence that we cannot trust Trump and must stay tuned in.

2. Aura Bogado, Ziva Branstetter, and Vanessa Swales at Reveal: Defense Contractor Detained Migrant Kids in Vacant Phoenix Office Building.
A major U.S. defense contractor quietly detained dozens of immigrant children inside a vacant Phoenix office building with dark windows, no kitchen, and only a few toilets during three weeks of the Trump administration's family separation effort, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has learned.

Videos shot by an alarmed neighbor show children dressed in sweatsuits being led — one so young she was carried — into the 3,200-square-foot building in early June. The building is not licensed by Arizona to hold children, and the contractor, MVM Inc., has claimed publicly that it does not operate "shelters or any other type of housing" for children.

Defending the administration's policy to separate families at the border in a May interview with NPR, White House chief of staff John Kelly promised: "The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever."

Whether or not these children were taken from their parents, that "whatever" for them was the vacant building tucked away in a midtown Phoenix neighborhood. It is not listed among shelters operating through the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement or on the state child care licensing website.

There are new cameras on the building, extra locks on the doors and a paper shredder bin directly outside the building's side door. Neighbor Lianna Dunlap's videos show workers pulling up in white vans and leading dazed children into the building. When she asked questions, she said the workers responded with silence or terse answers.

"There's been times where I drive by and I just start crying because, you know, it's right behind my house," said Dunlap, her voice wavering. "I don't know and I think that's the worst part — not knowing what's actually going on in there and just hoping that they're okay."
Fortunately, Dunlap did more than just hope. She asked questions; she shot video; she contacted reliable press; she pushed. We can't rely on hope; we need to take action.

3. Adam Peck at ThinkProgress: Trump Administration Admits They've Lost Track of Roughly 20 Percent of Toddlers' Parents. "Friday afternoon, government officials acknowledged that as many as 20 percent of the youngest children ripped from their parents on Donald Trump's orders won't be reunified with their families any time soon. The revelation comes a day after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar assured the public that the government would meet the court's July 10 deadline to reunite children under the age of 5 with their parents, only to immediately backtrack."

4. Elliot Spagat at the AP: ACLU: Less Than Half of Child Reunions Will Meet Deadline. "The American Civil Liberties Union said it appears the Trump administration will miss a court-ordered deadline to reunite young children who were separated at the border with their parents in more than half of the cases. The ACLU said late Sunday the administration provided it with a list of 102 children under 5 years old and that it 'appears likely that less than half will be reunited' by Tuesday's deadline."

5. Mike Newall at the Philadelphia Inquirer: Philly Kids Collected New Books for Immigrant Children at Berks Detention Center; No Thanks, Officials Told Them.
The idea was as simple as it was compassionate: Donate books. Spanish-language books, for children locked up in immigration detention centers. To let them know they had friends their own age thinking of them. To give them something of their own — to take home with them. A distraction, with a message of hope tucked inside, as they waited for the United States government to release them.

The kids at Mighty Writers' El Futuro branch, on Ninth Street in South Philly, put their plan to work. Mighty Writers is a writing academy and an after-school program; its El Futuro branch is dedicated to the Latino immigrant community that has blossomed in a neighborhood long known for, and strengthened by, its immigrant population. Proof against all of our president's fearmongering about what immigrants do when they come here: They thrive. They contribute. They help others.

The Mighty Writers had heard the stories of children separated from their families at the border. And they knew that children and their families were being detained in places as close as the Berks County Residential Center, 75 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

In the immigration advocacy community, Berks has long been known by a different name: Baby Jail. For a time, as my colleague Jeff Gammage has reported, the prison housed 80 immigrant detainees, mostly mothers and children. Now, about 20 families are housed there, all seeking asylum from unspeakable violence, willing to make the treacherous trek across a continent from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Now, advocates fear it will become a model for the Trump administration's plan to detain immigrant families. Because that's where we are now — looking for more ways to lock up parents and children. At least they're together this time.

Things came together quickly. Mighty Writers staffers spoke with a teacher at the Berks detention center who said the books would be a welcome gift.

And so they got a grant. They bought 700 books, 100 for Berks and 600 for detention centers around the country. Thirty Latino kids at Mighty Writers drew bookmarks with messages of comfort and solidarity.

The books were to have been delivered Tuesday at 10 a.m. No media, just sealed, unopened boxes of books, as the detention center folks requested. The Mighty Writers packed the bookmarks separately. They wanted everything to go smoothly. This wasn't a political gesture, they said. It was an act of friendship.

On Monday night, with the books packed and ready to go, the detention center abruptly changed its mind. No thanks, they said. We don't need your books.

Whitaker said no one from Berks County, which runs the detention center for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, offered an explanation for the sudden turnaround, other than that they had a full library. Give the books to someone without a library, they were told.
Cruelty, just for cruelty's sake. That is what this is; that is what we're facing. Never lose sight of that. And these kids' instinct for kindness was exactly right, even if it was thwarted. (For now.)

6. David Boddiger at Splinter: Immigration Agents Arrest Grandparents Visiting Their Son-in-Law at Fort Drum on July 4. "A couple of grandparents from Brooklyn who traveled to Fort Drum in upstate New York to visit their son-in-law on the country's Independence Day — before he is shipped to Afghanistan for a third tour of duty — were arrested by immigration authorities and thrown into detention, a report says. According to NBC's New York affiliate, Concepcion and Margarito Silva, who are from Mexico but have lived in New York for two decades with a Department of Labor work permit, used their New York City IDs to enter the military base to visit their family member. But they were stopped by military police, who called Border Protection. Agents quickly arrived to detain the Silvas and take them to a federal ICE detention center 'hundreds of miles away in Buffalo,' according to the report."

7. Rachel Frazin at the Daily Beast: Journalist Held by ICE Speaks: 'Without a Doubt' I Was Targeted for My Work. "[Memphis-based journalist Manuel Duran] was covering a Memphis protest in April when he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway or passageway. In a video taken of the incident, Duran appears to be wearing a press badge and was not the only journalist in the street. After the charges were dropped, Duran was released from the Shelby County jail and ICE agents were there waiting to arrest him, the county sheriff's spokesperson Earle Farrell said. A Memphis Police arrest report claimed that Duran's refusal to get out of the road 'caused a hazard.' It also mentioned that he did not have a U.S. identification. Duran believes his arrest wasn't over a simple hazard, but that he was targeted for his coverage of the Memphis Police Department in Memphis Noticias, the online publication he founded."

Make noise. Make your calls. Make a plan. Please support immigrant families, in whatever way you can.

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