Immigration Roundup: Oh, Like A Roundup Of Stories And Also We Are Rounding Up *People*, Isn't That Fun?
While Donald Trump has been trying to get some members of Congress killed, his administration continues its holy mission of attempting to make America such a shithole nation that no one would ever want to seek refuge here. Here are four or five (probably six by the time we post!) things that have happened just since Friday in the name of making this country great.
'You Have No Rights '
Last week, US Customs and Border Protection finally released Francisco Galicia, an 18-year-old US citizen, after holding him for 23 days. Yes, you read that right, a US citizen was kept locked up in a filthy, overcrowded border detention center for just under a month, then transferred to ICE for removal proceedings. When he was arrested at a highway checkpoint in Texas on June 27, Galicia had a wallet version of his birth certificate, his Social Security card, and a Texas ID card. But agents were certain the documents were fake, so they continued to hold him even after his attorney submitted his long-form birth certificate. Because America is being invaded, by American citizens. Galicia was only released after the Dallas Morning News brought attention to his detention.
During his detention, Galicia lost 26 pounds, and says he was pressured by Border Patrol agents to sign papers allowing his deportation. He told CNN, "It was like psychological torture to the point where I almost (agreed to be deported). I felt safer to be in the cell than to be with the officers." The officers threatened to bring felony charges against him for counterfeiting his real documents, and when he asked to call his family and to contact an attorney, was told "You have no rights." Apparently the Border Patrol is getting legal counsel from Twitter now.
Immigration experts on Twitter were quick to point out that while Galicia may have been born in a hospital in Dallas, he isn't a REAL citizen because his mother is undocumented, and so was his younger brother, who was sent to Mexico. And yes, his case was confused because his mother had also gotten him a Mexican tourist visa that listed him, inaccurately, as having been born in Mexico. But that's the sort of thing that should take hours, not weeks, to clear up.
Well Of Course We Deport Citizens! Just Not White Ones.
Galicia's case, and the new regulation that will allow expedited deportations, without any court hearings, have highlighted just how common it is for American citizens to get caught up in Our Great Nation's periodic immigration panics. Back in the 1930s, authorities hoping to preserve jobs for white people deported a million US citizens to Mexico, because what due process, they were Mexicans. An unknown number of citizens were also swept up in mass deportations during "Operation Wetback Yes That's The Real Racist Name" in the 1950s -- a questionably legal deportation program Donald Trump praised and wanted to emulate (though not by name) during the 2016 campaign. Now, maybe he'll use the name. And the fuckuppery has continued through the present day. Between 2003 and 2010, some 20,000 American citizens have been detained by Homeland Security, and some were actually deported.
There's little reason to think the Trump administration has improved, particularly under the current push to deport everyone. In March, a nine-year-old girl was detained 30 hours while Border Patrol officers "verified" her identity. Julia Medina and her 14-year old brother Oscar are US citizens, although they live with their mother in Tijuana; the kids attend school in the US. The kids were detained while crossing at the San Ysidro port of entry, which used to be a thing that thousands of people did as a matter of course; agents thought Julia didn't look enough like the photo on her passport card, and accused her of being her own cousin instead. So of course that took over 30 hours to figure out. "I was all alone," she sobbed afterwards, and we would like to know where and how she was held.
The agents also threatened to charge Oscar with sex trafficking for bringing his sister across the border, and coerced him to sign a document saying she was actually his cousin. Again, both kids are US citizens. That story has gotten renewed press coverage in the wake of Francisco Galicia's near-deportation. Lucky kids! Their ordeal only took a day and a half, not a month!
We're Separating Families Again, Because Toddlers Threaten National Security
Last Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on migrant family separations, which have continued despite the official "end" of the policy in June of 2018. Ted Lieu (D-California) asked CBP's chief of law enforcement operations Brian Hastings to comment on the practice, noting the case of a three-year-old girl named Sofi, who crossed the border with her grandmother at the El Paso port of entry on June 20, 2018, the day Donald Trump signed the executive order ending his own family separation policy. Even though her grandmother had crossed legally to request asylum and had Mexican guardianship documents and a birth certificate for Sofi, the girl was taken away from her two days later -- yes, after the "end" of family separation -- and kept from her family for seven weeks. She was finally returned to her mother, who was already in the US, in August 2018.
Ted Lieu wanted to know why any of that was necessary. Are three-year-olds and their asylum-seeking grandmothers a criminal or national security threat? Hastings wasn't quite willing to say that definitively.
WATCH: Rep. Lieu grills CBP official on whether migrant toddler is national security threat www.youtube.com
Lieu: Sofi is not a criminal or a national security threat to the United States as a 3-year-old, correct?
Hastings: I don't know the background in this case, sir.
Lieu: Do you know any 3-year-olds that are criminal or national security threats to the United States?
Hastings: No, I don't.
Lieu: Sophie's grandmother was not a national security or criminal threat to the United States, correct?
Hastings: I don't know—again, I don't know the background of what her grandmother or relatives were.
Lieu then showed a second video from last year, this one showing another 3-year-old, struggling to get away from his mother after having been separated from his parents for over three months. (The ACLU has more on that case here.) Lieu mentioned last year's statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, warning that family separation is likely to cause lifelong trauma for very young children. Lieu noted Hastings hadn't heard of it, or of the extensive research behind it -- why would he! -- but Department of Health and Human Services Commander Jonathan White had, and said, yes, he agrees. But HHS is still operating baby jails that are holding children far longer than the department's own guidelines, oh well.
Then Hastings just flat-out lied (or was very badly informed) about Francisco Galicia, claiming Galicia had been held so long because he told Border Patrol officers he was a Mexican national and never once mentioned his US citizenship. That rather ignores the fact that Galicia showed officers his birth certificate, Social Security card, and Texas ID. Except, oops, DHS has alleged all along that Galicia's real documents were fake, and his claims of citizenship were fraudulent.
Also during the hearing, Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler got Hastings to admit CBP never bothered to keep records that would allow for reunification of children with deported parents, because that wasn't CBP's job. Permanent separation? Sure, maybe; you'd have to ask someone else.
Stephen Miller Wants More Central Americans Dead, And He Wants It Now
NBC News has obtained emails indicating Trump immigration Obersturmbannführer Stephen Miller is pushing for more initial asylum screenings to be done by Border Patrol agents instead of dedicated asylum officers, with the goal of cutting off the asylum process before it gets started. To get a full asylum hearing, applicants must first show a "credible fear" of persecution, death, or torture in their home country, and Miller thinks most career asylum officers are entirely too credulous when it comes to finding people's fears credible. Judge Dredd is definitely the model here.
An email from an unidentified National Security Council official ordered Border Patrol honchos to come to Washington prepared to show numbers proving that CBP agents trained to do screenings approved fewer "credible fear" screenings.
The official went on to say in the email [...] that "(Miller) might press for an answer on when the (asylum) officers will no longer be looking over the shoulders of agents."
One current and one former DHS official, both speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Miller has long seen asylum officers as soft and believes border agents would be tougher critics of asylum seekers.
The NSC official who sent the email also summed up how the White House now treats asylum: not as a process for saving lives, but as a labyrinth designed to keep Those People out of America forever:
My mantra has persistently been presenting aliens with multiple unsolvable dilemmas to impact their calculus for choosing to make the arduous journey to begin with.
That's our roundup of border horror, and gosh, we didn't even have space to discuss the brand new "agreement" Trump has imposed on Guatemala aimed at designating that country -- one of the places people are fleeing -- as a "safe third country" to take in asylum seekers. That's an essential part of Trump's latest effort to end asylum, even though a Guatemalan court held the outgoing president couldn't sign such a pact without legislative approval. Stupid courts in both countries, we should get rid of 'em all.
Yr Wonkette is supported entirely by reader donations. Please send us money so we can keep you on top of all this shit.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.