For Immediate Release
Contact: B. Loewe, 773.791.4668, bloewe@mijente.net

April 20, 2016

In this morning's paper, the New York Times' editorial board turned to the on-going crisis in immigration enforcement, highlighting the cases of high school students raided by ICE in Operation Border Guardian, and declaring that the Administration "while fighting to protect a humane immigration policy in the Supreme Court, should work just as hard to protect the lives of traumatized migrants..."

Lost in the hubbub is a parallel struggle, taking place far from Washington, in places like Georgia and North Carolina. It involves the administration’s efforts to crack down on recent migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala...

In a country that has been losing its bearings on immigration, this effort taints all who touch it, from the ICE director, Sarah Saldaña, to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, to President Obama himself...

While legal advocates have been scrambling, ICE has been running amok, raiding homes and public spaces in search of deportable youths. In North Carolina and Georgia, where organized advocacy is sparse, the dragnet has been unusually aggressive. Agents seized students at home and on their way to school....

The administration, while fighting to protect a humane immigration policy in the Supreme Court, should work just as hard to protect the lives of traumatized migrants. Instead, it has been placing them in misery and peril.

The editorial cites by name the cases of students in North Carolina and Georgia who are still being held in detention. While a court ordered bond for one student, Kimberly Pineda-Chavez, ICE deported another just last week and the fate of the remaining eight remains uncertain.

While the editorial cites both Democratic candidates future pledges to not deport children, the students' loved ones and broader community are calling on them, specifically candidate Clinton, to make that pledge real by doing all in her power for these specific students in the present moment. A petition to Sec. Clinton is here.

Advocates working the cases responded to the editorial:

  • Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR): “The New York Times editorial confirms what the community has long known, the Georgia ICE Field Office is out of control and is one of the most aggressive in the country. These students should be released immediately and all ICE raids should be called into question."
  • Elisa Benitez, organizer with Alerta Migratoria: "ICE has shown us time and time again that they will do everything and anything to keep Central American refugee youths unjustly detained. We call for the immediate release of all detained Central American youth, as they should be in school and with their families."
  • Alice Dominguez, High School English Teacher, Durham, NC and member of Durham Association of Educators: “Our youth belong in our schools and community, not in jail cells in Georgia. All students in our classrooms, documented and undocumented, are impacted by the threats that ICE raids represent in our communities. A young person cannot thrive in the midst of trauma or the constant threat of deportation. We need to spend our resources educating and encouraging our students, not traumatizing and incarcerating them."
  • Julie Mao, Enforcement Fellow with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild: “This editorial reflects the strong, national consensus that ICE should release these Georgia and North Carolina youth and end Operation Border Guardian, a misguided program which has caused deep upheaval and crisis in Latino communities and across school systems. It’s time that this Administration stop providing cover for ICE misconduct and start demanding accountability.”

Today at 10:30am, family members of the raided students and advocates and experts will be testifying to their treatment and lack of accountability at ICE in a Congressional Briefing. Details below.

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Accountability and Oversight in Immigration Enforcement Congressional Briefing

Responsiveness to congressional and public inquiries on deportation and detention practices by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Date: Wednesday April 20, 2016
Time: 10:30-11:30 AM
Place: Cannon Building, Room 5G

Summary:

Around the country there are community advocacy organizations, labor rights groups, and legal advocates who work closely with local elected officials to monitor the tactics and practices used to enforce immigration law in their local communities. Since the changes to immigration enforcement announced on November 20, 2014 took place, these advocates and members of the public have identified that ICE has become increasingly closed off from intervention, refusing to listen or respond even to inquiries made by members of congress. This is particularly troublesome for communities who are reporting civil rights violations by enforcement officers, in addition to inconsistencies in the application of DHS prosecutorial discretion guidelines. Presenters from North Carolina, Phoenix, Philadelphia as well as those working nationally will address questions of oversight and accountability of ICE officers, specifically when it comes to implementing DHS policies, and what resources communities have when ICE continues to act as a rogue agency.

Speakers:

Jovanna Renteria, Puente Human Rights Movement (Phoenix, Arizona)
Julie Mao, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer's Guild (Washington, D.C.)
Neidi Dominguez, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (Washington, D.C.)
Erika Almiron, Juntos Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Jacinta Gonzalez, Mijente / Not1More Campaign (National)
Family of Yefri Sorto-Hernandez and delegation of Durham, North Carolina school teachers (Durham, North Carolina)
Tania Unzueta, Mijente / Not1More Campaign (Moderator)