“Laurie Elkin and Justin Mulaire, two federal employees who were detailed to the Fort Bliss emergency intake shelter near El Paso, Texas, filed a whistleblower complaint to Congress alleging they witnessed intolerable noise, filth, and odors inside the large tents where children are housed; contractors who were unqualified to work with youths; and hostility, indifference, and resistance to providing medical treatment to sick kids.”
“Elkin and Mulaire say they were repeatedly ignored or discouraged by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) superiors when they tried to report the substandard conditions and care children were living under.
The allegations track closely with reporting from Reason and other outlets from earlier this year describing unsanitary conditions and poor care for children housed in the shelter.”
“The total number of migrant minors being held by the U.S. government has waned, from more than 20,000 to roughly 14,500, according to the latest numbers from HHS.”
“In theory, these sites, run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are a way station for kids who are waiting to be reunited with relatives or other connections in the U.S. In fact, staffing problems and other issues left many kids stuck in limbo for up to a month or more in conditions that federal whistleblowers, lawyers, and the children themselves have described as filthy and chaotic.
“For months, the children we have met with at the EISs have shared one horror story after the next,” Leecia Welch, senior director of child welfare and legal advocacy at the National Center for Youth Law, said in a press release. “Children have described spending the bulk of the day on or around their cots crammed in massive tents with hundreds of other children, suffering escalating anxiety attacks from the stress of the harsh EIS environment, going weeks without clean clothes or underwear, and spending months without going outside for some fresh air. While some of the unsafe EIS facilities have been closed, mega tent encampments and mining mancamp sites like Fort Bliss and Pecos remain open with no end in sight.””
“It would be a false equivalence to say that all approaches to family separation are equally illiberal. “Obama did absolutely separate children,” Nowrasteh says. “That’s absolutely true, and Biden’s going to do it too. He’s probably already doing it in some cases that are unjust. But the difference was that the Trump administration did it systematically to basically everyone.”
Still, a return to the status quo ante is only an improvement when compared to a policy like zero tolerance. Biden promised he’d be better on immigration—not just better than Trump but also better than his former boss. In many ways, he has yet to deliver on that promise.”
“China has criticized Britain for opening its doors in this way, but the U.K. deserves praise for acting quickly and decisively in defense of freedom. Bloomberg’s reporting certainly suggests that demand is surging for this escape route.
It is shameful that America has not stepped up to do something similar.
Hongkongers currently have few options for coming to America. They can seek political asylum in the United States—and an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in July does reserve more spots on the refugee list for people fleeing Hong Kong—but to claim asylum one must be physically present in the United States. That, in turn, requires having another type of visa in order to get on a plane across the Pacific. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has slashed the number of political refugees the country will accept: just 15,000 during the current fiscal year, down from 85,000 in 2016.
Britain issued nearly four times as many BNOs to Hongkongers in October as the number of refugees America will accept from the entire world this year.
What could America do instead? Some members of Congress have proposed a bill to automatically grant asylum to any resident of Hong Kong who arrives in the United States and to exempt those numbers from the official refugee counts set by the White House. A more robust idea, proposed by Matt Yglesias in May, would be to grant a special visa allowing Hongkongers to settle in American counties where the population is shrinking, with permanent residency granted after five years.”
“ProPublica interviewed 15 teenagers and young adults in Bensenville alone who said they work or have worked as minors inside more than two dozen factories, warehouses and food processing facilities in the Chicago suburbs, usually through temporary staffing agencies, and nearly all in situations where federal and state child labor laws would explicitly prohibit their employment.
Though most of the teens interviewed for this story are now 18, they agreed to speak on the condition that they not be fully identified and that their employers not be named because they feared losing their jobs, harming their immigration cases or facing criminal penalties.
Some began to work when they were just 13 or 14, packing the candy you find by the supermarket register, cutting the slabs of raw meat that end up in your freezer and baking, in industrial ovens, the pastries you eat with your coffee. Garcia, who is 18 now, was 15 when he got his first job at an automotive parts factory.”
“The teenagers use fake IDs to get the jobs through temporary staffing agencies that recruit immigrants and, knowingly or not, accept the papers they are handed.”
“Before they disappeared into crowded assembly lines, the young Guatemalan immigrants in Bensenville arrived in the United States as part of a new wave of young Central American asylum-seekers who have captured the nation’s attention in recent years.
Many of them passed through the federal network of shelters for unaccompanied immigrant minors that came under scrutiny in 2018 during the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents. As they waited weeks or months to be released to sponsors, they grew anxious about their mounting immigration debts, desperate to get out and work so their relatives back home didn’t suffer the consequences of a loan default.
“Honestly, I think almost everyone in the system knows that most of the teens are coming to work and send money back home,” said Maria Woltjen, executive director and founder of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, a national organization that advocates for immigrant children in court. “They want to help their parents.””
“Given just how secretive ICE is, Clusiau and Schwarz pulled off a small miracle by using their pre-existing relationship with an ICE spokesperson to embed themselves in the agency just when President Donald Trump assumed office. For the next three years, they followed ICE around the country, from New York to Texas to Arizona, watching agents conduct raids, debate enforcement tactics, and plot media strategy while blithely upending—and ending—lives.
The documentary, whose more incriminatory parts the Trump administration tried to suppress, opens with a pre-dawn ICE raid on undocumented immigrants in New York. The raid marks the first day of the weeklong Operation Keep Safe—whose actual purpose, contrary to its name, was to instill fear. One ICE agent gushes as he gets ready for action: “I love my job.” A Hispanic agent, on the first day of his job, is giddy: “It’s Christmas for us.” Another exults that the change of administration means “it’s a different world now” where the “floodgates have opened.”
But who exactly is getting sucked in? Not folks with serious criminal histories. ICE’s own records show that only 13 of the 225 people arrested during that operation had serious crimes on their record. The vast majority of those arrested either had committed minor misdemeanors, such as DUIs, or were that unfortunate breed called “collaterals.”
Collaterals are undocumented people who have committed only visa violations—akin to speeding in a rational world—but happened to be in the vicinity when ICE came looking for someone else. If any agent has qualms about going after them, those reservations dissolve as the pressure of filling arrest quotas kicks in. ICE agent Brian’s experience makes this abundantly clear. Just when he was expressing his distaste for the practice, he got a call from his supervisor, who tells him “I don’t care what you do” just “get me two” arrests.”
“what’s jaw-dropping is to watch ICE agents openly bend and break the rule of law in the name of…enforcing the rule of law.”
“By law, ICE agents can’t enter and arrest until they are asked in. So how did they obtain an invitation? By lying and identifying themselves as police. If someone protested on seeing who they really were, the reaction essentially was “Tricked ya!”. The agents then calmly go about the grim business of handcuffing dazed fathers (and sometimes moms) while ignoring the pleas of their shell-shocked spouses and wailing children.”
“ICE and its sister agencies terrorize immigrants not just through its enforcement squads and detention camps, but by weaponizing its bureaucracy.
In recent days, reports have surfaced that immigration authorities—in an administration allegedly dedicated to slashing red tape—have quietly adopted a no-blanks policy that rejects visa applications if any part of a form is left unfilled. If someone does not have a middle name and skips that line, their petition gets thrown out. Ditto if they leave out the apartment number because they live in a house. The strategy is to make the process so hard for people who are trying to do it by the book that they abandon their quest to live in the United States.”
“One of the most heart-wrenching stories in Immigration Nation shows how the immigration bureaucracy chews up and spits out Carlos Perez. As a police officer in El Salvador, he offered intel on Salvadoran gangs to the New York Police Department. When the gangs found out, he and his wife fled, at one point swimming across a river with their two toddlers strapped to their backs. The precise details are a bit fuzzy, but it seems Perez sought asylum and was released into the country with work authorization, which he dutifully renewed on a regular basis. But his lawyer forgot to file a formal petition—something that occasionally happens because these migrants are too poor to buy quality representation and don’t have the language skills to navigate the byzantine system themselves. Many years later, when ICE realized this, it took Perez into custody. And after some months, ignoring his pleas that he’ll be killed if he returns home, sends him packing back. The fact that he had risked his life to help American law enforcement counted for nothing against his trivial lapse in paperwork.
At one point, we see him calling his family from a detention camp prior to deportation. He poignantly gives his son, a teenager who has to prematurely step into his dad’s shoes, instructions on making car payments and other such business. The ICE supervisor, who had total discretion over Perez’s fate, admits that Perez was trying to play by the rules. But in the end, he says, he gets “an inherent kind of satisfaction—I won’t say ‘joy’—in removing people who don’t belong in the country regardless of public sentiment.”
After Perez’s deportation, his son drops out of school, cashes in his meager savings, and tries to support the family. “I’ve lost all faith in the U.S. government,” he mourns.”
“And then there is the 63-year-old Guatemalan woman—petite, frail, terrified, and the furthest thing from a threat to the United States—who fled her country with her 12-year-old granddaughter. According the grandmother, an MS-13 gang member took a fancy to the preteen and demanded that grandma let him marry her or he’d kill them both. The two traveled for 10 days by land to reach the U.S. border and immediately turned themselves in at a port of entry, exactly as legally required. The granddaughter was released from detention after two months to join her mom, who lives in the U.S. The grandmother, however, was held in detention for 17 months—illegally, her lawyer claims, since she met the test for being released into the country while her asylum petition was considered. But she was a pawn in the Trump administration’s deterrence game, so the rules didn’t matter.
Her petition was eventually rejected. Before her lawyer could file an emergency appeal—as is perfectly in keeping with the rules—she was deported in the dead of the night. She wasn’t even allowed a phone call to bid her granddaughter good-bye.”
“Story after story in Immigration Nation shows how the government systematically games and breaks the rules to keep immigrants out. Yet one ICE agent smugly tells unauthorized immigrants, as he leads them to the bridge back to Mexico, to “try to do it the right way” next time, because, the right way is “always the best way.” He seems oblivious to the fact that even before Trump arrived on the scene and gutted legal immigration, few options to come in the “right way” existed for low-skilled migrants: Every administration since President Lyndon Johnson has been slamming doors in their faces.”
“In a recent short video for PragerU, Anna Paulina Luna, a Republican running for Congress in Florida, suggested that one third of the immigrant kids coming over our southern border are being sex trafficked.
She said it in a kind of garbled way—conflating the fact that some kids aren’t related to their smugglers, with the fact that “sex trafficking exists”—but her conclusion was clear: Separating kids from the adults bringing them over the border is for their own protection, because otherwise they are being sold into prostitution.
This notion is preposterous”
“in 2018, the government started doing DNA tests on a limited group of people crossing the border who had aroused particular suspicion. “It wasn’t a random sample of people coming over the border,” she says.
Indeed, many of them were not related to the people they said were their relatives. But that was only a small subset of migrants, and the results were neither surprising nor damning. Unrelated groups often cross the border together, because many times the biological parent is already in the U.S. They left their child behind to be raised by an aunt or grandma until the child was old enough to come over, or the parent was well-established enough to provide them a decent home. The parent then pays for the child’s passage north. Maybe the child is accompanied by an aunt, or even a neighbor who is also migrating. This person might lie about their relationship to the child, but that doesn’t mean their true purpose is sex trafficking.”
“In any case, the government has currently come up with a new excuse for separating children and sending them back across the border: COVID-19. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the feds are deporting hundreds of migrant kids and teens without any chance to plead their case. The government is citing a 1944 law that lists disease-prevention as a reason to bar foreigners from entering the country, but many of these kids were already here when the pandemic began.”