Even as the Obama administration takes steps to protect transgender children in schools and provide access to health care for trans people, the President’s illiberal approach to immigration continues to affect trans women in predictable and violent ways. As accolades were heaped on the administration from transgender advocates, the administration announced the creation of a new detention facility designed to hold trans detainees in Alvarado, Texas. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a 36 bed enclave in the 700 bed facility that will be dedicated to trans detainees and will, in the words of ICE, operate along the most advanced lines of transgender care.
It was less than 100 years ago that “No Irish Need Apply” signs were in job windows. Today, the Irish are thoroughly assimilated into the mainstream of American culture and St. Patrick’s day is a great day to remember the contributions of Irish-Americans to the U.S. Anyone who knows me knows that two things I care about immensely are immigration and the U.S. Civil War. When those topics come together, I am in nerd heaven.
Our client of the month for March 2016 is Mekonnen Firew. Mekonnen and his wife Hanna are two of the strongest, most resilient people we have ever worked with at Benach Collopy. They fled Ethiopia in fear for their lives after suffering horrific violence at the hands of the Ethiopian government, who wrongfully believed them to be working with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) because of their Oromo ethnicity.
Let’s start here: Donald Trump is an abomination. From his slander of Mexicans as rapists to the violence he incites and tolerates at his rallies to his latest outrages of suggesting a database and a ban on admission of Muslims to the United States, there is no public figure more odious or contemptible than Donald Trump. And he is a danger. He incites people to violence, encourages hate and discrimination, and generally contributes to the dumbing down of our culture.
Yesterday, several prominent House Democrats called on the administration to end family detention. Organized by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, the Democrats decried the Obama administration’s detention of women and children fleeing violence in Central America. From the creating of a truncated form of due process in refugee protection to a novel interpretation of bond eligibility to conditions which have caused serious illnesses in the children being jailed by the administration, the entire experience of the gulag archipelago of detention centers was designed not to follow the law and protect asylum-seekers, but as a means of deterrence to other potential refugees.
Once a year immigration attorneys from all over the country march to Washington, D.C. to meet with their elected officials and to encourage them to take action toward fixing this country’s broken immigration system. The event is organized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is appropriately called the National Day of Action. This year, one of the issues we put on the list of things to discuss is family detention.
In December, the U.S. Senate confirmed Sarah Saldaña to be the first Hispanic woman to lead Immigration & Customs Enforcement. It was an exciting moment in immigration politics. Political paralysis had doomed immigration reform by Congress. The Morton era at ICE had produced record levels of deportation. Young undocumented immigrants forced the President to acknowledge them and enact DACA, which proved wildly successful. In response to the failure of Congress to enact reform, the President announced his executive actions to shield many millions from the threat of removal.
Artesia. Karnes. Dilley. Before the administration decided it would be a great idea to lock up Central American women and children fleeing from persecution, these towns were unknown. Artesia was the hometown of our government’s rejuvenation of family detention. The makeshift facility, warmly referred to by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) as the Artesia Family Residential Center, was the hub of so many human rights violations that it was ultimately shut down.
At a time of year when we honor togetherness and fresh starts, we are comforted to know that Benach Collopy clients, Kira and her four-year-old son Ricky, have finally been granted asylum and are reunited with their husband/father, Andre, here in the United States.* This family of faith was torn apart by targeted and systematic violence at the hands of the M-18 gang, the de facto government in Guatemala, all because they preached about peace and encouraged non-violence in their community – in the eyes of the M-18, a message of disloyalty and dissidence that needed to be eradicated.
Our Client of the Month for September 2014 is Abdul Hamid. On July 31, 2014, Mr. Hamid walked out of the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia and tasted freedom for the first time in more than 15 months. Stewart, an immigration detention center brought to you by the friendly folks at Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), is straight out of George Orwell. Along with the high fences and rolls of concertina wire are guards in crisp blue uniforms and inspirational posters on the walls lauding the CCA’s role in “serving America’s detention needs” and “leading the way in quality correctional care.” Not making this up.