Gabe Ortiz

These local agreements between ICE and sheriffs continue to terrorize immigrant communities

Maira Oviedo-Granados, an asylum-seeker living in Knoxville, Tennessee, dialed 911 for help when a jealous and previously violent boyfriend tried to attack her on Nov. 7, 2020. She managed to lock herself and her three children in a bedroom as she told the operator through an interpreter that he was armed.

The operator asked if the boyfriend had struck her. "Interpreter on behalf of Oviedo-Granados: 'No, not the kids, but he has me,'" Knox News reports. She told the operator he hadn't hit her at that time because a friend was there. But once officers arrived, it was Oviedo-Granados who was eventually detained under a flawed, racist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program. She's now suing.

That program, 287(g), allows local law enforcement to act as mass deportation agents. ICE purports that the policy serves "tremendous benefit to public safety," when it actually does the exact opposite, harming people like Oviedo-Granados.

She was initially detained after her boyfriend, an Anglophone, claimed she hit him. WBIR reports a judge dismissed that charge after reading the 911 transcript. Knox News reports Oviedo-Granados would be "separated from her three children from November 2020 through early January, mostly inside a detention facility in Louisiana, causing severe trauma, according to the lawsuit." She should not have been targeted in the first place, with a pending asylum claim.

"For years, immigrant activists said 287(g) would make residents less safe because they'd be afraid to call 911," tweeted Knox News reporter Tyler Whetstone. But sheriffs "dismissed this fear." Knox News additionally reports that the sheriff's 287(g) agreement might have been unlawfully implemented, because these agreements first require local approval. "Here that would mean the Knox County Commission. The commission never approved it."

287(g) agreements across the country shouldn't exist period, having resulted in "widespread" racial profiling in addition to family separation, the American Immigration Council has said. The group's report said a Justice Department investigation "found that deputies of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio routinely conducted 'sweeps' in Latino neighborhoods, and that Latino drivers in certain parts of Maricopa County were up to nine times more likely to be stopped than non-Latino drivers. Following the investigation, the Obama administration terminated Maricopa County's 287(g) agreement."

The Immigrant Defense Project's ICE Out of Courts Coalition said in 2019 that it had found a nearly 80% surge in abusers weaponizing ICE against their victims, in yet another reason to end these agreements (and the agency itself). While President Joe Biden campaigned on ending 287(g) agreements implemented by the previous administration, "the promise remains unfulfilled," Immigration Impact said in June. Biden's nominee to officially lead ICE, Texas Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, would the next month say that it would "not be [his] intent to end the policy," calling his own decision to terminate his agreement a "local decision."

Dozens of House Democrats have previously joined immigrant rights advocates in urging an end to the policies, saying they "turn local law enforcement agencies into a gateway to deportation." The Biden administration should listen. "People should not risk being jailed or criminalized for seeking help," the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted in response to Oviedo-Granados' story. "The 287(g) immigration programs are ineffective, outdated, and wrong. They must end immediately."

Federal investigation finds a key part of the 2020 Republican National Convention was illegal

Remember back in August 2020 when former unlawfully appointed acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf presided over a political stunt that used immigrants as human props as part of an effort to reelect the previous president? A number of the immigrants who were sworn in as U.S. citizens in that White House naturalization ceremony would later say they weren't informed prior to the stunt that it would be broadcast as part of the Republican National Convention.

Plenty of experts at the time said it was a corrupt and illegal act. We didn't need an official investigation to figure that out. It was right there in front of our eyes. But we do have one now.

Daily Kos' Mark Sumner reported on Wednesday that the Office of Special Counsel has determined that at least 13 officials with the previous administration violated the Hatch Act, "illegally mixing campaign and government events." Among those named is, unsurprisingly, Unlawful Chad. The Office of Special Counsel said in the report that the administration had been warned repeatedly that such an event would be unlawful. The stunt went on anyway.

"As late as 10 a.m.on the morning of the ceremony—just 45 minutes prior to the event—the DHS ethics official emailed DHS leadership, including the [DHS General Counsel] stating that Acting Secretary Wolf should not participate in the ceremony." Unlawful Chad feigned ignorance in his written statement to the Office of Special Counsel, claiming he "did not know whether video of the ceremony was going to be made publicly available or that it would be used at the Republican National Convention."

"Although the OSC could not prove that Wolf knew the ceremony would be part of the convention, it makes very clear that Wolf would have been hard-pressed not to know that," noted The Washington Post's Philip Bump. The Office of Special Counsel does note that "circumstantial evidence strongly supports the conclusion that he knew, or should have known, of its intended use by the White House."

Why are we giving crooks the benefit of the doubt anyway? This would not be the only time Unlawful Chad would corruptly use his (unlawfully appointed) office to campaign for the previous president, basically carrying out a tour in the final days leading into the 2020 election. In Arizona, he falsely claimed the inhumane and unlawful Reman in Mexico policy created "a safer and more orderly process along the Southwest border." Human rights advocates have documented the policy, which resulted in over 1,500 instances of violence against asylum-seekers. In Texas, Unlawful Chad held a campaign event next to updated border wall. That was just five days before Election Day, Border Report said.

"Taken together, the report concludes that the violations demonstrate both a willingness by some in the Trump administration to leverage the power of the executive branch to promote President Trump's reelection and the limits of OSC's enforcement power," the Office of Special Counsel said in a release. None of this even gets into how the previous administration used the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ceremony for this political stunt after spending years decimating the office.

Following the previous president's electoral defeat, USCIS was reportedly among the agencies forbidden from having any contact with President Joe Biden's transition team. It would not be until Biden's administration that USCIS would have a Senate-confirmed director for the first time in two years.

One other character found to have violated the Hatch Act is former aide and noted white supremacist Stephen Miller, who during a media appearance "mocked candidate Biden as being under the control of '23-year-old' campaign staff." It's a scant mention in the report for someone who was the architect of some of our nation's most inhumane immigration policies—and has never been held accountable for it. And likely will never be. "I think Stephen Miller should be behind bars," Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar said earlier this year. Instead, there's an active campaign to block any justice for separated families.

GOP governors ignore COVID-19 cases in their states to join Greg Abbott for yet another border stunt

Republican governors whose states continue to be hard hit by COVID-19 infections have been diligently working … at demonizing asylum-seekers at the southern border. Nine right-wing governors joined Gov. Greg Abbott for a photo op in south Texas on Wednesday. There, they were armed "with an array of military vehicles in the background," USA Today reported. And they used the stunt to push the usual xenophobic bullshit demonizing children and families who've sought safety at our border.

"The crisis on the southern border, in many ways, is a war," later claimed Kristi Noem, Republican governor of noted southern border state South Dakota. She added that's why she "sent our National Guard to help secure it." But that move, much like her appearance at the border this week, was also a stunt. Meanwhile, Idaho's Gov. Brad Little complained in a press release that President Joe Biden had refused to meet with him and other Republicans. I can't imagine why in the world the president would ever refuse to meet with Idaho about the southern border.

Meanwhile, South Dakota has seen an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Valley News Live reported. In Idaho, "the coronavirus took the life of a member of the lieutenant governor's education task force that examined supposed indoctrination in Idaho schools over the summer," Idaho Statesman reported on Thursday. The report said that the state surpassed 3,000 deaths this week.

"The cynicism of this ploy couldn't be more obvious," immigrant rights advocacy group America's Voice said in a statement. "They deny and dismiss the ravages of COVID-19. They want to distract from their failure to protect their state's residents. So they fly to Texas to stage a PR stunt for the Fox News cameras. Meanwhile, COVID runs wild in their states with transmission rates being some of the highest in the country."

It's also bad-faith ploy from leaders who've made their xenophobic stances crystal-clear. The office of Nebraska's Gov. Pete Ricketts was forced to clarify remarks he made earlier this year claiming that undocumented workers at the state's meatpacking plants wouldn't be eligible for the vaccine because they don't work there. Oh, plenty do. Iowa's Gov. Kim Reynolds, meanwhile, has spread the "immigrants bring disease" lie, claiming that "[p]art of the problem is the southern border is open and we've got 88 countries that are coming across the border and they don't have vaccines," NBC News reported in July.

This is a racist trope most recently debunked by Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president. "When you have 700,000 Americans dead and millions and millions and millions of Americans getting infected, you don't want to look outside to the problem. The problem is within our own country," he said during a CNN interview last weekend. "Certainly immigrants can get infected, but they're not the driving force of this, let's face reality here." When asked if there was any truth to polling results finding 55% of Republicans believe that immigrants are to blame for infections, Fauci replied, "No, absolutely not."

Meanwhile, what gets too often ignored are the abuses facing Black asylum-seekers and migrants in particular. Just days ago, nine Black immigrants filed a civil rights complaint over dangerous conditions while in federal immigration custody. That's a humanitarian crisis. But you didn't hear calls urging their release during this stunt at the border this week. "Whether DHS's violence is highly public at the border, or behind closed doors in detention, we understand how devastating interacting with DHS can be for Black immigrants," said UndocuBlack Network Interim Policy and Advocacy Director Breanne Palmer.

"Gov. Abbott and the rest of the governors stuffed in the Republican clown car haven't taken COVID seriously since the pandemic began. Their goal is not to protect human life but to stir up racial animus," said Mario Carrillo, Texas-based campaigns manager for America's Voice. "Instead of promoting measures to help their citizens protect themselves from the pandemic, these governors are scapegoating immigrants and politicizing public health. They are putting the health of their political careers ahead of the health of their citizens."

Carrillo also called out GOP officials for complaining plenty but having no humane or good-faith solutions charted out. "Republicans are completely uninterested in working on a bipartisan basis to constructively solve the challenges with a broken immigration system," he continued. "The governors' press conference today is more proof that for Republicans the border is all about politics, not substance."

'Defies common decency': Schumer calls on Biden admin to halt Haitian deportations, end Title 42

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer forcefully condemned the Biden administration's mass deportation of Haitian asylum-seekers and migrants, as well as its continued use of the previous administration's scientifically unsound and unlawful anti-asylum Title 42 policy. The speech, delivered from the Senate chamber on Tuesday, represents one of the most significant criticisms of the administration's actions yet.

"Right now, I am told there are four flights scheduled to deport these asylum seekers back to a country that cannot receive them. Such a decision defies common sense. It also defies common decency," Schumer said. Per CBS News, the Biden administration deported 523 Haitians on those four deportation flights, with another four scheduled for Wednesday.

Haitian asylum-seekers have been among the at least 700,000 people deported by the Biden administration under the anti-asylum Title 42 policy, revealed last October to have been implemented under political pressure by the previous administration. "The top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doctor who oversees these types of orders had refused to comply with a Trump administration directive saying there was no valid public health reason to issue it," the Associated Press reported.

Despite this fact, the Biden administration announced in August it was continuing the flawed policy. To the dismay of asylum-seekers, their advocates, and all who believe in U.S. asylum law, the administration last week appealed a court decision that had ordered it to stop using the policy to deport families. In his remarks on Tuesday, Schumer joined the chorus of voices urging the administration to respect the U.S. asylum rights of vulnerable people and end the policy once and for all.

"I urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these expulsions and to end this Title 42 policy at our southern border," Schumer said. "We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws. We must allow asylum seekers to present their claims at our ports of entry and be afforded due process."

Schumer also condemned racist abuse committed by border agents, saying "[w]e've all seen these horrible images coming from our southern border as Haitian asylum-seekers—simply looking to escape tyranny and the problems that they have in their country—have been met at our doorstep with unimaginable indignity. Images of Haitian migrants being hit with whips and other forms of physical violence is completely unacceptable. This behavior must be addressed and we must provide accountability. The images turn your stomach. It must be stopped, this kind of violence."

So must the deportations and Title 42. "First, the facts. Haitians, like all people, have a legal right to seek asylum in the United States," UndocuBlack Network co-director Patrice Lawrence wrote on CNN. "What should the United States do? It should honor the law on asylum and allow these migrants to exercise their rights. The United States has the tools to ensure an orderly and fair process to determine each asylum seeker's case. We have done this before: From 1980 to 1990, the United States processed more than 100,000 Cubans seeking safety during the Mariel boatlift. And this was done under a Republican administration."

"The moral argument is even clearer," Lawrence continued. "Haitians have gone through tremendous hardship and are asking only for the opportunity to exercise their right to seek asylum. Groups like Haitian Bridge Alliance stand ready to assist those seeking safety, as do dozens of religious and non-religious community partners."

Dozens of lawmakers led by House Haiti Caucus co-chair Ayanna Pressley and Rep. Nydia Velázquez have previously called on the Biden administration to halt Haitian deportations, writing that the nation's "ability to safely receive its citizens will take months, if not years, to secure." Like Lawrence noted, the Biden administration acknowledged that in designating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status earlier this year. The Biden administration should be respecting the fundamental asylum rights of Haitians, not deporting them back to harm and unsafe conditions.

"I commit to work with this administration to providing the resources so that we can establish safe, orderly, and humane processes for those seeking protection," Schumer concluded in his remarks. "Again, the policies that are being enacted now—and the horrible treatment of these innocent people who have come to the border—must stop immediately."

Fox News has been setting up a new 'Big Lie' in case the GOP loses California's recall race

More recent polling indicates that California Gov. Gavin Newsom may survive the GOP recall and block the ascendance of a know-nothing radio show host who once served as a mentor to a young Stephen Miller. No matter what the polling says, the fact is that Larry Elder poses an existential threat to the state (and nation), and Californians must get out and vote no on recall.

Right-wing propagandists are also acting—but not necessarily to get out the vote. Media Matters reports that Fox News has already deployed a State Big Lie, telling its viewers that if Newsom defeats the GOP recall, it's because Democrats cheated. Within a roughly two-week period, several Fox News personalities and guests, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, "painted a lurid picture of vast election fraud in California."

Some claimants tried to be slick, like Fox News Primetime rotating host and former MTV Real World San Francisco contestant Rachel Campos-Duffy. Media Matters reported that while she brought up supposed voter fraud during an interview with Elder this week, it was to merely say that he was the one who had supposedly been concerned about it. Elder had no specific examples when prompted—of course, he didn't—but it didn't really matter. Campos-Duffy talked about it, Elder talked about it, it doesn't matter if the claims are bullshit, the job got done.

Meanwhile, others were not so slick. Media Matters reports that Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren claimed on Outnumbered that "[t]he only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud," and that "it's going to have big consequences not only for that state but for upcoming elections." Oh, so not only is there a State Big Lie, but they're going to use it to further Future Big Lies. "It's not just Tami—baseless allegations of cheating and voter fraud are all across Fox News' discussions of the CA recall, laying the conspiratorial groundwork to allege it was stolen if it doesn't go their way," tweeted Media Matters' Lis Power.

"Some in media have argued that these right-wing talking points picked up recently because the early statistics on returned ballots have indicated that Democratic voters are not sitting the election out, and therefore the groundwork must be laid for a conspiracy theory to explain a possible Republican loss," the report said. But it noted that the disgraced former House speaker and continued blowhard was pushing these lies during an Aug. 22 appearance on Sunday Morning Futures, claiming Vice President Kamala Harris is "part of raising the money to pay for the cheating. I mean, it's just that simple. It's not complicated."

That's a pretty big fucking claim, and a responsible journalist would ask for receipts. But this is Fox News, and, specifically, Maria Bartiromo. "That is so extraordinary," she responded to Gingrich. "And that is the reason we continue to focus on all of these audits going on across the country. We want fair and free elections."

Polling earlier this year showed a frighteningly tight race, with a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times finding that 50% of California voters opposed the GOP recall. One poll since then, by the Public Policy Institute of California, showed about 57% of likely voters, including 66% of likely Latino voters, opposing the GOP recall. "Democrats account for more than half of the 6.4 million ballots turned in as of Tuesday, while Republicans account for just under a quarter, according to Political Data Inc., a firm that uses state, county, and commercial data to analyze the electorate," the LA Times reported.

The report said that Democrats are also seeing "a towering advantage in money," in fact "more than three times as much as the pro-recall forces and the GOP candidates combined." That's all fine and dandy, but it's not over until it's over, and there's more work to do (even if you don't live in California) to ensure this GOP recall is defeated. Click here for both virtual and in-person get-out-the-vote opportunities. And remember, if you're an eligible California voter and haven't yet cast your ballot, vote "no" on the GOP recall.

$2 billion swindled by Trump admin for border wall construction returned to Pentagon

The Biden administration has announced that it will return more than $2 billion in funds swindled by the previous administration for its stupid border wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. In a statement Friday, the White House said "[b]uilding a massive wall that spans the entire southern border and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious policy solution or responsible use of Federal funds."

The administration said funds will be restored to dozens of projects both in the U.S. and around the world, including the Spangdahlem Elementary School in Germany. "The school, which currently supports over 600 military children, lacks proper air conditioning, plumbing, and security systems and was due for replacement when the prior administration diverted funds to the wall," the White House said.

President Biden had on Day One ordered a pause to wall construction while his administration reviewed the project, an order that some builders appeared to violate. In footage shot by Tucson Samaritans in February, bulldozers and an excavator could be seen tearing into the Pajarito Mountains in Arizona. "They're leveling mountains & destroying jaguar habitat in an apparent violation of Biden's order to halt construction," borderlands campaigner Laiken Jordahl tweeted. "@POTUS must investigate & stop this madness for good. Footage shot by Tucson Samaritans."

CNN reports that in testimony to Congress last week, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said it was in the process of cancelling nearly two dozen border wall contracts. "We have 20 contracts that we've terminated for the government's convenience," CNN reports Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon told members of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development subcommittee. "And we're in negotiations now with each of those 20 vendors to work through what those final bills will be."

The White House also said it would be using appropriated funds "to address urgent life, safety, and environmental issues" stemming from wall construction. "For instance, DHS has already started work to repair the Rio Grande Valley flood protection system that the prior administration compromised, and to remediate dangerous soil erosion due to improper soil compaction along a 14-mile wall segment in San Diego, California," the administration said.

Environmental justice organizations that have called on the administration to address environmental and wildlife issues stemming from construction (as well as called on the president to remove certain border fencing) applauded the decision. "This is a welcome, sensible next step to begin healing the devastation that Trump inflicted on the borderlands," Center for Biological Diversity Senior Policy Land Specialist Paulo Lopes told the Associated Press (AP). Nearly 70 tribal groups and environmental and civil rights organizations in February called on the Biden administration to tear down nearly 60 miles of fencing in Arizona.

But as that report also notes, "[t]he administration doesn't explicitly say it won't build any new wall." The White House in its statement called on Congress to cancel remaining funds it had previously appropriated for barrier construction. "Although most of the funds used for the border wall were diverted from other purposes, Congress provided DHS with some funding for border barrier projects. DHS is legally required to use the funds consistent with their appropriated purpose," the White House said.

CBS News further reports that about 140 eminent domain cases remain open—and the Biden administration may still proceed on a number of them. Texas Civil Rights Project, which has defended a number of landowners against seizures by the federal government, in February called on the Biden administration's Justice Department to dismiss all remaining cases.

"President Biden can permanently suspend all wall construction and order the Department of Justice to dismiss all lawsuits, return lands taken under the lawsuits, as well as cancel all contracts," the group said in Rio Grande Guardian at the time. "This is the first step to rebuild the border communities, including the Rio Grande Valley, that have been destroyed under Trump and so many other administrations."

Mobile billboard in West Virginia urges Manchin to champion Dream Act passage

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of West Virginia ran a mobile billboard outside the local offices of Sen. Joe Manchin, urging him to champion passage of the Dream Act, bipartisan legislation that would put young undocumented immigrants on a path to citizenship. In a picture tweeted by the organization, a billboard reading "Sen. Joe Manchin: Congress must act to protect Dreamers" is seen passing directly in front of one of his offices.

Advocates launched the mobile billboards as recent polling shows that majority of voters in the state—nearly two-thirds—support legalization for young undocumented immigrants. The polling further found that more than half of voters in the state also support citizenship for undocumented essential workers, with another half overall saying they believe immigrants make their state a better place to live.

"Senator Manchin recently expressed support for the Dream Act, stating that 'we have children that came here that have no other home but America. There should be a pathway for that, for our Dreamers,'" the ACLU of West Virginia said in a statement.

While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has reportedly been "actively exploring" passing immigration legislation through reconciliation, it would require approval from the chamber parliamentarian and support from a united Senate Democratic caucus, including Manchin.

For only the second time since the program's creation in 2012, beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program gathered at the White House on Friday to meet with the president. Pointing to a looming court decision that could yet again put the program at risk, the six DACA recipients shared their stories and continued pressing for urgent, permanent legislative relief for undocumented communities.

"Our lives have been in limbo for far too long," Maria Praeli said in a statement received by Daily Kos. "Every day that goes by without Congress passing permanent legislative protections—for Dreamers and DACA recipients like me, TPS holders, farmworkers, and the entire undocumented population—is a day that hurts all of us. It is incredibly painful for our individual lives, for our families who live in fear of being separated from our loved ones, and for our country every day that Congress fails to act."

Joe Arpaio's racist shenanigans to soon cost taxpayers over $200 million

The total haul that Arizona taxpayers have been forced to shell out over Joe Arpaio's racist shenanigans as former Maricopa County sheriff will total over $200 million by next year, NBC News reports. Because the department under current sheriff Paul Penzone has been deemed close to—but not quite yet 100%—compliant with the court orders stemming from Arpaio's actions, officials have had to approve another $31 million until the department has been deemed fully abiding.

NBC News reports that the $31 million tentatively approved by local officials for the next fiscal year will bring the total cost that Arpaio has forced onto taxpayers to $202 million by 2022. "Taxpayers in Arizona's most populated county are on the hook for lawyer bills and the costs of complying with massive court-ordered overhauls of the sheriff's office after a 2013 verdict concluded Arpaio's officers had profiled Latinos in traffic patrols that targeted immigrants," the report said.

Arpaio, who was convicted in 2017 of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a federal judge's order to stop racially profiling Latino drivers, lost his reelection bid to Penzone just days after being charged but has continued to remain unrepentant, the NBC News report indicates. When pressed on the hundreds of millions of dollars he has cost taxpayers, the disgraced former sheriff pointed his finger at immigrants, because that's just what racists do.

"On Monday, Arpaio said he doesn't regret carrying out the immigration patrols and contends his crackdowns still helped reduce taxpayer costs for providing education and health care to immigrants in the United States illegally," the report said. Ah, sure. Even though it was Arpaio's choices that led to local taxpayers being slapped with a $200 million dollar bill that may very well keep rising, its undocumented immigrants who are actually the ones who caused the waste. Blame them, Arpaio wants us to know.

"It's a one-side type of story they (his critics) want to push out," NBC News reports Arpaio complained. "Don't blame me for the money being spent." But, to loosely paraphrase Bette Davis as Baby Jane Hudson yelling at Joan Crawford as Blanche Hudson in the classic movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, but it is, Joe, it is your fault!

The Associated Press reported last year that the $32 million approved for the current fiscal year made it the most expensive year in the case to date. In total, tens of millions have gone to independent officials monitoring the department and legal fees (Arpaio, of course, is on the hook for none of it), and other money going to hiring qualified staff, equipment, and training on how not to be a racist stormtrooper. Arpaio in the AP report again blamed someone else for his action's astronomical costs, but this time the judge who ordered the overhaul of his department.

Arpaio belonged in jail for the untold suffering he inflicted on immigrants and people of color in Maricopa County for years—he himself referred to his infamous tent city as a "concentration camp"—but was spared punishment following a pardon from the twice-impeached former president. At least a federal judge last year refused to also throw out his guilty verdict, so there's that. Verdict or no verdict, he's a guilt mfer.

Noemi Romero, one of the countless undocumented immigrants rounded up in Arpaio's terrorizing workplace raids, wondered in 2017 where her pardon was. "[O]ne day right before my lunch break, Arpaio's Sheriff's entered the store," she wrote in a diary here on Daily Kos. "They weren't looking for me but that didn't stop them from interrogating me, arresting me, and keeping me in their jail for sixty days while I awaited a trial that resulted in me being convicted of a felony and turned over to immigration agents for deportation. Because of a local group, Puente Arizona, and the work of my community I'm still here. But because of Arpaio's profiling and campaign against our families I have this extra mark against me now."

Community advisory board member Raul Piña told NBC News that while the costs are painful, they are necessary to preserve the rights and dignity of people who have spent years being targeted in Maricopa County. And he's right—injustice must be corrected. "Of course, we are tired of paying, but if you are a Hispanic vehicle operator, you are tired of being racially profiled at the same time—and the agency isn't in a rush to stop that," he said in the report.

Nearly two-thirds of West Virginia voters support citizenship for young undocumented immigrants

A new poll commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of West Virginia found that nearly two-thirds of voters in the state support the Dream Act, which creates a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants. While Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has expressed support for legalization, he has yet to cosponsor the bipartisan legislation in the Senate or support filibuster reform that would allow it to pass with a simple majority vote.

"These findings confirm what we hear from people every day across the state: West Virginians agree with Senator Manchin that Dreamers should be able to live their lives without fear of being deported away from their families, jobs, and communities," said Jackie Lozano of the ACLU of West Virginia immigrants' rights campaign. The organization has run a mobile billboard outside Manchin's offices in the state, urging him to support the legislation.

The polling, which was conducted by YouGov for the ACLU and ACLU of West Virginia, also found that more than half of voters in the state—56%—also support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers. A majority also supported the resettlement of refugees in their communities.

"Overall, 57 percent of West Virginia voters say that immigrants make their state a better place to live, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and voters across age groups," a summary said.

While the House has passed permanent protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and other undocumented youth in the form of the Dream and Promise Act (this bill also protects certain other immigrants with temporary status), neither this bill nor the Dream Act have come to the Senate floor for a vote.

"Every day Congress doesn't act is another day that young people live in fear of being deported from the only country they've ever called home," Lozano continued. "The Senate has an obligation and an urgent mandate to provide certainty and opportunity for Dreamers and create stronger, more prosperous communities for all West Virginians."

Biden Justice Department refuses to disclose certain family separation documents

The Biden administration had until April 2 to decide whether or not it would disclose documents relating to the previous administration's family separation policy, including from a reported White House meeting where former aide and noted white supremacist Stephen Miller and other officials from that administration allegedly voted on the policy of state-sanctioned kidnapping.

Attorneys representing separated families have sought these documents as part of their litigation, but had been blocked by the previous administration. They'd hoped for a different outcome under the new administration, but NBC News reports the Biden Department of Justice has refused to disclose those key items, arguing "the government must protect the right of the government to keep certain planning documents confidential."

Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff report for NBC News that Biden administration attorneys said "[t]hose privileges protect institutional interest in the decision making process and the ability of a wide range of government employees to provide candid advice." But attorneys representing separated families are not seeking to prevent government employees from doing that, they're seeking answers from specific officials who implemented this humanitarian disaster that has kept kids without their parents for years now.

Ainsley and Soboroff had reported last year that Miller, upset that separations were going too slow, made officials take a vote on plowing through with the plan through a show of hands. "The Trump administration denied that such a meeting or vote took place," Ainsley and Soboroff reported earlier this month. Attorneys representing families could know more about that meeting, but documents relating to it are among the items that the Biden administration has said it won't release to them.

NBC News reports "[t]he Biden administration did agree to hand over some documents, largely by unredacting previously redacted material," and said that other documents were not relevant. But the report said that attorneys representing families said "the documents sought relate to the government's awareness and intent in directing the separation of families and the resulting harm to families, which are highly relevant to the plaintiffs' claims and the government's asserted defenses."

This decision from the Biden administration comes as hundreds of deported parents have yet to be found and newly identified files could point to a number of previously unknown separations at the southern border by the previous administration.

"We now believe there may have been separations in the first six months of the Trump administration and we applaud the task force for agreeing to review cases during this time period," American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project Deputy Director Lee Gelernt told NBC News. "Whether the task force finds one or many additional separations, it is essential that we find every last child cruelly taken from their parents by our government."

And that officials who carried out these horrific separations be held accountable. President Biden as a candidate had criticized ongoing separations as "criminal." El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar recently told The Intercept that Miller "should be behind bars." She said during that interview that "he committed heinous human rights violations, and I think that those around him who helped plot this out should be held accountable as well."

"The Trump administration's zero tolerance policy devastated thousands of families," tweeted Noah Bookbinder, president of government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "For the Justice Department now to seek to shield key documents from the public is discouraging. The American people—and especially the families torn apart—deserve answers."


Happy Holidays!