Facing deportation, US Marine’s wife leaves for Mexico
By MIKE SCHNEIDER
Saturday, August 4
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The 16-year-old American daughter of a U.S. Marine held back tears as long as she could Friday before her family was split in two.
Her mother, Alejandra Juarez, was finally leaving for Mexico, rather than be sent off in handcuffs, after exhausting all options to stop her deportation.
“My mom is a good person. She’s not a criminal,” Pamela said, cursing at the immigration agency before her mother checked in for her flight from Orlando International Airport.
Alejandra and Temo Juarez, a naturalized citizen who runs a roofing business, quietly raised Pamela and their 9-year-old daughter, Estela, in the central Florida town of Davenport until a 2013 traffic stop exposed her legal status.
Afterward, she regularly checked in with U.S. Immigration and Customs officials, which typically went after higher-priority targets like people with criminal records.
Temo didn’t figure his vote for President Donald Trump would affect them personally. That was before the enforcement of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration.
Now, the Juarez family will be divided in two: Estela will join her mother in Mexico after she gets settled, while Temo cares for Pamela and pays the bills.
Alejandra, 39, petitioned to become a citizen in 2001 but was rejected because she was accused of making a false statement at the border when she sought asylum in 1998, attorney Richard Maney said. He said she was asked about her citizenship and told authorities she had been a student in Memphis, Tennessee for a short time, so border officials apparently thought she was falsely claiming to be an American citizen.
“This is not going to be the last case like this,” Maney said. “This is potentially the first of many. There are many military spouses in the same situation.”
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., who couldn’t get the votes in Congress for legislation to allow Juarez to remain, called her situation disgraceful.
“We’re not going to give up,” he told her with a hug at the airport.
“It’s an absolute disgrace by the Trump administration to be deporting a patriotic spouse,” Soto said. “Her husband, Temo, served in the Marines … while she was at home on the home-front, raising two young women. What justice does this serve?”
Alejandra ultimately decided to “self-deport” to Mexico, rather than turn herself in to be detained and then deported. After 20 years in the United States, she no longer has family or friends in the country, so she chose Merida, a city in the Yucatan where a small community of deported military spouses might help her.
Emotionally spent, she wiped her own tears behind sunglasses and stroked Pamela’s hair while gripping Estela, who stood by her side. Temo said he preferred not to talk before they were all escorted through security for their final goodbyes.
A reporter asked what she would say to the president. Alejandra said she’d ask how Trump could let this happen, since he “always says he loves the military and he’s doing everything for the military.”
“My husband fought for this country three times. The administration, yourself, you think you are punishing me. You’re not just punishing me,” she said, referring to her family. “I hope this make him happy. And I really pray that God will forgive him.”
Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP
Honestly Looking at Family Values
by Wim Laven
A recent look at the GOP’s platform on immigration was quite heartbreaking; they want to break up and damage good families. I thought about the people I know, mothers and fathers who’d be deported—if Donald Trump gets his way—and dozens of kids left behind. I took a deeper look at what he’d like to do with legal immigration and felt like crying: if Donald could, he’d have deported my mother.
I think I’d be safe. I’m a U.S. citizen born abroad, but, despite a whole career of service to the communities she’d spent decades living in, my mother—the greatest woman I’ve ever known—would not be allowed in Trump’s vision for America. We’re white and his visionmight not apply to her; his focus has been on people with darker skin and from specific countries. Still, knowing my own mother was an immigrant makes Trump’s treatment of immigrant and refugee mothers of any color feel quite personal to me.
Like thousands of other mothers who hope to come to the US, my mother has never been in a gang or done anything illegal. She was a psychiatric nurse. She took a legal pathway to citizenship, but as best as I can tell she is exactly the kind of person (estimates suggest 20 million immigrants would be impacted) the Trump-led GOP plan would target. Trump doesn’t want a human face on immigration, that is why he calls the targets of his plans “animals” and the GOP leaders back him up. When he says: “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.” It is a nefarious GOP trick; when he is challenged for his racist statement the GOP can accuse Democrats of defending criminals and wanting “open borders.”
Dirty tricks are old strategy. During the Red Scare of McCarthyism paranoia was created by releasing information on the number of communists pushing subversive policies in Congress. During this scare the numbers changed on a regular basis, and people were left debating “how many are there?” But the truth turned out to be that it was all manufactured. It is similar to the chicanery used in connecting the Democratic party to its racist history. The Democratic party had to undergo a serious evolution to break from being the party of the KKK and resistance to the Republican party’s reconstruction in order to become the party of civil rights and equality, but it did. The underhanded ploy is making the 1916 Democratic party association to the Klan more important than the Klans endorsement of Trump in 2016.
We must put the real faces to the story and force the GOP to be honest just like Democrats had to be forthcoming about its racist inequality in the 1960’s. It isn’t easy, but it is honest. Blocking mothers from immigrating to our land is just wrong. All the falsehoods smearing a handful of hateful cases onto thousands of law-abiding families won’t wash to anyone who looks with clear and critical eyes at the facts and at the family values we claim to possess.
It is time for Republicans to go through a period like Democrats did. The GOP needs to evolve to stop supporting the hateful policies, rhetoric, and vision of the divisive president. The GOP could use a Kennedy moment, in 1963 JFK said: “One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression.” It outraged many white southerners, but the country needed to progress toward equality. Anyone who honestly believes in family values needs to be in the streets using nonviolent resistance to protect these families and good people being threatened. Nobody gets off easy, this is too important. A strong message needs to be sent and it would be great if conservatives would share in the message of an American Dream and freedom for everyone.
Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a doctoral candidate in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association.
Immigration activists fighting to abolish ICE have a bigger vision
August 13, 2018
A. Naomi Paik
Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
A. Naomi Paik does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
There’s a phrase being thrown around a lot these days: “Abolish ICE.” It’s a hashtag, it’s used in political speeches and demonstrations, and it appears all over Facebook.
What does it mean and where did it come from?
ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency that enforces immigration laws within the U.S.
The calls to abolish ICE are not new. Advocates for immigrants’ rights, many of them immigrants, have demanded ICE be dismantled since at least 2003. They see it as a repressive agency that violates civil rights and targets working-class immigrants of color.
Some advocates argue that ICE be replaced by a less draconian enforcement agency. However, radical activists argue that ICE must be completely eliminated and believe it’s a realistic goal.
As my scholarship on immigration and imprisonment emphasizes, people directly affected by immigration policies have critical insights into their injustices, like indefinite detention, and how to resolve them.
Why end ICE?
ICE regularly separates families and disrupts communities. Its agents raid immigrant workplaces and homes and remove deportable immigrants.
ICE’s defenders argue that its agents are just enforcing the law. Immigrant organizers highlight how U.S. laws and policies have increasingly criminalized migrants.
Being undocumented is a civil, not a criminal, violation. However, undocumented persons are arrested and detained. Even documented immigrants who commit minor crimes, like shoplifting, are punished through detention and deportation.
For these reasons, immigrant rights activists want Congress to defund the agency and pass legislation to dismantle it. This includes members of the national advocacy organization Mijente and the Chicago-based Organized Communities Against Deportation.
Many organizers link the treatment of immigrants as criminals to the government’s treatment of other communities.
As they see it, immigrants, people of color, working class people and others suffer under policies like the war on drugs, waged between policing agencies and working class communities of color. The war on drugs massively invested in militarized policing and increased punishments for drug-related crimes.
Another example is broken windows policing, whose zero tolerance approach has made minor infractions, like loitering, into punishable crimes.
Such policies disrupt communities left behind by private and public abandonment and contribute to the highest incarceration rate in the world. Many activists and scholars, like Alex Vitale, identify the problem not as excessive policing, but policing itself. To them, policing fundamentally works to manage social inequality by suppressing workers and people of color.
That is why abolish ICE echoes the chant, “Abolish the Police” at, for example, Black Lives Matter protests.
Leaders of Mijente describe the call to abolish ICE “an abolitionist call to action.” It is “a call to dismantle government agencies that exist solely to bring terror, harm, and violence to communities of color.”
In this way, abolishing ICE shares its vision with the current movement advocating prison abolition. Abolitionists seek to replace policing and prisons with a new society that relies on neither police nor prisons to ensure community health and safety.
Their efforts include, for example, stopping new prisons from being built. They also work to release people who they argue don’t belong in prison, and decriminalize behaviors that they say unfairly land people in prison, like unauthorized street vending.
The bigger picture
This wider abolition movement is not solely about dismantling what advocates believe to be harmful institutions and rectifying the social conditions that feed them, like income inequality. As activist Angela Davis argues, the goal is “not even primarily about abolition as a negative process of tearing down, but it is also about building up, about creating new institutions.”
Abolition advocates want resources redirected from policing and prisons to community-centered institutions like health care, housing and education.
Is this vision feasible?
Many abolitionists, like Mariame Kaba, refuse to limit their vision to what is feasible. They instead believe that social change first requires a bold vision. Along the way, constant organizing builds mass consciousness and works to reduce, for example, state violence.
The fact that local governments are canceling deals with ICE to detain migrants suggests to them that eliminating a relatively young agency is a winnable goal.
In calling to end the agency, advocates highlight what they say are ICE’s racist origins and abuses of power. Immigrant organizers like Tania Unzueta point to ICE’s origins in a post-9/11 panic motivated, in part, by anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment. This shift flagged immigration as a national security problem and immigrants as threats to the nation.
At the same time, the call to abolish ICE goes beyond the agency itself. It requires a thorough rethinking of immigration law and policy. It is at this point that skeptics and detractors question the movement.
This abolitionist vision requires the repeal of laws and policies that treat migration as a crime. For example, the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act hardened punishments for immigration infractions. It increased the number and criminal penalties for immigration-related offenses and created expedited deportations that have few due process rights.
In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security launched “Operation Streamline,” which moved the prosecution of unauthorized crossings of the southern border from civil courts to mass trials in criminal courts. Critics argue this deprives migrants of due process.
Abolishing ICE, advocates say, also requires ending immigrant detention entirely. This includes detaining immigrants in military camps, local jails, federal prisons and for-profit immigrant detention centers. It means transforming U.S. Customs and Border Protection from a policing agency into “a humanitarian force that rescues migrants,” as Mijente’s policy platform states.
“Abolish ICE” is no mere campaign slogan. It is a goal focused on dismantling a single young agency. I believe that, in its historical context, “Abolish ICE” is part of a larger vision to build a new a social order committed to the liberation of all.
The Conversation US, Inc.
A night enforcing immigration laws on the US-Mexico border
August 8, 2018
Robert Lee Maril
Professor of sociology, East Carolina University
Robert Lee Maril does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, the U.S.-Mexico border has been a focus of Donald Trump’s anger and political appeal.
That border is where more than 18,500 of the country’s 19,437 Border Patrol agents work, trying to stop people from crossing illegally into the U.S.
For all the heat and headlines around this border, few people really understand the job of a Border Patrol agent.
I am a sociologist who has studied and written about the U.S.-Mexico borderlands since 1977. I spent two years embedded with Border Patrol agents as they enforced immigration laws.
Here is the story of what Border Patrol agents do, told through the experiences of two agents working a night shift in south Texas and my research to date.
The heat in Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley can be brutal. It’s April, and Border Patrol agents must ignore the 95-degree temperature and the 25 mile-an-hour winds even in the early evening.
Their job is simple: guard the borderline.
Their supervisors tell them to catch terrorists, drug smugglers and people without papers – whom they use the Spanish phrase for: “sin papeles.” They rarely find any drugs, however, except by accident.
Two agents, Speedy Allison and Lefty McDonald (not their real names), began their work day at 8 p.m. with a meeting they called a “muster,” where their supervisor gave them their assignment and intelligence report.
Every shift their assignment changes. Usually they cover a mile or so of the border depending upon how “hot” – active – the human and drug “traffick” are. Tonight they are “rovers,” patrolling the borderline based on their experience and the intel.
The two men check out a four-wheel drive truck parked in the secured station lot and drive it over to their small piece of the “Valley,” as Texans call it. It’s a region filled with onions, nopal (prickly pear cactus), carrizo cane, stubby citrus trees, cotton and colonial settlements dating to 1757.
An immigrant who jumped into a canal after illegally crossing the Mexico-U.S. border turns himself in to a Border Patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley. Reuters/Loren Elliott
Tight-lipped about where he was born and raised, Speedy stands tall and wiry in his green uniform. Lefty is just as tall and was born in Puerto Rico. He’s open about his passions, including bad coffee and donuts.
The two, sworn in more than six years ago as federal enforcement officers, count on each other at all times. For weeks or months they may never see an aggressive immigrant, a weapon or prison tattoos. But they never know who they might see, especially at night, miles from backup.
They drive under the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge and stop. Under a fading sun, Speedy and Lefty take a hard look at the bridge linking McAllen, Texas, to the industrial park in Reynosa, Mexico. They are working on a plan for how to spend their shift.
After inspecting the area, the two men are excited to find a “fresh” hole in the fence protecting the bridge.
“This is a gold mine,” says Speedy. “It’s perfect. We just sit here and catch them,” as they squeeze through the hole.
There’s a good spot for the men to hide behind the bridge abutment, but the challenge is climbing up five feet of bare concrete.
Fifteen minutes later, Speedy and I stand in that hiding place – and Lefty is making yet another try at scaling the concrete.
Finally behind the abutment, Lefty, watching the hole for signs of people coming through, talks about the “babe” at his favorite all-night Whataburger and whispers, “I’m married, but I still got eyes.”
Migrants – and something else
There are more than 21,000 Border Patrol agents, which is a part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the largest federal law enforcement agency charged with safeguarding the border.
As the Valley became a hotspot in the last five years for those “sin papeles” and drug traffickers, many more agents – the exact numbers are classified – were transferred to the area.
Like Lefty, about half are Hispanic and 5 percent are female.
Given their own family histories, many Valley Hispanic agents are sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants. Many more, regardless of family history, feel immigrants should never be allowed to cross the border without papers.
And the data show their backgrounds make no difference in how they work. Job satisfaction, values and performance among Hispanic agents vary as much as those of Anglo agents.
What Hispanic agents do share with all Border Patrol agents is low morale about their jobs along with the personal drive to complete their 20 years because relatively high salaries and federal retirement benefits are then secured.
Speedy and Lefty would have stayed at the bridge, but the dispatcher calls out three hits from on a ground sensor a mile west of their position. Three hits for these error-prone sensors suggest some kind of traffick.
They head over to the spot – and find a starving cow.
From experience, they know the cow’s owner is so poor he only feeds it stolen watermelons. Parts of these borderlands are the poorest regions in the country.
“Someone should call the SPCA” – the animal protection society – says Lefty.
“Yeah, right,” says Speedy.
At first, Speedy and Lefty settle in near the cow. Then, through the darkness, they spot outlines of humans in an onion field.
The same blast furnace of heat that punishes Speedy and Lefty also hammers these migrants, who have just crossed the Rio Grande River from “el otro lado,” the other side. Authorities often find their bones scattered in the vast desert lands north of the borderline where dehydration can take a heavy toll.
Minutes later Lefty shouts over his radio to Speedy, who is now running to get behind the irrigation channels and the 7-foot nopal cactus to push the migrants towards Speedy. “I don’t know how they did it, but they’re on the road.”
A woman in her 30s sits crying in the dirt. She wears a muddy skirt, a baggy T-shirt and tennis shoes without socks. Next to her, calmer, are her 16- and 11-year-old daughters. In spite of the heat, the youngest is wearing a hat. Speedy runs down two men, finding later that one is their “coyote,” or human smuggler.
The agents drive the five back to their station in their truck. Lefty supervises the processing including gathering as much information as possible from the immigrants themselves. That’s when Lefty sees a tumor hidden under the 11-year-old’s hat.
Speedy and Lefty are caught, as they often are, between official policy and common sense. Lefty makes a split second decision.
Lefty makes sure the three females are not hassled by other detainees and agents. The minority of agents who commit criminal acts of violence do so at the point of arrest – especially incidents involving rocks thrown – on the way to the station or in other isolated places where there are no witnesses but the victim.
Bad agents can make everyone else look bad when the victims, against all legal chances, report the violence to authorities. The bad agents get the publicity, while daily acts of bravery among the majority of agents are rarely in the media.
Time to head home
After processing, Lefty and Speedy don’t see the mother and her two daughters again.
A U.S. Border Patrol truck is parked above a footbridge connecting Mexico with Texas. AP Photo/Alicia A. Caldwell
Ignoring the brutal heat, Speedy and Lefty guard their small piece of the borderline. The two agents do this in ways many Americans do not want.
This daily work, however, reflects much larger political issues, including the feelings many Americans have about Trump’s border wall and our present immigration system. These agents, however, have little reason to change until their supervisor tells them to change. Their only real option: to quit a high-paying, secure job with a federal retirement plan during a time of decreasing wages.
It is after 6 a.m. Their night shift over, Speedy and Lefty clean up at the station and drive home to their families.
The Conversation US, Inc.