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Get the FACTS: Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy

LA Times

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by Michelle Martin

Have you heard that children were separated from their parents under Obama & Clinton? Then, you need a little Facts vs Myths lesson. Michelle Martin, PhD Cal State Fullerton summed up the most important FACTS:

There is so much misinformation out there about the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy that requires criminal prosecution, which then warrants the separating of parents and children at the border. Before responding to a post defending this policy, please do your research…As a professor at a local Cal State, I research and write about these issues, so here, I’ll make it easier for you:

Myth: This is not a new policy and was practiced under Obama and Clinton – FALSE.

The policy to separate parents and children is new and was instituted on 4/6/2018. It was the brainchild of John Kelly and Stephen Miller to serve as a deterrent for undocumented immigration, approved by Trump, and adopted by Sessions. Prior administrations detained migrant families, but didn’t have a practice of forcibly separating parents from their children unless the adults were deemed unfit. https://www.justice.gov/…/press-rele…/file/1049751/download…

Myth: This is not a new policy and was practiced under Obama and Clinton - FALSE. Click To Tweet

Myth: This is the only way to deter undocumented immigration – FALSE.

Annual trends show that arrests for undocumented entry are at a 46 year low, and undocumented crossings dropped in 2007, with a net loss (more people leaving than arriving). Deportations have increased steadily though (spiking in 1996 and more recently), because several laws that were passed since 1996 have made it legally more difficult to gain legal status for people already here, and thus increased their deportations (I address this later under the myth that it’s the Democrats’ fault). What we mostly have now are people crossing the border illegally because they’ve already been hired by a US company, or because they are seeking political asylum. Economic migrants come to this country because our country has kept the demand going. But again, many of these people impacted by Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy appear to be political asylum-seekers. https://www.npr.org/…/arrests-for-illegal-border-crossings-…

Myth: Most of the people coming across the border are just trying to take advantage of our country by taking our jobs – FALSE.

Most of the parents who have been impacted by Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy have presented themselves as political asylum-seekers at a U.S. port-of-entry, from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Rather than processing their claims, they have been taken into custody on the spot and had their children ripped from their arms. The ACLU alleges that this practice violates the Asylum Act, and the UN asserts that it violates the UN Treaty on the State of Refugees, one of the few treaties the US has ratified. This is an illegal act on the part of the United States government, not to mention morally and ethically reprehensible. https://www.nytimes.com/…/meatpackers-profits-hinge-on-pool…

Myth: We’re a country that respects the Rule of Law, and if people break the law, this is what they get – FALSE.

We are a country that has an above-ground system of immigration and an underground system. Our government (under both parties) has always been aware that US companies recruit workers in the poorest parts of Mexico for cheap labor, and ICE (and its predecessor INS) has looked the other way because this underground economy benefits our country to the tune of billions of dollars annually. Thus, even though the majority of people crossing the border now are asylum-seekers, those who are economic migrants (migrant workers) likely have been recruited here to do jobs Americans will not do. https://www.upi.com/…/Donald-Trumps-wall-ign…/2621477498203/

Myth: The children have to be separated from their parents because their parents must be arrested and it would be cruel to put children in jail with their parents – FALSE.

First, in the case of economic migrants crossing the border illegally, criminal prosecution has not been the legal norm, and families have been kept together at all cost. Also, crossing the border without documentation is a typically a misdemeanor not requiring arrest, but rather a civil proceeding. Additionally, parents who have been detained have historically been detained with their children in ICE “family residential centers,” again, for civil processing. The Trump administration’s shift in policy is for political purposes only, not legal ones. See p. 18: https://www.aclu.org/…/ms-l-v-ice-plaintiffs-opposition-def…

Myth: We have rampant fraud in our asylum process the proof of which is the significant increase we have in the number of people applying for asylum. FALSE.

The increase in asylum seekers is a direct result of the increase in civil conflict and violence across the globe. While some people may believe that we shouldn’t allow any refugees into our country because “it’s not our problem,” neither our current asylum law, nor our ideological foundation as a country support such an isolationist approach. There is very little evidence to support Sessions’ claim that abuse of our asylum-seeking policies is rampant. Also, what Sessions failed to mention is that the majority of asylum seekers are from China, not South of the border. Here is a very fair and balanced assessment of his statements: http://www.politifact.com/…/jeff-sessions-claim-about-asyl…/

Myth: The Democrats caused this, “it’s their law.” FALSE.

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats caused this, the Trump administration did (although the Republicans could fix this today, and have refused). I believe what this myth refers to is the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which were both passed under Clinton in 1996. These laws essentially made unauthorized entry into the US a crime (typically a misdemeanor for first-time offenders), but under both Republicans and Democrats, these cases were handled through civil deportation proceedings, not a criminal proceeding, which did not require separation. And again, even in cases where detainment was required, families were always kept together in family residential centers, unless the parents were deemed unfit (as mentioned above). Thus, Trump’s assertion that he hates this policy but has no choice but to separate the parents from their children, because the Democrats “gave us this law” is false and nothing more than propaganda designed to compel negotiation on bad policy. https://www.independent.co.uk/…/trump-democrats-us-border-m…

Myth: The parents and children will be reunited shortly, once the parents’ court cases are finalized. FALSE.

Criminal court is a vastly different beast than civil court proceedings. Also, the children are being processed as unaccompanied minors (“unaccompanied alien children”), which typically means they are sent into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). Under normal circumstances when a child enters the country without his or her parent, ORR attempts to locate a family member within a few weeks, and the child is then released to a family member, or if a family member cannot be located, the child is placed in a residential center (anywhere in the country), or in some cases, foster care. Prior to Trump’s new policy, ORR was operating at 95% capacity, and they simply cannot effectively manage the influx of 2000+ children, some as young as 4 months. Also, keep in mind, these are not unaccompanied minor children, they have parents. There is great legal ambiguity on how and even whether the parents will get their children back because we are in uncharted territory right now. According to the ACLU lawsuit (see below), there is currently no easy vehicle for reuniting parents with their children. Additionally, according to a May 2018 report, numerous cases of verbal, physical and sexual abuse were found to have occurred in these residential centers. https://www.aclu.org/…/aclu-obtains-documents-showing-wides…

Myth: This policy is legal. LIKELY FALSE.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on 5/6/18, and a recent court ruling denied the government’s motion to dismiss the suit. The judge deciding the case stated that the Trump Administration policy is “brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.” The case is moving forward because it was deemed to have legal merit.https://www.bloomberg.com/…/aclu-suit-over-child-separation…

 

This post is also on Facebook as a public post: https://www.facebook.com/MIchelle.Martin15/posts/1852738241454566

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21 Savage to be Released from ICE Custody on Bond

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Rolling Stone

Thanks to pressure applied by grassroots community organizers and lawyers connected to the #Free21Savage movement, the rapper has been released on bond.

Following news that ShaYaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was detained by ICE and subjected to 23 hour solitary confinement, leaders and legal experts partnered to petition for his freedom. With 450,000 signed petitions collected from sympathizers, the team of allies braved the cold to deliver them to ICE Field Director Sean Gallagher. Refusing to allow the petitions to be placed inside, organizers and involved protesters stood beyond the gates chanting for justice in the pouring rain. Their hard work bore fruit for 21 Savage, but their fight is just beginning. Determined to take things further and abolish ICE, community organizers want equal justice for those without celebrity status.

He Will Not Forget

Lawyers representing 21 Savage released a statement following the announcement that the rapper had won his freedom. Stating that the artist wanted to send a “special message to his fans and supporters”, Charles H. Kuck, Dina LaPolt, and Alex Spiro expressed the following:

“While he wasn’t present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together.

He will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people, he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country. And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”

This is our fight

It is incredibly important that while celebrating 21 Savage’s release we continue to credit the individuals who do this work consistently and remember the faceless who are still in detention. Georgia is among the top five states that detains the most immigrants. Sharing the unfortunate statistic with Texas, California, Arizona, and Louisiana, Georgia holds 3,717 immigrant detainees.

While the U.S. government does not maintain reliable immigrant detainee demographic information, data collected by Freedom For Immigrants shows most victims of this system are between the ages of 26 and 35. The average length of detention could be as little as six months or extend past four years. Locked in private prisons or city/county jails, nutrition issues, medical neglect, solitary confinement, and sexual abuse are among the list of documented abuses that immigrants endure. With the largest immigration detention system in the world, ICE contributes to this profit-driven system.

It is my personal hope that the eye-opening experience of 21 Savage has made the abolition of ICE a necessity for Black Americans who had previously sidelined the ordeal.

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Catch Up! We Are Celebrating Women, Not Hating Them

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It is past time for female artists to have the same, or better recognition from awards organizations. But their acclaim should not come at the expense of another person’s pride.

In a previous article, I discussed the lack of solidarity in rap regarding the continuing fight for women who have yet to receive their seat at the table. Despite being equally, or better talented than their male counterparts, women who rap are consistently pitted against one another in a show of misogyny. Feeding into this beast, BET recently tweeted and deleted a post that they believed was shady enough to be well received. Instead, it serves as a stark reminder that for women, there is still a long way to go.

Learn from this.

It’s hard to believe that just six days ago, that inspirational clip of LaLa Milan went viral. Speaking at a panel for Power Star Live, the emerging comedienne said the following:

“Unfortunately, in our culture we automatically put each other against each other when we’re in the same industry. It’s horrible. You see it every day on social media — ‘Who wore it best?’ ‘Oh, she’s funnier.’ All that stuff like that, but, it’s like…What people don’t realize is when we can all come together as a collective, you automatically have magic.”

Well said! So, how did we go from understanding there is room for everyone to eat, back to the pits of starvation? In a word, misogyny.

Last night, Cardi B celebrated a career milestone only eight other women of rap share. She won a Grammy. Taking home the award for Best Rap Album, Cardi has cemented her place among the genre’s elites by becoming the first woman to win the award solo. Instead of merely congratulating Cardi on her monumental achievement, BET saw it as an opportunity to belittle Nicki Minaj, who has yet to receive the honor. As a network that hosts their own awards show for Hip Hop, you would think BET could do better than perpetuate a negative standard that plagues 37% of rap lyrics and effects every female artist in the game.

When it comes to what is considered an acceptable standard for women performers in any genre of music, one must admit the bar is set unrealistically high. The level of imagination and creativity that is expected from a female artist is beyond what is expected of men. Indeed, after seeing Travis Scott’s Super Bowl “performance”, you could say male artists are allowed a certain celebration of mediocrity. Still, they are more heavily awarded and more easily accepted in the genre that now stands on a foundation of misogyny/misogynoir.

Let It Go.

The longstanding tradition of pitting female artists against one another for drama or ‘catfights’ is dated and should have been put to rest long ago. Women who have made it to that tier of status within the entertainment industry have made it clear that they are queens in their own right. Their successess and shortcomings need not be weighed against one another unless it is for comparison within their own career. And to attach Nicki Minaj to Cardi’s win as an insult was unnecessarily tacky.

In the words of LaLa Milan, “If you’re as hungry as me and you stop trying to starve those around you, we can all eat.” There is room for everyone.

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