May 22, 2017
A humanitarian program that has allowed Haitians to legally live and work in the U.S. after a series of calamities befell their country was extended Monday until January — a move that fell far short of the hopes of Haitian-American community leaders and a range of Florida elected officials.
“It’s bad news. We are disappointed,” said Ronald Surin, a Fort Lauderdale attorney with a large Haitian clientele. He said the six-month extension of the program that was set to expire in July is “just a period for people to finalize their plans, gather their belongings and depart this country.”
Haitian-American community leaders wanted a full, 18-month extension of temporary protected status, which prevents deportation but does not grant a path to permanent residence or citizenship.
By Jacqueline Charles
May 19, 2017
Starting in February, Haitians began showing up at the low-cost health center run by Borinquen Medical Centers of Miami-Dade worrying about what they’ll do if the federal government ends the program that protects them from deportation.
Anxious and scared, they’re searching for answers if the Trump administration decides they must return to Haiti, which is still struggling to rebound from a 2010 earthquake, a deadly cholera epidemic and a hurricane last year.
“They are scared of what’s going to happen to their kids, of what’s going to happen to them,” said Emma Manuella Fleurimont, a mental health counselor at one of the centers.
“Some of them have been living here for years. They have everything here. They have nothing in their country,” Fleurimont said. “Imagine someone who came from Haiti after the earthquake. They lost their house, maybe family members, and now you tell that person you’re going to send them back to Haiti. What is this person going to do?”
May 9, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has begun hunting for evidence of crimes committed by Haitian immigrants as it decides whether to allow them to continue participating in a humanitarian program that has shielded tens of thousands from deportation since a devastating earthquake.
The inquiries into any criminal histories of Haitian immigrants were made in internal U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services emails obtained by The Associated Press. They show the agency’s policy chief also wanted to know how many of the roughly 50,000 Haitians enrolled in the Temporary Protected Status program were taking advantage of public benefits, which they are not eligible to receive.
Cheryl Little, Executive Director, Americans for Immigrant Justice
April 26, 2017
Jonathan was a true role model and hero. I admired him crazily, loved him so, and knowing him is one of my life’s greatest blessings.
By Jacqueline Charles, April 21, 2017
The Trump administration is recommending sending tens of thousands of Haitians back to their homeland because it believes conditions have significantly improved in the disaster-prone, poverty-stricken nation.
But the move comes as more than 40,000 Haitians continue to call makeshift shelters and tents homes — seven years after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake — and as severe hunger and housing crises plague the country’s southern region six months after a deadly Hurricane Matthew wiped out roads, home and farmland.
“If they send everyone back to Haiti, they might as well be sending us to die,” said Cadeus Chaleus, 70, who after 16 years of living as an undocumented immigrant in Miami has spent the past seven years living without fear of deportation. “Despite what they say, things have not improved at home.”
Cheryl Little, Executive Director, Americans for Immigrant Justice
APR 03, 2017
In recent weeks it has become increasingly clear that President Trump is delivering on his promise to create a massive “deportation force” and crack down on those seeking refuge in our country. The extent to which his directives undermine basic Constitutional principles is shocking and leaves no doubt that there’s “a new sheriff in town,” as one of our local immigration judges noted before a recent court hearing.
Today, virtually ALL undocumented immigrants are in the crosshairs, not just the “bad hombres” that Trump said he was going after. Immigrants increasingly feel under siege, driving further underground even lawful permanent residents and those eligible for relief from deportation.
Despite the doom and gloom, there may be a glimmer of hope. A Republican PAC—What a Country!—supports House members working for Immigration reform. Last month Representative Carlos Curbelo (Rep-FL), who formed the PAC, introduced a bill that would provide DREAMers a path to citizenship. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a former immigration lawyer and Freedom Caucus member, has also been outspoken about the need for immigration reform. He believes Trump is perfectly positioned to make meaningful immigration reform a reality because he’s a proven hardliner on border security, requesting over $1 billion in emergency funds to start building the border wall.
Doing so would be a brilliant move on the President’s part. The Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates that undocumented immigrants paid $100 billion into the fund over the past decade, and did so without any expectation of ever collecting benefits. Stephen Goss, Social Security Chief Actuary, noted that “Without the estimated 3.1 million undocumented immigrants paying into the system, Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009.” With Baby Boomers retiring, these monies are more important than ever.
Immigration reform can be a valuable tool in the war against terrorism. By providing hard-working immigrants already in the U.S. the ability to earn legal status and controlling future immigration through legal channels, enforcement efforts could focus instead on identifying drug dealers and violent felons. Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security Secretary, complained that his agents were spending so much time targeting maids and landscapers, they had precious time to go after those who intended to do us harm.
Both Democrats and Republicans have long understood the need to reform our immigration laws. President George W. Bush challenged us to fix our “broken immigration system,” and in 2006, the bipartisan McCain-Kennedy immigration bill passed the Senate but failed to gain traction in the House. President Obama promised to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority, but failed to do so early on when Democrats had the majority in both the House and Senate. In 2013, a bipartisan immigration bill passed the Senate, but was not taken up by House Republicans even though the votes for passage were clearly there.
As contentious an issue as immigration is, tackling immigration reform now may actually be easier to do than tax reform or passing a $1 trillion infrastructure package, items the Administration has pledged to prioritize.
Now is the time for Republicans, who control both houses in Congress and the White House, to work together with Democrats to pass an immigration reform bill that enhances our security and bolsters our economy. In 2013 the Congressional Budget Office concluded that if Congress were to fix our broken immigration system, the federal deficit would be reduced by about $200 billion in the first 10 years alone.
On February 28th, Trump told reporters he may be open to providing a path to legalization for many of our country’s immigrants and during his joint address to Congress he said “real and positive immigration is possible.” If he were able to close the deal on this signature issue, Trump could succeed where his predecessors have failed. No mean feat.
They’re so scared, these refuge-seekers in President Donald Trump’s America, that their immigration attorney will not even identify the country from which they fled rampant violence. But it was one of Central America’s violent northern triangle countries, meaning Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador.
“They were running for their lives,” Abel S. Delgado tells me. “This family was targeted, got threats from a man connected to gangs, and there was violence toward the family.”
The attorney, who works at the Miami-based organization Americans for Immigrant Justice, is not only trying to save the lives of this mother and her two teenage sons by keeping them in South Florida, where they’ve been able to receive a multitude of needed services from a network of community agencies. He’s also waging a battle with Homeland Security and immigration courts to keep their family unit intact.
It’s a herculean task in these times.
BY TIM PADGETT MAR 28, 2017
Typically, when people are in the court system they want their cases heard as quickly as possible. But asylum requests are different.
Building an asylum case usually involves the long and daunting task of gathering evidence from other countries. And here in South Florida that often means developing regions like Central America. So lawyers usually expect at least a few months if not a year or more to prepare.
But when attorney Andrea Crumrine brought her asylum client before a federal immigration judge in Pompano Beach this month, she was told this:
“'Thirty days, counselor,'" Crumrine recalls the judge telling her. "Prepare this case in 30 days.”
Crumrine works for the non-profit Americans for Immigrant Justice (AIJ) in Miami. Her client is a 35-year-old Honduran woman who says for years she’s been raped and even shot by a high-ranking police officer. (One bullet hit her ovary and forced her to have a hysterectomy, according to Crumrine.) Honduran police are notorious for such abuses. So, fearing for her life, the woman came here.
But Crumrine worries whether she can prove the woman’s case in 30 days.
“It could be the difference between winning and losing a case if you’re able to get one shred of corroborating evidence," says Crumrine. "If they have absolutely no evidence the judge can very easily just deny their case.”
Free ‘public defender’s office’ would represent immigrants in deportation proceedings - The Miami Herald
A movement is taking shape to create a sort of “public defender’s office” to represent hundreds of thousands of immigrants who may wind up in deportation proceedings and cannot afford an attorney.
While the effort is amorphous at this time, and largely focused on certain communities, some nationally known immigration attorneys and advocates — including some in Miami — are considering establishing a system to provide free legal representation to immigrants in deportation proceedings under President Donald Trump’s toughened immigration measures.
If such a system were established, it would mark a historic shift in how foreign nationals appear in immigration courts. Currently, they are allowed to have a lawyer, but often appear by themselves because they cannot afford to hire an attorney or cannot secure one from the perennially underfunded and understaffed nonprofit groups that offer free representation. Unlike criminal court, there is no legal requirement for immigration judges to appoint a lawyer for foreign nationals who cannot afford one.
Similar scenes played out at many parking lots and street corners throughout South Florida, from Homestead to West Palm Beach, despite the spreading climate of fear in immigrant communities stemming from tough measures enacted by President Donald Trump since taking office Jan. 20 — all of which make it easier for immigration agents to detain foreign nationals who have broken immigration laws.
In Homestead, workers in the parking lot of a supermarket near the corner of Mowry Drive and Krome Avenue said neither police nor immigration agents have bothered them. “Our concern is whether we can get a job for the day,” said Gabriel Alavés of Oaxaca, Mexico.
An analysis by el Nuevo Herald of Trump’s new executive orders and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidelines, based on interviews with U.S. and local officials, immigration attorneys and immigrant rights advocates, shows that federal immigration agents have recovered the power they partly lost under former President Barack Obama, whose own executive orders shielded from deportation hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.
Under Obama, for example, Central American children who crossed the Mexican border without their parents were deemed unaccompanied minors even after they were reunited with family members in South Florida and elsewhere in the country. Now, immigration officials have been instructed to verify if such designation should continue when the child’s case reaches immigration court for possible deportation and to deport or prosecute their parents and other relatives if they paid migrant smugglers to bring the minors across the border.
“DHS shall ensure the proper enforcement of our immigration laws against those who — directly or indirectly — facilitate the smuggling or trafficking of alien children into the United States,” new DHS guidelines say. “This includes placing parents or guardians who are removable aliens into removal proceedings, or referring such individuals for criminal prosecution, as appropriate.”
Immigration advocates expressed alarm.
“The DHS border enforcement memo has a devastating impact on unaccompanied children under our immigration policies,” said Michelle Ortíz, deputy director of Miami-based Americans for Immigrant Justice. “It calls for the re-evaluation of unaccompanied minor status, which would effectively strip humanitarian and due process protections for many Central American children seeking refuge and safety at our border.”