In The News

Arrests of undocumented immigrants rise in Florida amid Trump crackdown

By Aric Chokey

December 7, 2017

fter declining for years, arrests of undocumented immigrants have nearly doubled in a region overseen by federal immigration officials in South Florida.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Miami office reported taking 6,192 people into custody this year across Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That’s up from 3,524 last year, according to agency figures released Tuesday.

Deportations also swelled by 20 percent. According to the data, the Miami office reported 7,100 removals this year compared with 5,600 last year.

The Miami office’s Acting Field Director Michael Meade pointed to a Jan. 25 order from President Donald Trump as the driving force behind the uptick.

Read more Share

Eight Immigration Advocacy Groups File Complaint Against DHS - Pacific Standard

By Morgan Baskin

December 6, 2017

Following a series of nation-wide raids this summer that sent nearly 400 undocumented minors to immigration detention facilities, eight immigrants' rights organizations have collectively filed twin complaints against Immigration and Customs Enforcement with its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security.

Those organizations—including the National Immigrant Justice Center and Americans for Immigrant Justice—say that the raids, conducted between June and August by ICE officers, unlawfully coerced minors into divulging information about the immigration status and whereabouts of adult family members.

ICE officials then allegedly used that information to track down and lure family members to ICE offices, where they were arrested and detained. The complaints, which claim ICE's actions violate domestic and international refugee laws, were filed within DHS's Office of Civil Rights and Office of the Inspector General.

In a press release announcing the complaints, Diane Eikenberry, NIJC's associate policy director, said that DHS officials "have threatened children, misled their caregivers, and denied them fundamental constitutional protections." She called the raids "a deliberate and systematic campaign to use children as bait to ensnare their parents."

Read it on Pacific Standard.


Thousands of Miami Students Could Be Ousted From U.S. as Trump Ends Protections for Haitians - The 74

By Mark Keierleber

December 5, 2017

Ronyde Christina Ponthieux is begging President Donald Trump to reverse course on a decision that could upend her life. Born in the U.S. to Haitian refugee parents, she could soon be forced to move to a country she’s never known.

In a YouTube video, the 10-year-old fifth-grader at Miami Shores Elementary School took her message to the top, asking the president to make the “smart, economic, and humane decision” and let her parents stay.

Ronyde’s future has been in limbo since Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced last month that she was ending Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. The humanitarian program has granted refuge to 59,000 Haitians since the island nation was hit by a catastrophic earthquake in 2010 that left hundreds of thousands dead and displaced millions.

Now, Ronyde’s parents, like thousands of Haitians in the U.S. under the program, face a tough choice: Relocate with their children to a country still crippled by the natural disaster, or break up the family.

Read more Share

As Hurricane Irma Neared Florida, Immigration Agents Kept Picking Up Undocumented People Despite Promises - BuzzFeed News

By Salvador Hernandez

December 3, 2017

As Hurricane Irma barreled toward Florida in the early days of September, immigration advocates and public safety officials raised concerns that people living in the US illegally would not seek help or shelter for fear that doing so would expose them to arrest and possible deportation.

Hoping to ease those fears, the US Department of Homeland Security stepped in with a public promise: noncriminal immigration enforcement would be temporarily put on hold, while agents with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) focused on Irma rescue and relief efforts.

"In evacuation or response, we are committed to making sure that we can assist local authorities quickly, safely, and efficiently. DHS will not conduct non-criminal immigration enforcement operations in the affected area," the department said in a Sept. 6 statement. "At the request of FEMA, local and state authorities, DHS law enforcement personnel will be in the affected area to conduct search and rescue, air traffic de-confliction and public safety missions. When it comes to rescuing people in the wake of Hurricane Irma, immigration status is not and will not be a factor."

Read more Share

Haitians get legal advice to help deportation fears - Fox 4 News

December 2, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ten thousand Haitian immigrants in Southwest Florida will face deportation due to the non-renewal of the Temporary Protection Status. Lee Memorial Hospital hosted a free legal clinic, Saturday, to help families impacted know their rights.

The hospital partnered with Americans For Immigrant Justice Organization led by attorney, Adonia Simpson, to offer individual meetings on the possibilities of attaining immigration relief, where a TPS person could find a way to stay in the United States. Simpson explained only 16 percent would be eligible for relief.

“Immigration court is death penalty cases being heard in a traffic court setting,” said Simpson.

Read more Share

Lee Health hosts forum for worried legal immigrants facing deportation

By Frank Gluck

December 2, 2017

Jean Phillipe came to Fort Myers in 2010 as a teenager fleeing the ravages of an earthquake-devastated Haiti.

Since then, he's found full-time work as a medical translator for the Lee Health hospital system — a good job that he had hoped to keep for years to come. But recent changes to U.S. immigration policy could soon force him, and thousands like him in this region, out of the country.

"I'm worried because of the opportunities that this land has offered (me)," Phillipe said.  "With the situation in my country, they're not ready to get all the people back. I'm really concerned about it."

Lee Health, a public hospital system and one of Southwest Florida's largest employers, hosted its first-ever forum Saturday for immigrants living in this country under the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, programs.

Read more Share

Keeping the American Dream Alive - University of Miami News & Events

By Michael R. Malone

November 29, 2017

Highlighting the economic vibrancy and cultural richness that immigrants have brought and bring to the U.S. “yesterday and today,” an inspired coalition of Miami business, education, religious, and political leaders held a half-day forum November 28 at the UM Newman Alumni Center aimed at forging sensible immigration policy to “Keep the American Dream Alive.”

Beyond Politics: A Bipartisan Conversation on Immigration Reform was facilitated by the Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund (IMPAC), an organization founded and spearheaded by Miguel “Mike” B. Fernandez, respected business entrepreneur and UM trustee.

UM President Julio Frenk welcomed the opportunity to “provide a space for respectful, thoughtful, in-depth conversation on complicated issues such as immigration.”

“As a global university committed to excellence and relevancy, we have a stake in this issue,” the president said, noting the 16 percent of UM international students who hail from 180 countries around the globe. He called higher education “one of the most vibrant U.S. export industries, one that prompts a huge trade surplus” and referenced the one million foreign students studying in the U.S. generating the support of 450,000 jobs.

“The consequences are grave if universities lose their place as a beacon for talent from around the world” as a result of restrictive immigration policy, Frenk added.

Read more Share

Trump’s visit to Florida met with protests over immigration decision for Haitians - The Miami Herald

By Jacqueline Charles, Julie K. Brown and Lance Dixon 

November 21, 2017 

South Florida community leaders Tuesday decried the Trump administration’s decision to return nearly 60,000 Haitians to their quake-ravaged homeland, calling it “heartbreaking” and “shameful” while vowing that their fight has just begun.

“We all know that Haiti is not ready to absorb so many of its children,” said Gepsie Metellus, executive director of Sant La, the Haitian Neighborhood Center in Miami. “This is a sad day, a very shameful day, a depressing day especially on a Thanksgiving eve where a nation of immigrants would be rebuking immigrants.”

The outrage spread to Palm Beach, too. Hundreds of Florida hospitality workers came by the busload from across the state to protest at President Donald Trump’s private beach club, Mar-a-Lago, where he was scheduled to arrive Tuesday for the Thanksgiving holiday. The union workers from Unite Here waved flags and marched in the searing sun on a bridge overlooking the resort, chanting “Shut it down.”

Read more Share

Trump’s Anti-Immigrant, Un-American Agenda Marches Forward - The Huffington Post

October 20, 2017

Since President Trump took office, each day seems to present new challenges for immigrants seeking safety and freedom in America. These past two weeks were no exception. On October 8, the White House released a laundry list of cruel and nativist “Immigration Principles and Policies,” the most draconian anti-immigrant document since the infamous Immigration Act of 1924, nearly a century ago. In the crosshairs are some of our country’s most vulnerable immigrants: DREAMers brought here by their families as children; unaccompanied minors fleeing murderous gangs in the most dangerous countries in the world; and asylum-seekers desperately pursuing freedom from persecution.

The Trump Administration’s shameful policies would make it easy to deport children to their death, strip asylum-seekers of basic due process protections, and remove countless immigrants without affording them their day in court. Most damning, the Administration pits Dreamers against other immigrants without legal status, including Dreamers’ own parents and Central American children in search of safety.

“As a DREAMer, I’m not settling for a bill that will harm millions of other immigrants in exchange for my own protection. No matter how [President Trump] wants to sugarcoat the proposal, as immigrant activists and DREAMers, we cannot support demands that put unaccompanied minors and other immigrants in harm’s way.” - Monica Lazaro, Americans for Immigrant Justice client and DACA recipient, October, 2017
Read more Share

Figuring out a path forward for 800,000 ‘Dreamers’ is subject of Barry Conference - The Miami Herald


November 02, 2017 

Figuring out a path forward for the 800,000 students who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was the subject of a recent conference at Barry University.

“These people are terrified about not knowing how to plan for the future. You have a pretty significant population who was given a relief [with DACA] and started planning ahead,” said Miami immigration attorney Michelle Ortiz. “So when all of a sudden, because there has been no legislative fix, a president changes his mind about what should happen to these people, anxiety and fear ensues.”

Read more Share

3000 Biscayne Blvd, Suite 400
Miami, FL 33137
T 305-573-1106
F 305-576-6273

10 G Street NE.
Suite 710
Washington, DC 20002
T 202-248-5080

About Us:

AI Justice is an award-winning non-profit law and advocacy firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. In Florida and on a national level, we champion the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocate for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serve as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; and speak for immigrant groups who have particular and compelling claims to justice.