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Miami Federal Judge Orders ICE to Halt Somali Deportation Flight - The Daily Business Review

By Catherine Wilson

December 20, 2017

A Miami federal judge ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt its planned deportation of 92 Somalis after what was described as a harrowing two-day ordeal on an initial attempt.

“The judge acted just in time,” Rebecca Sharpless, lead attorney on the lawsuit and director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, said Wednesday. ”The government confirmed that our clients would have been on a flight to Somalia” Wednesday morning if not for the order issued late Tuesday following a hearing by phone.

class action lawsuit claimed the Somalis were bound and shackled on an airplane for nearly two days, some urinating on themselves, during a botched U.S. deportation attempt that began Dec. 7.

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Detained Somalis in Miami faced ‘slave ship experience,’ suit arguing for asylum says - The Miami Herald

By Howard Cohen

December 19, 2017

The University of Miami’s immigration law clinic has sued federal immigration officials, seeking to prevent the deportation of 92 Somalis being held at two Miami detention centers, who said they were shackled, beaten and prevented from going to the bathroom on a plane for 48 hours while in U.S. custody, the clinic’s director said.

“I think the conditions they described — hands tied to waist and legs and being forced to sit for 48 hours, coupled with the abuse that occurred are conditions reminiscent of a slave-ship experience,” Rebecca Sharpless, director of the UM Immigration Clinic, said Tuesday.

The clinic, working with Legal Aid Service of Broward County, the James H. Binger Center for New Americans at the University of Minnesota Law School and Americans for Immigrant Justice, filed the class-action suit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Miami federal court on Monday. They sought to bar the immigration agency from deporting the Somali men and women, contending U.S. immigration law prohibits the forcible return of those who would be subject to persecution in their home countries.

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Somalis in South Florida Deported by ICE on "Slave Ship" File Class-Action Suit - Miami New Times

By Jerry Ianelli

December 19, 2017

In the early-morning hours of December 7, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Louisiana woke up 92 Somali detainees and shackled them by their wrists, waists, and ankles. The Somalis were then loaded onto a chartered airplane that was supposed to return them to Somalia. But then, for reasons the government has not yet explained, the plane landed in Dakar, Senegal. It sat on the ground for 23 hours and then headed back to the United States, landing in Miami.

The deportees were kept shackled in the airplane for at least 48 hours straight. ICE agents allegedly beat them, restrained them, and dragged them down the aisle. The agents laughed as toilets overflowed and some men urinated on themselves.

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Arrests of undocumented immigrants rise in Florida amid Trump crackdown

By Aric Chokey

December 7, 2017

After 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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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