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These activists helped immigrants in Miami during a year of many challenges - Miami Herald

Just before Christmas of 2015, Leah Cayasso came home with more than 50 letters for children who were being held at U.S. shelters for immigrants after crossing the Mexico-U.S. border.

A few days earlier, Leah’s mother, a Honduran immigrant, had asked her then 10-year-old daughter to write just one letter to a child in custody. But Leah thought the idea was so important that she recruited her school friends to write dozens more of the Christmas greetings.

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Asylum denials surge to 18-year high in Florida as Trump cracks down on refugees - Sun Sentinel

December 6, 2018

By Aric Chokey

Refugees requesting asylum in the U.S. to escape violence in their home countries have been more likely to be rejected in Florida this year than at any time in at least 18 years, a new report says.

Immigration judges in Miami rejected 86 percent of applicants in 2018 and in Orlando, judges turned down 85 percent. Those are the highest denial rates since at least 2001, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research organization at Syracuse University.

The group analyzes data from the federal government on topics such as immigration. The 2018 data includes denials in the latest fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30.

“Asylum has always been something that’s been difficult to get in general,” said Jessica Shulruff Schneider, an immigration lawyer and director of the detention program at Americans for Immigrant

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ICE Is Throwing A Record Number Of 18-Year-Olds Into Adult Detention On Their Birthdays - The Huffington Post

By Angelina Chapin

November 1, 2018

On Roberto’s 18th birthday in September, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers put metal cuffs on his hands and legs and a chain around his waist. They then drove him two hours from Homestead, the immigrant children’s shelter where he had been staying since May, to The Broward Transitional Center, an adult detention facility in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Once Roberto — a pseudonym HuffPost is using to protect his identity — arrived, he changed into an orange jumpsuit and entered the jail with guards standing at every exit and bunk beds for the almost 600 men inside. He was imprisoned, despite having a relative who had applied to sponsor him.

Lisa Lehner, an attorney at Americans For Immigrant Justice (AIJ) who worked on Roberto’s case, says she sees teenagers aging out of shelters and being transferred to adult detention in record numbers, due to the government’s recent crackdown on sponsors.

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Does President Trump have power to change Amendment 14? - ABC10

By Andrew Perez

October 30, 2018

MIAMI - For decades, being born in the U.S. meant you were an American citizen. But President Donald Trump wants to change that.    

But one expert from South Florida said the president doesn't have the power to put his plan into action. 

Trump made the comments Tuesday morning to "Axios on HBO." He said he could change Amendment 14 with a simple executive order.

"We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States," Trump said. 

His comments went viral.

"It's bologna," Cheryl Little said. "It's just not factually correct."

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Husband Seeking U.S. Citizenship Arrested by ICE During Marriage Interview - Newsweek



A marriage interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in Miami came to an abrupt end when the husband was unexpectedly arrested by ICE. 

María Eugenia Hernández and Oscar Hernández waited three years for the interview portion of Oscar's citizenship application. But questioning came to a halt when María was asked to step out of the office. 

Twenty minutes later, she was told that her husband had a deportation order from long ago and had been arrested by ICE. 

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Nicaraguan-born man detained by ICE during marriage interview - The San Diego Union-Tribune

October 3, 2018

Oscar Hernández, who crossed the Mexican border illegally in 2004, and his wife, María Eugenia, waited three years for a marriage interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Before the interview was over, Hernández had been detained by ICE.

“I went to the immigration appointment with a lot of confidence because it was an interview. I never imagined they would take my husband away under arrest,” María Hernández told the Miami Herald. “We are trying to do the right thing.”

The Hernándezes were married three years ago after dating for four years. The interview, which included a statement from their joint bank account, a marriage certificate and wedding photos, was meant to prove to ICE that their union is legitimate; María Hernández is a U.S. citizen and had filed a petition that would allow Oscar to become a legal citizen.

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Venezuelan Immigrants Get Trump Sympathy but Not Status - Stateline

October 2, 2018

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Arrests at immigration marriage interviews pop up in Florida - CNN

Wed October 3, 2018

Maria and Oscar Hernandez Miranda had been preparing for the marriage interview portion of Oscar's immigration application for a year and a half. As they sat in a Miami immigration office for the interview last week, the couple, who married in September 2015, was suddenly interrupted by the interviewer.

"He (told) me that he needed to speak to my husband alone, and he asked me to go out to the lobby," Maria told CNN. "Twenty minutes after, he came back and asked to talk to me and told me my husband was taken by ICE."

Lisa Lehner, a senior litigation attorney with Americans for Immigrant Justice, said she knows of at least four of these arrests, including Oscar's, happening in the Miami area, in the last month alone. Each one of the people arrested was an immigrant with deportation orders, married to a US citizen and applying for a "provisional waiver" application, to become a lawful permanent resident, according to Lehner. Oscar's arrest was first reported by the Miami Herald.

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Su esposo termina arrestado tras asistir a una cita con Inmigración para legitimar su matrimonio - Univision Noticias


1 Oct 2018 

María Eugenia Hernández acudió a la autoridad migratoria con el fin de demostrar que su matrimonio era válido y su esposo, quien ingresó como indocumentado a EEUU en el año 2005, obtuviera un permiso legal de permanencia, pero al iniciar la cita fue detenido. La Unión Americana de Libertades Civiles (ACLU) presentó una demanda argumentando que este tipo de entrevistas se han convertido en una trampa para los inmigrantes.

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ICE detains man during marriage interview - ThinkProgress

Oscar Hernández and his wife María Eugenia Hernández waited three years for their marriage interview last week with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But by mid-interview, the Hernándezes were separated and Oscar was on his way to an immigration detention facility, according to the Miami Herald.

USCIS conducts marriage interviews to ensure that marriages are legitimate and that immigrants like Oscar are eligible to have their immigration status legalized.

The Hernándezes brought with them to the interview a small album of wedding and family photos, their marriage certificate, and a statement from their joint bank account. Oscar is the primary wage-earner in the household.

The couple has been together for four years and married for three. Neither anticipated what ultimately happened to them.

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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.