Reflections

Automatic Extension of Work Authorization For Haitian TPS Recipients

July 20, 2018 

Due to processing delays, USCIS has issued an automatic extension of work authorization to eligible Haitian TPS recipients for whom work authorization is set to expire Saturday, July 21 and who have not yet received their employment authorization document (EAD). For the nearly 5,000 Haitian TPS recipients affected by this delay, automatic work authorization will be extended through January 17, 2019. See below for more information from USCIS, and contact the Family Defense Program if you have any additional questions or concerns. 

USCIS instructions to affected Haitian TPS holders:

USCIS is automatically extending the validity of certain employment authorization documents (EADs) issued under TPS Haiti through Jan. 17, 2019. If you are a TPS beneficiary under the Haiti designation with an EAD based on your TPS status, your EAD may now be valid through Jan. 17, 2019 if your EAD includes a category code of A12 or C19, you have not received your new EAD, and:

  • Your EAD expired on Jan.22, 2018, and you applied for a new EAD during the last re-registration period; or
  • Your EAD expired on July 22, 2017, and you applied for a new EAD on or after May 24, 2017.

You may continue to use your current EAD as evidence of your work authorization through Jan. 17, 2019. Because you have a pending EAD application, USCIS will mail you an individual Notice of Continued Evidence of Work Authorization that provides additional evidence of this automatic extension of your EAD through Jan. 17, 2019 to show to your employer. If you do not receive the Notice of Continued Evidence of Work Authorization within a week of July 22, 2018, please contact USCIS at 202-272-8377 or the UCSIS Contact Center number. You may provide your employer with this notice until you receive your Notice of Continued Evidence of Work Authorization. If USCIS approves your TPS re-registration application and you applied for new EAD, you will receive a new EAD with the expiration date of July 22, 2019.

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Are you eligible for relief from deportation under Pereira v. Sessions?

Call the Family Defense Program at 305-573-1106 or email familydefense@aijustice.org to learn more!

 

 

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Court Orders Separated Families Be Reunified in 30 Days: 5 Things You Should Know

July 6, 2018

1. The Trump Administration has been forcibly separating families since July 2017, regardless of their manner of entry. Upon separation, parents were moved to criminal custody or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention, and children were designated as unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and placed in shelters scattered across the country, including Florida. Children that were separated from their parents as early as July 2017 have yet to be reunited with their parents. 

2. On June 26, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the government to reunite all separated children with their parents by July 26, 2018. The judge also ordered that children under 5 be reunited by July 10, parents be allowed to speak with their children by July 6, and that no parents be deported without their children (absent a knowing waiver). On July 6, 2018, the Justice Department asked Judge Sabraw to extend the amount of time the government has to reunify families, a strong indication that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and ICE will have trouble meeting the court’s order in just 30 days time.

3. There are no adequate systems in place to reunify families. At last count, nearly 3,000 children remain separated from parents who have been detained or already deported without their children. Initial estimates of separated children failed to take into account the hundreds of children torn apart from their families before the "zero tolerance" policy went into full effect in May 2018. Beyond the sheer volume of children desperately in need of reunification and the brisk timeline for doing so, the reunification process is further impeded by the limitations of inter-agency collaboration between ICE, the agency that detains parents in removal proceedings, and ORR, charged with sheltering children.

4. Parents are being coerced into waiving their asylum claims to be reunited with their children. In what is being termed “airport reunification,” parents are reportedly agreeing to expedited removal in exchange for reunification with their children. An attorney from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) told CNN that "many [parents] are being pressured to sign this [form] before they’ve even seen a judge, and despite not having a final order of removal."

5. The right to seek asylum at our border – whether at an official port of entry or not – is protected under U.S. and international laws. Nonetheless, countless immigrant families have been turned away – including at official ports of entry – without any opportunity to present their asylum case. Additionally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is seeking to indefinitely detain asylum seekers who have passed their credible fear interview for the entirety of their court proceedings, and to eliminate asylum protections for immigrants who enter illegally.

 

 

 

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The Facts Behind the Headlines: Family Separation

Upon arrival at the border, Pedro, an 8-year-old indigenous Guatemalan child, witnessed several immigration officers throwing his father to the ground and assaulting him. When Pedro screamed at the officers to stop, he was ripped away from his father without explanation. Pedro cries when recalling the incident and still has no idea where his father is. His AI Justice attorney has searched for the father on the detainee locator but has been unable to find him.

- Account in AI Justice's report Building the Wall: A New War on Immigrants

AI Justice has a long history of providing free legal services to unaccompanied minors. Over the past week, two issues relating to the treatment of children taken into U.S. custody at the Southwest border have circulated widely in the media. One relates to reports that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has "lost" about 1,500 unaccompanied minors who were released from custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the second references recent efforts by the United States government to separate parents from their children at the border. Immigration issues tend to be complex and the following sets forth basic facts regarding recent developments affecting immigrant children arriving at our border.

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Cuffs Too Tight: The Shackling and Evacuation of Detained Immigrants during Hurricane Irma

Dec. 5, 2017

By: Lily Hartmann, AI Justice Jonathan Demme Human Rights Advocate

Masiel, a Costa Rican native and victim of gender-based violence, is waiting out her remaining time in the United States at the Broward Transitional Center (BTC), an immigration detention center in South Florida. She’s agreed to voluntary departure, but her deportation flight won’t be her first experience with ICE Air. As a matter of fact, she and several other women at BTC call themselves the “Texas Survivors” - and for good reason.

As Hurricane Irma approached Florida, all detainees were told late one September evening they were going to be evacuated – but they weren’t told to where. Each detainee was shackled and handcuffed, their hands chained to a belt at their waists. People’s arms ached in discomfort after spending hours in handcuffs. Masiel told me, “The handcuffs and shackles were put on so tight they left us with marks. I and many other women had swollen ankles after wearing shackles for many days. We were treated as if we were criminals.” Pregnant and elderly women were subjected to this treatment, too.

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A Day in Immigration Court

October 27, 2017

By: Lily Hartmann, AI Justice Jonathan Demme Human Rights Advocate

I came to AI Justice in early September from Providence, RI, where I worked with refugee community leaders and other stakeholders to support refugee families who had already been given the right to protection here while in their home countries or refugee camps. But the situation for undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers in the U.S. is much different; they must fight for legal protection within a system built out of draconian immigration laws. Although I have learned a lot about the immigration system in my time at AI Justice, my visit to Miami Immigration Court last week revealed the true nature of the uphill battle unaccompanied minors face in our legal system. 

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Reflection on “Building the Wall” and Discussion between Cheryl Little and the Playwright

October 6, 2017

By: Lily Hartmann, AI Justice Jonathan Demme Human Rights Advocate

“Who would want to come to the U.S. now?” asks Rick, a convicted former private prison manager, in his final line of playwright Robert Schenkkan’s BUILDING THE WALL. The play tells the story of an overcrowded Texas immigration detention center where a private prison company prioritizes its profits over immigrant lives. Schenkkan’s work is both a realistic depiction and a dystopic vision of the state of immigration enforcement. As Rick paints a picture of the horrid, man-made deportation machine, audience members are left to wonder which pieces of his story reflect our current reality and which imagine a tragedy years into the Trump presidency.

In a talk back that followed the play’s Miami premiere, Schenkkan said he was struck by the media’s efforts to normalize Trump’s violent rhetoric towards women and black and brown immigrant communities during the 2016 presidential election. “We had crossed the line,” the playwright reflected. As an artist, Schenkkan believes he has a responsibility to respond, to encourage truth telling and compassion, and to shed light on the stark realities of immigration today. From this sense of concern, BUILDING THE WALL emerged as a work in motion, responding to the Trump administration as it unfolds.

As the play centers on the inhumane treatment of immigrants in detention, it sends the message that the idea of Trump’s Border Wall is largely metaphorical. The ‘wall’ is really the collection of prisons, ICE agents, deportation orders, and other forms of violence against immigrants that will deter and prevent new immigrants from entering the country. It is a force that will only grow with new anti-immigration laws and attacks on the undocumented community.

Immigration advocates, lawyers, and service providers, including AI Justice’s own staff, will find this play eerily haunting and at times traumatic as it reflects on the ways the immigration enforcement system dehumanizes the undocumented. But for audience members with little knowledge of current immigration issues, BUILDING THE WALL is jarring and alarming. It begins to pull back the curtain on a deportation system largely hidden from the public eye. AI Justice’s Executive Director, Cheryl Little, commented, “The audience every evening should be full...these are things you think couldn’t happen in the U.S.” Little then shared stories about undocumented students living in fear and ICE’s neglect of immigrant detainees’ health that has resulted in life-threatening situations.

The issues of immigration enforcement discussed in this play touch upon the fears and daily challenges faced by Americans for Immigrant Justice’s clients. And so, today, October 6, AI Justice hosts a panel after the performance of BUILDING THE WALL with DREAMers directly impacted by Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. We look forward to the opportunity to share with our Miami community this powerful play as well as our own reflections on the current challenges faced by immigrants in South Florida.

 

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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.