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Home | Tag Archives: ACLU

Tag Archives: ACLU

ACLU Claims ICE Still Detaining Some Asylum-Seekers for No Reason Despite Court Order

Despite a federal judge’s order preventing immigration officials from arbitrarily holding asylum-seeking immigrants in federal detention, attorneys representing some of the detainees said Tuesday that the majority of the immigrants are still locked up for no reason.

Last month, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg granted a preliminary injunction preventing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from denying parole to asylum-seekers without an individual determination as to why. The lawsuit includes as defendants the El Paso, Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark and Philadelphia ICE field offices. The El Paso office covers West Texas and New Mexico.

Michael Tan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the lead lawyers on the case, said that as of last week ICE had granted parole to about 25 percent of the asylum-seekers included in the lawsuit.

It’s a far cry from the 90 percent rate that existed before President Donald Trump took office, he said, which leads the attorneys to believe that ICE continues to detain people without cause.

“There are reasons to believe that the government continues to ignore its own parole policy,” he said. That policy states that a person seeking asylum who has established his or her true identity should be released if they are not a flight risk or a threat to the public at large.

Tan said he understands that ICE officials aren’t required to grant parole to everyone, but he said that after speaking to attorneys working on the ground in the five field offices, ICE agents are still “checking boxes” for the sole purpose of denying the relief.

“To be clear, I am not saying there is some magic number,” he said. “[But] they are being denied parole based on a boilerplate checklist.”

From July 2, when Boasberg issued the order, through August 17, 145 out of 563 asylum-seekers had been granted parole. That includes 78 of the 286 El Paso cases.

A spokesperson in the El Paso ICE field office did not respond to a request for comment.

Kristen Greer Love, an attorney with the ACLU of New Mexico who is representing some of the asylum-seekers being held in El Paso and New Mexico, said ICE officials don’t explain the reasons a person was denied parole once their case is reviewed.

“It is sort of a blanket statement that the person is a flight risk or a danger to the community, or hasn’t presented adequate evidence to prove their identity,” she said. “ICE appears to be using, for example, the flight risk [excuse] even when people have presented robust evidence of having a sponsor who is either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident in the United States who has the means and commitment to make sure the person has the means to show up at the immigration proceedings.”

Love added that most of the people she’s spoken to have been detained since they arrived at the port of entry and sought asylum, which makes it impossible that they have a criminal history in this country.

Tan said the ACLU will ask the judge to grant its motion for more discovery to see if ICE can show it is complying with the order. The judge also asked the agency to submit a monthly report of parole determinations until further notice.

“It’s basically a fact-finding process where we can investigate whether the government is in fact complying the court order. If it’s not … we’ll ask the court to order additional remedies,” he said.

Read related Tribune coverage

Author: JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

ACLU of Texas Operates Election Protection Hotline

HOUSTON – Civil rights advocates are keeping a close watch on early voting that began this week in the presidential election to help Texans fully exercise their right to cast a ballot.

With higher than usual turnout expected for the election on Nov. 8, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has set up a toll free Election Protection Hotline to help voters navigate changes in the state’s Voter ID Law and to guard against voter suppression.

Satinder Singh, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Texas, says his group has trained additional hotline volunteers in anticipation of a high volume of calls.

“The voting requirements have changed in Texas regarding the voter ID Law and for people who are experiencing problems once they’re at the polls to see if we can get it resolved right then and there, and if not, for them to register a complaint,” he explains.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down much of the restrictive Texas Voter ID Law, saying it discriminates against minorities.

Following that, a federal judge ordered state elections officials to publish information, both before the election and at polling places, explaining the new ID rules to voters.

Singh says after just three days of early voting, the hotline already is getting complaints that elections officials are posting old voter ID instructions instead of the new ones in some polling places.

“We are definitely doing things that are new, and part of that’s driven by the unique nature of the election and also by the ever changing photo voter ID law in Texas,” Singh states.

He says the ACLU also became concerned after Republican candidate Donald Trump called on his followers to “watch the polling places closely for illegal voting.”

“There’s also been another consequence as a result of some of the irresponsible rhetoric, in that people are fearful that their ballot will not be registered as a vote,” Singh adds.

He says the goal of the hotline is to provide the information people need to cast a ballot, although he adds that the ACLU will not hesitate to bring legal action if voters are denied their rights.

The hotline is available at 1-888-507-2970 or go to aclutx.org

Author:  Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

Texas Law protects landlords who lease to non-violent ex-offenders

A new law protects Texas landlords from liability when they lease apartments to persons with a non-violent criminal history.

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, which backed House Bill 1510 in the 2015 Legislature, has published a set of guidelines to help both landlords and potential tenants understand their rights under the new law, which went into effect Jan. 1.

Doug Smith, a policy analyst with Texas CJC, says the aim is to keep people who’ve served their time from going back to prison.

“Two of the factors that are most associated with recidivism, with increased likelihood that someone will be rearrested or go back to prison, are employment instability and housing instability,” says Smith.

He says the law was formulated along with the Texas Smart-On-Crime Coalition and other groups as diverse as the ACLU and the Texas Association of Business. The guide instructs landlords about how the law works to protect them when they lease a dwelling to a tenant with a record. Another guide is written to instruct advocates and individuals seeking housing.

Smith says in the past, many property owners have had a general ban on leasing to persons with criminal records. He says that while the law does not require landlords to rent to ex-offenders, he’s hoping it will change at least some minds.

“For landlords it really raising awareness that the threat of liability is not there,” says Smith. “And if they take a risk on someone who might have a non-violent offense, they don’t have to be concerned that they might get sued by other tenants within that community.”

The new guidelines are being distributed to property managers and landlords across the state, as well as advocacy groups and others. Copies of the guidelines are available at texascjc.org

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service

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