Monday , October 16 2017
Home | Tag Archives: trump immigration

Tag Archives: trump immigration

Report: Texas Could Lose Billions if New Immigration Enforcement Law Stands

Representatives from Texas’ business, local government and higher education sectors argued Tuesday that the state’s new immigration-enforcement law, which is slated to take effect Sept. 1, could do billions of dollars in damage to the Texas economy.

Using data from the 2015 American Community Survey and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance — a group made up of 40 state-based immigrant and civil rights groups — estimated during a Tuesday press conference that the state stands to lose roughly $223 million in state and local taxes and more than $5 billion in gross domestic product under Senate Bill 4.

The law, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May and seeks to outlaw “sanctuary” jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials, would also allow local police officers to ask about a person’s immigration status when they are detained — not just when they are charged with a crime.

“We estimate those costs as they relate to jobs, earnings, taxes and GDP if 10 percent of undocumented immigrants were to leave Texas,” the group said, calling that 10 percent figure a conservative estimate. The group analyzed the top 10 industries that benefit from undocumented labor and used Harvard University economist George Borjas‘ undocumented population analysis in its research, according to the methodology outlined in the study.

Supporters of the legislation argue it’s needed to prevent local law enforcement officials from providing a safety net to deportable and violent undocumented immigrants who have already been charged with crimes. But opponents — who are keeping their fingers crossed that a judge will halt the measure before it takes effect — say it’s a racial-profiling bill that’s similar to Arizona’s “show-me-your-papers” law.

The economic argument isn’t a new one for opponents of the law; several Democratic state lawmakers tried and failed to convince their colleagues of its merit during this spring’s regular legislative session. State Democrats also called for an update to a study released in 2006 by former Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. That analysis showed that undocumented immigrants who lived in Texas in 2005 added $17.7 billion to the state’s economy.

In a statement Tuesday, representatives from local chambers of commerce at the news conference went after the lawmakers who championed the legislation, calling them dishonorable. 

“Each of you standing with us have a big job to do,” said Ramiro Cavazos, the CEO of San Antonio’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “And that it is to protect this economy for our children and our grandchildren.”

The Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Bilateral African American Chamber, the United Chamber of Commerce Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley Chamber of Commerce were among those represented at the news conference.

They also tied SB 4 to the state Legislature’s current debate over whether transgender Texans should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The legislation, backed by conservative lawmakers, would restrict bathroom use in schools and local government buildings to what’s on a person’s birth certificate.

The National Football League has expressed concerns that passing such a bill could affect the league’s decision to host next year’s draft in Dallas, the chamber groups said. “Similarly, professional sports players’ associations may oppose SB 4, given the diversity of their memberships, and may withhold events from Texas.”

The constitutionality of SB 4 is still being weighed in two federal courts in Texas.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • The border city of El Paso on Tuesday voted to add its name to the list of local governments that have joined a lawsuit to stop Texas’ immigration bill, Senate Bill 4, from going into effect. [link]
  • The Justice Department filed a statement of interest in the federal court case over Texas’ Senate Bill 4, arguing that the state is within its rights to adopt the anti-“sanctuary cities” law. [link]

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

Immigrants Left in Limbo After Obama-Era Program Rescinded

DALLAS – A decision by the Trump Administration last week is keeping hope alive for immigrants brought to Texas and the rest of the U.S. as children. But the news isn’t as good for their parents.

The Department of Homeland Security said it has rescinded the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, but is keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – at least for now. This means about 750,000 young people, often known as Dreamers, will not be targeted for deportation – but many of their parents are now at risk.

Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, said he predicts these decisions will divide families.

“I would have expected an administration that believes in family to accompany this announcement with some acknowledgement of the need to protect the parents, family members of United States citizen kids,” Saenz said. “We did not get that.”

President Barack Obama created the DACA and DAPA programs in 2014. A group of states, led by Texas, challenged them in court. After a 4-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, DAPA never went into effect.

President Donald Trump promised during his campaign to rescind all the Obama immigration orders, but since his election, he has said he might not roll back DACA.

Saenz said immigrants registered under the programs have been in legal limbo since the split court ruling. Now parents are left with no protections while their children are still covered by DACA, but no one seems to know for how long.

“But I think the demonstrated unpredictability means that while this is, as of today, an indication that they won’t be changing the DACA initiative,” he said, “that could change tomorrow, next month, six months from now,”

Nationwide, there are about 750,000 children of immigrants registered in the DACA program. DAPA would have applied to as many as 4 million immigrants, but because of the stalemate in the courts, the program was never fully implemented.

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

El Paso County Files Civil Lawsuit Against Texas, Gov. Abbott, AG & DPS Director over SB4

On Monday May 22, 2017, El Paso County filed a civil lawsuit against the State of Texas, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw alleging SB4 violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2), and the Texas Constitution.

The lawsuit was filed this afternoon in San Antonio, Texas by the law firm of Garza Golando Moran, PLLC, on behalf of El Paso County, El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles, and the Texas Organizing Project with the assistance of the Texas Civil Rights Project.

The lawsuit alleges Senate Bill 4 is a discriminatory legislation that unnecessarily makes Texas less safe while eroding the discretion of elected officials and local communities to govern themselves.

Its implications particularly affect a border community like El Paso County that is over 80% Hispanic and whose residents already face diminished Constitutional rights as a result of its location next to Mexico.

Ironically, like most of Texas, El Paso County is not a “sanctuary city.” It cooperates with federal law enforcement agencies and is already one of the safest large cities in the United States.

The lawsuit claims SB 4 inexplicably and unconstitutionally seeks to erode the discretion of local law enforcement and local elected officials to create policies and practices that keep the community safe and that respect the rights of the nationalities and races of all residents and visitors.

The discriminatory intent of this law is made clear by the legislative process and intent of its creation. It is unconstitutionally vague and oversteps the US and Texas constitutional protections of free speech, local discretion and regulation of immigration laws. It is for these reasons that El Paso filed this suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

The lawsuit asks the court to:

 Declare SB4 unconstitutional and invalid.

 Enjoin the State of Texas from enforcing SB4.

 Award El Paso County court costs and attorney’s fees.

In part, the lawsuit contends SB4 violates the Texas Constitution because it interferes with El Paso County’s ability to exercise its broad discretion in accomplishing its constitutionally assigned duties to provide county government services to all its residents. It also interferes with the El Paso County Sheriff’s constitutional duty to decide policy in the area of law enforcement, including the operation of the County jail, removing all discretion to make and enforce rules.

SB4 also interferes with the El Paso County Attorney’s exclusive prosecutorial function, and its discretion regarding her duty to protect victims of crime, including victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

SB 4 Original Complaint Stamped (1)

Advocates call for More “Sanctuary Congregations” Ahead of new Texas Law

Before Senate Bill 4, a far-reaching immigration law, goes into effect on Sept. 1, opponents are mobilizing across Texas, including those hoping to see more Texas churches offer “sanctuary” to the undocumented.

The backdrop for Rev. Noel Andersen’s sermon last week wasn’t a church dais but the gates of the Governor’s Mansion in Austin. The unusual setting didn’t stop him from preaching about his disappointment in Gov. Greg Abbott for signing one of the most aggressive state-based immigration laws in the country the night before.

“Somebody told me once that the Bible was important here,” Andersen said, ginning up an already fiery crowd of opponents that have, since January, railed against Senate Bill 4.

Andersen is from Washington, D.C., where his nonprofit, Church World Service, is based. But he said he expects to spend much of the summer in Texas, working to reignite a movement of churches offering “sanctuary” to the undocumented, an effort that has taken on a new urgency since Abbott signed SB 4, which goes into effect Sept. 1.

“We do expect to see a greater need now as immigrants are being more targeted through SB 4 and through President Trump’s policies,” Andersen said. “[The goal is] helping stop a deportation order and creating space to create a legal campaign to be able to stop that deportation and keep those people with their families.”

The bill allows peace officers to question the immigration status of people they legally detain or arrest. It also punishes department heads and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents. The governor and other supporters of the bill insist it’s needed to deter people who are already in the country illegally from committing more crimes.

But law enforcement agencies and faith-based organizations argue the law opens up the state to legalized racial profiling and threatens to undermine the trust immigrants place in local police officers. Some religious groups argue that those concerns have been largely ignored by Texas Republican leaders that have supported the bill. The governor’s office did not respond to an email requesting comment for this story.

But Andersen said there is a silver lining if the new law draws more attention to the decades-long practice of recognizing churches and other buildings as “sensitive locations” when it comes to immigration enforcement.

“Sanctuary congregations are committed to opening their congregations to undocumented people who are in need,” Andersen said. “Oftentimes, that includes someone facing a deportation order or an imminent deportation.”

Andersen’s effort is just one example of how opponents of SB 4 are expected to mobilize over the summer across Texas ahead of the bill’s Sept. 1 implementation date. Last week, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Maverick County and the city of El Cenizo sued Texas over the bill. More lawsuits are expected.

Faith-based groups have the wind at their backs in one respect: Immigration and Customs Enforcement have long recognized churches and other buildings as generally off limits, except under extreme circumstances.

“The policies provide that enforcement actions at or focused on sensitive locations such as schools, places of worship, and hospitals should generally be avoided, and that such actions may only take place when (a) prior approval is obtained from an appropriate supervisory official, or (b) there are exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action without supervisor approval,” an ICE memo states.

The “sensitive locations” policy predates Trump, but Andersen said he hasn’t heard the administration has plans to change it. In a memo released in March, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed the policy was still in effect.

“They could rescind that, but we believe even without that policy … there is a certain symbolic protection that congregations and places of worship have,” he said.

The movement has been around since the 1980s, when a wave of Central American immigrants came to the United States seeking refuge. After a meeting between Presbyterians and a Quakers in Arizona, the two networks joined forces and began offering safe haven to Nicaraguans and El Salvadorans, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The movement eventually spread to Illinois, northern California and South Texas.

The movement has experienced a resurgence in the country since 2014 that included an Austin case involving a Central American undocumented immigrant. In June 2015, Sulma Franco, a gay woman from Guatemala, was taken in by the staff of First Unitarian Universalist Church after receiving a final deportation order. She said her sexual orientation made her a target in the violent Central American country and refused to report to ICE. The agency eventually relented, and Franco was granted a stay two months later.

To be sure, not all faith-based groups view themselves as sanctuary congregations, but some have a history of aiding undocumented people in other ways.

“Texas Baptist Convention has an immigration service center in San Antonio, but it doesn’t house anyone,” said Dr. Gus Reyes, the director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission. “But anyone who is here and has any possibility of receiving legal status or going from a green card visa to becoming a U.S. citizen, we try to help those folks.”

Last week, Andersen expressed hope that Austin would set the example and spread the sanctuary message across the state.

“We have a strong movement in Austin, and we have dedicated faith leaders that work with immigrants and refugees throughout Texas,” he said.

Read related coverage:

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Signs “Sanctuary Cities” Bill into Law

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a ban on “sanctuary cities” into law on Sunday, putting the final touch on legislation that would also allow police to inquire about the immigration status of people they lawfully detain.

“Texas has now banned sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State,” Abbott said in a brief video address on Facebook. Abbott signed the bill without advance notice in a five-minute live broadcast on the social media site, avoiding protests a customary public signing might have drawn.

“We’re going to where most people are getting their news nowadays and talking directly to them instead of speaking through a filter,” said John Wittman, a spokesman for Abbott.

Senate Bill 4 makes sheriffs, constables, police chiefs and other local leaders subject to Class A misdemeanor charges if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities and honor requests from immigration agents to hold noncitizen inmates who are subject to deportation. It also provides civil penalties for entities in violation of the provision that begin at $1,000 for a first offense and climb to as high as $25,500 for each subsequent infraction. The bill also applies to public colleges.

The final version of the bill included a controversial House amendment that allows police officers to question a person’s immigration status during a detainment — perhaps including traffic stops — as opposed to being limited to a lawful arrest. It has drawn fierce opposition from Democrats and immigrants rights groups, who are already gearing up for a legal battle against the law.

Abbott defended the legality of the law Sunday, saying key parts of it have “already been tested at the United States Supreme Court and approved there.”

That could soon come to a test. Sunday night’s signing prompted a fast and negative reaction from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF, which referred to the new Texas law as “a colossal blunder” and promised to fight it, “in court and out.”

The proposal was one of Abbott’s priorities; he listed it as one of four emergency items at the start of the legislative session and it is the first of the four to reach his desk.

He had said it was especially needed after Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced earlier this year that her department would reduce its cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Moments before signing the bill, Abbott also invoked the case of Kate Steinle, a California woman who was killed in a 2015 shooting by a Mexican man who had been previously deported multiples times.

“Kate’s death was more than a murder — it was gross negligence by government policy,” Abbott said. “Texas will not be complicit in endangering our citizens the way Kate Steinle was endangered.”

Read related coverage:

Author: PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

State Senator Rodriguez: SB4 ‘Harms public safety, violates due process, diminishes Texas’

Austin – Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, released the following statement regarding SB 4:

For years, whether out of sincere or cynical motives, politicians have conflated immigrants and crime, and have denigrated our border communities as unsafe and out of control. The facts do not bear this out. SB 4 is the culmination of growing anti-immigrant sentiment that emerged fully in the last presidential campaign and has taken root in Texas.

SB 4 was bad when it left the Senate, and did not get better in the House. Texas has completed its transition from the state that welcomed free trade and embraced Mexican and other immigrants only a generation ago into one that disguises discrimination as security.

How else do you explain it when your top law enforcement officials tell you that a proposal will make communities less safe, as they overwhelmingly did during the debate over SB 4, and yet you persist in passing the bill and saying it’s about public safety?

Among other things, SB 4 allows local police to make instant decisions about complex federal immigration law, which is a recipe for discriminatory constitutional violations.

Some facts about SB 4:

  • Texas cannot eliminate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure:

o   An ICE request to county jails to detain a person must be based on probable cause that the person is violating immigration law.

o   But these detainers are not issued by an independent judge who reviews them for probable cause. They are issued by immigration officers.

o   Federal courts in other jurisdictions have already held that a county’s compliance with voluntary immigration detainers violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

  • SB4 coerces local governments and higher education institutions:

o   Creates a separate criminal offense under state law for failure to comply with the bill, making local officials personally liable for performance of each and every law officer working in their jurisdiction.

o   Subjects local entities to Attorney General lawsuits originating from public complaints that may have no merit, eroding community relations and creating unnecessary expense.

o   Singles out the enforcement authority of University Campus police to target students that may be DREAMers or DACA recipients.

  • El Paso County is under a settlement entered in federal court in 2006 that prohibits the county from enforcing civil immigration law. The settlement resulted from traffic checkpoints set up by the El Paso Sheriff’s Department in which it was alleged deputies conducted unlawful searches, seizures and detentions. SB 4 is virtually certain to result in a costly lawsuit for El Paso County, which must choose between a federal settlement agreement and compliance with this new state law.

“Sanctuary Cities” Bill Clears Latest Hurdle, Heads to Abbott for Signature

The Texas Senate on Wednesday voted 20-11 to accept the House’s version of Senate bill 4, legislation that would ban “sanctuary” jurisdictions in Texas and allow police to inquire about the immigration status of people they lawfully detain.

The bill now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott, who declared the legislation an “emergency item” in the early days of the legislative session, and is widely expected to sign it.

The legislation makes sheriffs, constables, police chiefs and other local leaders subject to a Class A misdemeanor if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities and honor requests from immigration agents to hold noncitizen inmates subject to deportation. It also provides civil penalties for entities in violation of the provision that begin at $1,000 for a first offense and climb to as high as $25,500 for each subsequent infraction. The bill also applies to public colleges.

But the final version also includes a controversial House amendment that allows police officers to question a person’s immigration status during a detainment, as opposed to being limited to a lawful arrest. Democrats and immigrant rights groups argue this makes the bill “show-me-your-papers”-type legislation that will allow police to inquire about a person’s immigration status during the most routine exchanges, including traffic stops.

Before Wednesday’s vote, some lawmakers were still hopeful the bill would go to a conference committee where lawmakers from both chambers could strip the amendment from the bill. But during a floor debate Wednesday before the measure was approved by the Senate, the bill’s author, state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, said that the bill doesn’t require that officers ask a person’s immigration status. However the language does leave the door wide open for officers to make such inquiries if they feel the need during routine stops.

“We certainly don’t want ‘walking while brown’ to lead to reasonable suspicion,” said state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston. “It will happen. And in some parts of my district, it already is happening.”

Sen. Sylvia Garcia D-Houston  looks on as Se. Jose Menendez D-San Antonio ask questions to author of SB4, Sen. Charles Perry R-Lubbock as the  bill is heard again in the Senate after changes made by the House.  May 3, 2017
Sen. Sylvia Garcia D-Houston looks on as Se. Jose Menendez D-San Antonio ask questions to author of SB4, Sen. Charles Perry R-Lubbock as the bill is heard again in the Senate after changes made by the House. May 3, 2017

The amendment to allow local police to ask about immigration status during a detainment was added during a 16-hour House debate by Tyler Republican Matt Schaefer, who told the Tribune last week that he had been willing to pull the proposal if Democrats had agreed to limit the debate of the bill on the House floor. But whatever deal was allegedly in the works fell through and Democrats could only sit and watch as the amped up version of the bill passed the lower chamber.

Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have said the bill is about rule of law and making sure that criminals who are also in the country illegally should be deported before they are able to commit more crimes in this country.

Patrick praised the Senate’s move late Wednesday in a news release, saying, “I have been working to end sanctuary cities in Texas since my days as a state senator. This legislation will eliminate a substantial incentive for illegal immigration and help make Texas communities safer.”

But several law enforcement leaders have said the bill will erode the public’s trust.

“Officers would start inquiring about the immigration status of every person they come in contact with, or worse, inquire about the immigration status of people based on their appearance,” David Pughes, the interim chief of police for Dallas and Art Acevedo, chief of police for Houston, wrote in an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News last week. “This will lead to distrust of police and less cooperation from members of the community. And it will foster the belief that people cannot seek assistance from police for fear of being subjected to an immigration status investigation.”

Abbott’s signature on the bill will cap his quest to ban “sanctuary” cities that made national headlines after Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced in January she would limit her jail’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs and Enforcement. Hernandez later amended her policy but not before Abbott withheld state grant funds from the county.

It’s unclear however, if Abbott’s signature on the bill will be the end of the conversation. Several lawmakers have said a lawsuit to stop the implementation of SB 4 is very likely and cite several reasons, including legal questions surrounding the federal preemption of immigration laws and whether ICE detainers are voluntary.

Before the final vote, Perry seemed to acknowledge as much.

“We will let the court systems figure this out,” he told state Sen. Jose Menendez during a lengthy back-and-forth about probable cause.

Read related coverage:

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

NMSU Screens Film, hosts Panel Discussion for Transnational Solidarity Day

New Mexico State University is screening the film “The Deportation of Innocence” by Francisco Alarcon, followed by a panel discussion of immigration professionals and a poster board session of student projects as part of Transnational Solidarity Day on Thursday, May 4.

The documentary “The Deportation of Innocence” captures the story of four children and their immigrant families as they experience deportation and its effects on their lives.

The panel discussion will include Rafael Alarcón Acosta, research professor fom El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico; Macrina Cardenas Monteño, a volunteer at Casa del Migrante de Tijuana; and Eugenia Hernandez Sanchez, a research professor from the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez.

To learn more about the film, click HERE; to see the trailer for the film click HERE.

WHO: NMSU’s gender and sexuality studies in the interdisciplinary studies department along with Mujeres y Hombres Activ@s Revolucionar@s (MHAR) are sponsoring the program.

WHEN: Thursday, May 4 between 5:30-7:30 p.m.

• Reception and poster board session 5:30-6 p.m. on 2nd floor
• Film screening from 6-7 p.m. in Room 225
• Panel Discussion from 7-7:30 p.m. in Room 225

WHERE: NMSU’s Hardman-Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center

Author:  Minerva Baumann – NMSU

In Apparent Case of Mistaken Identity, Father Caught in ICE Sting

Undocumented immigrant Miguel Angel Torres was on his way to deliver Valentine’s Day chocolates to his daughter last week near Austin. Now, in what his family calls a case of mistaken identity, Torres is in an immigration lock-up near San Antonio.

With Donald Trump in the White House and rumors of widespread law enforcement raids percolating throughout her heavily immigrant community in North Austin, Irma Perez said she decided to help pay off her brother’s unpaid tickets to help him avoid any trouble.

It would lead to her own family’s undoing.

On Friday, Perez got a call from a neighbor with disastrous news: Her husband — not her brother — got picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after dropping off their three daughters at school in Pflugerville.

What began as an apparent case of mistaken identity soon mushroomed into a full-blown family crisis. Their dreams of opening a food truck in North Austin were dashed, and the family abandoned their home because it was now on ICE’s radar. On Monday, their girls, all U.S. citizens, were on their way to an immigrant detention facility in Pearsall, 150 miles from Austin, to see their father.

Miguel Angel Torres, who has lived in Austin for 14 years as an undocumented immigrant, worked as a cook at an Austin restaurant. Perez, his wife, is also undocumented, and so is her brother, Jose Manuel Perez.

Torres was one of an undetermined number of people detained in Texas in the past few days as part of national ICE operations that sent panic through immigrant communities. In a written statement released to reporters Monday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that ICE, in “targeted” operations last week, detained more than 680 individuals nationwide, 75 percent of whom had criminal records, including homicide and sexual abuse.

“These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as those who have violated our immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges,” Kelly said in the statement.

Torres’ family wasn’t expecting him to get caught up in the mix.

“[My husband] is a person who’s never done anything wrong and who complies with the law,” Perez said in her native Spanish. “We don’t know why they detained him. He was driving his own car, not my brother’s. He has nothing to do with my brother.”

On Friday morning, she said ICE officers wearing civilian clothes and driving an unmarked van detained Torres. She said he was on his way to deliver a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates to their youngest daughter when he was stopped by agents who asked if he was Jose Manuel Perez — her brother.

Dana Torres (8), whose father, Miguel Angel Torres, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement leaving her mother to care for their three daughters on Feb. 12, 2017. | Photo courtesy Martin do Nascimento for The Texas Tribune.
Dana Torres (8), whose father, Miguel Angel Torres, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement leaving her mother to care for their three daughters on Feb. 12, 2017. | Photo courtesy Martin do Nascimento for The Texas Tribune.

When he said he wasn’t, Irma Perez said, they forced him out of his car anyway and said, “Well, we’re detaining you.”

She says four days before her husband was detained, she provided her own address instead of her brother’s when submitting payment for her brother’s tickets in Manor, a town in Travis County just northeast of Austin.

Lawyers working on her case believe ICE officers waited outside the family’s home thinking Torres was Irma Perez’s brother, who she said had been previously deported.

The Tribune reached out to ICE about the Torres case, and the agency said it was still working on that request as of late Monday afternoon.

The ICE field office in San Antonio, which includes Austin, said Monday the agency detained 51 foreign nationals, 23 with criminal convictions, in the Austin area last week. The Mexican Consulate in Austin reported 44 Mexican citizens were picked up on Thursday and Friday in the Texas capital — a number that included a few whom Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez said happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Mark Kinzler, an immigration lawyer who has helped Irma Perez, told The Texas Tribune that “all kind of things look wrong” in the case against her husband.

“They were looking, apparently, for someone else, and he wasn’t that person but then they took him anyway,” Kinzler said.

ICE has criticized immigrant advocates for spreading “false” and “irresponsible” reports of widespread raids in immigrant communities. But Kinzler said the Torres detention fits a pattern of increased enforcement that goes beyond immigrants with criminal records.

“Even though ICE’s PR campaign is that they’re picking up criminals and picking up people with prior deports, and I’m sure some of them are, it already seems like a lot of them are not those people,” Kinzler said. “People who work every day and try to take care of their families are getting swept up [too].”

After the call from the neighbor alerting her to her husband’s detention, Perez said she immediately began looking for him. She and her parents spent hours trying to track him down before she finally got a call from a toll-free number. It was her husband telling her to go pick up the car he left behind.

Ever since, Irma Perez said she has remained close to a phone, waiting for more news from her husband.

“I’m in shock because we always saw this in the news and it only happened to other people,” she said. “It had never happened in my family, and it feels awful because it changes your life.”

Kinzler said they can expect at least two weeks of legal procedures to get Torres out of detention. However, the timing depends on how full the court is.

“Because of the time he’s been here, because he has a clean history and U.S. citizen kids, I will be able to get him out on a bond,” Kinzler said.

Perez said her family will have to start rounding up money to free her husband and pay for attorney’s fees as he fights removal from the country.

Irma Perez's husband, Miguel Angel Torres was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement leaving Irma to care for their three daughters Melani (12), Dana (8), and Jamilet (6). Martin do Nascimento for The Texas Tribune.
Irma Perez’s husband, Miguel Angel Torres was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement leaving Irma to care for their three daughters Melani (12), Dana (8), and Jamilet (6). Martin do Nascimento for The Texas Tribune.

Immigration lawyers advised Perez and her family to leave their home since ICE has their address on record. On Friday night, she moved her children and parents, who live with her, into her sister’s house.

Friday was the day Torres was going to open his own food truck, Sabor del Rancho, a dream his family said he’d nourished for years. Now, the trailer sits empty on North Lamar.

The family went to church Sunday and sang in the choir as they regularly do — without Torres, who was supposed to do his first solo performance at church. After mass, Irma and her daughters returned to her sister’s home. Sitting next to a candlelit altar with a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe, they tearfully retold how quickly their lives had been turned upside down.

Torres’ 12-year-old daughter Melani — who is part of a college readiness program and hopes to become a computer engineer one day — said her father would always drop her off and pick her up from school, so she was surprised when her mother picked her up on Friday.

“I saw her with teary eyes, and she said, ‘You have no idea what happened,'” Melani said, speaking in both Spanish and English during the interview. “I thought she was kidding because my dad would never be caught by ICE, but then our neighbor confirmed the news, and my sisters and I started crying.”

Authors:   MARIANA ALFARO AND JAY ROOT – The Texas Tribune

Immigrants Picked Up, but No Massive Raids, Authorities Say

U.S. and Mexican authorities are pushing back against reports of widespread raids that have sown panic in immigrant communities. But the “targeted operation” launched in recent days by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appears to be the largest of its kind since President Donald Trump took office.

In an interview with The Texas Tribune on Saturday, Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the consul general of Mexico in Austin, shot down social media reports suggesting that ICE had set up traffic checkpoints or was rounding up immigrants indiscriminately. ICE called the reports of massive round-ups “false, dangerous and irresponsible,” the New York Times reported.

In Austin, a liberal enclave with a brand new “sanctuary” policy at the local jail, Gonzalez Gutierrez said the raid was the most extensive he’d seen since he arrived in the Texas capital almost two years ago. He said some of those apprehended by ICE were not the original targets of the U.S. operation. All told there were 44 Mexican nationals apprehended in the Austin area on Thursday and Friday, he said. Typically the agency picks up a handful per day. It’s not clear how many immigrants from other countries may have been picked up in the operation.

Gonzales Gutierrez said ICE officials informed the consulate that they “are looking for specific persons that… have to be detained because they have failed to honor a deportation order or because they have a DWI-related warrant or because of domestic violence. It’s a wide range of issues.”

In some cases, he said some of the Mexican nationals who were with the targeted immigrants also got detained; he said that has happened in past operations.

“Whenever they find their target, for example in their vehicles, if in that same vehicle there [are] more people who are undocumented or who they presume are undocumented, then they detain everybody,” he said. “And so there [are] a few of our nationals that were caught up because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

While Gonzalez Gutierrez expressed concern about the specter of a large operation targeting immigrants, he said it’s important to let people know that is not what’s happening now.

“This is not the widespread massive raids that are sometimes described in social media,” he said. “We have found no evidence of those workplace raids, or school raids, [or] massive raids outside of hospitals that people were talking about in social media.”

Central Texas was prominently featured in several national news stories with unconfirmed reports of immigrant raids, vehicle checkpoints and random ID checks.

And in the last two days, immigrant lawyers and advocacy groups have sounded alarms in multiple cities over what they called unusual enforcement activity by ICE. In Los Angeles, for example, the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted: “URGENT: ICE conducted multiple raids of homes across the city.” Protests erupted soon after.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said at a news conference in California Friday night that the reports were flat wrong, according to local media reports.

“They’re not rounding anyone up,” Kelly said. “The people that ICE apprehend are people who are illegal, and then some.”

According to an ICE statement released to the news media in California, at least 160 people were apprehended over five days in the region as part of a routine “enforcement surge” targeting undocumented immigrants wanted by the agency. Of those, 150 had criminal records and five had removal orders, according to the reports.

KABC-TV in Los Angeles reported that 95 percent of the people detained in Southern California by ICE were men. Included were an MS-13 gang member from El Salvador, a Brazilian national wanted for cocaine trafficking and an Australian convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child, the station said.

Texas Tribune reporter Cassandra Pollock contributed to this story.

Author:  JAY ROOT – The Texas Tribune

State Senator Rodriguez: Texas’ Opportunity to Lead; Muslims, Immigrants Welcome

Austin – On Tuesday, Sen. José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus,  issued the following statement:

Today is Texas Muslim Capitol Day, and I for one welcome the visits. In my office, we don’t see Muslims or immigrants as threats. Religious freedom is a core American principle, and to target those of a particular faith with a broad brush is antithetical to our values.

Immigrants come seeking an opportunity to better their lives in a country whose founding document holds “all men are created equal” and promises “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all. With the exception of a few, all Americans were once immigrants. As in the past, today’s immigrants enrich our culture and are vital to our economy; in that, we are all in this together.

We saw that this weekend when, from Texas’ DFW to airports around the country, thousands of Americans rallied in reaction to the chaos of an ill-planned, un-American, and most likely illegal executive order that many experts say will make us less safe at home and endanger Americans stationed or traveling abroad.

No person in America has been killed by a terror attack by people from those countries, and the order did not address travelers from other countries that are known sponsors of terror, such as Saudi Arabia, where most of the 9-11 terrorists came from. Nor did the order address people from countries where the President has known business interests.

With this order, the President doesn’t build on our American values of inclusion, tolerance, and diversity but rather he stokes fear and sows division. Ironically, the order was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Thankfully, after a day of turmoil that dimmed the light of freedom we project to the world, federal judges in New York, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Washington issued temporary stays on the order, Media reports indicate lack of clarity and communication between the administration and the agencies charged with carrying out the order. What happened is not clear, and neither is what’s next.

This order was just the latest in a week of reckless actions taken by the new administration. The President put American taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars to build an unnecessary “wall” on the border, targeted immigrants for mass deportations, and then may have started a trade war with Mexico, Texas’ closest international business partner, which would be catastrophic for businesses and consumers.

Texas depends on immigrants for its economic vitality, from those who pick crops to those who create technology. The President’s first week in office was an attack on the people and policies that have helped Texas diversify its economy, on the soul of our nation of immigrants, and on our heart for those searching for a beacon of welcome. We reject these policies of fear.

On Thursday, Texans will get their first look at the trickle down effects of such attitudes on the Texas Legislature, as we debate a so-called “sanctuary cities” bill. This is an unnecessary proposal that does nothing to make us safer, will hurt business, and place communities under a cloud of suspicion.

We have defeated similar proposals in the past, but this is the first time that we will consider the proposal under a backdrop of a President recklessly targeting immigrants and minorities. The Texas Legislature cannot follow in his footsteps.

Last session, Muslim visitors were greeted by some legislators with demands that they sign loyalty oaths. Today, and every day, we must stand up against fear and bigotry with a Texas-size welcome.

Rep. O’Rourke: ‘Refusing Refugees is Shameful’

On Monday, via his Facebook page, Congressman Beto O’Rourke harshly criticized President Donald Trump’s Immigration Ban from several Middle Eastern countries.

In addition to his comments, O’Rourke also said he would be co-sponsoring a bill that would, if passed, prohibit the President from using religion to determine which immigrants would be allowed into the country.

Rep. O’Rourke’s complete comment is included below.

Refusing refugees is shameful. Accepting them based on their religion is unconstitutional. Banning immigrants from countries who had nothing to do with the worst terror attacks in this country’s history makes no sense. Stopping Syrians fleeing the worst slaughter and forced migration the world has seen in decades is inhumane.

And building walls between the U.S. and Mexico will humiliate one of our closest economic and security partners in the world.

All of these actions make our country less safe, not more. They make us weaker, not stronger. They ignore the best in who we are to embrace the worst.

Today I joined my colleague Grace Meng in co-sponsoring the “No Funds for Unconstitutional Executive Orders Act” which will prohibit the President from using religion to determine which refugees and immigrants are accepted into the United States.

I will continue to work with my colleagues to find ways to stop what’s un-American and offer proposals for what makes us stronger.

I will do everything in my power to reverse this slip in our national conscience and values lest it become a slide into a dark future of paranoia and tyranny.

Congressman Hurd: Immigration Ban ‘Ultimate Display of Mistrust’

San Antonio, TX – Former undercover CIA officer and Texas Congressman Will Hurd released the following statement in reaction to President Trump’s announcement that immigration to the United States would be limited from seven countries:

A one-size-fits-all solution is not the way to solve one of the most complex National Security challenges we face — Islamic Terrorism. The Executive Order banning visa adjudication from seven countries does not make us safer; rather it decreases the security of our homeland and endangers the lives of thousands of American men and women in our Military, diplomatic corps and intelligence services.

There are almost 10,000 Americans serving in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. A target has been placed on their backs by increasing tensions in an already volatile region. These men and women are fighting alongside citizens of those countries in order to keep Islamic Extremists on the run and off our shores.

As an undercover CIA officer I spent most of my adult life chasing down terrorists that would do our homeland and U.S. Citizens harm, so I know how important it is to cooperate with foreign allies to get the job done. We cannot fight the scourge of Islamic Extremism alone, and to prevent terrorists from having safe havens from which to plot, plan and train for attacks on the United States, we need to work with all allies around the world.

This visa ban is the ultimate display of mistrust and will erode our allies’ willingness to fight with us. The ban also provides terrorists with another tool to gain sympathy and recruit new fighters.

The way to solve this problem is to continue tightening visa loopholes, ensure that the right intelligence is being shared with our allies and amongst U.S. agencies and organizations, and to use a number of tools to keep Americans from falling prey to ISIS propaganda. Several bills passed the House or Senate last Congress to address these issues, but were not signed into law.

I will work to re-introduce legislation designed to keep all Americans safe, giving our President the opportunity to sign legislation that will protect our shores from those who seek to do us harm.

SW WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP 2017 728X90