Immigrants, Fearing Trump Crackdown, Drop Out of Nutrition Programs

Both documented and undocumented immigrants fear that accepting federal aid could make them ineligible for a green card if rules are changed.

Immigrants are turning down government help to buy infant formula and healthy food for their young children because they’re afraid the Trump administration could bar them from getting a green card if they take federal aid.

Local health providers say they’ve received panicked phone calls from both documented and undocumented immigrant families demanding to be dropped from the rolls of WIC, a federal nutrition program aimed at pregnant women and children, after news reports that the White House is potentially planning to deny legal status to immigrants who’ve used public benefits. Agencies in at least 18 states say they’ve seen drops of up to 20 percent in enrollment, and they attribute the change largely to fears about the immigration policy.

The Trump administration hasn’t officially put the policy in place yet, but even without a formal rule, families are already being scared away from using services, health providers say.

Read more at Politico.

A 5-Year-Old Girl in Immigrant Detention Nearly Died of an Untreated Ruptured Appendix

The death of a Guatemalan child soon after leaving immigration detention made national news this week amid speculation that conditions in detention were responsible for her demise. It is not clear why 19-month-old Mariee Juárez became fatally ill, or if she suffered medical neglect at the South Texas Residential Center, the family detention center better known as “Dilley.” Her family alleges that Mariee became ill due to unsafe conditions and died as a result of medical neglect.

At a different South Texas detention center, another young Guatemalan child recently came down with a common illness that is easy to identify in its early stages but which can kill if not diagnosed and treated. Treatment was delayed for days, however, and the delay put the little girl’s life at risk. And less than three months before that little girl became sick, a Honduran man who spent time at the same facility died from a life-threatening illness that was not diagnosed.

The child and the man were locked up at the infamous Border Patrol detention center in McAllen, Texas, where immigrants are kept for a few days before they are transported to long-term detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The McAllen center is notorious for putting detainees in cage-like rooms and, during the recent “zero tolerance” period, for separating parents from their children. Immigrants know it as “the icebox” and “the dog pound.”

Read more at The Intercept.


Mother Blames Poor Medical Care at Immigration Detention Facility for Death of her Toddler

When Yazmin Juarez crossed the Rio Grande with her 18-month-old daughter on March 1, she planned to join her mother in New Jersey, where she hoped her baby girl would grow up at a safe distance from the violence roiling their native Guatemala.

But Juarez, 20, and her daughter, Mariee, were stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. They were held for three weeks at an immigrant detention center in Dilley, Texas, where Mariee fell ill.

By the time they were released, Mariee was coughing, vomiting and battling a high fever. Juarez rushed her daughter to a hospital in Edison a day after landing at Newark Liberty International Airport on March 25, but Mariee spent her final weeks fighting for her life before she suffered a fatal hemorrhage on May 10.

Now lawyers representing the family say they plan to sue multiple agencies associated with the immigrant detention center where Mariee started showing symptoms of an upper respiratory illness, alleging they provided inadequate care that led to Mariee’s death.

Read more at USA Today. 

Color of Change Action For Immigrant Girl Sexually Abused in Detention Center

A message from Color of Change:

Trump is doing everything in his power to distract from his responsibility for the inhumane practice of separating families at the border. He is even threatening to shut down the federal government if Congress refuses to fund a wall across the Mexico border. His antics will not distract us from the fact that he is pouring over $40 million into an immigrant youth housing facility that just made headlines for their long history of child abuse—including recently allowing a six-year-old girl to be repeatedly sexually abused. Southwest Key is denying the allegations and blaming it on fake news. Yet, uncovered internal documents prove the incident did happen and abuse is rampant at the facility.

A nonprofit caring for over 1,600 vulnerable children housed at 26 shelters in Arizona, California, and Texas must enforce practices and procedures that protect children, not neglect them. Trump’s hate-filled administration will not keep immigrant children safe. It’s up to us to protect them.

Tell the Arizona, California, and Texas Health and Human Services Department: Freeze Southwest Key funding until an investigation of child abuse is conducted and all involved staff are held accountable.

On May 24, a six-year-old girl, identified as D.L., arrived to the United States with her mother attempting to flee gang violence in their home country of Guatemala. Under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, D.L. was separated from her mother a few days after they arrived, taken to Southwest Key in Arizona where she suffered sexual abuse several times.

Scared and alone, the little girl had little to no contact with her parents. D.L’s father was contacted about the incident, but was only told basic facts of the case and was not able to communicate with his daughter or any staff involved. D.L.’s mother remained helpless as she was detained at a separate facility miles away. Fortunately, immigrant rights activists helped get D.L. and her mother released and reunited them with D.L.’s father in California. However, most children aren’t as lucky.

Tell Health and Human Services Officials: Take action to protect immigrant children!

Immigrant children are OUR children too. Many immigrants from the Caribbean, including Haiti, frequently enter through the southern U.S-Mexico border. In fact, the leading plaintiffs in the well-known ACLU’s lawsuit against the Trump administration for its “zero tolerance” policy are a Congolese mother and daughter. Black immigrants continue to experience racial profiling by the police, compounded criminal charges and discriminatory sentencing, increasing their chances of later being detained and deported. It is clear that Trump’s America doesn’t care about any Black people, immigrant or not. That’s why it is our duty to fight for our safety.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU identified hundreds of cases of abuse of immigrant children in US custody in the past five years. There have been reports of children being drugged, sexually molested, enduring torturous hot summers in unairconditioned rooms in Texas and more. Abuse, especially sexual abuse, is rampant in youth detention centers and will only continue to get worse under Trump’s anti-immigration era that shows no remorse for immigrant victims of injustice.

“There seems to be a level of cruel intent I’ve never seen before and a real indifference to the well-being of a child,”

— Holly Cooper, Immigration Law Clinic at University of California

The Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, continues to dehumanize immigrants and has even proposed a rule that explicitly excludes immigration detention facilities from coverage under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), legislation designed to protect sexual violence in detention centers.6 With an agenda rooted in white supremacy, there is no federal government oversight to combat the surge of immigrant child abuse. The protection of our children lies in our hands.

Demand Arizona, California, and Texas: Freeze Southwest Key funding now!

Until justice is real,

Enchanta, Rashad, Arisha, Scott, Erika, Clarise, Marybeth, Siera, Anay, Kristen, Marena, Tamar and the rest of the Color Of Change team

Police: Worker at Child Immigration Facility Molested Teen

A worker at a nonprofit organization that houses immigrant children separated from their parents at the border has been booked on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl at its one of its facilities in Phoenix, police said Wednesday. Southwest Key, which operates the facility, declined to say whether the 14-year-old girl was an immigrant who was separated from her parents at the border.

Read more at WTOP.

6-Year-Old Girl Separated From Family Was Allegedly Sexually Abused at Immigration Detention Center

A young girl separated from her family by the Trump administration’s immigration policy has been sexually abused twice by an older child in a government-funded facility, according to a new report.

The Nation was informed of the abuse by immigrant-rights activists and the girl’s parents. The magazine also obtained detention center documents appearing to show that the girl was told to stay away from her abuser after the first incident.

Read more at Fortune

10-Year-Old Girl Describes Life in Immigration Detention: ‘I Began Crying All of the Time’

A 10-year-old girl separated from her mother at the border described being kicked by a male officer, denied water, sleeping on the floor and crying “all of the time” while in immigration detention facilities in Texas, as part of a major lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“I didn’t cry the first day when I was at this facility, but I began crying all of the time on the second and third day because I missed my mother,” Dixiana, 10, said in her sworn declaration. “The majority of the other girls in my cell were also crying the whole time I was there.”

Read more at ABC. 

‘I Want Her Back’: Some Migrant Families Reunite, but Other Parents Grow Desperate

The Trump administration said Thursday that it had complied with a judge’s order and reunited all of the eligible children under the age of 5 that it had in custody with their migrant parents. But Nazario Jacinto-Carrillo’s desperate voice and haunting questions, repeated over and over on a phone line from Guatemala, made clear that the crisis over child separations remained far from resolved.

“When are they going to give them back?” Mr. Jacinto-Carrillo asked of the thousands of children still in custody. He had trekked to the United States with his 5-year-old daughter, Filomena. He was deported. She remains in foster care in New York, where she recently turned 6. “I want her back in Guatemala,” he pleaded.

Administration officials told reporters that the government had reunited 57 of the 103 migrant children under the age of 5, complying with a judicial order. The other 46 were deemed “ineligible” for a variety of reasons. Some of their parents had been accused of crimes. One parent had a communicable disease. In a dozen cases, the parents had been deported already without their children, making their reunification more challenging.

Read more at The New York Times


Teen Taken at U.S. Border Tells of ‘Icebox’ Cages With 60 Girls

A 15-year-old girl who was forcibly separated from her mother after fleeing to the U.S. from El Salvador described to a Washington State investigator how she was crammed into a windowless room with 60 other girls and deprived of proper sleep or food for three days.

The room was divided by wire fencing into three cages, with each one holding 20 separated girls — some as young as 3 years old, according to an affidavit filed late Monday in federal court in Seattle. The girls, who weren’t told when they’d see their parents again, called it the “icebox.”

“The place was freezing because they kept the air conditioner on all the time, and each child was given a mat and an aluminum blanket,” the investigator for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson wrote. “The girls placed their mats in the floor very close to one another, since there was not enough space.”

Read more at Bloomberg

Protests Across U.S. Call for End to Migrant Family Separations

Protesters marched into Lafayette Square opposite the White House on Saturday and chanted “families belong together” to counter President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, and were joined in declaring that message by dozens of other rallies from New York to California. While the occupant of the White House was away for the weekend at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, images of the rallies were broadcast by cable news networks throughout the day.

Animated by what they view as the cruel treatment of migrants seeking refuge in the United States from violence in their home countries, the crowds turned out Saturday bearing homemade signs that read “Abolish ICE” — the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — and “Zero tolerance for family separation.”

For two sisters, Claudia Thomas and Monica Escobar, the sight of immigrant children being taken from their parents hit close to home. When they were young, they immigrated to the United States from Guatemala, one of several Central American countries that is a source of migrants today. They said they were out at Saturday’s protest in the nation’s capital to stand up for “human decency.”

Read more at The New York Times