Einfach weil es immer wieder so schön ist.
Mit diesem iKube F150 habe ich im #Libanon eine Villa mit 5 Personen 24h Tag und Nacht ohne Unterbrechungen mit Strom versorgen können. Sommer wie Winter.
Zugegeben: Ich musste erst alle Lampen auf LED umrüsten, Kühlschrank mit A+++ kaufen und einen FlatTV kaufen, weil vorher noch alles Steinzeitlich war und massiv Strom verbraucht hatte.
Aber DANN war es jede Nacht ein geiles Gefühl zu sehen wie im ganzen #Bekaa-Tal der Strom ausfiel und die die es sich leisten konnten, auf Dieselgeneratoren umschalteten. Deren monatliche Kosten lagen im Schnitt bei 200-400 US$.
Der iKube kostete mich damals dort Vorort 9.900 US$ (damals rund 7.800€).
[l] Texas sammelt ja im Moment ein bisschen praktische Erfahrungen mit den Auswirkungen des Klimawandels, den sie mit ihren SUVs und ihrer Ölförderung vorangetrieben haben.
Da gab es einen plötzlichen Kälteeinbruch, auf den Texas überhaupt nicht vorbereitet war. Auf den Autobahnen gab es Massenkarambolagen von biblischen Ausmaßen, und dann brach denen erst die Strom- und dann die Wasserversorgung weg. Hier gibt es einen deutschen Twitter-Thread dazu.Das ist bemerkenswert, weil es da selbstverstärkende Effekte gab. Der erste Effekt war, dass die Leute keine Heizungen hatten. Als es kalt wurde, haben die also ihre strombetriebenen Heizlüfter angeschaltet, und innerhalb von Stunden ist der Strombedarf explodiert.Texas generiert ihren Strom mit Erdgas und Windkraft. Weder die Erdgas-Infrastruktur (...)
’This is literally an industry’: drone images give rare look at for-profit #Ice detention centers
Art project combines interviews with ex-detainees on their trauma during Covid-19, and imagery of the growth of private-run detention in the US
“Imagine how it feels there, locked up, the whole day without catching the air, without … seeing the light, because that is a cave there, in there you go crazy; without being able to see my family, just being able to listen to them on a phone and be able to say, ‘OK, bye,’ because the calls are expensive.”
That’s how Alejandro, an asylum seeker from Cuba, described his time in an #Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement (Ice) detention center.
His account is one of dozens captured in a collection of audio recordings as part of a project aiming to show how the US immigration detention system, the world’s largest, has commodified people as part of a for-profit industry.
“We’ve commodified human displacement,” said artist David Taylor, who has used drones to take aerial photography and video of 28 privately run Ice detention centers near the US southern border, in California, #Arizona and #Texas.
While accounts of abuse and exploitation from inside facilities appear in the news media, the detention centers are usually in isolated, underpopulated areas with access to photographers or film crews tightly controlled.
This new image collection, taken from near the perimeters of the facilities, gives a rare look at just how many of these centers occupy the landscape. “What I want to show through the accumulation of imagery is that this is literally an industry,” Taylor said, “that it’s expansive, that it occupies a significant amount of territory in our national landscape – and I’m only showing a fraction of it.
“That, to me, is an important realization. The scale is shocking; how it is changing the United States,” said Taylor, a professor of art at the University of Arizona.
The imagery will ultimately be shown in an exhibition incorporating the stories of some of the people captured inside this system. These audio recordings come from a collaboration with Taylor and a group which provides free legal service to detained migrants in Arizona, the Florence Project, and writer Francisco Cantú.
When the project is eventually presented in a gallery, it will also include data on the costs, profits and revenue of corporations involved. Late in the the Obama era, the Department of Justice (DoJ) discontinued all use of private prison corporations to house detainees, but the DoJ during the Trump administration reversed this policy.
Between 2015 and 2018, as the administration began to ramp up its crackdown on immigrants, the targeted average daily population of detained immigrants grew 50%. Corporations won contracts from Ice worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Taylor said the project was fraught because he was taking artistic photos and video of sites where traumas have occurred, but hopes the final work will help people understand how those inside are being used to support an industry. The detainees’ vulnerability during the Covid-19 pandemic added to an urgency to spotlight the facilities, he said.
Excerpts from some of the interviews follow. Each of the interviewees was given a pseudonym because their asylum cases are pending. Alejandro and Alonzo’s interviews were translated from Spanish.
All three were held at facilities operated by CoreCivic, which disputes allegations about conditions and said it was committed to health and safety.
‘They are not interested in our lives’
Alonzo – La Palma correctional center in Eloy, Arizona
When Covid first struck the detention center, Alonzo said he helped organize strikes to protest the conditions inside which were exposing everyone, including the guards, to the illness.
The 34-year-old said he was refused access to a Covid test even though he was feeling unwell. A month later, he said he was taken to the hospital because he was having such trouble breathing and his skin was turning black. “The truth is that you need to be dying there so that they can take care of you, what they do with you there is lousy, lousy, lousy. They are not interested in our lives in the least.”
In a hospital emergency room, a doctor told Alonzo he had blood clots and probably had cancer because they found tumors in his lungs and kidneys.
“When they give me this news, they tell me that they have to return me to La Palma correctional center and put me in a cell. I spent a day and a half locked up without being able to get out at all. On that day they gave me half an hour to bathe, let my family know what was happening to me, and locked me up again.
“During this time that I was there, there were many people. We stood up to be treated, there were colleagues who collapsed inside the tank, people who convulsed. We prayed because the nurses who treated us, the nurses came and told us, ‘You have nothing, it’s a simple flu,’ and nothing happens.”
Alonzo described witnessing many suicide attempts. He said he found strength in his wish to see his daughters again and his belief in God. “I always had something in my mind and in my heart, that God did not save me from Mexico to come to die in a forgotten cell. I knew within myself that I was not going to die there.”
He said the strikes came about as conditions worsened. “One day we all got organized and got together to talk. ‘You know what, brother? There is no Cuban here, there is no Mexican here, there is no Indian here, there is no Venezuelan here, there is no Nicaraguan here, there is nothing. Here we are all here. Because we are all infected, because we are all dying. This is fighting for our existence, it is no longer fighting for a residence, it is no longer fighting for a parole, it is no longer fighting for bail, it is all fighting to get out of here alive.’”
‘They told me I had Covid-19. They never gave me treatment’
Alejandro – Central Arizona Florence correctional center
Alejandro approached a border checkpoint to seek asylum after three months of waiting in Mexico, seeking refuge from political persecution in his native Cuba. At the border, his pregnant wife was allowed to stay with a relative in the US, while Alejandro, 19, was detained.
During his three months in detention, he was told he tested positive for Covid-19, which he was skeptical of because he didn’t have symptoms and was asthmatic. He said he was put in solitary confinement because of the test result, then transferred to a civil jail, where he said conditions were worse.
The most painful part of all, however, was missing the birth of his son after his wife underwent a difficult pregnancy.
Joe Biden reverses anti-immigrant Trump policies hours after swearing-in
“Imagine, it broke my heart, I could hardly speak. Every time I spoke to my wife, or listened to the child, a lump would form in my throat that I could not swallow. It was a thing that does not let you swallow, that makes your chest constrict from so much suffering, from so much pain … If you are a parent, you know what I am telling you … The words did not come out from so much suffering … I spoke a few words and cried. She could hardly speak. Sometimes it was better not to call, because if I called I would feel worse than not calling.”
Alejandro said he cried every day in detention and was treated by a psychologist in a five-minute “speed date” appointment. “She asked me, ‘Hi, I understand you have a boy, how are you feeling?’ I told her I felt bad, how else was I going to feel? She said, ‘you need to read, to relax,’ just that. Nonsense, something quick. They told me I had Covid-19 and they never gave me any treatment, just water. They told me, ‘Drink water, lots of water.’”
Responses from #CoreCivic and Ice
A CoreCivic company spokesman, Ryan Gustin, denied the allegations Alejandro and Alonzo made about conditions in their facilities. “We have responded to this unprecedented situation appropriately, thoroughly and with care for the safety and wellbeing of those entrusted to us and our communities,” Gustin said. “We don’t cut corners on care, staff or training, which meets, and in many cases exceeds, our government partners’ standards.”
CoreCivic said all detainees were supplied with face masks and denied any allegations that detainees were refused Covid tests. “Initially, detainees were asked to sign an acknowledgment form related to the use of the masks.” The spokesman said detainees were not placed in solitary confinement because of a positive test; he said there were “cohorting procedures … which are intended to prevent the spread of infection” which involve no loss of privileges or activities. CoreCivic denied claims of multiple suicide attempts saying “any such incident would be reported to our government partner”.
Ice, which oversees the facilities, said the agency was “firmly dedicated to the health and safety of all individuals in our custody”.
“Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Ice has taken extensive steps to safeguard all detainees, staff and contractors, including: reducing the number of detainees in custody by placing individuals on alternatives to detention programs, suspending social visitation, incorporating social distancing practices with staggered meals and recreation times, and through the use of testing, cohorting and medical isolation.”
‘Let me go back home and face my death’
Mary – in Central Arizona Florence correctional complex one night, then Eloy detention center
Mary was first detained in Mexico, where she arrived after traveling from her home in Uganda. She was eventually released, sought asylum in the US at a border checkpoint and was detained for five and a half months.
Detention conditions were similar in the two countries, she said, except Mexican guards occasionally held days where people could socialize with family or friends who were also detained.
The isolation Mary experienced in the US was intense. She didn’t speak to her young children in Africa the whole time because she couldn’t afford the costs of the calls and relied on a volunteer to relay messages between the mother and her children.
Also, because she doesn’t speak Spanish, it was more difficult for her to make relationships with immigrants inside from mostly Spanish-speaking countries, and the schedules in the prison made it difficult to develop relationships with others.
“The Cameroonians were there, but again, everybody used to feel sad, everybody used not to talk. It was like that, since you were sad all the time, you could not communicate, you could not joke.”
She, like many others, described how many people just wanted to be deported instead of waiting out their time in detention.
“One day I thought that if the judge denies me, I’ll just tell her or him, ‘Let me go back home and face my death, because I never wanted to stay in detention more. I was thinking about that, but I could not again decide since I was afraid of getting back home.
#privatisation #complexe-militaro-industriel #business #asile #migrations #réfugiés #centres #centres_de_détention #détention_administrative #rétention #industrie #photographie #USA #Etats-Unis #enfermement #Californie
America’s Salad Bowl Becomes Fertile Ground for Covid-19 - The New York Times
Because Yuma County produces the lettuce, broccoli and other leafy greens that Americans consume during the cold months, it is known as “America’s salad bowl.” Now it has become a winter hothouse for Covid-19.
Over the course of the pandemic, the Yuma area has identified coronavirus cases at a higher rate than any other U.S. region. One out of every six residents has come down with the virus.Each winter, the county’s population swells by 100,000 people, to more than 300,000, as field workers descend on the farms and snowbirds from the Midwest pull into R.V. parks. This seasonal ritual brings jobs, local spending and high tax revenue. But this year, the influx has turned deadly.Father Chapa’s parish is weathering the full spectrum of the pandemic’s surge. In Spanish and English, he ministers to Mexican-American families who have been rooted here for generations as well as the seasonal residents, all of them afflicted. The church is handling three times the number of funerals it usually does.
While coronavirus cases are starting to flatten across the country, the virus is still raging in many border communities. Three of the six metro areas with the highest rates of known cases since the outbreak began are small cities straddling Mexico: Yuma; Eagle Pass, Texas; and El Centro, Calif.
Seasonal migration, the daily flow of people back and forth and lax measures to contain the virus’s spread have created a combustible constellation. Arizona has seen among the highest increases in newly reported deaths of any state over the past two weeks — and it is not clear when this troubling trend will abate.Halfway between San Diego and Phoenix, but geographically isolated from both, Yuma has only one hospital. Understaffed and overwhelmed with cases, it has been airlifting critically ill patients to other cities. And the fallout from Christmas and New Year festivities is not over.
A El Paso, ville calme et bien tenue, les hôpitaux débordent de malades du Covid-19
Dans le centre, les restaurants sont fermés, les salons de beauté aussi et, en périphérie, les trois centres commerciaux sont devenus inaccessibles. Mais dans le quartier populaire de Chihuahuita, en bordure du Mexique, la règle est floue. Sur Stanton, la rue commerçante qui se termine par un poste frontière, Yong tient un magasin de vêtements, couvertures, couettes, draps et tapis, sur la devanture duquel elle a inscrit en lettres rouges : « Masques en soldes. » Le confinement ? Elle feint d’abord de ne jamais en avoir entendu parler. « Je parle mal l’anglais », se justifie la sexagénaire d’origine coréenne, qui s’exprime avec difficulté. La conversation continue et l’on finit par comprendre qu’elle a bien connaissance du « shutdown », mais pas pour elle : « Regardez : je suis essentielle, puisque je vends des masques. »
Yong, 65, est d’origine coréenne, le 11 novembre. Elle possède un commerce de vêtements et vend des masques de protection pour le virus. Elle a trois employés et s’inquiète que son commerce soit obligé de fermer à cause des réglementations de lutte contre la propagation du Covid-19.
Yong, 65, est d’origine coréenne, le 11 novembre. Elle possède un commerce de vêtements et vend des masques de protection pour le virus. Elle a trois employés et s’inquiète que son commerce soit obligé de fermer à cause des réglementations de lutte contre la propagation du Covid-19.
Et d’ailleurs, dit-elle, « je ne suis pas la seule à être ouverte ». Autour de sa boutique, en effet, la plupart des commerces sont encore en activité. Seuls les duty free ont baissé leurs rideaux de fer, mais depuis longtemps pour certains. « Beaucoup d’entre eux avaient déjà fermé avant le confinement, explique Hugo, qui tient une minuscule échoppe de vêtements. Plus personne n’a le droit de venir du Mexique depuis le mois de mars, à part les Américains qui font des allers-retours entre les pays. »
Texas border county had ’model’ Covid-19 response – then the governor stepped in | US news | The Guardian
Five residents from Starr county on Texas’s southern border died on a single day last week after contracting Covid-19. New infections in the rural border community of around 65,000 people have soared in recent weeks, and two intubated patients had to be airlifted to Dallas and San Antonio when overwhelmed local hospitals couldn’t care for them.Texas has become one of the US’s new coronavirus hotspots, with new confirmed cases surging to around 14% of the country’s total, when measured by a seven-day average. Elective surgeries were paused this week as the state tries to free up hospital beds for increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients.
But Starr county’s public officials knew months ago that is was especially vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic: roughly one in three residents lives in poverty, a sizable slice of the population doesn’t have health insurance, and risk factors such as diabetes and obesity prevail. To protect their constituents, who are more than 99% Latino, they acted fast to curtail the contagion.
’It’s absolutely horrifying’: #Coronavirus expert warns of dire health crisis amid #Texas surge - Houston Chronicle
Nationally, this is one of the biggest public health failings in the history of the U.S.
Texas’ lieutenant governor suggests grandparents are willing to die for US economy
The lieutenant governor of Texas argued in an interview on Fox News Monday night that the United States should go back to work, saying grandparents like him don’t want to sacrifice the country’s economy during the coronavirus crisis.
COVID-19: Texas official suggests elderly willing to die for economy
Texas and Ohio Include Abortion as Medical Procedures That Must Be Delayed - The New York Times
Texas and Ohio have included abortions among the nonessential surgeries and medical procedures that they are requiring to be delayed, setting off a new front in the fight over abortion rights in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
Both states said they were trying to preserve extremely precious protective equipment for health care workers and to make space for a potential flood of coronavirus patients.
But abortion rights activists said that abortions should be counted as essential and that people could not wait for the procedure until the pandemic was over.
On Monday, Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, clarified that the postponement of surgeries and medical procedures announced by Gov. Greg Abbott over the weekend included “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
Failure to do so, he said, could result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time. It was not immediately clear if that included medication abortion, which involves providers administering pills in the earlier stages of pregnancy.
Le ruissellement des engrais crée la plus grande zone morte jamais observée aux États-Unis
Au large des côtes de la #Louisiane et du #Texas, à l’endroit même où le #Mississippi finit sa course à travers les États-Unis, l’#océan meurt à petit feu. Ce phénomène cyclique est connu sous le nom de #zone_morte et il se produit tous les ans mais selon les scientifiques, la zone atteindra cette année sa superficie maximale depuis le début des relevés.
Texas Is Executing a Man Tonight for a Murder and Rape Experts Say He Didn’t Commit – Reason.com
[UPDATE, August 22: After the Supreme Court rejected his last-minute appeal, Larry Swearingen was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital last night at 6:35 p.m. He took his final breath at 6:47.]
...A little after 6 p.m., the state of Texas will execute Larry Swearingen for a crime experts believe he was unable to commit.
Twenty people are dead, massacred in an El Paso, #Texas_Walmart; twenty-six more were wounded. (These were the casualty figures Sunday noon, August 4. They will get worse.)
The people killed weren’t all #Mexican_Americans or #Mexicans who crossed the border to do their weekly shopping – but they were all victims of a young man angered by what he called the “Hispanic invasion of #Texas.”
A so-called “manifesto” was posted on an extreme-right on-line forum just before the gunman struck, apparently by the gunman or someone close to him.
It described the weapon and ammunition which was about to be used in the Walmart shooting. And it analyzed their capacity to cause maximum damage to human flesh – in cold, technical terms, as though the shooting were simply a “test” to see which gun and which ammunition could produce the most terrifying result.
With the same cold, technical language, the killer discussed the purpose of his carnage: he intended to “provide” Hispanic people with “the right incentive ... to return to their home countries.”
That’s #terrorism, outright terrorism: inflict horrifying casualties to “give them an incentive to leave.” It’s the moral ethic of the gangster.
It’s also the moral ethic with which #Trump approached the migrant crisis. On the 3rd of July he said it: “If illegal immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the detention centers, just tell them not to come.”
The location of the massacre in #El_Paso was not an accident. El Paso is the port of entry which the Trump administration has turned into a hell-hole for #migrants, fleeing desperate situations in their own countries.
But El Paso is also the place where Americans of Mexican descent have lived for generations. It is connected by the “Bridge of the Americas” with the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez. Dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people go back and forth every day. It’s an area where families have lived on both sides of the border for generations, with a grandparent in El Paso, parents in Ciudad Juárez, and adult children in both places. It’s a place where Americans of Mexican descent have married Americans whose ancestors came from someplace else – which finally is the issue that most outraged the man who killed those 20 people.
In internet posts, he denounced “race-mixing,” which, according to him, foretells the “replacement of the white race.”
These are not the ideas of just one crazy guy. They are the unscientific ideas that float every day on extreme-right, on-line forums around the world. The white man who killed 50 Muslims in New Zealand repeated them. So did the white man who killed 77 teenagers in Norway – as well as the white man who killed six Muslims in Quebec, and the white man who killed nine black people in a church in South Carolina.
These men may all be white, but that’s not what links them. What they have in common is their commitment to terrorism and to racist ideology. Today, they may seem to be a few crazy people, but behind them there is money making sure these ideas circulate around the world.
Trump sits in the White House today. The #racism didn’t start with him. Nor did the violence. But occupying the presidency, he gives legitimacy to these vile ideas.
Behind Trump is the capitalist class. If they were really horrified by him, they would have dumped him long ago. No, the poison he spews can be useful in the future for dividing the working class. It’s why they keep him.
The violence these “crazy” guys have created should be a warning to us. We’re going to face it in the future, carried out by more than a few crazies. We need to begin organizing ourselves today, figuring out how to deal with it.
The #working_class – no matter where we come from, no matter what our nationality is – we are one class. We have the capacity to deal with the problems we will face. No matter what our “race” is, we are all one race: the human race. That is OUR manifesto.
#BNP_Paribas financera jusqu’en 2024 un groupe américain spécialisé dans la détention des migrants
En Europe, BNP Paribas s’enorgueillit d’aider les réfugiés. Aux États-Unis, la première banque française finance pourtant depuis 2003 le groupe GEO, numéro un des prisons privées spécialisé dans la détention des migrants, au cœur de nombreux scandales. Elle a annoncé son désengagement financier… en 2024.
BNP Paribas, première banque française et une des plus grandes du monde, se targue d’être « la banque qui aide les réfugiés » en Europe. « Depuis 2015, BNP Paribas soutient une vingtaine d’entrepreneurs sociaux et associations engagés dans l’accueil des réfugiés, expliquait l’an dernier Le Journal du dimanche. Au total, près de 12 millions d’euros seront déboursés d’ici à 2021. »
Sur son site, la célèbre banque au logo vert s’engage même à doubler les dons versés par ses clients à son propre fonds d’aide aux réfugiés, créé en 2012. « Le drame des réfugiés est une catastrophe humanitaire majeure, qui mobilise de nombreuses associations et bénévoles, explique le PDG de la banque, Jean-Laurent Bonafé. […] BNP Paribas est à leurs côtés. »
Aux États-Unis, la banque est plutôt du côté de ceux qui les enferment. Selon In The Public Interest, un centre de recherche sur les privatisations situé en Californie, elle participe en effet depuis seize ans, et de manière active, au financement du groupe GEO, le géant américain des prisons privées.
GEO, dont le siège social est en Floride, incarne l’incroyable essor du secteur du complexe pénitentiaire depuis trente ans aux États-Unis, qui comptent 2,3 millions de prisonniers – 655 pour 100 000 habitants, un record mondial.
Un cinquième du chiffre d’affaires annuel de GEO (2,3 milliards de dollars, 2 milliards d’euros) provient de la détention des migrants au #Texas, en #Louisiane ou en #Californie, pour le compte de l’agence gouvernementale #ICE (#Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement).
Depuis 2003, cette activité de crédit, dont la banque ne s’est jamais trop vantée, lui a fait gagner beaucoup d’argent. « Sans doute des dizaines de millions de dollars », évalue pour Mediapart Kevin Connor, chercheur au Public Accountability Initiative de Buffalo (New York), qui a épluché les contrats souscrits par les banques avec les mastodontes de la détention privée aux États-Unis. Une estimation prudente, car les clauses des contrats de financement entre GEO et BNP Paribas restent secrètes.
L’administration Trump, qui a criminalisé l’immigration, cherche à terroriser les migrants et à tarir les demandes d’asile. Elle enferme en continu environ 50 000 migrants, pour beaucoup originaires d’Amérique latine, un record historique.
En 2018, 400 000 migrants au total ont été détenus par les gardes-frontières et l’agence ICE. Environ 70 % des migrants détenus par ICE le sont par des groupes privés comme GEO, #CoreCivic ou #Caliburn. Depuis deux décennies, l’industrie des prisons privées, en perte de vitesse à la fin des années 1990, a profité à plein de la criminalisation des migrants.
« La détention des migrants aux États-Unis a été quasiment sous-traitée au privé, nous explique Lauren-Brooke Eisen, chercheuse au Brennan Center for Justice de l’université de New York, auteure de Inside Private Prisons (Columbia University Press, non traduit). En aggravant la crise à la frontière, les politiques de l’administration Trump ont soutenu cette industrie. » Sitôt élu, Trump a d’ailleurs annulé un ordre de l’administration Obama limitant le recours aux prisons privées.
Pour ces groupes privés dépendant des contrats publics, cajoler les politiques est une nécessité. Pour la seule année 2018, GEO a dépensé 2,8 millions de dollars de #lobbying et de dons à des politiques, la plupart des républicains.
Le groupe a également versé 250 000 dollars pour la cérémonie d’investiture de Trump, et fait un don de 225 000 dollars au comité d’action politique ayant financé la campagne de l’actuel président, un geste qualifié d’« illégal » par l’ONG Campaign Legal Center, #GEO étant un sous-traitant du gouvernement.
L’industrie est coutumière des allers-retours entre public et privé : le groupe Caliburn, récemment épinglé par Amnesty International pour sa gestion de la prison géante pour mineurs migrants de #Homestead (Floride), a même embauché l’ancien secrétaire à la sécurité nationale #John_Kelly, qui fut directement en charge de la politique migratoire au début de la présidence Trump – et continua à la superviser lorsqu’il devint chef de cabinet du président…
D’après un rapport publié en novembre 2016 par In The Public Interest, BNP Paribas, de concert avec de grandes banques américaines, a joué un rôle actif depuis seize ans auprès de GEO :
« Risques immédiats » pour les migrants
BNP a en effet participé depuis 2003 à plusieurs tours de table permettant de dégager, via des crédits renouvelables (« #revolving_credits »), des prêts à terme (« #term_loans ») ou la souscription d’obligations (« #bonds »), d’énormes lignes de crédit pour GEO – des centaines de millions de dollars à chaque fois –, ensuite utilisées par le groupe pour acheter des sociétés, accaparer de nouvelles prisons, ou financer ses activités courantes.
À la suite d’un nouvel accord passé l’an dernier, GEO dispose désormais d’un crédit renouvelable de 900 millions de dollars avec six banques (BNP Paribas, #Bank_of_America, #Barclays, #JPMorgan_Chase, #SunTrust, #Wells_Fargo). Il a souscrit avec les mêmes établissements un prêt à terme de 800 millions de dollars.
« Pour les prisons privées, ces prêts massifs sont un peu des cartes de crédit, explique Shahrzad Habibi, directrice de la recherche de In The Public Interest. Pour éviter de payer l’impôt sur les sociétés, les groupes comme GEO ont un statut de trust d’investissement immobilier (REIT) qui leur impose de distribuer une grande partie de leurs profits à leurs actionnaires. » Faute de cash disponible, ils dépendent donc largement des crédits extérieurs.
Pour ce service, les établissements bancaires sont grassement rémunérés : selon des documents transmis au régulateur américain, GEO a payé l’an dernier 150 millions de dollars d’intérêts à ses différents créditeurs.
Une partie, non connue, de cette somme est allée à #BNP, qui touche aussi des #redevances substantielles en tant qu’« agent administratif » pour certaines de ses opérations. « Ces redevances, dont on ne connaît pas les détails, se chiffrent en centaines de milliers, potentiellement en millions de dollars », explique le chercheur Kevin Connor.
Contacté, BNP Paribas assure ne pas « communiqu[er] les informations relatives aux crédits de [ses] clients ». Mais les prêts de la banque ne constituent, selon une porte-parole, que « 3 % du total » des financements du groupe GEO, et « une part négligeable » des revenus de BNP.
Ces derniers mois, les images de migrants entassés dans des centres de détention surpeuplés et sordides ont ému le monde entier. Pour éviter de voir leur image de marque entachée, des géants de Wall Street (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, SunTrust, etc.), pressés depuis des années de se désengager du secteur par des activistes, ont annoncé les uns après les autres qu’ils cessaient de financer le secteur des prisons privées.
BNP Paribas a récemment suivi leur exemple. « BNP Paribas a pris la décision, comme plusieurs banques américaines, de ne plus intervenir sur le marché du financement des #prisons_privées. Désormais la banque n’engagera plus de financement dans ce secteur », nous a confirmé la banque, à la suite d’un article paru début juillet dans le quotidien belge L’Écho.
Elle « honorera » toutefois « son engagement contractuel vis-à-vis de GEO », c’est-à-dire les crédits en cours, qui prennent fin en 2024.
Pendant cinq ans, BNP Paribas continuera donc de financer les investissements et les dépenses courantes d’un groupe contesté, dont le nom est entaché par de multiples scandales.
Comme le rappelle le Miami Herald, GEO a été « poursuivi à de multiples reprises pour avoir supposément forcé des détenus à travailler pour de la nourriture », a été accusé de « torturer des détenus dans l’Arizona », est épinglé depuis des années pour le taux alarmant de décès dans certains de ses centres gérés pour le compte d’ICE, des conditions sanitaires déplorables, l’abus du recours à l’isolement, le mépris des droits élémentaires des prisonniers. Il détient aussi des familles avec enfants dans son centre texan de #Karnes, une activité décriée depuis les années Obama par les défenseurs des migrants.
Un rapport de l’inspection générale du Département de la sécurité nationale datant de juin 2019 fait état de « risques immédiats et de violations scandaleuses des standards de détention » dans certains des centres pour migrants de GEO, notamment dans le camp d’#Adelanto (#Californie), qui accueille 2 000 migrants, tristement connu pour ses abus répétés.
Plusieurs candidats démocrates, comme Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke ou Kamala Harris, ont indiqué souhaiter interdire les prisons privées s’ils étaient élus.
Mais si Trump est réélu en novembre 2020, BNP Paribas, Bank of America et les autres, qui ne comptent se retirer qu’à partir de 2024, continueront de prêter à GEO de quoi fonctionner et prospérer tout au long de son deuxième mandat, au cours duquel les humiliations contre les migrants ne manqueront pas de continuer, voire de s’amplifier.
#privatisation #business #détention_administrative #rétention #asile #migrations #réfugiés #USA #Etats-Unis #sous-traitance #hypocrisie
Encore une loi anti-BDS casée par une cour fédérale, ici au Texas :
US judge strikes down Texas anti-BDS law
Middle East Eye, le 26 avril 2019
A US federal judge has struck down a controversial Texas anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) law, saying it violates freedom of speech under the country’s first amendment of the constitution.
A Brief Numerical Overview of the #texas #startup Ecosystem
© AltalogyAt Altalogy, we deliver software development services for two Houston-based clients. A few weeks ago, I was discussing the pros and cons of Houston startup ecosystem with Dommonic Nelson, Clever Box Company Founder.The following point was made“When it comes to startups and tech in Texas, Austin outperforms Houston by order of magnitude”.I was a bit surprised by that fact and decided to see how other cities in Texas compare. As a source of information, I selected Angel List. I’m fully aware of the bias that some companies may not be present there though.The comparison includes 4 Largest Cities — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin.Disclaimer: I live in Central Europe 7 hours time zone away from Texas, and the only time I’ve seen the Lone Star State myself was from an aircraft (...)
Who writes history? The fight to commemorate a massacre by the Texas #rangers
In 1918, a state-sanctioned vigilante force killed 15 unarmed Mexicans in #Porvenir. When their descendants applied for a historical marker a century later, they learned that not everyone wants to remember one of Texas’ darkest days.
The name of the town was Porvenir, or “future.” In the early morning hours of January 28, 1918, 15 unarmed Mexicans and Mexican Americans were awakened by a state-sanctioned vigilante force of Texas Rangers, U.S. Army cavalry and local ranchers. The men and boys ranged in age from 16 to 72. They were taken from their homes, led to a bluff over the Rio Grande and shot from 3 feet away by a firing squad. The remaining residents of the isolated farm and ranch community fled across the river to Mexico, where they buried the dead in a mass grave. Days later, the cavalry returned to burn the abandoned village to the ground.
These, historians broadly agree, are the facts of what happened at Porvenir. But 100 years later, the meaning of those facts remains fiercely contested. In 2015, as the centennial of the massacre approached, a group of historians and Porvenir descendants applied for and was granted a Texas Historical Commission (THC) marker. After a three-year review process, the THC approved the final text in July. A rush order was sent to the foundry so that the marker would be ready in time for a Labor Day weekend dedication ceremony planned by descendants. Then, on August 3, Presidio County Historical Commission Chair Mona Blocker Garcia sent an email to the THC that upended everything. Though THC records show that the Presidio commission had been consulted throughout the marker approval process, Garcia claimed to be “shocked” that the text was approved. She further asserted, without basis, that “the militant Hispanics have turned this marker request into a political rally and want reparations from the federal government for a 100-year-old-plus tragic event.”
Four days later, Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton sent a follow-up letter. Without identifying specific errors in the marker text, he demanded that the dedication ceremony be canceled and the marker’s production halted until new language could be agreed upon. Ponton speculated, falsely, that the event was planned as a “major political rally” for Beto O’Rourke with the participation of La Raza Unida founding member José Ángel Gutiérrez, neither of whom was involved. Nonetheless, THC History Programs Director Charles Sadnick sent an email to agency staff the same day: “After getting some more context about where the marker sponsor may be coming from, we’re halting production on the marker.”
The American Historical Association quickly condemned the THC’s decision, as did the office of state Senator José Rodríguez, a Democrat whose district includes both Presidio County and El Paso, where the ceremony was to be held. Historians across the country also spoke out against the decision. Sarah Zenaida Gould, director of the Museo del Westside in San Antonio and cofounder of Latinos in Heritage Conservation, responded in an email to the agency that encapsulates the views of many of the historians I interviewed: “Halting the marker process to address this statement as though it were a valid concern instead of a dog whistle is insulting to all people of color who have personally or through family history experienced state violence.”
How did a last-gasp effort, characterized by factual errors and inflammatory language, manage to convince the state agency for historic preservation to reverse course on a marker three years in the making and sponsored by a young Latina historian with an Ivy League pedigree and Texas-Mexico border roots? An Observer investigation, involving dozens of interviews and hundreds of emails obtained through an open records request, reveals a county still struggling to move on from a racist and violent past, far-right amateur historians sowing disinformation and a state agency that acted against its own best judgment.
The Porvenir massacre controversy is about more than just the fate of a single marker destined for a lonely part of West Texas. It’s about who gets to tell history, and the continuing relevance of the border’s contested, violent and racist past to events today.
Several rooms in Benita Albarado’s home in Uvalde are almost overwhelmed by filing cabinets and stacks of clipboards, the ever-growing archive of her research into what happened at Porvenir. For most of her life, Benita, 74, knew nothing about the massacre. What she did know was that her father, Juan Flores, had terrible nightmares, and that in 1950 he checked himself in to a state mental hospital for symptoms that today would be recognized as PTSD. When she asked her mother what was wrong with him, she always received the same vague response: “You don’t understand what he’s been through.”
In 1998, Benita and her husband, Buddy, began tracing their family trees. Benita was perplexed that she couldn’t find any documentation about her grandfather, Longino Flores. Then she came across the archival papers of Harry Warren, a schoolteacher, lawyer and son-in-law of Tiburcio Jáquez, one of the men who was murdered. Warren had made a list of the victims, and Longino’s name was among them. Warren also described how one of his students from Porvenir had come to his house the next morning to tell him what happened, and then traveled with him to the massacre site to identify the bodies, many of which were so mutilated as to be virtually unrecognizable. Benita immediately saw the possible connection. Her father, 12 at the time, matched Warren’s description of the student.
Benita and Buddy drove from Uvalde to Odessa, where her father lived, with her photocopied papers. “Is that you?” she asked. He said yes. Then, for the first time in 80 years, he began to tell the story of how he was kidnapped with the men, but then sent home because of his age; he was told that the others were only going to be questioned. To Benita and Buddy’s amazement, he remembered the names of 12 of the men who had been murdered. They were the same as those in Harry Warren’s papers. He also remembered the names of the ranchers who had shown up at his door. Some of those, including the ancestors of prominent families still in Presidio County, had never been found in any document.
Talking about the massacre proved healing for Flores. His nightmares stopped. In 2000, at age 96, he decided that he wanted to return to Porvenir. Buddy drove them down an old mine road in a four-wheel-drive truck. Flores pointed out where his old neighbors used to live, even though the buildings were gone. He guided Buddy to the bluff where the men were killed — a different location than the one commonly believed by local ranchers to be the massacre site. His memory proved to be uncanny: At the bluff, the family discovered a pre-1918 military bullet casing, still lying on the Chihuahuan desert ground.
Benita and Buddy began advocating for a historical marker in 2000, soon after their trip to Porvenir. “A lot of people say that this was a lie,” Buddy told me. “But if you’ve got a historical marker, the state has to acknowledge what happened.” Their efforts were met by resistance from powerful ranching families, who held sway over the local historical commission. The Albarados had already given up when they met Monica Muñoz Martinez, a Yale graduate student from Uvalde, who interviewed them for her dissertation. In 2013, Martinez, by then an assistant professor at Brown University, co-founded Refusing to Forget, a group of historians aiming to create broader public awareness of border violence, including Porvenir and other extrajudicial killings of Mexicans by Texas Rangers during the same period. The most horrific of these was La Matanza, in which dozens of Mexicans and Mexican Americans were murdered in the Rio Grande Valley in 1915.
In 2006, the THC created the Undertold Markers program, which seemed tailor-made for Porvenir. According to its website, the program is designed to “address historical gaps, promote diversity of topics, and proactively document significant underrepresented subjects or untold stories.” Unlike the agency’s other marker programs, anyone can apply for an undertold marker, not just county historical commissions. Martinez’s application for a Porvenir massacre marker was accepted in 2015.
Though the approval process for the Porvenir marker took longer than usual, by the summer of 2018 everything appeared to be falling into place. On June 1, Presidio County Historical Commission chair Garcia approved the final text. (Garcia told me that she thought she was approving a different text. Her confusion is difficult to understand, since the text was attached to the digital form she submitted approving it.) Martinez began coordinating with the THC and Arlinda Valencia, a descendant of one of the victims, to organize a dedication ceremony in El Paso.
“They weren’t just simple farmers. I seriously doubt that they were just killed for no reason.”
In mid-June, Valencia invited other descendants to the event and posted it on Facebook. She began planning a program to include a priest’s benediction, a mariachi performance and brief remarks by Martinez, Senator Rodríguez and a representative from the THC. The event’s climax would be the unveiling of the plaque with the names of the 15 victims.
Then the backlash began.
“Why do you call it a massacre?” is the first thing Jim White III said over the phone when I told him I was researching the Porvenir massacre. White is the trustee of the Brite Ranch, the site of a cross-border raid by Mexicans on Christmas Day 1917, about a month before the Porvenir massacre. When I explained that the state-sanctioned extrajudicial execution of 15 men and boys met all the criteria I could think of for a massacre, he shot back, “It sounds like you already have your opinion.”
For generations, ranching families like the Brites have dominated the social, economic and political life of Presidio County. In a visit to the Marfa & Presidio County Museum, I was told that there were almost no Hispanic surnames in any of the exhibits, though 84 percent of the county is Hispanic. The Brite family name, however, was everywhere.
White and others in Presidio County subscribe to an alternative history of the Porvenir massacre, centering on the notion that the Porvenir residents were involved in the bloody Christmas Day raid.
“They weren’t just simple farmers,” White told me, referring to the victims. “I seriously doubt that they were just killed for no reason.” Once he’d heard about the historical marker, he said, he’d talked to everyone he knew about it, including former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Mona Blocker Garcia.
I visited Garcia at her Marfa home, an 1886 adobe that’s the same age as the venerable Marfa County Courthouse down the street. Garcia, 82, is Anglo, and married to a former oil executive whose ancestry, she explained, is Spanish and French Basque. A Houston native, she retired in the 1990s to Marfa, where she befriended the Brite family and became involved in local history. She told me that she had shared a draft text of the marker with the Brites, and they had agreed that it was factually inaccurate.
Garcia cited a story a Brite descendant had told her about a young goat herder from Porvenir who purportedly witnessed the Christmas Day raid, told authorities about the perpetrators from his community and then disappeared without a trace into a witness protection program in Oklahoma. When I asked if there was any evidence that the boy actually existed, she acknowledged the story was “folklore.” Still, she said, “the story has lasted 100 years. Why would anybody make something like that up?”
The actual history is quite clear. In the days after the massacre, the Texas Rangers commander, Captain J.M. Fox, initially reported that Porvenir residents had fired on the Rangers. Later, he claimed that residents had participated in the Christmas Day raid. Subsequent investigations by the Mexican consulate, the U.S. Army and state Representative J.T. Canales concluded that the murdered men were unarmed and innocent, targeted solely because of their ethnicity by a vigilante force organized at the Brite Ranch. As a result, in June 1918, five Rangers were dismissed, Fox was forced to resign and Company B of the Texas Rangers was disbanded.
But justice remained elusive. In the coming years, Fox re-enlisted as captain of Company A, while three of the dismissed lawmen found new employment. One re-enlisted as a Ranger, a second became a U.S. customs inspector and the third was hired by the Brite Ranch. No one was ever prosecuted. As time passed, the historical records of the massacre, including Harry Warren’s papers, affidavits from widows and other relatives and witness testimony from the various investigations, were largely forgotten. In their place came texts like Walter Prescott Webb’s The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense, which played an outsize role in the creation of the heroic myth of the Texas Rangers. Relying entirely on interviews with the murderers themselves, Webb accepted at face value Fox’s discredited version of events. For more than 50 years, Webb’s account was considered the definitive one of the massacre — though, unsurprisingly, he didn’t use that word.
An Observer review of hundreds of emails shows that the state commission was aware of potential controversy over the marker from the very beginning. In an email from 2015, Executive Director Mark Wolfe gave John Nau, the chair of the THC’s executive committee, a heads-up that while the marker was supported by historical scholarship, “the [Presidio County Historical Commission] opposes the marker.” The emails also demonstrate that the agency viewed the claims of historical inaccuracies in the marker text made by Mona Blocker Garcia and the county commission as minor issues of wording.
On August 6, the day before the decision to halt the marker, Charles Sadnick, the history programs director, wrote Wolfe to say that the “bigger problem” was the ceremony, where he worried there might be disagreements among Presidio County residents, and which he described as “involving some politics which we don’t want a part of.”
What were the politics that the commission was worried about, and where were these concerns coming from? Garcia’s last-minute letter may have been a factor, but it wasn’t the only one. For the entire summer, Glenn Justice, a right-wing amateur historian who lives in a rural gated community an hour outside San Angelo, had been the driving force behind a whisper campaign to discredit Martinez and scuttle the dedication ceremony.
“There are radicals in the ‘brown power’ movement that only want the story told of Rangers and [the] Army and gringos killing innocent Mexicans,” Justice told me when we met in his garage, which doubles as the office for Rimrock Press, a publishing company whose catalog consists entirely of Justice’s own work. He was referring to Refusing to Forget and in particular Martinez, the marker’s sponsor.
Justice has been researching the Porvenir massacre for more than 30 years, starting when he first visited the Big Bend as a graduate student. He claims to be, and probably is, the first person since schoolteacher Harry Warren to call Porvenir a “massacre” in print, in a master’s thesis published by the University of Texas at El Paso in 1991. Unlike White and Garcia, Justice doesn’t question the innocence of the Porvenir victims. But he believes that additional “context” is necessary to understand the reasons for the massacre, which he views as an aberration, rather than a representatively violent part of a long history of racism. “There have never been any problems between the races to speak of [in Presidio County],” he told me.
In 2015, Justice teamed up with former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Sul Ross State University archaeologist David Keller on a privately funded excavation at the massacre site. He is working on a new book about the bullets and bullet casings they found — which he believes implicate the U.S. Army cavalry in the shooting — and also partnered with Patterson to produce a documentary. But they’d run out of money, and the film was taken over by noted Austin filmmaker Andrew Shapter, who pitched the project to PBS and Netflix. In the transition, Justice was demoted to the role of one of 12 consulting historians. Meanwhile, Martinez was given a prominent role on camera.
Justice was disgruntled when he learned that the dedication ceremony would take place in El Paso. He complained to organizer Arlinda Valencia and local historical commission members before contacting Ponton, the county attorney, and Amanda Shields, a descendant of massacre victim Manuel Moralez.
“I didn’t want to take my father to a mob scene,” Shields told me over the phone, by way of explaining her opposition to the dedication ceremony. She believed the rumor that O’Rourke and Gutiérrez would be involved.
In August, Shields called Valencia to demand details about the program for the ceremony. At the time, she expressed particular concern about a potential Q&A event with Martinez that would focus on parallels between border politics and violence in 1918 and today.
“This is not a political issue,” Shields told me. “It’s a historical issue. With everything that was going on, we didn’t want the ugliness of politics involved in it.” By “everything,” she explained, she was referring primarily to the issue of family separation. Benita and Buddy Albarado told me that Shields’ views represent a small minority of descendants.
Martinez said that the idea of ignoring the connections between past and present went against her reasons for fighting to get a marker in the first place. “I’m a historian,” she said. “It’s hard to commemorate such a period of violence, in the midst of another ongoing humanitarian crisis, when this period of violence shaped the institutions of policing that we have today. And that cannot be relegated to the past.”
After communicating with Justice and Shields, Ponton phoned THC Commissioner Gilbert “Pete” Peterson, who is a bank investment officer in Alpine. That call set in motion the sequence of events that would ultimately derail the marker. Peterson immediately emailed Wolfe, the state commission’s executive director, to say that the marker was becoming “a major political issue.” Initially, though, Wolfe defended the agency’s handling of the marker. “Frankly,” Wolfe wrote in his reply, “this might just be one where the [Presidio County Historical Commission] isn’t going to be happy, and that’s why these stories have been untold for so long.” Peterson wrote back to say that he had been in touch with members of the THC executive committee, which consists of 15 members appointed by either former Governor Rick Perry or Governor Greg Abbott, and that an email about the controversy had been forwarded to THC chair John Nau. Two days later, Peterson added, “This whole thing is a burning football that will be thrown to the media.”
At a meeting of the Presidio County Historical Commission on August 17, Peterson suggested that the executive board played a major role in the decision to pause production of the marker. “I stopped the marker after talking to Rod [Ponton],” Peterson said. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking with the chairman and vice-chairman [of the THC]. What we have said, fairly emphatically, is that there will not be a dedication in El Paso.” Through a spokesperson, Wolfe said that the executive committee is routinely consulted and the decision was ultimately his.
The spokesperson said, “The big reason that the marker was delayed was to be certain about its accuracy. We want these markers to stand for generations and to be as accurate as possible.”
With no marker to unveil, Valencia still organized a small commemoration. Many descendants, including Benita and Buddy Albarado, chose not to attend. Still, the event was described by Jeff Davis, a THC representative in attendance, as “a near perfect event” whose tone was “somber and respectful but hopeful.”
Most of THC’s executive committee members are not historians. The chair, John Nau, is CEO of the nation’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributor and a major Republican party donor. His involvement in the Porvenir controversy was not limited to temporarily halting the marker. In August, he also instructed THC staff to ask the Presidio historical commission to submit applications for markers commemorating raids by Mexicans on white ranches during the Mexican Revolution, which Nau described as “a significant but largely forgotten incident in the state’s history.”
Garcia confirmed that she had been approached by THC staff. She added that the THC had suggested two specific topics: the Christmas Day raid and a subsequent raid at the Neville Ranch.
The idea of additional plaques to provide so-called context that could be interpreted as justifying the massacre — or at the very least setting up a false moral equivalence — appears to have mollified critics like White, Garcia and Justice. The work on a revised Porvenir massacre text proceeded quickly, with few points of contention, once it began in mid-September. The marker was sent to the foundry on September 18.
“It’s hard to commemorate such a period of violence, in the midst of another ongoing humanitarian crisis, when this period of violence shaped the institutions of policing that we have today.”
In the end, the Porvenir descendants will get their marker — but it may come at a cost. Martinez called the idea of multiple markers “deeply unsettling” and not appropriate for the Undertold Marker program. “Events like the Brite Ranch raid and the Neville raid have been documented by historians for over a century,” she said. “These are not undertold histories. My concern with having a series of markers is that, again, it casts suspicion on the victims of these historical events. It creates the logic that these raids caused this massacre, that it was retribution for these men and boys participating.”
In early November, the THC unexpectedly announced a dedication ceremony for Friday, November 30. The date was one of just a few on which Martinez, who was still planning on organizing several public history events in conjunction with the unveiling, had told the agency months prior that she had a schedule conflict. In an email to Martinez, Sadnick said that it was the only date Nau could attend this year, and that it was impossible for agency officials to make “secure travel plans” once the legislative session began in January.
A handful of descendants, including Shields and the Albarados, still plan to attend. “This is about families having closure,” Shields told me. “Now, this can finally be put to rest.”
The Albarados are livid that the THC chose a date that, in their view, prioritized the convenience of state and county officials over the attendance of descendants — including their own daughters, who feared they wouldn’t be able to get off work. They also hope to organize a second, unofficial gathering at the marker site next year, with the participation of more descendants and the Refusing to Forget historians. “We want people to know the truth of what really happened [at Porvenir],” Buddy told me, “and to know who it was that got this historical marker put there.”
Others, like Arlinda Valencia, planned to stay home. “Over 100 years ago, our ancestors were massacred, and the reason they were massacred was because of lies that people were stating as facts,” she told me in El Paso. “They called them ‘bandits,’ when all they were doing was working and trying to make a living. And now, it’s happening again.”
New Satellite Imagery Shows Growth in Detention Camps for Children
The tent city was originally used to house children separated from parents this summer, when the Trump administration was aggressively prosecuting parents traveling with children for illegal entry to the US. The US Department of Health and Human Services has stated that the new growth in the number of tents is necessary in order to house children who may cross the border on their own, unaccompanied by family members.
The image from September 13, 2018 shows that since June 19th, the date of a previous satellite image, the number of tent shelters has nearly quadrupled, from 28 to 101 tents. At a reported capacity of 20 children per tent, the tent city can currently house 2,020 children, which is only half of the government’s stated goal of 3,800 beds at the Tornillo facility. In addition to the completed tents, there are numerous tents that can be seen currently under construction as well as several larger buildings that have recently been built.
“Children should not be detained, since locking up kids harms their health and development,” said Alison Parker, US managing director of Human Rights Watch. “There are safe and viable alternatives to detaining children that the US government should put to use immediately.”
*The Ongoing, Avoidable Horror of the Trump
Administration’s Texas Tent Camp for Migrant Kids*
The detention camp for migrant kids in Tornillo, Texas, was supposed to be gone by now. Set up as a temporary “emergency influx shelter” in June, when the government was running out of places to put the kids it was tearing from parents at the border, the camp, located in the desert forty miles southeast of El Paso, was originally scheduled to close on July 13th. But the government kept pushing back the deadline, in thirty-day increments, until recently disclosing that the facility will remain open at least through the end of the year.
The Times put the camp back in the news this week, reporting that the facility’s capacity was also recently increased, so that it could accommodate up to thirty-eight hundred kids—some ten times as many kids as it was housing in June. “[T]he intent is to use these temporary facilities only as long as needed,” Evelyn Stauffer, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the facility, told the Times. From the start at Tornillo, though, “as needed” has been less about outside forces than about the Administration’s own decisions and goals. The government has discussed Tornillo as if it’s a necessary response to a crisis “when it’s not a crisis,” Bob Carey, a former H.H.S. official, told me on Monday. Carey ran the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the branch of H.H.S. responsible for the care of migrant kids, during the final two years of the Obama Administration. Tornillo was, and is, “a consequence of the actions of the Administration,” he said.
President Trump put a halt to family separations in June, in response to the enormous public outcry and the humanitarian disaster that the policy produced. Yet, while public attention moved on, the number of kids in government custody has only gone up. As the Times reported, there are now more than thirteen thousand migrant kids in government facilities, five times more than a year ago, and those kids are spending an average of fifty-nine days in custody, twice as long as a year ago. While Tornillo was set up to make room for kids who had been taken from parents, most of the kids there now crossed the border alone. This isn’t a new problem—large numbers of kids crossed the borders by themselves in the last years of the Obama Administration. In response, O.R.R. used “emergency influx shelters,” with the idea to dismantle them as soon as demand waned. The goal was to place the kids with relatives or other sponsors around the country. “These facilities, none of them were intended as long-term care facilities,” Carey said. The Tornillo camp, for instance, doesn’t offer any systemized schooling to the kids there.
Recently, this work of processing kids out of government custody has begun to slow significantly. That’s reflected in the longer amount of time that the kids are spending in government facilities. “They’re treating these kids like criminals,” another Obama-era H.H.S. official told me. “That comes at a significant cost to the kids, to their mental health.” Part of the issue is that the government has given potential sponsors, who are often undocumented themselves, a real reason to fear coming forward to claim the kids. In June, as the Times reported, “federal authorities announced that potential sponsors and other adult members of their households would have to submit fingerprints, and that the data would be shared with immigration authorities.” Immigration and Customs Enforcement has acknowledged arresting dozens of people who came forward to be sponsors. With the way the numbers are trending, it’s hard to see how the need for the tent camp at Tornillo will end.
La recherche sur le site de Gault repousse la date des premiers nord-américains : La datation par luminescence confirme la présence humaine en Amérique du Nord avant 16 000 ans.
Pendant des décennies, les chercheurs ont cru que l’Hémisphère occidental [le continent américain] avait été colonisé par les humains il y a environ 13500 ans, une théorie basée largement sur la distribution répandue des artéfacts de Clovis datés à cette époque. Les artefacts de Clovis sont des outils de pierre préhistoriques distinctifs ainsi nommés parce qu’ils ont d’abord été trouvés près de Clovis, au Nouveau-Mexique, dans les années 1920, mais ont été identifiés depuis dans toute l’Amérique du Nord et du Sud.
Cependant, au cours des dernières années, les preuves archéologiques ont de plus en plus remis en question l’idée de « Clovis First ».
[Cette étude] a daté un important assemblage d’artefacts de pierre âgés de 16 à 20 000 ans, repoussant la chronologie des premiers habitants humains de l’Amérique du Nord avant Clovisby, d’au moins 2 500 années.
Significativement, cette recherche identifie une technologie de point de projectile précoce inconnue auparavant non liée à Clovis, qui suggère que la technologie de Clovis s’est propagée à travers une population indigène déjà bien établie.
L’équipe de recherche a identifié les artefacts au site de Gault au Texas central, un site archéologique étendu avec des preuves d’occupation humaine continue. La présence de la technologie de Clovis sur le site est bien documentée, mais des fouilles en dessous des dépôts contenant des artefacts de Clovis ont révélé des sédiments bien stratifiés contenant des artefacts distinctement différents de Clovis.
Gault site research pushes back date of earliest North Americans : Luminescence dating confirms human presence in North America prior to 16 thousand years ago, earlier than previously thought
L’étude originale : ▻http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/7/eaar5954
#préhistoire #paléolithique #Amérique #clovis #peuplement #16000BP #Thomas_J._Williams # Michael_B._Collins #Kathleen_Rodrigues #William_Jack_Rink #Texas_State_University #Desert_Research_Institute #University_of_Nevada #McMaster_University
Aux Etat-Unis, les chercheurs sont tellement persuadés que le continent américain a été colonisé par les humains il y a environ 13500 ans, qu’ils refusent de s’intéresser aux travaux de chercheurs, ( ne serait ce que pour réfuter la validité de leur datation ), qui en particulier, au Mexique, envisageaient la présence humaine en Amérique du Nord avant 16 000 ans ...
...aux travaux de chercheurs, ( ne serait ce que pour réfuter la validité de leur datation ), qui en particulier, au Mexique, envisageaient la présence humaine en Amérique du Nord avant 16 000 ans
As-tu des références, s’il te plaît, je suis intéressé.
Je pensais au site de Pedra Furada ( au Brésil et non au Mexique ) :
Des prélèvements sont envoyés en France en 1985 pour analyses au carbone 14 (Centre des faibles radioactivités du CNRS de Gif-sur-Yvette). Les premières analyses effectuées révèlent des dates différentes sur les charbons de bois excavés, selon les différents niveaux. La plus basse couche archéologique d’activité humaine, dans l’abri de roche de Pedra Furada, a donné des résultats au radiocarbone s’étendant de 35 000 à 48 000 ans.
Un nouveau procédé ABOX-SC (acid-base-wet oxidation followed by stepped combustion), développé par Bird en 1999, a permis d’affiner les dates. Un total de sept échantillons de charbons de bois provenant de différents foyers ont été soumis à l’analyse ABOX-SC, leur contenu de radiocarbone 14 a été déterminé par accélérateur de spectrométrie de masse à l’université nationale d’Australie. Avec cette nouvelle analyse, les échantillons se sont avérés encore plus âgés que 48 000 ans, indiquant des âges de 55 000 à 60 000 ans.
Dans l’article de Nature ( VOL 362, 11 Mars 1993 ), ils font référence à la controverse générée par ces datations, en mentionnant l’opposition principalement des nord-américains à tout ce qui pourrait dépasser 13000 ans en Amérique.
Tu es sur Seenthis, tu n’a donc aucune raison de désespérer...
Merci pour l’article (cela m’évite de demander à quelqu’un pour le télécharger à partir de researchgate). Paul Bahn fait en effet référence à la controverse mais est d’accord avec les travaux effectués. Affaire à suivre en Amérique du Nord...
The next local control fight? Like Uber before, city regulations for AirBnB and HomeAway are in the crosshairs | The Texas Tribune
This time, the fight is happening in the courts after attempts to overturn short-term rental ordinances failed in the Legislature.
by Emma Platoff April 19, 2018 12 AM
When the Zaataris moved to Texas from Lebanon, part of the draw was the American Dream. In Austin, they’re working toward that dream in the real estate business.
The young couple wants to grow their family — “I’m negotiating for three,” Ahmad Zaatari joked — but they rely on the income from their short-term rental property to support the one child they already have. But with overburdensome regulation, some argue, “the City of Austin wants to shut them down.”
That claim appears in glossy detail in a promotional video compiled recently by one of Texas’ most influential conservative think tanks. The video closes: “The Zaatari family believed in the American Dream. The Center for the American Future is fighting to keep it alive.”
The Zataaris are two in a small group of plaintiffs represented by the Center for the American Future, a legal arm of the Texas Public Policy Foundation that filed a suit against the city of Austin in 2016 calling the city’s short-term rental ordinance unconstitutional. That case, which is now winding its way through state appeals courts, has emerged as a likely candidate for review at the state’s highest civil court. And it’s been bolstered by Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas’ top lawyer, who has sided several times with the homeowners, most recently in a 102-page brief.
Short-term rentals, a longtime local reality especially widespread in vacation destinations like Austin and Galveston, have become astronomically more popular in the last decade with the rise of web platforms like AirBnB and Austin-based HomeAway. That ubiquity has ripened them for regulation — and for litigation, including more than one case pending before the Texas Supreme Court. In Texas, it’s a new frontier for the simmering state-city fight over local control. Left unresolved last session by the Legislature, short-term rental ordinances have become an issue for the courts.
From the state house to the courthouse
More than a dozen Texas cities have some sort of ordinance regulating short-term rental policies, according to a list compiled by the Texas Municipal League. Among the most prominent are Galveston and Fort Worth; San Antonio is bickering over its own. They range widely in scope and severity: Some regulate the number of people who can stay in a short-term rental and what activities they may do while there, while others require little more than a licensing permit.
The rental services allow people to offer up houses or apartments to travelers for short-term stays. Some landlords are city residents just hoping to make some money off their spare bedrooms. But investors are also known to buy homes for the sole purpose of renting them on AirBnB or HomeAway.
As short-term rentals grew more popular, cities began to worry that their quiet residential neighborhoods would be overrun with thrill-seeking vacationers or that the investment properties would drive up the cost of housing. Local officials say that short-term renters too often create disruptive party environments that agitate nearby families. But critics of the local regulations say there are already laws in place to regulate that kind of public nuisance.
Austin’s ordinance, which aims to phase out certain types of short-term rentals entirely and limits how many can exist in any particular area, is one of the state’s oldest and strictest — and it’s situated, of course, in a red state’s blue capital city, making it the perfect backdrop for a familiar fight.
Rob Henneke, the TPPF lawyer representing the Zaataris, says Austin’s ordinance violates fundamental rights like equal protection — why should short-term renters be treated any different from long-term renters? — and property rights — why should owners be kept from leasing their homes however they choose?
“It is a fundamental right to lease your property,” Henneke said. “It makes no sense — and is inconsistent with that — to try to bracket that right in some way.”
The city counters that it has the right to regulate commercial activity within its boundaries and that its ordinance is important for city planning purposes. The ordinance addresses critical issues in the city like rising real estate prices and noise complaints from obnoxious “party houses,” said Austin City Council member Kathie Tovo.
Beyond the question of whether short-term rentals should be regulated is the question of who should regulate them. For Tovo, it recalls the recent fight over Uber and Lyft, which ended when the Legislature overturned Austin’s safety regulations for the ride-hailing apps. City officials sit closer to their constituents, she said, so they are better positioned to write rules that benefit their communities.
“It is an example of what we regard as state overreach," she said. “And those of us on the ground who represent our communities are in the best position to know what ordinance and regulations are responses to their needs.”
Henneke, meanwhile, advocates for uniformity statewide — if there are to be restrictions at all.
“If short-term rentals are going to be regulated, it should be at the state level to ensure statewide consistency and to protect property owners from a patchwork quilt of overly burdensome regulations at the local level,” Henneke said.
The current fight, said Texas Municipal League Executive Director Bennett Sandlin, fits into a disturbing pattern of state lawmakers trying to consolidate power at the Capitol by taking it away from the cities.
“It’s absolutely a recent … concerted effort to say that — the allegation that cities are against liberty, and you should have the liberty to do anything you want to do with your house including turn it into a party barn,” he said. “We support liberty but we also support liberty of the neighbors to keep their property values up and keep their yards free of beer cans.”
The Legislature did try to tackle the short-term issue last year. The effort that went furthest was a bill by state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, that passed the upper chamber but died in the House in the waning days of the regular session. A similar bill championed by state Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, never even got a committee vote. Neither Hancock nor Parker returned requests for comment.
Those measures struggled to find sufficient support even in a session rife with local control issues. All told, by the end of August, the 85th Legislature had passed state laws overriding city rule on issues ranging from tree maintenance to ride-hailing regulations. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, even expressed support for a “broad-based law” to pre-empt local regulations, but no such bill passed.
Short-term rental ordinances, some say, share all the hallmarks of the memorable fight over ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. A new technology platform makes an age-old practice simpler; a liberal-leaning city council moves to regulate it. Eventually, the state steps in and opposes that local ordinance to protect “freedom and free enterprise.”
But while local control battles have raged in Texas since Abbott took office decrying a “patchwork of local regulations,” they have mostly been fought on the floors of the Legislature. (One notable exception is an ongoing legal fight over the city of Laredo’s ban on plastic bags, a case the Texas Supreme Court is expected to resolve in the next few months.) This court fight is a comparatively new playbook for opponents of local control.
“Opponents of local government are happy to challenge these ordinances either in the state House or in the courthouse,” Sandlin said. “They will absolutely take any avenue they can to go after it.”
“Business” or “residential”?
The Zaatari case isn’t the only lawsuit that has challenged a local short-term rental ordinance, but it is the most prominent. A Houston appeals court ruled in 2015 that in certain circumstances short-term rental ordinances can violate property rights; in Travis County, another pending case asks whether Austin’s ordinance is unconstitutionally vague.
“Part of it seems to be that local government takes unusual positions when suddenly the internet becomes involved. ... Here in Austin, it’s been documented that short-term rentals have been an encouraged practice for over 100 years, and yet suddenly when the internet provides a way of efficiently connecting buyer and seller, everybody just has to go crazy and adopt a bunch of rules,” Henneke said. “I think it’s a need for control and a need for regulation for the sake of regulation.”
In the meantime, the issue is being litigated on other fronts.
A Texas Supreme Court case argued in February asks whether, for the purposes of homeowners’ associations’ hyperlocal deed restrictions, short-term rentals should be considered primarily “business” or “residential.” That case won’t have direct legal bearing on local ordinances, but the fact that it’s ascended to the state’s highest civil court signals that the issue is set for a legal reckoning.
About a decade after the industry grew popular, “a lot of issues are coming to a head,” said Patrick Sutton, a lawyer arguing that Texas Supreme Court case and many other short-term rental lawsuits.
Short-term rental companies like HomeAway say they agree that their industry should be regulated — they say they’re eager, in fact, to collaborate on regulations. But many involved in the issue think those restrictions are best established democratically.
“Sharing presents a new set of public policy challenges,” Sutton said. “What upsets me is that these issues should be worked out politically. They should be worked out in the state house, and they should be worked out in the voting hall at subdivisions… But that didn’t happen.”
Disclosure: The Texas Public Policy Foundation, HomeAway, the Texas Municipal League, Uber and Lyft have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism.
#NRA : Une fusillade est en cours dans un lycée au #Texas, « plusieurs blessés » mais la situation est « sous contrôle » - Des coups de feu ont été tirés vendredi matin au T. National Doral #Golf Club, #Floride - Le blondinet n’a rien...
#Texas Women Prisoners Can Learn How to Type and Cook. Men Can Get a Master’s.
The Lone Star State’s prison education system is incredibly sexist.
The report was released Tuesday and points out several jaw-dropping disparities in educational programming: It says men in Texas state prisons can get vocational certificates for 21 occupations, ranging from computer technology to cabinet-building, while women can only earn certification in two—office administration and culinary arts/hospitality. According to the report, male and female inmates can both take courses through the Windham School District, but men can choose from 48 courses and women only get 21.
Encore du nouveau en ce qui concerne le peuplement de l’Amérique du Nord.
L’étude des pointes de lance donne une nouvelle explication de la façon dont les premiers humains se sont installés en Amérique du Nord.
Spear point study offers new explanation of how early humans settled North America
Heather Smith and Ted Goebel, Center for the Study of the First Americans, part of the Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M.
Après la route de la côte, les premiers colons auraient exploré la route de l’intérieur mais du sud vers le nord et non l’inverse comme on le pensait précédemment.
Although during the late Ice Age there were two possible routes for the first Americans to follow on their migration from the Bering Land Bridge area southward to temperate North America, it now looks like only the Pacific coastal route was used, while the interior Canadian route may not have been fully explored until millennia later, and when it was, primarily from the south
This is tangible evidence of a connection between people in the Arctic and the Mid-continent 12,000 years ago, a connection which may be either genetic or social, but ultimately, speaks volumes of the capability and adaptability of early cultures in North America
A Southwest water dispute reaches the Supreme Court
For Mesilla Valley farmers, the metaphor rings true in other ways as well. Though they live in New Mexico, the residents of the roughly 90,000-acre-area are caught between their own state and Texas. The Rio Grande water they depend on is not technically New Mexico’s water, but rather part of the water that goes to Texas under the #Rio_Grande_Compact, a treaty ensuring that Texas, New Mexico and #Colorado get their fair share of the river. New Mexico’s delivery obligation to Texas hinges on collecting enough water in #Elephant_Butte_Reservoir, 90 miles from the Texas border and the neighboring Mesilla Valley. Unfortunately, that leaves the farmers downriver in a complicated no-man’s-land of interstate water management.
Separating children and parents at the border is cruel and unnecessary
The Trump administration has shown that it’s willing — eager, actually — to go to great lengths to limit illegal immigration into the United States, from building a multi-billion-dollar border wall with Mexico to escalated roundups that grab those living here without permission even if they have no criminal record and are longtime, productive members of their communities. Now the administration’s cold-hearted approach to enforcement has crossed the line into abject inhumanity: the forced separation of children from parents as they fight for legal permission to remain in the country.
How widespread is the practice? That’s unclear. The Department of Homeland Security declined comment because it is being sued over the practice. It ignored a request for statistics on how many children it has separated from their parents, an unsurprising lack of transparency from an administration that faces an unprecedented number of lawsuits over its failure to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests for government — read: public — records. But immigrant rights activists say they have noticed a jump, and in December, a coalition of groups filed a complaint with Homeland Security over the practice.
When parents and children cross the border and tell border patrol agents they would like to apply for asylum, they often are taken into custody while their request is considered. Under the Obama administration, the families were usually released to the care of a relative or organization, or held in a family detention center. But under President Trump, the parents — usually mothers traveling without their spouses — who sneak across the border then turn themselves in are increasing being charged with the misdemeanor crime of entering the country illegally, advocates say. And since that is a criminal charge, not a civil violation of immigration codes, the children are spirited away to a youth detention center with no explanation. Sometimes, parents and children are inexplicably separated even when no charges are lodged. Activists believe the government is splitting families to send a message of deterrence: Dare to seek asylum at the border and we’ll take your child.
#frontières #unité_familiale #séparation #enfants #enfance #parents #asile #migrations #réfugiés #USA #Etats-Unis #détention_administrative #rétention #dissuasion
Familias rotas, familias vaciadas
Es delgada y pequeña. No rebasa el 1.60. La habitación en la que duerme —en el segundo piso del albergue para veteranos deportados que creó Héctor Barajas— tiene una cama con un oso de peluche que ella misma confeccionó y una mesa para cuatro personas. La sonrisa que a veces asoma en su rostro nunca llega a sus ojos, oscuros y con marcadas ojeras. Se llama Yolanda Varona y tiene prohibido, de por vida, entrar a Estados Unidos, el país donde trabajó 16 años y donde viven sus dos hijos y tres nietos.
Taking Migrant Children From Parents Is Illegal, U.N. Tells U.S.
The Trump administration’s practice of separating children from migrant families entering the United States violates their rights and international law, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday, urging an immediate halt to the practice.
The administration angrily rejected what it called an ignorant attack by the United Nations human rights office and accused the global organization of hypocrisy.
The human rights office said it appeared that, as The New York Times revealed in April, United States authorities had separated several hundred children, including toddlers, from their parents or others claiming to be their family members, under a policy of criminally prosecuting undocumented people crossing the border.
That practice “amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child,” Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva, told reporters.
Last month, the Trump administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings, saying that it would significantly increase criminal prosecutions of migrants. Officials acknowledged that putting more adults in jail would mean separating more children from their families.
“The U.S. should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalizing what should at most be an administrative offense — that of irregular entry or stay in the U.S.,” Ms. Shamdasani said.
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The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, clearly showed American irritation with the accusation in a statement released a few hours later.
“Once again, the United Nations shows its hypocrisy by calling out the United States while it ignores the reprehensible human rights records of several members of its own Human Rights Council,” Ms. Haley said. “While the High Commissioner’s office ignorantly attacks the United States with words, the United States leads the world with its actions, like providing more humanitarian assistance to global conflicts than any other nation.”
Without addressing the specifics of the accusation, Ms. Haley said: “Neither the United Nations nor anyone else will dictate how the United States upholds its borders.”
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The administration has characterized its policy as being about illegal immigration, though many of the detained migrants — including those in families that are split apart — enter at official border crossings and request asylum, which is not an illegal entry. It has also said that some adults falsely claim to be the parents of accompanying children, a genuine problem, and that it has to sort out their claims.
On Twitter, President Trump has appeared to agree that breaking up families was wrong, but blamed Democrats for the approach, saying that their “bad legislation” had caused it. In fact, no law requires separating children from families, and the practice was put in place by his administration just months ago.
The Times found in April that over six months, about 700 children had been taken from people claiming to be their parents.
The American Civil Liberties Union says that since then, the pace of separations has accelerated sharply. Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the group’s immigrant rights project, said that in the past five weeks, close to 1,000 children may have been taken from their families.
Last year, as Homeland Security secretary, John F. Kelly raised the idea of separating children from their families when they entered the country as a way to deter movement across the Mexican border.
Homeland Security officials have since denied that they separate families as part of a policy of deterrence, but have also faced sharp criticism from President Trump for failing to do more to curb the numbers of migrants crossing the border.
For the United Nations, it was a matter of great concern that in the United States “migration control appears to have been prioritized over the effective care and protection of migrant children,” Ms. Shamdasani said.
The United States is the only country in the world that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she noted, but the practice of separating and detaining children breached its obligations under other international human rights conventions it has joined.
“Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation,” she said, calling on the authorities to adopt noncustodial alternatives.
The A.C.L.U. has filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in San Diego, calling for a halt to the practice and for reunification of families.
U.S. policy of separating refugees from children is illegal, horrific
Somewhere in #Texas, a 3-year-old is crying into her pillow. She left all her toys behind when she fled Guatemala. And on this day the U.S. government took her mother away.
When we read about the U.S. administration’s new policy of trying to stop people from crossing its borders by taking away their children, we too had trouble sleeping.
I work with children separated from caregivers at the border. What happens is unforgivable.
The policy has a devastating emotional impact on kids.
Separating Children From Their Parents Is a New Low for Our Immigration System
The Trump administration has been systematically dividing families, opening traumatized migrants to greater distress.
What’s Really Happening When Asylum-Seeking Families Are Separated ?
An expert on helping parents navigate the asylum process describes what she’s seeing on the ground.
Everyone involved in U.S. immigration along the border has a unique perspective on the new “zero tolerance” policies—most notably, the increasing number of migrant parents who are separated from their children. Some workers are charged with taking the children away from their parents and sending them into the care of Health and Human Services. Some are contracted to find housing for the children and get them food. Some volunteers try to help the kids navigate the system. Some, like Anne Chandler, assist the parents. As executive director of the Houston office of the nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center, which focuses on helping immigrant women and children, she has been traveling to the border and to detention centers, listening to the parents’ stories. We asked her to talk with us about what she has been hearing in recent weeks.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Texas Monthly: First, can you give us an overview of your organization?
Anne Chandler: We run the Children’s Border Project, and we work with hundreds of kids that have been released from ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement] care. We are not a legal service provider that does work when they’re in the shelters. To date, most of our work with that issue of family separation has been working with the parents in the days when they are being separated: when they’re in the federal courthouse being convicted; partnering with the federal public defenders; and then in the adult detention center, as they have no idea how to communicate or speak to their children or get them back before being deported.
TM: Can you take me through what you’ve been seeing?
AC: The short of it is, we will take sample sizes of numbers and individuals we’re seeing that are being prosecuted for criminal entry. The majority of those are free to return to the home country. Vast majority. We can’t quite know exactly because our sample size is between one hundred and two hundred individuals. But 90 percent of those who are being convicted are having their children separated from them. The 10 percent that aren’t are some mothers who are going with their children to the detention centers in Karnes and Dilley. But, for the most part, the ones that I’ve been working with are the ones that are actually being prosecuted for criminal entry, which is a pretty new thing for our country—to take first-time asylum seekers who are here seeking safe refuge, to turn around and charge them with a criminal offense. Those parents are finding themselves in adult detention centers and in a process known as expedited removal, where many are being deported. And their children, on the other hand, are put in a completely different legal structure. They are categorized as unaccompanied children and thus are being put in place in a federal agency not with the Department of Homeland Security but with Health and Human Services. And Health and Human Services has this complicated structure in place where they’re not viewed as a long-term foster care system—that’s for very limited numbers—but their general mandate is to safeguard these children in temporary shelters and then find family members with whom they can be placed. So they start with parents, and then they go to grandparents, and then they go to other immediate family members, and then they go to acquaintances, people who’ve known the children, and they’re in that system, but they can’t be released to their parents because their parents are behind bars. And we may see more parents that get out of jail because they pass a “credible fear” interview, which is the screening done by the asylum office to see who should be deported quickly, within days or weeks of arrival, and who should stay here and have an opportunity to present their asylum case before an immigration judge of the Department of Justice. So we have a lot of individuals who are in that credible fear process right now, but in Houston, once you have a credible fear interview (which will sometimes take two to three weeks to even set up), those results aren’t coming out for four to six weeks. Meanwhile, these parents are just kind of languishing in these detention centers because of the zero-tolerance policy. There’s no individual adjudication of whether the parents should be put on some form of alternative detention program so that they can be in a position to be reunited with their kid.
TM: So, just so I make sure I understand: the parents come in and say, “We’re persecuted” or give some reason for asylum. They come in. And then their child or children are taken away and they’re in lockup for at least six weeks away from the kids and often don’t know where the kids are. Is that what’s happening under zero tolerance?
AC: So the idea of zero tolerance under the stated policy is that we don’t care why you’re afraid. We don’t care if it’s religion, political, gangs, anything. For all asylum seekers, you are going to be put in jail, in a detention center, and you’re going to have your children taken away from you. That’s the policy. They’re not 100 percent able to implement that because of a lot of reasons, including just having enough judges on the border. And bed space. There’s a big logistical problem because this is a new policy. So the way they get to that policy of taking the kids away and keeping the adults in detention centers and the kids in a different federal facility is based on the legal rationale that we’re going to convict you, and since we’re going to convict you, you’re going to be in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, and when that happens, we’re taking your kid away. So they’re not able to convict everybody of illegal entry right now just because there aren’t enough judges on the border right now to hear the number of cases that come over, and then they say if you have religious persecution or political persecution or persecution on something that our asylum definition recognizes, you can fight that case behind bars at an immigration detention center. And those cases take two, three, four, five, six months. And what happens to your child isn’t really our concern. That is, you have made the choice to bring your child over illegally. And this is what’s going to happen.
TM: Even if they crossed at a legal entry point?
AC: Very few people come to the bridge. Border Patrol is saying the bridge is closed. When I was last out in McAllen, people were stacked on the bridge, sleeping there for three, four, ten nights. They’ve now cleared those individuals from sleeping on the bridge, but there are hundreds of accounts of asylum seekers, when they go to the bridge, who are told, “I’m sorry, we’re full today. We can’t process your case.” So the families go illegally on a raft—I don’t want to say illegally; they cross without a visa on a raft. Many of them then look for Border Patrol to turn themselves in, because they know they’re going to ask for asylum. And under this government theory—you know, in the past, we’ve had international treaties, right? Statutes which codified the right of asylum seekers to ask for asylum. Right? Article 31 of the Refugee Convention clearly says that it is improper for any state to use criminal laws that could deter asylum seekers as long as that asylum seeker is asking for asylum within a reasonable amount of time. But our administration is kind of ignoring this longstanding international and national jurisprudence of basic beliefs to make this distinction that, if you come to a bridge, we’re not going to prosecute you, but if you come over the river and then find immigration or are caught by immigration, we’re prosecuting you.
TM: So if you cross any other way besides the bridge, we’re prosecuting you. But . . . you can’t cross the bridge.
AC: That’s right. I’ve talked to tons of people. There are organizations like Al Otro Lado that document border turn-backs. And there’s an effort to accompany asylum seekers so that Customs and Border Patrol can’t say, “We’re closed.” Everybody we’ve talked to who’s been prosecuted or separated has crossed the river without a visa.
TM: You said you were down there recently?
AC: Monday, June 4.
TM: What was happening on the bridge at that point?
AC: I talked to a lot of people who were there Saturdays and Sundays, a lot of church groups that are going, bringing those individuals umbrellas because they were in the sun. It’s morning shade, and then the sun—you know, it’s like 100 degrees on the cement. It’s really, really hot. So there were groups bringing diapers and water bottles and umbrellas and electric fans, and now everyone’s freaked out because they’re gone! What did they do with them? Did they process them all? Yet we know they’re saying you’re turned back. When I was in McAllen, the individuals that day who visited people on the bridge had been there four days. We’re talking infants; there were people breastfeeding on the bridge.
TM: Are the infants taken as well?
AC: Every border zone is different. We definitely saw a pattern in McAllen. We talked to 63 parents who had lost their children that day in the court. Of those, the children seemed to be all five and older. What we know from the shelters and working with people is that, yes, there are kids that are very young, that are breastfeeding babies and under three in the shelters, separated from their parents. But I’m just saying, in my experience, all those kids and all the parents’ stories were five and up.
TM: Can you talk about how you’ve seen the process change over the past few months?
AC: The zero-tolerance policy really started with Jeff Sessions’s announcement in May. One could argue that this was the original policy that we started seeing in the executive orders. One was called “border security and immigration enforcement.” And a lot of the principles underlying zero tolerance are found here. The idea is that we’re going to prosecute people.
TM: And the policy of separating kids from parents went into effect when?
AC: They would articulate it in various ways with different officials, but as immigration attorneys, starting in October, were like, “Oh my goodness. They are telling us these are all criminal lawbreakers and they’re going to have their children taken away.” We didn’t know what it would mean. And so we saw about six hundred children who were taken away from October to May, then we saw an explosion of the numbers in May. It ramped up. The Office of Refugee Resettlement taking in all these kids says that they are our children, that they are unaccompanied. It’s a fabrication. They’re not unaccompanied children. They are children that came with their parents, and the idea that we’re creating this crisis—it’s a manufactured crisis where we’re going to let children suffer to somehow allow this draconian approach with families seeking shelter and safe refuge.
TM: So what is the process for separation?
AC: There is no one process. Judging from the mothers and fathers I’ve spoken to and those my staff has spoken to, there are several different processes. Sometimes they will tell the parent, “We’re taking your child away.” And when the parent asks, “When will we get them back?” they say, “We can’t tell you that.” Sometimes the officers will say, “because you’re going to be prosecuted” or “because you’re not welcome in this country” or “because we’re separating them,” without giving them a clear justification. In other cases, we see no communication that the parent knows that their child is to be taken away. Instead, the officers say, “I’m going to take your child to get bathed.” That’s one we see again and again. “Your child needs to come with me for a bath.” The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, “Where is my five-year-old?” “Where’s my seven-year-old?” “This is a long bath.” And they say, “You won’t be seeing your child again.” Sometimes mothers—I was talking to one mother, and she said, “Don’t take my child away,” and the child started screaming and vomiting and crying hysterically, and she asked the officers, “Can I at least have five minutes to console her?” They said no. In another case, the father said, “Can I comfort my child? Can I hold him for a few minutes?” The officer said, “You must let them go, and if you don’t let them go, I will write you up for an altercation, which will mean that you are the one that had the additional charges charged against you.” So, threats. So the father just let the child go. So it’s a lot of variations. But sometimes deceit and sometimes direct, just “I’m taking your child away.” Parents are not getting any information on what their rights are to communicate to get their child before they are deported, what reunification may look like. We spoke to nine parents on this Monday, which was the 11th, and these were adults in detention centers outside of Houston. They had been separated from their child between May 23 and May 25, and as of June 11, not one of them had been able to talk to their child or knew a phone number that functioned from the detention center director. None of them had direct information from immigration on where their child was located. The one number they were given by some government official from the Department of Homeland Security was a 1-800 number. But from the phones inside the detention center, they can’t make those calls. We know there are more parents who are being deported without their child, without any process or information on how to get their child back.
TM: And so it’s entirely possible that children will be left in the country without any relatives?
AC: Could be, yeah.
TM: And if the child is, say, five years old . . .?
AC: The child is going through deportation proceedings, so the likelihood that that child is going to be deported is pretty high.
TM: How do they know where to deport the child to, or who the parents are?
AC: How does that child navigate their deportation case without their parent around?
TM: Because a five-year-old doesn’t necessarily know his parents’ information.
AC: In the shelters, they can’t even find the parents because the kids are just crying inconsolably. They often don’t know the full legal name of their parents or their date of birth. They’re not in a position to share a trauma story like what caused the migration. These kids and parents had no idea. None of the parents I talked to were expecting to be separated as they faced the process of asking for asylum.
TM: I would think that there would be something in place where, when the child is taken, they’d be given a wristband or something with their information on it?
AC: I think the Department of Homeland Security gives the kids an alien number. They also give the parents an alien number and probably have that information. The issue is that the Department of Homeland Security is not the one caring for the children. Jurisdiction of that child has moved over to Health and Human Services, and the Health and Human Services staff has to figure out, where is this parent? And that’s not easy. Sometimes the parents are deported. Kids are in New York and Miami, and we’ve got parents being sent to Tacoma, Washington, and California. Talk about a mess. And nobody has a right to an attorney here. These kids don’t get a paid advocate or an ad litem or a friend of the court. They don’t get a paid attorney to represent them. Some find that, because there are programs. But it’s not a right. It’s not universal.
TM: What agency is in charge of physically separating the children and the adults?
AC: The Department of Homeland Security. We saw the separation take place while they were in the care and custody of Customs and Border Protection. That’s where it was happening, at a center called the Ursula, which the immigrants called La Perrera, because it looked like a dog pound, a dog cage. It’s a chain-link fence area, long running areas that remind Central Americans of the way people treat dogs.
TM: So the Department of Homeland Security does the separation and then they immediately pass the kids to HHS?
AC: I don’t have a bird’s-eye view of this, besides interviewing parents. Parents don’t know. All they know is that the kid hasn’t come back to their little room in CBP. Right? We know from talking to advocates and attorneys who have access to the shelters that they think that these kids leave in buses to shelters run by the Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement Department of Unaccompanied Children Services—which, on any given day there’s like three thousand kids in the Harlingen-Brownsville area. We know there are eight, soon to be nine, facilities in Houston. And they’re going to open up this place in Tornillo, along the border by El Paso. And they’re opening up places in Miami. They’re past capacity. This is a cyclical time, where rates of migration increase. So now you’re creating two populations. One is your traditional unaccompanied kids who are just coming because their life is at risk right now in El Salvador and Honduras and parts of Guatemala, and they come with incredible trauma, complex stories, and need a lot of resources, and so they navigate this immigration system. And now we have this new population, which is totally different: the young kids who don’t hold their stories and aren’t here to self-navigate the system and are crying out for their parents. There are attorneys that get money to go in and give rights presentations to let the teenagers know what they can ask for in court, what’s happening with their cases, and now the attorneys are having a hard time doing that because right next to them, in the other room, they’ve got kids crying and wailing, asking for their mom and dad. The attorneys can’t give these kids information. They’re just trying to learn grounding exercises.
TM: Do you know if siblings are allowed to stay together?
AC: We don’t know. I dealt with one father who knew that siblings were not at the same location from talking to his family member. He believes they’re separated. But I have no idea. Can’t answer that question.
TM: Is there another nonprofit similar to yours that handles kids more than adults?
AC: Yes: in Houston it’s Catholic Charities. We know in Houston they are going to open up shelters specific for the tender-age kids, which is defined as kids under twelve. And that’s going to be by Minute Maid Stadium. And that facility is also going to have some traditional demographic of pregnant teenagers. But it’s going to be a young kid—and young kids are, almost by definition, separated. Kids usually do not migrate on their own at that age.
TM: That’s usually teens?
AC: Teens. Population is thirteen to seventeen, with many more fifteen-, sixteen-, and seventeen-year-olds than thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds. They’re riding on top of trains. You know, the journey is very dangerous. Usually that’s the age where the gangs start taking the girls and saying “you’re going to be my sex slave”–type of stuff. I’ve heard that it’s going to be run by a nonprofit. ORR does not hold the shelters directly. They contract with nonprofits whose job it is to provide essential food, mental health care, caseworkers to try to figure out who they’re going to be released to, and all those functions to nonprofits, and I think the nonprofit in charge of this one is Southwest Key.
TM: So how long do the kids stay in the facility?
AC: It used to be, on average, thirty days. But that’s going up now. There are many reasons for that: one, these facilities and ORR are not used to working with this demographic of young children. Two, DHS is sharing information with ORR on the background of those families that are taking these children, and we’ve seen raids where they’re going to where the children are and looking for individuals in those households who are undocumented. So there is reticence and fear of getting these children if there’s someone in the household who is not a citizen.
TM: So if I’m understanding correctly, a relative can say, “Well, I can pick that kid up; that’s my niece.” She comes and picks up the child. And then DHS will follow them home? Is that what you’re saying?
AC: No. The kid would go to the aunt’s house, but let’s just imagine that she is here on a visa, a student visa, but the aunt falls out of visa status and is undocumented and her information, her address, is at the top of DHS’s files. So we’ve seen this happen a lot: a month or two weeks after kids have been released, DHS goes to those foster homes and arrests people and puts people in jail and deports them.
TM: And then I guess they start all over again trying to find a home for those kids?
TM: What is explained to the kids about the proceedings, and who explains it to them?
AC: The Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement goes through an organization called the Vera Institute of Justice that then contracts with nonprofit organizations who hire attorneys and other specialized bilingual staff to go into these shelters and give what they call legal orientation programs for children, and they do group orientation. Sometimes they speak to the kids individually and try to explain to them, “This is the process here; and you’re going to have to go see an immigration judge; and these are your rights before a judge; you won’t have an attorney for your case, but you can hire one. If you’re afraid to go back to your country, you have to tell the judge.” That type of stuff.
TM: And if the child is five, and alone, doesn’t have older siblings or cousins—
AC: Or three or four. They’re young in our Houston detention centers. And that’s where these attorneys are frustrated—they can’t be attorneys. How do they talk and try to console and communicate with a five-year-old who is just focused on “I want my mom or dad,” right?
TM: Are the kids whose parents are applying for asylum processed differently from kids whose parents are not applying for asylum?
AC: I don’t know. These are questions we ask DHS, but we don’t know the answers.
TM: Why don’t you get an answer?
AC: I don’t know. To me, if you’re going to justify this in some way under the law, the idea that these parents don’t have the ability to obtain very simple answers—what are my rights and when can I be reunited with my kid before I’m deported without them?—is horrible. And has to go far below anything we, as a civil society of law, should find acceptable. The fact that I, as an attorney specializing in this area, cannot go to a detention center and tell a mother or father what the legal procedure is for them to get their child or to reunite with their child, even if they want to go home?
And my answer is, “I don’t think you can.” In my experience, they’re not releasing these children to the parents as they’re deported. To put a structure like that in place and the chaos in the system for “deterrence” and then carry out so much pain on the backs of some already incredibly traumatized mothers and fathers who have already experienced sometimes just horrific violence is unacceptable.
Mise en exergue d’un passage :
The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, “Where is my five-year-old?” “Where’s my seven-year-old?” “This is a long bath.” And they say, “You won’t be seeing your child again.”
Why the US is separating migrant children from their parents
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended the separation of migrant children from their parents at the border with Mexico, a measure that has faced increasing criticism.
The “zero-tolerance” policy he announced last month sees adults who try to cross the border, many planning to seek asylum, being placed in custody and facing criminal prosecution for illegal entry.
As a result, hundreds of minors are now being housed in detention centres, and kept away from their parents.
What is happening?
Over a recent six-week period, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents after illegally crossing the border, figures released on Friday said.
Mr Sessions said those entering the US irregularly would be criminally prosecuted, a change to a long-standing policy of charging most of those crossing for the first time with a misdemeanour offence.
As the adults are being charged with a crime, the children that come with them are being separated and deemed unaccompanied minors.
Advocates of separations point out that hundreds of children are taken from parents who commit crimes in the US on a daily basis.
As such, they are placed in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services and sent to a relative, foster home or a shelter - officials at those places are said to be already running out of space to house them.
In recent days, a former Walmart in Texas has been converted into a detention centre for immigrant children.
Officials have also announced plans to erect tent cities to hold hundreds more children in the Texas desert where temperatures regularly reach 40C (105F).
Local lawmaker Jose Rodriguez described the plan as “totally inhumane” and “outrageous”, adding: “It should be condemned by anyone who has a moral sense of responsibility.”
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials estimate that around 1,500 people are arrested each day for illegally crossing the border.
In the first two weeks of the “zero-tolerance” new approach, 658 minors - including many babies and toddlers - were separated from the adults that came with them, according to the CBP.
The practice, however, was apparently happening way before that, with reports saying more than 700 families had been affected between October and April.
Not only the families crossing irregularly are being targeted, activists who work at the border say, but also those presenting themselves at a port of entry.
“This is really extreme, it’s nothing like we have seen before,” said Michelle Brané, director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, a New York-based non-governmental organisation that is helping some of these people.
In many of the cases, the families have already been reunited, after the parent was released from detention. However, there are reports of people being kept apart for weeks and even months.
Family separations had been reported in previous administrations but campaigners say the numbers then were very small.
Whose fault is it?
Mr Trump has blamed Democrats for the policy, saying “we have to break up the families” because of a law that “Democrats gave us”.
It is unclear what law he is referring to, but no law has been passed by the US Congress that mandates that migrant families be separated.
Fact-checkers say that the only thing that has changed is the Justice Department’s decision to criminally prosecute parents for a first-time border crossing offence. Because their children are not charged with a crime, they are not permitted to be jailed together.
Under a 1997 court decision known as the Flores settlement, children who come to the US alone are required to be released to their parents, an adult relative, or other caretaker.
If those options are all exhausted, then the government must find the “least restrictive” setting for the child “without unnecessary delay”.
The case initially applied to unaccompanied child arrivals, but a 2016 court decision expanded it to include children brought with their parents.
According to the New York Times, the government has three options under the Flores settlement - release whole families together, pass a law to allow for families to be detained together, or break up families.
It is worth noting that Mr Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly - who previously served as the head of Homeland Security - said in 2017 that the White House was considering separating families as a means of deterring parents from trying to cross the border.
What do the figures show?
The number of families trying to enter the US overland without documentation is on the rise. For the fourth consecutive month in May, there was an increase in the number of people caught crossing the border irregularly - in comparison with the same month of 2017, the rise was of 160%.
“The trends are clear: this must end,” Mr Sessions said last month.
It is not clear, though, if the tougher measures will stop the migrants. Most are fleeing violence and poverty in Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and staying, for many, could mean a death sentence.
Human rights groups, campaigners and Democrats have sharply criticised the separations, warning of the long-term trauma on the children. Meanwhile the UN Human Rights Office called on the US to “immediately halt” them.
But Mr Sessions has defended the measure, saying the separations were “not our goal” but it was not always possible to keep parents and children together.
What is the policy in other countries?
No other country has a policy of separating families who intend to seek asylum, activists say.
In the European Union, which faced its worst migrant crisis in decades three years ago, most asylum seekers are held in reception centres while their requests are processed - under the bloc’s Dublin Regulation, people must be registered in their first country of arrival.
Measures may vary in different member states but families are mostly kept together.
Even in Australia, which has some of the world’s most restrictive policies, including the detention of asylum seekers who arrive by boat in controversial offshore centres, there is no policy to separate parents from their children upon arrival.
Meanwhile, Canada has a deal with the US that allows it to deny asylum requests from those going north. It has tried to stem the number of migrants crossing outside border posts after a surge of Haitians and Nigerians coming from its neighbour. However, there were no reports of families being forcibly separated.
“What the US is doing now, there is no equivalent,” said Michael Flynn, executive director of the Geneva-based Global Detention Project, a non-profit group focused on the rights of detained immigrants. “There’s nothing like this anywhere”.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have unveiled legislation to keep families together but it is unlikely to win the support of its own party or the White House.
Les récits de la détresse d’enfants de migrants créent l’émoi aux Etats-Unis
Plus de 2000 enfants ont été séparés de leurs parents depuis l’entrée en vigueur en avril de la politique de « tolérance zéro » en matière d’immigration illégale aux Etats-Unis. Ces jours, plusieurs témoignages ont ému dans le pays.
Etats-Unis : quand la sécurité des frontières rime avec torture d’enfants mineurs
Au Texas, dans un centre de détention, un enregistrement audio d’enfants migrants âgés entre 4 à 10 ans pleurant et appelant leurs parents alors qu’ils viennent d’être séparés d’eux, vient de faire surface.
Cet enregistrement a fuité de l’intérieur, remis à l’avocate Jennifer Harbury qui l’a transféré au média d’investigation américain ProPublica. L’enregistrement a été placé sur les images filmées dans ce centre. Il soulève l’indignation des américains et du monde entier. Elles sont une torture pour nous, spectateurs impuissants de la barbarie d’un homme, Donald Trump et de son administration.
Le rythme des séparations s’est beaucoup accéléré depuis début mai, lorsque le ministre de la Justice Jeff Sessions a annoncé que tous les migrants passant illégalement la frontière seraient arrêtés, qu’ils soient accompagnés de mineurs ou pas. Du 5 mai au 9 juin 2018 quelque 2’342 enfants ont été séparés de leurs parents placés en détention, accusés d’avoir traversé illégalement la frontière. C’est le résultat d’une politique sécuritaire dite de “tolérance zéro” qui criminalise ces entrées même lorsqu’elles sont justifiées par le dépôt d’une demande d’asile aux Etats-Unis. Un protocol empêche la détention d’enfants avec leurs parents. Ils sont alors placés dans des centres fermés qui ressemblent tout autant à des prisons adaptées.
Aux États-Unis, le traumatisme durable des enfants migrants
Trump a beau avoir mis fin à la séparation forcée des familles à la frontière, plus de 2 000 enfants migrants seraient encore éparpillés dans le pays. Le processus de regroupement des familles s’annonce long et douloureux.
The Government Has Taken At Least 1,100 Children From Their Parents Since Family Separations Officially Ended
“You can’t imagine the pain,” Dennis said. “If you’re not a dad, you don’t know what it’s like.” I reached Dennis by phone in a small town in the Copán Department of Honduras, where he lives with his wife and three children. For five months this year, the family was fractured across borders. Sonia, age 11, had been separated from Dennis after they crossed into the United States and turned themselves in to the Border Patrol to ask for asylum. Dennis was deported from Texas, and Sonia sent to a shelter in New York.
The U.S. government is still taking children from their parents after they cross the border. Since the supposed end of family separation — in the summer of 2018, after a federal judge’s injunction and President Donald Trump’s executive order reversing the deeply controversial policy — more than 1,100 children have been taken from their parents, according to the government’s own data. There may be more, since that data has been plagued by bad record keeping and inconsistencies. The government alleges that separations now only happen when a parent has a criminal history or is unfit to care for a child, but an ongoing lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that the current policy still violates the rights of children and families. Border Patrol agents, untrained in child welfare, make decisions that some parents are unfit to stay with their children based solely on brief interactions with them while they are held in custody.
Dennis picks coffee during the harvest season and works other basic jobs when he can, but he struggles to put food on the table and pay for his kids’ school supplies. In April, unable to find steady work in the coffee fields and receiving regular threats from a creditor, he headed north, hoping to find safety and opportunity in the United States. “We were barely eating. I couldn’t give my kids a life,” Dennis told me. (He preferred that I only use first names for him and his family due to safety concerns.) Thinking that his two boys — ages 2 1/2 and 7 — were too young to travel, Dennis took Sonia and together they left Honduras. They trekked through Guatemala and Mexico by bus, train, and on foot. They were robbed once, terrified the whole way, and had to beg for food. They slept wherever they could — sometimes in the woods, along the tracks, or, when they could scrounge enough money together, in migrant flophouses.
After about a month of travel, Dennis and Sonia crossed the Rio Grande in a small raft outside of McAllen, Texas, on the morning of May 17. They walked for hours before they turned themselves in to a Border Patrol agent and were taken to a processing center, where they were locked up in one of the freezing-cold temporary holding centers known as hieleras, or iceboxes. Only a few hours later, a Border Patrol agent took Dennis and Sonia and locked them in separate rooms. It was the last time he would see his daughter for five months.
For the next 11 days, Dennis remained in the hielera, asking repeatedly to see his daughter. Border Patrol officers tried to get him to sign papers that were in English, which he couldn’t read. He refused. “You can’t see her,” a Border Patrol agent told him about his daughter. The agent said that she was fine, but wouldn’t tell him where she was. Border Patrol transferred Dennis to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Port Isabel, Texas. They told him that because of a previous deportation and a felony — a 10-year-old charge for using false work authorization papers — he was ineligible for asylum. For the next 30 days of his detention, he knew nothing of his daughter or her whereabouts. Finally, an agent called him over and told him that she was on the phone. The call was brief. They both cried. He told her to be strong. He told her that they were going to send him away. Two weeks later, without talking to his daughter again, he was deported back to Honduras. “I’m a man, but I cried. I cried,” he told me. “Oh, it was so hard.”
Sonia was in New York in an Office of Refugee Resettlement, or ORR, shelter, where she was living with a number of other children. In Honduras, after Dennis’s deportation, the rest of the family waited in agony for nearly 5 months, until October 9, when Sonia was released and then flown home. “My wife,” Dennis said, “she didn’t eat, didn’t sleep. You can’t imagine the suffering. And, don’t forget,” he reminded me, “she had two other kids to raise.”
In 2018, much of the world looked on aghast as U.S. immigration agents separated thousands of children from their parents in an unprecedented anti-immigrant crackdown. In one notorious instance captured on audio, Border Patrol agents laughed and joked at desperate children crying for their parents. The separations, part of a series of policy changes to limit total immigration and effectively shutter refugee and asylum programs, stemmed from the so-called zero-tolerance policy that began in El Paso in 2017 and was rolled out border-wide in the spring of 2018. The administration had announced that it would seek to prosecute all people who illegally crossed the border (despite the fact that, according to U.S. law, it is not illegal for an asylum-seeker to cross the border), but it later emerged that the government had specifically targeted families. A strict zero tolerance policy — prosecuting every individual who was apprehended — was always beyond capacity. The focus on families was part of a distinct effort by the Department of Homeland Security and the White House to try and dissuade — by subjecting parents and children to the terror of separation — more people from coming to the United States.
After widespread uproar and international condemnation, Trump issued an executive order to halt the separations on June 20, 2018. Six days later, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw issued an injunction, demanding the reunification of parents with their children within 30 days. For children under the age of 5, the deadline was 14 days. For some, however, it was too late. Parents had already lost custody, been deported, or even lost track of their children. Even for those who were reunified, trauma had set in. In 2018, the number of publicly known separations was 2,800. In fact, as the government revealed this October after pressure from the ACLU lawsuit, that original count was over 1,500 children short. Furthermore, the government has admitted that more than 1,100 additional families have been separated since the executive order and injunction — bringing the total number of children impacted to at least 5,446. That number may still be an undercount and will continue to rise if immigration officials’ current practices continue.
The grounds for the ongoing separations — the 1,100 new cases — stem from a carve-out in Sabraw’s injunction: that children should not be separated “absent a determination that the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child.” That language, the ACLU and others allege in an ongoing lawsuit, is being interpreted too broadly by the government, resulting in unwarranted separations. ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who has been litigating against the government on behalf of a class of separated families, called the ongoing separation policy “as shocking as it is unlawful.”
The reason that Dennis and Sonia were separated, for example, goes back to 2008, when Dennis’s wife was pregnant with Sonia, and Dennis came to the U.S. to find work and support his family. He made it to Minnesota and was loaned false papers to get a job, but he was quickly picked up and charged with forgery. He spent three months in a federal prison before being deported. Eleven years later, that conviction led to Sonia being taken from him. “You could call any child expert from anywhere in the country, and they would tell you that these parents are not a danger to the child,” Gelernt said in a September 20 hearing. “The government is simply saying, ‘We are going to take away children because the court said we could.’”
In a brief filed to the court in July, ACLU attorneys pointed out cases in which children were taken from their parents for “the most minor or nonviolent criminal history.” The reasons for separation cited in those cases included marijuana possession convictions, a 27-year-old drug possession charge, and a charge of “malicious destruction of property value” over a total of $5. An 8-month-old was separated from his father for a “fictitious or fraudulent statement.” A mother who broke her leg at the border had her 5-year-old taken from her while she was in emergency surgery, and ORR did not release the child for 79 days.
In an example of a dubious determination made by the Border Patrol of a father being “unfit” to care for his 1-year-old daughter, an agent separated the two because the father left his daughter in a wet diaper while she was sleeping. She had been sick and, after caring for her and taking her to the hospital on two separate occasions for a high fever, the father “wanted to let her sleep instead of waking her to change her diaper,” according to the ACLU brief. Nonetheless, a female guard took his daughter from his arms, criticized him for not changing the diaper, and even called him a bad father. The government’s own documents show that the father has no other criminal history.
In another instance, a 3-year-old girl was separated from her father due to Customs and Border Protection’s allegation that he was not actually her parent. Although the father’s name does not appear on the child’s birth certificate, he presented other documentation showing parentage and requested a DNA test as proof. Officials ignored his request and separated the family. After an attorney intervened, the family took a DNA test and confirmed paternity. Meanwhile, the daughter was sexually abused while in ORR care and, according to the brief, “appears to be severely regressing in development.”
CBP did not respond to a request for comment.
The ACLU’s brief received some coverage this summer, but many of the most egregious stories it collected went unmentioned. Overall, even as the separations have continued, media attention has flagged. From a high of 2,000 stories a month in the summer of 2018, this fall has seen an average of only 50 to 100 stories a month that mention family separation, according to an analysis by Pamela Mejia, head of research at Berkeley Media Studies Group. Mejia told me that the issue had “reached a saturation point” for many people: “The overwhelming number of stories that generate outrage has made it harder to keep anything in the headlines.”
At first, the child victims of the government’s actions were easy to empathize with. There was no “crime frame,” as Mejia put it, to explain away the children’s suffering, in contrast to the way that immigration is often covered. Whether denominating migrants as “illegals,” seeing them as “hordes” or “invaders,” or using a broad brush to associate them with crime or terrorism, politicians and the media alike often wield anti-immigrant or dehumanizing language when discussing immigration. Young children, however, are something different. The broad consensus in 2018 was that the family separation policy was an outrageous and unnecessary cruelty.
But, despite the outrage, the policy continued and now there’s a sense of “futility that this is going to keep happening,” Mejia said. Gelernt likewise attributed the lack of ongoing coverage to “media burnout,” noting especially that there are more than 200 kids under the age of 5 who have been separated from their families. It’s hard to cover so many heartrending stories, Gelernt said. And now, simply, “People think it’s over.”
But it’s not. Sabraw, the southern California judge who issued the injunction in 2018, is expected to rule soon on the ACLU’s challenge to the continued separations. But even if he again orders the government to reunify families, or narrows immigration officials’ latitude in carrying out separations, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the government can, or will, comply. CBP, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, has already proven negligent in keeping track of the separated children — calling families who had undergone separation, for example, “deleted family units.” Some children still remain unaccounted for.
“At this point, no government official can plausibly claim that they are unaware of the damage these separations are doing to the children,” Gelernt told me, “yet they continue to do it.”
In late November, back in Copán, Sonia graduated from sixth grade. One of her favorite things to do, Dennis told me, is to draw with her younger brothers. She is also teaching the older of the two boys to read, practicing his letters with him. She’ll go into seventh grade soon, but her father worries about her growing up in what he described as a gang-ridden town. Honduras has one of the highest incidence rates of violence against women in the world. He also doesn’t know how he’ll be able to pay for her high school. “I know it’s desperate,” he said, “but I’m thinking of heading north again. I can’t see how else to do it.”
Sonia doesn’t talk much about her time separated from her family, but Dennis notices that she’s changed, and he and his wife are worried: “She told me she didn’t feel good. She was just crying at first [while in the ORR facility]; that’s all she did.” Now when she goes quiet sometimes, her parents wonder if she’s still affected by the trauma. As Dennis contemplated aloud another potential trip north in search of personal and financial security, he reflected, “I just ask that we have enough food to eat every day. I just want my family to be safe.”