April 1, 2014 & April 3, 2014
Baylor Law School will offer free assistance to immigrants who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
When? April 1, 2014 and April 3, 2014 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
What are some of DACA’s benefits?
Who qualifies? Immigrants who:
When you contact us, our law students will help you determine if you qualify for DACA and our services. While our services are completely free, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services charges an application fee of $465. Translators will be available. Baylor Law School will not provide additional services after the scheduled clinics.
For an appointment, call or email us at:
Texas Tribune by Julian Aguilar
Six immigration reform activists protesting the use of Secure Communities by Travis County, Texas, were arrested today.
The Monitor by Alicia A. Caldwell and Christopher Sherman (AP)
McALLEN (AP) — A federal judge in Brownsville said in a recent order that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is assisting in criminal conspiracies to smuggle children into the country when it helps reunite them with parents who are known to be in the U.S. illegally.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen made the comments in a 10-page order last Friday, at the conclusion of an immigrant smuggling case. Hanen expressed his frustration in having four cases in which a child who arrived in the U.S. illegally alone was reunited with a parent who was herself in the country illegally pass through his court in the past month.
In the most recent case, Hanen sentenced a smuggler to 10 months in prison. But he saved his most withering words for the U.S. government for not arresting and deporting the mother who hired the smuggler.
The order doesn't have the power to change policy, but it offers harsh criticism from a judge who regularly handles border issues but isn't known for being outspoken on immigration.
The case involved a woman who was arrested at an international bridge in Brownsville trying to use her daughter's birth certificate to smuggle in a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador. The girl was then reunited with her mother who was living illegally in Virginia.
"Instead of arresting (the child's mother) for instigating the conspiracy to violate our border security laws, the DHS delivered the child to her — thus successfully completing the mission of the criminal conspiracy," Hanen wrote.
Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron said in a prepared statement that the agency follows the laws when dealing with unaccompanied minors.
"DHS screens unaccompanied alien children for human trafficking, notifies the proper authorities, and then transfers children into the custody of Health and Human Services," she said.
The U.S. government for years has made it a priority to reunite unaccompanied children with parents regardless of their immigration status while awaiting their cases in immigration courts. Hanen's order did not mention that the children remain in deportation proceedings after they are reunited with their parents. Sending them to family members in the U.S. gets them out of government-funded shelters, which have been overwhelmed.
In recent years, the number of children apprehended by U.S. authorities without their parents has skyrocketed.
Between 2008 and 2011, the number of unaccompanied minors who landed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, fluctuated between 6,000 and 7,500 per year. That number shot up to 13,625 in 2012 and surged even more — to 24,668 — this year. Those figures do not include thousands of Mexican children who are routinely returned to that country through coordination with its consulates at the border.
The issue received national attention last year, when about 100 children were temporarily housed in a barracks at a U.S. Air Force base in San Antonio because sufficient beds weren't available in the shelter network.
Most of the children come from Central America. Nonprofit agencies that help provide the children legal representation say widespread violence perpetrated by gangs and drug cartels in their home countries are prompting more children to strike out on the dangerous journey north.
"It's not necessarily just because a family member is here and a family member is facilitating their travel to reunify," said Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit organization that coordinates pro bono legal representation for unaccompanied children in the immigration system. "It's typically because the child is really compelled to leave the country because of conditions in the home country."
Hanen has been on the federal court since 2002, after being nominated by President George W. Bush. He spent several years handling the federal government's land condemnation cases to build the border fence, many times compelling government lawyers to slow down and take necessary procedural steps.
Hanen's Dec. 13 order said that when he brought up his concerns with federal prosecutors they referred him to a 1997 case Flores v. Reno, a settlement of which laid out guidelines for how the government would deal with unaccompanied minors. He said there's nothing in that agreement to keep the government from trying to deport parents who are in the country illegally and hired smugglers to bring their children.
The judge pointed out the incredible dangers for migration through Mexico. Human smuggling is a lucrative business controlled by organized crime groups — the same cartels that smuggle drugs into the U.S. By helping kids get to their parents in the U.S., Hanen says the government is providing additional customers, and thus revenue, to the cartels and putting children at risk.
Young said the so-called Flores agreement was put in place for a reason.
"What are the alternatives, locking kids into facilities for months and months?" Young said. "You have to look at the issue also from a child welfare perspective and what's good for the child."
Texas Tribune by Julian Aguilar
The UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas has canceled a mock immigration sting on campus scheduled for Wednesday. YCT campus chairman Lorenzo Garcia said in a statement that organizers feared UT officials would retaliate against them.
Garcia also cited safety concerns, but conceded that the event, where students were to be rewarded with $25 gift cards for "catching" undocumented immigrants, was “over the top.” He nonetheless took issue with the backlash he received on Monday and said he hoped the controversy would stir debate on the issue of immigration.
"I have been called an 'Uncle Tom.' I have received emails and comments via social media filled with obscenity," Garcia said in the statement. "The reactions of some who claim that YCT is creating a demeaning or degrading environment on campus have been truly disgraceful."
Garcia also took a swipe at the university, saying he thought it a place where "students could express their opinions — whether or not they were popular."
The cancellation of the event came after the UT administration made the following statements:
UT President Bill Powers, in an emailed statement, called on YCT to "find more productive and respectful ways" to participate in a discussion about immigration questions on campus.
"The proposed YCT event is completely out of line with the values we espouse at The University of Texas at Auastin," he said.
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, UT's vice president for diversity and community engagement, said the YCT members would be "willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of our campus culture," if they carry out their plan for the "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" event.
"The university honor code entreats students to abide by the core values of the university, one of which is freedom, but two others of which are individual opportunity and responsibility," Vincent said a prepared statement.
Texas Tribune by Julian Aguilar
Excellent story about Edgar Torres Hernandez one of the DREAM 34, who was ordered deported by an Immigration Judge yesterday after his claim of a "credible fear" of returning to Mexico was denied.
Last Friday, I toured the Baptist Family and Children's Services Shelter in Harlingen, Texas, with the State Bar of Texas Laws Related to Immigration and Nationality Committee. This center provides residential care and services for unaccompanied children who enter the U.S. while authorities determine the appropriate steps toward reuniting them with their families or placing them in an alternate setting.
One challenge that BCFS faces is that of children who "age out" (have their 18th birthday). These young people are no longer eligible for services nor are they eligible for foster care. BCFS tries to find safe places for these young people at adult shelters. They told us the inspirational story of Yalerson Castillo, a young man from Honduras who was a resident until he turned 18. A local family who met him through soccer provided him with a home. He is currently attending Harlingen High School and playing running back on the football team.
In the Texas Tribune today, Julian Aguilar has an excellent article exploring whether young activist immigrants who were deported or returned to Mexico of their own accord and then returned to U.S. ports of entry seeking asylum are hurting or helping the cause of comprehensive immigration reform.
Carlos Spector, who represents more than 100 Mexican families seeking asylum, said Monday that the tactics of groups like theDREAM 9 in Arizona or the DREAM 34 in Texas betray the cause of comprehensive immigration reform that they seek to champion.
“Both groups did not consult the work of the local community that has 25 years of experience working on these issues,” said Spector, who is also the co-founder of Mexicanos en Exilio, or Mexicans in Exile, a nonprofit outfit that helps endangered Mexicans move safely to the U.S. “They played into the right wing’s argument and narrative that Mexicans are using the asylum process frivolously just to enter the country.”
* * *
Groups who support such DREAMer groups, however, say they are serving a noble cause. They say they are bringing attention to youths who were deported to Mexico but are just as deserving as other immigrants seeking refuge in the U.S.
To receive asylum, petitioners must show they have a valid fear of persecution or death due to a number of factors, including religion, ethnicity, participation in a political group or sexual orientation.
Spector, who just weeks ago declined to openly criticize the groups, spoke Monday about a case he said proves his argument against the activists. That morning, Carlos Gutierrez, a Mexican businessman from Chihuahua whose feet were cut off by criminal gangs, left West Texas for his “Pedaling for Justice” effort, a 700-mile bicycle trek through the state to focus attention on the violence in Mexico and its root causes.
Gutierrez, who uses prosthetic legs, sought asylum in 2011 after the criminals punished him for not paying their monthly $10,000 extortion demand.
It’s cases like his, Spector said, that get diluted by activist movements.
“Carlos’ feet are cut off. Those are the real cases we are dealing with, and what they are doing is they are diminishing the importance of that,” he said. “And that’s one of the reasons we are going public with this now.”
Spector, who supports comprehensive immigration reform, said the activists probably have good intentions and “represent the desperation of people that want to get together with their families.” But the tactics, he said, are hurting the overall cause, especially because judges usually deny most asylum cases sought by Mexicans.
Texas Tribune by Morgan Smith and Edgar Walters
You'll just have to read it for yourself.
Texas Tribune by Julian Aguilar
One year after President Obama’s decision to allow undocumented-immigrant youths to apply for renewable work permits and a two-year reprieve from deportation proceedings, Texas — perhaps due to its immigration policies — beats the national average of approved applicants.
At the same time, the Pew Research Center says that the number of undocumented immigrants in Texas has remained steady, or possibly increased, while the rest of the country saw a dip in overall illegal immigration the past few years.
Analysts argue that trend could also be attributed to the state’s middle-of-the-road polices on immigration enforcement.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was implemented in August 2012. Since then, approximately 91,000 of the state’s 165,000 eligible immigrants (about 55 percent) have applied and been accepted for processing, according to data from the U.S. Citizen Immigration Services obtained by the D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute. Throughout the country, about 538,000 applications have been accepted out of a possible 1,089,000, or about 49 percent.
Taken together, California and Texas are home to 44 percent of the country’s DACA-eligible immigrants. Randy Capps, a senior analyst and demographer with the MPI, said geography is one reason for that. About 59 percent of the country’s eligible applicants are from Mexico, and Mexicans also have the highest application rate, about 64 percent.