Investigate Immigration Abuses

 

Senator Diane Feinstein

SF Office: (415) 393-0707
DC Office: (202) 224-3841
LA Office: (310) 914-7300
Fresno Office: (559) 485-7430
San Diego Office: (619) 231-9712

If you can't get through to one office, try another.  There is no benefit to calling one office over another.  Leaving a voicemail is as good as reaching a live person. 

Senator Kamala Harris

SF Office: (415) 981-9369
DC Office: (202) 224-3553
Sacramento Office: (916) 448-2787
LA Office: (213) 894-5000
San Diego Office: (619) 239-3884

Call the SF office first, but try the other offices if you can’t get through. If you can’t get a live person, leave a voicemail and also send a follow-up email written in your own words.

 

Note: only one of these two Congresswomen represents you. To find out which one, click here.

Leader Nancy Pelosi

SF Office: (415) 556-4862

DC Office: (202) 225-4965

Call the SF office first, but try the DC office if you can’t get through. If you get voicemail, hang up and try a few more times to talk to a real person. Don’t give up! Short direct messages are most effective.

Rep. Jackie Speier

San Mateo Office: (650) 342-0300

DC Office: (202) 225-3531

Keep calling if you don’t get through. Voicemails are logged daily into a central report across offices.

 

Call Script

My name is __________. I am a constituent, and my zip code is _______. I am a member of Indivisible SF.

I want to express my outrage at the continuing abuses of the Trump-Republican regime against nonwhite Americans and immigrants. Between now and the November session of Congress I urge [the Congresswoman] to officially visit the border to investigate and call attention to the following:

1. Unilateral denial (or revocation) of passports to American Latinos born near the border because of mere suspicion that their Texas birth certificate might have been falsely issued to their parents decades ago.

2. Incarceration of immigrant children in a privately-run Tornillo TX internment camp where they are denied access to legal representation and living conditions fail to meet state-mandated minimum health, safety, education, and staff-qualification requirements.

3. Continued illegal violation of the court-ordered "Flores settlement" that limits detention of immigrant children to no more than 20 days.

4. Imposition of new "public charge" barriers to new immigrants and current green-card holders before any new rules have actually been approved.

5. Foster parents being granted permanent custody or allowed to adopt detained immigrant children without the knowledge or consent of their biologic parents.


Background

Latinos Illegally Denied Passports

The Bush-II administration denied passports to a small number Americans born along the border on grounds that the midwives attending their birth decades earlier had falsely reported that they had been born in the U.S. when in fact they'd been born on the Mexican side of the border. Those Americans had gone to school, worked, voted, and paid taxes in the U.S. all their lives but were then suddenly required to somehow prove that their Texas-issued birth certificate had not been falsely obtained 20 or 30 years earlier. Very few Americans living anywhere in the country would be able to do this so long after the fact. In 2009, the Obama administration ended this practice by establishing innocent-until-proven-guilty guidelines that passports could only be denied or revoked if there was actual evidence of wrong-doing rather than mere suspicion that fraud might have occurred.

Now the Trump-GOP regime has suddenly overturned that understanding by accusing hundreds – possibly thousands – of Latinos along the border of relying on fraudulent birth certificates ever since they were babies. Many of those whose citizenship is now suddenly under challenge are military veterans and almost all of them are voters. In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates issued by the state of Texas have been jailed in detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In other cases, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States after business, shopping, or visiting friends in Mexico.

An investigation into this unjustified denial and revocation of American passports is urgently needed.


Children Incarcerated in Tornillo TX Internment Camp

Until recently, immigrant children who have been detained pending resolution of their cases were housed state-supervised shelters or with foster families (usually relatives or family friends). Now they are being transferred (often in the dead of night) to the privately-run Tornillo internment camp in the sweltering Texas desert.

According to a recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, they had in custody 12,800 undocumented children – five times the number they held when Trump took office. The administration claims that these children have to be incarcerated because the shelters are full and there are not enough families to provide foster care. In part this is because Trump's family-separation policy ripped children away from their parents, greatly increasing the number of kids to be cared for. And it part it's because of new policies that require fingerprinting and background checks of all adults in any foster care situation which has resulted in adults being arrested and deported because of their own immigration status. Which, of course, has reduced the number of families willing to risk themselves by providing foster care to immigrant children.

Both shelters and foster-care families are licensed and supervised by state child-welfare agencies that enforce health, safety, nutrition, education, and staff hiring and training requirements. Children cared for under state supervision sleep two or three to a room, receive formal schooling, and regularly meet with the legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases.

None of those protections are provided at the Tornillo internment camp where kids are warehoused 20 to a tent, there is no schooling, and access to legal services is severely limited. The staff are hired and supervised by the private contractor running the camp with little oversight from Trump's HHS Dept.

To pay for his new child internment camp, Trump has shifted more than $260m from agencies and programs that benefit all Americans such as the National Cancer Institute, the HIV/AIDS program, National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An investigation is urgently needed into conditions and practices at the Tornillo internment camp.

Flores Settlement

A 1997 court agreement known as the "Flores Settlement set a 20-day limit to the time that the federal government could detain immigrant children, after which they had to be transferred to a shelter supervised by HHS or placed with a foster family or sponsor. Now it's being reported that Trump is flagrantly and illegally violating the Flores Settlement by incarcerating immigrant children for as long as two months – and detaining families with children indefinitely.

In September of this year, the administration proposed a New Rule entitled, Apprehension, Processing, Care, and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children. If put into effect, this proposed rule will unilaterally nullify the Flores Settlement and strip from children their existing rights:

  • To have a bail bond hearing and be released on bond

  • To be represented by counsel

  • To have their detention assessed by an independent immigration judge

  • To present evidence on their behalf

  • To examine and rebut the government’s evidence

  • To build a record regarding their custody.

The new rule would also create an “alternative” to the existing program of state-licensed family residential facilities and allow families including children to be detained together indefinitely during the entirety of their immigration proceedings. In other words, indefinite family detention in unlicensed internment camps.

An investigation is needed into the human cost of these proposals and to see if they are already being clandestinely implemented by the Trump administration before they have been legally approved.


New “Public Charge” Rule

For decades immigration rules barred immigrants who are likely to become “Public Charges,” meaning people dependent on direct government aid. Additionally, in some circumstances, non-citizens legally living in the U.S. and holding green cards can be deported if they become a “public charge.” The definition of “public charge” has always been someone who is primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.

Now the Trump-Republican regime is proposing New Rules that will bar immigrants if they – or any members of their family – might need widely used forms of non-cash assistance such as Medicaid programs, Medicare Part D, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), SNAP (food stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Section 8 housing vouchers, child-care assistance for working parents, or transportation vouchers.

These forms of non-cash assistance are widely used by low-income citizens and non-citizens alike. There are over 41 million immigrants living in the United States, 4% of whom receive cash benefits while 23% percent get non-cash benefits. This is essentially the same as native-born Americans, 4% of whom get cash payments, 22% of whom received non-cash benefits.

Without these kinds of non-cash assistance low-wage employees – both citizen and noncitizen – at Walmart, Amazon, restaurants and fast-food joints, hotels, and so on, could not survive. In essence these forms of assistance are, in fact, a form of corporate welfare that subsidizes low-wage employers who would have to pay living-wages if such public assistance was not available to their employees.

These proposed new rules make no fiscal sense. A 2016 study by the federally-funded National Academies showed that while first-generation immigrants are somewhat more costly than native-born Americans to state and local governments — mostly because of the cost of education — members of the second generation are “among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the U.S. population, contributing more in taxes than either their parents or the rest of the native-born population.”

These proposed new “public charges” rules are now open for PUBLIC COMMENT. The public comment period closes in early December. After that the administration may, or may not, make revisions before imposing the new rules which will be subject to congressional review and/or court challenge.

Commenting on the proposed rule, Jackie Vimo of the National Immigration Law Center concludes that, "This will close the door to anyone except white, English-speaking, wealthy immigrants." That seems to be exactly what Trump, Republican Party leaders, and their MAGA base want – a return to the old Euro-centric, white-racist immigration policies of the 1950s.

Immigrant advocates are raising concerns that the rule change will force families to forgo necessary services to avoid jeopardizing their immigration status. There are reports that legal immigrants with green cards are choosing not to sign-up for Medicaid programs for fear of being deported. And hundreds of thousands of DACA youth now have to weigh the risk of potential deportation when applying for legitimate and necessary benefits. The degree to which simply the threat of these new rules is coercing people out of health care, nutrition, and other vital programs needs to be investigated.

Adoption Without Consent

Detained immigrant children are supposed to be reunited with their biologic parents or other family members when their case is resolved. Before a child is placed with them, the foster families are supposed to understand and agree that the child is in their care on a temporary basis. Now instances are being reported where state courts are granting foster families permanent custody, or outright legal adoption, of detained immigrant children – without the knowledge or consent of the child’s biologic parents.

In the past, there have been rare cases of detained-child adoptions by foster families when there was credible evidence of child endangerment or trafficking, but if detained children are denied legal representation and their biologic parents are either not informed or not allowed any voice in the matter the potential for abuses becomes unacceptable.

It is urgent that these reports of adoption without consent be investigated forthwith. America must not become another Argentina where babies and children were stolen from their parents for political reasons.

Information Sources

U.S. is denying passports to Americans along the border, throwing their citizenship into question, Washington Post, September 13, 2018

Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to a Texas Tent City,

New York Times September 30, 2018

Texas detention camp swells fivefold with migrant children, The Guardian, October 3 2018

Proposed Rule: Apprehension, Processing, Care, and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children, Visa Lawyer Blog, October 9, 2018

Could the Trump Administration Succeed in Detaining Child Migrants Indefinitely? Nation magazine, October 5, 2018

Trump administration seeks to limit access to U.S. for immigrants who use or are likely to use public assistance, Washington Post, September 22, 2018

A punitive Trump proposal stokes panic among immigrants — even before it's official

Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2018

Trump bets on public charge, Politico, September 24, 2018

An Overview of Eligibility for Immigration Practitioners, Immigration Legal Resource Center

AP Investigation: Deported parents may lose kids to adoption, AP, October 9. 2018