Two Realities, One Child

Just last April, ACJP’s youngest member was at immigration court fighting deportation charges.  Yesterday, he graduated eighth grade.  In the fall of this year, he came back from an ICE detention facility after being referred there by San Mateo County probation.  It’s been one tough year for this young man, but he’s got the love of his family and community to pull him through.  Check out the campaign to stop juvenile ICE holds that ACJP De-Bug is working on with our allies in San Mateo County at www.stopdeportingyouth.com — Submission Post by Charisse Domingo

A Day in Immigration Court with a 14-Year Old Defendant Facing Deportation

This is a photo of ACJP De-Bug’s youngest member — only 14 years old, who had an immigration court proceeding today in San Francisco.  He’s been coming to our weekly meetings for months now with his family and we’ve grown to know and love his quiet strength.

Scanning the courtroom, he was also the youngest person there who was facing deportation.  The air was thick with apprehension, of not knowing what was going to happen, and greater than that — of the fear of ICE agents coming into court right then and there.  In the waiting room that looks like a doctor’s office, the brown faces from Mexico, Central America, and Asia are furrowed.  But this young man has incredible courage, far more than what he realizes himself.  He stares down at his paperwork the whole time.  The pro-bono attorney of the day rapidly runs through paperwork to give him and says will ask for a continuance.  She battle-runs through the same set of questions we had seen her ask the Chinese person before us, and the Latino couple right before him.  “Where are you from?”  “Where is your family?”  — All questions that are loaded and sterile at the same time, given the place we were at this morning.

They call his name from the bench and the pro-bono attorney motions with two fingers to come to the front.  “You’re not alone up there,” I told him.  “I know,” he says. “God is with me.”  And he smiles.  It’s only 5 minutes that he’s up there, but the wait was about an hour and a half.  From the audience, I tell myself it’s all procedural today, but every pause of the judge pushes me closer to the edge of my seat.  At the end, another court date is set, and he breathes a sigh of relief outside. He looks up again and can’t wait to run to his mom.

Young people should be thinking about school, sports, what music they like — not deportation proceedings. I am hoping the human side of the immigration system breaks through for this young man, and for all young people and their families.  — Submission Post by Charisse Domingo

National Immigration Project Releases “All In One Guide To Defeating ICE Hold Requests”

Authored by Lena Graber of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the “All In One Guide To Defeating ICE Hold Requests” is designed to help communities disentangle local police policy and practices from immigration enforcement.  ACJP at De-Bug has been one of the key organizations in the Santa Clara County FIRE (Forum for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment) Coalition that helped secure the most progressive detainer policy in the nation, spearheaded on the Board level by Supervisor George Shirakawa.  Our Coalition’s yearlong efforts are featured on this guide.  As we’ve always asserted, it’s not public safety vs. immigrant rights, but public safety THROUGH immigrant rights. Post submission by Charisse Domingo

Stopdeportingyouth.com — New Site Highlights Local Efforts to Stop Juvenile ICE Holds in San Mateo County

With the Stanford Immigrants Rights Clinic, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Youth United for Community Action, ACLU North Peninsula Chapter, Comite de Padres Unidos, and Nuestra Casa, we at Silicon Valley De-Bug have helped lead efforts to stop San Mateo County Probation’s practice of juvenile ICE holds in San Mateo County.  Families have come to De-Bug seeking support for their son’s or daughter’s cases where they have been caught up in juvenile hall and then sent to immigrant detention centers across the country — youth as young as 13. For the last four years, we’ve seen an increase in this number of families like no other, beginning with one mother from East Palo Alto who was so distraught at the thought of her 16 year old daughter being deported back to a country that she left when she was 3.  We learned that it was her PO who reported her to ICE, and initially, we thought it was a mistake.  But it turned out to be the complete opposite — this was actually routine practice.  In fact, San Mateo County is the second highest referrer of juveniles to ICE in California — second only to Orange County, according to statistics obtained by Immigrant Legal Resource Center from the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

As part of the coalition’s efforts in the last nine months, we at De-Bug created this page, www.stopdeportingyouth.com, to highlight not just the practice of referring youth to ICE, but the strong stance that a broad-based coalition has taken to urge our county to do otherwise. We believe San Mateo County can do better.  Submission Post by Charisse Domingo

Click here or on the picture below to take you to the site.

NAM Ethno Blog: Is Prosecutorial Discretion Leading to Fewer Deportation Cases?

Are the prosecutorial discretion guidelines issued by the Obama administration last year having an effect on the number of deportation cases that the administration is pursuing?

By Leslie Berestein Rojas, New America Media — A new Syracuse University report suggests yes, federal immigration officials say no, and some lawmakers are calling “amnesty” nonetheless.
First, the report: Issued in recent days by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, the number of deportation proceedings begun in the nation’s immigration courts between October and December of last year (the first quarter of federal fiscal year 2012) “fell sharply to only 39,331 — down 33 percent from 58,639 filings recorded the previous quarter,” a drop of more than 10,000 cases filed. The report notes that since filings are typically lower at that time of year, the numbers were adjusted for seasonal drop-off. It continues:

This substantial drop may have been caused by the steps needed to implement the June 17, 2011 agency directive on prosecutorial discretion or as the indirect effect of the review announced August 18, 2011 by the Administration of all pending Immigration Court cases. The objective of these twin initiatives was to better target enforcement resources on high priority cases. Continue reading

Santa Clara County DA’s Office to Now Consider “Collateral Consequences” — Policy Shift Bodes Well for Immigrants

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen

As stated in a recently released document, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced they will change their policy regarding the consideration of collateral consequences (such as possible deportation consequences for a minor conviction) when negotiating plea agreements. The memo states, “It is not generally the duty of a prosecutor to mitigate the collateral consequences to a defendant of his or her crime. However, in those cases where the collateral consequences are significantly greater than the punishment for the crime itself, it is incumbent upon the prosecutor to consider and, if appropriate, take reasonable steps to mitigate those collateral consequences.”  Continue reading

Make A Toast, But Don’t Drink The Juice — Responding to Obama’s Immigration Policy

Florida Immigrant Coalition

The following piece is an editorial by our friend Subhash Kateel. Subhash is an organizer currently with the Florida Immigrant Coalition, host of the online radio show Let’s Talk About It, and is a co-founder of Families for Freedom. He wrote this piece in response to the news of the Obama’s Administration’s announcement regarding its review of deportation cases.

Thursday felt like time for a toast for America’s largest social movement, the folks fighting for immigrant rights. With the news that the Obama administration would review many of its pending 300,000 deportation cases and allow some of those with no “criminal” record to stay, you could literally hear the cries of joy jumping out of Facebook updates, twitter feeds, cafecito spots (I live in Miami), college campuses, and even a detention center or two. Continue reading

Associated Press: ACLU sues feds for shackling immigrant detainees

When ACJP attends ICE immigration court dates, we often saw people handcuffed, and treated like criminals for civil proceedings.  ACLU is taking on their practice, by launching a lawsuit. According to the Associated Press article, the ACLU attorneys say, “say thousands of immigration detainees — even the elderly and people with physical or mental disabilities — are routinely forced to wear wrist shackles, belly chains and leg irons during the civil proceedings, even if they do not pose a flight risk or other possible danger.”