White House considered sending immigrant detainees to sanctuary cities

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at a healthcare roundtable at the White House in Washington

President Donald Trump and White House officials proposed in recent months releasing immigrant detainees into the streets of so-called “sanctuary cities,” places where local governments have decided to limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities working to locate and deport undocumented immigrants, according to officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the White House.

The plan, which was first reported by The Washington Post, would have targeted cities — many of them led or represented by Democratic lawmakers– which have policies that limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The term sanctuary city has been used in reference to a number of policies in different jurisdictions and does not have one legal definition. There are dozens of so-called sanctuary cities across the United States, including places like San Francisco, New York City, and Denver, where Democratic leaders have been outspoken in opposing the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

When asked about the plan Thursday night, a White House official and a spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security emailed the PBS NewsHour nearly identical statements. The White House statement said, “This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.”

In recent years, the number of immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement has hit record highs, with nearly 50,000 immigrants detained this year. It is not clear how many people the White House proposed releasing into sanctuary cities, but news of the proposal comes as Trump doubles down on his hardline immigration policies through personnel changes and new policy proposals.

In the past, the Trump administration tried to withhold federal funds from jurisdictions considered sanctuary cities but the effort has largely been blocked by court decisions.

Trump has also repeatedly blasted the idea of sanctuary cities. “I don’t think we like sanctuary cities up here,” Trump said during a rally in Nevada last year. “By the way, a lot of people in California don’t want them, either. They’re rioting now. They want to get out of their sanctuary cities.”

Ashley Etienne, the communications director for Pelosi, pointedly criticized the plan Thursday. “The extent of this Administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” she said in a statement. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable, and in some cases, criminal.”

News of the president’s plan to release detainees comes amid major changes in the administration’s immigration leadership positions. On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign from her post. Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Claire Grady also offered the president her resignation this week.

Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, a move Trump announced on Twitter. On Thursday, Ronald Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also announced he would be replaced in the acting role Friday by acting Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Matt Albence.

White House officials have told the NewsHour that the personnel changes come as the president reviews how to best pursue the immigration policies he prefers.

Meanwhile, Nielsen’s departure also added to the slate of Trump Cabinet officials operating with “acting” as part of their titles. They include acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, and acting Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen.

Share or comment on this article:

Advertisements

Mother Russia: South Florida Sees a Boom in ‘Birth Tourism’

Hundreds of pregnant Russian women travel to the United States every year to give birth so that their child can acquire all the privileges of American citizenship.

In this photo taken on Jan. 24, 2019, Denis Wolok, the father of 1-month-old Eva’s father, shows the child’s U.S. passport during an interview with The Associated Press in Hollywood, Fla. Every year, hundreds of pregnant Russian women, like Wolok’s wife, Olga Zemlyanaya, travel to the United States to give birth so that their child can acquire all the privileges of American citizenship. (AP Photo/Iuliia Stashevska) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MIAMI (AP) — Every year, hundreds of pregnant Russian women travel to the United States to give birth so that their child can acquire all the privileges of American citizenship.

They pay anywhere from $20,000 to sometimes more than $50,000 to brokers who arrange their travel documents, accommodations and hospital stays, often in Florida.

While the cost is high, their children will be rewarded with opportunities and travel advantages not available to their Russian countrymen. The parents themselves may benefit someday as well.

And the decidedly un-Russian climate in South Florida and the posh treatment they receive in the maternity wards — unlike dismal clinics back home — can ease the financial sting and make the practice seem more like an extended vacation.

The Russians are part of a wave of “birth tourists” that includes sizable numbers of women from China and Nigeria.

President Donald Trump has spoken out against the provision in the U.S. Constitution that allows “birthright citizenship” and has vowed to end it, although legal experts are divided on whether he can actually do that.

Although there have been scattered cases of authorities arresting operators of birth tourism agencies for visa fraud or tax evasion, coming to the U.S. to give birth is fundamentally legal. Russians interviewed by The Associated Press said they were honest about their intentions when applying for visas and even showed signed contracts with doctors and hospitals.

There are no figures on how many foreign women travel to the U.S. specifically to give birth. The Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for stricter immigration laws, estimated that in 2012, about 36,000 foreign-born women gave birth in the U.S., then left the country.

The Russian contingent is clearly large. Anton Yachmenev of the Miami Care company that arranges such trips, told the AP that about 150 Russian families a year use his service, and that there are about 30 such companies just in the area.

South Florida is popular among Russians not only for its tropical weather but also because of the large Russian-speaking population. Sunny Isles Beach, a city just north of Miami, is even nicknamed “Little Moscow.”

“With $30,000, we would not be able to buy an apartment for our child or do anything, really. But we could give her freedom. That’s actually really cool,” said Olga Zemlyanaya, who gave birth to a daughter in December and was staying in South Florida until her child got a U.S. passport.

An American passport confers many advantages. Once the child turns 21, he or she can apply for “green card” immigration status for the parents.

A U.S. passport also gives the holder more travel opportunities than a Russian one; Americans can make short-term trips to more than 180 countries without a visa, while Russians can go visa-free only to about 80.

Traveling to the U.S. on a Russian passport often requires a laborious interview process for a visa. Just getting an appointment for the interview can take months.

Some Russians fear that travel opportunities could diminish as tensions grow between Moscow and the West, or that Russia might even revert to stricter Soviet-era rules for leaving the country.

“Seeing the conflict growing makes people want to take precautions because the country might well close its borders. And if that happens, one would at least have a passport of a different country and be able to leave,” said Ilya Zhegulev, a journalist for the Latvia-based Russian website Meduza that is sharply critical of the Kremlin.

Last year, Zhegulev sold two cars to finance a trip to California for him and his wife so she could give birth to their son.

Trump denounced birthright citizenship before the U.S. midterm election, amid ramped up rhetoric on his hard-line immigration policies. The president generally focuses his ire on the U.S.-Mexico border. But last fall he mentioned he was considering executive action to revoke citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil. No executive action has been taken.

The American Civil Liberties Union, other legal groups and even former House Speaker Paul Ryan, typically a supporter of Trump’s proposals, said the practice couldn’t be ended with an order.

But others, like the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for less immigration, said the practice is harmful.

“We should definitely do everything we can to end it, because it makes a mockery of citizenship,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an outspoken Russian lawmaker, said the country can’t forbid women from giving birth abroad, and many of them also travel to Germany and Israel.

“Trump is doing everything right, because this law is used as a ploy. People who have nothing to do with the U.S. use it to become citizens,” Zhirinovsky said.

Floridians have shown no problem with the influx of expectant mothers from Russia.

Yachmenev, the agency manager, says he believes it’s good for the state because it brings in sizable revenue.

Svetlana Mokerova and her husband went all out, renting an apartment with a sweeping view. She relished the tropical vibe, filling her Instagram account with selfies backed by palm trees and ocean vistas.

“We did not have a very clear understanding about all the benefits” of a U.S. passport, she said.

“We just knew that it was something awesome,” added Mokerova, who gave birth to a daughter after she was interviewed.

Zemlyanaya said that even her two nights in the hospital were a treat, like “a stay in a good hotel.”

In contrast to the few amenities of a Russian clinic, she said she was impressed when an American nurse gave her choices from a menu for her meals.

“And then when she said they had chocolate cake for dessert, I realized I was in paradise,” Zemlyanaya added.

She even enjoyed how nurses referred to patients as “mommies,” as opposed to “rozhenitsa,” or “birth-giver” — the “unpleasant words they use in Russian birth clinics.”

Zemlyanaya said she was able to work remotely during her stay via the internet, as were the husbands of other women, keeping their income flowing. Yachmenev said his agency doesn’t allow any of the costs to be paid by insurance.

Most of the families his agency serves have monthly incomes of about 300,000 rubles ($4,500) — middling by U.S. standards but nearly 10 times the average Russian salary.

Yachmenev said he expects that birth tourism among Russians will only grow.

Business declined in 2015 when the ruble lost about half its value, but “now we are coming back to the good numbers of 2013-14,” he said.

___

Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in Miami and Varya Kudryavtseva in Moscow contributed to this report.

 

Share or comment on this article:

U.S. approved arrival of thousands of child brides from foreign countries

NEW YORK (FOX NEWS) – The United States has approved thousands of requests by men to bring child brides and adolescent brides from other countries. the approvals are legal because the immigration and nationality act does not set minimum age requirements.

A new U.S. Senate report, called How the U.S. Immigration System Encourages Child Marriages, is raising questions about whether our country’s immigration system encourages child marriages.

Naila Amin grew up in New York City. She is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Pakistan, where she was forced to marry her adult cousin when she was 13.

“Imagine someone is beating you and raping you every day of your life—even telling you ‘Hey, put my socks on me,'” Amin said. “He treated me like a little slave.”

child_brides_brought_to_u_s__0_6616622_ver1.0_640_360

Amin said her 26-year-old husband saw her as his passport to the United States.

“I was his lottery ticket out of Pakistan,” she said.

Amin eventually got out of the marriage but said the ordeal cost her childhood.

“I know my potential could have been so much more,” she said. “But they ruined my life.”

Some lawmakers and advocates for victims say the U.S. immigration system may be unintentionally enabling forced marriages. A loophole in immigration law has paved the way for over 8,000 child marriages, mostly to girls brought in from outside the country, according to the Senate report.

Under the law, a U.S. child may petition for a visa for a spouse or fiancé living in another country. And a U.S. adult can petition for a visa for a minor spouse or fiancée living abroad.

“So it indicates a problem,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, said. “It indicates a loophole that we need to close.”

The organization Unchained at Last is dedicated to ending forced and child marriage in the United States. Fraidy Reiss, the executive director, called the U.S. government “complicit” in child marriage.

“The U.S. government is encouraging child marriage with the loopholes and the laws that allow children to petition for a foreign spouse or fiancé or be the beneficiary of a foreign spouse or fiancé visa,” Reiss said.

Lawmakers on the Senate homeland security and governmental reform committee are now calling for reforms to prevent people from getting immigration benefits that facilitate child marriages.

Marriage between adults and minors is not uncommon in the United States, the AP reported. Most states allow children to marry with some restrictions. (New York is seeking to outlaw it.)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services weighs petitions in part based on whether the marriage is legal in the spouse or fiance’s home country and whether it is legal in the state where the petitioner lives, the AP reported.

560 (4)

ORDER YOUR TRUMP ‘FUCK YOUR FEELINGS’ MUG: CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOURS!

Share or comment on this article

A Huge Caravan Of Central Americans Is Headed For The US, And No One In Mexico Is Stopping Them!

sub-buzz-8514-1522376172-5

Taking a drag from her cigarette, a Mexican immigration agent looked out toward a caravan of migrants that grew larger with each step they took on the two-lane highway.

When the agent, who’d covered her uniform with an orange and white shawl, learned that the Central American migrants heading her way numbered more than 1,000, she took off for the restaurant across the street.

“I’m going to have a relaxing Coke,” she told BuzzFeed News.

For five days now hundreds of Central Americans — children, women and men, most of them from Honduras — have boldly crossed immigration check points, military bases, and police in a desperate, sometimes chaotic march toward the United States. Despite being in Mexico without authorization, no one has made any effort to stop them.

Organized by a group of volunteers called Pueblos Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders, the caravan is intended to help migrants safely reach the United States, not only bypassing authorities who would seek to deport them, but gangs and cartels who are known to assault vulnerable migrants.

Organizers like Rodrigo Abeja hope that the sheer size of the crowd will give immigration authorities and criminals pause before trying to stop them.

“If we all protect each other we’ll get through this together,” Abeja yelled through a loudspeaker on the morning they left Tapachula, on Mexico’s border with Guatemala, for the nearly monthlong trek.

When they get to the US, they hope American authorities will grant them asylum or, for some, be absent when they attempt to cross the border illegally. More likely is that it will set up an enormous challenge to the Trump administration’s immigration policies and its ability to deal with an organized group of migrants numbering in the hundreds.

The number of people who showed up to travel with the caravan caught organizers by surprise, and overwhelmed the various towns they’ve stopped in to spend the night. Pueblos Sin Fronteras counted about 1,200 people on the first day.

About 80% of them are from Honduras. Many said they are fleeing poverty, but also political unrest and violence that followed the swearing in of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez after a highly contested election last year. The group often breaks into chants of “Out with JOH.” They also chant “we aren’t immigrants, we’re international workers” and “the people united will never be defeated.”

sub-buzz-24562-1522376379-11

Sweating after miles of walking in more than 90-degree heat with her two kids, Karen said conditions in Honduras were so bad she decided to take a chance with the caravan. She declined to give her full name.

“The crime rate is horrible you can’t live there,” Karen told BuzzFeed News on the side of a highway near Huixtla, a town in Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. “After the president (was sworn in) it got worse. There were deaths, mobs, robbed homes, adults and kids were beaten up.”

Before setting foot on the journey, the migrants were organized into groups of 10 to 15 people, and a leader was designated for each group. Five groups were then banded together in what organizers call a sector. While there are organizers from Pueblos Sin Fronteras leading the way, much of the effort to get to the US border is in the hands of the migrants themselves.

They’ve been organized into security, food, and logistics committees. Organizers say it’s meant to help the migrants empower themselves.

Sandra Perez, 40, who’s also from Honduras, is one of two women who belong to the security committee. It’s not her first caravan, she has traveled with a procession of Central American mothers through Mexico in search of disappeared migrants.

“I like doing this, it makes me happy and I feel useful,” she told BuzzFeed News.

Twenty-nine-year old Mateo Juan said the caravan was his third attempt at getting to the United States. Seven months ago, Mexican immigration officers pulled him off the bus. The same happened about a month ago.

He heard about the caravan in March when he arrived in Tapachula, the caravan’s starting point.

“Going alone is risky, you’re risking an accident, getting jumped by robbers, and even your life,” he told BuzzFeed News. “All of that, and then you don’t get to the United States. The caravan is slower but you know you’re going to get there safely.”

Still, there are no guarantees on the route or assurances that once they reach the US border they’ll be able to cross undetected or be allowed to stay under some type of protection like asylum.

Alex Mensing, another organizer with Pueblos Sin Fronteras, made that point clear to the migrants before the group started out. He also stressed that everyone is responsible for their own food, water, and payment for vans or buses. Still, it’s far cheaper than being assaulted or falling into the hands of unscrupulous smugglers.

“I’m here to work together with the people who had to leave their countries for whatever reason,” Mensing said through a loudspeaker. “We’re fighting together. We’re not here to give anyone papers and we’re not here to give anyone food.”

Mensing said Pueblos Sin Fronteras isn’t calling on people to make the trek, but if they’re going to try to go through Mexico on the way to the United States, the group will help them.

The caravan propels itself forward using whatever way it can. Sometimes that means packing into the back of a truck, negotiating lower rates for vans, or hitching a ride on the back of empty big rigs from whatever town they’re in. The group sleeps in town plazas. Local townspeople and churches feed them.

In the evening, when the group settles in for the night, the kids play in playgrounds or dart among the crowd, chasing each other. Teenagers and adults play soccer using rocks as goal posts.

On Tuesday, the caravan had plans to board the freight train known as “The Beast” or sometimes “The Train of Death” in Arriaga to speed the journey north. It’s a dangerous part of the journey, with death and injury only too possible from a precarious perch atop a rail car, and the group practiced boarding, one woman in a purple shirt slowly making her way up a parked train’s ladder while the crowd below cheered her on. On another train car, men wearing backpacks steadily made their way up one by one.

sub-buzz-27982-1522376323-1

“This is so the women and children can lose their fear, know what it’s like to board the train, and turn back if they want,” Irineo Mujica, director of Pueblos Sin Fronteras, told the crowd.

But the train Mujica hoped would move the entire group to Puebla, one of their stops, never came, and in the end, the group boarded trucks and school buses to cover the distance to San Pedro Tapanatepec, a town in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

The move to the trucks was frantic, as people jostled for the limited space, and the security committees made a chain to hold people back. Mostly women and children wearing backpacks and carrying jugs of water got on the first truck.

Moving the entire group took hours, and some of the men, unable to gain a space in the vehicles, walked all night to join the rest of the group. On Friday, Good Friday, the organizers hope to board “The Beast” at another location.

Mujica said he was left with a sense of disbelief at seeing so many people go through such hardship in search of a better life.

“I can’t imagine my son walking on top of these trains, I can’t imagine hiding my children just to get to a city that’s four hours away,” Mujica said. “These are good people who are suffering as if they were slaves and putting their kids’ lives at risk. But it is what it is.”

sub-buzz-18406-1522376441-5

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!