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  1. #1
    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    Immigration judges, ICE attorneys, and experts are calling on the Trump administratio

    Immigration judges, ICE attorneys, and experts are calling on the Trump administration to close the courts to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading (Charles Davis)

    Business InsiderMarch 18, 2020, 12:28 AM EDT

    Immigration Getty Images/John Moore

    • Judges are demanding the immediate closure of immigration courts over coronavirus fears.
    • A union representing ICE attorneys says a lawyer in Atlanta was diagnosed with COVID-19 after appearing in court on Monday.
    • An immigration attorney in Georgia described to Business Insider unsafe conditions that violate CDC guidelines.
    • Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said closing immigration courts is the type of 'extreme social distancing' necessary to stop the spread of the disease.

    An Atlanta attorney who was in immigration court on Monday just self-reported a positive test of COVID-19, and an immigration judge in Denver is out sick with symptoms of the novel coronavirus. But the Trump administration — and, namely, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the United States' 68 immigration courts — is thus far resisting demands to shutter the courtrooms.

    "The scientific evidence-based opinion of public health experts can only lead to one conclusion," said Judge Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, "and that is to immediately and temporarily close all the immigration courts nationwide."

    In a press call on Tuesday, the group that represents the nation's immigration judges was joined by public health experts and the union that represents employees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement — a rare display of unity — in making that call for an emergency closure of the courts.

    "I'm obviously not an expert in immigration law," Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute said, "but what is very clear from a public health perspective is that any gathering of five or more people, I believe, puts people at substantial risk of further transmission of the disease."

    Without such extreme social distancing, tens if not hundreds of thousands of Americans will likely die in the coming months, Jha noted, adding that most experts believe there are probably 30,000 to 60,000 infected people already. Extreme social distancing is necessary just "to have a shot at dealing with the outbreak."

    According to Johns Hopkins University, there were nearly 6,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, as of Tuesday night, and at least 114 dead.

    "Our primary concern here today is the Department of Justice's refusal to either close or postpone immigration court in-person hearings during this global health crisis," said Fanny Behar-Ostrow, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 511, which represents workers at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    "Like most government employees, ICE attorneys are concerned about the risk to their health and the health of their families," she said. The Trump administration has itself issued guidance discouraging gatherings of 10 or more people and recommended keeping a distance of six feet from one another. "None of this is possible if the immigration courts remain open," Behar-Ostrow said.

    Behar-Ostrow added that, as she was on the press call, she received an email informing her that, in Atlanta, "an attorney who was diagnosed with COVID-19 was apparently in court yesterday," and that a judge in Colorado is out with what appears to be the same virus. "Every court, everyone, is basically in panic mode."

    As of Tuesday, only a single immigration court, in Seattle, had been closed, reflecting what Trump administration critics believe is a desire to maintain appearances and a focus on the president's signature issue: restricting immigration. EOIR, an arm of the US Department of Justice, did announce in a late-evening tweet on Sunday that it was postponing hearings for immigrants who are not currently behind bars.

    In a statement to Business Insider, EOIR press secretary Kathryn Mattigly said the office "continues to evaluate the information available from public health officials to inform the decisions regarding the operational status of each immigration court."

    Tracie Klinke, an immigration attorney in Murietta, Georgia, was in Atlanta last week for a hearing. In an interview, she described conditions in clear violation of the federal government's own guidance.

    "The judge was triple-booked, and so we actually sat there for two and a half hours, listened to another trial, and then the judge dismissed us to reschedule. So we were there for nothing," Klinke told Business Insider. There were "probably about 10 people in the courtroom, but of course we had to deal with security and those lines can be pretty long, about 15 people deep," she said.

    "There's no hand sanitizer out for public use and people are there, you know, for a court hearing; regardless of what their health might be, they were going to be there," she continued.

    There are also the confines of an elevator to deal with — in Atlanta, the immigration court is on the 26th floor — and a waiting room where "there were probably 30 people in a small room," Klinke said.

    "We weren't crammed in like sardines," she continued, "but we were definitely cozy." And definitely not six feet apart.

    The global pandemic has put immigrant rights advocates in an unusual position: agreeing with ICE.

    "This has been a real struggle," Denise Bell, a researcher focusing on refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International, told Business Insider. "None of us anticipated being here because what we've always asked for is more funding; more judges; more resources; more lawyers to help people pursuing their claims," said Bell, who previously worked as an attorney advisor on the New York immigration court. "Yet we're in a public health crisis and pursuing that claim could endanger that person and everyone around them. And we have to be mindful. We're in a position we never thought we'd be in."

    While postponing hearings for detained immigrants may not be ideal, she added, it's a least-bad option in a terrible situation — and the demand is coupled with a call for releasing those who lack serious felony convictions, lest the seemingly inevitable happen: COVID-19 begins to spread among the incarcerated.



  2. #2
    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    Deport them DIRECTLY to their military bases to house and feed and give medical care.

    They can set up tent cities to detain them.

    Close the Court and Deport -- wipe this backlog off the books and deport them all

    Close the Detention Centers and Deport

    Close the UAC Centers down and Deport

    No more catch and release these people, and NO more detention centers warehousing thousands of them!

    This needs to be a full on Military to Military operation to get these illegal aliens OFF our soil.

    No more flying refugees, asylum, TPS in here either!


  3. #3
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    Apr 2016
    Guatemala turns tables, blocking U.S. deportations because of coronavirus

    Molly O'Toole, Cindy Carcamo

    LA Times March 17, 2020, 1:47 PM EDT

    An arriving passenger's temperature is checked at Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. (AFP/Getty Images)Guatemala on Tuesday became the first Central American nation to block deportation flights from the United States in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a dramatic turnabout on Trump administration policies barring entry to asylum seekers from the region.

    Guatemala's ministry of foreign affairs announced that all deportation flights would be paused "as a precautionary measure" to establish additional health checks. Ahead of the announcement, President Alejandro Giammattei said in a Monday news conference that Guatemala also would close its borders completely for 15 days.

    “This virus can affect all of us, and my duty is to preserve the lives of Guatemalans at any cost,” he said.

    Guatemala, a major source of migration to the United States as well as a primary transit country for people from other nations headed to the U.S.-Mexico border, in recent days has blocked travelers from the U.S., as well as arrivals from Canada and a few European and Asian countries.

    The Guatemalan government under Giammattei’s new administration had confirmed six coronavirus cases as of Monday morning. But it has taken a hard tack in its response to the pandemic to try to prevent the rapid spread seen in North America and elsewhere, becoming among the first in the region to bar entry of Americans.

    Other nations in the Western Hemisphere, including El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile and Peru, also have taken steps to bar foreigners and, in some cases, to shut their borders, including to their own returning citizens.

    Guatemala’s move to refuse deportations will have a significant impact on the Trump administration’s efforts to ramp up a controversial agreement under which the United States sends migrants who are seeking asylum in the United States to Guatemala instead, even those who aren’t Guatemalan citizens.

    The deal between the U.S. and Guatemala, called the Asylum Cooperative Agreement, denies the asylum seekers the opportunity to apply in the United States for refuge and instead allows them only to seek asylum in Guatemala.

    Guatemala’s highest court initially blocked the agreement. Since November, the U.S. has sent Guatemala more than 900 men, women and children who have arrived at the border from El Salvador and Honduras.

    Before the decision to block deportation flights, the Guatemalan government had posted a schedule for 10 flights this week from the United States. One arrived Monday afternoon from Brownsville, Texas, carrying 56 Guatemalans and 17 Salvadorans, but another set for Tuesday was canceled, according to Alejandra Mena, a spokeswoman with Guatemala's immigration institute.

    Guatemalan authorities had said previously that they had been assured by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that they would not send people to Guatemala who were sick or displayed symptoms of the virus.

    Returning immigrants receive health screenings before boarding deportation flights and after arriving in Guatemala City, said Joaquin Samayoa, spokesman for the Minister of Foreign Relations in Guatemala. Those found to be sick would be quarantined, he added.

    Officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection agency, which implement the asylum agreement, directed a request for comment on Guatemala's decision to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which administers the flights. The agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
    U.S. Homeland Security officials have held meetings in recent weeks to prepare to add Mexican migrants to the groups being sent back to Guatemala — despite opposition from Mexico — and to roll out similar agreements with El Salvador and Honduras, sources told the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity to protect against retaliation.

    Those plans appear to have been derailed by the pandemic.

    The Honduran government announced last week that three of its citizens who were deported from the United States had exhibited symptoms of coronavirus and were put into isolation. The country suspended repatriation flights from Mexico.

    As of Monday, the U.S.-Mexico border remained open, to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic and flights, but the governments of Mexico and El Salvador wrangled with each other over stranded travelers.

    Officials in the region and even within the Trump administration, as well as health professionals and immigration advocates, have expressed fears that Trump’s focus on immigration enforcement could worsen the pandemic.

    Casa del Migrante, a shelter in Guatemala City that since November has housed hundreds of Salvadorans and Hondurans returned under the U.S.-Guatemala agreement, announced over the weekend that it would stop receiving immigrants who had been deported from the U.S. or Mexico.

    Mauro Verzeletti, director of the shelter, declared Guatemala's action "extraordinary" and "a victory." For days, he had called for the U.S. to stop deportation flights to Guatemala, to slow the spread of the virus. He said the immigrants were already vulnerable to illnesses because they arrived from the U.S. physically exhausted and simply “in a really bad condition.”

    Monday, Verzeletti met with Guatemalan officials and diplomats to discuss what he described as a “high-level humanitarian crisis.”

    The Trump administration previously favored a policy known as Remain in Mexico, which, combined with other initiatives, has forced about 80,000 asylum seekers back to Mexico and often stranded them in dangerous border cities as they await processing of their cases in the U.S.

    But that policy is bogged down in litigation — though the Supreme Court last week allowed it to continue until an ultimate ruling on its legality. Amid a significant drop in apprehensions at the U.S. Southern border, Trump administration officials have increasingly turned to the asylum agreement with Guatemala.

    On Monday, the ACLU and other groups filed suit against ICE, seeking the release of immigrants in detention who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Immigration judges, prosecutors and lawyers also called on the Justice Department to close immigration courts.
    Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Assn. of Immigration Judges, said judges had been told to continue holding hearings with immigrants during the health crisis.

    “Call DOJ and ask why they are not shutting down the courts,” she said, referring to the Justice Department.

    O’Toole reported from Guatemala City and Carcamo from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Maura Dolan in Orinda, Calif., contributed to this report.

    Last edited by Beezer; 03-18-2020 at 03:49 PM.


  4. #4
    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    Deport them DIRECTLY to their military bases to take care of them.

    We have our OWN crises right now and our National Guard and Naval Hospital Ships are helping the American people.

    They can deploy their military to do the same for their citizens.

    They are not U.S. citizens, deport them on the spot.



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