Our report this month includes a revealing interview with a veteran immigration agent, a pastoral letter offering encouragement and community actions to support more humane immigration policies, and more information about a major change in Arizona immigration courtrooms as well as the tragic migrant deaths in Texas.
- An Inside Look at ICE: A long-time Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, with the condition of anonymity, goes on the record to describe emerging issues at the agency, particularly the latest push to arrest entire immigrant families and unaccompanied minors, allowed to stay in the U.S. when they arrived, who have turned eighteen. The picture he paints is one of decreasing standards and increasing impunity, creating an atmosphere in which abuses and human rights violations can go ignored or even be encouraged. His commentary reveals a man now demoralized by his job and an agency undergoing disturbing changes: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/a-veteran-ice-agent-disillusioned-with-the-trump-era-speaks-out/amp.
- Removed Shackles: In Arizona, federal defendants are no longer required to wear shackles when appearing in court, based on a decision by the 9thS. Circuit Court of Appeals. The demeaning and largely unnecessary practice goes back 15 years, and the decision to remove restraints will affect not only those facing criminal charges in federal courtrooms, but also thousands of immigrants whose cases are fast-tracked through Operation Streamline. Read more about this decision and policy shift here: http://tucson.com/news/local/shackles-no-longer-required-on-all-federal-defendants-in-tucson/article_d75314b7-b8c9-5fec-a646-d3a95ae0dd85.html.
- Pastoral Letter on Migration: In an online conversation organized by the Hope Border Institute, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso discussed his pastoral letter on migration, the first from a U.S. Catholic bishop on this subject in several years. In the letter, Bishop Seitz addressed the need for accompaniment of migrants, as espoused and exemplified by Pope Francis, and proposes a number of initiatives to help guide Catholic communities in this effort and called for a moratorium on detention and deportation. Learn more details about the pastoral letter and watch Bishop Seitz in conversation here: https://ignatiansolidarity.net/blog/2017/07/18/pastoral-letter-migration/.
- Smuggling and Migrant Deaths: The recent deaths of 10 individuals crossing the border in the back of a crowded and stultifyingly hot 18-wheeler shocked and saddened all who support migrant rights and human dignity. In addition, 30 others were hospitalized when the truck was discovered in San Antonio. The tragedy highlights the life-threatening conditions migrants can be subject to when crossing, the dire circumstances they flee wherein the dangers of the road ahead are preferable to remaining in their countries of origin, and the criminally negligent treatment they receive from smugglers. This article provides more information and context about this heartbreaking story: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/30/texas-san-antonio-migrants-truck-deaths.