The Week Ahead: January 4-8

Assistant Director of Communications

January 4, 2016


“This past weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) engaged in concerted, nationwide enforcement operations to take into custody and return at a greater rate adults who entered this country illegally with children. This should come as no surprise. I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed.”
–    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Jan. 4


Deportation Raids Compound a Dysfunctional Immigration System

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed this afternoon that Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted raids over the weekend that focused on families, calling both families and unaccompanied children “enforcement priorities.”

The vast majority of removal orders were issued when children and families failed to appear in court, likely because DHS did not adequately explain the families’ obligation to appear or their right to receive a fair hearing on asylum, withholding of removal, and related claims.

In April 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Asylum Division found that among 1,305 families held in federal family detention facilities, 88 percent were found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture, should they be returned to their home countries. Of the 1,305 families, 92 percent were from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Deportation raids instill fear in immigrant communities, and deportation is not an acceptable substitute for well-functioning refugee and asylum processes. Such processes should ensure that families have clear information to about their rights and responsibilities, access to community-based services to facilitate appearances at court, and appointed counsel for those who would lack representation otherwise.

In addition to the most recent legislative bulletin, from Dec. 18, please see the Forum’s summaries of areas related to immigration in the spending bill Congress passed that day:
•    Department of Homeland Security
•    Skills and workforce development
•    Department of Justice


NEW YORK TIMES: Thriving in Texas Amid Appeals to Reject Syrian Refugees
By Manny Fernandez
Dec. 25, 2015
HOUSTON — No one noticed the man with two trays of frosted cupcakes.
He was just another father on an errand here at a Kroger supermarket, buying treats for the classroom holiday parties at Ray K. Daily Elementary, where three of his four children go to school. His striped polo shirt had a crocodile logo on the chest. His front lawn at home had a small Christmas tree he bought at Walmart. His S.U.V. had a chain-smoker’s supply of Winston cigarettes.
As he walked in the parking lot a car raced by, upsetting the peace of this sunny, cupcake-focused afternoon.
“Ticket,” he said. “Very crazy.”
The father, a 33-year-old Syrian, is a relative newcomer here, having settled in Houston in January with his wife and children. He asked to be identified only by his first name, Kamal, because he feared for the safety of his relatives in Syria.
He lives in what he describes as a contradictory world amid the national debate about screening refugees. He embraces his new identity as a Texan and feels accepted by neighbors. But he has watched state officials battle to keep out more people like him.
Read more:

BOSTON GLOBE: Longtime immigration judge steps down
By Maria Sacchetti
Dec. 31, 2015
Boston immigration judge Leonard I. Shapiro and his wife, Judy, driving home from Cape Cod one summer, stopped to fuel up at a gas station in Braintree. He handed the attendant his credit card, and seconds later, the manager rushed toward him holding the card.
“You Shapiro?” the man asked him. When Shapiro nodded, the man grabbed the startled judge in a bear hug and exclaimed, “You saved my life.”
The man was one of an untold number of immigrants who owe their legal residency to Shapiro, one of the longest serving immigration judges in the United States until he retired on Thursday.
As his last case, he chose to grant residency to a Salvadoran woman who had been abused by her American husband, bringing tears to the eyes of those watching.
Boston’s senior immigration judge is famous for handling the deportation cases of President Obama’s Kenyan aunt and uncle. But most of Shapiro’s cases have dealt with ordinary people at a frightening crossroads. The judge could banish them forever or let them stay in the United States.
Read more: