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Immigration
March 6, 2019

All immigrant girls over the age of 10 coming through the southern U.S. border receive a pregnancy test, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said during a Congressional hearing on border security on Wednesday.

The tests are being administered due to a high prevalence of sexual assault cases for those making the trek into the U.S.

"Very unfortunately, because of the increase in violence, at ICE, when we have families with children, we have to give every girl a pregnancy test over 10. This is not a safe journey," Nielsen said.

Nearly 70 percent of migrants and refugees entering Mexico reported being victims of violence while making the journey, CNN reports, and nearly one-third of women reported being sexually abused. Marianne Dodson

March 5, 2019

The release of 12 infants from a migrant detention center in Dilley, Texas revealed squalid conditions that those detained face as they wait for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine whether they are a "danger to the community or a flight risk," CBS News reported. Four other babies were in detention alongside the 12, but their status currently remains unclear.

Advocacy groups sent letters of complaint specifically regarding the infants to the Department of Homeland Security and the House Judiciary Committee detailing the state of the detention center in Dilley.

"Every mother I spoke to said that her child was sick in some way," said Katy Murdza, the advocacy coordinator at the American Immigration Council's Dilley Bro Pono Project.

Several infants lost weight rapidly because the facility carried one type of formula that was only available upon special request. Subsequently, mothers were not given bottled water to mix with the formula, meaning they had to use potentially-unsafe tap water at the center, instead. Some mothers described how difficult it was to access medical attention for the children.

ICE officials, however, told CBS News that immigrants are offered "comprehensive medical care", including access to 24-hour emergency care. Advocates say that is "not corroborated by parents who spend time at Dilley."

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said that the House Judiciary Committee is planning on holding "long overdue" hearings on the state of the centers. Tim O'Donnell

November 24, 2018

Plainclothes officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested a man named Samuel Oliver-Bruno on Friday inside U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in North Carolina where he was keeping an appointment with immigration officials.

Oliver-Bruno is a native of Mexico who came to the United States on a work permit two decades ago. In 2014, he was arrested attempting to enter the U.S. using a Texas birth certificate he'd purchased in an effort to be with his wife while she underwent heart surgery. While his case was appealed, Oliver-Bruno took sanctuary in CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham, North Carolina.

An aspiring Baptist minister, he participated in services and studied at Duke University's Divinity School while living in the church. However, Oliver-Bruno was eager to leave the building to support his wife and his teenage son, who is a U.S. citizen. "I need to work, do the activities I used to do, to afford medicines for my wife and doctor's appointments," he told CNN.

Friday's appointment was supposed to be a routine step in that direction, but ICE agents intervened. Supporters from the Methodist church attempted to prevent the arrest, forming a human wall around the ICE vehicle and singing "Amazing Grace." More than two dozen, including clergy, were arrested by local police.

"Mr. Oliver-Bruno is a convicted criminal," ICE said in a statement, "who has received all appropriate legal process under federal law, has no outstanding appeals, and has no legal basis to remain in the U.S."

"If deported, Samuel will be returned to the state of Veracruz, where his family has recently faced threats and which is a state that is constantly in threat of drug cartels," said immigration advocacy group Alerta Migratoria. "Furthermore, ICE is not allowing us to give Samuel his diabetic pills or insulin medication, which is further putting his life in danger." Bonnie Kristian

November 12, 2018

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is detaining an average of 44,631 people daily, The Daily Beast reported Sunday evening, citing information reported to Congress by the agency and confirmed by a congressional office. This figure is not classified but also has not been previously publicized.

The 44,631 daily average dates to Oct. 20, and is about 2,500 higher than the average daily detention rate ICE reported just over a month earlier, on Sept. 15. This time last year, the rate was 39,322 detentions daily. Congress has only funded daily detentions up to 40,520 people, declining the Trump administration's funding request for up to 51,000 detention spots.

"From a moral perspective, 44,000 is an astonishing number of people to be separated from their families and communities and held within a system that [the Department of Homeland Security's] own inspector general has criticized for abusive conditions," Mary Small of the Detention Watch Network, an immigration advocacy group, told The Daily Beast.

ICE detention rates skyrocketed in the final two years of the George W. Bush administration and reached then-record heights during former President Barack Obama's tenure. From about 20,000 daily detentions in the early 2000s, the number topped 30,000 in 2007 and has never slipped below it since. Bonnie Kristian

October 27, 2018

The caravan of thousands of mostly Honduran migrants heading toward the United States on Friday rejected an offer of temporary residency in southern Mexico, pledging instead to make an early start for another day of travel Saturday.

The "You are at home" plan proposed by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto would have allowed migrants to apply for education, jobs, housing, medical attention, and other support if they agreed to stay in the Mexican states of Chiapas or Oaxaca.

"Today, Mexico extends you its hand," Pena Nieto said. "This plan is only for those who comply with Mexican laws, and it's a first step towards a permanent solution for those who are granted refugee status in Mexico." Bonnie Kristian

October 27, 2018

"The secretary of defense has approved providing mission-enhancing capabilities to the Department of Homeland Security" at the southern border, the Pentagon said in a statement Friday. "U.S. Northern Command will be in the lead for the duration of the operation and is in support of Custom and Border Protection."

The announcement did not say how many troops would be sent, but a Thursday report suggested it would be around 800 deployed to provide "fencing, wall materials, and other technical support."

Also Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Fox News there is presently no plan for the troops to shoot migrants. "We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people, but they will be apprehended, however," Nielsen said. "But I also take my officers and agents, their own personal safety, extraordinarily seriously. They do have the ability, of course, to defend themselves." Bonnie Kristian

October 26, 2018

President Trump is considering an executive action to block Central American migrants from entering the United States, several administration officials told The New York Times on Thursday.

The Times reports that as soon as Tuesday, Trump, citing national security concerns, could issue a proclamation invoking broad presidential powers to block migrants from coming into the country. The administration would also enact new rules making it so migrants who cross the border between ports of entry can no longer claim asylum. Officials stressed to the Times that the plan could be dropped or revamped.

With the midterm elections less than two weeks away, Trump has been playing to his base, claiming that a caravan of several thousand migrants from Central America, now 1,000 miles away from the southern U.S. border, is a threat. No one knows when the caravan will arrive, or how many of the people will try to enter the U.S. Most are from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, citing poverty and violence as the reasons why they left. Kerri Talbot, director of the Immigrant Hub organization, told Politico Trump is attempting to make the migrant caravan major news in order to energize his base and "distract voters from core issues like health care." Catherine Garcia

October 16, 2018

President Trump tweeted Tuesday night that the United States has sent a message to several Central American countries regarding immigration.

"We have today informed Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!" He didn't STOP (END) there, adding in a follow-up tweet, "Anybody entering the United States illegally will be arrested and detained, prior to being sent back to their country!"

There is a caravan of about 2,000 migrants headed to the United States from Honduras, and earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that if those people do not turn around and go back, "no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!" During the 2016 fiscal year, the U.S. gave Honduras $127.4 million in aid, the United States Agency for International Development says. Many people who migrate from Honduras are fleeing drug and gang violence and poverty, which would all likely grow exponentially if aid is cut off. Catherine Garcia

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