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immigrants

Craig Ruttle / AP

At least 50 immigrant children under age 5 are expected to be reunited with their parents by Tuesday's court-ordered deadline for the Trump administration to reunify families forcibly separated at the border.

Jenifer Wolf Williams is a trauma therapist based in Richardson. In recent years, she's helped immigrants separated from their loved ones — from families applying for asylum to children who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

Panshu Zhao moved to the U.S. from China about eight years ago to study. It was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

Since then, he has completed a graduate degree and is now pursuing a doctorate in geography at Texas A&M University. In describing his life to NPR's Steve Inskeep on Friday, he divided it into two parts: his life in China and his American life.

The Trump administration's practice of separating children from their parents at the border is not just heartbreaking to other immigrants but also terrifying. Even immigrants who are in the country legally are beginning to worry that their families could be broken apart, too.

The anti-immigrant threats and actions have many Hispanic Americans in particular living on edge.

Tears immediately start streaming down the cheeks of Sarah, a Mexican immigrant, when she is asked about watching recent news stories on TV.

Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

The federal government plans to meet a pair of ambitious court-ordered deadlines for reuniting families separated at the border — even though officials say doing so may mean relaxing government standards in the process of vetting those parents.

Thousands Across Texas Protest At 'Families Belong Together' Rallies

Jun 30, 2018
Kelly West for The Texas Tribune

AUSTIN – As the temperature inched to the triple digits and sweating crowds swarmed the south lawn of the Texas State Capitol, speakers declared with grief, hope, indignation and determination that the Trump administration's immigration policies do not reflect their values.

When I arrived at Casa Vides, I found a nondescript two-story brick building close enough to the border that you could walk to it.

This is a place that provides refuge for two types of people: those who evaded border patrol and those who were caught, handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and then released while their cases are still pending. Casa Vides provides food, shelter and legal support to up to 40 people at a time. It's run by the faith-based nonprofit, Annunciation House.

At a highway-side motel in Harlingen, near the border in Texas, a small meeting room has been turned into something of a war room. Volunteer lawyers and aid workers eat tacos and strategize about how to help detained immigrants.

"It's almost triage, that's what it feels like," says Natasha Quiroga, who flew in from Washington, D.C. with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The fear of family separation is not new for many immigrants already living in the U.S. In fact, that fear, heightened in recent weeks, has been forcing a tough decision for some families. Advocates say a growing number of American children are dropping out of Medicaid and other government programs because their parents are undocumented.

Marlene is an undocumented resident of Texas and has two children who are U.S. citizens. (NPR is not using Marlene's last name because of her immigration status.) One of her kids has some disabilities.

Kandace Vallejo thought she knew Southwest Key Programs: a big nonprofit based in Austin, Texas. Runs a charter school. Works with youth.

And holds thousands of migrant children in facilities paid for by the U.S. government.

That was news.

Megan Zerez for KERA News

It’s an overcast spring morning at the East Dallas Community Garden. Voeun Tath is preparing this weekend’s harvest: heirloom lettuce and Cambodian bunching onions. She’ll take some home to her family, but most of it will end up on tables in homes and restaurants all over North Texas.

Tath is one of several hundred refugee gardeners who hold plots at community gardens across Dallas.

Updated June 15 at 12:50 p.m. ET

This is the largest government-contracted migrant youth shelter in the country: Casa Padre, a former Walmart supercenter converted into living, recreational and dining quarters for nearly 1,500 immigrant boys.

Shelter managers took reporters on a tour of the facility in Brownsville, Texas, on Wednesday, amid criticism over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy that has led to separating migrant families who crossed the border illegally.

Updated 6:35 p.m.

A 36-year-old Laredo man has been charged with human smuggling after 54 immigrants were found Tuesday night in a refrigerated trailer on the northeast side of San Antonio, near Broadway and Loop 410. It’s the third time a trailer carrying migrants in the country illegally was found in the Alamo City since last July.


Updated at 11:19 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is imposing sharp new limits on who can get asylum in the United States, ruling in a closely watched case that most migrants fleeing domestic abuse or gang violence will not qualify.

"Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems — even all serious problems — that people face every day all over the world," Sessions said Monday in a speech before immigration judges in Virginia.

A federal judge in California is allowing a lawsuit against the Trump administration's practice of separating migrant families at the border to proceed.

"Such conduct, if true, is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency," wrote U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of the Southern District of California in his ruling on Wednesday.

Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

The number of families caught entering the country illegally at the southwest border in May increased sixfold compared with the same month in 2017. But despite that increase, some of Texas' historically busiest areas for illegal crossings have seen an overall decrease this fiscal year.

From Texas Standard.

In an effort to control its borders, the U.S. has been unequivocal in declaring what will happen to those who illegally immigrate to the U.S. with underage kids in tow – you may be be separated from your kids. It’s supposed to be a deterrent. In the past, parents with children were not routinely prosecuted for illegally crossing the border. But that’s changed, and now kids are being separated from their parents.

The shooting death of an undocumented woman at the hands of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Rio Bravo, Texas, near Laredo, Wednesday is ratcheting up tensions along the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to a statement released by Customs and Border Protection, a lone agent was responding "to a report of illegal activity by Centeno Lane ... where he discovered a group of illegal aliens" just after noon.

The statement adds:

Public health experts in Texas are concerned that a growing number of American children are forgoing services like Medicaid and food stamps because their parents are undocumented. The trend could get worse, they say, if a proposed change to immigration policy goes through.  

One patient's death changed the course of Dr. Lilia Cervantes' career. The patient, Cervantes says, was a woman from Mexico with kidney failure who repeatedly visited the emergency room for more than three years. In that time, her heart had stopped more than once, and her ribs were fractured from CPR. The woman finally decided to stop treatment because the stress was too much for her and her two young children. Cervantes says she died soon after.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the administration's "zero tolerance" policy that calls for separating families who cross the border illegally, saying the undocumented immigrants shouldn't get special treatment.

"That's no different than what we do every day in every part of the United States — when an adult of a family commits a crime," she told NPR. "If you as a parent break into a house, you will be incarcerated by police and thereby separated from your family."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security will partner to prosecute anyone illegally crossing the southwest border and separate children from parents.

A U.S. district judge handed a sentence of life in prison today to a driver who was transporting undocumented immigrants in a tractor-trailer so hot that ten people died.

"I am so sorry it happened," said James Matthew Bradley Jr. in a video statement played in court which The San Antonio Express-News reported. "There's not a day or night that goes by that I don't relive this scene."

From Texas Standard.

Young immigrants protected by the DACA program have been in limbo since the Obama-era program was canceled by President Trump last year.  Now we’re hearing rumblings of Republicans, including at least one from Texas, trying a new strategy to get a DACA vote in Congress.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

As the White House continues to expand deportations and push measures to curb illegal immigration, many Texas immigrants are forced to navigate the immigration system without the help of an attorney.

The number of immigrants illegally crossing the southern border plummeted when Donald Trump took office. But the number is again on the rise. In response, the president plans to deploy up to 4,000 National Guard troops.

In West Texas, immigrant shelters are overflowing with recent arrivals and some migrants are trying more dangerous routes to evade capture.

The intake room at Annunciation House, an immigrant shelter in downtown El Paso, is packed these days. Parents and squirming children sit with their travel bags. They are the aggravations of Donald Trump.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency arrested 89 unauthorized immigrants, including dozens in North Texas, late last month.

On Friday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., said the Trump administration cannot prevent young, undocumented women in federal custody from seeking abortions.

That includes interfering with or blocking medical appointments, abortion counseling, and abortion services.

Russell Lee, Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

Along with the risks of poverty and unemployment during the Great Depression, Mexican immigrants and even U.S. citizens of Mexican descent faced an additional hazard: Around half a million of them were kicked out of the country to preserve jobs for white Americans.  

If you didn’t know this, it could be because it wasn’t covered the same way by every news outlet.

For immigrants, this past week has been a doozy: First, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services took the words "nation of immigrants" out of its mission statement. Then, the Supreme Court ruled that immigrants held in detention are not entitled to bail hearings.

Updated at 5:27 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that immigrants, even those with permanent legal status and asylum seekers, do not have the right to periodic bond hearings.

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