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Muslim Refugees Find a Home at San Damiano Retreat

Posted on 23. Jun, 2016 by .


See the story of Jalal and Kamal. They are brothers currently staying at San Damiano Retreat. Friar Mike Minton, OFM has worked with the local Jewish refugee services agency.

Click here to read the full article.

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Deportations Increase in New Mexico

Posted on 23. Jun, 2016 by .


The following is from the Santa Fe New Mexican:

New research shows that the percentage of undocumented migrants being deported by an immigration judge in the U.S. has fallen to a new record low of 42 percent, continuing a nationwide downtrend that has persisted since 2009.

But the outlook is gloomier for immigrants in New Mexico. According to the report issued this week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group at Syracuse University that analyzes federal government data, 83 percent of the undocumented immigrants in the state who faced an immigration judge were ordered to be deported in the fiscal year that began in October.

So far in fiscal year 2016, 38 immigrants from New Mexico were ordered to be deported by an El Paso-based judge, according to the research group. Another eight immigrants were allowed to stay in the U.S. The data show an increase in the rate of deportations over 2015, when 63 percent of immigration cases in the state resulted in deportations.

The deportation numbers through the immigration court could see a drop, however. In all of fiscal year 2015, 108 deportations were ordered for immigrants living in New Mexico.

Immigration judges are appointed by the U.S. attorney general to act as an administrative judge within the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. The 273 judges in 58 courts across the country hear cases involving immigrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S. or may have been ordered deportation but are still in the country, appealing the order.

When a judge in an immigration case can order deportation, the immigrant can ask to leave the country voluntarily or the judge can allow the immigrant to stay in the U.S. The cases are separate from federal prosecutions of immigration law violations, in which a U.S. District Court judge could sentence an immigrant to some jail time prior to deportation.

From October 2015 to May 2016, immigration judges across the nation ordered 57,476 deportations, while some 78,000 immigrants were allowed to stay. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse projects that by Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year, about 86,200 people living in the U.S. will be deported.

The group projects that nearly 117,000 people with cases in immigration courts will be allowed to stay in the U.S. by the end of the fiscal year.

In fiscal year 2015, undocumented immigrants faced a 47 percent chance of being deported, with judges ordering a total of 92,513 deportations, the group’s analysis shows.

Deportations of immigrants reached a nationwide high in 2005 at 223,155 people, the data show, or 80 percent of immigration cases.

Although the deportation peak occurred during the George W. Bush administration, the latest statistics show that the Obama administration has deported 2.5 million immigrants so far, a 23 percent jump over deportations during the Bush administration. President Barack Obama is on pace to deport nearly 3 million immigrants by the time he leaves office in January 2017.

Olsi Vrapi, a Santa Fe immigration lawyer, said that while the rate and number of immigrants facing deportation orders through an immigration court may be going down nationwide, that doesn’t mean deportations overall are down. The Obama administration is using other administrative procedures to deport immigrants, he said.

For instance, immigrants accused of immigration law violations are increasingly prosecuted in federal courts.

Another report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse said the number of immigration prosecutions in New Mexico federal courts increased 80 percent from 2011 to 2015. There were 2,078 cases in 2011 compared to 3,749 cases in 2015, according to that analysis.

Daniel Chand, a New Mexico State University assistant professor who researches immigration policies, said “only those who are lucky” are able to see an immigration judge and get due process through the judicial system.

Vrapi also said that heightened security at the U.S.-Mexico border allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expedite the return of immigrants to their home countries without allowing them to see an immigration judge.

Another factor that could explain the downward trend in immigration court, he said, is that immigration judges are temporarily closing cases. In fiscal year 2015, immigration judges closed 42,025 cases, an 87 percent increase over the number of cases closed in 2011, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Under the Obama administration, Vrapi said, immigration judges have been closing cases so that immigration enforcement officials can focus on deporting immigrants who have a felony conviction or have re-entered the country illegally.

“They are looking at immigration court cases more closely and closing the books on, for example, a single mother with kids,” who may not have a criminal record, he said.

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Heartbreaking Supreme Court Decision

Posted on 23. Jun, 2016 by .


The following is from the National Immigration Law Center:

Following Supreme Court Split, Immigrant Communities Vow to Keep Fighting for Families

WASHINGTON — Having reached an impasse, the U.S. Supreme Court has voted 4-4 in one of the most consequential immigration cases in recent history, United States v. Texas. The High Court’s failure to fall one way or another in the case leaves in place a lower court decision that blocks the Obama administration’s deferred action immigration initiatives known as DAPA and the expansion of DACA from being implemented.

Marielena Hincapie, executive director of National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The stakes in United States v. Texas could not have been higher: Millions have watched, and waited, for the Supreme Court to affirm the president’s authority to inject some common sense into our immigration system. Today, the eight justices failed to act, and countless families will suffer as a consequence. U.S. citizen children like Sophie Cruz will continue to live in daily fear that their mom or dad won’t be there one day to kiss them goodnight. And immigrant entrepreneurs like Cris Mercado won’t be able to reach their full potential.

“Immigrants and allies fought for and won these significant policy victories, which would have brought much-needed emotional and economic stability to millions of our community members, and we will not sit back. We urge the Department of Justice to seek a rehearing for when a ninth justice is confirmed for the Supreme Court. We will continue to fight back against anti-immigrant politicians, their allies, and their attacks on our families and communities. And we will explore all options to prevent more families from being torn apart.

“This politically driven lawsuit should never have made it this far: Two of the four Fifth Circuit judges who have considered the case noted rightly that Texas and other states simply did not have standing to bring it. Other state-driven anti-immigrant lawsuits were thrown out on the same grounds.

“With this case, the Court had an opportunity to provide clarity and guidance on executive power and to free up programs that would have tremendous social and economic benefits. Instead, they followed a troubling trend this term of failing to do the job the American people and the Constitution entrusted to them, due in part to the politicized vacancy on the Court.

The stakes are now even greater for the November elections as the next president will have the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices in their first term, shaping our country’s future for decades to come.  Immigrant communities are committed to continuing our fight for our families.”

The Obama administration announced DAPA and the expansion of DACA in November 2014. The two initiatives would allow certain immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as other immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, to apply for temporary work authorization and protection from deportation.

Texas and 25 other states sued the federal government to block the administration’s initiatives in December 2014. In February 2015, a federal district court judge in Texas ruled in Texas’s favor and blocked both DAPA and the expansion of DACA. In a decision issued in November 2015, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s order. Today’s decision by a deadlocked High Court means the Fifth Circuit’s nationwide injunction of the programs remains in place by default and that the case will be sent back to the lower courts for consideration—a prospect that worries many immigrants, given a recent extreme order by the federal district court in this case.

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U.S. Military Spending vs. the World

Posted on 23. Jun, 2016 by .


The following is from the National Priorities Project:

wolrd_military_spending_barchart_largeThe U.S. outpaces all other nations in military expenditures. World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of the total.

U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined.

U.S. military spending dwarfs the budget of the #2 country – China. For every dollar China spends on its military, the U.S. spends $2.77.


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Undocumented Valedictorian is Bound for Yale University

Posted on 23. Jun, 2016 by .


The following is adapted from NBC:

A high school valedictorian in Texas gave an emotional graduation speech in which she revealed to her school and to those assembled her immigration status:

“I am one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of the United States,” said Larissa Martinez, the valedictorian at McKinney Boyd High School in McKinney, Texas during her June 3rd address to the 2016 graduating class. “I decided to stand before you today and reveal these unexpected realities, because this might be my only chance to convey the truth to all of you that undocumented immigrants are people too.”

Click here for the full article. 

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