What happens when you've lived in the US as long as you can remember, and then discover in your 30s that your presence isn't lawful

I have a friend who was born in the Czech Republic, and moved to the US as a toddler. After Trump was elected, she was surprised to find letter in the mail from ICE asking her to confirm her lawful presence in the country — for the first time in 35 years.

I have another friend who was born in China and adopted by American parents as a newborn. The same thing happened.

Another friend of mine was fortunate enough to avoid this fate, because after 35 years in the United States — ten of which we'd been friends — he had finally formalized his citizenship. I remember the shock and double-take that fell across my face in 2014 when I learned that he hadn't been a citizen after all this time. He had moved to the US from Argentina as a toddler, and though his presence remained legal for those 35 years, he hadn't done anything to formalize his citizenship until after his father passed away.

I thought of these friends as I read this New York Times article about an adopted woman who is married with two children, and recently discovered — much to her surprise, and by no fault of her own — that her presence isn't lawful.

It was on the eve of getting married in 2012 that she realized there was something amiss in her all-American upbringing. Adopted as an infant from Mexico, she discovered that what she thought was a minor mix-up in her paperwork was something else entirely.

Read the rest

ICE is creating a new citizens' academy to train civilians to arrest immigrants

According to Newsweek, NBC Chicago, Daily Mail, and others, ICE Chicago Field Office Director Robert Guadian sent a letter to various community leaders and members in the Greater Chicago area, inviting them to participate in a six week "Citizens Academy" program that will teach them how to operate as an armed agent of ICE, with the ability to arrest other civilians whom they suspect might be undocumented immigrants. From the letter:

The ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations] Citizens Academy (ECA) is an interactive 6-day program, occurring one day a week over 6 weeks. The first of its kind, the Chicago ECA will serve as a pilot for nationwide implementation. During the ECA, participants will gain insight into the many facets and responsibilities of ICE/ERO operations […] including, but not limited to defensive tactics, firearms familiarization, and targeted arrests.

In other words, it's the fucking Brownshirts, which later became the SS under Nazi rule. Even worse is that these kinds of unofficial uniformed racist paramilitary units already exist.

ICE Offering 'Citizens Academy' Course with Training on Arresting Immigrants [Chantal Da Silva / Newsweek]

Plan for Chicago ICE Citizens Academy Causes Uproar [Chris Hush / NBC Chicago]

ICE is offering a six-week course on how to arrest immigrants - including 'firearms and defensive training' - as critics warns they are using private citizens as their eyes and ears [Ady Torres / The Daily Mail]

Image: Carwil Bjork-James / Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0) Read the rest

Coronavirus: ICE to stop arresting migrants other than 'mission critical' arrests, whatever that is

Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt most arrests until after coronavirus crisis

ICE ran facial recognition searches on millions of Maryland drivers' photos without court approval; activists say they're targeting immigrants

ICE has done facial recognition searches on millions of photos Maryland drivers without court approval. They appear to be targeting immigrants who sought driver’s licenses after 2013. Read the rest

ICE arrested 250 foreign-born people for the most heinous of crimes: pursuing higher education

For the last year, the Detroit Free Press has been reporting on the strange saga of the University of Farmington, a fake educational institution outside of Detroit. Homeland Security Investigations actually spent taxpayer dollars on an epic sting operation, renting out a building to create the appearance of a legitimate college campus staffed with actual ICE agents in order to apprehend…people who want to go to college.

As of November 2019, they've arrested about 250 people on immigration violations. From the latest Detroit Free Press update:

Out of the approximately 250 students arrested on administrative charges, "nearly 80% were granted voluntary departure and departed the United States," the Detroit office of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) told the Free Press in a statement Tuesday.

Out of the remaining 20%, about half of them have received a final order of removal; some of them were ordered removed by an immigration judge, and others "were given an expedited removal by U.S. Customs and Border Protection," said HSI Detroit.

The remaining 10% "have either filed for some sort of relief or are contesting their removals with Executive Office for Immigration Review," said HSI Detroit.

To be clear: this is not a new Trumpian phenomenon. It's been going on since January 2016 (although the majority of the arrests have taken place more recently, including 90 since this past March).

And if that's not maddening enough, consider that there were several hundred other students at the university who weren't arrested for immigration violations. The total enrollment was around 600 students, and the school was charging about $12,000 per year for tuition and fees. Read the rest

What's cooler than being cool? Hundreds of musicians protesting ICE and Amazon

Stop, collaborate, and listen: Amazon's complicit in ICE's extraditions (plus other abuses of human rights enabled by that agency's authoritarian agenda)

That's why hundreds of musicians—nearly 500, at the time of this writing, though it was just over 100 when news broke Thursday morning—have signed onto an open letter pledging to boycott Amazon festivals, events, and other exclusive deals until the tech giant stops enabling the systematic abuses of Immigration Customs Enforcement. The list of signatories includes Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, as well as Ted Leo, Immortal Technique, Downtown Boys, Thursday, WHY?, Jeff Rosenstock, the Mowglis, War on Women, Diet Cig, Tim Kasher (of Cursive/The Good Life), and many more.

These are the demands for Amazon, directly from that open letter:

Terminate existing contracts with military, law enforcement, and government agencies (ICE, CBP, ORR) that commit human rights abuses

Stop providing Cloud services & tools to organizations (such as Palantir) that power the US government's deportation machine

End projects that encourage racial profiling and discrimination, such as Amazon's facial recognition product

Reject future engagements w/ aforementioned bad actors.

I signed my own band onto the list earlier this week, after catching wind of the movement on Twitter. (I tried to pull our songs from all Amazon-affiliated services, but our distro service makes that difficult to do.) My friends in the Kominas mentioned something about it, and then I noticed Deerhoof interacting with Sadie Dupois of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13, following up on the recent op-ed by Tom Morello and Evan Greer of Fight For The Future (both musicians and activists in their own rights). Read the rest

Border Patrol investigating 62 employees, 8 ex-employees over racist CBP Facebook group

Some 9,500 members were in the racist 'I'm 10-15' CBP Facebook group

#TrumpRaids are coming: ICE raids and mass deportations as early as Sunday in these 10 cities

Here are the 10 U.S. cities where ICE, CBP, DHS, and other agencies plan to execute mass raids. Read the rest

Multilingual "red cards" to help immigrants assert their rights during ICE shakedowns

The Immigrant Resource Legal Center offers multilingual, printable templates for "red cards": bust cards adapted for use by immigrants being targeted by ICE squads. Read the rest

New York primaries: Democrats' finance-affiliated fundraising superstar got his ass kicked by a young woman with a Democratic Socialist platform

Rep. Joe Crowley has been in Congress since 1999; he's the number four Dem in the House, representing a diverse district in the Bronx, and winning primaries in a solidly Democratic district by raising millions from his friends in the finance industry. Read the rest