Edward Alonso-Castillo, an NYC small business owner and father of three, was hospitalized this week and "is ‘at high risk of health complications including another stroke, blood clots and even death’ if he doesn't get the care he needs" — yet he remains in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, Nicole Acevedo reports for NBC News.
New ICE guidelines under the Biden administration direct the agency to focus on security threats, those convicted of "aggravated" felonies and those who have recently crossed the border — in other words, Alonso-Castillo should no longer be a priority for detention or removal. However, ICE still has a standing order of removal against him after arresting him on his way to work in January for being "unlawfully present."
"Just like Alonso, there's many other immigrants that have faced the same things, where they shouldn't have been detained, but were detained," said Luba Cortes, an immigrant defense coordinator at Make the Road New York. "So, that really makes us question what's happening with this new administration. We want to hold this new administration accountable, as well."
Aloso-Castillo's case highlights just one example of the health concerns that come with immigration detention. In the U.K., a COVID-19 outbreak at former army barracks now housing asylum seekers spread after authorities were warned in September that the facilities "were not suitable as accommodation for large numbers of people during a pandemic," POLITICO’s Cristina Gallardo reports.
And following a devastating winter storm in Texas, Adolfo Flores and Hamed Aleaziz at BuzzFeed News share stories from ICE detainees who went days without regular access to drinking water. "I understand this entire situation in Texas is very unusual and extreme and everyone is doing the best they can," said Allison Herre, managing attorney for the legal services provider Proyecto Dilley. "But [ICE] still has a responsibility to maintain the safety of all residents in their care and they do have the discretion to release them if they so choose to if they can't provide for their safety."
Welcome to Friday’s edition of Noorani’s Notes. I’m Joanna Taylor, communications manager at the Forum and your guest host for the next few NN editions. If you have a story to share from your own community, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DREAM UPDATE — Today at 11:30 ET, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) will give an update and answer questions on the DREAM Act he recently introduced with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). In partnership with co-hosts ABIC and
United We Dream (plus a number of co-sponsors including the Forum), the event will draw attention to the broad support for DREAM legislation, which champions an 8-year pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and DACA-eligible young people. Register for the briefing here. (Speaking of bipartisan support for reform: ICYMI, the Immigration Partnership & Coalition Fund hosted a bipartisan virtual summit yesterday calling for an immigration overhaul this year.)
CAPACITY — Long-term facilities for unaccompanied migrant children are nearing maximum capacity, reports Nomaan Merchant of the Associated Press. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Wednesday that it would expedite minors’ release to relatives in the U.S. and "authorized operators of long-term facilities to pay for some of the children’s flights and transportation to the homes of their sponsor." Merchant points out that while HHS "drastically cut" its capacity amid the pandemic, Border Patrol agents are apprehending an average of more than 200 unaccompanied minors a day. This has led to hundreds of children being held in Border Patrol stations, which are not equipped for long-term care — including some who have been held for longer than the official 72-hour limit, per Stef W. Kight and Jonathan Swan at Axios.
MILITARY — The Justice Department is scheduled in March to defend a Trump-era policy "that makes it more difficult for immigrant soldiers to become U.S. Citizens, despite President Joe Biden directing his administration to ease paths to naturalization for those who serve in the military," reports Tara Copp for McClatchy DC. "Obviously, we would hope that [the Biden administration] would review it and revoke it," Scarlet Kim, one of the attorneys representing military service members in the case, said of the policy. "From our perspective, it’s completely at odds with Biden’s public pronouncements about reviewing naturalization policy." Copp notes that the policy "led, in some cases, to yearslong delays for immigrant service members who were unable to perform their assigned military duties because of a backlog in additional security vetting ... or found their citizenship status in limbo for years."
BACK HOME — After more than three years living in sanctuary in Maplewood, Missouri, Alex Garcia, a Honduran-born father of five who is married to a U.S. citizen, left the Christ Church United Church of Christ on Wednesday, reports Nassim Benchaabane for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Former ICE prosecutor Javad Khazaeli, who is now a civil rights and immigration attorney, told the Post-Dispatch: "After many conversations with ICE, they explicitly told me that Alex is not a priority; that they will not be using federal resources — because it’s a waste of resources — to try to rip a family apart when they can focus on people who are really hurting our communities."
WEEKEND WATCHLIST — First-time screenwriter Danny Kravitz landed a star-studded cast and a box office success with a plotline "that stems from the realities of controversy over how to handle individuals seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border," reports Stephanie Haney of WKYC Cleveland. Kravitz's
first major motion picture, "The Marksman," stars Liam Neeson and "highlights the human element at the center of American immigration policy, the competing interests at play, and how for the most vulnerable among us, it can be a matter of life and death." The film is set to be available on streaming platforms soon.
Have a great weekend,