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Migrant children at the border, a breakdown.

This could be an assumption on my part, but I feel like there’s a lot of confusion around what is actually happening at detention centers, where they come from, what they’re for, etc. I was unclear, so I assume a lot of people are unclear, but we all have the same basic opinion — it’s wrong to keep people (esp. children) in cages. So, I wanted to make a quick breakdown so we all know what happens to kids who come to the border alone, kids who come with their parents, and the differences between those situations under Obama and now under Trump.

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This could be an assumption on my part, but I feel like there’s a lot of confusion around what is actually happening at detention centers, where they come from, what they’re for, etc. I was unclear, so I assume a lot of people are unclear, but we all have the same basic opinion — it’s wrong to keep people (esp. children) in cages.

So, I wanted to make a quick breakdown(***) so we all know what happens to kids who come to the border alone, kids who come with their parents, and the differences between those situations under Obama and now under Trump.

A child at the border with their family, under Obama.

Most children cross the border with a family member, usually a parent. When they’re captured by ICE or head to an immigration center or port of entry, they’re either illegally crossing the border (“we just want to get into the US”) or they’re seeking asylum (“we’re running from a country where crime in our area is so rampant that either we or our kids are in immediate danger”).

The Obama administration actually established these family detention centers in order to keep children with their parents while their immigration requests were processed. (x) Back in 2013/2014, the US saw a spike in foreign nationals crossing the border illegally and the Obama administration was not prepared for the overflow. So, they set up these facilities that…weren’t great. Many of them violated a previous statute (the Flores agreement) concerning how and for how long migrant children could be detained.

A compromise of sorts was made called the Alternatives to Detention program, which technically still exists under Trump. Instead of holding a family, ICE would release the family under strict monitoring requirements, sometimes in the form of an ankle monitor on one of the parents (mom, most of the time). The family could stay together while their immigration case was processed but they wouldn’t be locked up in a detention facility. (The Trump administration is now using this program to deport instead of simply to track.) (x)

Asylum seekers tended to be treated better than everyone else. If you’re running from threat of violence or death, you and your family were more likely to be kept together and/or released under the Alternatives program. For everyone else, they were more likely to be held in a detention center and prosecuted for the crime of crossing the border illegally, but since that was a violation of the kids’ rights according to Flores, more of those families would be separated to get the kids out of those centers and into homes with another relative or foster situation while their parents’ cases progressed.

There’s also a general practice that kids under a certain age aren’t separated from their families. If you’re under five, they do everything they can to keep the family together until some kind of resolution is decided.

A child at the border alone, under Obama.

These kids are almost always seeking asylum because parents don’t send their minors on a dangerous journey hundreds or thousands of miles just for the heck of it or just because America is “the land of opportunity.” They send their children away from danger toward safety. These kids are almost always older children because parents don’t send their young kids on a dangerous journey without them.

Those children end up in family detention centers (the ones with the cages) — for no longer than three days — and then transferred to a shelter facility until they can be placed with a family member, sponsor, or foster home. A lot of these children have some kind of contact in the US, though sometimes that contact is also an undocumented immigrant. The Office of Refugee Resettlement takes care of unaccompanied minors and the ORR is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, not the Department of Homeland Security which is over ICE. Since ORR has no relation to ICE, they don’t care about the immigration status of the person who comes forward to claim any of those children. They just want to make sure the child is safe and ideally with someone they know. After the child is settled, they do a few checkins to make sure everything is okay, and then they’re on their own.

Summary – Obama

Republicans are not wrong when they say these detention centers operated under Obama, but they mischaracterize them by making it seem like it was the law or even common policy to separate families from their children. Every effort was made to keep families and children together, though the centers themselves were under heavy criticism at the time because it’s inhumane to keep people in cages.

A child at the border with their family, under Trump.

Children are stolen from their parents as a matter of routine, and there’s no other way to say it. They’re taken away while parents are told that the kids are just going to receive a bath. The parents don’t know that they may never see their child again and they don’t know where their child is going. Officially, “tender aged” children (kids under five or so) are supposed to be kept with their families, but we have infants under one year old being taken away from their parents even when that parent is seeking asylum. (x) There’s no compassion or humanity being employed here at all, as we saw last night when one of Trump’s former minions “womp-womped” about a little girl with Down’s Syndrome being taken away from her parents. (x)

Families can also request asylum to be kept together while their case is processed, but that hasn’t been working recently either.  There’s a lawsuit right now (Ms. L v. ICE) where a 7 year old girl from the Congo was taken from her mother even though the mom requested asylum. (x) The Trump administration is using the Flores agreement and policies in place under the Obama administration to say that they are legally required to separate children from their parents, and that’s simply not true because the Obama administration made every effort to keep families together when possible. The Trump administration is making every effort to separate them.

Kids that are taken by immigration officials end up in a detention facility (the cages) before ORR places them in a shelter to ostensibly be passed along to a relative, sponsor, or foster. Under Obama, most of the kids being sent to ORR for placement were older kids over 13 because those kids were unaccompanied minors. Now, since the Trump administration is taking kids and babies from their parents, ORR has to house younger children they weren’t previously equipped to handle. Some of the facilities have had to be updated quickly to handle small children and babies.

Trump’s new zero tolerance policy is what really kicked this into high gear in May, not anything under the Obama administration. Zero tolerance means that we don’t care why you came, you’re going to be treated as a criminal for illegally crossing the border. (x) Never before did we prosecute first-time asylum seekers, but now, everybody is the same and then maybe we’ll figure out why you came.  So, the kids are separated from their “criminal” parents – because they can’t be left in their care when the parent is being prosecuted by the federal government – and the parents are placed in lockup. The kids are placed in a different lockup. Up to 90% of parents are having their children taken away from them, and the rest of those are mothers who are going with their kids to the family detention facilities.  The other parents are going to adult jails to wait on their cases to be processed, which can take four to six weeks. Meanwhile, they can’t get in touch with their kids, don’t know where their kids are, and may never see them again because some of these parents are being deported without their children.  The children are now under the care of ORR and the process to release them back to their parents is so complicated and convoluted that it sometimes depends on the child to prove that their parent is their parent. We have five-year-olds — under stress — being asked their parents full names and dates of birth in order to be released back to those parents before mom & dad are deported.  And a lot of them can’t do it, so now they’re “unaccompanied minors” dumped into the foster system. (x)

So why don’t we give the kids IDs?  Well, the Department of Homeland Security gives them an alien ID number or wristband, and then turn them over to ORR (the Department of Health and Human Services) which sends them to temporary housing in places like NYC (this morning someone caught video of migrant children entering and leaving a foster care in East Harlem).  Meanwhile, the parents are still the responsibility of Homeland Security and being sent to jails to await immigration trials in other cities.  You have two different government departments keeping track of different family members in different cities — it’s a complete mess.

A child at the border alone, under Trump.

Nothing has really changed on the front end — they go to ORR – but now ICE is getting involved in the placement of the kids.  Whereas before, ORR never cared about the immigration status of the adults coming to pick up the kids, this administration wants to extend the background checks to immigration status, which will obviously deter many undocumented adults from retrieving their nieces, nephews, grandkids, kids of friends, etc. who were sent here alone to escape the violence of their home country. They won’t step forward to collect the kids because they might be deported, which means there are more kids who have nowhere to go when they get here. (x)

Summary

Trump took a complicated situation and made it more stressful with a zero tolerance policy toward all immigrants crossing the border. The Obama administration had a system in place that had a lot of faults — detention centers being the biggest one, obviously — but they operated from a place of doing what’s best for the children, even when misguided.

See, the reason why Obama was deaf to the criticism brought against his centers was his view that having women and children (or children alone) being sent to these “jails” with the cages would be a deterrent for other families who considered sending mothers with kids (or kids alone) to the US. He said the journey was dangerous for them and he wanted to staunch the flow of immigrants. Basically look what awaits you when you get here — it’s not great, stay where you are because his reading of the facts at the time was that the journey was more dangerous than the situation they were running from. Obviously that’s the wrong tactic because, even if your kid ends up in a cage for a few days, it’s still better than the rape or murder you’re trying to protect them from or the arduous journey ahead of them. (x)

The Trump administration wants to keep everybody out. If you come here — I don’t care who you are or your situation — your kid will be stolen from you and then you’ll be deported and never see them again. Asylum doesn’t matter. Family doesn’t matter. Age of the child doesn’t matter. We are going to separate you, put your kid in a cage, and then send you back to where you came from without your child.

As I was writing this, Trump says he’s going to sign some executive order to stop separation of families at the border (x), but it’s not even needed. They’ve created a narrative where Obama forced the separation of families, Trump is simply following the law, the Democrats refuse to change that law, and now Trump will swoop in with his pen to keep those families together. Trump thought he could leverage forced separation against getting funding for his wall, but even the Republicans in Congress didn’t go for it, so he’s stuck with this massive problem that he created in order to look tough on immigration.

Sidenote about missing children.

A few weeks ago, different numbers went viral concerning the number of missing kids that had been lost by the government after crossing the border. The number has always been misleading, but this is a good time to remind you that there were two separate groups of kids initially – unaccompanied minors and kids separated from their families.  The unaccompanied minors were taken in by ORR and then placed. And that’s it. We don’t always keep track of them after that because they’ve been picked up by a friend or family member or they were placed with the person they came to meet. You don’t actually want more government oversight here because it will lead to a lot of deportations under this administration.  Once the kid is safe in a home, we don’t need to follow their every move.  We don’t actually know where they are, but they’re not missing as characterized by all the viral posts.

The kids who are missing are the ones forcibly separated by ICE and then lost. When ICE separates a family, some of them go to ORR and then placed and then we longer keep track of them. Some of them are legitimately lost and end up in terrible situations like sex trafficking. That is the part that needs more oversight – where are the kids going when they leave ICE.

There is a third – smaller – group of kids that are placed by ORR that we can’t find and that’s because the people they were placed with don’t always want any further contact with the government. When ORR calls to check on the whereabouts of a kid, they just call. If no one answers, then the kid isn’t found. That missed call could be the result of changing a phone number, moving, or undocumented immigrants who don’t want to talk to the government any more than necessary. So, we don’t know where those kids are exactly, but they were most likely released to the care of a family member initially and they’re probably still fine. (Probably isn’t the ideal situation, but I’m of the notion that it’s still better than having ORR work with ICE to keep track of every child indefinitely.) (x)

Unfortunately, this administration has now classified all of the kids the same way, so it looks like the kids lost by the Department of Homeland Security are the same as the kids who are just no longer being tracked by the Department of Health and Human Services. They’re not the same though. Some were lost by the system and some were released by the system and left alone to live their lives in the care of whoever they were released to.

(***) This ended up not being a quick breakdown.  My bad.)

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Vote or Don’t Vote for Charles Graham…but know why.

A good ad does not a good candidate make.

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Earlier this week, NC State Rep. Charles Graham announced his run for the US House of Representatives, hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Dan Bishop in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. And he came in guns blazing with this campaign ad featuring the KKK…

I’ve never seen a campaign ad for a Congressional race go viral on social media so quickly, but less than a day after it was released, it was all over Twitter. I reposted it too. And then I found out Charles Graham was the only Democrat in the NC House to vote in favor of NC’s HB-2, the state’s infamous transgender bathroom bill.

Back in 2017, Republican state lawmakers wrote a bill that required people to use the public restroom in accordance with the gender they were assigned at birth. Republicans cited their false intention to protect women and children from predators (a thoroughly debunked premise that I don’t need to spend time on), and Charles Graham was the only Democrat to vote in favor of it.

I deleted my Retweet immediately.

Later, I did more reading, and Charles Graham had issued an apology for his vote, and as far as political backtracking goes, this is one of the more sincere and believable ones I’ve come across.

————————————————————–

Text of the above screengrab from Charles Graham’s website reads:

I believe human dignity is a human right. It’s a value I hold dear – but five years ago I failed to uphold my own value when I voted for HB2, and it was a mistake. It was a bill written and voted on within 24 hours, with the conversation surrounding protecting children and women, but I should have done more research to completely understand the impact of the bill. After the hurried vote, I spent the following days talking with colleagues and transgender-rights activists about the impacts of the bill – I became a full supporter of recalling the bill and worked across the aisle to fully repeal it. To the LGBTQ+ community, and specifically to the transgender community who suffered real pain from this bill and the rhetoric that surrounded it, I am sorry.

I have always tried to do what is right, but I am not perfect. I’m running for Congress to stand up against hatred and ignorance, and I expect to be held accountable when I fail to live up to my own principles.

————————————————————–

I believe him. That said, you don’t have to. There are people making the case that if he were truly apologetic, he would have released this apology at any point between 2017 and now, that if he were truly in favor of trans rights, he wouldn’t have waited until his campaign ad went viral and his voting record on the issue was called into question. I don’t disagree, however, he admitted that he didn’t really have a full grasp of the issue when he voted, and once he had a greater understanding, he worked to repeal the bill. That to me is more than just lip-service — that’s action to undue something you did.

So. I decided to post his ad again, but I took a beat. I’d already made the mistake of supporting a candidate (from afar) based on one campaign ad without really looking into his record or what he supports, so I did my due diligence and it’s not great.

NC-9 has been very dramatic these past few years. In 2016, a US District Court ruled the gerrymandering in North Carolina was so heavily and obviously prejudiced toward Republican candidates, the state had to redraw the lines. Before 2016, NC-9 looked like this.

Democrats still argue that the partisan lean toward Republicans continues to be out of sync with the actual population of the state so they’re looking to have the lines drawn even more equitably, but for now, this is NC-9.

Before the lines were redrawn, incumbent Robert Pittinger won that slivery snake of a district with 94% of the vote. He lost his primary bid in the election following the restructuring of his district and Reverend Mark Harris won the Republican nomination. His Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, is a successful businessman with a solar clean energy fund called Double Time Capital. Far from the forgone conclusion of the 94% win by Pittinger, the race between Harris and McCready went down to the wire (I wonder why…) and Harris came out on top with roughly 900 more votes than McCready.

However! (Drama!) The bi-partisan state election board declined to certify the results because campaign operatives for Harris committed fraud on multiple occasions (which included tricking elderly Black voters in rural areas into filling out absentee ballots for Harris). The election was voided and Dan Harris was not the Republican nominee the second time around. State Senator Dan Bishop won the Republican primary and went on to defeat McCready by two percentage points. In the last cycle, Bishop won re-election by a larger margin against Cynthia Wallace, the first Black chairperson of NC-9’s Democratic Party, in a lackluster race that didn’t garner much attention.

This backstory is necessary to understand why the Democratic Party should put its weight behind someone other than Charles Graham. Charles Graham is a Conservative. He’s absolutely the kind of person/politician who is aligned with the Democratic Party not because he agrees with most of the platform but because he disagrees with the other side, and that’s an important distinction. Because we have a two party system, we have a lot of people who belong to to the Democratic Party by default, not by choice. If you’re a politician who hates Donald Trump and supports funding for education, you’re not allowed a voice in the Republican Party. Even if you take issue with some of the Democratic platform, you’re still allowed a place in our Big Tent, and that’s who Charles Graham is.

…critics began pointing out Graham’s more conservative voting record in the General Assembly, including his support for some abortion restrictions, in favor of allowing firearms on school grounds, and opposing a statewide mask mandate — all votes largely in keeping with the prevailing sentiment in his conservative district, which has begun trending more Republican as rural voters sour on Democrats due to culture-war issues.

(cont. MetroWeekly)

Firearms on school grounds and abortion restrictions and no mask mandates are the positions of a Republican. We don’t need another “Democrat” of this kind in Congress, so reflect back on the recent history of NC-9. If this were the snakelike sliver of the past where 94% of the vote went to a Republican and we suddenly had a chance to flip the seat, it might make more sense to focus on a Conservative Democrat. In a district where one Republican had to cheat to win, and still only won by a few hundred votes, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. In that same district where the the election was voided and the next Republican won by 2% partly because of his alignment with Donald Trump, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat.  In that same district where Donald Trump won the state for reelection and a Black woman still managed to grab 45% of the vote, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. A clean energy businessman narrowly lost while Trump was in office and a Black woman grabbed a huge share while Trump was winning the electoral votes. You can run the same kind of candidates against that Trump-supporter again and win if you mobilize the people to vote.

Look at this way: People who voted for Republican Dan Bishop because they like Dan Bishop are going to vote for Dan Bishop again. They are not going to suddenly vote for a slightly more liberal version of Dan Bishop just because that version has a good backstory about fighting the KKK and taught special ed. Your goal is to grab the people who don’t like Dan Bishop, so why would you run Dan Bishop-lite? Run an actual alternative who can grab the people who didn’t vote for him while also catching the attention of the people who didn’t vote at all. Nobody who voted for Dan McCready a few years ago or Cynthia Wallace last year is suddenly itching to vote for a Democrat In Name Only. Charles Graham caught a couple of headlines with a good campaign ad, but that’s about as much attention as he deserves from national politics going forward. Save your donations for his primary opponents.

(Sidenote: I do believe Charles Graham evolved quickly on trans issues and his statement was genuine. I believe it because he has not apologized for his votes on abortion. He probably believes in his heart that women do not have the right to choose, so he has nothing to apologize for. If he were an opportunist, he would just apologize for that too and keep it moving.)

 

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Rolling Stone: Rudy Giuliani Whines About Fox News Ban to Steve Bannon

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Rudy Giuliani was reportedly “really hurt” that Fox News banned him from appearing on the network. He turned to Steve Bannon to elaborate on Friday, telling the former White House adviser that the ban is “outrageous.”

(cont.)

Fox News is perfectly fine with peddling lies and booking commentators who peddle lies, but they’re not okay with losing money. When Dominion Voting Systems filed suit against Giuliani *and* sued Fox News for $1.6 billion partly because Giuliani kept going on air to say Dominion was part of the rigged system to give Biden the election, Giuliani’s relationship with Fox News was suddenly in jeopardy.

You can lie all you want to destroy our democracy, but don’t you dare cost us any money.

 

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The Big Tent failure of the Democratic Party.

It’s just difficult unifying a party of leftovers.

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Congratulations to the Republican Party of Texas once again putting another check in the Win Column this year.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed into law a bill that bans 24-hour and drive-thru voting, imposes new hurdles on mail-in ballots and empowers partisan poll watchers.

The election overhaul in Texas comes as Republicans seek to hold onto power in a rapidly changing state where people of color make up virtually all of the population growth — and that growth is concentrated in large cities that tend to vote Democratic.

(cont. CNN)

Texas was very close to becoming Blue or at the very least a deep purple, but they did not. So, Red Texas sprang into action to consolidate power and push through Conservative goals while they can.

Why don’t Democrats ever take a page out of the Republican handbook?

If Democrats took advantage when they are in power the way Republicans do, we’d have the Voting Rights Act, no filibuster, a larger Supreme Court, free college, universal healthcare, etc. I mean…assuming Democrats actually want those things in the first place.

Watching Republicans set a goal, work toward it, and achieve it come hell or high water is impressive. I wish I had no morals so I could be a Republican too. Unfortunately I care more about people than I do about winning, but damn if I don’t feel jealous of the successful party.

It’s just difficult unifying a party of leftovers.

Democrats don’t have a guiding force the way Republicans are guided by a corrupted version of Jesus, white nationalism, and greed. Democrats are people who care about people PLUS everybody else who doesn’t want to be a Republican for one reason or another.

Turned off by Evangelical Jesus?
White supremacy?
Cops?
Misogynists?

You’re a Democrat by default, not by choice.

The Democratic Party is a big tent party made of gays AND homophobes, minorities AND racists, atheists AND Christian supremacists. It’s hard to unify so many disparate groups into one big push to do anything. We just sit around and twiddle our thumbs nitpicking at each other because we don’t even have the same common goals, let alone any sort of agreement as to how we should achieve those goals. For every Democrat who wants a $15 wage, there are two more who say “the cashier at McDonald’s should get a better job — let’s provide training!” For every Democrat who wants to wipe out college debt, there are two more who say “I paid mine, why do they get off scot free?” For every Democrat who wants to abolish the police, there are two more who say “not all cops are bad — we just have to get the bad apples out.”

For every Republican who wants to ban abortion, there are ten more who say “absolutely.”

For awhile, right after the election, I was naively hopeful that the Republican Party would actually splinter into two groups. Trump’s Most Loyal Activists were filing papers to start their own party. Establishment Republicans were distancing themselves from Trump. The divide was deepening between the Moderates and the Deplorables. If the GOP split, then the Democratic Party would soon follow. The AOCs have less in common with the Joe Manchins than the Joe Manchins have in common with the Mitt Romneys. The latter two should be in a party together, a party that does not represent me in any way. I want to be in a party with Cori Bush, not Cory Booker, but I don’t want the Democratic Party to split first because the GOP will completely take over the entire country.

But that was just wishful thinking on my part, because the GOP is about power first, regardless of personal politics. They can put their differences aside for the common goal they share, some authoritarian capitalist wet dream of a White Christian America where women and brown people know their place. The Democrats can’t agree on a goal so we have no long term strategies. We’re just trying our best to get along with each other while the opposition continues to advance.

 

 

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