"But others who work within the system see Sessions’ efforts to double down on immigration enforcement as a strain on the limited resources of federal judiciary. The cost to prosecute people whom Border Patrol or ICE would likely deport anyway topped $1 billion annually for incarceration alone, according to a 2012 analysis published by Austin-based advocacy group Grassroots leadership. That figure doesn’t include all the other resources that DOJ has to muster to make these cases happen: judges, public defenders, prosecutors and U.S. Marshals." [node:read-more:link]
Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker speculates about the type of legislation immigrant rights groups are going to be fighting during the 84th Texas legislative session.
“The general consensus among immigrant rights groups and advocates is that we’re going to see sanctuary city bills [allowing police to ask for immigration status] and legislation doing away with in-state tuition for undocumented students, among other things. I think both chambers are going to be rough.” [node:read-more:link]
In mid-October I had the good fortune to be invited on a trip to the border of Texas and Mexico. I was auditing a class at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary called, “The Church, The Borderlands, and The Public Good”—all themes that I wrestle with as I learn more about immigration issues during this year of service for my church.
So far, I had felt connected to the work I'm doing here at Grassroots Leadership, and grounded in the knowledge that I am effecting systemic and individual change. The day I started was the day we started the campaign to get Sara and Nayely released from Karnes. Then I met Sara and Nayely when I took them to the hospital for an appointment. When I visited Hutto I met another woman who has been severely affected by the violence in Central America, and the subsequent violence of being locked in a prison in the country she fled to—the United States. Going to the border in October made the work that I do on the immigration team at Grassroots Leadership feel more realistic.[node:read-more:link]
A long list of organizations signed a letter delivered today to Department of Homeland Security officials today asking them to look for alternatives to detention for families and children seeking refuge at the border.
Citing the lawsuit, human rights abuses and national outcry that surrounded the end of family detention at the T. Don Hutto facility, the last family detention center in Texas, they argue that there are alternatives to lock-up for refugee families.
The last time family detention was used at the facility, reports emerged that children as young as eight months old wore prison uniforms, lived in locked prison cells with open- toilets, subjected to highly restricted movement, and threatened with alarming disciplinary tactics, including threats of separation from their parents if they cried too much or played too loudly. Medical treatment was inadequate and children as young as one lost weight.
The letter reads in part: “While the administration is understandably under pressure to respond to the current humanitarian crisis at the border, locking babies in prison cells and deporting women and young children to dangerous situations are not the solution.”[node:read-more:link]
According to researchers at Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), the first six months of FY 2014 have seen substantial changes in the criminal enforcement of immigration laws among those districts along the border with Mexico.
There has been a drop in the number of criminal prosecutions for "illegal entry" under 8 USC 1325, but a continued rise in prosecutions for "illegal re-entry" (8 USC 1326).
Crossing the border was once a matter for civil immigration courts but is now handled in federal criminal courts along the border. Under this program, known as Operation Streamline, people caught crossing the border are criminally charged with either unauthorized entry (a misdemeanor) or unauthorized re-entry (a felony).[node:read-more:link]