Greg Casar

Apr 20, 2018
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Austin Chronicle

Beside the Point: Get Off Your Butt

"On April 3, in advance of that initial recommended deadline, a coalition of advocates including the Texas Fair Defense Project and Grassroots Leadership held a press conference to request that Council commit to a full repeal – and it was there that Grassroots organizer Chris Harris announced that the city had punted on the OCA's recommended deadline. The city has a team working to assess its overall effort to address the issue, but the coalition would rather not wait. 'We call on our city today to repeal these ordinances," Harris said, "and stop the criminalization of homelessness."'

..."Coalition member Roni Chelben, who works with the Gathering Ground Theatre, a theatre troupe of people experiencing homelessness, told me that the missed deadline made the coalition fear Council is backing away from the issue. 'It's a matter of pressure,' she said. 'Nobody's interested in doing anything about it, because it's a complicated issue.' She questioned why the city would wait for a holistic look at the city's efforts on homelessness before taking action to remove ordinances that are having a demonstrable effect on people's ability to survive right now." Read more about Beside the Point: Get Off Your Butt

Feb 27, 2018
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Salon

Asylum seeker held by ICE says she was sexually abused, now faces retaliation

"Bethany Carson, an immigration policy researcher for Grassroots Leadership, told Salon that after Monterrosa wrote the letter, things got worse for her. Carson described an escalating series of tactics — especially the use of solitary confinement — that she believed were meant to intimidate Monterrosa into retracting her accusations against the guard, which Monterrosa hasn't done. Carson also says Monterrosa has been subjected to ongoing interactions with her alleged abuser, which has led to Monterrosa hiding in her room, refusing food and feeling afraid to walk around the facility for fear of confrontation.

In January, Carson said, Monterrosa 'called me and told me that she had taken over 50 pills, mostly pain medication.' Carson then described a series of intense phone calls with officials as she tried, from outside, to get help. Officials at the facility ultimately intervened to saved Monterrosa's life, Carson said." Read more about Asylum seeker held by ICE says she was sexually abused, now faces retaliation

Feb 25, 2018
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The Patch

Austin Council Members Seek Access To Detained Immigrant

"The council members from Austin are requesting access to the detainee after a Feb. 20 attempt by Council Member Greg Casar to visit with the woman was rebuffed by CoreCivic officials who run the site. Reportedly, the detention center's operators expressed concerns Casar would later go to the media to describe what he might have seen at the facility, according to Grassroots Leadership advocates.

... Hearing of her hardship, the three council members now requesting to visit with Monterrosa also are demanding she be released — joining a cause Austin-based Grassroots Leadership has long taken on.

'To bar officials from entering a detention center because they represent the public, or because they may speak to the media about what they see, raises dire questions about freedom of speech and the transparency of these facilities,' the letter reads in part. 'We are deeply concerned that continued detention will be harmful for Ms. Monterrosa's health and call on you to release her immediately from detention."' Read more about Austin Council Members Seek Access To Detained Immigrant

Mar 8, 2016
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Texas Observer

Raid Aid

Drawing about 40 people on a Saturday, the “Know Your Rights” meeting featured attorneys, who provided an overview of the federal immigration raids, and advocates, who shared instructions on what to do should a law enforcement officer show up unannounced. There’s no requirement to respond or let officials inside without a signed warrant, they said.

“Your name and your birthday — that’s all the information you have to give,” Alejandro Caceres, an immigration rights advocate with the Austin nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, told the audience. Caceres, who donned an ICE T-shirt and paper badge to play an officer in an educational skit, assured meeting attendees that if they are inside their homes, they do not have to answer specific questions about immigration status. “You have the right not to say anything. You have the right to an attorney.” Read more about Raid Aid

Jan 31, 2016
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Austin American-Statesman

Rights advocates teach immigrants how to respond to threat of raids

Austin City Council Member Greg Casar and several immigrant rights groups gathered Saturday in North Austin to teach immigrants how to respond if they are targeted in federal raids.

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“We believe that knowledge is power and we all have constitutional rights regardless of immigration status,” said Elissa Steglich, a UT immigration law professor.

Federal raids in January, she said, were part of an effort to deport thousands of women and children who crossed the border in the summer of 2014 to escape violence in Central American countries. Under those deportation orders, about 6,000 people in Texas are targeted, and nearly 80 percent of those will not have access to an immigration lawyer, she said.

“We see that the people who fall victim to these raids are those who do not know their rights or have the funds to pay for a lawyer,” Steglich told the crowd.

To address that, the training event played out scenarios involving an immigration official at an immigrant’s door. Organizers told the crowd that unless the official had a signed judge’s order, they don’t need to open the door. They also advised participants to withhold from speaking to the official until they are able to acquire a lawyer.

However, event organizers emphasized that people should never lie to an immigration official. They said immigrants could provide their name and date of birth if asked to identify themselves. But if asked to provide a Social Security number, ID card or other documents, they could defer to their lawyers, organizers said.

“You can also ask the official if you are under arrest,” said Alejandro Caceres of Grassroots Leadership. “If they say you are not, then you can simply walk away and avoid any other contact with them.” Read more about Rights advocates teach immigrants how to respond to threat of raids

Jan 30, 2016
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KXAN

Austin community discusses deportation raids

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Immigrants and community members in Austin met Saturday afternoon to learn about deportation raids happening across the country.

Following a string of deportation raids happening in states such as Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina, District 4 Council Member Gregorio Casar and others set up a meeting to help immigrants know what services are available, and for others to learn how they can help with the services.

“I think it’s really important for folks to hear what we’re hearing from the administration about whose being targeted by the raids, for people to know what their rights are if they encounter an immigration officer, and also for them to hear that our police department has committed that they are just going to be acting as police officers and not as immigration officers,” said Casar, “It’s so important for the immigrant community to be trusting of our police and for the police force to work with the immigrant community, and that people have separate in their minds the police force from ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement).”

According to Casar his district has the largest number of immigrants within the City of Austin. He says that they are working on establishing a hotline that people can call if they see an immigration raid in action so that the community can be informed.

Among others hosting the meeting were Grassroots Leadership, the ICE Out Campaign, and the University of Texas Immigration Clinic. Read more about Austin community discusses deportation raids

Jan 22, 2016
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Austin American-Statesman

Council member, community groups to host event on immigration raids

Austin City Council Member Greg Casar and several community groups will host a “Know  Your Rights” training in response to immigration raids being conducted nationally by the federal government to deport people in the country illegally.

At the training, which will be hosted by Casar, Grassroots Leadership, ICE Out of Austin and the UT Immigration Clinic, attendees will be trained on how to interact with immigration officials and will be educated on what rights they have under the law, a news release from Casar’s office said.

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When: Saturday, Jan. 30, from 2-3 p.m.

Where: St. John’s Episcopal Church, 11201 Parkfield Drive, Austin, TX 78758 Read more about Council member, community groups to host event on immigration raids

Jan 15, 2016
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The Austin Chronicle

Women and Children First: Immigration raids targeting families strike fear in Austin's Latino community

The new year has brought with it a renewed effort to seize and deport undocumented immigrants and refugees. On Jan. 4, Department of Homeland Security Sec­re­ta­ry Jeh Johnson issued a press release announcing, "This past weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) engaged in concerted, nationwide enforcement operations to take into custody and return at a greater rate adults who entered this country illegally with children. This should come as no surprise. I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed." Johnson went on to say that the targets of the operation were "adults and their children who (i) were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally, (ii) have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court, and (iii) have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws."

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In Austin, it is unclear whether anyone has been seized as part of the ICE raids. Rumors of raids on Rundberg and Down­town have circulated, but have not been confirmed. Regardless, there are many in the immigrant community who believe they're potential targets. For now, the primary response from immigrant rights advocates has been to organize "Know Your Rights" trainings for the undocumented, which largely consist of warning people not to open the door to ICE agents, as well as planning for families who might be left behind if some members were deported. Workers Defense Project plans to hold trainings every Thursday at 7pm, and City Council Member Greg Casar, whose District 4 has the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the city, said his office has received calls from constituents who are "afraid about the fact that ICE could be knocking on someone's door and taking them away." Casar said that his office is working on gathering information about the raids, including whether ICE has requested the assistance of local law enforcement. Of course, City Council can only do so much about what is a federal policy. "We don't want to give the impression that by City Council resolution, we're going to stop the raids," Casar said. In the spirit of "directing as much of our advocacy as possible toward solving problems," Casar's office plans to partner with Grass­roots Leadership to hold a community meeting, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 30. The meeting will include information on immigrants' rights as well as on other services, including places where those who fear deportation can seek sanctuary.

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Many observers believe the raids are an attempt by the Obama administration to demonstrate that it can be tough on immigration, even as it pushes for immigration reform. The lawsuit filed by 26 states challenging the constitutionality of Oba­ma's executive action expanding DACA and DAPA is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court this year. The raids are "proof that Obama doesn't care about actual immigrant community members," said Grass­roots Leadership Immigration Organ­izer Alejandro Caceres. "We're political pawns." Read more about Women and Children First: Immigration raids targeting families strike fear in Austin's Latino community

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