TAKE ACTION: Stop ICE from using TX court stay to terrorize communities

TAKE ACTION: Stop ICE from using TX court stay to terrorize communities

February 25, 2015

Background

While the President and the Department of Justice are defending the Nov. 20 creation of DAPA and expanded DACA, and the immigrant community across the country are organizing in support of these as a step towards broad and comprehensive relief for immigrant workers and families, the New Orleans ICE office is using the stay of DAPA/expanded DACA to denounce the President’s Nov. 20, 2014 enforcement priorities and has begun enforcement against DAPA eligible parents.

In the wake of the stay of DAPA and expanded DACA and DOJ and DOJ appeal in Texas v. U.S., it is critical that DHS speak with one voice, in line with the President and the Department of Justice.  Instead the ICE New Orleans Office is using the Texas Court decision as an excuse not to follow the November 20, 2015 Enforcement Priorities.

ICE New Orleans is now re-reviewing the custody determinations and status of DAPA eligible mothers and fathers on orders of supervision, stays of removal etc.

In a conversation on Monday, February 23, the Assistant Field Office Director in New Orleans Brian Acuna stated that because the Texas Court had stayed DAPA, ICE New Orleans was not considering DAPA eligibility in enforcement decisions at this time. 

Of particular concern, ICE’s actions give the appearance they are singling out individuals who have spoken out publicly in support of the President and DAPA for re-review of their status and custody determinations, which could have a chilling effect on the participation of affected immigrants in community organizing in support of the President and DOJ across the country.

ICE’s statements and actions are inconsistent with a statement by DHS Secretary Johnson concerning the Texas Court’s ruling: “The Court’s order affects this Department’s ability to set and implement enforcement priorities” and “The priorities established in my November 20, 2014, memorandum entitled ‘Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants’ remain in full force and effect.”

The New Orleans’ ICE office recent actions are part of a disturbing pattern. The New Orleans Field Office has a history of resistance to prosecutorial discretion, unconstitutional enforcement practices such as the highly criticized CARI program that violate civil rights, and terrorize communities, and retaliation against immigrant workers and families who expose ICE misconduct.

Example: The Case of Brenda Castro

brenda-smiling

Brenda Castro is a DAPA eligible parent who supports two young U.S. Citizen daughters (ages 4 and 9) and a son who is prima facie eligible for expanded DACA.  She has been present in the U.S. on an order of supervision complying with regular ICE check ins for the last 4 years.

While she has a 2011 misdemeanor offense for attempt theft of goods and a prior deportation and return from 2008, this does not make her an ICE enforcement priority or ineligible for DAPA.  And ICE has been aware of these aspects of her background during the past four years that she has been under the order of supervision.

Brenda is also a leading member of the Congress of Day Laborers. who has become a public face and outspoken critic of the DAPA lawsuit and ICE enforcement practices in New Orleans.  Last week on Feb. 19 in the wake of the Texas court decision, she led a community prayer vigil on the Fifth Circuit steps.  Her leadership has been featured in national and local press (Times-Picayune, MSNBC Ronan Farrow Show) discussing the contributions of undocumented immigrants like herself to the New Orleans community and condemning the delay of DAPA and expanded DACA due to the lawsuit by Louisiana and other states.

On Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, at her regularly scheduled ICE check-in, ICE reviewed her file and custody determination and for the first time forced Brenda to be subjected to an ankle monitor—the first step by ICE in moving an individual on an order of supervision towards deportation.

When asked to provide a reason for its actions, Assistant Field Office Director Brian Acuna stated that ICE NOLA no longer needed to consider her eligibility for DAPA since the court had enjoined the DAPA and expanded DACA programs.

New Orleans Workers’ Center Demands to DHS

  • DHS should issue public written guidance to ICE field office directors clarifying that the Court has not enjoined the Nov. 20, 2014 enforcement priorities, including an individuals eligibility for DAPA or expanded DACA, and should monitor that each region is complying with the directive and that there is zero tolerance for retaliation against individuals who are engaged in public support for these programs.
  • Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas should meet with the New Orleans Workers’ Center about ensuring enforcement on the ground is consistent with DHS directives.
  • ICE must immediately remove Brenda’s ankle monitor and give her temporary deferred action from ICE given she is not an enforcement priority.

How Can Allies Help?

1.    Help Lift up Brenda’s story in the press, on social media, and with policy makers as an example of why DHS must give clearer public guidance to ICE and work with the community to ensure it is followed in every region.

2.    Communicate support for Brenda to DHS

3.    Urge Asst. Sec. Mayorkas to meet w/ NOWCRJ on these important issues.