July 2015

DHS Broke Judge’s Orders: Work Permits Issued Despite Injunction

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Federal Judge Andrew Hanen is up in arms about non-compliance with a court order blocking President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration. Hanen has issued for five immigration officials to show up for a hearing on August 19 in a Brownsville, Texas courtroom. Department of Homeland (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson is one of the five officials that must appear before the judge. The officials must explain to the judge why they should not be held in contempt of court for violating the court’s order and allowing the issuance of approximately 2,000 three-year work permits after the injunction was issued on February 16.

Judge Hanen said he would cancel the session if he is “satisfied” with the government’s actions to cancel or revoke the 2,000 three-year work permits that were issued to undocumented workers. Initially after Hanen issued the injunction the work permits were limited to a two-year duration.

Associate director for USCIS’ service center operations, Donald W. Neufeld, said that the work permits at issue had been approved before the injunction but were mistakenly not removed from a processing queue after Judge Hanen’s order.

“USCIS has already issued notices to the recipients of these three-year EADs whom it has identified, informing them that their approvals of deferred action and employment authorization have been converted from three to two years, that they will be issued two-year EADs, and that they must return the three-year EADs sent to them,” Neufeld said.

The Justice Department came forward in May to disclose the 2,000 issuances after Hanen’s order. Government lawyers said DHS’s inspector general is investigating why the three-year permits were issued despite the court injunction.

A federal appeals court panel is scheduled to hear arguments Friday on whether Hanen’s injunction should be overturned.

USCIS Welcomes 4,000 New Citizens July 1-4 to Celebrate Independence Day

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USCIS welcomed more than 4,000 new U.S. citizens across the country at over 50 naturalization ceremonies from July 1-4.

“As we celebrate Independence Day, we welcome over 4,000 new Americans who will be able to enjoy all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship,” said USCIS Director León Rodríguez.

Citizenship candidates took the Oath of Allegiance at locations including the New York Public Library, Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago, Seattle Center, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and the Tower Theater in Miami. This year’s celebration also featured ceremonies at historic sites such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virginia; Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia; and the USS Midway in San Diego, California.

Complaint: Family Detention Can Lead to Psychological Harm

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Complaints about psychological harm in family detention centers among detained women and children are becoming a bigger issue.

Immigration detention centers for families such as the one located in Dilley, Texas are fully equipped with amenities that are not usually found in many other detention centers. Amenities such as gymnasiums, libraries, and high-tech classrooms are available to the women and children, but as psychologist Luis H. Zayas says, “They have tried to make these places look and feel better but ultimately they are still behind walls and they don’t have freedom.”

There have been ten cases so far that have been reported to the agency’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for investigation. Attorneys who contracted mental health professionals attested to psychological issues among detained women and children such as anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

The detained mothers describe the fear, uncertainty and lack of control in the detention center to mimic their lives in their home countries and re-experience their trauma day to day.