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As Border Crisis Deepens, Trump Administration Targets Undocumented Immigrants Living in Churches
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=48409"><span class="small">Joshua Eaton, ThinkProgress</span></a>   
Friday, 05 July 2019 13:21

Eaton writes: "The administration is fining undocumented immigrants hundreds of thousands of dollars for not self-deporting."

A volunteer prepares for bed with a group of recent migrants in the church hall of the Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla, New Mexico. (photo: Paul Ratje/AFP)
A volunteer prepares for bed with a group of recent migrants in the church hall of the Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla, New Mexico. (photo: Paul Ratje/AFP)


ALSO SEE: Trump Administration Ending In-Person Interpreters
at Immigrants' First Hearings

As Border Crisis Deepens, Trump Administration Targets Undocumented Immigrants Living in Churches

By Joshua Eaton, ThinkProgress

05 July 19


The administration is fining undocumented immigrants hundreds of thousands of dollars for not self-deporting.

s the crisis on the nation’s southwest border deepens, the Trump administration is sending letters ordering some undocumented immigrants living in the United States — including several seeking sanctuary in places of worship — to pay fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars for not self-deporting after being ordered to do so.

“[I]t is the intention of ICE to order you to pay a fine in the amount of $497,777,” said one such letter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which was obtained by NPR.

It’s not clear how many of the letters have gone out, but around 12 of the 44 undocumented immigrants across the country who have sheltered in “sanctuary churches” to avoid deportation received them this week, according to The New York Times and Religion News Service.

ICE treats churches, schools, and hospitals as “sensitive locations” with greater protection from immigration enforcement actions like raids, and churches have been offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers since at least the 1980s.

Many in the so-called “church sanctuary movement” see it as a moral obligation — a way of answering Jesus’ command in the Gospels to care for the stranger. But ICE’s hands-off approach to places of worship is policy, not law, and some church organizers fear that it could change under the Trump administration’s hardline approach to immigration enforcement.

The fine letters that went out this week have added fuel to those concerns.

“I am a bit concerned that ICE might be setting the stage to rescind sensitive-location policies,” the Rev. Randall Keeney of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, in Greensboro, North Carolina, told Religion News Service.

The letters make good on an executive order Trump signed days after his inauguration, which ordered the homeland security secretary to “ensure the assessment and collection of all fines and penalties … from aliens unlawfully present in the United States and from those who facilitate their presence in the United States.”

They cite the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows ICE to impose civil fines on undocumented immigrants who fail to leave the country after being ordered to do so. Undocumented immigrants receive a “Notice of Intention to Fine” and have 30 days to respond before fines are imposed, according to NPR.

“ICE is committed to using various enforcement methods — including arrest, detention, technological monitoring and financial penalties — to enforce U.S. immigration law and maintain the integrity of legal orders issued by judges,” ICE spokespeople told several media outlets in a statement.

The letters came the same week President Donald Trump promised to target thousands of immigrants in sweeping raids across the country unless Congress tightens U.S. asylum laws, a move he delayed last last month.

“After July 4, a lot of people are going to be brought back out,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday as he signed a $4.6 billion border funding bill.

Meanwhile, conditions on the nation’s southwest border boiled over this week, after the Associated Press revealed squalid conditions at a shelter for migrant children near El Paso, Texas; a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that Customs and Border Protection is holding immigrants in cells that are nearly double their capacity, and that children at some CBP facilities lack access to showers and laundry; and ProPublica revealed a secret Facebook group for Border Patrol agents that included sexist memes about members of Congress and jokes about migrant children dying in CBP custody.

The inspector general’s report made clear what Trump has said time and again — that the unsanitary and overcrowded conditions at southwest border facilities are meant to deter people from trying to enter the U.S. in the first place.

“If Illegal Immigrants [sic] are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “All problems solved!”

That policy of deterrence means conditions could get much worse before they get better. With the House and Senate split and Trump promising to continue his hardline policies, a political solution to the crisis is nowhere in sight.

Meanwhile, activists in the church sanctuary movement say they won’t back down. Isaac Villegas, pastor of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, said his congregation will continue sheltering undocumented immigrants who they say would be at risk if they returned to their home countries.

“We understood from the beginning that the federal government does not approve of us taking care of our people,” Villegas told Religion News Service. “We’re on different sides of history on that matter. We know they’ll do whatever they can to intimidate us.”

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+5 # DongiC 2019-07-06 01:39
There are a lot of brave, compassionate people around willing to shelter unfortunate immigrants. They are deeply motivated by a love of their savior and they do great honor to his precious memory. With great respect and love, I salute you all.
 
 
0 # Robbee 2019-07-06 14:10
Quoting DongiC 2019-07-06 01:39:
There are a lot of brave, compassionate people around willing to shelter unfortunate immigrants. They are deeply motivated by a love of their savior and they do great honor to his precious memory. With great respect and love, I salute you all.

- note to dickhead! - never mind chopping up your anti-abortion base! - just to please evangelicals and catholics! you appointed 2 newest of 6 catholics sitting there! to scotus! (apologies that evangelical judges are not too bright!)

break down the doors of catholic churches! - perhaps your 2nd largest voting block?

your largest voting block! - evangelicals! - hate catholics! - all destined to GO TO HELL! - so they will love you for it!

from dickhead! THERE IS N O SANCTUARY!

WE ALL GO TO HELL!
 
 
+2 # revhen 2019-07-06 08:04
The inmates are running the asylum.
 
 
+3 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2019-07-06 10:00
Using the same words to describe different concepts is not just poor practice. It also leads to confusion and misunderstandin gs. Misleading Americans is Trump’s goal when he repeated claims that asylum seekers are “Illegal Immigrants”. Unfortunately, these lies have not been adequately denounced by ANYONE. Not by the Fourth Estate. Not by Democrats. And most despicably, not by Republicans.

Documented aliens are immigrants who have entered the US with a visa or some other document which grants them permission to come here. However, this is not the only way one can come to the US legally. To pander to his base, Trump just chooses to ignore US immigration laws on applying for asylum so he can perpetuate the myth that asylum seekers are here illegally. Despite his hateful rhetoric, any immigrants physically in the US who have filed Form I-589 with USCIS, are NOT here illegally. [NB: This is one part of our immigration laws that Trump is demanding be changed.]

“Isaac Villegas, pastor of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, said his congregation will continue sheltering undocumented immigrants who they say would be at risk if they returned to their home countries.” This sentence from the article suggests that at least some of the people being targeted with fines were issued deportation orders in violation of US immigration law. For those who have applied for asylum, those orders are invalid and so are any resulting fines.
 
 
0 # Robbee 2019-07-06 14:29
so far CCUSA, alone, seems outwhelmed to respond to dickhead's policy to detain hundreds of thousands -

Catholic Charities USA
IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE SERVICES
Restoring human dignity after family separation
Posted onJanuary 10, 2019 | Featuring Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley

In the summer of 2014, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley (CCRGV) established a Humanitarian Respite Center as a response to the substantial increase in families seeking asylum at the U.S./Mexico border. Since then, more than 150,000 individuals, including separated and reunified families, have been welcomed at the center

CCRGV received these families at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valley. Upon arrival, the families were welcomed and given a hot meal, clothes, a warm shower, a room in which to rest, and assistance with travel coordination to their final destinations in the U.S. In addition, CCRGV provided each family with a cell phone in order to assist with post-departure case management.

CCRGV supports the recommendations made by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in its report “Serving Separated and Reunited Families: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward to Promote Family Unity.” In addition to halting the practice of family separation, the recommendations include suggestions to prioritize the unity and safety of families in future immigration policies and operation, as well as using post-release services as an alternative to family detention.