Democracy Now!

Immigrant Rights

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  • In Burlington, Vermont, at least three prominent immigrant rights activists have been arrested in recent days. All three—Cesar Alex Carrillo, Enrique Balcazar and Zully Palacios—are leaders or members of the group Migrant Justice. Balcazar, who is known as Kike, serves on Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan’s immigration task force, which was created to respond to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. For more, we speak with Will Lambek, organizer with Migrant Justice.

  • We begin with an update on the case of prominent immigrant rights advocate Ravi Ragbir, whom we interviewed Thursday on Democracy Now! right before his check-in with a deportation officer. Ragbir, originally from Trinidad, immigrated to the United States legally but has a 15-year-old criminal conviction. He’s avoided deportation since 2011 due to a series of stays that could end under President Trump. After he left our studios, Ragbir spoke at a press conference and rally, where hundreds gathered to support him before he went inside, unsure if he would come back out. He was accompanied to his check-in by his wife, his attorney, pastors and four elected officials. He emerged with mixed news. Even though he has a stay in place until 2018, he was told to return for another check-in next month. Officials also instructed Ragbir, who is married to a U.S. citizen and has a U.S.-born daughter, to prepare his travel documents, which are often the first step toward deportation.

  • UPDATE: Ravi Ragbir was released after his ICE check-in after arriving at the meeting surrounded by hundreds of supporters. Watch live coverage on our Facebook page.

    One of New York’s best-known immigrant rights advocates joins us on what might be his last day as a free man in the United States. Ravi Ragbir is executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. This morning, right after our broadcast, Ravi heads for a check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He plans to go to the meeting, even though he may not be released. Ravi legally immigrated to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago more than 25 years ago, but a 2001 wire fraud conviction made his green card subject to review. Even though he is married to a U.S. citizen and has a U.S-born daughter, the government refuses to normalize his status. Just last month, Ravi was recognized with the Immigrant Excellence Award by the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, given to those who show "deep commitment to the enhancement of their community."

  • The Department of Homeland Security is considering a proposal to radically shift how federal agents treat undocumented families—including asylum seekers—who attempt to enter the country. Reuters is reporting DHS is considering a proposal to separate mothers from their children if they are caught trying to cross the border together. Under the plan, mothers would be held in custody, while children would initially be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. Texas Democratic Congressmember Henry Cuellar criticized the new proposal. He said, "Bottom line: separating mothers and children is wrong. That type of thing is where we depart from border security and get into violating human rights." For more, we speak with Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

  • On Tuesday morning, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez and his wife were driving their 13-year-old daughter Fatima to her school in the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park just after dropping off their younger daughter. Then, two black, unmarked vehicles approached the family’s car. Fatima captured part of the arrest on her cellphone, in which she can be heard sobbing as ICE agents arrest and detain her father. He has lived in the United States for more than two decades and is the father of four. In a statement, ICE defended its actions, saying Avelica-Gonzalez had a DUI in 2009 and an outstanding order of removal from 2014. For more, we speak with Jocelyn Avelica, daughter of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez. We also speak with Emi MacLean, an immigration attorney for National Day Laborer Organizing Network who is assisting the Avelica-Gonzalez family.

  • Update: Hours after our broadcast, Amnesty International announced Sara Beltran Hernandez will be released from detention today to be with her family and to seek treatment for a brain tumor.

    As President Trump vows to deport "bad hombres," we look at the shocking case of an asylum seeker from El Salvador who is being detained as she battles a brain tumor. Sara Beltran Hernandez was shackled at her hands and wrists, removed from the hospital and taken back to the Prairieland Detention Center near Dallas. We speak with her lawyer, Fatma Marouf, director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Texas A&M University; bioethics expert Bryn Esplin, assistant professor in the Department of Humanities in Medicine at Texas A&M School of Medicine; and Justin Mazzola, deputy director of research for Amnesty International USA, which has a campaign to win the release of Sara Beltran Hernandez.

  • During President Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress last night, he announced plans to create a new office called VOICE—that’s Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. Trump has previously directed the Department of Homeland Security to publish a list of crimes committed by immigrants—which some historians have compared to Germany’s Nazi-era policy of publishing lists of crimes committed by Jews. We air Trump’s comment and hear from Andrea Pitzer, author of the upcoming book, "One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps."

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