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Why one Texas sheriff fears tougher immigration enforcement will make her city less safe

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HARI SREENIVASAN: Many restaurants and businesses were closed today for a national strike called A Day Without Immigrants. The closures were an attempt by participants to show how crucial immigrants are to American society.

Of course, as we heard in his press conference today, immigration remains a vital issue to the president. He campaigned promising to deport millions and to build a wall on the Mexican border. And, last week, federal immigration raids in at least six states arrested hundreds.

But the immigration debate also plays out in the nation’s so-called sanctuary cities, where local governments resist cooperating with federal immigration officials.

The NewsHour’s William Brangham went to Austin, Texas, for a closer look.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear …

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Just a few hours after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, another newly elected official, Sheriff Sally Hernandez of Travis County, Texas, posted this video:

SALLY HERNANDEZ, Travis County, Texas, Sheriff: I’m Sally Hernandez, your Travis County sheriff.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The video laid out her department’s policy change, which limits cooperation with agents from ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Hernandez says she doesn’t want her deputies to be seen as ICE agents.

SALLY HERNANDEZ: We in law enforcement need the cooperation of our communities of color. We need them to be running to us, and not running away from us.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Travis County, which includes Austin, has an estimated 100,000 undocumented immigrants, like Felix Jimenez. The sheriff says people like Jimenez won’t trust police if they’re constantly afraid of being deported.

And Jimenez agrees.

FELIX JIMENEZ, Undocumented Immigrant (through interpreter): We’re afraid when we see a police officer. We’re Hispanic. We could be stopped for any reason. The real fear that keeps me nervous after a long day is that I may not see my children because I was stopped for only a small infraction.

SALLY HERNANDEZ: We cannot afford to make our communities less safe by driving people into the shadows.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sheriff Hernandez won her election promising to take this very action, but her critics have pounced, saying she’s created Texas’ first sanctuary city, and deriding her as Sanctuary Sally.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT, R-Texas: We will ban sanctuary cities in Texas.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Texas Governor Greg Abbott accused the sheriff of betraying her oath, calling her argument frivolous, shortsighted and dangerous.

In retaliation, the governor started cutting $1.5 million in grants to Travis County. They fund things like drug courts and domestic violence prevention.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT: We are seeking fines. We are seeking to withdraw more state funds. We are seeking court orders that compel these officials like this sheriff to comply with the law or possibly go to jail themselves.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Austin is now among dozens of so-called sanctuary cities across the U.S. While there’s no official definition for a sanctuary city, the term generally means local police aren’t turning in every undocumented immigrant to federal authorities.

These cities have long drawn the ire of President Trump. During the campaign, he threatened all of them.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Block funding for sanctuary cities. We block the funding. No more funding.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A promise he kept soon after taking office.

But mayors are pushing back.

MAYOR MARTY WALSH, Boston: We will not be intimidated by the threat to fed funding.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL,Chicago: I want to be clear: We’re going to stay a sanctuary city.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, New York: We are going to defend all of our people, regardless of where they come from and regardless of their documentation and status.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Back in Texas, state legislators are trying to pass a law making it illegal for any city or county to limit cooperation with ICE.

MAN: We are in a dangerous path as a society, so that’s what this bill does for

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Senate Bill 4 would require counties to determine the immigration status of everyone in their custody, as well as honor all requests from federal immigration officials to detain people indefinitely.

WOMAN: We just won’t criminals who are here illegally and committing crimes to stay in our state.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Both sides testified about the proposed law.

MAN: I do believe your bill is unconstitutional, on its face, actually.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: State Senator Charles Perry introduced Senate Bill 4. The bill says state officials who fail to comply with the law would face criminal prosecutions and hefty fines.

CHARLES PERRY, (R), Texas State Senator: These are attention-getters. These are, we’re going to be serious about uniform, consistently without prejudice, applying the law to everyone.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, how do local police interact with federal immigration officers? Right now, when someone is arrested in any location in the U.S., they’re fingerprinted, their name is checked against several databases, and information is shared electronically with immigration officials.

DENISE GILMAN, University of Texas Law School: There is a federal provision that requires local jurisdictions to provide information to the federal immigration authorities.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s the law nationwide?

DENISE GILMAN: That’s right. And everybody is complying with that. There’s really no question about that.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Denise Gilman is an immigration law professor at the University of Texas in Austin.

DENISE GILMAN: The next step then is, what does ICE decide to do, the federal immigration authorities? If ICE decides to request that the local jurisdiction hold onto somebody for additional time, they file what’s called a detainer. But the courts and the federal government have recognized that that’s really just a request to local jurisdictions to hold …

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s not a legally binding contract.

DENISE GILMAN: It’s not a legal binding contract.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: If immigration officials come to you and ask for and give you one of these detainers and say, we’d like you to hold these 10 people, why not just hold all 10 of them?

SALLY HERNANDEZ: We are treating immigration like we do any other law enforcement agency. So, if somebody from another county calls me up and says, you have somebody in your custody, hold them for me, I would ask them, do they have a warrant? And if they have a warrant, we will hold them.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Why is that warrant important?

SALLY HERNANDEZ: Because that warrant is based on probable cause.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sheriff Hernandez says she will honor detainer requests in cases of murder, sexual assault and human trafficking. Otherwise, she is not legally required to hold people without warrants.

Other jurisdictions have been sued for doing exactly that, for violating constitutional due process.

So, if you’re within the border of the U.S., regardless of where you’re from, where you’re born or what your status is, the Constitution protects you?

DENISE GILMAN: That’s right. And especially when it comes to fundamental constitutional principles like liberty, that is a fundamental constitutional principle that is guaranteed to all persons within the United States, regardless of immigration status.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: SB-4, the law that would in effect outlaw sanctuary cities statewide, has left many immigrant families like Felix Jimenez’s on edge. He lives with his wife, Brenda, who is also undocumented from Mexico, and their daughter, Evelyn, born in the United States, and a citizen.

He believes undocumented people need to speak out. He recently attended this rally against SB-4. Up until a few months ago, Felix says he felt he could call the police for help, like when he was robbed and left bloody on the street

FELIX JIMENEZ (through interpreter): I called the police and they helped me. I was hospitalized. I had X-rays done. I was in a lot of pain, and it still hurts. But if that law existed, I wouldn’t be able to report the crime because of my status.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, what do you say to someone, not just Sheriff Hernandez, that having local police be a quasi-extension of immigration enforcement makes their communities less safe, not more safe?

CHARLES PERRY: Yes. And I think, one, that’s a dangerous logic. So we’re going to not adhere to the law in the name of applying the law. So, logically, that doesn’t reconcile with me.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Last week, Perry’s bill passed the Texas Senate and will be debated in the House. Governor Abbott has promised to sign it.

When it passes, Sheriff Hernandez’s department could be running against the law. But, in the meantime, Hernandez has been getting what she asked for. ICE officials have been providing warrants to hold people, and her office is honoring them.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham in Austin, Texas.

The post Why one Texas sheriff fears tougher immigration enforcement will make her city less safe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Trump begins ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ by kicking Hispanics out of a meeting on immigration

Donald Trump and his administration don’t plan on being transparent about his plans for the country. Period. Today in his incomprehensible press conference, he remarked with certainty that he has no intention of telling anyone what he plans to do abroad.

“I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea and I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in Iran.”

Clearly, this philosophy also extends to his plans for immigration. Today, several Democrats who are members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) were actually kicked out of a meeting with Thomas Homan, the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) —the very same meeting that they requested last week but was canceled last minute on Tuesday by Homan.

“I’m pretty shaken,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.). “I’ve been here 25 years and I’ve never been told by the Speaker of the House that I can’t attend a meeting I’ve requested.” […]

A source inside the room said House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte told Democrats not on the list to leave. The Virginia Republican defended his decision, saying in a brief interview afterwards that the arrangement was “agreed upon ahead of time” and noting there were more Democrats than Republicans in the meeting.

Apparently, House Democrats were told that the reason for the cancellation of the original meeting was because it needed to be bipartisan. This appears to be little more than excuses and alternative facts since we know that they don’t have any intention to answer for the mass raids and deportations they are planning. While Homan agreed to eventually meet with the full CHC “in the future” (whatever that means), he also left them with this tidbit of information:

Rep. Linda Sanchez said lawmakers were told by Homan that they “can and should expect many more arrests and removals this year.”

More proof that this bunch plans to make “A Day Without Immigrants” into a country without immigrants. 

Elon Musk posts, then deletes, tweets calling Trump’s immigration ban “not right”

musk-deleted-tweets Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed President Trump’s immigration ban on Muslim majority nations directly via Twitter on Wednesday, saying that the order is “not right” and refers to it as a “Muslim immigration ban” — but he then deleted those tweets almost immediately, referring to them as “earlier drafts.” The specific wording was very strong,… Read More

Trump’s orders on immigration rattle some educators

Students work on their math in instructor Tasia Fields fourth grade classroom in 2016 at Carman-Buckner Elementary in Waukegan, Ill.  Photo by Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images.

Students work on their math in instructor Tasia Fields fourth grade classroom in 2016 at Carman-Buckner Elementary in Waukegan, Ill. Photo by Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images.

President Donald Trump’s sweeping order that temporarily banned residents of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States sent shock waves through some of the nation’s schools, leaving educators scrambling to assure frightened refugee and immigrant students that their schools are safe places.

The order blocked citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from coming into the U.S. for 90 days. It blocked refugees from any country from entering the U.S. for 120 days and banned refugees from Syria indefinitely. A federal judge suspended Trump’s order earlier this month, allowing those who had been previously banned to enter. That decision was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last week. But educators are still grappling with uncertainty, not knowing the next steps the White House will take on immigration and how it will affect their students.

“[There are] a lot of unknowns right now,” said Elizabeth Demchak, the principal at Claremont International High School in New York City. “Any time you’re talking about people’s status in the country, there will be fear. We have to try and give [students] as much stability as possible.”

The immigration ban is one of the actions by Trump that are concerning educators in his early weeks in office. Trump has also signed executive orders to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, strip federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that shield undocumented immigrants and establish new immigration enforcement priorities, which “could net hundreds of thousands of people without any convictions,” Politico says.

Demchak’s school, based in the South Bronx, is home to hundreds of Spanish, Arabic, and Bengali-speaking students. It also has a growing population of refugees from Yemen, whose citizens are banned from U.S. entry for now under Trump’s executive order. The school is part of The Internationals Network for Public Schools, a nationwide nonprofit that serves about 9,000 students newly-immigrated to the U.S.

Many educators — including those in the American Federation of Teachers — don’t support President Trump’s stance on immigration.

The orders “violate the moral and political direction,” AFT wrote in a message on its website, saying the actions “will harm many AFT members and millions of our students, patients, families, friends and neighbors.”

But a large number of Americans do support tighter restrictions around who is allowed into the country. In a poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos a few days after the Jan. 27 order, 49 percent of Americans said they agreed with the ban; 41 percent said they opposed it. Those numbers have fluctuated between polling groups in the days since Trump has issued the order.

“Anytime you’re talking about people’s status in the country, there will be fear. We have to try and give [students] as much stability as possible.”

Immigrants in U.S. Schools
In 2015, more than 4.7 million foreign-born students were enrolled in U.S. schools — about 6 percent of the American school population, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Another 20 million are children of foreign-born parents.

Influxes of immigrant students—who may have large gaps in schooling and whose linguistic and cultural differences can present challenges for educators—have at times caused friction in communities where some parents raised concerns that new arrivals negatively impact their children’s education.

The anxiety over Trump’s actions are particularly acute for students and educators in immigrant-rich areas of the country, like Minnesota’s Somali strongholds, California’s Latino communities and a growing number of neighborhoods friendly to Syrian refugees.

The immigration ban also hit home for places like Houston and Nashville, Tenn., both with a growing number of Islamic students. The districts also have large Kurdish communities, many of whom come from countries targeted in the immigration ban.

In Nashville, at least 1,000 students from affected countries are in the city’s schools. While schools generally don’t track the immigration status of students, they often collect data about students’ country of origin and home language if it’s not English.

“The United States is supposed to be a country of opportunity and we believe that immigrants bring a richness to our country that we should maximize,” Nashville Superintendent Shawn Joseph said. “It starts with educating them.”

The Trump administration’s aggressive stance has made that job tougher, some educators say.

“It certainly does strain the ability of young people and their families to trust institutions,” said Roberto Gonzales, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “It behooves schools to take a much more active role in sowing these seeds of trust and really growing them.”

As the daughter of Dominican immigrants, Principal Nedda de Castro relates to her students at the International School at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn. Like them, she learned English in school. She recalls school as where she explored what it means to be American.

But many of her students are constantly reminded that they’re not. And some are giving up on school.

“Some of the students are assuming that they’re just going to be deported anyway and starting to talk about how there’s really no point in coming to school anymore,” de Castro said. “It’s a lot of lost potential.”

Fate for Deferred Action

Nearly 39,000 Muslim refugees entered the United States in fiscal 2016, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. State Department data, and more than half hailed from Somalia and Syria. School districts from Southern California to Connecticut have seen a surge in Syrian enrollment in recent years. Somali refugees continue to flow to metro areas like Minneapolis and Seattle, where already established communities exist.

Minneapolis has more than 4,100 Somali students; many are refugees.

The district “recognizes and shares the pain and fear many of them have felt after recent events,” Minneapolis Superintendent Ed Graff wrote to Education Week.

Refugee students face similar obstacles common to some immigrant students new to the country—interrupted education and learning a new language, along with adjusting to stigma tied to their race, religion, and skin color, said Gonzales, the Harvard professor.

On February 3, a federal district court judge in Seattle temporarily halted Trump’s order to stop the flow of citizens from the Muslim-majority nations. Trump took to Twitter to lambaste the ruling and the judge who issued it. “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned.”

Initially, however, Trump’s effort to reverse the ruling failed, as a federal appeals court upheld the order of U.S. District Judge James L. Robart.

While Trump’s executive orders play out, many are awaiting the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-administration policy that gave temporary deportation reprieves to more than 740,000 undocumented youth.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to repeal DACA. He’s also repeatedly said his administration will develop a plan for the young immigrants, but has yet to offer specifics. The uncertainty for DACA recipients—many of them immigrants from Mexico and Central America—is reverberating broadly in Latino communities.

“The fear … is very present, not just for those who are undocumented, but those who are Latino, as well as their teachers and loved ones who have also felt maligned by the rhetoric used throughout the election and since Trump won,” said Marisa Bono, a lawyer with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

A broad array of K-12 education leaders have called on the Trump administration to continue protections for undocumented immigrant youth brought to the U.S. as children, popularly known as DREAMers.

Richard Carranza, the superintendent in Houston, is one. So is Joseph, the Nashville schools chief. Both men joined more than 1,000 other education leaders in signing a petition calling for saving the DACA policy. The list of supporters also includes Teach For America, the American Federation of Teachers, and charter school organizations.

“It’s important to be proactive in reassuring the community that the district is here to educate children, anyone that shows up to our doors,” Carranza said.

Federal Aid at Risk?

Trump’s order to punish jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities has put a target on cities that vow to protect their undocumented residents.

Los Angeles Unified is one district anticipating potential fallout for schools that pledge to shield their students. Its school board has been outspoken about its refusal to cooperate with any immigration enforcement efforts.

Slashing federal aid could deal a blow to any district. In L.A. Unified, roughly $700 million in federal funds flow into the district’s coffers each year. Chicago and Clark County, Nev., may also be at risk for declaring their districts as “sanctuary” campuses.

Seattle’s mayor allotted $250,000 for undocumented students in the city’s schools. The school board directed staff to ban immigration agents from school grounds unless they get permission from the superintendent or the district’s lawyers.

Even with a range of leaders pledging support for immigrant youth, it’s hard to allay their fears, said Bono, the MALDEF lawyer.

“We want to hope for the best,” she said, “but have to expect the worst.”

This story was produced by Education Week, a nonprofit, independent news organization with comprehensive pre-K-12 news and analysis. Read the original post here.

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