The Biden Administration on MPP/the “Remain in Mexico” policy

By Leslie Bary

The president has already walked back one campaign commitment on immigration: his promise that ​“on day one” he would end Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols (also known as the ​“Remain in Mexico” policy).

Maurizio Guerrero, “Our Next Deporter-in-Chief?” In These Times 45:2 (February 2021): 18-24.

Maurizio Guerrero’s article on immigration policy and the new administration in the February, 2021 issue of In These Times, is worth reading. There is a great deal to be concerned about, as the anti-migrant policies of the past few decades have been bipartisan efforts.

As indicated earlier, another of President Biden’s campaign promises was to end the use of private facilities for immigrant detention. We should hold him to this and to the promise to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)–and to revise 35 years of policy decisions that have accumulated to create the current situation.

Djibril Coulibaly

By Leslie Bary

Here is the story of Djibril Couibaly, awaiting deportation to Mali after 19 years’ legal residence in Louisiana as a French immersion teacher in the school system–and no, the school system does not hire undocumented aliens. This situation is the result of a clerical error that, in a more humane system, could be easily corrected. These are some of the problems LA-AID and related organizations work to combat.

In the Mail

By Carol Stubbs

These are excerpts of letters we’ve received this year from immigrants in detention.

April 20, Jackson Parish
I failed my case here before the immigration judge and on appeal. I am quite stressed. I am struggling to get a free attorney to help me to reopen my case. I have much health issues and I fear for my life if I am sent back to my country.

April 25, Jackson Parish
Life in here is so stressful and difficult for me. I ran from my country because of fear of being arrested, tortured and killed. We are treated here like useless animals with poor health conditions suffering from hemmerhoids, stomach ulcer, high blood pressure, eye problems. Please help me get a sponsor. I have been here for so long. My health is poor. I have been here for more than a year without hearing from my family. The stress is too much.

May 8, Richwood
I just lost my case 1 month ago it was with the worst judge ever here in Richwood, and I learned I can apply for parole but I don’t have documents or anyone else I can ask since my friend and sponsor doesn’t have any status here, so I am fighting on appeal by myself. I ran from my country due to the geo-political problem and crisis 1 year ago. I never knew I would get into this and come to America. But thank God my life is safe.

May 8, Jackson Parish
I personally learned and know this great blessed nation is the ideal place for democracy human rights and etc. But to be honest, we are really shocked at what we see. We are prisoners before being judged. They refuse those of us without immediate family members and even to most who have such family members. I personally asked them why they are afraid to release us as they have our fingerprints and eye scans. I wonder why they spend much money to keep us. It’s a very pitiful situation. This nation is too great. Please keep fighting for this bad system of detaining migrants here in the U.S.A. only to be abolished. It’s dirty, inhuman, and bad for humanity.

May 8, Jackson Parish
Up till date, I am one of those who always tell people that America is the best world power ever. I must say this country is so blessed and founded and made of migrants but a few money minded individuals are destroying and tarnishing the image of this country. Other than financial benefits I still don’t understand why America detains or allows ICE to detain migrants especially that at the port of entry and all the other facilities we were moved to. Our fingerprints and eyes were scanned so we are known, so why keep us in jail? This morning, one detainee approached the ICE officer asking him to know why they bring in criminals to join us in our dorms? But, as usual, the ICE officer responded rudely telling the detainee that we are all criminals of which no judge ever found us guilty and sentenced us.

April 21, Winn Correctional
My companions and I are desperate. I have two beautiful daughters, one five and the other six. I’m a man above all who has not known fear but here I have and I am very afraid now of not being able to see my young daughters and family again. That’s how I feel, what with the mistreatment and the humiliation, the hunger, the time imprisoned, I see that we don’t matter as human beings to ICE and the prison people, just as a way of making money. I’ve already lost hope for getting out of here. I feel like one of those little mice that they use in laboratories for experiments time and again, time and again until they’re no longer useful or die. That’s how we are now. Forgive me, but that’s how I feel.

If only they gave us an inkling of the value given a dog here in the United States we wouldn’t have had any problems but unfortunately we are not dogs; sadly, we are immigrants. I’ll close now, begging your pardon for all that I’ve written but unfortunately it’s the reality that all the immigrants live and thanking you for your attention and for asking us to write about our problems. May God bless you and all the organizations out there working for us. Thank you. I ask that if you can bring to public light these sad and painful words that we live imprisoned daily in Louisiana; but it’s our bitter and torturous reality. You can say that I, [name redacted], wrote with my own hand and words and tears in my eyes about this disgrace and that I am a witness and I recounted it to you.

Why Immigrants Are Detained

By Karen Alford

There are various reasons immigrants end up in detention, and most have nothing at all to do with criminal activity: crossing the border, seeking asylum,  living in the United States after a travel visa expires, minor traffic infractions, then ICE being alerted and them going to detention rather than our court system.

What happens in detention is ridiculous, frustrating, painful, shameful and in some cases illegal on the part of our government. They wait to go to court, often without a lawyer or the ability to speak English well, they often end up in court without the correct paperwork. Then they wait to go to court again. Many seek asylum and request parole, often denied for no good reason. Some times they simply never hear anything back… I wonder if their paperwork just is thrown into a trash can rather than processed??? Some immigrants are eligible for parole, while others are granted bond. Either way, their families have to come up with thousands of dollars before they will be released. (I’ve heard $10,000 & $20,000 cases.)  I’ve heard of parole being denied 9 times while they were waiting. With the reason being that they weren’t connected to the community they wanted to be released to. This person had a husband and parents already living in that community… it makes no sense.  They need a sponsor and a connection to a legal resident of the US, and that person has to be above poverty level… finding sponsors especially with Covid going on is a real challenge.

The LA-AID transportation and housing project

What happens when detainees are released: ICE is supposed to take them to an airport or bus station. They don’t. It wouldn’t be beneficial if they did, because these people have no ticket, no phone, sometimes no money. We fill in the gap, and help immigrants transition from being held in a detention center to unification with their sponsor.

They need transportation. But they need so much more. They need a phone or way to charge their cell phone. They need a cell phone plan. It’s difficult to get a phone bought in Mexico to work with American companies. They need to connect to family both in the US and in country they’re from. WhatsApp – enables them to talk to people in their own country for free – They need access to WiFi.  They often need shoelaces. (Basile seems to takes their shoe laces… I’m guessing this is to prevent possible problems as so many are housed in a large room, about 50.)  Some are very traumatized and have numerous questions. They need help getting a flight/bus ticket to their sponsor. Often even though their sponsor has lived in the US for a while, they are unsure how to get a plane ticket with the connecting flights necessary for a reasonable price. If they can’t afford a plane ticket, we work with Miles4Migrants to get their ticket donated. They need a place to stay and food while their ticket is figured out. Usually this is just one night, but it can be several depending on flight times and weather. They need an explanation of the airport and how to connect to their connecting flight. If they don’t speak English well we ask the airline to help them connect. We also give them a paper in English to explain to anyone which flight they are trying to connect to. This gives them courage, and takes some of their fear away.  Some have never flown, and are very worried. They need money for food during the day they fly as airlines no longer feed people. We give them some spending money, snacks to eat on the plane, a bag of goodies – tooth paste, shampoo, Spanish/English dictionary.

So, we help in whatever way is needed on their journey to be connected with their sponsor. They are always so grateful. Well, one person was upset that we didn’t have a home for her to stay in for free when she got off the plane in New York… but other than that, everyone else realizes that we’re good at what we do and help them a great deal. We never ask an immigrant to pay for our services. If they want to donate, that’s fine. We mainly rely on Americans who are in better shape financially to help us.

One man stayed on the phone the entire time until three am while his sponsor drove up to my home from Florida. A girl taken into detention when 17 kept questioning why? Why? Why did they keep her away from her family for so long when she had done nothing wrong. She was not a criminal. Another closed herself in my guest room and didn’t come out until it was time to go to the airport. Another woke me in the middle of the night, sure that someone was trying to get into the house. The trauma that some have gone through is surreal. Machine guns. Brutal killings. Stabbings. Most don’t talk much about their past. Instead most ask many questions, and are focused on their future. Some want to buy clothes or certain food that they haven’t had in a long time. One couldn’t speak English, he just pointed to the cross in my living room and knelt down in prayer.

Free At Last!