"America's Children & U.S. Immigration Enforcement: Is Anybody Looking Out for the Best Interests of the Children?"
Report on Immigration Law and its effect on children. Panel discussion at Cowles Auditorium 4-14-2009
Videographer: Richard Stachow, Transcript: Cindy Herring, Cosponsors: University of Minnesota: Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs ; Human Rights Center, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Immigration History Research Center, Human Rights Program; The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, School of Social Work, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, Family and Children’s Service, League of Women Voters of Minnesota, Jewish Community Action, Catholic Charities of St. Paul/Mpls - Office for Social Justice, Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network
University of Minnesota
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
Immigration History Research Center
FENNELLY: Well good afternoon everyone, and welcome. I’m sure there will be more people coming in. We have a tight schedule and a big topic so I’d like to begin. My name is Katherine Fennelly, and I am a professor of public affairs here at the Humphrey Institute, and I am very pleased to welcome you to a seminar on “America’s children and U.S. immigration enforcement: is anybody looking out for the best interests of the children?” We’ll hear different perspectives on that today. We would like to thank our several cosponsors you’ve seen on the list that’s been distributed, and particularly the Dorsey & Whitney law firm that as you’ll find out is one of the sponsors of the report as well as of today’s seminar. And my colleague Kathy Moccio who is in the back there who is one of the authors of the report and who was instrumental in getting this event off the ground. As well as many others.
It’s a particularly important time to be talking about immigration policy, an exciting time to be talking about it as our new president is saying that we’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform on the Congressional agenda this year, and as we have already had a version of the Federal Dream Act reintroduced in Congress and as you know, I am sure the reason that you’re here is that there are many unanswered questions and issues particularly related to the impacts of immigration reform and immigration actions really on children.
I’ll tell you what our schedule is going to be today. I’m going to introduce each of the panelists briefly, and each of them will speak for about 10 to 15 minutes, and then we’ll have time for questions and answers at about 5:00, and we’ll have refreshments in the lobby at 5:30. So perhaps you can continue the conversation in small groups. We have Judge Dierkes who will be arriving, he had another commitment, he will be on the panel but he’ll be arriving about 10 minutes late so he’ll come up to the podium when he comes in and representative Carlos Mariani who could not be here but has given me some remarks that I will read in a little while that reflect some of his feelings about the topic.
The first person who’s going to speak in a moment is Jim Kremer who is a partner in the Dorsey & Whitney law firm, went to Georgetown University law center for his law degree, and he is the coauthor of this report with Joseph Hammell and Kathy Moccio. The report which I hope you have been able to pick up is outside the door here. It’s called “Severing a life line: the neglect of citizen children in America’s immigration enforcement policy.” It was a report issued by Dorsey Whitney for the Urban Institute. I mentioned that Representative Carlos Mariani is very interested in this topic. He’s a representative of district 65B and has been since 1990 and although he won’t be here, his thoughts are with us; he is working on the on the omnibus bonding bill which is not so indirectly related to some of the things we’ll be talking about today. [They’re not done with that yet?]. Not done with that yet. And I’m very honored that Esther Wattenberg who’s at my left can be on the panel today, she is a professor in the School of Social Work and the Center for Advanced Studies on Child Welfare. Esther is also an associate in the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs here at the University of Minnesota just upstairs from us. And she serves on the Hennepin county children’s justice task force authorized by the Minnesota Supreme court, the mortality review committee of the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Board of Directors of the Employment Action Center. So Esther will be giving us a child welfare perspective on the issues in this report.
I think maybe I’ll save Judge Dierkes’s introduction until he comes in. So what we’re going to do—let me just mention that if any of you are attorneys who are looking for CLE credits that afterwards we have a signup sheet. Kathy Moccio will be by the table with a sheet where you can sign up for those credits.
So it’s my great pleasure to ask Jim to start and to give us the introduction and brief overview of this important report.
KREMER: Thank you very much, Kathy, and let me add my thanks to all of you for joining us here today. I see some familiar faces from the press conference earlier today at the global market so I will warn you in advance you might hear a few words that sound somewhat familiar.
The failure of immigration reform in Congress and the substantial escalation of interior enforcement actions that commenced a few years ago including large work site raids such as the Swift plant raids which hit pretty close to home, of course, plus one of those occurred in December 2006 in Worthington, Minnesota. Those events prompted Dorsey & Whitney to embark on an extensive project the looking at the impact of immigration law enforcement policy on the children of undocumented immigrants particularly the some 3.1 million U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants. We gathered information from a variety of sources, we conducted interviews with community leaders and personnel in Worthington, Willmar and Austin, Minnesota and other locations. We assessed the treatment and consideration of the interests of children under current immigration law including the extent to which immigration law either diverges or is consistent with norms under state and international laws when government action impacts child welfare. The culmination of these efforts is the report that you have in front of you today, and as the title of the report suggests our conclusion is that current U.S. immigration law and enforcement policy largely neglects the interests of the citizen child marginalizing what it means for these kids to be U.S. citizens.
Children have been forced to experience the ordeal of armed agents bursting into their homes, the trauma of the sudden and extended separation from parents resulting from detention requirements and practices that have failed to adequately to consider the interests of the child and reasonable alternatives to detention pending immigration proceedings. More significantly, current immigration law provides no meaningful opportunity for the undocumented parent of a citizen child to legalize his or her status or to avoid deportation based upon the harm that will befall the child compelled alternatively to live apart from one or both parents in order to remain in the United States or to join his or her parents in a foreign land that in most cases will deprive the child of the educational social and economic opportunity afforded by life here in the United States. In this era of “no child left behind,” these children are being forced out; in this era of family values, these American children are being deprived of the companionship, the support, the nurturing of their parents in their most formative years. We submit that an immigration system that victimizes our most vulnerable citizens falls well short of the moral ethical and humanitarian principles we otherwise espouse.
There are currently some 12 million, roughly, undocumented immigrants living and many working in the United States. In assessing our enforcement policy and immigration reform, it’s important to understand how we got to this point. Faced with economic and other deprivations in their countries of origins, undocumented immigrants have been drawn to the United States by an almost insatiable demand of the U.S. economy for lower skilled workers. Many have come to the United States to reunite with family members and that’s an important point. We talk about economics and the labor needs with respect to immigration frequently, but we often overlook that it’s not just about dollars. It is also about family unity which is one of the underpinnings, or at least supposed to be one of our underpinnings, of our immigration law. The vast majority of the undocumented are simply hardworking folks seeking only to provide for their families. Many have lived and worked among us for years, some for decades or more, making substantial contributions to their communities.
Obviously I think it goes without saying that the undocumented immigrant would prefer to be here legally. Unfortunately, there’s no meaningful pathway for the vast majority of the undocumented population to enter legally. The lower skilled, less educated individual which comprises the vast majority of the undocumented population simply does not have a meaningful opportunity to obtain lawful status or a visa or a permanent visa to the United States. Employment related visas for the lower skilled workers are limited to a paltry 5,000 worldwide. And this is a cap that has been in place now for some 40 years. I think it’s almost a given that the standards that were put in place back in the sixties have simply not kept pace with the demands of the U.S. economy for immigrant labor. And you may have seen in the press today that a couple of what you might think are strange bedfellows seem to agree with this proposition. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Labor announced today that they have reached an agreement among themselves regarding general principles of comprehensive immigration reform. I guess I would submit if those two groups can get together and agree on this, then so should Congress.
FENNELLY: Although guesswork or policy is a bit of a sticking point there, right?
KREMER: Yes, it is, it is. Similar caps apply with respect to family based preferences or admission preferences with the result that many folks who would like to come here to reunite with their family simply do not have the opportunity to do so, or if they do, they are compelled to wait for in some cases decades or more.
One important point to keep in mind is that under current U.S. immigration law, parents cannot seek lawful status through their citizen children. The law permits U.S. citizens to petition for the admission of certain eligible foreign born family members including a spouse, a parent or an unmarried child under the age of 21. However, a citizen child which under immigration law would be any one under the age of 21, cannot petition for his or her parents. Now there’s some irony here. Obviously family unity is recognized as an important ground for admission of the noncitizen child and for the parent of the adult citizen child, but not for the parent of the citizen child during that child’s most formative years-- under the age of 21. The law thus we believe disregards the important interests of the citizen child in family unity when the nurturing and support of the parent is most important.
Now those who would fault the undocumented immigrant for eschewing lawful avenues for entry I would thus submit are operating under a false premise. The line that they say the undocumented immigrant should have gotten in simply does not exist in any way shape or form. So we find ourselves today with a large undocumented population, the vast majority of which who are extremely hardworking and go about their lives without burdening or causing difficulties for others.
As I said before, some 5 million of these folks have been here for a decade or more. They have had children here. They have raised families here. According to recent estimates there are 5 million children of undocumented immigrants in the United States, 3.1 million of whom are citizen children—born here and entitled to citizenship under the 14th amendment to the constitution. These citizen kids are Americans. For most the only life they have known is here, they’ve been raised and schooled here, they are friends of our children, their parents’ native land quite frankly is as foreign to them as it would be to any other American child. Current immigration law and enforcement policy has had a devastating adverse impact on children of undocumented immigrants both in the course and immediate aftermath of some of the more high profile enforcement actions that we’ve all seen about in the press, and in the longer term. The humanitarian crises that have arisen as a result of enforcement actions and detention practices are many, and they are documented in our report.
Let me just give you a couple of examples. In Worthington for example, some 60 children were left without parents the night of the Swift plant raid in December 2006. One second grader came home from school to find his two year old brother alone. His mother who worked at the Swift plant had been detained and he spent the next week caring for his two year old brother alone until his grandmother could make her way to Worthington to care for the two of them. That young man returned to school and his teacher who we met with described said that he gone from a happy go lucky boy doing very well in school to absolutely catatonic. His attendance slumped, his grades slumped, he was not able to pass the second grade. We’ve seen home raids including home raids occurring here in Minnesota-- in Willmar, Austin and other places. Home raids of dubious constitutionality where entire households have been restrained and harshly interrogated and family members led away in handcuffs all in front of frightened children. Notwithstanding ICE has proclaimed commitment to releasing immigrants on humanitarian grounds including child care responsibilities. We’ve seen the widespread and often prolonged detention of undocumented parents at times and locations far distant from the site of the enforcement actions. In Worthington, for example, many detainees were moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa and some ultimately on to Georgia. The New Bedford situation, the Michael Bianco raid in New Bedford Massachusetts, is a particularly egregious example where scores of the detained were relocated to a detention facility in Texas within literally 24 - 36 hours of being detained.
The longer term consequences of an immigration law that fails to take into account the best interests of the citizen child is particularly troubling. Our immigration law imposes an untenable choice on the undocumented parent facing deportation with equally pernicious consequences: split up the family so that the child can continue his or her life here in the United States or remove the child to a foreign land in the interests of family unity thereby depriving the child of the educational and other opportunities of life in the United States.
According to government data that was reported in January of this year (2009) more than 108,000 undocumented parents and citizen children were removed from the U.S. between 1998 and 2007. And that’s an admittedly low figure because ICE doesn’t track data regarding affected children of persons who are removed. That’s one area where we think Congress should step in and require comprehensive collection of data so that the issues that we are discussing here today can be assessed based upon a full record of what is occurring out there.
Let me give you an example of what we refer to as the effective deportation of citizen children. Jose Acuitlapa and his citizen wife and their three citizen children ages 13, 8, and 3, used to live in a three bedroom home in Georgia where Jose worked as a golf course groundskeeper. After he was detained and deported to Mexico, his citizen wife sought a green card for him through the U.S. consulate in Mexico only to find that because he had entered the country unlawfully, he was barred from re-entering the United States for 10 years. They made the choice to keep the family together in Mexico; they now live in a, sleep in a single room in Mexico. Jose, when he is able to find work, makes significantly less than he made while he was in Georgia; the children have a struggle to adapt to life in impoverished conditions in this foreign land, a foreign land to them.
Take a look if you would at section seven of our report. We have identified in there some of the comments that our own state department has made in the country reports on human rights which gives you some indication of the kinds of conditions that the undocumented immigrants and their kids, including their citizen children, face under our current immigration law and enforcement policy which compels such a result.
Now the issue which Jose experienced is not unique, and it’s a problem which is embedded in our current immigration law and enforcement policy. An immigrant who has entered the country initially unlawfully is unable to seek adjustment of his or her status while remaining in the United States. They have to leave the country. They have to leave the country and seek it through a U.S. consulate outside of the country, in their country of origin. The Catch 22 here, however, is that if they initially entered the country unlawfully and when they leave and seek lawful status, they are subject to a 3 or a 10 year bar of reentry. If they’ve been here for, if they had unlawful presence in the United States of 180 days, it’s 3 years. If they’ve been here for a year or more which is the vast majority of undocumented population, the reentry bar is 10 years.
Now the law affords the attorney general some discretion to wave those bars in cases of an immigrant who is a spouse or son or daughter of a U.S. citizen. But only if the reentry would result in extreme hardship to the citizen spouse or parent of the immigrant seeking readmission. Hardship to the citizen child of the immigrant is not grounds for a waiver. Now in the 1990s there was for a brief period of time an opportunity through the INA for undocumented immigrants to seek lawful status while remaining in the United States. That also entailed a payment of a fine. Unfortunately, that provision sunsetted in 2001, and is no longer available. The reenactment of that provision or something similar to it would go a long way towards addressing what some perceive as the undocumented immigrant problem without causing harm to the citizen child.
FENNELLY: Jim, if I could ask you to wrap up, and we can come back during the question and answer period. I’m sure there will be time.
KREMER: Absolutely, absolutely. Needless to say 15 minutes to discuss the contents of 110 page report is definitely a challenge. But let me just close briefly with this, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions folks have. You know, I think the fundamental question we have before us is whether it is in our collective interests as a moral and ethical country to stay the course with our current immigration law and enforcement policy or to examine and meaningfully address the barriers that have prevented undocumented parents from obtaining legal status that they desire, truly bringing the undocumented out of the shadows and affording their citizen children the opportunity to enjoy the full benefits of citizenship in an atmosphere that is not permeated by constant fear in their treatment as second class citizens. In a quote from which the title of our report is drawn, Kofi Annan said “No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline.” It’s time for a reasoned debate about changes to our immigration law and enforcement policy—changes designed to preserve and promote rather than sever the critical lifeline between our citizen children and both their country, the United States, and their undocumented parents. We can and should be a nation of both laws and morality.
FENNELLY: Thank you very much. We’re going to hold questions until the end. Has Judge Dierkes arrived? Yes? May I invite you to come down and sit with us? I introduced Esther Wattenberg before. Esther is going to give us some comments on the child welfare perspective.
WATTENBERG: We had a grant to take a look at a rather amazing figure. And that was that we had seven rural counties in the state of Minnesota where the children in which a language other than English was being spoken, and in which more than 1/3 of the children were from this group. That was an astonishing figure for us thinking about rural Minnesota. We then received a grant to take a look at these seven counties with a particular issue: how was the child welfare system reflecting these new populations? We understood who they were, roughly, they were Latino, Somali, southeast Asian, quite a few Africans though the numbers were not very secure, but what astonished us was the fact that these rural areas were responding to these new populations in quite a range of ways. There were some in which there was what I would call “mourning for the Nordic culture.” Things were changing. There were restaurants. There were ways in which soccer fields were turning up. They never heard of soccer. Where was football? There was just a very interesting way, and what was really most interesting was how it emerged. There were some very direct hostile and unwelcome remarks to be sure, but most of the tension really was around language. And I’ll just tell you one very brief exchange that I thought was very interesting in one of the counties that we visited. “Why can’t they learn English? Why do I have to learn some Spanish? My grandmother came from Norway, and she instantly began to learn English.” And it was interesting that a public health nurse said “but she didn’t stand for 8 hours ripping out the guts of pigs and taking the intestines and standing in them for 3 hours.” And that was to me such an interesting way in which one could capture the enormous changes that are taking place in rural America. It’s very mixed, some of it is extraordinarily generous and sophisticated, and some of it, of course, because we always read the papers before we came, and we could understand that the other side of the issue was also strong and extremely angry.
Who supported the populations? The school systems. They knew they were going to lose their schools without new populations because their populations were leaving very, very quickly, and now they could save their schools. And I must say the response of the schools was generally splendid and many, many understood that, in fact, their livelihoods depended on it. The mayors were almost uniformly very supportive, and the other group that was very interesting were the businessmen in the local downtowns. These had been boarded up, I don’t think we quite understood how rural America was dying and with these populations that were giving it new life and that was very much appreciated.
Now let me turn very quickly to the child welfare system. We confirmed what the national picture was: undercounted and underserved. Cases were not opened. Only opened with the most dire circumstances. And I want to tell you why. Rural counties are understaffed, overworked, and the underlying tension about opening a case means 1) if it is a Latino family particularly, they have to have advice on immigration laws. It’s not easily available. By the time they get someone on the phone or travel to another county to get some advice, it’s time and it’s effort. The search for interpreters and translators is also very difficult. There was also a sense that the mixed status of these families in which the children were citizen children and very often that was the case, their siblings may not be, and the parents may not be or one of them might be and that took a lot of time and effort to sort that out. Medicaid and food stamps were not allowed to noncitizens, but the children could get them. So this required some very important ways for reimbursement which is a consuming interest to all of us but certainly in rural counties.
Where did the child welfare system get its maltreatment reports from? That was the question that we tried to pursue. Because we knew, of course, there would be a very reluctant way of asking families to report for two reasons. Not only is there a tremendous fear, as there is widespread; it’s not for new populations but generally. The authority and the amount of danger that is possible when privacy is invaded and exposed is frightening to many people. But for these people especially because they are very vulnerable. But there was another cause. If there is a report of a maltreatment, they lose their way of making a living because many of them cannot then be employed in any health service and that was a double jeopardy for them to have this report.
We did find, however, that school social workers and public health nurses are the key to whether or not there’s a very close examination of what’s happening to children, if they see the children at school under tremendous anxiety. I was stunned by the number of cases where they had middle school children who had suicidal intent because they lived under what we regard for trauma as the most serious aspect: living a life of great secrecy where information is dangerous. Living under the radar, I think, is the source of tremendous trauma for children, and for these children where the raids were now beginning, during this period, there were raids beginning. Some social workers actually printed on laminated cards for each child to carry to school where they could call if for some reason or another they came home and didn’t find their parents. Schools were trying to adapt to this. Lutheran Social Services were very active in these rural communities. Catholic Social Services opened their doors. I must say the private nonprofit sector rose very admirably during this period, but I did not think we had grasped the trauma for these children for having, I suppose, one of the most crushing pieces of information a child can have: that their parents can no longer be protective but in fact are so vulnerable that they might disappear. And we had some very really heartbreaking discussions about that and whether or not we had enough cultural therapy that could come in and begin to really help these children recover. A very serious situation indeed.
I would say, because I am skipping over many of the observations that we made during this study, that the two issues that required a lot of attention were the adolescents. The adolescents struggling with their family dynamics at home, the external culture were finding, of course, safety in their gang life, and that had serious issues for probation. There were two issues that needed to be resolved, and by the time we finished our study they were not being resolved: how to acquire driver’s licenses, because probation cases were yea high and the second was the fear of opening a bank account which meant a lot of people were walking around with cash. And that was an open invitation to a kind of low level but serious crime. Have we begun to solve these issues? Well, the study is a year old, we’re back again with taking a look at what we regarded as a very important study. Many of these children are not ready for K. And it was our sense that the one thing that we must do for these children is provide for them at the basis for an educational success. That should be our prime responsibility for these children. And that requires a huge amount of effort and work and I must say understanding. We don’t quite know how it is that many of these children end up rather unprepared for kindergarten, and that’s the issue that we’re now dealing with. We have a report on our first year. It is available, and I don’t have the time for it. If you put your name on a piece of paper out there and your address, I’ll be very happy to send it to you. Thank you very much.
FENNELLY: Thank you so much, Esther. It’s my pleasure to introduce Judge Joseph Dierkes who has been an immigration judge in Bloomington from 1997 through June 2008. He has been an attorney since 1977 and is a member of the Missouri and the Illinois bars as well as Minnesota. And private, and was in the private practice of immigration law in 1982 through 1987 and was a trial attorney at the what was then called the INS Kansas City district from 1987 to 1997. So we are glad you were able to come, and thank you for your remarks.
DIERKES: Thank you. I need to make a couple of disclaimers here to start with. First, as noted I am not a current employee of the government so I am not here speaking for the Justice Department, the immigration court. I’m just giving you my own opinions here. And I agree with many of the things in the report. There are some things in the report that I don’t fully agree with. So I want to try to be clear on identifying things that I feel are important from the immigration court’s standpoint. Now for starters as you’ve just heard, I’m an old guy. I’ve been involved in immigration law going back to 1980, and I was around during the last amnesty that occurred during the Reagan years, believe it or not. Back in 1986 the government, Congress passed and the president signed the immigration and control act which set up the old amnesty program. The other side of the coin several million people ended up being granted permanent status. There are crazy things in the law. You had to have been in illegal status for 5 or 6 years before you could apply. People who had been in legal status the entire time were shut out. What is the logic of that? Not much in my view. There are crazy things that end up in the law and I’m going to be here strongly supporting the idea of some comprehensive immigration reform to try to level out a lot of things that have come into the law over the last 25 years that result in just crazy results in cases.
Going back to the ‘86 law: the other side of that law, amnesty being granted on one side, the other side was to establish a system to require employers to verify the employment eligibility of individuals in the United States. Everyone. I’m sure everyone in this room at one time has filled out a form I-9. During my time with the immigration service I probably prosecuted about 150 of those cases, and I want to state that I believe in enforcement of that law. And the reason I believe in that is because there are a lot of dirty employers out there. I would note that in yesterday it was reported in the news,that yesterday one of the official—it might have been an office manager I forget the exact title--for this agri-processor’s company, the meat packing company down in Iowa where they had a very large immigration raid, pleaded guilty to a number of violations including violations of the immigration laws.
But I would also note that that is a plant that has had a history of serious labor violations. The management of that plant has been charged with very serious labor violations including child labor violations, having children under 16 using dangerous equipment in the slaughterhouse. The point I’m trying to make is there are some employers out there, I’m not saying that all employers who hire undocumented aliens are dirty employers, but there are a lot of them. And I saw a lot of that during my time working with the immigration service—even with some of my clients before I went to work with the old INS. So I believe there is a place for enforcement of the employer sanctioned laws to keep employers honest, to keep them from abusing the employees they have. Another side of that: if the people who are undocumented are obviously more vulnerable to that sort of treatment by employers. I remember cases where people injured on the job were afraid to make workers comp claims because they’re afraid that the employers would turn them in to immigration. That happened. So when you have a large number of undocumented workers out there who are particularly vulnerable to abuse by the sleazy employers that sometimes hire them, that’s a bad situation, that needs to be addressed.
Another thing that was brought up in the report is a reference to the immigration service going out and making arrests in residences. My experience has been that their primary activity has been going after people who are absconders from the immigration court system. People who were arrested at one time or another and who either did not show up in court or who failed to depart the country under an order from the court. There is a place for people to be arrested and removed under those circumstances because they have been properly subjected to legal procedures, and you can’t have a rule of law in a country where there are no consequences for violations of the law. That’s my perspective on that.
If I’ve learned anything from what I’ve seen in the last 25 years of immigration legislation is that there’s a pendulum. In some years Congress can be very generous with benefits under the immigration laws to people in the United States. Other years it can go the opposite way in which very harsh measures are adopted. Right now people who have been in the United States for a long time are eligible, possibly, to seek a form of relief called cancellation of removal. This, a little more than 10 years ago, replaced a former type of relief called suspension of deportation. In 1996 Congress, in reaction to what I feel was a bad decision by the board of immigration appeals which really weakened the standard, the standards for granting suspension, established much harder standards. Now very few cases are granted to allow people who have been here for extended periods of time to remain. Under the case law some of which is described in the report reference is made to exceptional an extremely unusual hardship as being the standard. In the cases that I saw, in the cases that came before me in court, unless you had a child for example with a grievous medical problem or a very very serious academic problem—you all know what an IEP is for kids who have special needs in school—unless you ran across cases that were rising to that level of extremity, you couldn’t grant the relief. The judges were put in a bad situation of having children who were doing well in school who were never in trouble. They had a much weaker case than the kids who were constantly having issues. Does that make sense? I don’t think so.
There other things in the law right now that are totally disproportionate—I don’t know if aggravated felonies were mentioned here previously, but Congress has established a classification of crimes that are called aggravated felonies. Committing an aggravated a felony is about as close as you get to the death sentence in your immigration status. It can really limit, extremely limit, your opportunities to remain in the United States. Unfortunately as the concept of aggravated felony grew, it started with murder, rapes, serious drug trafficking crimes, it has expanded over time. Now if you commit a theft offense for which you get a sentence of the year, you might not have to even serve a day, you’re an aggravated felon. You’re cut off from many benefits. Congress needs to go back and reassess the different categories of aggravated felony to find that, to really identify the serious criminal violations that should carry serious limitations on the ability to obtain status in the United States. An even better example: if you make a false claim to be a United States citizen for benefit under the immigration laws, you are barred from remaining in, you are barred from entering the United States. You are permanently inadmissible. So someone who takes one of those I-9s, the new one in particular, and fills in that they’re a citizen of the United States, they could have just barred themselves from ever immigrating despite family relations, despite equities in the United States. They are worse off than somebody who has committed a number of crimes. Does that make sense? Thank you. What I’m trying to—the point I’m trying to make here is we need to have some logic to our immigration laws that has been lacking, and if Congress… I was surprised to read recently that the president has indicated that he is going to be trying to push for comprehensive immigration reform this year. I was really surprised at that in light of where the economy is. It’s needed, and it would make life a lot easier for the judges, I believe, in restoring some of the discretion that they had in the past that has been grievously limited by acts of Congress over the years. The pendulum needs to swing back—not all the other way because that will result in another reaction—but back to the middle where we have reasonable standards for enforcement and reasonable standards to allow people to pursue relief before the immigration court.
We live in a world that is made of nation states; we don’t have open borders. I don’t think open borders are a good idea, but I think we need to have a happy medium in how our immigration laws are adopted and enforced. And I’ll leave it at that for now.
FENNELLY: Thank you very much. Well I mentioned earlier that representative Carlos Mariani was unable to attend but he did send a brief statement that I’ll read to convey some of his thoughts. He particularly wanted to convey the fact that he believes there are two agendas. One is immigration reform but the second is having enforcement policies that do not undermine our values as Americans, and with that in mind he says “As a state lawmaker I work daily to better Minnesota communities and families. Unfortunately immigration law and policy’s current focus on enforcement is harmful to the state of Minnesota. For instance, our state efforts to successfully draw immigrants from around the world with the strengths of their diversity of ideas and cultures to enhance our ability to compete effectively in a global economy are hurt by the current use of harmful immigration enforcement tactics that promote suspicion, fear and distrust among our residents. Widespread fear has gripped communities of color and immigrants isolating both immigrants and their U.S. citizen families and friends. This marginalization of individuals within our communities is injurious to the state’s social cohesion. All too frequently Minnesotans rounded up in civil immigration raids disappear into detention far from home and family. Even though those detained individuals have often been long-term contributing members of their local community with strong family ties and as such are not dangerous or likely to flee.
“The nation’s failure to address its ineffective immigration system has created deep inequalities within society and eroded protections afforded to workers and families. Our nation desperately needs immigration reform, and I urge everyone to contact their federal elected officials with that message. But it is also incumbent on us to call on our federal government to put an end to the large scale indiscriminate immigration raids and the aggressive incarceration of individuals and families who have committed no crimes against humanity and are not subject to basic civil liberties or protections under the law. And we need to cease the recruitment of local officials to carry out complex immigration arrests and detentions. As a freedom loving democratic society, it is unacceptable that we continue to allow our government to deny human rights to any group of people within our borders. I look forward to the enactment of immigration policies that reflect the value we place on protecting our children and families and our values as Americans. Thank you.”
So, we are right on time and we wanted to be sure to leave time for all of you to ask some questions of any of the panelists you’d like to hear from. We have two microphones. We don’t have the microphones? OK. Then if you could state your question, and maybe what I’ll do is repeat what I hear and we’ll have... Oh there are microphones up there. Good. So if you’d like to ask a question, please go up to the microphone. Great. Can it be removed from the uh [sound loss].
[QUESTION:] This is actually directed to all four of you because I think it touches on policy and legal, administrative and social issues. A few years ago INS was done away with and put under the Department of Homeland Security and that really saw the advent of some of these serious enforcement changes. So I am just wondering whether you think that it’s possible that that pendulum would swing back. I know it did in the cases of unaccompanied minors. They were put under the control of the offices of refugee resettlement. I know some positive changes have been seen from that. So do you think that pendulum could swing back so that maybe immigration enforcement was not under the Department of Homeland Security?
FENNELLY: Judge Dierkes, you seem like the logical person to give a vision on this first.
DIERKES: Well, it was under the Justice Department for many years so you had the somewhat conflicted situation: one agency and the Justice Department, immigration courts being the arbiter for cases brought by another part of the Justice Department. Part of the reason that the courts remained in Justice and did not go with homeland security was to create more of a situation where the courts and the agency were not viewed as part of the same operation. I mean where else would you put them? I guess that’s the question here. I think the tie in between enforcement of the immigration laws which should be a Federal clearly a Federal obligation of these various state laws that are being enacted on issues related to the immigration enforcement. I really don’t understand those. I think it is appropriate for ICE to be in Homeland Security because of the tie-ins to issues relating to the borders that go with it. If you moved ICE out of Homeland Security and you left border patrol inspections in there, I think that would just cause chaos. In terms of the pendulum… I started working for INS in 1987 shortly after IRCA was adopted. Employer sanctions was a big deal for a number of years and then about, oh I would say about, halfway through the Clinton administration what had been a situation where hundreds maybe even a thousand sanctions cases would be filed in a year dropped down to maybe 20. And that continued through most of the Bush administration. I think it’s only been in very recent times in the last three or four years some people may have other views on that, that workplace enforcement has really been given any reemphasis at all. The numbers are still down compared to what it was back before about the middle of Clinton’s administration. So that’s another example of your pendulum going on there.
FENNELLY: You wanted to say something?
KREMER: Just briefly. I mean I don’t know that it matters so much where the enforcement authority lies within DHS or outside of DHS although some could argue that its placement within the Department of Homeland Security carries with it some negative and perhaps inappropriate connotations when you’re talking about most of the undocumented population. But it’s more a matter of how ICE goes about doing its job. What actions it takes, and what measures and protections it puts in place to prevent the kinds of humanitarian crises and issues that have arisen in the last several years. I think the pendulum is already starting to shift on the enforcement side of things which we’ve seen with a rather significant decline in the sort of the rapidity and number of work site enforcement actions at least from after around the election or so of last year and with the advent of the Obama administration, and word has it that there are new field guidelines that are going to be issued sometime soon if they haven’t already by Secretary Napolitano which addresses these issues which puts more of the emphasis back on employer related enforcement which I think suggests that we won’t see the kind of escalation of work site and home raid type actions that we saw the last several years.
FENNELLY: And I would add that it’s not only undocumented immigrants but it’s the notion of having all immigrant—all issues related to immigration under Homeland Security that perhaps promotes the focus on terrorism, on security and diverts us from thinking about the very positive aspects of immigration and reception of immigrants and refugees as well. Esther, is there anything else? Should we go along to the next? There’s a question right down here and one up there. Kathy, go ahead.
[QUESTION]: Hi, I’m Jennifer Godinez, and I work in the community on several of these issues. I just want to focus back on, and I think what’s really clear is there’s a comprehensive immigration question. But the 3 million children that are citizens. Can you go back to that and talk about the next steps in terms of who is advocating at a national and also global level because it seems to be this human rights watch that we want to talk about?
KREMER: Well, that raises a nice point which I wasn’t able to get to which is there are some international standards, international law standards that are already in place. The convention on the rights of the child which, which emphasizes and requires in essence that the best interests of children be given primacy in immigration and matters of that sort. It suggests that there are appropriate limits that should be placed upon a state’s authority relative to immigration based upon the best interests of the children. That’s the most widely ratified human rights convention in the world. Only two countries have not ratified it: one is Somalia and one is the United States. So with respect to, with respect to citizen children, I think it’s a matter of what the judge was referring to is trying to see that pendulum swing back a little bit away from the extreme. I mean the extremes make for bad law and right now we have extremes in our law. You know we’ve got an extreme when it comes to whether or not the citizen child can or cannot petition for the lawful status of his parents. They gotta be 21 years or older in order to do that. I understand why Congress imposed that limitation, but there’s a happy medium between saying “21 and older” and “gee, if someone comes in and has a child, then that child sorta becomes the per se ticket to lawful status.” There’s a happy medium in there which I think, a middle ground that can be reached which will help address some of these issues. The same with respect to the change from the suspension of deportation to cancellation of removal as the judge was referring to. This heightened standard has effectively stripped immigration judges of the ability to even consider meaningfully the circumstances that are facing this particular family or this particular child which is a marked divergence from you know what you see in other areas of the law, including state law areas which touch upon child welfare issues where the best interests of the child is perhaps the paramount concern.
FENNELLY to WATTENBERG: Did you want to comment?
WATTENBERG: I think what is striking when you’re at the rural county level and you’re taking a look at families is the inequalities that are visited on the children. Within the family sometimes it is the sibling who was born here and is a citizen child and those who are not, and how this plays out is extraordinarily interesting. We had, and read, several cases where the citizen child had graduated from high school and could in fact pay tuition to college that all of our citizen kids can in Minnesota whereas their siblings could not. They had to pay out of state tuition. And families were agonizing over this brutal kind of inequality.
There was another way in which the inequalities played out. And we haven’t really talked about it much here. We understood when we first began to look at the rural counties that we had refugee children who had many benefits that had been guaranteed under the federal Act of Refugees because they had been really coming to this country under serious kinds of ways in which they were going to be protected in three different ways. There were going to be monies attached to them and it would follow them into the rural counties. Secondly, there were to be extra efforts made under their language learning—there were monies available there. And thirdly, they would not suffer at all for the admission to basic what we call human rights, that is food, food stamps under health care, whereas the children next door—children from chiefly Latino families—were in serious situations. Overcrowding, and tremendous amounts of hidden ways in which they are not being cared for and for basic health. More recently we’re very much aware on how the foreclosures are working out at this level. The foreclosures are chiefly for renters which is the populations we’re thinking about. The overcrowding is intensive, and there is a sense of genuine despair and it’s showing in the lives and faces of the children at school. I think it is the inequalities visited on the children that is maybe the most excruciating fact that one looks at if you are working as we did at the county level.
FENNELLY: Did you want to add anything, Judge? [No.] I’m just thinking about I invited an undocumented student to a class that I teach about a month ago and she was telling us that she arrived when she was six months old, and her parents didn’t tell her that she wasn’t a citizen, and she had a brother who was born here and was a citizen and she didn’t find out until she was still a teenager and had a baby and was in the hospital and saw her own birth certificate, her child’s birth certificate, and she said “no, there’s an error here.” And her mother explained that there wasn’t an error. And she wanted to go on to college as her brother had, and couldn’t do so. And it was a very vivid illustration of what you are describing.
[QUESTION] Yeah, I had a question about the lack of enforcement and I wondered if you think that that period off a lack of enforcement of the I-9s kinda facilitated the establishment of plans like we saw in Worthington, Austin, and Postville. And if that made the later enforcement then in fact that much worse. Do you think if enforcement against employers had been happening all along that we wouldn’t have seen communities like that develop?
DIERKES: Well, realistically there are a certain number of immigration enforcement officers here in this district which is Minnesota, North and South Dakota. We’re not talking about thousands and thousands of people. We’re talking about limited numbers of immigration officers. A high percentage of the people who end up being put in removal proceedings are people who they encounter at county jails for example. Very easy to find. They are a captive audience literally there. But they don’t have the resources to go out and hit large numbers of large employers. That’s an expensive operation for the government to put on. So to a certain extent, in my opinion, of these more high profile operations at large plants are to get the attention of employers who might be more willing to fudge the rules in who they hire. That long period of really non enforcement? Sure that contributed. Of course. If employers are realizing that there is no enforcement of the law, that would be great incentive for them to not vigorously comply with the legal requirements. It was a long gap. It was a long gap.
KREMER: Let me just to add. I think we’ve all been somewhat complicit here, and in that the situation that we find ourselves in with the large undocumented population—whatever your views of whether that’s problematic or not problematic—didn’t just arise overnight. The question becomes what we do, where we’re at right now with folks who have been here, many of them 5, 10, 15, and some 20 years, otherwise functioning as productive members of their community. The answer, some would say that there can be arguments back and forth on the economics of this and whether or not the undocumented workers have a depressive impact on wages, I’m not going to delve into that thicket. But what I would say is that if that is a in fact problem which needs addressing, I do agree with you, Judge, that clearly the problem employers --and agri-processers were one of them--should have been dealt with, I happen to think through the Department of Labor rather than the manner in which it was dealt with. But those issues are not going to be addressed and effectively resolved through enforcement activities. Even if you look at the escalation enforcement over the last few years the numbers that have arrests and civil arrests, and work site raids up to 5,000-6,000. We’ve got an undocumented population of 12 million. We could do what we’re doing now and double it and we keep doing it for the next 100 years, and it would barely make a dent. If the goal here is to address what some would perceive the depressive effect on wages, the path of least resistance is to provide the undocumented worker with a reasonable means to lawful status which brings them out of the shadow, which takes them out on the radar screen as Esther was referring to earlier, which puts them in a position where they don’t have to sit by idly and be victimized by the bad employer.
[Question:] I wondered if any of the panel thinks it would be useful to have guardians ad litem appointed in immigration court or if the limits of what the discretionary authority of the judges are is so much that they couldn’t choose any of the options that a guardian ad litem might provide.
FENNELLY: I’m going to repeat that so that Esther can hear it because she is an expert in this area. The question was whether it would be productive to have guardians ad litem appointed in immigration court.
DIERKES: Well, I’ll throw one quick thing in on that. We’re in kind of a fool’s paradise here in Minnesota in that we have such a high level of representation compared to much of the rest of the country. I’ll put it that way. In those cases where the presence of the children were legally recognized factors relating to the outcome of the case, the representation level is extremely high. The attorneys who are here might agree or disagree with that, but I think it was extremely high. The attorneys who are representing the parents in those cases where they were at least statutorially eligible to apply for cancellation in which hardship to the children, children was a very clear factor in determining the outcome. The attorneys who were representing the parents in affect were representing the interests of the children there because they would be putting in the evidence of the hardship to the children. So as a general rule up here in this part of the country, it really wouldn’t make a tremendous amount of difference under the current state of the law. Now Mr. Thall and Ms. Moccio might have other views on this. The problem, the more significant problem that I’ve run into in terms of needing attorneys appointed is for incompetence, the regulations are very weak in terms of allowing appointments for attorneys to represent someone who is incompetent. That might be the starting point. Once it’s established there is an ability to appoint attorneys to represent those folks, and I think maybe moving on to the children would be the next. But up here it’s really not a problem in my view.
WATTENBERG: Well, if the case is in court, certainly the guardian ad litems are extraordinarily important to assure the best interests of the children. These cases didn’t come to court very often, as a matter of fact. We were surprised that they did not, but for lots of reasons undocumented parents require, need, anonymity. They’re desperate not to emerge in any way that requires a signature. We were surprised that the library system in one county was full of children of all kinds, and in another county was empty. And they said parents were afraid to sign permission for the children to use the library. They did not want their signature on anything. So getting to court with the guardian ad litem was assured. You’re quite right in almost all cases that was the case. But there were few of them with parents who are undocumented. I do think the issue for the legal aspects of child’s rights came with adolescent girls. There was a high degree of allegations made of sexual abuse when the cases would come. They were very, very difficult to get any factual data on that. Much protection going on from many sources and that required something that about four of the counties had: somebody who understood from the community itself, had some training in child welfare and could in fact develop a trusting relationship with the parent to assure that the adolescent girl was going to get medical care, that the father, in fact, could be identified, and that the health care expenses could be made. Took a huge amount of time and a sense of confidence that that could happen. In the court system I think, I only can think of two cases: guardian ad litems were fierce on assuring the rights of the child and the best interests.
[Question:] Oh hi, that’s all right, you’re holding it. I guess my question has to do with when there is a raid either of a company or an individual resident, what happens with the kids? Because my sister-in-law, she was deported two years ago and ICE had no clue that she had a child. And thank god we were here and we could figure out where they were bringing her and we had transportation to get there. But there are lots of families that, you know, are they referred to child protection? Are they put in Foster Care Systems? I know the families that I work with they are encouraged to fill out temporary custody forms, but then you have to think of the reality that that could happen to you and so a lot of people just avoid it. They don’t want to even think about that happening. So what happens now to kids when there is a raid, either large or small?
KREMER: Well, ICE would say that they, at least they claim that they took extraordinary efforts to try to identify situations where there could be children who could be at risk or who would need care in the absence of one or both parents who was detained. But there are the experiences as we uncovered it in Worthington and other places, and it’s been widely reported in the media and New Bedford and the Michael Bianco raid same sort of thing, asking the undocumented parent to identify their children is not a situation which is going to likely result in responses which would give them information upon which they could at least perhaps take some action. So we think there need to be measures that are put in place. ICE did issue some humanitarian guidelines which we discussed in the report. We don’t think those guidelines go far enough. We think there needs to be whenever these types are taken, there needs to be a sort of a trusted intermediary who is not perceived as the police or the government authority with whom these sorts of humanitarian issues can be addressed so that they are identified and adequately addressed in a timely manner.
FENNELLY: Anybody else want to comment?
DIERKES: I’m not going to speak for ICE, but I’d simply say that if a person is arrested and brought before the immigration court, one of the first questions we ask in a bond hearing—assuming again that the person is not an aggravated felon or is not criminally barred from release which is covered in the report—is family ties in the United States and having children dependent on a person would definitely come into effect in the setting of a bond.
WATTENBERG: Well, we did hear, although I had no direct evidence of this, that parents were in these cases of being arrested reluctant to identify their children for fear that they would be removed permanently from them, and there was often a lack of really good information on whether or not there were children involved.
[Question:] You talked about exploitation of people by employers and I’m wondering from a legal perspective if there are any plans to go after people that are working right now in the community as notarios that are trying to exploit money from immigrants that are hopeful that they can go through a legal process without the ability to practice law and things like that. Are there any things in place right now or any plans to get more aggressive about people that are doing that in the community?
KREMER: My short answer is I don’t know. I don’t know if--Kathy or John, do you know of anything in that regard or any efforts in that respect?
[THALL:] I’m Steve Thall, I can comment briefly on that, I’m a practicing immigration attorney, one of the attorneys that the Judge referenced along with Kathy Moccio, my colleague up there with the other microphone. I actually had someone in my office this week who had been victimized, if you will, by a notario, and typically the enforcement actions against notarios or those who are practicing really as an attorney but without a license have come from the state attorneys general. I’m not aware of any enforcement actions here in Minnesota, but I know there was one who was practicing out of southwest Minnesota and South Dakota, and the South Dakota attorney general stepped in and basically issued an enforcement order preventing that person from doing what they were doing. However, he caused a lot of harm to a lot of people’s cases, and I know that there were cases that came before Judge Dierkes as a result of notario actions. Later this individual was prosecuted actually by the state of Colorado and was convicted. So unless there’s, you know, those kind, of enforcement actions, you’re right, people really are vulnerable and we do see that pop up from time to time. But probably the best way to approach it is to try to report that kind of activity to the state attorneys general’s office because typically they have consumer protection laws and can enforce those to protect victims. I think it opens up really an issue, too, as part of comprehensive immigration reform if that comes about. One of the big issues is going to be is are notarios going to start popping up and luring people into the system and taking advantage of people or giving inaccurate advice and otherwise using any new law that may come about as a way to further victimized people.
FENNELLY: One of the same kind of barrier up that we’re talking about with other context works here is if the people that are being victimized are undocumented. Several years ago I was working in a rural community in which it became clear talking to people that there was an interpreter who was contacted by the court who was extorting money from the undocumented population there and saying “if you don’t pay me $5,000, you’re going to be deported or you’ll be, you’ll go to jail and so forth.” Ultimately what this man was no longer an interpreter of the court, but I’m not sure if he ever went to jail because it was so difficult to get people to testify against him.
There’s a question there.
[QUESTION:] Hi, my name is Susan Schmidt, and it seems to me that a big part of the issue is how do we make children’s concerns a fore thought rather than an afterthought? It seems like there are always these kind of we have a more individualized approach to inserting children’s issues after the fact or addressing them through legislation after we’ve forgotten them in prior legislation. And I guess I have two thoughts on that. One is as we move forward hopefully toward some sort of comprehensive immigration reform that all of us here keep that in mind so that as that legislation is being crafted, children are part of the picture and not an afterthought and not left off the table. My second thought is if anyone has any reactions to this: I sometimes wondered if it might—what impact it might have to have a senior level children’s expert within either the Department of Homeland Security or within the individual agencies of DHS. Again to make children’s concerns more of a fore thought rather than an afterthought.
FENNELLY to WATTENBERG: Did you hear that question?
WATTENBERG: Well, that question comes from someone who is pretty much an expert, I would say. Susan Schmidt who is with BRYCS which is one of the national organizations that’s very attentive to children’s issues in immigrant families. I don’t know if immigration will ever take the child as the center of their concern. I mean, they have other fish to fry. I do think it’s at the local level that we have to pay a lot of attention to what happens to children in these situations. Until we have 12 million parents, many of them parents, who are embedded in our institutions and have a path to documentation for citizenship, you’re going to have a large portion of children who are living under the threat of secrecy for their families. And that I think has long term affects. I don’t know how we can really strengthen children to be inoculated against the trauma of that kind of anxiety. I think it is the school that has become the source of mental health services for these children. I think we ought to pay a lot of attention to that. I think there’s another aspect that we should be paying attention to with children, and that is assuring that their experiences at school are, in fact, productive. And that they’re surrounded by people who care about them. I don’t know about your suggestion of trying to have immigration become also a child welfare institution. I don’t think it will go that way. Have you had any experience with that?
[SCHMIDT] Well, I certainly don’t think they should be a child welfare institution, and thankfully some of their responsibilities have been transferred to ORR in that regard. But I guess I’m just trying to think how do we systematize it so that we’re not always cleaning up after these issues. How do we make it more part of the process, and I don’t know if you have thoughts on that.
KREMER: Well, and I agree with you. And I think that this needs to. We can’t lose sight of the family related issues and the children issues as this, as the debate regarding comprehensive immigration reform rolls along. There’s going to be a lot of stuff about the economy and the needs of the U.S. economy and whatnot. But this is also a key issue which we think requires, requires good and solid debate and a good legislation. There have been efforts to introduce legislation, I believe it was Congressman Serrano who introduced some legislation which would have incorporated in the INA the best interests standard. So, it’s not lost on everyone, but quite frankly one of the reasons why we did the report that we did was to bring this to the forefront, make sure it was on the table when the whole debate regarding immigration, comprehensive immigration reform occurs.
FENNELLY: Judge Dierkes, anything? [No] We have time for one more question.
[QUESTION:] Thank you to the panelists for your work on this study and your interesting comments. I’m really struck by Esther Wattenburg’s analysis of the impact of secrecy, the trauma of secrecy. I think that’s a really important new finding that we get from this. And I, it shows the importance of the interdisciplinary work going on. So I thank you for that. It also occurs to me that, you know, there are so many hidden negative consequences that probably could be measurable and so in other words things stemming in particular from public health issues where that secrecy leads to underreporting, underreporting of domestic violence, underreporting of OSHA violations and injuries on the work place. And I’m just wondering if your group or if you know of groups that are planning to continue studies in these areas that might help complete the picture so that we can begin to address these policy issues in a more sensible way?
FENNELLY to WATTENBERG: Are you planning to continue research in this area?
WATTENBERG: I’m right in the middle of what I call “trying to put socks on the octopus.” I mean that there are so many ways in which it turns out. You could, in fact, begin to mobilize around the best interests of the child. And the demography almost demands it. I mean everyone who’s going to be in that big retirement wave is going to require every child coming behind them to be educated, to be well, to be functioning. So I think there is a sense of that issue being, threading through the political environment in the protection of children. But on a positive note I would say, and Kathy you’ve done this work, there are so many collaboratives and so many ways in which there are organizations, uh, the southeast initiatives throughout the state. There’s a lot of organization going on. I think they’re all waiting in a way for federal legislation to be initiated and debated. They’re almost in a pause waiting for that to happen. But I’m heartened by how small rural counties, very hard up, very stressed for money, and having a county commissioner who said “I’ve either got to pay attention to these children or have enough money to open the back roads in the wintertime, and I think we ought to do it for the kids.” We’ve seen enough of that to say I’m quite optimistic at the local county level. Good attention is being paid. As I say we’re in a waiting game for the large issues to be resolved.
FENNELLY: I have two studies that are in the works: one with Kathy Moccio where we are planning this summer to look at a discreet issue but which relates very much to families and children and that is access to telephones on the part of individuals who have been detained through immigration arrests. And we know from your report and other places that communication or the barriers to being able to make a phone call to say “I can’t pick up my child today,” or to try to reach an attorney or a loved one is a big problem. So we’re going to do a survey of attorneys and, to who have represented individuals who have been detained and to try to learn through that route. So there may be people in the audience who have some good suggestions for us, and we would welcome your ideas on that. And the second is a proposal that’s going to the National Science Foundation and may or may not be funded but with a colleague at Cornell where we’re going into three states in rural communities one of which has experienced a work site raid in the past five years and the other has not, and looking at the impact of raids on the communities at large, on Latinos in particular, and then on family members as well.
Well, thank you all so much for your attention. We really appreciate it.
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