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Legal Aid Group Al Otro Lado Reacts To Changing Immigration Policies

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The legal director of Al Otro Lado talks about immigration and the Trump Administration.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It is a turbulent time in the U S for immigration. The Trump administration continues to change the rules about who can stay in the U S I'll overthrow. Lotto is a binational organization providing legal services on both sides of the border serving deportees migrants and refugees. KPBS evening edition, Anchor Ebony Monet spoke with Erica Ben Yarrow Litigation director of Aloe. Throw Lotto.

Speaker 2: 00:25 Recently the Trump administration expanded its rapid deportation policy, which gives immigration officers the authority to deport migrants without allowing them to see a judge. What's your reaction to this policy change? Rapid deportation or expedited removal has always been part of immigration law was just usually applied to people who were apprehended at the border. So the policy changes that that process could be applied to anyone caught anywhere within the United States. Um, and the idea is if someone has been in the United States for more than two years, they should not be subject to this policy. However, um, the fact that you cannot see an immigration judge and that there's no judicial review of your removal means that you know, that time period doesn't really matter. There's not going to be anyone reviewing any documentation provided to immigration officials. And we saw a recent case of an 18 year old US citizen who was detained for almost a month by customs and border protection, even though his mother went with an original us birth certificate to immigration officials.

Speaker 2: 01:30 And that's a result of not having a judge review these removals. So the result is going to be that people of color, including US citizens, will be deported in greater numbers without ever having access to a judge. And so in order to prove your citizenship, does this come down to people having to walk around with documentation at all times? It does come down to that, but even when you provide documentation of citizenship, that doesn't mean that ice or CBP is going to let you go. Um, I, in the past decade of working in immigration detention facilities, I've encountered dozens of US citizens who were mistakenly detained by ice and accused of not being citizens. As an attorney, I've represented these people and provided original documentation to immigration officials. And still it's very difficult, um, to get them to release people. So you can imagine this, you know, expanded authority to remove people without any due process is obviously going to result in removals of US citizens, even when those people have documentation to prove their citizenship.

Speaker 2: 02:38 And any idea how, um, Mexico plans to deal with the influx of migrants. Mexico does not have publicly funded programs to help with deportee reintegration. It does not have publicly funded programs to help refugees who are moving through the country. So, you know, we have this combination of tens of thousands of refugees stuck at the border right now who are seeking asylum in the United States. Um, plus of course thousands of people being deported, um, every year, tens of thousands of people being deported every year, as has been the case, um, under this administration and previous administration. So there's, um, a complete overload of the civil society system, that Gen that traditionally has responded, um, to this population and has provided support, um, especially to deportees. So I just, I think there's going to be a lot more deportees who fall through the cracks, um, who end up homeless or who try to come back, uh, unlawfully to be with their families again.

Speaker 2: 03:41 So what do you think is the way the u s can do a better job of finding a balance between securing the border while allowing in asylum seekers the myth that we need to further secure the border has resulted in militarization at the border and racial profiling of both US citizens and noncitizens of color. We do not need more border security. Border Security equals violation of constitutional rights. You know, customs and border protection has jurisdiction within a hundred miles of both a land and sea border. Two thirds of the u s population lives within the zone and the constitution does not apply. You know, customs and border protection or border patrol can search you without a warrant. They can go through your electronic devices without a warrant. They can detain you without access to an attorney. So we don't need more border security. That's the first part.

Speaker 2: 04:35 Second part is that these refugees and asylum seekers are coming to the United States to seek protection. The vast majority, almost all of them do not have criminal convictions. They don't pose any kind of security threat to the United States. And almost all of them actually show up to court a contrary to what Trump consistently claims. Um, and you know, immigration court statistics themselves show that asylum seeking families by and large show up to their court hearings. So we don't, they're there. That's a false dichotomy. And can we move on to a relatively recently discovered database, which was monitoring people who frequently crossed the border and this includes humanitarians and activists and journalists and, and even attorneys. Um, I'll ultra lotto, um, has filed a lawsuit. What was your reaction to finding out that you were in the database? I wasn't surprised because my organization is the only binational organization at the California border providing services to both deportees and refugees.

Speaker 2: 05:44 Um, we've been the subject of harassment by both us and Mexican officials in the past. Um, shortly before the list was leaked to the media. Um, my co-director century pass was revoked without explanation. Um, so I wasn't surprised to find myself on that list. Um, what the practical result has been is that my movement, um, around the country and around the globe has been severely restricted. Um, what I know is that I will be detained and deported. Um, if I try to travel to any country outside the United States, I was able to get Mexico to wave the alert that the u s has placed on my passport. But as of today, my co-director, Nora Phillips, um, who's the named plaintiff in the lawsuit we recently filed, has not been able to return to Mexico. And she is the director of our deportee assistance programs. So we have not been able to provide robust assistance to deportees since her expulsion from Mexico almost six months ago. So ultimately those are the people who suffer. And now with this expedited removal, uh, rule that's recently put into effect, we, I'm sure we're going to see many more deportees who really need that assistance.

Speaker 1: 06:57 That was Erica Bro. Litigation director of ultra [inaudible] speaking to KPBS evening edition Anchor Ebony Monet

Speaker 3: 07:11 [inaudible].

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