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07/04/15 | Vaccine Overdose to Detained Children Another Sign that Family Detention Must End

Washington D.C. - This weekend, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (Council) learned that, recently, medical personnel at the detention center in Dilley, Texas that holds nearly 2,000 children and their mothers mistakenly gave adult-strength Hepatitis A vaccinations to approximately 250 children.  

“Volunteer attorneys at Dilley, as well as those at similar detention centers in Karnes, TX, Berks, PA and the previous facility in Artesia, NM, have long noted disturbing patterns of what appears to be inadequate health care for the women and children. This latest permutation is beyond appalling—it is putting children at risk not just for short-term reactions but for unknown long-term risks,” said Crystal Williams, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

“Imprisoning children and their mothers was wrong when it was started a year ago, and is wrong today. Just because the detention camps have no bars on the windows does not make them any less like a prison. Children have been forced to sleep with the lights on, are subject to intrusive checks regularly throughout the night, and have been dragged from their beds at 4:00 am to be given shots while their mothers must stand helplessly by without being told what is going on or being allowed a say in the matter,” Ms. Williams added.

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07/02/15 | United States Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Deportation

Washington D.C. - After more than two years of litigation, the U.S. government has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Leonel Ruiz on behalf of his minor daughter, E.R. The suit alleged that in 2011, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), unlawfully detained Mr. Ruiz’s then 4-year-old daughter—a U.S. citizen—when she arrived at Dulles Airport in Virginia, deprived her of any contact with her parents, and sent her back to Guatemala rather than allowing her to join her parents, who awaited her arrival in New York.

According to the complaint, during the twenty hours E.R. was detained in CBP custody with her grandfather, she was given nothing to eat other than a cookie and soda and nowhere to nap other than the cold floor. She was finally able to return home to the United States nearly three weeks later, but only after her father hired a local attorney to fly to Guatemala to retrieve her. Once home, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by a child psychologist, who concluded that this was a result of her detention and her separation from her parents. The lawsuit, filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), sought damages for the harm E.R. suffered as a result of this ordeal. In June, the government agreed to pay E.R. $32,500.

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06/24/15 | Homeland Security Secretary Announces Changes to Family Detention Policies

Washington D.C. - Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson released a statement on plans to make “substantial changes” to the agency’s family detention policies. The following is a statement, in response, from Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.

“The United States has a long, proud history of being a beacon of hope and refuge to people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. The act of coming to the United States to seek protection is not illegal or criminal. Not only do our laws ensure that those fleeing persecution may apply for asylum, but the United States has entered into treaties with other countries to ensure the protection of refugees. Offering protections to those who arrive here seeking asylum is who we are as a nation. Yet, for the past year, the Obama Administration has treated thousands of women and children asylum seekers arriving at our borders as criminals. They have been locked up in remote detention facilities run by private prison corporations, at great financial and human cost. Through our legal work on the ground, we have witnessed first-hand how little due process and compassion is being afforded to the women and children in our care.

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The Council in the News

In this tweet chat, English teachers discussed the benefits of telling digital stories on immigration to build community and empathy inside and outside of the classroom while being culturally sensitive to student backgrounds and needs.  Our Crossing Borders with Digital Storytelling lesson plan as well as several mentor texts were cited as helpful resources.

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| 05/07/15

Patrick Taurel, Legal Fellow and the American Immigration Council, provides an in-depth look into the implementation of President Obama’s executive order on immigration and the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs.

Watch the C-Span segment below:

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C-Span | 02/09/15

The Durham Academy News Feed recently highlighted remarks made by the American Immigration Council's Executive Director Ben Johsnon.

Johnson spoke at the Durham Academy Upper School's annual Martin Luther King assembly and noted that lessons can be gleaned on a big-picture scale from the civil rights movement.

"One component of the Civil Rights Movement and its genesis from slavery wasn't just about the people who were being abused and whose rights were being denied," Johnson said. "It was about us. It was about our commitment to freedom, fairness and equality. In that context, we can have a conversation about where else do we have questions and challenges about our commitment to these principles."

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Durham Academy Newsfeed | 01/16/15