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A damning new report and shocking photos by the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog is adding to the mounting outcry over detention conditions for asylum seekers at the border. Acting Inspector General Jennifer Costello is urging DHS to “take immediate steps to alleviate dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley.”
The report notes that migrants are being held without sufficient food or access to medical care. Some children had not received a hot meal since being locked up, and begged not to be returned to their cells. Inspectors observed over 2,500 children who had been held longer than the three days permitted under a key court settlement known as the Flores agreement. Photos accompanying the report show extreme overcrowding, including people huddled in cells in standing-room-only conditions. Some photos also show asylum seekers holding up signs for the inspectors—one of which reads “help.”
NPR reports that DHS is currently on the hunt for new sites across several Southern states to detain migrant children.
Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to make their own trips to immigrant jails, with Florida Congressmember Frederica Wilson leading a delegation Tuesday that included John Lewis to visit the Homestead facility in Florida.
Another Central American migrant has died in U.S. custody after becoming sick while locked up at a Houston immigration jail. Thirty-year-old Honduran native Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres was detained at the end of May before being handed over to ICE in June. He died in a Houston hospital Sunday after being found unresponsive in his detention cell. The cause of death remains undetermined, and an autopsy is scheduled.
A federal judge in Washington state has blocked a Trump administration plan to lock up asylum seekers while they wait for the outcome of their cases. The policy, which was set to take effect this month, would have denied asylum seekers bond hearings. The ACLU, which brought the suit alongside other rights groups, welcomed the decision, saying, “Try as it may, the government can’t circumvent the Constitution in an effort to deter and punish asylum-seekers applying for protection. This ruling will provide much-needed relief for people being detained in cruel and inhumane conditions while going through the asylum process.”
In more immigration news, NPR is reporting the Department of Homeland Security has sent out fines to a number of immigrants for “failing to depart the U.S. as previously agreed.” The fines in some cases are as high as half a million dollars. Lizbeth Mateo, an attorney for one of the recipients of a DHS fine, told NPR the administration is issuing the fines to increase pressure on immigrant communities and may be laying the groundwork for further criminal penalties. She said, “I laughed, because there has to be someone in some basement in D.C. thinking, 'Oh, what else can I do to mess with immigrants? What else can I do to hurt them?'” Earlier this week, Trump said that previously announced immigration raids will begin after the upcoming July 4 weekend if Congress fails to pass new restrictions on asylum seekers.
Nationwide protests were held Tuesday under the banner “Close the Camps,” calling on lawmakers to shut down immigrant jails, defund detention and deportation, and reunite separated families. This is a demonstrator in New York City.
Nancy Nguyen: “I’m here because I want to make sure that people know that not all Americans agree with this, that Americans are—we are, like, a country of migrants and immigrants, and we need to stay true to our history and welcome the generations that are coming to build our country. So, I’m here because I’m against the child detention, the concentration camps here.”
New Jersey senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker says, if elected, he will “virtually eliminate” immigrant detention through executive authority, as he unveiled his immigration reform plan Tuesday. Booker’s plan would phase out privately run immigrant prisons and stop criminalizing immigration. He is also vowing to restore and expand DACA and other protected status programs, reverse Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy, expand legal pathways to citizenship and put in place accountability mechanisms for ICE and CBP.
Other 2020 candidates have also said they would effectively do away with immigrant detention, including former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders said his first executive actions would undo all of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
The Trump administration has dropped its effort to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled the question could not be added to next year’s form, saying the administration’s justification for its inclusion “appears to have been contrived.” Trump had originally threatened to delay the constitutionally mandated census after the ruling, but the Justice Department confirmed Tuesday they gave the green light to start printing the forms. The ACLU and 17 states filed a lawsuit to prevent the citizenship question from being added. Census officials estimated 6.5 million people would not respond to the census, negatively impacting areas with large immigrant communities.
The House Ways and Means Committee has sued the Treasury Department and the IRS over their refusal to hand over President Trump’s tax returns. Democrats issued subpoenas for Trump’s financial records in May. Trump’s legal counsel dubbed the lawsuit “presidential harassment” and said they would fight it in court.
In Libya, an overnight airstrike killed at least 40 people and injured at least 80 others at a migrant detention center near the capital Tripoli. The facility housed mostly African migrants. The U.N.-backed Government of National Accord is blaming blaming the opposition Libyan National Army, led by the renegade General Khalifa Haftar. Violence around Tripoli has been mounting since Haftar’s forces launched an offensive to capture the city. Human rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes by attacking heavily populated civilian areas.
In Israel, members of the Ethiopian community took to the streets Tuesday to protest racism and the police killing of teenager Solomon Tekah in Haifa on Sunday. Major roads were blocked, and 60 people were arrested as police clashed with protesters.
Elias Inbram: “The Israeli police aren’t learning. There are criminals inside the police force, and the police leadership is unable to condemn them. And it creates not only damage but also deaths.”
In Arizona, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday they will retry humanitarian activist and No More Deaths volunteer Scott Warren, after a jury refused to convict him last month for providing water, food, clean clothes and beds to two undocumented migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert. Prosecutors have, however, dropped the conspiracy charge against Warren. Prosecutors will repeat their case against Warren in front of a jury in November. If convicted, Warren could face up to 10 years behind bars. This is Warren responding to the news Tuesday in front of the federal courthouse in Tucson.
Scott Warren: “While I do not know what the government has hoped to accomplish here, I do know what the effect of all this has been and will continue to be: a raising of public consciousness, a greater awareness of the humanitarian crisis in the borderland, more volunteers who want to stand in solidarity with migrants, local residents stiffened in their resistance to border walls and the militarization of our communities, and a flood of water into the desert at a time when it is most needed.”
We’ll have more on this later in the broadcast with Catherine Gaffney of No More Deaths.
A black patient who was arrested outside an Illinois hospital last month is speaking out about his experience. Twenty-four-year-old Shaquille Dukes and his partner and brother were arrested while they were taking a walk near the hospital where Dukes was being treated for pneumonia. This was despite the fact that he was wearing a hospital gown and had an IV drip in his arm at the time. In a Facebook post, Dukes said a hospital security guard called the police and accused him of stealing the IV equipment to resell on eBay. Dukes has since filed a complaint for “unfair and biased conduct by responding officers.”
Tanks are reportedly at the ready for Trump’s Fourth of July celebrations in Washington, D.C., despite city officials objecting to the parade because of concerns of physical damage to the Mall due to the massive military hardware. Trump has also ordered a flyover by military aircraft, including Air Force One. Republican operatives are reportedly handing out VIP tickets to donors—as well as general admission entry—to attend Trump’s planned speech at the Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Post is reporting nearly $2.5 million from the National Park Service will be diverted to cover the costs of the July Fourth celebrations.
Chubb became the first major insurance company in the U.S. to announce it would no longer provide coverage for coal companies. Chubb’s move this week came after mounting pressure from environmental groups and will extend its coverage ban to companies that produce more than 30% of their energy from coal. Mary Anne Hitt of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign applauded the move and said, “The insurance industry risks being on the hook for trillions of dollars in damages linked to climate change—from rising seas to wildfires and storms. Insurers are well aware of that danger, and also well aware that the markets and the public are turning away from coal, which could leave them holding the bag for an obsolete industry.”
Last month was the hottest June on record, marked by a record-breaking heat wave across Europe which saw temperatures soar as high as 50 degrees higher than normal in parts of France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., record-breaking heat has gripped Alaska, exacerbating some 350 different wildfires across the state in recent days and accelerating the melting of its glaciers.
And in London, climate activists with Extinction Rebellion marched on five major oil companies’ headquarters Tuesday to call for an end to drilling during London’s Climate Action Week. This is organizer Lola Perrin.
Lola Perrin: “It’s London Climate Action Week, and rather than network with people, we would rather go straight to fossil fuel companies and say, 'You know what? Don't explore anymore. You’re not sticking to the Paris Agreement, no matter how much you greenwash it.’”