The Latest: Houston shelter for migrant kids moves forward
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on immigrant parents and children separated at the U.S. border (all times local):
A Houston-based shelter for “tender age” immigrant children being separated from their parents is one step closer to opening.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission said Tuesday that it has received enough information from the nonprofit Southwest Key Programs to conduct an inspection of the proposed shelter for young kids.
Houston’s mayor has said the shelter would house up to 240 children in a warehouse previously used for Hurricane Harvey evacuees.
A spokeswoman for the commission says it has three weeks to do the inspection and two months to decide whether to issue a permit to Southwest Key.
Southwest Key’s operation of shelters has come under new scrutiny because of the Trump administration’s separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border. The group is caring for more than 600 children taken from their parents. Of those, 152 are younger than 5.
Mexico Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray says that his country’s government will propose a resolution before the Organization of American States on Friday condemning the United States’ policy of separating children from parents who have entered the country illegally.
The administration of President Donald Trump reversed course on that policy after outrage from opponents and his own party, but it is still working on how to reunite parents separated from their children.
In a statement Tuesday, Videgaray said he hoped that other countries in the region would support Mexico’s proposed resolution. It will also ask the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to institute protection measures if it sees fit.
It says Videgaray considers the policy “cruel, inhumane, unjustified and a violation of human rights.”
Videgaray says, “we’re worried about what is going to happen with the children that are still detained, in spite of being accompanied by their parents, and in general the situation of children not only Mexican, but also of other nationalities, who are subjected to a violation of their fundamental rights.”
The chief executive of the nation’s largest shelters for migrant children says he fears a lack of urgency by the U.S. government could mean it will take months to reunite thousands of immigrant children with their parents.
Juan Sanchez of the nonprofit Southwest Key Programs said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press that the government has no process in place to speed the return of children separated from their parents as part of the Trump administration’s recent “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
Sanchez says Southwest Key is “ready today” to help reunite children, but the group is limited in what it can do because many parents’ cases will likely have to make their way through the legal system.
During Congressional testimony, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declined to be pinned down on how long it would take to reunite families.
Several dozen protesters gathered in North Carolina’s capital to demand that President Donald Trump’s administration swiftly reunite immigrant families separated at the border.
Organizers of the protest Tuesday at the Terry Sanford Federal Building in Raleigh say they also want to get the attention of elected officials such as Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. They want North Carolina politicians to push back on Trump administration immigration policies.
The protesters gathered outside a building that houses federal courtrooms and one of Tillis’ offices.
Demonstrators held signs with messages including “Dreamers Make America Great” and “Oust GOP Trump Enablers.”
Organizer Karen Ziegler said their goal is to keep pressure on the Trump administration to reunite immigrant children housed separately from their parents.
A Brazilian woman has filed a federal lawsuit demanding the release of her 9-year-old son who’s being detained in Chicago after the two were separated at the border.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday says Lidia Karine Souza was released from detention on June 9 after arriving in the U.S. last month seeking asylum. Souza is now staying with family in Massachusetts, but her son remains detained.
The lawsuit says that because of paperwork the earliest the two will be reunited is late July. Souza’s lawyers say the delay is “unacceptable, unnecessary and unconstitutional.”
President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week ending the practice of separating migrant children from family members detained at the border, but many children remain separated.
The lawsuit was filed in Chicago.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state will provide free legal services to anyone detained at New York airports on immigration charges.
The Democrat says Tuesday that the move is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries.
Cuomo says lawyers will be available through the Liberty Defense Project, administered by the Office of New Americans. Cuomo created the office in 2013 to help immigrants navigate the naturalization process.
The governor referred to the Trump administration’s travel ban as religious discrimination camouflaged as national security.
The Liberty Defense Project was created in 2017 as the Trump administration’s policies cracked down on immigration.
Advocacy groups on human rights and immigration issues are voicing concerns about border enforcement and asylum practices in a meeting with Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.
Border Network for Human Rights Executive Director Fernando Garcia said he was seeking information at the meeting Tuesday about expanded criminal prosecution of immigrants at the border, obstacles to processing asylum claims and new reports of alleged abuses by Border Patrol agents.
Garcia also says human rights groups including the ACLU are worried about plans to hold immigrants at military bases in Texas including Fort Bliss. He says the further “militarization” of the border is especially unwarranted at El Paso, which has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.
Seventeen states, including Washington, New York and California, are suing to force the Trump administration to reunite migrant families who have been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The states, all led by Democratic attorneys general, joined Washington, D.C., in filing the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Tuesday. It’s the first legal challenge by states over the practice.
Immigration authorities have separated about 2,300 children from their parents in recent weeks, sparking global outrage as images of weeping children emerged.
The president last week issued an executive order designed to end the practice, but the states say his order is riddled with caveats and fails to reunite parents and children who have already been torn apart.
The lawsuit says the migrants have been denied due process and their right to seek asylum.
Dozens of protesters have showed up outside a Los Angeles hotel where Attorney General Jeff Sessions has arrived to address the conservative Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.
Protesters gathered outside the Millennium Biltmore hotel in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday at midday.
They chanted, “Free our children, jail Sessions!” and “No justice, no peace!”
Police and security guards stood guard outside the hotel’s entrance.
Mexico’s top diplomat says the executive order signed last week by President Donald Trump to keep migrant families from being separated still violates their human rights.
Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray also says children already separated should be reunited with their parents immediately.
Videgaray told reporters Tuesday that Trump’s move “is the criminalization of the migration, which we believe is absolutely unacceptable, and the consequences this criminalization has for the children.”
Videgaray says Mexico is drafting a resolution to bring before the Organization of American States in Washington on Friday that condemns the Trump administration’s policy toward migrant families and calls for a human rights mission to investigate the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Police are arresting about two dozen protesters who sat down and blocked a street outside the U.S. attorney’s office in downtown Los Angeles to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Officers began the arrests shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday, a few hours before a scheduled address by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the conservative Criminal Justice Legal Foundation’s annual meeting at a Los Angeles hotel.
Demonstrators on sidewalks cheered as the protesters in the street were calmly handcuffed by officers and led away.
Lawyers who visited a federal immigration detention lockup in rural Texas where the U.S. government says it is establishing a family reunification center say no information about the detainees is being released.
Attorneys from the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia said on a conference call Tuesday that they need to have names, federal alien identification numbers or case numbers to access the facility at Port Isabel, near Los Fresnos.
They can only take a pen and paper when they meet detainees, who are all adults.
The lawyers have spoken to about 200 detainees since last week and only a handful knew where their children were being held. Detainees report that a 1-800 number for information about separated children doesn’t work.
The lawyers say detainees are segregated by country of origin. Many hail from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
A conservative suburb of Austin, Texas, is ending a contract with a 500-bed immigration detention center that has been a target of lawsuits and criminal investigations for a decade.
Commissioners in Williamson County voted 4-1 on Tuesday to sever ties with the T. Don Hutto Residential Center starting in 2019. The facility houses women and is overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The canceled contract comes amid uproar over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy and families that were split up by the government.
The facility opened in 2006 after being converted from a medium-security prison. It originally held women and children until 2009, when the U.S. government settled a lawsuit over how children were being confined.
Advocates say problems inside the facility have persisted. It is privately run by CoreCivic, which was formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America.
Dozens of protesters have gathered outside the US attorney’s office in Los Angeles to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Tuesday’s protest outside the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles comes hours before U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to address the conservative Criminal Justice Legal Foundation’s annual meeting.
Protesters are chanting: “Sessions, where’s your heart?”
Protesters also are carrying signs reading: “Free the children!” and “stop caging families.”
A man wearing a Donald Trump mask has a sign reading: “Know your enemy.”
A handful of Los Angeles police officers are standing to the side of the protest.
Immigrant rights advocates are asking a judge to order the release of immigrant parents separated from their children at the U.S. border and their reunification.
Attorneys on Monday asked the federal court in Los Angeles that is overseeing a longstanding settlement governing detention conditions for immigrant children to include their parents as plaintiffs.
The complaint filed by pro bono law firm Public Counsel on behalf of three Central American mothers whose children were taken from them by U.S. authorities in May argues that families need to heal from the trauma of forced separation together and outside the confines of detention.
Attorneys say the mothers are fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in the United States.
The Department of Justice declined comment.
The Trump administration has asked the court to let authorities detain families together during immigration proceedings to try to discourage illegal immigration.
The image of an immigrant child clinging to her mother has been removed from a mural near the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site in Kansas.
The Kansas City Star reports that the image was painted over Monday.
The 130- by 30-foot (40- by 9-meter) mural tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended segregated education and faces a former all-black school in Topeka where the lead plaintiff’s child was a student.
Artist bj McBride says she added the mother and child to the mural Friday following reports of the separation of parents and children at the U.S. border. She later decided it was “distracting.”
Sarah Fizell, executive director of the nonprofit ArtsConnect behind the mural, says the image didn’t fit with the mural’s story.