Private prisons aren’t the only companies making a fortune off immigration detention

from March 16, 2017 at 08:00AM
It’s not just private prisons that stand to profit from immigration detention in the US. Business is booming for a US company that bails out undocumented immigrants, and some clients are alleging fraud.

Read more at: Latest from The World and the GlobalPost

Jewish Institutions Face Another Wave of Bomb Threats

from March 7, 2017 at 02:33AM

At least five more Jewish community centers around the United States received bomb threats on Tuesday, including in Milwaukee, Miami, Portland, Oregon; Rochester, New York; and the DC metro area, the Huffington Post reported. Offices of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, also received threats in multiple locations.

The incidents mark the sixth wave of such threats since early January, bringing the total to around 100, according to Mark Potok, an expert on extremism and hate crimes at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Headstones have also been vandalized in at least three Jewish cemeteries around the country. On Friday, a troubled ex-journalist was arrested in connection with threats against eight Jewish community centers, although he appeared to be a copycat and federal law enforcement officials told the New York Times that he was not believed to be behind most of the threats.

Potok sees a disturbing new trend. "I’ve been doing this work for almost 20 years now and I haven’t seen anything like this in terms of a sustained campaign of bomb threats," he says. "The cemetery desecrations—that’s more of the kind of thing we see in Europe, in countries like Poland and Estonia, where there’s a lot of residual anti-Semitism," he added.

More than a month after the wave of threats began, President Donald Trump denounced the rising anti-Semitism, but critics say he hasn’t gone nearly far enough to reject America’s emboldened far-right hate groups.

The number of active hate groups in the US rose to a near-historic high of 917 in 2016, according to a tally by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Among hate crimes motivated by religious bias, anti-Semitic attacks continue to be the most common: There were 664 such attacks in 2015, according to the most recent FBI data.

Read more at: Politics | Mother Jones

Black People Are More Likely to Go to Prison for Crimes They Didn’t Commit

from March 7, 2017 at 01:42AM

Last year set another record for exonerations, with 166 convicted people vindicated by courts in 25 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico and by federal courts. A new report reveals a sobering truth behind the wrongful convictions of innocent people: Black Americans are more likely to serve time in prison for crimes they didn’t commit than their white counterparts.

In the National Registry of Exonerations’ new report, Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States, researchers looked at the 1,900 exonerations reported in the Registry between 1989 and October 2016. They found that while African Americans comprise only 13 percent of the population, they comprise 47 percent of those who were exonerated. This disparity cuts across all major crimes committed, but the report focuses on the three categories where exonerations are most frequent: murder, sexual assault, and drug crimes.

"There’s no doubt anymore that innocent people get convicted regularly—that’s beyond dispute," said Barbara O’Brien, a Michigan State University law professor and editor for the registry, in a press release.

Black people are seven times more likely than white people to be wrongfully convicted of murder, and cases where black people were exonerated were 22 percent more likely to involve police misconduct than cases involving white people.

For example, Walter McMillian was sentenced to life in prison in 1988 for the 1986 murder of a white woman in Monroeville, Alabama. The only evidence against McMillian was testimony by Ralph Myers, who was arrested for murdering another woman in a nearby town. Police told Myers that they had witnesses who would testify that he had murdered the woman in Monroeville along with McMillian, who was also known in the community because he had a white girlfriend. Despite six alibi witnesses who placed him at a fish fry at the time of the murder, the mostly white jury sentenced McMillian to life in prison; a judge overruled the jury and sentenced him to death. A few years later, however, McMillian’s lawyers discovered a recording of Myers complaining that officers forced him to implicate McMillian—a man he didn’t even know—for a crime neither of them had committed. McMillian was exonerated in 1993.

The stark racial disparity is also present in sexual assault cases. According to the report, a black person serving time for sexual assault is 3.5 times more likely to be innocent than a white person serving time for the same crime. Black men were responsible for 13 percent of sexual assault cases involving white victims, but 57 percent of sexual assault exonerees involving a white victim were black. The reason? Mistaken eyewitness identification: White people are more likely to mistake one black person for another than they are to misidentify members of their own race.

In 1982, Marvin Anderson was convicted of sexual assault, kidnapping, and robbery after a white woman was brutally raped by a black man in Hanover County, Virginia. When the woman reported the assault to an officer, he immediately suspected Anderson because the rapist told his victim that he "had a white girl," and Anderson was the only black man the cop knew who lived with a white woman. Anderson had no criminal record, so police obtained a copy of Anderson’s employment identification, which had a photograph of Anderson in color. Police showed this photograph to the victim alongside black-and-white mug shots of other men. The victim picked Anderson from the photo spread and from a police lineup later in the day. Anderson wasn’t vindicated until 2001, when post-conviction DNA testing proved his innocence.

Although the rate of drug use by white and black Americans is similar, black people are five times as likely to go to prison for drug crimes than their white counterparts. This disparity carries over to wrongful convictions as well. Innocent black people are 12 times as likely to be convicted of a drug crime as innocent white people. But because efforts to exonerate innocent people are focused on convictions where the stakes are higher, such as rape or murder, many innocent defendants convicted of low-level drug crimes are never exonerated.

In addition to the 2,000 exonerations that have occurred since 1989, an additional 1,800 people have been vindicated through "group exonerations." These exonerations came after major police scandals, where cops who systematically framed innocent black people were exposed. In 2016, in East Cleveland, Ohio, more than 40 defendants’ convictions were overturned after three police officers were imprisoned for planting drugs, stealing money, and filing false search warrants. Unfortunately, most wrongful convictions are never discovered.

"Increasingly, police, prosecutors and judges recognize this problem," O’Brien noted in the press release. "But will we do enough to actually address it? That remains to be seen."

Read more at: Politics | Mother Jones

After Kansas Shooting, More Violent Attacks Targeting Indians

from March 6, 2017 at 10:58PM

On Friday, Deep Rai, a Sikh man living in a Seattle suburb, was shot on his driveway, after a gunman allegedly shouted "go back to your country" before opening fire and wounding him. The shooting, which is currently being investigated as a potential hate crime, came less than two weeks after a man was arrested after he allegedly shot and killed one Indian man, Srinivas Kuchibholta, and injured his colleague, Alok Madasani, inside a Kansas bar. That shooter also allegedly told the two men to "go back to your country."

In another incident Thursday, Harnish Patel, an Indian man who had been living in the United States for more than 14 years, was shot and killed near his home in Lancaster, South Carolina. Police officials, however, said they have yet to find evidence the shooting may have been "racially motivated."

The three separate attacks come amid heightened fear and anxiety among Indians living in the United States, with many pointing to the Trump administration’s continued embrace of harsh anti-immigration policies as a primary factor fueling the violence. Some Indian immigrants have lamented what they see as the public’s lack of response to violent incidents directed at Indians. According to one Media Matters analysis, broadcast and cable news organizations "largely ignored" discussing the February 22 Kansas shooting. Indian newspapers dedicated entire front pages and editorials to addressing the attacks.

"Long years of struggle lie ahead, for the damage Trump has inflicted on the United States’ most cherished values will, almost certainly, outlast his years in office," said one Indian Express editorial. It also called out the Trump administration for its role in the resurgence of "white nationalist forces" around the country.

After initially rejecting any connection between his rhetoric and the Kansas shooting, President Donald Trump finally condemned racially motivated attacks in his first address to Congress Tuesday. But critics say his brief remarks, while a welcome step towards combating the recent surge in hate crimes targeting minority and religious groups nationwide, are not enough.

In response to the recent attacks, some Indians are calling on the Indian government to issue an official warning against travel to the United States.

Read more at: Politics | Mother Jones

A District Court Just Ruled That Texas Gerrymandering Violated the Voting Rights Act

from March 10, 2017 at 01:12PM

Good evening!

The case in question was originally filed in 2011 and charged that the congressional redistricting that happened after the 2010 census in Texas had been intentionally designed to dilute and diminish the votes of minorities.

And guess what?

Good news!

Tonight, in a 2-1 decision the US District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled that, indeed, the boundaries of certain districts in the Lone Star State do violate both the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.

"If this stands at the Supreme Court," Rick Hasen writes at ElectionLawBlog, "it could lead to the creation of more Texas minority opportunity districts."

If you don;t have any plans tonight, you can read the 200 page opinion here:



And the 450 page finding of facts here:


Read more at: Politics | Mother Jones

Federal Judges Find Texas GOP Gerrymandered Maps On Racial Lines

from March 10, 2017 at 10:57PM

Republicans hold two of three congressional districts ruled newly invalid and were found to have been partly drawn with discriminatory intent. The GOP-controlled Texas Legislature approved the maps in 2011, the same year then-Gov. Rick Perry signed a voter ID law that ranks among the toughest in the U.S. Courts have since weakened that law, too.

Judges noted the “strong racial tension and heated debate about Latinos, Spanish-speaking people, undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities” that served as the backdrop in the Legislature to Texas adopting the maps and the voter ID law. Those tensions are flaring again over President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration, and Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is also demanding tough crackdowns on so-called sanctuary cities.

“The record indicates not just a hostility toward Democrat districts, but a hostility to minority districts, and a willingness to use race for partisan advantage,” U.S. District Judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia wrote in their opinion.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately remark on the ruling.

Hispanics were found to have fueled Texas’ dramatic growth in the 2010 census, the year before the maps were drawn, accounting for two out of every three new residents in the state. The findings of racially motivated mapmaking satisfied Democrats and minority rights groups, who are now pushing a separate federal court in Texas to determine that the voter ID law was also crafted with discriminatory intent.

Texas was forced ahead of the November election to weaken its voter ID law, which allows concealed handgun licenses but not college student IDs, after a federal appeals court found that the requirements particularly hampered minorities and the poor.

The Obama administration had brought the muscle of the U.S. Justice Department into Texas to help challenge both the maps and voter ID law. But barely a month after Trump took office, the federal government reversed course and announced it would no longer argue that Texas purposefully discriminated against minorities with its voter ID law.

It was not yet clear whether the Trump administration will also drop opposition to Texas’ maps. But U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith, in a blistering dissent, had strong words for Obama administration attorneys after they joined the case.

“It was obvious, from the start, that the DoJ attorneys viewed state officials and the legislative majority and their staffs as a bunch of backwoods hayseed bigots who bemoan the abolition of the poll tax and pine for the days of literacy tests and lynchings,” Smith wrote. “And the DoJ lawyers saw themselves as an expeditionary landing party arriving here, just in time, to rescue the state from oppression, obviously presuming that plaintiffs’ counsel were not up to the task.”

The stakes in finding discriminatory intent are higher because it provides a window for opponents to argue that Texas should be forced to resume having changes to voting laws “pre-cleared” by the Justice Department or a federal court. A 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling did away with preclearance by striking down a key provision in the federal Voting Rights Act.

The congressional districts voided by the panel belong to Democrat Lloyd Doggett and Republicans Will Hurd and Blake Farenthold. Hurd’s district, which runs from San Antonio to El Paso, has been a rare competitive swing district in Texas in recent years.


Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter:

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read more at: All TPM News

Private prison execs are gloating over soaring profits from Trump’s mass deportation agenda

from March 13, 2017 at 02:21AM

Private prison cell

(Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


In a Feb. 22 call with investors, the private prison corporation GEO Group openly boasted that the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants is boosting its bottom line and fueling its expansion.

One of the largest private prison companies in the world, GEO Group, stands accused of widespread human rights violations, including charges that the company forced tens of thousands of immigrants in ICE detention at the Aurora, Colorado Denver Contract Detention Facility to perform slave labor. GEO Group’s Karnes family detention center in Texas, where mothers are incarcerated with their children, has been the site of repeated hunger strikes over poor conditions and indefinite detention.

Speaking with investors (transcript is available here), David Donahue, the President of GEO Corrections and Detention, directly cited the Trump administration’s “deportation force” as a boon to business.

“This week the Secretary of Homeland Security authorized the hiring of an additional 10,000 ICE officers and 5,000 border patrol agents,” said Donahue. “Additionally, the Secretary issued several policy directives for both ICE and the border patrol to take all necessary action and allocate all available resources to expand each respective agency’s detention capabilities and capacities.”

“We are having ongoing discussions with ICE about our capabilities, which include 3,000 idle beds and 2,000 underutilized beds,” he continued. “These discussions include several GEO facilities which have significant capacity, are immediately available and would meet ICE’s national detention standards. This underscores the importance of our public-private partnership with ICE, and our ability to respond swiftly to provide high-quality, cost-effective services in safe, secure and humane environments.”

In late February, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued memos to top DHS officials instructing them on how to implement executive orders signed by Trump in late January. One of Kelly’s memos details policies on the U.S./Mexico border, and the other outlines policies within the United States.

Together, the memos make nearly every undocumented person in the United States a target for deportation and dramatically expand powers to detain and deport people, even if it means separating children from their parents. Kelly signaled a dramatic expansion of the U.S. deportation infrastructure, writing, “I have directed ICE to hire 10,000 officers and agents expeditiously, subject to available resources, and to take enforcement actions consistent with available resources.”

Speaking with investors, chairman and chief executive officer George Zoley gloated, “We’re very pleased with our strong fourth quarter and year end results and our outlook for 2017,” adding: “It is gratifying to see GEO’s continued financial success.”

Zoley went on to directly cite Trump’s anti-immigrant executive orders as a boon to business, proclaiming:

With respect to detention services, in support of border security, we would continue to be the largest provider of detention services to the three federal agencies — that is to ICE, the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service. With this increased and expanded approach to border security, the first agency that will need additional capacity is ICE. Border Patrol will catch individuals and then send them to an ICE facility. Subsequently, there will be a need by the U.S. Marshals Service for those people that have committed criminal acts and need to be detained for adjudication. And further on down the line, BOP will need additional capacity as well for those people who’ve been sentenced and need to serve their time in one of the CAR facilities.

So it’s really an escalation of capacity need for all three federal agencies as a result of the president’s new executive orders redirecting the approach to border security for the three federal agencies.

The advocacy organization Grassroots Leadership blasted the company for profiting from Trump’s plans to implement mass deportations. “While immigrant communities are being terrorized by raids, the private prison industry is quietly celebrating a potential boom in business,” said Bob Libal, the executive director of the organization. “Prison companies like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America are preparing for an enormous expansion to detention under this administration. Mass deportations should make our country ashamed, not make private prison executives rich.”

The private prison industry has profited off of Democratic as well as Republican administrations. Last May, GEO Group and Corecivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) boasted to investors that profits were up thanks to “family detention centers,” which house mothers and their children. In 2014, the Obama administration made the mass detention of families a cornerstone of its response to mass displacement from Central American countries where violence and poverty have been worsened by U.S. policies.

A report released in 2015 by Grassroots Leadership determined that GEO Group and CCA have spent millions of dollars to lobby the Obama administration for harsher immigration policies, including a directive to fill 34,000 detention beds on a daily basis.

These human rights abuses are not limited to private prisons. To cite just one example, the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights determined in a report released in 2015 that atrocities are being committed at the publicly-operated Berks family detention center in Pennsylvania. The commission wrote, “Recently, we learned of a three-year-old child at the Berks County Residential Center who was throwing up for three days and was apparently offered water as a form of medical treatment. It was only after the child began throwing up blood on the fourth day that the facility finally transferred her to a hospital. This is simply unacceptable.”

Read more at:

Hungary’s Trump-supporting leader will deploy ‘border hunters’ and refugee detention containers

from March 13, 2017 at 11:16PM
EU member Hungary will detain asylum-seekers in shipping containers and will arm and deploy border vigilantes to prevent what the government calls an "invasion" of migrants.

Read more at: Latest from The World and the GlobalPost

Trump Cites Fake FBI Terror Plots to Justify Muslim Ban

from March 13, 2017 at 05:15PM

In each case, the “terrorism” in question was concocted by the FBI, as part of a sting operation.

On Monday March 6, 2017, the Trump Administration announced its second attempt at a Muslim Ban. While it is impossible to justify a ban that is fundamentally rooted in animus towards Muslims, Trump tried to rectify his previous executive order’s most glaring problems. For example, the new ban will not apply to legal permanent residents or people who currently hold valid visas.

The constitutional issues are much deeper than that. Ruling against the first ban, federal courts failed to find a rational relationship between barring the entry of individuals from the countries listed and a national security purpose. As a Virginia federal judge, who would later rule the order was unconstitutional, told the Justice Department lawyers defending the order, “the courts have been begging you to provide some evidence, and none has been forthcoming.”

Trump’s new order attempts to “provide some evidence” by giving reasons for why each of the countries were targeted for the ban, as well as why he is suspending the refugee program. While it is important to remember that Trump is just desperate to make his Muslim ban appear to be something other than what it is, it is worth looking at the “evidence” presented.

Trump proffers two incidents in which refugees were convicted on terrorism related charges. What Trump fails to disclose is that in each case the “terrorism” in question was concocted by the FBI, as part of a sting operation.

The first plot mentioned in the Executive Order involved two Iraqi refugees,  Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi. In 2010, an FBI confidential informant approached the two men telling them that he was working to send money, supplies, and weapons to the “Mujahadeen in Iraq.” The FBI then set up ten (fake) “operations” to send money to Iraq. As Sue Udry explained, “Throughout the operations, the FBI supplied all materials and took care of all logistics for the imaginary operation, with Alwan and Hammadi merely offering manpower.”

The second “plot” cited by Trump was the case of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized US citizen who came to the US as a Somali refugee as a young child.  Mohamud most likely first came to the FBI’s attention after he told his parents, who were in the process of getting a divorce, that he was leaving the country. His father, a refugee from Somalia’s civil war, was concerned his son may have been brainwashed, so he turned to the FBI for help. After reaching out to the FBI, he asked them to prevent his son from leaving the country. Mohamud never left. His mother discovered him at a local playground, brought him home, and took away his passport.

The FBI didn’t prove to be much help, but they did begin to continuously monitor Mohamud. Thanks to the FISA Amendments Act, they were also able to access information the National Security Agency collected about Mohamud, sans warrant. The FBI would describe him as a “confused college kid that talks mildly radical jihad out one ear, and drugs, sex, drinking out the other.”

Eventually, an FBI undercover agent reached out to Mohamud about joining a non-existent terrorist cell. Two confidential informants pretended to be the cell’s other members and concocted a phony plot to blow up the Portland, Oregon Christmas tree lighting. They gave Mohamud a phony bomb and sent him to detonate it. The FBI then proceeded to arrest him.

His defense team offered an entrapment defense, but a jury nonetheless found Mohamud guilty. However, a judge rejected the prosecution’s request for the maximum sentence, stating that the case was an example of “imperfect entrapment” and that it was “a sad case.”

In addition, to two non-existent terror plots dreamt up by the FBI, the Executive Order offers this “evidence:”

The attorney general has reported to me that more than 300 persons who entered the United States as refugees are currently the subjects of counterterrorism investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation

What these investigations mean is anybody’s guess. The FBI can launch a counterterrorism investigation based on thin air. BORDC/DDF has continuously documented how the FBI abuses its counterterrorism authorities. The FBI conducted a ten year counterterrorism investigation of the pacifist human rights group, School of the Americas Watch, even while admitting the group had “peaceful intent.” Other subjects of FBI counterterrorism investigations include the Occupy Wall Street movement, environmentalist, peace activists, and other dissidents.

Trump campaigned on a Muslim Ban. After becoming President though, he realized that legally he could not openly implement a Muslim Ban. He tried–and failed–to obscure his real intent with his previous executive order. After being challenged by social movements and exposed in court, Trump is desperately trying to save face. If the ban itself is motivated by animus, if its real intent is not promote national security, but to discriminate, no amount of tinkering can save it.

Trump’s use of phony FBI terror plots to to make the case for suspending the refugee program should be cause for concern. These plots are not just rooted Islamophobia, but foster it as well. The FBI concocted these phony plots, now Trump points to them to justify his own Muslim Ban, illustrating how state-sponsored Islamophobia breeds more state-sponsored Islamophobia


Read more at: Alternet

This Is What Trump’s Deportation Campaign Really Looks Like

from March 14, 2017 at 01:03AM

Since February, dozens of deportation raids have been carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as Donald Trump has kicked his immigration crackdown into high gear. Immigrants—many of whom have lived and worked in the country for decades—have been arrested at home, at work, and at routine check-ins with ICE officials. Some arrests have sparked protests, while others have gone relatively unnoticed.

Here are some of the most outrageous arrests ICE has made so far this year:

The DACA recipient arrested after speaking out against ICE

Twenty-two-year-old Daniela Vargas was arrested by ICE officers in Jackson, Mississippi, earlier this month—shortly after giving a speech in which she publicly criticized ICE for detaining her brother and father. Vargas, who arrived in the United States from Argentina with her family when she was seven, was one of thousands of young immigrants protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was started by President Obama in 2012. (Trump has been reluctant to criticize the program or so-called Dreamers, leading to criticism from immigration hardliners.)

Vargas was granted DACA status in 2014, but her status expired in November. In February, she applied to renew her status, and not long after her father and brother were detained at their home. Weeks later, Vargas spoke out about her relatives’ arrest at a news conference. Shortly afterward, ICE agents pulled over the car Vargas was riding in. "What we know they said is, ‘You know who we are, you know why we’re here,’" said Greisa Martinez Rosas, the director of United We Dream, an immigrants’ rights group. They arrested Vargas. "Because her DACA was expired," Martinez Rosas said, "ICE agents played a game of ‘gotcha’ with her life." Vargas was released from ICE custody last Friday, after a week in detention.

The brain tumor patient detained at the hospital

There are several places that immigration officials consider sensitive—schools, churches, hospitals, and ceremonies like funerals and weddings—where they typically refrain from conducting enforcement actions. In the case of Sara Beltrán Hernández, ICE agents skirted this informal policy in late February by arresting her in the Texas hospital where she was receiving treatment for a brain tumor. Beltrán Hernández was transferred to a detention facility in Alvardo, Texas, where she had previously been held after spending 16 months while waiting for a judge to rule on her asylum request. Beltrán Hernández claimed she had fled El Salvador in late 2015 to escape domestic abuse and the gang violence that has devastated the country.

Earlier this month, after a petition from her attorney and a social-media campaign led by Amnesty International, she was granted bond, allowing her to reunite with her family and seek medical attention while her case is resolved.

The transgender woman detained at her domestic-abuse court hearing

Ervin Gonzalez, an undocumented transgender woman from Mexico, was arrested in a courthouse in El Paso, Texas, in mid-February, just minutes after leaving a hearing in her domestic-violence case. Gonzalez, who had filed police reports for three incidents of alleged abuse, had been granted a protective order against her accused abuser. "We were stunned that ICE would go to these lengths for someone that is not a violent criminal," Jo Anne Bernal, the county attorney, told a local news station after the arrest. "I cannot recall an instance where ICE agents have gone into the domestic-violence court, specifically looking for a victim of domestic violence." An ICE spokesperson said the agency had been tipped off about the woman’s whereabouts by another law enforcement agency, and that she had already been deported six times. She is currently being held in a local detention facility under a federal ICE detainer.

The father whose arrest was filmed by his sobbing daughter

In another side step of ICE’s sensitive-location policy, immigration officials arrested Rómulo Avelica-González just a block away from his daughter’s school in Los Angeles. Avelica-González and his wife were headed there to drop off their daughter for the day when ICE officials pulled over their car. His 13-year-old daughter, who cried through the ordeal, captured the arrest on video. Avelica-González came to the United States from Mexico in the early 1990s and has since raised four daughters here, all US citizens. He is the sole financial provider for his family, according to his supporters. His family has attained a stay on his deportation from an appeals court.

In a statement, the union that represents teachers in Los Angeles slammed ICE for the arrest, saying it would "lead to students staying home, disrupting their education," and that children had a right to an education "free from fear and intimidation." Avelica-González was detained because he had "multiple prior criminal convictions," ICE officials said, including a DUI from 2009, and an outstanding order of removal from 2011.

The Phoenix mother deported for working illegally

Guadalupe García de Rayos, a 35-year-old mother of two US citizens, was deported in early February. She had been detained during her annual check-in with ICE officials, which she was required to attend because of a years-old conviction for using a fake Social Security number to work. Because her felony conviction was nonviolent, García de Rayos was considered low priority for deportation under the Obama administration. But under ICE’s new prioritization guidelines, García de Rayos’ criminal record made her a priority for deportation. She was taken into custody at her check-in February and deported days later.

The Akron father who was forced to deport himself

Leonardo Valbuena, 43, was arrested at his regular check-in with immigration officials in Akron, Ohio, in February. He had traveled to the United States from Colombia with his wife and two children on a temporary visitor’s visa in 2006 and told local reporters that he had subsequently applied for political asylum. Valbuena, who worked as a carpenter in Cleveland, had been issued a Social Security number for tax purposes, a work permit, and a driver’s license as he awaited a decision—but in the meantime, he claimed, his visa expired. At his check-in in February, Valbuena was arrested and given the option to leave the country voluntarily in exchange for not being criminally prosecuted for overstaying his visa. He was given a few weeks to gather himself to go back to Colombia, and his wife and children decided to leave with him. In an interview with a local news station before he left for Colombia, Valbuena said, "It’s hard to explain how my life changed on that day."

The pregnant mother of four

Lilian Cardona-Pérez, 33, came to the United States legally from Guatemala in 1997 at age 13. She seured a work permit, has been employed since—currently at a Mexican restaurant and as a housekeeper—and has raised four children with her husband. The couple is expecting a fifth. But earlier this month, Cardona-Pérez attended her regular check-in with ICE officials in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was told she would be deported in 30 days. Cardona-Pérez’s family has not made public why she is being deported, but they said ICE made an allegation against her that, they claim, is untrue. She has an immigration hearing scheduled this week, but if deported, she’d leave behind her family and be left to raise her fifth child alone. "I have no family there. I have no home," Cardona-Perez said of Guatemala at a prayer vigil last weekend. "There is no place I could go."

Read more at: Politics | Mother Jones