Notas de prensa sobre migración

In Court, Immigrant Children Are Moved to Head of Line

By KIRK SEMPLE – AUG. 14, 2014

Yovany’s first opportunity to face the United States justice system came late on Thursday morning, more than a month after his journey from Guatemala ended in an American detention center near the Southwest border.

Alone, the 16-year-old entered an immigration courtroom on Broadway in Lower Manhattan and braced for mercilessness. Instead, he met Judge F. James Loprest Jr.

“Do you have a lawyer?” the judge asked, his tone soft, his cadence gentle. He patiently explained that the nation’s immigration laws were complicated and encouraged the boy to get a lawyer to explore possible relief from deportation.

“I’m supposed to act as a referee,” Judge Loprest continued. “But I’m happy to give you the time that you need.”

Yovany was among 55 children who have come before the judge this week as part of a new accelerated court process, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s strategy to deal with the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America.

Under the new procedures, the Justice Department is moving children who recently arrived to the head of the line to see immigration judges, possibly leading to deportation within months rather than years, the usual time frame amid the tremendous backlogs in the immigration court system. Quicker deportations, some officials have said, might send a strong message to the countries where the children are coming from and help to deter others from migrating illegally.

But immigrants’ advocates and service providers have been concerned that the accelerated process — known more formally as “priority dockets” and informally as “surge dockets” or “rocket dockets” — would somehow compromise due process.

They worried that the Obama administration’s urgency to deport the new arrivals would make it much more difficult for children to find affordable, competent legal help. They feared that in the rush, some children might not receive notices of court hearings, leading to judgments in absentia and guaranteed deportations.

While some of those fears have been realized around the country, the experience in New York this week, service providers said, has been remarkably smooth.

On Wednesday, the first day of the priority dockets, 29 of 32 children appeared for initial hearings — and one of those who failed to appear had never been notified, legal service providers said. On Thursday, 26 of 27 showed up.

Judge Loprest set continuances for nearly all of the children in October and November.

“It’s working seamlessly,” said Jojo Annobil, chief of the immigration law unit at the Legal Aid Society, who was helping to coordinate a small brigade of representatives from an array of different service providers and law firms.

Before the surge of unaccompanied minors became a crisis for the Obama administration, the immigration courts in New York, among the nation’s busiest, held four special juvenile dockets every month for children facing deportation. In coordination with court officials, a coalition of groups — including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Catholic Charities Community Services, Legal Aid, Safe Passage Project and the Door — provided screening and free legal representation to the children.

In July, Justice Department officials announced their plan to reshuffle priorities and to put unaccompanied minors, as well as families with children, first in line to see immigration judges.

Immigrants’ advocates in New York learned only at the end of July that the Justice Department had scheduled the new juvenile dockets starting this week. The groups, already overstretched, rushed to develop a plan of action.

The special dockets unfolded this week on the 12th floor of 26 Federal Plaza, a hulking federal office building near City Hall. The children, most accompanied by relatives, began to gather in the hallway outside Courtroom 31 by 8 a.m., an hour before the hearings were to begin.

Representatives from the nonprofit groups greeted them. “I know this can be confusing,” Lenni Benson, director of Safe Passage, said on Wednesday.

On both days, Elvis Garcia Callejas, a representative from Catholic Charities, used a white board to present the families with a primer, in Spanish, on how the court works and on possible avenues of relief they might pursue to avoid a deportation order.

Most of the defendants appeared to be teenagers, although there were children as young as 4. Two young sisters wore matching striped dresses.

“The judge is not going to rule today,” Mr. Garcia Callejas clarified.

Then, those children without lawyers were invited into a large hearing room down the hall to be interviewed by volunteer attorneys. The children with lawyers were crowded with their families onto the few wooden benches in the gallery of Courtroom 31 and awaited their hearings.

Minutes later, Judge Loprest bounded in. “Good morning, everybody,” he exclaimed, shedding his black judicial robe to reveal a blue tie and his shirt sleeves rolled up. “How’s everybody today?” Casually introducing himself as “James Loprest,” he said, “I want to thank you for being here.”

He was friendly and avuncular. He invited questions from the defendants. “I don’t want anything to be a mystery to anybody,” he said.

Justice Department officials said they had a mandate to ensure that children went before an immigration judge within 21 days of being placed in deportation proceedings. They plan to hold the special dockets as often as necessary to reach that goal.

But Mr. Annobil said the service providers that have customarily worked on juvenile dockets have agreed on a schedule to ensure that there will be sufficient help to staff the screenings through the end of the month.

The next challenge, he said, is to figure out how to provide legal representation for every child who needs it.

Judge Loprest gave Yovany, who now lives with a cousin in Babylon, Long Island, more than three months to find a lawyer. “Can I ask you to come back on Nov. 19?” the judge inquired. The boy nodded.

In the hallway, Yovany smiled, visibly relieved. He held a list of nonprofit organizations that might be able to provide him with legal help.

The morning’s experience, he said, had not been what he had expected.

“It’s not like everyone says it is — they say the court is very strict,” he said. “It’s much calmer.”

Another Guatemalan defendant, Melissa, 17, also seemed buoyant after her hearing. She left her home in Guatemala in June but was detained at the Texas border two weeks later, eventually being released to her father, Edwin, last month. Her brother, who had also been detained, arrived a week later.

“The judge was a very understandable guy,” said Edwin, a construction worker who lives with his children in Nyack, N.Y. “He gave us another chance.”

A version of this article appears in print on August 15, 2014, on page A16 of the New York edition with the headline: In Court, Children Lead Line of Migrants.

New York Today: Immigrant Children Head to Court


August 13, 2014 5:59 am August 13, 2014 11:04 am 7 Comments

An undocumented minor from Guatemala. Credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

Updated 10:33 a.m.

Good morning on this stormy Wednesday. There is widespread flooding on Long Island.

Today in a courtroom in Manhattan, about 30 children are scheduled to appear, one by one, before a judge.

Most likely speak little or no English.

They won’t necessarily have lawyers.

They are there because of a surge in child migration.

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors — mostly from Central America — have crossed into the U.S. this year.

And their cases are now going before judges much more quickly than they would have before.

We consulted Kirk Semple, who covers immigration in the region for The Times, about the situation.

“The Obama administration wants to show they’re doing everything possible to stem the flow,” he said. “So they’re accelerating the process.”

The government has implemented special dockets that move recently arrived children to the front of the line in Immigration Court.

(Immigrant advocates sardonically call them “rocket dockets.”)

The administration seeks to bring unaccompanied minors before a judge within 21 days after being placed in deportation proceedings. The target for parents who came with children is 28 days.

Local service providers are scrambling to find legal representation for them, Mr. Semple said.

“They’re already tapped out.”

Mr. Semple has met several of these children — mainly teenagers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

What stood out, he said, was “their arduous journey, the extraordinary tales of difficulty and the challenges of getting from their homes to the U.S.”

On Immigration, G.O.P. Starts to Embrace Tea Party


Representatives Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Steve King of Iowa, center left, were among a group of conservative Republicans who reshaped two immigration-related bills. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Late last month, as members of Congress were poised to leave for their summer recess, the House Republicans’ top policy experts found themselves in a barren conference room in the Capitol’s basement, negotiating with the party’s most ardent opponents of immigration overhaul.

As senior members of the Judiciary Committee looked on, the opponents — Representatives Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa and Mo Brooks of Alabama — reshaped two bills to address the rush of unaccompanied children trying to enter the country illegally. Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, was there, too, and she and Mr. King later took to Twitter to post photos of themselves approving the final language.

For the Obama administration, which is considering carrying out broad immigration policy changes by executive decree, the end of the legislative session was potent evidence that Congress could not be a partner on the pressing, delicate policy decisions to come. A legislative year in which Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio set out to publicly marginalize the more vocal right-wing members of his conference ended with them emboldened, and with new leaders ready to bring the right back into the fold.


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“This was one of the most remarkable experiences I’ve had in my eight years in Congress,” Mrs. Bachmann said. “We were able to achieve unity across the conference in what is likely to be the most consequential issue of this time: immigration.”

For party elders pressing for conciliation to attract Hispanic and immigrant votes, that unity has different meaning.

“When you put Raúl Labrador, Steve King and Michele Bachmann together writing an immigration bill, there’s damage done, no question,” said Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary under President George W. Bush who led the failed war room in 2007 trying to get a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws passed.

The Republican Party pumped tens of millions of dollars into defeating Tea Party candidates in the midterm primary season, exerted pressure to cut off funding to conservative Tea Party-affiliated political action committees, and even turned to Democrats to pass crucial laws and neutralize conservative rebels. Mr. Boehner said he went along with a government shutdown in October to show his fractious conference the political cost of intransigence.

Then, with just hours remaining in the summer legislative session, the rebels stormed back — and on the issue where Republican elders believe they have wrought the most political damage.

That has given the Obama administration new ammunition as it presses toward executive actions that Republicans say would precipitate a constitutional crisis and amount to abuse of presidential power. It also points to a new reality for Republican leaders, who brought in a Southern conservative, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, in the wake of the Tea Party’s stunning defeat of the House majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia.

“If they continue with this sort of approach, we’re going to have a much more successful conference and a much more successful legislative record,” Mr. Labrador said. “We didn’t go to Congress to be told what we needed to do. We went to Congress because we thought we could contribute.”

Five months after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, vowed to crush the Tea Party insurgency, the political balance in the Republican civil war has tipped. In a primary season that once promised to be bloody, only three Republican incumbents were defeated. No Republican senator lost, and no conservative whose words could hurt the party in the fall was nominated.

But on Capitol Hill, the Tea Party wing continues to drive the party’s agenda. Last winter, as House Republican leaders drafted their “principles” for immigration overhaul, they largely disregarded the opponents of any form of legal status for immigrants in the country illegally, dismissing them as a loud but small minority. When that faction vocally opposed the principles, Mr. Boehner put the effort in cold storage rather than highlight the divisions in his conference — even as he mocked Republicans who feared moving forward with immigration legislation.

Then, last month, as Mr. Scalise was preparing to assume the No. 3 post of House majority whip, he called Mr. Labrador, who was an immigration lawyer before he was elected in the wave of 2010.

“He said, ‘I understand you’re an expert; I really need your help,’ ” Mr. Labrador said.

With Democrats united in opposition and Republicans divided, Republican leaders dropped plans to pass a stripped-down border-control spending bill. But most House Republicans did not want to leave Washington without addressing the crisis at the border. During a boisterous, closed-door meeting, mainstream Republicans vented their anger at immigration hard-liners, accusing them of scuttling the leadership’s bills just because they could.

In a surprise move, Mr. Boehner turned to the hard-liners he had sidelined.

“Those of us who believed in border security were, by and large, cast aside,” said Mr. Brooks, the Alabama representative. “Funny how things can change real quickly when the only way you can pass legislation is to amend it our way. I hope House leadership will consider our various opinions to a greater degree than they have in the past.”

The changes opponents sought were subtle: clearer language showing that the bill was raising the bar on granting asylum hearings to unaccompanied children at the border, and a more explicit bill phasing out Mr. Obama’s executive order granting legal status to some immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, an order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Regardless, Mr. Gutierrez said, political damage was done. Complexities of immigration law that slip by most of the American news media remain front and center on Spanish television, where news figures such as Jorge Ramos advocate immigration overhaul positions, he said. And little-known lawmakers like Mr. King and Mr. Brooks are not so obscure among Latinos.

Just days after helping write the House’s only immigration policy bill of the year, Mr. Brooks made waves again when he spoke of a “war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party” to the conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham. Mr. King was caught on tape grabbing the arm of a young immigrant who grew up in Arizona and was granted legal status by the president’s order. “You’re very good at English, you know what I’m saying?” he told the immigrant, a graduate of Arizona State University.

Mr. Gutierrez said: “We have destroyed tens of thousands of young lives, people who don’t speak Spanish, who have lived their whole lives here, who want to be productive members of society, and now Steve King is rewriting DACA? I just think that is a real shame.”

Those involved in the fight say its outcome could be a sign of things to come, in clashes brewing over raising the federal borrowing limit, funding the government beyond Sept. 30, and staving off extinction for the Export-Import Bank, which underwrites private foreign sales and expires at the end of next month.

“Before now, our leadership was looking at what can pass in the Senate,” Mr. Labrador said. “That’s not my concern. I want the most conservative piece of legislation that can pass the House.”

A version of this article appears in print on August 13, 2014, on page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: On Immigration, G.O.P. Starts to Embrace Tea Party.

Canción triste de todos los veranos

Javier de Lucas*

Aunque la estacionalidad sea uno de los factores que lleva todos los veranos ante nuestros ojos la tragedia de las pateras, no podemos ni debemos permitirnos aceptar esa desgracia como una rutina que acompaña al calor, las historias de las celebrities en sus vacaciones en Ibiza o el posado de la familia real en Marivent, eso sí, con “nuevo estilo”. Y, menos aún, no podemos ni debemos resignarnos al lloriqueo hipócrita y al mantra del “efecto llamada” con el que se responde ritualmente en y por buena parte de los medios de comunicación, que acuden al asunto ante la escasez de noticias y de serpientes entretenidas.

Por no hablar de los rutinarios pronunciamientos de la mayor parte de los partidos políticos y, en particular, de los portavoces agosteños del PP y del Gobierno, que son la prueba de que todo puede empeorar. Cansa, pero hay que repetir algunos argumentos trillados, además de los que aluden a la obvia facilidad que brindan las condiciones favorables en el Estrecho, a la imposibilidad de pagar las tarifas de las mafias para tratar de recorrer los 14 kilómetros en navíos menos suicidas que las barcas hinchables y a la decisión de Marruecos de mirar para otro lado.

Pero antes, un par de consideraciones elementales. La primera: hay que repetir que hoy, menos que nunca, hablamos sólo de inmigración. Hasta el FRONTEX (véanse las declaraciones del director adjunto ejecutivo Gil Arias, el lunes 11 de agosto, en Hora 25) reconoce que entre los más de 150.000 “inmigrantes irregulares” que se preve que lleguen a Europa en 2014 (sólo el 8% a España), el 80% responden a un perfil de refugiados, no de inmigrantes. Y eso obliga a todos los Estados miembros de la UE.

Les obliga jurídicamente, digo, puesto que todos son parte de los Convenios de Ginebra que constituyen el núcleo del Derecho internacional de refugiados, del derecho de asilo. Les obliga a acogerlos y atenderlos. Nada de centros de internamiento y expulsiones inmediatas, menos aún colectivas, sin establecer si cada uno de ellos tiene en efecto ese derecho. Y en segundo lugar, repitamos que debemos asumir las responsabilidades de nuestros errores. Algo tenemos que ver y no sólo por omisión, en los desastres que viven Estados fallidos como Libia, Mali, Sudán del Sur o Eritrea. Algo tenemos que ver con los conflictos que arrasan Siria e Irak. En todos esos casos (salvo Siria), después de nuestras intervenciones lo que encontramos es una situación de caos en la que la única forma de seguir con vida es escapar. Buscar refugio. Sus viajes inciertos, como sentenció el periodista Pedro Blanco, tienen buena parte de su razón de ser en nuestros fracasos y en nuestra inoperancia.

Volvamos ahora a los argumentos básicos sobre la “emergencia migratoria estival”. Primero: no hay efecto llamada más eficaz que la desigualdad de condiciones a uno y otro lado del Mediterráneo, la falla demográfica más grave del planeta (más que la que separa EEUU de México y América Central). Es así porque la relación entre el PIB y la pirámide demográfica es radicalmente inversa a uno y otro lado. Las “sociedades adolescentes” de la ribera sur (con más de un 60% de la población menor de 30 años) tienen un PIB de 15 a 20 veces menor que las nuestras, las más envejecidas de Europa y casi del mundo. Y si hablamos de esos países que continuamos denominando “subsaharianos”, la desigualdad se multiplica.

Ante un horizonte de vida casi cerrado desde nuestra adolescencia y juventud, ¿qué haríamos nosotros mismos? ¿nos pararían las vallas, por altas que sean y por muy coronadas de concertinas que estén? No. Y no es una novedad: Montesquieu dejó escrito hace siglos que los seres humanos seguimos la senda que nos lleva hacia la libertad y la riqueza, es decir, hacia una vida mejor.

Por eso, un segundo argumento: cuando hablamos de inmigración, de emigrantes e inmigrantes, antes de apelar a cifras y estadísticas y fijar esa enigmática cuota de lo que podemos admitir, hay que recordar que hablamos del derecho de todo ser humano a buscar una vida mejor. Sí, un derecho humano fundamental, basado en la autonomía personal (y esa es la razón de la dignidad) que deberíamos reconocer a todo ser humano: que cada uno pueda elegir cómo mejorar su vida. Eso exige, ante todo, que se den las condiciones para no estar obligado a buscarlas fuera de su casa: lo primero es garantizar que exista el derecho a no emigrar, que esa decisión no sea fruto del estado de necesidad, sino un acto libre (ninguno lo es absolutamente),de decisiones como las que hasta hace muy poco tomábamos nosotros mismos para buscar un puesto de trabajo en Francia, Alemania o EEUU o para irnos con nuestro amor a vivir a su país.

Por esa razón, tenemos una obligación de ayudar a crear esas condiciones, actuando sobre las causas de la desigualdad, por ejemplo mediante los programas de Ayuda al Desarrollo (AOD). Esa es la respuesta adecuada. Actuar sobre las causas de ese motor de la emigración que es la desigualdad. Y no sólo la económica, sino que se mide en términos de desarrollo humano. Hablo de reconocimiento y garantía de satisfacción de necesidades elementales, como no pasar hambre, poder disponer de agua, no sucumbir al embate de la primera enfermedad, tener un techo, un trabajo digno. Pero también de los otros derechos humanos, los civiles y políticos y, con ello, de avanzar en democracia.

Tercera consideración: ¿Por qué no ha funcionado nuestro modelo de AOD? Por qué no ha dado resultados la AOD en relación con una regulación razonable de los flujos migratorios? Responderé, para simplificar, que esa AOD incurre en dos errores de perspectiva en torno al concepto mismo de desarrollo y al método de la ayuda. Y en un tercero, que es consecuencia de la lógica partidista, electoralista, que busca siempre el resultado inmediato en toda iniciativa política y rechaza el medio y no digamos el largo plazo.

Como ha explicado muchas veces Sami Naïr (por ejemplo en la última parte de su libro La Europa mestiza, dedicado al problema del codesarrollo), nuestro modelo de AOD es cortoplacista, torpemente utilitarista e inspirado no ya en el egoísmo racional, sino en el paternalismo casi colonial. Por eso es dirigista (de Gobierno a Gobierno o de élites a élites), centralizador y acaban primando en él los intereses del donante (los de nuestros empresarios, por ejemplo los de la industria de armamento en los créditos FAD) y no las necesidades del receptor. Por eso acaba fomentando círculos que en muchos casos abocan inevitablemente a corrupción en uno y otro lado.

Y al ser cortoplacista declara su inviabilidad en términos de políticas migratorias porque no consigue su ingenua pretensión de poner un “tapón” a la inmigración casi de modo inmediato. Por ejemplo, vinculando la AOD al cumplimiento de cupos policiales en el control de los movimientos migratorios, también en las “repatriaciones” que son meras expulsiones las más de las veces. Y, desde luego, queda muy lejos aquella exigencia de alcanzar el 0,7% del PIB en 2015.

En el caso español, so pretexto de la crisis en los últimos años del Gobierno Zapatero y mucho más decididamente con el Gobierno Rajoy y su ministro Margallo, las cosas han ido a mucho peor : en 4 años el presupuesto de la AOD se ha reducido en un 70%. Como recordaba el pasado mes de marzo el portavoz de Intermon Oxfam en la presentación de su Informe La realidad de la ayuda 2013, el ministro Margallo ha trazado un plan prioritario de ayuda a 23 países, entre los que no están los del Africa subsahariana, a los que ha reducido en un 80% la AOD. Han pasado de los 1.080 millones de euros que se destinaban en 2008 a unos 220. Es verdad que vivimos una crisis en España (que en esos países sería el paraíso), pero como decía el mismo portavoz, querer reducir el déficit recortando en cooperación "es como querer perder peso a base de cortarse el pelo”.

Escribo también bajo el impacto de la muerte del religioso Miguel Pajares, víctima del virus Ébola que contrajo intentando ayudar a los más desfavorecidos, a los enfermos en Liberia a los que apenas podían tratar más que con medidas higiénicas elementales y analgésicos. Su muerte se une a la de otros cooperantes y a las más de mil víctimas en Sierra Leona, Liberia, Guinea Conakry y ahora Nigeria. Pero el Ébola no mata más que la malaria. El Ébola no mata más que la contaminación del delta del Niger por barcos y chatarra que dejan allí empresas transnacionales. Ni mata más que la hambruna que asola Eritrea o Sudán del Sur. Eso sí, nosotros en lugar de mirar esas realidades, seguimos con la nariz en la valla y las balsas.

· Dr. Javier de Lucas

Catedrático de Filosofía del Derecho y Filosofía Política
Instituto de derechos humanos
Universitat de Valencia (España)



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