South Texas Prison Riot Probably Happened Because Texas' Immigrant Prisons Are Awful

Why did a few thousand immigrants imprisoned in South Texas riot last week against the nice private prison corporation that was housing them? Management and Training Corp.'s version of events is that its inmates "refused to participate in regular work duties or attend breakfast early Friday morning," which certainly seems like an unreasonable thing for an inmate to do.

The inmates then somehow broke out of their housing units, forcing the company to bring in multiple government agencies to lock the place down and also forcing a partial lock-down of the local school district in Willacy County.

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Federal Judge Sides With Texas, Temporarily Stops Obama Immigration Action

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Gage Skidmore
An auspicious early-term victory for the governor.
Late Monday night, a U.S. district judge in Brownsville issued a temporary injunction blocking President Obama's decision to shield about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

See also: Greg Abbott Leads Texas into Immigration Lawsuit Fight With Feds

In November Obama announced his plan to create a program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. It has not yet gone into effect, and 26 states, lead by Texas, sued to block it. Judge Andrew Hanen said in his opinion that allowing DAPA to get rolling before the states' lawsuit was heard would create an untenable situation were the courts to rule in favor of the states.

"Once these services are provided, there will be no effective way of putting the toothpaste back in the tube should Plaintiffs ultimately prevail on the merits," Hanen wrote.

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Greg Abbott Leads Texas into Immigration Lawsuit Fight With Feds

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Gage Skidmore
Just over a week ago, on November 24, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the "odds were in favor" of the state suing the federal government to stop President Obama's executive action on immigration. Wednesday afternoon, the governor-elect cashed that bet, announcing that he'd been joined by 16 other states in filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

"The president's job is to enforce the law, not to make them," Abbott said.

Allowing certain undocumented persons who've been in the United States for more than five years to work and live in the country without the threat of deportation would cause irreparable damage to Texas, Abbott says. The state has already incurred tremendous costs from DACA, President Obama's program that allows individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in the country, so it has unique standing to challenge the executive action.

See also: Texas Likely to Sue Obama Over Immigration

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Immigration Lawyer's Advice to Client to Walk Out on an Immigration Hearing Not a Hit with State Bar

Back in April, the carefully airbrushed Yelp reputation of Irving attorney Sherin Thawer took a major hit when user Kayur P. left a bruising, one-star appraisal of her legal talents. The content of the review has since been removed from the site for unspecified violations of Yelp's terms of service, but Thayer helpfully saved it for posterity by including it in the defamation lawsuit she filed four days later:

My brother hired Sherin back in February 2013 for his immigration case. She is the most unethical, incompetent lawyer you'll ever come across. I wouldn't even call her a lawyer, she's a FRAUD.

Strong words, but to prove defamation against Kayur and his brother Anish Patel (she sued both), Thawer would have had to have established, among other things, that Kayur's comment was false. And while it may have been hyperbolic (there's always a more unethical/incompetent lawyer out there), the heart of the claim rings true to the State Bar of Texas. On Tuesday its Commission for Lawyer Discipline sued Thawer, who is already in month two of a two-year suspension according her profile on the State Bar website, seeking additional sanctions.

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Texas Likely to Sue Obama Over Immigration

Gage Skidmore
Plotting his final act as attorney general.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, soon to make his home in the governor's mansion, says the "odds are in favor" of Texas suing the federal government to prevent the implementation of President Obama's proposed executive or to stop the deportation of certain undocumented immigrant who have been in the country for more than five years.

"The president has crossed the line from politics to endangering the constitutional structure," Abbott said Monday afternoon.

The United States' immigration system is broken, Abbott acknowledged, but an "executive fiat" is not the way to fix i. The president is not exercising prosecutorial discretion, the attorney general argued, because the number of people affected is so large. If Obama's action is allowed, Abbott suggested that a future Republican president could similarly act on things like taxes and environmental regulations.

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Unaccompanied Immigrant Kids Are Still Coming into Texas

Categories: Immigration

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Kids were coming into the U.S. via the infamous train, La Bestia, by the thousands this summer. What about now?

It's been a few months since Clay Jenkins ceremoniously announced that, because rates of unaccompanied immigrant children coming into Texas had ebbed, there was no longer a need for a local shelter. Has the influx remained low?

See also: Dallas County Will Not Shelter Thousands of Central American Kids After All

Experts agree that the flow of immigrants seems to slow when the weather is either too hot or too cold to make the already dangerous crossland trip. Which is why, if rates were lower in the middle of August, we can expect them to be low throughout the winter months.

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DFW Congregations Offer Sanctuary to Prevent Low-Priority Deportations

Categories: Immigration

ICE officials attempting to deport a family from a church.

If you hear the word "sanctuary" and think of the scene in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in which Esmeralda pleads with the cathedral priest for shelter (or, be honest, you think of Logan's Run), you might be surprised to learn that actual sanctuaries are a growing movement in many congregations across the country. Over 70 Christian and Jewish congregations have expressed support in the last year for sheltering undocumented immigrants scheduled for deportation.

The movement was prompted by a 2011 Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo which detailed that immigration arrests should not be conducted, unless there is a severe imminent threat, in "sensitive locations" -- which includes schools, hospitals and churches. And so far, immigration enforcement officials seem to respect the boundary.

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Entrepreneurs and Educated Workers Changing the Face of Texas' Immigrant Population

Categories: Immigration


After being inundated with images of poverty stricken unaccompanied Central American children this summer, you might be surprised to learn that the stereotype of the poor working class immigrant is rapidly changing in Texas. The growing demographic, it turns out, are educated and highly skilled -- and the Texas economy is increasingly dependent on their money.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities released a report last week that pointed out the economic virility of the immigrant workforce. Small immigrant-owned businesses brought in $4.4 billion in revenue to the Texas economy last fiscal year.

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One Grown-Up Immigrant Adjusts to American Life Post-Honduras -- For Now

Categories: Immigration

Walking the Tracks
Oscar Ramirez fled Honduran gangs when he was 21, and says the United States is the only place he now feels safe.

Oscar Ramirez looks older than his 30 years. He is reserved and wears a simple blue button-down shirt and jeans. His skin is weathered, and crow's feet frame his dark brown eyes. His nails are bitten down, and his arms are sporadically etched with small, thin scars. Life has been hard for him.

He grew up in a small Honduran village, and has been slowly adjusting to life in the United States since his immigration. His stories of life in Honduras, his journey to the United States, and his life here are common anecdotes within the Honduran-American immigrant community.

See also: Rocket Dockets for Kids in Immigration Courts Raise Doubts About Fairness

Ramirez was educated through the sixth grade, but after leaving school he was almost immediately targeted for gang membership. He says that's something a lot of people don't understand about Honduran gangs -- they target young people, who are less likely to be caught performing petty thefts, robberies, even murder. Young people are more easily manipulated by veteran gang members.

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Rocket Dockets for Kids in Immigration Courts Raise Doubts About Fairness

Categories: Immigration

Increasingly speedy court processes for unaccompanied kids is leading some lawyers to nickname downtown Dallas' juvenile immigration cases "rocket dockets."

Last week, we told you about 13-year-old Gaby, who was given an order of deportation from immigration Judge Michael Baird. Gaby is from Honduras, and will be sent back this fall after having been in the United States for less than a year. Her court appearances will have taken place in the course of just over a month, a dramatically hastened process from juvenile cases even a year ago.

See also: In Dallas' Time-Crunched Immigration Court, a Mom Watches Her Teen Daughter Get Deported

It's an effect immigration lawyers are calling rocket dockets. And it's primarily affecting all those unaccompanied kids from Central America pouring into Dallas that you've been hearing so much about.

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