Maine: non-tourism businesses suffering from delay in H-2B (migrant worker) visa release

Smokey’s Greater Shows, which operates at fairs and festivals across Maine, may not be able to set up carnival-style rides at as many events this year due to staffing shortages.
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TOPSHAM, Maine — Maine’s non-tourism businesses are suffering from worker shortages and are blaming the delay in receiving H-2B visas.

The visas allow non-citizens to come to the United States to work on a temporary or seasonal basis.

“Normally we get our foreign laborers the H2 B visa program but […] there’s no guarantee when we’ll get our employees for the 2019 festival and fair season,” said Smokey’s Greater Shows owner Robby Driskill.

Driskill plans to host a job fair to try to attract people in Maine to work seasonally for his company touring Maine and New England. The event goes from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 1 at the Topsham Fairgrounds. They plan to hold another on May 8 from 1:30-3:30 and from 4:30-6:30 at the fairgrounds.

RELATED: Bar Harbor businesses struggle to find season employees

He said people are concerned they would be replaced or laid off for workers from away who could be paid less. Driskill said he would not do that.

“I would hire them first and if I fall short I would make the adjustment with the foreign labor but at no time will I hire the foreign labor and then lay off the American workers,” Driskill wrote in a text message. “That seems to be a concern when people talk to me about the job fair.”

“This season could be in jeopardy of not having enough people operate the rides,” Driskill wrote.

He said that means they may not have as many rides available.

This story will be updated

Trump Admin accused of “State-Sponsored Child Abuse” as Separated Migrant Children Scandal Grows

FEBRUARY 08, 2019

Trump administration officials are acknowledging that there may be thousands more missing immigrant children who were separated from their parents than originally reported. This was the focus of a hearing on Thursday of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. We speak to Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLUImmigrants’ Rights Project. He is the lead lawyer on the ACLU’s national challenge to the Trump administration’s family separation practice. He testified at the hearing yesterday.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we end today’s show with the ongoing crisis of family separation at the border, after officials at a congressional hearing Thursday did not dispute that there may be thousands more missing kids who were separated from their parents than originally reported. The hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations was meant to investigate the role of the Department of Health and Human Services in carrying out Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, that led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the U.S. border. It revealed a chaotic system without adequate measures taken to track family units and that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar may not have even known about the zero-tolerance policy before it went into effect.

This is Republican Congressmember Brett Guthrie of Kentucky questioning Commander Jonathan White, formerly of the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement, during Thursday’s hearing.

REPBRETT GUTHRIE: Would you have advised DOJ and—or DHS to implement the policy of zero tolerance, if they had asked?

CDRJONATHAN WHITE: Neither I nor any career person in ORR would ever have supported such a policy proposal.

AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Congressmember Jan Schakowsky of Illinois also questioned Commander Jonathan White, again, formerly of the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement.

REPJAN SCHAKOWSKY: Does anyone know how many are still separated from their parents? Nobody knows. And now we know that those in ORRcustody, that there is no way to know how to divide out those children that have been separated. Is that right, Commander?

CDRJONATHAN WHITE: Ma’am, no. I want to be very clear: Children in ORRcustody, children who have been in ORR custody, who were in ORR custody on the 26th of June, we have laboriously worked to identify those—

REPJAN SCHAKOWSKY: No, I understand. But you—

CDRJONATHAN WHITE: Challenge is those who exited ORR custody, because HHS—

REPJAN SCHAKOWSKY: OK.

CDRJONATHAN WHITE: —did not receive from DHS any list or any indication of the complete set of separated children.

REPJAN SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.

CDRJONATHAN WHITE: In partnership with them, we worked hard to identify every one of those kids, from those who were in care.

REPJAN SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.

CDRJONATHAN WHITE: Yes, ma’am.

REPJAN SCHAKOWSKY: I just feel like what’s been happening is more than irresponsible and sloppy. But I really think that what we’re talking about is state-sponsored child abuse. And I would go as far as to say kidnapping.

AMY GOODMAN: That is “state-sponsored child abuse” and “kidnapping” of children, said Democratic Congressmember Jan Schakowsky, questioning Commander Jonathan White.

Well, for more, we’re joined by Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, lead lawyer on the ACLU’s national challenge to the Trump administration’s family separation practice. He was there yesterday. He testified before Congress.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!

LEE GELERNT: Thanks, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Thanks for flying in early this morning.

LEE GELERNT: Of course.

AMY GOODMAN: What are we talking about here? At this point, the Trump administration is admitting that there are thousands more children—they don’t even know what happened to them, but were separated from their parents?

LEE GELERNT: So, yeah, these are remarkable developments, one year into the litigation, and we’re still getting bombshells. An internal report by HHS said there may have been thousands more. They can’t put a number on it, because no one has tracked the kids. HHS, at the hearing yesterday, did not dispute that there may be thousands, but says it would take too long to try and find the children, because they’d have to go through individual files, they had no tracking system.

So, they know the kids were given to sponsors. That could mean anything from foster care to a parent to a relative to a distant relative. We want to make sure that these kids are OK and that they can get back with their parent, if that’s what the family wants. HHS is saying, “That would take too long. We don’t want to do it, absent a court order.” So we are going back to court in San Diego on February 21st to seek that court order.

AMY GOODMAN: How can thousands of children have been taken that no one has records of?

LEE GELERNT: Yeah, I mean, I wish I had an answer for you. That’s the same stunning, you know, thing that—what happened earlier, where they admitted that—they said there were 2,700 kids. They couldn’t track them. The judge said, “The government tracks property better than they track these kids.” We thought it was over with these 2,700 kids. And now it may be that there’s thousands more.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, of course, these kinds of hearings didn’t take place before, because Democrats weren’t in power challenging the administration that was doing this—

LEE GELERNT: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —as Schakowsky said—

LEE GELERNT: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —kidnapping and abuse.

LEE GELERNT: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: What did you testify yesterday?

LEE GELERNT: I said that there are a few things that are critical for Congress to try and do now. One is to create funds for these families. Because a lot of people think, “Well, if they’re reunified, that’s the end of the matter.” But the truth is, in some ways, it’s just starting. The trauma is so severe. There were medical professionals testifying with me who said that these kids may be traumatized for the rest of their life. We think Congress should allocate funds to provide medical care.

We also need standards, going forward. The other thing that HHS did not dispute yesterday at the hearing was that there are ongoing separations. And what they’re constantly doing now, they know there’s a court order so they can’t just do it willy-nilly, but what they’re saying is, “Well, this parent is dangerous; this parent is, too,” but they’re doing—they’re asserting that unilaterally, without any standards and without any ability for the parent to push back. We need Congress to set standards or the court to set standards. And, lastly, we need these thousands of kids to be found.

AMY GOODMAN: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar may not have even known about the zero-tolerance policy when it was instituted?

LEE GELERNT: Right. I mean, that’s what they testified. And so, Commander White, who was testifying for HHS, said they were not—he was not given information about it in advance. He’s not sure what other information was given. And the secretary refused to show up. And the chair of the committee also made clear that—

AMY GOODMAN: Secretary Nielsen.

LEE GELERNT: No, Secretary Azar for HHS.

AMY GOODMAN: Secretary Azar.

LEE GELERNT: Right, right, right. And the other thing is, the committee chair asked for documents in advance of the hearing, to show who knew what. They didn’t provide all the documents. I think the House is going to continue to seek those documents.

But the other thing I would just say is, putting aside whether they got a memo from the attorney general, HHS knew this was happening, because there were hundreds and hundreds of young kids showing up that never would have shown up before. So, whether or not they say they were formerly told, they knew something was going on.

AMY GOODMAN: So, I mean, at this point we’re talking about thousands of children currently.

LEE GELERNT: Potentially, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Potentially.

LEE GELERNT: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you find out where they are?

LEE GELERNT: It’s going to be painstaking, but I think—lives of children are at stake—we have to do it. HHS is admitting now they have no tracking system, no integrated database, which is one of the things we’re seeking in court and will be seeking in Congress for it to be created. But they’re saying they could do it if they go through the individual files, but it’s too many hours. We say, “You have to do it.” I mean, these are children’s lives. How can you just say it’s not worth the effort?

AMY GOODMAN: So, Commander Jonathan White—

LEE GELERNT: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —said he would have never recommended family separation as a policy.

LEE GELERNT: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: He talked about the trauma.

LEE GELERNT: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: Another revelation was that there were no standards—there are no standards in the law for when separations should occur.

LEE GELERNT: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what is the legislation that has to pass now?

LEE GELERNT: You know, we have established in court now a standard that can be used. But Commander White was saying, as well, there’s no legislation setting out standards. I think it might be worthwhile for Congress to make clear, so it’s not just the court order, “These are the standards we want you to follow.” He was pointing out that Congress has never set standards. But it would be good if Congress set standards, but that’s no excuse for what happened, because child welfare law in every state has a standard. And the standard is, you leave a child with their parent unless the parent presents a danger to the child. That’s not what the Trump administration was doing. They were taking children away in a hope that it would deter asylum seekers from coming to this country. So, the fact that—

AMY GOODMAN: And you’re suggesting they’re still doing it.

LEE GELERNT: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: So, do you—

LEE GELERNT: We know they’re still doing it.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you believe many children right now will never be reunited with their parents? And if someone is watching this, if a young person is watching this, what do they do to say—to let someone know they’re alone, or where do they go, or how do they find their parent?

LEE GELERNT: Well, throughout this whole litigation the last year, I have never said, “I don’t believe we will get the task done.” And I’m going to stick to that. I am hopeful that we will reunite every child and parent who wants to be reunited. I think if there are relatives out there, foster care, they ought to let people know. But, ultimately, it’s too big a task for just that kind of self-help. We need the government to give us whatever information they have. And then we will start doing what we’ve been doing all year, which is calling these parents and children.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you believe Kirsten Gillibrand [sic] lied to Congress?

LEE GELERNT: Kirstjen Nielsen.

AMY GOODMAN: Sorry, Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security.

LEE GELERNT: I’m not going to characterize it, but I do not feel we’ve gotten the whole truth from the administration throughout the family separation policy, and I think there’s bombshells still to come.

AMY GOODMAN: Lee Gelernt, I want to thank you for being with us, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, lead lawyer for the ACLU’s national challenge to the Trump administration’s family separation practice.

Democracy Now! has a job opening: full-time, 1-year paid news production fellowship. Check out democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

Texas: Tornillo Immigrant Prison Camp Shuts Down!

JAN 14, 2019

H3 tornillo closed

In Texas, the controversial Tornillo prison camp, which at one point jailed several thousand immigrant youths, closed Friday, after months of criticism from immigrant and human rights activists, Democratic lawmakers and health professionals. This is activist Janie Stein, responding to the news of the Tornillo shutdown.

Janie Stein: “Now that the children are gone—we’ve gotten confirmation from people inside and from politicians who have also been told that all the children are gone, mostly to sponsors, to family sponsors. And we’re very happy about that. And we’re also very concerned, because we know that there are detention centers in other parts of the country.”

Noam Chomsky: Members of Migrant Caravan Are Fleeing from Misery & Horrors Created by the U.S.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As President Trump escalates his attacks and threats against the Central American migrant caravans making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba Thursday. National security adviser John Bolton declared Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua to be part of a “troika of tyranny” and a “triangle of terror.” Bolton was speaking in Miami, Florida.

JOHN BOLTON: We will no longer appease dictators and despots near our shores. We will not reward firing squads, torturers and murderers. We will champion the independence and liberty of our neighbors. And this president and his entire administration will stand with the freedom fighters. The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere—Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua—has finally met its match.

AMY GOODMAN: As John Bolton spoke in Miami on Thursday, Democracy Now!‘s Nermeen Shaikh and I spoke with the world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky. He joined us from Tucson, Arizona, where he now teaches at the University of Arizona. Noam Chomsky is also institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he’s taught for more than 50 years. His recent books include Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to DemocracyWho Rules the World? and Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power.

I began by asking Professor Chomsky to respond to NSA, national security adviser, John Bolton’s remarks on Latin America.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, that, of course, immediately brings to mind the “axis of evil” speech of George Bush back in 2002, which was the precursor, laying the groundwork, for the invasion of Iraq, the worst crime of this century, with horrendous consequences for Iraq, eliciting ethnic conflicts that are tearing the region apart—a major atrocity. John Bolton was behind that. And his new troika—I doubt that the U.S. will dare to do something similar, but that’s what it brings to mind.

It’s kind of interesting to see this hysterical raving alongside of another astonishing propaganda campaign that Bolton and his colleagues are carrying out with regard to the caravan of poor and miserable people fleeing from severe oppression, violence, terror, extreme poverty from three countries: Honduras—mainly Honduras, secondarily Guatemala, thirdly El Salvador—not Nicaragua, incidentally—three countries that have been under harsh U.S. domination, way back, but particularly since the 1980s, when Reagan’s terror wars devastated particularly El Salvador and Guatemala, secondarily Honduras. Nicaragua was attacked by Reagan, of course, but Nicaragua was the one country which had an army to defend the population. In the other countries, the army were the state terrorists, backed by the United States.

The most extreme source of migrants right now is Honduras. Why Honduras? Well, it was always bitterly oppressed. But in 2009, Honduras had a mildly reformist president, Mel Zelaya. The Honduran powerful, rich elite couldn’t tolerate that. A military coup took place, expelled him from the country. It was harshly condemned all through the hemisphere, with one notable exception: the United States. The Obama administration refused to call it a military coup, because if they had, they would have been compelled by law to withdraw military funding from the military regime, which was imposing a regime of brutal terror. Honduras became the murder capital of the world. A fraudulent election took place under the military junta—again, harshly condemned all over the hemisphere, most of the world, but not by the United States. The Obama administration praised Honduras for carrying out an election, moving towards democracy and so on. Now people are fleeing from the misery and horrors for which we are responsible.

And you have this incredible charade taking place, which the world is looking at with utter astonishment: Poor, miserable people, families, mothers, children, fleeing from terror and repression, for which we are responsible, and in reaction, they’re sending thousands of troops to the border. The troops being sent to the border outnumber the children who are fleeing. And with a remarkable PR campaign, they’re frightening much of the country into believing that we’re just on the verge of an invasion by, you know, Middle Eastern terrorists funded by George Soros, so on and so forth.

I mean, it’s all kind of reminiscent of something that happened 30 years ago. You may recall, in 1985, Ronald Reagan strapped on his cowboy boots and called—got in front of television, called a national emergency, because the Nicaraguan army was two days’ march from Harlingen, Texas, just about to overwhelm and destroy us. And it worked.

I mean, this spectacle is almost indescribable. Even apart from noticing where they’re coming from, the countries that we have crucially been involved in destroying, it’s—the ability to carry this off repeatedly is quite an amazing commentary on much of the popular culture.

But the troika, just like the “axis of evil,” are those who just don’t obey U.S. orders. Colombia, for example, has the worst human rights record in the hemisphere for years, but they’re not part of the troika of tyranny.

All of this rings very familiar bells. It’s a long—it’s been a long-standing element of the U.S. propaganda system on the—mostly on the far right, but not only, which goes way back and which is a kind of pathological feature of the dominant political culture that should be understood, analyzed and dismantled.

US sending 5,200 troops to border with Mexico

The Pentagon is sending over 5,200 troops to the border with Mexico as thousands of Central American migrants walk towards the US in a caravan.

General Terrence O’Shaughnessy said Operation Faithful Patriot would focus on Texas, Arizona and California.

President Donald Trump earlier said the “invasion” of migrants would find the US military waiting for them.

He also told Fox News that “tent cities” would be built to house migrants seeking asylum in the US.

“If they apply for asylum, we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place. We’re going to hold them, we’re going to build tent cities, we’re gonna build tents all over the place,” he said in an interview on Monday.

There are already 2,100 National Guard members at the border, sent after a previous request by Mr Trump in April.

Both sides of the US political divide have been accused of using the migrants for electoral gain just a week before Americans go to the polls.

In mid-term elections on 6 November, President Trump’s Republican Party will seek to keep both houses of Congress out of Democratic hands.

The migrants are still around 1,000 miles (1,600km) from the US border.

Gen O’Shaughnessy said the troops would be deployed by the end of the week with weapons, helicopters, aeroplanes, barriers and miles of razor wire to support border patrol agents.

Your Trump administration attacks the “give me your tired, your poor…” statement on the statue of liberty. Are you happy yet, Amerika?!

On Wednesday, CNN’s Jim Acosta pressed senior policy adviser Stephen Miller over President Trump’s push to admit only English-speaking immigrants in a back-and-forth that lasted for several minutes. Acosta asked Miller about the iconic poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus that is inscribed at the base of the State of Liberty, which reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

JIM ACOSTA: What you’re proposing, or what the president is proposing here, does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration. The Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer. Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country, if you’re telling them you have to speak English? Can’t people learn how to speak English when they get here?

STEPHEN MILLER: Well, first of all, right now, it’s a requirement that to be naturalized, you have to speak English. So the notion that speaking English wouldn’t be a part of our immigration systems would be actually very ahistorical. Secondly, I don’t want to get off into a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty enlightening the world. It’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to was added later. It’s not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty.

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7/4/1986 Nancy Reagan waves while visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York City

Phoenix: 7 Arrested Blocking ICE Van After Mother Is Detained Under Trump’s New Orders

Democracy.org HeadlinesFeb 09, 2017

H07 phoenix van blockade

In Phoenix, seven protesters were arrested last night blockading an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement van in efforts to stop the deportation of 35-year-old Guadalupe García de Rayos, a mother who has been living in the United States for the last 21 years. Rayos was arrested and detained Wednesday by immigration agents during one of her routine, required check-ins with immigration officials. Advocates say her arrest signals a clear shift toward the ramping up of deportations under the Trump administration, even of people like Rayos, who had been deemed a “low-priority” for deportation under President Obama. Rayos’s lawyer said, “We’re living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants.” In protest, hundreds of people surrounded the ICE van carrying Rayos. One man locked himself to the wheels of the van, while others blockaded it with their bodies.

Protester: “So we’re here stopping the kidnapping of Lupita, so that she can be back with her family. I’m here because today it’s Lupita, tomorrow it may be my mom, and the next day it might be your mom. We need to stop the deportations, because there are 8 million people at risk. There are 8 million people who are a priority in the Trump administration, in the Trump deportation machine. And he’s not going to stop it. We have to stop it, in your city, here in Phoenix. Wherever you are, you can do this, too.”