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And now a word about ICE

180606 nr 2Back in 2003 the Department of Homeland Security was established by combining several agencies from other U.S. departments under one overarching umbrella. The thinking was that placing all of these disparate agencies under one department would somehow make such activities related to homeland security, such as intelligence gathering and enforcement of border security, more efficient and effective.
Whether simply placing agencies under the same federal department resulted in any significant improvement in information sharing or a more efficient operation is still a matter for debate. What is not a matter for debate is that one of the agencies created under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE, which stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is now under intense scrutiny due to how the agency is implementing White House policy as it relates to immigration via the southern border of the United States.

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Thousands march to end family separation

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Thousands marched on D.C. to protest the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREVThousands marched on D.C. to protest the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREV  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tens of thousands of protesters descended on the nation’s capital Saturday for the Families Belong Together March, chanting “Save Our Children” and objecting to President Trump’s family separation policy for immigrant parents.

“We’ve seen the state of our nation and decided we must take action,” said Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts, one of many speakers at the event. “Life is about making choices … we face a million choices every day, but some choices are just daunting.”

Speaking from a stage at Lafayette Square, Dyrdahl-Roberts, a former employee with the Montana Department of Labor, explained that he resigned from his job in February when instructed to pass along information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would “be used to deport people,” adding that he “couldn’t do it and live with [himself],” and “just follow orders.”

In April 2018, the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy for migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, directing ICE and Customs and Border Protection officers to separate children if the detainees are parents. On June 20, Trump signed an executive order suspending the policy, and a federal court halted the practice through a nationwide injunction on June 26.

Amid concerns of continued separation of parents from children at the border and wanting to reunite families, the ACLU, MoveOn, National Domestic Workers Alliance, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights organized the March, which drew an estimated 30,000 attendees.

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Salvadorans plead their case

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Ever since the Trump Administration announced an 18-month timeline for ending the Temporary Protected Status of millions of Salvadorans who’d fled their country for the United States due to wars and natural disasters, Takoma Park immigration attorney Christina Wilkes’ office has become flooded with calls from many frightened people. 

“There is a lot of fear. There is a lot of misinformation. A lot of folks are calling here to ask what to do,” said Wilkes. “A lot don’t have another avenue available to them [to enable them to remain legally in this country].”

Wilkes said she is advising those on TPS to renew their legal status so that they can remain here legally for the next 18 months. She also is telling them to remain calm, that “come next year, it’s not like immigration will deport them that day.”

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Rockville man charged with murder of his married girlfriend

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Dania Suyapa Mendez De Guerra Missing Person WheatonDania Suyapa Mendez de Guerra was found dead Friday near her place of work at a KFC in Wheaton. A co-worker has been arrested and charged in her apparent homicide. COURTESY PHOTO  

A local man is in jail without bail after authorities charged him with killing a married co-worker.

Prosecutors Saturday charged Elmer Marilan Campos-Martinez, 47, of Rockville with second degree murder. He apparently had an ongoing affair Dania Suyapa Mendez de Guerra, 21, of Wheaton. Campos-Martinez worked with de Guerra at the KFC restaurant on University Boulevard in Wheaton.

On Monday, a Rockville District Court judge denied bail to Campos-Martinez after learning a final removal order has been issued against him by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement.

"The defendant presents a clear danger to the community and is a flight risk," Judge Margaret Schweitzer said in Rockville District Court Monday. "He has nothing to lose. It is appropriate for him to be held without bail." 

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CASA sues Trump administration over DACA repeal

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The immigrant advocacy organization CASA de Maryland along with eight other groups and more than a dozen individuals announced on the afternoon of Oct. 5 they are suing the federal government over the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has given work status to undocumented immigrants who came to the Unitized States as minors, known as "dreamers."

Named in the lawsuit are President Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and four government agencies — U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — and their department heads.

A legal team that includes Arnold & Porter LLP, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, and the Civil Rights Clinic of the Howard University School of Law is joining them in the legal action.

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“I’m no threat to anyone…”

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Local woman afraid with loss of DACA she'll be deported

MPI CASA 0023 1DACA recipient Karina Velasco expresses her concern over the possible end of the program. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  Lately, Karina Velasco thinks about her two-year-old daughter more than ever. If Velasco is deported to Mexico – a country she barely remembers and where she has no family – she wants her daughter with her.

But her husband, who, like their child is a United States citizen, wants the little girl to remain with him and grow up in America.

“The one person who drives me to fight is my daughter. I wouldn’t want her to live without her mother. I want her to be strong and grow up to be a person who is compassionate and willing to help others.”

When Velasco’s parents left Mexico with her and her brother, she was 14 years old and hadn’t seen her parents in six years as they strove for a new life for the family. Then, one day, she found herself in America, thanks to the family reunification program for unaccompanied minors.

“It was not our decision to leave,” she said of herself and her brother.

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Family and friends reflect on two deported brothers

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Two brothers deported 2 20626272 10155283193379473 4533424118588186121 oJonathan Claros, 29, is flanked by brothers Lizandro,19, (left) and Diego,22, (right) who were deported to El Salvador Wednesday. COURTESY PHOTO  Members of a local family said they feel a combination of sadness, concern and hope in the wake of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detaining and deporting two brothers to their home country.

Jonathan Claros, 29, his sister Fatima Claros, 25, along with their parents are making efforts to assist the two youngest children, Diego Claros-Saravia and Lizandro Claros-Saravia, ages 19 and 22, in their adjustment to life back in El Salvador.

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"It's Time..."

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Rockville votes to take a stand against President Trump and federal immigration policy

Rockville SealROCKVILLE – Rockville City Council members called the debate over the proposed ordinance to prohibit city officials from enforcing immigration law, one of the most contentious issues they have dealt with.

On Monday, the Rockville City Council and Mayor voted to pass the Fostering Community Trust Ordinance 3-2, which will ban City officials from assisting in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Council members Virginia D. Onley, Julie Palakovich Carr and Mark Pierzchala voted in favor of the ordinance while Council member Beryl L. Feinberg and Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton voted against it.

“When it comes to this jurisdiction, I think it’s time for the City of Rockville to take a stand,” Pierzchala said.

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Tap dancing with fallen stars

tap shoes

On the road again as I attempt to get back into a routine and with it gain some level of normalcy had me returning to the White House and attending the daily White House press briefings after a bit of a respite due to personal reasons. Well, if normalcy equates to frustration then watching Sean Spicer do his best impression of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly rolled into one as he tap dances his way to responding to questions hurled at him, no matter how soft the softball question is, then normal it is.

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Takoma Park concerned about status

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Takoma Park Govt logo

Takoma Park is concerned after the Trump administration issued an executive order that may punish sanctuary cities.

The City of Takoma Park considers itself to be a sanctuary city, where city officials (including police) will not identify illegal immigrants. The city has been a sanctuary city since 1985, and its sanctuary law specifically prohibits city employees from asking city residents about their citizenship and immigration status, as well as cooperating with federal laws that may lead to deportations, according to the city.

“One of the things we want to make sure is that people have the information they need and resources they need to answer their questions and to meet the challenges that are facing us,” said Mayor Kate Stewart.

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