NOI 31: Immigration News Roundup: Teen Smugglers, Deported with Cancer, World Series Ads and More

Today in Nation of Immigrants we tackle a smorgasbord of issues including the impact of Trump's border policy, enforcement priorities, false claims in World Series' advertisements, and the outright deletion of important court data.

Jacob Tingen: Welcome to another episode of Nation Of Immigrants. I can’t believe that we are more than 30 episodes into this program. There is a lot of immigration news out there and it’s always exciting to tackle these issues and talk about them. I hope that for those of you who are listening, that you’re getting a lot out of these conversations. And just to get another plug, make sure you subscribe on YouTube, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and you can support the podcast at

Jacob Tingen: Today’s episode is going to be … We’re not going to focus on one central topic or a couple of topics. Reviewing the news today, I decided I’d just address a bunch of different articles and talk about what’s going on in the immigration scene generally. So let’s kick this off with our intro.

Announcer: You’re listening to Nation Of Immigrants.

President Obama: America is a nation of immigrants.

Announcer: A podcast about US immigration law with your host, Jacob Tingen.

Jacob Tingen: Okay. So like I said, we’re going to be talking about a couple of different headlines. And today I’ve got four articles up that I wanted to touch base on. So the first one is a CNN article called Fact Checking The Misleading Immigration Statistic From Trump’s World Series Ad.

Jacob Tingen: So apparently in the advertisement it said that Trump has cut illegal immigration in half, which is interesting. Yeah, that hasn’t happened. And in fact there’s a lot of evidence to indicate that this year will be one of the highest years in more than a decade in terms of people coming to our border, which to me kind of begs the question, well, all of these arguments that, hey policy of Obama and stuff was leading to increasing numbers of immigrants and that’s why people have been coming. It’s not because they’re fleeing violence or those kinds of things, but because of our immigration policies that it’s a magnet for immigrants to come here.

Jacob Tingen: I don’t think that that argument holds any weight now, given the high number of people that are still coming, even though you’ve had family separation, even though they know they might have to wait in Mexico. You’ve got these issues that are coming up that are mind boggling. So it’s just very strange that this is happening in the context of those arguments. They don’t hold any weight. The only reasonable explanation can be is that these people are telling the truth. They’re afraid for their lives, and that’s why they’re coming. That’s why they’re approaching our border because we have made things … Our immigration posture at the border is so aggressive now, people know that they might be separated from their families. And yet historically more family groups are coming now than ever because they’re afraid for their lives. It doesn’t have to do with our immigration policy, as many immigrant advocates will tell you. Things are worse in their country and, as I’ve said and shared before, I’ve had clients that have told me, “I’d rather my child die on the way to the US with hope in their hearts than die in my country with no hope at all.” That’s the point that people are at.

Jacob Tingen: And so this claim that illegal immigration has been cut in half isn’t true. Okay? What is true is this. Apparently Cuccinelli said in a recent thing that since May, in the last three months, illegal immigration has reduced 50%. But using May is not a great number because that’s the highest number of border crossings of any month under Trump. And the Trump Administration has seen crazy high numbers of immigration, at least as high as, in many cases higher than under Obama. So again, these claims that illegal immigration has been cut in half, it’s not true. It doesn’t really make sense. It’s an appropriately labeled misleading number. Okay? So whatever the actual statistics are, it’s just not accurate. So there you have it.

Jacob Tingen: Moving onto the next headline, this one’s even more concerning because it has to deal with data that isn’t quite accurate. But it’s alarming because lately we’ve been talking about the immigration courts and how there’s a lot of external pressures on them to perform in certain ways. There’s an interesting organization by the acronym of TRAC, and what they do is they issue these FOIA requests, track the transactional records access clearinghouse. They find these FOIA requests and they get all of this data about immigration judges and immigration court and they consolidate that information and provide it online. And it’s a useful tool for me, frankly. If we get a new judge at our court that’s been a judge elsewhere, I can look up data using track to find out how they’ve ruled on asylum in the past and get a general idea of what kind of judge they are as well as other information.

Jacob Tingen: So TRAC routinely files these FOIA requests. They get data from the Department Of Justice and they compile it. Well, what’s interesting is that TRAC has noticed discrepancies in data. And TRAC determined that it appeared the agency was both unintentionally and intentionally deleting records from the data that it released. That’s not cool. Right? And one of the reasons it’s not cool is, I’ll tell you this, TRAC noted that the office’s data has been inaccurate in the past. The Supreme Court relied on figures from the agency when issuing a ruling on a case affecting ICE detention practices. After the ruling was issued, it was discovered that the data provided by the office was wrong. I mean, that’s insanity, right? You’re going to present to the Supreme Court of the United States information that isn’t accurate?

Jacob Tingen: And so we’ve talked about the courts and I guess I could have focused just on that issue for the whole episode because we’ve been talking about US immigration courts recently and there will be a part five. It’s coming. But yeah, the idea that we’re going to use data that isn’t accurate to make important decisions about law and policy, that’s not cool either. Right? And so as we make decisions and as the government responds to FOIA requests, they should at least try to be truthful. And what’s interesting is, again, the quote here from TRAC, it seems to them that both unintentionally and intentionally, some data’s been left out, deleted or removed. And then when they tried to work with the agency to get corrected data, they didn’t cooperate. They said, “That’s not our responsibility. It’s not our job.” I would posit that it is the job and the purpose of FOIA to provide accurate data to the public. But another issue.

Jacob Tingen: All right, two headlines down, two more to go. So this is another headline that’s just concerning to me. I didn’t want to read the article. I was very concerned, but I’ll read the headline to you. It says, “Bodies flew everywhere,” which is not a great way to start an article. “A border chase shows role US citizens play an immigration smuggling.” And it tells the unfortunate story of some essentially, I guess, it looks like high school teenagers, US citizens who decided they’d get some extra cash by helping smuggle people across the border. And of course, there was an interaction with law enforcement and a truck filled with immigrants in the back rolled over and some people passed away and lost limbs and life. So not a great article, not a great story. But what it highlights is the strange role that US citizens are playing in this immigration smuggling.

Jacob Tingen: I generally support that immigrants should be able to come here and apply for asylum. I frequently though am concerned about the pressure that’s put on these families, the money that they have to pay to these groups that operate unlawfully, that they pay to these smugglers and coyotes and those kinds of things. I’m so not a fan and it drives me crazy that, that these immigrants sacrificed so much to pay these people of ill repute and that US citizens would also engage in it. So not a fan.

Jacob Tingen: At the same time though, what does this say about our immigration debate and about how it’s working in our border? I mean, it’s clearly not working. And now we’re at a point where we have US citizens involved trying to smuggle immigrants across the border. I suppose some could believe that they’re fighting the good fight. I disagree. I’ve mentioned before that these immigrants, many of them cross the border and then they want to give themselves up to immigration. Most of the immigrants I know want to operate within the law. They come to the US because they want to do things right. They know that they can’t trust the government in their home country and they come here because they trust the government of our country and they believe that they will get a fair shake. They watch our TV, they see representations of Miranda Rights being read. They believe police respond and care.

Jacob Tingen: People that come here legally without lawful status, these people come because they believe in the American dream. And so again, this whole kind of system that’s built up of smugglers and coyotes, it’s not great. And when US citizens participate in these kinds of things, it’s not helping and it only leads to circumstances like this. So that’s unfortunate.

Jacob Tingen: I did just read this article this morning. I’m sure there’s more to say here and there’s definitely a lot more to think about. And so maybe this is a topic we’ll come back to later, but my hope is that people would understand we should cooperate with law enforcement and we should not … We should cooperate with law enforcement in so far as it keeps people safe, preserve your rights, everybody. But we shouldn’t do things that are inherently dangerous and we shouldn’t participate with criminals. But yeah, this article shows the sad state of affairs in our immigration policy and impacts today because this happened. I mean, people died. So be careful. And for those who are … If you’re crossing the border, you probably don’t have speakers, you’re not listening to this. But my hope is that people are safe and that they understand that law enforcement, not everyone’s bad. And of course the system is flawed and that’s what we talk about a lot here, but be safe.

Jacob Tingen: All right, so the last article I wanted to touch base on is this one from the New York Times. It’s titled She’s Fighting Cancer, Her Son Is Fighting Her Deportation. So her son isn’t fighting deportation. He has DACA. But what’s interesting about this case is he’s a doctoral student at Yale and that’s the caliber of kid that we’re talking about. And then this woman is fighting cancer and it looks like she’s actually detained or in removal proceedings … And, no, she has a deportation order. So that means her proceedings are over. But yeah, they’re actively trying to deport this woman, mother of four whose son is at Yale. And that’s just mind boggling.

Jacob Tingen: One of the things we talk about it when we talk about immigration policy is what’s in the national interest of the country. Right? And so when you’ve got a mother of children who are doctoral students at Yale, who are going to college, who are being productive citizens, are we sure we wanted to deport these people? And so that leads kind of just to this conversation of enforcement priorities. I know I’ve mentioned under Obama, he labeled certain enforcement priorities and under Trump, those enforcement priorities were abolished. And essentially the agency was told deport everyone. And we’ve kind of talked about this before, that when there are no priorities … Well, that when everyone is a priority, there are no priorities. Because how do you choose who to focus on?

Jacob Tingen: And I suppose there’s an argument she has a deportation order from 2008 it looks like, although a FOIA campaign, a FOIA request demonstrated that she may have never heard about her hearings in the first place. But then second, she’s receiving life saving cancer treatment. So we’ve also talked about how the department has issued essentially stays of removal or issued deferred action to people with cancer and life threatening diseases. So I don’t understand why you would focus on this particular woman when you balance her case out and you say, “Okay, well she’s raised good kids who are going to good schools and doing good things and she has cancer. She’s receiving life saving treatment. And she has no real criminal history.” And then ultimately the deportation order that weighs against her, she may never have received notification of her court hearings.

Jacob Tingen: So for me, as an ICE enforcement officer, I don’t understand the point here in pushing for this particular woman’s deportation, especially in the face and in light of all the action that’s surrounding her deportation or depending deportation and what her son is doing.

Jacob Tingen: It’s a fascinating article. It talks about how her son is rallying people around her, raising awareness and working with lawyers to try to keep her in the country. I hope she does get to stay, but it does look like they’re moving to get her out quickly. But here’s hoping that common sense prevails in a case like this.

Jacob Tingen: It’s interesting how a lot of times when people talk about immigration, they say, “Oh …” And I’ll share an experience of one of my friends. So she’s an immigrant here. And she said a neighbor or a friend once told her, “Oh, I don’t mind people like you who, who are here legally and that kind of thing. But it’s immigrants that don’t come legally and they’re the problem and that kind of thing.” And my friend said, “What are you talking about?”

Jacob Tingen: And what’s interesting is my friend has legal status now, but she didn’t always. And our immigration laws don’t necessarily make the kinds of sense that you would expect. So if you know somebody who’s an immigrant and you think they have lawful status or you think they don’t have lawful status, kind of check some of these prejudgments and talk to them and just say, “Hey, what’s going on in your life?” Just out of a reasonable sense of curiosity. You can have important conversations like that just to learn about more people. And I’m not saying that you should pressure and be like, “You’re an illegal, aren’t you?” I mean, that’s not what I’m saying. But feel free to talk to an immigrant and ask them about what it’s like. And you’ll hear a variety of opinions. You’ll even hear people who came through the legal process say,” Oh, I think legal immigration.”

Jacob Tingen: But at the same time, especially if you talk to an immigration lawyer, most of them will tell you that our processes aren’t the fairest things in the world. And we tend to be a little sympathetic to people, even if they’ve come without lawful status to the country.

Jacob Tingen: So that’s it for a Nation Of Immigrants today. Again, support the podcast. Follow us. Subscribe. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. Follow me Thank you for listening. It’s just been so amazing to watch our number of subscribers grow on YouTube and to see how many people are watching these videos. It’s really kind of neat and humbling. I think I’ve used that word before, but that’s the feeling that I get. Thank you for believing that the words that I have to share valuable. We continue to do and practice immigration law here at our firm and as far as I can tell, fight the good fight. So thanks again for listening and hope to see you back soon.

Announcer: Thank you for listening to Nation Of Immigrants.

President Obama: America is a nation of immigrants.

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