Archives for category: Education Reform

LINK CORRECTED!

Over the past few weeks, Peter Greene has written several articles on the subject of “Why Teach Literature?”

He writes faster than I can post, so I am far behind.

Greene includes all of the articles in this series.

Now you can read them all in one sitting!

Stephen Dyer was in the Ohio legislature when the state’s Edchoice voucher program started as a small initiative. Since then, it has grown, despite research showing that it provides no education benefit to students while taking money away from public schools.

In this post, he announces the launch of a program to educate the public about how vouchers harm their public schools. Every dollar allotted to a voucher school is a dollar less for public schools.

As districts face huge budget cuts in the coming school years, it behooves them to defend every dollar they can so their students have all they need to succeed. That’s why the folks at Real Choice Ohio, which fought for years to help districts cope with charter school losses to great success, have started a series of workshops to help districts educate and inform parents nd their communities about the dangers of the EdChoice vouchers to their kids and other kids’ futures.

The first pillar of these conferences deals with the overall problem facing districts and the kids theiy serve. I am helping to lead this pillar, complete with Power Point presentations and I will be moderating an all-star panel on the EdChoice and voucher problem next week.

Open the post to learn how to sign up.

The Washington Post Fact Checker, Glen Kessler and his team (it takes a team), has written a book about Trump’s lies.

James Hohmann of the WaPo writes about it here:

President Trump has made 19,127 false or misleading claims since taking office, according to a database maintained by our Fact Checker team, including more than 800 related to the novel coronavirus.

A fresh Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that only 35 percent of Americans say Trump is honest and trustworthy, compared to 62 percent who say he is not.

In addition to the worst public health crisis since 1918 and the worst economic crisis since 1933, Trump now faces the worst civil unrest since 1968. One week after George Floyd’s death in police custody on Memorial Day triggered a wave of protests, more cities have imposed curfews and more states have deployed the National Guard to restore order than at any time since immediately after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

As much as any other moment of his presidency, now is a time when Trump would benefit from being able to draw upon a reservoir of public trust or goodwill. But he has squandered the benefit of the doubt. A new 384-page book from the Fact Checker staff of The Washington Post, which goes on sale Tuesday, tells the story of how Trump became “the most mendacious president in U.S. history.”

“Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President’s Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies,” by Glenn Kessler, Sal Rizzo and Meg Kelly, presents not just a catalog of false claims but a thematic guide to Trump’s assault on the very existence of objective reality. There are chapters on the president’s false claims related to the economy, immigration, the Ukraine affair and foreign policy. One chapter lays out Trump’s 10 most egregious and important false claims, including his denials that he knew about hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

One of the central insights of the book is that Trump’s whoppers have become bigger and more frequent since he took office. Originally, The Post planned to track all of Trump’s falsehoods in a database during only his first 100 days in office. The Fact Checker team documented 492 false claims in that stretch, about six a day. Editors decided to continue the project as a public service and because of popular demand. It’s become more and more time-consuming for the full-time team of four journalists: The president’s speeches got longer, he tweeted more frequently and he gave more interviews to friendly right-wing outlets that rarely challenged him. Now, they often lose nights and weekends to what they describe as “the depressing task of wading through the president’s forest of falsehoods.”

So far this year, Trump is averaging 22 false claims a day in the Fact Checker database. He’s on track to make nearly 25,000 false statements by the end of the term. Whether he gets there will depend partly on how many campaign rallies he holds this fall. A 56-page appendix of the book is an anatomical investigation of a single Trump rally from last December in Battle Creek, Mich., during which the president made 120 statements of fact that were either false, mostly false or unsupported by evidence. That was two-thirds of all the claims the president made during a two-hour monologue.

Another insight from the book is that October is the most dangerous month for the truth vis-à-vis Trump. In October 2018, before the midterm elections, the president tallied 1,205 claims. It stands to reason that this fall, when his own name will be on the ballot, the fact checkers will be as busy as ever.

Anemona reports in the New York Times that the College Board has abandoned its plans to deliver ((sell) an online SAT. More than 1200 colleges and universities are now test-optional. The University of California’s decision a few weeks ago to forego thevSAT as an admission requirement was a huge blow to the College Board’s business plans.

The College Board said on Tuesday that it would postpone plans to offer an online version of the SAT for high school students to take at home this year, further muddying a ritual of the college application process that had already been thrown into chaos by the coronavirus.

After canceling test dates this spring, the board announced in mid-April that it was developing a digital version of the SAT to be introduced if the pandemic continued to require social distancing in the fall, which would make it hard for the nonprofit organization to provide enough testing dates and centers.

But in its latest statement, the board said the technological challenges of developing an online test that all students could take had led to the decision to drop it. Some 2.2 million students took the SAT last year, the College Board said.

“Taking it would require three hours of uninterrupted, video-quality internet for each student, which can’t be guaranteed for all,” the board said, acknowledging the technology gap facing lower-income students, which could further exacerbate inequities in access to higher education.

The organization added that it would continue to deliver an online version of the SAT at some schools, but would not “introduce the stress that could result from extended at-home testing in an already disrupted admissions season.”

Bob Schaeffer, the head of FairTest, which is opposed to the use of standardized tests in college admissions, said the College Board was “simply conceding the inevitable.”

Its decision came after the organization had a rocky experience last month introducing a digital version of the Advanced Placement exams, which it also oversees. Many students complained that they were not able to submit their answer sheets electronically, and their tests were disqualified.

Mr. Schaeffer’s group and several students and parents have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking to force the College Board to score the rejected answer sheets. The College Board said less than 1 percent of students who had taken the test were affected.

The College Board asked colleges and universities on Tuesday to “show flexibility” to the millions of students who were not able to take the SAT this spring because of cancellations. It asked colleges to extend deadlines for receiving test scores, and to give equal consideration to students who were unable to take the test because of the pandemic.

The SAT’s rival exam, the ACT, said on Tuesday that it still planned to offer a remote option in the fall.

Nancy Bailey here presents a vision of schools that create a new realty and build a better society.

Public schools can bring us together. When children learn to care for each other with tolerance and understanding, they will grow to respect one other as adults. Honor the memory of George Floyd and black citizens who have unjustly died, by reconsidering our past efforts to integrate public schools. One place to start is by reading Gerald Grant’s book, Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There are No Bad Schools in Raleigh.

Learn how, once upon a time, Raleigh brought children together to learn, thereby reducing the gap between the rich and poor.

Vouchers and charters divide. Private schools and charter schools segregate. Remote learning, or learning at home or anyplace anytime, does little to bring students together.

This country needs strong public schools that unite students and families.

Who’s considering how to address the growing racial chasm that, along with the virus, could be America’s undoing? It has been 66 years since Brown v. Board of Education. How have public schools changed?

As we watch the unrest in Minneapolis and around the country, how, after all these years, can America bring students together? How, when Covid-19 separates us, can we find our way back to schools that are better than before? What will public schools be like when this disease is over?

Community organizer Jitu Brown and I will be in conversation on Wednesday June 3 at 7:30 pm EST.

Please sign up and join us.

Jitu Brown is the leader of Journey for Justice, a civil rights organization with chapters in 25 cities.

We will talk about the murder of George Floyd, about racism in America today, about the legacy of Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, about Jitu’s fight to prevent the closing of the Walter H. Dyett High School in Chicago, and much more.

A few days ago, Carol Burris and Marla Kilfoyle of the Network for Public Education wrote an article in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” about the charter schools that are claiming federal funds designated for small businesses, thwarting the intention of the legislators. Public schools are not eligible for the PPP relief funds, but—presto chango—the money-hungry charters decided they are not public schools after all, they are really small businesses. Next week, they will again claim to be public schools, not small businesses.

Congress created the Payroll Protection Plan to aid small businesses that were at risk of bankruptcy because of losing all their revenue. For many of these small businesses, a federal grant of $25,000-$50,000 would enable them to survive the shutdown. Think of the restaurants, toy stores, stationery shops, barber shops, hair dressers, shoe stores, florists, that will never open again. They did not get federal aid. But some greedy charter schools have taken advantage of PPP, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars even though they have not lost a penny of revenue.

It’s not easy to identify the charter schools that took money that was supposed to go to endangered small businesses. They must know it’s wrong, because they try to hide their windfall.

For taking money that should have gone to small businesses, for pretending to be small businesses, for hypocritically claiming to be public schools while applying for funding as small businesses, I place these charter operators on the blog’s Wall of Shame.

Carol Burris continues to learn about charter schools that applied for and received federal PPP funding, despite their lack of need. She writes about them here:

Americans were outraged when big companies with more than 500 employees cashed in on PPP loans intended to help small businesses. For example, the Washington Post reported that various hotel companies all chaired by Republican donor Monty Bennett submitted more than 100 filings to seek $126 million. By creating individual filings, they were able to get around the 500 employee cap. The hotel chain got $76 million in the end.

Now it appears that the Mastery Charter chain is using the same tactic to cash in on payment protection plan loans (PPP) loans.

Each school in the chain has its own board; however all are under the direction of one CEO, Scott Gordon, who received a 2017 salary in excess of $300,000.

According to the Mastery website, the chain has over 1700 employees. What, then, does the Mastery charter chain do? It has each of its individual schools apply for a PPP loan.

See for yourself by reading their board minutes here and here. Notice each charter school in the chain, with the exception of the Camden school, is having its own board meeting at the same group meeting at the same time. And every one of the schools in the chain is applying for the SBA PPP funding.

Meanwhile, the unemployment system of the state of Pennsylvania is crashing from the flood of claims. And Mastery Charter Schools are still amply funded by federal, state and local tax dollars, as well as receiving public school funding in the CARES Act.

Mastery likes to call itself a public school district. So why is it seeking advantage with PPP loans at the expense of Philadelphia’s small businesses that have no revenue stream at all?

Amy Frogge is one of the heroes of my book SLAYING GOLIATH. A lawyer, she ran for the Metro Nashville school board with no foreknowledge of the privatization movement. She ran as a concerned citizen and a mother of children in the public schools of Nashville. The privatizers outspent her 5-1, but she won. When she got on the board, she realized that there was a sustained and well-funded campaign to replace public schools with charters. She became a truth-teller, motivated by her deep concern for the common good.

When she ran for re-election, she again faced a well-financed opponent, backed by Gates-funded Stand for Children and DFER. Frogge scored an overwhelming victory.

Amy Frogge is still fighting the fake reformers.

Every school board needs an Amy Frogge, who sees clearly and is not afraid to speak truth to power.

She recently wrote an open letter denouncing Eli Broad and his Broadies.

She wrote:

Dear Nashville (and others),

Please pay attention to those with whom you choose to align yourself on education issues. If you are supporting anyone funded or trained by California billionaire Eli Broad, you can bet you’ll end up on the wrong side of history.

Eli Broad created and funds a blog called Education Post. The folks who run it would like for you to believe they are just activists for low-income families and minority children- but in reality, they are dripping with dirty money. Education Post’s first CEO, Peter Cunningham, was paid $1 million for 2 1/2 years of blogging. Board member Chris Stewart, known online as “Citizen Stewart,” was paid $422,925 for 40 hours a week across 30 months as “outreach and external affairs director.” As author/blogger Mercedes Schneider concludes, “In ed reform, blogging pays juicy salaries.” (For the record, I have never earned a penny for any of my social media posts, of course.)

Paid Education Post leaders regularly try to infiltrate online Nashville education discussions (Nashville is a national target for charter expansion), and Education Post also pays local bloggers to write posts. Local bloggers Zack Barnes and Vesia Hawkins are both listed as network members on the Education Post blog.

Many of the big players in Tennessee were “trained” by Eli Broad through his Broad Superintendents Academy, which recruits business leaders with no background in education to be superintendents- with the purpose of privatizing schools (closing existing schools and opening more charter schools). The current Tennessee Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn, is a “Broadie.” Two former heads of Tennessee’s failed Achievement School District (a ploy to expand charter schools without local approval) were Broadies: Chris Barbic and Malika Anderson. Former superintendents Jim McIntyre (of Knoxville) and Shawn Joseph (of Nashville) were also affiliated with the Broad network. Shawn Joseph claimed both McIntyre and former Baltimore superintendent Dallas Dance, a member of Education Post’s network, as his mentors.

The school “reforms” pushed by Broadies all center around profit-making through public education: standardized testing (money for private test companies), computer learning (money for IT companies and cost-savings on hiring teachers), charter schools, vouchers, scripted curriculum that can be monetized, etc. Broadies typically see teachers as expendable and believe teaching can be mechanized.

Since charters and vouchers have become an increasingly unpopular cause, the latest angle is for Broadies to increase the number of (sometimes rigged) vendor contracts for programs and services, as well as consultants, with school districts. Former Baltimore superintendent Dallas Dance went to federal prison for rigging no-bid contracts in a kick-back scheme. In a similar scheme, his mentee (Nashville superintendent) Shawn Joseph was caught inflating no-bid contract prices (in violation of state law) for vendors connected with the recruiter and Broadies who placed him in Nashville through a rigged superintendent search. (See comments for further information.)

Billionaires like Eli Broad who fund school profiteering efforts like to hire/fund people of color to act as front-men for their efforts. This provides the appearance that the push for “school choice” (i.e., charters and vouchers) is grassroots. When these folks are questioned or caught in the midst of wrong-doing, they are able to cry racism. Meanwhile, everyone has their hands in the cookie jar of funding meant to serve children.

The ploys used in school profiteering are particularly nasty- the worst of dirty politics. The goal is usually to smear, humiliate, shame and discredit anyone who is an effective critic of the school privatization agenda. Lots of money is spent on PR for this purpose. (I’ve even been attacked on this Facebook page by a paid “social media specialist” for my opposition to charter schools.)

You’ll notice that the atmosphere tends to become particularly dysfunctional and circus-like when Broadies are in charge or involved. You’ll also notice that Broadies like to push the narrative that locally-elected school boards are too dysfunctional to lead (even when the Broadie in charge is causing all the dysfunction!). This is because Eli Broad and those affiliated with him want no public oversight of public education spending.

So- when you witness education conversations on social media, be sure to figure out who is funding those claiming to promote “school choice” or to advocate for children in poverty. Follow the money, y’all. Always!

I am late with this news. I missed the email informing me. Too many emails. It happened at the end of April. But it’s important because the Disrupters have targeted Nashville as one of their prime targets for privatization.

So it’s big news that the Metro Nashville school board turned down five applications for new charter schools.

At a time of fiscal austerity, the board recognized that it can’t afford to maintain two separate school systems.

The Metro Nashville Public Schools board denied five charter school applications Tuesday as the school district braces for the possibility of deep budget cuts and little new money for next year.

In addition to pointing to the need for fiscal belt-tightening, board members raised concerns that none of the applications before them fully met the district’s expectations for charter schools.

“Our budgetary future is uncertain,” said Amy Frogge, the board’s vice chair and a longtime charter school critic. “We have to prioritize where those funds go. We can chose to open charter seats or we can chose to pay our teachers and our staff members and really that’s what it comes down to.”

The mayor of Nashville has asked the board to find $100 million in budget cuts.

Critics say charter schools, which receive public money but are operated independently, pull students, money and resources away from zoned schools. Proponents have said they allow choices for parents and alleviate needs at some schools.

Nashville now is projected to spend $139 million on the city’s 28 charter schools, which enroll nearly 13,000 students.

Bill Lee, the governor of Tennessee, is a DeVos acolyte. He plans to create a new charter commission with the power to overturn local decisions. You can bet that every member he appoints will be a charter zealot.

Nashville doesn’t need any new charter schools.

While the nation is distracted by the pandemic, the Trump administration is continuing its cruel practice of separating children fromtheir immigrant parents.

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WASHINGTON — Dad lives about 10 miles from the White House, stringing together gardening jobs, not letting the kids touch him when he gets home for fear of contagion.
Mom lives in a makeshift refugee camp on the border in Matamoros, Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous cities, rationing soap.

Three of the children — ages 10, 14, and 16 — just joined their father, Jose, after winning release from a government shelter where they had been held for more than two months. Now, they have deportation orders hanging over their heads.

U.S. officials are fighting in court to take the three children and deport them to El Salvador — to no one. The only way to avoid being separated from their parents, officials say, would be for their mother in Mexico to give up, too. Government lawyers said they’d put her on a plane with the kids if she agreed to return to El Salvador and never again try to join her husband in the U.S.

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This is the new family separation, two years after taking kids from their parents at the border blew up into a crisis for the Trump administration. Citing the coronavirus to seal the border to an unprecedented extent, the administration is engaged in a pressure campaign against immigrant parents to get them to give up either their kids or their legal claims to protection in the U.S.

Scores of migrant families across the country are being targeted, according to court documents and more than 20 officials, judges, lawyers and migrants. Many spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing their legal cases.

The fates of many of them may hinge on Jose’s family’s case, which has become a test of the administration’s latest policies to bar migrant kids and families, said Claudia Cubas, the litigation director for the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, and Jose’s lawyer.

With Jose’s family’s case the furthest along in the courts, “this is either going to make it or break it for people,” she said.

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POLITICS
Citing coronavirus, Trump officials refuse to release migrant kids to sponsors — and deport them instead
May 12, 2020
Administration officials deny that they are deliberately trying to separate families.

“Consistent with President Trump’s June 20, 2018, executive order, it is the policy of the administration to maintain family unity,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

The statement came after ICE officials this month presented the roughly 180 parents in its custody with the choice of separating from their children or remaining indefinitely detained with them, according to government filings in court and legal service providers. Several hundred more unaccompanied children have been united with a sponsor in the U.S., like Jose’s children, but remain at risk. ICE declined to say how many have final removal orders.

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Advocates argue that unaccompanied minors are entitled to receive immigration hearings under U.S. law. Government attorneys maintain that many of the children had a hearing under the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy after they first arrived at the border and still face deportation, even if that has the effect of dividing them from their parents. The Remain in Mexico policy requires people seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico throughout their court hearings.

“There has been due process afforded to those minor children,” one administration lawyer said in a May hearing for Jose’s family, citing the previous proceedings.

Bridget Cambria, a lawyer with the Aldea People’s Justice Center in Pennsylvania, represents detained parents who testified that ICE officials pressured them to separate from their children, rejected the claim that the government’s actions constitute due process.

“Whatever you want to call it,” said Cambria. “It’s asking mothers and fathers to give up their kids.”

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Attorney Claudia Cubas talks to Jose and his children in April
Attorney Claudia Cubas talks to Jose and his children in April, shortly after they were released from a government shelter. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
Jose’s three daughters — ages 16, 14, and 11 — are about as tall as he is. The 10-year-old boy doesn’t leave his father’s side.

In less than a year, the two oldest girls and their little brother have gone from safe-houses in El Salvador to a tent on the Rio Grande to a government shelter, and now to a home in a Washington suburb with a green lawn, a bicycle and a driveway.

Jose mostly speaks for them. He still doesn’t feel safe, even in the U.S.: MS-13, the gang in El Salvador that told his wife they’d kill the kids if she didn’t tell where he was, has offshoots in Maryland.

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“There’s still this sadness in them,” Jose said of his children. “The biggest change that I’ve seen is that now that we’re here, it’s like they can breathe again.”

In El Salvador, Jose was a street preacher. The gangs ordered him to stop, but he wouldn’t. He met his wife, who also proselytized, at their evangelical church. MS-13 had killed her first husband, the two eldest girls’ biological father, in 2006.

Jose fled first, thinking the threats to the family would lessen if he were gone. He crossed the border with his youngest daughter in Laredo, Texas, just short of one year ago. The decision to come separately — they couldn’t afford to bring everyone at one time — has splintered the family in the U.S. immigration system.

Jose told U.S. officials at the border that he was afraid of persecution in El Salvador and was allowed to go to Maryland, where he has a brother and close friend.

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By the time Jose’s wife and the three other kids arrived at the border about three months later, the Trump administration had imposed its Remain in Mexico policy across the entire southern border, dramatically changing the rules. Officials turned the four back to Matamoros.

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Asylum officers rebel against Trump policies they say are immoral and illegal
Nov. 15, 2019
In January, an immigration judge in Texas denied their asylum claims. Jose’s wife believed the judge said she could not appeal without a lawyer.

In roughly four months in Matamoros, the kids had “suffered physical and sexual assault; endured illness, extreme temperatures, and malnutrition,” according to a legal filing. Ten days after the judge ruled, Jose and his wife decided she should take the children to the bridge and send them across the border on their own.

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Many parents have chosen to take that chance rather than risk keeping their children in the refugee camps along the border. Of some 65,000 migrants subject to Remain in Mexico, at least 1,114 have been kidnapped, raped or assaulted in Mexico, including children, according to Human Rights First. Of asylum seekers subject to the policy, fewer than 1% have ultimately been granted relief.

On Jan. 17, the three children turned themselves in to U.S. officials at the port of entry between Matamoros and Brownsville, Texas, and were designated as unaccompanied minors, affording them special protections under the law, including a hearing before an immigration judge.

As soon as officials located Jose, he applied for custody. But the reunification stalled when the government discovered the kids had prior removal orders dating from the ruling against them and their mother in January.

Cubas and the children’s legal team sued for their release in March. The case has moved through the immigration system and federal court.

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For already traumatized children, Cubas said, “it’s been an emotional roller coaster.”

In the little boy’s legal declaration — in El Salvador, the family moved so much to hide from the gangs that he never learned to read and can hardly write — he says he doesn’t really remember what happened after they crossed into the U.S. “because I’m little.”

“I miss my mom I don’t know what is happening to her,” he said. “I don’t want to return to Mexico because it is a bad place and in El Salvador the gangs are after us.”

Jose’s wife
Jose’s wife, seen in April, is stuck in a makeshift refugee camp on the border in Matamoros, Mexico. She faces dim prospects for reuniting with her family.(Javier Escalante / Los Angeles Times)
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Their mother now lives alone in a blue-tarp tent in Matamoros.

“It’s just me left here,” she said in an interview last month.

The camp, which exploded in size with Remain in Mexico, has no cleaning materials or private bathrooms. Many people bathe in the muddy Rio Grande, where her three kids once saw a dead body floating. Sickness is rampant.

Public health advocates and experts have warned that a coronavirus outbreak in the migrant camps along the border would be devastating.

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The mother is not so worried for her kids anymore, now that they’re in Maryland with Jose. She says she talks to them every day.

The legal battle over the children has left Jose trying to play the part of both parents amid a pandemic. He takes as many precautions as he can.

“I have to provide for them,” he said, “but then I’m exposing myself.”

He’s even more worried for his wife in Mexico. So long as they’re apart, he said, “I have this gap in my heart.”

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A young migrant named Stephanie
A young migrant named Stephanie, 10, near the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
On May 8, lawyers for the government submitted a proposal for Jose’s family:

If the children agreed to “their expeditious and immediate repatriation to El Salvador” and withdrew their suits against the government, and if their mother presented herself at the border, ICE would deport them together to El Salvador, “thus, ensuring that Plaintiffs remain in the care of a parent.”

But, they warned in a footnote, should Jose’s wife try to pursue her immigration case, they could send the kids to El Salvador alone.

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“To be removed with her children, Plaintiffs’ mother would have to immediately elect an expeditious reunification and joint repatriation with her children,” they wrote, “and choose to forego further action.”

They are far from the only family to be presented with such a choice; a very similar case involving two sisters, 8 and 11, unfolded recently in Texas.

The girls crossed the border by themselves after their father was mugged in Matamoros, where they’d been required to stay under the administration’s policy after seeking asylum last September. Their mother, who entered the U.S. on an existing tourist visa and is also applying for asylum, is in Houston. Thirty minutes before the girls were due to be reunited with her, ICE moved to deport them to El Salvador.

After lawyers filed suit, the girls were released to their mother. ICE has agreed not to deport them until a decision by the immigration appeals court — but they still have removal orders.

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“This is another form of family separation, and it’s quite in your face,” said Elizabeth Sanchez Kennedy, immigration legal services Director at YMCA International Services, who represents them.

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POLITICS
Under Trump policy, U.S. plays custody keep-away with migrant children
May 18, 2020
At a hearing in early May in Jose’s family’s case, federal district Judge Randolph D. Moss said he was “troubled” by the government’s effort to “orphan” the children.

“The plaintiffs here are very young,” Moss said.

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“You’re taking a nine-year-old child, removing that child from the parent and sending that child to a place in which the child has no guardian.”

With the judge questioning the constitutionality of separating Jose’s family, ICE said it would hold off on deporting the children until November or a decision by the immigration appeals court. That allows Jose time to pursue his separate asylum claim.

Getting a hearing, however, is no easy feat, with already backlogged immigration courts thrown into further chaos by the coronavirus. Already, Jose has been waiting close to a year for the Baltimore immigration court to schedule one.

Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Assn. of Immigration Judges, noted that the administration repeatedly has pushed back Remain in Mexico hearings while insisting that unaccompanied children continue to attend court during the pandemic.

“It’s clearly more driven by law enforcement priorities than health considerations,” Tabaddor said.

Meanwhile, ICE’s stay is at the agency’s discretion; Jose’s kids still face removal orders. If he ultimately wins asylum, he likely could include his children, and potentially their mother.

In Matamoros, she said she will never allow her children to return to El Salvador.

“My wish is to be with my children there in America one day,” she said. “But if it is my turn to return, I have already lived my life. They are just beginning to live.”

SIG