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Immigration battles play out in Congress, courts and communities

Although “build the wall” was one of President Trump’s most-recognized campaign chants, he has found other ways to limit immigration and expand enforcement while in office. This past week included an ICE crackdown on undocumented immigrants who have removal orders, several court rulings about Trump’s proposed changes to asylum rules and new headlines about detained migrants. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Late this afternoon, President Trump signed an agreement that requires migrants from other Central American countries who travel through Guatemala to seek asylum there, instead of in the United States.

    The new agreement came after the Trump administration threatened to ban all travel from the Guatemala.

    DHS officials say they expect the deal to go into effect next month.

    As Amna Nawaz reports, this was just the latest development in a week of immigration news.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Less than a month on the job, Matthew Albence, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, found himself in the hot seat Thursday, facing questions from Congress about recent widespread ICE raids.

  • Matthew Albence:

    I think it's a disservice to classify them as raids. We were going after targeted individuals. I think calling them that heightens the temperature with all these issues.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The enforcement actions carried out last week dubbed Operation Border Resolve targeted more than 2,000 people in 10 cities who have removal orders from immigration judges.

    But ICE officials said the recent raids resulted in less than three dozen arrests, bringing the total to more than 900 since May.

  • President Donald Trump:

    All of these people over the years that have come in illegally, we are removing them and bringing them back to their country.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    President Trump had touted the most recent planned surge of roundups for weeks. Officials say that gave immigrant rights advocates time to offer legal advice and undocumented immigrants time to prepare, resulting in fewer arrests.

    Earlier this week, the administration also announced plans to fast-track deportations for undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States less than two years. As many as 300,000 migrants could be deported without first seeing a judge.

  • Woman:

    He doesn't have to answer that. He has his rights.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    For families targeted by the raids, the fear of deportation is still very real.

    In Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday, Florencio Millan-Vazquez was forcibly removed from his car as his girlfriend streamed video of the encounter on Facebook and his two children watched from the back seat.

  • Cheyenne Hoyt:

    I told him not to refuse or not to resist, because I didn't want them to shoot him in front of my kids.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Immigration officials said Millan-Vazquez had misdemeanor offenses on his record and had reentered the U.S. illegally after being deported in 2011. Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver called the video, which has been viewed more than 150,000 times — quote — "very concerning," adding that it raises questions about the traumatization of children and the reasonable use of force.

    The same day in Tennessee, a different outcome. ICE agents and local police stayed outside a home for several hours as a man and his 12-year-old son locked themselves in a van outside their home. Neighbors, who had known the family for years, delivered food and water to the vehicle before linking arms to form a human chain to safely escort them into their house.

  • Woman:

    We would have did it for a million other families. We would do it today. We will do it tomorrow. This is what America is all about.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    ICE officials left without making an arrest, saying in a statement they chose to leave to de-escalate the situation.

    The next day, immigration officials released a U.S. citizen who had been detained by Customs and Border Protection, as well as ICE, for nearly a month, raising new questions about how people are taken into custody.

    Eighteen-year-old Francisco Galicia was born in Dallas. He was driving last month with his brother, who was born in Mexico, when they were stopped at a CBP checkpoint. He says he showed agents his U.S. birth certificate, but both men were detained anyway. His brother was deported days later.

    Galicia spoke to CNN.

  • Francisco Galicia (through translator):

    They thought they were superior. They looked at us with such distaste. I think it was like a certain type of racism.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Border agents say the cause was a bureaucratic mixup from a visitor visa falsely filed by Galicia's mother years earlier.

    After being released, Galicia raised new concerns about the conditions inside detention facilities, telling The Dallas Morning News — quote — "It was inhumane how they treated us."

    He said that, during his time in custody, he lost 26 pounds because of lack of food. He wasn't able to shower, and had to sleep on the floor in a room with 60 other men. Some of them, he said, were forced to sleep in the restroom. Others were bitten by ticks.

    At one point, Galicia said he considered self-deportation to Mexico just to get out of the detention facility.

    CBP and ICE officials defended the conditions for migrants in federal custody.

    Once again, acting ICE Director Matthew Albence:

  • Matthew Albence:

    It is imperative that those individuals that are within our custody are kept in a safe and secure environment and are treated humanely and professionally and with dignity the entire time they are in our custody.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But on the same day Albence testified on Capitol Hill, ICE officials also confirmed that a Mexican man, Pedro Arriago-Santoya, died in the agency's custody earlier this week after complaining of abdominal pain.

    He had been held at a for-profit facility in Georgia since April and was the seventh migrant to die in ICE custody since last October.

    Meanwhile, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration's planned overhaul of asylum rules. The decision came just hours after another judge gave the go-ahead.

    The new policy, announced earlier this month, would allow the Department of Homeland Security to deny asylum requests for migrants who first pass through another country without claiming asylum.

    The deal President Trump announced today requires migrants from anywhere in Central America to apply for asylum in Guatemala, instead of the U.S.

    And another administration directive remains in effect. Under the so-called remain in Mexico policy, asylum seekers are required to wait outside the U.S. before their immigration court hearings.

    More than 20,000 migrants have been sent back across the border. Under pressure from the U.S., Mexico has sent nearly 21,000 National Guard troops to the border to prevent migrants from crossing north, leading to scenes like this, where a mother begs the National Guard to let her and her son pass.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

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