Denise Gilman

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

Gov. Rick Perry announced on Monday he will deploy 1,000 state National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.

According to a statement issued by Perry’s office, the troops will work alongside and support Texas Department of Public Safety officers as part of an initiative started in 2013, known as Operation Strong Safety, to combat “criminal activity in the region resulting from the federal government's failure to adequately secure the border.”

Perry said at a press conference Monday that criminals are exploiting the burden on border security caused by the surge of tens of thousands unaccompanied children migrating from Central America.

“The action I am ordering today will tackle this crisis head-on by multiplying our efforts to combat the cartel activity, human traffickers and individual criminals who threaten the safety of people across Texas and America,” Perry said in the statement.

At a meeting with President Barack Obama in early July, Perry asked the president to federally fund the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the border until 3,000 border patrol agents could be sent to address the border crisis.

Denise Gilman, clinical professor at the School of Law and co-director of the school’s Immigration Clinic, said the National Guard cannot legally arrest or detain migrants or otherwise be involved in law enforcement.

“The deployment will not improve the situation at the border,” Gilman said in an email to The Daily Texan. “It is a costly symbolic gesture that will have little practical effect other than to promote an image of the humanitarian situation at the border as a national security crisis, which it is not.”

Max Patterson, history senior and University Democrats president, said he thinks Perry is trying to address a larger audience with this policy.

“I really thought it was not just a misguided action but more of a political move to appeal to his base nationally rather than face the humanitarian crisis of children coming across the border,” Patterson said. “What we need is not more boots on the ground.”

The University’s College Republicans chapter did not comment on the surge of National Guard troops to the border.

While both the president and the governor are authorized to station troops at the border, the state will spend $12 million a month of state money to fund the deployment. At Monday’s press conference, Perry and other state leaders said they expect the federal government to reimburse these costs.

Gilman said these resources should be invested in areas other than border enforcement.

“[They] should be directed to improving detention conditions for children and adults and to improving the immigration court adjudication process so that all migrants can have full due process and an opportunity to present their claims in a reasonable time period,” Gilman said. 

Horns Up: Federal judge clears way for release of border wall info

As The Daily Texan reported Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell has granted a UT law professor access to the names and addresses of people affected by the 670-mile border wall due to possible discrimination. In 2008, two years after the wall was authorized by Congress, Denise Gilman, co-director of the law school’s immigration clinic, requested access to the information but received nothing more than a heavily redacted “handful of documents.” Gilman sued in response in 2009 but never received the withheld records. Now that a federal judge has forced the government to turn them over, Gilman can begin to explore possible discriminatory effects on those who live near, and now, in some cases, behind, the wall. Horns up to Judge Howell for valuing citizens’ right to access government documents and for shining a light on the possible harmful effects of the wall’s construction.

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

Six years after her initial request for public records regarding federally built fences along the Texas-Mexico border, UT law professor Denise Gilman has passed a significant barrier in receiving the documents. On March 14, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the government must disclose names and addresses of those affected by the border wall due to possible discrimination. 

In 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, which mandated the construction of a 670-mile wall along the border of the U.S. and Mexico. Gilman, also co-director of the law school’s Immigration Clinic, said when she requested access to the fence records in 2008, the government only released a “handful of documents” — all heavily redacted. Gilman sued for the withheld information under the Freedom of Information Act in 2009.

Gilman said she still has not received the records, now required by the ruling, from the government.

“It was a very long and tedious process to obtain government documents that are critical to a proper and full understanding of border wall construction in South Texas,” Gilman said. “I was genuinely surprised to see the government put up so much resistance to making information about this massive infrastructure project publicly available, particularly in a time of increased emphasis on government openness.”

Barbara Hines, law professor and co-director of the law school’s Immigration Clinic, said the records should give important insight into the government’s decision-making process regarding the wall’s placement.

“The records will be useful to learn who the affected landowners were — that is, those whose land was taken for the construction of the border wall — and to determine whether low-income residents were treated differently than those more wealthy residents,” Hines said.

Although construction of the fences is already completed, Gilman plans to make the new records publicly available online and to conduct additional analysis on the new information.

“I hope that the decision will increase government transparency and accountability in the future as similar border projects are considered, such as proposals for additional wall construction or enhanced Border Patrol presence along the border,” Gilman said.

Urban studies senior Raul Zamora is one of many undocumented immigrants affected by new deportation guidelines from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. These new parameters allow for low-priority deportation cases within the immigration court to be closed.

Photo Credit: Shannon Kintner | Daily Texan Staff

For the first time in three years, Raul Zamora’s name does not appear on any upcoming immigration court dockets. The urban studies senior was detained as an undocumented immigrant in November 2009 and is one of thousands of undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation as a result of new deportation guidelines from the Obama administration.

“It doesn’t mean that I’m safe,” Zamora, who was subsequently denied work authorization after his case closed, said. “I’m still in legal limbo.”

This past December, Zamora’s deportation case was closed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department due to a series of new deportation guidelines issued by the Obama administration. The new guidelines encourage prosecutorial discretion, which classifies cases like Zamora’s as low priority to the U.S. government and removes them from the immigration court docket. ICE director John Morton announced these guidelines in an internal memo in June and government agencies have been enforcing them since.

In the memo, Morton advised officers to close low priority cases and focus on high priority deportation cases involving illegal immigrants with a criminal record. Low priority cases include those involving DREAM act students, students who have finished high school, individuals over 65, individuals who were very young when they were brought to the U.S. and individuals with ties to the U.S. military, among others.

These guidelines do not grant undocumented immigrants the right to work, even after their deportation case has been closed. ICE has recently come under fire for the guidelines because although they close certain cases, they do not terminate them. ICE officials can choose to reopen them at any time.

Gregory Palmore, ICE Houston field office spokesman, said Central Texas accounted for 14 percent of the nation’s total deportations in 2010, and the rate has remained high.

Denise Gilman, clinical law professor and Zamora’s lawyer, said the new guidelines are a positive move by the Obama administration but do not do enough to give closure to defendants.

“All the guidelines say is that certain individuals in a category will not be removed,” Gilman said. “It leaves them in a legal limbo where they are not allowed to find work and integrate.”

Gilman said the administration could go further to address issues in the undocumented community by expanding the categories of people who might have their cases closed, terminating the cases, providing work authorization and encouraging officers to follow the new guidelines.

House judiciary chairman Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, opposes the new guidelines and said they are the equivalent to “backdoor amnesty.” Smith said according to recent information by The Associated Press, 1,600 illegal immigrants have benefited from the pilot program in Baltimore and Denver. These immigrants will subsequently apply for work authorization, he said, affecting American workers.

“If these results play out in Texas, thousands of illegal immigrants will be granted administrative amnesty and thousands of Texans will find it harder to get jobs,” Smith said. “How can the Obama administration justify granting work authorization to illegal immigrants when so many American citizens don’t have jobs? Citizens and legal immigrants should not be forced to compete with illegal workers for scarce jobs.”

With his fall 2012 graduation looming closer, Zamora said he will continue to fight for work authorization. His case will be featured this Saturday in the Texas Dream Alliance Summit, a clinic offering undocumented students free legal advice on their individual cases.

“ICE needs to look at the human side,” he said. “We’re not just numbers, we’re people. All we want is an education and to make our families proud and for future generations to get an education.”