Department of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security
Waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico to Help Rebuild its Infrastructure and Economy
Everyone has seen the unprecedented devastation in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The entire island is without power and thousands of Americans may die. Many have asked how they can help. This petition focuses on cutting through bureaucracy that could cost lives and add to the suffering of millions of Americans in Puerto Rico. The Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act 1920, 46 U.S.C. § 883) prevents foreign ships from carrying cargo between the US mainland and noncontiguous parts of the US like Puerto Rico. Foreign ships can't stop in Puerto Rico to offload goods. Instead, goods are dropped off on the mainland and brought to the island on US flag ships. This makes everything more expensive, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, could actually cost lives. The Department of Homeland Security extended a waiver of the Jones Act to relieve PR, but the waiver expired on September 22, 2017. I started this petition on Saturday, September 23rd. By September 28th, this petition garnered nearly 500,000 supporters, and President Trump and DHS agreed to waive the Jones Act for 10 days. While this is a good start, Puerto Rico will need additional time to rebuild its economy and infrastructure and should receive the benefit of foreign support. For example, Germany has already begun assisting Puerto Rico with restoring its power grid. By signing this petition, you are telling the Department of Homeland Security and the President of the United States to waive the Jones Act for 12 months to give Puerto Rico the relief it needs to recover and rebuild its infrastructure and economy.
Stop tearing families apart
The Trump Administration recently began implementing a new “zero tolerance” prosecution policy that has separated hundreds of immigrant children, including infants and toddlers, from their parents upon arriving at the border. These families are often fleeing horrific violence, and parents are doing everything they can to protect their children by coming to the United States. Taking these children from their parents is inhumane, unnecessary, and unacceptable. Sign our petition and demand that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stop tearing immigrant children from their parents. Under Attorney General Sessions’ new policy, adults arriving at the border outside of designated ports of entry will be criminally prosecuted and sent to U.S. Marshal Service custody to await prosecution, and then transferred to immigration detention to await immigration proceedings. Children cannot be kept in adult detention facilities and will be rendered “unaccompanied,” transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and placed in different facilities and shelters for children, sometimes several states away from their parents. Pediatricians and child welfare professionals have spoken out forcefully about the significant and enduring trauma forced separations inflict on children and their families. Family separation also creates challenges for children seeking legal protection, who must now prepare their cases with only limited access to information and documentation from their parents that could help to prove their claims. As a result, children may be unable to support their cases for asylum and be returned to harm or death in their home countries. There is no law that compels the separation of children from their parents, and the Administration can and should immediately halt policies that embrace this cruel and unnecessary practice. This ruthless and brutish targeting and treatment of particularly vulnerable children and families is being done in the name of all Americans. Join us in calling on DHS to immediately stop separating immigrant families.
Please release my nephew and sister-in-law from detention
My sister-in-law and her 12-year-old son came to the U.S. seeking asylum from horrific violence, yet since their arrival in May have been separated and held in immigrant detention. They are not doing well. Please help our family and sign to ask that they be released into our care until their next court date. Jessica (we share the same name) and Mario made the dangerous journey to the border from Honduras. The violence there is beyond any hell you can imagine. Family members have been killed and siblings robbed. On top of this, Jessica suffered abuse from her boyfriend that she couldn’t get away from. They were desperate to escape. Now in detention, Jessica is suffering extreme panic attacks and can’t eat, and Mario is constantly crying for his mom. He doesn’t understand why they are separated and tells his aunt he can’t take another day inside. We are so worried about him. There is no ‘line’ for Jessica and Mario. Asylum is their only possibility, and that is why they came here the way they did. Our hearts are broken. No child should be forced to be separated from their parents. Please sign this petition to have her reunited with Mario and released to me and my husband (her brother), or her other sister who lives 2.5 hours from us. She can wait for her court date with us without being a burden to society.
Between May 7th and June 20th the Trump Administration separated nearly 3,000 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, when they instituted a new “zero tolerance” policy. These kids, many of them toddlers who cannot speak for themselves, are concentrated in camps far from their parents, with no plan to reunite them. The government even had the gall to demand that parents agree to “self-deport” in order to get their kids back. On June 26th, a San Diego judge ordered the administration to #ReuniteEveryChild under the age of 5 by July 10th, and the remaining by July 26th. However, as of July 9th, the administration says they can only reunite 54 of the roughly 102 children under the age of 5, that’s less than 2% of the total separated. The administration requested an extension to these dates and on July 9th, a federal judge granted that extension. Our federal government is inflicting harm and trauma upon these children through this mistreatment. Their policies include not allowing staff to touch or hug the imprisoned children to comfort them. Meanwhile, parents who are desperately trying to call their own children can only call a single government hotline – a phone number which has been proven to be mostly ineffective. At Define American, we are asking everyone, especially journalists, demand a plan from the administration to immediately #ReuniteEveryChild with their parents on U.S. soil. Will you sign on and demand that the Trump Administration immediately #ReuniteEveryChild?
#FreeEmilio: Do Not Deport Award-Winning Journalist Emilio Gutierrez to Mexico
As supporters of press freedom and human rights, we are asking that Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez, who is currently being held in the Federal Detention Center in Sierra Blanca, Texas, not be deported to Mexico. Mr. Gutierrez, who is the recipient of the National Press Club’s 2017 John Aubuchon Award for Press Freedom, has been living in the United States for nine years since fleeing Mexico. His reports on abuses by the Mexican military in his hometown forced him to flee for his life. He sought asylum in the U.S., but his request was recently denied. Mr. Gutierrez and much of the journalism community believe that he will be killed upon return to Mexico if he is deported. We urge the U.S. government to find a place for him here in the States or allow him to transit to a third country where he will be safe. Mr. Gutierrez has no criminal record. He and his son Oscar have supported themselves in the food service industry while living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. They willingly surrendered in El Paso on December 7 and were handcuffed and taken to the facility at Sierra Blanca 90 miles away from their attorney in El Paso. Mr. Gutierrez and Oscar were moved back to the detention facility in El Paso on December 12. Please sign this petition to prevent Emilio's deportation before it's too late. #freeemilio
They Stood with Us: Save Iraqi Family Under Immediate Threat for Working with U.S. Troops
Mohammed, a 64-year-old Iraqi, and his family are in grave danger because of their affiliation with the U.S. military and desperately need to be granted refugee status in the United States before it’s too late. Multiple generations of Mohammed’s family have risked their lives for U.S. forces and to bring freedom and safety to Iraq. Two of his sons served as interpreters for the U.S. Army, and his brother interpreted for the Marine Corps. All three of them had their lives threatened, and one son was shot in the face by militia. Mohammed’s brother was shot, killed, and left dead in a dumpster when the militia found out about his work. Please sign my petition asking the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expedite processing of the family’s refugee case that was recently approved on a conditional basis. Three of Mohammed’s children (the two interpreter brothers and one of their sisters) have already been resettled in recognition of their sacrifices for the United States. But Mohammed, his wife, and his three other children (including a 10-year-old daughter) remain in Iraq, where they are in hiding due to their history of support for the U.S. and the deteriorating security situation in Iraq. While they wait for their case to be finalized, they remain a prime target for terrorist organizations. After over six years of vetting, they continue to fear for their lives and the risk of being them being killed because of their affiliation with the U.S. is increased the longer their case is delayed. Mohammed and his family firmly believe in the importance of U.S. national security – the family collectively made the decision to defend it at great personal risk. Yet, last year, the family received a devastating denial of their refugee case with no explanation. American citizens rallied behind the family and over 22,000 signatures were gathered on Change.org asking USCIS to review the decision in light of the sacrifices the family has made for the U.S. USCIS considered the entirety of the evidence and made a wrong right by overturning their previous denial. We are incredibly grateful for the USCIS officials who took a hard look at the case and put this family back on track for refugee resettlement to the US. However, it is important to remember that the ordeal is not over until the day the family safely escapes Iraq, lands stateside, and clears customs. Mohammed and his family have been through enough. They have had family members killed and wounded and they have had their family torn apart. All of this is because of their loyalty to the U.S. It is time to bring the rest of the family to new home in the U.S. They deserve to be reunited and should no longer fear daily for their lives. Sign my petition to ask USCIS to finalize their case. We made a promise to protect this family. We cannot let this family die at the hands of our common enemy.
Be His Hero: Save My Family's Lives
As an Afghan interpreter for the U.S. military, it was my honor to serve the United States. But in retaliation for my work alongside the U.S. Marines, the Taliban captured, tortured, and murdered my father. I moved my family to safety and continued to serve. Three years later, the Taliban struck my family again by kidnapping my my then three-year old brother and holding him for ransom. We paid the ransom and fled the country. I was able to come to the U.S. this January, but my family remains in danger. I need your help to save them. I have never seen my father happier than when I told him I was volunteering to be an interpreter for the U.S. Marines. He told me he was proud that his son had chosen to serve with the Americans to free Afghanistan from the Taliban's rule. In the summer of 2009, while I was working at the main entry gate of Marine Corps Base Camp Dwyer, a Taliban sympathizer from my hometown of Kandahar recognized me. A few days later, Dad disappeared. A broadcast soon came over the radio: an unidentified body had been found in a dried riverbed and needed to be claimed at the morgue. My mother made a trip that no wife should ever have to make to see if the body was that of her husband. By this time, Dad had been missing for a week. In the morgue, Mom found a body with missing fingertips and riddled with bullet holes, including one in the head. She knew we had lost Dad when she noticed the body’s shoes– my father was still wearing the sandals I had given him as a keepsake when I left to work as an interpreter. We wore the same size shoes. In the face of such tragedy, and despite continued mortal risk to myself and my family, I decided to continue to serve alongside Coalition Forces for three more years in an effort to improve my country. Sadly, after four years serving with the Coalition Forces and the U.S. Military, the Taliban once again struck my family, kidnapping my then 3-year old brother. My big brother, Adrian Kinsella, has spent the last three-and-a-half years fighting to get me safely to the United States. With the help of nonprofits such as IRAP, the Pat Tillman Foundation, and fellow Americans citizens, my big brother reached out to politicians and media across the country and elicited the aid of 11 U.S. Senators and Congressmen to expedite the process. In January, I arrived. I am now living with Adrian in Berkeley and have already landed a job at a video equipment manufacturer. I don’t fear for my safety tonight, but I know that my family continues to suffer. They live their current lives as if in a prison; they cannot work, go to school, or even leave their house. Please help me free them from this prison and bring them to safety. *Usafi is my tribe name. In order to protect my family, I'm not using my last name.
Donald Trump: Deje de separar a las familias
En una rueda de prensa de la semana pasada, la Secretaria de Comunicación de Estados Unidos Sarah Huckabee Sanders no quiso contestar a las repetidas preguntas sobre si como madre, ella tenía algún tipo de simpatía por los niños inmigrantes que han sido separados de sus padres. Como abogado y padre que trabaja para asegurar la protección y el acceso a abogados para niños inmigrantes no acompañados, estoy tremendamente preocupado por la política cruel del Gobierno de Donald Trump de “tolerancia cero” a las políticas de inmigración que supone la separación de las familias. Esto tiene que parar. He escuchado historias de niños que han sido separados de sus padres sin casi tiempo para decirse adiós y sin darle más información a estos menores de cuándo volverán a ver a sus padres. Un colega mío ha trabajado con un niño y su hermana que han hecho el peligroso viaje desde Centroamérica junto a su madre, y que al llegar a la frontera le separaron de ella. Los niños lloraban mientras nos contaban cómo suplicaban poder estar con su madre: al poco tiempo conocimos que ella había sido rápidamente deportada a su país de origen. No existe ley que permita separar a los niños de sus padres, y el Gobierno norteamericano puede y debe dejar de destruir a las familias de inmediato. Ver por todo lo que están pasando estos niños - un daño brutal e innecesario infligido por el gobierno de Estados Unidos - es una agonía que hasta ahora nunca habíamos experimentado. No podemos quedarnos sentados y seguir viendo cómo esto sucede. Firma esta petición para exigir a la Administración Trump que detenga inmediatamente las políticas que abarcan esta práctica cruel e innecesaria.
Liberen a mi sobrino Mario y mi cuñada - Están detenidos
Mi cuñada y su hijo de tan sólo 12 años llegaron a Estados Unidos en busca de asilo huyendo de una violencia extrema, y pero desde su llegada en mayo han sido separados y mantenidos en un centro de detención de inmigrantes. Por favor, ayude a nuestra familia y firme esta petición para solicitar que sean puestos en libertad hasta que tenga lugar su próxima cita con el juez. Jessica y Mario hicieron el peligroso viaje desde la frontera de Honduras. La violencia allí es lo más parecido al infierno y es mucho más horroroso de lo que cualquier persona pueda imaginar. Muchos de sus familiares han sido asesinados. Además de todo esto, Jessica sufrió abusos sexuales por parte de su novio y tanto ella como su sobrino Mario no tuvieron otra opción que escapar. Ahora, en el centro de detención, Jessica está sufriendo ataques de pánico extremos y no puede comer mientras que Mario llora constantemente por no poder ver y estar con su madre. Él no entiende porqué están separados y lo único que dice es que no puede pasar un día más separado de ella. Toda la familia estamos preocupados por él. El asilo es la única posibilidad para esta familia, y es por eso que vinieron a Estados Unidos en la forma en la que lo hicieron. Nuestros corazones están rotos. Ningún niño debería ser forzado a estar separado de sus padres. Por favor, firma esta petición para conseguir que Mario pueda ser liberado y pueda estar conmigo y mi marido, o con otra hermana suya que vive a 2 horas y media de donde estamos.
Deploy 50,000 Federal Troops to Aid in Puerto Rico's Recovery Efforts
Hurricane Maria ripped roads apart, uprooted trees, pulled walls and metal roofs off homes, and devastated the ailing island of Puerto Rico. We've all seen the images of the aftermath, but the real story is now about survival. Ten days after the storm hit, millions need to survive deteriorating conditions. In storm-battered neighborhoods across Puerto Rico, aid hasn't come quickly enough and hasn't been sustained. Puerto Ricans are dying. Americans are dying. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, credited with turning around the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, weighed in on the crisis, “Puerto Rico is a bigger and tougher mission than Katrina, and we had 20,000 federal troops, 20 ships, and 40,000 National Guard.” The island’s most pressing needs include fuel to run hospitals or potable water to drink. Honoré says, “You need at least 50 to 80 helicopters in there.” In contrast, only 4,400 federal troops have been deployed to Puerto Rico as of September 29th. The 3-star general appointed to the crisis, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, says there are not enough troops and vehicles sent to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. President Trump, deploy 50,000 federal troops to the island and 80 helicopters to distribute fuel, water, and emergency supplies. Give our troops the resources they need to be successful in Puerto Rico. Help them save millions of American lives. To be clear. The Trump administration has not stepped up yet, which is reminiscent of the days following Katrina — 10,000 federal workers is not enough. Puerto Rico was destroyed, and the effects are on a larger scale than Katrina. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on September 29th urged Trump to ramp up the federal assistance. "This is, damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a ‘people are dying’ story. This is a ‘life or death’ story. This is ‘there’s a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people’ story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen.” No more excuses about it being 1,200 miles away from the mainland. What matters most is how you respond in the days to come. The ball is in your court, Mr. President. We're asking for you to do more. Not just today, but tomorrow, and the next day until we fix this together. Puerto Ricans are not them or they — we're Americans who need help.