Mediation, Immigration and Deportation

Juan Manuel Lobo Niembro, founder of ALINEA Consultants, Monterrey, Mexico, described a mediation program based in 10 schools across Mexico designed to train children how to resolve issues without violence. In the last four years, Niembro has trained 6,000 people in five states in mediation tactics. A program for young adults 20 and over is used in prisons and follows the same principles.

“Our goal is to change the culture around bad neighborhoods,” Niembro said, who cites an element in the country’s constitution that requires restorative justice programs to fight recidivism.

He cited an 86 percent repeat rate for young offenders in Texas. In Mexico, 90 percent of young offenders who participated in Niembro's program did not return to prison.  Niembro’s mediation programs operate at the federal, state and local levels. Based on his program, universities and churches developed a coaching network for difficult neighborhoods.

“Parents often join our program after their children receive our training,” he said. “Mediation between parents is essential because there is no higher institution in charge.”  Niembro uses a software program to reinforce and expand his training. He conducts public graduation ceremonies to encourage involvement.


Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez, immigration attorney and member of the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration, outlined the difficult road immigrants must follow to enter the United States. She personally worked with the influx of Central American children to Texas and helped stranded international travelers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport during the initial Trump administration travel ban.

“Getting in line is a myth. It’s not logical. I’m working on cases that began in 1989 that are ready to go now,” she said.

Three often overlooked Visas that allow immediate entry to the United States are those covering victims of domestic violence, violent crime and trafficking. Asylum, she added, is almost impossible to achieve. Under a bill under consideration by the Texas Legislature, cities must report undocumented detainees to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Service. If they don’t, city officials can be removed and fined.

Saenz-Rodriguez counsels undocumented clients to prepare to be detained by drawing up Powers of Attorney for their children to help them survive. “I tell them to put a box under the bed and be sure someone knows where it is. Put all financial, medical and insurance information in it in case you do not return to your home,” she explained.

She shares an immigration rights card that details detainees' rights under the law. “ICE cannot enter your house without a warrant, number one,” she said.

Following Saenz-Rodriguez, Fatma Marouf, professor and director of the Texas A&M School of Law Immigration Clinic, profiled immigrants from Mexico in Texas. “Thirty percent earn 200 percent of the poverty level, 70 percent are below that level. Forty-one percent own their own homes. If all these people left Texas, the state would suffer,” she explained.

In a highly-publicized case, she advocated for a Central American woman with a brain tumor who was detained by ICE. “Her rights were violated in so many different ways, “ Marouf said.  Because of the woman's condition, detention should have been a last resort.  “She had family and wasn’t in any condition to flee,” Marouf explained.

The woman represented by Marouf was shackled to her hospital bed and had no private conversations with her doctors, a violation of the Texas Patient Rights Act.  The patient was not provided a translator. “Immigration detainees have more rights than someone accused of a crime,” Marouf said. The patient’s name wasn’t on the hospital manifest as being admitted so that her family could find her.

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WOMEN’S POLICY FORUM   |      P.O. Box 11246   Fort Worth, Texas 76110