ICIE founder Ralph Isenberg destroys anti-immigant activist during TV appearance

In July of last year, ICIE founder Ralph Isenberg appeared on ARISE TV News to discuss the surge of “border kids,” the young refugees coming to our Southern border. As you will see, Ralph absolutely demolishes an anti-immigrant activist who makes some callous statements and outrageous accusations:

Ralph Isenberg and ICIE: Saving the world, one family at a time

Ralph Isenberg
Ralph Isenberg

Ralph Isenberg is a successful property manager in Dallas, but he is also a warrior for the rights of immigrants that have fallen victim to our present immigration system. Isenberg, who has no special training in field of immigration, founded the Isenberg Center for Immigration Empowerment (ICIE) after he learned first-hand of the destructive nature of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) tactics and their total disregard for civil and human rights. “This agency, for the most part, is made up of FBI want-to-be types that are rejects because they act like thugs and bullies.” Isenberg said. “ICE agents that want to do well are clearly in the minority.” Isenberg points to the fact that ICE has more government watchdog agencies keeping an eye on ICE than any other law enforcement agency in the United States Government.

Isenberg is a first-generation American whose family came to the United States from Nazi Germany. The war in Europe resulted in the Isenbergs losing two-thirds of their family at the hands of Hitler. Isenberg’s parents made certain he was raised with a deep appreciation for the opportunities the United States gave new immigrants. His father earned a PHD and was a full professor teaching Organic Chemistry while his mother, an RN, headed a student health care program at university of over 20,000 students.

Isenberg took a keen interest in politics at a very young age after meeting Senator John F. Kennedy when he was running for president. During this time he also met several other well-known political types and civil rights leaders.

It was only natural that Isenberg would want to get involved in helping those with immigration problems, after his own family ran into what he describes as the “wrath of ICE.” Isenberg says, “There is no way I will ever forgive the United States for what they did to my family and the only fitting punishment is that I spend the rest of my life on the attack saving others.”

ICIE was founded to help Isenberg implement the principle that action, not inaction, will always be taken when ICIE finds a matter in which Constitutional law or “extreme family separation” is an issue to a foreign national. The organization does not charge a person it helps, no matter how much work is required. “We are a ‘resort of last hope,” Isenberg says. “ICIE is anything but conventional. We will do whatever we must to keep a family together. That is proven by the fact that ICIE has only had two setbacks in several hundred matters, involving thousands of foreign nationals and nationals. Losing a matter is not an option when you are dealing with a human life,” Isenberg points out.

The stated mission of ICIE is “to challenge our society to be more accepting of foreign nationals that have settled in the United States, whose presence has made them contributing members of our society and deserving of being Americans. When harm comes to these deserving foreign nationals, ICIE will engage those persons, whether it involves private or government concerns. The major tools used by ICIE to defend foreign nationals are the Constitution of the United States, the doctrine of extreme family separation and humanitarian concerns. ICIE will never permit simple prejudice to be a framework for resolution.”

Over the years, Isenberg and the staff at ICIE take on matters that most legal types run from. It is a daunting task, and Isenberg often finds his efforts thwarted by ICE agents who violate the civil rights of the foreign nationals he is trying to help. Through all the victories and struggles, Isenberg points out that it is always about helping one life, and one family, at a time. “I always tell folks about the story of the starfish,” he said. “A father and his child were walking along the beach and came across hundreds of starfish that had washed ashore. The child began picking up the starfish one at a time and putting them back in the ocean. That father told the child; there’s no point in doing this. There are too many starfish to throw back in the ocean. You can’t help them. It won’t make a difference. The child looked up at the father, holding up a starfish, and said, “it will make a difference for this one.” That describes ICIE perfectly.

“We at ICIE can’t help everyone; but to the person or family we do get to save, it makes a world of difference. We get to save one starfish at a time,” he said.

El Salvador boy reunited with family in the United States

ICIE Founder Ralph Isenberg and the young boy clear customs at DFW Airport in Dallas.
ICIE Founder Ralph Isenberg and the young boy clear customs at DFW Airport in Dallas.
Family members embrace the boy for the first time in years.
Family members embrace the boy for the first time in years.

Editor’s note: for security reasons, we have chosen not to use the names of the family members involved in this matter. There are still relatives in El Salvador who could face retribution and violence from local gangs.

An eleven-year-old boy from El Salvador has been reunited with his five family members in the United States this past weekend, ending a nine-month ordeal for a family that sought escape from the drug gangs and violence in their home country.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this story is the fact that it had a happy ending at all. Nine months ago, the boy’s family came to ICIE for help, after ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) tried to deport his father. Eight years ago, the mother and father came to this country in search of a better life. Gangs, the drug trade, human trafficking, revolution, political unrest, and several natural disasters have left El Salvador in a state of extreme poverty, with the highest non-war zone murder rate in the world. As a result, ICIE sees as many individuals from El Salvador as they do from Mexico seeking relief for their immigration status.

Many of the “border kids” who fled towards the southern U.S. border last year were from El Salvador. That included the young boy’s sister, who came to America last summer when violence at her school left one teacher dead and left her in fear of her life. She eventually was reunited with her family in Dallas. The boy, however, stayed behind under the care of a grandmother, as his parents felt he young enough that gangs would not target him for recruitment. The decision to leave him in El Salvador would soon backfire.

In recent months, the boy’s situation became even more precarious, as he faced direct threats of violence from gang members paid by local political officials to silence opposition. The boy’s uncle had been a vocal critic of the corruption in the ruling party, and the family was targeted because of it. As a result, the boy had been unable to attend school or even leave his home. The grandmother who took care of the boy was in declining health, complicating matters. Violence had also touched his school, as he saw his bus driver brutally murdered in front of him. Local gangs also discovered some of the family had fled to the United States, making them a target for retribution. As a result, the young boy has shuffled to different relatives’ homes, to avoid gang members.

After the young boy’s sister fled to the United States and suffered her own ordeal in the journey, Isenberg and the ICIE staff helped her file the proper paperwork and reunite with her family, and then began working on bringing the brother to the United States. Although El Salvador government officials were very cooperative, U.S. officials dragged their feet to approve his trip to America on humanitarian grounds. After nine long months of pestering immigration officials, Isenberg finally obtained permission from Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) to personally bring the boy to America.

Although Isenberg has been to poor under-developed countries before, he was still taken aback by the extreme level of poverty he found in El Salvador. When staff at the hotel he was staying at learned of his line of work, they asked him for help in getting their family members out of the country. “We were learning details and situations about people’s lives there that we would never get in we hadn’t been on the ground here,” he said. For that reason, Isenberg wants to open a research office in the country to assist those living there. “There is so much information lost when a person is deported. We need to be there to assist cases involving Constitutional matters and extreme family separation.”

The young boy meets his brother for the first time.
The young boy meets his brother for the first time.
The parents embrace their son after years apart.
The parents embrace their son after years apart.

Even as Isenberg left for El Salvador to escort the boy to America, more trouble was brewing. Border patrol officials told Isenberg he did not have proper authorization, and they might deny the boy entry to America if they attempted to fly back. After meeting with officials at the American Embassy in El Salvador, Isenberg learned he did have the proper authorization, and the boy was allowed to leave.

Although Isenberg says he did receive help from staff at the Embassy, he was dismayed at the nonsensical government rules that made the process even more difficult. Even though he was an American citizen, for security reasons, he was not allowed to bring his iPad into the Embassy, even though it contained some of the documentation on the boy’s situation. He nearly had to throw it away just to enter the building, before an Embassy staffer made an exception. He had also hoped to meet with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials in El Salvador while he was there, but he learned they were only open on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Isenberg points out that while security at the Embassy is important, he found it too extreme at times. At one point, he stepped onto the Embassy’s grass to gain the attention of a guard, only to have an AR-15 pointed at him. “That was discomforting,” he said.

Isenberg also knows now why it is so difficult for El Salvadorians to navigate the immigration system. They must work with the Embassy to submit applications, and it is difficult for non-Americans to enter, thanks to its fortress-like security. He saw hundreds of individuals waiting outside the Embassy for hours in the sweltering heat. An independent security company working at the Embassy needlessly ensured the people were always standing at attention with their paperwork in hand. “I found the entire process hostile to potential Americans,” he said. “Embassy staff do not take the time to meet with locals and answer their immigration questions. If I as a citizen cannot work with our government, how do we expect a local who wants to immigrate to work within the system? Why are we spending millions for staff at these Embassies around the world for the purpose of immigration if locals cannot meet with them?”

Before they left the country, the boy posed for some final pictures with the relatives he would probably never see again (shown below). Sadly, the boy’s uncle, whose political activism triggered the threats of violence against the family, lost his appeal to stay in America as a political refugee and was recently deported back to El Salvador. An overzealous judge refused to grant him asylum, even though immigration officials had found his request credible, as he passed a “reasonable fear” interview (which U.S. immigration officials conduct to determine if one faces danger if they were to return to their home country). “We are not done fighting for the uncle yet,” Isenberg promised.

Isenberg and the boy flew American Airlines back to the United States, and when the flight crew heard about the boy’s situation, they invited him to sit in the co-pilot’s seat in the cockpit, as it was his first flight. They also signed an AA booklet as a souvenir.

Upon arriving at DFW Airport in Dallas, the boy’s family and nearly 100 members of the extended “ICIE Family” (immigrants and foreign nationals whom ICIE had assisted in the past) were on hand to greet the boy. Even as one family was reunited, Isenberg was already working on the next case, which involves a deported mother separated from her U.S. citizen husband and children in America.

In El Salvador, the young boy's relatives pose with his newly-acquired visa.
In El Salvador, the young boy’s relatives pose as he receives his newly-acquired visa.
At the airport in El Salvador, the boy's relatives pose for one last photo.
At the airport in El Salvador, the boy’s relatives pose for one last photo.
The young boy poses in the co-pilot's seat in an American Airlines plane.
The young boy poses in the co-pilot’s seat of an American Airlines plane before flying to the United States.

Fearmongering doctor finds fame attacking border kids

vliet2Dr. Elizabeth L Vliet isn’t an expert on infectious diseases, but she plays one on TV. In fact, she is actually a board-certified psychiatrist who is using the recent furor over immigration to make a name – and maybe some money – for herself.

Dr. Vliet has appeared several times on Fox News warning that the refugee children from Central America, who are fleeing to the United States to escape drug and gang violence at home, are bringing a number of dangerous infectious diseases with them. There isn’t any actual proof to any of this, and there has been no outbreak of major diseases among the children detained along our border. Because she is a doctor, however, her statements are taken as fact without verification.

Last June, Vliet penned a column for The McAllen (TX) Monitor in which she claimed border kids were bringing in every disease short of Mad Cow into the country. Again, she cited no proof or examples, but instead provided a rundown of a list of terrible diseases and their effects. Her column, however, led to her TV appearances on both “Hannity” and “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” who both took anti-immigrant stances and used Vliet’s statements to validate them.

Vliet’s misleading statements have also been adopted by anti-immigrant activists and bloggers, who use them to justify their racist rhetoric by blaming immigrants (particularly children) for anything and everything. The website The Federalist Papers actually used Vliet’s statements to blame the measles outbreak at Disneyland on illegal immigrants, even though all the evidence points to a Disneyland employee (and U.S. citizen) as the source of the outbreak.

The Gateway Pundit also used Vliet’s arguments to blame the measles outbreak on illegal immigrants, stating that 72 cases of measles reported in 2011 were “imported” from other countries. While The Gateway Pundit tried to blame those cases on illegal immigrants, the source they used stated the exact opposite. The source, For The Record, could find no instance in which a case of measles could be attributed to an immigrant, legal or illegal. Of the 72 cases “imported” from other countries, 52 were caused by American citizens who brought the disease back while traveling abroad, while the remaining 20 were brought in by foreign tourists.

Vliet’s campaign against immigrants isn’t the first time she has ventured outside her expertise to gain a little notoriety. Besides being an expert on demonizing immigrant children, Vliet has parlayed her experience as a psychiatrist into a successful money-making venture – as a hormone health expert. Her website bills her as specializing in “preventive and climacteric medicine for women and men.”  She has also written at least five books on the subject, including “It’s My Ovaries, Stupid,” all promising answers on how to improve your health by addressing hormone imbalance.

Although she often promotes herself as an expert on various issues, some of her former patients take issue with her professionalism. On the Vitals.com website, Vliet earned a 2.5 star rating, with some patients complaining about her bedside manner, and others complaining that they couldn’t speak with her on the phone unless they paid an extra fee. One patient even called her “mean and nasty,” claiming one phone consultation left her in tears.

Isenberg: Immigration judge’s biased behavior crossed the line

justiceJudges, by rule, are unbiased arbiters who thoughtfully weigh both sides of an argument. They ensure fairness, and do not allow personal opinions or prejudices to taint a case.

That standard, however, does not seem to apply in the courtroom of Traci Hong, a federal immigration judge, after she reportedly berated both an immigrant seeking political asylum and his attorney during a hearing last week. The hearing was to decide the validity of the immigrant’s asylum claim, but Judge Hong immediately took a combative tone against the immigrant, at times acting more aggressively than the government prosecutors who were trying to deport him.

The immigrant, whose name we cannot reveal for national security reasons, was a political activist in El Salvador, and fled the country after being threatened by the MS-13 street gang, who often works as enforcers for the FMLN, the ruling political party. After reaching the United States border, the immigrant spent four hours looking for the U.S. Border Patrol, and asked them for asylum. He has spent over 260 days behind bars while his asylum case is decided.

ICIE founder Ralph Isenberg attended the immigrant’s hearing on February 12 in Houston because the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) recognized him as a “reputable individual” who could assist the immigrant with his defense. Because Isenberg and ICIE had spent hundreds of hours on the immigrant’s case, and because the immigrant had a pro-bono attorney, Isenberg was allowed to sit in the courtroom and assist.

Isenberg was shocked with the behavior of Judge Hong, who took an aggressive tone against both the immigrant and his attorney. Isenberg said they were warned beforehand that there would be trouble. “When we arrived at the court, at the Houston Immigration Detention Center, we were asked by a staffer who the presiding judge was. When we mentioned Judge Hong, they laughed and said ‘Good Luck.’ When we asked what that meant, they would only say ‘You’ll see.’ The hearing itself was a disaster, thanks to Judge Hong’s unprofessional tone. Foreign nationals usually have to worry about the government prosecutor, and not the judge being an adversary as well.”

According to Isenberg, Judge Hong repeatedly criticized and argued with the immigrant’s attorney, accusing him of asking leading questions and threatening him with sanctions for it. The attorney, Jason Franklin, is no legal slouch: he has been named a Texas “Super Lawyer” four times, and currently serves as Vice President of the Dallas Trial Lawyer’s Association. “The way Mr. Franklin was treated by Judge Hong was uncalled for, especially for someone of his standing, who was providing his legal services pro-bono,” Isenberg said. Judge Hong even prevented Franklin from cross-examining a witness because she was upset with him.

Judge Hong even directed her anger toward the immigrant and members of the ICIE staff in the courtroom, including Isenberg. “Government prosecutors accused him of trying to sneak his family members into the country, and Hong in turn called him a liar. I’ve been in many hearings, and I’ve never seen a judge treat an immigrant the way she treated him,” Isenberg said.

The immigrant had a very strong case for asylum, Isenberg said. He had passed a “credible fear” interview with USCIS, meaning investigators found there was enough evidence to believe his claim that he and his family faced persecution or physical harm should they be returned to their home country. Passing a “reasonable fear” interview is not easy; reportedly, only 2% of applicants from El Salvador pass the interview.

Even so, the findings by USCIS were not enough to stop Judge Hong for wanting to deport the immigrant. Judge Hong even discounted supporting evidence provided by Isenberg and ICIE, who obtained affidavits from individuals in El Salvador who supported his claim. Judge Hong said she would not consider the affidavits because they were from other countries. Isenberg said Judge Hong’s decision not to consider the affidavits violates the government’s code of regulations, and points out that they made a point of finding non-relatives in El Salvador to confirm the asylum claim.

Judge Hong even took the unusual step of calling Franklin out of order before government prosecutors could even object, and threatened to sanction him several times because his questions “left an impression of bias,” a claim nearly unheard of towards an attorney defending their client. “The government usually appreciates pro-bono appearances by attorneys, but this judge would make faces each time he asked a question. It was not clear what she wanted him to do,” Isenberg said. The atmosphere in the courtroom became so contentious that Isenberg closed his eyes in quiet frustration. He was then criticized by the judge, who accused him of sleeping in the courtroom. Judge Hong later barred both Isenberg and members of the ICIE staff from reentering the courtroom after they stepped out during a break. She only allowed one 5 minute break and one 7 minute break during the seven-hour hearing. “Isenberg feels that putting the immigrant on this position is totally unfair and there are reasons enough for a retrial.” Isenberg reported that an individual with a wheelchair was almost at the entrance and to the lobby outside the court room because of her age.

This sort of behavior in an immigration courtroom is not new or uncommon. Last year, Judge Dietrich Sims was removed from the juvenile immigration docket in Dallas after numerous complaints that he was treating immigrant children, some as young as five years old, too harshly.

According to the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, most immigration hearings are open to the public, so citizens can see the process and ensure defendants are treated fairly. However, immigration court hearings in recent years have become increasingly secretive and inaccessible, even to attorneys. Lawyers attempting to assist detained foreign nationals seeking refugee status are routinely stonewalled, and the immigrant often attends court with no legal representation. At the Houston Immigration Detention Center, gaining entry to the courtroom to observe hearings is next to impossible. Isenberg reported that an individual in a wheelchair was denied entrance because the facilities could not accommodate him.

Judge Hong’s dismissive attitude towards immigrants has been documented before. A story in the Orange County Register in August 2014 noted that Hong flew through cases in order to clear a crowded docket. According to the story, which covered a day in her court, Hong decided twelve cases before 10 A.M., including at least six involving minors with no legal representation.

Judge Hong’s behavior towards immigrants is even more puzzling when one discovers Hong is herself an immigrant. She came to the United States at the age of 10 from South Korea, and worked as an immigration advocate. She has served as an immigration attorney and advisor for several government entities before being appointed to the immigration court by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2013.

Judge Hong has not ruled in the immigrant’s asylum case, but if she denies his request, Isenberg says they plan to appeal.

The Isenberg Center for Immigration Empowerment (ICIE) is “a resort of last hope” for foreign nationals. People come to ICIE because the system has failed, and as a result, someone is facing a wrongful deportation. Since their founding in 2011, ICIE has helped hundreds of deserving families, and provides all services pro-bono. The organization deals with the entire family unit, from teaching the basic fundamentals behind community service, to English education, to individualized counseling to build positive mental health. 

US government thwarts efforts to save boy threatened by gangs in El Salvador

gringoschindler2Editor’s note: Because of the sensitive nature of this case, ICIE is censoring the names of the family involved. The details of the case, however, are being released to keep our readers informed of the ongoing efforts of ICIE staff.

ICIE founder Ralph Isenberg has released the text of a complaint he is submitting to a number of government agencies, including the FBI, accusing U.S. immigration officials of misconduct in the case of a child in El Salvador targeted by members of the notorious gang MS-13. This misconduct includes a failure to expedite his travel to America, where his family awaits him, putting his life at severe risk.

The complaint, in the form of an affidavit, accuses officials at USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services) of willful misconduct in the case of boy, age eleven, who is currently living in hiding with a relative in El Salvador. The parents were unable to bring him with them to America initially, but after his life was threatened by local gang members, they sought out Isenberg and ICIE to help get him out of the country.

Isenberg and the staff of ICIE have worked for months to bring the boy to the United States, but have found their efforts blocked at every turn by USCIS officials, who are dragging out the process. In the meantime, the boy and remaining family in El Salvador are under threat of death from MS-13 gang members in their neighborhood, in retaliation for the political activism of a member of the family.

El Salvador’s government is rife with corruption, and often have ties to street gangs funded by the drug trade. According to Isenberg’s complaint, the uncle of the young boy ICIE is trying to help is a political rival of Santa Elena Mayor Nicolas Berrera, who employed members of MS-13 to silence his efforts. The uncle was directly threatened by FMLN officials (Mayor Berrera’s political party) and MS-13 gang members, who then threatened his nephew and other family members. The situation has left the young boy living in isolation with an aunt until he can leave the country.

ICIE staff made every effort to expedite the child’s removal from the country, but despite the government’s own finding of a credible threat, Isenberg contends officials have failed to act. “The Government of the United States has refused for the past six months to act on an emergency I-131 petition that was submitted by ICIE on August 22, 2014,” Isenberg states in the affidavit. “(The child) is currently unable to attend school or leave the home of his Aunt, because of threats on the life of (the child) caused by the political actions of his Uncle.  These threats were found credible when (the Uncle) passed a ‘Reasonable Fear Interview’ conducted by USCIS on August 5, 2014. USCIS notified all parties that (the uncle) passed the interview on October 6, 2014.” (Editor’s note: An I-131 petition is a request for a foreign national to travel to the United States)

According to Isenberg, ICIE staff submitted countless documents to USCIS throughout the process, and were repeatedly told nothing else was necessary. However, Isenberg says USCIS waited until 120 days after the application was submitted, the legal limit for officials to respond, to ask for a DNA test to prove the child had family in the United States. “ICIE was very surprised to receive a letter from USCIS asking for more information on the extreme outer ends of the policy response deadlines set by USCIS for matters of an Expedited Emergency Request when the matter was extraordinary,” Isenberg stated in his complaint, pointing out that the child’s birth certificate had already been submitted, and a DNA test could be done after the child was brought to the United States.

Isenberg faults USCIS for failing to act on a dangerous situation. “USCIS has purposely delayed this matter, and continues to do so, even though this matter is a life threatening emergency and falls with the four most important parameters established by USCIS to permit (the child) into the United States on an expedited manner: the child is under the age of 14, the child is in real danger, this a matter of extreme family separation, and this matter rises serious humanitarian concerns.  We did not get any information about the matter for months on end. We requested and were not given a direct contact in Washington D.C. to follow up with, since there was so little information available to us about (the child) in Dallas.”

Despite pleas from the child’s father and attorney Jason Franklin (who is providing his legal services pro bono to ICIE and the family) to immigration officials in Dallas, USCIS refuses to move quickly to help the child. Isenberg says the actions of USCIS violate both federal regulations governing immigration procedure and his personal rights under the First and Fifth Amendments, and he is submitting his complaint to the FBI, the Department of Justice, the USCIS Ombudsman Liaison, and the Department of Homeland Security Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Office. He also contends that the United States has an international responsibility as a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States to follow policy in treating foreign refugees seeking asylum.

To make matters worse, the government of El Salvador has already provided the necessary paperwork to allow the child to leave the country. All that remains is the U.S. government to sign off on his case, but that has yet to happen. Isenberg points out that the boy’s case is no different than those facing the threat of terrorism in other regions. While he realizes some may not agree with the comparison, Isenberg feels the threat of terror in both cases is very real. “We complain about the terror we see in the Middle East each day. Is not (the child) living a life of terror in El Salvador?”

The Isenberg Center for Immigration Empowerment (ICIE) is “a resort of last hope” for foreign nationals. People come to ICIE because the system has failed, and as a result, someone is facing a wrongful deportation. Since their founding in 2011, ICIE has helped hundreds of deserving families, and provides all services pro-bono. The organization deals with the entire family unit, from teaching the basic fundamentals behind community service, to English education, to individualized counseling to build positive mental health. 


Facts show border children aren’t spreading Enterovirus

You’ve probably heard political pundits contending that the recent outbreak of Enterovirus 68 in the Midwest originated from unaccompanied immigrant children who settled there after being released by U.S. Border Patrol. We decided to look into that and verify the claim, but found that there is no proof of a correlation between the two. Here are ten facts about Enterovirus that will change your perception about the outbreak, along with sources for each fact.

1. Enterovirus 68 is not new in America. It was first reported in 1962 in California, and it could be related to earlier Enterovirus outbreaks in Asia. Enterovirus 68 has been reported in the United States every year since 1987. What is unusual this year is the higher number of cases. Source: CDC.

2. It is common for outbreaks of Enterovirus this time of year. The virus usually begins infecting people in late summer and into the fall, but the number of cases decreases as fall moves on. Children with asthma or similar respiratory diseases are more susceptible to the virus. Source: CDC.

3. The first cases of Enterovirus 68 were reported in Kansas City, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. The location of the outbreak is important, as it does not correlate with large numbers of immigrant children in those areas. Source: CDC.

4. Missouri and Illinois are not significant destinations for unaccompanied immigrant children. Contrary to some reports in online media (none from reputable news sources), the areas affected by the outbreak did not receive large numbers of immigrant children from the border surge. The entire state of Missouri only received 173 immigrant children, ranking them at #34 out of 50 states in terms of number of immigrant children received. Illinois received 437 children, ranking them #18 out of 50. Source: US Office of Refugee Resettlement.

5. The top ten states receiving immigrant children have seen no major Enterovirus 68 outbreaks. Texas, New York, California, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana, the top ten states receiving immigrant children, have not seen significant Enterovirus 68 outbreaks. Source: U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.

6. No cases of Enterovirus 68 have been reported in Arizona. Despite its location along the border with Mexico and the fact that 217 immigrant children were released there, no cases have been found in Arizona. Source: CDC.

7. Enterovirus 68 is not a common virus in Central or South America. Since 2008, outbreaks of Enterovirus 68 have been reported in the United States, Asia and northern Europe, but not Central or South America. Since the 1960s, only a handful of cases have ever been reported in the region. Source: CDC.

8. Texas has seen only scattered cases of Enterovirus 68. Despite receiving the most immigrant children, over 6,000 in fact, very few cases have been reported here. Most are in the Dallas area (10), and none have been reported in areas along the coast and border, including the Valley, San Antonio, and Houston, were large numbers of immigrant children were released to the public. Source: KENS 5, San Antonio.

9. California has only seen 32 cases of Enterovirus 68. Despite receiving over 4,000 immigrant children, only 32 cases of Enterovirus 68 have been reported in the state, out of 691 nationwide. The cases are spread throughout the state in major urban centers, not along the Mexican border. Only five cases in San Diego have been reported. Source: ABC News.

10. Unaccompanied border children have higher rates of vaccination than children in Texas. Earlier this year, as the border surge began, many claimed we would see outbreaks of diseases like Tuberculosis, brought over by border children released to their families across America. The outbreaks never materialized, because the countries the children came from (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras) have all vaccines paid for by the government. For example, 93% of children from those countries are vaccinated against the measles, higher than the rate of American children vaccinated against the disease (92%). Source: Texas Observer.

Sylvia Marroquin tells her story at Dallas City Hall

Ralph Isenberg and the Isenberg Center for Immigration Empowerment (ICIE) recently held a press conference at Dallas City Hall so that Sylvia Marroquin could tell her story of being one of the refugee border kids. We have included video of the event here. Because audio of the translation is difficult to hear, a transcript of Sylvia’s statement, in English, is included below. 
Sylvia Marroquin escaped the violence in El Salvador in hopes of reuniting with her parents in Dallas, who came here for work but had to leave her and her brother behind with an ailing grandmother. When violence in her neighborhood and school threatened her safety, her desperate parents had to pay a smuggler (called a coyote) to bring her to the United States. They could not afford to bring both children, so her younger brother stayed behind. 
The smuggler who was supposed to escort Sylvia ended up attacking her, and she barely made it to the United States alive. Even though she is now reunited with her parents, she is still in danger, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants to send her back to El Salvador, and is also trying to deport her father, who came here legally under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a special designation given to immigrants from violent and dangerous foreign countries. His TPS was not renewed by ICE, even though the violence in El Salvador has gotten worse.
Ralph Isenberg, who appears at the beginning of the video, is working hard to keep this family together in the U.S., and is trying to convince ICE to allow him to bring Sylvia’s younger brother here, who is still in danger in El Salvador.

Here is an English transcript of Sylvia’s statement. It may differ slightly from the translation you may hear, as we included the statement as Sylvia originally wrote it.
“My name is Silvia Marroquin and I’m here today to tell you of my experiences. I’m from the country of El Salvador and before I go any further I want to first thank the agents at the border that protected me after the coyotes brought me all the way from El Salvador to the United States. I also want to thank the people in Chicago, Illinois that worked with me so that in a short time, a month in a half, I was reunited with my family here in Dallas, Texas.
“The most important message that I will tell you today is to ask and beg on behalf of my family that the government of the United States find a way to bring my 10 year old brother, Alexis, here to the United States, here to Dallas immediately.
“There is no more family in El Salvador for him, he stays with my grandma, who is very sick right now. They live in a shed, a tin shed, behind a house and he goes and begs on the street for food since his school closed, two months ago. Two months ago, my brother’s school bus driver was getting off the bus and shot to death in front of him. The next day the school closed and it’s not been open since.
“I also have known this sort of violence because last year in March my math school teacher was murdered in the same way like the school bus driver. You have no idea how scary it is to live in a country where the gangs will shoot children.
“My father and mother had a very difficult decision to make. They can either bring me or they can bring my brother to the United States. They could not bring both of us because the cost was $4,500 dollars per person. My father choose me because I’m a woman and because of my age and he thought it best that I be out of the country the soonest. 
“I left with the coyote from El Salvador and what I did not understand or know was it because I was only 13 I would not be going with the rest of the people, instead we went on a route through Guatemala and Mexico that was much different, much higher, very scary, not much food, not much water, but the worst thing was that I was attacked repeatedly by coyote and others and I will not quickly forget that attack.
“In order for me to make sense of what has happened to me and my family, I will beg this government to immediately allow Mr. Isenberg to go and get my brother. The government of El Salvador knows the situation and has not given him permission to get my brother. 
“I had been through a tremendous amount of pain and hardship. My family has being through a tremendous amount of pain and hardship. And in order for this pain and hardship to have any meaning at all we must be united as a family, and that is something I will ask in the name of God, it is so important.
“One thing I do know, is that we are all Americans. Canada, United States, Mexico, the Centrals, are all part of North America and I should be able to be safe in the Americas, but I do know that now I’m in the United States of America this is where I want to stay, and be able to be free, and get my education.
“I know Mr. Isenberg is not an attorney but I want to become an attorney for him and be able to practice law and help people in the courts where he has so much trouble.
“I thank you for listening to my story and I hope that my story explains to you the hardship that individuals and families go through to come to the United States.”