Immigration News Articles On Key Issues – February 2020

Compiled by the staff of the Corporate Responsibility office of the Benedictine Sisters, Boerne,Texas

 

THE NUMBER OF MIGRANTS ARRESTED AT THE BORDER DROPPED AGAIN IN DECEMBER

By Nicole Narea – Vox – January 9, 2020

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Thursday (Jan. 9) that it had arrested 32,858 migrants at the border and found another 7,762 inadmissible to the U.S. Taken together, those numbers represent a 5 percent decline over November 2019, with the biggest dips in the number of arriving unaccompanied migrant children and families.

 

U.S. OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE HIGHLY CONFIDENT TO HAVE REACHED TALLY ON SEPARATED CHILDREN: 4,368

By Kristina Davis – Los Angeles Times – January 18, 2020

U.S. officials assured U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw on Friday (Jan. 17) that they are highly confident that they have accounted for all of the children who were separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s short-lived “zero-tolerance” policy and precursor programs. The total tally: 4,368. Judge Sabraw has been at the forefront of that accounting effort since 2018, but he raised new concerns over whether it was complete after a November report by the U.S. Office of Inspector General.  

 

MIGRANT PROTECTION PROTOCOLS (MPP) / REMAIN IN MEXICO (RIM)

 

PROTESTERS PICKET MIGRANT JUDICIAL TENT COURTS, LAUNCH DAILY SOUTH TEXAS VIGIL AGAINST MIGRANT PROTECTION PROTOCOLS (MPP)

By Sandra Sanchez – BorderReport.com – January 12, 2020

Carrying signs proclaiming the “evils” and “injustices” of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, hundreds of protesters descended upon Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday (Jan. 12) to kick off a daily vigil against the administration’s immigration policy. The protesters came from 30 states, the UK and Mexico, and represented several different organizations, all with one common goal: To end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy that since its inception has sent 60,000 asylum-seekers over the Southwest border into Mexico to await their asylum hearings, federal officials have said. Chanting “Shut them down!” and “End MPP!” the protesters stood outside the judicial tent city at the base of the Gateway International Bridge, where the asylum hearings in South Texas are heard.

 

DETENTION CENTERS

 

SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH SUES CITY OVER MIGRANT CHILD FACILITY

By Silvia Foster-Frau – San Antonio Express-News – January 10, 2020

The Second Baptist Church has sued the city, claiming San Antonio violated its religious freedom rights when it denied a zoning request to house migrant children at the church’s community center.

 

BORDER PATROL IS DETAINING ASYLUM-SEEKING FAMILIES AT A TEXAS FACILITY FOR LONGER THAN THE LAW ALLOWS

By Adolfo Flores – BuzzFeed News – January 11, 2020

Border Patrol has been holding asylum-seeking families at a Texas border facility for at least 11 days, violating a court settlement and 2008 law, attorneys said. Under federal law and court orders, children can't be detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for more than 72 hours.

 

LAWSUIT ALLEGES 2 MIGRANT KIDS SEPARATED FROM DADS AT ARIZONA BORDER WERE SEXUALLY ABUSED

By Chelsea Curtis – Arizona Republic – January 11, 2020

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit in federal court on Friday (Jan. 10) on behalf of two migrant fathers who were separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. At the time, Herlinda was 5 years  old and Obet was 7 years old and had a serious heart condition, court documents said. The lawsuit claims that both of the children were abused while in U.S. government custody.

 

ICE QUIETLY LOWERS (ALREADY LOW) STANDARDS AT SOME IMMIGRANT DETENTION FACILITIES

By Isabela Dias – The Texas Observer – January 21

On December 19, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made public changes to its National Detention Standards (NDS), which govern the conditions and management of some of its detention facilities. Among the wide range of changes, ICE broadened the reasons a detainee can be placed in solitary confinement and removed language preventing officers from using “hog-tying, fetal restraints, [and] tight restraints.” The agency also extinguished requirements for new facilities to have outdoor recreation areas and provisions guaranteeing that nonprofit organizations have access to the detention centers. There were also significant revisions to protocols in the lcase of serious injury, illness, or death, such as allowing guards to notify ICE “as soon as practicable” (as opposed to immediately) that a detainee needs to be transferred to a hospital and removing any mention of how to proceed if a detainee dies during the transfer.

 

 

IMMIGRANT KIDS WERE RESTRAINED TO CHAIRS WITH BAGS OVER THEIR HEADS AT A JUVENILE HALL IN VIRGINIA

By Samantha Michaels – Mother Jones – January 22, 2020

Back in 2017, a group of immigrant teens told stories about the conditions at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center near Staunton, Virginia, as part of a lawsuit by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. The lawsuit argued that the immigrant teens required trauma-informed mental health care, given the hardships they faced fleeing their home countries.

 

 

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION JUST OPENED A NEW IMMIGRANT PRISON IN RURAL MICHIGAN

By Brian Dolinar – TruthOut.org – January 22, 2020

In May 2019, the administration awarded a ten-year, $398 million contract to The GEO Group, to reopen a shuttered Michigan prison. Located in rural Baldwin, Mich., the North Lake Correctional Facility opened in late 2019 with a capacity of 1,800. Unlike detention centers, which are managed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the North Lake facility is a Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prison, which are managed by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). These facilities are specifically for non-citizens who have been convicted of federal crimes. Often, the crime is “felony reentry,” or a second unauthorized border crossing, which carries a typical sentence of two years (more for those with prior criminal records). After they serve their time, they are still deported

 

ASYLUM SEEKERS

 

 

U.S. PROPOSES DENYING WORK PERMITS TO ASYLUM SEEKERS WHO ENTER ILLEGALLY

By Ted Hesson – U.S. News – November 13, 2019

The Trump administration proposed a regulation on Wednesday (Nov. 13) that would bar most asylum seekers from applying for a work permit if they entered the United States illegally. Immigration officers could grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the proposal would allow immigration authorities to reject an asylum application or work permit request made by migrants who miss related immigration appointments. The administration issued a proposed rule that would add a $50 fee to certain asylum applications, the first time the United States has charged for such requests. In September, the administration rolled out a proposal to eliminate a 30-day deadline for processing work permit requests by asylum seekers. Along those lines, the latest proposed rule also would increase a standard waiting period for asylum seekers to receive a work permit. Under existing regulations, asylum seekers must wait 180 days from the date of submitting an application for protection before they can receive a work permit. The rule proposed Wednesday (Nov. 13) calls for a 365-day waiting period from the date an asylum application is received.

 

 

TRUMP SAYS MOST ASYLUM SEEKERS DON’T SHOW UP FOR THEIR COURT HEARINGS. A NEW STUDY SAYS 99% DO.

By Nicole Narea – Vox – January 10, 2020

 

President Donald Trump has often claimed that the only way to ensure that migrants show up for their court hearings rather than vanish into the U.S. is to keep them in detention or else make sure that they never step foot on American soil in the first place. But the president’s theory doesn’t hold up: About 99 percent of asylum seekers who were not detained or who were previously released from immigration custody showed up for their hearings over the last year, according to new data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

 

GOV. ABBOTT SAYS TEXAS WON’T ADMIT REFUGEES, MAKING IT 1ST STATE IN NATION TO OPT OUT OF FEDERAL PROGRAM

By Lomi Kriel – The Houston Chronicle – January 10, 2020

 

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday (Jan. 10) that Texas will no longer consent to resettling refugees, making it the only state so far to opt out of the federal program.

 

REFUGEES WILL NO LONGER BE ALLOWED TO RESETTLE IN TEXAS, GOV. ABBOTT TELLS FEDS

By Tessa Weinberg – Fort Worth Star-Telegram – January 10, 2020

In a letter Friday (Jan. 10) to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Gov. Greg Abbott said the state will not allow refugees to resettle in Texas this fiscal year.

 

TEXAS’ CATHOLIC BISHOPS DENOUNCE ABBOTT’S PLAN TO REFUSE REFUGEES ENTRY

By Taylor Goldenstein, Allie Morris and John MacCormack – San Antonio Express-News – January 13, 2020

 

Texas’ 16 Catholic bishops Monday (Jan. 13) called Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to reject resettlement of new refugees “deeply discouraging and disheartening,” joining other religious and secular groups pressing the governor to reconsider.

 

U.S. SENDING MEXICAN MIGRANTS 1,000 MILES FROM BORDER

By Astrid Galvan and Elliot Spagat – The Associated Press – January 14, 2020

 

The Trump administration said Tuesday (Jan. 14) it will start deporting about 250 Mexicans a week on flights from Tucson, Arizona, to Guadalajara, over 1,000 miles (1,640 kilometers) from the border

 

U.S. BORDER AUTHORITIES SEE SPIKE IN UNACCOMPANIED MINORS FROM MEXICO

By Wendy Fry – The San Diego Union Tribune – January 19, 2020

In the San Diego Sector, across the border from Tijuana, there has been a 40 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied Mexican children trying to cross the border alone and undetected, during the first quarter of this fiscal year compared to the previous quarter, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. Unlike unaccompanied minors in the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, U.S. border authorities are able to deport these kids back to Mexico because they are not making an asylum claim, according to Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Jeffery Stephenson. Mexican migrant children who do make an asylum claim often end up detained for many months in U.S. facilities.

 

 

U.S. WEIGHS SENDING BRAZILIAN MIGRANTS TO MEXICO AMID SPIKE IN ARRESTS

By Ted Hesson and Frank Jack Daniel – Reuters – January 16, 2020

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has considered sending Brazilian migrants crossing the border from Mexico back there to await their U.S. court hearings, according to a U.S. official and a Mexican official familiar with the discussions.

 

TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS (TPS) FOR SOMALIA AND YEMEN EXTENDED, BUT NOT REDESIGNATED – A LIFE-THREATENING MISTAKE

By the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) – January 22, 2020

 

On January 17, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will extend, but not redesignate, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somali nationals living in the United States for an additional 18 months through September 17, 2021. Earlier in January, DHS announced that it will extend, but not redesignate, TPS for an additional 18 months for Yemeni nationals living in the United States who already have TPS status, despite the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen. One of the reasons for granting TPS is an ongoing armed conflict that poses a serious threat to the personal safety of nationals of the affected country.

 

RETIRING BORDER PATROL CHIEF: CRISIS AT SOUTHERN BORDER DEMANDS ACTION BY CONGRESS

By Carla Provost, Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol – CNN – January 27, 2020

 

Editor’s Note: Carla L. Provost has served as the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, located in Washington DC, since August of 2018, and will be retiring at the end of this month. The views expressed in this commentary are her own.  Last fiscal year, agents apprehended more than 850,000 people along the southern border. For the first time in our history, 321,000 of those apprehensions were children…The current state of illegal immigration -- and its impact on border security -- is not sustainable.

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ADDS SIX COUNTRIES TO TRAVEL BAN

By Zolan Kanno-Youngs – The New York Times – January 31, 2020

 

President Trump on Friday, January 31, added six countries to his list of nations facing stringent travel restrictions, a move that will virtually block immigration from Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, and from Myanmar, where the Muslim minority is fleeing genocide.

 

 

BORDER WALL

 

 

U.S. COURTS RULE FOR BORDER WALLS BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE

By Nomaan Merchant and Kevin Freking – The Associated Press – January 9, 2020

 

Crews could start building a private border wall in South Texas within the coming days following a federal judge’s ruling Thursday (Jan. 9) that lifted a restraining order against the project. U.S. District Judge Randy Crane’s order was the second federal ruling in two days in favor of border barriers. On Wednesday (Jan. 8), the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a lower court’s stay that had prevented President Donald Trump’s administration from diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects to fund 175 miles (280 kilometers) of border wall. The longest and most expensive by far would span 52 miles (83 kilometers) in Laredo, Texas, at an estimated cost of $1.27 billion.

 

TRUMP PLANNING TO DIVERT ADDITIONAL $7.2 BILLION IN PENTAGON FUNDS FOR BORDER WALL

By Nick Miroff – The Washington Post – January 13, 2020

President Trump is preparing to divert an additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding for border wall construction this year, five times what Congress authorized him to spend on the project in the 2020 budget.

 

U.S. GOVERNMENT ACQUIRES CITY-OWNED LAND TO BOLSTER BORDER SECURITY

By Dorian Hargrove – NBC News San Diego – January 17, 2020

The United States Government plans to boost security and rebuild the border wall at the U.S. Mexico border in San Diego. They will do so by taking more than 3 acres of land owned by the city of San Diego to do so.

 

 

PRIVATE BORDER WALL IN THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY MEETS WIDE OPPOSITION — INCLUDING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

By Silvia Foster-Frau – San Antonio Express-News – January 24, 2020

 

The U.S. government joined the nearby National Butterfly Center and other opponents in suing to block construction, citing concerns the barrier will worsen flooding and could change the river’s course. The wall hasn’t been approved by the International Boundary and Water Commission, a treaty organization that regulates construction and water use along the Rio Grande by both the U.S. and Mexico.

 

 

PORTION OF U.S. BORDER WALL IN CALIFORNIA FALLS OVER IN HIGH WINDS AND LANDS ON MEXICAN SIDE

By Andy Rose and Paul LeBlanc – CNN – January 29, 2020

Newly installed panels from the U.S. border wall fell over in high winds Wednesday, January 29, landing on trees on the Mexican side of the border.

 

 

COURT RULINGS

 

JUDGE BLOCKS TRUMP POLICY ALLOWING STATES TO REFUSE REFUGEES

By Lomi Kriel – The Houston Chronicle – January 15, 2020

 

A federal judge on Wednesday (Jan. 15) temporarily blocked an executive order allowing state and local authorities to refuse to resettle refugees, just days after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott made Texas the only state to withdraw from the program.

 

JUDGE ORDERS ATTORNEY ACCESS FOR MIGRANTS WHO FEAR RETURN UNDER REMAIN IN MEXICO PROGRAM

By Kristina Davis – Los Angeles Times – January 15, 2020

 

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in a pair of decisions Tuesday (Jan. 14) ruled that asylum seekers who have expressed fear about being returned to Mexico to await their U.S. immigration proceedings must be allowed access to attorneys to argue their cases.

 

SUPREME COURT ALLOWS TRUMP TO ENFORCE 'PUBLIC CHARGE' IMMIGRATION RULE

By Susannah Luthi – Politico – January 27, 2020

Justices in a 5-4 vote along ideological lines said they would let the “public charge rule” go forward even as lower courts wrestle with multiple legal challenges against them. The policy in question would expand the government's ability to refuse green cards or visas for legal immigrants determined to be a "public charge," or dependent on public assistance. Those using or likely to use Medicaid, food stamps and other safety net programs would face greater scrutiny from immigration officials.

 

MIGRANTS IN MEXICO

 

MIGRANTS SCUFFLE WITH MEXICAN TROOPS ALONG BORDER RIVER

By Maria Verza and Sonia Perez D. – The Associated Press – January 20, 2020

 

Hundreds of Central American migrants waded across the Suchiate River into southern Mexico on Monday (Jan. 20). Over the weekend, (Jan. 18-19) Government officials convinced about 1,000 people they should enter legally over the border bridge. After the river crossing Monday (Jan. 20), Mexico's National Immigration Institute issued a statement saying that it would detain any migrants without legal status, hold them in detention centers and deport those who did not legalize their status.

 

MEXICO BEGINS FLYING, BUSING MIGRANTS BACK TO HONDURAS

By MarÍa Verza and Sonia Pérez D. – The Associated Press – January 21, 2020

 

Hundreds of Central American migrants who entered southern Mexico in recent days have either been pushed back into Guatemala by Mexican troops, shipped to detention centers or returned to Honduras, officials said Tuesday (Jan. 21)

 

DEVELOPING STORIES

 

INTERFAITH WELCOME COALITION ON THE FRONT LINES OF MIGRANT AID IN SAN ANTONIO

By Silvia Foster-Frau – San Antonio Express-News – January 10, 2020

 

Volunteers for the Interfaith Welcome Coalition (IWC) for years have provided humanitarian aid to migrant families released from nearby detention centers and dropped off at the downtown Greyhound bus station. The previously small coalition of faithful volunteers has become one of the most prominent organizations dedicated to migrant aid in the city.

 

ACLU FILES LAWSUIT TO HALT TRUMP POLICY OF SENDING ASYLUM-SEEKERS TO GUATEMALA

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez – CBS News – January 15, 2020

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday (Jan. 15) mounted the first legal challenge against the Trump administration's policy of sending migrants who seek protection at the U.S.-Mexico border to Guatemala, a country with a skeletal asylum regime that has seen an exodus of hundreds of thousands of its own citizens in the past two years because of extreme poverty and endemic violence.

 

 

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS VISITS IMMIGRANT COURTS ACROSS U.S., FINDS NONSTOP CHAOS

By Kate Brumback, Deepti Hajela and Amy Taxin – The Associated Press – January 16, 2020

Immigration courts run by the U.S. Department of Justice have been dysfunctional for years and have only gotten worse. A surge in the arrival of asylum seekers and the Trump administration’s crackdown on the Southwest border and illegal immigration have pushed more people into deportation proceedings, swelling the court’s docket to 1 million cases.

 

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO EXPAND TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS TO SEVEN COUNTRIES

By Michelle Hackman – The Wall Street Journal – January 21, 2020

The Trump administration plans to add seven countries to a group of nations subject to travel restrictions, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, along with others in Africa and Asia, according to administration officials who have seen the list. The new restrictions would apply to travelers and immigrants from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The countries wouldn’t necessarily face blanket bans on travel to the U.S., but could have restrictions placed on specific types of visas, such as business or visitor visas, administration officials said. Some countries could be banned from participating in the diversity visa lottery program, which awards green cards to people in countries with low levels of immigration to the U.S. The officials said the list isn’t final, and on Tuesday (Jan. 21) the White House was still debating whether to include one or two of the countries.

 

 

NEW TRUMP ADMINISTRATION RULE COULD MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR SOME PREGNANT WOMEN TO GET U.S. VISAS

By Carol Morello, Abigail Hauslohner and Maria Sacchetti – The Washington Post – January 22, 2020

 

The U.S. State Department plans to issue new guidance that could make it more difficult for some pregnant women to obtain visas to visit the United States, a department official and a congressional aide said Wednesday, January 22. The forthcoming regulations are aimed at cracking down on what the Trump administration calls “birth tourism”. It is unclear how many people travel to the United States to give birth each year with the intention of obtaining citizenship for their children, as the U.S. government does not publish statistics on the matter.

 

 

‘REMAIN IN MEXICO’: HOW A SINGLE POLICY TRANSFORMED THE U.S. ASYLUM SYSTEM

By Kate Morrissey – The San Diego Tribune Union – January 29, 2020

 

Over the past year, the Trump administration has dramatically changed the way that the U.S. asylum system processes many of the people coming to the southwest border to seek protection. The beginning of those changes, known officially as Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, was the first major asylum-related policy that the administration managed to implement despite legal challenges in federal court. The program, more widely known as “Remain in Mexico,” (RIM) requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their immigration court cases in the U.S.

 

ICE HAS FLOWN MORE THAN 450 MIGRANTS TO THE INTERIOR OF MEXICO SINCE DECEMBER

By Daniel Gonzalez – Arizona Republic – January 31, 2020

 

According to a tweet by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), “since December 19, CBP and ICE have returned more than 450 Mexican nationals to Guadalajara as part of the Interior Repatriation Initiative.” The most recent flight left Jan.24 from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport carrying 106 migrants, including 97 men and nine women. The first flight left Dec. 19 from Tucson International Airport with approximately 150 undocumented immigrants from Mexico, ICE officials said in a statement.

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP, DON’T IGNORE THE SUFFERING AT THE BORDER CAUSED BY YOUR POLICIES

By Sister Norma Pimentel – The Washington Post – February 5, 2020

Norma Pimentel, a sister of the Missionaries of Jesus, is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. She writes about her feelings after President Donald Trump’s State of the Union.

Some 2,500 people, many of them women and children waiting in harsh open air, are finding shelter in donated tents. As you walk through the makeshift camp, you might want to wear rubber boots, because when it rains the entire area becomes a mud pit. Some children have slipped and broken a leg or an arm, but they run around playing, being children. Most likely they are dirty as they have not had an opportunity to get clean or shower, due to limited facilities. Some families risk the polluted river waters and go there to wash themselves. If you stop to meet the families and talk to the mothers, you will learn many of them are there because they fear for their children’s lives in their own country.

 

ASYLUM-SEEKERS TAKE CHARGE OF LARGE MATAMOROS ENCAMPMENT

By Silvia Foster-Frau – San Antonio Express-News – February 14, 2020

 

Dozens of Nicaraguan migrants wearing donated clothes held garbage bags and roamed among a couple of thousand tents at an encampment in this border city (Matamoros, Tamaulipas) to pick up trash. Each day, a different nationality cleans the nearly 9-acre encampment, which is occupied by more than 2,500 asylum-seekers who are subject to the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or “Remain in Mexico,” policy. Under the protocols, the U.S. has returned more than 60,000 migrants to Mexico to await their asylum hearings.