Immigration News Articles on Key Issues, June 2022

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




Interfaith Welcome Coalition (IWC) And Refugee Support Network Report On Pastor Lorenzo Ortiz’s Kidnapping And Release


  • On June 3, Sr. Mercedes reported that Pastor Lorenzo, who operates several shelters for asylum seekers in Nuevo Laredo, was kidnapped by a new cartel in the area. His work has been dedicated to the welfare of thousands of families in one of the most dangerous areas along the border. Fortunately, Pastor Lorenzo Ortiz was released by the cartel on June 4. The cartel had demanded a ransom with a specific WhatsUp message to the family, but in the end no ransom was paid. Because Pastor Ortiz is a US citizen and was kidnapped by a foreign cartel, the FBI became involved.  Pastor Ortiz was released at 1:30 am Saturday morning, and his vehicle is being repaired. The cartel had slashed his van's tires during his kidnapping.




Explainer: A Judge Ruled The U.S. Must Keep Expelling Asylum Seekers. What Happens Now?

By Ted Hesson, Reuters, May 24, 2022 

  • WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE COVID BORDER RESTRICTIONS? A federal judge in Louisiana ruled on Friday, May 20, that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot immediately proceed with a plan to end the so-called "Title 42" border restrictions by May 23. Biden, is seeking to overturn that ruling at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


  • WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MIGRANT FAMILIES SEEKING ASYLUM NOW? Under U.S. immigration law, migrants are permitted to apply for asylum if they are deemed to have a "credible fear" of persecution in their home country. The United States on Monday, May 23, began providing court-ordered screenings to determine whether certain migrant families seeking protection should be exempted from Title 42, according to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson. The screenings follow a March ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a separate case that said migrant families subjected to Title 42 could not be expelled to places where they could be persecuted or tortured. Biden exempted unaccompanied minors from Title 42 expulsions shortly after he took office last year.


  • WHAT BIDEN BORDER PLANS ARE MOVING AHEAD? The administration plans to implement a new regulation that would speed up the processing of asylum claims, according to a DHS official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The new process will allow U.S. asylum officers to adjudicate claims directly instead of sending them to backlogged federal immigration courts where a decision can take years. The Biden administration says the change could allow the cases to be completed in months. The rollout will begin slowly, with the aim of processing 500 recently arrived migrants over the first 60 days, the DHS official said. The migrants will be detained in two Texas detention centers until they receive an interview with an asylum officer to determine whether they have a "credible fear" of persecution in their home countries, the official said. The asylum officer will then conduct a more complete interview within 45 days, according to the rule. Migrants who do not qualify for asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief could be deported.


  • WHAT BORDER PLANS HAVE BEEN PUT ON HOLD? The Biden administration will likely delay a plan to encourage migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border to use an online app to schedule a time to approach a legal port of entry and claim asylum, a DHS official told Reuters. Last summer, the app, known as CBP One, was used to process in some 12,000-13,000 migrants who sought humanitarian exceptions to the Title 42 order with the assistance of non-governmental organizations, the official said.


  • WILL THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION NEED MORE BORDER FUNDING? DHS officials have internally pressed the White House to request more funding for border operations this year, an administration official told Reuters. The request could range from an additional $1.2 billion to $2 billion depending on the number of migrants arriving at the border on top of the $1.4 billion appropriated by Congress for border operations this year.



A Guide To Title 42 Expulsions At The Border

By the American Immigration Council, May 25, 2022




Migrant Caravan On The Move In Southern Mexico

By Edgar H. Clemente and Fernanda Pesce, Associated Press, June 7, 2022

  • Several thousand migrants walked on through southern Mexico on Tuesday, June 7, covering ground while authorities showed no signs yet of trying to stop them. Mexico has dissolved smaller caravans this year through force, but more recently by offering them transportation to other cities farther north where they could legalize their status. More than 130,000 migrants crossed the Darien Gap in 2021. Since January, more than 34,000, including 18,000 Venezuelans, have crossed there, according to Panama’s National Migration Service. Mexico’s asylum agency has been overwhelmed with requests in recent years as policies leave migrants few other options than to request asylum so they can travel freely. Last year, Mexico received more than 130,000 asylum requests, more than triple the year before. This year, requests are already running 20% above last year.



US-Bound Migrant Caravan Leaves Southern Mexico

By Aljazeera, June 6, 2022

  • Several thousand migrants have set out from southern Mexico in a caravan bound for the United States, which is hoping to address regional migration during talks at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. Migration activists said the group, which left from the Mexican city of Tapachula on Monday [June 6], could be one of the region’s largest migrant caravans in recent years. The caravan was estimated to include 4,000 to 5,000 people, mostly from Central America, Venezuela and Cuba, The Associated Press reported, while witnesses told Reuters that the group counted approximately 6,000 people. Mexico’s National Institute for Migration did not provide an estimate of the group’s size and provided no additional comment on the caravan.



How Asylum Seekers Cross The Border

By Kirsten Luce and Eileen Sullivan, New York Times, June 6, 2022

  • The vast majority of migrants cross into the United States at spots between official ports of entry, walking over the border or wading, swimming or floating across the Rio Grande, almost always under the watch of cartel-approved guides hired in Mexico.At times, some have been invited by Customs and Border Protection officials to walk across pedestrian bridges from Mexico — by far the safest and most orderly route.


  • In early May, a mother and daughter from Honduras were at the camp when they learned that they were among a group chosen to cross into the United States. A year earlier, they said, they fled Honduras after the daughter, 15, had been kidnapped and raped by a local gang. When the pair arrived in Nuevo Laredo, a northern Mexican city where drug cartels have been fighting for turf, they and other people who had been on their bus were kidnapped and sexually assaulted for days, they said. On the 15th day, the mother and daughter escaped and crossed the Rio Grande into the United States on a boat that held about 30 people. But border officials, pointing to Title 42, the public health rule that has restricted immigration since the beginning of the pandemic, sent them back to Mexico. Soon, they registered with the shelter in Reynosa, which keeps a database of all the migrants who come through it. 


  • In late April, the pastor who runs the shelter, Hector Silva, was asked to meet with U.S. government officials to discuss a process for sending some migrants who qualify for humanitarian exceptions to the public health rule across the pedestrian bridge linking Reynosa with the United States. The government allows such exceptions for migrants deemed particularly vulnerable, with decisions being made on a case-by-case basis. Mr. Silva said Customs and Border Protection had been reaching out two or three times a day to ask for small groups of people who fall into certain categories. 


  • On May 1, for instance, Mr. Silva was asked to look for single mothers. This also happens at other locations along the border, often the result of direct communication between local C.B.P. officials, lawyers and nonprofit groups that assist asylum seekers, according to asylum lawyers and officials with the Department of Homeland Security. 


  • In other situations, asylum lawyers work directly with C.B.P. officials to identify migrants who meet humanitarian exceptions. The mother and daughter from Senda De Vida, along with other migrants deemed eligible to cross that day, were tested for the coronavirus, then directed to a school bus, which would take them to the pedestrian bridge.  


  • There are also many migrants who manage to sneak across the border and evade detection. Border Patrol agents refer to them as “got-aways.” The Biden administration has estimated that some 389,000 undocumented migrants avoided apprehension between October 2020 and September 2021.  Many people who have been crossing the southern border in recent years promptly turn themselves in. Agents call them “give-ups”; many constitute families. Once the agents have processed everyone, the migrants are bused to a Customs and Border Protection facility where they wait in more lines and answer more questions. Some may stay there for several days before officials decide whether or not they can remain, at least for now, in the country.



Who Qualifies For U.S. Asylum And How Does The Process Work?

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, June 3, 2022 

  • Who qualifies for U.S. asylum? For decades, U.S. law has allowed the government to grant asylum to immigrants who suffered or have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country because of their nationality, race, religion, political views or membership in a "particular social group." The persecution must come from government authorities or someone the home country is unable or unwilling to control. Poverty, scarce economic opportunities, displacement caused by natural disasters or a desire to reunite with family are not grounds for asylum under U.S. law. While it uses the same legal threshold, refugee status is offered to individuals abroad. Asylum, on the other hand, is only available to those on U.S. soil. 


  • How does the asylum process work? There are two types of asylum cases: "defensive" and "affirmative" requests. Migrants the government seeks to deport, including those who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, can file defensive asylum applications to try to prevent their deportation. These cases are decided by immigration judges at the Justice Department, which also oversees an appellate immigration court body. Immigrants with temporary legal status in the U.S., such as short-term visa holders, and unaccompanied children who enter U.S. border custody without their parents, can submit affirmative asylum applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). While migrants seeking defensive asylum must make their case in adversarial court hearings that feature judges and government prosecutors, those with affirmative applications are interviewed by USCIS asylum officers. Applicants whose asylum requests are denied by immigration judges can be ordered deported, though they can appeal those decisions. Asylum-seekers rejected by USCIS are typically placed in deportation proceedings and their cases are transferred to the immigration court system for a final decision. Immigrants who are granted asylum by an immigration judge or USCIS are allowed to stay in the U.S. permanently and can request a green card one year after the decision. Their children and spouses are also allowed to come to and live in the U.S. legally.


  • Are people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border currently allowed to seek asylum? It depends. For the past two years, U.S. border officials have used the Title 42 public health authority to quickly expel migrants to Mexico or their home country without allowing them to request asylum. Since the Trump administration invoked Title 42 in March 2020, migrants have been expelled over 1.9 million times from the southern border, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data show. However, not all migrants who enter U.S. border custody are expelled under Title 42, which is mainly used on single adults. The Biden administration, for example, has exempted certain groups from Title 42 on humanitarian grounds, including unaccompanied children, Ukrainian refugees and some asylum-seekers. Other migrants are not expelled because of different reasons, including restrictions imposed by Mexico on who can be expelled there, operational challenges and strained diplomatic relations with countries like Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela that restrict or ban U.S. deportations.


  • Migrants who are processed under regular immigration procedures are allowed to seek asylum, and are either transferred to shelters or long-term detention facilities, released with a court notice or quickly deported directly from the southern border under a process known as expedited removal. Those placed in expedited removal proceedings are only allowed to seek asylum if they establish credible fear of persecution during screenings with USCIS officers. 


  • Why is the asylum system broken? A backlog of hundreds of thousands of unresolved cases has crippled the government's ability to decide asylum cases in a timely manner — and the years-long processing delays have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, which curtailed in-person court hearings and USCIS interviews. At the start of 2022, the immigration court system had 628,551 pending asylum applications, Justice Department data show. In total, the immigration court system has over 1.6 million pending cases. USCIS, meanwhile, was overseeing 432,341 unresolved asylum requests at the start of 2022, agency statistics show. The Justice Department currently has 578 immigration judges, while USCIS has 750 asylum officers. Because of the massive backlog, immigrants wait an average of 1,621 days — or more than 4 years — for a hearing in immigration court, according to an analysis of government data by Syracuse University's TRAC program. 


  • How many applicants are granted asylum? Unlike refugee admissions, which are capped every fiscal year by the president, there's no limit on the number of asylum requests the government can grant every year. In fiscal year 2021, immigration judges approved 7,359 asylum requests and rejected 14,117 cases. During the first six months of fiscal year 2022, 8,494 asylum applications were approved by judges, while 9,738 were denied, Justice Department figures show. USCIS granted asylum 7,118 times in fiscal year 2021, while rejecting 17,888 cases, agency data show. During the first three months of fiscal year 2022, USCIS approved 2,175 asylum requests and denied 9,727 cases. A 2020 DHS report found that 89% of the court cases of Central American migrant families who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border between fiscal years 2014 and 2019 remained unresolved.



U.S. In Talks With Spain, Canada About Taking More Refugees -Sources

By Matt Spetalnick and Ted Hesson, Reuters, June 2, 2022

  • The Biden administration is in talks with Spain and Canada about taking more Western Hemisphere refugees for resettlement, people familiar with the matter said, signaling possible commitments that could be announced at the Summit of the Americas. 


  • Separate proposals are under consideration by the Spanish and Canadian governments but no decisions have been made, the sources said, as President Joe Biden's aides prepared to seek greater regional cooperation on tackling irregular migration when he hosts fellow leaders in Los Angeles. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed talks with Canada on taking in more migrants, and a second U.S. source said the Biden administration wanted to use the hemispheric summit to pressure other countries to do the same. 


  • Spain, if it agrees to take action, would be accepting refugees beyond its long-standing program for bringing in temporary workers from Central America. Canada, which has a long tradition as a safe-haven country, is weighing whether to take in larger numbers of regional refugees and also to increase the number of Haitian workers it allows in, the source in Washington said. It was unclear whether those whom Spain might agree to resettle would be from among asylum seekers who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border or whether they would be required to apply at U.S. embassies and consulates in the region or via international refugee agencies, one person familiar with the matter said.



Scoop: Tens Of Thousands Of Migrants Waiting On U.S. Doorstep

By Stef W. Kight, Axios, May 25, 2022

  • As many as 50,000 migrants are waiting in Mexican shelters for a chance to cross the border, hoping to run out the clock on Title 42, the COVID-era rule limiting entry to the U.S., according to internal documents reviewed by Axios. The administration's internal data now counts about 8,000 people attempting to cross the southwest border each day. Documents show Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) releasing roughly 1,200 migrant adults and 1,300 family members into the U.S. every day. A judge intervened last week [May 20] to block the Biden administration's plans to end Title 42, which allows the rapid expulsion of asylum seekers. But tens of thousands of migrants already are poised along the border, with many expected to attempt to cross despite the May 20 ruling. The documents show Department of Homeland Security intelligence tracking between 40,000 and 50,000 migrants now waiting in Mexican shelters to cross. That includes more than 10,000 Haitians. Recent reports show shelters on both sides of the border reaching capacity, in locations including Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas.



Migrant Disappearances In Mexico Quadrupled In 2021, Report Says

By Reuters, May 12, 2022

  • Reported cases of missing migrants in Mexico jumped nearly fourfold in 2021 from 2020, as the country struggles to stem the flow of undocumented people from Central America to the United States, according to a report. The number of missing foreigners grew by 292 percent to 349 from 89 cases, said the report presented by the Jesuits’ Missing Migrant Search Program (SJM), a human rights organization.  Most of the missing came from countries including Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela. According to the report, 44% of the missing migrants were 18 to 29 years old, 42% were 30 to 59 years old, and 14% were under 17.





Settlement Reached Over Private Border Wall, But Experts Say It Won’t Stop The Environmental Damage

By Perla Trevizo and Jeremy Schwartz, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica June 4, 2022 

  • Federal prosecutors reached a settlement agreement with the construction company that built a troubled private border fence along the Rio Grande in South Texas. The settlement caps off two and a half years of legal wrangling after the federal government sued Fisher Industries and its subsidiaries, alleging that the 18-foot-tall and 3-mile-long fence led to erosion so significant that it threatened to shift the border and could cause the structure to collapse into the river, impacting a major dam. 


  • Under the agreement, the company must conduct quarterly inspections, maintain an existing gate that allows for the release of floodwaters and keep a $3 million bond, a type of insurance, for 15 years, or until the property is transferred to the government, to cover any expenses in case the structure fails. 


  • The settlement lets Fisher Industries select the places along the fence to inspect for damage, decide what triggers some repairs and reject any proposed changes to the maintenance plan suggested by the government. It also allows the company to police itself instead of requiring a third-party inspector, said Amy Patrick, a Houston forensic structural and civil engineer and court-recognized expert on wall construction. 


  • As part of the settlement, Fisher and its subsidiary must destroy copies of an engineering report, commissioned by the Department of Justice, that studied the project’s soundness. Federal officials said the report contains “proprietary information.” 


  • Fisher Industries started building the bollard fence along the banks of the Rio Grande in 2019 as part of a wider effort of We Build the Wall, a nonprofit organization founded by Brian Kolfage, an Air Force veteran. The nonprofit raised more than $25 million, Kolfage said, to help former President Donald Trump build his “big, beautiful wall” along the border. In April, Kolfage pleaded guilty to federal charges of defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to the wall effort. The government filed a lawsuit soon after Fisher started construction of the project. It alleged the fence violated a treaty with Mexico that requires both countries to approve any development that can affect the international boundary. 


  • A state district judge in Hidalgo County granted the government a temporary restraining order to stop construction, but a federal judge reversed it a month later. Later that year, ProPublica and the Tribune reported that severe erosion at the base of the fence outside of Mission could result in the structure toppling into the Rio Grande if not fixed. Following the reporting, Trump attempted to distance himself from the project, saying on Twitter that it had been constructed to make him look bad, despite some members of his family and top advisers previously vouching for it. Two engineering reports, commissioned by the nearby National Butterfly Center, a nonprofit that opposed the project because of flooding concerns, later confirmed the news organizations’ findings.





El Paso Migrant Shelter’s Future In Doubt

By Julian Resendiz, Border Report, May 24, 2022 

  • The director of El Paso’s largest migrant shelter network plans to cease operations at one of his largest facilities in July, and he is urging the city or county to take it over before that happens. The city government earlier this month [May] made 24 of its employees available to assist at Casa del Refugiado and approved an emergency ordinance authorizing the city manager to be proactive in managing mass migration coming through El Paso. 


  • But facing a critical shortage of volunteers, Ruben Garcia, director of the nonprofit Annunciation House which runs 15 refugee shelters in the region, wants local governments to take over that one facility. Casa del Refugiado houses anywhere from 100 to 150 migrants at any given time. “It’s good to have the city and county come and say, ‘We’re making these employees available to you,” Garcia said. “I simply think that’s half the step that needs to be taken. The full step is we want to sit with you and look at the possibility of the city/county having this as their first hospitality site and they take responsibility for Casa del Refugiado.” 


  • County Chief Administrator Betsy Keller on Monday told county commissioners she is looking at different options to ensure shelter space and the swift processing of migrants released into the community by federal immigration authorities. Up to 99 percent of those migrants stay here only two or three days. Keller said it would cost the county more than $30,000 a month to take over the building, and that’s not including utilities or operational costs. She said an option would be to hire an outside contractor. Endeavors, a San Antonio-based migrant services vendor, was to present the county with a services proposal.



South Texas Migrant Center ‘At Capacity,’ Struggling To Meet Demands

By Sandra Sanchez, Border Report, May 21, 2022

  • Inside the only migrant shelter in Eagle Pass, Texas, asylum-seekers are crammed arm to arm on picnic tables, colorful undersized children’s plastic chairs and donated wooden church pews waiting for transportation and other help.  


  • “We help them to do their travel arrangements so they can go to their final destinations. An average length of stay is five to eight hours. We offer meals, showers … we offer clothing, hygiene kits so they can wait. We have technology so they can communicate with their family members,” Mission Border Hope Executive Director Valeria Wheeler told Border Report. 


  • Over 500 people per day are currently being released to this faith-based nonprofit affiliated with the United Methodist Church. They are already at maximum capacity, Wheeler said. Most of the migrants at this shelter are from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras and African countries. Wheeler says they also receive migrants who enter at the ports of entry, such as Mexicans, “but that’s a very few.” Wheeler says she will need much more food, clothing, hygiene items and most importantly — transportation to take the migrants from this border town that is located across the Rio Grande from Piedras Negras, Mexico.



Haitians Lining Up By Thousands In Anticipation Of Termination Of Title 42

By John Salazar Mexico, Spectrum News, May 17, 2022

  • On the same day U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas spoke with members of DHS workforce to discuss border readiness and response, Haitian asylum seekers in Matamoros, Mexico, placed their names on a long waiting list at Dulce Refugio Migrant Shelter.  “Look at the list,” said one of the shelter’s workers. “People waiting for shelter.”


  • Haitian refugees are stacking up south of the border by the thousands, anticipating the lifting of federal public health code Title 42, which currently blocks most of legal immigration. Mayorkas said this of Title 42 during the border tour on the U.S. side. Reynosa, Mexico’s largest shelter, Senda de Vida 1, is beyond capacity. The last estimate was 2,000 migrants, according to shelter operator Pastor Hector Silva. A new sister shelter in Reynosa, Senda De Vida 2, recently opened. The property is scheduled to hold 3,000 asylum seekers. Well over 1,000 have set up tents inside the secure walls of that refuge. A great majority of the people staying in the Matamoros and Reynosa shelters are Haitian. A few weeks ago, most migrants were from Central America, South America and Cuba.  Dulce Refugio Shelter Director Samuel Ruiz sums up the situation easily.  “We are full. There is no space. This is a crisis,” he said. 



Migrants overcrowd shelter in Matamoros, Tamaulipas

By Milenio Noticias, May 13, 2022

  • The arrival of 150 Haitian migrants to a shelter in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, with capacity for 250 people, has overcrowded the place and ignited a crisis due to lack of resources. Activists who maintain the place pointed out that they are prevented from receiving more people and are thinking about the possibility of reducing daily meals from three to one, to continue operating. "They have nowhere to stay, they have to rent rooms or sleep on the street," declared the shelter's director, Abraham Barberi. If the movement of migrants continues along this border, activists have warned that it will be difficult to provide services to families.



The Government Of Tamaulipas Sets Up New Temporary Shelter For Migrants In Nuevo Laredo

By Milenio Noticias, May 4, 2022 

  • Faced with the arrival of hundreds of migrants from Haiti and Central America, the government of Nuevo Laredo set up a new temporary shelter, an addition to the eight shelters that currently exist in the area. The opening of this new shelter will allow support for 300 people, giving priority to women and children. Humberto Fernández Díez de Pinos, director of Protección Civil y Bomberos, said that migrants are provided medical attention, food, water and a space where they can rest. The other temporary shelters located across the city of Nuevo Laredo include: Albergue Municipal, Casa del Migrante Nazareth, Casa Ammar, Maná del Cielo, Barrios para Cristo, Barrios para Cristo “Oradel”, El Buen Samaritano y la Casa del Migrante Flores Méndez.





What’s The Real Cost Of Operation Lone Star?

Data compiled by the IWC Advocacy Committee 

  • The Interfaith Welcome Coalition’s Advocacy Committee recently compiled multiple resources about Operation Lone Star and the costs associated with running the program. You can access all that information by visiting: 




Illegal Immigration Is Down, Changing The Face Of California Farms

By Eduardo Porter, New York Times, June 1, 2022

  • The total population of unauthorized immigrants in the United States peaked in 2007 and has declined slightly since then. California felt it first. From 2010 to 2018, the unauthorized immigrant population in the state declined by some 10 percent, to 2.6 million. And the dwindling flow sharply reduced the supply of young workers to till fields and harvest crops on the cheap. 


  • The state reports that from 2010 to 2020, the average number of workers hired directly by California farms for crop production declined to 150,000 from 170,000. (The figure does not count those employed by farm labor contractors, including foreign workers on temporary visas.) The number of undocumented immigrant workers declined even faster. 


  • The Labor Department’s most recent National Agricultural Workers Survey reports that in 2017 and 2018, unauthorized immigrants accounted for only 36 percent of crop workers hired by California farms. That was down from 66 percent, according to the surveys performed 10 years earlier. The immigrant workforce has also aged. In 2017 and 2018, the average crop worker hired locally on a California farm was 43, according to the survey, eight years older than in the surveys performed from 2007 to 2009. The share of workers under the age of 25 dropped to 7 percent from a quarter.



Haitian Migrants Create Their Own ‘City’ To Escape Trials And Tribulations Of Living In Tijuana

By Salvador Rivera, Border Report, May 25, 2022 

  • A large group of Haitian migrants have decided to leave the streets of Tijuana and live together in a camp southeast of this city just south of the border from San Diego. With the help of several charities and city officials, they’ve created a small city that has electricity, bathrooms and water. A Catholic nun also provides support and organizes meal deliveries and living arrangements. As of this week, an estimated 300 residents were living at this camp. Some residents told Border Report that although they would like to be somewhere else, the camp is providing a relatively safe haven with strict rules and limited access to outsiders.



These Cell Phones Can't Make Calls Or Access The Internet. ICE Is Using Them To Track Migrants

By Catherine E. Shoichet, Rosa Flores and Rosalina Nieves, CNN, June 6, 2022

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement is monitoring nearly a quarter of a million migrants in a program using GPS ankle monitors, phones or an app known as SmartLINK, according to the agency's latest statistics. 


  • The Biden administration has rapidly grown the number of people in this program, known as "alternatives to detention," or ATD. It's not clear how many migrants have been loaned phones as part of the program. ICE hasn't released that data in its regular public updates about the program. But lawyers and advocates who work with migrants told CNN the government-issued phones -- which can only be used with the SmartLINK app and can't make calls or access the internet -- are becoming increasingly common. 


  • Officials argue these forms of monitoring are an effective way to manage cases.  Alternatives to detention aren't new; ICE's program officially began in 2004 and officials began using the SmartLINK app in 2018. The agency relies on BI Inc., a subsidiary of private prison company GEO Group, to run it. Currently more than 185,000 people are being monitored by SmartLINK -- about three-quarters of those enrolled in the ATD program, ICE says. That's a steep increase from less than three years ago, according to Kocher's analysis, when SmartLINK monitored less than 6,000 people for ICE. 


  • In April and May, Kocher says, about 1,000 people a day were being enrolled in the program. The government-issued phones cannot make calls or be used to access the internet, ICE says, beyond using the app for its intended purpose. Migrants who have their own devices are asked to download the app onto their phones. SmartLINK "uses facial recognition software to verify identity, GPS data point capture, push notifications and reminders, direct messaging with case officers and participants, and a searchable services database," according to ICE. "Those who do not report," ICE says, "are subject to arrest and potential removal."



Lawyers For Migrants Say U.S. Officials Slowed Family Reunifications

By Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, June 8, 2022 

  • Weeks into the Trump administration’s family-separation policy, immigration officials fired off emails saying something was awry. The children were being reunited too quickly with their parents, an official wrote on a Friday night in late May 2018. 


  • “What a fiasco,” Tae Johnson, an official with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), wrote to other officials at 8:29 p.m. that Memorial Day weekend. Johnson is currently the acting ICE director. The email exchanges are part of a massive cache of internal documents the Biden administration turned over to lawyers for migrants this year after settlement talks broke down in December, forcing both sides to litigate in open court. Families who were separated have filed more than 20 lawsuits seeking millions of dollars for their pain and suffering. 


  • The May 2018 passages came to light as part of a court filing seeking more records to bolster a pair of lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Arizona. Lawyers for the migrants have said the Biden administration’s decision to end settlement talks means that far fewer families are likely to get compensation for the separations, but it also is bringing more information to light, putting high- and middle-ranking officials — including some who are still in the government — under scrutiny. 
  • The U.S. government separated more than 3,000 children from their parents along the Mexican border in May and June 2018, the peak of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute adults for the misdemeanor offense of crossing the border illegally. DHS officials say more than 5,500 children were separated in all. Under the zero-tolerance policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would transport migrant parents to federal court for prosecution and then to ICE to face deportation. Their children would be declared “unaccompanied” and sent to U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), where caseworkers would house them in shelters and try to place them with a parent or guardian. 


  • The process did not go smoothly: Hundreds of parents were deported without their children, others remain separated to this day, and many others were apart for weeks or months. Officials have said the system was unprepared to quickly reunite families, but migrant lawyers said the emails show that federal officials knew in early May, if not earlier, that migrant families were being reunited quickly and worked to prevent that from happening. 


  • On May 10, 2018, Matthew Albence, then a high-ranking official at ICE, wrote in a memo to other officials at the agency that he was worried that parents would be returned to their children in Border Patrol stations too quickly after going to criminal court. Such prosecutions are typically quick: The offenses are so minor that migrants often plead guilty in groups and are sentenced to time served that day. 


  • CBP has 72 hours to transfer unaccompanied minors to government shelters. “This will result in a situation in which the parents are back in the exact same facility as their children — possibly in a matter of hours — who have yet to be placed into ORR custody,” Albence wrote to acting ICE director Thomas Homan and other officials. Albence said CBP should work with ICE “to prevent this from happening,” such as by taking the children themselves to ORR “at an accelerated pace” or bringing the adults directly to ICE from criminal court, instead of returning them to their children. 


  • In the May 25, 2018, email, Johnson wrote to Albence and another official saying CBP was “reuniting adults with kids” after parents being prosecuted in McAllen, a city in the Rio Grande Valley, which was the busiest stretch of the border at the time. Johnson, then a top official in ICE’s custody management division, said the children had already been designated as unaccompanied but that ORR refused to take them to shelters once their parents returned from court. “Transportation arrangements are now being canceled and presumably the males (heads of households) are being released,” Johnson wrote to Albence. “What a fiasco.” “We can’t have this,” Albence, then the ICE executive associate director, shot back one minute later. Another ICE official, David Jennings, wrote a few minutes later that ORR wouldn’t take an accompanied child. “No consequence at this point,” Jennings wrote. “ORR needs arm twisted.” 


  • Sandi Goldhamer, a CBP official, said in a 10:04 p.m. email among Border Patrol officials that night that officials should “cease the reunification process” in border stations. “If you are concerned with appearances than (sic) do not return the family unit adult back to the CPC,” she said, apparently referring to a central processing center in the Rio Grande Valley. She said they should take adults to an alternate holding facility, with a handout to help them reunite with their children, and have ICE pick them up. 


  • Around 2 a.m. the next day, Albence messaged CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, his deputy, Ron Vitiello, and acting ICE director Homan that it appeared that ORR was refusing to take children whose parents had returned from court in Texas. Officials heard the same in Arizona. “This obviously undermines the entire effort and the Dept is going to look completely ridiculous if we go through the effort of prosecuting only to send them to a FRC (family residential center) and out the door,” he wrote. 


  • Trump ended the policy amid international outcry on June 20, and days later, Albence said in an internal email that HHS would want to know what ICE could do “to facilitate immediate reunification” of the families. Albence said “that wasn’t going to happen unless we are directed by the Dept to do so.” “We are moving forward w reunification only for the purposes of removal,” he said. A few days later, a federal judge in San Diego ordered the government to reunite the families.



Supreme Court Shields Border Agents From Excessive-Force Lawsuits

By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, June 8, 2022

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 8, shielded federal border patrol agents from being sued over allegations of unreasonable searches and the use of excessive force. In a 6-3 decision, the court’s conservatives said that in nearly all instances federal agents may be not held liable for violating constitutional rights unless Congress has authorized such lawsuits for damages.


  • While the Constitution sets out the rights of individuals against the government — including protection “against unreasonable searches and seizures” — it did not say how those rights were to be enforced. After the Civil War, Congress authorized lawsuits against state and local officials, including the police, who violate the rights of people that are “secured by the Constitution.” But no such broad measure authorizes lawsuits against federal agents. 


  • The case before the court arose from a bed-and-breakfast named the Smuggler’s Inn in Blaine, Wash.. Part of the property abuts the U.S. border with Canada, and border patrol agents watched it constantly. They said they had seen people who walked across the border to the inn. In 2014, inn owner Robert Boule clashed with border patrol agent Erik Egbert over a guest from Turkey who had raised suspicions. The inn owner said the agent pushed him and gathered papers involving the guest, and Boule later sued Egbert for violating the 4th Amendment. The 9th Circuit Court allowed the suit to proceed, but the high court reversed that ruling in Egbert vs. Boule. The three liberals — Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan — dissented. The decision “contravenes precedent and will strip many more individuals who suffer injuries at the hands of other federal officers,” Sotomayor wrote.