Compiled by the staff of the Corporate Responsibility office of the Benedictine Sisters, Boerne, Texas
MAY IMMIGRATION NEWS
Texas Governor Says The State May Contest A Supreme Court Ruling On Migrant Education
By Bill Chappell, NPR, May 6, 2022
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says his state shouldn't have to provide free public schooling to undocumented students, despite a long-standing Supreme Court decision that says the opposite.
- The high court's Plyler v. Doe ruling of 1982 struck down a Texas law that did two things: It denied state funds for any students deemed not to have lawfully entered the U.S., and it allowed public school districts to deny admission to those children. Abbott said the court's 1982 ruling had imposed an unfair burden on his state. "I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different" from when the decision came down, Abbott said in an interview with conservative radio host Joe Pagliarulo.
- In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the Texas legislation violated the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause and would create a distinct underclass. The 1982 decision was a 5-4 ruling, but the justices who dissented in the case did indeed say that it was "senseless for an enlightened society to deprive any children — including illegal aliens — of an elementary education." After his initial remarks, Abbott reiterated that his state is in an untenable position. "The Supreme Court has ruled states have no authority themselves to stop illegal immigration into the states," Abbott said, according to The Texas Tribune. "However, after the Plyler decision they say, 'Nevertheless, states have to come out of pocket to pay for the federal government's failure to secure the border.' So one or both of those decisions will have to go." Abbott said Texas' challenges will get worse when the Biden administration ends the Trump-era public health order known as Title 42, which has barred migrants from the U.S. in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The shift will bring a new influx of immigrants, he said.
- News Article Source: https://www.npr.org/2022/05/06/1097178468/texas-governor-says-the-state-may-contest-a-supreme-court-ruling-on-migrant-educ
New Federal Lawsuit Seeks To Halt Texas’ Border Trespassing Arrests, Give More Than $5 Million To Illegally Detained Migrants
By Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune, April 28, 2022
- In a new challenge to Gov. Greg Abbott’s controversial border security crackdown, a lawsuit filed Wednesday, April 27, is asking a federal court to shut down Texas’ system of arresting migrants en masse along the Texas-Mexico border and to make the state pay more than $5 million to men who were illegally imprisoned under the system.
- The lawsuit comes nearly a year after Abbott first ordered Texas police to arrest men suspected of illegally crossing the border on misdemeanor trespassing charges. The practice skirts constitutional restrictions that bar states from enforcing federal immigration law, and the lawsuit claims it discriminatorily targets mostly Black and Latino migrant men, usurps federal authority and is carried out in a way that violates the detainees’ rights.
- “Under the guise of state criminal trespass law but with the explicit, stated goal of punishing migrants based on their immigration status, Texas officials are targeting migrants,” the filing stated. “Hundreds of those arrested have waited in jail for weeks or months without a lawyer, or without charges, or without bond, or without a legitimate detention hold or without a court date.” The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Austin by three private attorneys on behalf of 15 individual migrants and is asking for a class certification to include everyone arrested under Abbott’s trespassing initiative.
- The migrants are suing Abbott; the directors of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; Kinney County, a rural border county that accounts for the large majority of trespassing arrests; and its sheriff. The complaint asks the court to find that the operation violates federal law and order the state to stop the arrests. It also argues each migrant illegally detained so far should be given $18,000 for each day they were imprisoned beyond what is allowed by state law. The attorneys said it is a typical amount awarded by courts in cases of over-detention. They estimated the total cost would be around $5,400,000.
- Abbott launched his multibillion-dollar Operation Lone Star last March, billing it as a way to combat drug trafficking and human smuggling. The governor has often touted drug seizures and arrests of people accused of violence, but a major component of the operation is arresting suspected migrants for allegedly trespassing. Through February, more than 2,800 men were arrested only for allegedly trespassing on private property — accounting for the largest share of arrests under the operation. The large majority of trespassing arrests have occurred in only two border counties where DPS troopers got consent from some local landowners to arrest men on their property.
- News Article Source: https://www.texastribune.org/2022/04/28/texas-border-migrant-arrests-trespassing-lawsuit/
The Biden Administration Plans To Put Some Deportations On Hold As Immigration Courts Face A Staggering Backlog
By Hamed Aleaziz, BuzzFeed News, April 26, 2022
- The Biden administration plans to put on hold the deportation cases of certain immigrants who may gain legal status outside of the immigration court system, according to a memo issued Tuesday, April 26, and obtained by BuzzFeed News.
- The memo, written by a chief immigration court official, Tracy Short, appears to be part of an effort to reduce the staggering backlog of more than 1 million deportation cases, which has resulted in some immigrants waiting years for a hearing. Reducing it has been a priority of the Biden administration. The issue is particularly urgent as the court system prepares for a potential flood of new cases when a pandemic-era border policy, Title 42, expires in late May and more immigrants are expected to enter the US. Short’s memo to immigration judges details how the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) — the US immigration court system — may put on hold certain deportation cases involving immigrants, including those who have applications pending with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for benefits such as a green card through a family member.
- In other instances, individuals with an approved visa petition or eligibility for temporary protected status, which protects people from deportation for a certain period of time, also could have their cases removed from the court’s calendar.
- Children seeking asylum or pursuing a special immigrant juvenile classification, which is reserved for children who were abused or neglected by parents, will be eligible as well. Either the Department of Homeland Security, which pursues deportations in immigration court, or the immigrant’s attorney can seek to keep the case on the calendar. If the court plans to remove a case from the calendar, both parties will have 60 days to request to keep the case moving forward in the system.
- News Article Source: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hamedaleaziz/deportations-biden-court-backlog-hold
Biden Administration Lays Out Post-Title 42 Border Plan
By Rafael Bernal, The Hill, April 26, 2022
- Biden administration officials on Tuesday, April 26, laid out their border and immigration enforcement plan as a pandemic-related border security exception draws down. The Trump-era policy known as Title 42 is due to sunset May 23, despite increasingly vociferous Republican attacks that its end will spell doom for border management. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a central target of the attacks, on Tuesday, April 26, published a 20-page memo detailing how the administration intends to prevent the change in border policy from setting off disarray.
- The memo describes a work plan for how to enforce U.S. immigration law without the added legal power to immediately expel migrants encountered at the border that Title 42 granted officials. The administration’s plan is divided into six “border security pillars,” which encompass everything from short-term surges in personnel and resources to the border to a program to deter migration from Latin America. One key element of the plan is the intent to increase the legal consequences of unauthorized border crossings, an element of deterrence that was decreased under Title 42. “Core to this plan is our commitment to continue to strictly enforce our immigration laws,” reads the Mayorkas memo. “This includes increased use of Expedited Removal, detaining single adults when appropriate, referring for prosecution those whose conduct warrants it, and accelerating asylum adjudications that enable us to more quickly process and remove from the United States those who do not qualify for relief under our laws,” it adds.
- The tenor of the Mayorkas memo projects a focus on tough enforcement, particularly the use of expedited removals, while expanding the potential for processing asylum applications. Immigration law allows U.S. officials to summarily repatriate many migrants who cannot make an asylum claim, have crossed the border surreptitiously, and are caught within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of having entered the country. Like Title 42, expedited removals take fewer resources to expel more individuals, but unlike Title 42, migrants are allowed to exercise their right to claim asylum in the expedited process.
- A Louisiana judge Monday, April 25, temporarily forced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to keep implementing Title 42, but the CDC’s public health determination was not subject to the same administrative regulations as DHS. That means that if a temporary injunction is put in place, it will block DHS from executing its plan to draw down Title 42, but it might not be enough to grant border officials the authorities they had under the Trump-era policy. “If and when the court actually issues the [temporary restraining order], the department is planning to comply with that order,” an administration official told reporters. “It really makes no sense to us that the plaintiffs would demand and that the court would order that DHS be stopped in its use of expedited removal, which again is going to prevent us from adequately preparing for the aggressive application of immigration law when the public health order expires,” added the official.
- News Article Source: https://thehill.com/latino/3466052-biden-administration-lays-out-post-title-42-border-plan/
OPERATION LONE STAR
A Minor Trespassing Case Gives Gov. Greg Abbott’s Border Initiative Its First Courtroom Win
By Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune, May 10, 2022
- After spending eight months in a Texas prison, Lester Hidalgo Aguilar walked into a small-town community center near the United States-Mexico border on May 9 and waited for his trial to begin. Sitting in a vast, warehouse-like chamber, he listened for hours as a team of attorneys winnowed down a jury pool of about 75 local residents to six. After a lunch break, Aguilar, the jury and a swarm of county employees and attorneys from across the state moved into the local courthouse to hold trial.
- The court proceeding was a big event in this 1,600-person town in Kinney County, a rural border region about 100 miles west of San Antonio. With the popular local restaurant closed, a gas station clerk had to step behind the counter of the Subway during the courthouse lunch rush to help an overwhelmed employee whose coworkers were part of the jury pool. In another time or place, such a spectacle wouldn’t be thought of for a case like Aguilar’s. After all, the 39-year-old was accused only of a misdemeanor: trespassing on private ranch land. But this case was unique among trespassing charges. Aguilar was the first migrant to stand trial in Gov. Greg Abbott’s “catch-and-jail” initiative under Operation Lone Star, a multibillion dollar border security crackdown launched last March in response to a sharp rise in illegal immigration.
- In an attempt to deter border crossings, state police have arrested more than 3,000 men in Kinney County on trespassing charges since July. The county accounts for the vast majority of Operation Lone Star’s trespassing arrests, with migrants typically picked up on its many hunting ranches or at a remote railyard. The mass arrests, funneled through the court system of a town used to handling a few dozen misdemeanors a year, caused a litany of problems. Errors and delays by the local prosecutor and judge have led to illegal detentions, and the trespassing initiative has led to constitutional challenges in both state and federal courts.
- Other pieces of Operation Lone Star have also faced criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike over deaths of Texas National Guard members and its ever-increasing price tag. With the operation’s increasing backlash, as well as continuously rising levels of immigration, securing a conviction out of the first jury trial for the trespassing arrests wasn’t necessarily about Aguilar. It was a win the state and the county needed. Out of Kinney County’s more than 3,100 reported trespassing arrests through April, 860 men have pleaded guilty, typically after spending weeks or months in prison before their first court appearance.
- But Aguilar’s was the first trespassing case to go to trial, and the county wasn’t taking any chances. Aguilar’s court-appointed defense attorney, Bryan Owens, pressed the jury to remember the migrant’s case was not about immigration laws or border enforcement. “A guilty verdict is not going to deter even one person from trying to cross the border,” the attorney said. This case was only about Aguilar trespassing, he argued, and the state couldn’t prove Aguilar had breached a fence to enter private property. Owen also pointed out that the woman pressing charges was not the landowner, but the landowner’s sister.
- State District Judge Roland Andrade gave Aguilar the maximum punishment for trespassing: a year in jail. But, against the wishes of the three prosecutors on the bench, Andrade declined to issue an accompanying fine, the maximum of which would be $4,000.
- By May 9, Aguilar had already served about eight months of that jail sentence in the two state prisons Abbott cleared out to make room for Operation Lone Star arrestees. The migrant had remained in jail before trial, unable to post $1,500 in cash to bond out. Whenever Aguilar is released, Owens assured the court the end result will be the same. After a costly imprisonment and extensive trial procedure, he said the Honduran migrant will be deported.
- News Article Source: https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/10/texas-border-migrant-trespassing-trial/
Gov. Greg Abbott Redirects $500 Million From Other Agencies To Fund Border Security Mission Through End Of Fiscal Year
By Jason Beeferman, Texas Tribune, April 29, 2022
- Gov. Greg Abbott said he is moving another $500 million to fund Operation Lone Star, his border security initiative at the Texas-Mexico border.
- The move comes three weeks after state military officials said the multibillion-dollar operation was in need of an infusion of cash to keep it afloat through the end of the fiscal year. Abbott said the money would be taken from the budgets of other Texas agencies, including nearly $210 million from the state’s Health and Human Services Commission over two years and about $160 million from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
- The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Department of State Health Services and Juvenile Justice Department will each see tens of millions of dollars taken from their budgets to fund the border mission, Abbott said. Operation Lone Star’s price tag for taxpayers is upwards of $2 billion a year.
- State officials already transferred another $480 million from other agencies in January to keep the operation running through the spring. The increase in funding comes as Abbott has implemented initiatives at the border such as boat blockades and razor wire at border crossings and chartered buses to Washington, D.C., for migrants in Texas. Abbott said $465.3 million of the $500 million will be allocated to the Texas National Guard.
- News Article Source: https://www.texastribune.org/2022/04/29/greg-abbott-texas-border-mission-funding/
Democrats Call For Investigation As Texas Spends COVID Relief On Gov. Abbott’s $4B Border Plan
By Benjamin Wermund, Washington Bureau, May 9, 2022
- A group of Texas Democrats in Congress is urging the Biden administration to investigate Gov. Greg Abbott’s use of federal COVID-19 relief funding to deploy thousands of National Guard troops to the southern border.
- The Democrats, led by U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio and Veronica Escobar of El Paso, wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that Abbott is stripping funding from “integral public sector resources” and spending it on Operation Lone Star, his border initiative.
- Abbott last month announced the state was pulling $495 million from various state agencies to fund the 10,000-member deployment. The agencies include the Health and Human Services Commission, the Juvenile Justice Department and the Department of State Health Services. On April 29 as the money was shifted, the governor referred to the border as a crucial public safety matter. State officials have acknowledged that Texas has used COVID relief funding to help backfill funding for agencies that have had budgets tapped for the border program.
- Abbott’s budget director, Sarah Hicks, described using the federal funding for “salary swaps” during a Senate Border Security Committee hearing last month. She said that one of the eligible expenses for the federal relief funding was to pay for public health and safety salaries. At that time, she said there was at least $600 million more available for the swaps. Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Texas spent more than $3.6 billion in COVID relief funds to surge medical personnel during the pandemic. “After ensuring these and other needs for Texans were met, we followed the same rules as every other state, city, and county, by using CRF to pay the salaries and benefits for public health and public safety state employees who were directly engaged in the state’s COVID response,” she said.
- But the Democrats contend the state is misusing the money. They wrote that the Treasury Department, which set rules for how the COVID money could be spent, restricted it to replacing lost public sector revenue due to the pandemic, responding to the far-reaching public health and economic effects of the pandemic, providing premium pay for essential workers, and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
- News Article Source: https://www.expressnews.com/politics/texas/article/Democrats-call-for-investigation-as-Texas-spends-17160507.php
National Guard Troops On Texas Border Get Shortchanged On Injury, Death Benefits
By Jeremy Wallace, Houston Chronicle, May 2, 2022
- National Guard members injured or killed on the Texas border stand to get a fraction of the health and death benefits for their families because they were deployed by Gov. Greg Abbott instead of President Joe Biden. “We don’t get any of the — or most of the — federal protections and benefits,” Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Suelzer, leader of the Texas Military Department, told lawmakers at a recent hearing of the Texas House Homeland Security & Public Safety and Defense & Veterans’ Affairs Committees.
- That means that instead of families of soldiers killed in the line of duty getting $100,000 immediately to help with funeral costs and other expenses — as they would on a federal mission — they are left with state workers’ compensation death benefits, which amount to 75 percent of a soldier’s pay from their civilian job, paid out weekly, Suelzer said. So a guard member making $50,000 a year in a civilian job would get up to $37,500 paid out weekly in addition to up to $10,000 in reimbursements for funeral costs, which families have to initially pay out of pocket. Suelzer said he’s working to change those disparities. He told lawmakers he’s going to push them in the next Texas legislative session in 2023 to do more to improve death benefits for guard members who are activated by Abbott.
- Since February, two soldiers assigned to Operation Lone Star have died on duty. Last week, the Texas Military Department confirmed that Spc. Bishop E. Evans, 22 of Arlington, died in Eagle Pass while trying to save migrants crossing the Rio Grande. In February, the Texas Military Department announced that Spc. Dajuan Lester Townes, 19, of Spring, was killed in an accidental shooting in Kinney County.
- Abbott has deployed more than 10,000 soldiers and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers as part of Operation Lone Star. More than 6,100 soldiers are at the Texas border now. Unlike past deployments for disaster relief and COVID preparation, there is no end in sight for the border mission, which was launched in March 2021. Federal officials say they are now surging personnel and resources to the area. U.S. Customs and Border Protection currently has 23,000 agents and officers working along the U.S. border with Mexico — more than twice as many as last year.
- Soldiers injured on federal duty get care under Tricare, a health care program for uniformed service members, retirees and their families around the world. For active service members, there is no enrollment fee and no annual deductible. And most out-of-pocket costs are nominal. But those injured during Operation Lone Star are eligible for benefits only through the state’s workers’ compensation program, which is far harder to navigate than most private insurance. Texas Military Department records show that since 2017, 1 in 4 workers’ comp claims filed with the department have been rejected, leaving soldiers potentially with unpaid medical bills and lost wages. The department holds regular training to teach soldiers the steps of filling out the necessary paperwork. From 2017 to 2021, state records show 306 soldiers filed claims for workers’ compensation, with 222 being accepted.
- News Article Source: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/texas/article/As-injuries-climb-National-Guard-troops-on-Texas-17141367.php
Arlington Soldier Died A Hero At The Border. But Why Is The National Guard Even There?
By The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Editorial Board, April 26, 2022
- What did Bishop Evans die for? No one should question the Texas National Guard specialist’s heroism and sacrifice. The 22-year-old, an Arlington resident and product of Mansfield schools, jumped into the Rio Grande last week to help two migrants struggling in the water. They survived; Evans did not. It demonstrates the damning flaw of the Guard mission that brought Evans to the border: Troops are there to address problems they cannot truly engage. Stopping illegal immigration is a federal task, and no matter what level of resources Texas throws at it, there are hard limits to what state actors can do. It’s high risk, very little reward. Evans paid the ultimate price. Many of his colleagues have suffered through long deployments, poor work conditions and even delayed pay.
- Gov. Greg Abbott deployed the Guard as part of Operation Lone Star, his ongoing attempt to fill the federal government’s gaps on border security. Texas leaders, already exasperated with a broken immigration system, anticipate even larger numbers of migrants will soon arrive at the border and/or get past it. The battle of the moment is over a policy called Title 42. It’s the pandemic policy started by the Trump administration that let border officials immediately expel arriving migrants, even those requesting asylum.
- Texas Republican leaders — and notably, some Democrats in Congress — are concerned, and rightfully so, that when the Biden administration ends the policy, migrants will overwhelm the border. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined several other states and sued the feds last week over Title 42.
- On Monday, in a separate case, a Louisiana federal judge temporarily blocked the administration from letting the Title 42 policy expire May 23, as it intended to do. The U.S. needs an asylum system that doesn’t allow people to enter on specious claims and melt into the background. But using emergency public-health policy to police immigration isn’t the answer. Neither is sending Texas troops to the border with little authority to meaningfully address the problem. Under Operation Lone Star, Texas is apprehending some migrants crossing illegally. But it has no authority to deport them. The best the state can do is process trespassing or other minor charges. And it’ll spend more than $4 billion in the current two-year budget on the overall effort. Where the state can be useful is helping local communities bearing the brunt of the federal government’s failures.
- News Article Source: https://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/editorials/article260775867.html
TITLE 42 – PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER
Judge Blocks U.S. Border Officials From Winding Down Title 42 Expulsion Policy
By Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, April 27, 2022
- A federal judge in Louisiana on Wednesday, April 27, temporarily blocked the Biden administration from immediately winding down an emergency pandemic-era border restriction that has allowed U.S. authorities to quickly expel migrants, as officials await his ruling on plans to end the policy in late May. The border restriction, known as Title 42, is set to end on May 23. But the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had started to wind down the program by placing more migrants in a process known as expedited removal, which allows U.S. border officials to deport certain migrants without court hearings.
- Twenty-one Republican-led states filed a lawsuit earlier in April to stop the Biden administration from ending Title 42, and last week, asked U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, to issue a temporary restraining order "against any implementation" of the policy's termination before May 23.
- On Wednesday, April 27, Summerhays, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, issued a 14-day temporary restraining order blocking border authorities from phasing out Title 42 while he continued to weigh the states' arguments. During a status conference on Monday, April 25, Summerhays said the 21 states, led by Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri, had established a "likelihood of success" in arguing that the order to terminate Title 42 on May 23 did not follow procedural requirements, a transcript of the closed-door meeting shows. Since its inception in March 2020, the Title 42 authority has allowed U.S. authorities along the Mexican border to expel migrants over 1.8 million times to Mexico or their home countries without allowing them to seek asylum, which is generally required by U.S. law, government data show. Summerhays has scheduled a May 13 hearing to consider the Republican-led states' request for him to stop the administration from halting the Title 42 expulsions on May 23.
- News Article Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/title-42-immigration-judge-blocks-border-officials-may-23/
Key Facts About Title 42, The Pandemic Policy That Has Reshaped Immigration Enforcement At U.S.-Mexico Border
By John Gramlich, Pew Research Center, April 27, 2022
- News Article Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/04/27/key-facts-about-title-42-the-pandemic-policy-that-has-reshaped-immigration-enforcement-at-u-s-mexico-border/
MIGRANT PROTECTION PROTOCOLS (MPP) / REMAIN IN MEXICO
Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On Biden’s Bid To End Trump’s ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy
By Kevin Breuninger, CNBC, April 26 2022
- The Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 26, will hear oral arguments about the Biden administration’s latest attempt to end a Trump-era immigration policy that’s been upheld by multiple courts, but decried by human rights groups.
- The “Remain in Mexico” policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols or MPP, required some asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. southern border to be sent back to Mexico while their immigration proceedings played out. The program went into effect in 2019 under then-President Donald Trump’s administration. By the end of Trump’s term in office, the policy was used to send nearly 70,000 people back to Mexico.
- Groups such as Human Rights Watch say the policy violates migrants’ rights and subjects them to a litany of dangers and abuses. President Joe Biden suspended the program on his first day in office and tried to end it completely last year. But the administration’s efforts were challenged by attorneys general in Texas and Missouri, and a federal judge in Texas ordered that the policy be reinstated. A federal appeals court, and then the Supreme Court, declined the administration’s efforts to pause the Texas court’s ruling last August.
- In October, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memo rescinding the Remain in Mexico policy once again. In December, the administration restarted it in accordance with the court’s order, even as the White House lamented that it is “not our preference to be reimplementing” the policy.
- News Article Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/26/supreme-court-to-hear-arguments-on-trump-era-remain-in-mexico-policy.html
The Reckoning Of Remain In Mexico And Its Impact On Human Trafficking
By Sabrina Talukder, The Hill, April 28, 2022
- On April 26, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Biden v. Texas, where the Court will make legal determinations on issues surrounding the Remain in Mexico program. Approximately 60,000 asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants (including 16,000 children and 500 infants) were subject to Remain in Mexico.
- The Biden administration ended the program, only to be sued by Texas and Missouri. With a conservative lower court ruling that the policy be reinstated, the Supreme Court must now determine President Biden’s authority to set or repeal immigration policy.
- Both Republicans and Democrats often agree on the root causes of trafficking like unstable housing, difficult economic conditions, and lack of familial support. The Remain in Mexico program has only exacerbated the number of migrants that are trafficked at the US-Mexico border. Human Rights Watch documented at least 8,000 reported cases of murder, rape, torture, and violent assault and at least 341 cases of children being kidnapped.
- It’s clear that migrants subject to the Remain in Mexico program would not have been as vulnerable to trafficking if they weren’t stranded in Mexico indefinitely. The outcome of Biden v. Texas will determine the future of exploitation and trafficking on the border for some of the most vulnerable communities in the world. The Supreme Court will either allow the Biden administration to restore due process rights on the border or allow Remain in Mexico to exist, continuing to place vulnerable populations at a heightened risk of being trafficked. Either outcome will have a significant impact on anti-trafficking efforts and immigration policy.
- To prevent trafficking at the border and protect survivors in anticipation of the Biden v. Texas ruling, the following changes must happen:
- 1. Implement the Right to Counsel for Non-Citizens in Removal Proceedings: Approximately 96 percent of noncitizens in Remain in Mexico did not have representation, even though immigrants with representation are five times more likely to secure immigration relief. Many migrants do not know that they’re experiencing trafficking until they meet with a pro bono immigration attorney. It is critical that the Biden administration understand that without free legal representation, many immigrants will not be able to lawfully enter the U.S., let alone apply for trafficking specific asylum claims.
- 2. Update the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking (NAP) to Explicitly Address Remain in Mexico Survivors: The Biden administration must update NAP to directly address the outcome of Biden v. Texas. NAP must reflect how the U.S. government will be accountable to this new group of survivors so that they do not continue to fall through the cracks of civil and criminal enforcement systems in the U.S. The Biden administration should create a RMX survivor working group to ensure that the policies are guided at every point of development by their lived experiences.
- 3. USAID Must Support Community Based Organizations (CBOs) Working Directly with Border Camps: The best way to prevent trafficking is by focusing on the root causes of trafficking—societal marginalization and poverty. There are many CBOs that work directly with asylum seekers in Remain in Mexico. USAID should work with Remain in Mexico survivors to pinpoint, which local CBOs on the ground are the most trusted amongst migrants.
- News Article Source: https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/3470825-the-reckoning-of-remain-in-mexico-and-its-impact-on-human-trafficking/
Mexico Will Take Back More Cubans And Nicaraguans Expelled By U.S.
By Nick Miroff and Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, May 4, 2022
- Mexican authorities have agreed to take back more Cuban and Nicaraguan migrants expelled by the United States under the Title 42 public health order, according to three U.S. officials and two Mexican officials with knowledge of the arrangement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set the Title 42 order to expire May 23, so any increase in returns to Mexico may be short-lived.
- A federal judge in Louisiana last month temporarily blocked the Biden administration from phasing out Title 42, and Republican-led states are challenging the CDC timeline to end it. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May 13.
- Last month, the number of migrants taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection rose to about 234,000, up from 221,000 in March, according to preliminary figures obtained by The Post. Cuba was the second-largest source of border-crossers, April data show. Nearly 35,000 were detained by CBP, up from 32,000 in March. The number of Nicaraguans apprehended fell to about 12,500, down from 16,000 in March. Mexico remains the single largest source of unauthorized migration. U.S. authorities have used Title 42 to carry out nearly 2 million “expulsions” since the emergency public health order was implemented in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.
- News Article Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/05/04/us-border-mexico-cubans-nicaraguans/
Why Judges Are Basically In Charge Of U.S. Immigration Policy Now
By Jasmine Aguilera, Time, May 4, 2022
- When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a new lawsuit against the Biden Administration challenging the allegedly “unlawful” move to grant asylum officers authority to decide some asylum cases, no one was surprised. It’s the 11th immigration-related lawsuit Paxton has filed against the Administration since President Biden took office. But the Texas attorney general is hardly alone in his enthusiasm for litigation. Because Congress has failed to act meaningfully since the 1990s to reform the U.S. immigration system, immigration policy has been increasingly shaped by court challenges.
- In recent years, liberal and conservative attorneys general, nonprofit organizations, and individual plaintiffs have filed an avalanche of immigration-related suits in federal courts, resulting in a profusion of complex and often-contradictory court rulings, experts tell TIME. With Congress on the sidelines, federal judges are now on the frontlines of interpreting and dictating the scope of executive actions, federal guidelines and agency rules—thereby determining how U.S. immigration policy actually works.
- Recently, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer questioned the role of his own court in deciding a case about the Trump-era policy, Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which requires the Biden Administration to negotiate with the Mexican government over sending migrants back to Mexico to await asylum hearings. During April 26 oral arguments, Breyer warned his fellow justices to move gingerly. “Foreign affairs is involved,” he said. “And, Judges, this is above your pay grade, okay? Stay out of it as much as you can.”
- Immigration-related litigation has been around for decades, but many experts point to a moment, in 2016, when the floodgates opened. On June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court voted 4-4 on a case brought by Texas challenging whether a key Obama Administration executive action known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), could move forward. (Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016, had yet to be replaced.) DAPA, an expanded version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), would have granted some parents of those who arrived unlawfully in the U.S. as children protection from deportation. The tie vote meant the lower court’s decision blocking DAPA remained in place—a very high-profile win for Texas. The victory provided a key roadmap for other attorneys general in the years that followed.
- Another reason for the recent explosion of court challenges was the pace at which the Trump Administration moved on immigration issues. Over the course of his presidency, he enacted 472 immigration policy changes according to the Migration Policy Institute, a bipartisan research institution. That “unprecedented pace” begot an unprecedented wave of new lawsuits. Texas Attorney General Paxton’s most recent lawsuit targets the Biden Administration’s tweak to asylum processing designed to eliminate immigration court backlogs. The idea is that, by allowing asylum officers to decide straightforward asylum cases, rather than always relying on an immigration judge, authorities can drop the wait time for asylum cases from an average few years to a few months. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) first announced the shift on March 24, saying it would go into effect on May 31. Texas filed suit on April 28.
- News Article Source: https://time.com/6172684/judges-us-immigration-policy/
Mexico Sees Large Spike In Refugee Petitions
By Julian Resendiz, Border Report, May 6, 2022
- Mexico continues to receive large numbers of refugee status petitions from foreign nationals biding their time before venturing to the United States or intent on finding work in a country with more jobs than in their own, newly released government data shows.
- A total of 40,026 citizens of 93 countries solicited refuge in Mexico during the first four months of 2022. That’s a 27 percent increase over a similar period in 2021, according to the Mexican Commission of Assistance to Refugees (COMAR).
- In 2021, Mexico fielded a record 131,448 refugee petitions. More than half of the refugees are coming from three countries: Honduras (8,848), Cuba (8,445) and Haiti (6,627). The vast majority are walking across the border with Guatemala and filing their petitions in the southern state of Chiapas (73.79); others are making their claims in Mexico City (5,294), including those who flew in; and some are petitioning at cities near the U.S. border, such as Tijuana (1,275), COMAR records show.
- Mexico is seeing a lower percentage of applicants from the Northern Triangle of Central American, but that could be because more people from all over the world are coming in, Ramirez said. More than 4,000 Venezuelans, 2,300 Nicaraguans, 841 Senegalese and 722 Colombians have filed for refugee protection since January. Still, Northern Triangle residents make up 61 percent of Mexican refuge petitioners, which comes out to 3,113 per month so far this year, compared to a monthly average of 3,862 in 2021 and 3,570 in 2020, COMAR figures show.
- News Article Source: https://www.borderreport.com/regions/mexico/mexico-sees-large-spike-in-refugee-petitions/
The Border Wall Trump Called Unclimbable Is Taking A Grim Toll
By Nick Miroff, Washington Post, April 29, 2022
- In the trauma wards of this city’s major hospitals, patients from the border have arrived every day with gruesome injuries: skull fractures, broken vertebrae and shattered limbs, their lower extremities twisted into deranged angles. The patients have fallen from new 30-foot segments of President Donald Trump’s border wall. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say they do not tally deaths and injuries resulting from such falls. But new statistics published by University of California at San Diego physicians in the journal JAMA Surgery provide one of the first attempts to measure the toll.
- Since 2019, when the barrier’s height was raised to 30 feet along much of the border in California, the number of patients arriving at the UC San Diego Medical Center’s trauma ward after falling off the structure has jumped fivefold, to 375, the physicians found. Falling deaths at the barrier went from zero to 16 during that time, according to the report, citing records maintained by the San Diego county medical examiner.
- Trump's border wall has been breached more than 3,000 times, CBP records show. The Trump administration built 450 miles of new fencing along the Mexico border at a cost of about $11 billion, mostly replacing older, smaller barriers with three-story steel bollards anchored in concrete. Smugglers saw through Trump’s border wall using ordinary power tools when they aren’t climbing it. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has tallied more than 3,000 breaches since 2019, records show. Nearly every steel bollard had been sawed through and patched with a metal sleeve. Some had been cut through four times.
- News Article Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/04/29/trump-border-wall-injuries-deaths/
Less Immigrant Labor In US Contributing To Price Hikes
By Nicholas Riccardi, Associated Press, May 7, 2022
- After immigration to the United States tapered off during the Trump administration — then ground to a near complete halt for 18 months during the coronavirus pandemic — the country is waking up to a labor shortage partly fueled by that slowdown.
- The U.S. has, by some estimates, 2 million fewer immigrants than it would have if the pace had stayed the same, helping power a desperate scramble for workers in many sectors, from meatpacking to homebuilding, that is also contributing to supply shortages and price increases. “These 2 million missing immigrants are part of the reason we have a labor shortage,” said Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California at Davis, who calculated the shortfall. “In the short run, we are going to adjust to these shortages in the labor market through an increase in wages and in prices.”
- The labor issues are among several contributors to the highest inflation in 40 years in the United States — from supply chains mangled by the pandemic to a surge in energy and commodity prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Immigration is rapidly returning to its pre-pandemic levels, researchers say, but the U.S. would need a significant acceleration to make up its deficit. Given a sharp decline in births in the United States over the past two decades, some economists forecast the overall pool of potential workers will start shrinking by 2025.
- News Article Source: https://apnews.com/article/immigration-covid-health-business-united-states-dcfd75981dcd212ef6747eeaf87f4f31
'Unnecessary, Wasteful;" Rights Groups Balk At ICE's New $7.2 Million Migrant Facial Recognition Contract
By Mack DeGeurin, Gizmodo, May 2, 2022
- U.S. border agents at this point have a long history of skirting along the edges of legality to pursue its eager interest in facial recognition technology, even going as far as to explore integrating the tech with body cams.
- Now, federal documents show Immigrations and Customs Enforcement will spend $7.2 million on facial recognition tools to track and monitor migrants. The documents, first spotted by Insider, reveal an April contract renewal which will see monitoring firm Trust Stamp provide ICE 10,000 smartphones preinstalled with the firm’s facial recognition app and GPS tracking capabilities. That contact represents an extension and significant ramp up of a previous $3.9 million contract ICE signed with Trust Stamp back in September 2021. Under the extended contract, ICE may use Trump Stamp’s service up until September of this year for a $7.2 million total annual cost.
- According to the documents, Trust Stamp’s facial recognition identity confirmation tools are used to, “facilitate rapid processing and enrollments of noncitizens,” into ICE’s so-called Alternative to Detention Program. That program, which builds off the agency’s controversial 2004 Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP), requires that migrants submit to a mix of facial recognition scans, GPS tracking smartphone apps, location tracking ankle bracelets and other monitoring technologies so ICE can keep constant tabs on them.
- Around 200,000 migrants were reportedly enrolled in the program as of March, more than double the amount enrolled during the first half of 2021. ICE claims ISAP and programs like it are intended as a humane way to streamline the agency’s growing caseloads, though critics claim it has led to the unnecessary surveillance of large swaths of migrants who would otherwise be released.
- Migrants forced to “participate” in the program undergo near constant monitoring. Those so-called participants, according to the documents, “check-in” at least once per day with the Trust Stamp’s facial recognition feature used to verify that the individual is in the same location as their phone. In the background, the app engages in “passive tracking” of the participant’s geolocation. As part of the contract, Trust Stamp provides ICE with an information dashboard which grants ICE agents the ability to “see current location, three days location data, access to historical location data and status of the participant.” If facial recognition verification attempts fail, the app will alert the ICE case manager and save a video of the failed registration attempts for review.
- News Article Source: https://gizmodo.com/ices-7-2-million-migrant-facial-recognition-surveillan-1848870395
Mexican Officials Clear Out Migrant Camp At Texas Border
By Reuters, May 3, 2022
- Mexican authorities have cleared a makeshift encampment of migrants in the northern border city of Reynosa that had grown over the past year to hold some 2,000 people, Mexico's migration institute (INM) said. Many of the migrants, who are mainly from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, were taken to a nearby shelter, INM said in a statement. The Reynosa camp formed in March 2021 in a public plaza right across the U.S. border from McAllen, Texas. Many of the people camping in tents or under tarps say they fled violence or persecution in their home countries. In February, Mexican authorities also cleared out a major migrant camp in the border city of Tijuana where activists had criticized the conditions.
- News Article Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexican-officials-clear-out-migrant-camp-texas-border-2022-05-03/
U.S. Border Patrol Apprehensions Dropped Slightly In April, But Remained At 22-Year High
By Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, May 17, 2022
- U.S. Border Patrol agents stopped migrants entering the country unlawfully nearly 202,000 times along the southern border in April, a 4% drop from March, new government figures show. While it is a slight decrease from the 209,906 Border Patrol apprehensions recorded in March, April's tally shows that migrant arrests along the border with Mexico remained at a 22-year high, according to historical agency data. Moreover, the number of asylum-seekers processed by U.S. officials at ports of entry increased sharply in April, driven in part by record arrivals of Ukrainian refugees to the Tijuana-San Diego border. The Office of Field Operations, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency that oversees the country's ports of entry, processed more than 30,000 migrants in April, including 22,257 near San Diego, a 234% spike from March, according to government data provided to a federal court this week. Until April 25, U.S. border officials were admitting hundreds of Ukrainians per day in San Diego, exempting them from pandemic restrictions that have blocked other migrants from seeking asylum. In two months following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, U.S. border officials processed more than 20,000 Ukrainians, according to government data. That Office of Field Operations tally brought the total number of migrant encounters in April to 234,088, a nearly 6% increase from March. Nearly 97,000 of the migrant encounters in April led to expulsions under Title 42, the pandemic-era rules that allow U.S. border officials to rapidly expel migrants to Mexico or their home countries without processing their asylum claims.
- News Article Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-border-patrol-apprehensions-dip-april-but-still-22-year-high/
On Immigration, Advocates Say A 'Shadow Trump Administration' Is Tying Biden's Hands
By Joel Rose, NPR, May 13, 2022
- When lawyers for Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri went to court to challenge the Biden administration's plan to lift the pandemic border restrictions known as Title 42, they didn't file the lawsuit near the border, or in a state capital. They brought their case to the Western District of Louisiana, where it was very likely to be assigned to a judge appointed by former President Trump. That helps explain why U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays heard oral arguments in a courthouse in Lafayette, Louisiana, more than 500 miles from the border.
- President Biden has struggled to end a number of hardline immigration restrictions held over from the Trump administration, in large part because Republican-led states have gone to court to keep those policies in place. The states argue that lifting border restrictions will lead to increased health care and other costs.
- "To date, these states have brought no less than 17 lawsuits challenging President Biden's immigration moves," said Karen Tumlin, the founder and director of the Justice Action Center, on a call this week with reporters. In effect, these states are using the courts to "keep a shadow Trump administration in office on immigration issues," she said.
- More than 20 states have joined the lawsuit seeking to block the Biden administration from ending Title 42 later this month, arguing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not go about terminating the public health order properly. Title 42 was put in place by the CDC in March of 2020 to stop the spread of COVID-19. That unprecedented move allows immigration authorities to quickly expel migrants at the southern border to Mexico or their home countries, without giving them a chance to seek asylum under U.S. law. With COVID vaccines now widely available, the CDC says Title 42 is no longer necessary to protect public health and has ordered the policy to end on May 23. But more than 20 states have joined a lawsuit seeking to block that from happening.
- Judge Summerhays has already signed a temporary restraining order preventing the Biden administration from beginning to wind down the policy before May 23rd. In a status conference last month, Summerhays signaled that he is likely to side with the states on their claim that the CDC did not act properly when it moved to terminate Title 42. "I find that the plaintiff states have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits with respect to, at a minimum, their claim that the April 1 termination order was not issued in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act," Summerhays said, according to a transcript. In their lawsuit, the states challenging the termination order claim the Biden administration failed to account for the potential costs of lifting Title 42, including increased health care costs for the states.
- So far, the states challenging Biden's immigration policies have won some key victories. A federal judge in Texas, who was also appointed by Trump, blocked President Biden's 100-day moratorium on deportations. Another Trump appointee in Texas ordered the administration to restart the so-called "Remain In Mexico" program, the Trump-era policy that forced migrants to wait in dangerous border towns for their immigration court hearings. In the case before Judge Summerhays in Louisiana, the states are seeking a preliminary injunction that would block the Biden administration from ending Title 42. Summerhays said he would rule before Title 42 restrictions are scheduled to end on May 23rd. If Judge Summerhays grants that request as expected, the Biden administration could appeal. But the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which takes cases from both Louisiana and Texas, has not been friendly to the Biden administration.
- News Article Source: https://www.npr.org/2022/05/13/1098538697/on-immigration-advocates-say-a-shadow-trump-administration-is-tying-bidens-hands
U.S. Border Patrol Apprehensions Dropped Slightly In April, But Remained At 22-Year High
By Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, May 17, 2022
- U.S. Border Patrol agents stopped migrants entering the country unlawfully nearly 202,000 times along the southern border in April, a 4% drop from March, new government figures show. The Office of Field Operations, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency that oversees the country's ports of entry, processed more than 30,000 migrants in April, including 22,257 near San Diego, a 234% spike from March, according to government data provided to a federal court. Nearly 97,000 of the migrant encounters in April led to expulsions under Title 42, the pandemic-era rules that allow U.S. border officials to rapidly expel migrants to Mexico or their home countries without processing their asylum claims. In early April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would stop authorizing Title 42, a public health law first invoked by the Trump administration. Citing improving pandemic conditions, the CDC said it would end the policy on May 23. Since it was first instituted by the Trump administration in March 2020, Title 42 has allowed U.S. officials along the Mexican border to carry out over 1.9 million expulsions of migrants, the CBP data. U.S. border agents have stopped migrants over 1 million times in fiscal year 2022, which started in October, putting that tally on track to exceed the record 1.7 million migrant apprehensions reported in fiscal year 2021, CBP data show.
- News Article Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-border-patrol-apprehensions-dip-april-but-still-22-year-high/
Judge Says CDC Can't End The Title 42 Rule That Allows For Quick Expulsion Of Migrants
By Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, May 20, 2022
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot move forward with a plan to discontinue pandemic-related emergency rules that allow U.S. border agents to rapidly expel migrants to Mexico or their home countries on public health grounds, a federal judge in Louisiana ruled Friday, May 20.
- Judge Robert Summerhays of the U.S. District Court in Lafayette, Louisiana, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Biden administration from ending the restrictions, known as Title 42, on May 23, when the CDC had planned to stop authorizing the border expulsions. Agreeing with arguments presented by attorneys general who sued the Biden administration, Summerhays, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said the CDC had improperly terminated Title 42, a public health authority enacted during World War II. In his 47-page ruling, Summerhays said the CDC should have allowed the public to comment on Title 42's termination before finalizing it. "Simply put, the CDC has not explained how the present circumstances prevented the CDC from issuing the Termination Order through the required notice and comment process," he wrote.
- If upheld, Summerhays' ruling will require the CDC to continue authorizing the border expulsions for some time, since the notice-and-comment process for federal regulations typically takes months to complete. In a statement Friday, May 20, the Justice Department announced it planned to appeal Summerhays' ruling, saying the CDC's decision to end Title 42 was a "lawful exercise" of its authority. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invoked its authority under Title 42 due to the unprecedented public-health dangers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," the Justice Department said. "CDC has now determined, in its expert opinion, that continued reliance on this authority is no longer warranted in light of the current public-health circumstances."
- White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the "authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court," but noted that U.S. border officials would continue the expulsions to comply with the ruling. Officials will also continue to prepare for the "eventual lifting" of Title 42, Jean-Pierre added. Before his ruling on Friday, Summerhays had already issued a temporary restraining order barring the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from starting to phase out Title 42 before the May 23 termination date. Friday's (May 20) ruling is a victory for more than 20 states led by attorneys general in Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri who filed the lawsuit challenging the CDC's decision to terminate Title 42. The coalition of states argued that an expected increase in the number of migrants being released from U.S. border custody upon Title 42 being halted would harm them financially, citing educational and other social services costs. U.S. border agents have stopped migrants 1.3 million times in fiscal year 2022, which started in October, putting that tally on track to exceed the record 1.7 million migrant apprehensions reported in fiscal year 2021, CBP data show.
- News Article Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/title-42-migrant-expulsion-covid-19-to-stay-in-place-judge-rules/
U.S. To Begin Allowing Migrants To Apply For Asylum Under A New System
By Eileen Sullivan, The New York Times, May 26, 2022
- The Biden administration will begin to allow certain migrants to ask for asylum as they arrive at the southwestern border at the end of the month. The new process, intended to deliver a decision within months instead of the years it currently takes via the immigration court system, will apply to a “few hundred” migrants a month, administration officials said. “Individuals who qualify for asylum will receive protection more swiftly, and those who are not eligible will be promptly removed rather than remaining in the U.S. for years while their cases are pending,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said in a statement.
- Of the more than 700,000 people released into the United States since Mr. Biden has been in office, most will be added to backlog of more than 1.7 million cases in the immigration court system. Outside of the few hundred asylum cases a month that will employ the new application process, the rest will continue to wend their way through the traditional process in the immigration courts.
- The migrants selected to be routed using the new process will come from a very specific subset: migrants who are placed in a special category that gives immigration officials the authority to expel people without a hearing, known as expedited removal; are being held in one of two immigration detention centers in Texas; and have plans to move to Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark or San Francisco, the administration said.
- Under the expedited removal process, border officials ask migrants if they are afraid to return to their own countries. Those who say they are get scheduled for what is known as a credible fear interview with an asylum officer. Under the traditional system, migrants who pass those interviews join many others waiting in the United States, often for years, to appear before an immigration judge and officially apply for asylum. But under the new plan, migrants who pass the initial screening will then make their case to an asylum officer. In April, 6,383 migrants were placed in expedited removal proceedings, according to federal data. That is just 2 percent of the total apprehensions at the border that month.
- News Article Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/26/us/politics/asylum-system.html
- For more information, go to: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2022/05/26/fact-sheet-implementation-credible-fear-and-asylum-processing-interim-final-rule
The Fear Of Deportation Only Makes The Uvalde Trauma Worse
By Isabela Dias, Mother Jones, May 26, 2022
- Hours after yet another mass shooting killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, desperate parents were still trying to find out if their kids were dead or alive. They were asked to provide DNA samples to help with the identification of the victims as reporters at the scene described the sound of “agonized screams” from families who had just learned the worst possible news.
- In a community like Uvalde, about 85 miles west of San Antonio and not far from the border with Mexico, the unfathomable grief and trauma might be further complicated by the fear of immigration enforcement. The immigration status of the victims and families continues to be rightfully undisclosed, but the school district’s population is 90 percent Hispanic, leading to concerns by immigrant rights advocates that the presence of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents might further traumatize relatives in mixed-status families seeking information from authorities and trying to reunite with their children.
- Agents with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the branch of DHS that operates within a 100-mile border zone, were among the first law enforcement to respond to the shooting. That isn’t surprising considering that Uvalde is a heavily militarized area of South Texas and many agents reside in the area and some had children in the school. Roughly 80 border patrol agents, some of whom were off duty, were present at the scene.
- Among them were members of the SWAT-like elite team known as BORTAC, or Border Patrol Tactical Unit, who reportedly shot the 18-year-old gunmen. That’s the same unit that Donald Trump deployed to Portland as part of a violent crackdown on racial justice protests in the summer of 2020 that the city’s mayor Ted Wheeler characterized as “urban warfare.”
- At the time, a former CBP agent told the Guardian that, in her experience, BORTAC were among “the most violent and racist in all law enforcement.” Border patrol agents may have prevented the shooter from continuing to carry out a massacre on Tuesday, but there’s no denying their presence could be triggering for people in the community. “The same officer involved in deportation of your family member could now be telling you your child has died…this is what systemic trauma looks like,” Thania Galvan, an incoming assistant professor at the University of Georgia’s Department of Psychology tweeted.
- News Article Source: https://www.motherjones.com/mojo-wire/2022/05/the-fear-of-deportation-only-makes-the-uvalde-trauma-worse/