Policy Failure at the Border

46792098511_10fb25e51c_zToday’s big news: another wave of mass releases, “the third time since October 2018 that her presence at the border was preceded by a release of migrants in a border community.” The Border Patrol is releasing hundreds of families in the Rio Grande Valley, rather than turning them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)O. The ostensible reason is overcrowding in both Border Patrol and ICE facilities. That’s a problem created by the Trump administration’s insistence on jailing everyone who crosses the border, even when they cross asking for asylum and looking for a Border Patrol officer so they can turn themselves in. Is this a crisis of asylum seekers or a crisis of administration response?

“Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat whose district includes McAllen, criticized the mass release of migrants “without processing, without proper plans for housing and with no course of reasonable action” and questioned the administration’s motives.

“President Trump, Secretary Nielsen, and the entire administration have been presented with the truth — there is no crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border,” he said in the statement. “Their response? Create one.”

Humanitarian aid and church networks are being stretched to the breaking point as they try to provide shelter and assistance to the newly-released asylum seekers.

That’s not the only crisis being created by administration policies. Its “Remain in Mexico” policy of sending asylum seekers back  Tijuana until their court hearings has failed in multiple ways. The first four asylum seekers who were to return for court dates were given the wrong date. One who showed up at the border to go to a hearing was turned away, so that she couldn’t even get to the court. How do you send a notice to an asylum seeker looking for shelter in Mexico?

“Judge Jonathan Simpson asked the attorney how the court would serve notices to migrants in Mexico without home addresses.

“I don’t have the answer,” government attorney Robert Wetteis responded, according to Reuters.

NBC has reported extensively on the failure of the new policy, officially and ironically titled the “Migrant Protection Protocols:

“Asylum cases can take months or years to complete. Previously, asylum seekers with pending cases were allowed to wait them out in the United States….

“[The new policy] has led to dangerous conditions for migrants waiting in Tijuana, Mexico, for the chance to formally request asylum because of violence, crowded encampments and vulnerability to local gangs, NBC News reported.”

In response to the failure of this policy, the Trump administration extended it to El Paso on Wednesday.

While the number of families and asylum seekers has risen sharply, the total numbers of people crossing the border remain far below historic highs of the early 2000s.

In February, the Border Patrol caught 66,450 migrants, a 38% increase from January and one of the highest monthly totals of the last decade. More than half of those arrested were parents and children, and 40% of those were in the Rio Grande Valley.

“The number of families arriving in the Rio Grande Valley sector since October has jumped nearly 210% over the same period in the last fiscal year, according to Customs and Border Protection reports.

“Still, migrant apprehensions are far below levels seen for decades until the mid-2000s, when they reached more than a million per year — mostly adult Mexican men — before falling dramatically….

“Last week, ICE unions sent a scathing letter to Trump calling for Border Patrol to release migrants directly to clear space.

“This week, the Border Patrol began doing just that, with 50 migrants released Tuesday and another 200 released on Wednesday, according to Carols Diaz, a spokesman for the agency.”


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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