Good News, Bad News for Friday

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Good news! Trump extended Liberian Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for one more year, giving breathing space to Liberians who faced becoming deportable at midnight on Sunday because of his previous order. Why did he back down? Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, one of the state attorneys general supporting a lawsuit against the 2018 Trump order, had an answer:

“The Trump administration looked at the case against them and realized they were probably going to lose the motion for a preliminary injunction in court this afternoon,” Ellison said Thursday, “so they did what they should have done in the first place.”

“At the same time, Ellison said he understands the temporary nature of the extension. “It’s a win only for today,” he said. “Only comprehensive immigration reform that includes a permanent status and a pathway to citizenship for people who have fled dangerous conditions in their home countries will fix this problem.

“Making people ride this roller-coaster year after year is inhumane, hurts families, and wreaks havoc on our economy and communities. It’s no way for any Minnesotan to live.”

While Liberians with DED and their allies can breathe a sigh of relief and take time to celebrate the one-year reprieve, the rest of the day’s immigration news featured the usual doom and gloom.

Customs and Border Protection insists that there is a huge crisis at the border that can only be stopped by “changing the law,” which will magically stop desperate refugee families from fleeing violence in the Northern Triangle. Through a combination of actions, the administration has intensified the pain and suffering of families seeking asylum. These policies include:

  • “Metering” that severely restricts the number of asylees allowed to make their plea at regular border crossings, thus pushing many to cross at unauthorized points;
  • Abolition of an Obama-era program that allowed some Central  American teens to apply for asylum at U.S. embassies in their home countries;
  • Holding asylum seekers and unauthorized border crossers in prolonged detention rather than releasing them into the United States to await court dates;
  • Holding on to an outdated system designed for border crossers who are single, Mexican males seeking work, rather than making the adjustments needed to deal with today’s reality of  families with children seeking asylum.

The Washington Post reports, mostly from the point of view of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency:

“[U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin] McAleenan said the agency detained more than 4,100 migrants Tuesday, the highest one-day total at the border in more than a decade, and agency projections have border apprehensions on pace to exceed 100,000 this month — an increase of more than 30 percent. By comparison, at the height of the last border crisis, in May 2014, agents apprehended more than 68,800 migrants that month.

“If they don’t have a valid claim, we’ll repatriate,” McAleenan said. “If they do, they’ll be released with the certainty that they have asylum with the ability to plan, to invest in a business, to make these choices for schools. Right now, they don’t have that. They live with uncertainty for years at a time because the system is broken and overwhelmed.”

“CBP officials say they are particularly alarmed by the soaring number of unaccompanied juveniles in crowded detention cells because Health and Human Services can’t place them in shelters fast enough. CBP officials said they have 1,350 underage migrants in holding cells without a parent — and 20 percent are 12 years old or younger….

“Some of the migrants have been seriously ill, including infants with 105-degree fevers, a 2-year-old suffering seizures in the desert, a 19-year-old woman with a congenital heart defect who needs emergency surgery and a 40-year-old man suffering from multiple-organ failure. Others have lice, the flu and chickenpox….

“While McAleenan was emphasizing the need for more resources and legal authority to keep people from the U.S. interior, advocacy groups said the Trump administration should instead treat the migrants as refugees and invest in foreign aid. Migrants are streaming out of Central America for a complex set of reasons — including drought, poverty, violence and political instability — problems that will persist regardless of U.S. border policy.”

Customs and Border Protection has taken extreme measures to hold border crossers in custody, such as holding hundreds underneath a bridge:

“Every day, thousands of people cross the Paso del Norte bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. For the past two days, the small shaded area underneath the bridge has also been busy: hundreds of recently apprehended migrants are now spending hours out in the open behind a chain-link fence and razor wire.

“US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says they are there due to the continued rise of mostly Central American migrants who have to be processed at various ports of entry and have generated a bottleneck.”

Normally, CBP transfers migrants to ICE for further processing and detention or release, but ICE has stopped accepting transfers because its facilities are also full of detainees. Now CBP is releasing migrants directly “into the community.”

“Some of the migrants said they and their children had been held for a week in miserable conditions before they were finally set free with notices to appear in immigration court….

“Local shelters, which are already struggling to take care of large numbers of recently freed families, are preparing for even more.

“Large releases are planned in El Paso, Yuma, Ariz., San Diego and possibly Del Rio, Texas, according to the Border Patrol official.”

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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