Friday immigration news: on the border and in DC.
Your family is sent back to dangerous conditions in Mexico to wait—indefinitely—until the United States decides to consider asylum applications again. Sending them across the border alone is a risk. So is keeping them with you in Mexico, targeted by gangs that prey on migrants, in danger of kidnapping, rape, beatings. What do you do? (CBS News)
“Between January 20 and April 5, Border Patrol agents came across at least 2,121 unaccompanied migrant children who had been previously expelled under the public health law known as Title 42 when they tried to cross with their families.
“While most single adults and some families arriving at the southwest border are turned away under Title 42 without being able to apply for asylum, the Biden administration made an exception for unaccompanied children, who are being transferred to the Department Health and Human Services (HHS), as required by anti-trafficking law.”
An unsafe and unsanitary refugee camp has formed in the past few months. The tent and tarp city is threatened by gangs. The camp has no official sanction or support. (Reuters)
“A red pickup truck pulls up next to a migrant tent encampment in the Mexican city of Tijuana, its bed filled with loaves of bread and clothes. Men, women and children run to meet it….
“Food can be scarce in the encampment, and the line stretches back down the road, past dozens of tents and dirty portable restrooms.
“Right up against the popular pedestrian crossing from Mexico to the United States at El Chaparral, a refugee camp has mushroomed in recent months, filled with asylum seekers desperate to cross the still-closed U.S.-Mexico border.”
The New Yorker gets up close and personal with both immigrants and Border Patrol agents near Roma, Texas.
“After the first raft set off from the bank, the rise and fall of its oars were barely audible. In a matter of seconds, a group of twenty people, some carrying newborns, made it to the American shore. As they forced their way through the brush, they reached the small clearing where I stood. They asked, ‘¿Por dónde nos vamos?’ (“Where do we go?”)
“Within minutes, another raft reached the American side. ‘I’ve got two pregnant women and one child,’ the coyote, or smuggler, said, as he stepped off the boat to pull it as close as possible to the bank. A Guatemalan woman in her ninth month of pregnancy was the first to disembark. She wrapped her right hand around her belly and held onto the raft with her left. A woman from Ecuador named María, who was eight months pregnant, followed her. She told me that she had come with her two-year-old son, Dani, who suffered from stomach cancer. In silence, the woman from Guatemala set out on one of the dirt roads. ‘Only God knows what I have had to go through,’ she said, with weary eyes.”
So what’s to be done?
One small but important step: The Biden administration is scrapping a Trump proposal to vastly expand collection of biometrics from immigrants and their family members. (BuzzFeed News)
“US Citizenship and Immigration Services officers generally only require fingerprints, a signature, and a picture from foreign national adults and those over 14 hoping to obtain certain immigration benefits, like temporary visas, green cards, and citizenship. The regulation, however, was set to change the procedure to make it so everyone associated with an immigration benefit, from US citizen sponsors to applicants themselves, would be required to appear for biometrics collection unless told otherwise by USCIS.
“There also would have been no age limit, allowing the government to obtain biometrics from those under 14.
“What’s more, DHS planned to expand the types of biometrics that could be collected to include eye iris image scans, palm prints, voiceprints, and DNA in instances in which familial relationship is necessary to be verified.”
Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent describes progress in handling the influx of unaccompanied children at the border and says Republicans may lose their biggest attack point on the Biden administration.
“So what happens if the Biden administration manages to get the situation more under control — not to the point of solving the problem, which is immense and will bedevil us for years, but rather to a point where the public perceives it to be getting managed within reasonable parameters, given how challenging it is?
“Some new numbers on the border, which administration officials offered on a conference call with reporters, suggest this possibility. There’s also some bad news: Officials still were cagey on when they’ll be lifting certain Trump policies that remain in place….
“Politically speaking, GOP attacks on this issue will hit a serious snag if the Biden administration continues getting the problem in hand in the short term. But the ultimate perversity is that Republicans won’t join in solving the larger problem precisely because they’ll be betting on profiting politically from the cyclical aspect of it returning during the midterm elections next year.”
“If you don’t like my plan, let’s at least pass what we all agree on,” President Biden told Congress last week. NPR looks at what immigration advocates say about this willingness to compromise.
“Some like [Gema Lowe, an undocumented organizer with the group Movimiento Cosecha] saw it as Biden giving up on protections for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, but Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum saw it as recognizing the realities of current Washington politics.
“‘The balancing act here is between the art of what is necessary and the art of what is possible,’ Noorani said.”
No matter how you slice and dice the news and responsibility for solutions, immigration is a top-line issue now and for the future of the country. Census figures show that the United States needs immigrants, reports Vox. U.S. population growth has slowed to the lowest rate since the 1930s.
“Some parts of the US are already beginning to experience some of the downsides of population slowdown or decline: Shrinking tax bases in rural areas have made it harder for government budgets to support essential services, such as infrastructure and public schools. As population growth slows, the pressure for cuts will likely grow. Meanwhile, the existing population will continue to age; by 2030, the Census Bureau estimates that one in five US residents will be of retirement age….
“Immigration is a much more reliable driver of population growth. The average age of newly arriving immigrants is 31, which is more than seven years younger than the median American, meaning that they could help replace an aging workforce. They are also more entrepreneurial, which encourages economic dynamism, and more likely to work in essential industries, such as health care, transportation, construction, agriculture, and food processing….
“Immigrants in the US already have a higher employment rate and labor participation rate than native-born citizens, and immigrant children tend to perform at or above the educational level of comparable US-born children.”
The Washington Post also weighs in on declining U.S. births, slowing growth rate, and aging population.