Immigration News: January 20, 2022

Four migrants from India, including a baby, died trying to cross from Canada to the United States this week. Add those deaths to the uncounted numbers of immigrants and asylum seekers suffering and dying on the southern border. Despite the undeniable consequences, the Biden administration continues to bar entry to asylum seekers. 

A Florida man was arrested and charged with human smuggling in northern Minnesota after four people died. 

[Star Tribune] “Shand was arrested Wednesday as he drove through a howling storm on a dirt road in remote northwestern Minnesota in a 15-passenger van that he rented at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“Authorities said Shand was planning to pick up 11 Indian nationals attempting to enter the United States illegally after walking across the border in subzero temperatures from Canada into Kittson County.

“Two of the unauthorized immigrants were in the van with Shand when he was arrested about 7 miles northeast of St. Vincent, Minn., according to the complaint. Five others were taken into custody about a quarter-mile south of the border as they walked toward their meeting place.

“Four others — a man, a woman, a teenage boy and the baby — died after becoming separated from the group during a night when the temperature hit 10 degrees below and windchills were likely at least 30 below.”

Migrants expelled from the United States fill makeshift, dangerous camps near the border in Mexico. Dolores and her teenage daughter ended up in the camps after fleeing gang violence and threats in El Salvador. 

[The New Yorker] “Dolores was unaware that northeastern Mexico was one of the country’s most dangerous regions—it was her first time travelling outside El Salvador. But that reality quickly became apparent to her and Rosalba. Barely two months before their arrival in Reynosa, in what appeared to be a dispute among rival members of a local cartel, some hundred and eighty shots were fired in broad daylight, killing fifteen civilians. A shoot-out between armed criminals and special security forces followed within days. Kidnappings were recurrent at the camp. Men preyed on young girls, promising to give them food if they followed them to an adjacent street. A local N.G.O. has recorded at least twenty instances of rape in recent months.

“At night, with no electricity, Dolores kept a metal rod beneath her mattress. Her neighbor had gone missing. ‘Only God knows what they did to him,’ she said. Dolores had also heard of a woman who arrived at dusk after journeying through the desert, only to be woken by a stranger’s groping hand. The stories kept her and Rosalba up at night. ‘She refused to eat,’ Dolores said, of her daughter. In November, she considered having Rosalba cross the river on her own, hoping that she would be reunited with her father. Rumors that unaccompanied minors were not being sent back to Reynosa had spread around the camp. Some families who could still afford a smuggler were sending children across the border alone as a last resort. ‘She was detained by Border Patrol, but, thank God, she is already there,’ Dolores said, with mixed relief.”

Casa del Migrante, a safe shelter in Juarez, Mexico, has temporarily closed its doors because it has 400 residents and no room to take in more people. 

[Border Report] “Shelter officials want to prevent overcrowding to stem a possible COVID-19 outbreak as well. Staff encourages social distancing, frequent hand-washing and the use of sanitizing gel, and conducts temperature checks.

“Many of Juarez’s 20 or so migrant shelters are near capacity due to the increased arrival to Juarez in the past six months of Mexicans and foreign citizens who’re either trying to cross into the United States or come looking for work, said Enrique Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua Population Council.”

Meanwhile, in a court hearing this week, the Biden administration continued defending its the Trump-era policies that bar entry to asylum seekers. 

[CBS] “First enacted in March 2020, the Biden administration extended Title 42 indefinitely last summer. Under President Biden, the government has carried out over 1 million expulsions citing the authority, which had previously only been invoked in a limited fashion in 1929. The Trump administration carried out 400,000 expulsions….

“The case stems from an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit arguing Title 42 violates several laws, including those that allow migrants to seek U.S. refuge. “

And in other news

In San Francisco, the immigration court decided to fast-track deportation orders for immigrants whose notice to appear in court never reached them. Under the confusing U.S. immigration system, many immigrants believe that if they notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of a change of address, they have done all that is necessary. That’s not the case, because ICE does not pass on address changes to immigration court. 

[San Francisco Chronicle] “The newly uncovered emails reveal that the fast-track docket for immigrants with returned mail, which was first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle last fall, was cheered at the highest levels of the courts and pursued with full awareness that scores of immigrants would likely be ordered deported as a result.

“Advocates and attorneys for immigrants raised concerns about the practice as a sort of deportation conveyor belt last year, as many of the lawyer-less immigrants may have no idea they missed a court hearing, much less that they were ordered deported during it, because they didn’t know how to update their address with the court or thought that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would do so on their behalf.”

A major new report from the Pew Research Center looks at the Black immigrant population in the United States, which is  growing, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the Black population. Caribbean immigrants are currently the largest group of Black immigrants, but African immigrants are the fastest-growing group. 

[Pew Research Center] “Roughly 4.6 million, or one-in-ten, Black people in the U.S. were born in a different country as of 2019, up from 3% in 1980. …

“Between 1980 and 2019, the nation’s Black population as a whole grew by 20 million, with the Black foreign-born population accounting for 19% of this growth….

“At the same time, a notable share of Black Americans today are the offspring of immigrants. Roughly 9% of Black people are second-generation Americans – meaning they were born in the U.S., but have at least one foreign-born parent, according to a Center analysis of the March supplement of the Census Bureau’s 2019 Current Population Survey. In total, Black immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 21% of the overall Black population.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star” is a propaganda move targeting both immigrants and President Joe Biden. Thousands of National Guard members are paying a high price for his political crusade, including substandard housing conditions, delayed or missing pay, and four recent suicides.

[New York Times] “​​But many ordered to the border have complained of poor planning, pay problems and a lack of basic equipment, like winter gear for the cold or stethoscopes for medics. There have been Covid outbreaks on hastily created bases, where dozens of soldiers crowd together in mobile quarters so tight that commanders call them ‘submarine trailers.’

“Hundreds sought waivers, because of the mission’s uncertain length and the disruptions it would create for their families, and were denied. In some cases, arrest warrants were issued for those who failed to report for duty….

““All we’re doing is standing down here,’ said one active member whose job is to operate a fixed post near Brownsville. ‘We don’t even have the equipment to detain anyone, cuffs or anything like that.’ Like others currently serving, he requested anonymity to avoid possible discipline for speaking out.

He added: ‘If someone comes up, we ask them to stop and wait, we call Border Patrol. If someone runs, we call Border Patrol. We’re basically mall cops on the border.’”

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,, 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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