Both northern and southern borders are in the news today. On the southern border, migrants are now being expelled to the most dangerous border area in Mexico. And the deaths of four Indian immigrants on the Minnesota-Canada border continues to focus attention on the northern border.
The continuing re-implementation of Trump’s Remain-in-Mexico program will now send asylum seekers back to one of the most dangerous regions in Mexico.
[CBS] “Under the latest expansion, migrants enrolled in the program will be processed in Brownsville, Texas, and returned to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, a region in Mexico the U.S. State Department advises Americans not to visit because of cartel violence and the risk of being kidnapped….
“Before this week’s expansion, the court-ordered implementation of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, had been limited to El Paso and San Diego.
“As of Friday, 337 migrants had been returned to Mexico through these cities to await their hearings outside the U.S., according to a spokesperson for the United Nations migration agency, which is transporting asylum-seekers to local shelters. …
“A DHS report released last week shows that over 90% of the migrants enrolled in the program last month expressed fear of being persecuted or tortured in Mexico. Only 12% passed interviews with U.S. asylum officers.”
What happened to exceptions for exigent circumstances and medical emergencies? Humanitarian parole is the legal avenue to help migrants in such circumstances, but there are no rules about when it is granted, just the discretion of the Border Patrol officer reviewing the request.
[BuzzFeed] “A child with a blood clot in her brain. A 7-year-old with a skin condition that threatened her organs. A couple who faced anti-gay threats back home. Every time, US border officials ignored or denied their requests for humanitarian parole without explanation, forcing the immigrants to wait in squalid, dangerous conditions in Mexico.
“For months, attorneys in Nogales, Arizona, located along the US–Mexico border, have been waiting to hear back on the fate of their asylum-seeking clients who are particularly vulnerable to violence or need medical care they can’t get in Mexico….
“’It should not take a call to a congressperson for a child with blood clots in the brain or [a] tangled spinal cord to be considered urgent humanitarian circumstances and therefore allowed into the US,’ [immigration attorney Chelsea] Sachau said.”
On the Northern Border
David Marcus, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol in the Grand Forks sector, said that arrests of people crossing the northern border do not change much with the seasons. Numbers of crossings are small: there there were 461 arrests in this northern border sector in fiscal year 2018, 412 arrests in fiscal year 2019, and 227 arrests in fiscal year 2020. The Florida man who was involved in transporting the immigrants has been arrested.
[Brainerd Dispatch] “Shand is charged with human smuggling, not human trafficking, as the two crimes are different, but Vena Iyer, the executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, said they can quickly become one and the same should the smuggler turn on the people they are escorting into the country.
“’It’s a very blurry line between the two because oftentimes it may seem like it’s smuggling, (but) it becomes trafficking, and that can happen very quickly,’ she said….
“Human trafficking occurs when a person is forcibly brought into the country and then exploited either for their labor or for sexual purposes. Smuggling happens when a person is brought into the country illegally, then not forced to work. But on those dangerous journeys, things can change, and the smuggler can become the trafficker….
“Whether smuggled or trafficked into the country, people often end up in the fringes of society, living in shadow or even in plain sight, Iyer said. People who enter the country illegally with the intention to stay have very few legal options. They can apply for asylum, if they can demonstrate they fled persecution in their home country. A family member already in the country legally may also be able to sponsor a visa application, she said. Mostly, they just end up working and raising their families without a pathway to a legal status.”
In another report, totally from the perspective of the Border Patrol, other agents told the Star Tribune that winter is “prime time” for northern border crossings:
CBC offers a Canadian point of view, including voices of Indian immigrants living in Canada.
The Indian immigrants are among very few undocumented migrants who cross into Minnesota from Canada. Most northern border crossings go in the opposite direction, with people crossing from the United States into Canada.
[MinnPost] “Of the 916 Border Patrol encounters [on the U.S.-Canadian border] last year, 90 were within the jurisdiction of the Grand Forks Border Patrol sector, which includes 861 miles of border, more than half of it water, crossing Minnesota and North Dakota. Thirty-two of the encounters were in Minnesota. …
“And migration across the U.S.-Canada border goes both ways. In fact, far more people were coming from the U.S. into Canada during the Trump administration, particularly with the former president’s rhetoric around immigration, said Emily Gilbert, a professor who specializes in citizenship and borders at the University of Toronto.”
And in other news
Thousands of immigration applications are stalled because of information literally buried in a cave.
[Wall Street Journal] “Finally, earlier this month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offered Ms. Went an explanation: The paperwork it needed to complete her application was stuck in one of several government storage facilities known as Federal Records Centers. Those centers, miles-long networks of man-made limestone caves built beneath the Kansas City metro area, were largely closed due to Covid-19 and had no immediate plans to reopen.
“Without that paperwork, which contains Ms. Went’s complete immigration history since she moved to the U.S. from Barbados in 2011, the citizenship agency can’t approve her application.
“The government, she said, told her there was no solution. ‘They don’t want to open the office to go and get it,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t make any sense.’”
Despite President Biden’s repeated statements that no new border wall will be built, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is proceeding with plans for another 86 miles in the Rio Grande Valley.
[Rio Grande Valley News] “The proposal includes an up to 150-foot wide enforcement zone and an up to 50-foot wide maintenance road which would include the clearing of vegetation, which environmentalists here have long complained about in existing projects arguing this is detrimental to the Rio Grande Valley’s diverse ecosystem.
“CBP also proposes lighting in the enforcement zone; the construction of remote surveillance towers, gates in the barrier; cameras attached to light poles; shelters to house equipment for cameras; and creating a concrete levee built into the face of the existing earthen levee.
“Lastly, the proposal includes erosion control and drainage and the construction of access roads.”
Death along the border: an everyday occurrence, rarely noted in the news. At least 650 people died trying to cross the southern border in 2021. Among the latest victims:
“[Reuters] The body of a girl thought to be Venezuelan was found in the waters of the Rio Grande river between Mexico and United States, officials said on Tuesday, the latest instance in which a migrant has died while trying to reach the United States.”
A New York couple is being prosecuted for their anti-immigrant rants and threats at a family on a subway.
[MSNBC] “Liz Edelkind was with her 10-year-old son, husband and two others, on their way home from a New York Knicks game held at Madison Square Garden, NBC New York reported. They were looking for seats on the train together and asked some passengers to move to accommodate them when Likerman and Digesaro allegedly started to yell. Edelkind told the outlet she believes they were targeted due to her accent and skin color.
“According to the complaint, Digesaro said, “You f——— immigrants, you have no rights in this country. You have no right to ask anyone to move. You don’t even pay taxes.”
“Likerman also allegedly said: “F——— foreigners. You take all our resources,” according to the complaint.
“Likerman was observed holding a beer can in his hand and threw beer from the can in the direction of the family, the complaint stated.”