Immigration News: May 24, 2022

A federal judge ordered last week that the Title 42 bar must remain in effect. That leaves tens of thousands of asylum seekers in dangerous situations in Mexico. The order will not stop others from trying to cross to safety. 

Discrimination under Title 42? It’s a feature, not a bug. Mexico agrees to take back its own nationals, as well as those from Central America. Some others, notably Haitians, are expelled and flown back to Haiti without being allowed to apply for asylum. But some countries—notably Cuba and Venezuela—refuse to accept return flights, and that means their nationals can apply for asylum.

In the United States, fear triumphs over logic and science, with most people saying they support continuance of the Title 42 bar to asylum seekers and other migrants. 

[Border Report] “‘It is a bad decision, of course, but we were expecting it. The signs were there. It’s a political decision that violates the rights of individuals seeking refuge and will send people straight to criminal organizations that will put their lives in danger,’ said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights.

“Garcia believes migrants will continue to come in great numbers because the violence, poverty and corruption that drove them out of their countries are still rampant. Those conditions must be addressed. In the meantime, the U.S. government must honor its laws and treaty obligations and give asylum seekers due process, he said.

“Former U.S. Border Patrol Tucson and El Paso Sector Chief Victor M. Manjarrez Jr. agrees that Title 42 won’t deter illegal immigration.

“’I don’t think it’s going to reduce anything,’ Manjarrez said regarding the 234,000 encounters border agents and federal officials at ports of entry reported in April. ‘I think we will continue to experience a high level of activity all across the border and the struggle to come up with sufficient resources by both the Department of Homeland Security and the non-governmental organizations.’”

[Reuters] “Tens of thousands of migrants have been waiting in Mexico, often for months, for the end of the policy. The CDC had said vaccines and other tools made it no longer necessary to help control the spread of COVID-19 in crowded border facilities.

“‘The border is totally saturated,’ said Hector Silva, the shelter’s pastor.

“He estimated that some 6,000 migrant families were living on the streets of the violent city [Reynosa], at risk of extortion, kidnapping, and sexual violence by gangs and organized crime groups.” 

[NBC] “As the sun set over the Rio Grande, about 120 Cubans, Colombians and Venezuelans who waded through waist-deep water stepped into Border Patrol vehicles, soon to be released in the United States to pursue their immigration cases.

“Across the border in the Mexican town of Piedras Negras, Honduran families banded together in a section of downtown with cracked sidewalks, narrow streets and few people, unsure where to spend the night because city’s only shelter was full….

“Hondurans were stopped nearly 16,000 times on the border in April, with slightly more than half resulting in expulsion under Title 42. The rest could seek asylum in the U.S. if they expressed fear of returning home.

“But Cubans fared far better. They were stopped more than 35,000 times in April, and only 451, or barely 1%, were processed under Title 42.”  

[Politico] “The majority of Americans oppose the Biden administration’s decision to end a public health order used to expel migrants at the U.S. border, according to a new POLITICO-Harvard survey, underscoring how a law designed to stop the spread of disease is now widely seen as the best way to control immigration. …

“The fact that so many Americans also support using a public health measure to stop immigration unrelated to the pandemic is ultimately a reflection of lawmakers’ failure to make progress on immigration reform, said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis, emeritus, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. …

“Immigration advocates say the use of the order to expel migrants is illegal, denying people who are fleeing persecution or torture the right to seek asylum in the U.S., as is guaranteed under international humanitarian law. More than 10,200 people who have been expelled to Mexico under the law have been kidnapped, raped, tortured or violently attacked, according to Human Rights First.” 

Asylum seekers trying to find safety for their children take a long and often dangerous journey to the United States. Then they and their children are expelled under Title 42. What comes next? For thousands of parents, the tough decision is to send the children back alone, so that as unaccompanied minors they will find safety in the United States. 

[CBS] “Over a 12-month span beginning in October 2020, U.S. Border Patrol agents processed 12,212 unaccompanied migrant minors who had been previously expelled under Title 42, according to internal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

“The statistic provides a glimpse into one of the unintended consequences of the Title 42 policy: migrant parents opting to “self-separate” from their children to allow them to enter the U.S. as unaccompanied minors, who have not been subject to the pandemic-era border expulsions since November 2020. …

“‘Expelling families under Title 42 has forced parents to make the unbearable choice of keeping their children with them in danger or sending them alone to safety in the United States. No family should have to make that decision,’ said Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney challenging the expulsions in court.” 

And in other news

The worldwide number of forcibly displaced people has passed 100 million.

[The Guardian] “The UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, said the grim new statistic should act as a wake-up call for the international community and that more action is needed internationally to address the root causes of forced displacement around the world.

“Officials said that the number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution had risen to an unprecedented level due to the war in Ukraine along with other deadly conflicts. …

“The three countries hosting the most displaced people were Turkey with 3,696,800, Colombia with 1,743,900 and Uganda with 1,475,300.”

ICE use of smartphones to surveil immigrants has ballooned over the past few years, and agency requests for funding project continuing growth. The technology collects masses of biometric, facial recognition, and location data, all of it held by the private, for-profit contractor that runs the program. 

[iNews] “Immigration authorities’ use of SmartLINK, which began in 2018, has exploded in the past year alongside concerns that the program could be surreptitiously collecting, sharing and monetizing data about its users.  … 

“ICE’s latest five-year contract with BI Incorporated, a subsidiary of the private prison company Geo Group, topped $2.2 billion to operate the SmartLink program, plus ankle bracelet monitoring and telephonic reporting.  

“Critics also accused ICE of forcing individuals onto SmartLINK who normally would not be subject to supervision after being released from custody. …

“Immigrant and privacy advocates foresee alarming consequences in ICE’s expanding surveillance network. They say ICE is using SmartLINK to collect sensitive data about individuals, and their networks, without providing details on what information exactly is collected and who it could be shared with.” 

Karine Jean-Pierre, the new White House press secretary is Black, gay, and an immigrant—all firsts!

[New York Times] “Ms. Jean-Pierre was born in the Caribbean to Haitian parents, who lived paycheck to paycheck after immigrating to New York City. Her conservative Catholic family, she has written, carried “so many secrets, so much unexpressed pain.” …

“She grounded herself in political advocacy work, rising from meeting with constituents in Far Rockaway, Queens, to a job in the Obama White House. …

“Ms. Jean-Pierre worked briefly as Kamala Harris’s chief of staff during the 2020 campaign, once fending off an interloper who accosted Ms. Harris onstage. She became Mr. Biden’s principal deputy press secretary when he took office.” 

As anti-Asian racism and attacks escalate across the country, activists are pushing to include Asian American and Pacific Islander history in K-12 curriculum.

[Washington Post] “To head off future attacks, activists want Americans to learn about turning points in AAPI history, such as how Chinese migrants built the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s, what led to the Japanese internment in the 1940s, how Hmong refugees fled war torn Laos in 1975, and how discrimination and violence against the Sikh community followed 9/11. …

“Yet as activists push for more education, they feel the pressure of another movement, too. More than 100 state-level bills have also been introduced to restrict the teaching of diversity since the beginning of the year, according to Asian Americans Advancing Justice. These include measures that bar culturally responsive lessons and critical race theory, a catchall term used on the right to encompass lessons on race and racism. …

“Advocates say the current teaching about the AAPI community is radically insufficient. Eighteen states included zero content on Asians in their K-12 history curriculum standards, according to a national survey released in January by Sohyun An, a professor of elementary and early childhood education at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.” 

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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