Immigration News: August 5, 2022

Texas and Arizona governors bus immigrants to score political points, at the expense of the immigrants and the states where they are sent. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser requested National Guard personnel to assist and use of the armory for shelter. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declined the request. 

[New York Times] “Lever Alejos was out of money and out of options when he arrived in South Texas last month, after an arduous journey from Venezuela that culminated with him crossing the Rio Grande in water up to his chin. The Border Patrol quickly arrested him, and after his release, he was offered a choice: a $50 bus ride to San Antonio, or a free bus ride to Washington, D.C., paid for by the State of Texas.

“’I wanted San Antonio, but I had run out of money,’ said Mr. Alejos, 28, who has no family in the United States. ‘I boarded the bus to Washington.’ …

“With no money and no family to receive them, the migrants are overwhelming immigrant nonprofits and other volunteer groups, with many ending up in homeless shelters or on park benches. Five buses arrived on a recent day, spilling young men and families with nowhere to go into the streets near the Capitol….

“A vast majority of recent bus riders are Venezuelans fleeing their crisis-ridden country, and many have also been arriving in New York, often via Washington. Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, announced emergency measures on Monday to enable the city to quickly build additional shelter capacity. The mayor, also a Democrat, said the city had received 4,000 asylum seekers since May, fueling a 10 percent growth in the homeless population, with about 100 new arrivals each day.”

In addition to the Texas and Arizona governors’ busing migrants to DC, now individual ICE agents are sending migrants to phony addresses in New York, with false promises of help.

[NBC] “As News 4 previously reported, perhaps hundreds of migrants in recent months have been bussed from Texas to New York with paperwork directing them to shelters — except that the paperwork routinely sends them to wrong addresses where they cannot receive services, in some cases leaving families homeless and wandering the streets.

“But this new example is, to some experts, the most egregious yet. Catholic Charities provided News 4 with redacted images of paperwork allegedly given to a migrant by an immigration officer in mid-July, sending that asylum seeker to a New York City address of “111 unknown” with a made-up phone number.

“And in at least two separate places, the officer apparently signed that paperwork with what appears to be a drawing of an emoji — one eye closed, one eye open and the tongue stuck out. According to the organization, the migrant arrived in New York, sought out help from Catholic Charities and presented the document to a senior staffer on their legal team, who immediately photographed the papers.”

And in other news

They were engineers in Mexico, recruited to fill engineering jobs in the United States. But when they arrived, those jobs did not exist. Instead, they were put to work on factory assembly lines. They were recruited for TN or “Temporary NAFTA” visas, a small program with increasing reports of abuse and labor trafficking. 

[Atlanta Journal Constitution] “A mechanical engineer by training, Luis had spent the bulk of his career since his 2012 college graduation working in the auto industry in his native Aguascalientes. He had just accepted a quality engineering role based in West Point, Georgia, and was hopeful the international work experience could unlock even better opportunities down the line.

“But things began falling apart almost as soon as he landed at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, on a cold night in December 2020. A man sent by Luis’ new employer greeted him with a strange revelation: the engineering job he had been hired to do – and which he uprooted his life in Mexico to take – did not exist.

“For the next 11 months, Luis would put in 12-hour shifts on the factory floor of a Georgia auto parts manufacturer, where he carried heavy loads to keep the assembly line fed. …

“During Luis’ first night in the state, he says the housing he’d been promised by Allswell turned out to be a spot on the floor in a house shared with seven other TN workers. …

“Charles Kuck, an immigration attorney and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that if the Mexican engineers’ descriptions are true, their experience in Georgia could amount to human trafficking. In fact one of the engineers has applied for protection under human trafficking laws.

“’It’s just flat out illegal. It’s fraud,’ he said. ‘You can’t bring in production workers under a TN visa…. This is crazy.'”

Court decisions preventing the Biden administration from implementing immigration policies have wide-reaching impact on individual lives, 

[Roll Call] “The undocumented immigrant from Mexico had been living in the U.S. for nearly three decades. His wife is an American citizen, and he has a pending request for a green card. They have kids, and he lives near his elderly parents. He wears an ankle monitor from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“So they were suspicious when ICE agents suddenly called him to their office in July to check his monitor, and those fears were quickly realized. He was deported that day, forcing him to now spend several years outside the country and away from his family during the green card process.

“Thompson’s client is likely one of an unknown number of immigrants whose lives have been or could be upended by the blocking of the Biden administration’s enforcement guidance, which instructed ICE agents to focus on cases involving immigrants who pose a threat to public safety or national security.”

Despite the Supreme Court ruling affirming the Biden Administration’s power to end Remain-in-Mexico, the program … remains. A lawyer recounts her client’s Remain-in-Mexico story. This one has a happy ending: she was finally granted asylum. That’s a rare outcome, as most asylum seekers sent to Mexico to await court dates are not represented by attorneys and have little hope of prevailing in court.

[National Immigrant Justice Center] “My client spent nearly half a year trapped in Mexico under the Biden administration’s MPP policy, which requires people to wait in dangerous conditions in Mexico while seeking asylum in the United States. She got sick from COVID twice during her time in Mexico. She suffered from high blood pressure, insomnia, and anxiety. When she was allowed to briefly enter the United States for preliminary hearings before her asylum trial, she expressed fear of returning to Mexico but was nonetheless returned to face more harm. Fortunately, my client ultimately prevailed and was granted asylum at her long-awaited immigration court hearing. In many ways, she was the exception, not the norm. …

“For a 1:30 p.m. hearing, my client took the official MPP bus that departed Monterrey at 3 a.m. After a three-hour drive and extensive processing at the border, we were allowed to meet for two hours before her hearing.

“During my client’s hearing, one court staff member commented that I was the first attorney they had witnessed attend a hearing in person. The hearing itself occurred in a six-foot-by-20-foot shipping container turned into a courtroom, with a small window. The noisy air conditioning unit turned on and off throughout the hearing, which, while distracting, was necessary because it was 104 degrees Fahrenheit in Laredo. After a difficult three-hour hearing, the judge finally recognized that my client faced persecution, torture, or death in her home country.”

Big Brother is watching, and taking pictures, too. Of course, Big Brother isn’t actually taking the pictures—that’s a job for private contractors, who are making good profits from the whole process. 

[Border Chronicle] “Nowadays, most travelers entering the U.S. have to undergo this weird thing: after officials take a headshot, software determines the geography of your face, including the distance between your eyes, the distance from your forehead to chin, and different facial landmarks. Your facial signature then becomes a mathematical formula, and can be compared to a database of tens of millions (hundreds of millions?) of known faces, or if you are crossing the border with your visa, passport, or even driver’s license photo.

“Sounds like this has the potential to be creepy, right? Well, to set the record straight, House Homeland Security Committee member Clay Higgins (R-LA) argued before Congress in July that it’s just fine, just a matter of convenience. …

“Facial recognition has become the primary biometric technology for CBP. Everyone who enters the country has their picture taken, though supposedly people can opt out (that often isn’t obvious, thanks to a lack of signage; I cross the border constantly and have never seen anything about opting out).”

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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