Immigration News: May 25, 2023

Protesters holding sign saying "Seeking asylum is a human right - #WelcomeWithDignity - #NoAsylumBan
Photo of protesters in Washington DC on February 23, 2023, courtesy of CASA.

For more than 40 years, New York City has had a legally protected “right to shelter.” Now Mayor Eric Adams is asking a court to suspend that right, citing the pressure on the city because of the number of asylum seekers sent there. As New York City sends some migrants to counties north of the city, many have been met with anger and xenophobia. But the response is not uniformly bleak—Erie County said it will welcome asylum seekers, as it has in the past.

[AP] “[W]ith the arrival of 70,000 asylum seekers since last spring, many of whom crossed into the U.S. from Mexico, the city has been challenged to find room for everyone in need of a temporary roof and bed. …

“In recent weeks, the city has begun paying to house some asylum seekers at hotels in counties north of the city, but that action has stoked anger and accusations that the city was dumping its problems on other communities.

“In the initial months of the crisis, Adams heralded the “right to shelter” mandate as an emblem of his city’s empathy toward asylum seekers. Many of the first arrivals were bused to New York by the governors of Republican-led border states including Texas and Arizona who were trying to bring attention to the border crisis. The governors also targeted Washington, D.C., another city with a Democratic mayor. “

New York City plans to house some migrants at Wright College. 

[WTTW] “As of Tuesday morning, there were 784 asylum seekers sleeping on the floors of police stations across the city. …

“The city plans to use Wright College from June through August as an alternative center for migrants to stay instead of police stations.

“For months, city officials have been turning buildings, parks and hotels into temporary shelters — decisions that many communities have had mixed feelings about.”

After participating in a political protest in his home country of Mauritania, Mohamed was kidnapped and beaten for two days. He fled, embarking on an excruciating journey that ended in a crowded shelter in New York City, where his few remaining belongings were stolen. When city officials offered him a chance to relocate to another county in the state, he agreed. Now he regrets that decision.

[AP] “Mohamed is one of about 400 international migrants the city has been putting up in a small number of hotels in other parts of the state this month to relieve pressure on its overtaxed homeless shelter system. 

Some of the relocated asylum seekers say they now regret leaving the city, pointing to a lack of job opportunities and resources to pursue their asylum cases, as well as a hostile reception.

“Now that he’s here, seeking political asylum from a government he feared would kill him, he doesn’t feel welcome. The 19-year-old has become a pawn in an escalating stand-off between New York City and suburban and upstate communities, which are using lawsuits, emergency orders and political pressure to keep people like him out.

“Mohamed is one of about 400 international migrants the city has been putting up in a small number of hotels in other parts of the state this month to relieve pressure on its overtaxed homeless shelter system. 

“Some of the relocated asylum seekers say they now regret leaving the city, pointing to a lack of job opportunities and resources to pursue their asylum cases, as well as a hostile reception.

“’It’s better in New York City’” Mohamed said. ‘There, no one cursed at you and said ‘go back to your country.’”

And in other news

Little Haiti in Tijuana, Mexico has been home to stranded Haitian migrants for years, offering community and some sense of safety. It is still home to 4-6,000 Haitian migrants.

[The Guardian] “’One common thing we have seen is the application of deterrence policies at the border,’ said Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, an organization that provides legal services to displaced black people near the US-Mexico border since 2015.

“’It has always been very difficult for Haitians to seek asylum because of US immigration policies, and as a result they started a vibrant community in Tijuana with barber shops and restaurants.’”

The couple has lived in the United States for 22 years, worked here, raised their children here. They have never had a way to apply for legal resident status, and still have no route to do so. They have lived in shadows and fear, a fear that has increased with new anti-immigrant laws that will soon go into effect there. 

[WFLA] “‘We cannot really work anymore,’ Anguiano said. ‘Our employers are asking for particular documents they didn’t ask for before, because of this new law.’ …

“While the parents’ path to citizenship is a long shot, the two have a daughter that’s getting her green card soon, and grandkids that will have U.S. passports.

“’That’s the price you pay for coming to the United States,’ Gonzalez said.

“And by that calculation, living in fear is worth it.”

ICE invades privacy and gathers information on immigrants and citizens, using a wide variety of legal and questionable tools. One tool is an administrative subpoena, with no judicial oversight.  ICE demands information with administrative subpoenas, and companies comply, although they are not legally obliged to comply until there is a court order. 

[The Guardian and Reveal] “The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (Ice) sent tech giants including Google, Twitter and Meta at least 500 administrative subpoenas demanding sensitive personal information of users …

“In the vast majority of cases, Ice demanded the companies hand over account information such as a person’s IP address over time and payment details.

“In a few cases, the agency went much further, the documents show. In one instance, “Ice asked Google for the account details behind Migrant Media, a YouTube channel that focused on and shared resources about migrant issues. In the subpoena, an Ice officer said the agency was seeking the names, addresses, screen names, payment and bill-face information “and any and all IP addresses associated w/ the YouTube page” as part of an ongoing “investigation or inquiry related to the enforcement of US immigration laws”. The subpoena did not provide any additional details on the nature of the inquiry. In another case, Ice asked Facebook for any location information associated with one account. And in yet another, Ice asked Facebook for “all public content photos, videos, wall posts, subscriber information and replies” associated with one user’s account. Documents show Ice also asked Facebook for geolocation information associated with an account. …

“Ice also purchases user information from data brokers as a mechanism to get around sanctuary policies, which restrict local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with Ice. And it spends billions of dollars to contract with a private prison corporation to track migrants in the US using ankle monitorsand facial-recognition apps. The Department of Homeland Security, Ice’s parent agency, also contracts with companies that help analyze and collect information from social media platforms.”

Here’s a new (bad) idea: sending U.S. troops to help police the Darien Gap in Panama. 

[NBC] “Senior Biden administration officials are pushing to send U.S. troops to the rugged, lawless area between Colombia and Panama to help local authorities curb drug smuggling, human trafficking and migration, according to a senior administration official and a U.S. defense official. 

“The stretch of land, known as the Darien Gap, connects South America with Central America. The roadless area is made up of jungles, rain forests, rivers and steep mountains, making it a dangerous but crucial part of a journey from South America to the U.S.”

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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