Migrant Caravan & Immigration Updates
Frontera Facts: Migrant Caravan & Immigration Updates
Migrant Viacrucis/Caravan Under Attack
President Trump has targeted the caravan of Central Americans (primarily from Honduras and El Salvador) organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras that left Tapachula at Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala on March 25th. The caravan has served as one of the pretexts for the mobilization of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border region. This is the latest in a series of caravans of this kind that have sought for over a decade to provide protection for migrants and asylum seekers from the endemic violence that awaits them during their transit through Mexico. The origin and core of these efforts has always been faith-based, and organized by Catholic migrant shelters in Mexico within the framework of symbolic reenactments during Easter season of the Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis), or Christmas-time posadas (the novena commemorating the pilgrimage in search of shelter of Jesus’ migrant family).
The current caravan reached the U.S.-Mexico border at the San Ysidro port of entry near San Diego/Tijuana on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Hundreds, mostly women and children, still await processing of asylum claims by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and have been informed that they will have to await further action in Mexico. CBP informed that the delay in processing is due to space constraints, forcing over 100 migrants to wait in Mexico. After making the treacherous journey to the U.S. and fleeing extreme violence, the women, children and men of this caravan will now face increasingly harsh and inhumane policies that threaten to deny them internationally recognized rights to seek asylum.
Immigration Judge Case Completion Quota
The Department of Justice announced a new case completion quota for immigration judges, as part of the administration’s efforts to reduce the huge backlog of pending cases (close to 700,000). Immigration judges will be required to complete 700 cases per year, in addition to meeting a mandatory reversal rate of less than 15 percent from the Board of Appeals, plus new limits to the number of continuances allotted to individual cases, and pressure to speed up dockets. The immigration court backlog will meanwhile continue to grow if the administration fulfills its threats to prosecute every case by eliminating priorities for removal.
El Paso has on average 2000 people detained on any given night, as they wait to be heard in front of a judge. Our most recent report, Sealing the Border, documents that due process in the El Paso immigration courts is too often compromised. At the same time most migrants and asylum seekers are deterred from fully developing and presenting their cases, while being systematically deprived of their freedom and running the risk of being illegally returned to contexts of potential persecution and danger.
National Guard sent to the U.S.-Mexico border.
On April 5, President Trump announced plans to send the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border.
It is unnecessary to send 4,000 National Guard troops to the border when overall apprehensions have reached record lows. Participation in immigration enforcement activities is greatly restricted by prevailing rules of engagement. The deployment is intended is to serve as “channel of communications between federal, state and local authorities participating in border security law enforcement operations; monitors domestic border-related activities; works with interagency partners on related matters; and develops future initiatives that support the National Guard and its role in border security/homeland security, and homeland defense operations.”
Session’s Zero-Tolerance Policy
On April 6, the Office of the Attorney General signed and released a memorandum for federal prosecutors along the Southwest border directing them to prioritize the prosecutions of “certain criminal immigration offenses” and to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for any person crossing or attempting to cross into the U.S. as defined in U.S. 8 Section 1235(a).
A zero-tolerance policy criminalizes migrants and denies the most vulnerable, such as asylum seekers, an opportunity to have access to legal process granted by the U.S. and international laws. By charging them with an illegal entry, the government is essentially punishing those who come here asking for help by denying them access the asylum process. Charging all entries exacerbates the already backlogged immigration court system. The only people ultimately benefiting are the private companies running the immigration detention centers across the country that maintain over 40,000-bed spaces each night to meet (and exceed) the congressionally mandated bed quota.
CALL TO ACTION!
Support Central American refugee families! Call San Ysidro Port Director Sidney Aki at (619) 690-8830 and email him at email@example.com to demand that they follow the law and accept the asylum seeking families immediately