Central American migrant caravan
|A caravan of about 7,000 Central American migrants entered Mexico in mid-October. Though this caravan is unusually large, such caravans are common as, by travelling in groups, migrants are less likely to be victims of violence or other crimes. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in their home communities. Others seek to reunite with family in the U.S. As with previous caravans, many will likely stay in Mexico to seek asylum or work there.
In response, President Trump announced he will send thousands of military troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and a suspension of aid to Central American countries. The administration is also seeking new ways to detain families and more money to build additional border walls, both of which will require additional funding from Congress—which is why advocacy on Fiscal Year 2019 federal funding bills is so important.
Local stories, events and resources
Ohio: Bitter anniversary: Edith Espinal marks one year living in sanctuary(Columbus Mennonite Church) | Immigrant entrepreneurs make their mark on Ohio’s economy
Texas: Immigrants’ lament speaks blessing, Garland tells Truett crowd (San Antonio Mennonite Church) | After ICE raid, a shortage of welders in Tigertown, Texas
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Updates & news
Family separations may resume: On the heels of a government report finding that the policy of forced family separation was flawed from the start, the Trump administration is considering various options for separating families again, including by giving parents a “binary choice” between staying in detention indefinitely with their children or having their children released to shelters or sponsors. The heart-wrenching story of Alexa, a toddler separated from her mother for 15 months, illustrates why this issue is so important and reminds us that family separation has been happening for years.
Children in tent cities, in court by themselves: Thousands of children who crossed the border without parents have been sent from shelters to a new “tent city” in Texas. More children are likely to have lengthy stays in such facilities due to a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy to detain and deport adults coming forward to sponsor children (usually relatives or family friends). A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation to stop this practice. The New York Times details what it looks like when, due to the family separation policy, a 2-year-old shows up in immigration court by herself.
New “public charge” regulation: A new rule set to go into effect later this fall will make it more difficult for immigrants with limited means to obtain a green card. Some parents have already removed U.S. citizen children from programs such as food stamps and Medicaid out of fear that it could affect their status. Resources: Fact sheet | webinar | advocacy
Judge blocks termination of TPS: On October 3, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration from ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for about 300,000 people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. TPS holders, some in the country for more than 20 years, are receiving support from many groups, including the Teamsters union.
Border wall construction: On October 10, the Department of Homeland Security waived 28 laws to speed construction of border walls in Texas. Similar waivers were used to construct more than 600 miles of walls under the Bush administration. Walls in Texas will cut through wildlife refuges, the grounds of the historic La Lomita Chapel and hundreds of parcels of private property. Small towns such as Presidio, Texas, could be devastated by wall construction.
Helping immigrants—a Christian act: A man facing criminal charges after helping two migrants who had crossed the border in the desert is citing religious freedom as justification for his acts.
Is Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a border town? For federal immigration agents it is. Buses as far as 100 miles from a border are being stopped and riders questioned about their citizenship.
Enforcement not focused on public safety: A recent study found that 80 percentof those in immigration detention either had no past criminal convictions or had only minor offenses. Immigrants in court will face more hurdles due to restrictions on immigration judges imposed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Neglected in detention: An inspector general report revealed severe violations of national detention standards at an immigrant detention center in Adelanto, California. Violations included serious neglect of medical care, no dental care for at least four years and improper punishments.
U.S. not so generous: An op-ed from the libertarian Cato Institute argues: “No, the U.S. is not the most generous country for refugees and asylees in the world — not by a long shot.”
November 7-17, 2018: MCC learning tour to Guatemala and Honduras
December 10-14, 2018: Advanced immigration law training
April 9-13, 2019: Immigration law training