Number of families seeking asylum on the rise
The number of families and individuals seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border has continued to rise, stretching the capacity of border officials and nonprofits in the region. MCC signed on to a statement raising concerns with White House plans to cut foreign assistance to Central America, arguing that such an action will fuel migration, not address it. Federal courts temporarily halted and then lifted an injunction on the “Remain in Mexico” plan, where some asylum seekers are required to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. courts.
More asylum seekers will be denied bond hearings under a new decision from Attorney General William Barr, though the policy will likely be constrained by available detention space. President Trump is once again considering sending migrants released from detention to sanctuary cities, a move that is both legally and logistically questionable. A recent court settlement will allow more than 2,000 children in Central America to reunite with family in the U.S.
Proposals for humane and effective solutions
- Immigration Hub: Five investments in our immigration system to address the “crisis” at the border
- Washington Office on Latin America: There is a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. But it’s manageable.
- Migration Policy Institute: Policy solutions to address crisis at border exist, but require will and staying power to execute
- Kids in Need of Defense: What are the TVPRA procedural protections for unaccompanied children?
- Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights: We cannot let DHS secretary end critical protections for immigrant children
- Washington Post: The surge in migrants seeking asylum, explained
It’s far more complicated than a wall. It’s an issue that is many faceted… To a person, whether you were talking to customs folks, whether you were talking to border protection folks, whether you were talking to those farmers, every one of them said we need a comprehensive immigration policy in this country because what’s going on right now isn’t working.—Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) in the Billings Gazette
Local stories, events and resources
Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson signs two bills in support of DACA immigrants (House Bill 1552 grants nursing licenses to DACA students and House Bill 1684 grants in-state college tuition to those with DACA and other immigrant visas)
Iowa: What I’ve learned of hope (reflections on the fourth anniversary of Mennonite pastor Max Villatoro’s deportation)
Send us your local stories and events
Schedule a meeting with your legislators while they are in their home districts (tips)
- Current congressional recess: April 15-26
- Next recess: May 27-31
Write a letter to the editor (tips)
Your gift welcomes newcomers to the U.S.
When I asked to be let into this country because my family was in mortal danger, a Border Patrol agent told me I was weak … ‘I don’t care if one of your kids dies,’ he said. I wonder what that agent would have done if someone had threatened to murder his children. Wouldn’t he have risked everything to ensure their safety?—Sindy Flores, a migrant from Honduras, in The New York Times
- Returned to Honduras: Vocational training opens opportunities for returned migrants
- I found hope at the U.S.-Mexico border: My time on the MCC borderlands learning tour in October 2018 has transformed the way I think about the border and about human migration.
Builders of walls, be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build.—Pope Francis, quoted by Reuters
News & resources
DREAM and TPS
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), to provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, is likely to come up for a vote in the House in late May or early June (sign up for MCC action alerts to be notified of upcoming votes). The Senate has now introduced similar legislation. At the last minute, the Trump administration extended Deferred Enforced Departure status to about 4,000 Liberian immigrants, protecting them from deportation for one year. A federal judge placed a temporary injunction on ending TPS for Haitians, finding that federal officials acted arbitrarily and violated their own procedures in terminating the program. The government is expected to appeal the decision.
- FAQ on the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6)
- Side-by-side comparison of DACA with House and Senate bills
- Side-by-side comparison of TPS with House and Senate bills
- Negative consequences of ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for U.S. investment in El Salvador and Honduras
Construction has reportedly begun on 13 miles of new border barriers in Texas, part of a planned 90 miles with Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 funding that will run through more than 13,000 acres of federally protected wildlife refuge lands along the Rio Grande River. The Department of Defense approved the transfer of $1 billion from military personnel accounts to fund construction of 57 miles of border fences and walls, likely in New Mexico and Arizona. The House of Representatives filed a lawsuit to stop such fund transfers, arguing it violates the constitutional separation of powers.
President Trump threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border but instead gave Mexican officials one year to slow the flow of migrants and illicit drugs or else the U.S. will impose auto tariffs and close ports of entry. Trucks and tourists are already waiting extra hours at border checkpoints as customs officers have been moved to help with the influx of asylum seekers. Ten-hour delays have been reported, impacting the estimated $1.7 billion in goods that cross the border each day.
- U.S. Immigration Policy Center: Deterrence, displacement, and death: The impact of the border wall on undocumented immigration
- Defenders of Wildlife: New border wall built with military funds would cutoff wildlife movement
- NY Times: South of the wall, north of the border: Life in Texas’ no man’s land
- Los Angeles Times: Chasing danger: How border patrol chases have spun out of control, with deadly consequences
ENFORCEMENT and DETENTION
More than 200 immigrants were arrested at a consumer electronics repair company in Allen, Texas, on April 3 as the number of large-scale worksite raids increases. A number of high-level officials inside the Department of Homeland Security have been forced out in recent weeks, reportedly because they did not implement tougher enforcement policies.
- Center for Popular Democracy: The Wall Street banks still financing detention centers
- ProPublica: Trapped in Gangland: How the MS-13 crackdown shattered immigrant lives (2019 Pulitzer Prize winner for feature writing)
Changing the narrative
- Fox News: ‘Our country is FULL?’ I’ve heard it before
- Medium: The old Comprehensive Immigration Reform model is dead. And, that’s a good thing.
- National Review: California AG: Illegal immigration should be decriminalized
- Center for the Study of Social Policy: Our future together: A framework for an equitable immigration system that protects and promotes the well-being of families
Climate change: The New Yorker: How climate change is fuelling the U.S. border crisis
May 6-11: Learning Tour: South Texas Borderlands
May 22-26: Borderlands Learning Tour
Photo: A former Benedictine monastery in Tucson, Ariz., is now used as a shelter by MCC partner Catholic Community Services for families seeking asylum in the United States. Families typically spend one or two nights in the shelter while they arrange bus travel to stay with relatives or friends in the U.S. MCC photo/Saulo Padilla.
Update created April 24, 2019, by Tammy Alexander, Senior Legislative Associate for Domestic Affairs.
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