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Home | Tag Archives: remain in mexico

Tag Archives: remain in mexico

Trump administration to shuttle migrants from Tucson to El Paso under “Remain in Mexico” policy

TUCSON — Department of Homeland Security officials who are concerned about the rising number of migrant families crossing from Mexico into the Arizona desert are preparing to bus them more than 300 miles east into Texas so that they can deposit them in Mexico instead of releasing them in the United States, according to two Trump administration officials.

Homeland Security officials plan to announce as soon as Friday that they will expand the program, called Migrant Protection Protocols, to the Tucson region, one of the last major areas on the border that has not been diverting asylum seekers to Mexico to await their immigration court hearings.

Officials estimate DHS will send at least one busload each day from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Tucson sector to the Texas border city of El Paso, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal plans. Migrants will have interviews to determine if they would be at risk in Mexico, and if not, will be sent to Ciudad Juárez to await their U.S. immigration court hearings.

The plan follows weeks of brainstorming to fix a weak spot that emerged in the Trump administration’s border crackdown after officials rolled out MPP, also known as “remain in Mexico.” CBP’s Tucson sector, which covers a swath of forbidding desert and cactus forests that encompass most of Arizona’s southern border, was not included in the initial rollout of the policy. Officials began the program in January but substantially expanded it after a federal appeals court ruling allowed it to move forward in May. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule soon on the broader legality of the program.

CBP declined to comment on the expansion, and DHS did not respond to a request for comment.

Federal officials have credited MPP and increased enforcement in Mexico with a dramatic plunge in border apprehensions in recent months. In September, officials said border crossings had fallen so much that it allowed them to “effectively end” the practice of releasing migrants into the United States to await court hearings. The practice frustrated President Donald Trump because migrants allowed to stay in the United States rarely are deported, even if they lost their bids to stay in the country.

But Border Patrol officials quietly continued releasing border crossers into the Tucson sector, and smugglers caught on, U.S. officials said. As family apprehensions plunged elsewhere, they rose more than 33% from May to October in the Tucson sector, from 1,700 to nearly 2,400. The Wall Street Journal first reported the releases earlier this month.

Federal officials said Tucson lagged behind in the MPP program, mainly because it had received far fewer families crossing the border and was a less urgent target. Family arrivals in Tucson remain far lower than the tens of thousands at other parts of the border earlier this year, particularly in El Paso.

But Tucson’s crossings in October surpassed those in El Paso, which counted 2,100.

More than 200 people — including one large group of 129 people — streamed into remote Sasabe, Arizona, in the Tucson sector, in a span of five hours Saturday night. Babies swaddled in scarves cuddled against their mothers, according to images CBP released.

The migrants were from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The oldest was 56. The youngest was 6 months old.

The influx demonstrates the ability of smuggling networks to identify holes on the border, officials said. Nearly 1 million migrants were taken into custody along the border during the most recent fiscal year, including a record number of migrant families and unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America.

Officials said adults traveled with children because they were able to quickly bypass immigration custody and were released to await court hearings.

Advocates for immigrants say migrants’ willingness to trek to the Arizona desert is a sign of their desperation to escape their homelands and that they fear waiting in Mexico’s high-crime border cities for an asylum hearing.

Speaking at a gathering of faith leaders Thursday in Tucson, the Rev. Rodger Babnew said some migrants have come from Matamoros and Ciudad Juárez after learning that they could enter the United States via the Tucson sector. He said criminal cartels have begun shaking down migrants for money along the route.

“They come because they know they will be returned to Mexico,” said Babnew, an Episcopal minister with a nonprofit organization called Cruzando Fronteras, or Crossing Borders, which shelters and provides medical care to migrants on both sides of the border. “People are trying to get to their families before the holidays.”

Pastor Mateo Chavez, who leads a Lutheran church in Tucson, said a Venezuelan man who came to Cruzando Fronteras’ shelter in Nogales, Mexico, told him he had been waiting on the Mexico side of the Matamoros port of entry.

“But he didn’t like what he saw,” Chavez said.

The large shelters in Nogales house hundreds of people who are in the Trump administration’s “metering” program, meaning they sought asylum at a port of entry and are waiting in line to be allowed to enter legally.

Federal officials have credited the MPP program and increased enforcement in Mexico for an 88% drop in family crossings, from 84,486 in May to 9,733 in October.

The Border Patrol’s Yuma sector, in western Arizona, implemented the MPP program in April and has seen the number of family members plunge from nearly 11,000 in May to 400 in October.

Yuma, like Tucson, also is unable to send migrants directly across the border via the MPP program because the government of Mexico will not accept them there. Instead, officials are taking migrants west to Calexico, California, and sending them to Mexico from there.

More than 4,800 migrants have been sent from Yuma into Mexico since the program began in April, according to Yuma’s deputy chief patrol agent, Carl Landrum.

Authors:   ARELIS R. HERNÁNDEZ, NICK MIROFF AND MARIA SACCHETTI, THE WASHINGTON POST

Miroff and Sacchetti reported from Washington.

In El Paso court, migrants no longer get legal advocates or pre-hearing briefings on their rights

After being detained in a U.S. Border Patrol processing facility for more than seven weeks, a young Central American woman was finally able to tell immigration Judge Nathan Herbert the most harrowing part of her journey to the United States.

“I was separated from my daughter. I need to be with her,” the woman, who had requested asylum, told Herbert. “I’ve never been [apart] from her.”

Later, another female asylum seeker asked Herbert if she’d be sent back to Mexico the way several thousand others have been under a program called the Migration Protection Protocols.

Herbert had the same response for both women: “That decision is not mine to make.”

More than three months after the MPP program was expanded to include the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border, confusion about the program still dominates the proceedings in federal immigration court. And attorneys and advocates said the confusion has become worse this week after the government ended the main tools it had used to help migrants navigate a complex judicial system.

In late June, the U.S. Justice Department stopped allowing attorneys or immigrant rights groups to give “know your rights” briefings to asylum seekers before their initial court hearings. The short seminars included overviews of the asylum and removal processes, as well as other topics, like the MPP program.

Then, earlier this week, the department stopped allowing advocates known as “friends of the court” to assist the judge and the asylum seekers during the hearings, immigration attorney Taylor Levy told The Texas Tribune on Monday. Lawyers say the friend of the court program was essential in helping asylum seekers who hadn’t found or couldn’t afford legal representation to understand the asylum process better.

Friends of the court can be lawyers or other people; they are authorized to do things like explain court procedures, help translate for migrants who don’t speak English and relay relevant information to the judge.

Levy, who represents one of the migrants in her family separation case but not in her asylum proceedings, said the move makes the MPP program more confrontational.

“It really feels like MPP couldn’t get much worse, but that’s what is happening,” she said.

On Monday, Mike Breen, the president of Human Rights First — an independent, nonprofit advocacy group — was in the courtroom as an observer and said the chaos was apparent.

“It’s pretty clear that these folks have not been advised of their rights,” he said. “The confusion in the courtroom is palpable. I think the fear in the courtroom is equally palpable.”

Levy and other observers have said Herbert, who was appointed to the bench less than a year ago, is fair and doing his best under the circumstances as the backlog of cases keeps growing and he is forced to walk migrants through the process now that friends of the court are banned.

“The resources that have been devoted to the adjudication system have been cut steadily, so there is a huge backlog of people waiting for their day in court,” Breen said.

Through May, more than 908,500 cases are pending in the country’s immigration courts, including more than 132,200 in Texas, which has the second-highest backlog in the country, after California’s 161,281.

Officials at El Paso’s immigration court referred questions about the changes to the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. A spokesperson said the office would be unable to meet the Tribune’s deadline for comment.

Levy said she was told by El Paso court personnel that the friend of the court program was discontinued because of ongoing litigation surrounding the MPP. A federal judge in California temporarily blocked the program April 8, but a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later put that order on hold while the case plays out.

“We were told we are third parties and are not allowed to serve as friends of court because we’re a third party,” Levy said.

The government’s reasoning for eliminating the know your rights briefings, Levy added, was that asylum seekers are technically in federal detention, and only their attorneys are allowed to speak with them while they are in custody.

She said halting the briefings could violate the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees people access to counsel and knowledge of the charges against them, among other things. Levy said under normal circumstances, she’d be allowed to talk to a person in custody to determine her ability to help with a case.

“I can go to any of the jails or detention centers in the country [now], and I can get in and talk to potential clients,” she said.

But Levy said she was told that if attorneys want to interview asylum seekers to see whom they might want to represent, they have to do it in Mexico.

Author: JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

Read related Tribune coverage

Story in Many Pics: ‘Faith Action’ at Stanton Street Bridge

On Thursday, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso and clergy of the Diocese of Ciudad Juárez participated in the binational ‘Faith Action’ at the Stanton Street bridge in Downtown El Paso.

As the temperatures in the area soared above 100 degrees, Bishiop Seitz, Rev. Javier Calvill  and scores of migrants met and marched under the sweltering summer sun.

At virtually the same time, dueling protest were being held several miles to the east, in front of the now notorious Clint Border Patrol Station.

Our very own Jordyn Rozensky, along with Justin Hamel were at the bridge and event, and we bring your their view via this ‘Story in Many Pics.’

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