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Home | Tag Archives: trump border policy

Tag Archives: trump border policy

House, Senate have passed competing border aid bills. How would each help migrants detained at the border?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amid a raging nationwide debate over the dire conditions of migrant detention centers, the U.S. House and Senate rushed to pass competing bills this week to address an unfolding crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate approved bills with around $4.5 billion aimed at improving conditions in overcrowded migrant detention centers, but the bills allocate their money differently and offer different levels of assurance that the Trump administration puts the appropriations to their intended use.

But with calls to address the humanitarian situation at the border grow louder, the leadership in both chambers are on a collision course as they scramble to address the situation ahead of a weeklong July 4th recess. Here’s a look at how the bills compare:

What’s in the House Bill?

The House passed a $4.5 billion border aid bill Tuesday night on a 230-195 vote. Only three Republicans supported the bill, including one Texan, Will Hurd of Helotes. The funding designations of the House bill are carefully crafted to funnel appropriations towards improving conditions at detention facilities and extending aid and legal services to migrants.

Most of the House’s appropriations—some $2.9 billion—would go to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) toward funding legal services for migrant children who have been detained and relieving overcrowding by creating more licensed facilities to hold migrant children.

And of the remaining $1.5 billion in the House bill, the majority would go to the Department of Homeland Security, whose sprawling network of agencies include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In the eyes of some Democrats – most prominently U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who voted against the bill – sending any more funding to DHS risks helping support ICE’s efforts at deportation.Even though the House bill notably does not allocate any funding for ICE, the agency has developed a reputation for supporting itself through back channels. In recent years DHS has sometimes diverted funding from other areas to ICE, according to Greg Chen, the Director of Government Relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

But the House bill is careful to spell out how DHS is allowed to use the new funding, requiring the agency to ensure it has an adequate supply of necessities like food, water, blankets, soap, toothpaste and diapers. Extreme shortages of such productshas stoked widespread outrage and served as a flashpoint in the national conversation about the situation at the border over the last week.

Still, nearly $800 million of DHS’s funding in the House bill is designated for the expansion of “soft-side and modular facilities”—the overflow shelters often referred to as “tent cities”—an expansion of detention accommodations that critics have argued are inhumane.

Unique to the House bill are $17 million in allocations to the Department of Justice prescribing legal services for children and $20 million to ICE to fund alternatives to physical migrant detention centers. While some Democrats see any financing going to ICE as a non-starter, the language in the bill makes clear the money is aimed at softening enforcement measures. Opting instead for various alternatives to physical detention, Chen said, has proven effective in ensuring that asylum-seekers attend court hearings and keep up with their legal responsibilities, while being “far less expensive than physical custodial detention that the administration has been using as a default practice.”

Several provisions added to the House bill in the hours before it passed were aimed at appeasing hold-out members of the Congressional Hispanic and House Progressive Caucuses. These amendments established even tighter restrictions on the use of humanitarian aid funding and stringent standards on the care and resources provided to detained children including a 90-day limit on the detention of unaccompanied children at influx shelters, demands that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol adopt higher standards of medical care and hygiene for unaccompanied children, and a guarantee of translation services and legal assistance for detainees.

Perhaps the most significant distinction in the House bill are the “guardrails,” as some members have called them – provisions intended to prevent the misappropriation of funds by ICE and the Trump administration. Republicans argue that these restrictions on implementation severely limit the ability for the Trump administration to administer a unilateral response in an emergency situation.

U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, of Fort Worth, in a statement on behalf of the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee, criticized the House bill for including “provisions that tie the hands of the Administration, restricting President Trump’s ability to respond to the humanitarian crisis.”

Author: ADAM WILLIS – The Texas Tribune

Trump says U.S. to impose 5% tariff on all Mexican imports beginning June 10 in dramatic escalation of border clash

President Trump on Thursday said he would impose a 5% tariff on all goods entering from Mexico unless it stopped the flow of illegal immigration to the United States, a dramatic escalation of his border threats that could have sweeping implications for both economies.

The White House plans to begin levying the import penalties on June 10 and ratchet the penalties higher if the migrant flow isn’t halted. Trump said he would remove the tariffs only if all illegal migration across the border ceased, though other White House officials said they would be looking only for Mexico to take major action.

After the 5 percent tariffs are imposed on June 10, the White House said it would increase the penalties to 10 percent on July 1 and then an additional 5 percent on the first day of each month for three months. The tariffs would stay at 25 percent “until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory,” a statement by the president said.

The economic consequences of Trump’s new plan could be swift and severe. Tariffs are paid by companies that import products, so U.S. firms would pay the import penalties and then likely pass some costs along to consumers. Mexico exported $346.5 billion in goods to the United States last year, from vehicles to fruits and vegetables. And many manufactured items cross the border several times as they are being assembled.

White House officials did not immediately explain how driving up the cost of Mexican goods might stem the flow of migrants. If the tariffs damaged the Mexican economy, more of its citizens would try to cross the border to find work in the United States, experts said.

“Mexico is our friend and neighbor, a partner in trade and security,” said Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Glenn Hamer. “The president’s announcement is baffling and, if carried out, will be terribly damaging.”

Mexico vowed a response that could pitch the Trump administration into a full-scale trade war with one of its largest trading partners. This comes just days after the White House and China imposed stiff penalties on each other’s exports.

At a press conference, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade, said the threatened tariffs would be “disastrous” and added that Mexico would respond “strongly.”

Trump has often tried to use tariffs and other import penalties as a way to pressure countries into changing behavior, but he has not yet done it on such a scale. In addition, he wrongly has said the cost of tariffs are shouldered by the countries that he targets.

Even some White House officials were caught off guard by the announcement, though planning within the West Wing escalated on Thursday afternoon. Vice President Pence was in Canada on Thursday meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about ratifying an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico, but it’s unclear if Trump’s newest tariff threat could upend those discussions.

White House officials believe Trump has powers under a 1977 law to impose tariffs on all imports from certain countries if he cites a “national emergency.” And several months ago, Trump declared a national emergency along the Mexico border because of a surge in migrants crossing into the United States.

But the 1977 law has never been used to impose tariffs in this way before, and Trump’s new actions could face legal challenges due to the scope of companies that would be impacted.

The new tariff threat combines two of Trump’s favorite issues — immigration and trade — and comes as he has struggled to score victories on either one.

A central element of Trump’s campaign was his assertion that the United States was being “invaded” by people across the Mexico border, a sentiment that resonated with many supporters. He has tried to rework trade rules and build a wall to stop the flow of migrants, but so far his efforts have failed to stem the surge of people crossing the border. Crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border driven by Central American migrants seeking asylum have peaked to their highest level in more than a decade.

One senior White House official said there is broad support across the administration to push Mexico further by using tariffs to force action. Other aides, however, tried to talk Trump out of the idea, arguing that the threat would scare global markets and undermine passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA , which was just sent to Congress on Thursday by the White House. The trade deal aims to curb the type of tariffs Trump is now threatening to impose on Mexico.

The president teased his plans on Thursday morning, telling reporters outside the White House that he was preparing a “big-league statement” about the border surge, without going into detail.

“We are going to do something very dramatic on the border because people are coming into our country,” Trump said.

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 Central Americans crossed into the El Paso area to surrender to U.S. authorities, the largest group of migrants that U.S. border agents have taken into custody at a single time. Trump tweeted a video of the apprehension late Thursday, declaring that “Democrats need to stand by our incredible Border Patrol and finally fix the loopholes at our Border!”

Deportations by Mexican authorities have increased threefold compared with the same period last year, according to the latest statistics, but the vast majority of Central American migrants appear to be successful at evading arrest en route to the U.S. border.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador campaigned last year on a promise to decriminalize migration and told audiences it was not Mexico’s job to assist the United States with the “dirty work” of deportations.

Trump has backed down on previous threats aimed at Mexico. He abandoned his oft-repeated campaign promise to make that country pay for a border wall. Trump is now using the powers of his national emergency to redirect U.S. taxpayer funds for construction of replacement fences and barriers along the border.

In late March, Trump said he would immediately shut down the entire border if the Mexican government didn’t take more steps to prevent the flow of migrants, only to announce a week later that he would delay any action for a year. White House officials had spent days frantically trying to design how such a shutdown would be implemented.

The draft trade agreement sent to Congress on Thursday would, if ratified, replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The draft allows Trump to send a final agreement in 30 days, a timeline intended to pressure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who along with other Democrats wants changes to the agreement before any vote.

The top imports from Mexico include vehicles, electrical machinery, machinery, mineral ­fuels, and optical and medical instruments, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The United States also imports a large amount of agricultural products from Mexico.

March 2019 report from the Congressional Research Service said that the International Emergency Economic Powers Act had never been used before “to place tariffs on imported products from a specific country” but that it could be interpreted as giving the White House that power.

Along the Mexico border, U.S. agents have detained more than 100,000 migrants for each of the past two months, and the numbers in May are expected to be the highest yet.

In recent months, smuggling organizations have been moving large numbers of migrants from southern Mexico using “express buses” that reach the U.S. border in a matter of days. The buses make few stops and have lowered the costs for migration, making the journey faster, easier and cheaper for would-be customers.

U.S. officials say corrupt Mexican officials are allowing the ­buses to pass through highway checkpoints and in other cases facilitating their travel to the border by providing security escorts.

Mexican officials have said they’re doing everything they can to regulate the migration surge, and they provide police escorts in some cases to prevent criminal organizations from kidnapping and extorting families traveling with small children.

A Mexican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said trade-related talks with U.S. officials have remained “positive,” and noted that López Obrador was also preparing to send the trade deal to lawmakers for approval. The official declined to say whether the White House has conditioned the deal on a migration crackdown by Mexican authorities.

Kevin Sieff in Mexico City and Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.

Authors: DAMIAN PALETTA, NICK MIROFF AND JOSH DAWSEY, THE WASHINGTON POST

Read related Tribune coverage

Toddler apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border dies in El Paso after weeks in hospital

A 2½-year-old Guatemalan boy apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border died Tuesday night in El Paso after several weeks in the hospital, according to the Guatemalan Consulate and another person with direct knowledge of the case.

The boy, who was not identified, arrived at the border with his mother days after now-acting homeland security secretary Kevin McAleenan held a news conference near a crowded holding facility in El Paso on March 27 to warn that a surge of Central Americans was pushing the system to the “breaking point.”

The boy is the fourth migrant child to die since December after being apprehended at the southern border and taken to the hospital. All have been from Guatemala, a Central American nation experiencing severe drought and poverty, and where smugglers have been offering discounted trips to families traveling to the United States.

Record numbers of families from Guatemala and other northern Central American countries are surrendering at the border and seeking asylum, with nearly 100,000 crossing in April, the highest monthly total in a decade. The White House has asked Congress for $4.5 billion in aid and increased enforcement, saying the influx is risking lives, while advocates for immigrants have raised concern about health and safety conditions in cramped federal holding facilities.

The Washington Post confirmed the death with two sources, including Guatemala’s Consul Tekandi Paniagua, who covers the El Paso area. Another source confirmed the death on the condition of anonymity.

Paniagua said the boy, who had spent three days in federal custody, appeared to have developed a form of pneumonia, but the death remains under investigation. The El Paso medical examiner’s office and the hospital declined to comment.

It is unclear when the boy fell ill. A Customs and Border Protection official familiar with the case, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the CBP apprehended the boy and his mother on April 3 near the Paso Del Norte Bridge.

On April 6, the official said, his mother alerted agents that he was sick. An ambulance took him to Providence Hospital in Horizon City that day, and officials transferred him the next day to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso.

On April 8, federal officials formally released the family from Border Protection custody with a “notice to appear” in immigration court.

CBP officials are required to notify Congress of a death in custody within 24 hours, and it was not immediately clear whether officials would do that when The Washington Post inquired about the death because the boy had been released from custody.

Later, an official said they would notify lawmakers.

After two Guatemalan children died in December, Homeland Security officials expanded care for children at the border. They have required health screenings of all children in custody and deployed scores of medics and equipment to the border to quickly triage new arrivals, some arriving in groups of 300 at a time.

Hundreds of people have been taken to the hospital. Some have arrived with preexisting health concerns, including influenza and liver disease.

Two weeks ago, U.S. border agents along the Rio Grande recovered the body of a 10-month-old boy after his family’s raft capsized while crossing the river near Eagle Pass.

On April 30, a 16-year-old unaccompanied minor from the southeastern state of Chiquimula suffered a severe brain infection and died after several days in federal custody. He had been apprehended more than a week earlier and transferred to a Health and Human Services shelter. His was the first known death in HHS custody.

In December, two young Guatemalan children died after being apprehended by CBP. Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, died of complications from influenza B infection, and Jakelin Caal, 7, died from a bacterial infection.

Among the worst crowding is in the El Paso sector, where on March 27 agents held almost 3,500 migrants in custody, well above capacity, and some families were held under a bridge.

Paniagua said the consulate has warned families in Guatemala that the trip is risky.

“We have reiterated the message that trips to the United States, in the condition in which the Guatemalan families are undertaking them, is highly dangerous,” Paniagua said in a statement. “We’ve seen four cases in a row of children who have lost their lives in this way.”

Read related Tribune coverage

Author: MARIA SACCHETTI AND ROBERT MOORE, THE WASHINGTON POST

The Wondering Latina: Reflections on Trump’s Speech

I am so sick and tired of having the border attacked by spreading lies and false images. I am a Latina, a Texan, a proud El Pasoan and I can’t stand people that talk about MY home and MY community.

Let’s be accurate, this president is not the first to criminalize life on the border by peddling lies to create fear, examples: former Texas governor and current governor both referring to an unfounded “invasion” on the border during their respective terms.

What is the common factor here? Stigmatizing the people and communities across the border.

Traveling across the country for work, I have met so many folks that have a huge misconception about El Paso. Heck, you don’t even have to leave the state to hear ridiculous, outlandish ideas about the border, just head to the interior of Texas.

Those are the misconceptions we –  as residents of the border – have always had to fight against; but Tuesday night yet again we heard the President of the United States continue his attacks, telling the nation lies about border life and pitting us against each other.

Instead of offering a pathway to immigration and coming up with immigration reform, the president holds on his original campaign promise: “division.”

When is it going to be enough? There is already an existing steel fence that has been up for over a decade, along with historic low numbers for border crossings. El Paso has remained one of the safest cities in the nation. Yet we are ALWAYS reflected as the worst: rapist, human trafficking, drugs, crisis, invasion, etc… because this isn’t about the border security, this is about the color of our skin, racism, discrimination and who is “qualified” to be American.

If you disagree, then where is the speech about the wall needing to built on the Canadian border?

If anyone actually talked to us, those that live on the border, you would know that right now people are worried about feeding their families. Many of us, American citizens, often cross over in order to get healthcare because we have none in our own country. And the only “crisis” you’ll most likely see is due to infrastructure during 5 o’clock traffic.

There is no “crisis on the border.” Which is exactly what makes speeches like Tuesday night’s dangerous. It makes the nation believe that anyone that comes from the border is “not American” and is a threat.

Since this president has occupied the White House I have been pulled over 13 times driving across Texas. I’ve never been given a ticket because I wasn’t breaking any laws, yet I’m always pulled over to “inspect.”

When this first started happening I was completely confused “inspect” what?

After about the 3rd time I started to understand what was going on, they thought I MIGHT be undocumented. Now I drive with my driver’s license and passport ready for the next time.

Little things like this trauma have changed me. I used to travel outside the country, now I’m terrified to do it what if they decided to “inspect” me upon arrival. I try not to drive at night anymore.

The truth is Donald Trump has changed the way I’m viewed in the world, it was already difficult enough being a woman of color in the world BEFORE him, now it’s so much more.

Regardless on where you stand on the immigration conversation, understand that we are ALL being lumped in together in the president’s attacks so we better wake up and stand united as “The Border.”

El Paso has always been the pathway, that’s the whole purpose of our city name “El Paso del Norte” literally means the pathway to the North. We will always be part of the journey to those stories of migration, it’s part of our history.  Along with the namesake, El Paso is also a modern thriving city and home to so many truly unique things that can only be found here in our region.

I think my hometown and community is absolutely worth fighting for, even if it means standing up to the President of the United States of America.

Tornillo Facility for Migrant Kids will Remain Open into 2019, Federal Government Confirms

The immigration detention center for undocumented migrant youth at Tornillo, Texas will remain open into next year, the federal Health and Human Services agency confirmed Thursday.

The facility, which critics have called a “tent city” and sits on a remote port of entry in far West Texas, was opened in June to house mainly unaccompanied minors who crossed the border without parents or guardians. At that time the shelter operators were hopeful it would only be needed for a few weeks, but HHS has extended the contact with the shelter operator, Texas-based BCFS, several times since then.

The Associated Press first reported the news that the facility would remain open late Wednesday; an HHS spokesperson confirmed news of the extension to the Tribune Thursday morning.

“BCFS is continuing to work with us until all [unaccompanied alien children] are safely released to suitable sponsors or transferred to a permanent shelter,” HHS spokesman Mark Weber said in an email. “Our goal remains to close Tornillo as quickly but as safely as possible – for both the [unaccompanied alien children] and all the personnel who have worked faithfully for months providing excellent care for these vulnerable children.”

Weber added that the facility in Tornillo will not receive any more unaccompanied children and no one currently at the facility is there because of the earlier family separations policy, an enforcement initiative by the Trump administration that placed undocumented adult migrants in separate facilities from their children after they crossed the border. That policy ended in June. As of Nov. 30, BCFS had received just over $144 million from the government to run the facility.

On December 25, there were about 2,300 children at Tornillo, about 20 percent of whom were female, according to the most recent HHS fact sheet. Since the facility opened, about 6,200 children have been placed there and 3,900 have been released to relatives or sponsors.

News of the latest contact extension comes as lawmakers and immigrant rights groups made a last-minute push earlier this month to have the facility shuttered for good.

In June U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar led a march of hundreds of protesters to decry the president’s immigration policies and demand more information about the Tornillo facility. In November, Escobar was elected to take over O’Rourke’s congressional seat.

At a smaller rally earlier this month, O’Rourke said it was incumbent on the immigrants’ advocates to keep a spotlight on the facility to ensure it closes as soon as possible.

In addition to the Tornillo facility, the HHS will expand capacity at a shelter in Homestead, Florida from 1,350 to 2,350.

Read related Tribune coverage

Author: JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

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