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Home | Tag Archives: trump immigration

Tag Archives: trump immigration

Video+Info: President Trump Announces Temporary Deal to Reopen Government

On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump announced a temporary deal to reopen the United States Government, at least until February 15.

Via a televised speech from the White House Rose Garden, President Trump said, “I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government.”

As part of the deal, federal workers would return to their jobs, while lawmakers return to the table to negotiate further. The new deal would not include any funding for the wall that the President had promised.

The deal would run for the next three weeks, or until the President and congress could hammer out a permanent deal.  President Trump hinted that if a deal is not reached in that time, he could declare a National Emergency.

“As everyone knows I have a very powerful alternative but I’m not going to use it at this time.”

Also during the speech, President Trump thanked the federal workers who had been furloughed or working without pay.

“In many cases you encouraged me to keep going because you care so much about our country and our border security,” Trump said. The President added that federal workers would receive back pay “very quickly.”

As the shutdown reached it’s 35th day, approximately 800,000 federal workers missed their second paycheck, with roughly half of them working without pay.

For more coverage, please visit:  USAToday   |  CNN   |   FoxNews   |   MSNBC   |   NPR

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Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) issued the following statement on President Trump and Republicans’ decision to temporarily reopen the federal government:

“For 35 days, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have senselessly held the American people hostage by endangering our nation’s safety and inflicting pain on hundreds of thousands of hard-working federal employees and contractors who have struggled to feed their families and pay their bills. I’m grateful for their patriotism and commend the generosity shown by the El Paso community for helping and supporting them during this troubling and difficult period.

“As Congress comes together to determine a path forward beyond February 15th, we must recognize that over the past decade, border security funding has grown to more than $8 billion without any meaningful increase in oversight, accountability or transparency. Furthermore, as we address the challenge of thousands of Central Americans fleeing their countries and arriving at our border each month, we must address the root causes and ensure that our government effectively develops a plan to deal with the changing patterns of migration in a smart, humanitarian way.”

 

Trump Says He Could Declare National Emergency to Build Border Wall

President Trump on Friday threatened to use emergency powers to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a move that would defy a Congress that — amid Democratic opposition — has thus far refused to allocate any new money for a border wall.

Asked Friday if he would declare a national emergency to get the wall built, Trump responded: “We can do it. I haven’t done it. I may do it. I may do it.”

The government has been partially shut down since Dec. 22, as Trump has demanded any budget deal include more than $5 billion in wall funding.

Trump told congressional leaders Friday he would keep the federal government closed for “months or even years” amid a dispute over border wall funding, as the White House scrambled to unify the GOP behind Trump while some Republicans showed impatience with the now two-week old shutdown.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that during a contentious and nearly two-hour meeting inside the White House situation room, Democrats told Trump: “We needed the government open.”

“He resisted,” Schumer said. “In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”

Addressing reporters a short time later in the Rose Garden, Trump confirmed that he’d suggested the shutdown could last for years — although he said he hoped it wouldn’t.

Trump said that, despite the Democrats’ characterization of the meeting as contentious, in his view it had been productive. “I thought it was really a very, very good meeting,” Trump said. “We’re all on the same path in terms of wanting to get government open.”

But Trump strengthened his rhetoric in his demands for more than $5 billion to build a wall along the southern border, saying it must be built out of concrete or steel. Democrats have rejected providing any new funding for a border wall.

“The southern border is a dangerous horrible disaster,” Trump said. And contrary to Democrats’ demands, he said the government would stay shut down until the issue was resolved.

“We won’t be opening it until it’s solved,” Trump said.

Trump promised during his campaign and earlier in his presidency that Mexico would pay for the wall. That has not happened.

Trump said he’d designated a working group led by Vice President Pence that would be meeting with congressional staff over the weekend to come up with a solution to the impasse.

The developments came as the administration worked behind the scenes to shore up support for Trump’s wall demand.

Pence called about a half-dozen House Republicans late Thursday to urge them to vote against measures that would reopen the government without new wall funding, amid White House worries that broad GOP defections would give the Democratic effort bipartisan backing.

Two Republican officials confirmed the calls, speaking on the condition of anonymity to divulge the private communications.

Ultimately, just five House GOP lawmakers voted with Democrats on a spending bill that would operate the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 8, and seven Republicans supported separate legislation that would reopen the rest of the federal government through Sept. 30. GOP officials feared the defections could have been much higher had the administration not gotten directly involved.

Pence’s efforts reflect a growing anxiety among congressional Republicans over the two-week shutdown that has halted paychecks for 800,000 federal workers but shown no signs of ending anytime soon — trapping GOP lawmakers between the president’s push to fund his signature campaign promise and the shutdown’s spreading consequences.

Congress also adjourned until Tuesday, making Wednesday the earliest the federal government can reopen — barring a major breakthrough between the administration and Congress. At that point, the partial shutdown would have lasted 18 days, which would make it the second-longest shutdown in history.

Pence’s outreach centered primarily on moderate members and those who hail from the northeast — some who ended up voting for the bills, and others who didn’t. The vice president’s pitch to Republicans centered on two main points: The country needs funding for a wall, and Congress shouldn’t kick the can to February, when the stopgap funding for DHS would have expired under the Democratic strategy.

The vice president also pointed to language in the funding bill passed late Thursday that would reverse the so-called Mexico City policy, which denies U.S. assistance to foreign groups that offer or promote abortions. That provision was included in the version of the spending bill passed unanimously by the Republican-led Senate Appropriations Committee last year, which Democrats are now using to try to end the partial shutdown.

Before the leadership arrived at the White House, Trump sent a letter to all members of Congress urging them to pass not just legislation funding a border wall — or a “physical barrier” — but revisions to statutes and legal settlements that restrict detention of migrant children.

“Americans have endured decades of broken promises on illegal immigration,” Trump wrote in the letter to lawmakers. “Now, is the time for both parties to rise above the partisan discord, to set aside political convenience, and to put the national interest first.”

Yet Republicans have struggled to stay unified in the face of the shutdown, provoked by a clash between Trump and congressional Democrats over the amount of border wall funding the president has demanded from Congress.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is up for reelection next year in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016, has called on Congress to pass spending bills to reopen the government, even if they don’t contain Trump’s desired level of border wall money. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a moderate who herself is on the ballot in November 2020 in a blue state, has also argued that legislation that would fund other parts of the government such as the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development shouldn’t be held hostage to disputes over the wall.

Meanwhile, their leader, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has largely stayed on the sidelines, leaving it to Pelosi and Schumer to resolve the wall dispute with Trump.

McConnell was not present when Trump and other Republican lawmakers appeared outside the White House following Friday’s meeting. Aides to McConnell insisted they were not aware of the news conference.

McConnell was frustrated about Trump reversing himself on a short-term funding bill last month — legislation Republicans thought the president would sign — that would have kept the government open. And the top Senate Republican complained to allies about how unreliable the president was to negotiate with, as well as how the president listened to what McConnell deemed as unproductive forces.

Schumer has sought to involve McConnell more, telling White House senior adviser Jared Kushner in a recent meeting that McConnell needed to be a more active participant. But McConnell has told advisers and other senators that he does not feel the pressure or the heat to get more involved, and that his members are not currently itching for the shutdown to end.

“He’s the leader of the Senate. Part of this shutdown,” Schumer told The Washington Post in a brief interview Thursday. “When he just tosses the ball over to Trump, he’s somewhat complicit in the shutdown because Trump is organizing it, Trump is the impetus for it and McConnell is going along.”

Josh Holmes, a McConnell adviser, said he saw his main role as keeping the caucus together.

“He knows exactly where the leverage points are on negotiations like this. He’s certainly not going to provide Democrats with an opportunity to exploit Republican divisions,” Holmes said. “So he’s going to provide a unified front here to get the president the best deal he can.”

Authors: BY ERICA WERNER, JOSH DAWSEY AND SEUNG MIN KIM, THE WASHINGTON POST / The Texas Tribune

Trump Administration: Deal Reached to Force Asylum Seekers to Wait in Mexico as Cases Processed

The Department of Homeland Security announced a new policy Thursday that will require asylum seekers who enter the United States illegally to return to Mexico and wait while their claims are processed, possibly for months or years, describing the plan as a “historic” measure.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen prepared to outlined the plan during an oversight hearing by members of the House Judiciary committee, telling lawmakers in prepared remarks that the administration is preparing to implement an accord with Mexico’s new leftist government that will allow the United States to send asylum seekers who cross illegally back to Mexico.

Citing emergency powers allowed under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Nielsen said the measures were needed to “bring under control” a surge of unmerited asylum claims by Central Americans that have overloaded U.S. immigration courts.

“Once implemented, individuals arriving in or entering the United States from Mexico — illegally or without proper documentation — may be returned to Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings,” she said.

“They will not be able to disappear into the United States. They will have to wait for approval to come into the United States. If they are granted asylum by a U.S. judge, they will be welcomed into America. If they are not, they will be removed to their home countries,” Nielsen said.

The United States has been in negotiations with Mexico for weeks to reach such an accord, which had been referred to as “Remain in Mexico,” believing that illegal crossings will decline if Central Americans believe the asylum system will no longer offer them a way to avoid deportation.

Top officials from the government of Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador have said they would accept such measures as part of a broader development and aid package aimed at creating jobs in Central America to reduce the need to emigrate.

In a statement, Mexico’s foreign ministry said Thursday it “will authorize, for humanitarian reasons and temporarily, the entry of certain foreign persons from the United States who have entered the country through a port of entry or who have been apprehended between ports of entry, have been interviewed by the authorities of migratory control of that country, and have received a summons to appear before an immigration judge.”

They will be allowed “to our country so that they can wait here for the development of their immigration process in the United States,” the statement read.

“They will be entitled to equal treatment without any discrimination and with due respect to their human rights, as well as the opportunity to apply for a work permit so they can find paid jobs, which will allow them to meet their basic needs,” it continued.

Nielsen faces lawmakers Thursday almost two weeks after the disclosure of a 7-year-old migrant girl’s death after she and her father entered the United States illegally and were taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Homeland Security officials did not notify lawmakers of the child’s death, which happened Dec. 8. DHS officials have not said when Nielsen was informed of the incident.

This week, lawmakers also reached a tentative accord to avert a government shutdown that would not give President Donald Trump the border wall funding he has demanded.

In a tweet Thursday morning, Trump praised Border Patrol agents, military personnel and others for their efforts to stop caravans of Central American migrants from crossing the border. “Border is tight,” the president wrote.

But the latest border enforcement statistics show the opposite. Last month arrests along the border reached their highest levels since Trump took office, as record numbers of family groups entered illegally seeking asylum.

Homeland Security officials say they are facing “a crisis” and have urged lawmakers to act.

Authors: NICK MIROFF AND KEVIN SIEFF, THE WASHINGTON POST  | The Texas Tribune

U.S. House Democrats Call for Congressional Investigation into Guatemalan Child’s Death

LORDSBURG, N.M. — Current and incoming Democratic members of Congress said Tuesday they had more questions than answers after touring U.S. Border Patrol facilities where a 7-year old Guatemalan girl was taken before dying earlier this month.

One member did leave the facilities certain of one thing – that the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection should step down from his post following the tragedy.

“Based on my conversations with him, based on his conduct, I believe that [Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan] should step down,” said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, the chairman-elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Castro said McAleenan told him he didn’t want to politicize the death in front of Congress, which is why the commissioner didn’t make members aware of the death immediately. Castro said CBP officials are required by law to inform members of Congress about the girl’s death within 24 hours but failed to do so.

“But because it’s such a rare occurrence, that makes it arguably the most significant thing that could have been discussed,” Castro said.

The child, Jakelin Caal Maquin, and her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, were apprehended with a large group of undocumented immigrants near Antelope Wells, N.M., shortly after 9 p.m. on Dec. 6. About eight hours later, Caal Cuz told agents his daughter was vomiting while the pair was on a Border Patrol transit bus. Agents alerted the station to prepare to administer care, but her condition worsened and her temperature eventually reached about 105 degrees.

She was flown to a hospital in El Paso, where she died at about 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 8, according to a statement from Customs and Border Protection.

Castro led the delegation, which included U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, and congresswomen-elect Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, to New Mexico. He added afterward that he wants to know when Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Michele Nielsen was made aware of the death and called for an independent congressional investigation into the matter.

Several members said they were disturbed by what they saw on the tour of the facilities.

“No running water, no area to bathe, no water to cook,” said U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM. “We found out that the food provided both a Antelope Wells and here in Lordsburg to the asylum seekers is granola bars, small juice boxes, and frozen burritos. And what I would describe as inhumane holding cells where we saw children with adults, and overcrowded facilities with a shared toilet.”

Green said what he saw on the tour “is unbelievable and unconscionable. The [ASPCA] would not allow animals to be treated the way human beings are being treated in this facility,” he added. “To tolerate what I have seen is unthinkable. We as members of Congress have got to do more to make sure that this kind of facility is either shut down or we have got to do more to make it a lot better than it is.”

Last week, attorneys for Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, Jakelin’s father, disputed reports that she had gone for days without food or water before entering federal custody and added that they are conducting a separate investigation. According to the CBP statement, agents conducted an initial screening of Jakelin that “revealed no evidence of health issues. Additionally, the father claimed that the child was in good health,” the statement reads.

After the tour, Garcia said she’s concerned that isn’t necessarily true.

“There’s a lot of inconsistencies. They said the father had told him that she had not eaten for three days because she would vomit,” she said. “And then they turn back around and say the father said the little girl was fine and they talked to him about it. Which one is it? I find it incredible that they say they saw no signs or symptoms.”

Garcia said she would support an investigation immediately after the new Congress is sworn in next month and that it could focus first on Jakelin’s case, then expand from there.

A CBP spokesperson in El Paso forwarded requests for comment about the lawmakers’ remarks to the agency’s main headquarters. That office did not immediately respond.

U.S. Rep. Dr. Raul Ruiz, a California Democrat and former emergency room physician, said the tour brought to light questions about whether agents are equipped to handle emergencies like the one that led to Jakelin’s death.

“There are some really serious systemic obstacles and problems and failures in the system,” he said, adding that immigrant children a complete vital sign check and a physical examination when they come into contact with Border Patrol.

The issue has again called into question President Donald Trump’s immigration policies — critics have argued that his crackdown on undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers has led to more people avoiding ports of entry and instead traversing rough terrain to turn themselves into Border Patrol.

Escobar said those policies include the administration’s practice of turning away asylum seekers at the ports of entry and forcing them to wait in Mexico before making a formal asylum claim.

“These are legitimate challenges, but this administration is addressing these challenges in the cruelest way, in a way that in fact makes things much worse,” she said.

As Democrats prepare to assume the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Green said it would be one of his priorities to launch an investigation immediately.

“I can’t tell you how long it will take to put the investigation together or how long it will last, but I do believe it will take place,” he said.

Author: JULIÁN AGUILARThe Texas Tribune

State Senator José Rodríguez Coordinating “Gifts for Good” for Children at Tornillo Camp

With the migrant children’s camp just outside of Tornillo still holding scores of kids, and the approach of the holidays, State Senator José Rodríguez is working with officials to make their time there a bit brighter.

As many from the community have asked how they can help, Rodríguez and his office are coordinating a “Gifts for Good” drive for the youth in the Tornillo detention center, which currently holds 2,400 children.

“The holidays are a time of the year where most people enjoy spending time with their families. These youth have been away from their families for who knows how long. We hope these gifts bring some holiday cheer,” said Rodríguez.

According to a news release from  Senator Rodríguez’s office adds”the children are not allowed visitors, gifts of any kind, or even hugs.”

However, for this holiday season, the Rodríguez has received permission to provide a gift of a soccer ball. Join the Senator’s office to bring a smile to a child by ordering from a pre-selected wish list of soccer balls, which can be found via this link.

Officials say there is no limit to the number of gifts that a person can sponsor.

All gifts must be shipped to the District Office, which is at 100 North Ochoa Street, Suite A, El Paso, TX 79901, by December 13, 2018.

With Federal Agents Redeployed to Manage Migrant Caravan, Texas Border-Crossers Expect Long Holiday Waits

Keep calm and come on over.

That’s the holiday message city and business officials here are sending to their neighbors directly across the Texas-Mexico border.

Given that local Customs and Border Protection Agents have been redeployed to California and Arizona ahead of the anticipated arrival of a caravan of Central American migrants to those border states, wait times are likely to spike at Texas’ key ports of entry — ahead of the busiest international shopping season of the year.

“This is historically a very busy period,” Hector Mancha, Customs and Border Protection’s director of field operations in El Paso, said in a statement. “Border-crossers should take steps to help themselves and also plan to build extra time into their schedules to accommodate what will be longer-than-normal processing times.”

Federal officials argue the redeployment is necessary to ensure the southwest border remains safe from the migrant caravan, which has been a subject of consternation and outrage from Republicans nationally, particularly in the run-up to the November election.

Local Democrats, meanwhile, have blasted the move as political theater, and said the effects of border-processing delays on commerce will hit El Paso and neighboring Ciudad Juárez particularly hard.

“We have a very strong economic relationship with Mexico that goes in both directions, and benefits us locally, statewide and nationally,” state Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, said in a statement.

Those charged with promoting El Paso’s downtown tourism and shopping districts say there will be an economic toll, but acknowledge city leaders and the people who live along this stretch of border have been down this road before.

“The concerns are valid,” said Rudy Vasquez, the marketing communications manager for El Paso’s Downtown Management District. “But one thing I can say for sure is that concerns about the impact to retail and downtown business [aren’t] new in that respect.”

It’s unclear how many agents from the El Paso area have been reassigned to California and Arizona. Local news reports put the number at more than 100. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, who represents the country’s busiest inland port, said the total number of agents sent from Texas is 575, though his office didn’t detail how many were deployed from each field office. A Customs and Border Protection spokesman declined to confirm a number for “operational security reasons.” The spokesman also declined to say how long the agents would be away.

Rodriguez, citing a report from the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said Mexican shoppers accounted for more than $4 billion in retail sales in Texas cities in 2012, up from $2 billion in 2006.

“Now, faced with a refugee pilgrimage to safety in the U.S. during a holiday season that celebrates the traditions of sanctuary, the administration not only is preparing to meet them with force, it is apparently willing to choke commerce in so doing,” the state senator added.

But some other border residents say the Trump administration has the right to do what it needs to ensure America is only letting in immigrants who don’t pose a threat.

As she sat in Ciudad Juárez’s Mariachi Bar on Tuesday afternoon, Brianna Puckett, a 25-year-old American citizen, said she was worried she’d get trapped in cross-border gridlock on her way home to El Paso. But she said it’d be worth it.

“I think the U.S. is doing what it needs to do,” she said, conceding that her political opinions aren’t too popular in a part of Texas that regularly supports Democrats.

Puckett added that her Salvadoran grandmother is a legal immigrant to the U.S. Of the would-be asylum-seekers in the migrant caravan, she said, “I feel like there is a process, but a lot of people aren’t going through the process.”

Gracie Viramontes, a marketing specialist who was in downtown El Paso on Tuesday promoting the city’s upcoming Small Business Saturday, said she isn’t too worried about some delays on the bridges.

El Paso and Ciudad Juárez have withstood drug wars, divisive elections, peso devaluations and economic downturns, she said. The politics of the day doesn’t stand a chance against holiday traditions that have guided border communities for decades.

“You know what, we’re fronterizos, this is the way life is. Business will continue as usual,” she said. “Either way, family is family. If they have to wait 10 hours to [cross] and see their family, then they’re going to wait 10 hours.”

Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Asylum Ban for Migrants who Enter Illegally from Mexico

A federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration from denying asylum to migrants who illegally cross the southern border into the United States, saying the policy likely violated federal law on asylum eligibility.

In a ruling late Monday, Jon S. Tigar of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco issued a temporary nationwide restraining order barring enforcement of the policy. President Donald Trump’s action was announced on Nov. 9, though the White House had as early as last month floated drastic changes to the way the United States affords sanctuary to people fleeing persecution in their home countries.

The judge’s order remains in effect until Dec. 19, at which point the court will consider arguments for a permanent order. The administration offered no immediate comment overnight but has routinely appealed adverse decisions.

The president’s decree, now blocked, came just after the midterm election campaign, in which Trump made immigration and national security the GOP’s closing argument. He and his allies spread fear about the “Caravan heading to the Southern Border,” which, as he asserted without evidence in one pre-election tweet, included “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners.” In another, he warned of “some very bad thugs and gang members.” Labeling the movements of Central American migrants a “national emergency,” Trump last month deployed active-duty troops to the border.

But the federal judge said the president could not shift asylum policy on his own.

“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” wrote the judge, nominated to the federal bench in 2012 by President Barack Obama. He reasoned that the “failure to comply with entry requirements such as arriving at a designated port of entry should bear little, if any, weight in the asylum process.”

The ruling was the latest in a string of court decisions blocking the administration’s hard-line immigration policies, including its efforts to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities and to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that affords legal protections for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The net effect, barring Supreme Court reversals, has been to substantially weaken the hand of presidents in an area where their authority has in the past been expansive.

Still, the administration has not been without victories. In June, the Supreme Court, by a 5-to-4 vote, upheld a revised version of the travel ban that aimed to keep foreigners from several Muslim-majority nations from entering the country.

The asylum case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups on behalf of East Bay Sanctuary Covenant. The order reflects the judge’s view that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits, and would suffer irreparable injury from the executive action.

The rule pursued by the Trump administration would allow only people who cross at legal checkpoints on the southern border to request asylum, while those entering elsewhere would be able to seek a temporary form of protection that is harder to win and doesn’t yield full citizenship. The changes would amount to a transformation of long-established asylum procedures, codified both at the international level and by Congress.

In his proclamation, Trump said the changes were necessary to prepare for the caravan’s arrival, arguing that asylum seekers had no “lawful basis for admission into our country.” In justifying the policy, the administration relied on the same emergency authority invoked as grounds for the “travel ban.”

In a hearing Monday, Scott Stewart, a lawyer for the Justice Department, spoke of a “crushing strain” of migrants attempting to cross the border illegally. He alleged that most asylum claims were “ultimately meritless.”

But the judge seemed skeptical, observing that border apprehensions are near historic lows and that, regardless, federal law says all people on U.S. soil can apply for asylum, no matter how they arrived.

“If this rule stays in effect, people are going to die,” Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said after the hearing. “There are going to be people who fall through the cracks in our system.”

Tigar voiced concern for the fate of asylum seekers under the changes. The administration’s rule, he observed, would force individuals “to choose between violence at the border, violence at home, or giving up a pathway to refugee status.”

And in his decision, he wrote that the government’s argument that the manner of entry can be the lone factor rendering a migrant ineligible for asylum “strains credulity.”

“To say that one may apply for something that one has no right to receive is to render the right to apply a dead letter,” he argued. “There simply is no reasonable way to harmonize the two.”

The judge pointedly denied the claim that the president, by fiat, could give the manner of entry added legal weight as a determinant of asylum. He reasoned that the “interpretive guide” of United Nations compacts on asylum lent extra force to congressional requirements. The intent of Congress, Tigar wrote, was “unambiguous.”

“And if what Defendants intend to say is that the President by proclamation can override Congress’s clearly expressed legislative intent, simply because a statute conflicts with the President’s policy goals, the Court rejects that argument also,” the judge found.

Lee Gelernt, the ACLU attorney who argued the case, welcomed the ruling in a news release.

“This ban is illegal, will put people’s lives in danger, and raises the alarm about President Trump’s disregard for separation of powers,” he said. “There is no justifiable reason to flatly deny people the right to apply for asylum, and we cannot send them back to danger based on the manner of their entry. Congress has been clear on this point for decades.”

Elise Ackerman contributed to this report from San Francisco.

Authors: ISAAC STANLEY-BECKER AND MARIA SACCHETTI, THE WASHINGTON POST

U.S. is Denying Passports to Americans Along the Border, Throwing Their Citizenship into Question

PHARR, Tex. — On paper, he’s a devoted U.S. citizen.

His official American birth certificate shows he was delivered by a midwife in Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas. He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol and now as a state prison guard.

But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government’s response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn’t believe he was an American citizen.

As he would later learn, Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown on their citizenship.

In a statement, the State Department said that it “has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications,” adding that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”

But cases identified by The Washington Post and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic shift in both passport issuance and immigration enforcement.

In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In others, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States. As the Trump administration attempts to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, the government’s treatment of passport applicants in South Texas shows how U.S. citizens are increasingly being swept up by immigration enforcement agencies.

Juan said he was infuriated by the government’s response. “I served my country. I fought for my country,” he said, speaking on the condition that his last name not be used so that he wouldn’t be targeted by immigration enforcement.

The government alleges that from the 1950s through the 1990s, some midwives and physicians along the Texas-Mexico border provided U.S. birth certificates to babies who were actually born in Mexico. In a series of federal court cases in the 1990s, several birth attendants admitted to providing fraudulent documents.

Based on those suspicions, the State Department began during Barack Obama’s administration to deny passports to people who were delivered by midwives in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. The use of midwives is a long-standing tradition in the region, in part because of the cost of hospital care.

The same midwives who provided fraudulent birth certificates also delivered thousands of babies legally in the United States. It has proved nearly impossible to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate documents, all of them officially issued by the state of Texas decades ago.

A 2009 government settlement in a case litigated by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) seemed like it had mostly put an end to the passport denials. Attorneys reported that the number of denials declined during the rest of the Obama administration, and the government settled promptly when people filed complaints after being denied passports.

But under President Trump, the passport denials and revocations appear to be surging, becoming part of a broader interrogation into the citizenship of people who have lived, voted and worked in the United States for their entire lives.

“We’re seeing these kind of cases skyrocketing,” said Jennifer Correro, an attorney in Houston who is defending dozens of people who have been denied passports.

In its statement, the State Department said that applicants “who have birth certificates filed by a midwife or other birth attendant suspected of having engaged in fraudulent activities, as well as applicants who have both a U.S. and foreign birth certificate, are asked to provide additional documentation establishing they were born in the United States.”

“Individuals who are unable to demonstrate that they were born in the United States are denied issuance of a passport,” the statement said.

When Juan, the former soldier, received a letter from the State Department telling him it wasn’t convinced that he was a U.S. citizen, it requested a range of obscure documents — evidence of his mother’s prenatal care, his baptismal certificate, rental agreements from when he was a baby.

He managed to find some of those documents but weeks later received another denial. In a letter, the government said the information “did not establish your birth in the United States.”

“I thought to myself, you know, I’m going to have to seek legal help,” said Juan, who earns $13 an hour as a prison guard and expects to pay several thousand dollars in legal fees.

In a case last August, a 35-year-old Texas man with a U.S. passport was interrogated while crossing back into Texas from Mexico with his son at the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, connecting Reynosa, Mexico, to McAllen, Tex.

His passport was taken from him, and Customs and Border Protection agents told him to admit that he was born in Mexico, according to documents later filed in federal court. He refused and was sent to the Los Fresnos Detention Center and entered into deportation proceedings.

He was released three days later, but the government scheduled a deportation hearing for him in 2019. His passport, which had been issued in 2008, was revoked.

Attorneys say these cases, where the government’s doubts about an official birth certificate lead to immigration detention, are increasingly common. “I’ve had probably 20 people who have been sent to the detention center — U.S. citizens,” said Jaime Diez, an attorney in Brownsville.

Diez represents dozens of U.S. citizens who were denied their passports or had their passports suddenly revoked. Among them are soldiers and Border Patrol agents. In some cases, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrived at his clients’ homes without notice and taken passports away.

The State Department says that even though it may deny someone a passport, that does not necessarily mean that the individual will be deported. But it leaves them in a legal limbo, with one arm of the U.S. government claiming they are not Americans and the prospect that immigration agents could follow up on their case.

It’s difficult to know where the crackdown fits into the Trump administration’s broader assaults on legal and illegal immigration. Over the past year, it has thrown legal permanent residents out of the military and formed a denaturalization task force that tries to identify people who might have lied on decades-old citizenship applications.

Now, the administration appears to be taking aim at a broad group of Americans along the stretch of the border where Trump has promised to build his wall, where he directed the deployment of national guardsmen, and where the majority of cases in which children were separated from their parents during the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy occurred.

The State Department would not say how many passports it has denied to people along the border because of concerns about fraudulent birth certificates. The government has also refused to provide a list of midwives who it considers to be suspicious.

Lawyers along the border say that it isn’t just those delivered by midwives who are being denied.

Babies delivered by Jorge Treviño, one of the regions most well-known gynecologists, are also being denied. When he died in 2015, the McAllen Monitor wrote in his obituary that Treviño had delivered 15,000 babies.

It’s unclear why babies delivered by Treviño are being targeted, and the State Department did not comment on individual birth attendants. Diez, the attorney, said the government has an affidavit from an unnamed Mexican doctor who said that Treviño’s office provided at least one fraudulent birth certificate for a child born in Mexico.

One of the midwives who was accused of providing fraudulent birth certificates in the 1990s admitted in an interview that in two cases, she accepted money to provide fake documents. She said she helped deliver 600 babies in South Texas, many of them now being denied passports. Those birth certificates were issued by the state of Texas, with the midwife’s name listed under “birth attendant.”

“I know that they are suffering now, but it’s out of my control,” she said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of her admission.

For those who have received passport denials from the government, it affects not only their travel plans but their sense of identity as Americans.

One woman who has been denied, named Betty, said she had tried to get a passport to visit her grandfather as he was dying in Mexico. She went to a passport office in Houston, where government officials denied her request and questioned whether she had been born in the United States.

“You’re getting questioned on something so fundamentally you,” said Betty, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about immigration enforcement.

The denials are happening at a time when Trump has been lobbying for stricter federal voter identification rules, which would presumably affect the same people who are now being denied passports — almost all of them Hispanic, living in a heavily Democratic sliver of Texas.

“That’s where it gets scary,” Diez said.

For now, passport applicants who are able to afford the legal costs are suing the federal government over their passport denials. Eventually, the applicants typically win those cases, after government attorneys raise a series of sometimes bizarre questions about their birth.

“For a while, we had attorneys asking the same question: ‘Do you remember when you were born?’ ” Diez said. “I had to promise my clients that it wasn’t a trick question.”

Author: BY KEVIN SIEFF, THE WASHINGTON POST

ACLU Claims ICE Still Detaining Some Asylum-Seekers for No Reason Despite Court Order

Despite a federal judge’s order preventing immigration officials from arbitrarily holding asylum-seeking immigrants in federal detention, attorneys representing some of the detainees said Tuesday that the majority of the immigrants are still locked up for no reason.

Last month, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg granted a preliminary injunction preventing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from denying parole to asylum-seekers without an individual determination as to why. The lawsuit includes as defendants the El Paso, Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark and Philadelphia ICE field offices. The El Paso office covers West Texas and New Mexico.

Michael Tan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the lead lawyers on the case, said that as of last week ICE had granted parole to about 25 percent of the asylum-seekers included in the lawsuit.

It’s a far cry from the 90 percent rate that existed before President Donald Trump took office, he said, which leads the attorneys to believe that ICE continues to detain people without cause.

“There are reasons to believe that the government continues to ignore its own parole policy,” he said. That policy states that a person seeking asylum who has established his or her true identity should be released if they are not a flight risk or a threat to the public at large.

Tan said he understands that ICE officials aren’t required to grant parole to everyone, but he said that after speaking to attorneys working on the ground in the five field offices, ICE agents are still “checking boxes” for the sole purpose of denying the relief.

“To be clear, I am not saying there is some magic number,” he said. “[But] they are being denied parole based on a boilerplate checklist.”

From July 2, when Boasberg issued the order, through August 17, 145 out of 563 asylum-seekers had been granted parole. That includes 78 of the 286 El Paso cases.

A spokesperson in the El Paso ICE field office did not respond to a request for comment.

Kristen Greer Love, an attorney with the ACLU of New Mexico who is representing some of the asylum-seekers being held in El Paso and New Mexico, said ICE officials don’t explain the reasons a person was denied parole once their case is reviewed.

“It is sort of a blanket statement that the person is a flight risk or a danger to the community, or hasn’t presented adequate evidence to prove their identity,” she said. “ICE appears to be using, for example, the flight risk [excuse] even when people have presented robust evidence of having a sponsor who is either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident in the United States who has the means and commitment to make sure the person has the means to show up at the immigration proceedings.”

Love added that most of the people she’s spoken to have been detained since they arrived at the port of entry and sought asylum, which makes it impossible that they have a criminal history in this country.

Tan said the ACLU will ask the judge to grant its motion for more discovery to see if ICE can show it is complying with the order. The judge also asked the agency to submit a monthly report of parole determinations until further notice.

“It’s basically a fact-finding process where we can investigate whether the government is in fact complying the court order. If it’s not … we’ll ask the court to order additional remedies,” he said.

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Author: JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

U.S. House Eyes $5 Billion for Border Wall, Setting up Showdown with Senate

House Republicans are aiming to meet President Trump’s latest request for his border wall — $5 billion for 2019 — setting up a potential showdown with the Senate.

The $5 billion would be included in a House homeland-security spending bill expected to be released Wednesday. The Senate included only $1.6 billion for the wall in its version of the bill last month, a figure that displeased Trump, who told senators he might shut down the government this fall if he does not get more.

Administration officials and House Republicans are holding discussions about the precise figure and what the money would be spent on. Trump never formally requested $5 billion for the wall, instead communicating the number privately to lawmakers in recent weeks.

Rep. Charles J. “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, said he anticipated $5 billion that would be allocated for “wall plus” — meaning physical barriers in some spots, as well as other security mechanisms in places along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border where a wall might not be practical.

He and other Republicans acknowledged it might be a struggle to get their number through the Senate. Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee have been writing their spending bills on a bipartisan basis this year, while House Republicans are proceeding on their own, without Democrats.

“It’s got to start somewhere, and if we start in the House and get that out there it gives us a starting point,” Fleischmann said. “You’ll at least have the House and the White House lined up.”

Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the $5 billion figure was a non-starter given numerous other needs in areas such as education and health care.

“That number is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable,” Lowey said.

Republican lawmakers hope to avoid a government shutdown. Current funding bills are set to expire Sept. 30, just ahead of the November midterm elections in which the GOP will try to keep control of Congress.

Thorny issues such as wall funding and an unrelated fight over spending on veterans may remain unresolved at that point, and lawmakers widely expect that Congress will have to pass a short-term funding extension to keep the government running through Election Day.

The remaining issues could then be hashed out in a lame-duck session.

During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for a wall along the border, but thus far that has not happened.

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Author: ERICA WERNER, THE WASHINGTON POST

Trump Administration Reunites 57 Immigrant Children Under 5, Declares “Eligible” Reunifications Complete

The federal government said Thursday morning that it has reunited 57 immigrant children under the age of 5 who had been separated from their parents after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In doing so, the government declared its efforts to reunite “eligible children” in that age group complete.

Those 57 children represent more than half of 103 “tender age” juveniles who had been identified as separated from their parents in a court case the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the government. The California judge in the case had ordered those children reunited by Tuesday. The rest of the children have been deemed ineligible for immediate reunification.

More than 2,000 children over the age of 5 remain separated from their parents. The court has set a July 26 deadline for those children to be reunified.

Of the kids under the age of 5 deemed ineligible for reunification, 12 have parents who were already deported by the U.S. government. Those parents “are being contacted,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release. Another 22 were found to be ineligible for reunification due to safety concerns (most often because their parents had a serious criminal record), there were worries about abuse or the adults they were supposed to be reunified with weren’t their parents. Eleven children’s parents were also in custody for other alleged criminal offenses. And in one case, the government has lost track of a child’s parent for more than a year.

In a joint statement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged that a “tremendous amount of hard work and obstacles” remain in the reunification process.

“The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly, and we intend to continue our good faith efforts to reunify families,” they said.

But in a statement, the ACLU noted that the unifications were completed two days beyond the original deadline.

“If in fact 57 children have been reunited because of the lawsuit, we could not be more happy for those families,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “But make no mistake about it: the government missed the deadline even for these 57 children. Accordingly, by the end of the day we will decide what remedies to recommend to the court for the non-compliance.”

Most families had been divided as part of the Trump administration’s now-reversed practice of separating those who crossed the border illegally — though some had also been separated before the policy became official, and some had been separated after seeking asylum legally at official ports of entry into the United States.

This week, families who have been reunified have been released from federal custody, given ankle monitors and ordered to appear back in court for their immigration proceedings. But government lawyers have indicated to the court that they might not continue that practice for long. In the future, the government has indicated, officials might give the parents a choice: Agree to be detained with their child — and give up that child’s right to be released after 20 days — or release their child to the custody of the federal government.

In their update on the reunification efforts, the three cabinet secretaries defended the Trump administration’s handling of the family separations.

“The American people gave this administration a mandate to end the lawlessness at the border, and President Trump is keeping his promise to do exactly that. Our message has been clear all along: Do not risk your own life or the life of your child by attempting to enter the United States illegally. Apply lawfully and wait your turn,” they said in their joint statement.

“The American immigration system is the most generous in the world, but we are a nation of laws and we intend to continue enforcing those laws,” they said.

Author: MATTHEW WATKINS – The Texas Tribune

U.S. and Mexico Discussing a Deal that Could Slash Migration at the Border

MEXICO CITY — While President Trump regularly berates Mexico for “doing nothing” to stop illegal migration, behind the scenes the two governments are considering a deal that could drastically curtail the cross-border migration flow.

The proposal, known as a “safe third country agreement,” would potentially require asylum seekers transiting through Mexico to apply for protection in that nation rather than in the United States. It would allow U.S. border guards to turn back such asylum seekers at border crossings and quickly return to Mexico anyone who has already entered illegally seeking refuge, regardless of their nationality.

U.S. officials believe this type of deal would discourage many Central American families from trying to reach the United States. Their soaring numbers have strained U.S. immigration courts and overwhelmed the U.S. government’s ability to detain them. The Trump administration says the majority are looking for jobs — rather than fleeing persecution — and are taking advantage of American generosity to gain entry and avoid deportation.

“We believe the flows would drop dramatically and fairly immediately” if the agreement took effect, said a senior Department of Homeland Security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss negotiations with the Mexican government, which the official said had gathered momentum in recent weeks.

The proposed agreement has divided the Mexican government and alarmed human rights activists who maintain that many of the migrants are fleeing widespread gang violence and could be exposed to danger in Mexico.

The possible accord is likely to be discussed this week at high-level meetings in Latin America. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday with foreign ministers from Central America and Mexico in Guatemala City. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Mexico City on Friday.

On the surface, such an agreement would appear difficult for Mexico. The number of Central Americans claiming asylum in Mexico has risen sharply in recent years, and many analysts warn that the country does not have the capacity to settle fresh waves of people. Last year, Mexico’s refugee agency failed to attend to more than half of the 14,000 asylum applications it received, according to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission.

Critics of the plan say that President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government should not reach a deal at a time when the Trump administration has used tactics as separating migrant parents from their children at the border.

“It’s ridiculous,” said one Mexican official who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Nobody really knows what it is we’re getting in return.”

Even so, some Mexican officials have warmed to the idea.

They argue that requiring Central Americans to apply for asylum in Mexico would undercut the smuggling networks that charge fees of $10,000 or more for a journey from Central America to the United States.

The senior DHS official said the U.S. government has signaled to Mexico that it would be prepared to offer significant financial aid to help the country cope with a surge of asylum seekers, at least in the short term. The investment, which would be paid through the U.S. security-assistance plan for Mexico, the Merida Initiative,would quickly pay for itself, the DHS official argued.

“Look at the amount of money spent on border security, on courts, on detention and immigration enforcement,” the senior official said. “It’d be pennies on the dollar to support Mexico in this area.”

Such an agreement could also allow Mexico’s government to develop its capacity to settle asylum seekers and improve its battered international reputation by taking a public stance in favor of human rights, according to supporters.

“Mexico is interested [in] addressing the fact that both the United States and Mexico have experienced a significant increase in the number of asylum and refugee requests and that a large number of Central American nationals enter Mexico with the intent to reach the United States,” Gerónimo Gutiérrez, Mexico’s ambassador to Washington, said in an emailed statement. “We have engaged the U.S. government in conversations about this matter in order to identify possible areas of cooperation, but we have not reach any conclusion.”

The U.S. government has had a “safe third country” agreement with Canadasince 2004, preventing migrants from transiting through that country to apply for asylum in the United States.

But violence has reached record levels in Mexico, and the border states are particularly dangerous, which could put migrants at risk if U.S. authorities began busing Central Americans back into Mexico.

The State Department’s travel advisories warn U.S. citizens against visiting parts of Mexico, including the border state of Tamaulipas.

“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread” in the state, a warning from March said.

“It’s one thing to say we’re going to have a safe third-country agreement with Canada,” said Roberta Jacobson, who left her post as U.S. ambassador to Mexico this spring. “It’s another thing to say you’re safe and well as soon as you cross the Guatemalan border into Mexico.”

It might seem surprising that Mexico and the United States are in negotiations at all on migration. Relations between the countries have slumped to their lowest point in years, with the United States threatening to dump the North American Free Trade Agreement and Mexico leading a push recently at the Organization of American States to condemn the Trump administration’s family separation practices as “cruel and inhumane.”

But DHS officials believe they have a window to secure a deal in the lame-duck phase of Peña Nieto’s administration, which ends on Dec. 1. Some on the Mexican side see such an accord as a possible valuable chit in broader negotiations over tariffs and the future of North American free trade.

Under U.S. asylum laws, applicants can generally make a claim only once they are on American soil. That can occur at an airport or a land or sea port of entry and is known as an “affirmative asylum” claim.

But the process can also be initiated by someone who seeks to avoid deportation after crossing illegally, and such “defensive asylum” claims account for the majority of those filed by Central Americans taken into custody along the border. The courts received 119,144 defensive asylum applications in 2017, up from 68,530 in 2016 and just 13,214 in 2008.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” crackdown at the border this spring attempted to deter the practice by charging anyone crossing illegally with a federal crime, regardless of whether the person planned to claim asylum. Those criminal proceedings were the mechanism used to separate migrant parents from their children, until Trump’s executive order suspended the practice last month.

“I think the U.S. is looking at a wide range of ways to deter people from coming or to block them entirely, and this would be one way to outsource many of the issues related to migrants and asylum seekers to our southern neighbor,” said Royce Murray, policy director at the American Immigration Council, a migrant advocacy group.

Arrests along the U.S.-Mexico border — a barometer of overall illegal crossings — had plunged in the months after Trump’s inauguration but began climbing again last summer. A sudden surge this spring infuriated the president, who leveled his anger at Nielsen.

She broached the “safe third country” agreement when she visited Mexico in mid-April. But she received contradictory signals from Mexican counterparts, according to two people with knowledge of the talks.

Mexican officials say the plan has divided Peña Nieto’s government. Some in the Foreign Ministry who want to improve ties with the United States remain in favor of at least a pilot project, while others in the Interior Ministry, who would have to handle resettling thousands of Central Americans, stand opposed, officials said.

The winner of the July 1 presidential elections, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has yet to weigh in publicly on the issue. Roberto Velasco, a spokesman for the incoming foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said that the new administration does not “have a position yet since we don’t know the details of the proposal or the negotiations between the two countries.”

Authors: JOSHUA PARTLOW AND NICK MIROFF, THE WASHINGTON POST

Cruz Suggests Mexico’s Election of “Far-Left Socialist” Lopéz Obrador Means U.S. Needs Border Wall

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday that the election of a “far-left socialist” to the Mexican presidency underscores the need for President Donald Trump’s administration to secure the border and build a wall between the United States and its southern neighbor.

Cruz said Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, 64, had been running on an “anti-American campaign for a long, long time.”

López Obrador earned more than 50 percent of the vote count Sunday, a landslide compared to Mexico’s historical election results. He ran on a populist agenda in which he promised to put Mexico’s interests ahead of those of foreign governments and investors, leading some to label the candidate as a socialist in the mold of other Latin American leaders.

While responding to an audience question at a campaign stop Tuesday in Waco, Cruz pondered the future of U.S.-Mexico relations if López Obrador, known as “AMLO” in Mexico, were to become the equivalent of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro or his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

“It could really cause a problem in terms of our relationship with Mexico if he follows through on the anti-America rhetoric,” Cruz said. In addition to the wall, Cruz also repeated his call for the federal government to increase staffing and technology on the border with Mexico.

Cruz stressed, however, that he hoped López Obrador’s fiery rhetoric was limited to campaign-trail stumping and that it would not influence his foreign policy. But the senator said an area of highest concern was López Obrador’s take on immigration.

“One of the areas that could be particularly problematic is he urged Mexicans before the election, ‘Pack up and go up north to America.’ … I’m running in the state of Texas. How would it work if I stood up and said, ‘Elect me and then get the hell out of Texas!’?” Cruz said. “What a profound statement of giving up on your country, telling your citizens, ‘Flee our country because we’re not gonna solve the problem.'”

Claims that López Obrador called for mass migration to the United States during the campaign have been debunked. Instead, PolitiFact reported that López Obrador said his party would defend the rights of migrants who have, out of necessity, left their hometowns to find a better life in the United States.

“It is a human right that we are going to defend,” he said.

López Obrador, who ran unsuccessfully in 2006 and 2012, has reportedly taken a more moderate tone since his historic victory on Sunday, calling for friendship with the United States. Still, observers are waiting to see what happens during Mexico’s five-month-long transition period, during which the president-elect will likely lay out his policy proposals and Cabinet nominees — providing a better look into his administration’s agenda.

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Author – BY JULIÁN AGUILAR AND PATRICK SVITEK

Story in Many Pics: Groups March to International Bridge to Protest Immigration Policies

On Saturday morning, several organizations including the Border Network for Human Rights, Women’s March El Paso, Las Americas, DMRS, Mexicanos en Exilio, and Borderland Immigration Council, Hope Border Institute marched to raise awareness against the Trump’s administration’s zero-tolerance policy and the practice of separating children from their parents and the criminalization of asylum seekers.

The march began at Cleveland Square and ended at the Paso Del Norte Bridge.

Our very own Alexandra Hinojosa was at the march and brings you her view via this Story in Many Pics.

 

In El Paso Shelter, a Group of Undocumented Immigrant Parents Now Know Where Their Children Are

On Monday afternoon at a migrant shelter in this border city, Mario, an undocumented Honduran immigrant who was separated from his daughter, struggled to tell reporters how all he wanted to do was wish her happy birthday and ask for her forgiveness.

On Thursday, he said he’s had the chance to do both after finally learning his 10-year-old daughter’s location: She’s somewhere in El Paso, he said, and she’s safe.

“I said, ‘Please forgive me for letting them separate us,’” he said. “But she’s a smart girl, and she understood that the most important thing is that we’re going to be able to be together.”

Mario was one of 32 undocumented parents who had been separated from their children after being apprehended or turning themselves in to federal border officers under a zero-tolerance policy on undocumented border crossers that’s led to more than 2,300 children being separated from their parents.

Ruben Garcia, the director of the El Paso-based Annunciation House where the migrants were received, said the group was among the first to be released after President Donald Trump reversed course and halted family separations through an executive order.

Some, like Mario, didn’t even know where their children were after arriving at the shelter.

Garcia said about a dozen parents from that group remain at the shelter, and all of them now know where their children are — although not all have been able to speak to them. Some of the other parents are trying to connect with family members in the United States who were likely named the children’s designated sponsors when the families were caught and separated.

But before he can be reunited with his daughter, Mario — who asked to be identified only by his first name to avoid the possibility of jeopardizing his asylum claim — needs the Honduran government to fax a copy of his birth certificate to the legal representatives who are helping him while he’s at the shelter.

Garcia said the birth certificate is one of the documents that the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which has custody of the children, asks to see before approving reunifications, but those aren’t returned to the parents after they are released from federal custody.

“And so when you talk to ORR, you say, ‘ICE took my birth certificate,’ and they’ll say that ICE and ORR don’t talk to each other,” Garcia said. “It’s just a problematic system.”

A spokesperson with the ICE field office in El Paso said the agency does not keep identifying documents once an immigrant is released from its custody.

Garcia said most of the parents who were apprehended and separated will likely be reunited with their children wherever the designated sponsor is located because that’s a faster option than starting the process over to bring the parent and child together.

To locate their children, the parents have been reaching out to the designated sponsors, who then have to connect them with the ORR social worker in charge of the child’s case.

They call the [sponsor] and he or she gives the parent the name and phone number of the social worker,” Garcia said. “That doesn’t tell me where my kid is, that just tells me who the social worker is. I call the social worker, and that’s when I find out my kid is in Chicago or New York or wherever.”

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Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

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