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Thread: Trump Administration Program Nearly Ended Asylum. Now, Coronavirus Has Halted It.

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016

    Trump Administration Program Nearly Ended Asylum. Now, Coronavirus Has Halted It.

    Trump Administration Program Nearly Ended Asylum. Now, Coronavirus Has Halted It.

    Alicia A. Caldwell
    6 hrs ago

    Tens of thousands of migrants who were waiting in Mexico on the slim hopes that their request for asylum in the U.S. might succeed are now stuck there indefinitely until the coronavirus pandemic eases and the border reopens.

    © REUTERS/Paul Ratje Migrants in the "Remain in Mexico" program wait in line at the border to reschedule their immigration hearings amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, April 20, 2020.

    Under the year-old program called Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, most people who request asylum in the U.S. are sent to wait in Mexico and only allowed over the border for hearings in immigration court every few months.

    Instituted by the Trump administration to deter previously skyrocketing illegal immigration by Central American families seeking asylum, the program dramatically lowered their odds of success. Just over 1% of migrants in MPP whose cases have been decided have been granted asylum or some other legal protection.

    The success rate for people who waited in the U.S. for their cases to be resolved, which used to be standard practice before MPP, was roughly 30% in the federal fiscal year that ended last September.

    Of the nearly 65,000 foreigners made to wait in Mexico for U.S. court decisions since the program began last year, roughly 20,000 still have cases pending. An untold number of others have appealed rejections of their pleas for protection.

    Now, with the closure of the U.S.-Mexico border to all but essential travel and the shuttering of immigration courts due to fears over the coronavirus, most of their cases have been stopped dead in their tracks.

    Maria, an asylum seeker from Latin America who was put into MPP just over two months ago, said she and her fellow asylum-seeking migrants waiting in the Mexican border city of Nogales are equally afraid of contracting Covid-19 and the criminal organizations in the area.

    “We risk both of them to get food,” she said in Spanish via text message.

    Maria, who shares an apartment with other asylum seekers, recently had to take a bus about 10 hours to the east to report for a court hearing in El Paso, Texas, across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez. When she arrived, border authorities told her that due to the coronavirus shutdown, her hearing has been rescheduled for June.

    That’s typical for MPP participants, who must make the long and sometimes dangerous trip to official border crossings on their scheduled dates just in order to be informed that it has been rescheduled to May or June. Many medical experts have questioned whether public gathering places such as courts will be open then.

    Advocates are concerned the procedure is putting MPP participants at risk.

    “Requiring individuals to travel on crowded buses in the midst of the pandemic runs contrary to all public health recommendations and best practices,” said Joanna Williams, director of education and outreach for aid group Kino Border Initiative.

    Mailing documents to people in MPP is typically impossible, as they tend to live in encampments, shelters or temporary apartments with no stable address.

    Customs and Border Protection, which carries out the program, said in a statement that “due to logistical issues, coming to the port of entry in person and receiving new immigration hearing dates in person remains the most effective way to continue the process.”

    MPP, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” was instituted to deter previously skyrocketing illegal immigration by Central American families seeking asylum.

    Advocates for the asylum seekers say the rates of success have fallen in part because of logistical hurdles such as fewer lawyers willing to cross the border to high-crime Mexican cities, difficulty gathering and translating paperwork while living in a foreign country with few resources, and obstacles getting across the border to their hearings.

    “If the goal was to build a wall with Mexico with bricks and mortar, this administration has effectively gotten the same goal without building a wall,” said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University School of Law.

    Trump administration officials said the program gets decisions to migrants faster and more efficiently and has reduced illegal immigration. Arrests of people crossing from Mexico to the U.S. without legal authorization declined for eight straight months after reaching a 13-year high of more than 132,000 last May. The program has been challenged in court, and the Supreme Court recently ruled it may continue until a final court ruling.

    “What MPP also does is it allows us to administer the laws more effectively by assisting legitimate asylum seekers,” said Robert Pérez, deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, at a conference last month. “MPP has absolutely been instrumental in our ability to address the ongoing national security crisis along our southwest border.”

    Even for the most prepared and qualified applicant, the fate of an MPP asylum case is unpredictable, according to attorneys. “I think it’s random in terms of the judge, the date, the time, the trial attorney,” said Jodi Goodwin, a longtime immigration lawyer in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley who represents several MPP migrants.

    One of the few factors that seem to make a difference is whether the migrant is from Cuba or Venezuela. Among the 517 MPP participants who have won protection since the program began, 438 come from those two countries.

    Combined, Cubans and Venezuelans make up just 17% of MPP participants.
    People from those countries win more frequently, experts say, because they tend to have more money, are better educated and can more easily explain to a judge the persecution they have faced at home. Their cases are also more frequently based on political opposition to their home governments, which are vocal opponents of the U.S.

    Of the 3,993 MPP migrants known to have lawyers, roughly 47% are from Cuba or Venezuela, according to data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

    There’s no data on how many migrants living in shelters or encampments are infected with Covid-19. Advocates have said some shelters are trying to quarantine people they believe are sick. Given the crowded conditions and lack of supplies such as soap, sanitizer and masks, residents fear it’s only a matter of time.

    As the border closure has essentially frozen MPP participants in place, shelters in Mexico are increasingly denying entry by new arrivals. In some instances, shelters won’t let migrants who have left to report for new court dates come back, fearing that they may have been infected while standing in crowded border port lines.
    In Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, thousands of migrants live in a tent encampment alongside the Rio Grande.

    “We’re afraid of the pandemic,” said José, a Central American who has been living in a small orange and grey tent with his wife and young daughter since August. “Only God can protect all of us.”

    The family lost their bid for asylum but have appealed their case and are living in Matamoros while their case is reviewed by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

    They live in the south end of the camp, a crowded section where there is just a small walking path between tents. Donated food supplies and meals were previously available on a routine basis, José said, but with travel restrictions at the border, the supply has grown scarce.

    “There is food in the [community] pantry, but it’s all for sale,” José said. “And we don’t have any money.”

    José and his wife, Evelyn, who declined to use their full names or country of origin due to fears for their relatives’ safety, said they left one of the three Central American countries known as the Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—last July, after being repeatedly targeted by gangs for extortion. Those three countries make up about 70% of all MPP participants.

    After submitting a 338-page asylum packet, translated into English, and testifying about the threats and attacks on their family, a judge ruled in January that while she found Evelyn credible, she didn’t believe all of her testimony. And the judge said she didn’t believe José at all, according to the couple.

    Evelyn said the multi-hour trial was difficult for her and her husband, as the judge and a government lawyer asked the same questions over and over, translated into Spanish by an interpreter. She said she answered them honestly every time.

    Immigration and court officials have declined to comment on specific cases.

    José and Evelyn said they aren’t sure what they will do or where they will go if an appeals panel rejects their case.

    Write to Alicia A. Caldwell at

    Last edited by Beezer; 04-25-2020 at 02:45 PM.
    Judy likes this.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    Halt it forever. No more showing up on our doorstep.

    We are not the dumping ground for ENTIRE CITIES of illegal aliens who want to come here from all over the world.

    Mexico had better line them up at their Embassies to send them back and clear out those tent cities.

    Tens of Thousands who need to be directed to their Embassy in Mexico to make arrangements for their travel back home. USA is not their Travel Agent to fly them back. No more free flights! Their Embassy can relocate them within their own country and change their identities.

    Broke, pregnant, full of diseases, sick, and in bad health. Go home.

    We do not have "tens of thousands" of available housing or jobs for these people. We are $25 trillion in debt.

    They already BROKE our healthcare system, our hospitals, and our social services programs. Give them nothing! They are their presidents responsiblity to house and feed and give the free stuff.

    Time for your president to put your gangs in prison, execute them, and put them to work on their soil.

    They gravy train is OVER, slam that border shut once and for all.

    They have no papers, then NO rights, and no more court.

    Judy likes this.


  3. #3
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    The Attorney Brokering the Border Standoff

    Nick Fouriezos
    21 hrs ago

    Each day began the same. Efren Olivares, armed with a notepad and pen, would show up at 7:45 a.m. at the McAllen, Texas, courthouse and get ready for the emotional lift of a lifetime. Inside, dozens of immigrant parents awaited their day in court. It was the Texas Civil Rights Project lawyer’s job to get their names, birthdays and countries of origin, as well as their children’s information, usually in less than five minutes. It was also often his job to deliver the tragic news: that they may not see their kids for weeks, if not months.

    © John Moore/Getty A family of Honduran asylum-seekers stands on the international bridge from Mexico to the United States in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico.

    “During the interviews, the parents would break down,” he remembers. “And sadly, I became numb about it over time, desensitized. All clear signs of secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, burnout.”

    That was the height of the separations crisis in the summer of 2018, when the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy led to the eventual splitting of more than 5,400 immigrant children. And the 37-year-old, whose daily work helped build one of the few databases used to reunite hundreds of families, says the work is far from done. Despite U.S. officials ending the practice of separating families, many asylum-seekers are being forced to send their children to the border alone to keep them safe from dangerous border camps created by the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

    When you hear the children crying, but you don’t see the color of their skin, you don’t ‘other’ them.

    Efren Olivares

    “In a Machiavellian way they have stopped legal immigration without changing the law. The process is just radically different,” Olivares says, noting that immigrants are sometimes given as little as half an hour to get legal representation while making calls from detention centers. “Separations are still happening, and it’s the direct consequence of American policies.”

    And this week President Donald Trump added a new twist by signing a fresh executive order restricting immigration during the pandemic, ending new green cards but stopping short of eliminating work visas entirely. “It certainly sounds unconstitutional, and it is not clear at all how this is related to the pandemic in any way,” Olivares said after the president’s tweet announcing the order

    © Provided by Ozy IMG_20200304_111159 Efren Olivares, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights

    Project and a Mexican American immigrant himself, is taking on the Trump administration at the border.

    Olivares has been sheltering in place since early March, when stay-at-home orders forced him and his colleagues to stop visiting the courthouse daily to take down the details of apprehended immigrants. Olivares is also representing a number of South Texas landowners as they fight Uncle Sam’s efforts to seize their properties to build Trump’s border wall. And amid coronavirus concerns, the group has also pushed for safeguards to help make sure immigrants waiting in Mexico receive medical attention.

    “The Texas Civil Rights Project is always at the forefront of the issues of the day,” says Thelma Garcia, an immigration lawyer who has worked in the Rio Grande Valley region for four decades. “[Olivares] is quite smart, very quick, very analytical.”

    Olivares knows better than most the emotional toll of separations. As a 9-year-old in Allende, Mexico, he watched his truck driver father leave for the U.S. in search of work. For four years, Olivares saw his dad only every other weekend. A good student, Olivares would save his progress reports for those special moments. “I remember longing to have him around,” Olivares says of those four years.
    By 1996, his dad was able to bring Olivares, his brother and their mother to McAllen. Even though he was just a teenager, Olivares worked hard to learn English, becoming his high school valedictorian. He chose the University of Pennsylvania because it offered the best financial aid package, and taking philosophy, politics and economics classes gave him his “social justice awakening.”

    He went on to Yale Law School; after graduating, he spent four years at a law firm, Fulbright & Jaworski, to make money. “I felt a bit of a duty to support my family financially,” Olivares says, particularly because his dad had died. Soon after, he took a yearlong fellowship at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, moving to the Texas Civil Rights Project in 2013 to work on issues that more directly moved him.

    A father of two who plays guitar, Olivares had expected his job to become more difficult when Trump was elected in 2016. Stepped-up immigration raids and travel bans were one thing, but he couldn’t have predicted the child separations policy that roiled the nation, couldn’t have imagined compiling the stories of parents who had to tell their children lies — “you’re going to summer camp,” one father said — as they were taken away.

    He was thankful when an audiotape emerged of an immigrant daughter tearfully pleading to call her aunt, which captured the country’s imagination and led to the policy’s end. “I remember thinking, ‘There has to be somebody in the detention centers with a conscience, who is going to leak what is going on.’ I hadn’t considered that audio would be it — but it was so powerful that it was audio.

    Because when you hear the children crying, but you don’t see the color of their skin, you don’t ‘other’ them. All children sound the same. You think: ‘That could be my children.'”

    A former senior Trump administration official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, tells OZY that reports describing child detention centers as cages were sensationalized. In the administration’s view, lawyers like Olivares are hopelessly biased in their advocacy for asylum-seekers and other immigrants, while the government’s policies are working. Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan reported that daily apprehensions at the border had dropped from 4,600 in May 2019 to 1,300 in December. “This seven-month decline is a direct result of President Trump’s network of policy initiatives,” Morgan said in January.

    But while Olivares knows he’s fighting a losing legal battle, he insists his team is not being unreasonable. “Our approach is to make the government, when implementing its policy, comply with its own laws,” he says. As a reelection-minded president seeks to escalate his immigration agenda, Olivares will be pushing back, pen in hand, at the border.

    Last edited by Beezer; 04-25-2020 at 03:00 PM.


  4. #4
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    This attorney can take his "notepad and pen" and fly himself to their countries, meet with their President, and get them their "social justice".

    Send all those UACs back, the illegal parents, and let their government reunite them all.

    They have no constitutional rights here...they are NOT our citizens. They need to go home and get their "rights".



    Judy likes this.


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