Who Are The People Seeking Asylum In The United States
Although the current administration in the United States tends to portray their country as a major destination for the refugees and asylum seekers in the world bearing most of the global refugee crisis burden, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees statistics tell a different story and show that out of the 68.5 million displaced people across the world, 85% are hosted by the developing countries the top five being Turkey, Uganda, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iran. Nonetheless, the number of people seeking asylum and crossing the Southern border of the USA has been steadily on the rise. Most people trying to legally or illegally cross the US borders come from the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America which includes Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. However, this is not a new phenomenon and citizens of these countries have been fleeing political instability, civil wars, gang violence, poverty, and broken economies for over three decades.
Government Documents Reveal Poor Conditions
In December 2019, documents which were obtained during a lawsuit revealed that the Office of Refugee Resettlement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services knew that the resettlement camps which housed many separated immigrant families were in poor condition and created health problems for some as well. The Inspector General also concluded that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers didnt accurately record possible family relationships between adults and 1,233 children detained between October 2017 and mid-February 2019.
In January 2021, the Inspector General for the Department of Justice concluded an investigation into the “zero tolerance” policy, finding that: department leaders underestimated the difficulty of implementing it, failed to tell local prosecutors and others that children would be separated failed to understand that separations would last longer than a few hours and failed to halt the policy after that was discovered. The findings led Rod Rosenstein, who had been Trump’s Attorney General at the time the policy was enforced, to admit that family separations “should never have been implemented”. According to an NBC News report on the investigation, “The report could provide a road map for the incoming Biden administration to investigate those responsible for a policy President-elect Joe Biden has called criminal.”
Chaos In The Courtroomscaos En Los Tribunales
As zero tolerance went into effect, federal courtrooms along the border were beset by an atmosphere of chaos and desperation, dozens of attorneys, judges and advocates told the Guardian.
People were panicking, recalled Carlos Quinonez, a defense attorney in El Paso, Texas. I’ve never seen so many people.
It was a shock for everyone, said Daniela Chisolm, another El Paso attorney. You had 75 people in chains: 18-year-old girls from Guatemala, 70-year-old men from Honduras The first day, I had 15 clients, and nine of them had children taken from them.
Defense attorneys spoke of an exponential increase in the number of cases they were assigned, made all the more challenging by their clients anxiety after losing their children. I spent a lot of time having to refocus my clients, said Quinonez. They were focused on where their kids were.
While federal public defenders usually represent indigent defendants charged with felonies, the task of representing the thousands of misdemeanor illegal entry cases often fell to private defense attorneys like Quinonez and Chisolm, whose fees the government pays. Pierce, the Las Cruces defense attorney, said he came to consider those payments blood money. We get paid to do this, but its not really what we signed up for, he said. You want to defend people in a criminal case, not because someone crossed the border looking for work.
He is yet to be reunited with Marco.
Aún no se ha reunido con Marco.
Recommended Reading: How Much Of Trump’s Border Wall Has Been Built
If Operation Streamline Was Already In Effect How Is Trumps Zero
To be clear, Operation Streamline and the accompanying increase in prosecutions of people for illegal reentry resulted in serious harm to families and asylum seekers, as well as to due process, long before this administration began its zero-tolerance policy.
Under the Trump administration, however, the harms of these prosecutions have been compounded by increased prosecution, as well as by specific efforts to target parents traveling with children and to penalize asylum seekers for illegal entry, in violation of international law.
First, as stated above, the Trump administration for the first time systemically prosecuted large numbers of parents traveling with children, leading to unprecedented separation of thousands of families at the border.
Second, the zero-tolerance policy is coupled with new and serious barriers to asylum. Previous zero-tolerance polices led to the criminal prosecution of asylum seekers. The current administrations policy goes further, explicitly targeting asylum seekers who enter illegally and issuing guidance to asylum officers directing them to consider illegal entry a factor that they may count against an individuals application for asylum.
Executive Order To Suspend New Separations And Detain Families
On June 20, 2018, Trump signed Executive Order 13841, titled “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation”, that restricts family separation but maintains many of the key components of the Administration’s immigration policy. The Order instructs the Department of Homeland Security to maintain custody of parents and children jointly, “to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations”. It also instructs the Justice Department to attempt to overturn the Flores Agreement, which limited the time for holding children and families with children to twenty days, allowing children to be detained indefinitely. The order directs other agencies, including the Pentagon to create or procure spaces to house the family units, however the family unit will not be maintained if there is fear for the child’s welfare.
At the signing ceremony, Trump said, “We’re going to have strong, very strong borders but we are going to keep the families together. I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.” Trump emphasised that families would be kept together, yet zero tolerance would continue.
Read Also: Why Is Donald Trump Such An Idiot
How Is The United States Responsible For The Crisis At Its Borders
Trumps administration feels no empathy for the families and unaccompanied children pouring across the border and has repeatedly tried to misrepresent the asylum seekers as evil criminals, threatening gang members, and undeserving of human dignity. Although liberal arguments around helping asylum seekers on the basis of morality, inclusion, and compassion are important, the United States needs to take serious responsibilities for the current situation and make up for its well-documented history of meddling in Central America. Indeed, the United States has over a century-long history of political, military, and economical interventions in Central America and is basically reaping what it has sown actions that could be traced back to Theodore Roosevelt justifying the USs right to act as an international police power in Latin America , to the failed war on drugs policy in Latin America ,, and the 2006 US-Central American Free Trade Agreement .,
What Has The Separation Of Families Looked Like
Here are just some of the stories weve seen from the ongoing separation of families:
- A 4-month old baby was taken from its mother as it was breastfeeding the mother was handcuffed for resisting
- Children are learning to change younger childrens diapers because they have all been separated from their parents
- A father was separated from his four-month-old baby. Even after he accepted being deported in order to reunite with his child, the government removed him from the U.S. but kept his baby. They have now been apart for four months.
- A father was so distraught over being separated from his wife and child that he killed himself.
- Audio from inside a detention facility featured children crying, and an agent making light of it
- The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law documented 200 accounts of the conditions faced by migrant children and their parents. Read a summary of some of their stories here.
- A two-year old had to face immigration courtby herself.
- Video footage provided by Customs and Border Protection showed children in cages and under thin space blankets
- The New Yorker reported that a five-year-old was persuaded by the border patrol into signing away her rights.
- CNN reported that ICE put a 4-year-old on a plane to Guatemala by herself and her dad only found out 30 minutes before she landed.
Read Also: Did Trump Get Rid Of Pandemic Team
What Are The Public Safety And Financial Costs Of Zero
Zero-tolerance policies require enormous resources from federal prosecutors and courts, the Department of Justice, the US Marshals, and the Bureau of Prisons. In 2011, the chief judge of the US District of Arizona declared a judicial emergency in part due to the strain of immigration cases. A 2012 report estimated incarceration costs alone for those sentenced for illegal entry and reentry reached $1 billion in 2011. Individuals serving sentences for illegal entry and reentry are an important source of the burgeoning federal prison population. The number of people serving prison sentences for immigration offenses grew 762 percent from 1990 to 2015.
Preparations For New Detention Facilities
The June 20, 2018, executive order instructs that “The Secretary of Defense shall take all legally available measures to provide to the Secretary, upon request, any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families, and shall construct such facilities if necessary and consistent with law.” On June 21, the Department of Health and Human Services requested facilities to house migrant children. Pentagon spokesmen and a memorandum sent to Congress confirmed that the Department of Defense was preparing facilities at four military bases in Texas and ArkansasFort Bliss, Dyess Air Force Base, Goodfellow Air Force Base, and Little Rock Air Force Baseto house 20,000 “unaccompanied alien children“. On June 25, the Associated Press reported that Fort Bliss and Goodfellow Air Force Base had been chosen, and that one will house unaccompanied migrant children, while the other will house migrant families.
Also Check: What’s Trump’s Number
Who Is Being Prosecuted
Under the current and earlier zero-tolerance policies, criminal prosecution is not reserved for those with serious criminal histories. Even organizations that advocate for increased immigration enforcement acknowledge that many of the people who are criminally prosecuted today for illegal entry are not dangerous criminals, but regular folks, dishwashers, landscapers.
The change in the criminal histories of people prosecuted for felony reentry is particularly dramatic. In 2002, about 50 percent of people sentenced for illegal reentry had convictions serious enough to be counted in Criminal History Categories IV-VI . In 2017, with over twice as many people sentenced, only 24 percent of people convicted of reentry had convictions in these most serious categories. As more people have been prosecuted, fewer of them have had serious criminal histories.
As a result, the US government has prosecuted people with no prior criminal histories like Rosa Manriquez, a grandmother who had lived her entire life in the US, who was desperate to return to her citizen children and grandchildren and Brenda R., a mother who fled Mexico when police warned her to stop investigating the murder of two of her sons.
As prosecutions increase under Trump, even fewer people are likely to have serious criminal histories.
Most Judges Sentenced First
This meant that the time defendants spent incarcerated varied according to how quickly the court could process cases. For the vast majority, this resulted in less than 30 days in prison.
Esto significó que el tiempo que pasaron los encarcelados varió de acuerdo con la rapidez con que el tribunal podría procesar los casos. Para la gran mayoría, esto resultó en menos de 30 días en prisión.
Don’t Miss: Does Anyone Think Trump Is Doing A Good Job
Families Still Separatedfamilias An Separadas
After Josés criminal case was dismissed, he was transferred to an Ice immigration detention facility in Sierra Blanca, about 90 miles south-east of El Paso.
Immigration detention is the likely next step for most of the other 3,120 migrants once they complete their criminal sentences, though some are deported immediately after release from prison. For those who are transferred to Ice custody, they can either attempt to claim asylum, mount a case in immigration court that they should be allowed to stay, or be deported. But the paper trail ends with the criminal cases: immigration courts produce no comparable record of their proceedings.
José is allowed visitors, but only from behind a thick plate of glass. He is diminished his weight has dropped from 180lbs to 152lbs while he has been incarcerated, he says.
The stress is enormous, he said, fighting back tears. He has not been allowed to see his son, and though he is allowed to speak to Marco by phone, he lacks the funds to do so. A 20-minute call to a US number from the detention facility costs about $10, with a $3 service fee.
José doesnt have an immigration attorney and doesnt know the status of his immigration case. About a month ago I signed a form saying I want deportation, he said. But Ice hasnt said anything to me about when I will be deported.
My brother and my sister-in-law are both here without papers, said José. They gave up their fingerprints with their consent and in good faith to take in Marco.
What Are The Social And Health Costs
The bitter irony of the crisis is that no one is going to benefit from the current situation in the Southern border of the United States. What is going on is a vicious humanitarian cycle that only serves the instability and gang violence in the region. While Mr. Trump is all about winning, what is happening at the USs borders is nothing but a lose-lose situation both for the United States and the asylum seekers. Those asylum seekers whose application is rejected have to go back to their violent, threatening, and unstable environment. Conditions that would leave them with limited options that often lead to internal displacement, gang recruitments, or forcing them to take riskier paths to safety as most do not have any safer alternatives.,
You May Like: Where Is President Trump’s Next Rally
What Is The Trump Administrations Zero
The April 2018 policy directs US attorneys offices along the southwest border to accept for criminal prosecution all cases involving illegal entry that is, entering the US without authorization referred to them by US Customs and Border Protection to the extent practicable.
Since then, judicial districts along the southwest border have seen a significant increase in prosecution of immigration-related referrals by CBP. Among the five judicial districts on the border, in June 2018 there were 20 percent more immigration prosecutions than in May 2018, and 74 percent more prosecutions than in March 2018. There were also 134 percent more CBP-referred prosecutions in June 2018 than in June 2017.
Attorney General Sessions has declared the goal is 100 percent prosecutions of people caught crossing the border illegally. As of June 2018, 46 percent of adults arrested by Border Patrol were prosecuted. This represented an increase from May 2018, when less than one-third of adults arrested by Border Patrol were prosecuted.