The Truth About Busing Migrants from the Border to DC: A Story of Welcoming

UPDATE: The DC Attorney General’s office, whose funding is separate from that of the mayor’s office, has announced a grant program of $150,000 to aid nonprofits leading the welcoming response. We welcome this news, but unfortunately this level of funding is still woefully inadequate to meet the needs of mutual aid groups. 

In April, Governor Abbott of Texas began sending migrants from the US southern border to Washington, DC, with Arizona joining soon after. So far, Texas and Arizona have collectively bused over 7,000 migrants from the border to DC, and now Texas is beginning to send buses to New York City as well.  

 The narrative cycling around conservative media outlets is that Governors Abbott and Ducey have “stuck it to the Dems” by “bringing the border crisis” to their front doors. Abbott and Ducey are using migrant families, who are real people with hopes, dreams, and unimaginable journeys, as political pawns to spin a media narrative about an “immigrant invasion.” There are anecdotal reports of migrants being coerced onto the buses, told that they will be taken to their desired destination, and then sent to DC or New York instead.  

At the same time, many migrants have also been able to benefit from the program, because DC or New York are much closer to their final destination than the Texas or Arizona border. Others don’t have a final destination in mind. Forced to flee their homes, they are content to board a bus to DC or New York City, where, they are told, there will be resources and jobs waiting for them.  

In the case of DC, it is true that the buses have overwhelmed these resources. But this is not the fault of a “migrant crisis,” or the migrants themselves, but of a lack of institutional will to act.  

From day one, a mutual aid network of volunteers, activists, and immigrants’ rights advocates has been mobilizing to welcome and assist migrants arriving in DC despite a vacuum of institutional support from local or federal government. Though FEMA has provided federal funds to SAMU First Response, the main nonprofit officially in charge of coordinating, it has been woefully inadequate to keep up with the needs of receiving, housing, and transporting migrants.  

Sanctuary DMV, through the organizing and willpower of its volunteers, has been able to welcome thousands without such support. In New York City, a mutual aid and solidarity network led by Team TLC NY  is already assembling volunteers to greet and process migrants.  

Both cities’ governments have struggled with how to respond, further complicated by a lack of communication and cooperation from Texas regarding the arrivals.   

 The DC Department of Human Services has been illegally excluding migrant families from the shelter system despite available bed space, denying them critical resources such as a case manager, who could assist in school enrollment, health insurance, and receiving medical treatment. 

 Neither the city or federal government are willing to play a direct role in addressing what immigrant advocates say is a building humanitarian crisis. Indeed, the government’s failure to act is causing the humanitarian crisis in the first place. DC’s Mayor Bowser has not allocated any local funds or government resources to welcoming efforts, despite being able to apply to FEMA for reimbursement, and city officials have been encouraging nonprofits to seek additional federal aid instead.  

 The federal government declined Mayor Bowser’s request for assistance from the National Guard to process migrants, though she plans to renew this request. Sanctuary DMV has pushed back on this request, noting that doing so only serves to further militarize the reception of migrants, and that the city should instead focus on existing services, such as expanding shelter capacity, social services, and language access.  

 New York’s Mayor Adams claimed that migrants were overwhelming the shelter system before Governor Abbott had even begun sending buses. As aid groups pointed out, the shelter system was already overwhelmed by a variety of factors, such as understaffing and rising evictions.  

 To his credit, Adams quickly mobilized emergency measures to accommodate migrants in the shelter system, and appeared in person to greet migrants. Serious challenges still remain, as a new report shows that migrant families are being separated when entering the NYC shelter system. But perhaps Mayor Bowser can consider following in New York’s example and finally commit to welcoming.  

 It is important to remember despite the murky intersection of city, state, and federal politics, and despite the narrative being further weaponized by anti-immigrant media outlets and politicians, the communities of DC and New York City have stepped up.  

 “We recently learned that people have donated about $160,000 to Governor Abbott’s effort to bus people to DC. And we – the DC community – have raised over $350,000,”  said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA, and who has been actively welcoming with Sanctuary DMV. 

 “While politicians on both sides of the aisle use fear-mongering tactics to undermine the human right to seek asylum, we know that is not reflective of communities. When we feel overwhelmed with the numbers arriving, or the lack of capacity, our answer is not to tell people not to come. Our answer is to call for more support to expand our capacity to welcome, not shut the door.” 

 Ways to Help 

There are several ways that anyone, anywhere, can take action today: 

 If you are based in DC, there are a couple of ways to help aside from making a donation:  

  • Click to send a letter, tweet, or phone call 
  • Spanish, French, and Portuguese speakers are greatly needed. Volunteers are also needed to sort donations and for clean-up.  
  • Clothing, toiletries, and baby supplies are most needed.  

 In New York City, Team TLC NYC has been leading the welcoming efforts. Click HERE to support.  

 

 

 

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Quixote Center Celebrates Victories Against Anti-Immigrant Policies 

Quixote Center Celebrates Victories Against Anti-Immigrant Policies 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9th, 2022 

Contact: Alexandra Gulden 

alexandra@quixote.org 

Washington DC – The Quixote Center celebrates victories against two Trump-era policies: the defeat of Congressional amendments aimed at extending Title 42, and the effective end of the “Remain in Mexico” program.  

Over the weekend, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, landmark health and climate legislation, without anti-immigrant amendments that threatened to extend Title 42 indefinitely. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will no longer enroll asylum seekers in MPP, commonly referred to as “Remain in Mexico,” and those who are currently enrolled will be allowed to await their scheduled court dates in the U.S. 

“We thank all our partners, supporters, and elected officials who have made phone calls, written letters, and made a stand to demand an end to inhumane and anti-immigrant policies like Title 42 and the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program,” said Quixote Center Executive Director Dr. Kim Lamberty. “Together, these policies have jeopardized the safety of families and adults fleeing from danger, leading to over 10,000 violent attacks against migrants and asylum seekers.  

“The fight is not yet over, as Title 42 remains in place, and immigrant communities continue to face invasive surveillance and detention. We urge the Biden administration to swiftly take all necessary steps to end both Title 42 and ‘Remain in Mexico’, and take action to humanely welcome migrants and asylum seekers, rather than continue to cruelly detain, deport, and expel those seeking safety.” 

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The Quixote Center empowers vulnerable families and communities to become the artisans of their own destiny through transforming oppressive systems and structures. Inspired by liberation theology and Catholic Social Teaching, we do this through sustainable development, advocacy, economic justice, environmental, and educational initiatives. Our current focus is on Nicaragua and Haiti, where we support programs to empower impoverished families and communities, and support for migrants in Mexico and Central America, where we work to mitigate the damage of US immigration policies. Together with our partners, we dream of a world more justly loving. 

 

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A Teacher’s Reflections on the Quixote Center’s Solidarity Trip

Mural at La 72 Migrant Shelter

Two days before the Quixote Center trip to Mexico, a local journalist called me. Louisiana legislators had just drafted a proposal allowing teachers to bring guns to school, and the press wanted a comment from a local teacher. Just ten days after the Uvalde shooting, leaders hastily crafted legislation to demonstrate their resolve in preventing such tragedies in Louisiana.  

“As an educator and a parent, Ms. Molina,” said WDSU’s anchorman Sherman Desselle. “What’s your response to this proposal?”  

“Teachers and students have the right to expect that their schools will be safe,” I said. “It is the responsibility of our public officials and security officers to protect us. Shifting that responsibility to teachers is not fair.” 

Three days later with the murder of nineteen school children and their two teachers still haunting my country’s conscience, I listened as Honduran, Guatemalan, and Ugandan women recounted story after story of their own leaders’ abdication of responsibility to protect them and their children in their homelands. Not one of them recited the “looking for a better life” story–the sanitized narrative of seeking economic security in the American Dream. Instead crushing details of sexual violence, extortion, kidnappings and murders of husbands, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons gushed from their mouths in a litany of terror and desperation.  

“We would not be here if the police had done their jobs,” said a young Guatemalan mother after escaping the narcotrafficker who kidnapped her and held her hostage for three months of rapes and beatings. 

Even as these women flee an astounding level of physical and sexual violence at home, the risk of such violence is extremely high on the road north. Not naïve, migrant women prepare as best as they can. They told us of being “vaccinated” for the journey—taking oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy if they are raped along the way.  

Each woman sighed as she recounted countless and futile attempts to seek protection and justice from law enforcement and human rights organizations. Each voiced the devastating lack of results, the dismissiveness of officials or even worse…the divulgence of their reports to gangs who retaliated with more intimidation, threats and violence.  

Every migrant woman’s story illustrated the scars of an institutional failure to protect them and their children, and the very name and walls of their temporary refuge, the Franciscan migrant shelter La 72, serve as poignant reminders that this failure is not merely anecdotal but historic and well-documented.  

La 72 is named in memory of 72 migrants who were massacred in Tamaulipas, Mexico in 2010. Today women and children fill the chapel of La 72, a memorial to the murdered migrants. Resting on floor mats with their backpacks and water bottles at their sides, they face the chapel’s altar wall where seventy-two crosses remind them of the tragic fate of their predecessors. Each cross bears the name of a murdered migrant and the flag of his/her country. Some have only the flag… “because we still don’t know the names of all the victims,” explained Alejandra Conde, La 72’s Coordinator of Structural Change. 

The killings are suspected to be the result of collusion between Mexican police officers and drug cartel leaders. In 2011, twelve Mexican police officers were detained on homicide charges in the case. But not until May of this year was anyone convicted and sentenced for crimes against the migrants. Even then, when a Mexican judge finally convicted eighteen drug cartel leaders, it was for the abduction, not of the murders, of the 72 migrants. 

The walls of La 72 do not let migrants or visitors forget the complicity of our nation’s leaders in the heartbreaking tragedy of forced migrations.  

 Another wall at La 72 features a map of the Americas. Former US President Donald Trump’s orange hair erupts into flames from which Latin American migrants appear. “Trump,” the mural admonishes in Spanish, “You will be the one who lights the fire of resistance of the peoples.” In the bottom right corner, the declaration is in Spanglish, “20 enero 2021 got out!!! Mr. Trump Fuera JOH.” The first is a reference to the last day of Trump’s term in office. The second is a popular Honduran political chant meaning “Out with JOH,” initials of former (2014-2022) Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez.  

Trump’s pressure on Mexico to militarize the border created even more dangerous conditions for migrants especially in light of historic corruption among Mexican police—as in the case of the Tamaulipas massacre.  

As for Hernandez, in April, the US government ordered his arrest and extradition on charges of alleged drug-trafficking conspiracy. Last year Hernandez’s brother, “Tony,” a former Honduran congressman, was sentenced in US court to life in prison for drug trafficking and bribery. The US Department of Justice contends that the former president and US ally allegedly received millions of dollars from cartel leaders in exchange for protection from arrest. Juan Orlando Hernandez, they say, allegedly:  

leveraged the Government of Honduras’ law enforcement, military, and financial resources…to protect drug traffickers…including his brother…from investigation, arrest, and extradition; caused sensitive law enforcement and military information to be provided to drug traffickers to aid them in transporting tons of cocaine through Honduras, bound for the United States; directed heavily-armed members of the Honduran National Police and Honduran military to protect drug shipments as they transited Honduras; and sanctioned brutal violence.

 

Alejandra Conde stands aside a mural that documents both moments of violent tragedy and Franciscan accompaniment in the migration experience.

1995: The Franciscan Province initiates attention to migrants.  

8/23/2010: Massacre, San Fernando, Tam [Tamaulipas where 72 migrants were killed].  

4/2011: Mass graves in Northern Mexico 400 tortured bodies  

4/23/2011: La 72 shelter for migrants [opens]  

2011: CNDH [Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos—the National Commission for Human Rights in Mexico] reports that more than 20,000 migrants were kidnapped in Mexico  

5/2012: Mutilated bodies in Cadereyta, NL [Nuevo León] 

1/5/2013: Attack at the train in Barrancas, Ver. [Vera Cruz] 

8/25/2013: Deaths of 12 people from a train derailment in Tembladera 

The exterior wall of the migrant men’s barracks bears the image of a young migrant who once stayed at La 72 and was killed after leaving the shelter to head north. “Our demand is minimal: JUSTICE,” reads the inscription across his chest.  

The walls of La 72 tell the stories of tragedy and exploitation, but they also tell tales of hope, strength, resourcefulness and solidarity.  


 Most of the shelters we visited display such road maps offering valuable information for migrants trying to navigate the ecosystem of exploitation and aid that lies ahead. Map key symbols include: roads, fees (approx.. $100), danger zones, assaults & kidnappings, migrant houses, soup kitchens, rivers, border walls. 

“We are humans. We have dignity. We deserve respect.”

“When [a] youth migrates, hope migrates.”

“When the woman migrates, life migrates.”

“When the family migrates, the social fabric migrates.”

“When the indigenous migrate, history migrates.” / “When the children migrate, the roots of human tenderness migrate.”  

La 72 offers separate living quarters as a safe space option for vulnerable populations such as LGBT community members.

Tomorrow I return to school where teachers will be preparing for students. We will plaster our classroom walls with historic figures, helpful information and inspirational quotes. Much like the volunteer artists at La 72, we hope our efforts can inform, guide, and encourage those who walk the hallways to navigate their paths carefully and pursue their dreams. We will remember our colleagues in Uvalde who will be doing the same.

Hispanics make up over 80% of the population in Uvalde, where a large immigrant community resides. It is painfully ironic that many of those families, like the ones at La 72, may have migrated to escape violence.  

So many migrants at La 72 and the other shelters that we visited voiced their deepest hopes to make it to the US…not because of its wealth but because of their perception of the US as “a country where the law is enforced,” a country where they and their children might be safe from the violence in their own countries and the violence they face on their journey. 

I pray that they will one day be able to breathe the sweet relief of being safe. That they will one day be able to stop running and hiding in fear. I, like those at La 72, will continue to hope and to believe in the strength of community and solidarity. But like those at La 72, I will also continue to hold our leaders accountable for the systemic failure that strips our families of dignity and peace.  

Migrant families, like US school children and teachers, have the right to expect that their communities will be safe—whether in their native lands or in the US. Political leaders and law enforcement officers are paid to protect our communities. When they fail us through corruption, apathy, racism, or incompetence, we will not perpetuate a narrative that shifts blame and responsibility to us. We will continue to hold them accountable, and I will not be packing a gun to school. 

 

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Migration should be the flight for the dream of life, not death

The following is a translation of a statement by our partners at the Franciscan Network on Migration on the tragedy in Texas, in which 53 migrants were found dead. To read the original statement in Spanish, click HERE

PUBLIC STATEMENT 

To the Governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Honduras, the United States of America 

To any person in good faith. 

Migration should be the flight for the dream of life, not death 

In Texas, on June 29, 2022, the heat, overcrowding, and lack of oxygen ended the lives of more than 50 migrants abandoned in a trailer that was transporting them as they searched for better living conditions; human beings who were forced to leave their country of origin because of injustice and high rates of violence, events that found them in other lands. 

The Franciscan Network for Migrants (RFM) declares our indignation and dismay at the human tragedy experienced by migrants in the territories not only of Northern America, but also in Mexico. Countries whose principles are the “Republic and democracy” as institutions that safeguard the freedom and life of society. We join in the pain that these families are experiencing; with you, we share our prayers and solidarity. 

As they intend to renew policies and practices that criminalize and affect the human rights of every person who migrates, it is urgent that the countries of Central America and Mexico react to move from containment to protection. In the current regional scenario, vulnerable migrants do not have many options to leave, transit, and reach their destinations safely. This leads them to seek paths that put their human dignity, integrity, health, and, in many cases, even their lives at risk. 

As RFM, we call on the competent authorities of the United States to thoroughly investigate the facts and find those responsible for this unfortunate tragedy, as well as to work to eradicate human trafficking. The situation also reflects how xenophobic-racist guidelines and practices only benefit organized crime networks. We condemn the impunity for the various crimes of which migrants are victims.  

We also demand that the governments of the United States of America, Mexico, and the countries of Central America respond to the commitment assumed by different human rights standards to guarantee the effective protection of the human rights of migrants, as well as their fundamental freedoms. 

 As Christians and Franciscans, we firmly believe in the dignity of every human being; that the encounter between cultures and groups enriches us; that justice, equity, and freedom are the basis for fraternity or “social friendship” between peoples; that the stranger is to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated into our societies, as God himself would do (Deuteronomy 19:34). St. Francis of Assisi was a friend and brother to all living people, no one was his enemy or considered him a “foreigner”; we have a political and spiritual legacy that recognizes that both human beings and creatures from  one family, that we live in the same house which is “our Sister, Mother Earth.” 

In these moments of solidarity of all peoples, as the RFM we continue to accompany migrants and their families who leave, transit, or seek to reside in the lands of the Americas: with our prayers, we unite ourselves to their pain. 

ADVOCACY COMMITTEE 

Franciscan Network on Migration 

  

The Franciscan Network on Migration is a network composed of: 

The Frontera Digna Shelter, Piedras Negras; Comedor San Francisco de Asís para Migrantes, Mazatlán; Casa Franciscana Guaymas A.C; Team Hogar Franciscano, Cholula, Puebla; La 72, Hogar Refugio para personas Migrantes, Tenosique; Casa Peregrina del Migrante “Santo Hermano Pedro”, Guatemala; Equipo RFM-Guatemala; Equipo RFM-Honduras; Equipo RFM-El Salvador; Equipo RFM-Panamá; Equipo RFM-Colombia; Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción de Durham; Carolina del Norte (USA); Migrantes Center of New York. Advocacy partners: Quixote Center, Franciscans International. 

 

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SCOTUS Ruling on “Remain in Mexico” Win for Migrant Communities, but Must Not Lead to Increased Detention

 

For Immediate Release: June 30, 2022  

Contact: Alexandra Gulden, alexandra@quixote.org  

 SCOTUS Ruling on “Remain in Mexico” Win for Migrant Communities, but Must Not Lead to Increased Detention 

Washington D.C.—Today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden Administration was lawful in its initial termination of the “Remain in Mexico” program, thus allowing for the Administration to finally end the cruel and inhumane policy.  

The Quixote Center celebrates this ruling as a win, but we must not forget the over 71,000 people who have been forced to await their asylum cases in Mexico, including vulnerable populations such as LGBTQ+ migrants and those with severe health conditions.  

 The “Remain in Mexico” policy has imposed irreversible harm on migrant communities. During the Trump Administration, there were at least 1,544 reported cases of violent attacks against people returned to Mexico, including murder, torture, and assault. Under Biden, the program has not been any safer and has continued to block asylum seekers from accessing legal counsel or obtaining a fair chance at asylum. 

 We urge the Biden Administration to immediately end “Remain in Mexico” and allow all enrolled in the program to await their cases in the United States. However, this policy must not and cannot be replaced with increased detention, expulsion, and surveillance of migrant families and asylum seekers in the United States. Instead, we urge the Administration to invest in opt-in community-based support services that offer migrants the tools to thrive, rather than continue the cycle of cruelty and suffering. 

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 The Quixote Center empowers vulnerable families and communities to become the artisans of their own destiny through transforming oppressive systems and structures. Inspired by liberation theology and Catholic Social Teaching, we do this through sustainable development, advocacy, economic justice, environmental, and educational initiatives. Our current focus is on Nicaragua and Haiti, where we support programs to empower impoverished families and communities, and support for migrants in Mexico and Central America, where we work to mitigate the damage of US immigration policies. Together with our partners, we dream of a world more justly loving. 

 

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Quixote Center Denounces Preliminary Injunction on Title 42

Quixote Center Denounces Preliminary Injunction on Title 42;  Continues Call for Restoration of Asylum 

 Washington D.C.Today a federal court in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to end Title 42. This decision means that the United States Border Patrol is required to continue to expel migrants immediately upon encounter, thus, denying refugees access to asylum or other humanitarian relief. 

“We are greatly dismayed by the court’s decision to continue to deny asylum seekers their right to seek safety,” stated the Quixote Center in response. “Title 42 is a failed policy that has been proven to do nothing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, nor has it been effective at deterring migration. There have been 1,934,097 expulsions under Title 42 since it went into effect in March of 2020.” 

On April 1, 2021, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the controversial set of public health rules used to close off asylum access would be ended on May 23, 2022.  

In response, the attorneys general of Louisiana, Arizona, and Missouri immediately filed a lawsuit to block the Biden administration from halting Title 42 enforcement. Eventually, seventeen more states joined the suit. U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays of Louisiana issued an injunction in April intended to keep the Biden administration from winding down Title 42 enforcement. Judge Summerhays issued the ruling today, arguing that “the Plaintiff States have established a substantial likelihood of success based on the CDC’s failure to comply with the rulemaking requirements of the [Administrative Procedure Act].” 

“Keeping the cruel and illegal Title 42 policy in place will only serve to place migrant families and adults back into the dangerous conditions they are fleeing,” continued the Quixote Center. “Asylum is a universal human right, and we will not stop working to restore an asylum system that welcomes people fleeing violence and persecution in a humane and dignified manner.” 

 

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DC Welcomes Migrants from the Border—and How to Help

Columbus Circle outside Union Station

At 6 AM on a Wednesday, I joined community organizers and volunteers outside Union Station to greet migrants bused from the US-Mexico border to Washington DC. I expected everyone to arrive haggard and exhausted, as I feel after just a few hours on a bus. Instead, they came bright-faced and smiling, exuberant to have arrived.   

A month ago, Governor Abbott of Texas began sending buses of migrants from the Southern border to DC, in an effort to “take the border to Joe Biden.” While the move may have scored him a few political points with his typical base, it has had far from the intended effect, as DC groups—and the larger community—mobilized rapidly to welcome them.  

I met a woman from Nicaragua who was excited to be in DC and hoped to stay and find work in the District. A young couple from Venezuela was headed to Ohio, where they planned to find treatment for their pregnant sister-in-law. A father from Cuba had come on his own and was already searching for a way to support himself and his family back home.  

During the legal orientation, a representative asked if they had received a cellphone. Everyone there raised a black device, the basis of claims that the administration was “giving away free smartphones.” However, these were part of the so-called “alternatives to detention,” another method of invasive surveillance. The program requires migrants to constantly self-report their location through an app; all other functions on the device are disabled.   

Despite the discourse of Biden’s “open borders,” the reality is that seeking asylum remains the most difficult it has ever been. Title 42 has blocked over a million potential asylum seekers since the start of the pandemic. Though Biden has mostly blocked new border construction under Trump’s plan, he has quietly funneled billions into a digital border wall, from watchtowers and drones to a vast digital surveillance system. While I had seen the reports, it was startling to see this represented in the heart of Washington DC. 

How to Take Action 

That Abbott’s political stunt has not had the intended disrupting effect is in large part due to the organizing and mutual aid efforts by Sanctuary DMV. But it seems that Texas, and now Arizona, plan to ramp up the number of migrants sent to D.C., just as volunteers and organizers are at capacity.  

Now is the time to step up and demonstrate that our communities are capable of welcoming our new neighbors with dignity and respect. Here are just a few ways to help: 

  • Volunteer: If you are in the DMV, there are many ways to volunteer, from sorting donations to greeting new arrivals. Spanish, Portuguese, and French speakers are greatly needed.  
  • Gift supplies: Or ship supplies from anywhere through the wishlist. Undergarments, Men’s clothing, and toiletries are especially needed.
  • Donate to support mutual aid efforts.  

Click HERE for the full list of links.  

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DHS Accepting Public Comment On Family Separation

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is accepting public comments on how to prevent future administrations from separating families at the border until January 25th. 

The Trump administration separated an estimated 5,500 children from their families during 2018 as the result of enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy at the border. While many have been reunited, the long-lasting psychological harm to young children has already been done. By the end of 2021, Biden’s Task Force on the Reunification had reunited 100 families, with an additional 345 children identified for reunification. However, at least a thousand children remain separated from their families. 

In November 2021, President Biden dismissed a report to provide migrants impacted by family separation up to $1 million as “garbage.” He later walked back that statement and said that families of separated children should receive reparations. But in December, after ten months of negotiations, his administration withdrew from settlement talks with families affected by family separations. Whether these families will receive justice remains to be seen. 

Click HERE for an auto-generated comment that you can edit. Remember: every comment must be unique in order to be effective. 

Below is the comment that we’ve submitted to DHS as an example:

To prevent future human rights abuses, the Biden administration must adopt policy and language that enshrine respect for the dignity and human rights of all migrants. To signal its commitment, the current administration must demonstrate such harm will never again be tolerated. Reparations are one such mechanism of transitional justice. Though no amount of money can undo the lifelong emotional and psychological harm caused by being forcibly separated from one’s family, reparations are vital to acknowledging the wrongdoing and addressing the harms suffered. The Biden administration must provide the families with pending cases with an equitable settlement. 

 

 

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“Remain in Mexico,” Biden’s MPP 2.0 – A Month In

Over a month ago, the Biden administration restarted Remain in Mexico, or MPP. Since then, DHS has returned 217 asylum seekers to Mexico under the program. The majority—62%—came from Nicaragua, with another 22% from Venezuela, 7% from Cuba, 6% from Ecuador, and 3% from Colombia. 

At the end of last December, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to review its case to end MPP. Earlier that month, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the administration’s appeal, upholding a lower court’s ruling that DHS improperly terminated the policy. 

There are a few surface-level changes in an attempt to make the program more humane: officials have stated that migrants will now have access to transportation at ports of entry to take them directly to Mexican shelters, offering some level of protection against targeted crime. There are also protections for individuals with physical and mental conditions and members of the LGBTQ community. 

However, the Biden Administration has already broken many of its own rules, leading to the abuses that immigration advocates have been warning about since the beginning. Immigration attorneys have identified at least 24 immigrants, such as those with serious medical conditions, who should never have been placed into the “Remain in Mexico” program according to its own guidelines. At least 9 were taken out of MPP after being flagged to CBP, but 1 was mistakenly returned to Mexico. 

As Refugee International’s Yael Schacher observed in El Paso, among the 82 MPP enrollees who had hearings last Monday and Tuesday, only five had legal counsel. Asylum seekers with legal counsel are three times more likely to have their cases approved. It is notable that, according to their nationalities, the migrants currently enrolled in MPP would typically have had the strongest cases for asylum had they been allowed to enter the U.S. By being returned to Mexico, they face a much greater chance of being deported. 

At its core, MPP cuts asylum seekers off from accessing legal representation in the U.S. and leaves them stranded in a country with little to no resources or protection from danger. Under the previous administration’s iteration of MPP, there were over 1,544 reported cases of violent attacks—including murder, assault, torture, and kidnapping—driving many to abandon their asylum claims. Biden’s MPP 2.0 only continues to place migrants back into the very dangers they are fleeing. 

Unless the Biden administration takes real action to defend migrants, this cycle of violence—criminal and system—against migrants is only likely to continue. Join us in calling on the Biden administration to end MPP and Title 42 by signing our petition HERE. 

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Mexican Advocates Decry Conditions of Migrants in Puebla Sports Center

This week, our partners in Mexico released a statement denouncing the inhumane conditions in which migrants, including pregnant women and children, have been overcrowded in a sports center in Puebla, Mexico. To read the original statement in Spanish, click HERE

TO THE FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES 

MUNICIPALITIES OF THE STATE OF PUEBLA

TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MIGRATION

TO THE MEXICAN COMMISSION FOR REFUGEE AID

TO THE STATE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

TO THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

TO ALL PERSONS IN GOOD FAITH 

The Mexico Team of the Franciscan Network on Migration, the Jesuit Migration Network in Mexico, and the Ignacio Ellacuría Human Rights Institute, SJ strongly condemn the conditions reported by the Coordinator of the Borders, Migrations and Subjectivities Seminar at the Social Sciences and Humanities “Alfonso Vélez Pliego” Institute (ICSyH) on December 8, 2021. It is evident that, in accordance with the migration policies of the Mexican State, around 500 migrants, mostly Haitians, were transferred from Tapachula, Chiapas to the State of Puebla on December 4, with the promise of issuing them humanitarian visas. Today, they are crowded together in the Xonaca Sports Center in the city of Puebla.  

During the Seminar coordinator’s visit to the facilities, she was able to verify that among the migrant population there are pregnant women, as well as about 80 children. Among them, some have experienced dehydration and respiratory discomfort as a result of the low temperatures, as well as the State government authorities’ failure to provide the minimum conditions necessary to guarantee the human right to protection of life, health, and dignity, mainly of the population of children, adolescents, and pregnant women. 

On their part, news reports that have gathered testimonies about the shelter conditions mention that “they have faced a lack of attention…because the space lacks mattresses, water, and blankets to protect them from the cold.” 

It should be noted that the case of the migrant population deprived of their liberty in the Xonaca Sports Center is a reflection of the violence experienced by migrants within Mexico. Likewise, the lack of policies that seek to safeguard the life and dignity of migrants claimed the lives of 53 Central American migrants on December 9th, on the Chiapa de Corzo highway. It is imperative that their human rights be fully respected and guaranteed by the authorities, in accordance with the provisions of Article 1 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, as well as international standards and jurisprudence in the area of human rights. 

We demand that the Mexican authorities at all three levels, especially the National Institute of Migration, the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid, the State Human Rights Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, and the various agencies of the Puebla State Government and the City of Puebla:

  1. Guarantee at all times immediate attention, special protection, and the best interests of migrant children in the Xonaca Sports Centre, Puebla.    
  2. Guarantee the human right to health of pregnant women. 
  3. Guarantee humanitarian assistance to all migrants in need of food, health, and safety, as well as other basic necessities. 
  4. Safeguard the integrity of migrants without resorting to the use of force, taking into account the principles of absolute necessity and proportionality. 
  5. Release the persons detained in the Polideportivo, Xonaca, Puebla in order to guarantee the human right to protection of life, dignity, and health.  
  6. Respect the human rights of all migrants regardless of their immigration status.
  7. Create strategies with the authorities of the State of Puebla to ensure that migrant and asylum-seeking populations have access to social programs in order to guarantee respect for their human rights.
  8. The immediate intervention of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid. 
  9. Guarantee, to all who require it, psychological care and legal guidance on the procedures for receiving refugee status and regularizing one’s migration status.

Finally, in order to build unity, we make a call to stand in solidarity with migrants and to accompany them on their journey through Mexico.

Sincerely,  

Mexico Team of the Franciscan Network on Migration

Jesuit Migration Network in Mexico

Ignacio Ellacuría Human Rights Institute, SJ.

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