January 24, 2020
Parents separated from children in 2018 reunited under court order
From the Associated Press:
Nine parents who were deported as the Trump administration separated thousands of migrant families landed back into the U.S. late Wednesday to reunite with children they had not seen in a year and a half.
The group arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Guatemala City in a trip arranged under the order of a federal judge who found the U.S. government had unlawfully prevented them from seeking asylum. An asylum advocate confirmed the nine parents were all aboard the flight.
A first step in legal recognition of climate change refugees?
From the New York Times:
Governments need to take into account the climate crisis when considering the deportation of asylum seekers, the United Nations said in a landmark ruling that could pave the way for future climate refugees…
The U.N. ruling is not binding but could open the door for future climate change asylum seekers, asylum advocates said.
“The decision sets a global precedent,” said Kate Schuetze, Pacific Researcher at Amnesty International.
“It says a state will be in breach of its human rights obligations if it returns someone to a country where – due to the climate crisis – their life is at risk, or in danger of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” she said in a statement.
U.S. interventions in Vietnam and Cambodia drove refugee policy
The current U.S. legal framework for refugee policy was created with the passage of the 1980 Refugee Act. Among the crises in the world driving this policy was political violence in Cambodia. In 1980 the ceiling on refugee admissions was 232,000 (Trump’s administration set it at 18,000 this year!). Abby Seif has a fascinating review article published by JStor about the connection between U.S. military actions and the refugee crises in the 1970’s that led to the passage of the 1980 law. She also draws connections to the current period. From JStor
In some ways, the barbarism of the Khmer Rouge was truly unique; in others, it is painfully familiar. Globally, there are nearly 71 million forcibly displaced peoples, the highest figure in history, and one that rises by the year. In China, an estimated tenth of the Muslim Uyghur minority has been rounded up into euphemistically named “re-education camps,” in which torture and rape appear to be widespread. In Bangladesh refugee camps, one million Muslim Rohingya, who fled a rampaging military campaign in their native Myanmar, desperately await a path home. Refugees fleeing ISIS in Iraq and Syria carry with them stories of carnage. In El Salvador, drug cartels have terrorized communities and made the country the world’s deadliest.
As with the Khmer Rouge, some of the underlying instability can be traced back to U.S. policies. Unlike in 1980, however, there is scant government effort to bring those most impacted by these conflicts or crimes under U.S. care. The hundreds of thousands of Central Americans fleeing brutal violence have been met with the harshest border control in American history. U.S. wars and U.S. military actions in the Middle East continue to contribute to the unparalleled displacement of people, but the country has accepted just a tiny fraction of the total number of refugees. With climate change making larger swathes of the world unlivable by the year, hundreds of millions more will have to move. Again, this past year, the refugee quota was set at 30,000—the lowest ceiling since the passage of the Refugee Act in 1980. And again, on November 1, 2019, the White House announced that in 2020, that figure will drop to 18,000.
Trial for Federal lawsuit on conditions in Border Patrol facilities closed this week
From the National Immigration Law Center:
Today [Jan. 22], a federal judge heard closing arguments in Doe v. Wolf, a lawsuit filed by the National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU of Arizona, the American Immigration Council, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP.
The lawsuit, filed in 2015, seeks a permanent remedy to the inhumane conditions in U.S. Border Patrol detention centers in Arizona’s Tucson Sector. Evidence gathered in the case revealed cold and overcrowded conditions where there was no access to beds and limited access to soap, showers, adequate meals, and medical care.
During the course of the trial, a federal judge heard from qualified experts who testified on the inadequate medical care and severe conditions inside CBP detention centers. Another witness summarized government data that showed detention in these facilities are intended only for short-term confinement.
Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans Increase in Immigration Court Backlog
Though in total numbers still well behind the number of immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador, immigrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are the fastest growing segment of people waiting for hearings in immigation courts. From TRAC:
The fastest growing segments of the Immigration Court backlog are now Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans. Between September 2018, when fiscal year 2018 drew to a close, and December 2019, Cubans in the backlog increased by 374 percent, Venezuela increased by 277 percent, and Nicaraguans increased by 190 percent. These rates of increase stand out when compared to the overall growth of 42 percent across all nationalities during this same period.
Legal experts publish self-help asylum guide
The Refugee and Human Rights Clinic (RHRC) at the University of Maine School of Law and the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, in collaboration with the Penn State Law in University Park Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and Thrive International Programs, have published a comprehensive self-help guide for asylum-seekers.
The guide provides information to assist individuals who are applying for asylum pro se, or without the assistance of an attorney. The immigration legal system is complex and navigating it on one’s own behalf can be challenging. This guide seeks to aid the increasing number of families and individuals that want to apply for asylum.