U.S. Slashes Migrant Border Crossings (#GotBitcoin?)
The U.S. has slashed the number of migrants being allowed to cross the U.S.-Mexican border to legally apply for asylum, as caravans totaling some 10,000 migrants trudge north through Mexico. U.S. Slashes Migrant Border Crossings (#GotBitcoin?)
The Trump administration follows through with the president’s threats to ‘harden’ the border, leaving a growing number of anxious migrants at the southern frontier.
Here at the border station across from Yuma, Ariz., 30 families or more normally cross each day, say Mexican immigration officials. But in the last two weeks the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has let in one family a day at most, say migrants and their advocates.
“It really seems like they are trying to discourage people from crossing to seek asylum legally, or trying to get them to go to other border crossings,” said Iveth López, an immigration counselor with Chicanos Por La Causa in Somerton, Ariz. “It’s been bad for a couple of weeks.”
Reports of slowdowns at legal border crossings like this one are becoming commonplace across the 2,000-mile frontier from Texas to California. Immigration lawyers have complained of asylum seekers being blocked in recent days from entering the U.S. from the Mexican border cities of Matamoros, Reynosa and Ciudad Juárez as well.
Last week, U.S. authorities announced they would “harden” the border at Tijuana, closing four lanes of traffic at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa crossings. As some 1,000 migrants arrived in Tijuana one recent day, border-patrol contractors unwound hundreds of yards of razor wire at the beachside border fence, as armed guards looked on.
On Monday morning, thousands of drivers who normally commute each day from Mexico through San Ysidro—the busiest entry point between Tijuana and San Diego—to work on the U.S. side arrived to find the border closed for about three hours during the morning rush.
The closure was in response to intelligence reports, including from the Mexican government, that groups of migrants from the caravan planned to rush the border through the automotive lanes, said a senior Department of Homeland Security official. That led to the closure of eight more lanes at the busy border crossing.
The moves to prevent migrants from entering the U.S. follow a proclamation signed by President Trump blocking access to asylum seekers who illegally cross the border between checkpoints. “Illegal Immigrants trying to come into the U.S.A., often proudly flying the flag of their nation as they ask for U.S. Asylum, will be detained or turned away,” he tweeted on Sunday.
Jennifer Harbury, a civil rights lawyer in Texas, said the U.S administration is making it impossible for migrants apply for asylum. “What Trump is saying is, if you’re a migrant fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, you cannot cross the river or the desert, or you will be sent home to die, and you can’t cross legally and throw yourself at the mercy of immigration officials either,” she said.
U.S. Customs declined to comment on the volumes of migrants being allowed to seek asylum or on the situation at any U.S.-Mexico border crossings. But the agency said the process can be delayed by a host of factors, including capacity at U.S. border stations, the number of translators on hand and the medical needs of asylum seekers.
The senior DHS official said the administration is continuing to discuss a variety of options to manage the caravan with officials in Mexico, Central America and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.
The DHS official also said at least 500 criminals were traveling in the caravan. When asked to provide details of how the administration identified criminals, the official declined, saying the U.S. had to protect their sources.
The main victims of the slowdown appear to be Mexicans, many of whom have been sleeping for months in tents and migrant shelters in border cities run by the Catholic Church and other organizations, waiting for their names to be called to petition for asylum. As of Friday, there were more than 2,500 names on the list in Tijuana, with thousands of Central Americans in caravans set to arrive in coming days.
“I’m worried that they won’t let anyone in because of the caravan,” said Gabi Ávalos, a lime-picker from Apatzingán, a city in the violence-plagued Mexican state of Michoacán.
Ms. Ávalos fled with her 14-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter after her father, who ran a roadside food stall, was killed by members of the La Familia Michoacana gang for refusing to make extortion payments, she said. She hopes to seek asylum and join her cousin, who she said works as a housekeeper in southern California.
Among the families, many of them with small children, camped outside the San Luis border crossing, sat Daniel Rendón, age 40, and his wife, Eva Angelina García, 33, who is nine months pregnant with their child.
In August, Ms. García said she began receiving threats from a kidnapping gang in her Mexican city of Cuernavaca. When the demands escalated, she called her husband, a U.S. citizen who cleans rooms at a casino in Laughlin, Nev., who told her to meet him at the border. Mr. Rendón took a Greyhound bus to Yuma and crossed to San Luis, where the couple has been waiting for a week without shelter to be allowed to cross into the U.S. and seek asylum for Ms. Garcia.
“I’m worried about being let in, I’m worried about the baby, I’m worried about everything,” Mr. Rendón said. “Eventually I think she’ll get her papers, but in the meantime, we don’t know anyone here in San Luis.”
At the Benito Juárez sports complex in Tijuana, city officials set up a temporary migrant shelter that had reached its capacity of 1,500 by Thursday night. Tension grew as busloads of caravan members showed up.
Local residents have marched in protest of the arriving migrants. A tense standoff on the beach nearly turned violent. Tijuana’s mayor, Juan Manuel Gastelum, said the city was unprepared for the “avalanche” of migrants and predicted they could be in the city for as long as six months.
“No city is prepared to take 3,000, 5,000, 6,000 migrants in one fell swoop,” said Genaro López Moreno, a Tijuana city councilman who was helping coordinate the arrival and registration of migrants at the shelter.
Father Pat Murphy, a Catholic priest who runs a migrant shelter in Tijuana, said he worries that Central Americans arriving to the U.S. border in the caravans could cause friction with the migrants who have been waiting in the Mexican city for months to seek asylum.
“If all of the sudden, 3,000 people just show up and expect to jump ahead of these migrants who have been waiting in line patiently, it could get really hairy. It could be cause for violence,” he said.
In Reversal of Spring Crisis, Border Arrests Drop for Sixth Straight Month
As shelters empty, experts credit Trump administration’s controversial ‘Remain in Mexico’ program and increased Mexican security.
Arrests of people crossing the southwestern border have plummeted by 75% since May, marking one of the most dramatic drops in recent history and a sign that policy changes by the Trump administration and Mexico are reducing migration to the U.S.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Monday that 33,510 people were arrested after illegally crossing the border in November, marking the sixth straight monthly decline since May, when 132,000 such apprehensions marked a 13-year high.
The majority of those apprehended last year were families and unaccompanied children from Central America, nearly all of whom surrendered to border officials seeking asylum in the U.S. An unexpected surge of such migrants in the spring of this year created a crisis as the federal government proved unable to process them efficiently in safe and healthy conditions.
Of those arrested in November, 9,000 were traveling as families, according to CBP.
Border arrests typically decline this time of year and rise again in the spring when temperatures warm. Even so, the May-November decline is the biggest in absolute numbers and second biggest by percentage of any six-month period this century. The last few months of the Obama administration and the first few of the Trump administration saw a 76% drop, starting from a smaller peak of 47,211.
“This is a direct result due to this president’s strategies to address the historic flood of Central Americans, families, illegally crossing the border,” acting CBP Comissioner Mark Morgan said at a press conference Monday. “The network of initiatives have worked and continues to work.”
In Tucson, Ariz., a migrant shelter has seen arrivals drop from more than 100 a day last year to fewer than 40 recently, according to its operator, Teresa Cavendish.
In McAllen, Texas, a recently opened shelter intended for migrants had so many empty beds last month that it began to serve other members of the community.
“We had a cold front, we had space to allow the homeless to come in and we opened the doors,” said Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley.
The Movimiento Juventud 2000 shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, had as many as 170 people in the summer, where they paused before crossing into the U.S. Now it houses 98, said shelter director José María García.
Some of the people at Moviemento Juventud are waiting for their cases to be resolved through the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols program, which since January has sent 54,000 migrants back to Mexico to await adjudication of their asylum claims. Previously, most migrants traveling as families who requested asylum were released in the U.S. CBP had previously said roughly 59,000 people had been sent back, but revised the figure after auditing data on the program.
The program, often called Remain in Mexico, is one of the biggest contributors to the decline of border arrests, immigration experts say. It has deterred some people from coming into the U.S., due to knowledge that they are likely to be stranded in Mexico for months while their cases are decided.
“I think the big factor has been the Trump administration policies,” said Randy Capps, director of research of U.S. programs at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.
Critics say Migrant Protection Protocols has left people with few resources in high-crime cities in Mexico and that the program prompts some with valid asylum claims to give up. A recent report by the advocacy group Human Rights First documented 636 public reports of kidnapping, torture or other attacks on people in the Remain in Mexico program.
Other factors that often alter migration flows, including crime rates and unemployment in the U.S. and migrants’ home countries, haven’t dramatically changed in recent months, Mr. Capps said.
Mexican security efforts at its southern border with Guatemala, which it undertook after tariff threats from the Trump administration, have also had an impact, said Mr. Capps. Most migrant families in recent years have traveled through Mexico from the Central American nations of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, fleeing weak economies, crime and corruption.
Carlos Chirinos, 47, is currently living in a shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, waiting to see if he will be allowed into the U.S. His next hearing is in April 2020, he said. Assaults, kidnappings and rapes are common in Reynosa, Mr. Chirinos said.
“This is inhuman,” he said about Migrant Protection Protocols in a phone interview.
Government officials have defended the program’s impact on migrants, insisting it allows their claims to be decided faster than for those waiting in the U.S., where a court backlog of more than one million cases can mean a yearslong delay.
Some experts have said the reduction in migration could reverse if Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador decides to stop cooperating with U.S. policy due to internal political considerations.
He has deployed some 26,000 troops from his country’s newly created National Guard to help with immigration enforcement efforts, including roadside checkpoints and raids on hotels, cargo trains and safe houses.
Mexican authorities arrested about 81,000 foreign migrants between June and September, nearly double the number of a year earlier, according to Mexico’s immigration agency.
“It’s an enormous effort of money and logistics that I doubt can be sustained in time,” said Rubén Figueroa, a Mexican human rights advocate.
The López Obrador government has pledged that the security efforts will be permanent. The goal, one Mexican official said, is to keep the month average of arrests in the U.S. below 40,000, a figure near that recorded in the five years before the latest surge. U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,U.S. Slashes Migrant Border,