The northern border of Mexico is a space of reception and containment for migrant families and individuals, who find themselves in conditions of great precariousness and practically null resources. Few migrants have material resources or social connections in Tijuana. The Casa del Migrante offers support to those waiting to cross the border. This wait can be prolonged indefinitely due to asylum and border control policies, a reality exacerbated by COVID-19 and related policies.
The mission of the Scalabrinian order is to accompany people on the move. In the COVID-19 era, it is harder than ever to live out that mission.
Two Scalabrini priests located at opposite ends of North America have worked to support vulnerable groups during the COVID pandemic.
This Sunday, September 27th the Church celebrates the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. On this occasion, Pope Francis issued a timely letter entitled Like Jesus, Forced to Flee. In the letter, the Holy Father summarizes the reality facing so many displaced people throughout the world who have been forced to flee for their lives during the worldwide pandemic.
Enforcement along the US-Mexico border has intensified significantly since the early 1990s. Social scientists have documented several consequences of border militarization, including increased border-crosser deaths, the killing of more than 110 people by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents over the past decade, and expanded ethno-racial profiling in southwestern communities by immigration authorities. Less attention has been paid to the pervasive and routine mistreatment migrants experience on a daily basis in CBP custody.
This paper traces major developments in border enforcement to three notable initiatives: the “prevention-through-deterrence” strategy, the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Consequence Delivery System, initiated in 2011. Despite the massive buildup in enforcement, CBP has operated with little transparency and accountability to the detriment of migrants. The paper provides an overview of the findings of nongovernmental organizations and social scientists regarding migrant mistreatment while in CBP custody. It then highlights important shifts in migration patterns over the past decade, as well as changes in border enforcement efforts during the Trump administration. It discusses how these transformations affect migrants’ everyday encounters with CBP officials.
The paper concludes by providing specific recommendations for improving CBP conduct. Its core theme is the need to emphasize and inculcate lessons of appropriate police behavior, civil rights, and civil liberties in training and recruiting agents and in setting responsibilities of supervisors and administrators. It offers recommendations regarding important but underrecognized issues, including ending the use of CBP agents/officers as Asylum Officers, as well as better-known issues such as militarization and the border wall.
It has been a remarkably interesting three months from the fourth floor at the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana. The virus has not disappeared, and to be honest, I doubt that it ever will. So, the question on everyone’s mind is, “How do we move forward?” Well a few things are certain: 1) You need to wear a mask; 2) You need to stay six feet from people you do not live with; 3) You need to wash your hands very often. It seems to be a rather simple roadmap to success, but for some reason, a lot of people do not get it. Meanwhile, after almost five months confined to the fourth floor, with an occasional trip to the US Post Office, I came to the conclusion that I cannot stay on the fourth floor forever and we cannot keep the Casa closed indefinitely.
This episode of CMSOnAir features an interview with Anna Gallagher, the executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC). She explains how CLINIC supports lawyers across the country as they adapt to the fast-paced policy changes of the current administration. She also discusses her concerns about access to asylum on the US-Mexico border and CLINIC’s Estamos Unidos Asylum Project in Ciudad Juarez — a response to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or “Remain in Mexico” program.
The routine human rights abuses and due process violations of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have contributed to a mounting humanitarian and legal crisis along the US–Mexico border. In the United States, the treatment of UAC is governed by laws, policies, and standards drawn from the Flores Settlement, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), and CBP procedures and directives, which are intended to ensure UAC’s protection, well-being, and ability to pursue relief from removal, such as asylum. As nongovernmental organizations and human rights groups have documented, however, CBP has repeatedly violated these legal standards and policies, and subjected UAC to abuses and rights violations. This article draws from surveys of 97 recently deported Mexican UAC, which examine their experiences with US immigration authorities. The study finds that Mexican UAC are detained in subpar conditions, are routinely not screened for fear of return to their home countries or for human trafficking, and are not sufficiently informed about the deportation process. The article recommends that CBP should take immediate steps to improve the treatment of UAC, that CBP and other entities responsible for the care of UAC be monitored to ensure their compliance with US law and policy, and that Mexican UAC be afforded the same procedures and protection under the TVPRA as UAC from noncontiguous states.
If COVID-19 attacks places like Tijuana with vigor, we are in for a catastrophe. In the meantime, many border shelters have made some difficult decisions.
This episode of CMSOnAir features an interview with Josiah Heyman, Professor of Anthropology, Endowed Professor of Border Trade Issues, and Director of the University of Texas, El Paso’s Center for Inter-American and Border Studies. CMS’s communications coordinator Emma Winters asks Josiah Heyman about a CMS Essay he authored with Jeremy Slack and Daniel E. Martínez. The essay, titled “Why Border Patrol Agents and CBP Officers Should Not Serve as Asylum Officers,” examines findings from the Migrant Border Crossing Survey and concludes that US Border Patrol agents and other CBP officers should not serve as asylum officers because they “abuse migrants, physically and verbally, with significant frequency.” In the episode, Josiah Heyman also presents a positive vision of the US-Mexico border and lifts up Annunciation House as an example of the openness and generosity of border communities.