This month’s media report focuses on the expansion of a program that quickly determines the cases of asylum-seekers while they are still in custody, without access to lawyers; the continued construction of the border wall in Arizona, and a particularly devastating expansion on indigenous sacred land; and the uncertainty surrounding the Remain in Mexico policy after tumultuous decisions by the Ninth Circuit court of appeals.
1) Expansion of programs that “fast-track” asylum-seekers: Court documents released at the end of February revealed that several DHS pilot programs designed to fast-track asylum at the border have been expanded, and the reality that officers have a good deal of discretion in determining who is subject to these initiatives. The programs, the Humanitarian Asylum Review Process (HARP) for Mexicans and Prompt Asylum Claim Review (PACR) for other nationalities, are being expanded across the border, further sealing off due process and the ability to seek asylum at the southern border. Read more here: https://www.rollcall.com/2020/02/26/dhs-expands-asylum-programs-that-fast-track-deportations/
2) Border wall construction on the Tohono O’odham Nation: In late February, wall construction continued on the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona. A sacred burial ground was detonated in the process, and the construction at this particularly holy place began the same day the Nation’s chairman was scheduled to be in Washington, D.C. Read more here:: https://theintercept.com/2020/02/27/border-wall-construction-organ-pipe-explosion/
3) Uncertainty surrounding “Remain in Mexico”: On Friday, Feb. 28th, the Ninth Circuit Court blocked the “Remain in Mexico” policy, finding that returning asylum-seekers to Mexico put them at grave risk of harm or death. Late that same day, though, the court reinstated the policy after the Trump administration made an emergency request to reinstate the policy while it goes to the Supreme Court. Then, on March 4th, the 9th Circuit said it would cease making asylum-seekers wait in Mexico, but only those who are in the states in their circuit (California and Arizona). The ban is supposed to go into effect in this area on March 12th barring modification or reversal by the Supreme Court. Read more about the chaotic decision and its impacts here: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/05/812474279/court-blocks-trumps-remain-in-mexico-policy-along-part-of-the-border