Our report this month covers threats to the U.S. asylum system—directing asylum officers to reject applicants wishing to enter the country and denying bond to eligible asylum seekers in detention—and environmental factors that help explain growing migration from Central America.
- Concerns of Asylum Officers: U.S. asylum officers are starting to speak up—at their union meetings and to media—about their coercive work atmosphere under the Trump administration and its recently instituted Migration Protection Protocols, which require some asylum applicants to remain in Mexico as their claims are decided. These officers are responsible for vetting asylum seekers, making a credible fear determination, and keeping individuals and families from returning to home or other countries where they will be in danger. Yet they are routinely pressured to reject applicants at this early interview stage, regardless of evidence of persecution or death, and in violation of international law. More about this disturbing development here: https://www.vox.com/2019/5/2/18522386/asylum-trump-mpp-remain-mexico-lawsuit.
- Blocking Bond for Asylum Seekers: In the latest rollback of asylum rights, U.S. Attorney General William Barr has announced a new rule denying bond to eligible applicants who formerly could be released from detention to live in the U.S. while their claims are processed. This decision, set to go into effect this summer, would apply to anyone entering the U.S. outside of formal ports of entry where potential applicants are forced to wait days or weeks to submit their claims. Further, it overrules a 2005 Board of Immigration Appeals ruling that border crossers who establish credible fear are eligible for bond. Here are more details: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/barrs-decision-to-eliminate-bond-for-certain-asylum-seekers-explained.
- Climate Impact in Guatemala: In the highlands of Guatemala, climate change is driving a surge in migration to the U.S. and elsewhere as farmers leave areas where crops—and their livelihoods—are being wiped out. At the same time, the Trump administration has not only attempted to depict a humanitarian crisis as a “national emergency”; it also denies the well-substantiated science and broad impact of climate events, discrediting those who are fleeing such extreme climate-induced poverty, and proposes to withhold critical aid to the very Central American countries most affected. This article provides an important overview of the situation: https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/how-climate-change-is-fuelling-the-us-border-crisis.