This month, we share the latest news about obstructions and crackdowns in the immigration system, affecting asylum seekers, detainees at the U.S.–Mexico border, and most recently, immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens. In addition, we include coverage of Border Patrol destruction of supplies left in the desert for migrants and arrests of volunteers who put them there.
- Prosecution an Obstacle to Asylum: In January, Human Rights First released a comprehensive report on the Trump administration’s misuse of criminal prosecutions and the deleterious implications for asylum seekers. For years, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice have subjected immigrants seeking asylum to further trauma and wrongfully prosecuting them in violation of the Refugee Convention and U.S. treaty obligations. Such prosecutions have only gotten worse. Read a summary and download the report here: https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/punishing-refugees-and-migrants-trump-administrations-misuse-criminal-prosecutions.
- Spouses Seeking Legal Residency Arrested: As part of its aggressive crackdown on immigrant families and individuals, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is now targeting spouses of U.S. citizens. Fabiano de Oliveira was arrested during his residency interview (the first step in obtaining a green card) beside his wife Karah who would later need to explain his absence to their 5-year-old son. This article mentions two other instances of such ICE arrests: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2018/01/ice_arresting_spouses_seeking_legal_residency.
- Border Patrol Retaliation: The Tucson-based aid group, No More Deaths (NMD), released video of U.S. Border Patrol agents emptying water bottles left in the desert for migrants and a report on BP abuses. Eight hours after the release of the report and video, Border Patrol agents arrested a NMD volunteer on felony charges of alien smuggling as well as two others with him. NMD considers the arrests suspicious, and more generally, there are concerns about humanitarian acts being treated as criminal. More details here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/01/23/border-patrol-accused-of-targeting-aid-group-that-filmed-agents-dumping-water-left-for-migrants/?utm_term=.88895e905f85.
- Immigration Court in Detention: Following instructions from Trump’s early executive order, make-shift immigration courts are held in detention centers along the U.S.–Mexico border. The idea was to expedite the detention and deportation of border crossers, but it has had the opposite effect—delays and disarray abound, and those awaiting court dates find themselves detained for longer periods and with inadequate management of paperwork and process. An overview of this failed practice outlines the problems: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/01/19/lost-in-court.
U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a No More Death volunteer leaving water for crossing migrants, a life-saving measure in the desert heat, after the release of incriminating videos of agents emptying water bottles made the rounds.