Our media report focuses on the details of expedited returns, the Trump administration’s unlawful and dangerous plan to return nearly all migrants to Mexico within minutes of their apprehension; the continued construction of the border wall, in spite of protests from local communities and epidemiologists due to the high possibility of virus spread; and a profile of the dangerous journey through Panama’s Darien Gap and the resilient migrants who attempt it.
1) Expedited Returns at the US/Mexico Border: The Trump administration used the coronavirus as a pretext to issue an emergency declaration to immediately return all people from Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries to Mexico without access to humanitarian protection. A leaked Border Patrol memo indicates that all people will be returned to Mexico, regardless of their fear of persecution on long-established grounds for protection, unless they can convince a Border Patrol agent they are at risk for torture. This policy, known internally as “Operation Capio,” is a furtherance of the long-held administration’s goals to restrict asylum and humanitarian protections to a nearly complete degree. Read more here: https://www.propublica.org/article/leaked-border-patrol-memo-tells-agents-to-send-migrants-back-immediately-ignoring-asylum-law
2) Border wall construction continues: In Arizona, border wall construction continues throughout the state. The intensification of the construction is troubling to many residents of Southern Arizona communities, who worry that workers building the wall, many of whom live in tight quarters while on the construction project, could bring the virus to their towns. Epidemiologists are also concerned about the increased possibility of the virus spread due to the ongoing wall construction. Read more here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/us/coronavirus-border-wall-arizona.html
3) Migration through the Darien Gap: Many people who are seeking to reach the United States from Africa, Asia, South America, and beyond must travel through the Darien Gap that connects Colombia with Panama. It is a treacherous journey, because the landscape is so challenging, the threats to safety are so omnipresent and many people who are forced to pass through there have very limited information about the conditions they will encounter. This story describes a part of the migratory journey that is not often covered, and the resilience and courage of those who pass through the Darien Gap. https://story.californiasunday.com/darien-gap-migration