_The Biden administration is proposing to speed up asylum procedures at the border by allowing asylum officers to grant or deny asylum to individuals or families seeking safety at the southern border; the submission of comments and materials for the proposed rule, officially published today in the Federal Register, are due by October 19, 2021.
_We truly believe that immigration detention is completely unnecessary and that taxpayer dollars can be better spent on creating welcoming centers and in funding [alternatives to detention] programs and staffing them with social workers, trauma specialists, health care professionals and asylum officers (quotes Yours Truly).
_A district judge in Nevada encouraged us by declaring that reentry after deportation (the most commonly charged federal felony) is unconstitutional because the law creating it was motivated by racial animus; to understand the racist history of this statute, check out Race, History, and Immigration Crimes.
_SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee notes that Former First Lady Pat Nixon, who helped found Friendship Park, would not recognize the park on its 50th anniversary, because of its poignant and damaging border wall, suggesting new construction that would allow the park to better live up to its name.
_Poisoned apple. The last seven months of the Biden Administration has felt like a bad fairy tale where, instead of falling into a deep sleep after biting the poisoned apple, it feels like we are falling into deep disappointment. And, frankly, it’s going to take a lot more than seven dwarfs and a kiss from a person who loves us to get out of these doldrums. The new administration appeared to start boldly, signing executive orders that revoked some of the anti-immigrant executive orders decreed by the former administration. But there has been very little progress since then in creating a “humane, safe and orderly process” for asylum seekers that come to the southern border, who are, btw, lawfully seeking safety in the United States. Instead, the administration has repeatedly said “Do Not Come” to families who, under U.S. law, may be eligible for asylum. In fact, the administration has perpetuated the use of Title 42 to quickly expel people seeking safety at our southern border without due process and without even giving them a chance to express fear of being returned to their country of origin. Adding insult to injury, the administration is also putting asylum seekers from Northern Triangle countries (i.e., Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) on expulsion flights to remote regions of southern Mexico. This is why we joined more than 100 organizations in signing this letter to the administration to express our outrage at the harms_that have included assaults and rapes_created by cruel policies that place people seeking safety directly in harm's way. The administration has also not coordinated well with non-profit migrant shelters on both sides of the border, has proposed rule changes that might actually create more suffering for people fleeing violence, and has expelled Haitian families_including infants_via flights back to Haiti__even after political turmoil caused by the assasination of President Jovenel Moïse, two back-to-back earthquakes, and a tropical storm. This is making us really Grumpy. It’s time for the administration to live up to its promises and develop a whole-of-society, whole-of-government approach to welcoming people at our borders in a way that respects human rights and people’s dignity. It’s really time for a #NewBorderVision.
_Mirror judges. Over the last two weeks, there have been two disappointing rulings by federal judges in the 5th Circuit that mirrored each other in their failure to recognize the harms created by the so-called Migrant Protections Protocol (MPP, also known as Remain in Mexico). On August 13, a U.S. district judge in Texas, in a case brought by the States of Texas and Missouri, issued a permanent injunction ordering DHS to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith” (emphasis in original) for an indefinite period of time. The Biden administration appealed the order in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but just yesterday the court issued a denial, which means the program_which was deliberately created by the former administration to inflict harm and trauma on people fleeing violence by forcing families and children to face dangerous conditions in Mexico as they wait for their U.S. asylum hearings. Justice denied anywhere, diminishes justice everywhere. An interesting article popped up this week that_in the context of these rulings_could not be ignored. It appears the Biden administration was giving serious consideration to reviving the use of MPP_even before its appeal was denied. Wait, what? The idea that the administration would consider doing this is a real punch in the gut for those people who felt they were voting for someone who was going to bring about a “humane, safe, and orderly process” for asylum seekers. This leads us to this compelling report, “Pushing Back Protection: How Offshoring and Externalization Imperil the Right to Asylum,” that illustrates how wealthy nations_including the United States_are dealing with global migration patterns by coercing less affluent nations to take them. In short,
“Externalizing and offshoring practices would not exist but for a systematic failure to learn the damage they have caused across the world. These policies’ history of failure is symptomatic of a broken outlook on asylum rights—one that smears asylum seekers as “traffickers,” “queue-jumpers,” or “criminals.” And yet, offshoring policies embolden the very trafficking networks policymakers claim they seek to dismantle. Politicians talk about the need for asylum seekers to “come the right way,” ascribing fault to asylum seekers for seeking protection at what they label inconvenient times or places. Meanwhile, these powerful nations attack and obstruct existing migration pathways, while falsely painting asylum seekers as national security and public health risks. As long as affluent nations approach migration and protection from a deterrence perspective, the rights of vulnerable people will suffer and efforts to create humane and effective asylum processing systems will stumble.”
_Border, Border on the Wall. While we’re on the topic of judges and the administration, we’ve seen competing court rulings, some adding to our disappointment and others giving us a little hope. Border, Border on the Wall, who’s the fairest judge of all? On Aug. 13, the Biden administration stated in federal court that it would drop a border wall eminent domain case in Starr County, Texas, and return the property to private property owner_prompting the judge to say it was the first case he's aware of where revestment has been approved. That was cause for small celebration, but not for long, as President Biden does not seem to be keeping to his promise of “not another foot” of border wall will be constructed or of stopping land condemnation cases in South Texas. To hear how this is affecting landowners, who have owned the land near the Rio Grande for generations, tune in to this LatinoUSA podcast that quotes SBCC colleagues Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project and David Donatti of the ACLU of Texas. Seriously? The Administration could make short order of these cases and quickly drop them, so why isn’t it doing so? Even more disturbing is proof that the Biden administration is actually building more wall. Biden needs to keep his promise to halt construction_not another foot should mean not another foot. The levees that were damaged under this administration will then need to be backfilled and repaired, but not with concrete or steel. (NOTE: The levees in their original, FEMA-certified state were packed earth.) All land condemnations should also cease, and land should be returned to its former owners. The administration also needs to concretely and decisively instruct the Department of Justice to drop these cases. #NoBorderWall
border_lines is published every other Friday for your reading pleasure. If you’d like to submit an item for inclusion, please email Vicki B. Gaubeca at [email protected], by Wednesday COB. The Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.