“Six years ago, the European Union descended into in-fighting as it struggled to process asylum seekers fleeing war-torn Syria. Over 1 million refugees and migrants crossed the sea to reach Europe in 2015.
Officials vowed to reform, to create a system that would process and distribute asylum seekers efficiently across the Continent. Next time, they wanted to be prepared.
““False information, misinformation and misunderstanding might have created a false sense of hope,” said Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, an organization that works with migrants.
Biden’s term has coincided with a sharp deterioration in the political and economic stability of Haiti, leaving parts of its capital under the control of gangs and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes. The assassination of Haiti’s president and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake this summer have only added to the pressures causing people to leave the country. Shortly after the assassination, hundreds of Haitians flocked to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, many carrying packed suitcases and small children, after false rumors spread on social media that the Biden administration was handing out humanitarian visas to Haitians in need.
Most of the Haitians in Mexico — a country that has intercepted nearly 4,000 this year — were not coming directly from Haiti, but from South America, where, like Mackenson, they had already been living and working, according to a top official in the Mexican foreign ministry. The number of Haitians heading northward across the border that separates Colombia and Panama — often by traversing the treacherous jungle known as the Darién Gap — has also surged in recent years, increasing from just 420 in 2018 to more than 42,300 through August of this year, according to the Panamanian government.
“We are dealing with this really new type of migration, which are these Haitians coming from mainly Brazil and Chile,” said Roberto Velasco, chief officer for North America at Mexico’s foreign ministry. “They are mainly looking for jobs. They come from third countries, so repatriation is difficult.”
Following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands of Haitians headed southward to Chile and Brazil in search of jobs in two of South America’s richest countries. To get there, many undertook an arduous overland journey across the continent through the Amazon and the Andes.
Many were offered humanitarian visas in both nations, which needed low-wage workers, but that welcoming stance withered as economic instability in the region rose in tandem with a growing backlash toward immigrants.”
“The number of migrants apprehended at the border isn’t going down this summer, even as the heat makes the journey to the U.S. more dangerous. Instead, it has reached a 21-year high — and there’s a record number of unaccompanied children arriving, too.”
“Migrants for years have been pushed to seek refuge in the U.S. because of conditions in their home countries. But over the past 16 months, the numbers have increased as part of the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and as migrants face even more dire economic circumstances.
“The pandemic probably is a big part of it,” said Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, a non-partisan organization that engages in research on global issues. “You’ve got just a lot more people out of work and suffering because of the economic impact and that probably increases, surely increases, the pull factor.”
The Biden administration has continued to use the Trump-era public health order, known as Title 42, to expel migrants without allowing them to seek asylum. And experts and analysts say that this, too, is likely a major factor for the high number of apprehensions recorded each month. A large portion of migrants crossing the border are repeat crossers, who keep trying because there isn’t any real punishment when they get caught.
In June, for example, more than 188,000 migrants were apprehended at the border. Of those, 34 percent had tried to cross at least once before in the last 12 months, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures. That’s compared with an average recidivism rate of 14 percent for fiscal years 2014 to 2019.
Biden continues to turn away most of the migrants encountered at the border through Title 42, including single adults and many families, but has made exceptions for unaccompanied children to stay for humanitarian reasons. It has led some parents to send their children to the U.S. alone, knowing that the administration will allow them to stay, according to immigrant advocates.
Democratic lawmakers, immigrant advocates and public health experts for months have been urging the Biden administration to end its use of Title 42, arguing that it is unlawful, inhumane and not justified by public health. Biden officials were planning to begin phasing out Title 42, but those plans were derailed given the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus and the increase in apprehensions.”
“Keeping out refugees and other would-be migrants often harms current American citizens, too. I detailed some of the ways here. Perhaps the closest historical analogue to the current situation is the fall of Saigon, in 1975, after which the US accepted 130,000 Vietnamese refugees, in the immediate aftermath, and many more in succeeding years. Vietnamese immigrants have become valuable contributors to America’s economy and society, despite being from a poor society with many cultural differences relative to the US. There is every reason to expect that Afghan migrants can follow in their footsteps.
In addition to these general considerations, there are also some specific to the Afghan case. To begin with, in this instance the US government does deserve a share of the blame for the horrible situation Afghans find themselves in.
The exact scope of US responsibility for the present debacle is a matter of debate. But, at the very least, Donald Trump bears a hefty share of blame for signing a terrible agreement with the Taliban last year, including releasing 5000 Taliban prisoners, many of whom predictably rejoined the fight. Joe Biden deserves great blame, as well, including for doubling down on Trump’s awful policy despite the availability of less-bad alternatives, and for the terrible planning and management of the withdrawal. While the primary responsibility for Taliban oppression rests with the Taliban themselves, the US government contributed to the sorry state of affairs that led to the restoration of Taliban rule, and thereby has a greater-than-usual obligation to give refuge to its victims.
There are also more pragmatic reasons for aiding Afghan refugees. Many of those now fleeing helped US forces or worked with Americans and other Westerners to promote human rights in Afghanistan, particularly equality for women. If we do not give refuge to to our allies and supporters, we further damage our already diminished reputation for being reliable and trustworthy allies. The Afghan war is unlikely to be the last time we will need local help to combat terrorists and other adversaries. Such assistance is unlikely to be forthcoming if those who might provide it fear that the US will repay them by leaving them in the lurch.”
“Some fear that accepting large numbers of Afghan refugees would risk a wave of crime or terrorism. Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute explains why such fears are overblown. Indeed, as he documents, Afghan migrants actually have lower rates of crime and terrorism than native-born Americans. And, obviously, those most eager to flee Taliban rule are unlikely to share its ideology.”
“It will not be easy to come to grips with the disastrous outcome in Afghanistan, or to figure out all the lessons that might be drawn from it. But the US can start by doing right by those fleeing oppression.”
“The US could soon be facing dual migrant crises stemming from unrest in Haiti and Cuba. In response, the Biden administration has preemptively warned migrants not to try to come to the US by boat.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently confirmed that any migrants intercepted by the US Coast Guard off US shores will not be allowed to enter the country — they will be turned back or, if they express fear of returning to their home countries, repatriated to a third country.
“The time is never right to attempt migration by sea,” Mayorkas said in a press conference earlier this month. “To those who risk their lives doing so, this risk is not worth taking. Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States.”
The policy isn’t new. Past administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have employed this interdiction approach to prevent Caribbean migrants from reaching US shores. But although it was always done under the pretense of protecting migrants from the very real dangers of that journey, it resulted in many Haitians being returned to certain peril in their home country over the years and, under the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, languishing in what one federal judge called a “prison camp” at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were held after being intercepted at sea.”
“The vast majority of migrants who passed through Guantanamo were returned to Haiti. A much smaller percentage were able to be paroled into the United States because they passed their asylum interviews.”
“Laurie Elkin and Justin Mulaire, two federal employees who were detailed to the Fort Bliss emergency intake shelter near El Paso, Texas, filed a whistleblower complaint to Congress alleging they witnessed intolerable noise, filth, and odors inside the large tents where children are housed; contractors who were unqualified to work with youths; and hostility, indifference, and resistance to providing medical treatment to sick kids.”
“Elkin and Mulaire say they were repeatedly ignored or discouraged by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) superiors when they tried to report the substandard conditions and care children were living under.
The allegations track closely with reporting from Reason and other outlets from earlier this year describing unsanitary conditions and poor care for children housed in the shelter.”
“The total number of migrant minors being held by the U.S. government has waned, from more than 20,000 to roughly 14,500, according to the latest numbers from HHS.”
“Almost immediately after President Joe Biden took office, his administration started to roll back his predecessor Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required many asylum seekers who arrive at the United States’ southern border to stay in Mexico while they await a hearing on their asylum claim.”
” however, a Trump-appointed judge to a federal court in Texas effectively ordered the federal government to reinstate this Trump-era policy — which is officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — permanently. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s opinion in Texas v. Biden makes the implausible argument that a federal immigration law enacted by Congress in 1996 makes the Remain in Mexico policy mandatory, unless the federal government detains every asylum seeker who is not sent back to Mexico.
Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy was not implemented until early 2019. So the upshot of Kacsmaryk’s opinion is that the federal government was in violation of this 1996 statute for half of the Clinton administration, the entire George W. Bush administration, the entire Obama administration, and most of the Trump administration.
In reality, that 1996 federal law is part of a web of statutes and constitutional doctrines giving immigration officials multiple options when an asylum seeker arrives at the US-Mexico border. One provision of federal immigration law provides that most of these asylum seekers “shall be detained” while they await a hearing.”
“Kacsmaryk’s decision, moreover, is expected to be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative courts in the country — and then potentially to a Supreme Court where Republican appointees have a 6-3 supermajority.
So, while Kacsmaryk’s opinion is wrong on the law, there is no guarantee that it will be reversed by a higher court.”
“Kacsmaryk is one of many Trump appointees to the federal bench who appears to have been chosen largely due to his unusually conservative political views. Prior to becoming a judge, Kacsmaryk was deputy general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, a firm that largely litigates on behalf of causes of the religious right. In his past writings, he labeled being transgender a “mental disorder” and claimed that gay people are “disordered.”
As recently as 2015, Kacsmaryk published an article denouncing a “Sexual Revolution” that “sought public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults.”
He’s also the third conservative federal judge in Texas to strike down an immigration policy supported by the Biden administration.”
“The Supreme Court’s decisions are supposed to give federal officials a great deal of discretion to shape immigration policy — and to afford mercy to individual immigrants. As the Court explained in Arizona v. United States (2012) “a principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials.”
But judges like Kacsmaryk, Tipton, and Hanen appear eager to strip the Biden administration of that discretion. With a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court overseeing the judiciary, these judges may very well get away with it.”
“Biden is now allowing a trickle of asylum seekers to enter the U.S. from Mexico, but it’s unclear why some people may come and others may not.
The Associated Press reported in June that the Biden administration had quietly recruited six humanitarian groups to recommend which migrants should be allowed into the U.S. and initiate the asylum-seeking process. Only one of those groups—the International Rescue Committee—was publicly identified. According to the A.P.’s anonymous sources, the others are the London-based Save the Children, the American organizations HIAS and Kids in Need of Defense, and two Mexican groups, Asylum Access and the Institute for Women in Migration. Though the U.S. government has final say over who receives asylum, it relies on those organizations’ referrals.
Officials have not publicly confirmed that these are the responsible groups, and the criteria the organizations are using to select lucky entrants are just as fuzzy. The administration has reportedly asked them to prioritize migrants with serious medical issues, migrants who face imminent danger, and members of marginalized groups. But no guidance has been published, and many of the selected migrants “fall outside those categories.”
Under domestic and international law, all migrants who present themselves at U.S. ports of entry or on American soil are granted the opportunity to make asylum claims. Eligibility for asylum hinges on proving you’ve been persecuted on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership in certain other social groups, or political opinion. That process ground to a halt during the pandemic, after the Trump administration implemented Title 42. This policy—which Biden has maintained—allows Customs and Border Patrol officials to expel migrants immediately upon arrival and bar them from arguing their vulnerability before U.S. immigration officials.”