“The Afghan evacuation in August was a shock to the US immigration and resettlement system, a collection of federal programs and nonprofit organizations that had already been upended by the Trump administration. Afghan evacuees are in this holding pattern for several reasons.
“The memo argues that the policy, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” caused more harm than good, particularly in terms of its humanitarian impact.
“I recognize that MPP likely contributed to reduced migratory flows,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in the four-page memo announcing the policy shift. “But it did so by imposing substantial and unjustifiable human costs on the individuals who were exposed to harm while waiting in Mexico.”
That determination is in line with Biden’s campaign promises on immigration, which included reversing policies like Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy that resulted in family separations. It’s at odds, however, with the administration’s continuing reluctance to completely do away with other Trump-era legacies like Title 42, the immigration order that has allowed for the deportation of migrants as a public health measure during the pandemic.
And even though Biden began rolling back the MPP soon after taking office in January, his administration has had to prepare to re-implement the program in recent weeks in order to comply with a previous court order — even as it’s actively fighting to end the policy for good.”
“A 39-page justification published along with the memo outlines in further detail the conditions migrants faced in detention in Mexico, including the risk of sexual assault and kidnapping in the encampments where they stayed, as well as unsanitary and unstable housing conditions, limited access to health care and legal counsel, and insufficient food while they waited for the US to make a decision about their asylum hearings.
The right to seek asylum is protected under international law, and has been since the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948.”
“Ultimately, the Biden administration argues the policy has far too many issues for it to be salvaged: Not only does it require significant resources that could be directed elsewhere, according to the DHS memo, but MPP also failed to achieve reduction in crimes like human trafficking and drug smuggling, put people in serious danger, and doesn’t address the root causes that lead to people seeking asylum.
Additionally, the memo says, any program fixes would require the cooperation of Mexico and further diplomatic negotiations — time and energy that could be better spent on other issues. And other strict immigration policies were enacted at the same time as MPP, making it difficult to assess any deterrent effect the policy may have achieved.”
“The horse patrols aren’t the point. Democrats promised a different sort of immigration policy than what former President Donald Trump offered. But with a few tweaks around the margins, the Biden administration has continued—or even expanded—its predecessor’s policies.
It gets away with this in part because of symbiotic bullshitting between the Biden administration and the people opposed to it. The latter really want their base to think that Democrats are ushering in “open borders” and an influx of scary criminal immigrants, so they rant and rave as if President Joe Biden isn’t just largely continuing Trump policies. And since Democrats don’t want to seem like Trump 2.0 on immigration, both teams of bullshit artistry benefit.”
“The administration’s tone-deaf response? To announce that border patrol agents would stop riding horses, for now.
“We have ceased the use of the horse patrol in Del Rio temporarily,” a Department of Homeland Security official told reporters on Thursday.
They’ll still be capturing and sending home asylum seekers on sight. In fact, they’ll be doing more of it. But by foot! Or by truck! Not on a horse! Doesn’t that make you feel better about our government rounding up migrants, chaining them, and shipping them back to their countries of origin without so much as a chance to plead their case for a better life here?”
“The US has made a distinction between Afghan refugees and the other vulnerable populations arriving at America’s doorstep. And it’s a false one.
Afghans fleeing Taliban rule have so far occupied a unique space in the immigration policy debate. In a climate where immigration has become a political wedge, there has been overwhelming bipartisan support for resettling at least some of them in the US: Polling has shown that 76 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats back resettlement efforts for Afghans who aided US troops. When it comes to other asylum seekers, the numbers are starkly different. For example, 64 percent of registered voters believe Biden needs to institute stricter policies at the southern border.
What makes Americans sympathetic to Afghan refugees compared to other people seeking protection? Some rightly feel a moral responsibility to protect those who were forced to leave their home due to their government’s ill-conceived and failed nation-building efforts, especially those who worked alongside American forces.
But what may also be a factor is that the Afghan war was also the kind of faraway conflict typically associated with the sort of refugees the US has historically admitted, like Somalis fleeing ongoing civil war in their home country.
Complicating this idea, however, is the fact that the kind of persecution and peril Afghans face in their home country is markedly similar to that faced by asylum seekers arriving on the US-Mexico border. Those from Central America’s Northern Triangle — Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala — are fleeing brutal gang violence, extortion, and government corruption, which are compounded by poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and climate-related issues. The same is true of many other groups as well, like the thousands of Haitians gathered in Del Rio, Texas.
Though the US has not fought a 20-year war in the Northern Triangle or in Haiti, it has played a direct role in creating the societal ills people are running away from, meaning the moral obligation many feel America has toward Afghans ought to extend to migrants from those countries as well.
That, of course, hasn’t been the case. Often invoking racist dog whistles, Republicans have falsely painted them as criminals who threaten public safety, carriers of disease, or economic migrants who want to skip “the line” of legal US immigration. Democrats have not necessarily been much better: The Obama administration detained migrant families on a large scale and told them “don’t come” while the Biden administration has maintained Trump-era policies, effectively blocking all asylum seekers from gaining access to protection amid the pandemic despite claiming to take a more humane approach.
Afghan refugees deserve protection. But so do the other vulnerable populations arriving at America’s doorstep. The Afghan refugee crisis has clarified this in a way other recent mass migration movements have not, and it also presents a unique opportunity for the US to recalibrate its policy about who is worthy of American protection.”
“fear-mongering is neither surprising nor new. There’s a long history of politicians erroneously representing refugees as economic burdens who pose cultural and/or national security threats to the U.S. In fact, the same arguments against Afghan asylum seekers were also deployed in 2015 and 2016 against resettling Syrian refugees displaced by their country’s civil war. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump regularly railed against the refugee policies of then-President Barack Obama’s administration, proclaiming at the Republican National Convention, “We don’t want them in our country.” Trump’s administration made this point even clearer, banning Syrian refugees and cutting the total number of refugees allowed in the U.S. by more than 80 percent.”
“Searching through the Roper Center’s database of polling questions on “refugees” since the 1930s reveals that Americans have rarely supported asylum for forcibly displaced migrants seeking safe-haven in the U.S.1 Nearly two-thirds opposed admitting 10,000 Jewish children into the U.S., who were fleeing Nazism in 1939. Even after the horrors of the Holocaust were further exposed in the post-war period, only 27 percent of respondents in a 1946 Gallup poll supported a proposed “plan to require each nation to take in a given number of Jewish and other European refugees,” compared with 59 percent who disapproved.
The public’s opposition to resettling refugees in the U.S. persisted throughout the 20th century. Polling from the late 1970s, for example, consistently showed that most Americans opposed admitting thousands of refugees from Southeast Asia in the Vietnam War’s aftermath. While support can vary by question-wording, majorities also opposed accepting Hungarian refugees in the 1950s, Cuban refugees in the 1980s and Haitian refugees in the 1990s. The same pattern once again emerged in 2015, when polls showed that few Americans wanted to take in refugees escaping the civil war in Syria.”
“Americans generally became more supportive of immigration in response to the Trump administration’s restrictive policies — a well-documented dynamic in U.S. politics where public opinion tends to move against the president’s positions. As part of that overall shift, Americans’ views of refugees shifted in the same direction. Support for accepting Muslim refugees from Syria increased in The Economist/YouGovsurveys from 38 percent in November 2015 to 52 percent in April 2017. Quinnipiac University Poll showed a similar 12-point increase in support for admitting Syrian refugees over the same 16-month time period (43 percent to 55 percent respectively); and the share of Americans saying the “U.S. has a responsibility to accept Syrian refugees” in Pew Research Center polling rose from 40 percent in October 2016 to 47 in February 2017.
The growing public support for refugees in the Trump era extended beyond the Syrian civil war. Indeed, the percentage of Americans who said that taking in civilian refugees who are trying to escape violence should be a very or somewhat important goal of U.S. immigration policy increased by double digits in Pew polls fielded in December 2016 and September 2019 (61 percent to 72 percent, respectively). Meanwhile, the share of HuffPost/YouGov respondents who said “the U.S. does not have a responsibility to take in refugees fleeing from other countries” decreased from 54 percent in 2015 to 42 percent in 2019. And 2019 polls conducted by Gallup, CNN and Fox News all showed majority support for accepting Central American refugees into the U.S.
The more welcoming context is one important reason why we’re now seeing stronger support for Afghan refugees than previous asylum seekers.”
“The majority of voters in an AugustMorning Consult poll supported relocating Afghan refugees in the U.S., while just one-third were opposed. Support was even stronger in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, where 68 percent strongly or somewhat favored the U.S. taking in Afghan refugees after security screenings. And Americans are especially supportive of Afghans who helped U.S. forces during the 20-year war, with a whopping 81-percent of those surveyed by YouGov/CBS News saying we should help Afghans who worked with American troops come to the U.S.”
“”They want Americans out,” she said, referring to the Taliban. “So when it comes to us moving Americans out of the country, they’re happy to assist. They don’t want Americans in their country anyway.””
“Wilson said “there have been no problems at all” with Project Dynamo’s passengers.
“The Taliban have not been adversarial with us or threatening with us,” she said. “There were no problems with hitting and beating, the things that we saw in the early days when the military was still there.”
“The Taliban knew we were coming, they knew it was Americans, and they gave us safe passage.”
Last week Project Dynamo successfully evacuated more than 100 US citizens, green card holders, and Special Immigrant Visa holders from Kabul to Chicago.
But the journey took longer than expected after the Department of Homeland Security initially barred the plane from entering the US, citing a lengthy screening process and a measles outbreak as causes for concern.
The group, which included 59 children, was left stranded at Abu Dhabi airport for more than 24 hours with little food and having to sleep on floors.”
“In late August, Nephtalie and her husband, still waiting in Chiapas, began to hear a rumor spreading around the Haitian migrant population living across Mexico. From interviews this week with other migrants in Del Rio, and conversations with attorneys who have met with dozens more, it seems that many people had the same experience. The rumor went like this: First, information went around that, while most of the border was closed, U.S. immigration authorities were allowing people to cross and ask for asylum in Mexicali — on the border with Calexico, California — and in Acuña, the Mexican city across from Del Rio. (This was not true, but it spread like wildfire among people yearning for a glimmer of hope.) Second, the rumor said that Sept. 16 would be the best day to travel. That would be Mexico’s Independence Day, and migrants figured that the Mexican authorities, who have bowed to U.S. pressure to more stringently police immigrants in Mexico, would be preoccupied, allowing them to travel within the country unimpeded northward. Finally, the bus routes to Acuña were cheaper than to other spots along the border, like Mexicali. So, as el Día de la Independencia de México arrived, thousands of people who had heard the rumors — by word of mouth or on WhatsApp or on Haitian social media — began traveling to Acuña to cross into Del Rio.
When I asked one Haitian man at a gas station in Del Rio, “Why did you choose to cross from Acunã to Del Rio?” he replied: “Where is that?” Like many, he had probably simply followed others along what sounded like an opportunity to finally be accepted in the United States.
But the stakes of following such a rumor only to be faced with the reality of a closed border are tragic: Most of the Haitians in Del Rio today left Haiti years ago. Now, after traveling thousands of miles with the hope that they could eventually gain asylum in the U.S., many are instead being returned to the very island they fled.”
“Already grappling with coronavirus, a political crisis stemming from President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination last month and resulting gang violence, Haiti was hit with a two-punch 7.2-magnitude earthquake and tropical depression this week, leaving almost 2,000 dead and thousands more injured or missing.
Thousands are without shelter because some 83,000 homes have been destroyed. International aid has been slow to arrive, delayed by Tropical Storm Grace’s heavy rains, and some Haitians are frustrated that their own government hasn’t done enough to help.
Also of little help has been the United States, one of the contributors to Haiti’s political and economic troubles, which has the ability to aid Haitians attempting to flee the country due to its three most recent crises, but has instead prevented them from accessing the protection to which many of them are entitled.
The Biden administration has sent a search and rescue team to the island and is transporting medical personnel to the most hard-hit areas and carrying out evacuations. It is also distributing much-needed supplies, such as food, hygiene kits, and tents.
But the administration is still turning away Haitians who have chosen to flee in light of recent events. Thousands of Haitians are still stuck in Mexico on account of US policies, which currently allow asylum seekers and other migrants to be turned away on the basis of pandemic-related border restrictions, known as the Title 42 policy.
Many more Haitians may seek entry: Though it’s hard to estimate how many, the Darién Gap, a treacherous stretch of jungle and swamp on the border of Panama and Colombia that has functioned as a migrant corridor, has seen more crossings this year — at least 46,000 — than it has in the previous three years combined, and most of those attempting to navigate it are Haitians and Cubans.
The Biden administration has allowed more than 100,000 Haitians who arrived in the US before July 29, 2021, to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which is typically offered to citizens of countries suffering from natural disasters or armed conflict. Those people are able to live and work in the US free of fear of deportation.
But that doesn’t help those who might be continuing to leave the country due to the political fallout from Moïse’s July 7 assassination, or now, in the aftermath of Saturday’s earthquake. What’s more, Haitians who have been prohibited from entering the US under Title 42, for which experts say there is no public health justification, appear indefinitely trapped in Mexico. And the US has continued to carry out deportation flights of Haitians despite the turmoil.
At the same time, the Biden administration has discouraged Haitians, as well as Cubans fleeing their communist regime’s recent crackdown on anti-government protesters, from trying to reach the US by boat. Officials have made clear that those who try will be intercepted by the US Coast Guard and will not be permitted to enter the US. Instead, they will either be repatriated back to Haiti or, if they can demonstrate the need for humanitarian protection, resettled in another country.”
“Refugees and immigrants are not only good for the economy, they can help us reverse dangerous trends in stagnant cities and towns. Policymakers should stop referring to refugees as a burden and trust that new Americans will benefit the nation.”
“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.
That never happened.”