• DNA testing at the border

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier this week to obtain information that will shine a light on the agency’s use of Rapid DNA technology on migrant families at the border to verify biological parent-child relationships. Refusing to provide DNA carries threat that children will be separated from families.

  • Perspective

    The Trump administration wants to make people fleeing persecution in their home countries pay for something they’ve long gotten for free: the right to apply for asylum in the United States. At present, only Iran, Australia and Fiji charge fees to would-be asylum-seekers. 

  • Refugees

    Geographers are linking the political and human rights issues at borders today to the legacies of foreign and domestic policy across the globe since the First World War. A new study examines more than 100 years of international laws that have led, perhaps unintentionally, to the existing hostile climate for refugees.

  • Perspective: The Russia connection

    Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested to the West last month that the widening chaos in Libya after almost a decade of war should have been obvious: “A flow of migrants went through Libya to Europe,” he said in an interview, recalling the displacement of refugees that has reached crisis levels in recent years. “They have what they were warned about.” This week, the New York Times documented the deployment into Libya of Russian mercenaries. “The Russian leader’s warning about Libya, many analysts believe, reflects an ambition to intervene in the conflict at least in part to control refugee flows into Europe, indicating a broad understanding of the disruptive power that the movement of immigrants has had on the Western world,” Paul Shinkman writes.

  • Perspective: Border intelligence

    Pushing further toward its goal of “extreme vetting,” the Trump administration is creating a new center in suburban Virginia that will allow immigration agents to access, for the first time, the sprawling array of information scooped up by America’s intelligence agencies, from phone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency to material gathered by the CIA’s spies overseas to tips from informants in Central America. “Legal experts worry that immigration agents could potentially use this secret data to flag entire categories of people that fit ‘suspect’ profiles and potentially bar them from entering the U.S., or prompt them to be tracked while they’re here,” Melissa Del Bosque writes. “It could also be nearly impossible for those denied entry to challenge faulty information if wrongly accused, they say, since most of it is classified.”

  • Perspective: Family separation

    While prior presidential administrations have certainly struggled with periodic migration and border security challenges, officials in the Trump administration revived a controversial proposal that had been considered briefly during the Obama administration, but quickly shelved as “too opprobrious and unpalatable.” Carrie Cordero, Heidi Li Feldman, and Chimène Keitner write that “Once implemented last year, the early effects of the family separation policy and practice were swift, and devastating: Children were separated from their parents or family members at the border as a consequence of a new prosecutive guideline from the Justice Department. Parents were given little or no information about where the children were re-located to, or when, if ever, the families would be reunited.” They add: “As far as we know, until 2018, the U.S. government had not previously implemented a policy and practice of intentionally separating migrant and asylum-seeking families as a means of deterrence. As Americans, each of us was horrified our government would rip vulnerable children from their families in such a deliberate way.”

  • Perspective: Climate refugees

    Since 2008, catastrophic weather has displaced an average of 24 million people per year, according to data from the Swiss-based nonprofit Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. That number could climb to anywhere from 140 million to 300 million to 1 billion by 2050. The World Bank estimated last year that climate change effects in just three regions ― sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America ― could force 143 million people to flee by the middle of the century. House Democrats are set to introduce the first major piece of legislation to establish protections for migrants displaced by climate change, ramping up a push for a long-overdue framework for how the United States should respond to a crisis already unfolding on its shores.

  • Arguments

    The greatest failure of modern British governance was to encourage mass immigration to the U.K. and fail to prepare for the impact it would have, Philip Johnston writes in The Telegraph. “It is at the root of much that afflicts the nation today, from the agony of Brexit to the near-terminal pressure on the NHS and the housing crisis with all its attendant consequences.” “Bizarrely, political discourse has raged around the creaking NHS, the crowded trains, the snarled up roads, the lack of homes, the crammed prisons, the cost of pensions and the woeful state of social care, all without ever focusing on the cause for fear of being denounced as racist,” he writes, adding: “There were two ways to address this matter. Either stop adding to the population with a policy of net zero immigration. Or accept that the increase was unstoppable, even welcome in view of the fact that we had so many more older, economically inactive people, and ensure the infrastructure was in place to cope.”

  • Asylum
    Ramon Taylor

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s effort to dramatically curtail claims for asylum in the United States — cheered by the administration’s supporters and condemned by immigration rights advocates — is unprecedented on America’s southern border but not unique on the world stage. Europe in particular has imposed restrictive rules for asylum-seekers that predate this year’s flurry of activity in the United States.

  • Refugees

    Give me your Christian, your female, your English-speaking with a good education? While not the words on the Statue of Liberty, these seem to be the kinds of refugees that the American public prefers –according to a new study. The study shows that religion is the most powerful source of discrimination.

  • Perspective

    On Oct. 4, President Trump issued a proclamation that bars otherwise qualified visa applicants from entry into the United States unless they are likely to obtain “approved health insurance” within 30 days of entry. The insurance test relies on 8 U.S.C.§ 1182(f), authorizing the president to bar entry of foreign nationals “detrimental to the interests of the United States”—the same provision that Trump used for his travel ban, which the Supreme Court upheld in Trump v. Hawaii. While the Supreme Court in Hawaii relied on the national security and foreign affairs rationale for the travel ban, the insurance test targets the very different issue of immigrants’ financial resources.

  • Perspective

    Border Patrol agents say one of the most helpful types of technology in the region is the network of underground sensors placed along the riverbank and nearby dirt trails. They detect movement and notify agents of activity, like migrants illegally scrambling across the border. “There’s a lot of focus on just the wall. The wall is just one aspect of a multi-layered approach that we utilize to secure our borders,” says George Gomez, a Border Patrol agent in the El Paso sector of the southern border the United States shares with Mexico. “If they’re able to actually scale the wall and come down on the U.S. side safely without injuring themselves, then they’re going to step on one of our sensors that are magnetic, seismic or infrared. And that alerts us to activity in that area,” he says.

  • Border security

    When a customs officer in El Paso, Texas was arrested for conspiracy to smuggle marijuana into the U.S between 2003 and 2007, investigators found she had sought a job with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency mainly to enable the smuggling operation. Analysis of corruption cases among customs officers and border patrol agents reveals alarming trends depending on their years of service.

  • Perspective

    The federal government has long allowed American companies to offer temporary employment to highly skilled foreign workers through its controversial H-1B visa program. Proponents believe the program gives firms a competitive edge in pursuit of innovation, while critics contend it pushes aside American workers in favor of immigrants. The H1-B Reform Act of 2004 capped the number of visas available and prompted other changes. Wharton Assistant Professor of Management Britta Glennon says: “U.S. multinational firms have this alternative choice. If they can’t get the skilled immigrants that they want in the U.S., they can just hire them abroad at one of their foreign affiliates. If it’s true that they are just going to hire skilled immigrants elsewhere, then those policies restricting them can backfire.”

  • Perspective

    It’s now against the law in New York City to threaten someone with a call to immigration authorities or refer to them as an “illegal alien” when motivated by hate. The restrictions — violations of which are punishable by fines of up to $250,000 per offense — are outlined in a 29-page directive released by City Hall’s Commission on Human Rights. The Commission on Human Rights made clear that the directive is, at least in part, a rebuke of federal crackdowns on illegal immigration.

  • Perspective: Exaggerations

    A recent article in the Guardian by Sindre Bangstad, a Norwegian social anthropologist describes Norway as being in the grip of pervasive, far-right nationalism, with violence simmering just below the surface. “Norway is in denial about the threat of far-right violence,” reads the bombastic headline. Kathrine Jebsen Moore, a fellow Norwegian, writes that Bangstad misrepresents and misleads: she motes that the Norwegian Police Security Service still regards Islamist terror threats as the most serious threat to Norway, even if it has upgraded the threat of far-right extremism from “unlikely” to “possible” after an attempted mosque attack in August. But “to see in the upgrading of the terrorist threat posed by far-right groups a general mood of irrational hatred for immigrants and Muslims, and portray Norway as a hotbed for racism, is just wrong,” Moore writes, adding: “Norway, like other European countries, is faced with a new set of challenges as it changes from a homogenous nation to a country with a growing immigrant population” – and that “Norway is coping with this influx a lot better than Sweden. So, is Norway in denial about its far-right problem? Don’t believe it.”

  • Surveillance

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) the other day published The Atlas of Surveillance: Southwestern Border Communities. The Atlas consists of profiles of six counties along the U.S.-Mexico border, outlining the types of surveillance technologies deployed by local law enforcement—including drones, body-worn cameras, automated license plate readers, and face recognition. The report also includes a set of 225 data points marking surveillance by local, state, and federal agencies in the border region.

  • Perspective: Europe & immigration

    Denmark has experienced 10 bombings since February. The latest took place on August 27 in a residential complex, Gersager, in the Greve area, very close to Copenhagen. No one was injured, but the building was seriously damaged. This year, the Swedish city of Malmö has experienced 19 bombings. Sweden is exporting not only its bombings to Denmark. Gang crime, with its shootings and murders, has also traveled across the border. As to the nationality of migrants engaged in crime, statistics show that Lebanese male migrants are engaged in crime almost four times as much as the average Dane. They are followed by male descendants from Somalia, Morocco, and Syria.

  • Perspective: Border Patrol

    For decades, the Border Patrol was a largely invisible security force. Agents called their slow-motion specialty “laying in” — hiding in the desert and brush for hours, to wait and watch, and watch and wait. Two years ago, when President Trump entered the White House with a pledge to close the door on illegal immigration, all that changed. “No longer were they a quasi-military organization tasked primarily with intercepting drug runners and chasing smugglers,” four New York Times journalists write. “Their new focus was to block and detain hundreds of thousands of migrant families fleeing violence and extreme poverty — herding people into tents and cages, seizing children and sending their parents to jail, trying to spot those too sick to survive in the densely packed processing facilities along the border.”

  • Asylum

    While legal challenges continue to make their way through the nation’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — which includes the southern border states of California and Arizona —  the Supreme Court ruled that, in the interim, the Trump administration could begin denying asylum claims to migrants at the country’s southern border who did not first seek protection in another country along their route. The policy would affect asylum-seekers at the border, who are largely from Central America, as well as an increasing number of migrants from outside the Western Hemisphere.