• How a Struggling Coffee Market Pushes Guatemalans North

    Last year, Stephanie Leutert traveled to the Guatemalan highlands to visit the towns that were sending the most people per capita to the United States. She was curious about why Guatemalans were leaving their communities and what factors contributed to these decisions. In each town, she never found a single answer but, rather, various overlapping reasons that included a changing climate, low wages, few opportunities for employment, a desire for family reunification, distrust in political leaders and a lack of safety, among others. Yet there was one unexpected theme that she kept hearing about in the highlands: a changing coffee sector and low international coffee prices.

  • U.S. to Allow Indefinite Detention of Migrant Children

    The administration said on Wednesday that it would remove limits on how long migrant children can be detained. The move would allow for migrant families detained at the Mexican border to be held until their asylum case is processed, which can take up to several months. In order to allow for indefinite detention, DHS said it would terminate the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, a legal ruling that barred the government from holding migrant children in detention for more than twenty days.

  • Adopting the Original Definition of Asylum

    Negative Population Growth (NPG), a non-profit organization advocating a gradual reduction in the U.S.(and the world’s) population, has released a research paper that examines the current asylum crisis by taking a look back at U.S. policies and where the nation stands now. The report states: “Our border is out of control, and asylum abuse is the reason. Due to a huge number of bogus asylum claims, a process designed to provide refuge to the oppressed has become an enabler for out-of-control illegal immigration… Asylum was designed to protect individuals fleeing persecution, not those fleeing poverty. Until this distinction is firmly entrenched in legal practice, our national sovereignty will be at risk.”

  • Creating an Orderly Legal Immigration Structure

    The U.S. government has allowed its asylum and border processing system to become overwhelmed. Central Americans are crossing illegally and often relying on asylum and other processing procedures at the border because they are virtually the only ways for them to enter the United States. The most realistic and humane way to control the border is for Congress and the administration to channel future immigrants into an orderly legal structure for coming to the country.

  • Court Allows Trump Asylum Rules to Take Effect in California, Arizona

    A federal appeals court’s on Friday allowed the Trump administration partially to begin and reject asylum seekers at some parts of the U.S. The administration’s rule would reject asylum of migrants who passed through a third country but failed to apply for asylum in that country. The rule does not apply to Mexican seekers of asylum. The ruling from the ninth U.S. circuit court of appeals limited a lower court’s order against Donald Trump’s policy to California and Arizona. Under the ruling, U.S. district judge Jon Tigar’s 24 July 2019 order will not apply to New Mexico or Texas. The new rule would deny asylum to those migrants who have traveled through a country considered by the United States to be “safe,” and where the migrant should have, therefore, applied for asylum before continuing the journey to the United States.

  • Asylum-Seeking Migrants Pushed Farther South into Mexico, Left to Fend for Themselves

    Migrants have been bused to Monterrey and, they say, Chiapas under an ever-changing and often brutal “remain in Mexico” program. The policy is being carried out up and down the border by the Trump Administration in a controversial partnership with the Mexican government.

  • More than 900 Children – 170 Under the Age of 5 -- Separated from Their Families at the Border

    In June 2018, U.S. District Court Dana Sabraw issued a preliminary injunction which ordered the government to halt the practice of splitting families at the border except in limited circumstances — such as concerns about a child’s safety. Kevin McAleenan, the acting DHS secretary, told Congress that family separations are “extremely rare.” In papers filed in court Tuesday, the ACLU says that 911 children have been separated from their parents, and that one in every five children separated is under the age of 5.

  • Justice Dept. Moves to Block Asylum Claims Based on Family Ties

    Attorney General William P. Barr moved on Monday to end asylum protections for migrants solely because their relatives have been persecuted, the latest attempt by the Trump administration to limit sanctuary for people seeking refuge in the United States. Barr’s decision overturned a 2018 judgment by the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals, which found that a Mexican migrant whose father was targeted by a drug cartel could be eligible for asylum.

  • The Most Prosecuted Federal Offense in America: A Primer on the Criminalization of Border Crossing

    The federal statute criminalizing illegal entry into the United States, 8 U.S.C.§ 1325(a), has become an unlikely focus of the Democratic presidential primary. Supporters of decriminalization argue that criminalization is unnecessary, given that immigration violations already carry civil penalties, and that prosecutions under § 1325 waste government resources, allow for abusive use of prosecutorial power and do little to deter undocumented crossings. So what precisely does § 1325 do? Why is it important? And what effect would decriminalizing illegal entry into the U.S. really have?

  • Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Restrictions on Asylum at U.S.-Mexico Border

    A U.S. federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a directive which disqualifies a significant proportion of mostly Central American asylum-seekers who reach the U.S.-Mexico border. In his ruling Wednesday, Judge Jon Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California cited multiple concerns about the rule and the way it was issued. Hours before Tigar issued his ruling, a district court judge in Washington, D.C., denied a similar request to block the rule in a separate case.

  • Judge Allows Administration’s Restrictive Asylum Rule to Stand

    A federal judge on Wednesday said he would not block a new rule which effectively bars most migrants from Central America and other countries from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Analysts say the rule amounts to a seismic change in U.S. approach to asylum seekers. The rule restricts access to the U.S. asylum system for non-Mexican migrants who traveled through Mexico and other countries in order to reach the U.S. border — but who did not seek protection in those nations.

  • A Framework for a Fair, Humane, and Workable Immigration Policy

    The immigration debate in America today is nearly as broken as the country’s immigration system itself. The other day, the Center for American Progress released a new report which provides a framework to fix both. CAP notes that for many years, conversations about immigration have been predicated on a false choice that says America can either honor its identity as a nation of immigrants or live up to its ideals as a nation of laws by enforcing the current broken immigration system. Tom Jawetz, the report’s author, argues that by accepting these terms of the debate, supporters of sensible immigration policy have ceded powerful rhetorical ground to immigration restrictionists.

  • Criminal Prosecutions and Illegal Entry: A Deeper Dive

    Since the first Democratic presidential debates at the end of June, candidates, pundits and former government officials have discussed whether provisions of law that turn unauthorized border crossing into the federal crime of “improper entry” – in addition to a civil immigration law violation – should be repealed. Over the last three years, researchers at Human Rights First have conducted extensive research and observed countless entry and re-entry prosecutions in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. These prosecutions, as we have detailed in a series of reports, violate U.S. refugee treaty obligations, impinge on due process, separate children from their parents, waste government funds, and divert prosecutorial resources from serious criminal and security threats.

  • “Safe Third Country” Agreements with Mexico and Guatemala Would Be Unlawful

    News reports that the United States seeks to sign “Safe Third Country” agreements with Mexico and Guatemala – possibly as soon as today – mark the latest phase in the Trump Administration’s efforts to keep Central American asylum seekers from reaching the country. Such agreements would bar asylum applications in the United States from thousands fleeing El Salvador and Honduras, as well as claimants from other world regions who transit Central America and Mexico to reach our border. And they would be contrary to both U.S. and international law on the protection of asylum seekers.

  • Child Separation Policy: Allegations of Mistreatment Substantiated

    Between April 2018 and June 2018, the Trump administration separated at least 2,800 children from their parents under the “zero tolerance” policy. Among other disturbing things, a new staff report by the Committee on Oversight and Reform found that at least 18 infants and toddlers under two years old were taken away from their parents at the border and kept apart for 20 days to half a year; at least 241separated children were kept in Border Patrol facilities longer than the 72 hours permitted by law; and that the administration separated children unnecessarily—even under its own rationale.