A historic graveyard and chapel lie within the barrier’s 150ft ‘enforcement zone’ that the government has said it plans to raze
A judge has said the US-Mexico barrier, partially funded by an anti-migrant group, could damage a sanctuary and ecosystem
A mother and her American-born teenage son are suing two US government agencies and speaking out over the inhumane conditions they said he endured while taken into border custody for more than three weeks.
Francisco Galicia, 18, from Edinburg, Texas, was released from detention earlier this week after an ordeal in which he said he lost 26 pounds, was kept in a crowded space with 60 others and, for 23 days, wasn’t allowed to call his family or a lawyer, brush his teeth, or get access to a toilet, shower or bed.
He was so desperate in the face of the conditions, and unable to communicate with anyone outside, that he almost allowed himself to be deported to Mexico, as first reported by the Dallas Morning News.
And his mother, Sanjuana Galicia, might not have found out where he was if it weren’t for his younger brother, 17-year-old Marlon, who is undocumented and who agreed to be swiftly deported to Mexico, from where he called his mother to tell her what had happened.
Ten years ago, police caught Iraqi Chaldean immigrant Rani Yousuf with a small amount of marijuana. He completed probation, paid fines, and the conviction was dropped from his record when he turned 21.
Still, earlier this year, Yousuf found his car surrounded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) officers who arrested him again over the charge. He sat for months in a Michigan county jail facing the prospect of deportation to Iraq, a country he left at four years old. He has no family there, doesn’t speak Arabic, and is part of a religious minority targeted by extremists.
“As a Catholic who has tattoos of crosses, and Iraq being a Muslim country – they probably would kill me,” he said.
Yousuf is one of over 1,400 Iraqi nationals who the Trump administration is attempting to deport. Most of those are Chaldean – Iraqi Catholics – living in metro Detroit, which holds the world’s largest Chaldean population outside of Iraq.
The administration’s deportation efforts are viewed by many Chaldeans as a shocking “betrayal”, not least because many in the community have been enthusiastic supporters of Trump and voted for him in large numbers in 2016.
The generally conservative community with between 70,000 and 80,000 voters went big for Trump in the 2016 election in a state that he won by only 10,000 votes. They did so after Trump portrayed himself as a “savior” who would stand up for persecuted Christians. “Chaldeans For Trump” signs appeared at Trump rallies and in lawns in Oakland county, a wealthy metro Detroit area where the community is concentrated.
But just months into the Trump administration, Ice swept up 350 Chaldean men and Iraqi nationals. Now, some Chaldeans hold signs at protests reminding Trump “You vowed to protect us”.
“Some people thought ‘Here comes Trump who’s talking a good game about Christians in the Middle East who are being persecuted,’” said Edward Bojoka, a Chaldean immigration attorney. “A lot of people in the Chaldean community jumped on that and said, ‘Oh, he’s on our side’, and … some people feel like they were conned.”
But while there’s unanimous disappointment in the administration’s plan to deport Chaldeans, some Chaldean leaders say they still view Trump as a “friend”.
On the morning of 17 January 2018 a humanitarian group, No More Deaths, released a report showing how, over four years, US border patrol agents had destroyed 3,856 gallons of water that had been left for migrants in the desert.
That afternoon, Scott Warren, a No More Deaths volunteer, was arrested for bringing food, water, bedding and clean clothes to two men who had entered the country illegally. He found them in an area where 32 bodies had been recovered in the previous year alone.
Charged with conspiracy to transport and harbour migrants, he faced up to 20 years in prison. Earlier this month his trial ended in a hung jury.
Put differently, an American jury was asked whether, in effect, it should be illegal for one human being to provide basic sustenance to preserve the lives of other human beings in desperate need – and it could not quite make up its mind. (The jury was deadlocked, having split 8-4 in Warren’s favour. The state will decide whether to try him again next week.)
So when we see a photograph of the lifeless body of 26-year-old Salvadorean Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, clutching his dead 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, face down in the Rio Grande, it is important to decipher exactly what the source of the shock might be.
As Warren’s case illustrates, such deaths are not news in the conventional sense, any more than the police shooting black men in the street in the US is “news”. In the absence of mass protest there is a level of racialised suffering that rarely exceeds the status of white noise in the west. Not only do we know these things happen and have been happening for a long time; we know they don’t happen by accident, and could be prevented if we, as a society, had the will to do so. There is pathos in the suffering, but there is policy behind it too.
The tragic image is news because the basic humanity of those who perish has been so routinely denied that the evidence that they are not “cockroaches”, “animals”, “aliens”, “illegals”, rats or vermin but actual people feels genuinely novel – it provides an empathic injection into the morally sclerotic vein of a dehumanised political culture.
This was a father and daughter, holding on to each other until the very end: tender, vulnerable, heartbreaking. In a sense this is the problem. If for the stories of their lives to break through in the mainstream they must first be dead, what use is it to them? The fact that they are objects of pity, shame or even anger does not make them any less objects ripe for our projection.
Empathy could be the first step to solidarity – click, share, engage. Warren must have been conscientised and radicalised somehow. In 2006 I drove all the way up the US-Mexican border from Brownsville, Texas, where Angie Valeria and Óscar were found, to San Diego. On the way I spoke to Armando Alarcón, who was carried over the Rio Grande by his father when he was Angie Valeria’s age. When Alarcón saw a news story about the body of an eight-year-old girl found by a border patrol after she had been abandoned by her smuggler, he bought a Cessna 172 plane and founded a group called Paisanos al Rescate – Fellow Countrymen to the Rescue.
Another drama, another cliffhanger, another disaster averted at the last minute. Donald Trump had saved the world. Again.
The strange saga of the US-Mexico trade war that never was serves up the latest example of Trump’s reality-television presidency. Time and again he has manufactured crises, set deadlines, made threats, pulled back from the brink and claimed victory while keeping the details notoriously vague.
The cycle of razzle-dazzle enables Trump to galvanise his support base, selling himself as a man of action, and keeps the media mesmerised while his government pushes reforms or slashes regulations on the quiet. When the smoke clears, however, not much of substance has really changed.
Photojournalist Ariana Drehsler was stopped for a secondary screening three separate times in one week while crossing the US-Mexico border to cover the migrant caravan in Tijuana this winter – unaware that the journey she had taken countless times before was suddenly more complicated because her name was logged in a secret government database.
That database, part of something called Operation Secure Line, listed 59 advocates and journalists tied to the migrant caravan, according to leaked documents obtained by local news station NBC 7.
“I am an observer, I am actually kind of shy, I don’t know what I could’ve done to be put on a watchlist,” Drehsler, a freelancer based in San Diego, told the Guardian.
Drehsler was grouped in the database as “media/journalist”, alongside others identified as “instigator” and “organizer”. Her image in the database, like those of several others, is marked with a bright green X on her face to indicate an alert has been placed on her passport. NBC 7 reported that the database included a dossier on each person.
Civil rights activists and members of Congress have expressed alarm about this database, as well as the arrest of more than 37 other immigration activists by Donald Trump’s administration. They see it as a politically motivated crackdown on media and campaigners as Trump seeks to ramp up the pressure to build a border wall.
“I have not seen this kind of systematic targeting of journalists and advocates in this way,” said the ACLU staff attorney Esha Bhandari. “I think it is very troubling, very disturbing.”
Bhandari said there was a link between the database and the Trump administration’s arrests of immigrant activists and advocates, which could have a chilling effect on people exercising their right to free speech.
Donald Trump will be making a significant request for border wall funds and seeking money to stand up his “Space Force” as a new branch of the military in the White House budget being released next week, an administration official said on Saturday.
As the official did so, the president was on Twitter calling the hard-right commentator Ann Coulter a “Wacky Nut Job” for questioning his success on the wall.
Coulter, previously a supporter of the president and the author of a book entitled In Trump We Trust, has turned on him over his failure to secure funding for the wall by conventional means.
Late on Saturday, after a day’s golf in Florida, the president tweeted that “Wacky Nut Job Ann Coulter … still hasn’t figured out that, despite all odds and an entire Democrat Party of Far Left Radicals against me (not to mention certain Republicans who are sadly unwilling to fight), I am winning on the Border.
“Major sections of Wall are being built and renovated, with MUCH MORE to follow shortly. Tens of thousands of illegals are being apprehended (captured) at the Border and NOT allowed into our Country. With another President, millions would be pouring in. I am stopping an invasion as the Wall gets built.”
The tweets from Trump represented a harshening of rhetoric since January, during the record-breaking government shutdown over his demands for a wall. Then, the president mused that Coulter might have turned against him because he did not return her calls. On Saturday, Coulter did not immediately return his tweet.
The official who spoke anonymously about the budget, to the Associated Press, said the White House would propose serious cuts in safety net programs used by many Americans and other non-defense accounts. That will probably trigger a showdown with Congress.
It is unclear how much more money the president will seek to build the wall on the border with Mexico. The request is coming on top of the $8.1bn Trump already has access to, which includes some $3.6bn he has trying to shift from military accounts after declaring a national emergency. Trump invoked the emergency declaration last month after Congress denied his request for $5.7bn. Instead, Congress approved nearly $1.4bn for the border barriers, far less than he wanted.
The president’s Republican allies in the Senate, uneasy over the emergency declaration, are poised next week to debate terminating it. Some view it as an overreach of executive power. Congress appears to have enough votes to reject Trump’s declaration, but not to overturn his expected veto of their action.
The Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy aimed at deterringasylum seekers, especially at the southern border, is illegal and a human rights violation, the head of Amnesty International in the United States has said.
By law, the US is required to allow asylum seekers to file a request for asylum, but the Trump administration has implemented policies designed to prevent that from happening, including placing Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers at the international boundary to ask travelers for documentation before getting to the port of entry.
“First and foremost the policy is a violation of US and international law and clearly a human rights violation. If the US recognized that an individual has a credible fear of prosecution you can’t send them somewhere else – it is on the obligation of the state to offer protection and not delegate it to some third party,” Margaret Huang, the executive director for Amnesty International US, told the Guardian this week.
For three years, first as a presidential candidate, then as president of the United States, Donald Trump has insisted that the country must stem immigration by building a wall along its southern border – an expensive gambit that few Americans support and that Democratic lawmakers virulently oppose.
Now, he’s even shut down the federal government over this unmet campaign promise. In a Jan. 8 televised address, Trump insisted that it would stay closed until Congress agreed to a $5.7 billion steel barrier to “protect our country.”
But is there a crisis at the southern border?
Unlawful border crossings have actually declined since 2014, when 569,236 people — most of them Central American — were detained at the southern border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Last year, 521,090 migrants were caught trying to enter the country unlawfully.
Here, immigration experts explain who’s trying to get into the United States, what they want, and why immigration — even undocumented immigration — actually benefits the country.
1. Most Central American migrants are asylum-seekers
Central American migration is heavily driven by fear, according to researcher Jonathan Hiskey of Vanderbilt University.
“An increasing number of individuals are now arriving at the U.S. southwest border because of crime, violence and insecurity in Central America,” he writes.
With 60 murders per 100,000 people in 2017, El Salvador was the deadliest place in the world that was not at war. Almost 4,000 people were killed there in 2017. That year New York City, which has a much larger population, saw 292 killings.
Honduras’ murder rate has plummeted since 2014, but with 42.8 murders per 100,000 people in 2017, it is still one of the world’s most dangerous places.
Source: Is there a crisis at the US-Mexico border? 6 essential reads : The Conversation