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The US-Mexico Border Opened Up For A Few Moments And These Families Got To Hug For The First Time In A Long Time

Family Members ReuniteMexican families separated by the U.S.–Mexico border were finally able to hug after a gate in the border fence was temporarily opened.

Posted by AJ+ on Thursday, August 11, 2016

Not even the muddy ground of the Rio Grande could keep these families from reuniting.

The Border Network for Human Rights and Border Patrol organized a temporary truce and opened a border gate between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. Sisters got to reconnect. Grandparents met their grandchildren for the first time. Children who were ripped from their parent(s) due to deportation got to hold each other again. According to Fronteras, the reunion of families was organized two months before. Families that participated got to do so on an honor code basis.

This is the second time this year that the border has opened for families to reconnect. In May, Border Angels, another immigration advocacy group, teamed up with Border Patrol to allow for 6 select families to see each other again. This meetup in El Paso allowed for 100 families to see each other again.

Nice work, guys. We need more of this.

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Credit: selenatic / Tumblr

❤️

READ: This Immigration Rights Group Gave 6 Families The Chance To Cross The Border For A 3-Minute Visit

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It Hasn’t Always Been A Crime To Cross The US-Mexico Border, So When Did Things Change?

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It Hasn’t Always Been A Crime To Cross The US-Mexico Border, So When Did Things Change?

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Let’s start from the beginning. While immigration has been an issue on everyone’s lips over the past while after the Trump administration started enforcing a zero tolerance policy against border crossings, a new way of thinking about the issue was introduced during the Democratic debates.

Presidential hopeful Julián Castro suggested that border crossings should be decriminalized. Because if border crossings aren’t a criminal offense, then people can’t be charged for crossing the border illegally, right? Well, in short, yes. But the issue concerning what’s officially known as “Section 1325” is more complicated than what it initially seems, on the surface.

Decriminalization does not mean a free-for-all across the border.

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As much as the Trump administration would likely characterize the proposed policy as a stab at open borders, that’s not the case. The reality is that crossing the border at the moment is treated as a criminal offense, meaning that those without the appropriate documentation are automatically detained indefinitely: they are treated as a criminal.

However, decriminalizing border crossings would instead ensure that those who do attempt to cross the border are not slapped with charges of a criminal offense.

Instead, border crossings without appropriate documentation would be treated as a civil offense. In the same way that people aren’t considered a criminal for accruing a speeding fine, people crossing the border also wouldn’t be automatically treated as a criminal. This proposed approach is also more consistent with the US’ role as a signatory for the United Nation’s 1951 Refugee Convention. That is, that it’s not illegal for people to cross international borders and request asylum from another country.

Decriminalization would mean considering a new model for regulating the traffic of people across the border.

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Granted, the US still has to consider its security interests when processing requests for asylum. However, the current state of things has seen exponential overcrowding and related issues in detention centers near the border, with no indication as to whether people are seeing their requests for asylum considered at all.

Beyond the human rights problems this presents, there is also a legal quandary that must be considered in the US judicial system. Currently, the appropriate punishments for migrating across the border include both detainment and deportation – which, let’s face it, cannot be fulfilled at the same time. 

This turns into an argument around semantics: should someone be deported if they haven’t served their time in a detention center? And should someone stay in a detention center when they really should have been deported long beforehand, to prevent them from accessing the US at all? Castro’s proposal is not just about alleviating the stress being placed on US resources by detaining considerable numbers of immigrants, nor is it only about correcting human rights atrocities. It’s also about considering how immigrants are treated by the legal system.

It’s actually possible that decriminalization could reduce the number of illegal immigrants who stay indefinitely in the US.

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And yes, that’s including those who have been detained. Instead, if an immigrant was caught crossing the border without papers, they would be detained only for a brief amount of time. Once it is determined by authorities that the immigrant doesn’t raise any red flags, they would be released into the US, complete with a case management system to check in on them. The immigrant would then have to attend an immigration hearing, which would determine their status. Should it be found that the immigrant did not qualify for asylum, they then would accordingly be deported.

The positive of such a proposal is that family separation would be a thing of the past. Because border crossings wouldn’t involve criminal prosecution, there would be no reason to detain, and thus separate, families. Children would not be psychologically scarred for life simply because their parents sought a better future for them.

In fact, the US has had a longer history of decriminalized borders than criminalized ones.

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It’s worth noting that this idea of decriminalized borders isn’t really a new one. It wasn’t until 1929 that the US passed a bill that considered border crossings as a criminal misdemeanor, which meant that people could be prosecuted for entering the US without the proper authorization.

Most immigration laws before this point were focused on keeping out alcohol, gun traffickers and Asian immigrants. But, it was a white supremacist senator, Coleman Livingston Blease, who suggested fees and testing at the US-Mexico border – or, Section 1325 of Title 8 in the US Code. Are we surprised? In retrospect, no, no we are not. 

To be honest, even with this relatively short history of the criminalized border crossings, most presidents paid immigration little attention, as doing so would result in forever prosecuting misdemeanor illegal entry cases. Generally speaking, those caught crossing the border were simply informally returned.

Granted, there were some exceptions to this attitude. For example, The Great Depression saw Mexicans demonized for taking much-needed work, and deportations spiked around that time. However, it wasn’t really until the Bush administration that more decisive, ongoing action was taken on immigration. This gradual escalation in enforcing immigration policies led us to the catastrophe we’re seeing today at the borders, under the Trump administration.

So, how can you look forward to a future of decriminalized border crossings?

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Voting for 2020 presidential candidates who favor decriminalized border crossings are your best bet, if you’re keen on seeing the law changed. It’s worth listening to each candidate’s stance on immigration. For instance, aside from Castro, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren has also endorsed repealing Section 1325. On the other hand, Beto O’Rourke rejected the idea from the outset, proposing his own set of aggressive immigration plans. The key is to listen to the policy proposals – not just smooth platitudes.

While voting strategically is probably one of the most effective ways to see decriminalized border crossings, you do have other ways of continuing the conversation. Sharing articles on social media, like this one, can educate people and start worthwhile discussions around the issue. Writing, and even meeting with, your local political representatives can increase their own awareness of constituent interests. After all, it’s their job to represent you! Getting involved with activist groups that promote immigrant rights is another way that you can promote and work towards the decriminalization of border crossings.

Anyway, we’ll leave you with this: the wildest fact is that, from 1980 to 2010, the Border Patrol budget was increased 16 times. This was despite the reality that the number of attempted undocumented entries did not rise during this time. Considering the mounting numbers of detainees at the border, it stands to reason that immigration is yet another issue reduced to sound bites and narrative twisting from those politicians seeking to Make America Great Again – despite human welfare being at stake. While we can discuss all we like about when and how border crossings have been treated by the criminal system, the important thing to focus on is how we value human lives.

READ: Fear And Anxiety Grip Undocumented Community Nationwide As Walmart Arrests Escalate

Despite A Video, Mike Pence Attempts To Minimize The Horrendous Conditions In Detention Centers

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Despite A Video, Mike Pence Attempts To Minimize The Horrendous Conditions In Detention Centers

@jdawsey1 / Twitter

After hundreds of organized protests around the country, we would hope the Trump administration would send someone to a detention center in a sincere effort to address the problem. Instead, Vice President Mike Pence was sent in a political move to combat the assertions of Democratic Congress members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib from their visit.

Reporters were allowed into the detention facility for 90 precious seconds. Pence wasn’t able to maintain his initial statement once he saw the unsanitary conditions migrants were kept in.

“What people are going to see is not the situation many Democrats have described,” Pence told reporters on Thursday.

Credit: @VP / Twitter

His full statement was actually this: “What people are going to see is not the situation many Democrats have described, but actually a situation where our CBP agents are providing humanitarian care, health care, shelter, food, sustenance in a way that would make the American people proud.

But afterward, he said, “I was not surprised by what I saw. I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed.”

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

While he wasn’t able to reiterate that the conditions would “make the American people proud,” or offer any hope that he or his administration would do anything about it, he did try to blame Democrats for the conditions.

“The DHS facility in McAllen is a prime example of why we need to secure our borders,” he tweeted out after the visit. “The facility is overcrowded and our system is overwhelmed. It is time for Democrats in Congress to step up, do their jobs, and end this crisis.”

White House pool reporter Josh Dawsey was only allowed in for 90 seconds, and this is what he saw.

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

Dawsey said “the cages were so crowded that it would have been impossible for all of the men to lie on the concrete. There were 384 single men in the portal who allegedly crossed the border illegally. There were no mats or pillows—some of the men were sleeping on concrete.”

Agents were seen guarding the cages wearing face masks.

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

That’s likely because Dawsey reports that “the stench was overwhelming.” After talking with some of the people, they told him that they hadn’t showered in weeks. They wanted toothbrushes and food. In response, CBP said, “They were fed regularly, could brush daily & recently got access to shower.” Dawsey followed that up with asserting that “many hadn’t [showered] for 10-20 days.”

Reporters didn’t feel any air conditioning in a room where the outside temperature was already 97°F.

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CBP said it was air-conditioned but Dawsey reports that the “heat was sweltering.” The facility doesn’t have a shower, but CBP says they all showered the day before “in an outdoor trailer.” What CBP told reporters directly contradicts much of what the migrants themselves had a chance to report to the outside world.

For example, CBP told reporters that nobody had been there longer than 32 days, but this man told reporters he had been there for 40 days.

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

He wasn’t the only one who told reporters that they’d been there longer. The migrants told reporters they wanted to brush their teeth and were hungry. CBP told reporters they brush their teeth daily and are fed three times a day. In Dawsey’s own words, the “stench was horrendous. CPB said it was cleaned 3x a day.” 

This is the scene that Vice President Pence saw.

Credit: @jdawsey1 / Twitter

When migrants told reporters they were thirsty, CBP said the water was outside the fence and that they could leave the barrier to get water after the press left. 

But this is the image he tweeted out to his followers.

Credit: @VP / Twitter

Conveniently, this image seems to have chairs. What Pence was directly staring at much of the time was human beings sleeping on concrete, in an environment so foul CBP agents were wearing face masks.

Dawsey reported that the children’s facility was “new and relatively clean and empty.”

Credit: @VP / Twitter

“There were cots & medical supplies & snacks,” Dawsey tweeted. “Children watched TV and told Pence through translator they were being taken care of. But at least two said they’d walked for months to get here.”

Is America proud yet?

@jdawsey1 / Twitter

The people in this image allegedly crossed the border illegally. We don’t know if they claimed asylum. We don’t know if these are people who have broken the law because they are effectively jailed without trial, in conditions worse than jail

Trump is the man behind it all. It was he who decided to enact a policy that, instead of allowing asylum seekers to set up roots in American society while awaiting trial, to detain them in facilities that are overcrowded with a judicial system that is backlogged.

Watch the video below of migrants letting reporters know what has happened to them in detention.

READ: Woman Pays The Bond Of A Woman Being Held In ICE Detention Center And The Internet Is Living For This Moment Of Kindness

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