Things That Matter

Despite Trump’s False Claims, Facts Are Facts: More Than 99% Of Asylum Seekers Show Up To Their Court Dates

One of the biggest myths that the Trump administration has perpetuated is that asylum seekers do not conform to the legal requirements and processes required to guarantee their cases are being heard in court. The Trump administration has claimed that the only way to guarantee that asylum seekers’ cases will reach the court is to keep them in detention centers (yes, you read that right).

This seems a bit counterintuitive: if they are seeking asylum it is because they have a cause they find justifiable for entering the United States undocumented in the first place. A recent study sheds light on the fallacy of “missed court appointments” and reveals that if not in detention, a vast majority (let’s just say the totality) of asylum seekers do show up for their hearings.  

Numeritos hablan: 99% of who were not detained or who were released from immigration custody show up to their hearings.

Credit: AZFamily / Instagram

New data from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC, a think tank that tracks data in the immigration courts) at Syracuse University reveals that most of asylum seekers who are not detained do attend their court hearings.

This finding basically trumps Trump’s assertion that they do not, which misrepresents them as individuals who prefer to live in the shadows and at the risk of being deported rather than doing due legal diligence. On average, migrants who are caught at the border or who hand themselves in have to wait for more than two years before their cases are dealt with in court.

But there are some others who have to wait even longer, as the TRAC report tells us: “Overall, asylum applicants waited on average 1,030 days – or nearly three years – for their cases to be decided. But many asylum applicants waited even longer: a quarter of applicants waited 1,421 days, or nearly four years, for their asylum decision.” Four years is a long, long time… wouldn’t anyone want the wait to be over?

Other previous research also disregards the idea that migrants want to live in the United States illegally rather than seeing their cases go through.

For those who have been lucky enough to never have to flee their home country or live in constant fear of being deported, it might feel like migrants would rather hide than face the law. This is also the driving rationale behind the Trump administration’s move to send asylum seekers to Mexico and wait there until their cases go through court. However, studies have shown that they want their migratory status to be cleared so they can go on with their lives, free of worries of being deported at any time. 

When in doubt, use science! 

As Vox reports, the numbers gathered by TRAC are pretty definitive: “The latest data from TRAC shows that nearly every migrant who applied for asylum and whose case was completed in 2019 showed up for all of their court hearings”. Boom! However, the Department of Justice has raised concerns about the accuracy of TRAC’s data analysis. TRAC does not disclose its methodology but uses information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. 

The Department of Justice claims numbers are much lower.

FILE PHOTO: Children walk inside an enclosure, where they are being held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), after crossing the border between Mexico and the United States illegally and turning themselves in to request asylum, in El Paso, Texas, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Data from the Department of Justice contradicts the stunning 99% published by TRAC. According to 2018 numbers, the government says actually 75% of asylum seekers show up to their court hearings, a significant drop compared to TRAC’s analysis. And Trump’s numbers are even lower… yes, really.

He has said: “Tell me, what percentage of people come back? Would you say 100 percent? No, you’re a little off. Like, how about 2 percent? And those people, you almost don’t want, because they cannot be very smart… Those two percent are not going to make America great again, that I can tell you”. Wow, can you imagine a more deceitful way of framing reality?

TRAC’s report also reveals that more asylum seeker cases were decided in 2019 than in any other year… 46,735 people were denied asylum.

Yes, the courts are being busy. As the report reads, in 2019 “judges decided 67,406 asylum cases, nearly two-and-a-half times the number from five years ago when judges decided 19,779 asylum cases. The number of immigrants who have been granted asylum more than doubled from 9,684 in FY 2014 to 19,831 in FY 2019.”

But it is not all good news, as “the number of immigrants who have been denied asylum or other relief grew even faster from 9,716 immigrants to 46,735 over the same time period.” The three countries of origin that top the charts of successful asylum seekers are China, El Salvador and India. 

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New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

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New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

Sandy Huffaker / AFP / Getty Images

Update January 7, 2021

The lives of hundreds of thousands of young people in the U.S. were thrown into jeopardy in September 2017. That was when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was originally halted by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Three years later, new applications are finally being processed.

More than 170 new DACA applications were approved at the end of 2020.

A report given to a federal court in Brooklyn shows that the Department of Homeland Security approved 171 new DACA applications. About 500 applications have been denied or rejected while more than 2,700 applications were submitted.

In June 2020, a federal judge ruled that President Trump wrongfully ended the DACA program in 2017. However, the then-acting head of the Department of Homeland Security stated that the department would not accept new applications. Furthermore, Chad Wolf’s memo stated that renewals would be made for one year instead of two years.

In November, a federal judge ruled that Wolf was illegally appointed to his position as acting head of DHS. The Trump administration didn’t challenge the ruling and it immediately invalidated Wolf’s memo. DHS was notified that they had to public post that new applications will be accepted.

If you want to submit a new DACA application or if yours lapsed during the uncertainty, click here for resources.

Original: In a major victory for the community, a federal judge has ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was created by President Barack Obama in 2012, must be completely reinstated and open to new applicants starting today.

However, this case could still end up before the Supreme Court (which now has three conservative Trump appointees) making its future uncertain. This is why congressional action is so critical in protecting our friends, family, and neighbors from the whims of ever-chasing political landscapes.

DACA gets another lifeline as federal judge orders Trump to restart the program in full.

On Friday, a federal judge handed immigrants and their families a major victory with a ruling on DACA. Judge Nicholas Garaufis said in his ruling, that the terms of the federal program must be immediately restored to what they were “prior to the attempted rescission of September 2017” when the White House began a series of maneuvers to dismantle the program. 

The case is Batalla Vidal v. Wolf, and largely hinges on the argument that Chad Wolf – the DHS official who issued the memo ending the program – wasn’t acting within his legal authority to do so.

In his order, Garaufis said that DHS must “post a public notice, within 3 calendar days of this Order … that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA.” Which means that unless a higher court blocks his order, DHS must begin accepting new applications for as soon as today. 

Garaufis also ordered the government to produce a status report on the DACA program to him by Jan. 4, and said it must include the number of first-time DACA applications it’s received, adjudicated, approved, denied and rejected from Nov. 14 to Dec. 31 of this year.

Eligible migrants will be able to apply for DACA protection immediately.

DACA currently protects about 640,000 undocumented young immigrants. As of July, an estimated 300,000 young people living in the U.S. are eligible for the program and still waiting for a chance to apply. That includes 55,000 who have aged into eligibility over the last three years.

So the good news for DACA-eligible immigrants is that, barring a decision from a higher court blocking Garaufis’s most recent order, those immigrants will soon be able to obtain DACA status. And even if the order is blocked, President-elect Joe Biden has also pledged to fully reinstate DACA once he takes office on January 20.

The judge also instructed officials to reinstate two-year permits for qualifying applicants. Over the summer, the administration had begun issuing one-year permits. 

This ruling is the latest blow to the administration’s attempts to undermine the Obama-era program.

Credit: Sandy Huffaker / AFP / Getty Images

Since taking office in 2017, the Trump administration has repeatedly tried to completely dismantle the DACA program. However, they’ve also faced serious pushback on the legal front in their attempts to do so.

In 2017, Trump’s DHS issued a memo that sought to wind down the DACA program, but the Supreme Court ruled last June that DHS’s initial attempts to end it were void because the department did not adequately explain why it was doing so.

Nevertheless, the future of DACA remains uncertain. For one thing, the Supreme Court’s June decision blocking the Trump administration’s initial attempts to end the program was a  5-4 decision, with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the majority. Since then, Trump has replaced Ginsburg with the far more conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett. And even before Barrett arrived at the Supreme Court, several members of the Court had signaled that they thought DACA is illegal.

So there’s a reasonable likelihood that the Court’s new 6-3 Republican majority will strike down the DACA program even as Biden tries to preserve it.

Although a major win, the ruling could also have major consequences for Biden’s presidency.

Although a major win for the immigrant community, Garaufis’s ruling could have serious consequences for Biden’s presidency. In his opinion, Garaufis is basically placing limits on the authority presidents have to make acting appointments. And if the Senate remains under Republican control, they will essentially have the power to block any Biden nominee.

All of this boils down to the upcoming Georgia senate races. If Republicans win in either race, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will continue to lead the Senate, and Republicans will have the power to block any Biden nominee to any Senate-confirmed job.

That’s why the January run off races in Georgia are bigger than just Georgia. They will help shape everything from the country’s COVID-19 response and foreign policy to how Biden fixes years of attacks on the nation’s immigrant community.

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This Pop-Up School For Migrant Kids Along The Border Went Virtual Thanks To Covid-19 But It’s Thriving More Than Ever

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This Pop-Up School For Migrant Kids Along The Border Went Virtual Thanks To Covid-19 But It’s Thriving More Than Ever

John Moore / Getty Images

The people traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to reach the U.S.-Mexico border aren’t living in some ‘migrant vaccuum’ where nothing else matters. They still have lives to live and experiences to have and, particularly for the young ones, an education to continue.

That was the thinking behind one sidewalk school that popped up in one of the many migrant camps along the U.S.-Mexico border. It was becoming filled with children from across Latin America who were forced to wait out their asylum process from within the border camps, thanks to Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. But their need for an education didn’t just go away.

One woman – with no formal teacher training – decided to help and launched what was called a ‘sidewalk school’ for kids in the camp. But it’s been incredible successful and has blossomed into an online academy for kids throughout the border region.

Despite Covid-19, this pop-up school for migrant kids along the border is thriving.

Just as the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted schools around the world, it’s also having an impact on a pop-up sidewalk school for asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The school, which launched to help fill the educational needs of a growing group of kids stuck at the border, had to go to virtual learning because of the pandemic. But instead of seeing that as a challenge, the school instead has blossomed.

What started out with one teacher at one camp on a sidewalk, how now blossomed by hiring 20 teachers – all asylum seekers themselves – to give classes via Zoom to children across the border region.

To be able to switch to distance learning, the teachers and students were outfitted with more than 200 Amazon tablets by The Sidewalk School for Children Asylum Seekers. The organization was founded by Felicia Rangel-Samponaro, who lives across the border in Brownsville, Texas, and has been crossing to help the asylum seekers by providing them food and books.

It started in just one migrant camp with one teacher but it’s blossomed ever since.

A program like the sidewalk school was severely needed as hundreds and thousands of kids starting being forced to wait at the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s well-known that the border region is one of the most dangerous and violent parts of Mexico and that only underscores the need for quality activities.

Many point out that parents aren’t sending their kids to Mexican schools because they’re afraid to be apart from them. Crime is common here, and kidnappings have been reported. Other parents say registering for school in Mexico is difficult. But program leaders want the kids to be able to continue their education, and they say that many of the asylum-seekers have skill sets they can put to use at the school.

Parents are grateful, too, with one woman telling NPR that she knows “her children will be safe at the sidewalk school, and it gives her time to meet with an immigration lawyer. Volunteer attorneys have been coming over on the weekends to give free legal advice. The asylum-seekers could wait for months to be able to make their asylum case in the U.S.”

Teachers try to give the students some sense of normalcy amid the often dire circumstances at the border.

Credit: John Moore / Getty Images

Many students start their day with an arts and crafts class. Kids are asked to draw on paper plates then outline them with flue and drop glitter. Then they get to hang their creations from trees.

One impromptu teacher, who told NPR he preferred to remain anonymous, said that he wants the kids to “see other people appreciate the artwork they did and let them know how important they are, too, even to people, like, just walking past and driving by. It’s beautiful work.

The classes have offered children not only the chance to catch up on studies that were interrupted when their families fled violence in their homelands, but also a distraction from the long days of boredom.

Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is what is fueling the need for programs like these.

Credit: JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP via Getty Images

It’s the Trump policy of ‘Remain in Mexico’ that has forced programs like these to exist in the first place. The program forces asylum seekers to wait south of the border as their immigration cases proceed through the U.S. court system.

It leaves thousands of families living in tents or at Mexican shelters. Previously, asylum seekers were allowed to remain in the United States with relatives or other sponsors while their cases proceeded.

Many have spent more than a year with their lives in limbo, and the wait has only grown longer with the Trump administration suspending immigration court hearings for asylum-seekers during the pandemic.

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