Things That Matter

Conditions In Tijuana Are Getting Worse For Those Waiting To Claim Asylum

Things boiled over Sunday when groups of Central American asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico rushed the U.S border. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents responded by firing tear gas into the crowd of women and children. The asylum seekers had spent weeks in Tijuana as a last stop on their march to the U.S. border. The mayor of Tijuana declared the situation a humanitarian crisis and asked the United Nations for aid to deal with the approximately 5,000 Central American migrants.

Thousands of Central American migrants remain in Tijuana as they continue to try to seek asylum in the U.S.

Due to the large influx of asylum applicants, they may be there for months. Many are seeking asylum in the U.S. while others are seeking asylum in Mexico. The group of asylum seekers are fleeing economic instability and increasing violence in their home countries.

The San Ysidro entry point between Tijuana and San Diego is the busiest border crossing point in the world, yet agents at the facility can only process 100 applications a day. This has led Juan Manuel Gastelum, mayor of Tijuana, to declare the situation a humanitarian crisis. He says he won’t commit the city’s public resources to assisting the migrants and has asked for assistance from the United Nations.

According to the San Diego Tribune, the government of Baja California has treated 818 respiratory infections and provided 1,286 general medical consultations to asylum seekers.

There has reportedly been a pending agreement between both U.S. and Mexican governments that would force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while the U.S. processes their claims.

According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration had made a deal with Mexico’s incoming president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to implement a policy that would have migrants stay in Mexico. This means that asylum seekers will wait in Mexico during the time it takes to apply for protection in the U.S.

While Mexico denied the report on Saturday, the news came out after a meeting between Mexico’s incoming foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and other U.S. and Mexican officials. This could mean an agreement is still in the talks or can be modified in some way. The incoming Mexican administration will assume office December 1 which is critical in terms of timing when it comes to the situation at the border.

Applying for asylum is a legal process and the U.S. has been condemned for “unlawful policies” directed at the migrants.

Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science at University of California, Irvine, says that every migrant is legally allowed to apply for asylum, but it doesn’t mean they have the right to be accepted.

“The migrants have every right to seek asylum but what’s new and dangerous is the Trump administration trying to limit and make it harder for them to apply,” DeSipio said.

He says the tear gas incident over the weekend will only embolden the Trump administration to push forward with more stringent measures. Migrant caravans are nothing new but the issue has become a political talking point mainly because of the president’s constant attack on them. He has made baseless claims saying there are criminals in the caravan and even threatening to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is all fitting into the president’s plan and will use it as evidence to justify sending troops to the Mexican border,” DeSipio said. “But closing down the border would have major implications going forward with Mexico in terms of legal entry and setting precedent.”

What’s next for the migrants waiting for their asylum claim?

After Sunday’s border clash, a number of migrants have opted to leave the caravan fearing their chances of seeking asylum are slim to none. DeSipio says many will stay and ride the process out considering they have no other options.

“These folks have no other option and it shows if they are willing to travel so many miles just to apply for asylum,” DeSipio says. “However long it’s going to take many will wait and some may risk their lives in the process.”

A new Mexican government and Democrats controlling the House of Representatives in the U.S. could complicate an already tense situation. President Trump continues to call for a border wall on the southern border and freshmen Democratic representatives ran their campaigns against the president’s tough line immigration stances.

“With the incoming [Mexican] administration and Democrats in control of the House, we’re going to see a showdown for funding for a border wall and the president doesn’t look like he’ll compromise,” DeSipio said. “At the end of the day what gets lost here is a tragedy. Many of these folks have a right to claim asylum but the president has essentially made that meaningless.”

This is a developing story. Check back with mitú for updates.


READ: Immigration Agents Launch Tear Gas Canisters At Asylum Seekers At US-Mexico Border

Share this story by tapping that share button below!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Trump Administration Raised Fees For Immigration Cases Including For Refugees

Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Raised Fees For Immigration Cases Including For Refugees

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

In its continuing campaign against immigrants and refugees, the Trump administration has increased the costs of immigration proceedings – in some instances by more than 80%. These new fees could make the cost of seeking asylum protection in the U.S. or becoming a citizen out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants.

The new fees are seen as little more than an additional tool used by the administration to further limit immigration to the U.S. and make life more difficult for those seeking to call the U.S. homes.

The Trump administration announced major changes to the fees charged for immigration proceedings.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced it would dramatically increase the fees for U.S. immigration services on everything from refugee asylum requests to naturalization services. The new fee structure, released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is expected to take effect on October 2.

The new fees are seen as little more than an additional tool used by the administration to further limit immigration to the U.S. and make life more difficult for those seeking to call the U.S. homes. It will also have an outsized impact on business that hire foreign workers.

The agency, which has closed offices and suspended most services during the pandemic, has said it faces a significant revenue shortfall that could trigger furloughs. Earlier this year, the agency requested $1.2 billion in emergency funds from Congress.

The U.S. will now be one of just a few countries that actually charge refugees to file asylum requests.

Credit: Gregory Bull / Getty Images

With the new fee charged to refugees and asylum seekers, the U.S. will become one of just four countries that actually charge for this application. The new fee for asylum is a blatant attack on the most vulnerable among us and is another way for the administration to target and restrict protections for those fleeing their home countries.

The $50 application fee for asylum applications now puts the U.S. in the same ranks as Iran, Fiji, and Australia. The new rule would also raise the cost for an asylum applicant to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) from the current zero to $490, one of many policy changes to discourage potential asylum applicants. DHS commented, “DHS does not believe that the EAD fee is unduly burdensome for asylum seekers.”

However, one asylum officer who spoke with BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity said the fee was discouraging.

“The larger problem is that humanitarian applications by their nature should be free,” the officer said. “The idea of charging people who are fleeing — and not helping if they don’t pay up — is disgusting.”

Another asylum officer said it will cost the agency more to collect the fee than $50, “which doesn’t come close to covering the cost of adjudicating an asylum application.”

Other fees – from green card replacements to citizenship applications – will also be going up.

The new fee changes impact several categories of services offered by USCIS that will impact our community. Two of the most common types of visas issued by the agency (L and H-1B visas) will increase by 75% and 21% respectively.

The L visa – which is used for short term work in the U.S. – will increase from $460 to $805. The fee for an H-1B petition (which is used by employers to hire highly-skilled workers) will rise from $460 to $555.

For season workers in the U.S., of which there are hundreds of thousands, their fees will also increase by almost 50%. The current fee for these visas is $460 but the H-2A (season agricultural) will rise to $850 and the H-2B (seasonal non-agricultural) will rise to $715.

USCIS would increase the cost of the application (N-400) to become a U.S. citizen by more than 80%, rising from $640 to $1,160 (for online filings, although a separate $85 biometrics fee would be eliminated). 

The new increased fees come as the agency faces a financial crisis that many say are of its own making.

Many are concerned about the timing of these fee increases because USCIS is in the midst of historic mismanagement, that has face the agency from a substantial surplus to a deficit so severe USCIS has requested a $1.2 billion bailout from Congress.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, held a July 29, 2020, oversight hearing that helped explain how the Trump administration caused the financial problems at USCIS through its policy choices on immigration.

“Under the Trump Administration, USCIS has issued a flurry of policies that make its case adjudications more complicated, which reduces the agency’s efficiency and requires more staff to complete fewer cases,” testified Doug Rand, a founder of Boundless Immigration and a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. “There are dozens if not hundreds of such policies.” 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

Things That Matter

California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Update: The State of California has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration against the announcement to deport international students. The Golden State filed after Harvard and MIT filed a lawsuit against the same announcement.

A judge has set the hearing date for the lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT for Tuesday.

A federal judge in Boston will start hearing the arguments for an injunction against the recent announcement from the federal government Tuesday. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ordered that all international students will be stripped of student visas if their classes go completely online.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that he will be filing a lawsuit as well.

Attorney General Becerra argues that the decision is arbitrary and only causes undue harm to the people impacted by the decision. Part of the argument is the disregard of the health of those who would be forced to leave. The U.S. has the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world and the health risks of making thousands of international students suddenly leave the U.S.

Original: Just as students begin to contemplate what a fall semester might look like amid a global health pandemic, the Trump Administration has thrown another curveball at foreign university students. In a new rule issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, foreign students must return to their home country if their school will no longer be offering in-person learning, effectively forcing students to decide between full classrooms or international travel during a health crisis.

Once again, a cruel and poorly thought out, hastily announced rule change has thrown the lives of hundreds of thousands into doubt.

The Trump Administration announced new rules that require foreign students in the U.S. to be part of in-person classes.

Despite the global pandemic that is currently spiraling out of control in the U.S., the Trump Administration has issued new immigration guidelines that require foreign students to be enrolled in in-person learning. With this new rule, foreign students attending colleges that will operate entirely online this fall semester cannot remain in the country to do so.

The new comes just as college students begin to contemplate what their upcoming semester might look like and leaves them with an uncomfortable choice: attend in-person classes during a pandemic or take them online from another country. 

And for students enrolled in schools that have already announced plans to operate fully online, there is no choice. Under the new rules, the State Department will not issue them visas, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow them to enter the country. 

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” read a release from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings

Already, several major universities have announced their intention to offer online learning because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

The strict new rule comes as higher education institutions are releasing information on their reopening plans. Schools are preparing to offer in-person instruction, online classes or a mix of both.

Eight percent of colleges are planning to operate online, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking the reopening plans of more than 1,000 U.S. colleges. Sixty percent are planning for in-person instruction, and 23% are proposing a hybrid model, with a combined 8.5% undecided or considering a range of scenarios. 

Harvard University is one of the latest institutions to unveil its plans, announcing on Monday that all undergraduate and graduate course instruction for the academic year will be held online. Joining Harvard’s stance are other prestigious universities, including Princeton and the University of Southern California.

The U.S. has more than 1 million international students from around the world.

The U.S. is the number one destination for foreign students around the globe. More than a million foreign students are enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, although that number has dipped slightly in recent years – largely attributed to the election of Donald Trump.

Mexico sends more than 15,000 students to the U.S. and Brazil is responsible for 16,000 foreign students in the country. By contrast, China and India send a combined almost 600,000 students to study in the U.S.

The new rule is expected to cost U.S. colleges and universities more than $4 billion.

Credit: Eva Hambach / Getty Images

Putting aside the very real health implications of forcing students to decide between attending in-person classes or traveling back to their home country amid a global pandemic, the U.S. economy is also going to take a hit.

International students in the U.S. contributed nearly $41 billion to the national economy in the 2018-2019 academic year. According to the Institute of International Education, the vast majority of funding for international students comes from overseas, rather than being funded by their host institutions, meaning that international students are big business for American universities. While students will still be required pay tuition fees, it’s possible that a hostile policy towards people seeking to study in the US could discourage prospective students.

If fewer international students are able to study in this country, it could spell trouble for the colleges that bank on them. Over the last decade, deep cuts in state funding for higher education have put pressure on schools to admit more students who need less aid, which is why so many schools have come to rely on the revenue from foreign students, who typically pay top dollar. 

“Those students are also, by and large, paying full tuition to study in this country,” Lakhani said. “That’s a really valuable tuition base.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com