Things That Matter

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

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

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A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

Culture

A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

UTSA

The University of Texas San Antonio is bringing the history of Mexico into our kitchens. The university is releasing cookbooks that are collections of historic Mexican recipes. Right now, the desserts book is out and online for free. Main dishes and appetizers/drinks are coming soon.

You can now taste historic Mexico thanks to the University of Texas San Antonio.

UTSA has had an ongoing project of preserving, collecting, and digitizing cookbooks from throughout Mexico’s history. Some books date back to the 1700s and offer a look into Mexico’s culinary arts and its evolution.

UTSA has been digitizing Mexican cookbooks for years and the work is now being collected for people in the time of Covid.

Millions of us are still at home and projects like these can be very exciting and exactly what you need. The recipes are a way to distract yourself from the current reality.

“The e-pubs allow home cooks to use the recipes as inspiration in their own kitchens,” Dean Hendrix, the dean of UTSA Libraries, said in UTSA Today. “Our hope is that many more people will not only have access to these wonderful recipes but also interact with them and experience the rich culture and history contained in the collection.”

The free downloads are a way for people to get a very in-depth look into Mexican food history.

The first of three volumes of the cookbooks focuses on desserts so you can learn how to make churros, chestnut flan, buñelos, and rice pudding. What better way to spend your quarantine than learning how to make some of these yummy desserts. We all love sweets, right?

If you want to get better with making your favorite desserts, check out this cookbook and make it happen.

There is nothing better than diving into your history and using food as your guide. Food is so intrinsically engrained in our DNAs and identities. We love the foods and sweets from our childhood because they hold a clue as to who we are and where we come from. This historical collection of recipes throughout history is the perfect way to make that happen.

READ: The Laziest Food Hacks In All Of The Land Would Send Your Abuela To The Chancla

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Trump, Living In Alternate Reality, Says The U.S. Has Less Coronavirus Thanks To His Border Wall

Things That Matter

Trump, Living In Alternate Reality, Says The U.S. Has Less Coronavirus Thanks To His Border Wall

Evan Vucci / Getty Images

Trump has long framed the U.S.-Mexico border wall – his vanity project – as protection from outside forces. He’s claimed that his wall will not only deter undocumented migrants from crossing the border but it will also prevent terrorism and crime and now, it provides health security.

On several occasions, Trump has tried to link his wall with protection from the Coronavirus. However, the pandemic is raging out of control within the United States. In fact, it’s other countries that are putting up barriers for Americans as they try to protect themselves from America’s failure to halt the spread of the disease.

Trump claimed that his border wall has protected the U.S. from Coronavirus.

During a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace, Trump made an absurd claim that the U.S. was protected from Coronavirus thanks to his border wall. Wallace was pressing Trump on the U.S. response to the pandemic and how it’s number one in both infections and deaths.

“But you take a look, why don’t they talk about Mexico? Which is not helping us. And all I can say is thank God I built most of the wall, because if I didn’t have the wall up we would have a much bigger problem with Mexico,” Trump told Chris Wallace.

However, Trump must be living in an alternate reality if he truly believes that his border wall has helped prevent the spread of Coronavirus into the country. The U.S. currently has 11 times more cases and far more deaths from the outbreak than Mexico. As of today, Johns Hopkins totaled more than 144,000 deaths and 3.97 million infections in the United States.

Then there’s the fact that the Trump administration has actually been very slow to build Trump’s vanity wall project. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 245 miles of barrier have been built so far, including parts that replaced older barriers. That’s 245 miles of a 1,954 mile long border.

However, this wasn’t the first time that Trump has made such claims.

Long before Coronavirus had claimed it’s first known victim in the U.S., President Trump was already trying to connect the disease to the U.S.-Mexico border and his wall project.

At a rally in South Carolina on February 28, he argued that we needed to build more wall to keep the virus out, even though it was already in the country and spreading like wildfire.

“We must understand that border security is also health security,” Trump argued. “We will do everything in our power to keep the infection and those carrying the infection from entering our country.”

That same day, the U.S. had 63 known cases of COVID-19, and Mexico announced its first two confirmed cases. Nevertheless, Trump and some of his allies have continued trying to frame illegal crossings of the Mexican border as a top potential source of coronavirus in the United States.

Just this month at a visit to an Arizona segment of the border wall, Trump tried to credit his new wall with stopping both undocumented immigration and the Coronavirus.

“It stopped COVID, it stopped everything,” Trump said.

His comments sparked outrage on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump is known for uttering complete falsehoods – he’s told more than 20,000 since taking office. But these comments about his wall protecting the U.S. from Coronavirus (as it rages within our borders) left many shocked.

In Mexico, President AMLO was asked about Trump’s assertion that construction of the border wall has prevented Coronavirus contagion coming north from Mexico. Although AMLO acknowledged he doesn’t agree with Trump, he also wouldn’t confront him.

“I respect President Trump’s point of view,” López Obrador told reporters during a daily press conference. “Of course I don’t share his opinion, but I’m not going to confront [Trump],” he added.

Both countries have been hit hard by the pandemic, but the U.S. leads the world in infections and deaths.

It’s true that Mexico has also been hit hard by the pandemic. The country is currently ranked seventh globally in terms of the number of infections and fourth in number of deaths. As of July 22, Mexico has 356,255 confirmed Covid-19 cases and has suffered more than 40,000 deaths. Although those numbers are disheartening, they pale in comparison to the figures seen in the United States.

And although the virus has spread aggressively in both countries, Mexican governors of states that border the U.S. have called for stricter border controls to protect their residents. States along the southern border (including California, Arizona, and Texas) have become the new epicenter for the virus in the United States and Mexicans hope to prevent contagion into their states.

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