Things That Matter

Many Of The Migrants Seeking Asylum In The US Are Not Latinx And Here’s Why That Matters

While much of the attention has been given to the Latinxs crossing the southern border, largely because they have been the targets of President Trump’s ire and the perception that only Latinxs would be entering via Latin countries, migrants from 50 countries have been detained. 

According to Roll Call, Customs and Border Protection say they have seen a rise in migrants from India, China, Egypt, Bangladesh, Romania, and Turkey. Much like the countries Central Americans are fleeing, these nations are also grappling with catastrophic instabilities whether it be climate change in Bangladesh, civil unrest in China, or fascism creeping further into India. 

Like all migrants, they want the same thing: a safe refuge from imminent threats to their humanity. However, their journeys to cross the southern border between Mexico and the United States is no easier. 

Rise in Indian migrants.

Migration from India has dramatically increased along the southern border with attorneys claiming they see an increase in clients persecuted for political affiliation, religious beliefs, caste or social status. Although Indian migrants are a mere 1 percent of the total migrants in 2018, the numbers have vastly increased by 4,811 percent since 2007. 

Roll Call’s analysis of CBP data saw an increase of Indian migrant apprehensions from 76 to 8,997 at the southern border. While Central American migrants face a unique set of obstacles, so do these groups. Immigration services are not equipped with language services, translated materials, or religious accommodations. While they can anticipate Spanish-speakers at the border, as migrants become more multicultural preparing for their arrivals can be all the more difficult. 

In the case of these particular migrants, “targeted prejudice has eroded any semblance of due process, advocates say, and makes these migrants even more vulnerable to reprisals while in detention.”

These obstacles don’t just affect European and Asian migrants, but indigenous ones as well. Attorneys, judges, and advocates say the immigration court system has become overwhelmed with a backlog of over 1 million cases because there is a lack of non-Spanish and indigenous language interpreters. 

Indian migrant goes on hunger strike due to mistreatment. 

The inhumane conditions migrants are subjected to have led to a plethora of related issues. Ajay Kumar and other Indian migrants were detained in New Mexico and felt he was treated so poorly he went on a hunger strike. Kumar told authorities there were no translated reading materials and that vegetarian food was mixed with meat which many could not eat. 

He was sent to an El Paso detention center where he and largely other migrants from India were force-fed following a court order. His lawyers say he was placed in medical isolation, called a troublemaker, and had his mala (or Hindu rosary) taken away from him. Kumar was held down and forced to eat and drink while his immigration case was threatened by officials. After 72 days of his hunger strike, he was moved to a long-term care facility. Still, Kumar believes his best chance at life is in the United States. 

“USA is a very good country and there is no other country as helpful and strong as this,” Kumar wrote while in the hospital. “I only hope for my freedom and I hope for help from the people of El Paso.” 

A 6-year-old migrant girl from India died at the southern border. 

Just before her 7th birthday, Gurupreet Kaur crossed the southern border over the summer. Arizona temperatures reached 108 degrees. Gurupreet’s mother left her with another mother and daughter while she went to search for water. The two groups, who wandered a very remote area, were never able to find each other again. A day later, Border Patrol agents discovered Gurupreet’s remains. 

“We wanted a safer and better life for our daughter and we made the extremely difficult decision to seek asylum here in the United States,” her parents’ said in a statement released by the nonprofit Sikh Coalition. “We trust that every parent, regardless of origin, color or creed, will understand that no mother or father ever puts their child in harm’s way unless they are desperate.”

The mother and daughter were trying to meet the girl’s father who had been in the U.S. since 2013 with a pending asylum application in New York immigration court. The pair were with three other migrants from India. 

Advocacy groups say government policies are to blame for these tragedies which are affecting more and more communities of color. 

Advocacy groups fight back. 

Immigration advocacy groups continue to challenge these harmful policies in the courts. The Sikh community in the United States and other South Asian advocates have expressed much outrage. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) noted that while DHS and CBO budgets have increased significantly, the treatment of migrants has only degraded. 

“As US Customs and Border Protection has escalated border enforcement and aggressively turned away migrants attempting to cross at ports of entry, deaths have continued to mount,” SAALT said in a statement. “Migrants are forced right back into the dangerous conditions that CBP and other federal agencies often blame on migrant traffickers and smugglers.”

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

Guatemala Shifted Tactics With The Latest Migrant Caravan And Here’s Why

Things That Matter

Guatemala Shifted Tactics With The Latest Migrant Caravan And Here’s Why

Jose Torres / Getty Images

The Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t reduced violence or poverty or many of the other reasons that people flee their homes in an attempt to reach the United States. In fact, in many places violence and poverty are at record levels as the virus leaves millions of people without work, access to medical care, or education.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that even though the Coronavirus pandemic continues to pose a serious health threat, thousands of Central Americans banded together in another caravan. However, this time it barely made it out of Honduras before being forced back by Guatemalan security forces.

The country has completely changed its approach to how it handles these ‘migrant caravans.’ Previously, the country had allowed many of them safe passage. However, under pressure from the Trump administration, the country’s president has decided a heavy-handed approach is better.

Under pressure from Donald Trump, Guatemala halted more than 3,000 migrants set for the U.S.

As a caravan containing roughly 3,500 Honduran migrants attempted to cross into Guatemala on their path to the United States, Guatemala halted their progress and ordered their removal from the country. This was a starch contrast to the migrant caravans of year past as many were allowed to seek asylum or even cross Guatemala’s border with Mexico.

In a televised message, Giammattei said Guatemalan security forces were able to “contain” the caravan, that according to the president was a factor in the transmission of the Coronavirus.

According to the Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM), the caravan entered eastern Guatemala on Thursday, pushing over a military barrier setup along the border before splitting into groups to reach Mexico, which had already closed its borders in anticipation of the caravan’s arrival.

By Friday and Saturday, hundreds of Guatemalan police and military personnel set up roadblocks forcing migrants — including young children and people in wheelchairs — to turn back.

Guatemala’s president said the containment efforts were to protect the country from further Coronavirus infections.

Credit: Jose Torres / Getty Images

Shortly after the caravan entered Guatemala by foot and overwhelming the border security forces, the country’s president – Alejandro Giammattei – vowed to send them back to Honduras, citing his efforts to contain the pandemic.

“The order has been given to detain all those who entered illegally, and return them to the border of their country,” Giammattei said in a broadcast address to the nation. “We will not allow any foreigner who has used illegal means to enter the country, to think that they have the right to come and infect us and put us at serious risk.”

Giammattei issued an order that would suspend some constitutional rights in the provinces they were expected to pass through, apparently in order to facilitate detaining them.

“We are experiencing a pandemic in Guatemala which has cost us to control with months of efforts,” said the president, adding it was an “obligation” to reduce the risk of further contagion.

At the onset of the pandemic, Guatemala instituted a strict lockdown of the country, even closing its airports and borders to all travel. So far, the country of about 17 million has seen more than 94,000 Covid-19 infections and 3,293 people have died since March.

These so-called caravans have become more common in recent years as migrants band together for protection.

In recent years, thousands of Central American migrants traveling in large groups have crossed into Mexico, with the aim of reaching the U.S. border. In the U.S., these caravans have become a hot-button issue for political conservatives, including President Trump.

During the 2018 caravan that occurred close to the midterm elections, Trump threatened Mexico with steep tariffs and economic pain if the country didn’t do more to stop the caravans before they reached the U.S. – Mexico border. The country bowed to Trump’s demands and deployed its National Guard and more immigration agents to break up attempted caravans last year. They dispersed large groups of migrants attempting to travel together in southern Mexico.

The odds of a large migrant caravan reaching the U.S. border, already low, have grown increasingly slim over the past year. In fact, crossing into the U.S. legally is virtually impossible now thanks to inhumane policies implemented by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, attempting an unauthorized crossing into the U.S. is as difficult as ever.

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

Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

Things That Matter

Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

Gerald Herbert / Getty Images

In what many are calling a landmark decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just handed a major victory to migrant’s rights advocates. Although the major ruling seems simple on paper, it has major legal implications and could truly change the way that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrest undocumented immigrants.

However, the decision is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court – where it would face an uncertain legal future given the possible future makeup of the nation’s highest court.

The 9th Circuit Court just issued a landmark legal decision that could greatly affect ICE arrests.

Credit: Eric Risberg / Getty Images

Long-standing rules for arresting migrants may soon need to change, thanks to a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court says that ICE needs to align its arresting and detention procedures with those of all other law enforcement agencies in the country, which are guided by rules within the U.S. constitution. When police arrest people for suspected crimes, the constitution requires them to show probable cause to a judge within 48 hours. But ICE does not do that. When ICE arrests people, it typically holds them for weeks before any judge evaluates whether ICE had a valid legal basis to make the arrest.

But ICE’s policies may no longer be legal.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the usual constitutional rules that apply to normal police all over the country also apply to ICE. “The Fourth Amendment requires a prompt probable cause determination by a neutral and detached magistrate,” the court said. This really shouldn’t be a big deal. Prompt independent review by a judge of whether the government has a legal basis to take away a person’s freedom is an essential safeguard against tyranny.

ICE’s arrest and detention policies have long come under scrutiny for seemingly skirting constitutional rules.

Credit: Joseph Sohm / Getty Images

For almost 200 years, immigration enforcement has existed in a sort of grey area, where the usual rules never applied. For example, when ICE arrests people, individual officers have much more legal discretion than other law enforcement authorities. Detainees may be held for weeks or months before going to a judge who will ask the person how they plead to ICE’s allegations against them.

Only then, long after the initial arrest, might ICE actually be required to show a judge any evidence to back up its case. The person would have spent all of that time detained, likely at a private detention center in a remote area.

For any other person in the U.S., this procedure goes against every legal protection in the constitution. But ICE has gotten away with treating immigrants this way for generations.

The ruling comes as other courts are making it easier for ICE to abuse migrant’s constitutional rights.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit comes less than a week after the 1st Circuit overturned a ban prohibiting ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses in Massachusetts.

In 2018, ICE created a policy of attempting to arrest undocumented immigrants when they appeared at state courthouses for judicial proceedings. However, a district court granted an injunction against the policy after migrant advocates filed a lawsuit against ICE. They claimed that ICE was in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and lacked authority to make civil arrests at courts.

Meanwhile, ICE has resumed large-scale enforcement operations, announcing roughly 2,000 arrests over several weeks amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The 9th Circuit’s decision raises an obvious question: How many of those people were detained for more than 48 hours without a review by a judge?

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