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Congress Members Camp Out With Asylum Seekers Including Honduran Mother And Children In Viral Tear Gas Photo

The Honduran family in the iconic photo from the U.S.-Mexico border are currently in the U.S. seeking asylum. According to Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) and Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), who spent the night at a port of entry with a group of asylum seekers, Maria Meza and her five children are currently being processed for asylum. The photograph of Meza and her twin daughters running away from tear gas provoked outrage on social media and quickly became a snapshot of the chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Almost two dozen asylum seekers, many of whom were children, waited in the cold for eight hours at the U.S. port of entry.

Gomez and Barragan attempted to gain access to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on Monday with a group of 15 asylum seekers, including Meza and her children. Officials told them they only had the room to process eight unaccompanied children and the rest would have to go to another port of entry. After eight hours of waiting in the cold, Meza and her five children and the unaccompanied minors were taken in for processing, Gomez said on Twitter.

“After 7hrs, I can now confirm: Maria Meza & her kids — featured in this @Reuters image fleeing tear gas at the border last month — just filed for asylum,” Gomez tweeted. “They’re on American soil. @RepBarragan & I are still here observing conditions on the ground.”

Meza and her children have been allowed into the U.S to make their asylum claims. It’s still unknown whether they have passed their “credible fear” interview. The interview is an initial screening in which asylum seekers must show proof that they would face persecution back in their home countries.

The members of Congress documented the long waits and conditions on Twitter for everyone to see how dire the situation is.

Barragan tweeted that U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent officers in “full riot gear” to surround the group. Images show the group seated peacefully with the members of Congress. Members of her staff were also detained, she said. Shortly after, CBP tweeted that families “without proper documentation and crossing US borders illegally” caused them to “hit capacity.” Barragan said their requests to see the facility at “capacity” were denied as they waited with the group. After 15 hours of waiting with the group, Gomez tweeted that he and Barragán left the border entry and that “most” of the group had been taken in for asylum interviews.

The legal aid group Al Otro Lado, organized the group of 15 asylum seekers, selected for how vulnerable they were waiting in Tijuana for asylum.

Nicole Ramos, a legal attorney for Al Otro Lado, has assisted asylum seekers to present themselves at various ports of entry in Tijuana for years and has noticed for some recent years that U.S. border officials have begun turning them away. She questioned many of the government’s methods in handling the growing backlog of asylum seekers. “It’s not representative of what the government has the financial capacity to do,” Ramos told the San Diego Tribune.

A system called “metering” has limited the number of asylum seekers at U.S. ports of entry each day.

The CBP says its ports of entry have capacity limits and aren’t prepared to process large numbers of migrant families requesting help. Gomez says that “metering” has nothing to do with the number of resources but a way to deter people from seeking asylum. Rising violence throughout Central America has caused thousands to flee to the U.S., many traveling by caravan across Mexico.

This has led to a backlog in asylum seekers that the CBP says has caused “a 121 percent increase in the number of asylum seekers.” Almost 93,000 claims of “credible fear,” the first step in seeking asylum, were processed this past fiscal year, a 67 percent jump from 2017, according to the CBP.

“What we’re seeing is that, basically, they’re making these migrants wait hour after hour and they’re saying that it’s capacity that’s the issue, but we’re seeing that’s not really the issue,” Gomez told Newsweek. “We’re seeing that they’re just deciding to limit the number of people they let in.”


READ: Trump Is Promising A Government Shutdown If He Doesn’t Get His Border Wall Funding

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Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

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Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas is Cuban-born and was one of the original architects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant to be confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Secretary Mayorkas is inheriting a Trump-era DHS and is immediately getting to work to rectify issues that the Biden administration has highlighted. Two of the most pressing issues are heading up a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated by the previous administration and reviewing the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

“Remain in Mexico” is a policy that the Trump administration created and enforced that sent migrants to Mexico to await their asylum cases. The policy has been criticized both by U.S. and international politicians as a humanitarian issue.

It isn’t Mayorkas’ first time working for DHS.

Sec. Mayorkas was the deputy secretary of DHS from December 2013 – October 2016 under President Barack Obama. During that time, Mayorkas was crucial in responding to the 2013 – 14 Ebola virus epidemic and 2015 – 16 Zika virus epidemic. Mayorkas is ready to come back to the department and to bring back what he sees are the department’s mission.

“DHS bears an extraordinary weight on behalf of the American people, the weight of grave challenges seen and unseen,” Sec. Mayorkas said in a statement. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to return to the Department to lead the men and women who dedicate their talent and energy to the safety and security of our nation. I will work every day to ensure that they have the tools they need to execute their missions with honor and integrity. The mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. The United States is a welcoming and empathetic nation, one that finds strength in its diversity. I pledge to defend and secure our country without sacrificing these American values.”

Mayorkas is no stranger to working on America’s immigration system.

Mayorkas is one of the original architects of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is at stake because of the previous administration. The Biden administration has made a promise to preserve DACA and to create a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S.

President Biden has introduced legislation to reform the current immigration system. The legislation has a timeframe for all undocumented people in the U.S. to become citizens if they follow certains steps and meet certain criteria.

While Mayorkas got bipartisan support in the Senate confirmation, some Republicans did not like his work in immigration. Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow Cuban, voted to opposed Mayorkas.

“Not only has Mayorkas pledged to undo the sensible protections put in place by the Trump Administration that ended the dangerous policy of catch and release, but his nomination is further evidence that the Biden Administration intends to pursue a radical immigration agenda,” Sen. Rubio said in a statement.

READ: President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

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President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

Things That Matter

President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

President Joe Biden promised that he would introduce legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people. The president has followed through with the promise and all eyes are on the government as millions wait to see what happens next.

President Joe Biden has been busy the first couple of weeks of his presidency.

President Biden is proposing a pathway to citizenship that millions of people in the U.S. have been asking for. There are around 11 million people who are undocumented in the U.S. The pathway to citizenship will take time, according to the legislation, but some people will have time shaved off of their pathway, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and farm workers who have worked throughout the pandemic.

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is designed to change the immigration system that has created a backlog of immigration cases. There are multiple steps in the proposed legislation starting with creating a pathway to citizenship. Those who would benefit from the bill are people who are physically in the U.S. by January 2, 2021.

First, the bill allows for people to apply for temporary legal status. After five years, and if the person passes a criminal and national security background check, they can apply for a green card. Three years after that, people who pass further background checks and demonstrate a knowledge of English and civics can apply for citizenship.

A line in the bill aims to help people deported during the previous administration.

“The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017, who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes,” reads the proposed legislation.

The bill also wants to change the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in immigration laws to embrace the country’s stance as a country of immigrants.

The legislation has been introduced and now immigration activists are waiting to see it happen.

The legislation tackles several issues that have plagued the immigration system in the U.S. The bill proposes increasing visa limits for certain countries, keeping families together, removing discrimination against LGBTQ+ families, and so many other initiatives to start reforming the immigration system.

President Biden has been offering executive orders that are in the same vein as the bill. Many have aimed as fixing issues that were created by the previous administration and the president is not hiding from it.

“There’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders I’ve signed. I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office while signing executive orders. “What I’m doing is taking on the issues that, 99 percent of them, that the last president of the United States issued executive orders I thought were counterproductive to our national security, counterproductive to who we are as a country. Particularly in the area of immigration.”

The undocumented population peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million and has declined since then. There are at least 4.4 million people in the U.S. with at least one undocumented parent, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

READ: President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

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