Things That Matter

Honduras Becomes The Latest Country To Sign A ‘Safe Third Country’ Agreement With The US And Here’s Why It’s So Important

Honestly, there is so much chaos these days in the Trump administration, with talks of impeachment, conspiracies involving whistleblowers and the Ukrainian President, and just generally wild statements from the White House, you’d be forgiven for missing the actual policy decisions made by the government. So, it’s important you know this: the US has announced a new deal with Honduras – the details of which would see migrants sent to wait there while the American court system processes asylum applications.

The migration deal was announced September 25.

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From the sounds of it, the deal was struck between the Department of Homeland Security, and the current Honduran administration, headed by President Juan Orlando Hernández. Just to clarify, this is the same Honduras that has the reputation for being one of the most violent and unstable nations in the world. You know, the country that plenty of people have been fleeing from due to prolific gang violence and expansive drug industry. In fact, in the last 11 months alone, over 250,000 Hondurans have crossed the US border due to the dire situation in their homeland.

The news comes as Honduras’ president is accused of basically running a ‘narco state.’

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The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise in the face of allegations from US federal prosecutors that Honduras’ President Hernández is essentially running a narco-state. It is alleged that the current, and former, Honduran presidents have accepted campaign contributions from cocaine traffickers in exchange for protection. Granted, these accusations fly in the face of the US government’s official stance on Honduras, which has supported Hernández’s administration and donated millions as part of security efforts to stem the flow of cocaine from South America to the US.

You’re not crazy if you think you’ve heard this story before.

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The Trump administration has already come under fire for its policy that’s seeing scores of migrants forced to travel to Mexico to await a decision on their applications. While Mexico has its own issues with drug trafficking and gang violence, it would seem that it has a ways to go before it can compete with Honduras on that front. And yet, migrants are finding that the conditions in Mexico are too perilous to stay, with some even traveling back to their home countries rather than risking more time in what’s proving to be a distinctly hostile environment for asylum seekers.

Imagine the chaos that’s in store when Honduras is added to the list of countries these asylum seekers must stay in while they await an outcome on their applications.

This agreement basically ensures that people with genuine fears for their safety and well-being will be denied asylum in the US.

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And sure, we’re no legal experts, but we can take an educated guess around how the Trump administration could justify its decision to expand its “safe third country agreement” to include countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, and now Honduras. Asylum seekers are unable to gain entry into the US by citing fears of domestic abuse, or gang violence – largely because it’s difficult to prove. So, following that logic, gang violence isn’t enough to deter the Trump administration from forcing asylum seekers to wait their turn in these countries.

The United Nations has said that including countries such as Mexico in the “safe third country agreement” is in violation of the US’ international obligations.

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The UNHCR released a statement back in July that “the rule excessively curtails the right to apply for asylum, jeopardizes the right to protection from refoulement, significantly raises the burden of proof on asylum seekers beyond the international legal standard, sharply curtails basic rights and freedoms of those who manage to meet it, and is not in line with international obligations.” It went on to say that, horrifyingly, “individuals entering the United States across the southern U.S. land border will be regarded as ineligible for asylum if they passed through another country first and did not attempt to seek asylum there before moving to the U.S. border, regardless of whether they had access to effective international protection in those transit countries.”

It means that, in order to even be eligible in the first place for asylum in the US, migrants have to also pursue asylum applications in countries such as Mexico, Guatemala – and now Honduras.

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Despite the dangers that these countries pose to migrants. But you know what country does fall into the “safe third country agreement” category? Canada. Of course. The country that’s literally to the north of the US, and nowhere near South America, where all of these South American migrants are coming from. These desperate souls are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

While we wish we could leave you with words of wisdom on this topic, it’s really difficult in the face of this new policy announcement. Can you tell we’re getting frustrated, people? Because, coming from a frustrated bystander, this is hella frustrating.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

The Biden administration inherited more than an out of control pandemic when they got to work in January. The former administration also left the Biden administration an orchestrated crisis at the border. For some, President Joe Biden is not acting fast enough to fix the problem.

President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the response to immigration at the border.

The approach, according to Politico, is going to be a two-pronged approach to effectively curb irregular immigration. First, the vice president will focus on stopping the migration journey by addressing the issues in the countries that people are fleeing. Particularly, Vice President Harris will be focusing on the issues in the Northern Triangle countries, which are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

At the same time, the vice president will be working with the countries directly to solve the root problems. Vice President Harris will be working to strengthen the nation’s relations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” President Biden told reporters at the White House.

There is a lot of talk about the U.S.-Mexico border right now from both Democrats and Republicans.

Bruno Lozano, the Democratic mayor of Del Rio, Texas, is calling on the Biden administration to take steps to curb the issue. Mayor Lozano was a guest on Fox News recently and spoke about what he saw as an influx of migrants coming into his town. Mayor Lozano told Fox News that the number of people coming to the border has strained Customs and Border Patrol in his city.

“You have a breach on national security levels that have never before been seen in modern history and you’re not even batting an eye about it, you’re not even calling it a ‘crisis‘, you’re calling it a quote-unquote challenge,” Mayor Lozano, told the New York Post on Sunday. “It’s a slap in the face.”

Some residents of Del Rio are critical of their local leaders shifting blame for their own shortcomings.

The brutal winter storm that recently shut down Texas depleted many municipalities of their resources. Residents in Del Rio are putting the blame on their local leaders who have tried to pass the buck. Weeks after the winter storm crippled Texas, grocery store shelves remained empty and residents felt overlooked.

Mayor Lozano has been pleading with President Biden to step up and help them deal with the influx of migrants. Del Rio has one processing center for migrants and the increase has left the city and the processing facility strained.

The Biden administration has faced backlash after photos of detention centers show people sleeping on floors.

There have been several reports that the Biden administration is building new places to hold migrants that have come to the border seeking asylum. The administration is currently taking in unaccompanied minors who are arriving at the border while preventing other migrants from crossing the border.

The Biden administration promised to change the approach to the border, but Title 42 has been left intact. Title 42, which was enacted by the former administration at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeps people from entering the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that invoked Title 42, which closed the border indefinitely due to public health concerns.

At the root of the attention is the claim that there is a surge of migrants.

Some Republican politicians are claiming that news of more lenient immigration laws is prompting a “surge” of arrivals. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California claims that what is happening is a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”

Yet, a Washington Post report debunks the idea that there is a sudden surge. Rather, what is happening, according to the report, is a usual seasonal trend. CBP has reported a 28 percent increase in apprehensions at the southern border in January and February but data shows an annual spike in migrants from March to May every year.

The issues on the border are complex and will require a lot of time and energy to handle effectively and compassionately. The Biden administration promised to tackle the complex issue of immigration during the campaign.

READ: Biden Is Counting On Mexico’s President To Help With Immigration But That’s A Risky Move

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