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Trump Administration To Resume Controversial And Damaging ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy For Asylum Seekers

Mario Tama / Getty Images

The Trump administration will be resuming it’s controversial “Remain In Mexico” policy after a federal appeals court in California temporarily lifted an injunction on Friday that had blocked it. The policy, which forces asylum seekers to return to Mexico to await adjudication of their claims, had been stopped for less than a week before resuming this week. While the ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for President Trump, it’s temporary and still doesn’t address the reality of the more than 1,000 migrants waiting to be processed.

Approximately 1,105 Central American migrants have been returned to Mexico to await their court hearing under the policy.

The policy, officially known as the “Migrant Protection Protocols”, made its debut back in late January at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego. Migrants were to report to authorities for asylum, make their claim, fill out paperwork, and be on their way back to Mexico to await the next process. The protocol was the Trump administration’s way of obeying the asylum process but not directly dealing with the migrants themselves in the U.S.

On April 8th, Judge Richard Seeborg ruled that the policy was breaking the law by ordering migrant asylum seekers to await proceedings in Mexico. That ruling came down just a day after President Trump had removed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who advocated for a border-wide expansion of the policy.

This is just the latest move in the Trump administration’s aggressive immigration stance.

Until otherwise told not to, asylum seekers will be kept in Mexico until their claim is processed. The Justice Department spokesman defended the policy saying the protocol has always been legal.

“The statute explicitly authorizing the use of the Migrant Protection Protocols has been on the books for more than two decades,” Alexei Woltornist, a Justice Department spokesman, told the LA Times. “and the Department of Justice will robustly defend our ability to use it.”

As things play in the courts, daily life for migrants waiting in Mexico has only worsened.

Migrants that have been returned across the border to places like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez have voiced their concern about crowded encampments and violence from local gangs. Health, lack of adequate food and safety have been some of the biggest concerns from immigration rights groups who say these conditions aren’t suitable.

This all comes as a record number of Central-American migrants have come towards the U.S.-Mexico border this past month. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency apprehended and turned back more than 103,000 migrants, including approximately 53,000 families and nearly 9,000 unaccompanied children, along the U.S.-Mexico border in March.

READ: Federal Judge Rules That Trump Administration Cannot Send Asylum Seekers To Mexico

The Leader Of A Militia Group Unlawfully Detaining Migrant Families At Gunpoint Arrested For Felony Firearm Possession

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The Leader Of A Militia Group Unlawfully Detaining Migrant Families At Gunpoint Arrested For Felony Firearm Possession

Doña Ana County Jail

A right-wing militia group that has been illegally detaining groups of migrant families in southern New Mexico is without a leader today. Militia groups rallying against undocumented immigrants is nothing new. However, the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, posted videos on social media of them detaining a group of about 200 migrants. Now, the leader of the group, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, is behind bars, not for detaining people, but for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

A 41-minute video shows large groups of migrant asylum seekers being detained at gunpoint before U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive.

According to Buzzfeed News, the militia group known has posted videos from the border for the past few months. They’ve shared videos showing members detaining people in near the southern New Mexico border.

A video shows distraught migrants placed in giant groups seated on the ground at night. You can see the militia group ordering migrant families and children to sit down, calling border patrol agents on them.

After terrorizing migrant families, the ring leader for United Constitutional Patriots is behind bars, but not for kidnapping.

Credit: Doña Ana County Jail

According to the Doña Ana County Jail website, Hopkins was arrested by the FBI for possession of firearms and ammunition as a felon. Hopkins, who was arrested over the weekend, faced his first day in court Monday.

According to The New York Times, the FBI was made aware in October 2017 of the “alleged militia extremist activity” of a group in New Mexico. The arrest was prompted after the groups posted several videos of their mass citizen arrests.

The group, mainly consisting of veterans, has been patrolling the southern New Mexico border since February.

A statement on the United Constitutional Patriots’ Facebook page describes the militia group as “Americans that believe in the constitution and the rights of every American that will stand up for there rights in unity and help keep America safe.”

“We’re just here to support the Border Patrol and show the public the reality of the border,” Jim Benvie, a spokesman for the group told The New York Times. He compared the group’s detention of the migrants to “a verbal citizen’s arrest.”

Benvie also says that members of the group offered $20 to any of the migrants who could identify the smuggler who helped them cross the border. But none of the migrants accepted the offer.

Social media is buzzing with the truth beneath the ambiguous language in the news.

Credit: @dcbigjohn / Twitter

Immigration advocates are concerned that Hopkins and his gang might have broken international kidnapping laws. A lot of officials have an issue with the timing of Hopkins’ arrest. According to The New York Times, the guns were found at Hopkins’ residence in 2017. Some reports claim prominent Democratic officials pressured the FBI to act on the arrestable offenses they of which they already had evidence.

The ACLU doesn’t agree with the militia group and will be seeking legal action.

“We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to state authorities denouncing the group’ actions. “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham responded to the news of the immigrant groups being unlawfully detained. He says the actions of the group are “unacceptable.”

“That migrant families might be menaced or threatened in any way, shape or form when they arrive at our border — often times after an unimaginably arduous journey — is completely unacceptable,” Grisham told NBC News. “It should go without saying that regular citizens have no authority to arrest or detain anyone.”

Ursela Ojeda, a policy adviser in Washington for the Women’s Refugee Commission, told the New York Times the militia’s motives are questionable.

“These are families, and lots of young children, fleeing dangerous situations,” Ojeda said. “I have a hard time seeing how someone has a right to point a loaded weapon at these families.”

READ: Yo-Yo Ma Sends Message Of Unity By Playing Cello On Both Sides Of US-Mexico Border

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