Things That Matter

CBP Officials Are Blaming The Two Deaths Of Undocumented Migrants In One Week On Health Issues

While the news may have shifted toward President Donald Trump’s impeachment and the wildfires in California, the immigration crisis is still very much a prevalent issue here in the U.S. and in Mexico. As the U.S. continues to enforce its “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires asylum seekers to go back to Mexico after they have filed their asylum application and await their hearing, Mexico insists they are protecting those undocumented people in their country. However, undocumented people who are living around the border as they wait for their asylum hearing say conditions in Mexico are not good and unsafe. The situation in the U.S. isn’t all that better. 

In just one week, two undocumented people have died while in border patrol custody. They were both being detained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Tuscon, Arizona.

Credit: @SonjaHHarris / Twitter

The first unfortunate story comes out of Arizona where a 49-year-old Mexican national died on Oct. 21of an alleged pre-existing heart condition, CBP said in a Tuesday statement, according to The Hill. As of this publishing, the man has yet to be named and no press release statement appears on the CBP website. 

Just a couple of days later, on Oct. 26, a 33-year-old Mexican woman died while also being detained by the CBP in Tuscon. According to the Tucson Sentinel, the woman “was found unconscious at an intersection near Tubac, Ariz., two weeks ago.” She succumbed to her condition at a Tucson hospital on Saturday morning. 

Both deaths appear to be unrelated to their treatment within CBP custody but instead alleged health causes as officials stated. 

Credit: dannowicki / Twitter

In the case of the 33-year-old woman, according to the Tucson Sentinel, “the deputy was responding to a 911 call reported that a woman was passed out at an intersection,” Meredith Mingledorff, a spokeswoman for CBP told the newspaper. “She was taken to a Tucson hospital where she was found to have injuries consistent with severe dehydration.”

There’s not much more information regarding the 49-year-old Mexican national who died of a heart condition. CBP officials said in a statement, according to The Hill, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is saddened to report a 49-year-old man from Mexico was pronounced deceased Monday morning in a Southern Arizona hospital. Our condolences are with his family.”

These two deaths in one week are just the latest in a string of recent deaths of undocumented people in CBP and ICE custody.

Credit: @RepTimRyan / Twitter

On Oct. 16, Roylan Hernandez-Diaz, a 43-year-old man from Cuba died after he allegedly committed suicide at the Richwood Correctional Center in Louisiana.  Then on Oct. 2, Nebane Abienwi, a 37-year-old Cameroon male national died under ICE custody at the Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center where “he was undergoing treatment for a brain hemorrhage since Sept. 26,” ICE said in a statement. According to ICE, Abienwi began “experiencing a hypertensive event in the middle of the night” and “began immediate treatment upon arrival.”

It’s unclear how many people have died in CBP or ICE custody because each death is tracked differently in every fiscal year.

Credit: @ACLU / Twitter

Each department handles its own numbers, along with separating by gender and age group (children or adults). It’s also challenging to get an exact number because they track them under their fiscal year which begins in October. Some news outlets report that 24 undocumented people died within the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The Tuscon Sentinial reports that 12 undocumented people died in 2019 alone.  The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is also keeping track of deaths that occur while undocumented people are being detained. 

When someone dies in government custody, they typically give out the same statement, which is: “ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody. While any death in ICE custody is unfortunate, fatalities in ICE custody are exceedingly rare. Statistically, fatalities in ICE custody occur at a small fraction of the national average for detained populations in federal or state custody.”

Immigration advocates stress that undocumented people are being detained inhumanely and are living in dire conditions.

Credit: @ACLUofColorado / Twitter

Medical personnel and legal teams have expressed that they have witnessed terrible conditions that undocumented people live in each day.

Earlier this year, Victoria López, a Senior Staff Attorney, with the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project said that they are keeping track of their reports about how undocumented people are being treated by these government agencies. “Immigration detention poses life-threatening health and safety risks for the tens of thousands of people who are locked up across the country,” she stated. “These abuses are not only a problem with ICE. The Border Patrol operates a system of jails where migrants are detained, typically in the nation’s border regions. These jails are notoriously known as ‘hieleras,’ or iceboxes, because of the frigid temperatures inside of the cells. The conditions in these cells are so unsafe that a lawsuit was filed in 2015 to force the agency to meet basic constitutional standards.”

READ: In Another Dangerous Attack On Migrants, ICE Is Denying Women Lifesaving Medical Care At This Texas Facility

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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.

Photo via Getty Images

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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