Friday, July 25, 2014

Governor Perry deploys National Guard, Broader issues raised in Central America

Texas Governor Rick Perry announced this week that he would deploy 1000 National Guard troops to deal with the crisis at the Texas border. This raised a variety of issues (including the impact on Perry's potential run for president), particularly what kind of coordination there might be with the Border Patrol, if the Guard troops would have the authority to arrest people caught crossing the border, the impact on children crossing the border, etc...Fusion news raised a set of questions as well:
Major General Nichols of the Texas National Guard held a press briefing on Tuesday hoping to clarify the role of the Guard and raising the hope that many of the troops would volunteer for the duty:
The New York Times raised the issue of arrest power:

and "Government Executive" explored the options of action on the border:
Meanwhile President Obama is also considering deploying the National Guard at the border:

In Washington, DC, the Wilson Center's Latin American Program is doing a series of reports and panels on the issue of migrants from Central America. This included a panel with the foreign ministers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras discussing issues of violence, transnational criminal organizations, and what can be done to deal with the underlying factors that are driving migrants to the U.S. [panel starts at 10 minute point]

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

The Immigration Policy Center has set up a resource page:

Unaccompanied Children: A Resource Page

I'll end today's blog post with an interesting editorial from the Baptist Standard:
Editorial: What are we going to do about all those children?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New resources for understanding the crisis of unaccompanied minors on the border

Several outlets have developed background materials for understanding the factors that have led to the current crisis of refugees/migrants on the border from Central America.

The first link is a blog post from an immigration lawyer detailing the hurdles lawyers face in trying to represent families in detention centers:

The Artesia Experience

The Wilson Quarterly has put together an interactive set of maps and graphs which detail the underlying factors which lead people to leave places like Honduras and El Salvador:

Wilson Quarterly Interactive Map

Huff Post Latino Voices has also examined the U.S. influences that have helped lead to the current crisis:

Here's How The U.S. Sparked A Refugee Crisis On The Border, In 8 Simple Steps

Protests against the influx were set for this weekend, although turn-outs tended to be small, it is an illustration of the divides in public opinion created by the crisis:

tipo gritando.jpg

from the Austin American-Statesman:
Seeking Asylum in the United States: Fleeing gang brutality in El Salvador, Jose has made the dangerous trek to the United States to seek asylum. Casa Marianella in Austin has been his home for the past three months.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Focus on unaccompanied minors continues

The situation for unaccompanied minors at the border continues to create headlines. Protests are continuing and have spread to Arizona where many are calling for the children to be deported immediately, but this would be against current law, and due process.

Growing protests over where to shelter immigrant children hits Arizona

The Catholic church has already taken an active role in helping the children and families and Pope Francis has taken a strong position in support of the child migrants:

I recently learned of a new resource called TRAC immigration (h/t Karen Crawford):
"TRAC's Immigration Project is a unique new multi-year effort to systematically go after very detailed information from the government, check it for accuracy and completeness and then make it available in an understandable way to the American people, Congress, immigration groups and others."

They just posted data on unaccompanied children and how they fare in court:
The ACLU has also posted a commentary on children in immigration court and how they fare without a lawyer:
New Republic has posted an article that focuses on the TRAC data on children in immigration court:

Migrants and lawyers

A recent Gallup poll shows that concern about immigration has grown dramatically:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Border issues dominate Obama visit to Texas

Immigration ended up high on the agenda for President Obama's trip to Texas, that was planned to focus on economic growth and support for the middle class. Earlier this week, President Obama proposed a $3.7 billion emergency budget measure that would in part address housing issues for the large number of unaccompanied minors who have entered the country from Central America in the last few months.

After some back and forth over if and when a meeting would occur, Governor Rick Perry agreed to join President Obama in Dallas at a round-table discussion about the border.

Obama Presses Perry to Rally Support for Border Funds

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas greeted President Obama on Wednesday in Dallas, where the two attended a meeting on immigration. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama came out of the meeting urging Congress to approve funds to deal with the crisis.

The roots of the crisis in Central America are still being discussed, with a variety of factors being considered, some argue that President Obama's executive order allowing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is encouraging children from Central America to come to the U.S. or that criminal gangs are telling people in these countries that there children won't be deported:

Debunking 8 Myths About Why Central American Children Are Migrating: ‘Lax enforcement’ is not the culprit—U.S. trade and immigration policies are.
There is at least one House Republican who thinks that immigration reform needs to move forward, but he was told this week that his bill is dead:

Monday, July 7, 2014

The public response to the influx of refugees from Central America

Beyond the political posturing of Republicans and Democrats on the issue of immigration, there has been the on the ground response of citizens in cities that have been affected by the influx.  As noted in our previous post, the number of children, particularly unaccompanied minors is unprecendented in recent times.  It harkens back to the 1960s exodus of Cuban children known as Operation Pedro Pan

The media has focused attention on the protest by citizens of Murrieta, California who blocked busloads of migrants begin brought to the town for processing -- as in this report from NBC news:

Murrieta Mayor: Undocumented Immigrant Bus Protests Are Free Speech

 "'What people need to understand is that they [protesters] are showing their emotion and passion about a federal policy that isn’t working,' Murrieta Mayor Alan Long said Wednesday, speaking in support of crowds that blocked buses full of undocumented immigrants trying to enter the town a day earlier."

However, the protests in Murrieta are an outlier - in most border cities, organizations like Catholic Charities are reaching out to help house and feed the migrants as noted in this report from NBC news:

In Some Towns, Immigrants Met With Aid Instead of Anger

"'Right now it’s not about politics. It’s about a humanitarian crisis,' said Ofelia de los Santos of Catholic Charities, whose group helps about 200 people a day. McAllen and the other small towns in the Rio Grande Valley were described as a region where most are first-, second- or third-generation Mexican-Americans."

Meanwhile, militia groups are heading onto the scene, raising concerns about armed civilians encountering immigrants as they come across the border:

Texas militia leader's video on border patrols draws fire                      

Unaccompanied minors and refugees from Central America

This will be the first of several posts on the crisis of unaccompanied minors coming from Central America. Described as a "humanitarian crisis" by some and an "illegal immigration crisis" by others, the current situation with refugees/undocumented immigrants from Central America has shifted the agenda of the politics of immigration in the last month. In particular, the number of unaccompanied minors has increased dramatically from 26,000 last year, to 52,000 since October. This is a multi-faceted issues, that raises many issues, but it is not necessarily an issue of border enforcement. Most of the minors crossing the border are surrendering to the Border Patrol, and are not necessarily trying to sneak into the U.S.  It is a humanitarian crisis because our own laws require these children to be processed and the system is not equipped to handle these numbers.

Here is more on the issue from back in June:
Many of the children and families coming to the U.S. are fleeing violence in Central America, as shown in this report from the Department of Homeland Security, and posted by the Pew Research Center:
DHS map of where unaccompanied children are coming from in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador
Another factor is Mexico's southern border:
NBC News has a subject page on the "Immigration Border Crisis" which follows the many facets of this story: 

More to come soon!