On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the Department of Homeland Security has been ignoring its own 2009 directive requiring that asylum seekers receive individualized reviews of their cases, instead making blanket detention decisions.
District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that necessitates the Department of Homeland Security follow the directive. "To mandate that ICE provide these baseline procedures to those entering our country — individuals who have often fled violence and persecution to seek safety on our shores — is no great judicial leap," he said.
Before the Trump administration, most people seeking asylum were granted release in the U.S. to await their final hearing in front of an immigration judge, unless they were deemed threats to public safety. In March, nine asylum seekers — including an ethics teacher from Haiti who was attacked after teaching students about government corruption and a gay man from Honduras who was threatened by a gunman — sued, with all saying they had been held for several months, and in one case more than two years, with no explanation as to why they were still in custody. Catherine Garcia
The Justice Department said in a district court filing Friday that the Trump administration can detain migrant families intact at the border for as long as it takes to prosecute them.
The claim came in response to a Tuesday court ruling prohibiting family separations and requiring immigrant children currently separated from their parents to be reunited with them within 30 days. Because of the ban, the DOJ argued, the administration can now disregard the 1997 Flores agreement that prohibited the federal detention of children for longer than 20 days.
"To comply with the [Tuesday] injunction," the filing said, "the government will not separate families but detain families together during the pendency of immigration proceedings when they are apprehended at or between ports of entry."
The Obama administration complied with the Flores limitation by releasing families into the United States to await their immigration hearings but also requested permission to detain families for longer than 20 days. That request was denied in court in 2015. Bonnie Kristian
Jeff Sessions reportedly wants to make it almost impossible for undocumented immigrants to qualify for asylum
The Trump administration is reviewing a proposal that would make immigrants who enter the country illegally ineligible for asylum, Vox reported Friday. Per a drafted Justice Department proposal — documents for which were reviewed by Vox — the government would make achieving asylum much more difficult in several respects.
While the proposal could still be changed before it is made public, the current draft proposes "the most severe restrictions on asylum since at least 1965," one expert told Vox.
It suggests a number of sweeping changes, including disqualifying immigrants who enter the country outside of a port of entry and officially making domestic violence and gang violence an ineligible reason to apply for asylum, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions floated earlier this month. The proposal additionally penalizes immigrants coming from Central America who don't ask Mexico for asylum first, and limits the number of appeals an asylum-seeker can make during their application process. For immigrants who enter the U.S. and then legally ask for asylum within the first year of residence, the plan would make misdemeanors like traffic violations a disqualifying offense.
The proposal, especially the part that requires immigrants to wait — possibly for several weeks or more — at a port of entry before requesting asylum, will likely face a legal challenge, reports Vox. But if even a portion of the proposed regulation is signed into law, it would become "nearly impossible" for immigrants to successfully navigate the asylum process. Read more at Vox. Summer Meza
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced Monday that he has asked the United States for temporary protected status for migrants affected by the recent volcano eruptions that have left hundreds of Guatemalans dead, injured, or without homes.
The Fuego volcano, 25 miles southwest of Guatemala City, first erupted on June 3, and it has been spewing ash and lava on and off ever since. Marta Larra, a spokeswoman for Guatemala's Foreign Ministry, said Morales' request is "a response to the catastrophe caused by the Fuego volcano." Many migrants have traveled to the U.S. from Guatemala seeking an escape from gang violence. Catherine Garcia
Algeria has abandoned thousands of migrants in the Sahara desert over the past year, forcing them to walk for miles on end until they reach neighboring Niger or Mali, The Associated Press reported Monday.
Migrants are reportedly being rounded up, put into trucks, dropped in the desert, and told to walk across the border, sometimes at gunpoint. The International Organization for Migration estimates that about 13,000 people have been forcibly expelled from Algeria this way since May 2017.
The number of migrants sent out of Algeria has spiked from 9,290 in 2016 to 14,446 over the past 10 months, reports AP. Officials are increasingly expelling migrants through the deadly Sahara, including pregnant women and children. Algerian police are leaving truckloads of people in scorching temperatures around 115 degrees Fahrenheit at points that are 18 miles from a water source, and migrants report that dozens in their groups succumbed to the inhospitable conditions.
"There were people who couldn't take it. They sat down and we left them. They were suffering too much," Aliou Kande, an 18-year-old from Senegal, told AP. Janet Kamara, a Liberian who was pregnant when she was stranded in the Sahara, said she spent several days walking before giving birth to a stillborn baby while in the desert. "Women were lying dead," she said. "Other people got missing in the desert because they didn't know the way." Read more at The Associated Press. Summer Meza
The Trump administration released a plan Saturday night to reunite migrant families who were separated before President Trump signed his executive order reversing his own policy of splitting up children and parents at the border.
The plan ties reunification to deportation proceedings: Parents will have to request their children share the result of their deportation hearings. Once the process is complete, the children will either be deported with their parents or, if the family is permitted to stay in the U.S., parents can apply to sponsor their children upon release.
Some parents may not elect to use this process to protect their children from violence in their home countries. It is unclear how many parents of separated children may have already been deported before this plan was implemented and how long this plan will take. Children awaiting the results of their parents' proceedings will remain in detention at least for several weeks.
Administration officials said 2,053 separated children remain in detention and their locations around the country are documented. Reunification will primarily happen at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Brownsville, Texas. Parents trying to determine if a child is held by the Department of Health and Human Services have been directed to contact the Office of Refugee Resettlement National Call Center at 1-800-203-7001 or information@ORRNCC.com. Bonnie Kristian
A Trump official reportedly estimated 30,000 migrant kids could be separated from their families by August
As many as 30,000 migrant children could be separated from their families and held in detention centers by the end of the summer, an unnamed senior Trump administration official told The Washington Examiner for a report published Monday.
The source estimated that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been taking about 250 kids daily in recent days — a significantly higher tally than has been previously reported — and calculated that the total could reach 30,000 by August. As of Friday, the Examiner's source said, HHS already has 11,500 of these children detained.
The family separations are not required by law, as President Trump has claimed, and were instituted by his administration as an immigration deterrent. Some of the families affected have not crossed the border illegally but rather are following legal procedure to seek asylum. The Obama administration, which deported more people than any previous presidency, separated a few families after illegal border crossings, but more often it placed them, intact, in detention camps or released them to await their court dates. Bonnie Kristian
About two-thirds of all undocumented immigrants recently arrested by ICE had no criminal convictions
President Trump's administration pledged to focus Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts on unauthorized immigrants with criminal records, but ICE is increasingly arresting people with no criminal convictions, data released by the agency Thursday showed.
About two-thirds of the nearly 80,000 immigrants arrested by ICE agents between October 2017 and March 2018 had no criminal convictions, HuffPost reported. The number of arrests has ticked up, but deportations decreased slightly.
During the same time period the year before, ICE arrested about 63,000 undocumented immigrants, 21 percent of whom didn't have criminal conviction records. The year before that, when the agency was still led by the Obama administration, about 54,000 people were arrested, 13 percent of whom had no criminal convictions.
HuffPost notes that while Trump has promised to focus only on "criminal aliens," he has given ICE agents more leeway to make arrests on any undocumented immigrant. Undocumented immigrants do not automatically have criminal records, because entering the country without authorization is a civil violation, not a criminal one. Regardless, ICE officials report that the agency has expanded its scope. "If somebody has violated our immigration laws, they are priorities now," an ICE official said. Read more at HuffPost. Summer Meza