Hoping for Asylum, Migrants Strain U.S. Border

April 14, 2014

Photo by Flickr user °Florian

NY Times, 4/10/14

After six years of steep declines across the Southwest, illegal crossings have soared in South Texas while remaining low elsewhere. The Border Patrol made more than 90,700 apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley in the past six months, a 69 percent increase over last year.

The migrants are no longer primarily Mexican laborers. Instead they are Central Americans, including many families with small children and youngsters without their parents, who risk a danger-filled journey across Mexico. Driven out by deepening poverty but also by rampant gang violence, increasing numbers of migrants caught here seek asylum, setting off lengthy legal procedures to determine whether they qualify.

The new migrant flow, largely from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, is straining resources and confounding Obama administration security strategies that work effectively in other regions. It is further complicating President Obama’s uphill push on immigration, fueling Republican arguments for more border security before any overhaul.

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Majority of migrants deported from US young Mexican men, figures show

April 11, 2014

mexican immigrantThe Guardian, 04/11/14

Most of the undocumented people deported from the United States last year were young Mexican men, according to a new study. Mexican nationals comprised 65.5% of the 368,644 deportees, and of them the vast majority were men in their twenties and thirties, said the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research organisation at Syracuse University. The figure, based on data obtained from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, showed a more detailed picture than government numbers and shined a fresh light on the Obama administration’s deportation policies. Almost all of the deportees, 93%, were male. Almost four in five, 279,270, were aged between 20 and 39.

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Illegal immigration: Is Obama ‘deporter in chief’? A rundown of the numbers.

April 7, 2014

us congressChristian Science Monitor, 4/5/14

Not one more deportation. That’s the rallying cry of pro-immigrant groups across the United Stateson Saturday. From Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., these groups are protesting the 2 millionth deportation under President Obama, expected to take place this month. That level represents a record rate among US presidents, according to the count by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Upset about families being split apart, the protesters are demanding that Mr. Obama end deportations until immigration reform gets through Congress. They’ve dubbed the president the “deporter in chief.” Meanwhile, House Republicans, who are stalling on reform, complain that Obama is not enforcing the law – that he’s too weak on deportations. Who is right?

It’s all in the counting. As reported by ICE, the president has indeed deported illegal immigrants at a higher rate than any other president. A new report, by theBipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, backs up the ICE’s claim.

But according to Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan group that seeks lower immigration, ICE counts deportations differently than did past administrations, adding border crossers to its total.. This is why its numbers look bigger by historical comparison.

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14 die as criminals clash in Mexico border state

April 7, 2014

gun - crime sceneAP, 4/7/14

Tamaulipas authorities say a series of clashes among criminals has left 14 dead in the northeastern Mexico state bordering Texas. The state’s coordinating group of state and federal law enforcement says the confrontations occurred throughout the day Sunday in Madero and Tampico. The statement late Sunday did not name the criminal groups or say if the attacks were related.

Tamaulipas, one of Mexico’s most violent states, has been hit by infighting in the once dominant Gulf Cartel, which has also come under attack from its rival, the Zetas.

The statement said four people were killed in separate shootouts in Madero, with two more bodies found separately. Six people died in a shootout in Tampico. Two more were found shot to death in other locations, one inside an ice cream store.

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Yes He Can, on Immigration

April 7, 2014

obamaNY Times, 4/5/14

If President Obama means what he says about wanting an immigration system that reflects American values, helps the economy and taps the yearnings of millions of Americans-in-waiting, he is going to have to do something about it — soon and on his own. It has been frustrating to watch his yes-we-can promises on immigration reform fade to protestations of impotence and the blaming of others. All Mr. Obama has been saying lately is: No, in fact, we can’t, because Republicans and the law won’t let me.

Mr. Obama is correct when he complains that long-term immigration repairs have been throttled in Congress. Neo-nativist Republicans fixated on mass deportation have blocked a worthy bipartisan bill. But Mr. Obama has compounded this failure by clinging to a coldblooded strategy of ramped-up enforcement on the same people he has promised to help through legislation that he has failed to achieve.

With nearly two million removals in the last five years, the Obama administration is deporting people at a faster pace than has taken place under any other president. This enormously costly effort was meant to win Republican support for broader reform. But all it has done is add to the burden of fear, family disruption and lack of opportunity faced by 11 million people who cannot get right with the law. Because of Mr. Obama’s enforcement blitz, more than 5,000 children have ended up in foster care.

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Rallies to freeze deportation take place across country as part of ‘Day of Action’

April 7, 2014

IMG_4496NY Daily News, 4/6/14

Immigration advocates and supporters rallied Saturday in cities across the country in a renewed effort to push President Obama to put a freeze on deportations. Organizers of the more than 50 planned “Day of Action” demonstrations said Obama has the executive power to stop deportations that separate immigrants living in the country illegally from their loved ones. In Eloy, Ariz., more than 100 supporters converged in front of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center after journeying more than 60 miles from Phoenix.

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Catholic leaders hold Mass at border to urge immigration overhaul

April 2, 2014

LA Times, 4/1/14

About 300 people who gathered at the border fence in Nogales to attend a transnational Mass led by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston and bishops from across the West and Southwest, including Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle; Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson; Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso; and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M.

The Mass to celebrate the lives of those who have died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is an attempt by the Catholic Church to call on President Obama to use his executive powers to limit deportations of people who are in the country illegally.

Obama has come under fire from immigrant rights activists who have nicknamed him the “deporter in chief” in reference to the high volume of deportations under his administration, although federal statistics now show that expulsions of people who are settled and working in the U.S. have fallen steadily since his first year in office, and are down more than 40% since 2009.

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Catholic leaders push immigration overhaul at border

April 2, 2014

Crucifix photo by Flickr user FadderUriUSA Today, 4/1/14

A delegation of Catholic leaders from across the United States visited Arizona’s border with Mexico on Monday and Tuesday to call for overhauling the nation’s immigration policy.  At a Mass held under the shadow of the border fence Tuesday morning, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, called on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform this year.

“The system is broken, causes terrible suffering and is a waste of human resources,” said O’Malley. “We’ve lost the sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters. … America at its best is not the bigotry and xenophobia of the know-nothings but the welcome of The New Colussus.”

O’Malley was accompanied by eight other members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 17 priests. The clergy gave communion to people on the Mexican side of the fence as part of the Mass.

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Mexico confirms confrontation with Border Patrol agents

April 2, 2014

border patrol badgeLA Times, 4/1/14

Two heavily armed, camouflaged Mexican soldiers crossed 50 yards inside Arizona in January and drew their guns against U.S. Border Patrol agents who confronted them in a tense standoff, according to documents obtained by The Times/Tribune Washington Bureau. U.S. officials said it was one of nearly two dozen border incursions by Mexican soldiers into southern Arizona in the last four years.

The Jan. 26 confrontation, described in a Border Patrol foreign military incursion report and confirmed in a separate letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, ended when the Mexican soldiers retreated back over the border after U.S. agents — who also drew their weapons — summoned assistance. The soldiers, who misidentified themselves to border agents, claimed to be pursuing drug smugglers, documents show.

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Mexican state blames railways in migrant crimes

April 2, 2014

John Moore - Getty ImagesWashington Post, 4/1/14

Prosecutors in southern Mexico have filed a criminal complaint alleging railway companies or their employees have been complicit in crimes committed against migrants who ride their trains. Luis Angel Bravo, the attorney general of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, said he filed a complaint with federal prosecutors against Ferrosur, a Mexican rail line, and a subsidiary of the U.S. railway Kansas City Southern.

Migrants from Central America hop aboard trains in the southern states of Oaxaca and Veracruz to reach the U.S. border, but they are frequently beaten, robbed or kidnapped by criminal gangs once aboard. Bravo said Monday that he filed the complaint after migrants claimed the trains make unscheduled stops that allow criminals to climb aboard.

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