Fear drives forced labor underground along U.S.-Mexico border

06/11/2018 Reuters

Border fence by couchlearnerFear of tightened border patrols and tough new immigration laws is driving victims of human trafficking into hiding in the Rio Grande Valley at the southern tip of the U.S. border with Mexico, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation.

Stretching more than 100 miles (160 km) along the river that divides the two nations, the Valley in Texas has long been a major entry point for Central American migrants who stay and find jobs as farmworkers, ranchhands and housekeepers.

But worried and silenced by the nation’s hardened attitude toward migrants, frightened workers face greater risk of falling victim to forced labor, trafficking, wage theft and debt bondage, advocates and officials told the Thomson Reuters Foundation during several trips over a five-month period.

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Exclusive: Nearly 1,800 families separated at U.S.-Mexico border in 17 months through February

06/11/2018 Reuters

child_immigrant_cbp_border_gettyNearly 1,800 immigrant families were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border from October 2016 through February of this year, according to a senior government official, as President Donald Trump implemented stricter border enforcement policies.

The numbers are the first comprehensive disclosure by the administration of how many families have been affected by the policies. Previously, the only numbers provided by federal officials on family separations covered a single two-week period in May.

The government official, who agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity, said he could not provide up-to-date statistics, but acknowledged the number of separations had risen sharply in recent weeks, largely because of new administration policies.

In May, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a ‘zero tolerance’ policy in which all those apprehended entering the United States illegally would be criminally charged, which generally leads to children being separated from their parents.

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Trump and Mexican president spar over border wall again

05/29/2018 Reuters

trumpmexico_083116getty_0U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused Mexico of doing “nothing” to stop illegal immigrants crossing into the United States, and repeated his election campaign pledge that Mexico would pay for his planned border wall.

Very quickly Mexico replied: no we won’t.

Trump was addressing supporters in a campaign-style rally in Nashville, Tennessee when he returned to the wall he wants built on the U.S. southern border to keep out illegal immigrants.

The wall was a favorite campaign theme of Trump’s and has been a longstanding bone of contention with Mexico.

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Mexican president again tells Trump Mexico will not pay for wall

05/29/2018 Reuters

HE_Enrique_Peña_Nieto,_President_of_Mexico_(9085212846)

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Tuesday repeated that his country would “never” pay for the border wall that his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump wants built to stop illegal immigrants crossing into the United States.

“President @realDonaldTrump: NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico,” Pena Nieto said on Twitter.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump criticized Mexico for not helping to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States, and repeated his election campaign promise that Mexico would pay for his planned wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump: ‘There’ll be no approvals from me’ on House immigration moves without border wall, tougher security

05/24/2018 Politico

border_at_Tijuana Tomas CastelazoPresident Donald Trump said Wednesday he will veto any immigration legislation that emerges from Congress that does not include funding for a border wall and improved border security measures, a warning shot at moderate House Republicans pushing GOP leadership for a vote on immigration proposals.

“Unless it includes a wall, and I mean a wall, a real wall, and unless it includes very strong border security, there’ll be no approvals from me. Because I have to either approve it or not,” the president said in a Fox News interview that was taped Wednesday and aired Thursday morning. “There are bills going through. I’m watching one or two of them. We’ll see what happens, but I can tell you there is a mood right now for border security.”

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Authorities arrest dozens in probe of Mexican Mafia control in L.A. County jails

05/23/2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune

lapdFederal authorities on Wednesday capped a sweeping investigation into the Mexican Mafia with criminal counts against dozens of the organization’s members and foot soldiers, saying the charges were a bid to disrupt the gang’s control inside Los Angeles County jails.

Hundreds of local police and federal agents carried out coordinated raids in the Los Angeles area Wednesday morning, taking into custody 32 people who are charged in two federal indictments, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. About three dozen others who are charged in the cases are currently serving time in state prison or county jails, while more remain fugitives. In all, 83 people were named in the two cases.

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Trump warns against admitting unaccompanied migrant children: ‘They’re not innocent’

05/23/2018 The Washington Post

childrenPresident Trump and his top administration officials repeatedly warned Wednesday that unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the southern border are potentially exposing the nation to eventual gang crime.

Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States. But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately.

“We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”

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