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Immigration
April 13, 2019

A federal appeals court in California on Friday temporarily blocked a judge's order that would have halted the Trump administration from returning asylum seekers to Mexico.

The decision follows the White House's emergency motion filing on Thursday to allow the government to continue forcing migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases remained under review. On Monday, Judge Richard Seeborg ruled in favor of three civil liberties groups suing the government over the practice.

His ruling would have put a stop to it on Friday, but the appeals court has now set a Tuesday deadline for the groups to submit arguments as to why the order blocking the Trump administration should take effect. The Trump administration, meanwhile, will have until Wednesday to argue why the policy should remain in place.

Per NBC News, since the policy was implemented in January, 1,323 Central American migrants have been returned to Mexico, including 308 families and 428 children under the age of 18. Tim O'Donnell

April 13, 2019

A court settlement announced on Friday will allow up to 2,700 children in Central America to reunite with their parents living under protected status in the United States.

The settlement follows a lawsuit that challenged the Trump administration's 2017 decision to end a program that began in 2014 and allowed children living in Central America to reunite with their parents residing legally in the United States. The case was brought against the government by 12 children and parent applicants to the program. Under the terms of the settlement, which must be approved by a judge, the government must finish processing the children who were in the final stages of their applications when the program was ended.

"We are so pleased that after many years apart our clients will finally have the opportunity to reunite with each other in safety," said attorney Linda Evarts, who works for the International Refugee Assistance Project, which represented the plaintiffs.

The government reportedly anticipates most applicants will be approved and allowed to travel to the United States. Tim O'Donnell

April 7, 2019

The Trump administration says it may need up to two years to find potentially thousands of children who were separated from their parents at the southern border when the White House was operating under a "zero tolerance" policy, prosecuting all those who crossed the border illegally before a judge put an end to the practice last year.

In a court filing on Friday, the Department of Justice said that it will take at least one year to review about 47,000 cases of unaccompanied minors taken into government custody between July 1, 2017 and June 25, 2018. But the task is expected to be difficult, especially because the children are no longer in government custody. Per The Associated Press, the government will prioritize locating and reuniting children who are not currently living with relatives.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued to reunite families separated at the border, criticized the government's timeline.

"The government was able to quickly gather resources to tear these children away from their families and now they need to gather the resources to fix the damage," Lee Galernt, the ACLU's lead attorney, said. Tim O'Donnell

March 31, 2019

The Trump administration followed through on a plan to cut aid to three countries in Central America on Saturday, just one day after President Trump threatened to close America's southern border next week.

The State Department announced it would no longer send aid — which estimates predict would total somewhere between $500 million and $700 million — to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as punishment for the large amount of migrants leaving those countries to go north to the United States. Trump has accused the nations of having "set up" migrant caravans.

The State Department, however, said it would "engage Congress in the process" of ending the funding, likely signaling that it will need congressional approval to do so.

Per BBC, aid advocates argue the best way to curb migration is to address the root causes in the country of origin — that is, stimulate economic activity and help reduce violence. Adrian Beltrán, a director of citizen security at the Washington Office of Latin America human rights group, told The New York Times that the Trump administration's decision is akin to "shooting yourself in the foot."

Several Democratic members of Congress have already condemned the announcement, such as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who called it "reckless." Tim O'Donnell

March 30, 2019

President Trump told reporters on Friday that unless Mexican authorities immediately halt all illegal immigration he will likely shut down America's southern border next week.

"I am not kidding around," he said. "We will close it for a long time."

Trump said the decision could include shutting down "all trade." Per The Associated Press, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that closing the border would be an "unmitigated economic debacle." The U.S. and Mexico exchange about $1.7 billion in goods every day, so if Trump follows through on his warnings there could be significant effects on both economies. It would also reportedly threaten five million American jobs.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that closing ports of entry is "on the table" so that the U.S. can redeploy staff to help process parents and children, but stopped short of saying there would be a widespread shutdown.

"What we're doing is a very structured process based on operational needs," she said.

The State Department on Friday also began informing Congress that it intends to cease giving foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as punishment for the migrant caravans that have formed in those countries before heading north. The New York Times reported that the decision to cut funding to the three countries would likely stir bipartisan anger in Congress, as both parties support the funding in the hopes that it will address root causes of the violence that has forced migrants to flee north. Tim O'Donnell

March 6, 2019

All immigrant girls over the age of 10 coming through the southern U.S. border receive a pregnancy test, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said during a Congressional hearing on border security on Wednesday.

The tests are being administered due to a high prevalence of sexual assault cases for those making the trek into the U.S.

"Very unfortunately, because of the increase in violence, at ICE, when we have families with children, we have to give every girl a pregnancy test over 10. This is not a safe journey," Nielsen said.

Nearly 70 percent of migrants and refugees entering Mexico reported being victims of violence while making the journey, CNN reports, and nearly one-third of women reported being sexually abused. Marianne Dodson

March 5, 2019

The release of 12 infants from a migrant detention center in Dilley, Texas revealed squalid conditions that those detained face as they wait for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine whether they are a "danger to the community or a flight risk," CBS News reported. Four other babies were in detention alongside the 12, but their status currently remains unclear.

Advocacy groups sent letters of complaint specifically regarding the infants to the Department of Homeland Security and the House Judiciary Committee detailing the state of the detention center in Dilley.

"Every mother I spoke to said that her child was sick in some way," said Katy Murdza, the advocacy coordinator at the American Immigration Council's Dilley Bro Pono Project.

Several infants lost weight rapidly because the facility carried one type of formula that was only available upon special request. Subsequently, mothers were not given bottled water to mix with the formula, meaning they had to use potentially-unsafe tap water at the center, instead. Some mothers described how difficult it was to access medical attention for the children.

ICE officials, however, told CBS News that immigrants are offered "comprehensive medical care", including access to 24-hour emergency care. Advocates say that is "not corroborated by parents who spend time at Dilley."

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said that the House Judiciary Committee is planning on holding "long overdue" hearings on the state of the centers. Tim O'Donnell

November 24, 2018

Plainclothes officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested a man named Samuel Oliver-Bruno on Friday inside U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in North Carolina where he was keeping an appointment with immigration officials.

Oliver-Bruno is a native of Mexico who came to the United States on a work permit two decades ago. In 2014, he was arrested attempting to enter the U.S. using a Texas birth certificate he'd purchased in an effort to be with his wife while she underwent heart surgery. While his case was appealed, Oliver-Bruno took sanctuary in CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham, North Carolina.

An aspiring Baptist minister, he participated in services and studied at Duke University's Divinity School while living in the church. However, Oliver-Bruno was eager to leave the building to support his wife and his teenage son, who is a U.S. citizen. "I need to work, do the activities I used to do, to afford medicines for my wife and doctor's appointments," he told CNN.

Friday's appointment was supposed to be a routine step in that direction, but ICE agents intervened. Supporters from the Methodist church attempted to prevent the arrest, forming a human wall around the ICE vehicle and singing "Amazing Grace." More than two dozen, including clergy, were arrested by local police.

"Mr. Oliver-Bruno is a convicted criminal," ICE said in a statement, "who has received all appropriate legal process under federal law, has no outstanding appeals, and has no legal basis to remain in the U.S."

"If deported, Samuel will be returned to the state of Veracruz, where his family has recently faced threats and which is a state that is constantly in threat of drug cartels," said immigration advocacy group Alerta Migratoria. "Furthermore, ICE is not allowing us to give Samuel his diabetic pills or insulin medication, which is further putting his life in danger." Bonnie Kristian

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