MCC Photo/Tammy Alexander

A prayer vigil outside a for-profit immigrant detention facility in Aurora, Colorado, in 2018.

Sometimes it only takes a stranger, in a dark place,
to hold out a badly knitted scarf,
to offer a kind word,
to say we have the right to be here,
to make us warm in the coldest season.
You have the right to be here.

—From What You Need to be Warm, a poem by Neil Gaiman, award-winning author and ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

 

Federal spending bills disappoint on border wall and detention funding

Congress approved fiscal year 2020 spending bills that included $1.375 billion in new funding for border walls (on top of more than $10 billion to date). The legislation also did not restrict the administration’s ability to transfer funds between departments or agencies—transfers which in FY 2019 funded hundreds more miles of border walls and the detention of thousands more immigrants.

 

 
 

The notion that ‘no new border wall has been built’ is dead wrong. Media outlets like The Washington Post are misleading the public by parroting it.

Laiken Jordahl, Center for Biological Diversity 


Articles

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News & resources

Every day, courageous women and girls arrive at our southern border seeking refuge from unimaginable violence. Under our laws, they have the right to apply for asylum and have their cases heard. But rather than offering protection, the Trump administration is determined to send them back to the countries they have fought so hard to escape. 

Karen Musalo, law professor and author, writing about the introduction of the Refugee Protection Act

 

ASYLUM: Migrants face increasing obstacles

Migrants coming to the U.S. to seek safety from persecution and violence are encountering more hurdles every month. A recent expansion of the “Remain in Mexico” program means asylum seekers arriving in Arizona are now being sent to Juarez, Mexico, to await their court hearings. Illustrating the dangers of the program, a father was recently killed in Mexico after his family pleaded to stay in the U.S. Beginning earlier this month, some individuals and families from Honduras who ask for asylum in the U.S. are being sent to Guatemala to apply  for asylum there—a neighboring country also struggling with violence and corruption that does not have the capacity to accept asylum seekers.

Under a new regulation likely to go into effect early next year, asylum seekers will have to wait one year, instead of six months, to receive a work permit. Families are still being separated at the border, particularly extended relatives or step-parents raising children. A record number of African migrants coming through Mexico to the U.S. faces additional obstacles, including language barriers, harassment and the denial of travel documents.

Resources

New legislation


BORDER MILITARIZATION: Wall construction ramps up

Water extraction has begun near the fragile Quitobaquito Springs in the Sonoran desert. Wells are drilled in preparation for border wall construction and extract millions of gallons of water to mix concrete for foundations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had recommended no drilling so close to the springs due to a number of endangered species that live only there.

A $400 million contract to build 31 miles of wall across a national wildlife refuge in Arizona is under a federal audit after concerns were raised of inappropriate influence. In Texas, letters have gone out to landowners in preparation for condemning their property for border wall construction. Thousands of landowners could eventually be affected as the administration prepares to build 162 miles of border wall on private land in Texas. Also in Texas, a group building privately-funded border walls was told to stop construction due to flooding concerns.

Federal judges in El Paso and Oakland have temporarily halted the transfer of some military funds for border wall construction. However, the victory could be short-lived as an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is expected. Hundreds of residents in the border communities of Laredo, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona, have turned out in recent weeks to protest wall construction.

Resources

Tohono O'odham

Every year, Shalom Mennonite Fellowship (Tucson, Arizona) sets funds aside in their annual budget for restitution to indigenous people. This year, they used half of their restitution fund to support the Tohono O’odham in their efforts to defend their land from border wall construction. More on Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.


OTHER ISSUES

Detention: A whistleblower complaint details “grossly negligent” care in immigrant detention centers that may have contributed to at least four deaths

Big fee increases for immigrantsOverview | Details | History

Bipartisan farmworker bill passes the House | Fact sheet

Humanitarian aid is never a crime: Dr. Scott Warren was found not guilty on all charges for providing food, water, shelter and medical care to two undocumented men

Public chargeFact sheet | Rule explainer


Root cause corner

A migrant’s journey doesn’t start at the U.S. border. This section highlights a key “root cause” of migration.

Corruption: Like many countries, HondurasGuatemala, and El Salvador suffer from high levels of corruption. Leaders have been implicated in criminal activity and the resulting weakened government systems contribute to poverty and insecurity, driving migration. While there are brave people working for greater transparency, their work faces constant threats. Guatemala’s independent anti-corruption body was shut down this September, and Honduras’ anti-corruption body is at risk, as its mandate expires in January 2020, and  it has not yet been renewed.

 
 

Something migrants miss about home: Tamales

In homes across Central America, Christmas time means time with family and homemade tamales! Have you seen tamales for sale where you live? Learn more.

 

Update created December 20, 2019, by Tammy Alexander, Senior Legislative Associate for Domestic Affairs.

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