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.
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.
Ohio: Holiday card campaign supports detainees (Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA)
Pennsylvania: An undocumented immigrant marked two years in sanctuary in a Philadelphia church by starting a weekly fast (Germantown Mennonite Church)
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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.
- LIRS: How much do you know about asylum seekers?
- This American Life: The out crowd: Reports from the frontlines of the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" asylum policy
- Washington Post: Border Patrol threw away migrants’ belongings. A janitor saved and photographed them
- Washington Post: A Trump Administration strategy led to the child migrant backup crisis at the border
- Delivered to danger: Forced returns to Mexico: At least 636 publicly reported cases of rape, torture, kidnapping & other violent assaults
- Homeland Security Office of Inspector General: DHS lacked technology needed to successfully account for separated migrant families
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.
- ACLU: Death, damage, and failure: Past, present and future impacts of walls on the U.S.-Mexico border
- RGV Equal Voice Network: South Texas tribe defends ancestral burial site from border wall (video)
- Rio Grande Guardian: The border wall threatens my home
- NY Times: Against the myth of ‘No new border walls’: President Trump’s border wall is threatening species and reshaping entire fragile ecosystems
- The Economist: Donald Trump’s wall will irrevocably change America’s south-western border: Is it worth the cost?
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.
Detention: A whistleblower complaint details “grossly negligent” care in immigrant detention centers that may have contributed to at least four deaths
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
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, Honduras, Guatemala, 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.
Jan. 19-26, 2020: Borderlands learning tour
Feb. 9-15, 2020: Borderlands learning tour
Mar. 30 - Apr. 3, 2020: Immigration Law Training
May 17-23, 2020: MCC Great Lakes 2020 Borderlands learning tour, pre-Migrant Trail
May 25-29, 2020: Immigration learning tour for young adult alumni