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Leaked Border Patrol Memo Tells Agents to Send Migrants Back Immediately — Ignoring Asylum Law

ProPublica reports on an internal memo that orders Border Patrol agents to push the overwhelming majority of migrants back to Mexico, citing little-known power given to the CDC to ban entry of people who might spread disease. ProPublica‘s Dara Lind writes, “For the first time since the enactment of the Refugee Act in 1980, people who come to the United States saying they fear persecution in their home countries are being turned away by Border Patrol agents with no chance to make a legal case for asylum.”

Greyhound will stop allowing immigration checks on buses.

On February 21, Greyhound announced that the company will no longer allow Border Patrol to conduct immigration checks on buses. To facilitate this, Greyhound said it would notify CBP and DHS that it does not consent to searches and train employees on the updated policy. Border Patrol agents who do not have a warrant cannot board the buses without the consent of the company.

CBP will use elite tactical agents in sanctuary cities.

The Trump administration is sending tactical units of border patrol officers to sanctuary cities. These units are normally used to detect smuggling at the border. Specifically, officers are being sent to Chicago and New York, with agents expected in other cities as well. According to an internal CBP email, the tactical agents will be deployed from February through May.

CBP officers were allegedly ordered to stop Iranian or Iranian-born travelers at the Canadian border.

After the drone strike on Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, U.S. border officers at the U.S.-Canadian border were told to stop Iranian travelers for questioning, according to an unnamed officer. Dozens of Americans of Iranian descent were stopped at the port of entry, and some were held for hours and questioned. CBP has so far denied that there was any directive given to officers to target Iranians and said that stories detailing stops were categorically false. The unnamed officer contradicted this and said that the order was in place until the story “hit the national news.” The officer did not provide a copy of the initial directive.

Attorneys reported that the border “tent courts” are not fully open to the public.

Unlike other immigration courts, the makeshift courts in Texas were closed to the public, including human rights observers and attorneys not representing a client. Recently, the U.S. government agreed to open up the courts. However, attorneys and advocates are saying that not all proceedings have actually been made public. They complained that the Trump administration is adjudicating individual merits hearings for asylum seekers inside the Fort Worth Immigration Adjudication Center, which is closed to the public. Senior Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Lawyers Association called this practice “clearly intentional…The agency is trying to operate these cases in secret.” The practice is particularly concerning because most asylum seekers in these hearings are not represented by an attorney.

A border activist was acquitted of harboring undocumented immigrants in Arizona.

Two Central American men were staying at a camp run by a humanitarian group in Arizona. This lead to the arrest of Scott Warren, the activist running the camp, for allegedly illegally harboring immigrants. After a long battle in court, including a mistrial last year, he was acquitted on Wednesday. The prosecutor argued that Warren was helping the men hide from authorities, while Warren argued that his humanitarian work aims to keep people from dying in the desert, and he was “orienting” the men before they went on their way. In the end, the jury came out in Warren’s favor. After the verdict, the U.S. attorney said that the government would continue to prosecute those who harbor immigrants, whether for money or “a misguided sense of social justice.”

When border patrol officers were tasked with conducting initial asylum interviews, approval rate dropped.

The first step to an asylum application is a credible fear interview, where an asylum seeker has to show they have a credible fear of returning to their home country, which was designed to be a low threshold that many could meet. When border patrol officers began conducting some of these interviews in June, the approval rate dropped sharply. The approval rate for border patrol was 47% compared to the roughly 80% for asylum officers. The move to use border patrol officers for this purpose has been criticized, with asylum officers agreeing that border patrol were trained with an enforcement mindset that is unsuitable for humanitarian work, and it is unfair to both the border patrol and the asylum seekers.

Shuffling Kids Between Border Facilities Won’t Solve the Immigration Crisis

Public and political outrage over the horrific conditions in which children were being held at a Clint, TX, Border Patrol facility prompted immigration officials to remove about 250 children from the facility, 100 of the children were then abruptly sent back. Clara Long of Human Rights Watch said, “CBP custody is inappropriate and abusive for children,” and that children shouldn’t be kept at any of the more than 70 facilities along the border.

Due Process decreased

The new policies “systematically deprive people coming to the United States of due process and the opportunity to apply for legal relief to which they may be entitled under law.”

Guard Faces Tricky Dance in California Border Mission

The Associated Press reports that governors in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas have committed around 2,400 National Guard troops to the southern U.S. border. California Governor Jerry Brown has stated that his National Guard will help go after “drugs and thugs along the Mexican border, but not immigrants,” but experts are skeptical that he will be able to enforce his vision.

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