The more that things change the more they stay the same. With the ongoing Covid-19 threat and the political upheavals under the Trump Administration and now Biden, most immigrants and their families have been in limbo waiting for progress with their cases or at least getting clear direction for the future. Sadly, this does not seem to be changing anytime soon. The new administration seems to be just a continuation of the last.
In a court proceeding on January 19th, the Biden administration defended the use of a controversial Trump-era border policy barring asylum seekers under Title 42. The administration argued it was necessary to have Title 42 to avoid the transmission of Covid-19 in border facilities. The Title 42 policy was invoked at the beginning of the pandemic under the Trump administration and allowed authorities to remove migrants at the southern U.S. border, barring asylum-seekers due to Covid-19 concerns. Last Wednesday’s court proceedings stemmed from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and advocates who were challenging the policy. It does not look like they will be successful in their attempts to end it.
In another surprising move from the Biden administration, the Justice Department continues defending president Trump’s actions arguing that immigrant families who were separated under Trump’s policies do not deserve compensation for the actions of U.S. officials. The Department of Justice (DOJ) argued recently in a Pennsylvania federal court that these families were not entitled to compensation and asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. A similar motion to dismiss was filed in California and it is expected that the DOJ will follow a similar strategy. The DOJ made this move after it had negotiations in December with attorneys representing separated families. The DOJ explained in briefs that it does not condone the Trump-era policy of separating families at the border, yet it argues that the case is about whether migrants can challenge immigration enforcement.
Although started by President Trump, the Biden administration has continued working with Central American governments to try to curb immigration as illegal border crossings continue to increase. Last week a group of 622 migrants headed from Honduras with the hope to reach the U.S. were apprehended in Guatemala. The group was mostly men from Honduras and Nicaragua (with children making up about 25 percent of the group). When the caravan entered Guatemala, authorities used riot shields to keep the group from advancing forward. Guatemala sent the migrants back to their home countries.
Despite the cooperation with Guatemalan government, things are not going so well with the Mexican government’s involvement and this will continue to limit the U.S. government’s success to address the humanitarian crisis. Recently, Mexican immigration agents were linked to corruption in their enforcement of their immigration laws. Mexico’s immigration agency reported that 105 of its agents have been linked to alleged corrupt behavior. The Mexican National Immigration Institute did not explain the corruption in detail, but said it was combatting extortion of migrants which was mostly in the form of border agents demanded bribes to allow people to enter the country.
On January 6th, a group of Venezuelan migrants arrived at the Mexico City airport with no valid entry documents, but they already had $100 bills tucked into their passports as they lined up at immigration checkpoints. Although the Venezuelan migrants were sent back to their country, their behavior highlights that Mexican corruption is well known across Central and South America and any efforts the U.S. takes to stop illegal border crossings will face limited success.
For additional updates on immigration and whether you or your family qualify for any process, please contact our office today to schedule an appointment at 616-805-3435.