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Westlake Legal Group > Illegal Immigration

Meet the Latinos Trying to Get Latinos to the Polls

A record 32 million Latinos are projected to be eligible to vote this November, putting them on track to become the largest minority voting bloc. They are far from single-issue voters, with education, health care, jobs, the economy and immigration all ranking as top concerns.

Democrats are still figuring out how to get Latinos in the party to turn out. They voted at the lowest rate of any minority group in the last four presidential elections, though turnout apparently increased in the 2018 midterms, making them a complicated voting bloc to understand.

Latinos come from more than two dozen countries, and are of varying races, religions and cultures. Trying to find a cohesive message for such a broad and diverse group risks marginalizing some of its members.

That’s why Latino leaders on this year’s Democratic presidential campaigns aren’t doing that. They’re instead trying to understand what Latinidad — or Latino identity — means for themselves and for their work, and to use that understanding to engage their communities.

Latinx outreach coordinator for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_166804338_dc66c38b-bee8-4296-b4b2-e083c4882a81-articleLarge Meet the Latinos Trying to Get Latinos to the Polls Warren, Elizabeth Voting and Voters Sanders, Bernard Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2020 latinx Klobuchar, Amy Illegal Immigration Hispanic-Americans Democratic Party Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

Credit…Jose A. Alvarado Jr. for The New York Times

Like many immigrants brought to the United States when they were young, Jonathan Jayes-Green had a rebellious stage as a teenager, which for him meant moving away from Panamanian culture and embracing American culture instead. He was trying to assimilate and adapt to a new country, culture and language.

“I think it was closer to the end of my high school career then I said, ‘No, actually, I love that Spanish is my first language,’” he said. “I love that I have an accent and that my folks speak a little bit differently.’”

For Mr. Jayes-Green, rediscovering his roots came through embracing and loving dance, music and food. Salsa, merengue, arroz con coco and plátano helped him reconnect with himself, but it was a long journey.

“My experience living at the margins of how Latinidad has been constructed, particularly being Afro-Latinx and queer, makes me fight to make sure we continue to expand it for those who want to be a part of it,” he said.

Finding a way to redefine what it means to be Latino is at the core of Mr. Jayes-Green’s work. And he’s excited to be doing that as part of the movement he sees Elizabeth Warren creating with her campaign.

“What I love when Senator Warren talks about her many plans is that in order to make them be anything beyond a piece of paper, we need a movement,” he said. “We need it to be able to fight for big structural change that we need in our community.”

His job is to make sure that all Latinos have a space at the center of that movement. It was important to him to bring people from the campaign to support him last fall at a Supreme Court hearing over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shielded some young undocumented immigrants from deportation and which the Trump administration is seeking to end. Mr. Jayes-Green is a DACA recipient, also known as a Dreamer.

“It’s how we continue to make space for the Latino movement to be a part of the campaign, but also for the campaign to show up to the movement,” he said. “It’s a two-way street.”

Latinx outreach coordinator for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Laura Jimenez has been listening to a lot of Juan Luis Guerra lately. A lot of “Visa Para un Sueño,” a lot of “Ojalá Que Llueva Café.”

Working directly with her community fills her with pride, and listening to Juan Luis, a merengue and bachata singer considered a Dominican national treasure, brings her back to that work every time.

Ms. Jimenez grew up in the Bronx, but she would spend summers in the Dominican Republic with her father. After high school, she moved to Florida.

“I had to get rid of a lot of accents,” Ms. Jimenez said. “And there was always this feeling that you never fully belonged anywhere.”

It took Ms. Jimenez a long time to love her identity, and it wasn’t until six years ago that she realized that her background was valuable.

“It is my family that is on the line here,” she said. “It’s my community that is being attacked. So this all feels very, very personal every day.”

She learned early on in politics that there would often be only a few Latinos in the room.

“It can be very lonely, especially when you start working in these spaces,” she said. “But you figure out quickly that your voice is important, and if you don’t speak up, that perspective will never be heard.”

But speaking up is essential, Ms. Jimenez said, particularly given the stakes of the 2020 race.

“Trump is using our community to win re-election. He’s demonizing us,” she said. “And because this election is about us, we have to prioritize, as a community, someone who can defeat this man.”

She believes former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will fight for Latinos, and she says he has been reflective over the millions of deportations that happened under the Obama administration. She pointed to his immigration plan as evidence.

“As an immigrant myself, and someone who worked on this plan, I see a lot of things there that will help a lot of people in our community,” she said.

Latino outreach director for Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota

After Edwin Torres came to the United States, his family moved around the Los Angeles area more than 20 times. Sometimes they were homeless. By the time he graduated high school, he had attended more than a dozen public schools.

The American dream his parents were chasing didn’t make sense to him. “I started thinking that this shouldn’t be happening in this country,” he said.

His parents left El Salvador in the 1990s as civil war ravaged the country, and it took seven years to raise enough money to bring Mr. Torres across the border.

They wanted him to have an education, and it wasn’t until he went to college that he learned to appreciate the sacrifices they had made.

Mr. Torres was part of the first wave of Dreamers approved for DACA. He got a full scholarship to Saint John’s University in Minnesota.

“I came into college with a newfound freedom, a freedom that I’ve never tasted before, a freedom that I was validated, that I had a right to be here,” he said.

Last fall, Mr. Torres stood outside the Supreme Court for the hearing on DACA. His status is set to expire this year.

“It was one of those moments where we were shouting and your voice would crack because of how emotional you are,” he said. “I am an American in every single sense but the document.”

Mr. Torres worked on local campaigns in Minnesota before joining Amy Klobuchar’s presidential bid last March. He said he was inspired by her ability to rally support for Democrats up and down the ballot.

“She went the extra mile in 2018 to make sure we flipped the House in Minnesota, which then allowed us to have bigger conversations on licenses for all, and other progressive policies,” he said.

“As an undocumented and unafraid DACA recipient, and as a gay Latino man in America, I want our next president to be able to unify our country.”

Latino press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

During her childhood in Arizona, Belén Sisa felt as if she belonged to the only Argentine family in the state. She wished she had a more normal name, a more normal childhood. She always lay low.

“I grew up in a primarily white, middle-class neighborhood where for the first part of my life I felt really ashamed of not only being an immigrant, but also being undocumented,” she said. “I was just trying to assimilate any way possible, because I wanted to be the same as everyone else.”

It wasn’t until Ms. Sisa was approved for DACA that she felt empowered and safe enough to get involved in politics.

“Whether I was undocumented or documented, that didn’t define me,” she said. “I was still deserving of being able to have a seat at the table.”

She soon found a community of activists and undocumented young people just like her. She became a community organizer in Arizona and eventually moved into electoral politics. Even though she couldn’t vote herself, she wanted to “advocate for other people to be civically engaged, and do so on my behalf.”

She was drawn to Bernie Sanders because of his plans to fight exploitation in the workplace and improve access to education and health care.

“Even in the moments where me and my family had no idea who this man was, he was fighting for us,” she said.

She volunteered for Mr. Sanders during his first presidential run, in 2016, and ended up working with the campaign as a Latino outreach coordinator. She’s now the Latino press secretary for his 2020 campaign.

“It would have been completely unheard-of for someone running to be the next president of the United States to hire an undocumented person for such a visible role, and to trust that person to advocate for your agenda,” she said. “I think that says a lot about where his priorities are.”

California state director for former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.

Cecilia Cabello is a third-generation Angeleno, and each generation lived in a different neighborhood of the city, but not by choice.

Her great-grandparents moved to Los Angeles from New Mexico at the turn of the 20th century. According to family lore, they had a house near what is now Union Station, but they were displaced when the station was built. The family moved to Boyle Heights, until the construction of the 5 Freeway pushed them farther east.

“The story of Latinos in L.A. is really kind of the story of my family,” Ms. Cabello said.

She was raised by her grandmother, who taught her only English. “It wasn’t so much that she was ashamed of who she was, but her trying to protect me from the things that she went through,” Ms. Cabello said.

It wasn’t until Ms. Cabello went to New York for college and then came back a decade later that she reconnected with her Chicano roots. Upon her return to Los Angeles, she was struck by the blatant racism she saw around her. It was a “shock to the system.”

“I had a sheltered childhood in the sense that when you’re only around Latinos and Asian folks, you’re not seeing that kind of disparity,” she said. “That really lit my fire in terms of reconnecting with identity, understanding a lot of Chicano history and Latinos in L.A., and got me kind of politically motivated to do stuff.”

She was drawn to Pete Buttigieg because he reminded her of Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and former President Barack Obama. “I just liked the way he talked about America,” she said.

“What I truly believe in is our founding documents. On paper we’re all equal, but that’s obviously not true, so we have to work until it’s actually true for everyone,” she added. “A lot of what Latinidad is to me is getting that work done.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

After ICE Raids, a Reckoning in Mississippi’s Chicken Country

[Race affects our lives in countless ways. To read more provocative stories on race from The Times, sign up for our Race/Related newsletter here.]

MORTON, Miss. — Juan Grant strode into the Koch Foods chicken processing plant for his new job on a Wednesday morning, joining many other African-Americans in a procession of rubber boots, hairnets and last cigarettes before the grind.

At 20, Mr. Grant was too young to remember the days of a nearly all-white work force in Mississippi’s poultry industry, or the civil rights boycotts and protests that followed. He was too young to have seen how white workers largely moved on after that, leaving the business of killing, cutting and packing to African-Americans.

He did not know the time before Hispanic workers began arriving in the heart of chicken country by the thousands, recruited by plant managers looking to fill low-paying jobs in an expanding industry.

But Mr. Grant clearly remembered Aug. 7, the day the Trump administration performed sweeping immigration raids on seven chicken plants in central Mississippi. He remembered the news flashing on his phone: 680 Hispanic workers arrested. He remembers seeing an opportunity.

“I figured there should be some jobs,” he said.

He figured right.

The raids were believed to be the largest statewide immigration crackdown in recent history and a partial fulfillment of President Trump’s vow to remove millions of undocumented workers from the country. The impact on Mississippi’s immigrant community has been devastating. For nonimmigrant workers, the aftermath has forced them into a personal reckoning with questions of morality and economic self-interest: The raids brought suffering, but they also created job openings.

Some believe that the undocumented workers had it coming. “If you’re somewhere you ain’t supposed to be, they’re going to come get you,” said a worker named Jamaal, who declined to give his full name because Koch Foods had not authorized him to speak. “That’s only right.”

But there was also Shelonda Davis, 35, a 17-year veteran of the plant. She has seen many workers — of all backgrounds — come and go. But she was horrified that so many of her Hispanic colleagues were rounded up. Some of them, she said, wanted to work so badly that they tried to return the next day.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00mississippi-02-articleLarge After ICE Raids, a Reckoning in Mississippi’s Chicken Country Race and Ethnicity Poultry Morton (Miss) Labor and Jobs Koch Foods Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US) Illegal Immigration Hispanic-Americans Foreign Workers Black People

Juan Grant was able to get a job at the Koch Foods plant after the raid, earning about $4 more an hour than his previous work at a cookie factory.Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

“I’m glad that I see my people going to work,” she said of her fellow African-Americans. “But the way they came at the Hispanic race, they act like they’re killing somebody. Still, they were only working, you know?”

Some of the new replacement hires also felt conflicted. While the roundup “gave the American people their jobs back,” said Cortez McClinton, 38, a former construction worker who was hired at the plant hours after the raids, “how they handle the immigration part is that they’re still separating kids from their families.”

Devontae Skinner, 21, denounced the raids one recent morning while finishing up his first turn on the night shift. “Everybody needs a job, needs to work. Provide for their families.”

Then there was Mr. Grant, only two years out of high school and still finding his way in the world. He said it felt good to be earning $11.23 an hour, even if the new job entailed cutting off necks and pulling out guts on a seemingly endless conveyor of carcasses. It was about $4 better, he said, than what he used to earn at a Madison County cookie factory.

But he also called the raids “cruel” and “mean.” There were moments when the necks and guts and ambivalence and guilt all mixed together so that he wondered whether he wanted to stick with the job.

“It’s like I stole it,” he said, “and I really don’t like what I stole.”

The story of poultry work tracks closely with the 20th-century story of race relations in Mississippi.

White women dominated the lines until the 1960s, when African-Americans pressed for their rights. In Canton, African-Americans called for a boycott of the local chicken plant over its refusal to hire black workers, according to Angela Stuesse, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina and author of the 2016 book “Scratching out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South.”

By the end of the 1960s, black workers predominated on the lines.

It was an important win for African-Americans looking for an alternative to housework in wealthy white homes, or for those who had seen fieldwork dry up in an increasingly mechanized agricultural sector.

“The chicken plant,” Dr. Stuesse quoted a civil rights veteran saying, “replaced the cotton field.”

But as American chicken consumption boomed in the 1980s, manufacturers went in search of “cheaper and more exploitable workers,” Dr. Stuesse wrote, chiefly Latin American immigrants.

At the time, the Koch plant in Morton was owned by a local company, B.C. Rogers Poultry, which organized efforts to recruit Hispanics from the Texas border as early as 1977. Soon, the company was operating a sizable effort it called “The Hispanic Project,” bringing in thousands of workers and housing them in trailers.

A 2016 study on the effects of immigration on the United States economy found that immigration had “little long run effect” on American wages. But some wonder whether Hispanic immigrants displaced black workers in central Mississippi, the heart of the state’s multibillion-dollar chicken industry.

Some black Mississippi workers, Dr. Stuesse said, took advantage of less-dangerous new job opportunities in retail, fast food, construction and auto parts. But “an eager pool of black labor did indeed exist,” she wrote, noting that a black labor force moved in when a large number of Hispanics were fired from a Carthage chicken plant in the mid-2000s.

And yet much of the outrage over the August raids has come from leaders in Mississippi’s black community. Constance Slaughter-Harvey, a renowned local lawyer and civil rights activist who was the first black woman to receive a law degree from the University of Mississippi, called the raids a “Gestapo action.”

Wesley Odom, 79, president of the Scott County N.A.A.C.P., spoke of the family members separated — the Hispanic mothers and fathers who remain in custody, as well as the moments, on the day of the raids, when some schoolchildren must have wondered whether they would walk into empty homes.

“The blacks were witness to that same thing as slaves,” he said.

Jere Miles, a special agent in charge with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recently told a congressional committee that the Mississippi raids would deter future illegal immigration. He also said the authorities discovered 400 instances of identity theft that had been perpetrated against legal United States residents. The conservative columnist Henry Olsen, citing high poverty rates and low incomes in the area, argued that the undocumented Mississippi workers were taking jobs from Americans.

Koch Foods representatives did not return requests for comment. The company, which has said it did not knowingly hire undocumented workers, has challenged the raid on its Morton plant in federal court, calling it an “illegal search” and demanding the return of seized property and records.

Bryan Cox, a spokesman for ICE, said there was a continuing criminal investigation into the operation and hiring practices at all of the Mississippi plants. No executives from the targeted companies have been charged.

The Koch Foods plant is in the heart of Morton, a rural community with about 3,600 residents, about a quarter of whom are Hispanic. The parking lot at shift change can feel like the most social place in town, outside of church and school sporting events.

A sleepy clutch of downtown blocks hugs the opposite side of the highway. There are a few fast-food places, trailers and ranch houses, and several markets and businesses that cater to what has been for several decades a growing Hispanic population. A smaller chicken processing plant, owned by the company PH Food, was also raided in August.

Sometimes the smell of chicken hangs over the place. But the longtime residents hardly notice anymore. “Of course, the joke in Mississippi is that’s the smell of money,” said David Livingston, a real estate appraiser who grew up in town.

Today, the unknowable future for the Hispanic workers and their families hangs heavy over Morton and the nearby city of Forest, the county seat roughly a 15-minute drive away. Signs of pain and fear are everywhere; most of the people affected declined to give their full names for fear of government retribution.

On a recent afternoon in a quiet Latin grocery, an undocumented 46-year-old woman named Mariela said she had no choice but to shut down the taco truck she once stationed at a workplace that had been raided. She burst into tears as she realized she was unable to afford a basket of cilantro, radishes and pumpkin seeds.

At the Trinity Mission Center, a church in Forest that serves as a crisis response center, a man who was swept up in the raids stood by his van, rifling through confusing legal papers, unsure of his next court date. The man, Victoriano Simon-Gomez, 32, said he had a disabled child and was afraid she would receive insufficient care if he was forced to return to Guatemala.

At the church entrance, a 31-year-old Guatemalan mother of two named Eva waited to pick up a donated lunch. She had been detained at a chicken plant in Carthage and was wearing an electronic ankle monitor, now a common sight around Scott County. She referred to it as “la grilleta” — “the shackle.” She said she was going to fight to remain in the United States with her children, 13 and 9, who are American citizens.

She knew it was going to be difficult. “The president doesn’t want us here,” she said. But she said she harbored no ill will toward the people who have taken jobs like hers. “I’m not mad.”

More than one-third of the 680 arrested workers across Mississippi were picked up at the Koch plant in Morton. In an affidavit taken a few weeks after the raid, Robert H. Elrod, a vice president of human resources, said 272 of the 1,170 employees there were Hispanic.

Marquese Parks, who works for a staffing agency that helped Koch Foods find new employees after the raids, said applicants included “a lot of African-American, a lot of white, Caucasian. Latinos, not so much.”

He said potential hires were being subjected to strict identification checks.

Mr. Parks, who is black and grew up in Morton, said he never wanted to work in the chicken plants. He went away to college but later found himself in the industry anyway, first as a poultry supervisor and now at the staffing agency. He said he did not know how long the new non-Hispanic recruits would last on the job.

“I honestly don’t think they will stay because of the simple fact that the jobs are that hard,” said Mr. Parks, 28. “It’s something they didn’t see themselves doing growing up. Something they don’t want to do.”

But the opportunity to earn more than $11 an hour can still turn heads in this part of Mississippi. Mr. Grant was not the only person to jump at the chance the raids provided. Niah Hill, manager of the Sonic Drive-In in Morton, said 10 of her workers quit soon after the raid at Koch Foods.

“When they heard about the raids they all went over there and got jobs right away,” Ms. Hill said. Carhops at this Sonic make $4.25 an hour — three dollars less than the state’s minimum wage — plus tips, she said.

Yet the belief that native-born Americans are not sufficiently motivated to work persists, even among some African-Americans. Jeff White, a Morton-based builder and rental property owner, said so many chicken plant jobs became available in the 1980s because American-born residents “didn’t want to work, period.”

He added that he quickly learned he was not chicken plant material after landing a job at one shortly after high school. “I worked there three hours and 20 minutes,” he said, chuckling. “I didn’t even get the check. It’s too hard.”

For a while, Juan Grant said the hard work was worth it. With his better wage, he was starting to finally save a little. He talked about buying a used Honda, and about getting serious with his girlfriend.

But Morton was 75 miles from his trailer home in rural Holmes County, and after a while it proved to be too much. He showed up late one too many times, and in November, he said, Koch let him go.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

After ICE Raids, a Reckoning in Mississippi’s Chicken Country

[Race affects our lives in countless ways. To read more provocative stories on race from The Times, sign up for our Race/Related newsletter here.]

MORTON, Miss. — Juan Grant strode into the Koch Foods chicken processing plant for his new job on a Wednesday morning, joining many other African-Americans in a procession of rubber boots, hairnets and last cigarettes before the grind.

At 20, Mr. Grant was too young to remember the days of a nearly all-white work force in Mississippi’s poultry industry, or the civil rights boycotts and protests that followed. He was too young to have seen how white workers largely moved on after that, leaving the business of killing, cutting and packing to African-Americans.

He did not know the time before Hispanic workers began arriving in the heart of chicken country by the thousands, recruited by plant managers looking to fill low-paying jobs in an expanding industry.

But Mr. Grant clearly remembered Aug. 7, the day the Trump administration performed sweeping immigration raids on seven chicken plants in central Mississippi. He remembered the news flashing on his phone: 680 Hispanic workers arrested. He remembers seeing an opportunity.

“I figured there should be some jobs,” he said.

He figured right.

The raids were believed to be the largest statewide immigration crackdown in recent history and a partial fulfillment of President Trump’s vow to remove millions of undocumented workers from the country. The impact on Mississippi’s immigrant community has been devastating. For nonimmigrant workers, the aftermath has forced them into a personal reckoning with questions of morality and economic self-interest: The raids brought suffering, but they also created job openings.

Some believe that the undocumented workers had it coming. “If you’re somewhere you ain’t supposed to be, they’re going to come get you,” said a worker named Jamaal, who declined to give his full name because Koch Foods had not authorized him to speak. “That’s only right.”

But there was also Shelonda Davis, 35, a 17-year veteran of the plant. She has seen many workers — of all backgrounds — come and go. But she was horrified that so many of her Hispanic colleagues were rounded up. Some of them, she said, wanted to work so badly that they tried to return the next day.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00mississippi-02-articleLarge After ICE Raids, a Reckoning in Mississippi’s Chicken Country Race and Ethnicity Poultry Morton (Miss) Labor and Jobs Koch Foods Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US) Illegal Immigration Hispanic-Americans Foreign Workers Black People

Juan Grant was able to get a job at the Koch Foods plant after the raid, earning about $4 more an hour than his previous work at a cookie factory.Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

“I’m glad that I see my people going to work,” she said of her fellow African-Americans. “But the way they came at the Hispanic race, they act like they’re killing somebody. Still, they were only working, you know?”

Some of the new replacement hires also felt conflicted. While the roundup “gave the American people their jobs back,” said Cortez McClinton, 38, a former construction worker who was hired at the plant hours after the raids, “how they handle the immigration part is that they’re still separating kids from their families.”

Devontae Skinner, 21, denounced the raids one recent morning while finishing up his first turn on the night shift. “Everybody needs a job, needs to work. Provide for their families.”

Then there was Mr. Grant, only two years out of high school and still finding his way in the world. He said it felt good to be earning $11.23 an hour, even if the new job entailed cutting off necks and pulling out guts on a seemingly endless conveyor of carcasses. It was about $4 better, he said, than what he used to earn at a Madison County cookie factory.

But he also called the raids “cruel” and “mean.” There were moments when the necks and guts and ambivalence and guilt all mixed together so that he wondered whether he wanted to stick with the job.

“It’s like I stole it,” he said, “and I really don’t like what I stole.”

The story of poultry work tracks closely with the 20th-century story of race relations in Mississippi.

White women dominated the lines until the 1960s, when African-Americans pressed for their rights. In Canton, African-Americans called for a boycott of the local chicken plant over its refusal to hire black workers, according to Angela Stuesse, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina and author of the 2016 book “Scratching out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South.”

By the end of the 1960s, black workers predominated on the lines.

It was an important win for African-Americans looking for an alternative to housework in wealthy white homes, or for those who had seen fieldwork dry up in an increasingly mechanized agricultural sector.

“The chicken plant,” Dr. Stuesse quoted a civil rights veteran saying, “replaced the cotton field.”

But as American chicken consumption boomed in the 1980s, manufacturers went in search of “cheaper and more exploitable workers,” Dr. Stuesse wrote, chiefly Latin American immigrants.

At the time, the Koch plant in Morton was owned by a local company, B.C. Rogers Poultry, which organized efforts to recruit Hispanics from the Texas border as early as 1977. Soon, the company was operating a sizable effort it called “The Hispanic Project,” bringing in thousands of workers and housing them in trailers.

A 2016 study on the effects of immigration on the United States economy found that immigration had “little long run effect” on American wages. But some wonder whether Hispanic immigrants displaced black workers in central Mississippi, the heart of the state’s multibillion-dollar chicken industry.

Some black Mississippi workers, Dr. Stuesse said, took advantage of less-dangerous new job opportunities in retail, fast food, construction and auto parts. But “an eager pool of black labor did indeed exist,” she wrote, noting that a black labor force moved in when a large number of Hispanics were fired from a Carthage chicken plant in the mid-2000s.

And yet much of the outrage over the August raids has come from leaders in Mississippi’s black community. Constance Slaughter-Harvey, a renowned local lawyer and civil rights activist who was the first black woman to receive a law degree from the University of Mississippi, called the raids a “Gestapo action.”

Wesley Odom, 79, president of the Scott County N.A.A.C.P., spoke of the family members separated — the Hispanic mothers and fathers who remain in custody, as well as the moments, on the day of the raids, when some schoolchildren must have wondered whether they would walk into empty homes.

“The blacks were witness to that same thing as slaves,” he said.

Jere Miles, a special agent in charge with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recently told a congressional committee that the Mississippi raids would deter future illegal immigration. He also said the authorities discovered 400 instances of identity theft that had been perpetrated against legal United States residents. The conservative columnist Henry Olsen, citing high poverty rates and low incomes in the area, argued that the undocumented Mississippi workers were taking jobs from Americans.

Koch Foods representatives did not return requests for comment. The company, which has said it did not knowingly hire undocumented workers, has challenged the raid on its Morton plant in federal court, calling it an “illegal search” and demanding the return of seized property and records.

Bryan Cox, a spokesman for ICE, said there was a continuing criminal investigation into the operation and hiring practices at all of the Mississippi plants. No executives from the targeted companies have been charged.

The Koch Foods plant is in the heart of Morton, a rural community with about 3,600 residents, about a quarter of whom are Hispanic. The parking lot at shift change can feel like the most social place in town, outside of church and school sporting events.

A sleepy clutch of downtown blocks hugs the opposite side of the highway. There are a few fast-food places, trailers and ranch houses, and several markets and businesses that cater to what has been for several decades a growing Hispanic population. A smaller chicken processing plant, owned by the company PH Food, was also raided in August.

Sometimes the smell of chicken hangs over the place. But the longtime residents hardly notice anymore. “Of course, the joke in Mississippi is that’s the smell of money,” said David Livingston, a real estate appraiser who grew up in town.

Today, the unknowable future for the Hispanic workers and their families hangs heavy over Morton and the nearby city of Forest, the county seat roughly a 15-minute drive away. Signs of pain and fear are everywhere; most of the people affected declined to give their full names for fear of government retribution.

On a recent afternoon in a quiet Latin grocery, an undocumented 46-year-old woman named Mariela said she had no choice but to shut down the taco truck she once stationed at a workplace that had been raided. She burst into tears as she realized she was unable to afford a basket of cilantro, radishes and pumpkin seeds.

At the Trinity Mission Center, a church in Forest that serves as a crisis response center, a man who was swept up in the raids stood by his van, rifling through confusing legal papers, unsure of his next court date. The man, Victoriano Simon-Gomez, 32, said he had a disabled child and was afraid she would receive insufficient care if he was forced to return to Guatemala.

At the church entrance, a 31-year-old Guatemalan mother of two named Eva waited to pick up a donated lunch. She had been detained at a chicken plant in Carthage and was wearing an electronic ankle monitor, now a common sight around Scott County. She referred to it as “la grilleta” — “the shackle.” She said she was going to fight to remain in the United States with her children, 13 and 9, who are American citizens.

She knew it was going to be difficult. “The president doesn’t want us here,” she said. But she said she harbored no ill will toward the people who have taken jobs like hers. “I’m not mad.”

More than one-third of the 680 arrested workers across Mississippi were picked up at the Koch plant in Morton. In an affidavit taken a few weeks after the raid, Robert H. Elrod, a vice president of human resources, said 272 of the 1,170 employees there were Hispanic.

Marquese Parks, who works for a staffing agency that helped Koch Foods find new employees after the raids, said applicants included “a lot of African-American, a lot of white, Caucasian. Latinos, not so much.”

He said potential hires were being subjected to strict identification checks.

Mr. Parks, who is black and grew up in Morton, said he never wanted to work in the chicken plants. He went away to college but later found himself in the industry anyway, first as a poultry supervisor and now at the staffing agency. He said he did not know how long the new non-Hispanic recruits would last on the job.

“I honestly don’t think they will stay because of the simple fact that the jobs are that hard,” said Mr. Parks, 28. “It’s something they didn’t see themselves doing growing up. Something they don’t want to do.”

But the opportunity to earn more than $11 an hour can still turn heads in this part of Mississippi. Mr. Grant was not the only person to jump at the chance the raids provided. Niah Hill, manager of the Sonic Drive-In in Morton, said 10 of her workers quit soon after the raid at Koch Foods.

“When they heard about the raids they all went over there and got jobs right away,” Ms. Hill said. Carhops at this Sonic make $4.25 an hour — three dollars less than the state’s minimum wage — plus tips, she said.

Yet the belief that native-born Americans are not sufficiently motivated to work persists, even among some African-Americans. Jeff White, a Morton-based builder and rental property owner, said so many chicken plant jobs became available in the 1980s because American-born residents “didn’t want to work, period.”

He added that he quickly learned he was not chicken plant material after landing a job at one shortly after high school. “I worked there three hours and 20 minutes,” he said, chuckling. “I didn’t even get the check. It’s too hard.”

For a while, Juan Grant said the hard work was worth it. With his better wage, he was starting to finally save a little. He talked about buying a used Honda, and about getting serious with his girlfriend.

But Morton was 75 miles from his trailer home in rural Holmes County, and after a while it proved to be too much. He showed up late one too many times, and in November, he said, Koch let him go.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A Barrier to Trump’s Border Wall: Landowners in Texas

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-wall1-facebookJumbo A Barrier to Trump’s Border Wall: Landowners in Texas Trump, Donald J Land Use Policies Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Eminent Domain Border Barriers

PROGRESO, Texas — Two days after giving the federal government his signature, Richard Drawe paused with his wife and mother on a levee that his family has owned for nearly a century to watch the cranes and roseate spoonbills.

A border wall that he reluctantly agreed to put on his land will soon divide this Texan family from the whole scene: the levee, a lake, an onion field and all of those birds.

Mr. Drawe, 69, doubts the wall will do much to stop illegal immigration, and though he supports the president who ordered it, he believes that the construction will “ruin” his life. But selling the land early on seemed better and cheaper than facing the government in court, only to have it take the land anyway, he reasoned. The wall, the lights and the roads will be built on about a dozen acres that his grandfather bought in the 1920s, and that will cut him off from the priceless views of the Rio Grande that he cherishes.

“We just finally gave up,” he said. “If they offered me a million dollars to build the wall, I would refuse it if I knew they wouldn’t build it. I don’t want the money. This is my life here.”

The White House is hoping more landowners along the border will make the same decision — and help President Trump deliver on his campaign promise to build 450 miles of new border wall by 2021.

The list of challenges still facing Mr. Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall include an investigation into construction contracts, funding delays and a recent legal decision blocking emergency access to Defense Department funds to build it. The nationwide injunction has, for now, curtailed wall work on 175 miles in Laredo and El Paso, Texas; in Yuma, Ariz.; and El Centro, Calif.

But access to private land like Mr. Drawe’s may be the tallest barrier standing between the president and his wall.

The administration has thus far only built 93 miles of the new wall, nearly all of it on federal land where dilapidated barriers existed or vehicle barriers once stood, according to Customs and Border Protection. The border wall’s final path is not yet set, but 162 miles of it will run through Southern Texas, and 144 miles of that is privately owned, according to the border agency. The Trump administration has acquired just three miles since 2017.

Throughout Mr. Trump’s first term, the White House has pushed the Department of Homeland Security to speed wall construction, an effort that has been led most recently by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. As the sense of urgency has grown, Mr. Trump — no stranger to the powers of eminent domain — has suggested during meetings to “take the land” of private landowners.

The law is on the administration’s side. Eminent domain lawyers and scholars said in interviews that landowners along the border have limited options once they receive a request from the government.

They can voluntarily allow the authorities to access and survey their land and, if officials decide they want it, accept the government’s offer. Or they can be taken to court where they can argue for higher compensation.

But under the law, even before the landowners are paid in full, the government can begin construction.

By using eminent domain powers, federal lawyers can argue in court that the construction of the wall is an emergency, which almost always results in the court granting the government physical possession of the land, according to Efrén C. Olivares, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project. The government can then begin building — even as landowners litigate for full pay for years.

“It’s like agreeing to sell your house, but only after do you agree on a set price,” Mr. Olivares said.

The United States brought more than 300 cases against landowners for their property after President George W. Bush signed a bill to begin installing fencing along the border in 2006, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project. Just 46 of those cases are still ongoing. The government reached a settlement to acquire the land of most of the other property owners, and some of that fencing is now turning into a more substantial wall. Many landowners voluntarily let the government access their lands, Justice Department officials said.

The Trump administration has picked up where the Bush administration left off, filing 48 lawsuits to survey and begin work on other parcels of property.

“They’re going to acquire the land for their wall, whether you negotiate with them upfront or they end up filing a lawsuit and taking it by a declaration of taking,” said Roy Brandys, an attorney specializing in eminent domain who represented Mr. Drawe.

Adding to the heartache is where the wall is actually going. The construction is not on the border, which runs along the Rio Grande. It is well within the U.S. side. Mr. Drawe will lose easy access to the land between the wall and the river — about 350 of his 525 acres. The government has agreed to pay him about $42,000 for the 12 acres that the wall will be built on and about $197,000 to compensate for depressing the value of his farm, Mr. Drawe said. Gates are supposed to provide access to his property south of the wall.

By Mr. Drawe’s reckoning, that might be of limited value. He has found packages of drugs on his farm before, he said, and is concerned that the cartel members Mr. Trump cites as the reason for the construction will take control of all the land south of the wall.

“If the wall goes up,” Mr. Drawe said, “it will be the new border.”

Becky Jones is preparing for a fight. The administration recently sent Ms. Jones, 69, and her family a letter saying that they were preparing to take them to court if they did not allow the government to survey their farmland for border wall construction.

For Ms. Jones, the construction undercuts language in Congress’s 2019 spending bill that said land within the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge adjacent to her property would be exempt from the wall. She said the construction, which will run on the road alongside the refuge, will harm the wildlife she grew up admiring.

“Forget deplorable Americans,” she said, “you’re disposable Americans if you happen to be on the south side of the wall.”

Ms. Jones and Mr. Drawe said they support Customs and Border Protection and border security. They just wish the administration would focus on changing the nation’s immigration laws, adding agents and paying for technology to monitor the border instead of building an ineffective wall.

To prove that point, Mr. Drawe produced a wooden ladder that he said was left abandoned by migrants in his fields near an old section of border wall. Earlier this month, a video of a migrant using such a ladder to scale one side of the newly constructed wall and slide down to El Centro, Calif., went viral.

Customs and Border Protection officials said the video showed the wall worked as planned: It slowed the migrant down long enough for agents to arrest the 16-year-old Mexican teenager.

Officials with the Border Patrol said they are similarly not worried about migrants using power tools to cut through the wall. Despite Mr. Trump’s boast of a “virtually impenetrable” barrier, Customs and Border Protection officials know full well breaches are coming and have lined up repair money from a $107 million infrastructure fund.

“When we see that this country is at the crisis that it’s in, we need to take steps that may not be popular with everybody,” said Carmen Qualia, the Rio Grande Valley assistant chief patrol agent. “But our responsibility has not changed.”

In fact, the reality at the border has changed since Mr. Trump declared a national emergency.

His administration has severely limited the American asylum program, forcing more than 55,000 migrants to wait in Mexico for the duration of their cases. It has signed deals that return families back to Central America and limited the number of families that are released into the public with notice to return to immigration court.

Those policies and colder weather have pushed down arrests at the border by more than 70 percent since May, the height of the crossings this year, to 42,649 in November. And the demographics of those crossing are shifting from Central American families to Mexicans, who are easier to deport.

And while many of the migrant families surrendered to agents to request asylum last spring, agents along the border said they’re preparing to see individuals take a more dangerous route to the United States as a result of Mr. Trump’s strict policies.

In the past three months, agents have found migrants hiding in a tractor-trailer in Texas and others hiding in furniture and washing machines in San Diego.

A 29-foot unfinished tunnel extending into Mexico was found in Nogales, Ariz. Immigration and Customs Enforcement found two pounds of heroin in another tunnel in the city in recent days. Customs and Border Protection intercepted $500,000 worth of methamphetamine and fentanyl on a remote-controlled ultralight plane in Tucson in May.

“It’s almost like the wall is obsolete at that point,” said Michael Maldonado, the 30-year-old son of Pamela Rivas, a landowner who has been fighting the government in court for 11 years.

The federal government in 2008 took Ms. Rivas to court to acquire portions of her land, which surrounds the Los Ebanos, Texas, port of entry to Mexico. Ms. Rivas has refused to agree to a payment, hoping her intransigence will delay the government’s plans.

The government has not begun construction on her property yet, but it has secured possession of some of it, meaning the project can begin at any point, according to her attorney, Mr. Olivares.

Border Patrol agents regularly travel the dusty area, driving past the Rivas family’s dilapidated shack that used to operate as a souvenir store for tourists. The land has been the family’s since 1890, and they have so far outlasted the efforts of two presidents.

“The longer that we can endure it, maybe something might change,” Mr. Maldonado said. “Maybe a new administration comes in and says, ‘you know, we’re not going to deal with this.’”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A Barrier to Trump’s Border Wall: Landowners in Texas

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-wall1-facebookJumbo A Barrier to Trump’s Border Wall: Landowners in Texas Trump, Donald J Land Use Policies Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Eminent Domain Border Barriers

PROGRESO, Texas — Two days after giving the federal government his signature, Richard Drawe paused with his wife and mother on a levee that his family has owned for nearly a century to watch the cranes and roseate spoonbills.

A border wall that he reluctantly agreed to put on his land will soon divide this Texan family from the whole scene: the levee, a lake, an onion field and all of those birds.

Mr. Drawe, 69, doubts the wall will do much to stop illegal immigration, and though he supports the president who ordered it, he believes that the construction will “ruin” his life. But selling the land early on seemed better and cheaper than facing the government in court, only to have it take the land anyway, he reasoned. The wall, the lights and the roads will be built on about a dozen acres that his grandfather bought in the 1920s, and that will cut him off from the priceless views of the Rio Grande that he cherishes.

“We just finally gave up,” he said. “If they offered me a million dollars to build the wall, I would refuse it if I knew they wouldn’t build it. I don’t want the money. This is my life here.”

The White House is hoping more landowners along the border will make the same decision — and help President Trump deliver on his campaign promise to build 450 miles of new border wall by 2021.

The list of challenges still facing Mr. Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall include an investigation into construction contracts, funding delays and a recent legal decision blocking emergency access to Defense Department funds to build it. The nationwide injunction has, for now, curtailed wall work on 175 miles in Laredo and El Paso, Texas; in Yuma, Ariz.; and El Centro, Calif.

But access to private land like Mr. Drawe’s may be the tallest barrier standing between the president and his wall.

The administration has thus far only built 93 miles of the new wall, nearly all of it on federal land where dilapidated barriers existed or vehicle barriers once stood, according to Customs and Border Protection. The border wall’s final path is not yet set, but 162 miles of it will run through Southern Texas, and 144 miles of that is privately owned, according to the border agency. The Trump administration has acquired just three miles since 2017.

Throughout Mr. Trump’s first term, the White House has pushed the Department of Homeland Security to speed wall construction, an effort that has been led most recently by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. As the sense of urgency has grown, Mr. Trump — no stranger to the powers of eminent domain — has suggested during meetings to “take the land” of private landowners.

The law is on the administration’s side. Eminent domain lawyers and scholars said in interviews that landowners along the border have limited options once they receive a request from the government.

They can voluntarily allow the authorities to access and survey their land and, if officials decide they want it, accept the government’s offer. Or they can be taken to court where they can argue for higher compensation.

But under the law, even before the landowners are paid in full, the government can begin construction.

By using eminent domain powers, federal lawyers can argue in court that the construction of the wall is an emergency, which almost always results in the court granting the government physical possession of the land, according to Efrén C. Olivares, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project. The government can then begin building — even as landowners litigate for full pay for years.

“It’s like agreeing to sell your house, but only after do you agree on a set price,” Mr. Olivares said.

The United States brought more than 300 cases against landowners for their property after President George W. Bush signed a bill to begin installing fencing along the border in 2006, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project. Just 46 of those cases are still ongoing. The government reached a settlement to acquire the land of most of the other property owners, and some of that fencing is now turning into a more substantial wall. Many landowners voluntarily let the government access their lands, Justice Department officials said.

The Trump administration has picked up where the Bush administration left off, filing 48 lawsuits to survey and begin work on other parcels of property.

“They’re going to acquire the land for their wall, whether you negotiate with them upfront or they end up filing a lawsuit and taking it by a declaration of taking,” said Roy Brandys, an attorney specializing in eminent domain who represented Mr. Drawe.

Adding to the heartache is where the wall is actually going. The construction is not on the border, which runs along the Rio Grande. It is well within the U.S. side. Mr. Drawe will lose easy access to the land between the wall and the river — about 350 of his 525 acres. The government has agreed to pay him about $42,000 for the 12 acres that the wall will be built on and about $197,000 to compensate for depressing the value of his farm, Mr. Drawe said. Gates are supposed to provide access to his property south of the wall.

By Mr. Drawe’s reckoning, that might be of limited value. He has found packages of drugs on his farm before, he said, and is concerned that the cartel members Mr. Trump cites as the reason for the construction will take control of all the land south of the wall.

“If the wall goes up,” Mr. Drawe said, “it will be the new border.”

Becky Jones is preparing for a fight. The administration recently sent Ms. Jones, 69, and her family a letter saying that they were preparing to take them to court if they did not allow the government to survey their farmland for border wall construction.

For Ms. Jones, the construction undercuts language in Congress’s 2019 spending bill that said land within the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge adjacent to her property would be exempt from the wall. She said the construction, which will run on the road alongside the refuge, will harm the wildlife she grew up admiring.

“Forget deplorable Americans,” she said, “you’re disposable Americans if you happen to be on the south side of the wall.”

Ms. Jones and Mr. Drawe said they support Customs and Border Protection and border security. They just wish the administration would focus on changing the nation’s immigration laws, adding agents and paying for technology to monitor the border instead of building an ineffective wall.

To prove that point, Mr. Drawe produced a wooden ladder that he said was left abandoned by migrants in his fields near an old section of border wall. Earlier this month, a video of a migrant using such a ladder to scale one side of the newly constructed wall and slide down to El Centro, Calif., went viral.

Customs and Border Protection officials said the video showed the wall worked as planned: It slowed the migrant down long enough for agents to arrest the 16-year-old Mexican teenager.

Officials with the Border Patrol said they are similarly not worried about migrants using power tools to cut through the wall. Despite Mr. Trump’s boast of a “virtually impenetrable” barrier, Customs and Border Protection officials know full well breaches are coming and have lined up repair money from a $107 million infrastructure fund.

“When we see that this country is at the crisis that it’s in, we need to take steps that may not be popular with everybody,” said Carmen Qualia, the Rio Grande Valley assistant chief patrol agent. “But our responsibility has not changed.”

In fact, the reality at the border has changed since Mr. Trump declared a national emergency.

His administration has severely limited the American asylum program, forcing more than 55,000 migrants to wait in Mexico for the duration of their cases. It has signed deals that return families back to Central America and limited the number of families that are released into the public with notice to return to immigration court.

Those policies and colder weather have pushed down arrests at the border by more than 70 percent since May, the height of the crossings this year, to 42,649 in November. And the demographics of those crossing are shifting from Central American families to Mexicans, who are easier to deport.

And while many of the migrant families surrendered to agents to request asylum last spring, agents along the border said they’re preparing to see individuals take a more dangerous route to the United States as a result of Mr. Trump’s strict policies.

In the past three months, agents have found migrants hiding in a tractor-trailer in Texas and others hiding in furniture and washing machines in San Diego.

A 29-foot unfinished tunnel extending into Mexico was found in Nogales, Ariz. Immigration and Customs Enforcement found two pounds of heroin in another tunnel in the city in recent days. Customs and Border Protection intercepted $500,000 worth of methamphetamine and fentanyl on a remote-controlled ultralight plane in Tucson in May.

“It’s almost like the wall is obsolete at that point,” said Michael Maldonado, the 30-year-old son of Pamela Rivas, a landowner who has been fighting the government in court for 11 years.

The federal government in 2008 took Ms. Rivas to court to acquire portions of her land, which surrounds the Los Ebanos, Texas, port of entry to Mexico. Ms. Rivas has refused to agree to a payment, hoping her intransigence will delay the government’s plans.

The government has not begun construction on her property yet, but it has secured possession of some of it, meaning the project can begin at any point, according to her attorney, Mr. Olivares.

Border Patrol agents regularly travel the dusty area, driving past the Rivas family’s dilapidated shack that used to operate as a souvenir store for tourists. The land has been the family’s since 1890, and they have so far outlasted the efforts of two presidents.

“The longer that we can endure it, maybe something might change,” Mr. Maldonado said. “Maybe a new administration comes in and says, ‘you know, we’re not going to deal with this.’ ”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

On Border, Trump Moves to Build His Wall One Landowner at a Time

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-wall1-facebookJumbo On Border, Trump Moves to Build His Wall One Landowner at a Time Trump, Donald J Land Use Policies Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Eminent Domain Border Barriers

PROGRESO, Texas — Two days after giving the federal government his signature, Richard Drawe paused with his wife and mother on a levee that his family has owned for nearly a century to watch the cranes and roseate spoonbills.

A border wall that he reluctantly agreed to put on his land will soon divide this Texan family from the whole scene: the levee, a lake, an onion field and all of those birds.

Mr. Drawe, 69, doubts the wall will do much to stop illegal immigration, and though he supports the president who ordered it, he believes that the construction will “ruin” his life. But selling the land early on seemed better and cheaper than facing the government in court, only to have it take the land anyway, he reasoned. The wall, the lights and the roads will be built on about a dozen acres that his grandfather bought in the 1920s, and that will cut him off from the priceless views of the Rio Grande that he cherishes.

“We just finally gave up,” he said. “If they offered me a million dollars to build the wall, I would refuse it if I knew they wouldn’t build it. I don’t want the money. This is my life here.”

The White House is hoping more landowners along the border will make the same decision — and help President Trump deliver on his campaign promise to build 450 miles of new border wall by 2021.

The list of challenges still facing Mr. Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall include an investigation into construction contracts, funding delays and a recent legal decision blocking emergency access to Defense Department funds to build it. The nationwide injunction has, for now, curtailed wall work on 175 miles in Laredo and El Paso, Texas; in Yuma, Ariz.; and El Centro, Calif.

But access to private land like Mr. Drawe’s may be the tallest barrier standing between the president and his wall.

The administration has thus far only built 93 miles of the new wall, nearly all of it on federal land where dilapidated barriers existed or vehicle barriers once stood, according to Customs and Border Protection. The border wall’s final path is not yet set, but 162 miles of it will run through Southern Texas, and 144 miles of that is privately owned, according to the border agency. The Trump administration has acquired just three miles since 2017.

Throughout Mr. Trump’s first term, the White House has pushed the Department of Homeland Security to speed wall construction, an effort that has been led most recently by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. As the sense of urgency has grown, Mr. Trump — no stranger to the powers of eminent domain — has suggested during meetings to “take the land” of private landowners.

The law is on the administration’s side. Eminent domain lawyers and scholars said in interviews that landowners along the border have limited options once they receive a request from the government.

They can voluntarily allow the authorities to access and survey their land and, if officials decide they want it, accept the government’s offer. Or they can be taken to court where they can argue for higher compensation.

But under the law, even before the landowners are paid in full, the government can begin construction.

By using eminent domain powers, federal lawyers can argue in court that the construction of the wall is an emergency, which almost always results in the court granting the government physical possession of the land, according to Efrén C. Olivares, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project. The government can then begin building — even as landowners litigate for full pay for years.

“It’s like agreeing to sell your house, but only after do you agree on a set price,” Mr. Olivares said.

The United States brought more than 300 cases against landowners for their property after President George W. Bush signed a bill to begin installing fencing along the border in 2006, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project. Just 46 of those cases are still ongoing. The government reached a settlement to acquire the land of most of the other property owners, and some of that fencing is now turning into a more substantial wall. Many landowners voluntarily let the government access their lands, Justice Department officials said.

The Trump administration has picked up where the Bush administration left off, filing 48 lawsuits to survey and begin work on other parcels of property.

“They’re going to acquire the land for their wall, whether you negotiate with them upfront or they end up filing a lawsuit and taking it by a declaration of taking,” said Roy Brandys, an attorney specializing in eminent domain who represented Mr. Drawe.

Adding to the heartache is where the wall is actually going. The construction is not on the border, which runs along the Rio Grande. It is well within the U.S. side. Mr. Drawe will lose easy access to the land between the wall and the river — about 350 of his 525 acres. The government has agreed to pay him about $42,000 for the 12 acres that the wall will be built on and about $197,000 to compensate for depressing the value of his farm, Mr. Drawe said. Gates are supposed to provide access to his property south of the wall.

By Mr. Drawe’s reckoning, that might be of limited value. He has found packages of drugs on his farm before, he said, and is concerned that the cartel members Mr. Trump cites as the reason for the construction will take control of all the land south of the wall.

“If the wall goes up,” Mr. Drawe said, “it will be the new border.”

Becky Jones is preparing for a fight. The administration recently sent Ms. Jones, 69, and her family a letter saying that they were preparing to take them to court if they did not allow the government to survey their farmland for border wall construction.

For Ms. Jones, the construction undercuts language in Congress’s 2019 spending bill that said land within the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge adjacent to her property would be exempt from the wall. She said the construction, which will run on the road alongside the refuge, will harm the wildlife she grew up admiring.

“Forget deplorable Americans,” she said, “you’re disposable Americans if you happen to be on the south side of the wall.”

Ms. Jones and Mr. Drawe said they support Customs and Border Protection and border security. They just wish the administration would focus on changing the nation’s immigration laws, adding agents and paying for technology to monitor the border instead of building an ineffective wall.

To prove that point, Mr. Drawe produced a wooden ladder that he said was left abandoned by migrants in his fields near an old section of border wall. Earlier this month, a video of a migrant using such a ladder to scale one side of the newly constructed wall and slide down to El Centro, Calif., went viral.

Customs and Border Protection officials said the video showed the wall worked as planned: It slowed the migrant down long enough for agents to arrest the 16-year-old Mexican teenager.

Officials with the Border Patrol said they are similarly not worried about migrants using power tools to cut through the wall. Despite Mr. Trump’s boast of a “virtually impenetrable” barrier, Customs and Border Protection officials know full well breaches are coming and have lined up repair money from a $107 million infrastructure fund.

“When we see that this country is at the crisis that it’s in, we need to take steps that may not be popular with everybody,” said Carmen Qualia, the Rio Grande Valley assistant chief patrol agent. “But our responsibility has not changed.”

In fact, the reality at the border has changed since Mr. Trump declared a national emergency.

His administration has severely limited the American asylum program, forcing more than 55,000 migrants to wait in Mexico for the duration of their cases. It has signed deals that return families back to Central America and limited the number of families that are released into the public with notice to return to immigration court.

Those policies and colder weather have pushed down arrests at the border by more than 70 percent since May, the height of the crossings this year, to 42,649 in November. And the demographics of those crossing are shifting from Central American families to Mexicans, who are easier to deport.

And while many of the migrant families surrendered to agents to request asylum last spring, agents along the border said they’re preparing to see individuals take a more dangerous route to the United States as a result of Mr. Trump’s strict policies.

In the past three months, agents have found migrants hiding in a tractor-trailer in Texas and others hiding in furniture and washing machines in San Diego.

A 29-foot unfinished tunnel extending into Mexico was found in Nogales, Ariz. Immigration and Customs Enforcement found two pounds of heroin in another tunnel in the city in recent days. Customs and Border Protection intercepted $500,000 worth of methamphetamine and fentanyl on a remote-controlled ultralight plane in Tucson in May.

“It’s almost like the wall is obsolete at that point,” said Michael Maldonado, the 30-year-old son of Pamela Rivas, a landowner who has been fighting the government in court for 11 years.

The federal government in 2008 took Ms. Rivas to court to acquire portions of her land, which surrounds the Los Ebanos, Texas, port of entry to Mexico. Ms. Rivas has refused to agree to a payment, hoping her intransigence will delay the government’s plans.

The government has not begun construction on her property yet, but it has secured possession of some of it, meaning the project can begin at any point, according to her attorney, Mr. Olivares.

Border Patrol agents regularly travel the dusty area, driving past the Rivas family’s dilapidated shack that used to operate as a souvenir store for tourists. The land has been the family’s since 1890, and they have so far outlasted the efforts of two presidents.

“The longer that we can endure it, maybe something might change,” Mr. Maldonado said. “Maybe a new administration comes in and says, ‘you know, we’re not going to deal with this.’ ”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Divide in Yakima Is the Divide in America

YAKIMA, Wash. — Dulce Gutiérrez heard the angry voice as she was speaking in Spanish to a group of students who had volunteered to hand out leaflets for her City Council campaign.

It came from across the street, where an older white woman stood on her front porch. Ms. Gutiérrez had endured the taunt before, but this time, in front of hopeful teenagers, the words felt like fire. They actually made her hot.

She wanted to scream back. She wanted to call the woman a racist. She wanted to let her know how hard she, a daughter of migrant farmworkers, had worked to be here, offering Latinos the chance to have a say in a community where they had felt shut out for so long.

“Go back to Mexico!” the woman had yelled.

“Ouch,” was all Ms. Gutiérrez remembers being able to muster in response. “That hurts.”

Ms. Gutiérrez went on to win a seat on the Yakima City Council and become among the first Latino politicians ever elected in the Central Washington community of nearly 94,000 where the number of Latinos has doubled in just one generation, now making up almost half of the total population.

The changes in this farming valley, known as the nation’s fruit basket, mirror demographic trends in numerous U.S. cities where the population is becoming increasingly less white. Ms. Gutiérrez represents a major shift not only because of her ethnicity, but because of her age — she was 26 when first elected. In Yakima, young adults are nearly twice as likely to be Latino as older adults.

In most diversifying American cities, the age dynamics are just as striking, a New York Times analysis has found. In nearly 100 U.S. metropolitan areas — from Santa Fe to New York and dozens of cities in between — whites comprise the majority of residents over the age of 45, and the minority of adults younger than that.

Demographic changes like those are defining a political moment in America where the president stokes tensions along racial lines with immigration crackdowns, plans to build a wall along the Mexican border and disparaging comments, like telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to their “home” countries.

On a local level, the demographic changes are leading to political changes too. In Yakima, the same year that the first Latino City Council members took their seats, the community also voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, though Washington State went for Hillary Clinton. This year, a heated debate broke out over Immigration and Customs Enforcement jets landing in the city. On Election Day, Yakima County joined the rest of the state in rejecting a measure that would have restored affirmative action, and fewer Latinos will sit on Yakima’s City Council come January.

Five days a week, Dave Ettl, 67, offers a running commentary on the transformation in Yakima, where he has lived since the early 1980s. He is the co-host of a popular conservative morning radio show, which he describes as “good conversation wrapped in our tell-it-like-it-is kinda style.” Lately, the discussions are centered on “politically driven social justice warriors” and “certain values we hold dear.” He thinks a lot about how quickly life in Yakima is changing.

“Old dinosaurs like me and our ideology may or may not have to change, and I do think there is a time for it,” Mr. Ettl said. “The far left — they’re pushing too fast too hard. Things might be sliding this way, but they’re jumping out too far ahead. Our current scenario is getting too far, too left, too soon.”

Manicured lawns in the west side neighborhoods of Yakima. Farm workers in the Yakima Valley.

The rich, volcanic soil of the Yakima Valley was first farmed by members of the Yakama Nation before they were forced onto a reservation in the mid-1800s and then by a Japanese population that migrated here, until they were forced into internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. White workers migrated here, too, fleeing their own parched fields in the middle of the country that had dried out during the Dust Bowl era. Many stayed and thrived, buying land and building sprawling farms.

The Yakima Valley bursts with apples, pears, hops and cherries, so much so that farmers had trouble hiring enough workers to harvest it all. The work is delicate and difficult — most fruit must be picked by hand — and often is paid piecemeal. Farmers found a ready work force in Mexicans who began arriving in large numbers to fill wartime labor shortages in the 1940s and others who later fled rising unemployment and a financial crisis at home. Many came to Yakima on temporary visas and returned home after the harvest.

As farms expanded and refrigerated warehousing offered year-round jobs, some Mexican workers stayed on illegally. In 1986, many took advantage of President Ronald Reagan’s amnesty program offering the chance for citizenship. Their families grew, and workers from Mexico and other Central American countries kept coming.

Latino children — including Ms. Gutiérrez — began populating Yakima classrooms, some like her, arriving with little or no English. In 1999, for example, Yakima’s Eisenhower High School listed its student body as 23 percent Latino and 70 percent white. In a decade’s time it became the opposite, with Latino students in the majority.

But to some longtime residents, the familiar was becoming unrecognizable. Some white parents grumbled that school presentations were in both English and Spanish.

Mr. Ettl, the radio host, remembers attending a bilingual presentation at one school. “It took twice as long as it needed to,” he said.

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On his conservative radio show, Dave Ettl offers a running commentary of the transformation in Yakima. “Our current scenario is getting too far, too left, too soon,” he said.

A part-time magician who calls himself a conservative, not a Republican, Mr. Ettl arrived in Yakima in 1983. Mexican-American entrepreneurs were setting up businesses — taquerias and shops selling quinceañera dresses and cowboy hats.

He remembers in the 1990s when National Guard helicopters buzzed overhead in an effort to curb drug crimes that had become so prolific in Yakima, it earned a derogatory new nickname: Crackima.

He decided to get involved in politics and in 2009, won a seat on the nonpartisan City Council and began work on initiatives to fight gangs, which were operating on the east side of the city, home to many Latino families.

Mr. Ettl and many other white residents blamed the growing Latino population for the proliferation of gangs in the city, located along an interstate connecting drug traffickers to eastern routes. The anger ran deep; readers of the local paper called to complain when photos of Latino children appeared on the front page with Santa Claus.

Ms. Gutiérrez also recalls life in Yakima at the time. She remembers going to see Santa when she was little. Her mother had enrolled her in a program where Santa distributed gifts to underprivileged children.

The new Yakima Rotary Aquatic Center. The Southeast Yakima Community Center.

The new aquatic center in Yakima has everything.

An eight-lane lap pool, giant water slides, a special pool just for physical therapy and a lazy river.

But it’s not what the east side residents say they were promised.

In the mid-2000s, with a recession settling over the nation, Yakima closed two pools on the east side, saying they weren’t used enough to justify the cost. City leaders promised to replace the pools when the economy improved and built a small splash pad with arched sprinklers as a substitute.

Discussions about a new pool had twisted through rounds of debate for years on the City Council. As donations poured in, along with a Y.M.C.A. partnership, officials decided to build the $22 million facility on Yakima’s north side, essentially the town’s geographic center, so the whole city could benefit from it. That’s not how east side residents viewed it.

“It’s intended to serve the white population of town,” Ms. Gutiérrez said, noting that it’s too far for children on the east side to walk to.

Yakima’s social divide has long been defined by a physical one. Numerous white families live on the west side. There, amid the brick homes and green lawns, the city operates a community center — decked out with Western art, a billiards room and a two-story, stone fireplace — that serves a large senior population. On the heavily Latino east side where in some neighborhoods children make up nearly 40 percent of the total number of residents, the city’s two community centers cater to children — and have the charm of a hospital, with linoleum floors and fluorescent lighting.

While all of Yakima’s community centers receive public funding, the west side’s senior center has benefited from more private donations, city officials said.

Mayor Kathy Coffey, whose grandfather also served as a mayor of Yakima, said she does not believe inequities exist in city services between the community’s Latino and white population. But she understands that “in perception there are those who feel there is a real issue there.”

Those perceptions prompted an A.C.L.U.-backed lawsuit in 2012 arguing that Yakima’s at-large voting system for its City Council diluted the Latino vote, blocking minority representation. Plaintiffs pointed out that no Latino had ever been elected to the City Council in the 37-year history of the current system, even though Latinos at the time accounted for more than one-third of the city’s voting-age population, and one quarter of eligible voters.

A federal judge sided with the plaintiffs, ruling that Latino voters were at “a steep mathematical disadvantage” and that their votes had been “unlawfully diluted.”

Mr. Ettl — who was then still on the City Council though isn’t any longer — and other council members pushed for an appeal, and the city spent more than $1 million on an ultimately unsuccessful fight.

Yakima was carved into districts, offering the east side a chance for two seats on the seven-member council. Ms. Gutiérrez filed her candidacy to represent one of the east side districts and began a bilingual campaign in the spring of 2015.

Her campaign materials pledged she would improve the city “neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block.” At least you have real eyebrows, one white resident told her on the campaign trail, and not painted on ones like those other Mexican women. Another white resident asked her why he had to vote for a Mexican. She reminded him he could have run for City Council himself.

The senior center on the west side. A karate class at the east side’s community center.

Ms. Gutiérrez measures progress here in baby steps.

From the beginning, she knew she would be battling low voter turnout among Yakima’s Latino population, as happens across the rest of the nation, too.

Older white voters are far more likely to turn out on Election Day than younger, minority voters, a Times analysis found. In the 2018 midterm elections, 70 percent of eligible white seniors voted compared to only one-third of Latinos under 45 who showed up at the polls.

Yakima’s Latino residents are about two times more likely to live below the poverty line than white residents, and about half of the Latino population here lacks a high school diploma. Some of Ms. Gutiérrez’s constituents don’t know what a City Council is, she said.

“It’s not an obstacle for white folks who subscribe to the newspaper and are literate in English and are comfortable around authority figures. They have a strong sense of entitlement to government and feel like they can come to City Hall and yell at us and be angry at us,” said Ms. Gutiérrez, who worked in warehouses as a teen during cherry harvest season.

For her Latino constituents, that comfort level is lacking. “People don’t know what they can ask from government officials. They have no connection to them,” she said.

Ms. Gutiérrez set up a mentorship program to pair disadvantaged children with council members. She fought for more sidewalks, crosswalks and street lamps in east side neighborhoods. Critics labeled her divisive. A man known to have ties to white supremacist groups called City Hall and asked for her. She got a dog to protect herself.

The election of President Trump, she said, seemed to unleash a new anger in Yakima.

Across the nation, families were being separated. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was carrying out raids of undocumented people. Ms. Gutiérrez was worried about her constituents, many of whom had family who were in the country illegally. They were afraid. About one-quarter of Latinos in Yakima are not citizens, according to Census Bureau data.

But amid the rekindled fears, local nonprofits reported an increase in attendance at citizenship classes, driven by people who wanted to register to vote, they said.

On a recent morning, huapango music wafted over the grape vines in an orchard outside of town where Alexandra Ornelas, 23, was snipping clusters with a small pair of scissors.

She works a full day in the fields and squeezes in courses toward certificates in viticulture and treetop production so she can become an orchard manager. She said the president, who rails against immigrants, doesn’t understand how hard they work or what they are seeking in America.

She helped her mother become a citizen not long ago, she said, in part so she could vote against Mr. Trump in 2020.

In 2017, the Latino City Council members tried to rally support for a “welcoming city” resolution, which stated that Yakima would accept anyone regardless of immigration status. They were outvoted. Ms. Gutiérrez kept pushing, calling for a policy that offered assurances that the police wouldn’t arbitrarily ask for a person’s immigration status. The council voted to end discussion on the issue for good.

Meanwhile, 180 miles away, contractors at Boeing Field near Seattle took a stand on immigration and began refusing to fuel jets that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were using for deportations and detentions of undocumented immigrants, largely from Central America. The move effectively shut down ICE flights to the state. The agency turned to Yakima to ask if the planes could land on its runways.

Ms. Gutiérrez was outraged. The way she saw it, a community that is nearly half Latino, that has welcomed immigrants to work in its fields for decades was now going to allow planes carrying out inhumane deportations. Her constituents were outraged, too.

“ICE is coming to airports and picking up a population of people who look like us here,” said Juan Beltran, 20, who had helped Ms. Gutiérrez canvass for voters during her campaign.

Ms. Gutiérrez tried to rally fellow council members to stop the flights. But some of them worried the city could lose federal funding if they did so. Surely they could find a way to resist, Ms. Gutiérrez pleaded. The debate culminated in a four-hour meeting in July where dozens of citizens crowded the City Council chambers.

One woman sobbed that her own father had been deported on a similar flight. Some people said the city was prioritizing profits over humanity; the city gets a landing fee for each flight. Mr. Beltran wanted to be at the meeting, but it was harvest time and he was working a late shift in the accounting office at a cherry warehouse. He watched a recording of the proceedings after work online.

The council voted 4-3 to allow the flights. Planes now land almost weekly at the Yakima airport, loading Central American migrants wearing leg shackles and handcuffs to and from buses bound for a federal immigration facility on the other side of the state.

But in some ways, Ms. Gutiérrez sees the outcome as a victory. The issue would never even have come up for a vote five years ago, she said.

Ms. Gutiérrez decided not to run for re-election, so will leave office when her term is up later this year. She’ll be on the outside as the city debates whether to change how it picks its mayor — a move she says would dilute the political power of east side voters. And the newly elected City Council is set to be less diverse. But Ms. Gutiérrez plans to enroll in law school, move to a bigger city, maybe even Washington, D.C., where she can get involved in federal politics and then return to Yakima.

She is using the rest of her term to continue to make good on her campaign promise to improve the city “block by block.”

On a recent afternoon, Ms. Gutiérrez was out visiting a constituent who had called her office to lobby for a new streetlight. The councilwoman knew the house. She took a deep breath and marched onto the porch — the same porch where Margery Guthridge had yelled at her to “go back to Mexico” four years earlier.

Ms. Guthridge is a white minority in the mostly Latino district. She has lived in her house for seven years, and shares it with a Chihuahua-Yorkie mix named Miss Tipsy Two. An American flag is propped up out front, and the yard is surrounded by a chain-link fence that she sometimes padlocks shut. She said the neighborhood was rough when she first moved in, but lately, things have been calmer.

Her Spanish-speaking neighbors bring her plates of food when they barbecue. With her push for better lighting and new curb cuts, Ms. Gutiérrez has made the neighborhood safer. Ms. Guthridge said she regrets yelling the taunt.

“I want to forget that. I really didn’t mean that,” she said. “I’ve done quite a bit of growing up since then. I understand people more. And I am real sorry.”

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They Sought a Brighter Future in Britain. Instead, Their Families Are Mourning Them.

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YEN THANH, Vietnam — Across the village, the altar tables have already been set up.

In Buddhist and Catholic households alike, families have not waited for the final word on whether their daughters, sons, brothers and sisters are among the 39 people found dead last week in a refrigerated truck container in an industrial park in Britain, roughly 6,000 miles away.

Though the authorities in Britain have not yet identified the bodies, the families in Vietnam are treating the silence from their loved ones as confirmation enough.

The tables bore framed photographs of the missing, flanked by incense and their favorite foods. For the 19-year-old who left to support her family after her father died of cancer, it was Choco-Pies. For the 26-year-old farmer whose family was mired in debt, it was cans of Red Bull.

Behind each photograph was a tale of desperation from a place of grinding poverty, where naked light bulbs hang from corrugated metal roofs and the roads are unpaved. They are the faces of what locals and experts say has become an exodus from parts of Vietnam, a country that on paper represents one of Asia’s economic success stories.

Some in Vietnam now talk about “box people,” in an echo of the “boat people” who fled the country after the Vietnam War. The name refers to the cargo containers in which many hitch dangerous rides along some of the globe’s busiest trade routes seeking jobs and a future.

“We have a saying,” said Anthony Dang Huu Nam, a local priest. “‘If an electrical pole had legs, it would go too.’”

Investigators are still piecing together who the 39 people are, how they died and why they ended up in Grays, Britain, about 25 miles east of London. But many of the leads point back to a region of north-central Vietnam stricken by poverty and environmental disaster, and the two governments are working together to try to identify the victims.

The authorities in Vietnam have received requests for help from 14 families who say their relatives went missing in Britain, according to a Vietnamese state-run news outlet. The country’s prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, has also instructed officials to look into cases of Vietnamese citizens sent abroad illegally.

Nguyen Dinh Luong, a 20-year-old farmer, left the Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh two years ago to help support his seven siblings. His father said he borrowed $18,000 from his relatives to send Mr. Nguyen to France.

First he had to go to Russia, where he was confined in a house for about six months because he had overstayed his tourist visa. From Russia, Mr. Nguyen moved on to Ukraine before he reached France in July of last year and found a job as a waiter. Then he decided to go to England to work in a nail salon.

“Maybe he was too ambitious,” said the man’s father, Nguyen Dinh Gia, who gave his DNA samples to the police over the weekend to help with the identification process. “I don’t know much. The debt wasn’t fully paid, and in England, you could probably make more money.”

Vietnam’s narrative was supposed to be different. Boosted by growing trade, it enjoys one of the world’s fastest growth rates, reaching 7.1 percent last year. Poverty, defined as a person making less than $3.34 per day, has dropped sharply.

Still, people there make only a fraction of what the average person takes home in the United States or even China. Many in the poorest areas lack access to a decent education. While Vietnam is increasing spending on health and social benefits, many still do not share in the prosperity.

Vietnam is a major source of human trafficking victims into Britain, the second-highest after Albania, according to Britain’s ambassador to Vietnam and anti-human trafficking organizations.

Nghe An and Ha Tinh, two of Vietnam’s poorest provinces, supply much of the trade. Officials in Ha Tinh estimate more than 41,000 people left the province in the first eight months of this year alone.

Many there are farmers. Rice is the region’s predominant crop, and farmers like Mr. Nguyen earn virtually nothing.

North of Ha Tinh, the province of Yen Thanh has also become a major source of migrants. In 2016, a steel mill owned by Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics contaminated coastal waters, devastating the fishing and tourism industries.

Many put themselves in debt to pay “the line” — their term for the shadowy network of human smugglers who take people from country to country before they reach Britain or another destination. Some mortgage their homes or borrow from their families. Even to people there, the human smuggling operation remains shadowy beyond the knowledge that a person would come and collect the money for every successful leg of the journey.

Bui Thi Nhung, 19, wanted to help support her family after her father died of throat cancer in 2017, so she set off on her journey with the help of a loan from her relatives. Of those widely believed to have died in the truck in Britain, she was the youngest.

Nguyen Dinh Tu, a 26-year-old farmer, had borrowed $17,000 to build a house for his wife and two children, ages 5 and 18 months. To repay that debt, he sought help from a labor recruiter to leave for Romania legally in March, according to his elder brother, Nguyen Van Tinh.

Turned off by the low wages at a food company in Romania, he went to Berlin for a job in a restaurant. But he still felt he was not earning enough, so he decided to go to England.

“If you want your life in the village to change,” Mr. Nguyen’s brother said, “the only way is to go overseas.” He said that the family last heard from his brother a day or two before the truck was found.

While many places across Europe seem to promise higher wages and brighter prospects than home, Britain stands out. A sizable population of Vietnamese immigrants there send word home of jobs in nail salons and cannabis farms.

Pham Thi Tra My was convinced she could find a job as a manicurist. The 26-year-old woman from a village in Ha Tinh wanted to help her family, who had accumulated $19,000 in debt. Four years ago, she had borrowed money to pay a labor recruiter to find her a job in Japan as a cook, where she earned enough to pay off that loan. She then borrowed more to buy a car in Vietnam so her younger brother could drive a taxi.

Just a month ago, the car crashed and caught fire. They had no insurance. Rather than return to Japan, Ms. Pham decided she could earn more in Britain.

“I’m thinking about the family and I love you both, so I have to go,” she said, according to her father, Pham Van Thin, who works as a security guard. “Please, Dad and Mom, borrow the money for me so I can travel. Give me the opportunity to pay the debt for my family.”

The family took a mortgage on their home to send her to England. First Ms. Pham flew to Beijing, where she waited for a fake passport. She called home frequently until she went to France, where she stopped reaching out for fear that the authorities could detect her location.

Early on Oct. 23, hours before the bodies in Britain were discovered, she texted her mother. “I’m sorry, Mom, my path abroad didn’t succeed,” she wrote.

“Mom, I love you and Dad so much! I’m dying because I can’t breathe.”

The text arrived in the morning but her mother, Nguyen Thi Phong, did not check her phone until noon, eight hours later. When she called back, there was no answer.

Ms. Nguyen sent her a text: “Child, where are you now? I’m very worried and tired. I love you and feel sorry for you.”

A day later, Ms. Pham’s elder brother, Pham Ngoc Guan, texted her. “Come back and don’t go anymore,” he wrote. “The whole family is worried for you.”

On Sunday, Ms. Pham’s mother wept as she lay on her only daughter’s bed in the family’s home.

Her brother, Pham Ngoc Guan, said: “I’m still hoping she’s in another vehicle, or she’s just lost.”

He picked up his mother’s phone and called his sister again. Nobody answered.

Dan Doan and Chau Doan contributed research.

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Truck containing 39 bodies discovered on the outskirts of London

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Early Wednesday morning, authorities discovered a tractor-trailer in Essex, England containing 39 bodies. Police aren’t sure of the nationalities of the deceased and expect identifying them will be a lengthy process. The NY Times reports the two sections of the truck followed different routes to enter the country:

The police initially said they believed the truck had entered Britain at the port of Holyhead in Wales on Saturday, but later clarified that only the Bulgarian-registered tractor — the front of the truck, with the driver’s cab and engine — had traveled that route.

The cargo trailer it was pulling had entered Britain at Purfleet, a shipping port near Grays, where it was collected by the driver early Wednesday, they said.

Police believe the container came from Zeebrugge in Belgium and arrived in Britain shortly after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday…

While the circumstances that led to the deaths remained unclear, the trailer appeared to be refrigerated.

Such containers are typically tightly sealed, said Dave Wood, a former director general of British immigration enforcement, creating the risk that anyone traveling inside one could die of suffocation.

The BBC reports the identity of the driver:

The lorry driver, named locally as Mo Robinson, 25, from the Portadown area of County Armagh, Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder…

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said the container appeared to be a refrigerated unit, where temperatures could be as low as -25C.

He described conditions for anyone inside as “absolutely horrendous”.

CNN reports smugglers are taking greater risks using refrigerated trucks and cargo containers to transport people because new technology has made the crossing from France much more difficult:

Today, with more stringent border checks in place — utilizing technology like thermal imaging cameras to identify migrants hidden within vehicles — the option has become much more difficult and costly to attempt, with smugglers charging thousands of euros for passage.

“The UK has invested a lot of money in protecting the lorry routes” from migrants crossing from France, said Nando Sigona, an associate professor in international migration at the University of Birmingham told CNN earlier this year. “That route has probably been sealed off, or made more difficult to pursue.”

I’ll update this story if there are significant developments during the day. For now, here’s a Sky News report from earlier this morning:

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Mandatory DNA collection at the border?

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This is probably just another policy change designed to make the open borders crowd set their hair on fire and trigger yet another round of inevitable lawsuits, but it might have some merit. A new policy to be announced this week by the Trump administration would allow immigration enforcement officials to collect the DNA of illegal aliens apprehended at the border and add it to the FBI’s criminal database. Of course, none of this becomes official until the White House gets around to announcing it. (Associated Press)

The Trump administration is planning to collect DNA samples from asylum-seekers and other migrants detained by immigration officials and will add the information to a massive FBI database used by law enforcement hunting for criminals, a Justice Department official said.

The Justice Department will publish an amended regulation Monday that would mandate DNA collection for almost all migrants who cross between official entry points and are held even temporarily, according to the official. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the regulation had not yet been published.

As usual, the AP leads off their story with a disingenuous headline, claiming that the policy would target “asylum seekers.” In reality, it would only apply to those crossing the border illegally, not those seeking entrance at designated crossings. While it’s true that many of those apprehended after jumping the border have been trained to immediately request asylum, that’s not the same as people who apply from their home country or at a CBPP crossing checkpoint.

Is this going to turn out to be legal? I have no idea, but it does offer a number of benefits if we can do it. The first and probably most important would be the ability to more quickly look into “family units” picked up at the border and determine whether or not the adults in question are actually the parents or relatives of the children with them. This could help identify child traffickers and help to rescue the children from whatever fate awaited them in America.

Also, many illegal immigrants who are released while awaiting a court date simply disappear into the interior, with some going on to commit other crimes. If they’re already in the FBI database they can more quickly and easily be identified, detained and returned to their home countries. In addition to that, repeat offenders are known to use a variety of aliases and fake ID documents. If DNA can be used to uncover the deception, we won’t have as many people being deported three, five, ten or more times before finally committing a truly serious crime. (We’ve seen that story play out all too often, sadly.)

Of course, don’t expect this to start any time soon. Now that the word has leaked out, the ACLU or some other immigrants rights group no doubt already have their lawyers preparing a legal challenge and a demand for an injunction somewhere in the Ninth Circuit. So this idea will obviously be tied up in court for months or even years.

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