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Westlake Legal Group > Immigration and Emigration

‘Demeaned and Humiliated’: What Happened to These Iranians at U.S. Airports

Westlake Legal Group 25IRAN-STUDENTS-02-facebookJumbo ‘Demeaned and Humiliated’: What Happened to These Iranians at U.S. Airports Logan International Airport (Boston, Mass) Immigration Detention Immigration and Emigration Foreign Students (in US) Customs and Border Protection (US) Boston (Mass)

A small room. A language barrier. An interrogation after hours of travel. Months spent preparing for a new life overseas, all gone in a blur.

A growing number of Iranian students share this collective memory. Many had secured admission to some of the world’s most prestigious universities. The State Department approved them for entry into the United States after a notoriously grueling, monthslong vetting process and issued them visas to come to the United States.

But when the students reached American airports, Customs and Border Protection officers disagreed and sent them home, some with a five-year ban on reapplying to return to the United States.

Most say they were not told why they were deemed “inadmissible” — a broad label that customs officers have wide discretion to apply. What the students do know is that, at a time of rising diplomatic tensions between the United States and Iran, their plans for the future seem to have evaporated.

Some of the students asked that their last names not be published. Their stories could not be verified with C.B.P. officials, who declined to comment on individual cases. In a statement, the agency said there were numerous potential grounds for inadmissibility, include health issues, criminality and security concerns. “In all cases, the applicant bears the burden of proof of admissibility,” the agency said.

Mohammad, 30, was studying at Northeastern University. He was turned away at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Oct. 6.

The officer was friendly, even cajoling at first. Mohammad felt confident. He had been studying at Northeastern University since April of 2019, and had crossed back and forth between Canada and the United States several times.

This particular trip was an academic one. A paper Mohammad had written during his coursework in numerical electromagnetics had been chosen for presentation at a conference in Paris. But when he arrived at Logan airport that day in October, the officer became aggressive, he said. He started yelling.

After Mohammad was told that his visa was going to be revoked, the officers took a picture of him, for their records. Then, he says, they laughed. “I looked as despondent in the photo as I felt and they found it very funny. I felt demeaned and humiliated,” he said.

Flight attendants on the trip back held onto his cellphone and travel documents and refused to give them to him until he reached Paris. When he arrived, he said, he sat in the airport crying for hours, unsure of what to do.

Amin, 34, entering a Ph.D. program at the University of Florida, was turned away Jan. 1 at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.

Eight years after graduating at the top of his master’s class from the University of Tehran, Amin hoped to study for a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering in Florida. But at the airport, officers wanted to know why a former school email address and an old research paper he had written were not disclosed on his visa application.

When they told him he had been deemed inadmissible and would be retuned to Iran, he collapsed onto a chair, crying.

A flight back to Iran was not available for a couple of days, so Amin said he was placed in a chilly holding cell for six hours, then transported in cuffs and chains to an immigration detention facility in Georgia. The officers there ordered him to strip naked in front of them.

“The moment I entered the cell, I lost my spirit,” he said. Now back in Iran, he has lost $6,000 — the equivalent of two years’ work — on his travel and applications. The company he worked for has filled his old position. Having moved out of his apartment in Tehran, he is bouncing from one relative’s home to another.

Hamid, 22, entering a combined master’s and Ph.D. program in engineering at University of Notre Dame, was sent back Jan. 11 from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Hamid at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on Jan. 11 after getting his boarding pass for Chicago.

Hamid, who had been accepted for a fully-funded graduate program, waited eight months for his visa. Then when he arrived in Chicago, he was placed in a holding cell for 19 hours.

Officers asked him for his opinion on political events in Iran and whether he thought Iran was doing “the right thing.” He was asked what he thought about the Ukrainian jet that had been shot down three days earlier by two Iranian missiles. Hamid told the officer he had a friend who died on the plane.

Hamid said he and two other detained travelers were given foam mattresses and thin blankets, and he hardly slept.

“After 24 hours, I was transferred to the boarding gate in the company of two armed officers, as if I was some kind of terrorist. It was both humiliating and dehumanizing,” he said.

He phoned his parents when he reached Istanbul, en route back to Tehran. “There were so much pain in my parents’ voice,” he said.

Reihana Emami, 35, planned to attend Harvard Divinity School. She was turned away Sept. 18 at Logan airport.

The officers’ questions were simple at first, Reihana said: “Where did you work?” “Who are your relatives?” But then the conversation turned to unfamiliar territory.

“He then asked me what Iranian people think about the explosion in Saudi Arabia,” she said, an apparent reference to the wave of explosions that had rocked Saudi oil facilities a few days earlier, blamed on Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Reihana explained that she had spent the last few days packing and preparing to move her life across the world, and had not been watching the news.

“I said I am not a political person — I’m interested in philosophical questions,” she said.

During the nine hours she was questioned, she said, she asked if she could rest, because she had been traveling for 18 hours. But the officer told her that lots of travelers had done the same, and a Harvard student “should be clever enough to handle” it.

“Now I am jobless,” she said, adding that she and her family were still struggling to believe what happened. “It was like a shock and trauma for everybody.”

Pegah, 28, was preparing to study for a master’s degree in business administration at Southern New Hampshire University. She was returned home on Aug. 1 from Logan airport.

After waiting 15 months for her visa to be issued, Pegah flew from Shiraz, Iran, to Boston. “When I entered the airport the bad treatment started,” she said.

The C.B.P. officer shouted at her for scanning her fingerprints wrong, she said. Another officer took her laptop, hard drive and phone and left her waiting for hours.

At one point, Pegah asked an officer if she could have a snack.

“He threw a candy at me with terrible manners, like I was a dog,” Pegah said, “He shouted at me, ‘Take it! I told you to take it!’”

Pegah was then taken to a small room. An officer had a series of questions, she said, like which ships Iran hid weapons in, and why Iran had captured a British oil tanker in July.

“He said, ‘Did you know we can catch you and keep you here in the United States, and no one will understand where you are, the same way Iran does to Americans?’”

Pegah said she was frightened. “I said, ‘I don’t know anything. I really don’t. I’m just a student.’”

Mohammad Elmi, 31, was to begin a Ph.D. program at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was denied entry on Dec. 13 at Los Angeles International Airport.

Mohammad Elmi, 31, and Shima Mousavi, 32, were planning a new life together in the United States. They were married in August, and Mr. Elmi prepared to join his new wife in Santa Barbara, where she is also a student, to study electrical engineering.

Ms. Mousavi was waiting at a relative’s house near the airport when her husband called, eight hours after his plane had landed, to tell her that he had been denied entry.

She rushed to the airport and pleaded for help, but it was late at night and the C.B.P. office was closed. She waited until dawn, unwilling to leave while her husband was there in the same building. “I could feel him close to me,” she said. She was still at the airport when Mr. Elmi was put on a flight back to Iran at around 3 p.m. the next day.

He sent her a WhatsApp voice message from the plane, apologizing. “His voice was sad and tired,” she said.

Arash, 30, accepted into a Ph.D. program in electrical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, was sent back along with his wife, Saba, 30, on Jan. 13 at Logan airport.

When the couple arrived in Boston, C.B.P. officers pulled them aside into separate rooms. Mr. Arash said he was asked about his education and work history, family members and military service. The officers took the couple’s phones and laptops.

They informed Arash and Saba that they had been found inadmissible. Mr. Arash said he thought the officer confused the company he worked for with a company, subject to sanctions, that has a similar name. The embassy had spent months vetting him before granting his visa and had obviously discerned the difference, he said.

But when he tried to point out the mistake, he said, the officer accused him of lying.

Mahla Shahkhajeh, 26, was accepted into a Ph.D. program in industrial engineering at Iowa State University, but was turned away on Dec. 22 at Logan airport.

Ms. Shahkhajeh said she was questioned about her work, family and many other things. The officers said the company she worked for, which produces plastic packing materials, had relationships with companies in Iran’s oil sector. “The officer said his boss didn’t like that I had worked with that company,” Ms. Shahkhajeh said.

She could not understand why one officer’s opinion of her company would take precedence over a monthslong visa process. “If I was eligible to receive a visa after such a time-consuming process, after they had investigated all my information, why was I not allowed to enter the U.S.?”

She had already left her apartment and quit her job in Tehran. “All of my efforts and all the money I spent became nothing.”

Behzad, 32, who planned to study material sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, was turned back Aug. 19 at Logan Airport.

Behzad hoped to work one day in the automotive industry. But when he arrived in Boston to begin his studies, he was pulled aside.

“The room was an exact replica of what you see in Hollywood movies,” he said. “It was very bright and small. I had to sit in a chair, with no table. A guy behind a computer started to interrogate me.” Behzad said he went through multiple rounds of questioning for about eight hours, and had not slept in nearly two days. “I was in too much shock to even ask for water,” he said.

In Iran, Behzad had worked for a company that designs processing systems for factories, including oil facilities. A C.B.P. officer told him he had violated sanctions by working in the oil industry. Behzad protested that his company was never sanctioned, and that he had worked there only while the Iran nuclear deal, under which many sanctions were not in effect, was in place.

It was to no avail — he was ordered back to Iran.

“They just wanted to find something,” Behzad said.

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Trump Moves to Block Visas for Pregnant Women on ‘Birth Tourism’

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166762425_6b6c5953-d3de-4259-9256-af5760cd1a41-facebookJumbo Trump Moves to Block Visas for Pregnant Women on ‘Birth Tourism’ visas United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J State Department Pregnancy and Childbirth Immigration and Emigration Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Citizenship and Naturalization

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Thursday gave visa officers more power to block pregnant women abroad from visiting the United States and directed them to stop “birth tourism” — trips designed to obtain citizenship for their children.

The administration is using the new rule, which takes effect on Friday, to push consular officers abroad to reject women they believe are entering the United States specifically to gain citizenship for their child by giving birth. The visas covered by the new rule are issued to those seeking to visit for pleasure, medical treatment or to see friends and family.

Conservatives have long railed against what they call “anchor babies,” born on American soil and used by their parents to bring in other family members. President Trump has also criticized the constitutional provision that grants citizenship to most babies born on American soil.

It is not clear whether such “birth tourism” is a significant phenomenon or that “anchor babies” do lead to substantial immigration, but many conservatives believe both issues are real and serious. The Trump administration has repeatedly moved to allay conservative immigration concerns, which President Trump has often stoked.

“Birth tourism poses risks to national security,” Carl C. Risch, assistant secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, wrote in the final rule. “The birth tourism industry is also rife with criminal activity, including international criminal schemes.”

Consular officers were already unlikely to grant visa to women who they believed were traveling to the United States solely to give birth. But with the new rule, the White House seems to be signaling to officers abroad that those close to delivering a child would be added to a growing list of immigrants unwelcome in the United States, a list that includes the poor, most refugees and asylum-seeking migrants.

Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that the new rule seeks to stop those who seek “automatic and permanent American citizenship for their children by giving birth on American soil.”

“It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism,” Ms. Grisham said. “The integrity of American citizenship must be protected.”

The rule raises the burden of proof for pregnant women applying for tourist visas by outlining in writing that giving birth in the country “is an impermissible basis” for visiting the United States. Even if the women say they are entering the country for medical treatment — a legitimate factor for visa eligibility — an applicant would need to prove that she has enough money to pay for such treatment to the satisfaction of the officer. The woman will also need to prove that the medical care being sought was not available in her home country.

“If an applicant’s responses to this line of questions are not credible, that may give consular officers reason to question whether the applicant qualifies for a visa,” Mr. Risch said in the rule.

The new policy does not change guidance granted to airport officers working for the Department of Homeland Security, meaning visa eligibility changes would occur outside the United States, not at airport immigration counters.

It is also not clear how effective the new rule will be. Some visas allow foreigners to visit the United States multiple times over the course of as many as 10 years, so an applicant could be granted a visa, get pregnant years later and still be permitted to visit the country.

“Unless D.H.S. changes how its officers interpret travel for pleasure to be consistent with the State Department rule, than people will still come to the United States to give birth. This won’t stop that happening,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, the director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

But those abroad applying for visas close to the delivery date could be denied, she said.

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Trump Moves to Block Visas for Pregnant Women on ‘Birth Tourism’

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166762425_6b6c5953-d3de-4259-9256-af5760cd1a41-facebookJumbo Trump Moves to Block Visas for Pregnant Women on ‘Birth Tourism’ visas United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J State Department Pregnancy and Childbirth Immigration and Emigration Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Citizenship and Naturalization

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Thursday gave visa officers more power to block pregnant women abroad from visiting the United States and directed them to stop “birth tourism” — trips designed to obtain citizenship for their children.

The administration is using the new rule, which takes effect on Friday, to push consular officers abroad to reject women they believe are entering the United States specifically to gain citizenship for their child by giving birth. The visas covered by the new rule are issued to those seeking to visit for pleasure, medical treatment or to see friends and family.

Conservatives have long railed against what they call “anchor babies,” born on American soil and used by their parents to bring in other family members. President Trump has also criticized the constitutional provision that grants citizenship to most babies born on American soil.

It is not clear whether such “birth tourism” is a significant phenomenon or that “anchor babies” do lead to substantial immigration, but many conservatives believe both issues are real and serious. The Trump administration has repeatedly moved to allay conservative immigration concerns, which President Trump has often stoked.

“Birth tourism poses risks to national security,” Carl C. Risch, assistant secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, wrote in the final rule. “The birth tourism industry is also rife with criminal activity, including international criminal schemes.”

Consular officers were already unlikely to grant visa to women who they believed were traveling to the United States solely to give birth. But with the new rule, the White House seems to be signaling to officers abroad that those close to delivering a child would be added to a growing list of immigrants unwelcome in the United States, a list that includes the poor, most refugees and asylum-seeking migrants.

Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that the new rule seeks to stop those who seek “automatic and permanent American citizenship for their children by giving birth on American soil.”

“It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism,” Ms. Grisham said. “The integrity of American citizenship must be protected.”

The rule raises the burden of proof for pregnant women applying for tourist visas by outlining in writing that giving birth in the country “is an impermissible basis” for visiting the United States. Even if the women say they are entering the country for medical treatment — a legitimate factor for visa eligibility — an applicant would need to prove that she has enough money to pay for such treatment to the satisfaction of the officer. The woman will also need to prove that the medical care being sought was not available in her home country.

“If an applicant’s responses to this line of questions are not credible, that may give consular officers reason to question whether the applicant qualifies for a visa,” Mr. Risch said in the rule.

The new policy does not change guidance granted to airport officers working for the Department of Homeland Security, meaning visa eligibility changes would occur outside the United States, not at airport immigration counters.

It is also not clear how effective the new rule will be. Some visas allow foreigners to visit the United States multiple times over the course of as many as 10 years, so an applicant could be granted a visa, get pregnant years later and still be permitted to visit the country.

“Unless D.H.S. changes how its officers interpret travel for pleasure to be consistent with the State Department rule, than people will still come to the United States to give birth. This won’t stop that happening,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, the director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

But those abroad applying for visas close to the delivery date could be denied, she said.

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

The Economy Is Expanding. Why Are Economists So Glum?

Westlake Legal Group 08DC-ECON-02-facebookJumbo The Economy Is Expanding. Why Are Economists So Glum? Wages and Salaries United States Economy Unemployment Taxation Recession and Depression Productivity National Debt (US) International Trade and World Market Interest Rates Inflation (Economics) Immigration and Emigration Federal Taxes (US) Federal Budget (US) Economic Conditions and Trends Banking and Financial Institutions

SAN DIEGO — The mood among economic forecasters gathered for their annual meeting last weekend was dark. They warned one another about President Trump’s trade war, about government budget deficits and, repeatedly, about the inability of central banks to fully combat another recession should one sweep the globe anytime soon.

Among the thousands of economists gathered for the profession’s annual meeting, there was little celebration of Mr. Trump’s economic policies, even though unemployment is at a 50-year low, wages are rising and the economy is experiencing its longest expansion on record.

Underlying their sense of foreboding was a widespread sentiment that the current expansion is built on a potentially shaky combination of high deficits and low interest rates — and when it ends, as it is bound to do eventually, it could do so painfully.

Those concerns were echoed on Wednesday by economists at the World Bank, who called the worldwide expansion “fragile” in their latest “Global Economic Prospects” report. The report forecasts a slight uptick in growth in 2020 after a sluggish year bogged down by trade tensions and weak investment. But it said “downside risks predominate,” including the potential escalation of trade fights, sharp slowdowns in the United States and other wealthy countries and financial disruptions in emerging markets like China and India.

“The materialization of these risks would test the ability of policymakers to respond effectively to negative events,” the report by the bank, which is led by David Malpass, a former Trump administration official, stated.

The bank’s warnings echoed the fears expressed by many economists in San Diego, both in small research-paper presentations and in ballroom discussions of the clouds on the global economic horizon.

Trade tensions between the United States and China have cooled at least temporarily, but they are escalating across the Atlantic as European nations begin to impose new taxes on technology companies that are largely based in the United States. Mr. Trump has already threatened tariffs on French goods in retaliation for a tech tax, and many analysts worry that separate trade talks between the United States and the European Union could end in a tariff war. Manufacturing is mired in a global slowdown, with the sector contracting in the United States.

At a packed room in San Diego last week, researchers presented estimates that tariffs imposed by the United States and China — which remain in place despite the recent truce in trade talks — have reduced wages for workers in both countries already.

The American economy appears to have grown by a little more than 2 percent in 2019, though the statistics are not yet fully compiled. That is likely to be the slowest rate of Mr. Trump’s presidency, and well below the growth he promised that his economic and regulatory policies would produce.

The World Bank estimates growth in the United States will slow to 1.8 percent this year and 1.7 percent next year. That would be nearly the lowest annual rate since the last recession ended in mid-2009. The bank said the forecast reflected fading stimulus from Mr. Trump’s signature 2017 tax cuts and from government spending increases he has signed into law.

The cuts, and to a lesser degree the additional spending, have helped push the federal budget deficit to nearly $1 trillion a year, even as unemployment lingers near a half-century low. Fiscal deficits remain high in several other wealthy nations, particularly given how far into an economic expansion those countries are.

Interest rates have been dropping across advanced economies, thanks to long-running trends like population aging. That leaves central banks — which usually stoke growth by making borrowing cheaper — with far less conventional power in a recession.

Economists have been “going through the stages of grief” as they accept that such low rates are likely to prevail, John C. Williams, who leads the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said at the weekend’s gathering.

After the 2007-09 recession, economists speculated that the conditions that plagued developed nations — low growth, low inflation and low interest rates — would be short-lived. Scars were still healing after the worst downturn since the Great Depression, they thought.

That view has slowly been replaced by a more pessimistic one, as the field acknowledged that economic gains were likely to remain muted across advanced countries. In 2019, the Fed had to step back from plans to raise rates further and cut borrowing costs instead, leaving its policy rate at less than half of its 2007 level and underlining just how diminished the new normal looks.

“It’s clear that more was, and still is, going on,” Janet L. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair said at the event. “Although monetary policy has a meaningful role to play in addressing future downturns, it is unlikely to be sufficient in years ahead for several reasons.”

Ms. Yellen emphasized that government spending would need to play a larger role in combating future downturns, calling for stronger automatic stabilizers, which increase government spending when the economy weakens and tax receipts fall. There is no imminent sign that Congress is ready to enact such policies, but hope for government action was a constant refrain in San Diego.

Sluggish growth in worker productivity has held back the economy, said Valerie A. Ramey, an economist at the University of California, San Diego. She called on lawmakers to increase spending on infrastructure and research and development in order to spur a productivity acceleration.

Ms. Yellen, who assumed the presidency of the American Economic Association at the meeting, oversaw its program of panels and presentations, assembling a lineup that included several papers assessing damage from tariffs and the trade war. She said she and her colleagues rejected four proposals for every five that were submitted, choosing some that showed the benefits to advanced economies of attracting immigrants, particularly highly skilled ones, in stark contrast to Mr. Trump’s hard line on immigration to the United States.

Few of the papers presented assessed Mr. Trump’s tax law, and none of them argued, as Mr. Trump’s advisers did at similar conferences in recent years, that the tax cuts were supercharging investment.

In an interview on Saturday morning, over a buffet breakfast in a hotel restaurant with a view of the swimming pool, Ms. Yellen said that she had a reason for picking the sessions she did, calling low interest rates the macroeconomic “issue of our times.” She said she shared other economists’ concerns about trade and economic policy in the current environment.

“You do see a number of sessions in the program about this,” Ms. Yellen said. “I organized the program, and I think it’s not an accident you’re seeing it. I think it’s very important.”

Ben S. Bernanke, who was Fed chair during the 2007-09 recession, told the conference that a juiced-up monetary policy arsenal should be enough to combat the next downturn.

But “on one point we can be certain: The old methods won’t do,” he said. The Fed will need to use bond-buying and other tricks to supplement rate cuts.

And even economists’ most hopeful takes had a gray lining. Mr. Bernanke’s relative optimism hinged on the idea that interest rates would not continue to fall. Ms. Yellen’s hope for the future turned on greater activism from politicians to fight recessions.

If those things do not happen? The United States could look more like Japan, where inflation has slipped much lower, rates are rock bottom and the budget deficit much larger.

In good times, said Adam S. Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, that may not be the worst outcome. In a recession, though, the nation’s example may offer bad news. In the years since the financial crisis, Japan has rolled out an extremely active economic policy — both monetary and fiscal — to move its inflation rate back up, and it has succeeded only in averting outright price declines.

“It is wise to be cautious, and not assume that they will be as effective as we think,” Mr. Posen said of monetary policies. “We need to think about different ways of doing fiscal-monetary coordination.”

And while some economists, such as Harvard’s Lawrence H. Summers, extolled high fiscal deficits as a necessary weapon against slowdown or recession, others, such as Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw and Kenneth Rogoff and Stanford’s Michael J. Boskin, presented research warning that high levels of government debt could crimp growth.

Those papers echoed warnings that those economists issued earlier in the expansion that did not come to pass. But they argued that the large amounts of federal debt that has accumulated in the meantime posed a threat. In other words, the economists warned, it is only a matter of time.

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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.

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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 

‘I’m Kidnapped’: A Father’s Nightmare on the Border

REYNOSA, Mexico — He remembers being on his knees, gagged and blinded with duct tape, his hands tied behind his back. One of his captors struck his left thigh with a bat and scraped his neck with an ax, threatening to cut him.

His 3-year-old son watched and wailed.

“Tell the boy to shut up. Make him shut up,” one of the men barked, ripping the duct tape from his mouth.

A few hours earlier, the 28-year-old migrant from Honduras, whose name is José, had been walking with his son down a street in Reynosa, Mexico, having been turned back at the border by the United States. Suddenly three men grabbed him, shoved a hood over his head and thrust him and his son into a vehicle.

The abduction on Nov. 25 set off hours of intense negotiations as José’s wife in the United States, forced to listen to the sounds of her husband being tortured, tearfully negotiated a ransom over the phone.

In a series of phone conversations, and in several voice messages reviewed by The New York Times, the wife, a woman named Cindy who works at a bakery in Elizabeth, N.J., promised to get the $3,000 the kidnappers were demanding. “I will do everything to get it,” she said, sobbing into the phone. “But don’t let them hurt him. Take care of the child.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 00kidnap-vid-videoSixteenByNine3000 ‘I’m Kidnapped’: A Father’s Nightmare on the Border Reynosa (Mexico) Mexico Kidnapping and Hostages Immigration and Emigration Customs and Border Protection (US)

CreditCredit…Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

Hundreds of thousands of people fled Central America over the past year, many of them seeking asylum in the United States from threats of extortion, murder and forced recruitment into gangs. But instead of allowing them to enter, the Trump administration has forced more than 55,000 asylum seekers to wait for months in lawless Mexican border towns like Reynosa while it considers their requests for protection, according to Mexican officials and those who study the border.

Drug-related violence has long plagued these areas but this bottleneck of migrants is new — and because many asylum seekers have relatives in the United States, criminal cartels have begun kidnapping them and demanding ransoms, sometimes subjecting them to violence as bad or worse than what they fled.

In the past, migrants from places like Central America, Africa and Asia seeking asylum were allowed to enter the United States while their claims were adjudicated. Those who could not demonstrate a fear of persecution usually were ordered deported to their home countries. That changed earlier this year with the adoption of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, under which most asylum applicants are prevented from entering the United States except for their court hearings.

With the Mexican government struggling to contain crime and violence, and ramshackle camps full of vulnerable migrants cropping up on the border, kidnappings have spiked. “Families on this side of the border, regardless of social status, will manage to pay ransom,” said Octavio Rodriguez, a scholar at the University of San Diego who studies violence in Mexico and the border region.

The authorities have doubled the number of police officers in the past three years in the state of Tamaulipas, which includes Reynosa, but it is not enough, said Aldo Hernandez, the state’s communications director. “Neither the municipal nor state governments have the resources to fight this situation,” he said.

Some are blaming Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and his government’s decision to step back from confrontations with drug cartels.

“The López Obrador administration has sent the message to organized crime that police and national guard will not confront you. That emboldens them to target this population,” said Tony Payan, a scholar at the Baker Institute of Rice University who studies the United States-Mexico border.

Mark A. Morgan, acting commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, said that those awaiting asylum hearings who fear for their safety should “work with the government of Mexico” to keep themselves safe.

“I have heard reports the same as you of violence,” he told reporters last week, noting that it is well known that dangerous drug cartels target migrants south of the border. “We encourage these people first of all not to even put themselves in the hands of the cartels to begin with.”

In the border towns of the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest migrant crossing point into the United States, kidnappers have struck in recent months near shelters, at bus stops and outside grocery stores.

A 35-year-old Salvadoran man who was waiting with his family in Tijuana after claiming asylum near San Diego was kidnapped, fatally stabbed and dismembered on Nov. 20, Mexican authorities reported. His lawyer said he had been pursued by “criminal organizations” in his home country.

A 28-year-old woman from El Salvador and her 3-year-old son were abducted — not once but twice — after arriving at the border. The woman, who gave her name as Nora, said that in August they were held hostage until a family member in Houston transferred $2,200 to their captors.

Then in October, Nora said, she took her son to use the bathroom outside the encampment where they were staying and encountered three men. She was blindfolded, she said, and the men took turns raping her over several hours, in front of her son, before dumping the two of them on the side of a road.

“I surrendered to American immigration and thought we would be safe,” she said in a recent interview at a shelter in Reynosa.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165456558_9f60442b-106e-421b-98c9-dce40d16efef-articleLarge ‘I’m Kidnapped’: A Father’s Nightmare on the Border Reynosa (Mexico) Mexico Kidnapping and Hostages Immigration and Emigration Customs and Border Protection (US)

Nora was kidnapped and raped in front of her 3-year-old son in Mexico.Credit…Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

There have been 636 documented cases of violent attacks, including abduction and rape, against migrants who were returned to Mexico by United States authorities since the Remain in Mexico policy began in January, with 293 attacks in the last month alone, according to Human Rights First. The advocacy group based its tally on credible reports from researchers, lawyers and media outlets, but said the actual numbers were likely higher because most incidents go unreported.

The story of José and his family began in Honduras earlier this year, when they decided to seek safe haven in the United States. Gang members had demanded a “war tax” to allow him to keep operating his carwash and dropped notes at the family’s doorstep, threatening to kill them.

Cindy, who had a valid tourist visa, flew to the United States with their older son in June. José and their younger child, who lacked visas, made their trek over land. They arrived at the Texas border in July and applied for asylum, but were told to wait in Mexico and return for a series of court hearings in the ensuing months.

The kidnappers struck in November, after José and his son had already attended two court hearings in the United States.

His captors ordered him to contact any family he had in the United States, he said, and when he denied knowing anyone there, the beatings began.

“You’re lying. This bat is thirsty for blood,” he recalled one of them saying.

José dictated his wife’s number to the men, and they called her from his cellphone. When she did not pick up, they clubbed him, causing him to keel over in pain.

When they called again, Cindy answered.

“I’m kidnapped,” Cindy, who, like her husband, did not want her last name published because of fear of reprisals, recalled José uttering in agony over the phone.

Then the captors hung up, apparently hoping to ratchet up the pressure. When they called again, they told Cindy to come up with $3,000 within an hour if she wanted to spare the lives of her son and husband.

“I was completely desperate. I could hear my son crying in the background,” Cindy recalled. “I told them I didn’t have the money; I’d have to borrow it. Give me more time.”

Cindy sprinted to the home of the babysitter who cares for her 5-year-old son and collapsed there, pleading for help.

A fusillade of calls and texts with threats from the kidnappers soon followed.

“If you don’t deposit the money fast, we’ll disappear with your son,” the men told her.

Cindy called her husband’s cellphone again and left a voice message.

“José, send me — send me an audio. I want to know how the child is doing,” she said, her voice rising in anguish. “Respond! Respond!”

While she was driving to the bank with the babysitter to withdraw cash, one of the men in Reynosa taunted her husband and scraped his neck with the blunt side of an ax, he said, while another put a gun to his head.

On the next call, Cindy told the men she could manage no more than $2,000, and they relented. She rushed to a money-transfer kiosk to send the cash, and as the one-hour deadline approached, the captors urged her to hurry. “Si, I am here. Right now,” she typed back.

There was a problem, though. She could not complete the transaction without their names, so they texted them to her — unfamiliar names belonging to a man and a woman. In the text, they urged her to use Moneygram or Western Union and send “one thousand to each.”

“This is the first one,” she texted, sending the kidnappers a photograph of the invoice for $1,009.99, including a $9.99 transfer fee.

Because the money-transfer outlet would not allow her to send more than $1,000, she rushed to another shop to send the rest of the money.

“As soon as all the money is here, we’ll free them,” one of the captors typed.

“O.K., gracias,” Cindy replied.

Back at home, though, she received a call from the kidnappers: They had been unable to access the money. “We give you 20 minutes to fix this,” a kidnapper typed.

Eight minutes later, another text message popped up: “Hurry up. It’s getting late.”

Back in Reynosa, one of the men struck José’s right arm with the bat and kicked him in the stomach, and he began to vomit. The man brought a bucket and shoved his head inside.

After visits to three money senders, Cindy managed to transfer the rest of the money. José’s abductors stripped the tape from his eyes and put the hood back over his head. They dropped him and his son at the Reynosa bus station, warning that if he notified the police, “You’re both dead. We have pictures of you.”

With no phone and no money, José said, he staggered across the bridge that leads to the United States to seek out Border Patrol agents. He pleaded to stay in the United States. “Our lives depend on it. I swear I am telling the truth,” he told them.

He said the agents took him to an office, where he remembers that they photographed his wounds and gave him a tranquilizer before sending them to spend the night at a holding facility.

The next day, José was escorted to a room where, over the phone, he expressed fear of returning to Mexico to an asylum officer.

About 40 minutes later, an immigration official told José that they would have to go back to Mexico. He handed him a document that said that José “did not establish a clear probability of persecution or torture in Mexico.”

Recently, José described his ordeal from a migrant shelter in Reynosa. He still had bruises and scrapes on his neck, arms and legs, and said his right arm, the one that received most of the blows from the bat, was still numb.

His son, who just turned 4, was playing with another child near the picnic table where he sat. That day, José said, he had been able to borrow a phone to call Cindy, who was crying when she heard his voice. He was crying, too. They did not know when they would meet again.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting from Washington.

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How Labour’s Working-Class Vote Crumbled and Its Nemesis Won the North

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BARLBOROUGH, England — They trudged through a stinging rain to polling stations, streams of people who once powered the left in Britain: ex-miners, supermarket clerks, retired schoolteachers, health aides.

But when they re-emerged, they had voted not for the Labour Party, the side that had shepherded them through decades of political upheaval, but instead for their old nemesis, the party long despised here for shutting down the mines and shrinking the British state: the Conservatives.

“I’m from a Labour background: the coal pits and fighting Maggie Thatcher and everything else,” said Dawn Ridsdale, 56, an unemployed sales agent, as she stood outside the converted barn in Barlborough where she cast her ballot. She had opposed Brexit, but now wanted someone with the ruthless streak of the prime minister who had closed the mines, Margaret Thatcher, to sort it out, once and for all.

“The country’s on its backside,” she said. “I’ve unfortunately had to vote for Boris. He’s the best of a bad bunch.”

She meant Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, the upper-class eccentric who defied half a century of political geography on Thursday to tear through Labour’s old coalition of small-town, working-class voters in the Midlands and north of England, a block of seats once thought so impregnable that it was called the Red Wall.

Down went at least nine seats that Labour had held without interruption since the Second World War. Down went a type of tribal politics in northern England, in which people inherited voting customs from their parents and grandparents, passing fights over mine closures and benefit cuts down the generations.

And down went Dennis Skinner, the so-called Beast of Bolsover, an ex-miner and Labour lawmaker whose fusion of socialism and pro-Brexit values had put him in control of Bolsover, the constituency around Barlborough, for 49 years.

For Labour, which suffered its worst election defeat since 1935, the results signaled the end of an era of being able to reach into both thriving cities and left-behind former mining villages for votes. The party’s two wings — pro- and anti-immigrant, young and old, university graduates and tradespeople — were cleaved.

“It’s the detachment of the Labour Party from great swaths of the country, which they seem not to sympathize with,” said Robert Tombs, a historian at the University of Cambridge. “That leaves the party in a pretty dire position in the long term, unless it can miraculously reinvent itself.”

The big, longstanding parties of the left started vanishing from Europe years ago as class alliances faded in a postindustrial economy. But the consequences of the political realignment in Britain, as in the United States, are much graver because their two-party systems prevent left-wing parties from simply resolving their differences by splitting.

The left is now squabbling on both sides of the Atlantic, with both the Labour and Democratic parties grappling with a rancorous battle between young activists and more moderate voters. The results yesterday in Britain were a sobering lesson in the consequences of destroying age-old party alliances before new ones had time to germinate, analysts said.

“You’ll have the pro-migration, culturally liberal left saying, ‘We don’t want to ally with racists,’ and you’ll have the socially conservative, economically left-wing part of the coalition saying, ‘We don’t ally with people who think we’re racists,’ and that’s a very, very hard argument to resolve,” said Rob Ford, a professor of politics at the University of Manchester.

By Friday morning, Britons awoke to a Labour Party largely consigned to the cities of England. The Conservatives, on the other hand, harnessed the power of Brexit to storm districts where the party’s brand had been toxic for generations.

In doing so, they replicated the success of President Trump in breaching the so-called Blue Wall in states like Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016, exploiting a combination of anti-immigrant messaging and dissolving class allegiances to take seats thought to belong to the Democrats.

But outside the pubs, churches, schoolhouses and trailers where people in Bolsover cast their ballots on Thursday, it was clear that many ex-Labour voters felt more at home for the moment in Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party than anywhere else.

They bemoaned a decade of broken promises, many of them made by the Conservative Party, but bought into Mr. Johnson’s idea that the political elite, and not his party, were to blame.

They were seething with anger: at immigrants, at Britain’s postindustrial economy and at the constant gaze of the country’s news media and political elite in the south, toward London.

And above all, the people who made up Labour’s old base in Bolsover unburdened themselves of their withering feelings about Mr. Corbyn, spitting epithets — “Marxist,” “terrorist sympathizer,” “idiot” — about a man who made them far more unhappy than even an old Etonian like Mr. Johnson could.

In Bolsover, the market town at the center of this sprawling district, one voter, Thomas, pointed from the polling station to where he had spent three decades working in a coal mine. For all its dangers, mining had held the promise of steady work and fair pay, and came with all the advantages of union protection now absent in the industries that took its place.

But for Thomas and his wife, Christine, who declined to give their last name because they did not want friends to know how they voted, frustration at the region’s decline became wedded to anger at the immigrant workers who took the low-wage jobs that replaced mining.

“Jobs there should have gone to ex-miners, not to foreign workers,” Christine said of a warehouse on the site of a nearby mine. “Instead you see ex-miners thrown in the scrap heap.”

They had just been shopping near the warehouse, and found themselves among so many Polish people that, Thomas said, “we were foreigners.”

Lifelong Labour voters, they broke from much of the party in supporting Brexit and then finally stopped voting for it because of Mr. Corbyn’s leadership, they said, dominated as it was by an economic agenda too far to the left and a leadership rooted in London.

“It hurts,” Thomas said, though not all his allegiance was lost. “I still am a Labour man. I’ll vote Labour again when they get rid of this lot.”

Britain’s political realignment holds risks for the Conservative Party, too.

Just as the Republicans in the United States seized the South, only to find themselves suddenly unable to win seats in places like New England, so too do the Conservatives risk losing their socially liberal voters in southern England if they become dominated by the ex-Labour heartlands of the north, Professor Ford said.

At the same time, in a country growing more diverse, the Labour Party will eventually benefit from aligning itself to socially liberal values — but not for some time, and not unless its supporters spread out across the electoral map, said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London.

Many voters in Bolsover described a drift from Labour that started years ago, well before Brexit, as ties to trade unions frayed and the Labour leadership became identified with increasing immigration.

But it was Brexit that cemented their vote for the Conservatives. While the idea of rerunning the Brexit referendum a second time had taken hold in London, it sounded to voters in Bolsover, Leavers and Remainers alike, like a serious threat to democratic legitimacy.

“There’s been a referendum, and there’s a will of the people to leave, despite my personal beliefs,” said Craig Beddow, a retail worker in the area. “I don’t think the country can risk a hung Parliament, because we’re just static now. Despite my beliefs about Remain, I think we need to get on with it and let the country move on.”

Not that he harbored any affection for Mr. Johnson, whom he called “the worst conservative leader in my lifetime.”

Barry Salt, another voter, had similar sentiments, saying that Mr. Johnson was “a fool,” but that Mr. Corbyn was worse: “He’s going to turn this into a communist state if he’s left alone.”

Many voters knew and loved Mr. Skinner, the longest-serving lawmaker running for a seat in this election, and some Labour loyalists said nothing could sway their vote.

“I’d vote for a donkey with a red rose on it,” said Jason Vardy, a bookmaker, referring to the symbol for Labour. His father, Stanley, an ex-miner, felt the same way: “If I voted Tory, my dad would’ve shot me.”

But for others, being a Labour lawmaker was exactly what was wrong with Mr. Skinner. Despite the lawmaker’s own pro-Brexit views, the Labour label put him on the side of the big-city elites who looked down their noses at the north.

“If he weren’t a Labour man, he’d be brilliant,” said Malcolm Shaw, a military veteran and ex-Labour voter, after ticking a box for the Conservatives.

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Splintered Isle: A Journey Through Brexit Britain

SHIREBROOK, England — There used to be a mine at the edge of this small town near the center of England. Now there is only a warehouse.

The mine provided coal that powered the country. The warehouse stores tracksuits.

The mine meant a job for life. The warehouse offers mostly temporary work for the lowest legal wage.

You work here, one worker told me in the drizzly parking lot last month, and you get treated like a monkey.

Shirebrook was the third stop of a 900-mile journey I made through Britain last month. I was trying to make sense of a splintered country in the run-up to the Dec. 12 general election. The outside world typically sees Britain through the affluence and cosmopolitanism of London, but other than one quick stop there, I went elsewhere, looking for people beyond the capital’s glare.

Everywhere I went, it felt as if the country were coming unbound. For all sorts of reasons, all sorts of people — Leavers and Remainers; blue- and white-collar; Jews and Muslims; English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh — felt alienated and unmoored.

At times, I was reminded that electoral politics are far removed from many people’s priorities, which range from simply making a living to fighting global warming. “There’s no Brexit on a dead planet,” said Lauren McDonald, a Glasgow student who recently quit college to mobilize against climate change.

Again and again, though, people came back to the politics of nationalism, austerity and economic alienation. And in Shirebrook and beyond, the frustrations were rooted in Brexit.

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Shirebrook has struggled to recover since the local mine closed in 1993.

Since the surrounding constituency was formed in 1950, its mostly working-class residents have always elected a Labour lawmaker.

Then came the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which seven in 10 local voters supported Britain’s departure from the European Union. Many are now furious that the country still hasn’t left.

“Every time you turn the television on, it’s all Brexit,” said Kevin Cann, a Shirebrook resident and former miner who voted to leave. “By now it should have been done, dusted.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a pro-Brexit Conservative, hopes to turn his minority government into a majority by capitalizing on that frustration. For the first time ever, that could tip Shirebrook’s seat to the Conservatives, a party once detested in mining constituencies like this one.

“Miners now are like, ‘Oh, Boris, Boris,’” said Alan Gascoyne, who once headed the mine’s union branch and now runs a former miners’ club.

“Crazy,” he added.

The local warehouse is at the heart of this extraordinary shift, both in Shirebrook and across post-industrial England.

It was built in 2005 on the site of the town’s former coal pit. For years, the mine was the pride of Shirebrook — the reason the town was built in 1896. The work there was dangerous, but it provided secure jobs, fair salaries and pensions, as well as a sense of purpose and community.

The pit was “like the mother,” Mr. Gascoyne said. “The mother sort of looked after everybody.”

But the mine closed in 1993, amid a wider process of deindustrialization and privatization carried out by the same Conservative Party that Mr. Johnson now leads.

Twelve grim years later, it was physically replaced by the warehouse, but the emotional void remained. The warehouse provides more jobs than the mine did, but it is mostly low-paid work in humiliating conditions.

A worker gave birth in the warehouse and left the baby in a bathroom. Others were penalized for taking short breaks to drink water. A parliamentary inquiry found that the owners, Sports Direct, treated its workers “without dignity or respect.”

Most residents refused to work in such a degrading environment, so the jobs are largely taken by people from poorer parts of the European Union. In the local consciousness, the concept of regional decline then became fused with that of European immigration, instead of neoliberal economics.

“I looked at what was around me, and I looked at the dilution of wages — because Europeans are coming in,” said Franco Passarelli, the son of Italian immigrants, explaining why he voted to leave the European Union. “We’re only a small island, and if people keep coming in, basically the country is starting to implode.”

In a Brexit-less world, this town might still vote en masse for Labour. The party’s manifesto promises to raise the minimum wage and scrap the kinds of employment contracts used at the warehouse.

But all of this has been trumped by Brexit.

Before joining the European Union, Britain was “quite a wealthy country,” said Mr. Cann, the former miner. “Why can’t we be that again?”

In Shirebrook, as in much of Britain, I sensed that following through with Brexit was seen as something that could restore the social fabric. But elsewhere, it was chewing at the ties that bind.

For some wealthy Londoners, who typically vote Conservative but also like Europe, Brexit has undermined their support for Mr. Johnson’s party. For some ethnic and religious minorities, it is even menacing.

To illustrate this point, Maxie Hayles, a veteran campaigner for racial equality, took me to a hotel in the puddled center of Birmingham, Britain’s second city.

The hotel had long been refurbished, its floor plan altered, even its name changed. But finally, Mr. Hayles found a particular room.

This was the place where in 1968 Enoch Powell, then a Conservative government minister, made a notoriously racist speech claiming immigration would ruin Britain. To this day, that speech remains synonymous for some Britons with prejudice and division. Mr. Hayles, who was then a 25-year-old Jamaican immigrant, still remembers the fear it gave his community.

Britain has since changed. A black-owned business now occupies Mr. Powell’s office. The hotel room has been divided in two, repaneled and recarpeted. But Brexit risks tearing up the metaphorical carpet again, Mr. Hayles warned.

Racist attacks increased around the time of the referendum campaign, by about a fifth. The prime minister has compared hijab-wearers to mailboxes. And Mr. Powell has a modern-day cheerleader in Nigel Farage, Brexit’s biggest proponent.

“We’re not into good times, in terms of Brexit and what it means for black minorities in Britain,” Mr. Hayles said. “It’s serious days ahead.”

In London, at a rabbinical school in a 300-year-old manor house, I had lunch with Laura Janner-Klausner, the most senior rabbi in British Reform Judaism.

She is no Brexit supporter, but she also fears prejudice from another quarter: Under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party’s leadership has been slow to address instances of anti-Semitism.

Addressing poverty is a moral issue for Jews, Rabbi Janner-Klausner said. “Which is why, in the past, the natural place for Jews in this country was the Labour party.”

So while she and many Jewish voters have traditionally voted Labour — her father was a Labour lawmaker, as was his father before him — she will not in this election.

She is not alone. Several Labour lawmakers have quit in horror, including Luciana Berger, who is running in Rabbi Janner-Klausner’s constituency for the Liberal Democrats, a rival centrist party.

And last month, the spiritual head of Britain’s Orthodox Jews said Mr. Corbyn’s leadership put at stake “the very soul of our nation.”

Rabbi Janner-Klausner did not go as far. She said that the biggest threat to British minorities remained the far right.

“But here,” she said, “I will vote for Luciana.”

We turned left at the pink pub, through the mist, then up into the Welsh mountains. Down a track to the right stood the Davies’s farm. Ceri Davies was in the barn behind the house, checking the renovations.

Wales does not loom large in British political discourse. Its independence movement is smaller than Scotland’s. But even in these remote uplands, something is nevertheless stirring, partly thanks to Brexit.

Mr. Davies has lived all of his life in this single valley, barring three months in a nearby town. He speaks Welsh with friends and didn’t know a word of English until school. His father was a sheep farmer, and so is Mr. Davies. His 750 sheep grazed on the slopes above us.

Brexit threatens that — hence the barn.

Like many British farms, Mr. Davies’s business breaks even only because of a subsidy from the European Union. Worse still, Europe beyond Britain’s borders buys about a third of Welsh lamb.

The Conservatives have promised to replace the subsidies with new payments. But if European officials place tariffs on British meat after Brexit, it might ruin farms like Mr. Davies’s.

“It is pretty scary,” he said.

So the barn, along with the lush meadow behind it, is his insurance. Mr. Davies and his wife, Rebecca Ingleby-Davies, plan to turn the meadow into a luxury campsite, or “glampsite.” The barn will house the showers.

There is an irony to it: Idealized as a return to British traditions and heritage, Brexit might instead finish some of them off.

“This area is really built around farming,” Ms. Ingleby-Davies said. “If you take that away, then you’re going to lose a massive amount of culture and community.”

Not to mention the Welsh language, which is spoken more often in rural areas.

Mr. Davies is sanguine — he gets on with everybody, even the people whose Brexit votes might wreck his business. But Ms. Ingleby-Davies finds it harder to forget. There are people she now avoids, certain gatherings she boycotts.

That frustration has swelled into something more profound. She wants Wales to stay in the European Union — as an independent country.

That is still a minority view. But polling suggests that up to a third of Welsh voters are warming to the idea as Brexit rumbles on and the specter of English nationalism rises.

“I wouldn’t consider myself a nationalistic person,” Ms. Ingleby-Davies said. But she thought that an independent Wales, protected by the European Union, would be “stronger than just being, you know, an afterthought in London.”

The ferry slid from the Liverpool docks, past the red cranes and into the Irish Sea. Outside, the waves were gentle. In the canteen, passengers were seething.

Alan Kinney set aside his tuna salad to make his point. “It would be a big, big betrayal,” he said.

The cause of his anger was the sea itself: This stretch of water between two parts of the United Kingdom — Britain and Northern Ireland — has become the latest obstacle to Brexit.

During the last decades of the 20th century, nationalists in Northern Ireland unsuccessfully fought to reunite the territory, which remains under British control, with the Republic of Ireland, which won independence in 1922. Most paramilitaries put down their arms in 1998, after a peace deal opened the land border between northern and southern Ireland.

To avoid enforcing post-Brexit customs checks on that land border, Mr. Johnson has effectively agreed to treat the entire island of Ireland as a single customs area. Customs checks will instead be enforced on goods crossing between Britain and Northern Ireland, in sea ferries like this one.

That might placate many Irish nationalists. But it has enraged the territory’s loyalists — Northern Irish residents, mainly from Protestant backgrounds, who want to remain within the United Kingdom. They feel the customs checks would create a reunified Ireland in all but name.

Mr. Kinney, a member of the Orange Order, a hard-line loyalist group, pulled a magazine from his bag.

“No to a sea border,” the centerfold read. “No to an economic united Ireland! No surrender!”

The next article was about Catholic pedophiles.

Three tables away, Tim McKee fortunately had not heard our conversation. A nationalist, Mr. McKee certainly did not want a land border. But a sea border was no good either: It might set off a violent backlash from loyalist paramilitaries. He feared a repeat of the 1970s, when he was nearly blown up by loyalist bomb.

“Johnson’s actions,” he whispered, “are going to kill my friends.”

Dotted throughout the cabins, several loyalists echoed Mr. Kinney and several nationalists agreed with Mr. McKee. But Susan and Jack Price bucked the trend.

The Prices were Protestants by birth. But forced to choose, they would prefer a sea border within the United Kingdom to a land border with Ireland.

Perhaps more surprisingly, both said Brexit had made them more supportive of Irish reunification. Though loyalist by background, they ultimately felt more attachment to Europe than Britain.

“I just feel,” said Mr. Price, a teacher, “that being a European is more important.”

In a wasteland on the edge of the Scottish town of Motherwell, our final stop, Tommy Brennan pointed out things that were no longer there.

There had stood the factory gates, he said, there the cooling towers. This was once one of Europe’s biggest steelworks, where Mr. Brennan first worked in 1943.

But now there was nothing but yellowing grass. Once bigger than Central Park, the Ravenscraig steelworks was shut and dismantled in 1992, after being privatized by London’s Conservative government. That put an estimated 10,000 residents out of work, including Mr. Brennan.

In Shirebrook, I saw how deindustrialization eventually contributed to Brexit. But in Motherwell it helped heighten resentment of the British state rather than of Europe: In 2016, this area voted to stay in the European Union, but in a Scottish independence referendum in 2014 it favored leaving the United Kingdom.

Mr. Brennan was among those voters — he had concluded that London would never prioritize Scottish interests. “If we’d been an independent nation when Ravenscraig closed,” he said, “it would never have closed.”

Yet alienation takes many forms, even in the same town. After talking with Mr. Brennan, I crossed Motherwell to meet a woman born the year after the steelworks closed.

With little permanent work in a post-steel Motherwell, Ashleigh Melia had spent her adult life in temporary jobs on the minimum wage. Now, in her work as a cleaner, employers sometimes send her away as soon as she arrives — there’s no work that day, and therefore no pay.

The Conservatives’ decision to shrink the British state in recent years, cutting welfare payments by about $40 billion, has also squeezed her family. Her 4-year-old daughter, half-blind and half-deaf, has been denied disability allowances worth up to $460 a month.

Fired from her latest job in October, Ms. Melia now struggles to pay bills, her four children joining the 600,000 British minors who have fallen into poverty under the Conservatives.

To cut electricity costs, she encourages them to play in the dark.

But unlike with Mr. Brennan, all of this has not led to political engagement. Rushing from job interviews to hospital appointments, and with no internet at home, she had no time to think about politics.

She couldn’t name most political parties. She had no opinion on Scottish independence.

It was a reminder of another reality — one in which many find it hard enough to live, without worrying how to vote.

The steelworks?

Ms. Melia had never heard of it.

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