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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Deportation"

More Than 900 Children Have Been Expelled Under a Pandemic Border Policy

The last time Sandra Rodríguez saw her son Gerson, she bent down to look him in the eye. “Be good,” she said, instructing him to behave when he encountered Border Patrol agents on the other side of the river in the United States, and when he was reunited with his uncle in Houston.

The 10-year-old nodded, giving his mother one last squinty smile. Tears caught in his dimples, she recalled, as he climbed into a raft and pushed out across the Rio Grande toward Texas from Mexico, guided by a stranger who was also trying to reach the United States.

Ms. Rodríguez expected that Gerson would be held by the Border Patrol for a few days and then transferred to a government shelter for migrant children, from which her brother in Houston would eventually be able to claim him. But Gerson seemed to disappear on the other side of the river. For six frantic days, she heard nothing about her son — no word that he had been taken into custody, no contact with the uncle in Houston.

Finally, she received a panicked phone call from a cousin in Honduras who said that Gerson was with her. The little boy was crying and disoriented, his relatives said; he seemed confused about how he had ended up back in the dangerous place he had fled.

Hundreds of migrant children and teenagers have been swiftly deported by American authorities amid the coronavirus pandemic without the opportunity to speak to a social worker or plea for asylum from the violence in their home countries — a reversal of years of established practice for dealing with young foreigners who arrive in the United States.

The deportations represent an extraordinary shift in policy that has been unfolding in recent weeks on the southwestern border, under which safeguards that have for decades been granted to migrant children by both Democratic and Republican administrations appear to have been abandoned.

Historically, young migrants who showed up at the border without adult guardians were provided with shelter, education, medical care and a lengthy administrative process that allowed them to make a case for staying in the United States. Those who were eventually deported were sent home only after arrangements had been made to assure they had a safe place to return to.

That process appears to have been abruptly thrown out under President Trump’s latest border decrees. Some young migrants have been deported within hours of setting foot on American soil. Others have been rousted from their beds in the middle of the night in U.S. government shelters and put on planes out of the country without any notification to their families.

The Trump administration is justifying the new practices under a 1944 law that grants the president broad power to block foreigners from entering the country in order to prevent the “serious threat” of a dangerous disease. But immigration officials in recent weeks have also been abruptly expelling migrant children and teenagers who were already in the United States when the pandemic-related order came down in late March.

Since the decree was put in effect, hundreds of young migrants have been deported, including some who had asylum appeals pending in the court system.

Some of the young people have been flown back to Central America, while others have been pushed back into Mexico, where thousands of migrants are living in filthy tent camps and overrun shelters.

In March and April, the most recent period for which data was available, 915 young migrants were expelled shortly after reaching the American border, and 60 were shipped home from the interior of the country.

During the same period, at least 166 young migrants were allowed into the United States and afforded the safeguards that were once customary. But in another unusual departure, Customs and Border Protection has refused to disclose how the government was determining which legal standards to apply to which children.

“We just can’t put it out there,” said Matthew Dyman, a public affairs specialist with the agency, citing concerns that human smugglers would exploit the information to traffic more people into the country if they knew how the laws were being applied.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration extended the stepped-up border security that allows for young migrants to be expelled at the border, saying the policy would remain in place indefinitely and be reviewed every 30 days.

Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said the policy had been “one of the most critical tools the department has used to prevent the further spread of the virus and to protect the American people, D.H.S. front-line officers and those in their care and custody from Covid-19.”

An agency spokesman said its policies for deporting children from within the interior of the country had not changed.

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Amid Mr. Trump’s efforts to block migrants from seeking refuge in the United States, the administration has been scrutinized especially for its treatment of the most vulnerable among them — children.

Democratic members of Congress argue that the swift deportations taking place now violate the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a 20-year-old federal law that lays out standards for the treatment of foreign children who arrive at the American border without an adult guardian.

In a letter last month to Mr. Wolf, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said the moves had “no known precedent or clear legal rationale.”

Immigrant advocates say their pleas for help ensuring that the children have somewhere safe to go when they land have been ignored. Since the coronavirus was first discovered in the United States in January, 239 unaccompanied minors have been returned to Guatemala, and 183 have been returned to Honduras, according to government figures.

“The fact that nobody knows who these kids are and there are hundreds of them is really terrifying,” said Jennifer Nagda, policy director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. “There’s no telling if they’ve been returned to smugglers or into harm’s way.”

Before daybreak one morning late last month, Pedro Buezo Romero, 16, was taken from his bed in a shelter in New York and told to pack a suitcase so he could be taken to a court appearance in Florida.

Instead, the teenager ended up on four flights over two days. He was able to sleep for a few hours in a hotel room in Miami shared by three adult employees of a private security company hired to transport him and two other migrant teenagers.

Only before boarding his final flight to Honduras from Texas did the adults reveal to Pedro that he was being deported. When he arrived in Honduras, he had to borrow the cellphone of an immigration official to ask his cousin for a place to stay.

Pedro’s mother has not been seen since the shelter in Mexico where they had been staying together was ransacked by gang members. He and his mother were separated during the ordeal, after which Pedro decided to cross the border alone.

While Pedro was in transit, his lawyers had worked frantically to try to locate him but did not receive any response from the federal government. “There were two or three days we had no idea where he was,” said Katty Vera de Fisher, a supervising migration counselor for Catholic Charities of New York.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172451310_d51bd67b-4a6d-4d35-9f8f-e84b3e74a66d-articleLarge More Than 900 Children Have Been Expelled Under a Pandemic Border Policy United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Immigration Detention Immigration and Emigration Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US) Illegal Immigration Deportation Customs and Border Protection (US) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Children and Childhood Border Patrol (US) Asylum, Right of
Credit…via Pedro Buezo Romero

Some of the children who have been expelled from the United States were previously ordered deported. But historically, even children with prior deportation orders have been given new opportunities to request asylum if they entered the United States again. Now, that appears to have changed.

Lawyers representing children threatened with deportation say they are having to engage in 11th-hour legal maneuvers to try to prevent deportations from happening.

Last week, Hannah Flamm, an immigration lawyer in New York, had only hours to try to stop the repatriation of a 14-year-old client after learning the girl had been booked by ICE on a 3 a.m. flight to Honduras.

The girl’s family had not been notified of her imminent arrival. Ms. Flamm managed to secure an emergency stay of the deportation at 11:47 p.m., at which point the girl was allowed to go back to sleep in the shelter where she was staying.

Ricardo Rodríguez Galo, the uncle of the 10-year-old boy who was deported this month, said he was shocked to learn that Gerson had been sent back to Honduras alone.

Mr. Rodríguez said he worried about the boy’s safety in Honduras, where his sister’s former partner had beaten the boy and his mother and withheld food from them. Mr. Rodríguez also wondered about the judgment of American authorities who chose to put a child on a plane without notifying any of his family members, including those who had been waiting in the United States to take the boy into their home.

“I’m not going to tell you that we were going to shower him with riches,” Mr. Rodríguez said. “We’re poor, but we were going to fight to support him. We were going to welcome him like he deserved.”

Kirk Semple contributed reporting.

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Before Covid-19, Trump Aide Sought to Use Disease to Close Borders

Westlake Legal Group 00virus-immigration01-facebookJumbo Before Covid-19, Trump Aide Sought to Use Disease to Close Borders Miller, Stephen (1985- ) Immigration and Emigration Deportation Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

From the early days of the Trump administration, Stephen Miller, the president’s chief adviser on immigration, has repeatedly tried to use an obscure law designed to protect the nation from diseases overseas as a way to tighten the borders.

The question was, which disease?

Mr. Miller pushed for invoking the president’s broad public health powers in 2019, when an outbreak of mumps spread through immigration detention facilities in six states. He tried again that year when Border Patrol stations were hit with the flu.

When vast caravans of migrants surged toward the border in 2018, Mr. Miller looked for evidence that they carried illnesses. He asked for updates on American communities that received migrants to see if new disease was spreading there.

In 2018, dozens of migrants became seriously ill in federal custody, and two under the age of 10 died within three weeks of each other. While many viewed the incidents as resulting from negligence on the part of the border authorities, Mr. Miller instead argued that they supported his argument that President Trump should use his public health powers to justify sealing the borders.

On some occasions, Mr. Miller and the president, who also embraced these ideas, were talked down by cabinet secretaries and lawyers who argued that the public health situation at the time did not provide sufficient legal basis for such a proclamation.

That changed with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.

Within days of the confirmation of the first case in the United States, the White House shut American land borders to nonessential travel, closing the door to almost all migrants, including children and teenagers who arrived at the border with no parent or other adult guardian. Other international travel restrictions were introduced, as well as a pause on green card processing at American consular offices, which Mr. Miller told conservative allies in a recent private phone call was only the first step in a broader plan to restrict legal immigration.

But what has been billed by the White House as an urgent response to the coronavirus pandemic was in large part repurposed from old draft executive orders and policy discussions that have taken place repeatedly since Mr. Trump took office and have now gained new legitimacy, three former officials who were involved in the earlier deliberations said.

One official said the ideas about invoking public health and other emergency powers had been on a “wish list” of about 50 ideas to curtail immigration that Mr. Miller crafted within the first six months of the administration.

He had come up with the proposals, the official said, by poring through not just existing immigration laws, but the entire federal code to look for provisions that would allow the president to halt the flow of migrants into the United States.

Administration officials have repeatedly said the latest measures are needed to prevent new cases of infection from entering the country.

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“This is a public health order that we’re operating under right now,” Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told reporters earlier this month. “This is not about immigration. What’s transpiring right now is purely about infectious disease and public health.”

The White House declined to comment on the matter, but a senior administration official confirmed details of the past discussions.

The architect of the president’s assault on immigration and one of Mr. Trump’s closest advisers inside the White House, Mr. Miller has relentlessly pushed for tough restrictions on legal and illegal immigration, including policies that sought to separate families crossing the southwest border, force migrants seeking asylum to wait in squalid camps in Mexico and deny green cards to poor immigrants.

Mr. Miller argues that reducing immigration will protect jobs for American workers and keep communities safe from criminals. But critics accuse him of targeting nonwhite immigrants, pointing in part to leaked emails from his time before entering the White House in which he cited white nationalist websites and magazines and promoted theories popular with white nationalist groups.

The idea that immigrants carry infections into the country echoes a racist notion with a long history in the United States that associates minorities with disease.

The federal law on public health that Mr. Miller has long wanted to use grants power to the surgeon general and president to block people from entering the United States when it is necessary to avert a “serious danger” posed by the presence of a communicable disease in foreign countries.

The administration in adopting the latest restrictions on immigration has relied not only on that public health authority, but also on another provision of federal law that allows the president to deny entry to foreigners whose presence “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

The provision, section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, grants broad power to the president, but sets a high legal bar for its use. The Reagan administration invoked it to block large numbers of Haitians traveling by sea to seek asylum in the United States, and during the Obama administration, it was used to enforce sanctions against Iran.

The Trump administration has made use of the authority on occasion, including the sanctions imposed on Iran and a travel ban directed at six predominantly Muslim countries in 2017 as a purported defense against terrorism. But the president has often expressed frustration at being discouraged from using the authority more often and in policies that are more sweeping in scope, including when record numbers of migrant families surged across the southern border.

He seemed to discount the stringent standards required to invoke it, often referring to it as his “magical authority” to restrict immigration, one of the former officials who was present for the discussions said.

Mr. Miller also frequently expressed interest in using the 212(f) authority. On more than one occasion, the official said, he discussed it as a backup option in case the courts blocked a policy such as the administration’s public charge rule, which prevents people who have used public benefits from obtaining green cards.

The use of section 212(f) and the public health authority during the pandemic is in keeping with a defining characteristic of Mr. Miller, as described by the three former officials who worked in proximity to him: His refusal to let things go. When advised that a proposed policy is not legal, they said, he works steadily to find an alternative justification and continues to raise the issue.

The former officials who were present for the discussions said Mr. Miller suggested using the president’s public health authority to seal the border so frequently that it was difficult to recall specific scenarios.

In repeated meetings in the Oval Office, in the Situation Room and during late-night phone diatribes that gave few opportunities for his colleagues to chime in, they said, Mr. Miller pushed the idea as a legal silver bullet.

He and others in the administration frequently talked about migrants as potential vectors of disease, they said. Mr. Miller cited historical precedent for invoking the president’s public health powers, pointing out that many immigrants were refused entry at Ellis Island in the late 19th century amid concerns that contagious diseases could be brought in to overcrowded cities.

During the mumps outbreak in 2019, after other White House advisers disagreed with the use of the public health authority to halt immigration, Mr. Miller ordered federal immigration officials to begin generating reports on the level of infection among detained migrants for White House review.

In the meantime, he encouraged the State Department to step up medical screenings of migrants, and crafted a presidential proclamation barring entry for immigrants who could not afford to purchase health insurance, a measure that was blocked by a federal judge.

The coronavirus pandemic has created an opening for some of Mr. Miller’s other longstanding policy goals, such as finding a way to quickly deport children who travel to the United States without a parent or other adult. Mr. Miller considered that category of migrants among the most difficult to stop, said one official who had discussed it with him, because the young people are protected legally by substantial due process requirements designed to ensure that deportation would not place them in harm’s way.

Since border crossings were scaled back under the coronavirus restrictions, even unaccompanied children and teenagers have been turned away.

While the administration succeeded in invoking the public health authority to impose the new border restrictions, that is only one of a number of aggressive legal strategies Mr. Miller has proposed, some of which have not been adopted.

At one point in the first year of the administration, Mr. Miller proposed designating smugglers, who are often paid to help migrants across the rugged and cartel-controlled terrain of the southwest border, as terrorists, one of the former officials said. Mr. Miller, the official said, argued that this would allow U.S. authorities to deny entry to asylum seekers on the grounds that they had aided a foreign terrorist organization during their journeys.

Mr. Miller has also drawn up plans to expand security on the southern border.

Over the years, some national guard and military officers have been deployed there, but they have been relegated mostly to stringing up concertina wire because of legal restrictions on their ability to operate in the United States.

To overcome those hurdles, Mr. Miller has proposed invoking the Insurrection Act, a law written in the 1800s, that allows for the military to be deployed in the face of civil unrest. Under that law, he said, military officers would gain the authority to prevent migrants from crossing the border.

The law has not yet been invoked.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.

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Turkey’s Deportations Force Europe to Face Its ISIS Militants

Westlake Legal Group merlin_163136634_c48fc4a7-2965-42f7-89d6-828255a0a973-facebookJumbo Turkey’s Deportations Force Europe to Face Its ISIS Militants Turkey Terrorism Politics and Government Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Immigration and Emigration Great Britain Gondal, Tooba France Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Detainees Deportation

PARIS — As Turkey followed through on its threat to release more Islamic State detainees last week, Western European nations were confronted with a problem they had long sought to avoid: what to do about the potential return of radicalized, often battle-hardened Europeans to countries that absolutely do not want them back.

Faced with fierce popular opposition to the repatriation of such detainees and fears over the long-term threat they could pose back home, European leaders have sought alternative ways to prosecute them — in an international tribunal, on Iraqi soil, anywhere but on the Continent.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, made more powerful by a sudden shift in American policy, is determined to foist the problem of the captured European Islamic State fighters back on the countries they came from.

Last week, Turkey sent a dozen former Islamic State members and relatives to Britain, Denmark, Germany and the United States, and Mr. Erdogan says hundreds more are right behind them.

“All of the European countries, especially those with most of the foreign fighters, have desperately been looking for the past year for a way to deal with them without bringing them back,” said Rik Coolsaet, an expert on radicalization at the Egmont Institute, a Brussels-based research group. “But now, European nations are being forced to consider repatriation since Turkey is going to put people on the plane.”

The sudden problem for Europe is a long-tail consequence of President Trump’s precipitous decision last month to withdraw American forces from northern Syria, which cleared the way for Turkey to take control of territory as well as many of the Islamic State members who had been held there in Kurdish-run prisons or detention camps.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that nearly two-thirds of the Western European detainees, or about 700, are children, many of whom have lost one parent, if not both.

Now that more of the former fighters are in Turkish hands, Mr. Erdogan has not hesitated to use the threat of returning them as leverage over European countries who have been deeply critical of his incursion, and who have threatened sanctions against Turkey for unauthorized oil drilling in the eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus.

The fate of the former fighters and their families has become yet another point of contention between Turkey and Europe, which is already paying Mr. Erdogan’s government billions of dollars to stem the flow of asylum seekers from conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Turkey is already home to some three million refugees from the Syria conflict, and Mr. Erdogan is determined to lighten his country’s load. But his real intent remains unclear: Does he really plan to send back all foreign fighters to Europe? Or is he opening the spigot, with the threat of a flood to come, to wring concessions from Europe?

What is clear is that with limited military reach in Syria, European nations are ever more vulnerable to Mr. Erdogan’s whims. Turkish officials say that Turkey now holds 2,280 Islamic State members from 30 countries, and that all of them will be deported.

The problem is not Europe’s alone. On Friday, Turkey deported an American it described as an Islamic State member, Muhammad Darwish Bassam, to the United States. Last week, a federal judge in the United States ruled that an American-born woman who joined the Islamic State in 2014 was not an American citizen, potentially thwarting her return.

But the numbers and risks for Europe are far greater than for the United States. More than 1,100 citizens of countries in Western Europe are believed to be detained in northern Syria in territory once controlled by the Islamic State, according to a recent study by the Egmont Institute.

Their potential return has confronted European justice systems with competing security and civil liberties demands as they attempt to vet returnees, decide whether to detain them, and build cases on potential crimes that often happened hundred of miles away on remote Syrian battlefields.

France, the Western European nation with the most detainees in Syria, is getting ready to take back 11 former Islamic State members. The Netherlands has also agreed to take back some of its citizens.

On Thursday, a 26-year-old man suspected of being an Islamic State fighter was arrested after landing at London’s Heathrow Airport on a flight from Turkey.

That same day, seven members of a German-Iraqi family arrived in Berlin from Turkey, from which they had been deported after several months in custody over suspected links to terrorism.

The father was detained, but the other family members were allowed to return to their homes.

On Friday, a woman deported by Turkey was detained upon arrival at Frankfurt Airport on suspicion of being a member of a terrorist organization abroad. Federal prosecutors in Germany said the woman, a German citizen identified only as Nasim A., left the country in 2014 and married an ISIS fighter, whom she supported until Kurdish-led security forces detained her this year.

A second woman was released after landing in Germany, but will be tracked by experts on de-radicalization.

German officials said they believed more than 130 people left the country to join ISIS, 95 of whom were German citizens and had the right to return to the country. Nearly a third of the Germans are under investigation by federal prosecutors.

French officials said there had been no change in French policy, which opposes repatriation from Syria.

But pressure has been building, and security experts and some government officials have increasingly warned that the repatriation of militants — and their processing in European courts and detention in prisons — would be the only way to ensure Europe’s safety.

The deteriorating situation in northern Syria, some experts say, further increases the need for an orderly repatriation to Europe.

Left in Syria, more detainees could fall into the hands of Turkish forces or the Syrian government, which could use them as bargaining chips with the West.

Others could run away and try to regroup, or be taken back by Islamic State sleeper cells, as is feared in the case of some women who recently escaped from a camp in the region.

“There are a lot of risks associated with the policy of leaving them where they are,’’ said Anthony Dworkin, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations who has studied the Islamic State’s foreign fighters.

The potential dangers and difficulties are vividly demonstrated in the case of Tooba Gondal, a 25-year-old French citizen of Pakistani origin who grew up and lived in London until she traveled to Syria in 2015. She is believed to still be in the custody of the Turkish authorities.

A mother of two, she does not speak French and had spent most of her life in Britain, and although French intelligence services knew of her case, it is unclear that they had expected her to come to France.

“Tooba Gondal is a very notorious ISIS female recruiter, but until recently she wasn’t on the radar of French intelligence services,” said Jean-Charles Brisard of the Paris-based Center for Analysis of Terrorism, who was first to reveal that she would be deported.

A former London university student, Ms. Gondal became known in the British news media as an Islamic State “matchmaker.” She is accused of persuading other young Western women, like the British schoolgirl Shamima Begum, to marry Islamic State fighters.

She also posed with assault rifles in pictures on social media, and praised the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015.

In recent months, Ms. Gondal has pleaded to be taken back to Britain, which had issued an expulsion order against her in 2018. She declared in an open letter to The Sunday Times of London that she was a “changed person” who wished to “face justice in a British court.” As a non-British citizen but a French passport holder, she is now likely to be deported to France.

France has already repatriated more than 250 Islamic State fighters and their families from Turkey since signing a bilateral agreement with the government there in 2014. But 400 French citizens are still estimated to be detained in Syria, according to the Egmont Institute, and France does not want them back.

Instead, France wants Iraq to try them, especially the male fighters. French officials have led European negotiations with the Iraqi government to set up trials in Iraq. But disagreements between Iraqi and European officials — over legal matters like the death penalty and costs — have prevented an accord.

“It is legitimate that people who have committed terrorist acts should be judged closest to the place where they committed those said terrorist acts,’’ Sibeth Ndiaye, a spokeswoman for the French government, said at a meeting of the Anglo-American Press Association.

The other French citizens expected to return home — three Frenchwomen and their five children, all under 4 years old — were held in the camp of Ain Issa, according to their lawyer, Marie Dosé.

She said the families escaped in mid-October when the facility was abandoned by Kurdish forces. “They have risked their lives and their children’s to join Turkey and be expelled to France,” Ms. Dosé said.

For more than a year, Ms. Dosé and other French lawyers have fought to bring the mothers back with their children, as the women argued that they wanted to be tried at home. Last year, when a French television crew met one of the four women set to be deported, she said she wouldn’t leave without her son.

“If he leaves, I’m leaving with him,” said Amandine le Coz, a 29-year-old woman who grew up in a suburb near Paris. “He’s my life.”

In France and other European nations, the stories of people like Ms. le Coz and Ms. Gondal have elicited little sympathy.

“There’s been more sympathy for vulnerable children, but as you go up to adults, there’s a lot of pushback against women and there’s even more pushback against male militants,’’ said Joana Cook, a researcher at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization in London.

Dr. Cook, who has studied women and children who have returned to their home countries from Syria, said there had been no known incidents involving returnees.

Instead, terrorist cases, including the failed attempt to ignite a car loaded with gas canisters near the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, involved women who had become radicalized at home and had never stepped foot in Syria.

In France, about 100 people who returned from Syria have already been judged and given sentences averaging 10 years, Mr. Brisard said. Some of those serving the shortest sentences have already been released, he said.

“They’ll be freed one day, that’s for sure,’’ Mr. Brisard said. “But it’s preferable that they be incarcerated in French prisons from where they can’t escape. And after they’ve served their sentences, it’s preferable that they be tracked by a competent intelligence service. In Iraq or Syria, I don’t have much faith in their intelligence services keeping track of our jihadists.’’

Norimitsu Onishi reported from Paris, and Elian Peltier from London. Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from Istanbul, and Melissa Eddy from Berlin.

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Cop suspended for detaining illegal alien back on the job

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Well, that didn’t take long at all, did it? Just yesterday we were discussing the case of the Fairfax County, Virginia police officer who was suspended from his duties for detaining an illegal alien at a traffic stop. At the scene of an automobile accident, the cop discovered the driver didn’t have a valid driver’s license. Upon running his name through the DMV, he learned that the driver was an illegal alien with a warrant for failing to appear at a deportation hearing. He notified the ICE agent assigned to the case, who arrived and took the illegal immigrant into custody.

For this, he was suspended from his law enforcement duties. But the resulting outcry from around the country was apparently more heat than the police chief who suspended him wanted to handle. Only a day later, the cop has been returned to full duty. (Washington Times)

Stung by a public outcry, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. announced Wednesday that he had canceled the suspension and restored to duty an officer who had turned an illegal immigrant over to ICE.

Chief Roessler said an investigation is still ongoing but he ended the officer’s suspension after a “procedural policy recommendation” as of Friday.

“We have one of the best police forces in the U.S. and I have confidence that our officer will represent us well throughout his career,” the chief said in a statement.

The report cites “offers of assistance and support for the officer” that poured in from around the country. While the police chief didn’t mention it, it’s not difficult to imagine that their email inbox was filling up quickly and their phone lines were busy. Perhaps that was what it took to help the Chief see the light.

But this move doesn’t really solve anything, at least as I see it. Chief Roessler isn’t apologizing for what he did, nor is he suggesting a change in policy. At most, all he’s really doing is “forgiving” the officer for his sins and letting him go back to work, confident that he will “represent us well throughout his career.”

That doesn’t change the fact that you’ve already publicly shamed the guy and turned him into a target for the woke brigade. After the “immigrant-rights activists” went out to publicly praise Chief Roessler for his “bold” decision to suspend the officer for doing his job, they will now no doubt turn their collective anger on the cop and retract all the nice things they said about the Chief. In the end, the Chief comes out looking indecisive and vulnerable to public pressure and bad press reports.

There are no winners in this story and there won’t be until Virginia and Fairfax County go back to upholding the rule of law. But they clearly have no plans to do so at present, so we can expect to see more of these sorry episodes in the future.

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Virginia cop turns illegal alien over to ICE and then things get weird

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I keep dreaming that the day will come when we’ll stop seeing these stories and having to report on them, but that day is still not here. This time we’re talking about a recent incident in Fairfax County, Virginia. A police officer responded to the scene of an automobile accident and began the usual investigation. The driver of one of the vehicles turned out to not have a valid Virginia driver’s license, so the officer ran his name through the DMV and discovered that he was in the country illegally and had a bench warrant out for failing to appear at a deportation hearing.

The officer had the name of the ICE agent assigned to the case, so he contacted them and waited on the scene for the agent to arrive. The driver received a ticket for driving without a license and was then turned over to immigration officials. What happened next is a sad story of the decline of the rule of law in this country. The cop was almost immediately suspended from his duties on the force. Be sure to read this next bit. (National Review)

Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler lamented the incident and assured the officer is being disciplined.

“This is an unfortunate issue where the officer was confused,” the police chief said, according to the Washington Post. “We have trained on this issue a lot. This is the first time we’ve had a lapse in judgment, and the officer is being punished.”

The officer has been relieved of all law enforcement duties pending an internal investigation.

“Our police officer violated our longstanding policy and deprived a person of their freedom, which is unacceptable,” Roessler added in a statement.

The woke police chief then went on to extoll the virtues of his county as being “one of the most diverse counties in the nation.” He went on to bemoan the idea that the officer in question had “damaged their reputation.”

This is just one small story from the local news in Virginia. The illegal alien was processed by ICE and released with an ankle monitor later that day. But it’s also an episode that reminds us of what’s becoming an epidemic across the country. We have a police chief basically apologizing to an illegal alien because one of his cops enforced the law. He’s repeating whatever the politicians have told him to say in the era of the resistance.

Perhaps the illegal alien will wind up in court for processing now that he’s being tracked. Or maybe he’ll cut the ankle monitor off and disappear like he did last time. We’ll probably never know. But a police officer who was doing his job and enforcing the law is now relieved of his duties and his boss is out there giving press conferences apologizing for his behavior.

We’ve truly landed on the far side of the rainbow at this point. And since most of these policies are handed down at the state and local levels instead of the federal, I’m at a loss as to what should be done about it. The President has tried to rein in the sanctuary cities and states but has been repeatedly thwarted in the courts. And we’re watching this descent into madness all unfold right before our eyes.

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Again: Biden lies, claims Obama administration didn’t lock immigrants in “cages”

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Via the Free Beacon, foolishly I thought he wouldn’t dare make this claim again after he made it last week on Stephen Colbert’s show. It’s transparently, even famously, false. Either the media was going to make him pay by calling him on it or a Democratic rival would.

But no, apart from a few righties like me crying foul, he got away with it scot-free. How? Right, I know, normally you’d expect the press to let him slide, but don’t forget that many journalists are pulling for a more progressive candidate in the primaries. They have an ideological incentive at the moment to fact-check Biden rigorously. As do his opponents, of course.

He got so little flak for what he said on Colbert, though, that he repeated the claim last night before a national audience. In an exchange with open-borders shill Jorge Ramos, no less.

This time the press wouldn’t let him slide. Vox immigration reporter Dara Lind was so disgusted by his lie that she tuned out:

You want fact-checks? You got fact-checks. The AP dinged Biden this morning, as did PolitiFact, as did the Times and Vox. Fox News had commentators on as well to call Biden out. Grandpa Joe is right that the Obama administration didn’t separate families like Trump has but he’s simply incorrect that Trump brought “cages” to immigration policy. Team O introduced those for unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border five years ago.

I mean, really:

All of that being so, I continue not to understand how the rest of the field didn’t pounce on Biden for this. If ever Julian Castro was going to accuse Joe of having a brain turned to oatmeal by age, you would think it would have been here: “Have you really forgotten your own administration’s habit of caging migrant children, Mr. Vice President? Or has that memory been lost too, like the memory of your early support for the Iraq war?” That would have been a twofer, introducing concerns about Biden’s age into the mix while highlighting his terrible ideological sin of supporting basic enforcement.

Speaking of which, go watch the clip above again and drink in the spectacle of a Democratic VP being put on the spot by an immigration radical masquerading as a journalist for having done nothing more than enforce the immigration laws of the United States. Biden had an easy comeback to Ramos if he wanted it: “It’s the president’s job to faithfully execute federal statutes. We lobbied Congress for comprehensive immigration reform; we did what we could to spare the most sympathetic cases, like DREAMers, from removal. But at the end of the day we had a job to do and we did it.” But he was afraid to give that answer, preferring to let himself be shamed instead for not being willfully derelict in his duty. Open-borders trash, all of them.

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Illegal immigrant invites ICE to town hall. Is shocked to find he’s being deported

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This is one of those heartwarming stories that only comes along once in a while and is too good to not share. It takes place in Houston, Texas and features local businessman Roland Gramajo. The father of five has been operating his own business in the city for the past fifteen years, also serving as a vocal activist in support of the Guatemalan community, providing help with translations and locating legal services where required.

Recently, Mr. Gramajo sought to open the lines of communication on immigration matters further by hosting a town hall. He invited members of the community, elected officials and even representatives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to share their stories and work on finding solutions. Shortly after the town hall took place, however, Mr. Gramajo received an unpleasant surprise. (NY Times, emphasis added)

In August, Roland Gramajo, a Houston businessman and celebrated advocate in the local Guatemalan community, helped organize a town-hall meeting to quell fears about recent federal immigration raids.

He invited community activists from across the country. He also invited members of Congress. He even invited officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to talk about what rights people had and didn’t have if they were confronted by the authorities.

But three weeks after the meeting, it is Mr. Gramajo who faces deportation. He was arrested near his home last Thursday, a move that has stunned his family and rekindled concerns that the Trump administration is targeting advocates as part of its crackdown on illegal immigration.

If you click through to the Times article, you’ll see that I wasn’t trying to mislead you about this story. That’s how they told it. In fact, you have to work your way down several paragraphs before finally locating the following biographical information. “Mr. Gramajo had been staying in the country illegally — raising his five children, running a business in Houston and helping fellow immigrants with translations — without contact from ICE for about 15 years.

The crux of the Times coverage focuses on suspicions that ICE is “targeting activists” who are “helping” (illegal) immigrants. But let’s face the facts here. Dude…you’re in the country illegally and have been breaking the law by operating a business for a decade and a half. And then you decided to throw a big shindig and you invited the office of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

It’s true that ICE doesn’t put a high priority on people without serious criminal records, but when you just throw it in their face like that you can’t expect them to ignore the law. Were you expecting a merit badge or something?

This is one of those stories like the ones you read in the local police blotter about the criminal who decides to rob the diner by sliding down the grill’s exhaust vent in the middle of the night, only to get caught in the grease trap and has to be rescued by the cops. Maybe you expect me to feel bad about laughing, but… sorry, not sorry. This was just hilarious.

I’ll tell you what it reminds me of even more, however, and this one was a more serious story. Way back in 2014, you may recall that an illegal immigrant named Jose Antonio Vargas was being celebrated by people on the left and even working as a journalist at various outlets. He was published in major news outlets and showed up at all sorts of newsworthy events. He was literally just daring ICE to pick him up.

When he announced that he was reporting live from a border town in Texas about immigration issues, I’d had enough. I published a column with the rather unsubtle title of, “ICE has the chance to catch Jose Antonio Vargas RIGHT NOW.” I included a picture of him. I quoted his own comments about being an illegal alien. I gave the location where he was staying. Hell, I even included a link to Google Maps with a set of driving instructions from the closest ICE office to where he was staying.

Now, I’m not saying ICE agents sit around all day reading my columns at Hot Air looking for tips. I’m sure they don’t. But however the story reached their ears, Vargas was arrested the next day while attempting to drive out of the area. And after a long period of legal wrangling, he was indeed deported from the country. As far as I was concerned it was a story with a happy ending.

Who knows? Perhaps Roland Gramajo can be the Jose Antonio Vargas of the next generation.

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Dem TX Rep wants to abolish ICE… for doing its job

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The swamp in Washington, D.C. can change a person. Sometimes that happens so quickly that a casual observer’s head spins. Case in point – Rep. Sylvia Garcia, a freshman Democrat congresswoman from Houston.

Once considered a rather run-of-the-mill kind of Texas Democrat, since jumping feet first into the swamp Garcia has gone to the far left side of hot button issues. Now she has placed herself in the middle of a story about an illegal alien’s deportation order and is promoting her agreement with the open borders crowd – just abolish ICE.

Rep. Garcia is no wide-eyed young idealist like Sandy from the Bronx, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s a woman of a certain age, shall we say, and a lawyer, a former municipal judge, the first woman, and the first Latina to serve on Harris County Commissioner’s Court, and a Texas State Senator. In other words, she’s not a rookie in the political world. After noticing how frequently Garcia is positioned favorably for camera exposure during the press conferences with her party’s leaders on television, many of us in Houston pondered how she managed that. Granted, Texas is now considered a blossoming battleground state, but still.

It’s becoming clear that Rep. Garcia is using the method of choice for political opportunists – identity politics. In the Texas State Senate, she did vote against sanctuary city legislation and additional funding for border security. She stated a popular opinion among the open borders crowd – that she doesn’t want local law enforcement to become ICE agents. All of these positions were standard for Democrats at the time. Now, however, at the federal level of politics, she’s moved further to the left.

A Guatemalan illegal alien was taken into custody by immigration agents on September 5 as he was driving to work. You already see where the narrative is going, right? He’s just a hard-working man… Roland Gramajo isn’t just any illegal alien living in Houston, though. He’s a business owner, a political activist, a community organizer, and a married father of five. His wife is a legal permanent resident originally from Peru. His children are American citizens. In May 2018, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, at the request of a City Councilman, honored Gramajo with a proclamation.

Last May, District F Council Member Steve Le asked the mayor to name May 17 in honor of Gramajo. The proclamation praised him for being an “extremely positive role model,” including working with the city to improve the Alief and Sharpstown areas.

“He spends countless hours working on community projects motivating the community through scholarships,” it said. “His selfless volunteer efforts inspire the community to become future humble, honest and protective leaders of this great city.”

Gramajo, as it turns out, has been living in Houston since first coming here in 1994 with his mother from Guatemala. He attended public high school and was arrested for his part in a “prank” – he and some friends took a friend’s car without his knowledge and when it was reported as stolen, he was charged with burglary of a vehicle — a class A misdemeanor. Gramajo was sentenced to 60 days in jail, although he served less. This flagged him for immigration officials. In 1998 (the Clinton era) he was ordered to be deported. His appeal was denied in 2001 (the G.W. Bush era) and he was deported in 2004 after he was stopped for a traffic violation.

In 2004, he and his wife had two children. A few months after deportation, Gramajo again entered the country and border patrol agents didn’t stop him. Gramajo picked his life back up. He opened a business as a notary, paralegal, and community advocate. Let that sink in – he was working within the legal community. He often worked for a local attorney, according to his wife, and was working for him in a downtown courthouse just last week. He clearly wasn’t one who is a part of those who live in fear in the shadows. He was living the American Dream, illegally.

Gramajo’s current trouble was of his own making, frankly. He was asked to organize a community forum to calm the fears of those concerned about possible immigration law enforcement actions. The bad Orange Man has frightened illegal aliens, you see. Nonetheless, Gramajo reached out and invited immigration officials by email but they declined to come. During the forum, Rep. Garcia stirred the pot by noticing three “suspicious-looking” men in attendance. She alerted another community organizer present who asked staffers to check the situation out.

The men said they were looking at the architecture of the room and eventually left, Garcia’s spokesman Robert Julien said.

“We can’t speculate as to who they were or what they were doing,” he said.

ICE officials said none of its agents attended in any official capacity.

Gramajo’s wife said her husband recently told her someone had threatened to call immigration officials about his status, although she did not know details.

“We believe in this case, particularly, that he was targeted by immigration and he was being followed,” Espinosa told reporters at the Thursday press conference.

Yes, looking at architecture was a lame explanation present by the men. However, it was Garcia who played a part in this story. She amplified Gramajo’s exposure. He’s currently being detained in a federal detention facility in Conroe.

Gramajo is now in a federal detention facility in Conroe and faces not only immediate deportation but a 20-year bar from returning to the United States. He will only be able to petition the U.S. government to waive that bar after spending 10 years outside of the country.

His lawyer, Gonzalez, is asking the government to grant Gramajo a stay of deportation for humanitarian reasons or to release him on a status known as parole.

“He’s not a risk to anybody,” the lawyer said. “This guy only has a very minor offense from when he was a kid. Exceptions have to be made, especially when so many U.S. citizens are involved. We’re talking about five kids.”

Gramajo was given a lot of time to make his legal status right. He didn’t. He put his family’s security in jeopardy by his own actions. He was deported once and the border patrol agents turned a blind eye when he returned. His immigration status was known to his community and yet the Mayor of Houston held him up as a hero. None of this is the fault of ICE. Rep. Garcia and those in her party calling for the abolition of ICE by using stories that tug at the hearts of regular Americans are the worst kinds of deceptive politicians. It’s a slap in the face to those doing their jobs securing our borders. Making an example of such a high profile offender sends a message. We can no longer sit out the debate over legal immigration and the laws that govern it.

So, yeah, Rep. Garcia, you’ve gone radical up there in the swamp.

She’s looking for a little high-profile help, too. She looks desperate to be one of the cool kids.

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Sick Migrants Undergoing Lifesaving Care Can Now Be Deported

LOS ANGELES — Maria Isabel Bueso was 7 years old when she came to the United States from Guatemala at the invitation of doctors who were conducting a clinical trial for the treatment of her rare, disfiguring genetic disease. The trial was short on participants, and thanks to her enrollment, the Federal Drug Administration eventually approved a medication for the condition that has increased survival by more than a decade.

Now 24, Ms. Bueso has participated in several medical studies. She has won awards for her advocacy on behalf of people with rare diseases, appearing before lawmakers in Washington and in Sacramento. Through the years, her parents have paid for the treatment that keeps her alive with private medical insurance.

But last week, Ms. Bueso received a letter from the United States government notifying her that she must leave the country within 33 days or face deportation. Her doctor, lawyer and mother described the order as tantamount to a “death sentence.”

Without notice, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services eliminated a program this month that had allowed immigrants to avoid deportation while they or their relatives were undergoing lifesaving medical treatment. Called “deferred action,” the program had provided a form of humanitarian relief from deportation for at least 1,000 applicants every year, and was renewable every two years.

The Trump administration also recently eliminated a program that allowed immigration judges to end the deportation cases of others with sympathetic circumstances. Taken together, these changes have made it all but impossible for people who were previously considered safe from deportation to defend themselves if they are picked up by federal immigration authorities, some experts said.

“I have been feeling super scared and overwhelmed,” said Ms. Bueso, whose lower body is paralyzed from the disease, an enzyme disorder that inhibits cells from processing sugars. “The treatment that I receive keeps me alive.”

The policy change, which caught immigration officials unawares, is the latest in a series of moves by the Trump administration to revoke or modify procedures that have allowed certain immigrants to remain in the United States. Now thousands — including those with serious medical conditions, crime victims who have helped law enforcement with investigations and caretakers of sick children or relatives — no longer have access to a safety net that has shielded them from deportation.

Over the last two years, major changes to immigration policy have been implemented with little notification given to the federal workers charged with carrying them out, beginning with a travel ban imposed by President Trump in his first weeks in office, and the “zero tolerance” approach that led to family separations last summer.

In explaining the new policy, a spokesman for U.S.C.I.S. said requests for deferred action must now be made to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency responsible for removing people from the country. An ICE official, though, said this week that the department had not been notified of the new position and questioned ICE’s ability to assume the role.

“The decision by U.S.C.I.S. to alter this policy is not something that ICE is prepared to take on,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. “This wasn’t discussed with ICE. It’s not a procedure. We had no idea what they were talking about.”

In letters reviewed by The New York Times, Ms. Bueso, her family and other “deferred action” applicants have been told that the agency will only consider requests from people who are in the military and that the authorities may “commence removal proceedings” against those who do not leave the country.

“I have been told by U.S.C.I.S. there is no appeal, and nobody has told us how to proceed,” said Martin Lawler, Ms. Bueso’s attorney in San Francisco. “She cannot leave the United States. She will die.”

Every week for several years, Ms. Bueso has received intravenous infusions of the replacement enzyme that treats her disease, Mucopolysaccharidosis VI, or MPS-6, which causes dwarfism, clouded vision and spinal cord compression, among other abnormalities.

“Stopping this therapy will dramatically shorten her life span,” said Paul Harmatz, the pediatric gastroenterologist who was involved in the original trial and has been treating Ms. Bueso since 2003 at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif.

The new policy may prevent an 8-year-old girl with nerve cancer from participating in an experimental treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Her father, who is in the country illegally, is the only parent who can travel with her because her mother, an American, recently had a stroke that impaired her vision and ability to drive, said Tammy Fox-Isicoff, a Miami immigration lawyer who is representing the family.

Without deferred action, the man cannot legally drive or board an airplane from Miami to New York, where the girl must go each month for the treatment.

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Ms. Bueso with her mother Karla Bueso at their home in Concord, Calif. Her doctor, lawyer and mother described the order to leave the country as tantamount to a “death sentence.”CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

Brent Renison, a lawyer, is representing an Indian woman who the government has not permitted to stay in the country, even though she is waiting for a green card, because her husband, the sponsor, died. He said deferred action is “meant to allow for some discretion, to recognize cracks in the law that people fall into, and alleviate humanitarian situations and needless suffering.

“For the administration to take this away means the end of humanitarian relief as we know it,” he said.

In another move unveiled earlier this month by the Trump administration, crime victims who have helped law enforcement authorities with investigations will find it much more difficult to remain in the United States. The special protective visa, known as the U-visa, has a yearslong backlog.

ICE said this week that, unlike under prior administrations, it would no longer heed the advice of visa adjudicators — whose early, preliminary approvals used to qualify immigrants for a temporary “stay,” or pause on their deportation cases, until a final determination could be made. The new policy could affect about 140,000 people currently waiting for U-visas, plus their dependents.

Kenia Martinez of El Salvador, who has been living in the United States since 2004, is among those waiting. She was sent to a detention center in Louisiana this week in preparation for removal from the country, after her application to pause her deportation proceedings was denied. Previously, Ms. Martinez, who has two sons, would have been eligible to halt her removal because of her pending application.

In 2014, when Ms. Martinez first qualified for the visa, she had fresh bruises and cuts that were noted by police officers who had responded to a call about domestic violence, according to paperwork signed by her local police department supporting her application. She “cooperated fully” with the investigation, said the documents.

Cecelia Friedman Levin, senior policy counsel for ASISTA Immigration Assistance, a group that advocates for victims of physical and sexual abuse and human trafficking, said that the change is counter to the intentions of the bipartisan congressional group that created the U-visa nearly 20 years ago.

“It compromises victims’ safety and it creates a chilling effect on survivors to come forward ,” said Ms. Friedman Levin.

In Guatemala, doctors told Ms. Bueso’s parents that their daughter’s life would be short. When Dr. Harmatz learned Ms. Bueso had the rare enzyme disorder, he wanted to include her in the medical trial.

“We could not have done the clinical trials” without her, he said. “We were struggling to find patients.”

The “dramatic breakthrough” that came from the trial has helped people with the disease live longer than 30 years, he said. Before the drug, they rarely survived past 20.

It has been 16 years since Ms. Bueso began receiving weekly four- to six-hour infusions of the drug, Naglazyme, at the hospital. She has built a productive life despite the crippling disease.

Last year, she graduated summa cum laude from California State University, East Bay, where she worked with the school to start a scholarship for students with rare diseases. She has traveled and made presentations to lawmakers on behalf of people with rare diseases.

Her family lives in a tidy house in a middle-class neighborhood in Concord, Calif., which her parents bought and renovated to accommodate their daughter’s wheelchair. They did not expect to leave the country, having won permission to stay every time they reapplied for an extension.

When Mr. Lawler, the family’s lawyer, told them about the government’s decision last week, Ms. Bueso began to shake uncontrollably.

“We were crying with the nurses, doctors, everyone,” said her mother, Karla Bueso. “Without her treatment, it’s like a death sentence. It has been hard to process.”

Neither the drug nor the medical care that she requires is available in Guatemala. Without the drug, her health is expected to quickly deteriorate. Her breathing could become belabored; she could suffer cardiac arrest and become susceptible to infections.

“We have watched her grow up and mature, and become a responsible young adult, a leader advocating nationally,” said Dr. Harmatz. “If you take it away, it will be a rapid return to her previous state. Death would be the outcome.”

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Mexico now busing asylum seekers to their southern border

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Things seem to be heating up south of the border, and I’m not talking about a Taco Bell advertisement. The “Remain in Mexico” policy agreed to by the Mexican government is still in effect, but nobody really specified exactly where in Mexico asylum seekers were supposed to wait. This week the Mexican government took matters into their own hands, at least in some cases. They began packing up some of the migrants on buses and sending them down near the Guatemalan border. (NY Post)

Mexico is sending some of the 30,000 Central American migrants vying for asylum in the United States on 750-mile bus rides — all the way back to southern Mexico, officials said.

The “Remain in Mexico” program pushed by the Trump administration has forced thousands of asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait months to get their turn before a US immigration judge.

But the northern state of Tamaulipas, just across the Rio Grande from Texas, is one of Mexico’s most dangerous zones — and has little housing or services for the newcomers.

To be clear, Mexico isn’t deporting these migrants. They’re simply moving them out of what they admit is a very dangerous area with few services available to support them to a quieter region in the southern end of their nation. The fact that it’s so conveniently close to the border with Guatemala should, however, make it far easier for some of them to “self-deport” if they grow tired of waiting.

This situation does highlight one of the greatest challenges facing the United States and it may start impacting Mexico in the same fashion. With massive numbers of people arriving at the border in “caravans,” we have simply run out of places to keep them. Our immigration courts are tied up with massive backlogs and the detention centers are full. Migrants all too often arrive with what seem to be well-researched playbooks of how to cross illegally and then demand asylum when immigration officials detain them.

The Remain in Mexico policy was a good first step in relieving some of the stress, but all we’re really doing is shifting part of the problem to Mexico. And in many of their northern states, they are no more prepared to handle masses of migrants than we are. In some cases, particularly in the region across the border from El Paso, the cities there are overrun by drug cartels and filled with violence. That’s not a great spot to look for shelter while you await your court date.

Hopefully, the state of Chiapas (where the buses are heading) has more jobs and social service resources available. But even if they don’t, at least the violent crime rate should be a bit lower.

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