Trump has been declaring a border crisis since before he announced his presidential candidacy, and he’s now insisting that our national security depends on the construction of a border wall to stem the “invasion” of dangerous immigrants and the flow of dangerous drugs.
Is Trump correct? Has there been a dramatic influx of unlawful entries through our southwest border recently? Do most of the undocumented immigrants entering the country through southwest border have criminal records? Are drugs flooding into our country through the southwest border? And finally, if the answer to all of these questions are yes, will a border wall solve these problems?
A unifying chorus on the left and middle asks how in the world anyone could still support Donald Trump and any politician who endorses his behavior and policy stances. A similar collective chorus involves the "why" questions, including why in the world Trump does what he does and says what he says, and why in the WORLD he feels the need to play it all out on Twitter.
I believe I have the answer to these questions, or at least some of them.
What about the Children? An Update on the Status of the Central American Families Separated at the Border
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSW
There are many questions people are asking about the humanitarian crisis involving the Central American immigrants who were separated from their children at the border in this past year, including 1) Who are the families involved? 2) How are the children being treated? 3) Are there any financial incentives involved in detaining asylum-seekers? 4) Aren’t a lot of these children trafficked? And, 5) Will all the families be reunited?
In preparation for writing this blog post, I conducted a considerable amount of research, including reviewing public documents received from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, reading all pleadings in the ACLU lawsuit filed against the government in March 2018 when the separations began, and other relevant documents. This post represents a summary of key issues related to the family separations, as well as outlining the potential path forward.
Who are the Families Involved?
According to President Trump, the Central American families who were separated from their children at the border are for the most part gang members and other criminals, including murderers. But is this accurate?
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSW
I’m in the process of writing a summary of the pertinent legal issues involved in the family separations that occurred among the Central American political asylum-seekers at the southern border. In the process, I realized the importance of providing some background on our country’s immigration laws. By the time I was done, I had over 4500 words! So I decided to split this post into two posts (you're welcome! 😉). This post will focus on a brief history of key immigration laws in our country, and the second post will focus on the Flores Settlement Agreement, and post-settlement decisions, including the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Immigration policy in the United States is developed in three primary ways:
So for the most part, federal legislation establishes a legal framework, with executive orders and court decisions determining how the laws are to be interpreted and implemented. We have had no new immigration laws passed since Trump became
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSW
Trump has a rather long and tortured history with the country of Mexico and its people, and he’s made no secret of his disdain for both. Remember how he announced his presidential candidacy?
"…when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re not sending us not the right people."
He’s been tweeting about his hostility toward Mexico for years, primarily related to business deals gone bad— a 2006 conflict with a Mexican businessman involving the Miss Universe pageant. Trump sued and won, but couldn't collect the money.
A multimillion dollar luxury condo project in Baja that Trump, his children and developers walked away from in 2009, despite selling 80% and collecting $32.5 million in deposits. Trump was later sued by 70 owners who paid millions in deposits for condos that were never completed. Trump ended up settling out of court for an unspecified amount.
Trump was then sued by the Martínez Veloz, on behalf of the Mexican government. The suit accuses Trump of failing to pay taxes on the $32.5 million in predevelopment condo sales for the Baja project. The suit is still pending, and was expanded in 2017 to include a charge of violating Mexican law by purchasing land for the resort without a permit.
Here some additional articles on President Trump's past legal challenges in Mexico.
"The Man Who Made Donald Trump Hate Mexico" (The Daily Beast)
"Trump Accused of Tax Fraud in Mexico" (The Hill)
"Donald Trump Once Got Fleeced in Mexico and He's Still Very Angry (Bloomberg)
And here are a few of his many tweets over the years describing his hostility toward Mexico, including its court system and business practices:
Are Political Asylum Seekers Required to Request Protection through a U.S. Port of Entry? And a Whole lot more...
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSW
What I want to address in this blog post is whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ assertion that the only legal way to request asylum in the United States is through a U.S. port of entry (or U.S. consulate) is accurate. I also want to explore how the government can distinguish between undocumented economic immigrants who cross the Mexico border without documentation to work, and those who cross the border seeking political asylum because they are fleeing persecution.
Myth 1: Political Asylum Seekers Required to Use a Port of Entry
According to speech to the National Sheriff’s Association delivered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on June 18, 2018, there is a ‘right way’ and a ‘wrong way’ to seek asylum in the United States. Crossing the border without valid documentation is definitely the wrong way.
Also according to Jeff Sessions, if an immigrant crosses the southern border without valid documentation, they are “flouting our laws,” and he appears to be suggesting that the only legal way to request political asylum is by requesting protection at a U.S port of entry.
So, is this correct?
Well, that depends on how you define "flooding." If we're looking at historical data, then the answer is absolutely no. There are two dynamics occurring right now (actually, there are several, but I'm only going to address two in this post). 1. Undocumented economic migrants (typically from Mexico, but also from Central America), and 2. Political asylum seekers (primarily from Central America). Most of the recent news about family separations centers on political asylum seekers from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. But this blog post is about undocumented economic migrants, and whether they are presenting a significant threat for our country, and if so, whether that justifies building a wall (and by the way, we all know drug smugglers and human traffickers use tunnels, right?).
So here are some basic facts about undocumented economic migrants (meaning, immigrants who cross the border illegally to work)...
I watched the White House Press Briefing today with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. I took notes as best as I could so I could later respond, while furiously posting comments online, and clicking the angry face emoji 😡 every five seconds. I found Nielsen to be very defensive and angry. This could have been because she knew she was lying, but my instincts told me that it was more likely because she believes she's correct and is outraged to be so misunderstood. Quite likely it was a combination of the two, and perhaps she's just furious that she's in this place to begin with. Who really knows. But her general disdain and disregard for these traumatized families was apparent to me, and I kept wondering if she had ever gone through hardship, because regardless of what one's thoughts are on border protection, all of our hearts should be breaking in half.
What I do know though is that most of the information Nielson shared was
There is so much misinformation out there about the Trump administration's new "zero tolerance" policy that requires criminal prosecution, which then warrants the separating of parents and children at the southern border. As a professor at a local Cal State, I research and write about these issues, so here, I wrote the following to make it easier for you:
Myth 1: This is not a new policy and was practiced under Obama and Clinton - FALSE.
The policy to separate parents and children is new and was instituted on 4/6/2018. It was the “brainchild” of John Kelly and Stephen Miller to serve as a deterrent for undocumented immigration, and some allege to be used as a bargaining chip. The policy was approved by Trump, and adopted by Sessions. Prior administrations detained migrant families, but didn’t have a practice of forcibly separating parents from their children unless the adults were deemed unfit. Here is the memo.
Myth 2: This is the only way to deter undocumented immigration: FALSE.
Annual trends show that arrests for undocumented entry are at a 46 year low, and undocumented crossings dropped in 2007, with a net loss (more people leaving than arriving). Deportations have increased steadily though (spiking in 1996 and more recently), because several laws that were passed since 1996 have made it more difficult to gain legal status for people already here, and thus increased their deportations (I address this later under the myth that it's the Democrats' fault). What we mostly have now are people crossing the border illegally because they've already been hired by a US company, or because they are seeking political asylum. Economic migrants come to this country because our country has kept the demand going. But again, many of these people impacted by Trump's "zero tolerance" policy appear to be political asylum-seekers. Here is an article describing how arrests for undocumented crossings are at an all-time low: https://www.npr.org/2017/12/05/568546381/arrests-for-illegal-border-crossings-hit-46-year-low
Dr. Michelle Martin is a social worker, policy specialist and Assistant Professor at California State University, Fullerton in the Department of Social Work, where she teaches social welfare policy, and researches dynamics related to immigrants, political asylum-seekers, refugees and other displaced populations.
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