Immigration News Lost in Wall Rhetoric

There are some immigration news items that are important to the overall debate about immigration in America but are, sadly, lost amongst the noise of the wall debate. I’m sharing them today as they are important for further discussions in the upcoming weeks.

U.S. Agrees to Pay México and Central American Countries

On Tuesday, the United States announced that it will contribute $5.8 billion in public and private money to Central American countries and an additional $2 billion for southern México for economic development in those countries. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a government agency that “fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances U.S. foreign policy and national security policies.”

But here is the issue that many have missed. The money remains just promises of money. It is not real money at this point. OPIC is an investment fund and as such it puts money into projects that have a viable business plan of succeeding. It is not hard cash making new jobs available. It is the same as the AMLO “investment” of $30 billion in development funds for Central America to help address the immigration issues.

AMLO and Trump are patting themselves on the back via their public relations announcements. But, AMLO’s $30 billion is yet to be identified. There is no $30 billion from México that has been allocated. It is just a piece of paper making a promise at this point.

Unexpected New Entry Points

There is a quote that everyone should pay attention to in the case of Jakelin Caal Marquin’s death while in Border Patrol custody. When news of the little girl’s death was announced, the initial response from the federal government was that the remoteness of the site where the immigrants turned themselves into federal agents made it difficult to provide medical care. Some of the comments on news media expressed surprise that immigrants were crossing farther away from urban areas, like El Paso.

What is happening is that asylum seekers have realized that the Trump Administration is making it harder for them to seek asylum by limiting the number that are processed at official points of entry. By making it difficult to seek asylum, the Trump administration hopes to discourage further caravans. Instead of dissuading asylum seekers, they have, instead, sought to enter the country through the desert in areas not frequently patrolled by the Border Patrol. Once in America, the immigrants seek a federal agent and officially turn themselves in to them, asking for asylum. The current American law does not prohibit asylum seekers from first crossing illegally and then asking for asylum.

The administration’s attempt to discourage asylum seekers from using official points of entry has just pushed them into the desert to cross illegally before turning themselves in.

The Trump Administration argues that they are slowing down the process because of the costs for resources to process the asylum-seeking immigrants. The little girl’s death, besides putting the human cost into the debate, also raises the costs of deploying further resources to far-flung places as asylum-seekers look for other entry points.

México Will Allow Asylum Seekers to Stay in México During Process

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced yesterday that México has agreed to accept undocumented immigrants caught in the United States to wait while their cases are processed. The idea is that asylum seekers will have to wait in México while their request is reviewed and processed. The headlines read that México will accept immigrants deported from America.

Here is what is actually happening.

Currently, the United States and most other countries recognize international agreements that immigrants are to be deported to their countries of origin. In other words, if a Chinese citizen is deported from America, they must be deported directly back to China, not México. It is obviously much more expensive to deport a Chinese citizen then a Mexican citizen, as a Mexican citizen is simply dropped off on the Mexican side of the border.

The agreement that was announced is not a so-called safe third-party agreement where asylum-seekers must first seek asylum in México before allowed them to seek it in America. What the agreement is – according to the Mexican government – is an agreement that allows the United States to have asylum-seekers wait in México while their request is being processed.

Basically, an asylum seeker is caught in the United States and given a court date when their request is to be adjudicated. Rather than remain free, or in U.S. custody while awaiting their court date, the immigrant is allowed back into México by the Mexican government to await their U.S. hearing date. México has agreed to provide them temporary status and working permits while the process moves along.

But here are the important details that most news media have missed.

The first is that the asylum-seeker will not be accepted by México until they have an American court date. In other words, they are in the system. The second important thing is that the agreement requires the United States to finally deport the immigrant back to their country of origin, not to México.

Obviously, there is much gamesmanship to be played out overtime in that many of the immigrants may give up and return to their countries or remain in México. There is also the very possibility that the American government just keeps the immigrants waiting in limbo forcing them to remain in México indefinitely.

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