President Biden has been in office for three days now, and he’s been busy. On the immigration front, Biden has followed through on his promise to rescind many of Trump’s orders and rules. His administration is also working with congressional leaders on a wide-reaching immigration reform bill to be introduced very soon. Below I summarize actions taken thus far, including:
InAlienable is the newest program at the Quixote Center, launched in 2018 to demand justice for migrants at the US border, within the United States and throughout their journey. We work to end immigrant detention, and defend the right to asylum, which has been eroded over the last several years. We also partner with organizations who work with migrants in the United States and in Latin America.
The Quixote Center’s principal international partnership is with the Franciscan Network on Migration. The Franciscan Network on Migration is an effort to connect shelters run by Franciscan orders which provide assistance to migrants who are traveling through Mexico, Central and South America. We serve as the fiscal sponsor for the Franciscan Network on Migration within the United States, and coordinate advocacy efforts with their staff.
See where the Franciscan Network on Migration works here.
You can donate to support the work of the Francsican Network here.
In 2022 we launched a solidarity travel program that brings advocates from the United States to visit and work with shelters in southern Mexico. These trips take place every six months. Send a message here to find out about the next trip.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement manages the largest immigration detention infrastructure in the world. Over the last year, however, the number of people being held in detention has plummeted, from 53,000 in October of 2019, to 16,075 at the beginning of December 2020.
For years U.S. border policy has focused on one overarching strategy, with many different tactics: Deterrence. The idea behind deterrence is that if the consequences of unauthorized migration can be made punitive enough, people will stop trying. It doesn’t work. It has never worked. For example, in the late 1990’s, as part of the Clinton administration's "prevention through deterrence" approach, border walls were built through urban areas along the U.S./Mexico border in order to drive people trying to cross the border into the desert.
Three weeks ago Dawn Wooten, formerly a nurse at Irwin County Detention Center, came forward with accusations that a doctor had performed medically unnecessary hysterectomies on many women who were at the Irwin Center under the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Irwin is run by a private, for-profit company, LaSalle Corrections.
On March 19 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that blocked people from coming across the border. Under Title 42 of the Public Health Services Act border agents have been empowered to expel people as soon as they are encountered, with no access to traditional due process, and thus no ability to pursue asylum claims. The order has also been deployed to deny unaccompanied children access to asylum claims and other basic support.
Currently the number of people being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement is just over 20,000. This number has fallen off dramatically from the all time high of over 55,000 registered last August (2019). At the beginning of the current fiscal year (Oct 1, 2019) there were still over 53,000 people being held. Which means that over the last 12 months there has been a 62% fall off in the number of people in ICE detention.
Every once in a while I wonder if this administration has hit the bottom in its maltreatment of people who are seeking a new life in the United States. Family separation? Can’t go much lower than that, right? A few months later Trump is forcing refugees into camps in Mexico, where they become targets of gangs, to await an opportunity to make asylum requests? This must be it. I mean come on!
Stretch and Bobbito are renowned DJs and their debut album No Requests came out early this year. One track, The Mexican, is a reimagining of the British band Babe Ruth’s song from 1973. Partnering with Mariachi singer Mireya Ramos, the songs’ lyrics have been updated to reflect the times. Referencing Trump’s border all, one line says “Wall so high from the outside/Makes it hard to Dream.” Bobbito explains that “with the video we advocated for immigration rights and opened up a curtain for the experiences of asylum seekers.”
Enjoy the song and video here: