Biden administration needs to fix the condition of migrant camps faster…

The injustices occurring in these camps are unfathomable…

John Moore/Getty Images

As we approach mid-March, I want to see more severe action from the administration, to deal with the atrocities occurring at these migrant camps. For migrants, who are escaping detrimental conditions in their home countries, it’s completely unacceptable to arrive in these camps and be subject to sexual abuse, theft, violence, and sordid living conditions. If it means calling it a crisis, call it a crisis.

In a piece by Carlos Iván Molina Aguilar, in The San Diego Reader, he details the kind of atrocities occurring at the migrant camp in Tijuana, Mexico:

What happened to lawful asylum practices? Depending on the circumstances — and, in most cases, numerous migrants have justifiable cases — we should be allowing these migrants to reside in this country as they go through the process. Until Trump’s caustic tenure, I thought this was the way we conducted lawful immigration policy. However, after doing some digging, I found a very concerning disclosure; a disclosure that symbolizes the inhumane destruction the Trump administration inflicted on these migrants. This discovery came from a piece by Austin Kocher on theconversation.com:

Even though El Salvador and Honduras are among the five top countries in the world for violent deaths, typically courts deny more than 80% of asylum cases from those countries, in large part because the U.S. government has been reluctant to recognize gang persecution and domestic violence as grounds for asylum. (Kocher, theconversation.com).

This stuck out for me; I feel many people (especially “populist Republicans”) focus on the intricacies of immigration and the contradictions. Populist Republicans like to claim ALL migrants just sneak across the border, that the solution is a border wall when sometimes the problem is right in front of us. I’m not claiming all asylum cases should be granted in favor of the migrant, but why are immigration judges denying 80 percent of cases from Honduras and El Salvador? Furthermore, look at the issue related to location: 97 percent in Atlanta, 74 percent in New York. We have an issue, yet again, with how/who appoints the judges in these districts.

In regards to the impartiality of asylum, Kocher conveys another critical aspect:

Our system essentially sets up migrants to fail, based on this notion, and then we commonly wonder why we have such a problem. In other words, how can we expect people to flee violence and danger — which, of course, is a major impediment — and then put together the resources to fund representation? Look at the other point Kocher reveals; 14 percent of migrants forced to “remain in Mexico” found an attorney. The entire supposition is merciless, and concretely derived from Stephen Miller and Trump. How can we expect families to escape an environment where they can’t properly provide clothes for their children — as the cartels steal their income and shatter their livelihood — but immigration judges are approving twice as many cases when these migrants have representation? Come on.

“I told the judge that I was afraid for my children because we were in a horrible, horrible place, and we didn’t feel safe here,” his widow told the news outlet Telemundo.

Another victim was a Honduran woman of the Garífuna Afro-Caribbean minority, who was kidnapped and raped in the city of Juárez while she “remained in Mexico.”

And Vice Magazine reported on David, an asylum-seeker from Guatemala, who was kidnapped by a cartel five hours after he was sent back to Mexico in 2019. David escaped, but because the cartel had taken his paperwork, making an asylum claim became all but impossible. (Kocher, theconversation.com).

(Eric Gay / AP)

The Trump administration’s conception of these camps, especially in Matamoros, is outrageous. The entire purpose is to create an environment where migrants feel threatened, disenchanted, and forsaken. Miller intended to create an environment where these migrants would be without options and acquiescent to “give up.” The Trump administration was perfectly delighted with the cartel impairing migrants, as they had hoped for this outcome.

Here’s what the Biden administration needs to do, and they need to do it, hurriedly. They’ve ended the Migrant Protection Protocols: this is a start, but not suitable until they overhaul everything. Our federal government needs to take responsibility for the condition of the camps still in place, due to the number of migrants “waiting” or “unable” to try and claim asylum. Next, the Biden administration should utilize the Department of Homeland Security to intervene and remedy the conditions in these camps, so that the U.S. can ensure resources are available for migrants in transition. Guaranteeing these resources may include soliciting Mexican authorities to curb the destruction of the cartels, and ensure the safety of the people in waiting. Even if these camps are deemed “U.S. responsibility,” I’m personally satisfied with this. Consider what Kocher laments: “border cities were not equipped to house, feed, and protect tens of thousands of refugees.” Biden is not responsible for Trump’s maltreatment of migrants through his inhumane design; but, now, it’s his responsibility to resolve the calamity.

Secondarily, the administration will have to work to ensure the asylum-seekers are given a fair shot. The U.S. can’t expect all migrants to be able to hire representation to be granted asylum. While immigration judges should remain circumspect on certain individuals who may be trying to claim asylum for malignant purposes (like gangs or cartel members), the system is very much broken. We can’t have a variance between judges in certain states approving fewer cases, and then say, a state like California, approving more.

Lastly, as the Biden administration catches up on rebuilding a lawful system, we need to make sure we put an end to all these camps, which have done nothing but harm migrants and led to a critically significant human rights crisis. While there’s hope Biden can start to provide aid and guidance to mend the foundationally destructive policies in these Central American countries, we must still provide an outlet for those seeking refuge — especially if they were fortunate enough to survive the journey and seek a better future.

“The day before we decided to leave, a grenade exploded in front of our house; we were in the crossfire. We were just able to hide under our beds. I had videos from that shooting, but cartels have checkpoints where they take pictures of your ID and share it with a group to see if they can let you pass. Most men are blackmailed to join the cartels, so is more difficult for them to leave”.

There’s a lot of work to do, but the Biden administration will have to accelerate the process; for many, they don’t have the time to wait…

Works Cited:

1. Aguilar Molina Iván, Carlos. “Inside the Biden migrant camp in Tijuana.” The San Diego Reader. March 9, 2021. https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2021/mar/09/stringers-inside-biden-migrant-camp-tijuana/. Accessed March 10, 2021.

2. Kocher, Austin. “Biden ends policy forcing asylum-seekers to ‘remain in Mexico’ — but for 41,247 migrants, it’s too late.” Theconversation.com. March 10, 2021. https://theconversation.com/biden-ends-policy-forcing-asylum-seekers-to-remain-in-mexico-but-for-41-247-migrants-its-too-late-156622. Accessed March 10, 2021.

CA-based, perpetually hopeful for the progress of society… Follow me on Twitter @andrewnintzel22

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