Category Archives: Immigrants

Jurors refuse to convict activist facing 20 years for helping migrants

HumanitarianScott Daniel Warren, a 36-year-old college geography instructor, was charged with conspiracy to transport and harbor migrants. Photograph: Kelly Presnell/AP

A US jury could not reach a verdict on Tuesday against a border activist who, defense attorneys say, was simply being kind by providing two migrants with water, food and lodging when he was arrested in early 2018.

Scott Daniel Warren, a 36-year-old college geography instructor, was charged with conspiracy to transport and harbor migrants in a trial that humanitarian aid groups said would have wide implications for their work. He faced up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors maintained the men were not in distress and Warren conspired to transport and harbor them at a property used for providing aid to migrants in an Arizona town near the US-Mexico border.

The case played out as humanitarian groups say they are coming under increasing scrutiny under Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies.

Outside the courthouse, Warren thanked his supporters and criticized the government’s efforts to crack down on the number of immigrants coming to the US.

“Today it remains as necessary as ever for local residents and humanitarian aid volunteers to stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees, and we must also stand for our families, friends and neighbors in the very land itself most threatened by the militarization of our borderland communities,” Warren said.

Glenn McCormick, a spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Arizona, declined to comment on whether Warren would face another trial. The judge set a 2 July status hearing for the defense and prosecution.

Warren is one of nine members of the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths who have been charged with crimes related to their work. But he is the only one to face felony charges.

In west Texas, a county attorney was detained earlier this year after stopping her car on a dark highway to pick up three young migrants who flagged her down. Teresa Todd was held briefly, and federal agents searched her cellphone.

Border activists say they worry about what they see as the gradual criminalization of humanitarian action.

Warren has said his case could set a dangerous precedent by expanding the definition of the crimes of transporting and harboring migrants to include people merely trying to help border-crossers in desperate need of water or other necessities.

Warren and other volunteers with the No More Deaths group also were targeted this year in separate federal misdemeanor cases after leaving water, canned food and other provisions for migrants hiking through the Cabeza Prieta national wildlife refuge in southern Arizona.

In Warren’s felony case, the defense team headed by Greg Kuykendall argued that Warren could not, in good conscience, turn away two migrants who had recently crossed the desert to enter the US.

Jurors said on Monday that they could not reach a consensus on the charges against Warren, but a federal judge told them to keep deliberating. They were still deadlocked on Tuesday and ultimately dismissed.

Thousands of migrants have died crossing the border since the mid-1990s, when heightened enforcement pushed migrant traffic into Arizona’s scorching deserts.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/11/arizona-activist-migrant-water-scott-daniel-warren-verdict

At least 7 dead as refugee boat sinks off Greek island

BoatInternational Organisation for Migration says more than 300 refugees and migrants have died this year in total while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe [File: Kostis Ntantamis/AP Photo]

A boat carrying dozens of refugees and migrants to a Greek island from the nearby Turkish coast has capsized, leaving seven people dead, including two children.

Greece’s coastguard said 57 people had been rescued on Tuesday, while seven people – two girls, four women and a man – were pulled from the water unconscious and later confirmed dead.

A search and rescue operation in the area off the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos was called off after all those on board had been accounted for, the coastguard said.

There were no further passengers reported missing.

It was not immediately clear why the boat capsized, and the coastguard did not provide further details on the incident or the nationality of the refugees and migrants.

Greece became one of the main gateways for refugees entering Europe in recent years, many of them fleeing conflict in countries like Syria and Afghanistan, in the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II.

The number of people heading to the Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast has decreased significantly since the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, dropping from 875,000 in 2015 to under 40,000 a year in 2017 and 2018, according to Frontex, the European Union’s border force.

However, hundreds of people continue to make the treacherous journey.

Although the distance from Turkey is short, smugglers often use unseaworthy boats and pack them way beyond capacity, leading to many sinking or capsizing.

Nearly 10,700 refugees and migrants have reached Greece so far this year by sea, and 39 people have lost their lives while attempting the journey, the UNHCR said.

The influx of migrants and refugees to Greece was drastically curtailed by a 2016 accord between Turkey and the EU.

Greece is hosting some 70,000 mostly Syrian refugees and migrants who have fled their countries since 2015 and crossed over from neighbouring Turkey.

More than 300 refugees and migrants have died this year in total while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/dead-refugee-boat-sinks-greek-island-190611095725520.html

“This tragedy is a painful reminder that people continue to take perilous journeys to reach the Greek Aegean islands,” said Philippe Leclerc, the UNHCR representative in Greece.

“Redoubled efforts are needed to ensure safe and legal ways to reach Europe, so people stop risking their lives in the hands of ruthless traffickers and smugglers.”

16-year-old migrant boy dies in US government custody in Texas

imageMinors are seen as they exercise in a common area at the Homestead shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in Homestead, Florida [File: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A 16-year-old unaccompanied migrant boy from Guatemala who fell ill has died while in the custody of the United States government.

Officials said on Wednesday the boy was transferred to an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelter in Texas on April 20.

“Upon arrival to the shelter the minor did not note any health concerns,” Evelyn Stauffer, a spokeswoman for the Administration for Children and Families, which oversees ORR, said in a statement to local media.

But the next morning, he had fever, chills and a headache and was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and released that day.

He didn’t improve and was sent to another hospital, where he was transferred to a third facility, a children’s hospital. He died on Tuesday.

Stauffer said the cause of death is under review.

‘No denying that this is a pattern’

Since 2015, two other unaccompanied children have died in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Last year, two accompanied children also died while in custody at the border in separate incidents.

Tuesday’s death comes as a surge of unaccompanied children and migrant families cross the US-Mexico border.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday called for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the child’s death.

Beto O’Rourke, a Texas politician and presidential candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination, tweeted that he was “very saddened” by the news.

“We must focus on the wellbeing of these children above any other concern. If we sacrifice humanity for security, we’ll lose both,” he added.

And Families Belong Together, a coalition of hundreds of organisations fighting to keep families together, called the death a “pattern”.

“Another migrant child has tragically died in federal custody. There is no denying that this is a pattern,” the group tweeted. “Refugee and asylum-seeking children hoping for better lives are dying at the hands of this administration. Our coalition demands accountability.”

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/16-year-migrant-boy-dies-government-custody-texas-190501212056856.html

 

US-Mexico border official says migrant crisis ‘at breaking point’

US-Mexico photoCentral American migrants are seen inside an enclosure in El Paso after crossing the border between Mexico and the United States illegally and turning themselves in to request asylum

The US-Mexico border has reached “breaking point”, US officials say, amid an “unprecedented” surge in migrant numbers.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said it is “a matter of time” before tragedy strikes at one of their facilities.

More than 13,000 migrants have been taken into custody along the border just this week, he said.

Most of the migrants entering the US are families or unaccompanied children.

“On Monday and Tuesday, CBP started the day with over 12,000 migrants in our custody,” Mr McAleenan said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“As of this morning, that number was 13,400. A high number for us is 4,000. A crisis level is 6,000. 13,000 is unprecedented.”

During previous immigration surges, many of those seeking entry were single adults, the commissioner said.

But because these are family units and children, they cannot be easily repatriated and instead, are “almost guaranteed to be released to remain in the US indefinitely”.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) still do not have the capacity to detain families and children, officials said.

Mr McAleenan said his agency expects 40,000 children to enter CBP custody in March after entering the US unaccompanied, “in the hands of violent and callous smugglers”.

“We are doing everything we can to simply avoid a tragedy in a CBP facility,” he added. “But with these numbers, with the types of illnesses we’re seeing…I fear that it’s just a matter of time.”

CBP officials are on pace to manage over 100,000 migrants this month – the highest in a month since 2008.

The agency has now redirected 750 agents from their roles at ports of entry to instead support the “humanitarian mission”.

“We have in some sectors an average of 40% of our Border Patrol agents all fully engaged in just the care, transport, and processing of migrants.”

CBP is asking for assistance from other federal agencies including the National Guard and Department of Defence to increase the capacity to process migrants.

Mr McAleenan has also asked for immediate legislative action from Congress so the agency can detain families together. as well as for the government to fix issues in the legal process for asylum seekers.

He noted that it often takes two to five years for asylum seekers to see a judge, and only around 10 to 15% of migrants actually have a legitimate claim.

 

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47736603

Abuse, ‘survival sex’ a stark reality for child migrants: Report

Abuse photoChildren traveling with a caravan of migrants from Central America stand on the beach and near the border fence between Mexico and the US, prior to preparations for an asylum request in the US in Tijuana, Mexico [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

by Faras Ghani

Unaccompanied child migrants face dangerous journeys during transit, including abuse and detention, rights organisations have warned, highlighting significant failings in safeguarding unaccompanied minors.

A recent report by UNHCR revealed that nearly 140,000 people arrived in Greece, Italy and Spain in search of safety in 2018. Almost 11,000 of the new arrivals were unaccompanied children.

Additionally, according to the Red Cross, more than 300,000 unaccompanied child migrants are currently at high risk of sexual and gender-based violence during transit.

The perilous journey undertaken by these young migrants without an accompanying adult makes them vulnerable to being assaulted, sexually abused, raped, trafficked into sexual exploitation or forced into “survival sex”, according to an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) report Alone and Unsafe, which shows that the number of unaccompanied child migrants has grown five-fold in five years.

Europe accounted for more than half of unaccompanied minor arrivals in 2017, with more than 158,000 reaching the continent in the first three quarters of the year.

Currently, almost 30 percent of all asylum seekers across that continent are children, half of whom are from just three countries: Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The stark reality is that it is now standard practice that children moving through the Mediterranean are abused, trafficked, beaten and discriminated against,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe.

A joint UNICEF-IOM report also revealed that children from sub-Saharan Africa are targeted more than any other group, highlighting discrimination and racism along transit routes.

The reason for their departure ranges from abuse at home and peer pressure to violence, says IFRC President Francesco Rocca, who called on UN member countries to address the root causes.

“In Cox’s Bazar, for example, we saw many children with their neighbours because their parents were killed,” Rocca told Al Jazeera.

“In Niger, we see young girls from Nigeria who sold themselves for sex for as low as $3. In Central America, there’s violence that drives them out. It creates a very, very difficult environment for them to live in.”

More support needed
More than 40 percent of all child asylum seekers are girls. A poll by UNICEF late last year revealed that almost half of nearly 4,000 refugees and migrants aged 14 to 24 were forced to leave their countries, 44 percent of them left alone.

Some 38 percent said they did not receive any help from anyone, including family, friends or relatives, while almost half the respondents reported that they had been unable to see a doctor when needed.

“While politicians are squabbling over migration, 4,000 uprooted children and young people are telling us they need more support,” said Laurence Chandy, Director of Data, Research and Policy for UNICEF.

“Uprooted children can teach us a great deal about their needs and vulnerabilities if we are willing to hear them. Migration is inevitable, but the danger and discrimination experienced by refugee and migrant children doesn’t have to be.”

The risks, including sexual and gender-based violence, do not abate once these child migrants arrive in a country of destination, according to the IFRC.

A study, based on interviews with unaccompanied children from Horn of Africa countries who migrated to the United Kingdom, revealed that 72 percent of the respondents experienced more than one incident of sexual violence upon arrival – most of these incidents happened in the first 12 months after their arrival in the UK.

This shows that their safety is not guaranteed, even after reaching the desired destination country, added Rocca.

“If there isn’t enough protection in the country of destination, there is a very high risk of being exploited and exposed to the violence. These vulnerable people can also be forced to the labour market.”

 

 

 

 
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/abuse-survival-sex-stark-reality-child-migrants-report-190204113958830.html

Trump’s right about a crisis at the border – but migrants are the victims

borders photoIn Tijuana, a girl from Honduras waits for a present from a nongovernmental organization outside an empty warehouse used as a shelter for migrants. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP

By Amanda Chuzi

President Donald Trump opened his Oval Office address on 8 January with these words: “There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.” In one respect, he’s right. There is a growing humanitarian crisis at the border, but not for lack of a border wall – the crisis is growing because of the Trump administration’s illegal and inhumane policies toward asylum seekers.

As a law student enrolled in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, I spent the first week of the new year volunteering in Tijuana with an organization that provides legal services to asylum seekers. The organization, Al Otro Lado, serves individuals who hope to present themselves to US officials at the port of San Ysidro, the largest land border crossing in the United States. I use the word “hope” because the Trump administration has effectively prevented thousands of people – including many women and children – from exercising their legal right to apply for asylum by blocking their path to the port of entry itself.

Under domestic and international law, any immigrant who arrives at a US port of entry has a right to apply for asylum. The process is not easy and involves multiple interviews to determine whether an individual meets the narrow, categorical definition of a “refugee” under US law. Many asylum seekers will languish in detention while awaiting their turn before an immigration judge, without any opportunity to collect evidence or consult an attorney. Most will have their applications denied. But everyone is entitled to this process. The government must allow families at the border to present themselves and claim asylum.

Immigrants who arrive at the Mexican entrance to San Ysidro sign up for an informal waiting list and take a number. “La Lista” was developed and managed by Mexican immigration officials and others in response to the US government’s policy of allowing only a small number of people to present themselves each day. It is a primitive system, recorded by hand in a composition notebook and relayed only by word of mouth. The numbers are scratched on to tiny pieces of scrap paper, which migrants guard closely as they wait their turn. The wait can take weeks or even months.

This system should not have to exist; the situation that US policies have created is patently illegal and unquestionably responsible for the growing humanitarian crisis at the southern border. I met dozens of families with young children who were living in shelters and tent cities, patiently waiting for their numbers to be read off La Lista. These families had no food, income, or access to basic needs like medical care. They expressed fear of street crime and the practical challenges of living without documentation. Those who could work had a disincentive to seeking employment in Tijuana, because any evidence of potential stability in Mexico might hurt their asylum cases in the United States.

Moreover, the administration’s policy of punishing families by making them wait at the border fails to deter migrants, many of whom are fleeing violence and repression from hostile government actors. I advised some families not to approach the border at all. I tried to be realistic about the hardships they would face even after they successfully crossed on to US soil. I will never forget the looks of desperation on the faces of the men and women I counseled. Fathers told me they had to take the chance for their little girls. Rape victims told me they could not return home and face their attackers. They all told me they understood the risks. But what choice did they have?

If President Trump is genuinely concerned with the growing humanitarian crisis at the border, he should take immediate action to permit asylum seekers to present themselves to immigration officials. The law is clear on the issue – immigrants have the right to apply for asylum at any port of entry and between ports of entry. What’s clearer is that his policies have had, and will continue to have, devastating effects on thousands of well-meaning families who have not even begun the long and difficult asylum process.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/14/us-immigration-migrants-trump-border-crisis

Migration Compact adopted following Pope’s call to action

Compact photo                                 Pope at launch of Share the Journey

Source: CAFOD

More than 160 countries have agreed the UN Global Compact on Migration at a conference in Morocco following calls from CAFOD supporters and thousands of Catholics worldwide.

The migration pact follows the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees by the United Nations General Assembly earlier in 2018. The two agreements set out how governments will work together to help people on the move, particularly those who have been forced from their homes by persecution or poverty.

Catholics around the world have campaigned for governments to agree the compacts as part of a ‘Share the Journey’ campaign launched by Pope Francis in 2017, with CAFOD supporters in England and Wales walking more than 100,000 miles in solidarity with displaced people.

What are the global compacts?

The global compacts on migrants and refugees are the result of negotiations which started following a UN agreement in 2016 called the ‘New York Declaration’. This set out a process for countries to cooperate in dealing with the unprecedented number of people globally who were migrating because of war, the changing climate or in search of a better life.

Both agreements are seen as a step forward because they recognise that many migrants and refugees face common challenges and vulnerabilities.

The migration compact sets out how to assist people at all the stages of their journey – ensuring they can leave their homes without unnecessary danger, reducing the risk of exploitation and trafficking, and helping them to access basic services such as healthcare and education when they arrive in new countries.

The refugee compact seeks to make sure that countries which receive the largest number of refugees are given support. This is something the Holy Father has called for, as the majority of displaced people are living in countries which suffer from high levels of poverty themselves.

The agreement states the need to tackle the reasons why people are forced from their homes, including disasters resulting from climate change and damage to the environment.

The compact also notes that faith groups have an important role to play in helping refugees, including the role that the Church and other religious organisations play in preventing conflict and helping to build peace.

Global Compacts are a ‘testament to Pope’s leadership’

Graham Gordon, Head of Policy at CAFOD, said that the adoption of the agreements showed that “governments have responded to calls from their citizens” to support displaced people, noting that “tens of thousands of Catholics have walked over 100,000 miles in solidarity with people on the move.”

“Pope Francis has said that our response to the needs of migrants will be a ‘test of our humanity’, so the fact that the vast majority of states are joining the Global Compact is a positive sign.

“It’s in everyone’s interests that countries work together to support at every stage of their journey those who have left their homes in search of a better life. This is especially important if we are to prevent people from falling into the hands of traffickers and criminal gangs.”

The Holy See, under the Pope’s supervision, published guidance for governments ahead of the talks which led to the global compacts. These ‘action points’ were based on the support the Catholic Church is giving to refugees and migrants worldwide, including in countries such as Colombia, Nigeria and Lebanon.

Graham Gordon said: “The Global Compact and its sister document on refugees have been a testament to the leadership shown by the Pope and the Church during negotiations. Now we need to ensure that governments put their words into action and implement their provisions.”
https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/36197