North America

Judge blocks indefinite detention of asylum seekers

A US district court judge ruled that the Department of Homeland Security cannot hold migrants seeking asylum indefinitely as was ordered by Attorney General William Barr. Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle held that the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act cited by Barr violates the US Constitution. Pechman stated that the plaintiffs in the case have established that asylum seekers have “a constitutionally protected interest in their liberty” and a “right to due process, which includes a hearing.” (Photo of Homeland Security’s Otay Mesa Detention Center from BBC World Service via Flickr)

Central America

Central America climate crisis fuels migration

Commentators have noted the roots of the current massive migration from Central America in the political economy of the free trade order. The US-led repression and counter-insurgency in the isthmus in the 1980s allowed the imposition of “free trade” or “neoliberal” regimes in the generation since then—culminating in the passage of CAFTA. This, in turn, has exacerbated the expropriation from the peasantry of their traditional lands by agribusiness and agro-export oligarchies. But this dynamic is now being augmented by factors related to political ecology—the degradation of the land itself due to climate destabilization. (Photo: IOM)

Mexico

Mexico: new security force to Guatemalan border

The first mission of the new security force created by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will be blocking migrants on the Guatemalan border, evidently part of a deal struck with the Trump administration. Mexico has pledged to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border in an effort to avoid Trump’s threatened tariff on all exports to the United States. The deal was announced as Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard is leading a Mexican delegation in talks with White House officials in Washington. Mexican officials said that 10 National Guard contingents of 450 to 600 troops each will be assigned to the border with Guatemala by September. The deployment would represent a fourfold increase on the 1,500 federal troops currently patrolling the border. A further three units will be deployed to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico, to set up roadblocks and checkpoints to stop the movement of migrants. (Photo: Mexico News Daily)

North America

Judge blocks emergency funding for Trump’s wall

A federal judge blocked construction of Donald Trump’s border wall, ruling that Trump cannot use a “national emergency” to take money from government agencies for the barrier. Judge Haywood Gilliam of the US District Court for Northern California ruled that the diversion of the money likely oversteps a president’s statutory authority. The injunction specifically limits wall construction projects in El Paso, Tex., and Yuma, Ariz. (Photo via Jurist)

North America

Legal challenge to Trump emergency declaration

A 16-state coalition filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, requesting the court to issue a judicial determination that Trump’s national emergency declaration over the southern border wall is unconstitutional. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the lawsuit, stating: “Unlawful southern border entries are at their lowest point in 20 years, immigrants are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes, and illegal drugs are more likely to come through official ports of entry. There is no credible evidence to suggest that a border wall would decrease crime rates.” (Photo via Jurist)

North America

Trump declares state of emergency for border wall

President Donald Trump announced a state of emergency to obtain $8 billion for a border wall between the US and Mexico. A significant amount of the funds are expected to be from the Department of Defense budget, but Trump was not clear regarding funding or spending plans. Legal challenges are expected to be filed soon regarding the reach of national emergency powers under a 1975 law that has been invoked 58 times. (Photo via Jurist)

North America

ICE condemned for force-feeding detainees

Human Rights Watch condemned US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for force-feeding detained migrants. Detained men at the agency's El Paso Processing Center have been participating in a hunger strike since early January. ICE officials said that 11 men are striking, but AP reports the number may be closer to 30. In mid-January a federal judge authorized ICE to force-feed six of the protesters. The detained men have been protesting "rampant verbal abuse and threats of deportation from guards" and long detentions while awaiting a hearing. Most of the hunger strikers are from India or Cuba. (Photo: Hetsumani/Pixabay)

North America

Demand investigation into death of migrant child

UN Special Rapporteur of the human rights of migrants Felipe González Morales called for an independent investigation into the death of Jakelin Ameí Caal, a Guatemalan migrant child who died while in US Customs and Border Protection. Jakelin was in custody, along with her family and other migrants, after crossing the Mexico border. The factual causes leading up to her death are currently disputed. In the report, Morales stresses the importance of finding out what happened to Jakelin, stating that "if any officials are found responsible they should be held accountable." (Photo via Jurist)

North America

Trump order blocks intercepted asylum-seekers

The White House issued a proclamation that bans migrants caught entering the US unlawfully from seeking asylum. The ban's stated purpose is to funnel migrants from Mexico and Central America to ports of entry, where they will be allowed to apply for asylum "in an orderly and controlled manner instead of unlawfully." But Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant Rights Project, stated: "The law is clear: People can apply for asylum whether or not they’re at a port of entry, and regardless of their immigration status. The president doesn't get to ignore that law, even if he dislikes it." (Photo via Jurist)

North America

After Pittsburgh, American Jews face a choice

The lines are starkly drawn in Pittsburgh—and, hopefully, across the country—in the wake of the synagogue massacre that left 11 dead. President Trump visited the synagogue, and was joined by the Israeli ambassador. This took place over the protests of Pittsburgh's Mayor Bill Peduto, who asked the White House to delay the trip in light of the sensitive situation in the city. While the rabbi at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the massacre site, welcomed Trump, many members of his congregation clearly dissented. More than 35,000 people signed an open letter to Trump from the local chapter of the progressive Jewish group Bend the Arc, stating: "You are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism." Hundreds demonstrated against Trump's visit under the standard of another Jewish progressive formation, If Not Now, with banners reading "ANTI-SEMITISM = WHITE NATIONALISM" and "ANTI-SEMITISM UPHOLDS WHITE SUPREMACY." (Photo via IfNotNow)

North America

Environmentalists challenge border wall plans

A group of environmental advocacy organizations filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security over concerns that the border wall will result in detrimental environmental impacts to the areas surrounding the construction sites. The Secretary of Homeland Security's office has issued a series of waivers, dubbed the Lower Rio Grande Valley Border Wall Waivers, that would exempt construction projects related to the planned border wall from federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act. The advocacy groups argue that the broadness of the waivers would violate separation of powers and other constitutional doctrines. (Photo via Jurist)

North America

Podcast: First they came for the immigrants….

In Episode 13 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg deconstructs Trump's executive order ostensibly ending the policy of family separation on the southern border, and demonstrates how it actually lays the groundwork for indefinite detention of migrants on military bases. The Central American peasantry, expropriated of its lands by state terror, CAFTA and narco-violence, is forced to flee north—now into the arms of Trump's new gulag. Immigrants are the proverbial canaries in the American coal-mine. The Trump crew are testing their methods on them because they are vulnerable, and banking on the likelihood that non-immigrants will say "not my problem." But if they get away with what they are doing now to a vulnerable and isolated population of non-citizens, it sets a precedent—and ultimately nobody is safe. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon.