The Crisis Facing Migrants Today

By Reagan Cavanaugh

https://www.diariolasamericas.com/america-latina/300-migrantes-cubanos-un-solo-dia-cruzan-el-rio-bravo-n4247046

According to operational statistics released by the U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CPB) for August 2022, a large number of individuals fleeing failed communist regimes has led to an increased number of migrants attempting to cross the southwest United States border.[1] The number of individuals encountered nationwide in August was 157,921.[2] Of the total encounters from August, 55,333, or 35%, were from Venezuela, Cuba, or Nicaragua, representing a 175% increase over the previous year. Meanwhile, individuals from Mexico and Central America account for 36% of these encounters and represent a decline of 43% compared to August 2021.[3] It is notable that this data represents “unique” encounters (one individual with one attempt), as a higher than usual number of migrants are making multiple attempts to cross the border.[4] In total there were 203,598 encounters along the southwest land border in August, revealing 22% who had at least one prior attempt in the previous 12 months.[5] CBP nationwide total encounters for FY22TD through August stands at 2,493,723 with the southwest border alone accounting for 2,150,639.[6]

CBP continues to enforce immigration laws under CDC’s Title 42 Order for expulsion to those without a legal basis to remain in the U.S. For this fiscal year to date, repatriations and expulsions total 1,300,467.[7] However, an increased number of individuals are seeking asylum from political and other types of persecution.[8] Migration from Venezuela follows years of food shortages and instability under President Nicolas Maduro.[9] The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates there are now more than 6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants worldwide, leaving their homeland “to escape violence, insecurity, and threats as well as lack of food, medicine, and essential services.”[10] In Cuba, last year’s summer protest against the government was met with violence by the country’s military and police, worsening food shortages, and power blackouts.[11] And in Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortego has cracked down violently on protestors and any opposition to its government, building a totalitarian dictatorship.[12]

While their paths to the U.S. border may differ, the laws are the same for all those seeking asylum.[13] Furthermore, those who enter the country by seeking asylum are legally allowed to remain in the United States until their asylum claims are processed.[14] Their rights are protected by international law.[15] This means that there are special and specific protections like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 14) which states that everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries. Others include the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, which protects refugees from being returned to countries where they risk being persecuted, the 1990 Migrant Workers Convention, which protects migrants and their families, and the Regional Refugee law instruments (including 1969 OAU Convention, 1984 Cartagena Declaration, Common European Asylum System, and Dublin Regulation).[16] Asylees may be eligible for certain government programs, such as Medicaid or Refugee Medical Assistance.[17] After one year, an asylee may apply for lawful permanent resident status. Once the individual becomes a permanent resident, he or she must wait four years to apply for citizenship.[18]

The rights of those seeking asylum recently came to light due to the transporting of migrants to Washington, New York, Chicago, and Martha’s Vineyard.[19] Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey authorized state-sponsored bus transport of close to 11,000 asylum seekers since May, including those dropped off at the home of Vice-President Kamala Harris.[20] The governors in border states defend this action as providing much-needed relief along the border, while others view it as a political stunt to land migrants in Democratic-led city governments.[21]

In Texas, Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County has opened a criminal probe against “abuse of human rights.”[22] Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent 50 migrants by plane to Martha’s Vineyard in an act he deems “just the beginning”.[23] The migrants he transported were picked up in Texas.[24] DeSantis purported that he has individuals in Texas “profile” migrants who were likely headed to his state as a final destination.[25] A class action lawsuit filed in court against DeSantis alleges that migrants were recruited with hotel stays and other amenities like McDonald’s gift cards to “lure” them on the flights. It also alleges they were promised housing and jobs which did not materialize.[26] The firm Lawyers for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the migrant-led nonprofit Alianza Americas, filed suit on behalf of the “Vineyard migrants and all similarly situated people who are fraudulently induced to travel across state lines by DeSantis and the State of Florida.”[27] The migrants are seeking unspecified damages for emotional and economic harm, as well as the cost of their legal fees.[28]

Regardless of whether these governors continue to send buses to far-flung cities from the southern border, and as litigation and criminal probes continue, there is no doubt individuals will continue to come to the border to seek asylum for a better tomorrow in the United States.

 

[1] CBP Releases August 2022 Monthly Operational Update, U.S. Customs and Border Prot. (Sept. 19, 2022) https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-releases-august-2022-monthly-operational-update.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Lauren Giella and Meghan Roos, Migrant New Update: White House ‘Closely Coordinating’ With Delaware, Newsweek (Sept. 20, 2022) https://www.newsweek.com/desantis-migrant-row-live-updates-1744530.

[9] Venezuela situation, UNHCR, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/venezuela-emergency.html (last visited on Sept. 22, 2022).

[10] Id.

[11] Rebecca Beitsch, GOP ‘stunts’ with migrants sweep up those fleeing regimes they denounce, Hill (Sept. 21, 2022) https://thehill.com/policy/3652882-gop-stunts-with-migrants-sweep-up-those-fleeing-regimes-they-denounce/.

[12] Id.

[13] Lauren Giella and Meghan Roos, supra note 8.

[14] Lauren Giella and Meghan Roos, supra note 8.

[15] Lauren Giella and Meghan Roos, supra note 8.

[16] Refugees, Asylum-Seekers and Migrants, Amnesty Int’l., https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/ (last visited Sept. 22, 2022).

[17] Asylum Manual, Immigr. Equal., https://immigrationequality.org/asylum/asylum-manual/asylee-status/ (last visited Sept. 22, 2022).

[18] Id.

[19] Amy B Wang, Migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard file class-action lawsuit against DeSaints, Wash. Post (Sept. 20, 2022) https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/09/19/desantis-migrant-flights-texas-sheriff/.

[20] Gloria Oladipo, Volunteers extend a hand to migrants from Texas:‘We welcome them’, Guardian (Sept. 21, 2022) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/migrants-texas-new-york-asylum-seekers?ref=upstract.com&curator=upstract.com&utm_source=upstract.com.

[21] Amy B Wang, supra note 18.

[22] Amy B Wang, supra note 18.

[23] Lauren Giella and Meghan Roos, supra note 8.

[24] Lauren Giella and Meghan Roos, supra note 8.

[25] Lauren Giella and Meghan Roos, supra note 8.

[26] Lauren Giella and Meghan Roos, supra note 8.

[27] Matt Adams, Migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard have filed a lawsuit against Gov. DeSantis, NPR (Sept. 20, 2022) https://www.npr.org/2022/09/20/1124160949/migrants-lawsuit-ron-desantis-marthas-vineyard.

[28] Id.

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