A chronology of events related to U.S. border governance and migration

February 29, 2020

  • During a news conference on the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump suggests that the U.S. will shut the southern border to control the spread of the virus. The administration has already announced limits on travelers who have visited China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea. Mexico’s government has currently identified 3 cases of coronavirus infection.

Tags:

February 27, 2020

  • The House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship hosts the hearing: “The Current State of the U.S. Refugee Program.”

Tags: Hearings

February 27, 2020

  • The U.S. Army and CBP invites members of the press to watch the detonation of a portion of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona. As the explosives were set off in Arizona, the chair of the Tohono O’odham Nation, Ned Norris Jr., was offering testimony in D.C. regarding the Trump administration’s desecration of the Nation’s ancestral lands – much of which is within or near Organ Pipe.

Tags: Environment, Fencing, Indigenous Communities

February 26, 2020

  • Mayors of both Nogales and Yuma in Arizona announce that their border communities are “finally rebounding” after last summer’s influx of asylum seekers, as commerce flows smoothly through the ports of entry during the height of the produce season this year. While the mayors say the border region is now “stabilized” due to the administration’s policies, it dismisses the ways Mexican border communities have struggled under the Remain in Mexico policy.

Tags: Migration, Nogales, Remain in Mexico, Yuma

February 26, 2020

  • Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith and the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Mac Thornberry, warn the Pentagon that it is undermining its own funding by diverting billions for border construction. The Pentagon’s plan has triggered a “rare Republican opposition to one of Trump’s priorities.” Rep. Thornberry warned Defense Secretary Mark Esper that Congress would place greater restrictions on the Pentagon’s ability to move money around to meet military needs.

Tags: Budget, Fencing

February 26, 2020

  • In Arizona, the killing of the iconic saguaro cactuses is a felony. Despite this, dozens have been destroyed in the past weeks by crews prepping for border construction inside the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which has already been blasted with dynamite for the past month. Outrage and protest from the 28,000-member Tohono O’odham Nation grow more prevalent. Construction has already destroyed ancient burial sites and siphoned an aquifer that provided for the desert oasis and its peoples for 16,000 years.

Tags: Environment, Fencing, Indigenous Communities

February 26, 2020

  • The Mexican National Guard discovers a tunnel in Nogales, Sonora, that leads to the United States. It is approximately 10 feet deep and leads 50 feet to U.S. territory. The National Guard is coordinating with CBP to conduct an investigation.

Tags: Tunnels

February 25, 2020

  • The Zapata County Commissioners’ Court in Texas votes unanimously to deny the federal government access to county land for survey and site assessment near San Ygnacio. San Ygnacio is home to a popular bird and butterfly sanctuary near the Rio Grande that was donated to the county years ago. The government contractors want to survey the area in preparation for the construction of 18 miles of border wall in Zapata County.

Tags: Environment, Fencing

February 25, 2020

  • A spokesperson for the Laredo Border Patrol sector states that landowners have signed 172 right-of-entry documents allowing government access to private land. In Webb County, where there are plans for 52 miles of border wall, the Commissioners’ Court allowed CBP access to a 15-acre strip of county-owned land for “environmental assessments, property surveys, [and] appraisals,” though residents argue that the area is only 65 feet wide and “the concession might as well include the entire riverfront.”

Tags: Fencing, Laredo

February 25, 2020

  • In a 5-4 holding, the Supreme Court rules against the parents of Sergio Hernández Güereca, the 15-year-old killed by a CBP agent shooting across the Mexican border. In a brief, the government of Mexico urged the justices to allow Sergio’s parents to sue. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito says a lawsuit requires congressional authorization since the shooting was an “international incident.” In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argues that such authorization is not always required in suits claiming violations of constitutional rights.

Tags: Border and Migration Politics, Human Rights

February 25, 2020

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist visits McAllen, Texas, for a first-hand visit to the border. Norquist manages the U.S. Defense budget and emphasized that “border security is national security,” during his speeches to National Guard troops and CBP agents. He also visited several sections of the wall in the Rio Grande Valley.

Tags: Civil-Military Relations, Fencing, Rio Grande Valley

February 24, 2020

  • National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd announces that the FBI is investigating the disappearance of approximately $500,000 from the union’s El Paso branch. Forensic auditors found that $352,389 was misappropriated while another $150,035 was not properly paid to the IRS in tax money. Rumors of a long-running embezzlement scheme had been circulating through the ranks of CBP since 2018.

Tags: Border Patrol, Corruption, El Paso, Organizational Culture

February 24, 2020

  • The Trump administration announces that elite Border Patrol units will be deployed to “sanctuary cities” to assist regular ICE agents and “shock troops.” Former senior Border Patrol agent Jenn Budd comments, “Border Patrol believes it is not required to answer to local police, FBI, CIA, or any other law enforcement agency…they say they will become a ‘national police force’…to be used by a president to enforce laws even among citizens.”

Tags: Border Patrol, Organizational Culture

February 21, 2020

  • The Guardian interviews individual migrants and asylum seekers from Juárez to Matamoros as the Remain in Mexico policy affects over 57,000 people. Metering has resulted in unofficial waitlists that are thousands long – the waiting list in Juárez has far surpassed 13,000. Additionally, the Trump administration announced recently that there are plans to extend the Remain in Mexico policy to Portuguese-speaking Brazilian asylum seekers.

Tags: Asylum, Human Rights, Migration, Remain in Mexico

February 19, 2020

  • U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, threatens to subpoena CBP for failing to provide proof of significant discipline for the employees found to be a part of the inappropriate, private Facebook group discovered in July of 2019. Rep. Maloney states that CBP has declined to produce any information about the punishments and has not been available for interview. While CBP revealed at least 62 current employees were involved, a recent report shows that the agency converted many of the recommended 30-day suspensions without pay into letters of reprimand. Overall, only 3 officers have been fired.

Tags: Organizational Culture, Oversight

February 19, 2020

  • CBP officer Esaul Bello pleads guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law for using unreasonable force and performing an unreasonable seizure during an inspection at the port of entry in Calexico. As part of his misdemeanor plea agreement, Bello resigned and gave up his security clearance. He is now awaiting sentencing, which could result in up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Tags: Crimes Against Migrants, Human Rights, Organizational Culture, Ports of Entry

February 19, 2020

  • In the ruling for January’s trial, U.S. District Judge David Bury writes that Border Patrol and its parent agencies “administer a detention system that deprives detainees … of conditions of confinement that meet basic human needs.” CBP must now allow migrants to clean themselves and provide clean mats and thin blankets to those held longer than 12 hours. Additionally, the agency is barred from holding migrants more than 48 hours if they have been fully processed and bans the use of bathrooms for sleeping – a problem that came to light during the trial.

Tags: Human Rights, Migration