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

March 31, 2020

  • The Mexican government announces the indefinite closure of the pedestrian-only crossing and limits service to commercial trucks in Nogales, Arizona’s busiest gateway to Mexico. CBP announces that its counterpart in Mexico, the Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT) had notified them of the closure. 

Tags: Border and Migration Politics, Nogales, Public Health

March 31, 2020

  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announce the discovery of an underground smuggling tunnel and the seizure of over $29 million in drugs. The tunnel is 31 feet deep and 3 feet wide, and extends more than 2,000 feet between a warehouse in San Diego and a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico. The drugs included 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 86 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 3,000 pounds of marijuana, and more than 2 pounds of fentanyl.

Tags: Cocaine, Drug Trafficking, Fentanyl, Heroin, Methamphetamine, Tunnels

March 30, 2020

  • The House Committee on the Judiciary publishes a letter demanding that DHS give due process to unaccompanied children in U.S. custody during the COVID-19 outbreak. The letter, led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), claims DHS is violating the Trafficking Victims Protections Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) by unlawfully sending minors back to countries where they fear violence.

Tags: Human Rights, Migration, Public Health

March 30, 2020

  • A CBP official confirms to BuzzFeed News that some underage, unaccompanied migrants taken into custody are now eligible for expedited deportation based on the discretion of the agency. Eleanor Acer, refugee protection director at Human Rights First, calls the move proof that the administration is “using” a public health crisis “to advance their long-standing goal of overturning U.S. laws protecting vulnerable children and people seeking asylum.”

Tags: Human Rights, Migration, Public Health

March 30, 2020

  • A Washington Post analysis shows that under the new coronavirus immigration measures, CBP is implementing “rapid-fire deportation,” sending migrants who cross the U.S. border back to Mexico in an average of 96 minutes due in part to the lack of medical examination while in U.S. custody. 

Tags: Migration, Public Health

March 30, 2020

  • National Geographic releases a report regarding the Section 102 waivers issued by DHS earlier this month for wall construction in Arizona and New Mexico. The report highlights endangered wildlife concerns as the waivers permit construction through the heart of the Sky Islands in Arizona, a region home to species found nowhere else in the U.S. including jaguars, colorful birds called trogons, lowland burrowing tree frogs, and brown vine snakes. 

Tags: Environment, Fencing

March 30, 2020

  • CBP releases a statement announcing the death of a 61-year-old U.S. citizen in CBP custody at the San Ysidro port of entry on March 29. According to the statement, the man was placed into a cell after attempting to walk into a restricted area and exhibiting abnormal behavior. CBP officers noticed he was unresponsive shortly after. The San Diego Police Department and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility are reviewing the incident.

Tags: Fencing, Human Rights, Migration

March 29, 2020

  • The governors from three northern Mexican states – Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon – request an urgent meeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and call on him to do more to stop people from entering Mexico from the United States. The three states border Texas, which has 2,600 confirmed cases. The three Mexican states currently report over 90 cases, but cite concerns regarding Holy Week in April which traditionally sees a large spike in cross-border traffic for vacation.

Tags: Border and Migration Politics, Migration, Public Health

March 28, 2020

  • The Trump administration has overseen dozens of miles of the border wall throughout the coronavirus pandemic. According to Newsweek, a CBP spokesperson announced that 140 miles of border wall have been completed as of today, with another 197 miles currently under construction. 

Tags: Fencing, Public Health

March 26, 2020

  • Two U.S. officials tell NPR that the Pentagon is expected to send 1,500 additional troops to the nation’s borders with Canada and Mexico to further assist CBP in combating the coronavirus. Roughly 540 military personnel will be sent to the Mexican border. This brings the total military presence at the border to approximately 5,000 troops.

Tags: Civil-Military Relations, Public Health

March 26, 2020

  • For the second day in a row, protests in Ambos Nogales continue in the southbound lanes of the DeConcini port. The protests are led by Sonorans for Health and Life. Group member Jose Luis Hernandez claims the protests are a “first warning” to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to implement health screenings and limit border crossings from the United States. The group vows to continue to block the DeConcini checkpoint until new policies are enacted.

Tags: Border and Migration Politics, Migration, Nogales, Public Health

March 25, 2020

  • Border officials announce the discovery of two incomplete tunnels near the fence in the Yuma sector. West of the San Luis port of entry, Homeland Security Investigations and CBP found one in the U.S. and the other 10 to 12 feet away on the Mexican side of the border.

Tags: Tunnels

March 25, 2020

  • Protestors block the Mexico-bound lanes of the DeConcini port between the twin cities of Ambos Nogales in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. The protestors demand greater controls on the southbound traffic at the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent travelers from the U.S. from spreading the coronavirus in Mexico. At this time, Arizona alone has confirmed over 400 cases and at least 6 deaths. Sonora has confirmed a total of 4 cases of COVID-19 statewide. 

Tags: Border and Migration Politics, Nogales, Public Security

March 24, 2020

  • A CBP spokesperson announces that since the new border rule took effect on March 21 suspending entry of all migrants who enter the U.S. without proper documentation, more than 1,000 people have been returned to Mexico. The official also announced that several Border Patrol agents have tested positive for COVID-19.

Tags: Migration, Public Health

March 24, 2020

  • The Congressional Hispanic Caucus chaired by Rep. Joaquin Castro from Texas writes a letter requesting information from State Child Welfare Agencies to determine if DHS has been using these agencies in border states to separate asylum-seeking mothers from their newborn infants, who are United States citizens.

Tags: Human Rights, Migration

March 24, 2020

  • Five Border Patrol agents working in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California tell the Washington Examiner that the agency has not briefed its Border Patrol agents on how to protect themselves from the coronavirus beyond basic personal protective equipment. CBP agents arrest tens of thousands of people at the border every month.

Tags: Organizational Culture, Public Health

March 23, 2020

  • The Pentagon announces they have “no plans to pull units off the border for coronavirus response.” The troops mainly perform services to support CBP because federal law prohibits the U.S. military from domestic law enforcement activities. Reports of some troops’ duties — including, at one point, painting a border barrier “to improve the aesthetic appearance of the wall” — have led to criticism from lawmakers and former officials that the military is being used for the president’s political agenda. The Pentagon’s mission has cost over $500 million so far and nearly 3,000 National Guard troops remain at the border.

Tags: Civil-Military Relations

March 23, 2020

  • In a joint statement, DHS and the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) announces the postponement of all hearings set through April 22 related to the Remain in Mexico policy due to the spreading coronavirus. EOIR specified that this does not mean the Remain in Mexico policy is canceled, or any of the hearings.

Tags: Migration, Public Health, Remain in Mexico

March 22, 2020

  • Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan announces a major migration decline of 54% at ports of entry and a 52% decline in CBP encounters. Morgan attributes these new statistics to the new travel ban imposed on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Tags: Migration, Public Health

March 21, 2020

  • In Matamoros, the Mexican government provides buses to the 2,000-person migrant encampment in response to requests from migrants considering the return to Central America. This comes in response to the new U.S. policy, which shuts off access for those trying to claim asylum at the border. The policy will heavily burden the Mexican side of the border, as the shelters for asylum seekers brace for the pandemic in overcrowded conditions and the waitlist system remains suspended for thousands. 

Tags: Human Rights, Migration, Remain in Mexico