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

June 30, 2020

  • The 2,000-person migrant shelter in Matamoros, Mexico, reports its first cases of the coronavirus after months of humanitarian aid efforts to prevent an outbreak. Three asylum seekers tested positive and five others have been isolated in contact tracing efforts. The medical staff of Global Response Management, the nonprofit assisting the camp, states that they feel confident in their aggressive approach to the cases. They have prepared over the months by establishing field hospitals, temperature checkpoints, and testing stations. 

Tags: Asylum, Humanitarian aid, Migration, Public Health

June 30, 2020

  • The Texas Observer, supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, publishes a series on COVID-19 in the immigration pipeline. It focuses on the harms facing asylum seekers at the border through individual interviews and focuses on specific migrants in the region.

Tags: Asylum, Human Rights, Migration, Public Health

June 30, 2020

  • The Trump administration accelerates border wall construction ahead of the election with aggressive legal pressure applied to landowners in Texas to acquire the land needed to complete 450 miles by 2021. Federal attorneys summon landowners to court in areas hit hard by the coronavirus in Texas, making it difficult for private landowners to defend themselves during the pandemic.

Tags: Fencing, Public Health

June 29, 2020

  • The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear a challenge to the Trump administration’s authority to build the border wall in parts of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas that are ecologically sensitive. The four environmental groups involved argued that the power granted to the DHS Secretary to waive huge conservation staples like the Endangered Species Act is unconstitutional and provides too much power to the executive branch.

Tags: Environment, Fencing

June 29, 2020

  • The New Humanitarian releases a briefing on how the actions of the Trump administration to cut off access to asylum will outlast the pandemic and affect not only asylum seekers but regions of Latin America that have suffered outbreaks due to the United States’ expulsions.

Tags: Asylum, Expulsions, Human Rights, Migration, Public Health

June 29, 2020

  • A year after the contract was awarded, CBP officials release the design for the section of border wall that will span southern Arizona’s San Pedro River. Thirty-foot-tall steel bollards will be installed across the river with swing gates to allow river water to flow. The San Pedro is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the southwest and is vital to borderland ecosystems and migration patterns. Local environmental advocates state that the design “doesn’t adequately address concerns about debris buildup and flooding, let alone creatures,” as the administration “basically [makes] it up as they go along.”

Tags: Environment, Fencing

June 29, 2020

  • Cross-border coronavirus cases increase in southern California as coronavirus patients from Mexico come to the border to call an ambulance in order to receive treatment. Josiah Heyman, director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas notes that “the wall is an illusion, because the two sides are really woven together.” Officials estimate about a quarter of a million U.S. citizens live across the border in the Mexican state of Baja California.

Tags: Public Health, San Diego

June 29, 2020

  • El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz fears the repercussions the Supreme Court decision to uphold the quick removal of some asylum seekers without a hearing will have on migrant communities along the border during the pandemic. Seitz has created a fund in partnership with the Hope Border Institute to help shelters caring for migrants stuck in Ciudad Juárez and founded a program with the Border Refugee Assistance fund to aid expectant migrant mothers.

Tags: Asylum, Human Rights, Humanitarian aid, Migration, Public Health

June 25, 2020

  • The U.S. Supreme Court sides with the Trump administration’s efforts to speed the deportation of asylum seekers, ruling that a law limiting the role of federal courts in reviewing those decisions was constitutional. In the 7-2 decision, Justice Samuel Alito states that the asylum claims threatened to overwhelm the immigration system.

Tags: Asylum, Human Rights

June 25, 2020

  • Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court of Washington rules in favor of a 16-year-old Honduran boy at risk of deportation under the CDC’s emergency shutdown. A conservative appointed by President Trump, it is Nichols’ second time this month siding with the ACLU in questioning the public health law’s ability to authorize expulsions. While it specifically concerns relief for a migrant child, there is hope from human rights advocates that this ruling will set a precedent moving forward with additional challenges to the order’s legality.

Tags: Asylum, Deportation, Honduras, Human Rights, Migration

June 25, 2020

  • The Pentagon confirms that the Defense Department intends to keep as many as 4,000 troops at the U.S.-Mexico border through October despite no signs of an actual crisis. Most military backup will come from the Nationa Guard, which cannot engage in law enforcement activities but will help monitor the frontier, provide logistics, and offer transport to CBP personnel. There are currently approximately 5,500 troops deployed to the border.

Tags: Civil-Military Relations, Military Deployments

June 23, 2020

  • Borderland community organizations release statements criticizing President Trump’s unnecessary visit to Arizona to celebrate 200 miles of border construction. The Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter states that his visit to San Luis and Yuma “shows his complete disregard for the health and safety of Americans.” Arizona is currently suffering one of the largest spikes in cases nationwide.

Tags: Fencing, Public Health

June 23, 2020

  • President Trump tours the border wall in San Luis, Arizona, to commemorate the completion of 200 miles of border wall since his election. The trip itself is controversial, as the president and his aides continue to flout public health guidelines with unnecessary travel and refuse to wear masks even as top administration officials testify before Congress on the growing threat of COVID-19. The president and CBP officials maintain the promise that 450 miles will be completed by January.

Tags: Fencing, Public Health

June 22, 2020

  • Public Radio International reports on the heightened pressure placed on the Tohono O’odham Nation as the Trump administration attempts to complete construction in Arizona prior to the election. While the government hired environmental and cultural monitors to work on-site, there is only one monitor assigned to the entire swath of land in the Tohono O’odham’s desert region. Environmentalists and community groups hope that one of the several lawsuits filed against the administration will result in an injunction that will delay or halt construction until after a possible transition in the White House.

Tags: Fencing, Human Rights, Indigenous Communities

June 18, 2020

  • According to unpublished government data obtained by CBS News, the United States allowed only 39 unaccompanied migrant children to stay in the country in the month of May when there were over 1,000 arrests of unaccompanied children. Jennifer Nagda, a policy director at the Youth Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, argues that because of these record-low rates, the Office of Refugee Resettlement can and should offer refuge to unaccompanied children during the pandemic, as the Office now has ample bed capacity.

Tags: Apprehensions, Expulsions, Human Rights, Migration, Unaccompanied Children

June 17, 2020

  • Mother Jones releases a report examining the cost overruns of the border wall system construction project from March 2018 to present day, with a specific focus on contracting deals and controversies involving Fisher Sand and Gravel.

Tags: Budget, Fencing

June 16, 2020

  • Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf announces another extension of the border travel restriction, which now expires on July 21. Mexican officials and lawmakers along the U.S.-Mexico border are concerned that, as the election nears, the Trump administration will extend the order into the fall and use Mexico as a scapegoat for spikes in coronavirus cases. Local officials and business leaders along the border worry the continued extensions will add to the negative financial impact the regional economy has experienced. 

Tags: Migration, Public Health

June 15, 2020

  • Arizona Public Media reports on the efforts of the Cocopah peoples to prevent construction on their land in the Colorado River delta between California, Arizona, and Mexico. The Cocopah have prevented construction projects thus far by submitting a court document that emphasized the heightened cost of building on the area’s difficult terrain. Tribal lawyers also state that the area is “the cultural and spiritual heart of the Cocopah homeland” and that a wall would cut off vital access to water and family living on the other side. 

Tags: Environment, Fencing, Human Rights, Indigenous Communities