DHS has failed to effectively implement prompt asylum programs including the Prompt Asylum Claim Review (PACR) and Humanitarian Asylum Review Process (HARP), according to reports released by the DHS Inspector General and U.S. Government Accountability Office. These programs were developed to quickly process migrants with claims of credible fear, and raise very troubling due process concerns.
President-elect Joe Biden will roll out a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system on his first day in office, which includes providing a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants, addressing root causes of migration, and expanding refugee admissions as well as provisions for increased use of technology at the border.
The Justice Department inspector general released a strongly-worded report stating that President Trump and other top aides played a significant role in the “zero-tolerance” migration policies of the administration that resulted in family separations, among other things. Although the report does not claim the President was directly responsible, evidence strongly implicates Trump and aides.
As the Trump presidency comes to a close, over 450 miles of border wall have been built, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $16 billion, according to Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan.
President Trump returned to the US-Mexico border for the final time in his presidency, and gave a speech boasting of his administration’s accomplishments building the wall and securing the border, many of which proved false after fact-checking.
A federal judge in El Paso ruled that CBP has failed to comply with FOIA requests and has made no effort to provide requested information in a timely manner. The judge noted that the agency failed to prepare for the amount of requests, leading to long waits for documents and a lack of transparency. A month prior, another federal judge had ruled that USCIS had also failed to comply with FOIA requests.
Trump’s border wall construction efforts may have actually opened up new weak points along the border, according to a Business Insider report. In several areas where land has been cleared but no wall built, it is now much easier for migrants to cross than before.
Chad Wolf, acting DHS secretary, resigned his post after a year in the role. A federal judge had recently ruled that his appointment was unlawful and illegitimate.
The Trump administration rushed through several asylum restrictions set to take effect near Joe Biden’s inauguration, including one that disqualifies domestic abuse and gang violence victims from being granted asylum, another that bars non-Mexican migrants from applying for asylum, and one that would remove U.S . protection for migrants exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
The Remain in Mexico program subjects children and adults to serious, long-term harm and trauma and should be dismantled immediately, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch and several university health centers. The report details various forms of abuse inflicted on dozens of participants and urges Joe Biden to quickly end the program.
President Trump signed the bipartisan Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act into law. This act will provide state and local governments and humanitarian organizations with more assistance and resources to find, recover, and identify bodies of migrants who have died trying to enter the US.
According to a report published by The Intercept, at least three asylum-seeking mothers who gave birth in the US (making their children legally U.S. citizens) were told by CBP agents that they would be sent to stay with family but instead were sent back to Mexico without being processed or having an opportunity to have their claims heard.
The number of U.S. troops deployed to the border to assist CBP is down from a peak of 5,000 to 3,600, according to a Pentagon spokesman. The drop has coincided with the expected end of Pentagon contributions to the border wall.
During the Trump administration, DHS employees have accepted millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels and smugglers, despite rhetoric about increased border security. According to a former Border Patrol agent, this has been a part of the agency culture but has intensified in recent years. At least a dozen CBP employees were arrested in 2020 for working directly with criminal organizations.
Close to 200 Cuban migrants staged a protest at the border in Ciudad Juarez, calling to be let into the United States. Many have been waiting at the border for months as a result of the Remain in Mexico program.
President Trump issued pardons to two CBP agents convicted of shooting an unarmed migrant in 2006 and then attempting to cover it up. The agents already had their sentences reduced by George W. Bush and were released in 2009 but are now completely exonerated.
2020 was the deadliest year on record for migrants crossing into Arizona, with 225 remains of migrants found so far according to Humane Borders and the Pima County Medical Examiner. This is likely due to a combination of border wall construction forcing migrants to take remote routes, increased CBP hostility to humanitarian groups, and soaring temperatures.
The Biden administration will take several months to fully reestablish the asylum process on the US-Mexico border, according to an interview with Susan Rice and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s picks for domestic policy adviser and national security adviser. Rice and Sullivan cautioned migrants that “now is not the time” to come to the border.
Army Corps of Engineers estimates show that if Joe Biden stopped border wall construction on day 1, it would save taxpayers around 2.6 billion, even accounting for the costs of ending contracts with border wall construction companies.
The Justice Department released a memo rescinding the “zero-tolerance policy” introduced by the Trump administration in 2018. This policy required the maximum number of people apprehended crossing the border between ports of entry to be prosecuted criminally for illegal entry. It resulted in the widely condemned separation of families, as parents were prosecuted and their children taken from them.