The Dolph Briscoe Unit, a state prison in Southern Texas, was recently emptied of over 1,000 prisoners to make room for migrants facing, but not convicted of, state charges. The empty prison is currently being staffed by nearly 150 guards, despite Texas’ prison system being dangerously understaffed. Texas Governor Gregg Abbott has not made much clear in terms of when or how the facility will be fashioned into a migrant jail, and the prison is currently in a state of “maintenance mode” while officers become trained as jailers and state agencies what changes need to be made in order to house a non-prison population. This project seems to be a part of Abbott’s larger push to address what he has deemed a migration crisis, seeking alternative detention possibilities outside of federal jurisdiction.
The US is on track for 2 million encounters with migrants on the border by the end of the 2020 fiscal year (a record high), according to internal government estimates.
CBP confirmed to Congress that 4 individuals arrested on the southern border since October 1 match names on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database, including 3 Yemenis and a Serbian.
- Chief patrol agent in the Big Bend sector Matthew Hudak becomes chief in the Laredo sector upon the retirement of Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez. The Laredo, Texas, sector is characterized by constant apprehensions and rescues of migrants traversing the expansive mountainous areas in the region.
- According to unpublished government data obtained by CBS News, the United States allowed only 39 unaccompanied migrant children to stay in the country in the month of May when there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.
- Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan announces that the new policy of quickly expelling migrants apprehended at the border will likely stay in place even after coronavirus quarantine restrictions relax around the country. While the policy is set to expire on May 20th, Morgan suggests it will be extended to protect public health.
- After stopping the fourth attempt to smuggle people into the U.S. by tractor-trailer in the last four months, El Centro Sector CBP agents warn the public of the strategy’s rising trend. This fourth attempt resulted in the apprehension of 42 migrants near Calexico, California.
- Gilmer Barrios, a citizen of Guatemala with an open case in U.S. immigration court and no prior deportation order, was stopped at a CBP checkpoint near San Diego, California, and rapidly deported to Tijuana on March 23. On April 17, Barrios has finally secured passage back to the United States after intervention from the Guatemalan consul general in Los Angeles, California.
- CBP reports that a traffic stop performed by the Laredo North Border Patrol in Texas resulted in the apprehension of 28 individuals smuggled in a tractor-trailer. The individuals were from Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador.
- Reuters reports that approximately 400 migrant children intercepted at the border in the past two weeks have been deported. Since the new procedures implemented on March 21 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, 7,000 migrants have been expelled to Mexico, including 377 minors.
- Migrant apprehensions along the border increased for the first time in nine months during the month of February. CBP recorded 37,119 unauthorized border crossers, up from 36,660 in January. While the number of family units apprehended continues to decline, there is an increase in single adult migrants from Mexico and unaccompanied children. As Mexico’s homicide rate stays near peak levels, the economy remains stagnant, and global manufacturing slows due to coronavirus, there will be many emigration pressures in the coming months.
- Executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights Fernando Garcia voices concerns about CBP’s de-escalation skills and use of force after a video of a man’s apprehension goes viral. The video shows Border Patrol agents using a stun gun and additional force on a non-compliant man suspected of migrant smuggling. According to the ACLU, generally, immigration officers cannot detain someone without “reasonable suspicion.”
- While monthly border apprehensions continue to drop, Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan announces that the number of Mexican adults taken into custody has climbed by 32% from this time last year. Morgan suggests the shift is due to smugglers “scrambling to come up with new tactics.” In January 2019, 61% of migrants U.S. officials encountered were from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Morgan announces that in January 2020, 61% were from Mexico.
- In a column published by CNN’s website, retiring Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost calls on Congress to tackle the “humanitarian crisis” at the border through updated immigration law and additional resources for CBP and its partners. Provost notes that at the peak of the 2019 child and family migration crisis CBP was overwhelmed on a daily basis, as agents spent 60% of their time processing, transporting, feeding, and providing medical care to those apprehended instead of patrolling and securing the border. The current state of border security, Provost says, is not sustainable.
- CBP awaits a decision from U.S. District Judge David Bury, as a seven-day trial wraps up over temporary holding conditions for migrants apprehended in the Tucson sector. The case arose from a lawsuit from a coalition of groups suing over miserable conditions in CBP custody despite an earlier injunction mandating minimal standards. CBP custody should not last more than 72 hours, but during fiscal year 2019, of 63,490 people apprehended in the Tucson Sector, one in five (12,030 total) was held longer than 72 hours.
- CBP reports reduced December apprehensions of migrants. Numbers of unaccompanied minors and families apprehended between October-December 2019 are down 37% and 64% respectively from the same period in 2018. The Laredo and Tucson sectors saw increases in unaccompanied minors and families, with most coming from Guatemala and Honduras. The number of single adults detained increased by 3% over November, with apprehensions increasing in the Laredo, Del Rio, and El Paso sectors, the majority originating from Mexico. CBP also notes a 5% increase in drug smuggling, intercepting 93,000 pounds of undifferentiated drugs “nationwide” in December.
- Fox News releases a video of Mexican National Guard personnel assisting the U.S. Border Patrol in the capture of a group of migrants in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan notes that Mexican forces’ assistance is more frequent as of late, but also credits CBP’s enforcement efforts at the border for bringing a recent decline in migrant apprehensions.