Last updated December 17, 2020. Download a PDF packet of infographics at bit.ly/wola_border.
- U.S. border officials have expelled at least 66 unaccompanied migrant children without a court hearing or asylum interview since a federal judge ordered them to stop the practice, the Trump administration conceded.
- An El Paso immigrant detention facility has the largest current detainee COVID-19 outbreak of any Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facility in the United States. As of Nov. 30, 44 detainees at El Paso Service Processing Center have COVID-19, according to ICE’s website. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 301 detainees in El Paso have tested positive for the virus. The next largest outbreak is 35 at a detention facility in Pearsall, Texas.
- Human smugglers are exploiting the enforcement policies that President Donald Trump’s administration set in motion along the U.S.-Mexico border, including large-scale restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the ongoing construction of physical barriers. Those U.S. policies — coupled with the precarious living situations for thousands of migrants that the pandemic has exacerbated in Mexico — are creating ripe conditions for smugglers. The result is a dramatic rise in human smuggling activity across southern Arizona over the past year, according to multiple federal and local law enforcement agencies in the state.
- A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to halt its practice of “expelling” underage migrants who enter the United States without a parent, a ruling that also cast doubt on the broader legality of the emergency public health measures the U.S. government has used since March to impose strict border controls. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s preliminary injunction requires the Trump administration to once more process the humanitarian claims of minors who cross the U.S. border alone, rather than returning them to Mexico or flying them back to their home countries without due process.
- A federal judge blocked President Trump’s policy of turning away migrant children at the border as public health risks, ruling that the expulsion of thousands of children without due process exceeded the authority that public health emergency decrees confer.
- An immigration detention center in south Texas has been converted into a staging ground to hold migrant families with children who the Trump administration seeks to expel from the U.S. without a court hearing, asylum interview or consultation with lawyers.
- The Department of Homeland Security has expelled unaccompanied immigrant children from the US border more than 13,000 times since March, when the Trump administration gave the agency unprecedented powers to close off access at the border during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an internal document obtained by BuzzFeed News.
ICE deported back to Guatemala hundreds of people who tested positive for COVID-19.
- With migrant deaths approaching levels not seen in years, humanitarian aid volunteers in southern Arizona say that the U.S. Border Patrol is using Covid-19 as a pretext to quietly dump large numbers of immigrants in Sasabe, one of the most remote and potentially dangerous communities in the Sonoran Desert, overwhelming the town’s limited immigration resources and placing individuals at significant risk of being targeted by organized criminal groups.
A 14-month investigation by House committee staff finds poor conditions and urgent health risks for migrants in ICE’s network of privatized detention centers. (Link at oversight.house.gov)
- The House Committee on the Judiciary holds a hearing on Immigrants as Essential Workers During COVID-19.
- The Border Patrol’s second-in-command defended the expulsion of thousands of migrants, many children, during this COVID-19 pandemic, and he said they are interviewed and documented for potential asylum claims, which is contrary to a recent lawsuit by human rights advocates who allege the agency creates no paper trail on them.
- At least 8,800 migrant children who arrived at the southern border without their parents have been swiftly expelled from the country and denied U.S. refuge during the pandemic under an emergency policy, the Trump administration told a federal court.
- The Trump administration is considering changing a pandemic-related border policy to no longer quickly return unaccompanied immigrant children to four countries that require them to test negative for the coronavirus before entering, according to a draft of the order obtained by BuzzFeed News.
- The government watchdog office for the United States’ border security agency warned Tuesday of a possible lapse in medical care services for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, which could pose a risk to the health of border agents and officers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some Mexican families are among the hundreds of mostly Central Americans awaiting their turn to seek asylum on the U.S. side of the border in Matamoros, Mexico.
- Americans who regularly cross the border from Mexico reported long wait times to re-enter the United States on Monday after U.S. officials imposed new COVID-19-related restrictions on cross-border travel by U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
- The United States on Friday closed lanes at select ports of entry at the border with Mexico and will conduct more secondary checks to limit non-essential travel and the spread of coronavirus, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official said.
- President Trump is considering new immigration rules that would allow border officials to temporarily block an American citizen or legal permanent resident from returning to the United States from abroad if the authorities have reason to believe the person may be infected with the coronavirus.