The US-Mexico Border Crisis

Children+caught+by+Customs+and+Border+Patrol+agents+are+kept+in+facilities+like+this+for+up+to+two+weeks.

Photo Courtesy via Reuters

Children caught by Customs and Border Patrol agents are kept in facilities like this for up to two weeks.

Larger numbers of immigrants have flooded the US-Mexico border than ever before since the beginning of the year. Activists and members of the Latino community have looked to put blame on someone for the crisis.

What Exactly are the Cages for?

The surge began amid former president Donald Trump’s campaign to build a wall along the border sparking controversy amongst his opponents. Trump also increased the number of Border Patrol and Customs camps along the border. According to USA Today, the Obama Administration started the facilities in 2014.  They only held unaccompanied children until the Department of Health and Human Services housed them; a process that took no more than 72 hours.

Trump altered the system, ordering border patrol agents to separate the children from their older family members. Enacted was a “zero tolerance” policy. It held every illegal immigrant caught within the US in border patrol custody until their prosecution date. Furthermore, deported along with them was an individuals entire family. In contrast, previous administrations had a catch and release policy, letting families reside in the U.S. until their persecution. When this practice came under scrutiny, border patrol began expelling the children back across the border. Multiple instances of maltreatment surfaced from the facilities. For instance, the Shiloh treatment center located in Texas gave psychotropic medication to children without the consent of their parents.

Biden’s Stance on Immigration

Biden made promises to change the situation at the border but some of them weren’t able to be kept. One of the goals of his presidential campaign was to enact more humane policies towards the immigrant communities. The  “U.S. Citizens Act of 2021” is one of them. In practice, it would grant citizenship to illegals who have immediate family members who are citizens. Furthermore, visa holders will be able to obtain green cards easier. The bills came as an invitation to many seeking asylum. Biden also pledges to halt the wall start by Trump and halt it’s construction and funding on his first day in office. In April, Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, stated funding construction of the wall is still underway to fill “gaps”.

Issues with Transparency

The Biden Administration has been defensive about the situation and has given very limited public access to the facilities not yet overcrowded. Officials such as Mayorkas’, are quick to put blame for the situation on the Trump administration. After months of blocking reporters from entering, he granted a small group access to Carrizo springs, a for profit detention center previously closed for being overpacked and unsanitary. The living conditions and children weren’t allowed to be filmed or photographed and certain areas were prohibited to enter; supposedly due to COVID-19 and homeland security concerns. The office of Congressman Henry Cueller later released images of the children’s living conditions of another facility in Donna, Texas. Some did not have mask and many slept on floors.

Why They Come

According to The New York Times, most of the immigrants are children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The journey north for them is not much safer. Racism towards Central Americans is common in Mexico and murders of immigrants often go unsolved. Most people leave these countries due to the gang violence, poverty, enslavement, and government oppression that interferes with day-to-day living. Given the task of managing the border and reaching out to neighboring governments to remedy the root issue was Vice President Kamala Harris. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei stated it was Biden’s fault for implying amnesty to immigrants. According to The Washington Post, the Governors of Texas and Arizona have also blamed Biden for the surge due to his rhetoric.

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