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Border Enforcement

Hieleras (Iceboxes) in the Rio Grande Valley Sector

Each year, the Border Patrol—a division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—holds hundreds of thousands of individuals in detention facilities near the U.S. southern border. These facilities are not designed for overnight custody, and yet they are routinely used in this way. Until recently, CBP policy was clear that these facilities were to serve exclusively as short-term holding cells—meaning that a person should be held there less than 12 hours. Evidence presented in this report, which pertains to Border Patrol holding cells in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector, reveals that, instead, individuals are routinely held for days.

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Published On: Thu, Dec 17, 2015 | Download File

A Guide to Children Arriving at the Border: Laws, Policies and Responses

The American Immigration Council is updating this Guide which was first issued in summer 2014. It provides information about the tens of thousands of children—some travelling with their parents and others alone—who have fled their homes in Central America and arrived at our southern border. Read more...

Published On: Fri, Jun 26, 2015 | Download File

Children in Danger: A Guide to the Humanitarian Challenge at the Border

This guide has been updated. Please see A Guide to Children Arriving at the Border: Laws, Policies and Responses for the latest information.

The American Immigration Council has prepared this guide in order to provide policymakers, the media, and the public with basic information surrounding the current humanitarian challenge the U.S. is facing as thousands of young migrants show up at our southern border. This guide seeks to explain the basics. Who are the unaccompanied children and why are they coming? What basic protections are they entitled to by law? What happens to unaccompanied children once they are in U.S. custody? What has the government done so far? What additional responses have been proposed to address this issue? Read more...

Published On: Thu, Jul 10, 2014 | Download File

No Childhood Here: Why Central American Children are Fleeing Their Homes

Over a decade before President Barack Obama described the influx of unaccompanied child migrants to the United States as an “urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated Federal response,” child and refugee advocates warned that children who shared experiences of years-long family separation, widespread violence in home countries, and higher rates of neglect and abuse were fleeing from South of our border in alarming numbers. Then as now, over 95 percent were from Mexico and the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. When these children were apprehended in the U.S., the Trafficking and Victim’s Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) required agents to ask limited and straightforward abuse questions. If the child was determined to be without a parent or legal guardian, s/he had to be transferred to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) care within 72 hours.

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Published On: Tue, Jul 01, 2014 | Download File

Mexican and Central American Asylum and Credible Fear Claims: Background and Context

Carlos Gutierrez, a successful businessman in Chihuahua, Mexico, and the married father of two, refused to comply with a criminal cartel’s monthly demands of $10,000. In retribution for his refusal and as an example to other businessmen, his feet were cut off and he was left for dead. According to his former attorney, that kind of “organized crime is not possible without the complicity of the municipal, state and federal police.”

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Published On: Wed, May 21, 2014 | Download File

Bordering on Criminal: The Routine Abuse of Migrants in the Removal System

This three-part series highlights the findings of the Migrant Border Crossing Study—a binational, multi-institution study of 1,110 randomly selected, recently repatriated migrants surveyed in six Mexican cities between 2009 and 2012. The study exposes widespread mistreatment of migrants at the hands of U.S. officials in the removal system.

Part I: Migrant Mistreatment While in U.S. Custody

This report focuses on the mistreatment of unauthorized migrants while in U.S. custody. Overall, we find that the physical and verbal mistreatment of migrants is not a random, sporadic occurrence but, rather, a systematic practice. One indication of this is that 11% of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23% report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody—a finding that is supported by other academic studies and reports from non-governmental organizations. Another highly disturbing finding is that migrants often note they are the targets for nationalistic and racist remarks—something that in no way is integral to U.S. officials’ ability to function in an effective capacity on a day-to-day basis. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Dec 10, 2013

The Cost of Doing Nothing

Dollars, Lives, and Opportunities Lost in the Wait for Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is a topic that has been heavily debated in Congress over the past year. While that debate led to passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate (S. 744), the leadership of the House of Representatives has yet to put immigration legislation on the floor. This state of affairs is fine with those congressional representatives who seem to think that merely talking about immigration is enough. And if Congress were a debating society, perhaps talking would be sufficient. But Congress is entrusted with a far greater responsibility: passing laws that matter. This is particularly true in the case of immigration reform, which has such enormous humanitarian and economic implications. Further delay on immigration reform, especially when there is broad public support for reform, wastes not just time, but money and lives as well.Read more...

Published On: Mon, Sep 23, 2013 | Download File

An Unlikely Couple: The Similar Approaches to Border Enforcement in H.R. 1417 and S. 744

The House of Representatives and the Senate have embarked upon very different paths when it comes to immigration reform. On June 27, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill—S. 744 (the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act)—that seeks to revamp practically every dysfunctional component of the U.S. immigration system. The House leadership, on the other hand, favors a piecemeal approach in which a series of immigration bills are passed, each addressing a different aspect of the larger immigration system. To date, the most popular of these piecemeal bills has been H.R. 1417 (the Border Security Results Act), which was passed unanimously on May 15 by the House Committee on Homeland Security. H.R. 1417 is, in marked contrast to S. 744, an enforcement-only bill which does not acknowledge the existence of any other component of immigration reform.

Nevertheless, the border-enforcement provisions of S. 744 aren’t all that different from those contained within H.R. 1417. Both bills share the arbitrary and possibly unworkable goals of “operational control” (a 90 percent deterrence rate) and 100 percent “situational awareness” along the entire southwest border. The Senate bill also added insult to injury in the form of the Corker-Hoeven (“border surge”) amendment, which seeks to micromanage border-security operations and would gratuitously appropriate tens of billions of dollars in additional funding, and hire tens of thousands of additional Border Patrol agents, before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has even determined what resource and staffing levels are needed to do the job.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Jul 24, 2013 | Download File

Lost in the Shadow of the Fence

The Important Economic Relationship of Mexico and the United States

Mexico is the United States’ third largest trading partner, after Canada and China, in terms of total trade in goods, while the U.S. is Mexico’s largest trading partner. As such, the economic ties of the U.S. and Mexico are significantly important to the economy and society in both countries. Further, the U.S.-Mexico border is not a static line drawn on a map, but a dynamic and ever-evolving place along which substantial daily interaction takes place. Yet the resounding refrain we repeatedly hear from some members of Congress is that building a 1,969-mile fence to separate us from one of our largest economic partners, and the eleventh largest economy in the world, is a key component to solving the issues presented by an outdated immigration system and a requirement that must be completed before moving forward with proposed immigration reforms. To be clear, there is a need for secure borders, but there is also a need for further streamlining and efficiently facilitating the daily cross-border flows of people, goods, and services important to the bi-national economic relationship of the United States and Mexico – an economic relationship the following facts highlight.

The United States and Mexico have an enormous trading partnershipRead more...

Published On: Thu, May 09, 2013 | Download File