Daily Archives: Jul 2, 2018

(Washington AP) A federal judge on Monday determined the U.S. government is violating its own rules regarding the treatment of people seeking asylum.

Judge James Boasberg issued a preliminary injunction ordering the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to stop what opponents called the arbitrary detention of legitimate asylum seekers. The case in question continues, but the injunction opens up yet another legal front in the multi-directional battle being waged by the Trump administration over immigration.

“This ruling means the Trump administration cannot use indefinite detention as a weapon to punish and deter asylum seekers,” said Michael Tan, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

All immigrants seeking asylum must initially pass a “credible fear” screening to determine if they face a threat of persecution in their home countries. Those who fail that standard are deported immediately. Previously, those who passed were usually given humanitarian parole while awaiting an immigration hearing, provided they were not considered flight risks or dangers to the public.

Under former President Barack Obama’s administration, ICE granted humanitarian parole to more than 90 percent of asylum seekers.

Lawyers for the ACLU and other groups argued in May that since the start of President Donald Trump’s administration, the number of people granted such parole has dropped to almost zero in five key ICE field offices: Detroit; El Paso, Texas; Los Angeles; Newark, New Jersey; and Philadelphia.

Those denied parole have instead been detained; in one case, a former ethics teacher from Haiti has spent more than 18 months in prison.

Judge Boasberg, in a 38-page memorandum opinion, concluded that “the numbers here are irrefutable,” and ordered a case-by-case review of all asylum seekers awaiting parole. Meanwhile, the lawsuit will continue with a status hearing July 10.

“The denial letters that they were issuing were just boiler-plate — deny deny deny,” said Hardy Vieux, legal director for Human Rights First. “This is the court saying, ‘I’ve seen enough to tell (the government) to stop what you’re doing and we’ll talk later.'”

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s new president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would pursue friend and foe alike in a crackdown on corruption after voters handed him a powerful mandate for government with a landslide election victory on Sunday.

Lopez Obrador, the first leftist president since the end of one-party rule in 2000, won between 53 and 53.8 percent of votes, according to a quick count by the electoral authority, more than double the total for his nearest rival.

That would be the biggest share of the vote since the early 1980s, and would give Lopez Obrador a strong platform both to address Mexico’s internal problems and face external challenges like the threat of a trade war with the United States.

Mexico president-elect wants to remain in NAFTA, friendly U.S. ties

The landslide winner of Mexico’s presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said on Monday that he will aim to keep Mexico in the NAFTA trade pact and seek a frank dialogue and friendly ties with the United States.

The first progressive president elected in Mexico’s modern history said in his first post-election interview after Sunday’s vote that he will also stick with the pick for finance minister he named during the campaign.

 

 

 

Those seeking asylum today inherited a series of crises that drove them to the border

By: Mark Tseng Putterman

national spotlight now shines on the border between the United States and Mexico, where heartbreaking images of Central American children being separated from their parents and held in cages demonstrate the consequences of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy” on unauthorized entry into the country, announced in May 2018. Under intense international scrutiny, Trump has now signed an executive order that will keep families detained at the border together, though it is unclear when the more than 2,300 children already separated from their guardians will be returned.

Trump has promised that keeping families together will not prevent his administration from maintaining “strong — very strong — borders,” making it abundantly clear that the crisis of mass detention and deportation at the border and throughout the U.S. is far from over. Meanwhile, Democratic rhetoric of inclusion, integration, and opportunity has failed to fundamentally question the logic of Republican calls for a strong border and the nation’s right to protect its sovereignty.

At the margins of the mainstream discursive stalemate over immigration lies over a century of historical U.S. intervention that politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle seem determined to silence. Since Theodore Roosevelt in 1904 declared the U.S.’s right to exercise an “international police power” in Latin America, the U.S. has cut deep wounds throughout the region, leaving scars that will last for generations to come. This history of intervention is inextricable from the contemporary Central American crisis of internal and international displacement and migration.

The liberal rhetoric of inclusion and common humanity is insufficient: we must also acknowledge the role that a century of U.S.-backed military coups, corporate plundering, and neoliberal sapping of resources has played in the poverty, instability, and violence that now drives people from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras toward Mexico and the United States. For decades, U.S. policies of military intervention and economic neoliberalism have undermined democracy and stability in the region, creating vacuums of power in which drug cartels and paramilitary alliances have risen. In the past fifteen years alone, CAFTA-DR — a free trade agreement between the U.S. and five Central American countries as well as the Dominican Republic — has restructured the region’s economy and guaranteed economic dependence on the United States through massive trade imbalances and the influx of American agricultural and industrial goods that weaken domestic industries. Yet there are few connections being drawn between the weakening of Central American rural agricultural economies at the hands of CAFTA and the rise in migration from the region in the years since. In general, the U.S. takes no responsibility for the conditions that drive Central American migrants to the border.

U.S. empire thrives on amnesia. The Trump administration cannot remember what it said last week, let alone the actions of presidential administrations long gone that sowed the seeds of today’s immigration crisis. There can be no common-sense immigration “debate” that conveniently ignores the history of U.S. intervention in Central America. Insisting on American values of inclusion and integration only bolsters the very myth of American exceptionalism, a narrative that has erased this nation’s imperial pursuits for over a century.

As the British immigrant rights refrain goes, “We are here because you were there.” The adage holds no less true here and now. It’s time to insist that accepting Central American refugees is not just a matter of morality or American benevolence. Indeed, it might be better described as a matter of reparations.

The following timeline compiles numerous sources to lay out an incomplete history of U.S. military and economic intervention in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala over the past century.

El Salvador

1932: A peasant rebellion, led by Communist leader Farabundo Martí, challenges the authority of the government. 10,000 to 40,000 communist rebels, many indigenous, are systematically murdered by the regime of military leader Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, the nation’s acting president. The United States and Great Britain, having bankrolled the nation’s economy and owning the majority of its export-oriented coffee plantations and railways, send naval support to quell the rebellion.

1944: Martínez is ousted by a bloodless popular revolution led by students. Within months, his party is reinstalled by a reactionary coup led by his former chief of police, Osmín Aguirre y Salinas, whose regime is legitimized by immediate recognition from the United States.

1960: A military-civilian junta promises free elections. President Eisenhower withholds recognition, fearing a leftist turn. The promise of democracy is broken when a right-wing countercoup seizes power months later. Dr. Fabio Castillo, a former president of the national university, would tell Congress that this coup was openly facilitated by the United States and that the U.S. had opposed the holding of free elections.

1980–1992: A civil war rages between the military-led government and the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). The Reagan administration, under its Cold War containment policy, offers significant military assistance to the authoritarian government, essentially running the war by 1983. The U.S. military trains key components of the Salvadoran forces, including the Atlacatl Battalion, the “pride of the United States military team in San Salvador.” The Atlacatl Battalion would go on to commit a civilian massacre in the village of El Mozote in 1981, killing at least 733 and as many as 1,000 unarmed civilians, including women and children. An estimated 80,000 are killed during the war, with the U.N. estimating that 85 percent of civilian deaths were committed by the Salvadoran military and death squads.

1984: Despite the raging civil war funded by the Reagan administration, a mere three percent of Salvadoran and Guatemalan asylum cases in the U.S. are approved, as Reagan officials deny allegations of human rights violations in El Salvador and Guatemala and designate asylum seekers as “economic migrants.” A religious sanctuary movement in the United States defies the government by publicly sponsoring and sheltering asylum seekers. Meanwhile, the U.S. funnels $1.4 million to its favored political parties in El Salvador’s 1984 election.

1990: Congress passes legislation designating Salvadorans for Temporary Protected Status. In 2018, President Trump would end TPS status for the 200,000 Salvadorans living in the United States.

2006: El Salvador enters the Dominican RepublicCentral America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), a neoliberal export-economy model that gives global multinationals increased influence over domestic trade and regulatory protections. Thousands of unionists, farmers, and informal economy workers protest the free trade deal’s implementation.

2014: The U.S. threatens to withhold almost $300 million worth of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) development aid unless El Salvador ends any preferences for locally sourced corn and bean seeds under its Family Agriculture Plan.

2015: Under the tariff reduction model of CAFTA-DR, all U.S. industrial and commercial goods enter El Salvador duty free, creating impossible conditions for domestic industry to compete. As of 2016, the country had a negative trade balance of $4.18 billion.

 

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