The United States might not be able to get information about more than 10 million people in the 2020 census. That’s the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Another 16.7 million individuals live in a household with an undocumented member and so might also not be counted in this year’s census. The primary reason that undocumented immigrants might forego participation in the 2020 census? Fear.
Costs of detaining migrant children at shelters in Tornillo, Texas, and other locations around the country are skyrocketing, with the Trump administration now saying it may cost $100 million a month just to operate the 3,800-bed tent facility outside of El Paso. The administration has not yet provided an accounting of how much in total it has been spending to detain children who either were separated from their parents or apprehended after crossing the border without a parent or guardian. But information provided so far indicates the amount is substantial, forcing the government to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars targeted for medical research, treatment and other programs so that it can care for a rapidly growing number of children in government custody. I have been writing about these issues for Texas Monthly and the Washington Post since June, when the government opened what was then a 400-bed shelter in Tornillo. While the world’s attention was focused on the controversial family separation policy, less attention was paid to other important changes to policies on how migrant children were treated.
A Trump administration official on Friday wildly misstated border apprehension figures in justifying the decision to deploy National Guard forces to the border. “Our apprehensions in Fiscal Year 2017 were at the lowest level in 45 years. That said, we have experienced a significant increase over the past 12 months. A 1,200 percent in apprehensions, including the number of family units and unaccompanied children,” Ronald Vitiello, the deputy commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, said at a news conference in El Paso. When asked for data on the 1,200 percent increase claim, a CBP spokesman said Vitiello had misspoken.
For years Casa del Migrante, a shelter in Ciudad Juarez, has been a haven and a crossing point for immigrants coming from the south, but the uncertainty of new immigration policies under the Trump presidency is convincing some of them to remain at the border indefinitely. In 2015 the shelter received 5,600 immigrants. Last year the number increased to more than 9,000, officials said. Ana Lizeth Bonilla, 28, sways back a stroller back and forth watching her two year-old son, Jose Luis, as he sleeps. “Now, we’re just waiting for her,” the pregnant woman says as her arm rests on her baby bump.
El Paso – Alexi Cruz may not have realized he had friends in this border community until he was on the verge of being deported. Cruz, 24, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has lived in the U.S. since he was 14 years old, was detained in early November by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after his car broke down on the way to Arizona. He was on his way from his home in San Antonio to see his mother in Arizona because authorities had apprehended his sister. His wife, Anayanse Garza, said that Cruz sought help after his car broke down in New Mexico near the Arizona border and was questioned by law enforcement officers about his residential status. The Border Patrol was called to pick him up.
It’s a sweltering summer Sunday night in El Paso, Texas, at the city’s new downtown baseball stadium, where the local Triple-A team, the Chihuahuas, is leading the visiting Tacoma Rainiers at the seventh-inning stretch. As the hammerlock of the day’s 102-degree heat begins to release its grip on this high-desert town, a sellout crowd of 8,607 fans rises to its feet to sing and sway along to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.’’ Immediately after, trumpet-charged mariachi music blasts over the sound system and the crowd roars with glee as Chico the Chihuahuas’ mascot dances onto the field, wagging his tail and making the team’s signature “Fear the Ears’’ gesture with his paws. Ah, béisbol – still America’s pastime in a new America. And if there is a city that characterizes our new America, it’s the very old town of El Paso, circa 1659. I spent a week there this summer studying at the University of Texas at El Paso and its Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy.
CHICAGO — José Antonio Vargas ha pasado la mayor parte de su vida escondido detrás de un secreto: Vivir indocumentado en los Estados Unidos. Cerca de 12 millones de personas en los EEUU comparten tal secreto bajo el miedo de la deportación. Pero Vargas, quien salió del clóset de los papeles falsos cuando publicó “Mi vida como un inmigrante indocumentado” en la revista del periódico New York Times del 22 de junio del 2011, continúa en este país sin haber seguido la suerte de los más de dos millones que han sido deportados, sólo durante el gobierno de Obama, por no tener documentos legales. Posteriormente, en junio del 2012, Vargas apareció en la portada de la revista Time, junto con otros 30 indocumentados bajo el titular: “Somos americanos, sólo no legalmente”. “Documentado” es la película que Vargas ha escrito, producido y dirigido que cubre la experiencia de su vida sin documentos desde que llegara a California de su natal Filipinas el 3 de agosto de 1993, cuando tenía 12 años.
FALFURRIAS – Unidentified migrants who died entering the United States were buried in mass graves in a South Texas cemetery, with remains found in trash bags, shopping bags, body bags, or no containers at all, researchers discovered. In one burial, bones of three bodies were inside one body bag. In another instance, at least five people in body bags and smaller plastic bags were piled on top of each other, Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker said. Skulls were found in biohazard bags — like the red plastic bags in receptacles at doctors’ offices — placed between coffins. “To me it’s just as shocking as the mass grave that you would picture in your head, and it’s just as disrespectful,” said Krista Latham, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Indianapolis.
SANTA TERESA, N.M. – Recent headlines in the U.S. have focused on a major influx of undocumented immigrants crossing our southern border with Mexico, many of them children either traveling alone or with single mothers seeking refuge. According to Homeland Security some 52,000 children have arrived on the U.S.-Mexico border since October of last year, most coming from Central American countries including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, looking to escape the upsurge in violence and destitution threatening those countries. Some, apparently, are trying to take advantage of special treatment afforded children and families that cross the border illegally which they believe, mistakenly or otherwise, will allow them to stay. The paid “coyotes” smuggling them encourage this misinformation in promoting their services throughout the perilous journey from their home countries to the border. This is only the latest in the influx of undocumented (illegal) immigrants from the south that have looked to the U.S. for shelter from economic and/or violent social oppression in their homelands.
WASHINGTON – A surge of unaccompanied children arriving from Central America at the U.S.-Mexico border will not be given legal status, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said this week. “I wish to make clear that those apprehended at our border are priorities for removal. They are priorities for enforcement of our immigration laws regardless of age,” Johnson said. Johnson held a press conference Thursday in which he laid out an 11 point plan to accommodate the children that includes a request for more temporary shelters and preliminary health screenings. As many as 60,000 children could arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border this year.