ICE Deporting Illegal Migrants to Home Countries — from Guatemala, Before Arriving at U.S. Border

Monday, January 20, 2020
By Paul Martin

20 Jan 2020

President Donald Trump’s border agencies are building de facto barriers for illegal immigration, even within nations such as Guatemala, to deter foreign migrants from paying smugglers and cartels to get them to the U.S. border.

For example, U.S. officials have been deployed to Guatemala to block migrants from Honduras, according to a January 16 report from the Associated Press:

Guatemalan police accompanied by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents swept up the majority of a group of some 300 migrants Thursday, loaded them on buses and took them back to the Honduran border, effectively dashing their plans to travel together in a “caravan” with hopes of reaching the United States.

Praying and singing songs, the group of 300 migrants —adults, teens and young children— had set out from a shelter in Entre Ríos under rainy skies before dawn and walked about six hours before stopping in the town of Morales to eat and rest. There they were challenged by police who asked for their entry documents, and nearly all had crossed into Guatemala irregularly and didn’t have such documentation.

The migrants were put on three gray buses and told they had to go back to register properly at a border station under rules governing freedom of travel in the Central American border agreement between Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

These and many other legal policies are creating a deep, multilayered, virtual “border wall” of legal barriers against those seeking to break into the U.S. job market. That legal wall is adding many legal barriers to the physical barrier created by Trump’s new border wall.

For example, border officials are using new diplomatic deals with Central American countries to quickly fly migrants back to Central America so they can seek asylum in the countries which they crossed on their journey to Texas and California. By January 16, “157 Hondurans and Salvadorans have been sent to Guatemala as part of [a] Asylum Cooperation Agreement,” according to Jeff Abbott, a U.S. journalist working in Guatemala.

A January 16 press statement said deported Mexicans are being flown back to towns in Central Mexico, far from the U.S. border:

Thursday’s flight carried 124 Mexican nationals to Guadalajara from Tucson. The government of Mexico will provide additional transportation to the cities of origin.

ICE will continue operating these flights as needed. Several more are scheduled in January and February. This framework will reduce recidivism and border violence by returning Mexican nationals to their cities of origin, where there is a higher likelihood that they will reintegrate back into their communities, rather than fall victim to human smuggling schemes.

U.S. officials are also flying Central American migrants all the way back to their home countries once they lose their asylum claims under new fast-track legal procedures. This tactic makes it difficult for migrants to sneak back across the border.

On January 16, for example, “the United State[s] deported 270 Guatemalans on three ICE air flights from Brownsville, Texas, Mesa, Arizona, and Alexandria, Louisiana,” said a tweet from Abbott.

Border agents are also reducing the percentage of migrants who are allowed to ask for asylum after declaring a “credible fear ” of being sent home, according to the Washington Times:

The Department of Homeland Security fielded a record number of “credible fear” claims from asylum seekers at the border last fiscal year, fueling the migrant surge, but figured out ways to push back and tripled the denial rate by the end of the year.

Approvals are still high, with more than 65% of people who claim a fear of persecution in their home countries getting an initial OK in September, according to statistics seen by The Washington Times. But that’s much less than a year earlier, when more than 90% of claims cleared the credible fear bar.

The multi-layered defenses are helping to persuade migrants that the dollars-and-cents cost of migrating to the border is far greater than the likely payoff from possible jobs in the United States.

U.S. officials also hope to apply the same economic tactic to the growing number of “extra-continentals” from outside the Americas, such as Indians and Africans. They are trying to persuade the Mexican government to accept deported extra-continental migrants into Mexico until their asylum hearings in the United States.

This request would build on the “Migrant Protection Protocols” deal that has allowed the U.S. to send more than 55,000 Central American migrants back to Mexico until their court dates.

Brazilians from South America may be sent to Mexico via the MPP program, Reuters reported January 16:

The deliberations came in response to an increase in Brazilians arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum in the United States, the officials said. The administration of President Donald Trump has also explored the possibility of sending Brazilian asylum seekers to other nations, according to the U.S. official.

Border Patrol caught roughly 17,900 Brazilians at the southwest border in the last fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2018. The figure was a sharp increase from 1,500 arrests a year earlier.

The Rest…HERE

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