Photo by Adam Schultz
It's understandable if you have not heard the latest cruel immigration policy in regard to Central American asylum seekers and Haitian refugees. Between all the news of floods, our loss of the Afghanistan War, huge forrest fires in the West, pro-covid governors and Texas forcing girls and women to carry unwanted pregnancies. I admit that it is all too much to pay attention to. The news can barely keep up. You cannot be expected to.
Many of my friends and family were hopeful when Biden was elected. Hopeful there'd be less to pay attention to in politics, less to be fearful of, less to ashamed of. I cringe every time someone says that our immigration system will get better, become less cruel with Biden and the Democrats in charge. This is a myth. Democrats are not much kinder than Republicans when it comes to immigration policies. They may allow for more asylum seekers to apply, may not rip children right from their mother's arms for all to see, but they are not that much kinder. It was under former Democratic President Clinton that I was hired as an agent during the first major push to militarize our southern border. Everything we see today came from that moment: walls, guns, agents, drones, pushing asylum seeking families out to the barren, hot deserts to die is literally part of our immigration plan. It is all intentional.
Our immigration system is working as it was intended by both Republicans and Democrats.
While it's true that President Biden ended some of his predecessor's cruelest immigration policies, he has recently added one of his own that the press is failing to cover. On August 5, 2021, the Biden administration began expelling Central American families to the southern part of Mexico. While many past presidents have removed thousands of immigrants by flying them deep within Mexico claiming it makes it more difficult for them to return, those immigrants were always Mexicans. Biden is the first to do this to refugees and asylum seekers who are not from Mexico.
Not even Donald Trump did this.
The reason why is because this policy is in direct violation of what immigration law refers to as non-refoulement. Non-refoulement essentially means that when a country deems it necessary to deport or expel an asylum seeker or refugee, that country may not to so to a country that will place those migrants back in the conditions they are fleeing. The United Nations (U.N.), the leading international body on refugee and asylum law, states that non-refoulement is "the cornerstone of international refugee protection" and adds:
“No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his [or her] life or freedom would be threatened on account of his [or her] race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
When President Biden announced this policy to fly Central American families who are seeking asylum to southern Mexico, the administration stated that this was an additional requirement of Title 42, the immigration policy that has shuttered the asylum process under the guise of controlling covid-19. Title 42 was initially enacted by Trump, but has continued and been renewed indefinitely by Biden even though many physicians agree that it is doing nothing to stem the spread of covid and is being used as an excuse to prevent asylum seekers from applying.
If President Biden actually believed that Title 42 and these deep expulsions were necessary to stop the viral spread, one would think he might consider vaccinating migrants before dumping them in Chiapas, Mexico. After all, it wasn't that long ago that he stated we needed to fight the virus everywhere, not just in the U.S. To only vaccinate U.S. citizens and residents while ignoring other countries, will only continue bringing the virus back to our shores. By not vaccinating these families, he is spreading the virus in further in southern Mexico and he is demonstrating that the justifications for Title 42 are political and not about the pandemic.
This new Biden policy on Central Americans is about Democrats trying to look tough on immigration for those centrist voters, those never-Trump Republicans and conservative Democrats. It is also directly violating the non-refoulement requirements that the U.S. is required by law to follow.
Non-refoulement is not just an international obligation as described by the 1967 Protocol of the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention in which we are bound to follow under 19 UST 6223, it is also a requirement of our own laws. When Congress passed the 1980 Refugee Act, it brought the the Immigration Nationality Act in line with our international refugee requirements in regard to non-refoulement. (See INS vs Cardoza-Fonseca: 480 US 421 and Negusie vs Holder: 555 US 511.) This is well-established immigration law. As the cases cited above show, the legal precedent is not debatable.
What is lacking in the media is the evidence of non-refoulement violations. You will not find any of these reports on U.S. media/news websites or their social media accounts. Out of sight, out of mind seems to be the key here. However, if you follow the social media accounts of those living and witnessing the return of Central American and Haitian families as they are being expelled to south Mexico, this is what you see:
From Cheche Torres - Mexican immigration officers and other officials beating asylum seekers and refugees.
From Alejandro Gomez - Mexican immigration officers breaking into homes to find and arrest asylum seekers and refugees.
From Benjamin Alfaro - Mexican immigration officers and Mexican National Guard trying to separate a Haitian refugee father from his child.
From Damian Sanchez - Mexican immigration officials forcibly taking an asylum seeking mother and her child even though she has the documents to safely travel through Mexico.
These are but a few examples of what is happening to Haitian refugees and Central American asylum seeking families under President Biden's latest immigration policy. This policy is directly placing these families in harms way. Families are being hunted, arrested, beaten and separated by Mexican immigration authorities and the National Guard of Mexico.
President Biden is violating the doctrine of non-refoulement, and this is a violation of our international treaties and our own immigration laws.
It is cruel. It is brutal. It must stop.