On Thursday, October 5, the Biden administration announced that it would be expanding the South Texas border wall in order to deter migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico. In a sweeping move of executive power, Biden waived 26 federal laws—including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act—to facilitate the construction of 20 additional miles of the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley, an area which has seen 245,000 “illegal” crossings in the current fiscal year, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Ellis Island was once the border of New York City, a gated drawbridge for millions of immigrants to what would become their new homeland. But today, when New York’s border is at the Rio Grande, that checkpoint is beyond its control. From the perspective of necessity, prudence and even justice, cities must expand their policies of welcome to match their extended borders. Months have passed since Mayor Eric Adams declared that there was “no more room at the inn” for asylum seekers arriving in the city. Invoking, perhaps inadvertently, a Biblical metaphor, the mayor suggested that New York City’s shelter system was at capacity.
The problem is not simply that media buy into sensationalist accounts of immigration. When the news amplifies anti-immigration hysteria, asylum seekers are drained of their humanity. In the public imagination, they are no better than monsters. As long as the US continues to manufacture conditions ripe for mass migration in Latin America, news readers must come to grips with how today’s journalism coaxes Americans into hating migrants. Only then can we begin to treat immigration rightfully—as a natural part of human history, to be celebrated rather than feared.
Previously confidential records from within the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) confirm years of inadequate medical care, extensive use of solitary confinement, mistreatment of transgender individuals, shortcomings in rape and sexual assault prevention and response, inaccessible services, and other problems disclosed by people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is making dozens of these reports public after a nearly five-year Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) legal battle ended with a judge ordering the department to release the records.
Hearst Newspapers reported Monday on an email from a trooper from the Department of Public Safety who wrote that the state’s policies along the southern border have “stepped over a line into the inhumane.” The trooper describes incidents in which migrants attempting to cross the border were injured by razor wire on the Texas side of the Rio Grande, as well as troopers being ordered to push groups of people, including children, back into the water, and denying them water. Ben Wermund, the Washington correspondent for the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News who broke the story, joined the Standard to share more.
For the first few days of August, migrants seeking asylum from around the world converged outside a hotel in Midtown Manhattan, waiting for shelter openings. Around 200 migrants coming from countries such as Mauritania, Ecuador, Chad, Venezuela, Burundi, Peru, and Colombia resorted to sleeping outside on the city streets as they were denied entry into the overcrowded hotel. The city cleared the migrants and moved them using MTA buses to different city shelters on August 3. New York City has a unique “right to shelter” law, which means that the city is legally required to provide shelter to those who ask.
Tijuana, Mexico — Eduardo seemed not to notice the soft midday rain slowly dampening his clothes and beading up on the sleeves of his jacket. Just a couple hundred feet from where the Pacific lapped the beach of both Mexico and the U.S., drawing no distinction between the two, Eduardo pointed out the native and culinary plants he and his friends tend to each week. The corn, fennel and spinach grow just a foot or two from a row of tightly spaced, 18-foot-tall bollards reinforced with tightly woven steel mesh that mark the international border. On the Mexican side, the rusting metal is covered with brightly colored murals that attempt to lend the miles-long barrier a glimmer of humanity.
In 2015, the United Nations Member States agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, that are rooted in three universal values including a human rights-based approach, ensuring that no one is left behind, and working to eliminate gender inequalities. At the center of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs is the principle of leave no one behind, or LNOB. Although not legally enforceable, LNOB symbolizes a global commitment to reach out to the most marginalized and vulnerable, as we work towards a development that does not adversely affect our planet. It requires that we look for solutions for those most affected by environmental change today before it becomes a ubiquitous problem affecting all of us.
As the repressive Trump-Biden Title 42 asylum policy ended on May 11, migrant rights advocates hoped that humane asylum rules would follow. Title 42, which allowed the U.S. government to expel asylum seekers with no due process, led to nearly 3 million expulsions since Donald Trump initiated the ill-conceived policy in 2020. The Biden administration, however, “has made it a practice of recycling Trump-era policies” which will continue to harm asylum seekers, particularly those from Haiti, according to Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for humane treatment of migrants.
Protests erupted on Thursday against the Greek Government for failing to rescue hundreds of migrants off the coast of Pylos in a tragic shipwreck on the Peloponnese Coast which took the lives of at least 79 migrants, with hundreds still missing. In response, anti-racist organizations, unions, and other groups demonstrated in cities across the country, including in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Kardista, and Kalamata. Signs included slogans such as “They turned the Mediterranean into a watery grave” and “We will never get used to the slaughter,” condemning both Greek and European migration and refugee policy.
As the days and hours melted away, it was looking like all hope was lost: Tuesday, June 13, was going to be Lovepreet Singh’s last day in Canada before being deported. “[My family] sacrificed their whole life savings to sponsor my education here… and I’m facing deportation,” Singh told CBC News last week. “My dream is shattered,” he added. Now, thanks to a formidable protest mounted by international students and former students facing similar circumstances, Singh will be allowed to stay, at least temporarily. Singh, whose father is a farmer in Punjab, India, entered Canada several years ago on a student visa with an admissions letter verifying his enrollment at Lambton College’s Mississauga campus—a letter that he did not know had been doctored.
Standing atop a makeshift platform in the middle of the Rio Grande, Armando Rodriguez held his 6-year-old daughter tightly on a warm morning last month. This was the first time he had embraced his daughter since the girl was a year old. Immigration policies kept them away from each other, though they were only separated by a river. His daughter, sister and former partner live in the Mexican city of Juárez, while he resides a few miles away in El Paso, Texas, with no way to see his family face-to-face. On May 6, the Border Network for Human Rights held its 10th annual Hugs Not Walls event, clearing the way for 200 families to reunite in the river.
Immigrant rights attorneys filed a complaint against United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that alleges that ICE detained a migrant worker known for speaking out against workplace abuse at construction and poultry plants. Baldomero Orozco Juarez, an indigenous father from Guatemala who lives in Mississippi, was arrested at an ICE check-in on April 12, 2023. Authorities sent Orozco Juarez to a private detention facility in Jena, Louisiana, owned by LaSalle Corrections. He faces deportation. In 2019, Orozco Juarez was deported to Guatemala after the “largest workplace immigration raid in a single state.” Nearly 700 people at poultry plants owned by companies like Koch Foods and PECO foods were rounded up by ICE.
In the fall of 2018, Rodrigo Camarena caught an article in El Diario La Prensa, a Spanish-language newspaper in New York City, detailing the increase of wage theft for immigrant workers. One worker told the paper their employer threatened to call immigration services if they complained about not getting paid. Camarena is director of Justicia Lab, which develops technology to support immigrants and advocates. “It made me really mad, knowing the problem got so much worse under the Trump administration,” recalls Camarena. He reached out to Make the Road New York, an immigrant advocacy organization quoted in the article: “I basically asked: how can we help?”