New York City mayor Eric Adams declared in August that there is “no room” in the city for hundreds of migrants being forced to sleep on the street because shelters are already crowded and in disrepair. The mayor initially encouraged those seeking shelter to “consider another city” as they struggled to survive. Adams announced plans to house as many as 2,000 in a tent complex on Randalls Island and later designated space on an airfield to house asylum seekers. These spaces are identified, as the claim goes, that the city simply doesn’t have housing space for those seeking asylum, especially because it is already difficult enough for residents to find adequate, affordable housing.
In the heart of New York City, below its iconic skyline, a paradox of epic proportions unfolds. As buses full of migrants arrive in the city each day, the struggle to find affordable housing intensifies dramatically. Yet, ironically, amidst the sprawling urban growth, there are countless buildings that stand vacant, their potential as living spaces lost, untapped. For years, these empty edifices could have served as a refuge for the existing city's homeless population, which has always been in crisis, but their emptiness has been a reminder of the disconnect between the city's available resources and the willingness to provide for the needs of its inhabitants.
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.
A large “barge” (read: prison) for asylum seekers has recently arrived in the port of Portland, on the south coast of England in Dorset. The floating facility is called “Bibby Stockholm” and, beginning this summer, will “accommodate” around 500 male migrants between the ages of 18 to 65 for approximately 18 months. The aim is to keep these migrants offshore (preventing them from setting foot on English soil) while they wait for their cases to be processed. To counter immigration, the European Union and its Western allies — from Calais to the Greek islands, all the way to the Mexican border — have already transformed arbitrary territorial boundaries into walls of barbed wire and watchtowers, fashioning entire islands into migrant prisons.
UK officials have been trying to ship African and Middle Eastern migrants to Rwanda since June 2022 despite successful legal challenges mounted by immigrant rights advocates, including intervention by the European Court of Human Rights . At the end of June, three UK Court of Appeal judges said Rwanda could not be considered a “safe third country” where migrants from any country could be sent, but the government has vowed to appeal . One thing is clear about this policy. Its real purpose is to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel for fear of being deported to Rwanda.
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.
Every day the republican governors of Texas, Greg Abbott, and Florida, Ron DeSantis, eagerly announce that they are sending people generically labeled as migrants to what are known as sanctuary cities. The corporate media report that thousands of people have been convinced to board buses to New York City or Washington DC or Sacramento or Chicago or even chartered flights to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. What they don’t explain is who these migrants are and why their status is highly problematic and a function of imperialist foreign policy. Republicans rail against what are called sanctuary cities and imply that federal law doesn’t apply in these places or that undocumented people get some sort of special deal. However, the term sanctuary city doesn’t really mean very much.
Harsha Walia has been involved in anti-colonial and anti-capitalist migrant justice movements for the past two decades. Her first book, Undoing Border Imperialism, offered a movement analysis of the foundational connections between migration, borders and imperialism, with insights into the grassroots organizing her work comes out of. Building on this, her latest work, Border and Rule offers a crucial resource for going beyond nation-based thinking about border regimes around the world and building an internationalist movement for their abolition. In Border and Rule, Walia avoids comparisons of one border regime or another as “worse” or “better,” focusing on how borders are consistently a “method of capital” involved in seizing and holding territory and in the segmentation of the working class.
The Global Migration Indicators report by the International Organization for Migration is here, with an update on how COVID-19 affected migration around the world. The report says more than 2,300 migrants died while trying to get into Europe or within Europe in 2020. While the pandemic restricted mobility and reduced international migration, still, there were two hundred and eighty-one million international migrants in the middle of 2020. That is close to four per cent of the world’s population.
Today, Government Accountability Project, filed its second complaint with federal oversight agencies detailing abuses at the Fort Bliss, Texas Emergency Intake Site (EIS) for unaccompanied immigrant children. Government Accountability Project’s first complaint, dated July 7, 2021, is attached as an exhibit to this second complaint. The Fort Bliss EIS is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’s) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The children are in the custody of ORR. Fort Bliss is one of several EISs holding them, ostensibly on a temporary basis. The information disclosed in the second complaint was provided by Arthur Pearlstein and Lauren Reinhold, current career federal civil servants and attorneys who volunteered to support ORR’s work.
It’s no surprise that there are claims of a new crisis on our border. A new year, a new administration, new policies in regard to who can cross and how they are processed will always bring a crisis claim from one side or the other. Depending on which side you are on politically often determines how you feel about migrants coming to our country. Conservatives usually feel we allow too many migrants to enter; liberals believe we should allow more. That is a generalized statement of course. There are all sorts of nuances about our immigration policies and what we believe to be the best course of action. In my activism, I have come across few who believe we should have completely closed or completely open borders. Most want humane immigration laws, but with some reasonable amount of precautions to protect Americans from truly dangerous people.
Each year, untold numbers of migrants disappear in the borderlands after being pushed into dangerous and remote terrain by Border Patrol, the same agency that is then tasked with responding to migrants’ search and rescue emergencies. A new report released Wednesday found that the federal agency does not respond to 40% of these emergency calls. In a series of reports published over the course of five years, the southern Arizona organizations No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos have cataloged and reported the specific Border Patrol policies and tactics that have fueled a crisis of death and disappearance in the borderlands. The first report, released in 2016, detailed the 1994 Border Patrol policy “Prevention Through Deterrence” in which the United States militarized
Humanitarian organizations are being penalized for fulfilling responsibilities abandoned by European governments at the world’s deadliest border, activists have warned after an eventful weekend in the Mediterranean. Late on Friday, the Louise Michel rescue ship was alerted by a charity reconnaissance plane Moonbird to a boat carrying 130 refugees in distress inside Malta’s search-and-rescue zone. The ship, funded by street artist Banksy and run by a seasoned team of rescuers, had already picked up 89 people in previous operations and so, unable to bring everyone on board, the crew waited for hours into Saturday for Malta or Italy to assist. “A crew of 10 is now onboard a 30m ship with 219 survivors,” Lousie Michel tweeted on Saturday afternoon. “[Thirty-three] are still on a life raft and one deceased person in a body bag.”
The humanitarian group No More Deaths said an aid camp it operates for migrants crossing the desert was raided and then surrounded by Border Patrol agents. The group said the move as an escalation of tensions at a time when the aid they provide is vital. Byrd Camp is located near Arivaca and serves as a medical aid site for people passing through one of the deadliest desert corridors of the borderland. No More Deaths volunteer Emily Saunders said Border Patrol usually allows activities there to continue. But in late July, agents entered the property and arrested a migrant receiving care.