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For several years prior to the great recession of 2009 there had been rising controversy about the rising flow of undocumented migrants across the US/Mexico border. Most of these people were Mexican nationals seeking employment opportunities in the US. With the drastic contraction in the US economy this flow of migrants slowed dramatically because of the decline in employment opportunity. The political pressure for passage of an immigration reform measure also decreased and the issue has been bogged down in the usual US bipartisan political squabble. Now there is an increase flow of people again, but most of them are starting their journeys in Central America rather than Mexico and they are seeking asylum.

Poverty and Violence Push New Wave of Migrants Toward U.S.  

After six years of steep declines across the Southwest, illegal crossings have soared in South Texas while remaining low elsewhere. The Border Patrol made more than 90,700 apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley in the past six months, a 69 percent increase over last year.

The migrants are no longer primarily Mexican laborers. Instead they are Central Americans, including many families with small children and youngsters without their parents, who risk a danger-filled journey across Mexico. Driven out by deepening poverty but also by rampant gang violence, increasing numbers of migrants caught here seek asylum, setting off lengthy legal procedures to determine whether they qualify.

With detention facilities, asylum offices and immigration courts overwhelmed, enough migrants have been released temporarily in the United States that back home in Central America people have heard that those who make it to American soil have a good chance of staying.

“Word has gotten out that we’re giving people permission and walking them out the door,” said Chris Cabrera, a Border Patrol agent who is vice president of the local of the National Border Patrol Council, the agents’ union. “So they’re coming across in droves.”

There has been considerable discussion and controversy about the level of deportations of migrants during the Obama administration. It seems that any attempt to understand this requires looking beyond total numbers to the different situations involved. Deporting Mexicans is simply a matter of getting them across the border and back into Mexico. It becomes more complicated in dealing with people who come from other countries.
But whereas Mexicans can be swiftly returned by the Border Patrol, migrants from noncontiguous countries must be formally deported and flown home by other agencies. Even though federal flights are leaving South Texas every day, Central Americans are often detained longer.

Women with children are detained separately. But because the nearest facility for “family units” is in Pennsylvania, families apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley are likely to be released while their cases proceed, a senior deportations official said.

Minors without parents are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which holds them in shelters that provide medical care and schooling and tries to send them to relatives in the United States. The authorities here are expecting 35,000 unaccompanied minors this year, triple the number two years ago.

The requirements of asylum law place responsibilities on border patrol to process the application of people who are seeking asylum from danger in their home country. According to this article the Obama administration has set a flexible standard for the triggering of formal asylum processing in order to avoid the risk of deporting people who are in serious danger. This has increased the number of people who are in the pipeline and exceeded the capacity of the available detention facilities.
The chances have not improved much to win asylum in the end, however. In 2012, immigration courts approved 34 percent of asylum petitions from migrants facing deportation — 2,888 cases nationwide. Many Central Americans say they are fleeing extortion or forced recruitment by criminal gangs. But immigration courts have rarely recognized those threats as grounds for asylum.

Yet because of immense backlogs in the courts — with the average wait for a hearing currently at about 19 months — claiming fear of return has allowed some Central Americans to prolong their time in the United States.  

It appears to be the prospect of this extended time on release status in the US that is creating the push for migration. Likely many of the people on release status will attempt to disappear from the radar and merge with the large existing presence of undocumented Spanish speaking residents. There are groups and organizations in the US that offer support and assistance to migrants.

An attempt is underway to try to send a different message back down the grapevine to Central America. Immigration lawyers are complaining that the border patrol is doing its all to get them back over the border quickly and for those that make it into formal processing requiring release bonds that are beyond the financial means of the asylum seekers.

The Mexican drug cartels have moved in on the business of migrant smuggling. Central American is increasingly overwhelmed with gang related violence. There are stories in the article of various individual situations. It has always been the pressure of problems in the countries to the south of the US that drives the flow of migrants. As long as those problems exist there is not likely to be a political solution that will make the problem go away. The impact of climate change is expected to fall most heavily on tropical regions. We can expect that to add to the picture.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Asylum, on what basis? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blackhand

    Nonpolitical violence shouldn't be the basis of an asylum claim.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 04:38:09 PM PDT

  •  most crossing switched from AZ and CA to TX (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, blackhand

    at least a couple years ago. I've heard all borders are much harder now with a more than 50% failure rate. Depending on how far you get it can be a two week detention in a holding facility eating baloney sandwiches before being bussed to somewhere not where you crossed like Juarez.

    I'm not so sure the numbers crossing have increased. I think they are still increasing enforcement and it's starting to have an affect on the long border in Texas.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 04:45:21 PM PDT

  •  A lot of them cross the desert into AZ. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, ozsea1, exlrrp

    They ride freight trains up through Mexico. They call that route La Bestia, the Beast, and there's a pretty good Mexican documentary by that title on DVD. They usually don't fall into the hands of the narcos until they get ready to cross. They stage in Altar, Sonora, the narcos cross 'em and take them to safe houses in Phoenix where they extort the immigrants and their families.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 04:46:08 PM PDT

  •  The "solution" is not border control (6+ / 0-)

    It is working to make life livable where the migrants are fleeing from. We economically forced tens of thousands of small Mexican corn growers out of business because of trade deals like NAFTA. We enabled the rise of drug cartels by the suppression of legal indigenous commercial opportunities throughout Latin America. We underwrite oppressive controlling elites in places like Honduras and Haiti apparent just to see the spectacle of dirt poor people fight with each other for scraps.

    We are allowing our Financial and Power Elites to create and maintain the conditions that are placing "stress" on our borders.

     

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 05:36:22 PM PDT

    •  That is not a solution (0+ / 0-)

      that is likely to come up on the US political screen, but that is indeed the root of the problem.

      •  It's also not my problem (0+ / 0-)

        Their living conditions aren't my responsibility.  Wanting a better life does not give one privilege or cause to enter another country illegally and attempt to leach off of their citizenry.

        I dislike and disagree with NAFTA and similar proposals because of the effect that they have on this country.  I believe that we should be protectionist in our trade agreements.  So called "free trade" is nothing more than corporations exploiting the people of both nations for temporary gain.

        "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

        by blackhand on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 08:04:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They don't leech they work, (0+ / 0-)

          probably harder than you do. By the way, Big Biz, especially, Big Ag, loooves illegal immigration. Economic refugees drive down labor costs and if they're undocumented they don't dare organize.

          The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

          by Azazello on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 08:32:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It still does NOT justify being here ILLEGALLY! (0+ / 0-)

            There is a right way and a wrong way to immigrate to this country.

            I fully support the legal way. I have ZERO tolerance for the illegal way and I don't care what excuse is used to justify it.

            Your attempt to make this into a question of how hard I work or don't is both irrelevant and lame.

            "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

            by blackhand on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 08:45:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's a pretty simplistic stance, (0+ / 0-)

              and explanations are not excuses. It's a global problem, a product of neo-liberalism, and neither militarization of the border nor Arpaio-style round-ups will stop it.

              The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

              by Azazello on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 08:52:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I thought all of South America... (0+ / 0-)

      ...was tired of us imposing political solutions on them.  I mean, we've been at it for what, 100 years?

      •  The status quo is "imposed political solutions"... (0+ / 0-)

        ...which only work for the local elites in those nations.

        The financial and power elites have purchased and nurtured the current socioeconomic state of affairs. Just because it looks like (better wording is that it is "advertised/marketed as")  the result of "free market forces" or "the natural order of things" doesn't mean it wasn't an imposed political solution. It just happens to be a "solution" that works for the elites and none of the lesser mortals, both here and abroad.

        Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:57:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  OH, how I wish that I was not too late to rec your (0+ / 0-)

      comment.  A thousand times.

      This has been going on for generations. E.g., denying political refugee status to those attempting to come in from countries in which we (the US) instituted homicidal regimes in Central America.

      All declared economic refugees, and therefore not worthy of the title "refugee."

      And, yes, there's a point to be made wrt importing cheaperhere skilled labour - but I still think it's invalid: there's nothing to prevent those corporate entities that wish to do so, from off-shoring their IT.

      Ultimately, I can't follow your assertion that corporate interests are heavily invested in the pending immigration reform law for the reasons you state.  There's no downside for them, either way. They can just go off-shore - and shield their income to boot.

      What I would like to see, although I know I never will, is something that guts the militarisation of our southern border (unlike what is contained in the presently pending Immigration Reform bill, which puts X number of more stupid fruitless $s into monsterous useless fences and militarisation of the border to ease the fears of the male, pale and stale constituents in the border states, to all of our detriment). By me, not 1 more illegitimate deportation: is the way to go.

  •   A century of the legacy of US imperialism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blackhand

    We are now seeing the ramifications of our horrible foreign
    policies......

  •  For every family (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    of illegal immigrants broken in this country by the `deporter in chief`, two families await at the border to cross into this country.

    I has always been this way. It will never stop. Darn fences have never stopped a hungry mouth, especially if children are involved.

    They will keep on coming, laws or no laws. It has always been this way. I know, I have seen them and helped them escape into the mingling crowds.

    I have written about this here on Daily Kos, despite the hate mongering I see against brown people.

    Old men tell same old stories

    by Ole Texan on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 06:06:01 AM PDT

    •  despite the hate mongering against brown people (0+ / 0-)

      So now, expecting or borders, laws, culture, customs, etc, is hate mongering against brown people.  Let me remind you that they are criminals.  As apparently are you.

      "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

      by blackhand on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 08:24:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cheaper to immigrate illegally or legally? (0+ / 0-)

      I guess they say costs $4000 to cross border illegally. Legally about the same. So far I have shelled out a couple thousand for a relative to come legally. Lots of paperwork and interviews coming up. We began this process about one year ago. Still 6-8 months of paperwork, $1000 in fees plus travel costs left before we can cross the border. In fact at this point its illegal to enter as a tourist . Once more the if we leave the US for more than 6 months during the first year, the whole process is null and void and I have to start the process over from scratch.

    •  Good on yer, Old Texan. Thank you 4 that. /nt (0+ / 0-)

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