Strong fight for immigrants in 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic helped build Donald Trump's “virtual wall”

Strong Fight For Immigrants In 2020: The COVID-19 Pandemic Helped Build Donald Trump’s “virtual Wall”

Los Angeles, California – Despite the fact that 2020 brought one of the greatest victories of immigrants against the harsh policies of President Donald Trump by winning a lawsuit in the Supreme Court about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ), the coronavirus pandemic helped build the “invisible wall” that the Republican has built to reduce the entry of foreigners to the United States.

After several attempts to enforce expedited removals of immigrants entering the country undocumented, the government found in Title 42 a rule that has allowed it to return thousands to their countries of origin during the year.

The rule prohibits the entry of certain people who potentially pose a health risk, either because they are subject to previously announced travel restrictions or because they entered the country illegally to circumvent medical control measures.

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Hundreds of thousands expelled by COVID-19

Due to SARS-Cov-2, on March 21 the White House implemented the measure endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the borders with Mexico and Canada.

According to data from the border authorities between March and September 2020, 197,043 people were expelled through the southern border under Title 42, to which are added the 119,409 expelled between November and December, exceeding the 315,000 sent expeditiously to Mexico since the pandemic began, including a large number of asylum seekers.

A group of children with their families take a break from the march to the United States in a park in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (The Associated Press)

Migrants cross the Suchiate River on the Mexican side after crossing the border with Guatemala.

Migrants cross the Suchiate River on the Mexican side after crossing the border with Guatemala. (The Associated Press)

Young migrants say hello while on board a raft made of car tires and wood.  They were crossing the Suchiate River.

Young migrants say hello while on board a raft made of car tires and wood. They were crossing the Suchiate River. (The Associated Press)

The group on the ingenious raft.

The group on the ingenious raft. (The Associated Press)

A Mexican agent gives food to Hondurans who are trapped on a bridge without being able to cross.

A Mexican agent gives food to Hondurans who are trapped on a bridge without being able to cross. (The Associated Press)

When the Mexican authorities began to block the passage, people managed to cross.

When the Mexican authorities began to block the passage, people managed to cross. (The Associated Press)

A migrant from Honduras is helped by a paramedic from Mexico after her mother passed out trying to cross.

A migrant from Honduras is helped by a paramedic from Mexico after her mother passed out trying to cross. (The Associated Press)

South Americans seek a better life in the United States.

South Americans seek a better life in the United States. (The Associated Press)

This man emerges victorious from the Suchiate River after crossing it.

This man emerges victorious from the Suchiate River after crossing it. (The Associated Press)

An officer gives food to migrants through a gate.

An officer gives food to migrants through a gate. (The Associated Press)

Some 5,000 people resumed the caravan to the United States on Sunday.

Some 5,000 people resumed the caravan to the United States on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

The children take a break in a park in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

The children take a break in a park in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (The Associated Press)

As thousands of people crossed Mexico they received expressions of solidarity and help.

As thousands of people crossed Mexico they received expressions of solidarity and help. (The Associated Press)

President Donald Trump has insisted that they will not enter his land.

President Donald Trump has insisted that they will not enter his land. ( The Associated Press)

Amid the protests, immigrant rights advocates succeeded on Nov. 18 by a federal judge in the District of Columbia to provisionally halt the rule’s enforcement in the case of unaccompanied minors.

However, the federal Department of Justice recognized two weeks ago that at least 34 unaccompanied minors were expelled from the country in “contravention” of an order issued by Magistrate Emmet Sullivan.

Hundreds of families without reunification

These would not be the only minors that the Trump administration recognized in 2020 were affected by its policies. Last October, Justicia admitted to a federal court in San Diego, California, that 545 families separated by its “zero tolerance” policy had not been able to be reunited.

Of that number, the whereabouts of the parents or children of 362 families were not known. In the case of the other 183, only the children could be located. Later reports warned that the number of minors affected could be higher than 660.

The issue was part of the last debate of the presidential campaign between Trump and his rival, Democrat Joe Biden. The Republican avoided answering the question directly.

Dreamers defeat Trump

Despite all the blows that Trump has given to immigrants, this 2020 represented the greatest victory of the undocumented over the president. On June 18, the Supreme Court ruled a lawsuit in favor of the “dreamers” concluding that the White House did not follow the mechanisms established in the law when it rescinded DACA on September 5, 2017.

“The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) decision to end DACA was arbitrary and capricious,” wrote conservative Chief Justice John Roberts in an argument joined by four progressive judges, including the newly late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Dulce García, one of the six dreamers who sued the government, told Efe that the victory showed that “in the United States no one is above the law and that an undocumented Mexican woman can sue the president and win.”

The White House reinstated the program but without receiving new applications, and reducing the work permit and protection to one year, among other limitations. However, a New York court last November ordered the government to fully reinstate the program and receive new applications.

However, the program still has to overcome a lawsuit that is being litigated in federal court in Texas. The lawsuit filed in 2018 by a coalition of conservative states points to the creation of the program in 2012, warning that then-President Barack Obama exceeded his executive powers and did not comply with regulations to establish the benefit.

In a hearing on December 22, federal judge Andrew Hanen did not issue any decision, leaving the amparo in suspense. The magistrate’s ruling could even affect President-elect Joe Biden’s ability to keep the benefit as he promised in the campaign.

Asylum in the United States: Nearly Impossible

Biden will also have to reverse a series of anti-immigrant policies imposed this year. A report from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) last August noted that the government “has taken more than 400 executive actions on immigration, covering everything from border and interior security enforcement to refugee resettlement and the asylum system, deportations expedited, the immigration courts and the background investigation and visa processes ”.

Many of the new policies have been challenged in courts by immigrant advocates, managing to stop the application of measures such as the increase in the costs of immigration procedures imposed by the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), which would have entered into force in October.

However, the year ends with court fights trying to stop measures such as the one that further limits asylum or refugee grants, eliminating eligibility for anyone with an application based on gender or domestic violence, or victims of gangs, among others. This measure takes effect on January 11.

The outlook is not very rosy in the first months of 2021, especially for those seeking to enter the country.

Biden himself ratified this Tuesday that he will not stop “immediately” all the restrictions on asylum created by Trump, because this would generate a huge rebound in the migration of undocumented immigrants to the country.

“The last thing we need to say is that we are going to immediately stop the (system of) access to asylum as it is being carried out now, and then kill two million people at the border,” said the president-elect.

Although Biden did not refer to Title 42, Tatiana Broff, consultant for regional issues of Women ‘s Refugee Commission, valued in a conference that “it is the most problematic norm to repeal” because it mixes border security with sanitary measures to control the emergency health of COVID-19.

“Biden’s transition team has just said it will review the CDC order, but has not made any reference to modifying it yet,” Broff explained.

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