U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to close the large part of the U.S./Mexico border again, claiming that Mexico and three other Central American countries are not doing their part to stop the influx of illegal immigrants trying to enter the U.S.
Trump had previously accused Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – where many of the migrants come from – of misusing U.S. foreign aid intended to alleviate poverty and curb crime in hopes of stemming the flow of migrants leaving those countries for the United States. He has also instructed the state department to cut off all direct assistance to the three countries, a move that has to involve Congress.
The president first made a threat to close the border last November but did not follow through. His famous promise to “build a wall” so far remains unfulfilled as Congress refuses to fund it. However, as he ended a 35-day partial government shutdown in late January in a dispute with Congress over funding for a border wall, he declared a national emergency to build the barrier. Funds that had been earmarked for other projects, such as the military, will be utilized for this project. While both houses of Congress rejected his declaration of a national emergency, the House of Representatives failed this week to override his veto of the measure, leaving the emergency declaration intact.
Even then, the fate of the national emergency declaration and expansion of the wall construction will be decided on by the Justice Department. Meanwhile, sixteen states and other groups have filed suit to contest the declaration and Trump’s planned use of money allocated elsewhere.
The president’s latest threat to close the U.S.-Mexican border came a day after the top U.S. border official, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, announced that the influx of migrants at the border this month is at “the breaking point.”
He said authorities, after background checks of the migrants, resorted to releasing them for lack of enough housing at the border. Over the last two weeks, CBP announced that they will be releasing migrants in Arizona, as well as the Del Rio sector and Rio Grande Valley region of Texas. And more people are expected to be apprehended at the border in March than any month since 2008, CBP says.
McAleenan said because of the crush of migrants, the U.S., for the first time in more than a decade, is “reluctantly” freeing them into the United States with no more than a notice to appear later for an asylum hearing. The migrants have not been required to wear ankle bracelets to track their movement.
U.S. Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen said border patrol staff had been overwhelmed by a huge increase in asylum seekers fleeing violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said that border apprehensions in March were expected to total 100,000, the highest in a decade. More than 1,000 unaccompanied children are among those currently in custody. Nielsen met last Wednesday with leaders from the Central American countries about the funding and attempts to improve conditions there to curb the droves people from leaving their country and trying to seek asylum in the U.S.
So far, the plan DHS says it will commit to pulling some officers from legal ports of entry to help with the influx of migrants crossing illegally. This plan will not fully close ports on the southern border as of now.
Last Thursday, Nielsen announced that the Central American countries had signed the memorandum of cooperation with the U.S.
The agreement signed in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, covers four broad areas: human trafficking and smuggling; transnational criminal organizations and gangs; information and intelligence sharing; and border security.
If you or someone you know is in need of an experienced immigration lawyer in North Carolina or Tustin, California, please do not hesitate to call us at Diener Law – Abogados. We understand immigration problems and will work to find the solution that is best for you.