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“Remain in Mexico” migrants will have to travel 340 miles for U.S. hearings

Mexico Migrant Smuggling

Mexico Migrant Smuggling

Washington — Under an expansion of the controversial “Remain in Mexico” program, some asylum-seekers returned by U.S. authorities to northern Mexico will have to travel more than 340 miles by car to attend hearings in an American immigration court.

The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it has started sending asylum-seekers encountered near the border in Arizona to the Mexican city of Nogales as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), the official name of the program.

Migrants returned to Nogales will be scheduled for court hearings at the immigration court in El Paso, Texas. Since the U.S. is not providing them transportation, these asylum-seekers will have to find a way to travel across hundreds of miles of territory and two Mexican border states to reach Ciudad Juárez, the city neighboring El Paso.

“This choice presents enormous obstacles to asylum-seekers,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, told CBS News. “Nogales is seven to eight hours from Ciudad Juárez and the journey for many can be dangerous, as it requires going through cartel-controlled territory.”

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson confirmed on Thursday that those returned to Mexico through Nogales, Arizona, “must provide their own transportation” to their hearings in El Paso, which are usually scheduled months apart. If they secure ground transportation, migrants would need to travel south to reach a highway that traverses a vast swath of remote areas in the Mexican border states of Sonora and Chihuahua, a trip that is about eight hours long.

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The route of the eight-hour drive along the U.S.-Mexico border between Nogales and Ciudad Juárez. Google Maps/TerraMetrics

Announcing the move on Thursday, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf praised the Remain in Mexico program as an “effective tool” in the administration’s efforts to stem the flow of migrants heading to the southern border. Over the past half a year, apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border have plummeted. The administration has attributed the drop to restrictive policies like the MPP program, which has required more than 56,000 asylum-seeker to wait in Mexico for the duration of their U.S. immigration proceedings.

READ ALSO: Editorial: Trump’s anti-refugee actions are running aground across the country

But the policy had drawn strong criticism from advocates who point to the squalid and often dangerous living conditions many migrants face as they wait for their U.S. court hearings in Mexican border cities plagued by crime and insecurity.

Tens of thousands of asylum-seekers from Central America and other Latin American countries have been sent by the U.S. to cities like Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo, located in Tamaulipas, a Mexican border state the U.S. government warns Americans not to visit because of rampant criminal activity, including kidnappings, sexual assaults and murders.

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In this October 31, 2019 photo, migrants rest at “La Roca,” or The Rock shelter in Nogales, Mexico. Moises Castillo / AP

Migrants returned to Nogales will be in the state of Sonora, which the State Department designates a hub for crime, human trafficking and drug trade in its travel warning for the area. Like in many other parts of Mexico, warring cartels vie for control of the drug trade in Sonora.

Last month, six members of a Mormon community with dual American and Mexican citizenship, including three children, were ambushed and massacred in Sonora. Mexican authorities have suggested that a drug cartel was responsible for the killings.

In addition to the security concerns, Reichlin-Melnick, the immigration policy expert, said that having migrants returned to Nogales appear before a judge in El Paso further strains the resources of the immigration court in the Texas border city. According to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), the El Paso immigration court has been assigned more than 16,300 “Remain in Mexico” cases — the highest of any court participating in the program.

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“Rather than address the fact that MPP has crippled the El Paso immigration court, the Department of Homeland Security’s response is to pile on more cases,” Reichlin-Melnick said.

(www.news.yahoo.com)

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Dominican Republic, IOM clear hurdles for 100,000 Venezuelan migrants

The Migration Normalization Plan will allow Venezuelans living irregularly in the Dominican Republic to work, move without risk of deportation, open bank accounts and join the country’s social security system.  Photo: IOM / Francesco Spotorno

 

 

Santo Domingo – The first group of almost 100,000 Venezuelan migrants without legal status in the Dominican Republic have received visas allowing them to work, open bank accounts and join the social security system under the country’s Migration Normalization Plan.

Created by the Dominican government and launched with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the plan aims to regularize the Venezuelan population in three stages: application for extension of stay, visa, and residency. Since April, when the first phase began, 43,000  Venezuelans have registered to extend their stay and, on 1 July, the first group of 21 Venezuelans received their work visa.

“Now that I have my visa, I feel that for others like me a lot of opportunities are opening. We will be able to establish more safely and formally to offer a better future to our children,” says Gabriela Rivero, who arrived in the country with her husband and daughter in 2018.  “Once we settled, we did not imagine how difficult it would be to get a job because the lack of documentation closed all doors.”

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Since 2019 Gabriela has led a support organization for Venezuelan migrants in Santiago de los Caballeros called FEV (Fundación Emigrantes de Venezuela), which offers free orientation and helps hundreds of migrants daily to complete their normalization plan applications.

With IOM support, eight Venezuelan migrant organizations have created orientation hubs to assist the Venezuelan population who are applying to the plan. Of the 43,000  registered through the General Directorate of Migration (DGM) web page, around 9,000 have visited the hubs for help on the procedure. The promoters and coordinators of each hub – mostly Venezuelan migrants – have learned the process with the support and guidance of the DGM team and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX). Besides being trained for orientation, they became the pilot group of the plan to receive their extensions and visas.

“The idea of this process is that we are the ones at the front of the hubs, a migrant helping a migrant, a Venezuelan helping a Venezuelan,” says Iván Carrera, a lawyer from Caracas and legal adviser of FUNCOVERD (Fundación Colonia de Venezolanos en RD). Carrera works as a promoter at the orientation hub in El Sambil Santo Domingo, one of the locations with the most people requesting support for their application.

READ  Covid 19: UN in West and Central Africa worry about migrants as traffickers abandon victims in desert 

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IOM launches open South America portal

International Organisation of Migration (

Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Open South America, available in SpanishEnglish and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.

The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.

The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.

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Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.

“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.

“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.

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29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM

The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.

About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.

Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.

He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.

Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.

READ  IOM, Niger rescue 83 distressed migrants  in Sahara Desert

“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”

International Organisation of Migration (

Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.

“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.

Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.

The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.

READ  Turkey warns Europe it could face fresh wave of Syrian migrants

 

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