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Border Crisis
November 4, 2018

While the mostly Honduran migrant caravan remains about 700 miles away from the United States in Mexico, the first of up to 15,000 troops the Trump administration plans to send to the border have arrived at their new posts.

Around 160 active-duty soldiers were stationed near McAllen, Texas, this weekend, where they will practice drills and build border barriers topped with razor wire.

Border patrol agent and National Border Patrol Council representative Chris Cabrera said the soldiers will be helpful for extra surveillance of the border but are ultimately a temporary solution. "You can put [troops] shoulder to shoulder from Brownsville to San Diego," he said, but "[a]ll [immigrants] got to do is put one foot on land and say, 'I need asylum,' and we're still in the same position."

The caravan, meanwhile, has shrunk from its peak of 7,000 people to about 4,000 and splintered into several smaller groups. Younger migrants and those without children are forging ahead at a slightly faster pace than the rest.

Two other caravans, each numbering between 1,000 and 1,500 people, have also crossed Mexico's southern border and are moving north. Bonnie Kristian

October 20, 2018

A massive caravan of mostly Honduran migrants stalled Friday and Saturday at Mexico's southern border while trying to make their way to the United States.

Mexican authorities have said those who meet entry requirements, like holding a visa, will be allowed through, but so far only a trickle — many women and children — have made it past the bridge checkpoint over the Suchiate River where hundreds waited overnight.

Police in riot gear have used tear gas and smoke to control the crowd. Those permitted to apply for refugee status can stay in a shelter, but conditions on the bridge are rapidly becoming unsanitary.

President Trump has threatened to close the southern border to keep the migrants out, but he agreed Thursday night to evaluate their asylum claims. At a rally in Arizona Friday evening, Trump alleged "many of those people [in the caravan] — a fairly big percentage of those people — are criminals."

The group includes young children and pregnant women seeking to escape dire economic circumstances and even violence in their home countries. "We have suffered so much," one migrant mother on the bridge told CBS News. "She has a fever and we brought nothing," she added, gesturing to her baby. Bonnie Kristian

July 9, 2018

A federal judge on Monday granted the Trump administration more time to reunite migrant families who have been separated at the border, NBC News reports.

The administration was instructed to reunite 102 children under 5 with their parents by Tuesday, but advocacy groups estimated that "less than half" of those cases would meet the deadline. The Justice Department's initial request for an extension was denied, but U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw will now allow officials to propose a revised timeline for cases that will need more time.

Sabraw acknowledged that some cases "will necessitate additional time," reports NBC News, but did not mandate a new deadline. A DOJ attorney said that 54 of the children will be reunited with their families tomorrow, but explained that some parents had been deported and others had been released, making the process more difficult. Officials are also identifying and vetting migrants, and the DOJ lawyer said that some migrant parents have criminal records that will keep them from being reunited with their children.

Children older than 5 will still be held to the July 26 deadline for reunification. Read more at NBC News. Summer Meza

July 6, 2018

The Justice Department on Friday requested an extension to reunite migrant families who were separated by the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy, NBC News reports.

A federal judge originally set a deadline to reunite children under age 5 with their parents by July 10, and set a July 26 deadline for all other children, but DOJ attorneys are now arguing that the mandate didn't allow enough time for the government to identify and vet each parent. There are nearly 3,000 children currently in government custody, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday.

Attorneys say they need to account for the possibility of inconclusive DNA tests, and allow time to ensure that parents are fit to care for their children. "The government does not wish to unnecessarily delay reunification," the DOJ argued. "At the same time, however, the government has a strong interest in ensuring that any release of a child from government custody occurs in a manner that ensures the safety of the child."

Since some parents have already been deported without their children, the DOJ is requesting permission to exclude them from the group of migrants who must be reunited with their families, reports NBC News. Alternatively, attorneys suggested, the judge could allow the DOJ to shorten its vetting process. Some of the records of migrant children "have disappeared" or have been "destroyed," The New York Times reported Thursday, making the reunification process even more challenging. Read more at NBC News. Summer Meza

July 5, 2018

Federal officials are performing DNA tests on migrant parents and children who have been separated at the border in an effort to reunite families, CNN reported Thursday.

Even though border officials have been instructed to stop separating families as a general policy, there hasn't been a clear plan in place to reunite the families that were separated by the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy. In order to determine which child belongs to which parent, and to avoid reuniting children with adults who may be unrelated traffickers, health officials are performing cheek swabs to verify family ties.

The officials, who may be Office of Refugee Resettlement workers, have reportedly been approaching both adults and children to order blood and saliva tests. CNN reports that it's unclear how long the testing has been going on, if the DNA information is stored, and whether officials are obtaining consent from each migrant.

Legal advocates say children certainly can't give informed consent to testing that could allow the government to keep tabs on them forever, and say the testing is evidence that the Trump administration mishandled the registration of migrants who are being kept in detention centers. A federal official says the testing is "being done to expedite parental verification and ensuring reunification with verified parents due to child welfare concerns." Read more at CNN. Summer Meza

June 21, 2018

The Trump administration has been given approval to house unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. military bases, an anonymous defense official told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The Department of Health and Human Services requested permission from the Pentagon to place up to 20,000 minors on military bases starting early next month, The Washington Post reported, an idea that officials have apparently been toying with for months. Officials requested "temporary beds" to be filled through the end of the year.

Unaccompanied minors have been housed in military bases before, the Post reports, like in 2014 when the Obama administration set up temporary centers on three military bases for about 7,000 children. This recent proposal left unclear why HHS is requesting so many beds, which could be located on bases in Texas and Arkansas where agency staffers visited last week. Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed support for the idea, defending it based on the military's past efforts to house refugees and victims of natural disasters.

HHS officials will be assigned to provide care, "including supervision, meals, clothing, medical services, transportation, or other daily needs." Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

June 18, 2015

Saying that "Hungary cannot afford to wait any longer," Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced the country is preparing to build a 13-foot fence along its 109-mile border with Serbia in order to keep migrants trying to enter the European Union from crossing illegally.

Data from Frontex, the European border agency, shows that from January to May of this year, more than 50,000 migrants illegally crossed between Serbia and Hungary. Almost half of those migrants were from Kosovo, while 11,253 came from Afghanistan and 7,640 were from Syria, The Washington Post reports. Hungary says that since it's a member of the EU and Schengen Area, a group of 26 countries that do not have internal borders, migrants are using Hungary as their gateway to the EU, where they can work illegally or seek asylum.

The EU isn't supportive of the plan, with spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud telling reporters it "does not promote the use of fences and encourages member states to use alternative measures." Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's prime minister, had even stronger words, saying on state television he was "shocked and surprised" by the plan. "We don't want to live in an Auschwitz," he added. Catherine Garcia

September 26, 2014

Immigrants who are caught crossing the border and entering the United States illegally are apprehended and told to report back to federal immigration authorities within 15 days. The Department of Homeland Security, however, has "privately acknowledged that about 70 percent of immigrant families failed to report as ordered."

The Obama administration spent much of the summer avoiding answering questions about the tens of thousands of immigrants who have been caught illegally crossing the Mexican border to the U.S. The Washington Post reports that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and others previously said they faced deportation, but during a confidential meeting in Washington, this was revealed not to be the case.

Documents show that only a few hundred families have been returned to their home countries and "limited U.S. detention facilities can house only about 1,200 family members." The 70 percent figure, according to the Post, suggests the government "released roughly 41,000 members of immigrant families who subsequently failed to appear at federal immigration offices." Teresa Mull

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