immigration crisis
December 10, 2019

Doctors who have been calling on the government to provide flu shots to detained migrant children were turned away from a Customs and Border Protection facility in San Diego, California, on Monday.

The group of about 60 doctors and advocates told Customs and Border Protection they could set up a free flu shot clinic for migrants, with 120 doses of the vaccine at the ready. At least three children in immigration custody have died from the flu this year, including a 16-year-old from Guatemala, and the physicians first offered to set up the clinic last month.

Customs and Border Protection said it is not "feasible" for the outside doctors to provide medical care to detained migrants, as the agency is not supposed to hold people for more than 72 hours and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which operates long-term detention facilities, offers its own medical services. Records show that many migrant children and adults have been held at Customs and Border Protection facilities for more than 72 hours, with some detained for several weeks.

On Twitter, the Department of Homeland Security's press secretary called the doctors a "random group of radical political activists." The physicians don't consider wanting to keep people alive a radical act. "More people will die without the vaccine," Dr. Hannah Janeway told The Guardian. "There's no doubt. They are being locked in cages in cold weather together, without any vaccination, in a year that is supposed to bring a horrible flu epidemic." Catherine Garcia

September 21, 2019

The United States and El Salvador signed a "cooperative asylum agreement" Friday in what is seen as another attempt by the Trump administration to curb the flow of migrants from Central America coming into the U.S.

Few details about how the agreement will work or when it will go into effect were provided, but acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said the pact "is one significant step forward" and that it will build on what the U.S. has "accomplished already" with El Salvador's neighbor Guatemala, which is trying to implement a "safe third country" agreement with the U.S. signed earlier this summer. El Salvador's Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco told The Associated Press that the agreement could similarly lead to migrants from third countries obtaining refuge in El Salvador if they pass through on their way to the U.S., although most northern migration routes don't include the country.

Criticism was swift, with opponents arguing that El Salvador is not safe enough to serve as a refuge. "If this agreement goes into effect, the U.S. will be forcing the most vulnerable communities to seek safety in a country that is not equipped to protect its own citizens or provide economic opportunity," said Oscar Chacon, the executive director of Alianza Americas, a network of immigrant-led organizations. Read more at NPR and The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

June 5, 2019

The increase in immigration at the southern border has prompted the Trump administration to make budget cuts — and the White House is opting to slash English classes, recreational programs, and legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying federal shelters across the country to avoid running out of money by the end of June, The Washington Post reports.

Although education and recreation for minors in custody are mandated by a federal court settlement and state licensing requirements, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has begun to discontinue funding for services that are "not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety." Carlos Holguin, a lawyer representing minors, said he is prepared to battle the government in the court room to prevent the cuts from going through.

"What's next?," he asked. "Drinking water? Food?"

A shelter employee speaking on condition of anonymity told the Post that the cuts have alarmed workers, who fear the care for the children will suffer. The employee pondered over what the minors will do without those services.

Federal officials have asked Congress for $2.9 billion in emergency funding to expand shelters and care. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

May 18, 2019

In an attempt to relieve overcrowding at border facilities in Texas, hundreds of migrant families, mostly from Central America, detained while trying to cross the southern border will be flown to San Diego where they will be interviewed, finger printed, and photographed before being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We're in the middle of a humanitarian crisis and the numbers in Texas are staggering so the BP is helping out in those sectors to more efficiently process those folks," an unnamed CPB official said, referring to the Border Patrol.

The first official flight arrived on Friday and three flights carrying between 120 and 135 people will take off weekly, Customs and Border Protection Interim Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison said on Friday. The families will be medically screened before departure to ensure they are fit for travel. There are not expected to be any unaccompanied minors on the flights.

The announcement comes as two Department of Homeland Security Officials said the DHS is planning to transport recent border crossers to cities around the country before releasing them after processing. It is not clear if the San Diego flights are part of that plan, NBC News reports. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads