Editor’s note: We want you to know what’s happening, why and how it could impact your life, family or business, so we created a weekly digest of the top original immigration, migration and refugee reporting from across VOA. Questions? Tips? Comments? Email the VOA immigration team: ImmigrationUnit@voanews.com.
Back to the border
The head of U.S. Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, found himself in a familiar place this week: testifying before members of Congress, again facing tough questions about how department employees treat people detained along the U.S.-Mexico border, especially children. The hearing was sandwiched between two trips the acting secretary took to the border. He flew to Washington after one trip that concluded Wednesday, headed to Capitol Hill on Thursday, and as of Friday was scheduled back in McAllen, Texas. There, along with a group of senators, he was to tour multiple facilities where migrants are held after apprehension.
Asylum ban in the Southwest
The Trump administration is locked in another legal battle over its migration policies, this time regarding asylum. Through a rule change announced early this week, the federal government is seeking to block people from requesting asylum if they entered the U.S. by land through Mexico, are not Mexican or Canadian, or had the ability to request asylum in another country they passed through before arriving in the U.S.
It was the latest attempt to limit the number of people claiming humanitarian grounds to travel to or remain in the country. The U.N. says the new regulation will put vulnerable families at risk. The Trump administration says many who request asylum ultimately are denied, and accuses migrants of abusing the U.S. system.
Death in Australian detention
The death of an Afghan refugee in an Australian immigration detention center is raising questions similar to those in U.S. facilities — how is indefinite detention affecting people, especially when the average period of time for those held in detention was more than 500 days? And could these deaths be prevented?
The country faced challenges on multiple fronts regarding migration this week, as Papua New Guinea told Canberra to resolve what it would do with hundreds of refugees after the closure of a migrant camp.
Immigration raids fizzle
For the second time in as many months, U.S. officials threatened massive raids to capture immigrants without legal status. And when the day came, such roundups failed to happen. But for the undocumented community, the fear of deportation was there, even if the federal agents weren’t.
Congresswoman. Former refugee. Somali-American. There are plenty of straightforward ways to describe Ilhan Omar. But the lawmaker was the focus of virulent and xenophobic comments this week.
She is one of four new members of Congress, all women of color, who repeatedly have been criticized by President Donald Trump since Sunday on social media and in public comments.
Omar responded on Twitter with an often-quoted stanza from a Maya Angelou poem: “You may shoot me with your words / You may cut me with your eyes / You may kill me with your hatefulness / But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
-Maya Angelou https://t.co/46jcXSXF0B
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 18, 2019
According to the latest data from immigration courts through June 2019, just 2.8 percent of recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security filings based deportability claims on any alleged criminal activity. Syracuse University’s TRAC found that despite the “rising number of ICE interior arrests and individuals who are detained, fewer and fewer immigrants in the Immigration Court’s growing workload are being cited as deportable based upon criminal activity.”
Immigrant legal services
The American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association and Immigrant Defense Project filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in the Southern District of New York. The organizations seek information about a program that “operates largely outside of public view and with little regard for due process.”
From the Feds:
— Border Patrol agents in one sector continue to document the apprehensions of African border crossers entering without authorization. The Del Rio sector said more than 1,100 people from 19 African countries were detained since the end of May.
— A Texas woman was sentenced to five years in prison this week for running a human smuggling ring from India to the U.S. Among Hema Patel’s assets seized by the federal government: her home, two hotels, $400,000 in cash and 11 gold bars.