Immigration

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

We're celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month by highlighting people who have moved to Austin from all over the world.

Thousands of asylum-seekers from Central America, Cuba and elsewhere have massed in Mexican border cities, waiting and hoping to be granted legal entry to the United States. They have created a humanitarian crisis, and they're growing impatient.

Responding to that crisis, the Trump administration threatened last week to impose tariffs to pressure Mexico to block the streams of migrants who are crossing its southern border bound for the United States.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

With a looming trade war with Mexico on the horizon, Texas’ proximity to its southern neighbor could spell economic trouble for the state’s consumers and workforce.

But it’s the added dynamic of how this country trades with Mexico that could do far greater damage to the state and national economies than President Donald Trump's current trade battles with China or Canada, analysts warn.

Beto O'Rourke's Immigration Plan Calls For Pathway To Citizenship

May 29, 2019
Beto O'Rourke speaks at the "She the People" forum for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates at Texas Southern University in Houston on April 24, 2019.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping immigration plan to seek a pathway to U.S. citizenship for 11 million people in the country illegally, deploy thousands of immigration lawyers to the southern border to help with asylum cases and earmark $5 billion to bolster the rule of law in Central America.

Along one rugged stretch of the Rio Grande, U.S. citizens routinely cross the border into the United States illegally. A shortage of basic services in rural Texas, such as health care, means U.S. citizens rely on Mexican services and rarely pass through an official port of entry on return.

Informal, unregulated crossings have been a fixture of life for generations in rural communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Today, however, with the unrelenting focus on border security, this kind of unfettered back-and-forth by U.S. citizens is rare.

Central American migrants who were detained in a Border Patrol holding facility in McAllen, Texas, described atrocious living conditions and widespread sickness.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection shut down its largest migrant processing center in South Texas for 24 hours on Tuesday after 32 detainees got sick with the flu. This is the same location where a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy became sick, and died Monday at another Border Patrol station.

Teenager Is Latest Migrant Child To Die In U.S. Custody

May 20, 2019

A 16-year-old has become the fifth migrant child since December to die after being apprehended at the U.S. border.

Joaquin Castro On Insulin Prices And The President's New Immigration Plan

May 17, 2019
Photo courtesy of RAICES

From Texas Standard:

U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro is focused on two very different issues right now: convincing drug companies to drop the price of insulin, and speaking out against President Donald Trump's new immigration plan.

Noah Fortson / NPR

President Trump is unveiling an immigration plan that would vastly change who's allowed into the United States. The administration's proposal focuses on reducing family-based immigration to the U.S. in favor of employment skill-based immigration.

Watch his remarks from the White House Rose Garden live.

Giant tent structures have been erected in Texas to serve as short-term detention facilities to process a huge influx of families and unaccompanied minors from Central America arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The facilities are open Friday in El Paso, Texas, and in the state's Rio Grande Valley next to the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge.

Eddie Gaspar for KUT

An immigrant teenager from Guatemala died in Texas on Tuesday while in federal custody, according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Julia Reihs / KUT

President Donald Trump is proposing charging asylum seekers a fee to process their applications as he continues to try to crack down on the surge of Central American migrants seeking to cross into the U.S.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley are less than two weeks away from the scheduled opening of temporary detention centers that will each house up to 500 migrants who have crossed the border to seek asylum.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach In Shadow Of Border Crossing

Apr 13, 2019

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma brought his Bach Project to the sister cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, on Saturday. The "Day of Action" featured performances in both cities to celebrate the relationship between the two communities.

Ma played the opening notes of Johann Sebastian Bach's Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello in a park next to the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge, one of the crossings that connect the U.S. and Mexican cities.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A dozen community activists assembled outside Andrews Elementary School in East Austin on Monday to demand the school district do more about Andrews' principal, who is accused of discriminating against immigrant parents.

Reynaldo Leaf for The Texas Tribune

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s policy of returning some asylum seekers to Mexico as they wait for their hearings in an American immigration court.

Updated at 11:17 p.m. ET

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is leaving her post, President Trump announced Sunday as he continues to focus on restricting border crossings amid a recent surge. Nielsen had recently warned a congressional panel of a "catastrophe" on the southern border after the number of crossings hit a 10-year high.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday said it will begin returning more migrants to Mexico after they apply for asylum in the U.S. and ordered Customs and Border Protection officials to speed up the redeployment of its agents to help the Border Patrol process a growing surge of migrants arriving at the border.

Editor's Note: This story contains graphic content.

An autopsy report has revealed that a 7-year-old girl who migrated to the United States from Guatemala died from a bacterial infection known as streptococcal sepsis while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

As thousands of migrant parents and children continue to stream across the U.S.-Mexico border every day, the Border Patrol is bringing in more agents and asking the Pentagon for additional help.

The Border Patrol says it needs more manpower to care for the migrants — more of whom are coming with infectious illnesses. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says agents are on track to stop nearly 100,000 people crossing illegally this month — far exceeding last month's total.

Renee Dominguez for KUT

A new study shows immigrants have an outsized impact on Austin’s economy.

Overall, 4.8 million immigrants in Texas paid $34.8 billion in taxes and had an economic footprint of $109.9 billion, according to an analysis of 2017 census data from the bipartisan immigrant advocacy group New American Economy.

BBC World Service/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Pew Research Center recently published a report showing how a majority of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. live in one of 20 metropolitan areas. But there was another statistic within the report that was important in its own right: The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has gone down over the last decade. As of 2016, Pew estimates there were about 10.7 million, compared to about 12.2 million in 2007.

Mark Hugo Lopez is director of global migration and demography at Pew Research, and says there's been a large decline in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico, in particular. At the same time, there's been an increase of unauthorized immigrants from other countries, whom Lopez says have most likely overstayed their visas.

President Trump last week vetoed a congressional measure aimed at blocking his national emergency declaration. The next battle over that emergency declaration will likely be in the courts.

Meanwhile, planning for extending the border wall is already happening in Texas' Rio Grande Valley.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The embattled CEO of Austin-based Southwest Key Programs, the nation's largest provider of shelters for migrant children, is stepping down.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A new report calls for improved translation services after two Mayan children from Guatemala, 7-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin and 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo, died in Border Patrol custody.

The congregation of about 1,700 Central American migrants in Piedras Negras, Mexico, this week sparked a swift response from the U.S. Hundreds of Army soldiers and law enforcement personnel tightened security measures in Eagle Pass. Residents accustomed to easy passage between two nations experienced long waits on the bridges, body searches, diminished commerce and unease over the sudden show of armed force in their small town.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has ordered the majority of National Guard troops deployed at her state's Southern border to withdraw, condemning what she called a "charade of border fear-mongering" by President Trump, who has warned of an immigration emergency in the region.

"I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the Southern border," Lujan Grisham said, adding that the area has "some of the safest communities in the country."

President Donald Trump's campaign announced Wednesday morning that he will hold a rally Feb. 11 in El Paso. Just hours earlier, the president reiterated in his State of the Union a repeatedly debunked claim that El Paso was one of the country's most dangerous cities until the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed and several miles of barrier were built there.

The most important political issues of the past year will be on display Tuesday night, not only in what President Trump says in his State of the Union address but in who will be in the audience.

Furloughed federal workers, Border Patrol agents, immigrants, school shooting survivors and the first inmate to benefit from a new criminal justice law will be among those to gather in the chamber of the U.S. House.

Eddie Gaspar for KUT

HOUSTON – The U.S. government is preparing to begin construction of more border walls and fencing in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley, likely on federally owned land set aside as wildlife refuge property.

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