Artesia Situation On PBS Newshour…Field Reports From Pro Bono Attorneys

The articles below are sent by Taylor Levy, Certified Representative for Immigration Cases with Las Americas in El Paso. Please consider a donation to Las Americas to provide legal representation for asylum seekers detained in Artesia… (information provided below).  THANKS Taylor and keep up the great work!  -molly

Political Bias and Adjudication Disparities among Mexican Asylum Seekers

Taylor Levy worked for three years as a full-time volunteer at Annunciation House, a migrant house of hospitality located eleven blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border, and continues to volunteer with the organization. In April 2014, she became a Fully Accredited Representative in front of the Board of Immigration Appeals and currently works at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center representing low-income immigrant clients. She can be reached at taylorklevy@gmail.com

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Ideally, each and every migrant who seeks political asylum in the U.S. would be judged equally and impartially regardless of country of origin; however, this is simply not the case. Mexican applicants consistently face exceptionally low asylum grant rates despite widespread human rights abuses and levels of violence that often rival those found in active war zones.

During the period from FY2009 to FY2013, immigration courts received a total of 186,556 asylum applications from respondents of all nationalities (DOJ, 2014). In turn, immigration judges decided a total of 92,915 asylum cases “on the merits” (meaning that the asylum application was followed through to the end and was either granted or denied). Of that figure, asylum was granted in 48,099 cases, representing overall average grant rate of 52%. For FY2013, the top ten nationalities granted asylum by immigration courts were China, Ethiopia, Nepal, India, Egypt, the Soviet Union, Eritrea, Russia, El Salvador, and, for the first time ever, Mexico (DOJ, 2013).

Despite finally breaking into the top ten, however, Mexican asylum applicants continued to face significant adjudication disparities with grants rates far below the 52% grant rate for all nationalities combined. For example, from FY2009 to FY2013, Mexican applicants only had a 9% chance of being granted political asylum by an immigration judge, while Chinese applicants were successful over 74% of the time (DOJ, 2014). Likewise, on average, Colombians were granted asylum by immigration judges more than 40% of the time.

As demonstrated by these statistics, Mexican asylum applicants consistently face exceptionally low grant rates despite the high levels of violence and political terror occurring in Mexico today. There are a number of alternate explanations for why Mexican applicants do not receive asylum at the same (or even similar) rate as applicants coming from other nations. The most frequently cited argument made by government officials attributes these disparities to disproportionally high rates of frivolous asylum claims being filed by Mexican nationals. While not without its merits, this simplistic explanation fails to fully explain the extent to which Mexican applicants are negatively favored within the U.S. political asylum bureaucracy.

On the other hand, several scholars have argued that the U.S. is reluctant to grant Mexicans asylum “out of fear of economic burden,” general anti-Latino/a sentiment, the geographic proximity of Mexico, and worries that granting asylum to Mexican nationals would open the symbolic floodgates of legalized Mexican immigration to the U.S (Evans & Kohrt, 2004, p.18; Mann, 2012; Morales et. al. 2013). Furthermore, low asylum grant rates for Mexican nationals likely reflect U.S. government worries that granting asylum on a large scale would negatively affect foreign relations ties between the U.S. and Mexico (Plascencia, 2000). Since political asylum is granted on the basis of persecution by the government or by groups that the government cannot control, widespread granting of asylum for Mexican nationals could raise issues concerning the ethics of the U.S. government providing millions of dollars of aid to the Mexican military while at the same time granting political asylum to refugees fleeing the human rights abuses of that very same military organization.

It is clear that political biases have resulted in the unfair treatment of Mexican asylum seekers despite moral and legal obligations to protect refugees for whom deportation is a death sentence. The U.S. government must provide refuge to the thousands of Mexicans who have been persecuted and displaced due to extreme levels of violence, corruption, and lawlessness within their country. Furthermore, the U.S. government must ensure that these arriving refugees are treated fairly and humanely, without being subjected to further persecution and trauma. Contemporary Mexican asylum seekers are not “gaming the system;” they are fleeing for their lives, and the U.S. government must treat them accordingly.

Table 1

Immigration Court Asylum Statistics FY2009-FY2013: All Countries Combined
Cases Received Cases Granted Cases Denied Total Cases Decided on the Merits Grant Rate(Grants/Total Cases Decided on the Merits)
FY2009 30,112 8,800 9,876 18,676 47%
FY2010 32,810 8,518 8,335 16,853 51%
FY2011 42,664 10,137 9,280 19,417 52%
FY2012 44,296 10,711 8,502 19,213 56%
FY2013 36,674 9,933 8,823 18,756 53%
TOTAL 186,556 48,099 44,816 92,915 52%

Note: Adapted from Department of Justice (DOJ), Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).
(2014b, April). FY 2013 Statistical Yearbook. Retrieved April 25, 2014
from http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/fy13syb.pdf

 Table 2

Top Ten Nationalities Granted Asylum by Immigration Courts FY2009-FY2013
Rank FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 FY2013Rank FY2013Number of Grants FY2013% of Total Grants
1 China China China China China 4,532 45.63%
2 Ethiopia Ethiopia Eritrea Ethiopia Ethiopia 399 4.02%
3 Haiti Nepal Ethiopia Nepal Nepal 381 3.84%
4 Iraq India Nepal Eritrea India 322 3.24%
5 Colombia Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt 305 3.07%
6 India Somalia Soviet Union Soviet Union Soviet Union 252 2.54%
7 Eritrea Colombia India India Eritrea 240 2.42%
8 Albania Eritrea Somalia Guatemala Russia 187 1.88%
9 Guinea Soviet Union Colombia El Salvador El Salvador 181 1.82%
10 Nepal Armenia Russia Pakistan Mexico 155 1.56%

Note: There is no explanation of the use of the “Soviet Union” as a country.
Adapted from Department of Justice (DOJ), Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).
(2014b, April). FY 2013 Statistical Yearbook. Retrieved April 25, 2014
from http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/fy13syb.pdf

Table 3

Immigration Court Asylum Statistics FY2009-FY2013: Mexico
Cases Received Cases Granted Cases Denied Total Cases Decided on the Merits Grant Rate(Grants/Total Cases Decided on the Merits)
FY2009 2,490 56 336 392 14%
FY2010 3,996 38 477 515 7%
FY2011 7,425 92 1,010 1,102 8%
FY2012 10,542 113 1,306 1,419 8%
FY2013 8,569 155 1,566 1,721 9%
TOTAL 33,022 454 4,695 5,149 9%

Note: Adapted from Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (DOJ, 2014a)

 

Table 4

Immigration Court Asylum Statistics FY2009-FY2013: China
Cases Received Cases Granted Cases Denied Total Cases Decided on the Merits Grant Rate(Grants/Total Cases Decided on the Merits)
FY2009 8,117 3,085 1,448 4,533 68%
FY2010 9,534 3,419 1,366 4,785 71%
FY2011 10,385 4,299 1,593 5,892 73%
FY2012 9,457 5,015 1,421 6,436 78%
FY2013 5,568 4,532 1,229 5,761 79%
TOTAL 43,061 20,350 7,057 27,407 74%

Note: Adapted from Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (DOJ, 2014a)

 

Table 5

Immigration Court Asylum Statistics FY2009-FY2013: Colombia
Cases Received Cases Granted Cases Denied Total Cases Decided on the Merits Grant Rate(Grants/Total Cases Decided on the Merits)
FY2009 544 294 434 728 40%
FY2010 502 187 327 514 36%
FY2011 496 175 185 360 49%
FY2012 426 98 129 227 43%
FY2013 291 72 118 190 38%
TOTAL 2,259 826 1,193 2,019 41%

Note: Adapted from Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (DOJ, 2014a)

References:

Evans, D., & Kohrt, B. (2004). No refuge for persecuted neighbors: Human Rights and Asylum in the Americas. AmeriQuests, 1(1). Retrieved from http://homiletic.net/index.php/ameriquests/article/view/6

Mann, K. (2012). Reporters as refugees: Applying United States asylum laws to persecuted journalists in Mexico. Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, 35(1), 149-172.

Morales, M. C., Morales, O., Menchaca, A. C., & Sebastian, A. (2013). The Mexican drug war and the consequent population exodus: Transnational movement at the US-Mexican border. Societies, 3(1), 80-103.

Plascencia, L. F. (2000). Ignored Migrant Voices—Mexican Political Refugees in the United States. Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, 13, 67.

U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ], Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). (2013, February). FY 2012 Statistical Yearbook. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/fy12syb.pdf

U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ], Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). (2014, April). Asylum Statistics Chart. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from http://www.justice.gov/eoir/efoia/FY2009-FY2013AsylumStatisticsbyNationality.pdf

Immigration Enforcement “Surge”…Report From San Antonio (June 20)

Bill Conroy reports from the new detention facilities at Lackland military base in San Antonio… After this article was posted today, the major news wires report on a new policy statement from the Obama administration.  I don’t think I am being pessimistic to say that the administration’s response is as bad as it gets… (article posted below)

More detention facilities for children and families… how can anyone see this as other than cruel and unusual punishment? The vast majority of these people are refugees fleeing life-threatening conditions…they are guilty of no crime other than entering the US without documents…Many of these prisons are operated by private companies which profit by detaining more people for longer periods of time…all paid for by US taxpayers…

 
More immigration judges, asylum officers and government attorneys…this means that more asylum cases will be denied and people will be funneled more quickly through the courts and deported.  Recently (at least in El Paso) it seems that the government has been offering to ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSE cases, rather than go through the full hearing process. I know of several cases where the asylum hearing is completed and the government still offers to close the case. The judge does not rule. The government allows the asylum seekers to stay in the country for an indefinite period. The government reserves the right to reopen the case at any time, thus leaving the asylum seekers in a vulnerable position–subject to renewed deportation proceedings in the future. But, considering that in many jurisdictions (certainly here in El Paso) more than 90 percent of asylum cases are denied, the administrative closures are a better outcome for many people who have fled Mexico and other countries and fear death or persecution if returned.
 
Increased security measures and $161 million from the US (taxpayer money) to “fight crime” in Central America…As noted by many of us who have watched the results of such aid in Mexico recently, it is clear that the money, weapons and other military equipment, training and funding result in increasing levels of violence. As noted by Conroy, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are already some of the most violent places on the planet:

Some critics of current U.S. immigration policy argue that it is the militarized nature of the nation’s war on drugs that is actually at the heart of the current refugee crisis along the US/Mexican border.

“U.S. security policy in Mexico and Central America, focused on militarized counter-narcotics efforts known as the war on drugs, has had severely negative effects on the region,” states a recent report by the Mexico City-based Americas Program of the Center for International Policy. “… The report finds that current drug-war policy has dramatically increased the transfer of arms, equipment and military/police training to the region. Concurrently, we find that violence in the region has exploded.”

Pastor Jose Galvan’s paintings

“I found El Pastor when I was looking for a raped beauty queen. I expected him to be an evangelical fraud and that the asylum he kept in the desert outside Juarez was simply a ploy used in his fundraising.
I was wrong. He is an ex street addict, ex-convict and a full time healer in a city of pain. He sells love in a city of death, Ciudad Juarez, demonstrably the most violent city on earth. He expects to be murdered; he prays he will not be tortured first. He built the asylum with his own hands and his care is the only safety net for the severely mentally ill in this place of poverty.
I am not a religious person but I realize a simple fact: the border is becoming a bloodbath with thousands murdered and an entire generation doomed to gangs and early death. The only people I see doing anything are the religious. And El Pastor, Jose Antonio Galvan, is a prime example.” Charles Bowden, author of Murder City

Click here to read more about Pastor Galvan’s art: Arte Sin Fronteras

galvan_new17galvan_paintings_2014_7galvan_paintings_2014_8

Project 380: Aid to Violence Related Mexican Political Asylum Seekers on Humanitarian Parole

Project 380: Aid to Violence Related Mexican Political Asylum Seekers on Humanitarian Parole

“Rita’s family and about 500 other individuals who, after staring death in the eyes,are legally present in the United States and they want to work.  They each need a minimum of $380.00 just to get the visa to allow them to work.  The 380 PROJECT was designed to assist in that specific need. All funds will go directly to the U.S. State Department for these work visa fees.”

Please consider contributing $3.80 or $38.00 or $380.00 or any amount to this project.

Project 380

Rita lived in a small town near Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on the land that had been her family home for many generations. Officials in the United States and Mexico decided to put a new international bridge near Rita’s community. That meant that the price of Rita’s land was rapidly increasing in value and corrupt officials wanted Rita to leave. The cheapest way to accomplish that was through terror. And those acts of terror included killing Rita’s husband while she and her children huddled in the next room. Then, Rita happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and she witnessed a Mexican federal policeman murder a room full of people. She ran, but they hunted her. Her family – mother, brother’s family, and children – ran to the United States border with only the clothes on their backs.

After weeks of complex immigration processes, the family was granted humanitarian parole and they were admitted into the United States. They do not have official asylum, but they are legally residing here.  During the next four years, they will go through many more legal proceedings and finally an Immigration Judge will determine if their asylum will be granted, or if they will be forced to return to Mexico.

Meanwhile, the family has no financial support, and because of their status, they cannot take advantage of any U.S. entitlement programs.  A group of people who knew of their status and their financial need are providing funds to ensure that the family has a safe home and food temporarily.

Rita, her brother, and his wife want to work so they can provide for their family. However, their work visas take a long time to process, and it costs $380.00 each time they renew their work visas.  The visas are granted for random time spans – a few months up to a year.  Then, the applicants have to pay the $380.00 again and repeat the renewal process which takes 60 to 90 days.

Rita’s family and about 500 other individuals who, after staring death in the eyes, are legally present in the United States and they want to work.  They each need a minimum of $380.00 just to get the visa to allow them to work.  The 380 PROJECT was designed to assist in that specific need. All funds will go directly to the U.S. State Department for these work visa fees.

Please consider contributing $3.80 or $38.00 or $380.00 or any amount to this project. Click here to make an ONLINE DONATION.  At the drop down menu choose: 380 Project: Political Asylum

Checks can be made to Catholic Charities, c/o Deacon Tom Baca, 1280 MedPark Drive, Las Cruces, NM 88005.  For more information you may contact Crystal Massey at the law office of Carlos Spector, crystalatspector@gmail.com.

Please consider contributing $3.80 or $38.00 or $380.00 or any amount to this project.

Karla Castaneda now in the US seeking asylum..

Karla Jocabeth Castaneda is now in the United States. She fled Juarez last week with her other 4 children and on February 13, she crossed the border at San Isidro, CA.  Karla is an activist for many years–demanding that the state of Chihuahua do more to locate her missing daughter, Cinthia who disappeared in 2008 at age 13.
The article says that she was granted political asylum in the US, but (from what I know of other cases) she and her children were paroled into the US on humanitarian grounds because she established that she had a credible fear of persecution based on documents, photographs and other information she brought with her showing that the government (police and other officials) were persecuting her because of her activism.
She will have the opportunity to seek permanent asylum and will be able to remain in the US indefinitely.

Rick Perry: US immigration plan doesn’t alter state law…AP

In light of recent stories indicating that President Calderon may join the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin when he leaves office and that he says he rec’d death threats early in his term, it is nice to know that Gov. Perry of Texas is going to do everything in his power to deny legal status to Mexicans (and others) who might qualify for the Obama administration’s deferred deportation program because of their long-term residency in the US…  I assume President Calderon will quailfy for other visa programs. The positive side of this is that he may have to come face-to-face with hundreds or thousands of Mexicans-in-exile who have left their country due to dangers to their lives and who are now seeking asylum in the US. Many of these people are living in Texas.
I guess Gov. Perry does not want to be out-machoed by his counterpart, Janet Brewer of Arizona… It will be interesting to see what New Mexico governor Martinez does in this regard. molly

More Mexicans requesting asylum–report from Atlanta

An interesting article from Atlanta GA concerning an increase in asylum
claims from people not directly affected by the violence…This legal
tactic seems to have potential to make asylum more difficult for those
Mexicans with more serious claims.
“We [attorneys] are trying to create this new class of protected people,”
she said. “The more Americanized they are, the more tied they are to the
United States. We have to litigate this class into existence, because it
doesn’t exist.”

 

The Reyes-Salazar family flee Mexico seeking asylum as entire families flee Northern Mexico

TOMORROW AT THE LAW OFFICE OF CARLOS SPECTOR

LAST TWO MEMBERS OF THE REYES-SALAZAR FAMILY FLEE MEXICO AND SEEK ASYLUM IN THE U.S. AS ENTIRE FAMILIES IN NORTHERN MEXICO CONTINUE TO FLEE

Press release: 10 am – Thursday, June 28, 2012
at the Law Offices of Carlos Spector
1430 E. Yandell, El Paso, Texas 79902

Doña Sara Salazar the 78 year old matriarch of the politically active Reyes-Salazar family refused to leave Mexico as long as any of her loved ones were still living there. Last week, after receiving a death threat, her last grandson, Ismael Reyes-Reyes decided to leave Mexico and seek asylum in the U.S. The departure of 22 members of the Porras family from Villa Ahumada as well as the Mexican federal government’s inability and refusal to protect them convinced Ismael Reyes-Reyes to leave Mexico.

Doña Sara has lived every mother’s worst nightmare: first they killed her grandson; then her daughter; 7 months later her son; and then they threatened her with a gun while they kidnapped another daughter, son and daughter-in-law. Six days after the kidnapping they burned her home. Two weeks after the kidnapping they threw the tortured bodies of her children in the street.

According to AI, the Reyes family was “clearly being targeted in the most brutal way.” Six family members having been killed since November of 2008.
Julio César Reyes Reyes was shot and killed on November 16, 2008. – Grandson
Josefina Reyes Salazar was shot and killed on January 3, 2010. – Daughter
Rubén Reyes Salazar was shot down in the street on August 18, 2010. – Son
María Magdalena Reyes Salazar was kidnapped on February 7, 2011. Her body was dumped on the street on February 25, 2011. – Daughter
Elías Reyes Salazar was kidnapped on February 7, 2011. His body was dumped on the street on February 25, 2011. – Son
Luisa Ornelas was kidnapped on February 7, 2011. Her body was dumped on the street on February 25, 2011. – Daughter-in-law

Saul Reyes-Salazar and his immediate family were granted political asylum in early January 2012.

Law Offices of Carlos Spector, 1430 E. Yandell, El Paso, Texas 79902

For more information please call Alejandra Spector or Crystal Massey at mexenex@gmail.com or (915) 544-044

Mexico: Family of 20 Crosses into Texas Seeking Asylum after Drug Cartel Murders

This story has been reported in El Diario for the past several days…Two
members of the family–a father and son–were murdered. The son was at his
father’s grave in the Villa Ahumada cemetery when he was shot. Others
received death threats by phone. They left the town early in the week and
have been camped out in the offices of the federal Attorney General (PGR)
in Juarez. In a dramatic move, all 20 family members have crossed into the
US to seek asylum, although the latest Diario article said that the Mexican
Attorney General was going to meet in Juarez and discuss how to provide
protection for the family.
There have also been several recent articles in EL Diario on the lack of
any police protection in many of the towns and villages in northern
Chihuahua since 2008 when many police were killed, many fled and others
were dismissed. In 2009, a gun battle took place in Villa Ahumada in which
more than 22 people were killed. Earlier, in May 2008, the Army entered
Villa Ahumada and killed many more then…
Perhaps this case will bring attention to the ongoing and almost unreported
violence in the rural towns and villages surrounding Juarez…

UPDATE:
the Porras family from Villa Ahumada are all seeking political
asylum in the US.  Several houses and businesses in and around Villa
Ahumada owned by the family have been robbed, vandalized and burned
according to an article in El Diario.