struggle for the border
Mexico's President Lopez Obrador met with Trump at the White House this month to inaugurate the new trade treaty that replaces NAFTA. Embarrassingly, the meeting was punctuated by horrific new outbursts of narco-violence in Mexico. And the country's promised cannabis legalization—mandated by the high court and looked to as a de-escalation of the dystopian drug war—is stalled by a paralyzed Congress.
The US Attorney for the District of Oregon on July 17 called for an investigation into allegations that unidentified federal agents are arresting people in the city of Portland. US Attorney Billy Williams noted that federal agents have been in the city for the past 50 nights, to defend the federal courthouse and other federal buildings from protestors. While defense of the buildings was lawful, Williams said reports had reached him of federal agents, including from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), driving in unmarked vehicles and arresting at least two protestors without identifying themselves. The agents were not wearing any identifying insignia and were masked. Williams referred to these arrests as "questionable conduct," while Lisa Hay, Oregon's federal public defender, said, "It's a fundamental constitutional value that people in this country are free to walk the streets without fear of secret arrest."
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 on June 26 that President Donald Trump lacked the constitutional authority to transfer Department of Defense (DoD) funds for use in the construction of a wall along the Mexican border. The court found that the transfer of $2.5 billion circumvented Congress, which had previously denied requests for the funding. The panel affirmed a district court’s judgment, "holding that budgetary transfers of funds for the construction of a wall on the southern border of the United States in California and New Mexico were not authorized under the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2019."
President Donald Trump on April 22 signed an executive order suspending the admission of new permanent residents into the United States for the next 60 days, with an option for renewal, citing "a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment if labor supply outpaces labor demand." The order bars the entry of several categories of immigrants who are currently outside of the US and do not already have a valid immigrant visa to enter the country. This includes those seeking green cards for work, with certain exceptions, as well as the spouses and children of legal permanent residents or green-card holders, and the siblings, parents and adult children of US citizens.
Some 60,000 asylum-seekers sent back by the United States to Mexico until their claims can be heard in US courts face a longer wait in Mexican limbo after the US Supreme Court issued an order on March 11 that allowed a controversial anti-immigration policy to stand. An appeals court in San Francisco had ruled that the policy—officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols, but known as "Remain in Mexico"—was unlawful in the two border states under its jurisdiction: Arizona and California. The new order means asylum-seekers must now pin their hopes on the outcome of an expected formal appeal by President Donald Trump's administration—but that might not play out through the courts until early 2021.
Mexican lawmakers are predicting legal cannabis by month's end, and portraying it as a key to de-escalating the endemic narco-violence. But national headlines are full of nightmarish cartel violence—making all too clear how big the challenge will be.
There were scenes of chaos in Mexico's northern border towns Feb. 29 in response to rulings in rapid succession by a US federal appeals court on the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy. First, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against the administration's policy, (euphemistically dubbed the Migrant Protection Protocols) that forces migrants and refugees seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their claims are reviewed, and severely limits the number of migrants eligible for asylum. Thousands of asylum-seekers who had been camped out for weeks in Matamoros, Ciudad Juárez, Nogales and Tijuana immediately amassed at the border crossings, hoping to gain entry to the US. But the crossings were closed, and hours later, the Ninth Circuit granted an emergency stay on the injunction, as requested by the administration, effectively reinstating the MPP while further arguments are heard. The gathered migrants were dispersed by Mexican security forces.
Three groups filed suit against the Trump administration on Feb. 29 in federal court over the administration's diversion of funds allocated to the Department of Defense for border wall construction. The Trump administration has announced its plan to use $3.6 billion in military construction funds and $2.5 billion in other military funds for wall construction. The administration is attempting to use these funds despite Congress' exclusive appropriation of $1.375 billion for border wall construction under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019. When President Trump signed the CAA into law, he also issued Proclamation 9844, declaring a national emergency along the southern border. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Sierra Club, and Southern Border Communities Coalition sued, asking the US District Court for the Northern District of California to block the diversion of the funds. They claim that as Congress did not appropriate the funds for border wall construction, the president's actions usurp the constitutional budget allocation powers of the Legislative Branch.