struggle for the border
Gunfire and explosions were reported from the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo in the early hours of March 14, following the arrest of a local gang leader by federal police and army troops. Juan Gerardo Treviño, also known as "N" or "El Huevo" (The Egg), is said be leader of the Tropas del Infierno (Troops of Hell), paramilitary arm of the Cartel del Noreste (Northeast Cartel), an offshoot of the notorious Zetas. Facing charges both sides of the border, he was nonetheless turned over to US authorities, apparently because he is a US citizen. He was handed over at a border bridge in Tijuana, far to the west of Nuevo Laredo, presumably to avoid attempts to free him. In the outburst of violence that greeted his arrest in Nuevo Laredo, the city's US consulate was hit with gunfire. Gang members also closed off streets with burning vehicles, attacked army outposts, and lobbed grenades at buildings. (Laredo Morning Times, Border Report, AP, La Jornada)
The US Supreme Court this month heard oral arguments for two immigration cases that address the right of detained non-citizens to have a bond hearing after six months of detention. Both cases were brought by asylum-seekers who had been detained for extended periods without bond hearings following the issuance of a removal order.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Dec. 2 that it will begin re-implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy for asylum-seekers also known as "Remain in Mexico." The announcement follows an August US Supreme Court order requiring re-implementation of the MPP over the objections of the Biden administration.
US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced May 23 an 18-month designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This humanitarian protection allows an estimated 100,000 individuals to apply to remain lawfully in the US. There are three statutory grounds for TPS designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Haiti faces political crisis and human rights abuses, security concerns, and the exacerbation of a "dire economic situation and lack of access to food, water, and healthcare" due to COVID-19, Mayorkas found.
Advocacy groups for migrants on the US southern border are protesting conditions at Texas' Fort Bliss, an Army base that the Biden administration has opened as an emergency holding facility. Nearly 5,000 minors who crossed the border without a parent or guardian are currently being held in large tents at the base. This is about a quarter of the total number of minors in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a body of the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). As of late May, nearly 600 of these had spent 40 days or longer at the "megasite." Nearly 1,700 minors had been there for at least a month, according to government data. Unlike traditional HHS shelters for migrant children, Fort Bliss and other emergency "influx" sites are not licensed by state authorities to care for minors, and have lower standards of care.
Humanitarian response networks in northern Mexico are stretched thin between the growing number of people fleeing violence, poverty, and climate disasters in Central America, the continued expulsion of asylum seekers and migrants who enter the United States irregularly, and the lingering effects of Trump-era migration policies.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memo Feb. 18 with "temporary guidelines for...enforcement and removal operations" by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), giving ICE agents discretion on enforcement actions and essentially overturning the "100-day pause on certain removals" instated by President Biden's executive order of Jan. 20, his first day on office. Naureen Shah, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), responded to the move in a statement: "The memo is a disappointing step backward from the Biden administration's earlier commitments to fully break from the harmful deportation policies of both the Trump and Obama presidencies. While the Biden administration rightly acknowledges that immigrants are our family members, our coworkers, and our neighbors, for now it has chosen to continue giving ICE officers significant discretion to conduct operations that harm our communities and tear families apart."
In Episode 62 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg grimly notes that, even with 400,000 Americans dead to COVID-19, the worst potentialities of the Trump presidency were not realized. Trump never (quite) established a dictatorship, and we didn't (quite) go over the edge into civil war. The critical task now for the country's progressive forces is to push for a maximal and thoroughgoing detrumpification—akin to the denazification of Germany after World War II. We may truly hope that the Capitol insurrection will prove to have been the last gasp of Trumpism. However, it may have been his Beerhall Putsch—and, as last time, there could be a second act. The more thoroughly Trumpism is reversed, the more likely it will be defeated and broken politically—especially given its glorification of "winning" and denigration of "weakness." The risk of sparking a backlash is not to be dismissed, but the greater risk is that of appeasement. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.