Despite a legal team that includes celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, an eight-year-old Guatemalan boy separated from his father under Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy remains in a shelter in Baytown with no end in sight. Byron Xol Bol, who was detained with his father after crossing the Rio Grande into Texas in May, is one of 416 separated children who have yet to be reunited with their parents, as attorneys scramble to untangle the details of the cases and the government fails to meet court-ordered deadlines to reunify the children with their families. The Trump administration launched a zero-tolerance policy earlier this year that led to more than 2,500 children being separated from their families, including the Xols. President Trump walked back the policy in June after public outcry, and signed an executive order on June 20 that essentially reverted to the prior “catch and release” policy that the president had criticized. Byron Xol is among more than 300 children whose parents have been deported, making reunification even more challenging.
An interim committee hearing included harsh criticisms and personal stories of detention at private facilities which have contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee held a hearing Monday afternoon concerning two privately-operated prisons in New Mexico that detain immigrants. These include Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, which is run by CoreCivic, and the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, which is run by Management and Training Corporation. Legislators heard from an immigration attorney, advocates for immigrants and some in the country without authorization. The committee invited Ronald D. Vitello, the acting director of ICE, but he did not attend or even acknowledge the invitation.
The Trump administration plans to stop accepting refugee applications from children with U.S.-based parents from three violence-riddled Central American countries — El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — according to the summary of a presentation the State Department made recently to refugee organizations. The decision to end the Central American Minors program, which began in 2014 and is the only refugee program aimed at helping people from that region, could put hundreds of families split between two countries in a delicate situation. The children will no longer be able to come legally to the U.S. Of course, they can still attempt to cross without authorization and then either request asylum or try to navigate the border region without being detained or injured — just the kind of dangerous illegal immigration that the CAM program was meant to discourage. (And if the children do cross the border, as ProPublica recently reported, they could expose their parents to an investigation for child smuggling.)
“Ending the program would force desperate children into the arms of smugglers and traffickers because they don’t have a safe and orderly way to get to the U.S.,” said Lisa Frydman, a vice president of Kids In Need Of Defense, an immigration advocacy group. “This administration is giving the unconscionable message that Central American children are not welcome here for protection.”
Refugee organizations were alerted to the impending demise of CAM two weeks ago by State Department officials, according to a memo summarizing the meeting that was obtained by ProPublica.
A study released Monday offers a new take on a now-old debate in the New Mexico legislature—driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The survey, published by the Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, finds that removing the state’s driver’s license law would cost the state jobs and money. More specifically, the study estimates that the state would lose $38.5 million each year, along with drops of 3 percentage points in labor participation and 1 percentage point in employment. The study examined a proposal pushed by House Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez over the past few years, though they are looking at a different proposal this year. “We’re looking at 1,400 jobs that are going to be vacant,” co-author Joaquin Alfredo-Angel Rubalcaba told NM Political Report.