Cruel Policies Will Only Worsen with Another Four Years

MAPA Newsletter October 2020

A doctor warns those in the refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico, about the dangers of Covid-19 on March 18, 2020. Photo by Ivan Flores for Foreign Policy.
A doctor warns those in the refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico, about the dangers of Covid-19 on March 18, 2020. Photo by Ivan Flores for Foreign Policy.

 by Sunny Robinson

The election of Donald Trump for a second term would be a continued unmitigated disaster for migrants attempting to enter the United States. We are likely to see cruel policies get much worse, total disregard for those forced to flee from violence and chaos—caused or intensified by US foreign policy—or for those seeking to escape drought and starvation brought on by climate change.

The following are just some of the dire possibilities another four years of Trump could bring. Within each bullet, I first describe the current situation, as brought about by Trump – and in many cases – also by previous administrations, including Obama’s. In the second portion of each bullet, in bold, I describe the likely consequences of another Trump term.

    • Borders are closed. Mexican border will remain closed.
    • Human rights claims as a basis for asylum are denied; most cases lack judicial review. Untrained personnel now conduct “credible fear” interviews. Even fewer claims will be approved. Claims of gang, police or domestic violence will be denied at entry.
    • CBP (Border Patrol) is the largest federal law enforcement agency; now used in US cities to attack peaceful protesters. CBP budget and staff will be increased. More will be used in cities in response to demonstrations.
    • New or renewed DACA reapplications are not allowed, even though they ought to be. The DACA program will be ended, with Supreme Court approval.
    • TPS (Temporary Protected Status) is scheduled to end March and November 2021 unless 9/14/20 decision is reversed. TPS holders will be told they are “temporary” and no longer needed. US born children will be deported with their parents.
    • Southern arrivals are routinely deported to Guatemala under “Safe Third Country” agreements; almost no infrastructure in place to shelter or aid them. Program will be expanded to Honduras and El Salvador.
    • Children are separated from their parents; the parents are forced to choose between detention with their children or leaving their children and accepting deportation. Unaccompanied minors are detained in hotels and deported without notice. These practices will be continued and the numbers increased.
    • Covid+ persons are housed and deported with others, especially to Guatemala. Detainees are not tested. Few health protections are available. These practices will be continued.
    • No more refugees admitted in 2020; approvals to 18,000 for 2020 not met. Numbers will be reduced – maybe to zero!
    • Work-related visas have been reduced for “professionals,” students, and seasonal (e.g. agricultural & tourism) workers. Further reductions to “save jobs” for US citizens.
    • Total visas have been greatly reduced; lottery numbers reduced. Naturalizations (attaining citizenship) delayed or reduced. Numbers will be reduced further. Waits extended to 20 years plus family entries essentially ended.
    • Application fees have been increased, in many cases doubled. Initial asylum claim fee — $50. Fees will be increased further. Additional USCIF staff furloughed or terminated.
    • Race – Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian – and Muslim religion are being used as unidentified criteria for exclusion. Those practices will continue and deepen.
    • All immigration criteria will be “merit” based, taking into consideration expected income, age, profession, investment potential and high status – e.g. Nobel Prize winner, Olympic Gold medalists, etc.
    • Birthright citizenship (born in US or of US parents now confers automatic citizenship) will be challenged.
  • Racist application process will be intensified. Number of banned countries will be increased.

—Sunny Robinson is a member of the Latin America Working Group, NISGUA, SOAWatch, and Co-Chair of the Gloucester Coalition for the Prevention of Domestic Abuse. She has visited extensively in Guatemala and some to El Salvador and Mexico.