And Now, Once Again: Is Guatemala a Safe Third Country?

By now we’ve all grown accustomed to the on-again-off-again character of President Trump’s policies, in particular his foreign policy.  In this space, on July 13, we announced that Guatemala would accept “safe third country” status, indicating that any asylum seekers passing through that country would have to apply for asylum there, instead of another destination, such as the United States.

Then, on July 23, word was out that the deal was off.  The Guatemalan high court had issued injunctions prohibiting the Jimmy Morales government from proceeding with the agreement without the approval of the legislature, which is on vacation.  That produced a minor tweetstorm from an unhappy Trump, who threatened a travel ban, tariffs, and a variety of potential responses if Guatemala continued to renege on the deal.

Then, yesterday, July 26, came a new  announcement:  Guatemalan Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart was in the Oval Office preparing to sign an agreement with acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.  The Guatemalan government tweeted a confirmation (in Spanish), but called the agreement “Cooperation Agreement for the Assessment of Protection Requests.” It did not use the expression “safe third country.”  U.S. officials, however, did.

No details were released by either government.  Although McAleenan said he believed it could be in place sometime in August, legal challenges will almost certainly be brought in both countries. For example, there are already the existing injunctions against the deal from Guatemala’s high court.

Another possible concern for American immigration restrictionists is a statement issued by Guatemala to the effect that Friday’s deal would allow its citizens to apply for temporary visas to work in the U.S. agricultural sector, and in the medium- to long-term, would allow for work visas for the construction and service sectors.

Trump seemed to confirm that statement by saying, in regard to the H-2A visa program for temporary agricultural workers, “We are going to make that a much easier, less cumbersome program.”

Opponents of the agreement say flatly that Guatemala is simply not safe.  It is, after all, the largest exporter of asylum seekers to the U.S. (34 percent),  and Guatemalan asylum seekers will not be affected by this agreement.  Acting Secretary McAleenan, who has recently returned from a visit,  said, “It’s risky to label an entire country as unsafe.  We often paint Central America with a very broad brush. There are obviously places in Guatemala and in the U.S. that are dangerous, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a full and fair process. That’s what the statute is focused on. It doesn’t mean safety from all risks.”

On the subject of safety, in a separate announcement on Friday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)  issued a memorandum to  U.S. asylum officers instructing them to consider whether “internal relocation” within migrants’ home countries was an option to asylum.  The memo reads, in part:

“Many of the cases arising at the Southern border are cases of individuals that are willing to engage in costly and dangerous international travel – neither of which would be necessary if they sought refuge within their home country, particularly given the fact that there are areas that are generally very safe within each of the countries that currently make up the bulk of our credible fear cases. Asylum officers should be eliciting testimony to determine if the alien attempted to internally relocate to any safe areas prior to the alien’s travel to the United States.”

Much of the on-again-off-again nature of President Trump’s policies results from his tenacity in getting a deal.  While other, less determined administrations might simply have an “off-for-good” policy, Trump keeps working.  Good for him.

For more, see the NY Post.

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Immigration Harms Unskilled Workers

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) published a report showing that mass immigration harms Americans at the lower end of the social and economic scale. The author of the report, Steve Camarota, observes that:

“On its face, the unemployment rate of 3.7 percent in June of this year would seem like great news for American workers. But the official rate includes only those who say they have actively looked for a job in the last four weeks. By contrast, the labor-force-participation rate — which measures all those working or looking for work — has been declining for at least three decades, especially among the less educated.

“This long-term decline in work has contributed to a host of social problems, from the opioid epidemic to crime to the breakdown of the family. By allowing in large numbers of less educated immigrants who compete with natives, our immigration policy partly accounts for this decline in work. More important, reversing the decline will be especially difficult as long as less skilled immigration is allowed to continue at its current rate.”


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Immigrant Shelters, Once Filled, Now Closing?

Trying to make sense of the crisis on our southern border can be maddening.  For months we’ve been hearing stories about how massive hordes are crossing the border and how migrant shelters are filled to overflowing. Just yesterday, AP published a story entitled “By the numbers: Migration to the US-Mexico border,” which led off with the following chart:

That looks bad. That shelter in El Paso had a capacity of 125 but by May 8 its census had ballooned to 900.  But wait. While the accompanying article was published July 25, note that the data from the chart is at least two-and-a-half months old.

A lot can change in two and a half months.  Or so says today’s article on the AZCentral website, “Once overflowing migrant shelters along southern border closing as releases plummet.”


These shelters exist for migrant families and the more migrant families coming across the border, the more shelter space is needed.  According to AZCentral, the number of such families has dropped “suddenly and sharply in recent weeks,” prompting the actual closing of some shelters and the under-utilization of others.

Examples abound:

  • In Yuma, a Salvation Army shelter that routinely housed 200 migrants each day at its peak in the spring, now gets zero on a typical day. (Part of the reason for this decrease may be the recent opening of a tent facility in Yuma by the Border Patrol, but–if this article is basically correct–why open a new shelter?)
  • A church-organized shelter in Phoenix, which had been receiving 250 migrants a day, is now receiving only about 25.
  • The daily census of a 500-bed shelter in El Paso is now down to about 20.
  • Overall in El Paso, ICE was releasing 1000 migrants into the area at the peak; today, only about 50.

What accounts for this “sudden and sharp” drop? Analysts attribute the drop in border crossings by families to three factors: (1) seasonal causes related to summer heat, (2) the “remain-in-Mexico” policy implemented by the Trump administration, and (3) Mexico’s stepped-up enforcement of its own immigration laws impeding migrants’ ability to get to our border.

“Historically, Border Patrol apprehensions drop in July when summer heat in the desert soars above 100 degrees,  making it especially dangerous for migrants,” says Adam Isacson, of the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank. For that reason, the postpone their journeys.

The “remain-in-Mexico” policy started as a trickle in San Diego back in the winter but has steadily been expanded, to the point where 20,000 asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico to await the adjudication of their cases.

Potentially the most important factor in the reduction of illegal border crossers and asylum seekers has been the purported relative success of Mexico’s efforts in its own country.  Reportedly, the Mexican government has deployed 15,000 troops to its northern border and 6,500 national guard troops to its southern border to prevent illegal entry there.  This increased attentiveness on the part of Mexico is a direct result of the tariff President Trump threatened to apply otherwise.  “‘The post-tariff crackdown is having an impact,”‘ Isacson is quoted as saying.

Isacson warns, however, that what we are seeing  may simply be a summertime lull. Once the temperatures moderate again and once the smugglers come up with new ways of delivering migrants, the numbers may well shoot up again.

So, no more crisis? Hardly. The immigration courts still have a backlog of nearly one million, and adjudication can take six years. And the numbers in “By the numbers: Migration to the US-Mexico border” aren’t imaginary if a little dated.

As we said above, trying to keep up with this stuff is maddening. So is trying to decide which report and which “expert” to believe. We keep trying, so stay tuned.

For more, see the AZCentral website.

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Anarchy Isn’t an American Value

The Quote Below: More Misinformation from the Media

The Trump Administration announced this week that it would be significantly retreating from the long-held American principle that asylum seekers who show up at our ports of entry would be assured due process for their claims. The change is designed to deter the influx of Central American refugees that have [sic] been overwhelming the immigration court system. The new trump rule is certain to face a legal challenge. . . .

It appears in conflict with a law passed by Congress that a migrant cannot be blocked on the basis of his or her country of origin. . . . So what happens now to Central Americans who have endured the long and precarious journey through Guatemala and Mexico to make their appeal for entry to the U.S. because of fear or persecution in their homeland? Under the new Trump Administration edict, they will be turned away unless they have applied—and been rejected—for asylum in Guatemala or Mexico.

In effect, the United States is sending the message that it simply doesn’t care what happens to these migrants. . . . Instead, much of what the Trump Administration is doing is only aggravating a humanitarian crisis that is a stain on this nation’s expressed values. – Trump Asylum Policy Outsources American Values, San Francisco Chronicle, Chronicle Editorial Board, 7/16/19. [Link]

Fact Check of Quote: The courts no doubt will decide whether the administration’s action is in keeping with the law. If they decide it isn’t, that law needs to be changed. Business as usual is no longer working as chaos on the border is spiraling out of control. New approaches, like the administration’s, are crucial.

The basic reason is that more and more foreigners who want to come illegally to the U.S. have discovered the amnesty scam. When they cross the border illegally, they falsely claim that they are seeking asylum, which commonly allows them to stay in the U.S. for hearings. While here, they can simply skip the hearings and disappear. Thanks to loopholes in our laws, they can more likely stay if they bring one or more children with them. The result is an increasing flood of adults and children who are stressing our immigration system to the breaking point.

The purpose of amnesty is to provide safety to people fleeing persecution on grounds of political beliefs, religion, race, nationality, or membership in a particular group. Few of the Central American migrants meet these criteria, which is evident for several reasons.

One is that in survey of migrants’ views, the great majority of respondents admit that economic improvement is the chief motive for trying to reach the U.S. This raises another reason why their asylum claims are fraudulent. Almost all of them cross through one or more other countries to reach the U.S. If all they were seeking was safety, they could have applied for asylum in those countries. The fact they kept on traveling strongly suggests that their primary aim was to get to the place where they could get the most money. Still another proof that most asylum claims are bogus is that less than ten percent of the migrants who go through the application process are granted asylum.

It may be that many of the migrants are poor, but poverty is not grounds for asylum. Neither is living in places with high rates of violent crime—as is the case in some Central American countries. The latter is the excuse that migration advocates use to justify amnesty. This furthermore is a questionable excuse because the level of crime in Central America has declined in recent years, even as the level of migration has sharply risen.

Given these realities, the new rule of the Trump Administration is quite reasonable and prudent. It simply requires that asylum applicants must first apply for asylum in the countries they cross before they apply in the U.S. This check on asylum fraud is crucial. If it is not checked, more and more people from around the world will show up at our gates to try their luck with the amnesty scam. Polling shows that tens of millions would like to come.

The Chronicle’s editorial writer claims that the administration doesn’t care about immigrants, but fails to acknowledge the limits on how much we can care—most specifically that we are simply unable to save most of the unhappy people of the world by letting them settle here. Trying to do so can only invite chaos and the fragmentation of our country. There’s no way to assimilate a human tidal wave.

Speaking of caring, does the editorialist care about any of these issues? Our rule of law is one of our primary values, and it simply can’t survive unlimited fraud. Anarchy, most definitely, is not an American value.

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“Yacht People” from China Interdicted off Florida Coast

As further evidence that not all attempts at illegal entry into the U.S. are across our southern border, the Coast Guard is announcing that it has interdicted a motor yacht dubbed the Carefree 13 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.   On board were two suspected smugglers and 12 Chinese nationals.

The Carefree in Custody (Photo Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard District 7)

The Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark spotted the yacht while cruising off the coast on Tuesday. Upon boarding the boat, the crew found the would-be migrants with the two suspected smugglers. The two smugglers were turned over to Homeland Security officials, and the 12 illegal migrants were taken to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations for processing.

Coast Guard officials did not say where the boat originated.

For more, see the Coast Guard website.

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Gallup: Immigration the Most Important Issue

A Gallup poll this month found that 27 percent of Americans view immigration as our country’s top problem, an increase from 23 percent in June. Gallup  notes that few other issues since 2001 have exceeded 27 percent, in public perception, as the nation’s leading problem. The July poll found that after immigration the lead issues that concerned Americans were the government/poor leadership (23 percent), race relations/racism (7 percent), and health care (7 percent).


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Senators Propose “Operation Safe Return”

A group of nine U.S. senators (three of them Democrats) have proposed to President Trump that he implement a new policy they call “Operation Safe Return,” which would expedite the return of asylum-seeking families quickly determined not to qualify for asylum in the U.S.

In a letter to the president dated July 17, the senators outlined the following procedure:

  1. Within three days of a family’s entry into the U.S., Border Patrol agents would conduct an interview.  Those who do not express fear would be placed in expedited removal proceedings. Those who do express fear of persecution would be provided a list of pro bono attorneys.
  2. Within four days, the family would be taken together to an ICE family detention facility and be screened for medical conditions.
  3. Within nine days of entry, asylum officers would conduct a credible fear interview.
  4. Within one day following that interview, the results would be relayed to the relevant federal agencies.
  5. Within two weeks, family units who have passed the interview would be allowed to continue to seek asylum through the existing process. Those who have failed, with the concurrence of an immigration judge, would be removed to their home countries.

The following Republican senators signed the letter to the President:  Ron Johnson (R-WI),  Michael B. Enzi (R-WY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Rob Portman (R-OH), James Lankford (R-OK), and John Barrosso (R-WY),  The Democrat signers were Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The breaking of the usually solid Democrat ranks involving immigration issues is something of a rarity. Senator Sinema explained in an interview, “This pilot program would apply to families who aren’t claiming ‘credible fear,’ which of course is the first threshold in seeking asylum. If someone says ‘I left my country because I can’t make a living,’ (or) ‘it’s hard to take care of my family’ — that’s what we call an economic migrant.”

It sounds good, but while the proposal has garnered the expected opposition from the left, there are some on the right who are skeptical as well. Rick Oltman of U.S. Inc., an immigration control organization, posted a column on that group’s website on July 22, 2019, entitled, “The Dubious ‘Operation Safe Return.‘” After considering and then rejecting the possibility that the proposal is mere electioneering (only Jones, Enzi, and Cornyn are up for re-election next time), Oltman writes:

“At first glance, the proposal does sound like it is trying to accelerate the asylum determination process. It also sounds complicated and would require enormous manpower to adjudicate. Is it designed to fail? One would be justified in being highly skeptical of the proposal by just looking at the track record of those pushing it. Stay tuned. Something’s up.”


For more, see Fox News.

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Is Guatemala a New “Safe Third Country”?

We asked the question in the title on July 13.  Now we know the answer.


President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala today told President Trump he cannot go along with what had been announced as a virtual fait accompli: that Guatemala would consent to the “safe third country” designation, thus providing an alternative to the U.S. for migrants seeking asylum.  As we reported in that earlier post, “Under its provisions, the U.S. could send any asylum seeker straight to Guatemala, regardless of whether that would-be asylee has ever set foot there.”

That will apparently not be the case, as Morales has now declared that his country’s high court has blocked the plan.  Furthermore, a spokesman for Morales denied there was ever a deal.  “Guatemala never talked about signing a safe third country agreement,” he insisted.

Trump, not at all pleased, tweeted the following:











Just a couple of days ago, after a meeting with Secretary of State Pompeo, Mexico’s  Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard announced that he had told Pompeo that Mexico would not agree to safe third country status either and that the issue was non-negotiable. This is their position in spite of the fact that, to avoid a threatened tariff, Mexico has agreed to increase its cooperativeness in reducing the migrant traffic to the U.S. border, with another 45 days to go on the agreed-upon timeline.

Thus, again, what seemed like deals have evaporated. President Trump and this country will have to solve this crisis on our own. The countries to our south are not part of the solution; they are part of the problem.

For more, see Yahoo News.

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Immigration Pushes Politics Leftward

Breitbart writer John Binder described in a recent article how mass immigration is pushing U.S. politics leftward and shifting power to the Democrat Party. He observed that:

“The New York Times and Axios admit that legal immigration at its current rate will continue shifting the American electorate more towards Democrat control. University of Maryland, College Park, researcher James Gimpel has found in recent years that more immigrants to the U.S. inevitably means more Democrat voters and, thus, increasing electoral victories for the Democrat Party.

“The 2016 presidential election between then-candidate Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton underscored this trend.

“For example, among native-born Americans, Trump won 49 percent to Clinton’s 45 percent, according to exit polling data. Among foreign-born residents, Clinton dominated against Trump, garnering 64 percent of the immigrant population’s vote compared to Trump’s mere 31 percent.”


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Trump Announces New Policy of Expedited Deportation

The Trump administration today announced changes to its policy of the “expedited deportation” of  illegal aliens. Currently, an illegal can be immediately deported, without judicial review (1) if  he is apprehended within 100 miles of the border,  (2) if he arrived here by land, and (3) if he has been in this country no longer than two weeks. (Illegals who arrived by sea, to avoid expedited deporting, must have been here more than two years.)

Under the provisions of the new policy, an illegal can be immediately deported if located anywhere in the U.S. and if he has been here less than two years.

The actual order, which will be officially published Tuesday, says in part:

[T]he New Designation will enable DHS to address more effectively and efficiently the large volume of aliens who are present in the United States unlawfully, without having been admitted or paroled into the United States, and ensure the prompt removal from the United States of those not entitled to enter, remain, or be provided relief or protection from removal.

As the document says, the number of such aliens is indeed a “large volume.” The backlog of cases in America’s immigration courts is approaching one million. The  Migration Policy Institute estimates that 297,000 unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. could be affected by the new policy.

As expected, pro-illegal-immigrant groups immediately attacked the announcement.  The ACLU, for example, declared, “The current policy is already unconstitutional in our view. This expansion will only increase the illegality.” It has promised to sue.

For more, see the Los Angeles Times. For the text of the announcement, see the Federal Register.

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