February immigration update

February 27, 2019


More funding for walls and detention

On February 14, Congress passed a package of spending bills that prevented another harmful government shutdown but included $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new border fences and walls and also an expansion of immigrant detention. While border wall construction will be restricted in some environmentally sensitive areas, others areas will not be protected, such as most of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, privately owned land, and several historical sites.

A day later, on February 15, President Trump declared a national emergency in an effort to find billions more above what Congress approved to spend on border wall construction. This comes at a time when overall border crossings are far lower than historical highs and a significant percentage of those arriving at the border today wish to seek asylum. The House passed a disapproval resolution to the emergency declaration yesterday with a 245-182 vote and sent the bill to the Senate, but it is unlikely to receive enough votes to overcome a presidential veto. Multiple lawsuits have also been filed.

Local stories, events and resources


The Ohio Conference Cast: Immigration: Welcoming the stranger, part II


Undocumented family relocates to Germantown church

New ’empowerment center’ aims to close gaps in immigrant, refugee services

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News & resources


MCC signed on to a letter raising concerns with the Trump administration’s new policy of returning some asylum seekers to Mexico for months or years while they await court hearings. Border Patrol officials are starting to adjust to the shift in types of border crossers, from single adults looking for work to families and teenagers asking for asylum – especially after two young children died in Border Patrol custody in December and a 45-year-old man died earlier this month. Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve argues in an op-ed for the Toronto Star that the U.S. is no longer a safe refuge for asylum seekers and that Canada should lift the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S.

Additional resources: Human Rights First: A sordid scheme: The Trump Administration’s illegal return of asylum seekers to Mexico | Central Americans were increasingly winning asylum before President Trump took office


Construction is set to begin any day on new border walls that will bisect portions of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife RefugeDrone footage shows how 20 miles of newly constructed wall in New Mexico is harming ecosystems and wildlife. The governors of both California and New Mexico announced they will withdraw National Guard troopsfrom the border. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is deploying another 3,750 active duty troops to the border. Residents and policymakers are raising concerns about the dangers posed by dozens of miles of razor wire recently installed in border cities and towns.

Additional resources:


A report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general details numerous violations of standards at immigrant detention facilities across the country. At least six lawsuits are challenging “voluntary” work programs in detention centers that are akin to forced labor and add to private prison companies’ profits.

Additional resources:


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Update created February 27, 2019, by Tammy Alexander, Senior Legislative Associate for Domestic Affairs.

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Photo: Members of Paoli Mennonite Fellowship in Paoli, Ind., pray at the border wall in Douglas, Ariz., during a 2016 MCC Borderlands learning tour. MCC photo/Saulo Padilla.

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