Migrants continue to drown off San Diego, California
On Tuesday, the Biden administration officially ended the “Stay in Mexico” program, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which required asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their cases unfolded. in U.S. immigration courts. The move was celebrated by some immigrant advocates despite the fact that many Trump-era policies remain in place, including Title 42, which bars immigrants from entering the United States under the pretext of stopping the spread. of COVID-19.
The inhuman living conditions around the world, which are the product of capitalist exploitation and imperialist intervention, and push immigrants to make the dangerous journey to the United States to seek asylum and a better life, have failed. , of course, not gone. While Biden has vowed to roll back the Trump administration’s worst policy, immigrants continue to die every day and countless people languish in detention camps under his watch.
This reality was underscored by the recent drownings of immigrants off the coast of San Diego, California this year. On May 2, a contraband boat carrying immigrants desperate to reach the United States crashed near Point Loma, killing three and injuring dozens.
The tragedy, which occurred near a popular tourist destination, made international headlines but was not to be the only migrant death in the region last month. On May 20, U.S. Border Patrol and San Diego fire rescuers spotted a boat seeking to disembark migrants near the children’s pool beach in La Jolla.
Ten people were rescued from “rough water conditions”, another person was found submerged a mile north in an area called Wipeout Beach but was pronounced dead at the scene.
In another incident the same month, a panga boat was caught in the surf line with 23 migrants on board who were later apprehended by border patrol and taken into custody.
The number of arrests at sea by San Diego Border Patrol officers reached a record 1,273 incidents in fiscal 2019. So far, this fiscal year, which will end after September, has recorded nearly 1,100 arrests. Border patrol officer Jacob MacIsaac told reporters: “We are about to break this record again.”
The contraband boats have been described by authorities as “grossly overloaded” with people and gasoline cans, with little or no safety devices on board.
Meanwhile, the man accused of commanding the boat that crashed in Point Loma on May 2 was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury with two dozen counts. Antonio Hurtado, a 39-year-old US citizen, has been charged with transporting 31 Mexican nationals and a Guatemalan in a 40-foot trawler-style vessel.
Hurtado has been charged with attempting to bring in immigrants resulting in death and attempting to achieve financial gain. He is also accused of assaulting a federal agent for allegedly hitting a border patrol agent with his knee after his arrest. He pleaded not guilty.
The affidavit stated that migrants paid between $ 15,000 and $ 18,500 to be brought to the United States by boat.
While media coverage has focused on demonizing the alleged captain of the smuggling operation, broader social and political issues have been ignored. Moreover, the tragedy will be used by the federal government and anti-immigrant organizations as an argument for more surveillance and more powers to crack down on “illegal aliens” entering the country.
The three people who drowned in the incident have been identified as Maria Eugenia Chavez-Segovia, 41, Victor Perez Degollado, 29, and Maricela Hernandez Sanchez, 35, all of Mexican nationality.
A recent profile in the Los Angeles Times highlights the life and death of one of the drowned, Maria Eugenia Chavez-Segovia.
Chavez-Segovia had previously been arrested twice as she attempted to enter the United States and returned to Mexico under Title 42, where she lived for months in Tijuana. She had hoped to enter the United States to join her siblings for seasonal agricultural work in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley in central California.
The 41-year-old single mother told her youngest son she would return to Mexico City and then to the southern village of Querétaro, but she never arrived.
Her family spent weeks hoping the information about her drowning was wrong. His son José told the Los Angeles Time, “She was always afraid of water. I don’t know how it happened to her or who caused her to try to cross because she couldn’t swim. … Maybe it was just a very desperate decision.
Chavez-Segovia’s sister, Gabriela, was afraid to reveal details of her sister’s situation, fearing for the safety of her sons in Mexico. She said Chavez-Segovia was unable to argue his case in a US court because the bar for legal evidence needed to file a refugee claim was too high.
“What are you going to do?” Gabriela told the Los Angeles Time, “Wait for someone to sit down and write you a letter saying ‘I’m threatening you’? No, of course not, you will go there at the first opportunity.
The Chavez-Segovia sisters in the United States were unable to travel to Mexico to attend the funeral due to their undocumented status. She was buried in the small town of El Rincón de San Ildefonso, about 100 miles northwest of Mexico City, where she lived most of her life.
Opportunities were scarce as the only jobs in the area were in construction or in a rock quarry that paid $ 7.50 (US) per day. Chavez-Segovia left town at the age of 12 to live as a domestic servant in Mexico City, where she worked all day and night for a well-to-do family.
The only options beyond that for many workers like Chavez-Segovia, was to head north to work in the agricultural fields of the United States, where workers, mostly immigrants, are exposed to toxins, pesticides, excessive heat and the constant threat of eviction.
Family members at her burial expressed relief that they were at least able to retrieve her body and bury her, unlike the thousands who perished in the deserts of the southern United States, never to be again. journals.
Under the Biden administration, an arbitrary system of who can enter and stay in the United States and who is deported after reaching the border has now been put in place, and this has little or nothing to do with demands for asylum of an immigrant. Some days immigrants are allowed to stay, not because of the generosity or humanity of the US authorities, but simply because Mexico refuses to accept more.
In the Texan sector of the US-Mexico border, Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector Chief Brian Hastings told NBC News that 17% of all families and single adults captured by officers this year were released in the United States, exactly the same proportion as under the Trump administration before Title 42 was invoked to deny access to all asylum seekers in 2020.
According to customs and border protection data for April, about 15% of single adults and 65% of families were released in the United States across the border. Hastings said they were only released because the Mexican government would only take back a certain number each day.
This was confirmed by a Department of Homeland Security official who said their ability to return immigrants was limited by “Mexico’s capacity and ability to receive these people.” They added, in language no different from Trump, “The Biden administration has made it clear that our borders are not open, that people should not make the dangerous journey, and that individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including deportation. “
The White House Biden has only pledged to end Title 42, forcing migrants to take more dangerous journeys to avoid apprehension, while the policy of accepting unaccompanied minors forces migrant families to stay. separate at the border in the hope of obtaining asylum for at least their children.
As Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project and lead litigants in a Title 42 lawsuit, explained to NBC News, “The withholding of Title 42 by the Biden administration and refusing to open legal ports of entry has the perverse effect of forcing desperate asylum seekers fleeing danger to cross between ports, which benefits no one.