January 12, 2024


Texas’s state government has “indefinitely” taken over and sealed off the expansive riverfront park in the city of Eagle Pass and is prohibiting federal Border Patrol agents from accessing it to process asylum-seeking migrants. Texas state authorities have instead sought to arrest migrants and jail them for trespassing.

The mayor of Eagle Pass pointed out that migrant arrivals there have dropped to about 400 per day, from a peak of 4,000 per day at times in December.

Advocates had planned to hold a ceremony in Shelby Park on Saturday to commemorate the many migrants who died trying to cross the border in 2023—many of them drowned in the river near Eagle Pass.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) generated an outcry with comments in a Jan. 5 interview with right-wing radio host Dana Loesch: “The only thing that we are not doing is we’re not shooting people who come across the border because, of course, the Biden administration would charge us with murder.”

Congress is out of session until Tuesday, as negotiations drag on regarding a deal that might allow legislative approval of the Biden administration’s request for $110.5 billion in aid to Ukraine and Israel, border items, and other priorities. Republican legislators are demanding curbs on asylum, humanitarian parole, and other pathways to migrant protections as a condition for their support of the spending package.

In remarks, lead Democratic negotiator Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) took a hard line against Republican demands that any compromise limit the 70-year-old presidential power to grant migrants temporary humanitarian parole. Republican negotiators James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) criticized the Biden administration’s use of parole for asylum seekers released following appointments at ports of entry arranged via the CBP One app.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) urged Republican senators to “take this opportunity” and support what emerges from negotiations between a small group of senators. Negotiator Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona) said that the small group is down to final items and close to presenting a compromise legislative framework or text. Sen. Lankford sounded optimistic about this compromise gaining as many as 70 votes in the Senate.

Several Democrats said that they would reject a funding bill if it included border wall spending and a renewed “Remain in Mexico” program, which House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) called for in a Wednesday radio interview.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas offered to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee, where the chamber’s Republican majority has launched proceedings to impeach him. Mayorkas turned down the Committee’s invitation to appear at its next hearing on Thursday the 18th, because he has to meet with a visiting delegation of Mexican officials. Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tennessee) accused Mayorkas of “putting the interests of Mexico ahead of the American people.”

Anabela Meza Cevallos, president of the Association of Ecuadorian Residents in Mexico (Ecuarmex), said she expected migration from Ecuador to rise further following a dramatic January 9 display of organized crime violence throughout the country. U.S. authorities encountered 122,841 Ecuadorian migrants at the Mexico border between December 2022 and November 2023, 6th among all countries during that period.

Before being kidnapped near the border in Tamaulipas, Mexico between December 30 and January 3, 26 Venezuelan and 6 Honduran migrants aboard a bus from Monterrey passed through 2 Mexican security checkpoints, at which they “were extorted by officials for 500 pesos, or $30, per person each time,” Reuters reported.

More than 100 animals died in an August wildfire in a south Texas wildlife refuge because they were trapped by a concrete levee-style border wall, the Guardian reported.

Analyses and Feature Stories

Restrictions on protection-seeking migration, like those urged by Republican legislators in ongoing negotiations, will “strengthen incentives for migrants to attempt border crossings between legal ports” and “drive up demand for the services of human smugglers,” wrote Will Freeman of the Council on Foreign Relations at Time.

Amid declining birthrates in the United States, the foreign-born population may have reached an estimated 15 percent last year. The last time that happened, in 1910, “a nativist frenzy and sharp restrictions on immigration” ensued, Lauren Villagrán wrote in USA Today.

On the Right

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