March 26, 2024

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Guatemala’s reformist new president, Bernardo Arévalo, visited the White House yesterday, where he met separately with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Migration was a central topic in both of Arévalo’s conversations.

Arévalo and Harris reportedly discussed “providing lawful pathways to migrants, increasing cooperation on border enforcement, and… U.S. support for Guatemala’s migration management efforts.” A White House release stated that the Biden administration plans to provide Guatemala with an additional $170 million in security and development assistance, pending congressional notification.

Vice President Harris touted the administration’s “Root Causes Strategy,” which she claimed has created 70,000 new jobs, helped up to 63,000 farmers, supported 3 million student’ education, and trained more than 18,000 police officers and 27,000 judicial operators in Central America.

The leaders announced no changes to the U.S.-backed “Safe Mobility Office” (SMO) in Guatemala that links some would-be migrants to legal pathways. The prior administration of President Alejandro Giammattei (whose U.S. visa has since been revoked amid corruption allegations) had reduced the SMO’s scope to serve only citizens of Guatemala.

Despite a crushing backlog of cases, the number of U.S. immigration judges actually declined in the first quarter of fiscal 2024, from 734 to 725. That means “each judge has 3,836 cases on average,” pointed out Kathleen Bush-Joseph of the Migration Policy Institute. (That number is greater if one uses TRAC Immigration’s higher estimate of the immigration court backlog.)

In less than three years, Texas state law enforcement has arrested 13,000 migrants under the framework of Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) so-called “Operation Lone Star.” About three quarters of the arrests are for misdemeanor trespassing. Texas has carried out these arrests and imprisonments even without S.B. 4, a pending law that—if courts allow it to proceed—would empower Texas law enforcement to arrest, jail, and deport people on suspicion of crossing the border improperly.

Now that Congress has approved a 2024 federal budget, Arizona community leaders are wondering when funds will arrive to help non-profits receiving migrants released from CBP custody at the border. Those funds are about to run out, which could lead to CBP leaving released migrants on the streets of Tucson and other Arizona border-zone cities.

As Easter week begins, about 2,000 migrants participated in a “Migrant Via Crucis” march, what has become an annual event in Mexico’s southern border-zone city of Tapachula.

In a Twitter response to comments that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made in a 60 Minutes interview, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) accused Mexico’s president of “coddling cartels and demanding the United States bankroll even more mass migration into our country.” Johnson called for a revival of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Analyses and Feature Stories

Mexico’s government’s ability and willingness to help control migration flows make it a key player on an issue with the potential to sway the election,” a New York Times analysis found. However, “behind closed doors, some senior Biden officials have come to see [Mexican President Andrés Manuel] López Obrador as an unpredictable partner, who they say isn’t doing enough to consistently control his own southern border or police routes being used by smugglers.”

At Lawfare, Ilya Somin of the Cato Institute dismantled an argument that has become increasingly mainstream among Republican politicians: that asylum seekers and other migrants crossing the border constitute an “invasion” and that states have a constitutional right to confront them with their own security forces. Somin warns that the “invasion” idea, if upheld, could allow border states “to initiate war anytime they want,” and permit the federal government to suspend habeas corpus rights.

On the Right

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