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Great Escape

Years of deterrence tactics have not prevented Central American immigrants from coming to the U.S. But they have to deal with the consequences of past deportations.

On the day Carlos’ stepfather died, the television was playing its usual parade of police sirens and dead bodies. It’s part of the daily buzz in Tegucigalpa, the congested capital of Honduras. Carlos was paying little attention, but when he received a panicked call from his mother, he took a closer look at the image on the screen of a man with a prosthetic foot, laying facedown in the grass. It was his stepfather, Santos.

Santos, a 37-year-old bus driver, had lost the front of his left foot the first time he tried to leave Honduras, back in 2012. He…


Immigration courts increasingly rely on video teleconference hearings, but those proceedings come with their own problems

As immigration court backlogs balloon to nearly 900,000 cases, the Trump administration has taken at least one decidedly technocratic approach to governance: expanding the use of video teleconference (VTC) court hearings, in which detained migrants, or the judges themselves, can beam into court. As long as wires aren’t crossed and the technology is running smoothly, the hearings are meant to proceed as normal. But the “solution,” as anybody who has ever conducted an office videoconference surely knows, comes with its own problems.

The Department of Justice claims that such VTC hearings save money and time. While the increased efficiency is…


The Republican Party’s system is working as intended — and that should terrify you

Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin was seven years old when she crossed, with her father, into the United States. They were seeking asylum, which is a legal form of immigration. She died of dehydration after less than 24 hours in a Border Patrol facility. The rush to blame Maquin’s grieving father has unearthed one of the most unsettling aspects of Republican immigration policy under Trump: the willingness to use dead children as a deterrent.

The facts are as follows: When she entered this country, Jakelin was severely dehydrated and had not eaten for several days. The border guards who apprehended…


Indian asylum seekers have been on a months-long hunger strike, protesting what they say has been a prolonged detention process

In El Paso, Texas, an eerily familiar story of negligent immigration custody is playing out — only this time, it’s asylum-seekers from India alleging mistreatment by the federal government.

Bruised, weak, desperate, and starving, seven Punjabi Indian asylum-seekers have been languishing in an El Paso immigration detention center for months. The men report being sent to solitary confinement, pushed and dragged along the floor, and subjected to a torturous two weeks of force-feeding as they engaged in an ongoing hunger strike. After “their spirits were broken,” according to one advocate in close contact with the asylum-seekers, five of the men…

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