No Asylum: Immigrants Locked Up in U.S. after Fleeing Violence

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Originally posted Feb. 22, 2015.

"When people knock on your door, and they are fleeing abuse, the United States is obligated morally and legally to let them in," says Virginia Raymond, an immigration attorney fighting for the right of a single mother and her three daughters to seek asylum in the U.S. after fleeing gang violence in El Salvador. 

"Today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it," proclaimed President Obama in a speech announcing an executive action to shield the 4-5 million undocumented immigrants who've lived in the U.S. for five years or more from deportation. In making his case, he shared the story of "Astrid," a college student afraid to attend her grandmother's funeral in Mexico for fear that she'd never make it back over the border. 

What the president didn't address in that speech was the influx of immigrants coming from further south, from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. These are immigrants making the treacherous journey to the border not only for economic opportunity, but to flee violence that threatens their lives and those of their children.

Headlines screamed of a "border crisis" as unaccompanied minors began arriving in record numbers in the summer of 2014, sparking protests in border towns like Murrieta, CA from citizens who wanted the newly arrived immigrants sent back to where they came from. The administration's response was to request $879 million from Congress to detain and deport.Congress denied the funds, but Homeland Security forged ahead with the construction of several new "family detention centers" anyway. The number of beds grew from fewer than 100 to more than 1,000 in less than a year. And a newly constructed center in Dilley, TX will have a capacity of more than 2,000.

Watch the Reason TV video above for a glimpse at who exactly is being held in these detention centers at record rates. The video profiles Marquez and her three daughters, who came to the U.S. from El Salvador after facing violent threats and extortion from gang members. While Maria and her family were seeking asylum from a dangerous gang that operates unchecked by an incompetent and often corrupt government, they almost immediately found themselves locked up in a family detention center in the small Texas town of Karnes, where they've spent the past six months fighting to avoid deportation.

"These are people who want to work, who are peaceful, loving people. And they don't deserve to be sent back to be raped and killed… in a country that does not value them, with a government that cannot or will not protect them," says Raymond.

Approximately 8 minutes. Produced, shot, and edited by Zach Weissmueller. Music by Chris Zabriskie.

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  1. “When people knock on your door, and they are fleeing abuse, the United States is obligated morally and legally to let them in,”

    What this says is not what she means, unless she means the government is going to force private citizens to provide asylum to refugees. But reading that as she intended it, no. Hell no.

    1. The US government is also not required to let them in since refugees are not suppose to cherry pick places of refuge but to go to the next country and proclaim their status. Since Mexico is between El Salvador and the US they should have gone there.

  2. “Originally posted Feb 22, 2015.” It is a video from the future! Just what are you Reason Foundation folks really up to?

    1. Don’t be unreasonable.

    2. He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future.

  3. This is an argument against illegal immigration. There is a limit as to how many people can be assimilated at one time. If economic immigrants are arriving in huge amounts those who come for different reasons, fleeing violence for example, might not get the resources and opportunities we would like to give them.

    1. “This is an argument against illegal immigration. There is a limit as to how many people can be assimilated at one time.” Oh, you mean it is an argument against freedom of immigration. The most obvious problem with your argument is that the government has no way of knowing, discovering or determining what is that limit of how many immigrants can be assimilated. (And that is assuming for the sake of argument that there actually is such a limit, which I doubt.) So, no, the video is not an argument against immigration, illegal or otherwise.

      1. There is no freedom of immigration in a market based world.

        You only have the right to travel on your own property. Any travel on other peoples property is a privalege not a right.

        A free market based world is not one with no borders but one with up to 7 billion borders.

    2. I know, like those damn Irish Catholics. Was just impossible to assimulate them and now they’re throwing bombs everywhere and shooting up the raps. And don’t get me started on the Norwegians.

      This is bullshit.

      The only problem we have with unlimited immigration is the fuckers killing people for their religion. Pilipinos don’t do that. The Chinese don’t do that. The Hondurans don’t do that.

      Cubans, Hatians, Ghanians. All are being ‘assimulated’ just fine thank you.

      The problem we have is with the small subset of immigrants who are trying to violently overthrow us, not with the rest that just want a place to be left alone and make some money.

  4. And the mobile interface continues to suck.

  5. “When people knock on your door, and they are fleeing abuse, the United States is obligated morally and legally to let them in,” says Virginia Raymond, an immigration attorney fighting for the right of a single mother and her three daughters to seek asylum in the U.S. after fleeing gang violence in El Salvador.

    Let’s try *this*: “When people knock on your door, and they are fleeing abuse, New Zealand is obligated morally and legally to let them in,” says Irginiavay Aymondray, an immigration attorney fighting for the right of a single mother and her three daughters to seek asylum in New Zealand after fleeing gang violence in Chicago.

    1. How about *this*: “When abortionists knock on your womb, and you’re an embryo trying to live,the United States is obligated legally and morally to let you out and let you in.”

    2. Seems odd they would go all the way to New Zealand. But let’s try something else. Should a family trying to escape gang violence in Chicago be allowed into Florida or Oregon? If the answer is yes, then why shouldn’t a family escaping gang violence in El Salvador be allowed to come to the U.S.? Or, turned around, if the family fleeing gang violence in El Salvador should not be allowed to come into the U.S., then why shouldn’t Oregon (or any other member state of the U.S.) also have a strict immigration policy to control who is allowed into the state? Why should Oregon or Florida have to take in immigrants from Illinois?

      1. Chicago, Florida, and Oregon are still part of the United States. You’re rhetorical question is essentially “What can’t a family in one town of a nation move to another town?”

        If a foreign state issues a death warrant on dissidents or individuals of certain race or religion, perhaps the USA has a moral obligation to let them in. Otherwise, “violence” abroad could be an infinite number of things – gangs, high murder and crime rate, threats of islamic terror, middle east conflict etc.

        If dozens of families resembling skeletons escaped from North Korea and asked for asylum, most Americans will heartily agree. But they’ll be less receptive if thousands of people are caught at our borders claiming to flee from “violence”, from crime ridden Latin nations.

        1. Even if a good chunk of the crime is caused by our own policies towards drug manufacturing and export?

          1. I’d really love to see the actual data on this accusation. I’ve seen the many articles Reason has been running for the past year or so claiming that the WoD has a direct causal relationship violent crime rate in Latin America, but I’ve never actually seen data backing this claim up. All of the articles I’ve read positively stink of confirmation bias and post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning.

            I’m opposed to the WoD, but Latin America has been a crime and violence ridden shithole for longer than any of us have been alive and until I see some actual DATA I’m calling bullshit on the “all the ills of Latin America are because der drugzzz wurriarzzz Muricunts!!!” claims.

            1. There *is* data available, but as with all social statistics its all correlation and iron-clad causation is nearly impossible to prove.

              But . .

              The rise in the murder rate along the US/Mexico border is strongly correlated with the money and power of the cartels.

              South and Central American death squads (both left and right varieties) were prevalent during our interventionist phase in the 80’s and died out when we stopped looking for communists under their beds.

              (just two examples of the correlation – you can even show correlation between our current history of intervention in the Middle East and the rise of the same sort of shitbirds that our interventions in C/SA did earlier).

              The WoD is certainly not the only cause of violent crime there, but it is a major driver of both crime and the corrupt institutions that make it difficult or these people to climb out of poverty.

              Its embarrassing really, for people in the US to decry Hitler and the Nazis (and even those few who recognize the evil of the communists states) and ignore that we, the ‘greatest, freest’ nation on Earth are indirectly causing as much shit as they did openly.

        2. Let’s try this: If another U.S. state issues a death warrant on dissidents or individuals of certain race or religion, perhaps Oregon has a moral obligation to let them in; otherwise, “violence” in other states could be an infinite number of things – gangs, high murder and crime rate, threats of islamic terror, etc. Why should Oregon have to take in immigrants from Illinois?

          I’m just not buying the “but they are not from the U.S.” argument. The notion that someone can move from Maine to Arizona freely but not from El Salvador to the U.S. because “but they’s fureners” just does not seem to have any logic or reason to it.

      2. Canada is closer to Chicago than Oregon or Florida.

        1. Even Canadiens don’t want to live in Canada – that’s why they huddle around their southern border.

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  9. If proplr flleing Cuba get to the shore, they’re in. If not, they’re out. All people fleeing from South of the border are out, despite fleeing terror and murder of themselves and families at home. Where’s the sense of this?

    1. They could flee south east or west and find a peaceful nation nearby. Strange how they never do that though. Almost makes you doubt whether they aren’t lying about their motives.

      1. Costa Rica is closer and doesn’t have gang violence, for example.

        Its almost as if they want to get to America, and have been coached in what to say to get automatic entrance.

  10. When I knock on a libertarian’s door it always takes a long time for them to answer and there’s always a half hidden bottle of hand lotion. Weird.

    1. We need to keep the skin supple and moist.

      1. I mena *our* skin. We need to keep OUR skin supple and moist.

  11. I had a friend in high school who was an asylum seeker from Iran.

    After college, he went back to Iran for some reason. Then he couldn’t get a visa back to the USA.

    He still lives in Iran now.

    Now, while I would like him to be able to come to the USA, there is a point here: if you flee Iran because you are afraid of getting killed, and then you go back on your own volition, and are not put in jail or killed….well, asylum crisis seems to be over for you.

    My friend should have become a citizen or fixed his visa situation before going back. I don’t know what he was thinking.

  12. They probably should have whipped before throwing them back over the border.

    Starting whipping them before deporting them, and the word will get around, and then no more invaders.

    Diversity weakens the expressed will of the people. Fewer common interests means weaker democracy. That’s bad, kids!

    Whip the invaders and send them back home to spread the word.

    Diversity is strength…for the upper class and the corporations. But diversity is weakness for the white working class majority.

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