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Vigil Pushes for Humane Treatment of Black Migrants

Plus: Haitians continue to be denied asylum at the border, and why this year's record border deaths could increase even further

Deanna Garcia

Oct 19, 2021

U.S.–Mexico border.

This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Organizers and advocates lit 250 candles at a San Diego park to call attention to how Black migrants are being treated at the U.S.-Mexico border. According to organizer Christina Griffin-Jones, a volunteer with Haitian Bridge Alliance, every candle represented 30 Haitians who arrived at the border and were immediately expelled these last few weeks. In total, the candles recognized about 7,500 individuals who were put on deportation flights to Haiti without being able to request protecting in the U.S. “Imagine making that trip, that sacrifice and being pushed on a plane, other people getting away but your Black skin not allowing you to,” she told the crowd. San Diego Union-Tribune 

In other national immigration news…

Haitians Continue to be Denied Asylum

Last month, Gibben Revolus traveled from Chile to Del Rio, Texas, with his wife and 2-year-old son. It took the family almost three months to make the journey by bus, foot, and even a crowded boat ride from Colombia to Panama. Revolus also said his son kept getting sick, and would throw up and have diarrhea. On Sept. 24, the family was detained in Del Rio and taken to a detention center in the state. But they were deported to Haiti three days later and were never given the chance to seek asylum, Revolus said. Revolus is among thousands of Haitians who have made long journeys only to face quick deportation in the U.S. NPR 

Deaths at the Border Could Increase Further, Experts Say

Ely Ortiz, president of Aguilas del Desierto, a volunteer-run organization that conducts search and rescue missions for migrants who may be missing or dead, remembers one specific phone call in 2019 from a pregnant woman who said her husband was lost at the Arizona border. Ortiz and 14 others found him decaying in the desert sun — one of hundreds of migrants who died crossing the border that year. U.S. Customs and Border Protection have so far saved over 11,800 migrants this year, but reported 470 deaths. That’s double last year’s total and marks the highest number of deaths since 2005. Experts expect this number to increase as winter comes. ABC News 

New Mexico Immigration Detention Center Made New ICE Agreement

Documents obtained by the ACLU New Mexico reveal Immigration and Customs Enforcement is paying for hundreds of beds at New Mexico’s Otero Co. Processing Center and is working out a long-term deal with the private jail. The contract guarantees ICE will pay Management and Training Corporation $2 million per month for bed spaces. Some advocates said the already-paid bed space could encourage ICE officers to seek out individuals they don’t usually target for enforcement, such as people with no criminal records. KRQE 

Toe Tag Art Exhibit Represents Migrants that Died in Arizona Desert

An interactive art exhibit, Hostile Terrain 94, uses toe tags to represent 3,200 migrants who have died while crossing the Arizona desert. The exhibit is on display at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Edinburg and Brownsville campuses. The art is part of the Undocumented Migration Project, a nonprofit research organization by anthropologists to focus on migrant remains. Hostile Terrain 94 combines the geographic location of where migrants died along with community participation to design massive wall-sized pieces. Anthropologist Jason De Leon of UCLA was inspired by data of remains found throughout Arizona’s border. Most of the deaths were steered by a change in an immigration policy carried out in 1994. Border Report



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