From Kabul to the Rio Grande, the U.S. Creates Refugee Crises
The United States has long branded itself as a safe haven for refugees fleeing war and persecution abroad. The current U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is actually a testament to that, with well over 100,000 people evacuated by the U.S. since mid-August. Despite this historic airlift, the Biden administration is being relentlessly criticized. The airlift continued despite a double suicide bombing at the gates of the Kabul airport on Wednesday that killed 60 people, including 12 U.S. servicemembers, injuring at least 140.
Another exodus is happening halfway around the world as asylum seekers from Central America make the perilous journey to the U.S./Mexico border. There, they face draconian U.S. immigration policies that consign them to “Remain in Mexico.” Much like Afghan civilians caught in the crossfire of that 20-year war, these migrants live in constant danger in squalid, makeshift refugee camps in Mexican border cities, waiting for a chance at asylum in the United States.
If there is any chaos as U.S.-aligned Afghans scramble to flee their war-torn nation, blame lies primarily with the previous administration, and President Trump’s right-hand man, his racist, xenophobic advisor Stephen Miller. Miller’s anti-immigrant fervor was driven early on by listening to rightwing radio host Larry Elder, who is now the leading candidate to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall election.
Olivia Troye, who was an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, tweeted recently:
“There were cabinet mtgs about this during the Trump Admin where Stephen Miller would peddle his racist hysteria about Iraq & Afghanistan. He & his enablers across gov’t would undermine anyone who worked on solving the SIV [Special Immigrant Visa] issue by devastating the system at DHS & State…Trump had FOUR years…to evacuate these Afghan allies who were the lifelines for many of us who spent time in Afghanistan. They’d been waiting a long time. The process slowed to a trickle for reviews/other “priorities”-then came to a halt.”
Miller also engineered the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” or MPP, better known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Human Rights First recently issued a report, “Delivered to Danger,” that documented “at least 1,544 publicly reported cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping, and other violent assaults against asylum seekers and migrants forced to return to Mexico by the Trump Administration,” A 97-page appendix accompanies the report, listing the crimes with chilling detail.
On Inauguration Day, President Biden issued several executive orders including one revoking the anti-immigrant executive order Trump issued during his first week in office in 2017. The Department of Homeland Security immediately suspended enrolling migrants in the MPP program. In response, the states of Texas and Missouri sued the Biden administration, and on August 13th, Texas Federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, ruled that the White House must immediately reimplement the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
The Justice Department appealed, and, within two weeks, a three-judge appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision. Two of those three appeals court judges were Trump appointees: Andrew Oldham, who was just 39 when confirmed to his lifetime appointment in 2018, and Cory Wilson, who is now 51. Both are fierce rightwing ideologues. A request for a stay pending further litigation was quickly rejected by the Supreme Court by 6-3.
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