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Tina Vásquez, April 1st, 2021
"A man calls the Phoenix Police Department on January 29—his uncle has been kidnapped. Smugglers are holding his uncle at a drop house. They had helped his uncle, a newly arrived undocumented immigrant, cross the border. Now, they want more money. After the police arrive, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show up. They apprehend the uncle and dozens of migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, including three children. So far, the events that unfolded are disturbing but standard practice. In Phoenix, local police and federal immigration authorities have long cooperated. But what happened next was part of something new. To find out where these migrants were taken, grassroots migrant justice organization Puente Human Rights Movement tapped its network of activists and legal advocates. Some were detained at the Florence Correctional Center in Florence, Ariz. Others, at the Eloy Detention Center in Eloy Ariz. According to advocates (who spoke with one migrant’s family members), the migrants were never asked if they were asylum seekers, and they were never asked to participate in a criminal investigation into human trafficking, which could have earned them temporary immigration visas. Instead, advocates say, the migrants were held and expelled under an obscure provision in U.S. Code Title 42, the part of the law that covers public health and welfare. President Donald Trump weaponized Title 42 during the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to expel border-crossers more quickly and with less fuss, a practice that continues under President Joe Biden."
[NOTE: The ACLU's lawsuit challenging the CDC order, P.J.E.S. v. Mayorkas, is stalled at the D.C. Court of Appeals, No. 20-5357.]