Afghanistan’s capital has fallen to the Taliban
The weekend began with news of several major cities falling to the Taliban, and by Sunday the extremist group had overtaken the capital city of Kabul. Many fear what a future under the Taliban would look like, especially for women and girls. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001, women were forbidden to work, girls were forbidden to attend school, and they were not allowed out of the house without a male relative. As more parts of the country have fallen to the Taliban in recent months, there have been reports of extrajudicial killings, targeting of journalists and human rights’ activists, and women being forced to “marry" Taliban soldiers. Over 250,000 people in Afghanistan have become displaced since May, 80% of whom are women and children.
The takeover poses an especially grave threat to Afghan allies who worked for the United States government over the last 20 years of the war. Advocates and veterans’ groups have been pressing the Biden administration for months to ensure the safe evacuation of interpreters and others at risk. Despite assurances in July from President Biden that “we will stand with you just as you stood with us,” the implementation of that evacuation has been slow and only about 2,000 out of tens of thousands have been brought to the United States so far. On Sunday night, CNN reported that the administration had pulled back on efforts to evacuate Afghan allies in order to focus on evacuating American personnel first. Thousands of additional soldiers are being sent to Afghanistan to assist in the emergency evacuation, and the military expects to evacuate up to 5,000 people daily in the coming week.
Map image from New York Times
July CBP numbers showed encounters at a 20-year high with the highest number of unaccompanied children on record
The July data released on Southwest Border Encounters showed 212,672 total encounters, and clarified that 154,288 of those were unique encounters. While the total encounters reached a 20-year high, the number of individuals being processed without being expelled under Title 42 was still lower than peaks seen in 2019. While single adults remained the largest demographic among the encounters (52%), the number dropped 6% since June. Meanwhile, the number of families increased by 49% and the number of unaccompanied children increased by 24%, a highly unusual trend in the heat of the summer. The press release from CBP stated that “in July, the average number of unaccompanied children in CBP custody was 1,363 per day, compared with an average of 794 per day in June.” Most of these children (83%) were from Northern Triangle countries.
As the numbers have been increasing in recent weeks, so too have the accusations from some quarters that migrants are the cause of surging numbers of COVID-19 cases across the United States. However, testing data from the communities with the largest numbers of arriving immigrants indicate otherwise. While the organizations conducting the tests have seen more positive tests in recent weeks, it has been at or slightly below the rates of the surrounding communities, and many of the areas with the highest rates for Covid are far from either U.S. border.
Two key court rulings in Texas could have significant immigration impacts
A federal judge in Texas ruled that it was unlawful for the Biden administration to end the MPP program, and ordered that it be reinstated. The rule was delayed for a week to give the Biden administration a chance to file an appeal. Judge Kacsmaryk ruled that the memo ending MPP was not issued in accordance with administrative law, and that the Biden administration must reinstate the program until they fix the alleged errors. While the Biden administration ended MPP, they have continued to use Title 42 to expel most migrants at the border. The judge ruled in favor of the states of Texas and Missouri, who filed the lawsuit, stating that they had been harmed by the administration’s reversal of the policy, and that doing so "has contributed to the current border surge."
District Judge Kathleen Cardone extended the temporary restraining order against Governor Abbott’s executive order that restricted transporting migrants in the state of Texas - the order has been blocked for another 2 weeks.
Lawsuit filed against the Biden administration over conditions at emergency intake site for unaccompanied children
A lawsuit was filed by the attorneys who are responsible for upholding the Flores Agreement on behalf of migrant children in shelters, citing the ongoing reports of abuse and mismanagement. The number of children in HHS custody has continued to climb amid record numbers of apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border: 16,492 children were being housed in HHS facilities as of August 11th.
HHS responded to accusations with a statement that children at the emergency intake sites receive educational and recreation activities and that they have access to medical care, laundry, calls with family, and weekly meetings with case workers. They also stated that the average stay for children at Pecos is 24 days and the average stay at Fort Bliss is 14 days.