Awareness - December 13, 2021 - We Welcome

Awareness - December 13, 2021

A deadly crash in Mexico has continued the disturbing trend of high death rates of migrants in 2021

Thursday’s truck crash in southern Mexico brought the worst single-day death toll of migrants in Mexico since 2010. At least 55 people were reportedly killed and 106 were hospitalized when a tractor trailer filled with 150 migrants crashed and flipped.

According to the International Organization for Migration, this year has already had high numbers of migrant deaths. They reported 5,755 deaths during migration across Central and North America and the Caribbean since 2014. More than 1,060 of those deaths took place this year with 650 deaths occurring among those crossing from Mexico to the United States.

News broke that USCIS is planning to deny most of the humanitarian parole applications coming from Afghanistan since the withdrawal of US troops

Axios reported last week that USCIS has begun issuing denial letters to Afghans applying for humanitarian parole since the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Immigration attorneys and advocates reviewing these letters have found that the agency is using an “unusually strict standard” to assess the claims that would be impossible to meet for many of those at-risk.

A copy of a denial letter linked in the Axios report states that humanitarian parole is not meant to be used “in place of the international refugee protection regime or resettlement through the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).” The letter also indicates that documentation would be required from a third party to specifically name the beneficiary of humanitarian parole and give details of the serious harm that they would face, which could be very difficult to obtain for those in hiding from the Taliban. 

Over 30,000 applications for humanitarian parole have been received this year, while the annual average is 2,000. For a deeper understanding of how humanitarian parole works, this explainer from the National Immigration Forum gives a great overview.

A human trafficking sting in Georgia highlighted vulnerabilities for migrant farmworkers

Last week NBC News reported on last month’s bust on a human trafficking operation in Georgia where over 100 immigrant workers were exploited for labor under terrible conditions that led to the death of two workers and the rape, kidnapping, and abuse of others. The workers were reportedly forced to work at gunpoint, were paid $0.20 for each bucket of onions that they harvested by hand, and forced to complete other labor such as lawn work, construction, and in restaurants. 

The case is part of new enforcement priorities leading ICE to investigate employers who exploit the system. Two dozen perpetrators were indicted from the criminal enterprise that operated out of multiple states including Georgia, Florida, Texas, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. This case is one of the largest human-trafficking and visa fraud investigations the DOJ has seen, and shows the vulnerability of workers who arrive on H-2A visas. These guest farm workers arrive using visas through their specific employers, which often makes them reluctant to speak out about poor working conditions.