Awareness - October 3, 2022 - We Welcome

Awareness - October 3, 2022

Two migrants were shot in an apparent hate crime by a former warden of a detention center

Last Tuesday, two men in West Texas pulled their truck over to the side of the road and shot at a group of migrants getting water, striking two of them. One of the migrants was killed on the scene, and another was hospitalized in El Paso. Two brothers were arrested on manslaughter charges after the truck was traced to Michael Sheppard, a warden of a private immigration detention center in Sierra Blanca. Sheppard faced allegations of violence against immigrants in the past in his capacity as a warden, and has now been fired following his arrest

Texas lawmakers have called this a hate crime and urged the Department of Justice to open an investigation. This latest act of violence took place about an hour’s drive from El Paso, where 23 people were killed in a shooting fueled by xenophobia and hate in 2019. The tragedy highlights concerns that advocates have raised in recent months that rising anti-immigrant hate speech often leads to acts of violence.  

Congress passed a continuing resolution that included some immigration-related funding, but no Afghan Adjustment Act

Last week right as fiscal year 2022 drew to a close, Congress passed a continuing resolution to continue funding the government. Despite hopes from many advocates that an Afghan Adjustment Act would be attached to the bill, no such amendments were added. With Congress on recess for October, we are unlikely to see the Afghan Adjustment Act move forward until after midterm elections. 

However, there were some funding provisions to provide $3 billion to support Afghans resettling in the U.S., an extension of refugee benefits for Afghan parolees, and $12.4 billion in military and diplomatic support for Ukraine.

Fiscal year 2022 saw a record number of deaths at the border

NPR reported last week that as the fiscal year ended, 2022 set a record high in migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border. A senior Border Patrol official told reporters that more than 800 migrants had died along the border, largely due to drownings. The fire chief in Eagle Pass, Texas told reporters that their department historically received a few calls a month to report drownings along the river, but this year it has been “basically a drowning a day.” 

The number of deaths this year surpassed the previous record of over 560 in fiscal year 2021. A spokesperson for CBP noted that smugglers “are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, leading to a rise in the number of rescues but also tragically a rise in the number of deaths.” As legal pathways to migration remain extremely limited and prevention through deterrence continues to be the prevailing border strategy, experts warn that these high death tolls are likely to continue.