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The numbers and names of migrants who are able to request asylum are read off an unofficial list./ Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The Trump administration has made it a priority to quell the number of asylum-seekers — particularly those from Central America — coming to the U.S.-Mexico border.

It’s hard to keep track of all the different policies and practices impacting asylum-seekers under this administration. And they’re constantly being challenged in court, which makes the situation all the more confusing.

There’s zero tolerance and family separations, the metering process, the program requiring Central Americans to wait in Mexico for their asylum proceedings, a directive to give asylum-seekers less time to prepare for their initial interviews and recent attempts to turn Mexico and Guatemala into “safe third countries,” meaning that if asylum-seekers passes through one of those countries prior to arriving to the United States, they must request asylum there first.

Here are the latest updates on some of these policies.

The Third Country Asylum Ban

Last week, a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s policy to bar migrants from receiving asylum if they traveled through another country, like Mexico, after immigrants’ rights groups sued. That same day, a different federal judge in Washington, D.C., upheld the ban.

For now, the injunction in California will take nationwide precedence, but as Roll Call reports, the policy may end up before the Supreme Court.

In a recent meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Mexico’s immigration enforcement efforts, which some have credited for the 28 percent drop in border crossings from May to June, the Associated Press reports. Ebrard said the decrease in crossings means the two countries don’t need to sign a “safe third country” agreement.

Third Country Deal With Guatemala

On Friday, Trump announced that the United States had signed an agreement with Guatemala that would require asylum-seekers who travel through that country to first to seek refuge there — an agreement that would especially impact asylum-seekers from Honduras and El Salvador.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the agreement, like the fact that hours after Trump made the announcement, Guatemala’s government released a video of its interior minister disputing Trump’s characterization of it, Buzzfeed reports. Not to mention that Guatemalans actually make up the majority of immigrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border right now, raising questions about how safe or stable Guatemala is to support people from other countries seeking refuge.

The New York Times put together an explainer on what we know about the agreement so far.

Waiting in Mexico

As the U.S. government continues to send asylum-seekers to wait for their proceedings in Mexico, the need for shelters has disproportionately fallen on Tijuana. The New York Times reports that one shelter in San Diego has seen a sudden decline in asylum-seekers, while one shelter in Tijuana is packing in people at three times its capacity. Zeta details the funding issues facing Tijuana shelters, but a new shelter could be opening this week, and could hold anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 people, the Union-Tribune reports.

A collaboration of Mexican journalists produced a multi-part, multimedia project investigating the impact of cracking down on immigration at Mexico’s southern and northern borders. One of the pieces details Tijuana’s own  xenophobia.

The number of pregnant women along the border is rising as more migrants have to wait in Mexico for their chance to seek asylum, California Healthline reports. Univision went inside a mobile school in Tijuana that is trying to educate children who have fled violence.

As of early July, nearly 10,000 people have been returned along the California border under the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, the U-T reports. But most don’t have legal assistance. Asylum-seekers returned to Mexico are targets for extortion, kidnapping and trafficking, the U-T reports.

Some Central Americans who have had to wait in Mexico are now deciding to give up and return home, the Desert Sun reports.

Border Sewage Still Stinks

San Diego County officials are finalizing a list of projects that could help fix the region’s cross-border sewage problems, reports KPBS. San Diego’s congressional representatives introduced a package of bills to boost funding to clean up the river and prevent future water contamination.

Meanwhile, the Navy seems reluctant to get involved in the border sewage issues, writes the U-T’s Michael Smolens.

The Washington Examiner recently spoke with Customs and Border Protection about how the toxic, raw sewage has been making agents sick for decades.

Baja on the Big Screen

More Border News

Maya Srikrishnan

Maya was Voice of San Diego’s Associate Editor of Civic Education. She reported on marginalized communities in San Diego and oversees Voice’s explanatory...

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