THE BORDERLAND IMMIGRATION COUNCIL DENOUNCES ICE'S
ZERO-PAROLE POLICIES IN EL PASO IMMIGRATION CASES
On February 5, 2017, Martin Mendez Pineda, a 25 year old journalist from Acapulco, Guerrero fled Mexico seeking asylum at the El Paso Port of Entry. Martin had written news articles in the Acapulco daily, Novedades, critical of the federal police which resulted in him receiving a series of death threats and beatings by 8 officers.
ICE’s denial of Martin’s parole request signals an inhumane, criminalization of the asylum process as well as a blanket policy of imprisoning Mexican refugees fleeing state violence. Of particular concern is the alarmingly increasing violence against Mexican journalists which has resulted in the recent murder of Miroslava Breach Velducea, a well-known Chihuahua journalist as well as the closure of the El Norte de Cd. Juarez daily newspaper.
On March 1, 2017, Martin passed his credible fear exam. Thereafter, he sought to be released by ICE from their prison which was denied on March 28, 2017 due to him being considered a flight risk as well as for having insufficient community ties.
According to the highly reported Paris based Reporters Without Borders, “during 2016 itself, 11 journalists were murdered in Mexico, as of 2010, 35 have been murdered, which places this country as one of the most dangerous of the world for the journalism profession.”
President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and ICE’s local practices under El Paso Field Office Director Corey Price make it impossible for nearly any migrant—including asylum seekers fleeing horrific violence and families in desperate need of medical treatment—to obtain release from prison-like immigration detention centers pending determinations of their cases.
This means that immigrants who have not been convicted of any crime are imprisoned in our community until their legal process plays out, which often take years, with no effective way to challenge their prolonged detention. This practice goes against our community’s values and causes immense harm to detainees, their loved ones, and basic principles of fairness and justice that should underlie our immigration courts.
As attorneys, advocacy agencies, and concerned community members, the Borderland Immigration Council is extremely concerned by the blanket denials of parole requests for asylum seekers and other humanitarian cases that we are witnessing in El Paso. Just one recent example of numerous denials illustrates how ICE’s parole practices are reckless and harmful: Jean Claude, a West African asylum seeker who was deemed to have ‘credible fear’ of returning to his home country, somehow pieced together the documents needed to request parole from inside ICE’s El Paso Processing Center. Jean Claude waited nearly four months for a decision before Corey Price denied his request without any explanation. Jean Claude now potentially faces years in detention while his asylum case plays out in court, isolated from family, his mother tongue, or an attorney. “I sincerely regret my decision to come to the United States,” he recently wrote. “Detention has killed everything in me: my soul and my spirit.”