"Mexican Migrants Want To Be Placed in Lush Federal Prisons Rather Than Get Deported"
"American Federal Prison is “free rent, three square meals per day, free medical care, free clothing, sports teams, air conditioning, movies and showers”. Immigrants beg to go to U.S. prisons!"
"Illegal immigrants meet with Mexican officials in Phoenix, discuss options under Trump administration"
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detain a suspect in Los Angeles on Feb. 7, in this image obtained from ICE. Immigration agents made raids and arrested hundreds of migrants last week. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
José de Córdoba
PHOENIX—All but one of about 50 undocumented Mexican migrants at a meeting Saturday indicated they would rather risk detention and long court battles in the U.S. than return to Mexico voluntarily.
The majority of migrants at the meeting in Phoenix, which included Mexican officials, signaled in a show of hands that they were ready to fight deportation in U.S. courts.
“Even if that means detention for weeks?” asked former foreign minister Jorge Castaneda.
“Even if it takes months,” shouted one woman. “Even if it takes years,” another yelled. “We are here to fight.”
Mr. Castaneda and others want Mexico’s government to endorse a tough and perhaps risky strategy to battle an expected increase in deportations of their undocumented compatriots in the U.S. by underwriting the migrants’ legal struggle in the U.S. court system. By overwhelming already heavily burdened immigration courts, Mr. Castaneda hopes the legal system would break down, bringing deportations to a halt.
Mexico’s government hasn’t endorsed the strategy, but President Enrique Peña Nieto recently budgeted about $50 million to the country’s 50 consulates to help pay the costs of defending migrants who are in the U.S. illegally and facing deportation.
Some are worried that President Donald Trump has decided to expand the type of undocumented migrants who are at risk of being deported, from the violent or dangerous people that the Obama administration targeted to migrants who have had minor brushes with law enforcement.
Mr. Trump on Sunday called it a “crackdown on illegal criminals,” adding in an early morning tweet that “Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!”
The Phoenix meeting took place two days after the deportation of a Guadalupe García, a 36-year-old Mexican who lived in the U.S. for 22 years and has two U.S.-born children. Ms. García’s removal stoked panic and protests in immigrant communities.
Ms. García was convicted of identity theft, a felony, after being arrested in 2009 with a false Social Security card. She had been released into the community with the requirement of checking in with immigration agents every six months. This week, when she reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, she was detained and deported to Mexico.
Heightening fears in Hispanic communities across the country, immigration agents made raids and arrested hundreds of migrants last week in a five-day enforcement “surge” in cities which included Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, ICE said.
An ICE official said the raids were on par with similar operations the agency has done in the past in southern California.
“This is a real threat,” said Ruben Reyes, a Phoenix immigration lawyer who took part in the meeting. “We are in an emergency.”
The Phoenix meeting, to raise awareness about the situation of illegal immigrants in the U.S., was hosted by activists, business groups and journalists, mostly from Mexico.
Margarita Acosta, an illegal immigrant who attended the meeting, said she and her family lived in fear since Mr. Trump’s victory. “We live in the shadows,” she said. “It seems as if we are happy, but we live in terror about what will become of us.”
How Mexico will deal with the ramped-up return of its citizens has become a major issue between the two countries since Mr. Trump’s inauguration. The newly elected U.S. president’s plans to increase deportations of undocumented Mexicans, renegotiate the countries’ free-trade deal and build a border wall at Mexico’s expense have sparked a nationalist backlash south of the border.
Anti-Trump demonstrations were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico City and more than two dozen other cities across the country. Also Sunday, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leftist populist who leads in the polls for Mexico’s 2018 presidential race, is kicking off a tour of U.S. cities with a rally in Los Angeles. Mr. López Obrador has urged the Mexican government to denounce the U.S. treatment of migrants in the United Nations.
At the Phoenix meeting, Armando Ríos Piter, a senator of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, drew cheers when he called on the Mexican government to take a harder line with the Trump administration on its treatment of the migrants and other issues.
“Mexico’s government was silent when Trump started to threaten Mexicans, and that’s where things stand,” he said. He called for Mexico to cease antinarcotics and antiterrorism cooperation with the U.S.
Mr. Ríos Piter also urged Mexico to pressure the U.S. by buying food such as yellow corn from other suppliers. “We should be very clear that we won’t buy not one ton of corn from the U.S.,” he said. “The whole Corn Belt voted for Trump, and we bought $1.6 billion of corn last year. Let’s stop it.”
Graco Ramírez, the president of the Mexican governors’ association, said the governors planned to lobby their U.S. counterparts to let them know “just how much they will hurt their own economies if they support Donald Trump’s policies.”
But not all legislators were on board with those calling for a tough negotiating posture. “If we bet on confrontation without first trying to convince, then we are making a big mistake,” said Gabriela Cuevas Barron, from the opposition conservative National Action Party, who heads the Mexican Senate’s foreign relations committee.
About 80% of Mexico’s exports go to the U.S., she said. “We should negotiate more forcefully, but we don’t have a blank check,” she said.
In the meeting, the migrants urged the Mexican legislators to make deep reforms at home, which they said they were forced to leave because its widespread corruption, violence and terrible education system killed economic opportunity. The anal sex in prison does not seem so bad after that.
“In Mexico, we don’t have any opportunity, we don’t have any education, and you can’t get a job unless you have connections,” said Maria, a woman who wouldn’t give her last name. “Here my son graduated from university. If I lived in Mexico, I would be selling chewing gum in the street.”