Immigration has become one of the most hotly debated topics in our country. Recent immigration policies - from travel bans and visa restrictions to refugee caps and asylum changes to the construction of a border wall - are policies that have stoked outrage and litigation for their treatment of migrants including separating families from their children, deteriorating or inhumane conditions in detention facilities, and a lack of healthcare and legal counsel.
The debates only intensified as the coronavirus pandemic swept the country. Restrictions on land and air travel, closures of the U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada, and a 60-day, temporary halt on the issuance of certain green cards are causing fear and anxiety in immigrants and asylum seekers - many who remain at ICE detention centers and face an increased risk of contracting the virus due to an inability to follow social distancing protocols.
Crystal Massey works at the border, connecting volunteers throughout the country to remote and in-person volunteer opportunities and works closely with local border groups providing legal and humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers. Her work with the Immigration Justice Campaign - a joint initiative between the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association - increases pro bono legal representation for detained immigrants, only 14 percent of whom have access to counsel.
Massey shares a brief history of Border Patrol, who qualifies for asylum and how, and how the recent border policies enacted during the pandemic are impacting asylum seekers.
Crystal Massey, Volunteer Coordinator, Immigration Justice Campaign
Dan Moulthrop, CEO, The City Club of Cleveland