News & Media advocacy

Trump Admin Tries To Clarify Muddled 'Remain In Mexico' Plan

May 15, 2020

Law 360

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... "Migrants waiting in Mexico for now-canceled immigration court hearings that were scheduled before June 22 should come to the border one month after their original hearing dates, Law360 has learned, after conflicting instructions offered by a government official prompted widespread confusion among border attorneys.

 

According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed the correct directions. The confusion arose after DHS issued a public statement May 10 saying that individuals with hearings dates up to June 22 should arrive a month later to receive new dates, only to have a DHS official tell a human rights nonprofit days later that migrants with some June dates should stick to their original dates.Migrants waiting in Mexico for now-canceled immigration court hearings that were scheduled before June 22 should come to the border one month after their original hearing dates, Law360 has learned, after conflicting instructions offered by a government official prompted widespread confusion among border attorneys." ...

Many Asylum Seekers in Mexico Can't Get U.S. Court Hearings Until 2021. A Coronavirus Outbreak Could 'Devastate' Them

May 14, 2020

TIME

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..." While the Brazilian mother has her next court date tentatively set for July 14, 2020, many have had their dates pushed back even further as a result of the COVID-19 suspension, until 2021 in some cases. El Paso-based lawyer Taylor Levy tells TIME she has met several asylum seekers whose court dates have been pushed back until April 2021. One man from Venezuela, for example, would have had his final asylum hearing on May 6. Instead, he now has to wait until April 21, 2021.

He was pretty devastated,” says Levy, who most days stands at the Paso del Norte port of entry ready to speak to asylum seekers as they present themselves to Border Patrol. She also provides donated goods to them, including face masks and hand sanitizer.” ...

'Remain In Mexico' Changes Spark Confusion At The Border

May 12, 2020

Law 360

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..."Texas attorney Taylor Levy was cooking dinner on Mother's Day in El Paso when she got a text message alerting her to new changes in immigration policy: Hearings for migrants stuck in Mexico under the Trump administration's controversial immigration program would be postponed again, and there were new procedures to get new hearing dates.

 

"I was like, no!" Levy told Law360. "I spent the next three hours dealing with it and went to bed at like 10, when I have to go to the bridge at 3:45," she said, referring to the Paso del Norte International Bridge, where migrants in the area must report early in the morning." ...

As COVID-19 looms, conditions for migrants stalled at U.S. border are a 'disaster in the making'

May 12, 2020

NBC News

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... "On most mornings since the coronavirus pandemic began, Taylor Levy has left her house in El Paso, Texas, at 3 a.m. to drive across the Paso del Norte bridge into Juarez, Mexico, where she delivers masks and what she knows is bad news to the asylum seekers she meets there. "Lo siento mucho. Lo siento mucho," she said Thursday, expressing her condolences to a Cuban man as she explained that the asylum hearing he had been waiting on for months had been postponed until next April.

The man is one of thousands of immigrants, many from Cuba, Venezuela and Central America, who have been waiting for months in border cities in Mexico trying to get into the U.S. for asylum hearings under the Trump administration's Remain in Mexico policy." ...

Migrantes que aguardan en México deberán esperar otro mes para solicitar nuevas citas

... "El gobierno federal decidió cancelar las audiencias para casos de asilo como medida preventiva frente al covid-19. Asimismo, se informó que los interesados tendrán que esperar hasta el 11 junio para hacer solicitudes en el puente fronterizo en Ciudad Juárez." ...

Coronavirus Pandemic Halts Migration, Asylum Cases

May 8, 2020

Here & Now

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... "Since the beginning of the Migrant Protection Protocols or "Remain in Mexico" policy began in 2019, over 60,000 asylum seekers have been sent to Mexico to await their court hearings. COVID-19 has effectively halted all migration and asylum cases, with the courts expected to open on June 1. But until then asylum seekers are still lining up for cancelled hearings and have been routinely denied non-refoulement interviews.

Here & Now's Tonya Mosley talks with immigration lawyer Taylor Levy." ...

Practicing Asylum Law in El Paso: “MPP is just—it’s utterly insane”

May 7, 2020

Washington Office

on Latin America (WOLA)

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... "In mid-2019 the Trump administration ramped up its “Remain in Mexico” program, forcing tens of thousands of non-Mexican asylum seekers to await their hearing dates in Mexican border cities. In order to do her job, Taylor Levy, an asylum attorney in El Paso, Texas, found herself spending most of her time on the other side of the border in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. In March 2020, when the spread of COVID-19 made a border closure look more likely, Levy relocated to Ciudad Juárez in order to serve her clients. She remained there until the pandemic forced the hotel where she was staying to close down.

In this podcast, Taylor Levy shares some of her recent experiences and some dire warnings about what is to come. Hers is a gripping testimony about what it is like to be on the ground in the middle of one of the worst human rights crises in recent Latin American history—one created by U.S. policy." ...

"They're proud of me": With a mask and a passion to help, lawyer keeps working in Mexican border city

April 15, 2020

Texas Tribune

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... "Each week, The Texas Tribune is featuring the stories of a group of Texans from different parts of the state and different walks of life who are confronting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. New installments will be published every Wednesday.

 

Taylor Levy still shows up at the base of the Paso Del Norte bridge in Ciudad Juárez to assist asylum seekers or recently deported immigrants. But now she approaches the bridge from the north instead of the south after the Juárez hotel where she’d been living closed earlier this month. Levy, an immigration lawyer, had relocated to Juárez in March, just before the coronavirus paralyzed the United States, because she wanted to continue helping migrants in Mexico in case cross-border traffic was restricted because of the virus." ...

“Women to One Side, Men to the Other”: How the Border Patrol’s New Powers and Old Carelessness Separated a Family

Jan. 31, 2019

ProPublica

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... "By the time El Paso, Texas-based lawyer Taylor Levy saw a Facebook message from a California attorney asking her to track down David and Sebastian, David’s family had been apart for six weeks. Photos of Sebastian back in Honduras show a chubby, smiling boy. But when Levy met with him, she was alarmed by his condition. He was “skin and bones,” Levy remembered. And “he wouldn’t make eye contact. He was almost catatonic.”

“I’ve worked with thousands of asylum-seeking families and hundreds of separated kids,” Levy said. “And he completely, completely just shocked me by how badly he was doing.”

On its face, the case of David and Mirza baffled Levy. The family crossed the border together and had fled the same violence and threats. But the more she thought about it, the clearer it became: Their predicament reflected the unaccountable, arbitrary system the Trump administration has created." ...

In El Paso court, migrants no longer get legal advocates or pre-hearing briefings on their rights

July 11, 2019

Texas Tribune

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... "In late June, the U.S. Justice Department stopped allowing attorneys or immigrant rights groups to give “know your rights” briefings to asylum seekers before their initial court hearings. The short seminars included overviews of the asylum and removal processes, as well as other topics, like the MPP program. Then, earlier this week, the department stopped allowing advocates known as “friends of the court” to assist the judge and the asylum seekers during the hearings, immigration attorney Taylor Levy told The Texas Tribune on Monday.

 

Lawyers say the friend of the court program was essential in helping asylum seekers who hadn’t found or couldn’t afford legal representation to understand the asylum process better. Friends of the court can be lawyers or other people; they are authorized to do things like explain court procedures, help translate for migrants who don't speak English and relay relevant information to the judge. Levy, who represents one of the migrants in her family separation case but not in her asylum proceedings, said the move makes the MPP program more confrontational." ...

My city used to welcome refugees. ‘Remain in Mexico’ means we can’t anymore.

Nov. 19, 2019

Washington Post

Op-Ed

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... "Throughout the past decade, I have accompanied thousands of asylum-seeking mothers, fathers and children who arrived here filled with hope they were finally safe from the horrors they fled back home. I watched my community graciously step forward time and time again to welcome these strangers with open hearts and arms.

The El Paso community — with support from around the world — became a shining example of generosity and hospitality. Catholic nuns and evangelical missionaries volunteered alongside radical atheists; former Border Patrol agents served meals cooked by the local LGBT center; students and retirees bonded over bumbling Spanish and children’s laughter. We came together to welcome those in search of refuge and wished them well as they continued on the next step of their journeys." ...

Trump is planning a cruel twist in border policy

May 20, 2019

Washington Post

Op-Ed

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... "Despite President Trump publicly backpedaling on his threat to restart his widely condemned family separation policy, reports reveal that the administration is vetting plans to revamp the scheme — euphemistically rebranding it as “binary choice.” In reality, this bland term belies a cruel ultimatum to parents at the border: either be separated from your children indefinitely or waive your child’s rights so they can be sent to jail with you.

A choice between family separation and family detention is not a choice at all. As cruel as separation is, children simply do not belong in prison. A number of pediatric associations agree that the effects of detention, including family detention, are uniquely traumatizing for children and can cause irreparable, lifelong harm." ...