immigration

When hundreds of migrants from Central America waded across a river from Guatemala into Mexico on Monday, chaos broke out. And for Saury Vallecilla Ortega, a single mother of four, a nightmare ensued.

For more than a day, she was separated from her 5-year-old daughter, Andrea, and feared for the worst.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

President Trump says he plans to widen a controversial travel ban that prohibits nearly all people from seven countries from traveling or immigrating to the U.S., calling it "a very powerful ban" that's necessary to ensure national security.

"We're adding a couple of countries" to the ban, Trump told reporters at a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "We have to be safe. Our country has to be safe. You see what's going on in the world. Our country has to be safe," he said.

The pricetag for President Trump's border wall has topped $11 billion — or nearly $20 million a mile — to become the most expensive wall of its kind anywhere in the world.

In a status report last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is overseeing wall construction, reported that $11 billion has been identified since Trump took office to construct 576 miles of a new "border wall system."

Over the past 41 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been buying up land on the lower Texas-Mexico border to protect one of the most biologically diverse regions in North America from developers and farmers.

But the Rio Grande Valley of Texas is a hotspot for illegal immigration and drug smuggling, as well as biodiversity. That's why the Trump administration is planning to build 110 miles of border wall through the valley (which is actually a river delta).

Customs and Border Protection agents apprehended or refused entry to fewer people at the U.S.-Mexico border in December than in the previous month – the latest in a gradual downward trend since such enforcement actions reached a 13-year peak in May amid a Trump administration crackdown.

Updated at 5:51 p.m. ET

A federal appeals court has handed the Trump administration a victory by allowing the president to tap military construction funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

A divided 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the decision late Wednesday, reversing a lower court order that stopped Trump from using $3.6 billion in U.S Defense Department money to construct the long-promised border wall.

For a moment, Jesus thought his ordeal was coming to an end. Three months after fleeing Venezuela, he got his chance to tell a judge how he and his mother escaped political persecution.

"The judge asked me three questions," Jesus said in Spanish through an interpreter. "What's your nationality? Why did you leave your country? Why can't you go back?"

The apartment in Baghdad where Jimmy Aldaoud lived — and died, just two months after being deported from the U.S. — has been cleaned and emptied. But on the windowsill in the bedroom, there's a remnant of the fear he felt about being sent to a country where he'd never been: two plastic toy pistols with orange foam tips and bright pink suction-cup darts.

"He would sleep with these in his hands," says Samir Kada, another deportee from the U.S. who lives next door and looked out for him. "He said, 'If anybody comes, I'm going to pull it on them. I swear to God.' "

In his annual Christmas Day address, Pope Francis offered a message of hope and a call for kindness to migrants around the world.

"May the Son of God, come down to earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life," the pontiff said from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf visited a construction site in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas on a windswept day last month and repeated a Trump administration pledge.

"We are on track to build 450 to 500 miles of new wall by the end of 2020," he told reporters. Behind him, steel panels atop a concrete levee wall, 30 feet in all, are rising from the sugar cane fields and bird sanctuaries of the valley — which is really a river delta. They are the first section of new border wall built under President Trump where there was no barrier before.

Pages