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Immigration News - September 27, 2022
• TPS for Burma extended. The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Burma for an additional 18 months, from Nov. 26, 2022 through May 25, 2024. The extension was announced due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Burma that prevent people from safely returning to the country. DHS also announced a redesignation of Burma for TPS for the same reason which will allow Burmese nationals residing in the U.S. as of Sept. 25, 2022 to be eligible for TPS. Currently, Burma is experiencing continued violence and a humanitarian crisis due to a military coup, upheaval and security forces’ brutal violence against civilians. This extension will allow for 970 current beneficiaries to retain TPS through May 25, 2024, as long as they meet TPS requirements.
• Legal challenges follow DeSantis’s migrant flights. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently sent two charter flights with about 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard without providing proper notice to officials in the town and did not tell the migrants the flights would be taking them there. DeSantis has argued that the flights have protected Florida from “negative ramifications” of a border crossing surge. DeSantis is facing legal challenges such as an investigation by a Texas sheriff, who referred to the governor's migrant flights as a “predatory” operation. The migrants have filed a federal class action lawsuit alleging a “premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme.” Lastly, DeSantis is facing a Democratic lawmaker’s state lawsuit challenging the use of a $12 million migrant relocation fund.
• Private refugee sponsorship program. The Biden administration is planning to start a private refugee sponsorship program within the following months to help the refugee admissions in the United States. Private organizations and groups of everyday Americans will be able to sponsor and resettle refugees, similar to the programs the U.S. conducted for the resettlement of Afghan and Ukrainian refugees this past year. The program is expected to launch by the end of this calendar year. The private refugee sponsorship program will allow private citizens to identify refugees on their own and resettle them.
• Only one third of Americans support migrant flights. Only one third of Americans, including half of Republicans and one in six Democrats, have said it is acceptable for state officials to fly or bus migrants from border towns to other states. Republican governors have been transporting migrants to other states, yet in a two-day poll conducted last week only 53% of Republican respondents said they support the practice. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has sent 11,500 migrants to Washington D.C., Chicago and New York since April. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has sent more than 1,800 migrants by bus to D.C. and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
• NY bill would provide legal help for immigration proceedings. Low-income immigrants in New York who are facing deportation would be provided with legal help under a new bill recently proposed by two state lawmakers. The Access to Representation Act would allow for immigrants in New York to have a right to legal counsel, becoming the first state to establish this right for those facing their immigration proceedings. The bill is estimated to cost around $300 million. Immigration advocates have constantly pushed for a right to legal counsel in these civil federal proceedings.
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Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!
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Immigration News - September 15th, 2022
• H-2B cap for first half of FY 2023. USCIS has reached its congressionally mandated cap on H-2B visas for temporary nonagricultural workers for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2023. Sept. 12, 2022 was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2023. USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the cap including petitions for current H-2B workers in the U.S. who extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of their employment; fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, or supervisors of fish roe processing; and workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009 until Dec. 31, 2029.
• Migrant surge in El Paso. A recent surge of migrants, a majority from Venezuela, is currently overwhelming the shelters in El Paso, Texas. Over the past week, roughly 1,000 migrants have been released near bus stations in hope they will find their way to their next destination within the country. Currently, the El Paso Sector of the U.S. border reports an average of 1,300 migrants crossing per day, whereas compared to data from May, migrant crossings at this sector was about 1,000 people per day. Many Venezuelan migrants who have not yet been processed have gathered in an El Paso neighborhood called Chihuahuita to await processing. Border agents have then been performing biometric screenings on migrants before allowing their “street releases” but will hold those who may pose a threat to public safety.
• Border chief directed agents to release foreign nationals. In a memo obtained through Florida’s lawsuit against the Biden administration, it was discovered that U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz directed agents to release noncitizens into the U.S. because there would not be enough space to detain them in anticipation of Title 42 being lifted. In the May 19 memo, Ortiz instructed agents to release “processed noncitizens in the vicinity of nongovernmental organizations” and to coordinate with NGOs regarding the locations the migrants would be released, “paying particular attention to the availability of services and transportation options.” CBP did not enact the policy due to an injunction placed by a federal court to halt the Biden administration from ending Title 42.
• Migrants bused from Texas to Chicago. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) spoke out against the busing of migrants conducted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) as being “un-American.” Lightfoot discussed how the migrants being sent on the buses are not treated with respect or dignity, explaining that they are put on buses, sent to an unknown destination with little food and water. Since April, Abbott’s office has bused 10,400 migrants across Washington D.C., New York City, and Chicago. Lightfoot discussed how many migrants have to be taken to the hospital once they get off the bus due to being on the long bus rides with delicate medical conditions.
• Democratic senators call on ICE to stop using facial recognition. Two Democratic senators called on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requesting the agency end its use of facial recognition and other surveillance technologies, arguing it threatens individual privacy rights. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter to ICE Director Tae Johnson referencing a report from Georgetown University that provided information of ICE showing the use of facial recognition and how the agency buys information from data brokers to carry out deportation proceedings. The senators requested answers from the acting director regarding multiple questions about the facial recognition technology and requested an answer by Oct 3.
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Immigration News - July 14th, 2022 (USCIS)
Time Frame Extended for Uniting for Ukraine Parolees to Comply with Medical Screening and Attestation After Arrival to the United States
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the time beneficiaries paroled into the United States under Uniting for Ukraine have to attest to their compliance with the medical screening for tuberculosis and additional vaccinations, if required. Effective immediately, beneficiaries paroled into the United States under Uniting for Ukraine must complete their medical attestation within 90 days of arrival in the United States. Previously, beneficiaries paroled into the United States under Uniting for Ukraine were required to complete the medical screening and attestation within 14 days of arrival to the United States.
The attestation is a condition of parole and must be completed in the beneficiary’s USCIS online account. Beneficiaries are responsible for arranging their vaccinations and medical screening for tuberculosis, including an Interferon-Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) blood test.
Beneficiaries who test positive for tuberculosis must take the appropriate measures, including additional screening, such as a chest radiograph, isolation, and treatment. Beneficiaries must also complete the tuberculosis screening attestation for their minor children within 90 days of arrival to the United States, even if the child is under the age of 2 years old and qualifies for an exception to the tuberculosis test screening. For more information and resources, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Uniting for Ukraine: Information for TB Programs page.
Uniting for Ukraine was announced on April 21, 2022, to provide a pathway for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside the United States to come to the United States and stay temporarily in a two-year period of parole. Individuals participating in Uniting for Ukraine must have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States. Additional information is available on the USCIS and DHS Uniting for Ukraine webpages.
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Immigration News - April 14th, 2022
• Mexican Truck blockade at southern border. A truck blockade along the Mexican side of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge is causing cargo headed to the U.S. to have to take different crossings. The blockade is causing shipping and delivery disruptions for a variety of products. The Mexican truckers are protesting Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s new inspection efforts. After imposing the strict inspection policies, within the first six days, more than 3,400 commercial vehicles inspected were placed out of service for serious safety violations. Commercial traffic is at a complete standstill at the customs post where the trucks are increasing the wait time to enter the United States. Many 18-wheelers are being sent to other entry ports in Texas.
• How U.S. immigration policies affect Ukrainian refugees. Over 4 million refugees have left Ukraine since Russia’s attacks in late February. Many Ukrainians have fled to bordering countries in Europe. On March 24, President Biden announced the U.S. will welcome 100,000 refugees. The plans to welcome the refugees remains uncertain. Experts say it will take more time to admit 100,000 Ukrainians into the U.S. than many might hope or expect. The administration said some Ukrainians will come in under the refugee program but it normally takes two years or longer for someone to enter the U.S. as a refugee. Another form of entry is humanitarian parole, where people can be allowed into the country for a temporary period.
• GOP candidates double down on anti-immigration rhetoric. GOP candidates have been attacking undocumented Latino immigrations despite warnings that this strategy many backfire in general elections. Nevada Republican Senate Adam Laxalt has dropped $13,000 on radio ads addressing his opposition to protections for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, commonly referred to as “Dreamers.” GOP consultant Mike Madrid states voters in the Southwest have recently rejected conservative candidates who use hard anti-immigration language. Other GOP candidates from places such as Ohio and New Mexico have been criticized for their recent anti-immigration campaigns.
• Bus of migrants from Texas arrives in Washington, D.C. under Abbott’s new plan. Governor Greg Abott made a new plan to transport migrants from Texas to Washington, D.C. as a response to the Biden administration’s decision to lift Title 42. The first bus arrived with about 30 people on it. When Title 42 ends in May, federal authorities reported there could be up to 18,000 migrants a day at the southern border per day. Abbott responded to the administration’s decision and stated he will be sending the migrants to D.C. where the Biden administration could better deal with them. The program is voluntary for migrants and must be requested by cities and counties, but the state will pay for the buses. Migrants from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua agreed to go on the first bus to D.C. from Texas.
• Democrats fight against Biden immigration policy. Many moderate Democrats are fighting against the Biden administration for ending Title 42. Democrats running for reelection in the midterms are intensifying their fight against the administration and argue there is not an adequate plan that will handle the influx of migrants at the border once Title 42 is lifted. This week alone, two Democrat Senators Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Mark Kelly of Arizona toured or plan to tour the U.S.-Mexico border. They are meeting with CBP to get information about how Title 42 will impact communities there. Hassan urged the administration to not end Title 42 until there is a better plan in place to handle the influx of migrants.
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Immigration News - April 12, 2022
• Haitian migrants in the Florida Keys. Since the beginning of this year, more than 800 Haitian migrants have arrived at the Florida Keys by boat. Two of the boat landings have happened in Ocean Reef, an exclusive gated community in Key Largo, home to some of the wealthiest residents in the country. The U.S. Coast Guard reports intercepting about 4 vessels of Haitians per month, each boat averaging about 150 occupants. The influx in Haitian migrants in the Keys is part of a large spike in refugees from Caribbean nations coming to the U.S. by sea. This form of immigration may increase over the coming weeks due to the Biden administration relaxing some pandemic related immigration policies. Many residents and officials are concerned about this influx.
• Problems left behind by Title 42. The Biden administration is lifting Title 42 in May and will now have to plan on what to do regarding the past two year of denying asylum-seekers. Lifting Title 42 has become a major political fight. Republicans argue the administration is being soft on its immigration policies while Democrats are concerned over the future migrant surge. The Department of Homeland Security is preparing for a surge of crossings as high as 18,000 a day. Mexico has recently required citizens of Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela to have a visa before coming to Mexico, which may help block nationals aiming to get to the U.S. border. The administration may use “Remain in Mexico” which will keep asylum-seekers in Mexico until their U.S. court date.
• Public charge rule. When President Biden took office, one of his goals was to target the “public charge” rule. This Trump-era policy denied permanent residency or citizenship to people who are likely to rely on the state to meet their basic needs. When Biden took office, he rolled back on this regulation, which resulted in 14 Republican state attorneys general filing suit against Biden, claiming he was sidestepping the rules around making new federal regulations. Currently, the Supreme Court is deciding whether these state attorneys have standing. The Department of Homeland Security released a “notice of proposed rulemaking” and call for comment on April 25 regarding a new policy regulating the adjudication of the public charge statute.
• Ukrainians immigrating to the United States. Due to the Russian attacks in Ukraine, 4.4 million Ukrainians have left their country and entered neighboring European countries. When President Biden was in Europe, he announced the U.S. will be accepting up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. The Biden administration has yet to establish a clear plan on how the U.S. will admit the refugees. While waiting for the administration to develop a plan on admitting the refugees, Ukrainians who are unable to obtain visitor visas could apply for humanitarian parole. Humanitarian parole allows migrants to apply at U.S. consulates overseas or at U.S. ports of entry, allowing Ukrainians to enter the U.S. for urgent humanitarian reasons.
• Democratic revolt over Biden’s border policy. After the Biden administration announced the end to Title 42, moderate Democrats revolted, joining Republicans in demanding the pandemic health policy be reinstated. Five Democratic senators joined Republicans in introducing a bill on Thursday that would preserve the policy until 60 days after the surgeon general announces the end of Title 42. Two House Democrats who represent border districts in Texas requested the Biden administration to hold off on ending the policy. Moderate Democrats and Republicans argue that the U.S. does not have an adequate plan to deal with the influx in migrants that will arrive at the border once the policy is lifted.
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Immigration News - April 7, 2022
• Three states sue over the end of Title 42. On Monday, three states sued the Biden administration due to its plan to end the Trump-era pandemic policy known as Title 42. The Biden administration announced on Friday that it plans to lift Title 42 restrictions on May 23. As a result of this announcement, Missouri, Arizona, and Louisiana filed suit against the administration. The lawsuit seeks to prevent the administration from lifting Title 42, arguing the CDC violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to allow for a comment period on its revocation. The suit expresses concern that lifting Title 42 would cause a surge of migrants at the border that may overwhelm state and federal resources. The suit lists 20 defendants, including every agency involved with operations at the border or public health.
• Migrants from Russia smuggled into Key West. Undocumented migrants from Russia and other former Soviet countries were smuggled into Key West, Florida. Authorities reported that due to the war in Ukraine, refugees and others have been seeking dangerous routes into the United States. Spokeswoman Alyson Crean from the Key West Police Department reported the boat chartered from Cuba arrived at the south end of Duval Street on Sunday afternoon. The Key West police were called after about 15 migrants walked into a café. Officials said witnesses reported that the 15 migrants who arrived at the café may have been part of a larger group of about 40 individuals who traveled on the boat.
• African immigrant advocates point to ‘double standard’ as Ukrainians receive relief. President Joe Biden recently announced the U.S. will welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to the country. Congress members Ayanna Pressley and Mondaire Jones request the administration to extend the same type of relief to Haitian migrants. Advocates for African immigrants argue the U.S. has already done more for Ukrainians than for Haitians fleeing their country after a deadly earthquake and their president’s assassination. Further, Cameroonians have been displaced due to their country’s civil war. Immigrant advocates and politicians have been constantly requesting relief for Black immigrants and refugees in the United States.
• GOP attempting to link Title 42 to coronavirus deal. Republicans are considering linking a Trump-era immigration policy to a coronavirus relief deal which senators aim to pass by the end of the week. GOP senators are pushing for a vote targeting the Biden administration’s plan to end Title 42 as part of a debate over a $10 billion coronavirus relief deal. To pass the coronavirus aid deal, Senate leadership will need cooperation from all 100 Senators which could give Republicans leverage to push an amendment vote. The Biden administration announced last week its plan to end Title 42, a Trump-era health policy that allows migrants at the border to be expelled to their home country or Mexico due to the pandemic.
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Immigration News - April 5, 2022
• Migrants march in Mexico. On Friday in Tapachula, Mexico, about 500 migrants from Central America, Venezuela, and other countries conducted a march. The march is a traditional annual protest related to Holy Week. Migrants at the front of the march carried a white cross as they pushed past the police and National Guard lines. The march began two weeks early as migrants plan to go further than usual and aim to make it to the southern U.S. border. The migrants used the cross as a ram to break through the National Guard lines. Officers, who were supplied with riot shields, batons, and irritant spray detained some migrants while others ran past. Migrants joined the march because many feel confined to Tapachula while awaiting a hearing in the U.S. for their asylum claims, resulting in being unemployed and stuck within the state.
• Growing number of Ukrainians at U.S.-Mexico border. There has been a recent influx in the last week of Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Ukrainians are arriving at the Mexican border city of Tijuana to claim asylum in the United States. The number of people arriving has been increasing daily. The Department of Homeland Security is permitting some Ukrainians to be exempt from Title 42 on a case-by-case basis. Director of migrant affairs for Tijuana, Enrique Lucero, reported that while he expects all the Ukrainian refugees to be able to enter the country, American authorities have been slow to process them, resulting in many people setting up temporary camps at the border. U.S. officials at the border are processing about 100-200 Ukrainians a day and it takes nearly three hours to process them.
• ICE lawyers directed to clear low-priority immigration cases. The Biden administration will potentially clear hundreds of thousands of deportation and asylum cases pending before immigration courts. On Sunday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sent out a memo directing its lawyers to review cases and try to clear low-priority cases under enforcement guidelines the administration created last year. Currently, there is a backlog of 1.7 million cases. By clearing low-priority cases, the American Immigration Lawyers Association estimates this would include at least 700,000 low-priority cases, equaling about 40 percent of the backlog. ICE has not released their estimate of how many cases would be cleared under this plan.
• CDC to phase out border restrictions. On Friday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it will be ending Title 42 on May 23. The agency said it will be appropriate to lift Title 42 in May because of the lower levels of transmission in the U.S. and at the border, the protective measures available, and the higher vaccination rates among U.S. CBP personnel. Title 42 will be ending gradually to provide the Department of Homeland Security with enough time to increase protective measures at the border, including providing vaccines for migrants. Immigrant advocates are looking forward to the end of Title 42 while Republicans and some Democrats are concerned the increase of unauthorized crossings will overwhelm the border and distract officers from addressing drug trafficking and other crimes.
• Possible increase in asylum requests and immigration. Ricardo Zúniga, the Biden administration’s special envoy for the Northern Triangle region, says the U.S. is likely to have an increase in asylum requests and immigration. Within the span of two weeks, democracy in Central America appears to be facing a downfall. An anti-corruption judge in Guatemala went into exile on March 21 due to threats against her life over cases that involved Guatemalan officials and the country’s president. The president of El Salvador has recently made strict arrests in response to a spike in homicides within the country. Former President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, is facing extradition to the U.S. due to accusations of being involved with drug cartels trafficking cocaine to America. These challenges in Central America may result in a rise in immigration to the United States.
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