Immigration News: August 12, 2022

The images represent a few of the many short video segments in the Pew Research report, Being Asian in America.

What does it mean to be Asian in the United States? A new Pew Research report unpacks the differences and similarities in the experiences of 18 different Asian ethnicities in the United States. It includes video segments (linked above), as well as the written report.

The study includes perspectives and stories of Asian Americans who are immigrants and Asian Americans for in the United States. One sad similarity: all Asian ethnic groups have to deal with “ignorance and misinformation about Asians in the U.S.”

[Pew Research] “The majority of Asian Americans are immigrants, coming to understand what they left behind and building their lives in the United States. At the same time, there is a fast growing, U.S.-born generation of Asian Americans who are navigating their own connections to familial heritage and their own experiences growing up in the U.S. …

“Many participants described a complicated relationship with the pan-ethnic labels “Asian” or “Asian American.” For some, using the term was less of an active choice and more of an imposed one, with participants discussing the disconnect between how they would like to identify themselves and the available choices often found in formal settings. For example, an immigrant Pakistani woman remarked how she typically sees “Asian American” on forms, but not more specific options. Similarly, an immigrant Burmese woman described her experience of applying for jobs and having to identify as “Asian,” as opposed to identifying by her ethnic background, because no other options were available. …

“Many participants felt that neither “Asian” nor “Asian American” truly captures how they view themselves and their identity. …

“For many, interactions with others (non-Asians and Asians alike) often required explaining their backgrounds, reacting to stereotypes, and for those from smaller origin groups in particular, correcting the misconception that being “Asian” means you come from one of the larger Asian ethnic groups. …

“In some cases, ignorance and misinformation about Asians in the U.S. lead to inappropriate comments or questions and uncomfortable or dangerous situations. Participants shared their frustration when others asked about their country of origin, and they then had to explain their identity or correct misunderstandings or stereotypes about their background. At other times, some participants faced ignorant comments about their ethnicity, which sometimes led to more contentious encounters. For example, some Indian or Pakistani participants talked about the attacks or verbal abuse they experienced from others blaming them for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Others discussed the racial slurs directed toward them since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Some Japanese participants recalled their families losing everything and being incarcerated during World War II and the long-term effect it had on their lives.” 

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Immigration News: August 11, 2022

Border crossing with gates for cars, orange blockade and bollards
Border crossing at Tecate. Photo by Juan O.Mena, used under Creative Commons license

Recent headlines focused on Border Patrol agents forcing Sikhs to remove their turbans and then confiscating the turbans and refusing to return them or throwing them in the garbage. That’s just a small part of Border Patrol confiscations. They also seize medication, documents crucial to proving identity or asylum claims, and much more.

[Arizona Republic] “Nathalie Hernandez Barahona, a first-generation Chicana who works with the AZ-CA Humanitarian Coalition organization, said medications, shoes and clothing were also some of the items migrants were leaving behind after their long journeys to the border.

“’I will never forget seeing a wheelchair at the border wondering how that individual continued with their journey,’ Hernandez Barahona said. …

“These actions can also be deadly, according to Eddie Chavez Calderon, a campaign organizer for Arizona Jews for Justice. At the news conference, he said he once helped a girl whose kidney medication had been thrown away and who had gotten a urinary infection. …

“Some migrants are given tickets to claim their belongings later; however, she said in her experience she hasn’t seen or heard of a case where people were able to pick up their items because they are already across the country or some are deported.”

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Immigration News: August 9, 2022

NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Italy (Aug. 22, 2021) A U.S. Navy Sailor assists an Afghan evacuee at Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella, Aug. 22, 2021. NAS Sigonella is currently supporting the Department of Defense mission to facilitate the safe departure and relocation of U.S. citizens, Special Immigration Visa recipients, and vulnerable Afghan populations from Afghanistan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel M. Young) 210822-N-NI474-1281

Today, bi-partisan groups of Senators and Representatives introduced an Afghan Adjustment Act in the House and Senate. Earlier versions, such as HR 3513,  introduced by Rep. Adam Kinzinger  in 2021, went nowhere.Today’s bill, with bi-partisan support, may move forward. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is among the lead sponsors of the bill. 

Jeremy McKinney, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), praised the bill in a press release:

“We applaud the bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives that has come together to offer legislation to protect the tens of thousands of individuals who fled Afghanistan after the U.S. departure led to a Taliban takeover. This includes those already here on humanitarian parole, those seeking Special Immigrant Visas or have P-1 or P-2 referrals for the U.S. Refugee Admissions program, as well as those Afghans who have assisted the U.S. mission and remain in peril in Afghanistan. This legislation would be a game-changer, allowing attorneys who are currently assisting in pulling together complex asylum cases to shift to a much more stream-lined process, help many more vulnerable people, and ensure that individuals are properly vetted. Failure to pass this bill would add significant strain to already overburdened asylum and immigration court systems.” 

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Immigration News: August 8, 2022

Starting the week with some good news! Just about an hour ago, the Department of Homeland Security announced that Remain in Mexico is over! No new people will be enrolled. Asylum seekers already in the program will be allowed to stay in the United States while immigration courts sort through their cases.

[CBS] “In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it had stopped placing migrants in the Migrant Protection Protocols, a policy colloquially known as “Remain-in-Mexico.” It also said it would process migrants already enrolled in the program and allow them to continue their asylum cases inside the U.S. …

“In a one-page order issued Monday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk set aside a ruling he issued last year that required the Biden administration to reinstate the Remain-in-Mexico protocols, which had been initially suspended on President Biden’s first day in office in January 2021. …

“While Monday’s order is a legal victory for advocates for asylum-seekers who have called the Remain-in-Mexico policy inhumane and draconian, it will have a limited impact on current U.S. border policy, since the Biden administration had been enrolling a very small percentage of migrants in the program. …

“Human rights workers recorded hundreds of reported attacks against migrants forced to wait in Mexico, including in areas U.S. officials warn Americans not to visit because of violent crime and kidnappings.”

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Immigration News: August 5, 2022

Texas and Arizona governors bus immigrants to score political points, at the expense of the immigrants and the states where they are sent. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser requested National Guard personnel to assist and use of the armory for shelter. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declined the request. 

[New York Times] “Lever Alejos was out of money and out of options when he arrived in South Texas last month, after an arduous journey from Venezuela that culminated with him crossing the Rio Grande in water up to his chin. The Border Patrol quickly arrested him, and after his release, he was offered a choice: a $50 bus ride to San Antonio, or a free bus ride to Washington, D.C., paid for by the State of Texas.

“’I wanted San Antonio, but I had run out of money,’ said Mr. Alejos, 28, who has no family in the United States. ‘I boarded the bus to Washington.’ …

“With no money and no family to receive them, the migrants are overwhelming immigrant nonprofits and other volunteer groups, with many ending up in homeless shelters or on park benches. Five buses arrived on a recent day, spilling young men and families with nowhere to go into the streets near the Capitol….

“A vast majority of recent bus riders are Venezuelans fleeing their crisis-ridden country, and many have also been arriving in New York, often via Washington. Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, announced emergency measures on Monday to enable the city to quickly build additional shelter capacity. The mayor, also a Democrat, said the city had received 4,000 asylum seekers since May, fueling a 10 percent growth in the homeless population, with about 100 new arrivals each day.”

In addition to the Texas and Arizona governors’ busing migrants to DC, now individual ICE agents are sending migrants to phony addresses in New York, with false promises of help.

[NBC] “As News 4 previously reported, perhaps hundreds of migrants in recent months have been bussed from Texas to New York with paperwork directing them to shelters — except that the paperwork routinely sends them to wrong addresses where they cannot receive services, in some cases leaving families homeless and wandering the streets.

“But this new example is, to some experts, the most egregious yet. Catholic Charities provided News 4 with redacted images of paperwork allegedly given to a migrant by an immigration officer in mid-July, sending that asylum seeker to a New York City address of “111 unknown” with a made-up phone number.

“And in at least two separate places, the officer apparently signed that paperwork with what appears to be a drawing of an emoji — one eye closed, one eye open and the tongue stuck out. According to the organization, the migrant arrived in New York, sought out help from Catholic Charities and presented the document to a senior staffer on their legal team, who immediately photographed the papers.”

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Immigration News: August 4, 2022

Migrants are dying in the desert, desperately trying to get into the United States. Migrants already in the United States, with visa applications pending, may die during decades-long waits for processing. More than 8.6 million applications are pending. It has been more than 30 years since the immigration system was overhauled. 

[Los Angeles Times] “Milap Kashipara spent 16 years waiting for a green card that he hoped would lead to better opportunities for his three children than in India, as well as a chance to reunite with his siblings in California.

“In 2019, his petition finally arrived at the front of the line. He completed the paperwork and had reached the final step — scheduling an interview with the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai. Processing estimates at the time showed his family could be approved by April 2020.

“Then came COVID-19. Kashipara was 47 and healthy when he became infected. He died alone in a hospital 15 days later, on May 1, 2021, before the interview took place. …

“One study from the Cato Institute estimates that 1.6 million people who, like Kashipara, have been sponsored by relatives for a green card, will die before they can come to the U.S. legally.”

Eddie Canales lives in Brooks County, Texas, and works on the front lines of migration danger. . Last year, the bodies of more than a hundred migrants were found in Brooks County. Canales puts out water for the living, and searches for bodies of those who have died. 

[New Yorker] “As soon as Eduardo (Eddie) Canales walked into the office of the South Texas Human Rights Center on a hot day in mid-July, his phone rang. The nonprofit’s mission is to “end death and suffering on the Texas/Mexico border,” and, as the co-founder and sole full-time staff member, Canales is always on the clock. This time, the caller was a man in New York named Efraín. He explained that his wife, a Guatemalan woman, had crossed the border in mid-June, near McAllen, and had not been heard from since.

“Canales, an irrepressibly genial man in his mid-seventies, pulled a blank form from a stack and began noting down pertinent information: the woman’s birthday (January 25, 1990); her distinguishing features (gold teeth); the languages she spoke (a little Spanish, but primarily an Indigenous language). “After she crossed, they couldn’t get in touch with her,” Canales explained after he hung up. “Maybe they took away her phone.” The calls are often like this, from people who are sometimes panicked, sometimes stoic, but all facing the same crisis: someone they love crossed the border illegally, then went missing. Canales’s phone pinged—Efraín was sending pictures of his wife. In one, she leaned to the right and glanced at the camera with a shy, closed-mouth smile. Canales looked at her face for a moment. Then he called a local sheriff’s deputy to see if any bodies had been found recently.”

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Immigration News: August 3, 2022

More than two years into the Biden presidency, the poison of Trump’s immigration policies continues to flow through the veins of the country. Even when policies have officially ended, their consequences continue.

The Trump administration deliberately chose a policy of maximum cruelty, tearing families apart without even keeping records so that they could eventually reunite. The long, hard, slow task of finding the parents and children and bringing them back together still continues. The Biden administration has reunited 400 families so far. The families who have suffered through years of separation still have no road to permanent legal residence in the United States, and there can be none without Congressional action. 

[NBC] “More than 5,000 families were separated under Trump’s 2018 “zero tolerance” policy and a 2017 pilot program and advocates estimate over 1,000 remain separated. Because the Trump administration did not keep records of which children were separated and where they were sent, the task force and lawyers working on behalf of separated families have had a difficult time identifying families to offer them the chance of reunification. 

“In the majority of recently reunited cases, Brané said, the parents were deported while the children remained in the U.S. Now, parents are given the opportunity to come to the U.S. on paid travel, bring other members of their family who are dependent on them, and live and work in the U.S. legally for three years.” 

A month after the Supreme Court decision on Remain-in-Mexico, the policy remains in place.

[AP] “A sign posted last week at the entrance to the Salvation Army migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, by the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration appeared to best capture the public understanding of the policy’s status: “Wait for official information! The Remain in Mexico (MPP) program remains in effect. The United States government will inform you of any changes.”

“Critics of the policy have been increasingly outspoken about the Biden administration’s reticence on “Remain in Mexico,” and Monday’s certification renewed their calls for an immediate end to the policy.” 

Trump’s Muslim ban barred people from a number of mostly-Muslim countries from getting any kind of visa to travel to the United States. President Biden reversed it as soon as he was inaugurated, calling the ban “a stain on our national conscience.” But what happens to the thousands of people denied visas during the Trump regime?

[San Francisco Chronicle] “On Monday, U.S. District Judge James Donato ordered the Biden administration to meet with representatives of those seeking admission and develop new rules for allowing entry of those whose visa applications were denied under the previous administration.

“Plaintiffs in the lawsuit ‘have demonstrated that their visa applications were denied without the opportunity to apply under a properly administered waiver process,’ Donato wrote. ‘Even if permitted to reapply, they will bear undue transactional costs, financial and otherwise, that they should not be required to bear for a second time.’”

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Immigration News: August 2, 2022

If the reconciliation bill/Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 gets to a vote, expect a lot of amendments to be proposed at the last minute in what is called a “vote-a-rama.” Some of these amendments will be “poison pills” designed to kill the bill. For example, an amendment extending Title 42 bars to asylum seekers is likely. 

The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota has sent out an Action Alert urging people to contact their Senators in advance of the vote-a-rama. Go ahead: this is well worth the short time it will take to tell your Senators and Representative to protect immigrants and vote down the poison pill amendments. (And it does not take long—my calls to both Senators and my Representative took all of three minutes.)

[Washington Post] “Others who might vote for it include Manchin and Sinema. We know this because all these senators are already co-sponsors of the aforementioned bill that would codify Title 42. And in an evenly divided Senate, one defector means passage.

“Republicans could offer other “poison pill” amendments, such as a requirement that construction of Donald Trump’s border wall resume. So what happens if one or more of these pass?

“At that point, Menendez or other progressive senators might threaten to vote against the whole package — which would sink it.

“‘Adoption of amendments that would end access to asylum or expand Trump’s border wall will not repair our broken immigration and will put reconciliation at risk,’ Menendez’s statement said. That is a not-so-veiled suggestion that adoption of such poison pills might imperil the whole climate deal.”

More than 250 groups signed on to a letter urging Senators to vote down anti-immigrant amendments in the coming vote-a-rama. Here is a copy of that letter, with detailed discussion of the likely amendment proposals.

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Immigration News: August 1, 2022

Photo by Carol Larvick, Dakota County Extension Educator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Creative Commons license.

The war in Ukraine touches Minnesota farms in many ways, including higher prices for wheat and some other commodities. Workers on the Untiedt Vegetable Farm have a more personal connection: for years, Ukrainians have come as temporary farm workers on H-2A visas. Untiedt Vegetable Farm, located near Waverly, sells produce to Kowalski’s and Cub grocery stores in the Twin Cities, and at some market stands.

[Star Tribune] “Inna Zhemchuzhkyna, 40, arrived at the farm this spring from Kharkiv, a city in eastern Ukraine under siege by Russian attacks. She wiped away tears as she recounted — speaking via translation by one of the other women — spending nights hiding with her family underground in a parking garage while Russian missiles pounded overhead.

“‘Eventually we ran out of food,’ she said.

“On March 6, desperate and hungry, she and her 13-year-old daughter and husband boarded a crowded train to Poland. …

“Like the others, Zhemchuzhkyna wants to return home by the end of the year. But there is little for her in Kharkiv now.”

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Immigration News: July 29, 2022

logo with Ukrainian flag background and words "Uniting for Ukraine"

When Russia invaded Ukraine, refugees began leaving by the millions. In March, President Biden pledged that the United States would welcome 100,000 Ukrainians. That number has now been reached. Officials say it is not a cap, and more Ukrainians will continue to come. The welcome to Ukrainians contrasts with bars to other asylum seekers at the border.  

[CBS] “The tens of thousands of Ukrainians who have set foot on U.S. soil since the February 24 invasion have arrived through various immigration channels and with different legal status, most of them with temporary permission to stay in the country, according to the government data.

“Approximately 47,000 Ukrainians have come to the U.S. on temporary or immigrant visas; nearly 30,000 Ukrainians arrived under a private sponsorship program; more than 22,000 Ukrainians were admitted along the U.S.-Mexico border; and 500 Ukrainians entered the country through the traditional refugee system, the data show. …

“As part of his aggressive stance against Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Biden in late March promised to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians displaced by the war — a small fraction of the millions of Ukrainians who have fled to other parts of Europe.” 

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