Immigration News for June 20, 2021

Jennifer Rocha picks bell peppers alongside her parents, Angelica Maria and Jose Juan Rocha, shortly before graduating from UC San Diego last week.
Branden Rodriguez/Instagram @branden.shoots

Today’s immigration news comes in pictures. Jennifer Rocha’s graduation pictures went viral. The love and pride in a farmworker family putting three daughters through college shines through every one, along with Jennifer’s love and pride in her parents. (NPR)

 “Jennifer Rocha wanted to hear the rustle of her black graduation gown against the bell pepper bushes in the California farm fields. She wanted to see the hem float above the dirt paths that she and her parents have spent years walking as a family while plucking heavy gallons of perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables that end up in America’s grocery stores.

“That’s why she decided to take her college graduation photos in the same hot vegetable fields in Coachella, Calif., where she has worked with her parents since she was in high school….

“‘The whole reason I wanted to go back to the fields with my parents is because I wouldn’t have the degree and the diploma if it wasn’t for them. They sacrificed their backs, their sweat, their early mornings, late afternoons, working cold winters, hot summers just to give me and my sisters an education.'” 

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Immigration News on June 18, 2021

Sunday is World Refugee Day. (Religious News Service)

“U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota thanked Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service during an online event Thursday (June 17), in the name of ‘all the refugees you have settled and the millions around the world who have benefited from your work.’

“Omar knows, she said, because she is one of those refugees….

“Ahead of World Refugee Day, LIRS also celebrated the contributions of former refugees.

“Vignarajah pointed to the work of Omar and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, another Democrat, who shared in a prerecorded message that his parents had fled Nazi Germany to come to the U.S.

“Lubab Al-Quraishi, a former Iraqi refugee who had been a pathologist in Baghdad, explained that thanks to an executive order by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy that licensed foreign-trained health care workers to help fight COVID-19 in his state, she spent the past year leading a team who tested nursing home residents for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.”

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Immigration News on June 16, 2021

Today the Biden administration decisively rejected two of the Trump administration’s most restrictive rulings on asylum. Under Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions prohibited consideration of domestic violence or gang violence as grounds for asylum. Today’s order is a huge move in the right direction: restoring the rule of law on asylum. (BuzzFeed News)

“The Justice Department on Wednesday threw out a decision by former attorney general Jeff Sessions that made it virtually impossible for immigrants to win asylum because they were fleeing domestic violence in their home countries….

“Wednesday’s decision by Attorney General Merrick Garland doesn’t set new asylum standards but rather vacates Sessions’s decision in favor of establishing future regulations that would address who should be considered a member of a particular social group. The Biden administration is expected to publish regulations or rules on asylum in the fall….

“Garland also vacated a decision in another case relating to asylum and social groups known as Matter of L-E-A-. In that case, a Mexican man requested asylum after cartel La Familia Michoacana targeted him in retaliation for his father refusing to allow it to sell drugs in his store. ..

“‘These decisions involve important questions about the meaning of our Nation’s asylum laws, which reflect America’s commitment to providing refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people,’ [Associate Attorney General Vanita] Gupta wrote [in a memo on the decision].”

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Immigration News from June 14, 2021

Time for Congress to step up and take action on immigration: increase visas available fo crime victims, pave a path to safety for Afghan translators, create a road to citizenship for DACA and TPS recipients and other undocumented U.S. residents. The White House and the Department of Homeland Security can do a lot, but they cannot create needed long-term changes in immigration law.

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Immigration News From June 12-13, 2021

From Theater Mu to Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In The Heights,” theater tells stories of immigrants as real Americans. Two theater stories and three real-life immigrant stories make up tonight’s news round-up.

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May 2021 on the Border—Numbers and Stories

Border wall mural, photo by Jonathan McIntosh, used under Creative Commons license

The latest official numbers are out, with details on numbers of migrants encountered on the southern border in May—admitted, arrested, detained, or turning themselves in to the Border Patrol to ask for asylum or rescue. The number of migrants encountered between border crossings dropped for the first time in a year. The number of migrants admitted at border crossings rose. That made for a combined total that rose slightly from April. A large percentage of migrants who were expelled had crossed multiple times, which inflates the total. (Arizona Republic)

“In all, U.S. officials encountered 180,034 migrants during the month of May, reaching a new peak under President Joe Biden, the newly published statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show. That was a 1% increase compared to April’s numbers. 

“CBP expelled 112,302 migrants last month under an emergency public health rule known as Title 42 that the Biden administration has kept in place. To date, the U.S. has expelled 867,673 migrants under Title 42 since the rule took effect in March 2020.

“The decrease in the number of migrants that Border Patrol encountered last month, although small, is notable. Migrant arrivals at the border had been rising rapidly since they bottomed out last April because of COVID-19 restrictions at the border.”

While May was a busy month for border crossing, many of those apprehended were repeats. The Border Patrol reports each encounter, so one person who crosses multiple times will be counted each time.  This month’s numbers show several changes, including fewer unaccompanied minors, fewer families, and more single adults. (Washington Post)

“The latest CBP data show a major increase in the number of non-Mexican and non-Central American migrants encountered along the border, however. CBP detained 40,067 migrants from other nations last month, up from 9,671 in January, according to the latest figures. Those migrants included large numbers of Cubans, Haitians, Ecuadorans, Brazilians and citizens of African nations, officials said.” 

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Changing Immigration Policies—June 11, 2021

Besides the articles linked below, a whole lot of immigration policy change happens with behind-the-scenes changes that, while small, affect people’s lives in big ways. One example: withdrawing a Trump regulation that would have imposed onerous new requirements for student visas. For a detailed look and links to many of these regulatory changes, check out this Twitter thread from Doug Rand. Below: recent news articles on changes from the Biden Administration and on state immigration policies.

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Immigration News from June 9, 2021

Emely’s mother left her in her grandmother’s care when she went to the United States. Then her father took the little girl away, and eventually sent her to the border alone. Sobbing, thirsty, having only one shoe, nine-year-old Emely was picked up by the Border Patrol on May 13. (AP News)

“Six years had passed since Glenda Valdez kissed her toddler goodbye and left for the United States — six years since she held Emely in her arms.

“But here she was, at Texas’ Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, tearfully embracing the little girl she left behind. And it happened only because she had glimpsed a televised photo of Emely, part of an Associated Press story on young people crossing the Mexican border alone….

“When the agents found her, she said she had lost her mother’s number, and did not know where her mother lived. Desperate, she gave reporters details she thought might identify her mom: “Her hair is curly, but sometimes she straightens it. And she has a lip ring.”

“Her mother was expecting her, she said. But Valdez said Sunday she had no idea her child had been sent to cross the border.

“Valdez was at her home in Austin, watching a Univision newscast one afternoon in May, when she saw the picture of Emely in a red hoodie. She knew at once that it was her daughter. Desperate, she immediately began making calls to U.S. authorities, the network and refugee agencies.”

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Immigration news from June 7-8, 2021

The Biden administration’s task force on reuniting families filed an initial report showing progress and commitment, but a painfully long way to go. So far seven families have been reunited by bringing the parents to the United States. Some 37 more applications have been approved and 50 requests are pending. 

The task of reuniting families is much harder because the Trump administration did not keep records when they separated parents from children. The search for both parents and children has been ongoing now for years, but some families may never be reunited because of the lack of information. 

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Immigration News Over the Weekend, June 5-6, 2021

The photo above comes from a protest on June 8, 2018. Asylum, denied by the Trump Administration, still remains mostly unavailable under the Biden Administration. A few cracks in the wall give hope that this may change. Most recently, a small number of “most vulnerable” asylum seekers will be allowed to enter the United States. The Biden administration has delegated the selection of these asylum seekers to six humanitarian aid and immigrant advocacy groups:  the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, HIAS, Kids in Need of Defense, Asylum Access, and the Institute for Women in Migration, The first two are London-based, the second two are U.S.-based, and the final two are Mexico-based. As they try to get protection for the most vulnerable, advocates continue to push for an end to Title 42 barriers to asylum. (Associated Press)

“The consortium of groups is determining who is most vulnerable out of those waiting in Mexico to get into the U.S., and the criteria they are using has not been made public. It comes as large numbers of migrants are crossing the southern border and the government has been rapidly expelling them from the country under a public health order instituted by former President Donald Trump and kept in place by President Joe Biden during the coronavirus pandemic….

“The government is aiming to admit up to 250 asylum-seekers a day who are referred by the groups, agreeing to that system only until July 31. By then, the consortium hopes the Biden administration will have lifted the public health rules, though the government has not committed to that….

“A similar but separate system led by the American Civil Liberties Union began in late March and allows 35 families a day into the United States at places along the border. It has no end date.” 

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