Stopping immigration without Congress and other immigration news – January 5, 2018

Wall mural Nogales McIntosh

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

Congress has not passed any laws changing the family visa process, but visa grants fell precipitously  during the first nine months of the Trump administration.  

Rather than getting a change in the law, the Trump administration is cutting family immigration by slowing down the vetting process and simply not granting visas. A Reuters analysis found that grants of family visas dropped by 25 percent since Trump took office. That’s a substantial number, but closer analysis reveals an even more dramatic drop in non-immediate family visas: 70 percent over the same time period.

Immediate family members are close relatives of U.S. citizens: the spouse, minor children or parents of adult U.S. citizens. These visas are not limited by a quota. Grants of immediate family visas dropped by about 12 percent, from 422,000 in the first nine months of 2016 to 372,500 during the same months in 2017. Fiancé visa approvals dropped by 25 percent..

Non-immediate-family visas include categories such as the brother of a U.S. citizen or the spouse of a legal permanent resident. The waiting time for these visas can range from a little over a year in the best case to 20+ years for some applicants from Mexico or the Philippines. That’s the wait to begin the application and vetting process, which has now been slowed down further by administrative (in)action. Grants of non-immediate-family visas dropped from 108,000 in the first nine months of 2016 to 32,500 in the first nine months of 2017.

Fewer Family Visas Approved as Trump Toughens Vetting of Immigrants (Reuters, 1/4/18) Trump wants to abolish family-based visas. And if he can’t get legislation passed, his administration will just slow approvals to a crawl.

“Even without legislative action, however, the number of immigrants approved for family-based visas has dropped this year to the lowest level in more than a decade, a Reuters review of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data shows. The drop has not been previously reported….

“The entire 2017 fiscal year had the lowest number of approvals for extended family visas since 2000.”

And in other news

As Flow of Foreign Students Wanes, U.S. Universities Feel the Sting (New York Times, 1/2/18)

Just as many universities believed that the financial wreckage left by the 2008 recession was behind them, campuses across the country have been forced to make new rounds of cuts, this time brought on, in large part, by a loss of international students.

“Schools in the Midwest have been particularly hard hit — many of them non-flagship public universities that had come to rely heavily on tuition from foreign students, who generally pay more than in-state students.”

DACA and Dreamers: Down to Decision Time (ILCM, 1/4/18)

“January 19 is the next crucial decision date for DACA and Dreamers. That’s when funding for running the government runs out, unless Congress passes an extension. To pass an extension, Republicans need some Democratic votes in the Senate. That gives Democrats leverage to demand a clean Dream Act in exchange for their votes to keep the government open….

“Here’s a status update on the political players and their positions, brief descriptions of competing “clean” and “dirty” Dream Acts, a timeline, and a list of actions you can take.”

Divided Democrats face liberal backlash on immigration (CBS, 1/4/18)

“Democrats in Congress are struggling to adopt a unified strategy to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

“Their inaction has enraged liberal activists across the country, who have shifted their anger in recent days from Republicans who control Congress to Democrats seeking to balance their commitment to a progressive priority with their desire to avoid an explosive government shutdown heading into the 2018 midterm elections.”

Congress’ indecision leaves Minnesota safety net clinics paralyzed (Star Tribune, 1/1/18) The failure to pass continuing appropriations affects almost 70 Minnesota clinics with a combined total of about 50,000 patients, including Southside Community Health Services in Minneapolis and Moorhead’s Community Health Services:

“The clinic would take a 60 percent funding hit if its $2.5 million grant is not renewed, endangering care for the 85 percent of its patients who are uninsured. Most are migrant or seasonal farmworkers who get care at four clinics, a seasonal site and two mobile clinics. They are often the only sliding-fee scale option in a service area that encompasses southeastern, west-central and northwest Minnesota.”

Will the government shut down in January? Never say never. (Washington Post, 1/3/18) If Democrats are really willing to go to the mat on DACA or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, they could force a shutdown. Republican resistance seems especially ridiculous, since both programs have overwhelming and bi-partisan support.

I grew up without DACA—Dreamers shouldn’t be hostages to Trump’s wall (Quartz, 1/3/18) She’s an ER doctor and a U.S. citizen now, but she grew up without legal immigration status.

“Every child, whether here illegally or not, deserves to grow up with some measure of certainty, with at least a semblance of a childhood; because the psychological damage of growing up in constant fear cannot be erased. I know this firsthand; becoming a US citizen didn’t erase the inkling that I didn’t belong. There will always be a part of me that feels like I’m an imposter; like an illegal immigrant.”

This blog focuses mainly on immigration and refugee issues in the United States. Lest we forget, here is a story from two among the the tens of millions of refugees outside the United States: 

‘Everyone has parents but us’ (Washington Post, 12/29/17) The grueling story of two refugee brothers, with an uncertain future.

“Three months ago, these two Rohingya brothers had a loving family, a little house near a river, a worn soccer ball to play with and 15 cows for fresh milk.

“It’s all gone now: The family killed. The house torched. The cows stolen….

“Jafar said he took refuge on a small hill overlooking his house and watched as soldiers beat his mother, Monira, and three of his siblings, Somuda, 15, Khurshid, 7, and Shalida, 3 months. They pushed them into the house, barricaded the door and set the structure on fire. His family was burned alive inside, Jafar said.”


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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