Playing Catch-up: Last Week in Immigration News

No way sign

As members of the migrant caravan that began in Honduras in early October begin to arrive in Tijuana, they face a long wait. More than a thousand asylum seekers were queued up and waiting to tell their stories to immigration officials at the border—and that’s before the caravan arrived. U.S. officials at the border say they can process no more than 100 per day. Weeks or months from now, when members of the caravan finally get a chance to meet a U.S. immigration officials, they will face further obstacles:

“When the Central American caravan finally crosses onto U.S. soil — past the fresh coils of barbed wire, through the chain-link door — its people will begin a closely monitored existence in U.S. custody, with showers every two days and guard checks every 15 minutes.

“They will live at the San Ysidro port of entry in one of 31 holding rooms with painted cinder-block walls, the largest of which holds space for 25 people, sleeping under Mylar blankets on rubber mats, watched by video surveillance. They will have two hot meals a day, a cold lunch and possibly cereal before bed.

“What the experience won’t be, for the several thousand migrants who are now pooling up in Tijuana, is fast.”

Instead of processing more people, border officials are closing at least three northbound highway lanes in San Ysidro and one lane in Otay Mesa, backing up regular commercial traffic at the already-busy border crossings.

Inside the United States, the administration has ordered USCIS to begin deportation proceedings whenever it denies someone’s application for a different or renewed visa.

“Starting November 19, individuals who have applied for humanitarian benefits will be directly impacted. USCIS has announced that, as of that date, it may issue NTAs impacting individuals who seek U visas (victims of crime), T visas (victims of severe forms of trafficking), and self-petitions under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)….

“The guidance reverses USCIS’s longstanding practice of not issuing NTAs upon denial of these humanitarian applications. As humanitarian groups have pointed out, the risk that USCIS will deny requests for benefits and place them in removal proceedings will “create a chilling effect on survivors coming forward to access protection.”

The administration’s policy affects people who entered the United States with valid visas and made their applications while legally present:

“The new measure that takes effect next week will affect foreigners who entered the U.S. legally, and applied for an immigration benefit such as a visa. But now if their application, petition or benefit request gets turned down, their presence in the United States becomes immediately unlawful.”

In other U.S. news, the census challenge continues, with a top Census Bureau scientist testifying about the expected effect of including a citizenship question on the census: fear, fewer replies, and a less accurate census.  

A small window on the role immigration plays across the country and across the economy comes with details of lawsuits against 7-Eleven by some of its franchisees. Many of 7-Eleven’s franchisees are Indian immigrants, who found this a way to work hard and succeed. After 7-Eleven was sold and new management took over, these owners found themselves targets, and now they allege that ICE is one of the tools being used to harass them.

“As detailed in a series of lawsuits and court cases, the company has plotted for much of DePinto’s tenure to purge certain underperformers and troublemakers. It’s targeted store owners and spent millions on an investigative force to go after them. The corporate investigators have used tactics including tailing franchisees in unmarked vehicles, planting hidden cameras and listening devices, and deploying a surveillance van disguised as a plumber’s truck. The company has also given the names of franchisees to the government, which in some cases has led immigration authorities to inspect their stores, according to three officials with Homeland Security Investigations, which like ICE is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security.

“7-Eleven says it had no advance warning of the January raids, or any raids, and gives the government information about a franchisee only if it has reason to believe crimes are occurring inside a store. Still, franchisees, after years of conflict with the company, went from suspicious to paranoid when word spread that ICE had shown up at stores run by men and women who were in legal disputes with 7-Eleven or were prominent critics of DePinto.”


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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