Immigration News from May 6 2021

I’m trying something new tonight, with quotes from some of today’s news stories rather than a blog post on a specific topic. Let me know whether you find this useful. 

One news item that made it to Twitter, though I have not yet seen it in a news article, is the appointment of more than a dozen new immigration judges. Immigration attorney Greg Siskind tweeted: “14 of 17 newly appointed immigration judges come from prosecutorial or ICE backgrounds. Is Stephen Miller still in charge?” Another Twitter user said three of the 17 announced today were actually Trump appointees. Discouraging, to say the least.

Refugees

President Biden has opened the door to refugees again. In Minnesota, the Mankato Free Press joins in welcoming refugees, and in recognizing their contributions to the state. (Mankato Free Press) 

“The U.S. has long been a leader in refugee resettlement not only because it’s the right thing to do — to save people from devastation and death in their home countries — but because America’s tremendous economic success from its beginning has been built with the sweat of immigrants and refugees….

“Many refugees have set up small businesses and brought diversity to neighborhoods with restaurants and stores. Others took important jobs taking care of the elderly or working in service businesses.

“The expansion of refugee limits will allow some 100 refugee support organizations that were shut down during the Trump years to once again get up and running.”

Maine refugees and resettlement workers are gearing up to welcome new Mainers. (WMTW)

“’People in the refugee camps are there for a lifetime, some of them,’ said Safiya Khalid. 

“The Lewiston City Councilor considers herself lucky. 

“As a child, Khalid spent three years in a refugee camp in Kenya before resettlement in the U.S. …

“Khalid, originally from Somalia, is also a coordinator with Gateway Community Services, a nonprofit supporting new Mainers.” 

What’s to stop a future president from imposing a new Muslim ban or Africa ban? The No Ban Act—if the Senate passes it. The House has already passed the legislation. (Los Angeles Times)

“One of the first inhumane and racially tinged acts of the Trump administration was to close the borders to travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days and to global refugees for 120 days (except Syrian refugees, who were banned indefinitely). …

“Lost in the debate was the issue of how the president had such power in the first place. It’s because Congress gave it to him. Federal law gives the president significant leeway to develop rules and regulations on how the immigration system should work, including wide latitude on deciding who can enter the country….

“[T]he No Ban Act … a bill by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) to bar a president from banning entry on the basis of religion, … also would restrict temporary bans to those that ‘address specific acts implicating a compelling government interest’ in protecting ‘the security or public safety of the United States or the preservation of human rights, democratic processes or institutions, or international stability.’

“Any restriction must be narrowly tailored, and the president also would have to first consult with Congress, then deliver a follow-up report within 48 hours or the ban would expire. And the bill would allow people unlawfully harmed by such a restriction to sue in federal court, a recourse not often available under existing immigration law.”

The Refugee Outreach Collective helps to connect U.S. colleges and refugees—and internet access, tablets, and translations. While the courses do not carry college credit, they offer hope and a window to a possible future. (Border Report)

“The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many learn, and she said it opened up an opportunity to impress upon academic institutions that refugees in other countries can be part of this academic equation, as well.

“’Really, at the end of the day, all people need is simple access to the internet,’ she said. ‘And we can expand their access to universities.’

“This is a model she has been perfecting since ROC a year ago began offering its first courses to refugees in Dzaleka, Malawi, in southeastern Africa.”

Enforcement under the Biden administration 

ICE deportations fell to a 20-year low of 2,962 people in April, BUT—that number does not include people who were “expelled” rather than deported. Title 42 expulsions total more than 200,000 since January 20. (Washington Post)

“President Biden and his Department of Homeland Security team have issued new rules to rein in ICE officers, who were afforded wide latitude under the Trump administration to make arrests and were encouraged to boost deportations.

“Biden has resisted calls from activists and some lawmakers to abolish ICE, and his top DHS officials say they will reform the agency and restore its reputation by focusing on criminals who pose public-safety or national security threats. In private, ICE officials say their work is being essentially abolished through restrictions on their ability to make arrests and deportations.”

Is the Biden administration continuing Trump-era pressure on Mexico to stop immigration? (BuzzFeed News)

“The proposals that have been discussed include Mexico officials prioritizing repatriating adults turned back by US border officials under a controversial Trump-era policy, increasing apprehensions of immigrants moving through their country to an average of 1,000 per day, and taking in more Central American families turned around at the border, according to the documents….

“US officials wrote in the memo that they wanted Mexico to take back more families turned around by the policy.

“’Ask Mexico to accept more families from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras expelled pursuant to Title 42 across the U.S. Southwest border,’ the memo states.”

Biden asked for $1.2 billion for border infrastructure, but Republicans still want a wall. (Roll Call)

“In a preview of his fiscal 2022 budget request released last month, Biden called for modernization of land ports of entry, investments in modern border security technology, and resources to ensure the safe and humane treatment of migrants in Customs and Border Protection custody — but no new funding for a border wall.” 

Families and Children

Using humanitarian parole, the Biden administration may reunite whole families, not just parents and the children taken from them. (NBC News)

“Michelle Brané, the executive director of the Biden administration’s task force to reunify the separated families, told NBC News her group is working on a process where ‘immediate family members can also apply. That includes siblings, another, you know the partner or spouse, other parents if they’re in the picture. So we arranged for that. Once those applications are approved, we will facilitate travel arrangements.’

“Mayorkas said he could not guarantee that the families would have permanent legal status, but said, ‘We’re going to do everything we can to make it work out.’”

Scrambling to shelter newly-arriving children, the Biden administration is waiving many normal requirements. (Associated Press)

“In its haste to provide new facilities, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded the largest contracts — worth more than $2 billion — to two companies and a nonprofit without a bidding process and has exempted providers from the staffing requirements that state-licensed child facilities must meet, according to HHS and federal spending records….

“’We know the administration is dealing with huge numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants,’ said Steve Rosenbaum, an attorney of La Raza Centro Legal who represents immigrant children in a long-running legal case over custody conditions for migrant youth. ‘It is trying in good faith to do the right thing, but it is almost an impossible task.’” 

Smuggling

CNN investigated the big business of smuggling migrant, interviewing smugglers and watching them as they put up ladders against the border wall and sent migrants over. Cartels in Mexico dominate the business, employing on-the-ground smugglers, like the small family operation interviewed by CNN. A UN report estimates that migrant smuggling was more than a $4 billion business back in 2014, though only a fraction of migrants who pay the fees actually make it to their final U.S. destination. (CNN)

“One of the two brothers interviewed by CNN who smuggles people in Ciudad Juárez said he was recruited for the job after moving into his house on the border. ‘Some guys asked me if I wanted to join, and I said yes. That’s why I’m here.’ 

“In this case, the ‘guys’ he referred to were members of the Juárez cartel—one of Mexico’s oldest and most powerful organized crime groups—which the smugglers said they work for directly. 

“Each migrant must pay the cartel $2,000 to cross the border here with the help of a smuggler, the two brothers told CNN. That’s in addition to whatever these migrants had to pay just to arrive at the border….

“CNN has no way of verifying how they treat the migrants in their charge. But even if they treat them well, the family’s actions are far from selfless. Each time they are compensated for their work, they help to maintain a system that perpetuates rampant kidnapping, rape, extortion and even murder.”

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

“Asian American” includes dozens of ethnicities and nationalities, with widely differing education and income levels, and immigration stories. (CNN)

“While they have been in America since the nation’s infancy, Asian Americans continue being harmed by stereotypes like the ‘model minority’ as well as racial violence. Much of the recent anti-Asian bias is a result of many people being ignorant of the group’s history in the country and xenophobic messaging around the Covid-19 pandemic, experts and lawmakers say….

“An estimated 22 million Asian Americans live in the US, making up nearly 7% of the total population, US Census data shows. Those who self-identify as Chinese, Indian or Filipino ancestry make up the three largest Asian groups in the US, but no one ethnicity makes up a majority. 

“For decades, Asians were grouped together with Pacific Islanders by government officials and advocates. Currently, there’s an estimated 1.6 million Pacific Islanders living in the US, including many who identify as Native Hawaiian, Samoan and Guamanian or Chamorro.”

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, www.tcdailyplanet.net, 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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