Immigration News for Friday, June 4, 2021

After years of being told to prosecute and deport everyone to the fullest extent possible, prosecutors have now been given discretion to dismiss deportation cases. That discretion existed until the Trump administration took it away. This move by the Biden administration should be a game-changer for many immigrants, as well as helping to reduce the million-plus backlog of pending cases. (BuzzFeed News)

 “Immigration and Customs Enforcement prosecutors have been instructed by the Biden Administration that they can consider dismissing cases for immigrants who have been longtime green card holders, are pregnant, elderly, have a serious health condition or have been in the US from a young age, the documents state….

“The guidance, written by chief ICE attorney John Trasvina, a President Biden appointee, was sent to prosecutors on May 27 and represents a shift in how the agency pursues deportation orders in immigration court by emphasizing the discretion prosecutors have in court. While it does not require prosecutors to toss cases, it could lead to more immigrants having the ability to push for delays or dismissal of their deportation cases.”

How Not to Stop Immigration

Harsh enforcement doesn’t stop migrants who are fleeing life-threatening conditions, according to two recent studies. (Vox)

“But research shows that the threat of detention and deportation in the US doesn’t dissuade migrants from making the journey to the southern border, especially if they are victims of violence and may be seeking to escape the ‘devil they know’ in their home countries….

“Most survey takers thought that crossing the border was more difficult and less safe than it was the previous year, and that it involved an increased risk of deportation and worse treatment of migrants. In that respect, the campaign had appeared to succeed in persuading Hondurans that migrating to the US was a ‘highly dangerous proposition with little chance of success,’ according to the researchers. 

“You might expect that would have made them less likely to eventually migrate. But that’s not what the researchers found; the survey takers’ views of the dangers of migration to the US and the likelihood of deportation did not seem to influence their plans to migrate in any meaningful way.

“Rather, the factor that was most associated with people’s desire to migrate was whether they were victims of crimes, as is the case for many asylum seekers fleeing gang violence in Honduras.”

Development aid won’t stop or even slow migration either, argues political science professor Nick Micinski. But that’s not the only problem: shifting focus from protecting refugees to development aid ignores refugee rights. (Washington Post)

“Like the United States, governments around the world have shifted migration policies, abandoning many commitments to refugees’ rights, and instead attempting to prevent migration in the first place. For instance, after two years of negotiation, in 2018 more than 150 governments adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees. The first asks governments to share best practices and invest development aid to prevent migration. In the second, governments agree to voluntarily pledge ‘financial, material and technical assistance’ every four years at the Global Refugee Forum.

“But neither compact reaffirmed key refugee rights, like banning child detention or prohibiting deportations back to life-threatening circumstances. During negotiations, governments couldn’t agree on a way to equitably share the burden of hosting refugees by committing to resettlement quotas or funding; they even removed ‘responsibility sharing’ from the compact’s proposed title.” 

The Biden administration continues following the same old playbook when it comes to pressuring Mexico to stop immigrants before they get to the border. (BuzzFeed News)

“It appears that some of the talks have already led to changes: Mexico has recently started flying immigrants turned around by US border agents under a Trump-era public health order to southern Mexico to make it easier to send them back to their home countries, according to the documents.

“’What we’ve seen Mexico do in recent months is enter into an informal agreement with the United States to significantly expand immigration enforcement along the Mexico–Guatemala border. At this point, these types of arrangements reaffirm Mexico’s emergence as a state that serves US enforcement interests in the region,’ said Cris Ramón, a global migration researcher based in Washington, DC….

“Documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show that DHS was informed that the Biden White House wanted Mayorkas to tell Mexican officials the US government wants more to be done, including increasing arrests of those coming through Mexico on their way to the US and stepping up enforcement at airports regarding people who use Mexico’s visa policies to get to the US border.”

And in other news …

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the contract with private Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, GA would be terminated. Not soon enough, it appears. (The Intercept)

“’This facility, which has a long and well-documented history of inflicting horrific abuse and neglect on people held there, should be immediately closed once and for all,’ said Diego Sánchez, a Georgia-based direct services attorney with Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative. ‘It is beyond disappointing that nearly two weeks since the directive to close Irwin as soon as possible, ICE continues to confine immigrants at Irwin and other horrific facilities across the country. Enough is enough.’…

“Advocates and a detainee also spoke of continued troubling reports from inside Irwin with regard to medical issues, particularly the coronavirus pandemic. The alleged medical abuse is what brought Irwin under scrutiny in the first place, after The Intercept first wrote about Wooten, the whistleblower who detailed abuse and neglect. Wooten initially spoke out to bring attention to the poor implementation of protocols related to the pandemic.” 

African immigrants, many essential workers, were particularly hard-hit by COVID. They need and deserve assistance now, from housing assistance to vaccinations. (Minnesota Reformer)

“During the pandemic we at African Career, Education and Resources Inc., or ACER, have assisted 1,500 families in need of rent support who have been working on the frontlines to keep the economy running. According to a survey we conducted, a majority of low-income tenants in the northwest suburbs won’t be able to recover from the pandemic without an extension on the eviction moratorium and extra housing assistance. …

“The African immigrant community makes up a huge part of the health care personnel in the state and should be part of decision making on how to vaccinate their communities 

“To make the reopening and COVID-19 recovery inclusive and equitable, we must invest directly in the communities that have been most impacted. Immigrants are the backbone of our state and our country, and a strong and healthy immigrant community is a stronger Minnesota.”

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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