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.” 

The ACLU has sued to end the Title 42 “public health” rule, which has been used to expel more than 750,000 people without hearings. A hearing on the lawsuit has been postponed several times, as the ACLU and the Biden administration negotiate on ending the rule. Public health” is in quotes, because the CDC said it was not needed or useful, but the Trump administration ordered it anyway, and the Biden administration has continued its use. (My Rio Grande Valley)

“Word of an official end to the use of Title 42 started this spring, but never came to be. U.S. Border Patrol agents were advised to prepare for an end to Title 42 expulsions during a meeting with federal officials in San Antonio in mid-May, according to sources familiar with the situation.

“They were told to prepare to end the practice on May 21. It was the second time an end date was shared; the first time was in March of 2021.”

Governor Greg Abbott’s order to bar all undocumented children from licensed shelter facilities in Texas means disaster for the children, unless some way is found to keep his order from going into effect. (CBS)

“The scenario could force the Biden administration to transfer more migrant children to the emergency sites it has set up in work camps, convention centers and military installations like the Fort Bliss Army base. Unlike the traditional, state-licensed shelters, these emergency facilities are directly overseen by federal officials and do not have licenses to care for minors.

“‘I think it would be catastrophic, particularly for the welfare of children,’ one shelter operator told CBS News. ‘The only real option if they lose that many licensed beds is to move them to the emergency sites. Where else are they going to go?'”

While the United States relies heavily on immigrant doctors to fill healthcare needs, immigration rules make it difficult for these doctors to remain here. The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (S.1024) would provide more green cards for doctors and more stability. Immigrant doctors and healthcare professionals are crucial, especially in rural areas of the United States. (The Guardian)

“From 2016, Rishab Gupta worked to set up a life for himself in the United States, completing his medical residency in New York before moving to Boston with his wife Vandita for a neuropsychiatry fellowship last year. But when Gupta flew home to India to care for his dying mother amid the country’s devastating wave of Covid earlier this year, he knew he was leaving that life behind….

“Gupta’s J-1 visa, issued to many foreign doctors, isn’t exempted from the travel ban, and even if he were to apply for an exemption, his visa needs to be revalidated at the embassy first. With consular services rolled back due to the pandemic, appointments are scarce. But foreign medical workers like Gupta and their advocates say they wouldn’t be in this situation if they had more permanent and flexible visas.”

CBP got emergency approval in May to use the app to collect information on undocumented individuals. That bypassed the public comment and approval process.(CNN)

“U.S. border officials have already enlisted international and nongovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations refugee agency, known as UNHCR, to use the app. The organizations identify asylum seekers in Mexico who were subjected to the Trump-era policies, and then submit their biographic and biometric information, including photographs, through the app to Customs and Border Protection. CBP primarily uses facial recognition to verify the information and determine whether the asylum seekers will be allowed to enter the United States to pursue their claims….

“A federal study in 2019 of over 100 commercially available facial recognition algorithms found that accuracy varied dramatically based on the subject’s race, country of birth, sex and age. The technology was especially unreliable for border-crossing photos, and for images of those from Africa or the Caribbean….

“CBP asserts migrants can still come to ports of entry directly to seek asylum and don’t have to use the app. But with the border still closed to non-essential travel, the process by which NGOs identify asylum seekers and request permission for them to enter — now, through CBP One — is, in reality, the only option available.” 

DACA, which began in 2012, has “now dragged on for nearly 10 years and two generations are taking shape: the first generation, going into their early 30s, and the second generation, just graduating high school.” Every two years, DACA recipients have to renew their application, at a cost of $495. They have no path to legal residence or citizenship. (CNN)

“‘There’s no pathway to citizenship for me,’ said Karla Daniela Salazar Chavira, 18, who applied for DACA in January. ‘It’s like a paid subscription. I keep subscribing to live in the United States … but I would like to be accepted to live in the United States as a citizen.'”

The Perla family spent 130 weeks in Mexico, under Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy for asylum seekers. They went to five court hearings in the United States, arriving at the border entry point at dawn, taken to court in San Diego, and returned to Tijuana at the end of the day. They tried, but could not find a lawyer to help them. They had no steady place to live, bouncing from shelter to shelter, and at one point sleeping in an abandoned school bus without seats. The three children could not go to school. Finally, with Biden ending the Remain in Mexico program, they were admitted to the United States. The Mother Jones article gives a detailed picture of their time in Mexico, as told to and by a reporter who remained in close contact with them throughout the 130 weeks. 

“Oregon is just a new chapter—a huge but ultimately temporary reprieve. Shortly after they arrived, the Perlas’ lawyer checked in with the local ICE office, officially transferring their asylum case to a nearby US immigration court, likely in Portland. But their case could still take months, or even years, to finalize. And if a judge does not grant them refuge here, they’ll have to try and find other legal avenues to stay, and the whole process could still end in deportation back to El Salvador. Their futures—the possibility of Jeremías becoming a doctor, of Juan Carlos paying it forward—overwhelmingly depend on what one person decides about their story. Data shows how much asylum claim outcomes vary by judge; the majority of immigration judges deny more than 75 percent of all asylum claims they see, and 10 percent of all immigration judges deny over 95 percent.” 

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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