Immigration News on June 16, 2021

Today the Biden administration decisively rejected two of the Trump administration’s most restrictive rulings on asylum. Under Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions prohibited consideration of domestic violence or gang violence as grounds for asylum. Today’s order is a huge move in the right direction: restoring the rule of law on asylum. (BuzzFeed News)

“The Justice Department on Wednesday threw out a decision by former attorney general Jeff Sessions that made it virtually impossible for immigrants to win asylum because they were fleeing domestic violence in their home countries….

“Wednesday’s decision by Attorney General Merrick Garland doesn’t set new asylum standards but rather vacates Sessions’s decision in favor of establishing future regulations that would address who should be considered a member of a particular social group. The Biden administration is expected to publish regulations or rules on asylum in the fall….

“Garland also vacated a decision in another case relating to asylum and social groups known as Matter of L-E-A-. In that case, a Mexican man requested asylum after cartel La Familia Michoacana targeted him in retaliation for his father refusing to allow it to sell drugs in his store. ..

“‘These decisions involve important questions about the meaning of our Nation’s asylum laws, which reflect America’s commitment to providing refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people,’ [Associate Attorney General Vanita] Gupta wrote [in a memo on the decision].”

The Central American Minors Program began under President Obama as a way for parents living legally in the United States to petition to have their children join them. Trump shut down the program. Now President Biden is reinstating it.  (Los Angeles Times)

“Tuesday’s decision vastly increases the potential pool of children who will be allowed to seek entry. It expands the categories of adults who may petition for children to join them, adding to the mix legal guardians and parents whose legal status in the U.S. is still being processed, including those with pending asylum or visa-application cases, the official said.

“The official said there could be at least 100,000 newly eligible petitioners. 

“Many of the children and youths — who must be unmarried and younger than 21 — also will be allowed to avail themselves of the U.S. Refugees Admissions Program, which provides numerous benefits and is also being expanded by the Biden administration, the official said.”

In Afghanistan: COVID, suspension of visa processing, and no way to safety for Afghans who risked their lives to assist the U.S. military with interpreting and other services as U.S. forces leave Afghanistan. (Al Jazeera)

“Ameen* remembers the summer day in early 2009 when his young children and nephews were playing in the lush green field beside the family farm in Khost province as he watched over them. …

“Suddenly, a car pulled over, and one of the occupants started firing at them all with an assault rifle. Ameen says he had only a split second to drag the children to the ground and then run to get a weapon. By the time he returned with a gun, the Taliban had already left and had taken his younger brother with them.

“For days afterwards, Ameen sought the help of the village elders to convince the Taliban that, while he had worked as a translator for the US army from mid-2004 to mid-2007, he was no longer doing so. …

“Twelve days later, Ameen discovered the headless corpse of his brother in front of the family farmhouse, with a note attached to his clothes: ‘Do not work with infidels any more.’”

And in Minnesota: Fadumo Yusuf is coordinating the first-ever Somali Community Outdoor Book Fair on June 19 from 5–8 p.m. at the Dar-Us-Salaam community center in Burnsville. The book fair features Somali authors from Minnesota. (Sahan Journal)

“Fadumo is the author of ‘Ayan, of the Lucky,‘ a novel about a young Somali woman who is trying to become a doctor while navigating a civil war in her home country. Fadumo published the novel a year ago. She is also featured in “Green Card STEM Voices,” a collection of essays from immigrants and refugees in Minnesota who work in science, technology, engineering, and math….

“There will also be a panel discussion with five authors who will talk about their writing and publishing experiences. Fadumo added that kids are welcome. There will be a tent designated specifically for kids and children’s books. Three children’s book authors will be reading their books at the event….

“Fadumo added that she deliberately made sure authors from varying backgrounds and experiences are featured at the event. There will be authors who worked with traditional publishing houses, and self-published authors like Halima too. The works featured also vary by genre and age groups.” 

Other Immigration News

California banned private prisons in 2019. The Trump administration and Geo Group private prison corporation sued to overturn the law, which would end for-profit immigration detention. A federal district court judge upheld the law last October. Now the Biden administration and Geo Group are appealing that decision. (Los Angeles Times)

“California’s private prison ban would force the closure of seven privately run immigration detention facilities, which collectively have space for nearly 7,200 people. Geo Group operates most of them, three near Bakersfield and two near San Bernardino. 

“Weeks before AB 32 took effect, federal officials signed contracts totaling nearly $6.5 billion with Geo and the two other companies — CoreCivic and Management and Training Corp. — that run California’s four private immigrant detention centers. The contracts have terms of 15 years, inclusive of two five-year extensions, ending in 2034….

“During the hearing, lawyers for Geo and the federal government argued that regulating federal functions such as immigration detention is beyond California’s authority.”

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was one of the Senators asking for answers about DACA processing delays. (CNN)

“The request for information comes after the program, which was established in 2012 — following multiple failed legislative efforts — to address a portion of the undocumented population that came to the US as children, faced a turbulent few years in the Trump administration.

“‘DACA processing delays have significant consequences, not just for individuals depending on the status for their livelihoods and security, but for their families and for the businesses and workplaces that employ them,’ the senators wrote in the letter sent Tuesday. ‘As we work to build back our economy from the effects of the pandemic, reducing backlogs and processing delays for DACA cases is of the utmost importance.'”

As efforts to place unaccompanied minors with family members in the United States continue, those left behind suffer from prolonged separation, the stress of uncertainty, and conditions that they live in. (Associated Press)

“Paramedics were called regularly to treat children suffering from panic attacks so severe their hands would constrict into balls and their bodies would shake. The outbursts often occurred after other children were taken away to be reunited with families, dashing the hopes of those left behind at the largest emergency shelter set up by the Biden administration to hold minors who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone. 

“The conditions described by a federal volunteer who spent two weeks in May at the shelter at Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, Texas, highlight the desperation and stress of thousands of children held at unlicensed facilities, waiting to reunite with relatives.

“Some had marks on their arms indicating self-harm, and federal volunteers were ordered to keep out scissors, pencils or even toothbrushes that could be used as a weapon….

“The number of children in the shelters has dropped from a high of more than 23,000 to 16,000. Four emergency shelters have closed, while two more are slated to close soon.” 

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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