Immigration News for June 24, 2021

Border wall mural, photo by Jonathan McIntosh, used under Creative Commons license


Raquel Aldana is a professor in the UC Davis law school. She immigrated to the United Staates at the age of 10, and got her law degree from Harvard. Recently, she spent two days on the Mexican side of the border interviewing people waiting to cross. She eloquently describes what she found: (Immigration Prof Blog)

“Hope is exactly what I encountered with at least nine of the ten migrants I met over the course of two days. Here are their brief profiles:1 a Mexican mother of five and her husband who had made their living In Michoacan selling fruits and vegetables in the street until the extortionists threatened their lives and livelihood; a young Salvadoran couple and their 2-year-old, one of whom had been kicked out of witness protection after he was forced to testify against the MS-13 gang for a murder and who feared for his life and that of his family; a Honduran woman and her 10-year old son running away from a gang-ridden after her brother-in-law was murdered; two siblings from Michoacan each running from different forms of violence: one from a much older, abusive husband to whom she had been married off at age 13, forcing her to leave behind her five children including a seven month old; the other from an extortionist gang he had been violently forced to join and who now sought to kill him for his desertion; a gay man from Guerrero who had been nearly killed by three strangers who could not stand his homosexuality; and a firmly resettled refugee from Venezuela with his family who was now facing extortion from a gang who was threatening his livelihood in his new home of Nogales. I felt that what I could offer them was so little: a kind ear to listen and validate their suffering and my attempt to prepare them as much as possible for their journey if and when they made it to the other side. For some, I had to tell them they were ineligible for asylum and could also seek withholding of removal. Others I had to prepare for the likely possibility of mandatory detention and tried to paint a picture for them as much as possible of this reality. To all of them I had to let them know how hard it is to win asylum and how desperately they would need a lawyer to even have a shot at winning. The only saving grace was all of them had family in the U.S.” 

Some good news tonight: The Biden administration announced plans to move Afghans who worked for the United States to safe third countries to await visa processing. With a backlog of more than 18,000 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications, a safe place to wait for processing is the very least the United States owes the people who are now in danger because of their association with the United States. (New York Times)

“On Wednesday, administration officials started notifying lawmakers that they will soon begin what could be a wholesale move of tens of thousands of Afghans. Officials said the Afghans would be moved out of Afghanistan to third countries to await the processing of their visa requests to move to the United States.

“The officials declined to say where the Afghans would wait, and it is not clear whether third countries have agreed to take them. The opportunity to move will be given to people who have already begun the application process.” 

And in other news:

An unpublished report by the Department of Homeland Security found problems with medical treatment in ICE detention facilities, including neglect that led to a man’s death. The death occurred in a facility run by the private, for-profit Core Civic.  (BuzzFeed News)

“The existence of the report, which has yet to be released, comes at a time when the Biden administration has been pressed by immigrant advocates to make changes to the government’s detention apparatus. The administration has moved to no longer house ICE detainees in two facilities and has promised to evaluate the detention system as a whole. Still, the number of immigrants held by the agency has ballooned in recent weeks from around 15,000 to more than 26,000.

“It also comes as congressional officials press the DHS to investigate how the pandemic was handled at the facility. Since last spring, more than 600 immigrants have tested positive for COVID-19 at Adams, according to the agency.

“The draft report found that the jail did not consistently enforce COVID-19 precautions, like the use of facial coverings or social distancing, and investigators believe that it may have contributed to repeated transmissions.” 

Approximately 200,000 people in the United States are stateless: no country acknowledges them as citizens. Without official identity documents, they may not be able to travel, work, get driver’s licenses, open bank accounts, or do many of the other ordinary activities we take for granted. (CLINIC)

“The U.S. Department of State on its website says a person can become stateless for a variety of reasons and circumstances including:

— By not having a birth certificate.

— Because of political change and transfer of territory, administrative oversights, procedural problems, conflicts of law between two countries.

— Destruction of official records, alteration of nationality during marriage or the dissolution of marriage between couples from different countries.

— Targeted discrimination against minorities, through laws restricting acquisition of citizenship, laws restricting the rights of women to pass on their nationality to their children, or laws relating to children born out of wedlock and during transit.” 

The publicly-funded Pennsylvania Immigrant Family Unity Project (PAIFUP) was launched in 2019 offers representation to immigrants in deportation proceedings. The project, launched in 2019, is one of many across the country. (Al Día News)

“In its first year of providing free legal representation to detained immigrants in Pennsylvania, PAIFUP represented 38 clients and released 13 to their families, The Inquirer’s Jeff Gammage reported. The next year, despite limitations from the pandemic, PAIFUP was able to represent 49 clients and release 18. 

“’When we were starting, the Penn State report in 2019 showed 77% of people at the York immigration court did not have counsel. So really, really high,’ said Jonah Eaton, Director of Legal Services at the Nationalities Service Center and supervisor of PAIFUP. 

“He said the latest numbers from the Vera Institute of Justice show a number at around 66%.”

Crisis at the border? It’s complicated, and not what the headlines suggest. Carlos Sanchez, a journalist and a lifelong border resident, begins the story. (The Guardian)

“Is there a migrant surge? Yeah. Is it a crisis? In more ways than one. Are people taking advantage of these migrants? Absolutely; none more than the fine people of the United States.

“These migrants personify the complexity of the immigration issue and the nuance of immigration law in this country….

“Are the streets of south Texas now being overrun by marauding invaders as conservative media and calculating Republicans declare? No. And yes. And there’s the rub: migrants from the south are an integral part of the fabric of any border community. Most came here legally; many did not. Almost all are accepted by my community – and, unknowingly, by the US community as well.

“I can guarantee you that the political fallout that Biden is receiving with this increase in migrants would be nothing compared with the economic fallout if we as a country were forced to pay farm workers minimum wage.

“The point is, we are all complicit.” 

You know that immigrants are crucial to local economies. Now Minneapolis has the numbers to quantify the part they play. (Sahan Journal)

“In 2019, immigrants and refugees in Minneapolis held $1.2 billion in spending power, which is about 11 percent of the spending power of the entire area. That means that immigrants and refugees as consumers are supporting local businesses and its workers, while also paying taxes that go to the city….

“On the business side, immigrants represent 13.2 percent of entrepreneurs in Minneapolis while making up 14.9 percent of the population. Those 2,700 immigrants working for their own businesses generated $37.6 million in business income in 2019….

“Construction, transportation and warehousing, as well as healthcare and social assistance were some of the key industries in which immigrants make up more than 20 percent of the workforce. New American Economy also estimates that immigrants and refugees in Minneapolis helped create or preserve 2,900 manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise moved or vanished.”

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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