Immigration News from June 29, 2021

Everyone says they love DACA: the U.S. public, Congress, the President. So why can’t Dreamers get their applications processed? 

A court order reopened the DACA program for new applications in December. Despite the Biden administration’s support for DACA, processing is not going smoothly. Only about 800 of 50,000 new applications filed since December have been approved. (CBS)

“As of March 31, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had a backlog of more than 55,000 pending first-time DACA applications, according to agency statistics. The number of immigrants enrolled in DACA decreased to 616,000, a 3% drop from December 2020. The decrease follows a years-long downward trend as some DACA recipients gain permanent legal status or don’t renew their protections. 

“‘This is an absolutely imperative time for USCIS to be prioritizing and processing DACA applications,’ Karen Tumlin, a lawyer who has represented DACA recipients in federal litigation, told CBS News. ‘We have to remember that these aren’t numbers. These are people who have waited for over three years to apply and are fearful every day that there could be a court ruling closing down the program.'”

Karla and Dylan weren’t old enough to apply for DACA when President Barack Obama announced the program. Then Trump slammed the door on DACA, and they couldn’t apply. Now might be their time, but application processing is extremely slow, and another court challenge to DACA lies ahead. (PRI)

“Karla Mercado was 11 years old in 2012 when she saw President Barack Obama on TV announce DACA — or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“DACA would give thousands of undocumented young people temporary protection from deportation and a work permit (renewable every two years).

“Mercado, who’s 19 now and a college student in Virginia, is a newcomer to the program — or at least she hopes to be. She just applied for DACA this year and has been undocumented since she was 2 years old. That’s when she came to the US with her parents from Bolivia….

“Dylan Ruiz, a 19-year-old college student in Oklahoma, faced a similar fate. He said his application had already been submitted when the Trump administration’s announcement came. His application was not processed, and the $595 processing fee was not returned.”

The Supreme Court ruled that some immigrants can be held indefinitely without even being allowed to apply for bail—not because they are dangerous, not because they might not show up for court hearings, but because they have reentered the United States without permission. (Los Angeles Times)

“Tuesday’s decision marks the third time in recent years that justices have overturned lower court rulings that allowed at least some immigrants facing possible deportation to seek release on bond. …

“‘I can find no good reason why Congress would have wanted categorically to deny bond hearings to those who, like respondents, seek to have removal withheld or deferred due to a reasonable fear of persecution or torture,’ [Justice Stephen] Breyer wrote Tuesday. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is trying to bar all immigrant children from Texas shelters by  revoking the licenses of any shelters that house immigrant children. (Politico)

“The showdown is likely to intensify in the coming days, when Abbott is due to accompany former President Donald Trump on a trip to the border….

“Texas’s order represents the most drastic attempt by a state to decouple itself from a long-running federal program that relies on state-licensed organizations to shelter migrant children until they can be placed with guardians. HHS has accused Abbott of launching a “direct attack” on the administration’s effort to care for record numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border and said it’s consulting with the Justice Department on necessary legal action….

“HHS has warned Abbott that his order appears to violate various federal laws, a view shared by legal experts who said it’s guaranteed to be challenged in court as soon as it takes effect.”

The Biden administration is working quietly to review deportations of people like Cecilia, “whose removals under the prior administration failed to live up to our highest values.” The review will prioritize “people who shouldn’t have been removed in the first place,” including military family members, veterans, and people who believe they were deported as retaliation for political activity, (Politico)

“Jason Rochester tried everything he could to persuade the Trump administration to allow his wife Cecilia, who is Mexican, to come back to their home in the United States.

“A truck driver from Georgia, Rochester wanted to fix his wife’s undocumented immigration status and put her on track to become an American citizen, like him and their son Ashton, now 8. They even agreed that she would leave for Mexico voluntarily in 2018, expecting she would soon be permitted to re-enter the country with legal papers.

“They were wrong. Even when Ashton went through a year of treatment for kidney cancer, Trump administration officials did not relent, finding no compelling reason to let his mother in. Rochester stopped pleading.”

“Immigrants get the job done,” sings Lin Manuel Miranda in Hamilton. They do—moving on up, generation after generation, according to multiple studies. But it’s complicated, as seven first- and second-generation immigrants explain. (Vox)

“We didn’t talk about our class position. Growing up, when my brother or I asked for toys, restaurant visits, candy, we got used to hearing “no hay dinero” — there’s no money for that.

“Our parents didn’t talk to us about aspirational goals; work is just what you did to keep yourself alive. My mother’s nickname for me as a young girl was “mi trabajadora,” essentially “my hard little worker.” In my family, making it meant working in an office. When my mother described her goals for me, they amounted to going to college and getting a job in an office. To this day, though I lead product, design, and engineering teams to build software and websites used by millions around the world, I describe my job as “in an office, with computers.”

“I see myself constantly fighting a battle between Enough and More.”

Immigration law is federal law, but states can do a lot to help—or hurt—immigrant residents. Colorado just took some big steps to help. (AP)

“Thousands of immigrant farmworkers in Colorado will soon have state minimum wage, overtime and labor organizing rights under a bill signed into law Friday by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

“Polis also signed into law a measure to create a state fund to help indigent immigrants get legal representation in deportation proceedings. The twin measures are part of a raft of bills passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature to boost immigrant rights. 

“Other measures becoming law Friday will make it easier for immigrants to obtain state and local benefits; obtain licenses to work as child care providers and other professions as well as business licenses; and prevent state agencies from sharing personal information with federal immigration enforcement authorities, with certain exceptions such as criminal investigations or under court order.”

People migrate for many reasons: political persecution, economic necessity, natural disasters, war—and now the consequences of the pandemic. Almost six million Venezuelans have left their country since President Nicolás Maduro took office in 2013, mostly fleeing to nearby countries. (CBS)

“Last month, 7,484 Venezuelans were encountered by Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border — more than all 14 years for which records exist….

“With the pandemic still raging in many parts of South America, they have had to relocate again. Increasingly, they’re being joined at the U.S. border by people from the countries they initially fled to — even larger numbers of Ecuadorians and Brazilians have arrived this year — as well as far-flung nations hit hard by the virus, like India and Uzbekistan.”

The number of immigrants in detention has risen from 14,000 in January to nearly 27,000 now. That’s a lot, but still less than half the peak 55,000 detainees under Trump. The average time spent in detention is 19 days, down from more than 100 days last fall. (BuzzFeed)

“The influx, according to two Homeland Security officials, can be partly attributed to more immigrants from countries like Cuba and Ecuador who have crossed the border and are then transferred to ICE custody after being detained. These immigrants, officials say, are more difficult to quickly remove from the country.

“ICE spokesperson Paige Hughes said more than 80% of transferred detainees are originating from border arrests. Immigrants who cross the border without authorization after November are considered priorities under the Biden administration’s enforcement guidelines.

“The number of immigrants who have passed their initial asylum screenings, which allow them to make a case for asylum in the US, has also jumped from just over 1,700 in April to more than 4,000, making up about 15% of all detainees in custody.” 

FACT OF THE DAY: More than twelve thousand Minnesota residents have pending cases in immigration court. They are part of a national immigration court backlog that currently has 1,337,372 pending cases.

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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