Immigration News from June 30, 2021

Graphic by Rini Templeton

After visiting the much-criticized emergency shelter for unaccompanied minors at Fort Bliss, TX, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra called on Congress to change the immigration system so we can get to a system that works.” (New York Times)

“The care the Biden administration is providing at the shelter has drawn complaints, including reports that thousands of children slept on cots and in close quarters, and that there had not been enough case workers to place the children with family members in the United States. Mr. Becerra said on Monday that his agency had trained more case workers and was now discharging children to relatives more quickly….

Mr. Becerra first visited the Fort Bliss facility in late May, when about 4,300 children were being held there. The number has dropped significantly since then in response to concerns about the huge site, which was designed to hold up to 10,000 children. Mr. Becerra said on Monday that fewer than 800 children, all boys, were now staying there.”

The Biden administration will close several of the emergency shelters for unaccompanied minors in the near future. Closures come not only because of criticism, but because of success in placing thousands of minors with family members across the country and declining numbers of minors in the shelters. (CBS)

“Starting Wednesday, the Biden administration is set to begin closing six emergency housing facilities it stood up in Texas and California this spring to accommodate the record number of unaccompanied children who were entering U.S. custody along the border, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed to CBS News….

“There were 14,400 unaccompanied minors in HHS care on Tuesday, a 35% drop from early May, when the department was housing more than 22,000 minors. In May, U.S. border officials encountered 14,200 unaccompanied children, down 25% from the record monthly high in March.”

The Washington Post takes a close look at numbers on the border, explaining why a recent attack by Republican Representative Elena Stefanik misuses statistics. Bottom line: it’s complicated, and simplistic rhetoric just muddies the waters. But maybe that’s the purpose.

“[T]he comparison she makes is not apples to apples.

“The figures for March, April and May of this year mostly reflect individuals who are being expelled at the border regardless of their immigration status, under emergency public-health rules adopted to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“The numbers from 2000 include only apprehensions under federal immigration law, in land areas between legal ports of entry.” 

As the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan accelerates, the plight of U.S. employees left behind is getting belated attention from Congress and others. But will it be in time to save lives? (New York Times)

“With the American military in the final phases of withdrawing from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of war, more than 18,000 Afghans who have worked for the United States as interpreters, drivers, engineers, security guards and embassy clerks are stuck in a bureaucratic morass after applying for Special Immigrant Visas, available to people who face threats because of work for the U.S. government.

“’I can say with confidence that I might not be here today had it not been for these men and women,’ said Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado and a former Army Ranger who is the lead sponsor of the bill.

“The measure, passed 366 to 46, would waive a requirement for applicants to undergo medical examinations in Afghanistan before qualifying, instead allowing them to do so after entering the United States. The first in a series of bipartisan bills intended to smooth the visa process, it aims to shorten the long waiting period, which can be as long as six or seven years for some applicants.” 

And some good news in St. Paul—El Burrito Mercado is getting a new mural! (Star Tribune)

“A local artist is transforming the wall of a St. Paul building with bright yellows, reds and shades of brown. There’s a woman cooking, children looking eagerly at her working hands, plants and faces, all in reference to the diverse regions of Central and South America where many in this West Side neighborhood have roots.

“The project, called “Legends of Identity,” or “Leyendas de Identidad,” was inspired by community engagement, namely interviews and conversations with youth attending Riverview West Side School of Excellence, a Spanish immersion school near the site of the mural, said artist Daniela Bianchini, who lives in Minneapolis.” 

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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