Immigration News from July 16-18, 2021

The biggest immigration news of the week is DACA—specifically, Texas Federal District Judge Andrew Hanen’s order to end DACA. The decision came late on Friday, the latest in a whole series of cruel attacks perpetrated by anti-immigrant Republicans. In this blog post:

  • a review of what DACA and DREAMER mean;
  • a brief recap of what Judge Hanen’s order does and does not do; 
  • full text of the order and the memorandum explaining the order attached as a PDF document; and
  • links to articles about other immigration news. 

DREAMERs and DACA 

DREAMERs is a general term for young people who arrived in the United States without authorization and grew up here. Some were babies, some were older. They usually came with their parents. Many learned that they did not have legal status only when they tried to get a library card or a driver’s license or applied to college.  

For decades, Congress has considered and failed to pass legislation giving these young people a path to citizenship. An overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans support a path to citizenship for DREAMERs.

Irma Márquez Trapero is a DREAMER. She has lived in the United States since fourth grade, went to school here, graduated from college here, works here. She says DACA changed everything for her. “It’s having something on paper that describes that you can do the things you want to do now … I feel it’s recognition that I’m here, recognition that I’ve been here, and recognition that I hope to stay here.”

DACA is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program established by President Obama in 2012 to give protection from deportation and work authorization to DREAMERs. Like all immigration policies, it is hedged around with limitations and exclusions and requires piles of paperwork and a hefty $495 fee to apply. 

DACA recipients must renew their status (and pay a $495 fee to do so) every two. years. They have no path to legal permanent residence or citizenship. And now they face termination of even the limited protection of DACA. 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Dream and Promise Act earlier this year. That legislation would create a pathway to citizenship. Senate Republicans say they will filibuster the legislation—despite the overwhelming support for DREAMERs by Americans. 

Judge Hanen’s Order

The order ending DACA came in a lawsuit led by Texas and joined by eight other states. Judge Hanen’s memorandum explaining his decision runs to 77 pages. In brief, it says that the orders establishing DACA did not comply with the Administrative Procedure Act and that DACA was not authorized because only Congress can make immigration law.  However, the order he entered does not terminate DACA status for people who already have DACA. His order does say that no new applications may be approved. 

For more information, see the official USCIS website, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center community alert, the New York Times article on the decision, and the full text of the memorandum and order attached as a PDF document. 

In other news 

Finally–a number of people, instead of “encounters” at the border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says: “The number of unique new encounters in June 2021 was 123,838.  The number of unique individuals encountered to date during the fiscal year is 454,944 compared to 489,760 during the same time period in 2019.” 

The Biden administration can’t please anyone on immigration. Anti-immigration voices denounce any hint of humane policy changes, and rail against high numbers of border crossings. Immigration advocates criticize his failure to lift the long-discredited “public health” bar to orderly entry by asylum seekers. Now a federal judge in Texas has ordered an end to the popular-across-political-lines DACA program. And Congress remains deadlocked, with any legislative change blocked by Republican threats of a filibuster. (Washington Post)

“Biden and his aides argue vigorously that the Trump rules amounted to a destructive approach that will take time to fully unwind. “Cruelty isn’t a strategy,” said Tyler Moran, a top Biden immigration adviser who serves on the White House Domestic Policy Council….

“’The crosscurrents on immigration policy and politics are wicked,’  [Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice] said. ‘You want to get the policy right and you can only move to change the policy if the political space is either available or created.’…

“The alternative, many Republicans say, is a return to Trump’s hard line policies, or at least the stepped-up enforcement favored by predecessors in both parties. Biden’s resistance to taking this path has broken a historical pattern, surprising both allies and adversaries.

“’Every time the politics heats up, the administration in charge resorts to cruel deterrents,’ Sharry said. ‘They didn’t do that.’”

Minnesota and California are the only states with laws requiring heat protection for farm workers. After the death of a Guatemalan farmworker in Oregon’s June heat wave, advocates are pushing for wider protection. About 75 percent of farmworkers are immigrants. (The Guardian)

“’It would be really good to have a broad rule so when farm owners see that temperatures are way too high they need to stop and allow people to rest. Things as they are right now, you can see when it’s really hot that by 1 or 2 in the afternoon, people just can’t work any more. But there’s this real pressure to keep working and keep working,’ added Cruz. ‘We’re not animals, we’re human beings, but there’s this feeling that no matter what happens, even when people can’t seem to work any more, the bosses keep pushing and pushing.’…

“According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 53 workers died in the US due to temperature extremes in 2019, and the climate crisis is creating more hazardous conditions for workers, as temperature extremes become more common.” 

The United States is running radio ads in Central America to discourage migration. There’s no evidence that the ads work. Maybe the $600,000 a month they are funneling to radio stations in Central America counts as some kind of economic aid to the region. (CNN)

“The United States is running more than 30,000 radio ads a month in Central America to deter migration amid a renewed focus on the region and the root causes pushing people to journey north, a State Department spokesperson told CNN.

“The ad campaign is designed to combat a range of factors driving migrants to the US-Mexico border, including misinformation spread by smugglers and the widespread belief among migrants that border enforcement has been relaxed under the Biden administration.”

A few people are now allowed to enter the United States and seek asylum. No one know which ones will be lucky, and which ones will continue to live in danger in Mexico. Some advocacy groups have been asked to identify the most vulnerable, but even they do not know whether their recommendations will mean permission to enter. U.S. officials refuse to say ow they decide or how many people they admit. (AP)

“In a packed camp for migrant families on Mexico’s side of the busiest U.S. border crossing, Nelson Membreño has lived through a chickenpox outbreak, people’s heavy drug use and night prowlers wielding knives. 

“But he isn’t more vulnerable than the thousands of others waiting in the camp in Tijuana for their chance to apply for humanitarian protection in the United States. He was surprised to get a call that he and his family were picked to seek asylum.

“’God opened the door,’ the 30-year-old from Honduras said before a border officer shouted his name. Wheeling a large suitcase past concrete barriers topped with barbed wire, Membreño walked into the U.S. with his wife, son and stepson.”

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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