Immigration News from July 20, 2021

While there are only a few immigration stories today, the first two are good-new stories with Minnesota connections. First: Minnesota celebrated outstanding refugees named in 2020 and 2021. (Austin Herald)

“Two Austin residents were among 22 individuals from across Minnesota recognized as Outstanding Refugee Award recipients on Monday at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.

“Austin City Councilman Oballa Oballa (First Ward) and Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota legal assistant Maylary Apolo were named Outstanding Refugees by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.” 

The Biden administration extended existing Somali Temporary Protected Status for 18 months and—crucially—redesignated Somalia for TPS. This report comes from Sahan Journal, which notes that Minnesota has the highest Somali population in the country, as well as the highest number of Somalis with TPS.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to re-designate Somalia for the first time since 2012 means that Somali nationals who arrived in the U.S. at any point in the last nine years will be able to gain protected status, employment authorization, drivers licenses, and more.  …

“’TPS is important because it provides blanket protection for anybody from Somalia,’ James Rasmussen, a fellow at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, said. ‘Folks might individually seek asylum, but TPS is kind of a safeguard for people who might slip through the cracks of the asylum system because of systemic racism or other issues.’…

“Rasmussen said that he is hopeful that similar TPS designations will follow for other African countries like Cameroon, Mauritania, and Ethiopia. In the meantime, he encouraged Somali nationals affected by the TPS extension or re-designation to get legal representation to navigate the application process.”  

And in other news

While plans to rescue Afghans who have worked with U.S. forces continue to move slowly, the latest plan would relocate about 700 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants and their families to Fort Lee army base in Virginia. (CNN)

“The initial group that is being relocated is a small portion of the overall number of SIV applicants — about 20,000 Afghans are in the SIV pipeline. About half of those 20,000 are in the very preliminary stages of the process, meaning “approximately 10,000 of these applicants need to take action before the US government can begin processing their case,” a State Department spokesperson said last week.

“The other Afghan applicants who are further along in the process but have not been approved through the security vetting process will go to US military bases overseas or to third countries, the spokesperson said. It is unclear which third countries have agreed to take in the applicants and their families.

“Although the news of the first relocation to the US was largely welcomed by lawmakers and advocates, many said it was not sufficient and questions remain about how the administration intends to help the applicants who live outside of Kabul.” 

Violence and persecution are recognized as factors driving asylum seekers from Guatemala. Now Politico reports on climate refugees as well. Hurricanes, drought, and hunger are driving farmers from the land. 

” Climate change isn’t a phrase many Guatemalans use to describe why they feel the need to leave their home countries. But every potential and returned migrant POLITICO spoke to talked about it in other ways: worsening and unpredictable weather conditions, more crop failures, more flooding, longer droughts, widespread malnutrition and poverty.

They talk about how they’ve struggled to put food on the table after hurricanes wiped out their crops. How excessive summer rain has them bracing for months of wasted work. How they’re losing land by the minute to erosion along the Rio Polochic, the river located half a mile from Irma and Miriam’s home. How they’ve never received help from the government — and they don’t have much faith they ever will.”

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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