Immigration News from July 28, 2021

Editorial board writer Bonnie Jean Feldkamp begins with the story of her mother-in-law, who crossed into Texas during the “Charro Days” festival in 1964. She was 13 then. In 2017, after years of struggle, she finally, and proudly, became a U.S. citizen. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

“With the exception of Native Americans, every American family once stood in those uncertain shoes of immigration, making where they are today possible. Immigration is part of who we are as Americans. When we don’t share the truth about where we came from, we deny our children a source of compassion for those who are finding their way to America now. 

“My kids grow up knowing that our families started someplace else. We don’t know the specific story of every family member like we know Manuela’s. But we talk about the heritage that lives on in small traditions handed down through generations. Recipes, holidays, and language are ripe with opportunities to learn and share. Acknowledging that we’ve all been there helps build a community that feels less threatened by newcomers.” 

Adding to the chorus of support for a path to citizenship: 84 mayors, including St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey sent a letter to the White House. (The Hill)

“‘We, the undersigned mayors, respectfully request that you prioritize the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, essential workers, and their families in any economic recovery legislation including through budget reconciliation,’ wrote the mayors in a letter first reviewed by The Hill.

“The mayors’ request comes as Democrats grapple with the possibility of including a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the budget deal.”

A presidential memorandum detailed the Biden administration plans for border policy, which include fast-tracking asylum applications and deportations of asylum seekers who are unsuccessful in gaining asylum. (NBC News)

“The White House did not place a timeline on when it might implement the changes to its border policy. Many of the ideas have already been proposed through the federal rulemaking process and budget proposals, including the hiring of 100 more immigration judges, but are now being codified in one strategic plan….

“The White House did not place a timeline on when it might implement the changes to its border policy. Many of the ideas have already been proposed through the federal rulemaking process and budget proposals, including the hiring of 100 more immigration judges, but are now being codified in one strategic plan….

“The strategic plan does not lay out when that Covid policy, known as Title 42, might be lifted. …

“The Department of Homeland Security announced late Monday that it will begin speedy deportations for families who enter the U.S. as exceptions to Title 42 but do not qualify for asylum.” 

And here’s the text of the 21-point plan.

The Rio Grande Valley’s largest migrant shelter, the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, has asked the Border Patrol to temporarily stop dropping off migrants there because it is full and over capacity. The request came as COVID-19 cases in Hidalgo County continued to rise, including reports of rising infections among Border Patrol agents. (Border Report)

“The downtown facility located across from the city’s bus station is designed to hold up to 1,200 people, but [Sister Norma] Pimentel also has a large contingency of staff and volunteers at the center. Because of COVID-19 safety protocols, the actual number of migrants they can safely admit is limited, she has previously said….

“Border Report has reached out to Border Patrol officials to ask if they are changing drop-off plans due to overcrowding at Pimentel’s facility. The agency typically drops off over 1,000 migrants to the nonprofit center daily, and there are several other overflow sites where migrants are sent in the area, such as a Catholic church in the nearby town of Mission, Texas. “

Two federal employees who volunteered to work with unaccompanied migrant children held at Fort Bliss filed a whistleblower complaint on July 28. The  whistleblowers are Arthur Pearlstein, a director at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and Lauren Reinhold, an attorney at the Social Security Administration. This is the second whistleblower complaint filed by federal employees, detailing mistreatment of children and “gross mismanagement, waste, and abuse of authority by those at the top.” (CBS News)

“‘Many, if not most, of the children Mr. Pearlstein interviewed — if they had been at the facility more than a few days — told him they felt like they were in prison and often begged ‘please get me out of here, I don’t know if I can take it anymore,’ the complaint said. ‘In some cases, children tried to escape the facility.’

“Overcrowding inside large ‘airplane hangar-sized’ tents housing hundreds of migrant teenagers led to the accumulation of waste and dirty clothes, according to the complaint. The volunteers also reported weeks-long shortages of underwear for the boys housed inside the facility. …

“Out of concern that children could harm themselves, officials at Fort Bliss banned pencils, nail clippers and even regular toothbrushes. Wednesday’s complaint confirmed that ‘riots’ broke out in tents housing boys.”

Dreamers who applied for DACA but have not yet been granted status or who are just now becoming old enough to apply have been locked out by this month’s Texas court decision. Only action by Congress can guarantee their futures by providing a path to citizenship. (CBS News)

“Agustin, who graduated from a Virginia high school last year, is currently volunteering in a local rescue squad, running ambulance calls. He wants to become a certified EMT and study nursing. But he’s aware that he currently can’t legally start a paid profession.

“‘I’ve lived here my whole life,’ Agustin said. ‘Dreamers have lived here our whole lives. And there’s no reason to think of us as anything but Americans. We want to do everything that American can do and it seems like there’s this barrier that has just been put up against us.’

“Arlette Morales, 18, also applied for DACA this year. She even completed the biometric appointment most first-time applicants have to attend in May. Like Agustin, she became eligible for DACA during the Trump administration and now finds herself locked out of the program once again.”

A report from Physicians for Human Rights, supported by the University of Michigan Medical School, says the Biden administration’s continuation of Title 42 expulsions increases the spread of COVID-19 and further endangers vulnerable asylum seekers. Asylum seekers told interviewers of mistreatment by Border Patrol agents, of being separated from family members, and of being told “there is no asylum.” (Physicians for Human Rights)

“Public health experts strenuously objected to the ban, pointing out the lack of epidemiological evidence for only banning this category of entrants to the United States while keeping the borders open to other travelers. A letter from public health experts in July 2021 reiterated that the latest scientific knowledge regarding transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 did not support expulsion as a public health measure, and thus that the order undermined trust in the CDC itself as a scientific body.

“Nevertheless, six months into the Biden administration, the U.S. government continues to expel families and adults to countries where they face severe harm and persecution, violating their rights and failing to safeguard public health. The Biden administration also continues to carry out chaotic border expulsions that perpetuate family separation and further traumatize an already vulnerable population….

“Public health experts have already outlined detailed recommendations on effective and evidence-based public health measures for the U.S. government to safely process families, children, and adults at the border, such as COVID-19 testing, masking, social distancing, and quarantining. These measures must be implemented urgently. Every day that the Title 42 order continues to expel asylum seekers is another day that the U.S. government is harming people’s health and violating their human rights.” 

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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