Immigration News from July 29, 2021

Watch NBC YouTube video of Sunisa Lee’s Olympic gold win here.

Good news, bad news: begin with the good news story of Minnesota’s Olympic gold medal gymnast Sunisa Lee! And then on to the bad news: Texas Governor Greg Abbott launches yet another anti-immigrant executive order. Attacking immigrants is so much easier than fixing Texas’s failing power grid or taking steps to actually fight the latest COVID-19 surge

Minnesota’s Sunisa Lee became the first Hmong-American to win an Olympic medal, taking Olympic gold in gymnastics. (Sahan Journal)

“Surrounded by nearly 300 supporters, Sunisa Lee’s parents joked that they would hold their breath Thursday during their daughter’s history-making performance at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. At the end, a gold medal secured for the first Hmong American Olympic athlete, they finally exhaled—and let out a mighty cheer.

“Sunisa, 18, won the women’s gymnastics all-around event in a tense competition with athletes from Brazil and Russia.” 

Bo Thao-Urabe, a leader of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, talked to PBS News Hour. She said that Lee’s parents, like Thao-Urabe herself, came as refugees, with nothing. They built the wooden beams for her to practice on, because they could not afford to buy any. Sunisa Lee said that her win lifts up her often-unseen Hmong-American community and that she wanted to win for the Hmong-American community.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues posturing, attacking immigrants and advocates to appeal to the right-wing and boost his national profile. The latest: an order that no one can transport immigrants except police and federal officers. Does that cover shelter workers taking someone to the hospital? Or Greyhound bus drivers? (Dallas Morning News)

“’Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest efforts to make Texas an anti-immigrant police state are yet another unconstitutional assault on civil rights targeting border communities,’ Kate Huddleston, an ACLU of Texas attorney, said in a written statement. ‘The governor’s order will lead to racial profiling and over-policing — with state troopers pulling over cars and buses without lawful justification, profiling passengers, and questioning people about their immigration status.’

“The measure continues a ‘long, racist history’ of blaming immigrants for the spread of disease, Huddleston said. ‘There is no reason for the governor to halt travel in the state of Texas other than to terrorize these communities and distract from his own leadership failures.’

“The latest Abbott order appeared to be focused on legal and religious nonprofits that assist migrants with shelter as they make their ways to family away from the Texas border. It was unclear if it would also impact private transportation companies like the many bus lines that cater to immigrants.”

Sister Norma Pimental predicted “catastrophic problems” ahead due to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest anti-immigrant edict. (Rio Grande Valley News)

“The governor signed an executive order instructing Texas Department of Public Safety troopers to stop, even impound, vehicles transporting migrants if the drivers are not federal, state or local law enforcement officers….

“The respite center accepts migrants released from federal custody and tests them for COVID-19 before they enter the shelter, a practice urged by Pimentel and approved by city and county leaders.

“If a member of a family tests positive, the whole family is placed under quarantine at a local hotel….

“Pimentel expects the order to severely impact their operations.

“’So, we’re not going to be able to take them to a hotel. We’re not going to be able to take them to the hospital if they’re sick. What’s going to happen after that?’ she asked.”

Attorney General Garland Merrick warns that the federal government may sue Texas over Abbott’s anti-immigrant orders. (CBS)

“Garland wrote in a letter to Abbott that Texas did not have the legal authority to issue such orders, asserting that the governor’s directive interfered with federal immigration enforcement and could jeopardize the health of migrants in U.S. government custody.

“‘Among other harms, the Order would exacerbate and prolong overcrowding in facilities and shelters and obstruct the federal government’s arrangements with state, local, and non-governmental partners to ensure that released individuals are transported for appropriate COVID-19 testing to address public health concerns,’ Garland wrote in his letter to Abbott….

“Local advocates have been testing families for the coronavirus after their release from U.S. custody and quarantining some of them, including those who test positive for the virus. Most families leave the borderlands by plane or bus to reach their respective destinations across the U.S., where they are expected to attend court appointments.”

And in other news

In a cascading catastrophe initiated by the Trump administration, slow processing and clogged systems will mean forfeiture of more than 100,000 visa slots. (Washington Post)

“A Biden administration official announced last week that the government has processed green card applications at such a slow pace that it will come at least 100,000 slots short of using up the annual limit. Without drastic revisions in the glacial processing times, President Biden will have presided over one of the largest cuts to legal immigration in U.S. history — and almost no one is talking about it.

“While Biden will own this unwelcome distinction, former president Donald Trump staged this disaster last year by barring most immigrants sponsored by their family members from entering the United States. This caused 120,000 family green card slots to go unused.”

The Biden administration was expected to lift the Title 42 that mandates expulsion of all people crossing the border, without any hearings or recourse, by the end of July. Now that looks highly unlikely. (Reuters)

“The partial rollback of the Title 42 policy was delayed because the Biden administration ‘put the brakes on it’ due to concerns over the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant and the rising number of infections in Mexico, one of the people said….

“The administration already faces a legal challenge over the family expulsions led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). 

“The ACLU agreed in February to pause litigation so that the parties could attempt to resolve or narrow the dispute but will decide by Monday whether to resume the legal challenge, according to Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s immigrants’ rights project.”

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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