Immigration News from August 21-22, 2021

Photo by Phil Roeder, published under Creative Commons license

[Edited 7 a.m., 8/23/2021] Not a lot of news over the weekend, but this one is important: The U.S. Supreme Court granted the Biden administration’s request for a stay of the order to resume Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. The stay is temporary, issued by Justice Alito, with an order for states to file pleadings by 5 p.m. Tuesday so the full court can make a decision. (CBS)

“The Supreme Court late Friday paused a lower court order that would have required the Biden administration to restart the Trump-era practice of instructing migrants to wait in Mexico for their asylum hearings on Saturday.

“While temporary, the order signed by Justice Samuel Alito granted the Biden administration more time to fight off the reinstatement of a controversial border policy it has strongly denounced as ineffective. The suspension of the lower court order expires Tuesday at midnight.” 

For a lawyer’s explanation, check out Amy Howe on SCOTUSblog—and stay tuned for another late-night decision on Tuesday. 

And in other news

Freshta’s family is among tens of thousands of Afghans waiting in fear for an opportunity to seek refuge. (CBS)

“The 22-year-old U.S. resident said her family members stranded in Afghanistan are in danger of being persecuted by Taliban hardliners because they are members of the country’s Hazara ethnic minority, which has been oppressed for decades. Her brother-in-law also assisted U.S. military forces during the 20-year war against the Taliban, and he has applied for a special visa for Afghans who helped the U.S. 

“Freshta said her family is currently in hiding, waiting for a chance to be airlifted by the U.S. forces that control Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, the last area of the capital that is not under Taliban rule. They include her mother, sister, brother-in-law and four young nieces and nephews, the youngest of whom is five years old….

“The chaos we’ve seen over the last several days could have and should have been avoided. We’ve been advocating for a full evacuation of our allies for months now,” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, told CBS News.

“Vignarajah criticized the Biden administration for failing to take proactive steps ahead of the announced military withdrawal to speed up the visa processing and evacuation of Afghan allies. ‘Now, for lack of a better term, they are building the airplane while flying it,’ she added.

“She believes the U.S. should aim to airlift 130,000 at-risk Afghans by the end of August. But she also argued that the August 31 deadline could be extended to relocate more Afghans.”

Also worth noting: despite the individual stories of desperation, the overall picture includes 17,000+ evacuated from Kabul airport in the last week—mostly Afghans. And, according to the White House, 25,100 have been evacuated since August 14.

The census shows increasing diversity across Minnesota, in suburban and rural areas as well as the seven-county metro area. (Star Tribune)

“The percentage of people who identified as a race other than white increased in every region of the state, from farm country along the Iowa border to small towns hugging the North Shore.

Nearly a quarter of Minnesotans are Black, Indigenous or a person of color, compared with just 10% of the state’s population in 2000. Minority residents accounted for all of the state’s growth over the past decade, as the number of non-Hispanic white residents decreased for the first time ever — a change that may be due, in part, to more people identifying as multiracial.

“Some cities and counties are diversifying much faster than others. Suburbs like Maplewood, North St. Paul, Landfall and Oakdale saw some of the biggest metro increases in their diversity index scores. That index measures the likelihood that two randomly selected people from a community would be different races and ethnicities….

“Waite Park saw the highest jump in its diversity index score. The St. Cloud suburb went from 18% nonwhite in 2010 to 42% in 2020. St. Cloud also saw a major boost in diversity, with its population of color doubling to 32%.” 

Mixed messages on the border: some lawsuits started by the Trump administration to take land have been paused, a few dismissed, and many remain pending in courts. Biden’s promise to stop border wall construction has a few holes, too, with construction resuming in two limited places “for safety reasons.” (Rio Grande Valley News)

“The memo, titled “Border Wall Plan Pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 10142” lays out a narrow set of exceptions to the construction moratorium, including projects that are deemed “urgent measures needed to avert immediate physical dangers.”

“’DHS has re-initiated activity on two projects to protect life and safety under the Secretary’s exception. The first is a project in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where DHS will construct and/or remediate approximately 13.4 miles of compromised levee,’ the memo reads, in part.

“The memo also makes clear that the government will continue to waive the review of environmental impacts associated with the projects under the authority of Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.

“That part of the memo is what makes Nicol certain the current construction has nothing to do with repairing levees, but is rather about continuing the construction of the border wall.” 

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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