Immigration News from August 25, 2021

Photo from 2006 immigrant march in St. Paul

Time to stop playing defense on immigration: more immigration will help the country grow and prosper. We need to embrace that truth and insist on opening doors rather than slamming them shut.

“Once we expose the immigration threat narrative as the Big Lie that it is, it becomes plain that immigration is not a problem to be solved but an opportunity and necessity to be embraced,” write Ruth Milkman and Deepak Bhargava in American Prospect.

“For decades, advocates of restriction have dominated the national conversation around immigration, cloaking their xenophobia under the false claim that immigrants pose a threat to U.S.-born workers. Liberals have too often failed to challenge this claim, fearing that expansive immigration policies are a path to political oblivion. But our research shows that the conventional wisdom underlying both parties’ policies is wrong: Expanding immigration is the key to economic revitalization and the most effective means to counter the continuing authoritarian threats we face in the post-Trump era….

“The work of shifting gears toward a more welcoming policy can begin right now by fully welcoming immigrants who already reside in our country. A crucial starting point would be to include a path to citizenship for essential workers, Dreamers, farmworkers, and Temporary Protected Status holders in the American Jobs Plan Congress is considering. This is not only a humane approach, but it also will stimulate economic growth and thus help finance other parts of the plan. A separate campaign by the Biden administration (not requiring congressional action) to simplify the naturalization process for nine million eligible green-card holders would help make the nation’s electorate more reflective of its population.” 

Minnesota stories

Minnesota’s Afghan community is small, but likely to grow with refugee resettlement.

“Nationally, nearly 125,000 people report having Afghan ancestry. In Minnesota, the estimate stands around 500 people. (MN Compass)

“People of Afghan ancestry compose less than 1% of every state’s population. California is home to the largest Afghan population, with more than 50,000 residents reporting Afghan ancestry. California’s Afghan population is m ore than twice the size of Afghan communities in any other state.” 

Resettlement agencies including the International Institute of MN (IIM) have also worked hard to prepare for Afghan refugees. So far the institute has resettled two families in one week.

Minnesota resettlement agencies are working hard to prepare for Afghan refugees. The International Institute has resettled two families. (CBS)

“Jane Graupman, the executive director of IIM said the biggest challenge is housing and getting enough funds.

“’If we get large families it’s always hard to find housing for folks because people need a bigger space and a lot of people don’t have a lot of funds to rent those spaces. They get a one-time grant from the U.S. government and then folks have to go to work,’ Graupman explained.

“Graupman said historically refugees are a benefit to the country where they resettle.

“’Many studies have been done, the financial contributions refugees make is remarkable. It’s hundreds of millions of dollars,’ Graupman said.” 

Ho-Shia Aaron Thao is bringing his original ballet, “Diaspora: A Mother’s Elegy,” to St. Paul. (CBS)

“‘I think this ballet is coming at a great time because I’m seeing a lot of Hmong Americans in my generation really struggle with how to communicate with their parents, and how to pursue their dreams and their goals without disappointing their parents,’ Thao said. ‘For us, I think it’s really important to continue to see ourselves on stage and to see our stories being presented to us, and at the same time being able to see an example of how a mother and her daughter can overcome the challenges and adversity to find love.’” 

Republican state legislators in Minnesota and North Dakota oppose the continued closing of the U.S.-Canada border. (Grand Forks Herald)

“The southern border, some legislators say, is porous, and illegal immigration continues on a daily basis, while vaccinated travelers are unable to enter the country, and impact the economic well-being of border regions. The widespread availability of vaccines and rising vaccination rates in Canada, are other reasons they say the border should be reopened, particularly after Canada began allowing vaccinated travelers to visit the country on Aug. 9, provided they follow entry protocols.”

And in other news

About 5,000 immigrants have been assigned to the expedited docket set up by the Biden administration. (TRAC Syracuse University)

“The announced goal of the Dedicated Docket was to speed the hearing and resolution of family cases. A decision target of 300 days after their initial master calendar hearing was set….

“According to the latest case-by-case court data, the Immigration Court has recorded placing 4,866 people comprising approximately 1,700 families onto their dedicated docket. This compares with 108,102 individuals in family units that the Border Patrol reported apprehending between ports of entry along the southwest border during June and July this year. Thus, only a relatively small number of families encountered by the Border Patrol—less than 5 percent—thus far are recorded as assigned to this program. Many questions exist about the criteria used by the Border Patrol to select which families are assigned to the Dedicated Docket.” 

Texas Sheriff Oscar Carillo is seeing dead migrants, more than in any other year he can remember. They are trying to cross later in the year, trying to cross in rough and dangerous terrain far from the border wall, and dying in the sweltering summer heat. (New York Times)

“Like many other West Texas sheriffs, Oscar E. Carrillo packs a gun, drives a truck and wears a cowboy hat.

“But it is his newest piece of gear, a corpse trolley, that has him questioning whether to remain a lawman….

“As the number of migrants crossing the border with Mexico has surged this year, with encounters reaching levels not seen in more than two decades, so, too, has the number of bodies found by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Through July, Border Patrol officials found 383 dead migrants, the highest toll in nearly a decade, and one already far surpassing the 253 recovered in the previous fiscal year.”

The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a federal judge’s ruling that the burden of proof in hearings on bond for immigrants rests on the government, not on the immigrant. (NHPR)

“In 2019, the ACLU of New Hampshire challenged a long-standing practice of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to require detained immigrants to prove to an immigration judge they aren’t a flight risk or danger to the public. 

“The civil liberties group argued the practice violated constitutional due process protections, which extend to non-citizens. Instead, the ACLU argued that the government needed to prove to a judge why the detained immigrant should be denied bond.” 

Immigrants face a tough road in the United States–for black immigrants, the road is even harder. (NBC)

“About 7 percent of immigrants in the U.S. are Black. And the country’s estimated 4.6 million Black immigrants endure racism and xenophobia as they navigate life in the U.S. Black immigrants are more likely to be deported than immigrants of other races are, according to a report from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. 

“Immigrants pay bonds to leave detention centers and end family separations, but a report from the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services found that bond amounts for Black immigrants were routinely higher than those for non-Black immigrants from June 2018 to June 2020. So detained migrants end up staying in immigration detention for long periods of time — sometimes indefinitely — because they can’t afford the disproportionately high bonds. Because Black communities are far more frequently targeted for arrest and prosecution than the general population is, 76 percent of Black immigrants are deported because of contact with police, according to the Black Alliance report.” 

The lawsuits to take Nayda Alvarez’s land have been dismissed, but she worries that the fight is not over. (Border Report)

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Border Report that current construction in the region is being done to the earthen border levees to shore up breaches caused during border wall construction during the Trump administration. Agency representatives said 6-foot bollards — instead of 18-feet metal bollards — are being erected on a concrete base that lines the earthen border levee to help prevent severe flooding.

“’This remediation work does not involve expanding the border barrier,’ CBP Public Affairs Officer Thomas Gresback told Border Report on Wednesday….

“But environmentalists, and landowners like Alvarez, claim it’s a ruse to allow contractors to continue building on the Southwest border. And they are skeptical and fearful that construction along the border will not stop and future lands will be taken.”

The camp in Matamoros was “effectively the first refugee camp on the U.S.-Mexico border.” People in the camp were asylum seekers, shut out of the United States by Trump’s Remain-in-Mexico policy. It was bulldozed in March, after many of those waiting were allowed into the United States. (New York Times)

“But within weeks, a new camp sprang up about 55 miles farther west, in the Mexican city of Reynosa, and this one, aid workers say, is far worse than the one at Matamoros ever was. Overcrowded already, with more than 2,000 people, it is filthy and foul-smelling, lacking the health and sanitation infrastructure that nonprofit groups had spent months installing at Matamoros. Assaults and kidnappings for ransom are commonplace.

“The reason: Though Mr. Biden moved quickly to rescind the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers, he left in place an emergency health order that calls for Border Patrol agents to immediately expel most migrants who cross the border, regardless of whether they try to request asylum. And on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a court order directing the government to reinstate the “Remain in Mexico” policy, increasing the likelihood that other, similar camps will spring up along the border once again.”

Immigration detention has to change. Detained immigrants are not criminals. They are waiting for their civil immigration hearings. But county jails and for-profit detention centers treat them like convicted felons. A new report from the Migration Policy Institute outlines alternatives. 

“This report explores the limitations of the current approach to immigration custody and proposes a less punitive and less costly alternative that would use release with supervision and case management as the prevailing custody method whenever possible, while still ensuring compliance with the requirements of immigration and removal processes. The report also examines the fundamental changes to the culture and operations of the Department of Homeland Security and its component immigration agencies that such a shift would entail.”

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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