Immigration News from August 26, 2021

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) denounces the Supreme Court’s order allowing a Texas judge’s decision to restore Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. (AILA)

“AILA President Allen Orr stated, ‘Nothing about the Supreme Court’s decision declining to issue an emergency stay changes the fact that Remain in Mexico violates U.S. and international humanitarian laws and flouts longstanding American principles that our nation will protect those fleeing danger who come to our shores and borders. While some people are calling it a ‘win’ for the former administration, the Court’s decision is limited to the emergency request. Still in question is the lower court’s error-ridden decision which got the facts wrong, misstated the law, and disregarded foreign-policy norms. The administration can comply with the lower court order while working to reestablish a lawful and just policy that reopens the border to people seeking safety and protection. Ultimately, the Biden administration must fully undo MPP—which is contrary to U.S. law—to ensure no asylum seeker is put in harm’s way.” 

What’s wrong with the Remain-in-Mexico policy on the ground? WOLA lays out the appalling history. 

“Also known as the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols,” the reinstatement of “Remain in Mexico” would mean a return to an inhumane and unlawful policy that saw 71,038 asylum seekers forced to wait for their U.S. immigration court hearings in Mexico. Not only did “Remain in Mexico” spur the creation of unprecedented encampments—with deeply unsanitary and unsafe living conditions—in Mexican border cities, the policy delivered asylum seekers back to danger at the hands of criminal actors, with over 1,500 reported cases of rape, kidnapping, torture, and other crimes against those subjected to the program.

“If their cases even reached U.S. immigration court, difficult access to counsel and rushed, often virtual procedures made asylum all but impossible to obtain: of the more than 15,000 closed cases for which asylum seekers attended all their hearings while remaining in Mexico, only 720—4.7 percent—were granted any form of relief from deportation. (The immigration system’s overall rate of relief grants was 28.4 percent in 2020.)…

“DHS should pursue every legal avenue in forcefully challenging the attempt to reinstate Trump’s so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols.” But in addition, the Biden administration needs to fully dismantle the remaining Trump-era migration policies—like Title 42—and replace them with an asylum system that offers due process to those fleeing their homes in search of protection.”

Instead, the Biden administration is encouraging crackdowns on migrant camps by Mexican security forces. These camps were created by U.S. expulsion of migrants under Title 42 and by Trump’s Remain-in-Mexico policy. (Reuters)

“The United States has urged Mexico to clear ad-hoc camps housing thousands of migrants in border cities due to concerns they pose a security risk and attract criminal gangs, officials familiar with the matter said….

“Government officials and migrant advocates say the Reynosa camp is home to at least 2,500 people, is unsanitary and has drawn drug gang members looking to recruit desperate migrants. The Tijuana camp is of a similar size, rights groups say.”

​​Afghan refugees

Afghans seeking refuge in the United States face a lot of vetting, with the exact parameters depending on how they might qualify to come here. (Axios)

“There are four basic categories of people leaving Afghanistan for the U.S.:

• American citizens and green card holders.

• Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants, including interpreters and others who aided the U.S.

• Afghans who helped the U.S. or worked for U.S.-based NGOs or news organizations who qualify for a new refugee category.

• Other vulnerable Afghans who manage to flee the country and receive refugee resettlement in the U.S. down the road.” 

Getting out of Kabul is just the beginning of the journey. The next stop for most Afghans is a third country, including Bahrain, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Tajikistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan. There, as they go through biometric testing, health screening, and extensive vetting, they try to piece together what the future might hold. (<a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p>"Hers is just one in a sea of stories here that underscore the complications of the mammoth effort to extract both Afghans at risk and Americans who were stranded in Kabul and get them to safety. Some of the Afghans worry that they lack the documentation to make it to the United States." <a href=""></a> </p&gt; Washington Post)

“We lost my family,” [sixteen-year-old Dunya Walizada] recounted Tuesday afternoon, sitting outside a hangar on Ramstein Air Base, the largest U.S. Air Force base in Europe and now an evacuation hub for thousands of Afghans fleeing the Taliban advance. ‘I don’t know if they are alive, where they are. I don’t have any information.’

“Hers is just one in a sea of stories here that underscore the complications of the mammoth effort to extract both Afghans at risk and Americans who were stranded in Kabul and get them to safety. Some of the Afghans worry that they lack the documentation to make it to the United States.” 

Minnesota immigrant stories

Ho-Shia Aaron Thao went from medical school to dance, from Minnesota to New York and now he is back with “DIaspora: A Mother’s Elegy.” (Star Tribune)

“For Thao, who is from Brooklyn Center and now leads Hudson Ballet in White Plains, N.Y., the production is not just a homecoming, but a way of giving back to his community.

“That’s something he learned from his family — particularly his father, who worked as a tutor, then lawyer, and later a minister. ‘Watching how my dad served the Hmong community, and really giving back what he had to offer, gave me a sense of service and purpose,’ he said.

“Thao takes on his own family’s story in “Diaspora,” a five-act ballet that centers on his mother’s relationship with her grandmother, beginning with their time in Laos, to the refugee camps in Thailand, and finally the United States.” 

An Argentine immigrant launched her frozen empanada business after she lost her job during the pandemic—and that was the start of something very big. (Star Tribune)

“Rodriguez’s husband suggested selling some of her empanadas in a grocery store. By summer, Rodriguez, who moved to Minnesota from her native Argentina in 2012, was testing the concept by selling frozen empanadas at a farmers market.

“‘And people loved them,’ she said. 

“Seward Community Co-op, which has three locations in the Twin Cities, was the first to contract with Rodriguez to sell her Quebracho frozen empanadas. Within months, the number of retailers grew.

“Sales for Rodriguez’s frozen empanadas quadrupled during the remainder of 2020, and sales this year have been steady, she said.”

And in other news

Unlike many rural communities, Storm Lake, Iowa is growing. Immigration is filling jobs and driving that growth. (Storm Lake Times)

“Immigration has been the story of Iowa since the mid-19th century. The Danes came to Newell, the Swedes to Albert City, the Germans to Hanover, the Irish to Sulphur Springs. Now Latinos, Asians and Africans are writing a new chapter of growth by launching their own enterprises and improving their own lot through education….

“Iowa’s future, like its past, is bound up in the endless cycle of immigration. Storm Lake is attempting to make the most of it, and so are the little towns around. It’s a tremendous tale of success that Iowa should study.” 

Government corruption reaches from the highest levels down to the police who refuse to protect people from extortion, rape, and torture. That makes corruption a major driver of immigration, as people seek safety that they cannot find at home.  (New York Times)

“The testimony was explosive: In June, a witness told Guatemala’s top anticorruption prosecutor that he had gone to the president’s home and delivered a rolled-up carpet stuffed with cash….

“Mr. Sandoval’s anticorruption unit had already searched a home linked to the president’s former secretary, looking for information about $16 million his team had found jammed into suitcases. And in May, a witness told him that the president had negotiated a $2.6 million campaign contribution in exchange for maintaining government contracts, documents show….

“In July, Mr. Sandoval was abruptly fired and, fearing the investigation would be snuffed out, fled the country with the evidence he had gathered….

“After Mr. Sandoval’s dismissal, the administration is trying to take a tougher line on Guatemala, saying it would stop cooperating with the attorney general’s office. But the administration is still working with the president, Mr. Giammattei: In July, the United States resumed expelling migrants by putting them on flights directly back to Guatemala, a move that has earned criticism from human rights groups….

“’Their priority is migration, and they are sacrificing justice,’ said Helen Mack Chang, a Guatemalan human rights activist. ‘They’re doing the same thing as Trump.'”

Bond amounts increased dramatically under the Trump administration, and have remained unaffordably high for immigrants. (Guardian)

“The cost of bonds – the payment used to secure the release of an immigrant from federal authorities – is out of reach for many people and straps many who borrow money to pay them with enormous debts.

“It’s among the Trump-era policies that could be easily changed by the Biden administration through a simple memo, but in the past six months, bond amounts ordered by the Department of Homeland Security and issued by immigration judges have remained high.” 

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,, 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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