Immigration News from September 15, 2021

Snail — photo by Sid Mosdell, Creative Commons license

Tonight’s news leads off with two good news court rulings. The first comes from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas, which blocked most of the federal district judge’s order forbidding use of discretion in immigration arrests. That’s a bit complicated, so I’ll break it down.

  • Toward the end of the Obama administration, President Obama modified his high-arrest policy. Instead, he directed that immigration officers should focus on arresting and deporting people who were threats to national security or who had serious criminal records. 
  • Trump reversed that policy. He directed an end to any use of discretion and the arrest of every single immigrant who could possibly be placed in deportation proceedings—regardless of any humanitarian considerations.
  • President Biden ended that policy, directing that immigration officers focus on immigrants who may pose a threat and NOT on long-term U.S. residents with deep community and family ties.
  • Federal District Judge Drew Tipton said immigration officers could not exercise any discretion and that the Biden memo was illegal. Which brings us to the Fifth Circuit ruling.

CNN reports:

“The case, brought by Texas and Louisiana, challenged a memo issued in the beginning of President Joe Biden‘s term that instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to focus its arrests on certain undocumented immigrants, particularly those who posed national security risks or had serious criminal histories.

“The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals found that the provisions do not eliminate immigration officials’ “broad discretion” to decide who should face enforcement action, according to the ruling….

“With the 5th Circuit’s latest move, Tipton’s order will be largely paused while the case plays out on the merits — unless the red states successfully seek an intervention from the full 5th Circuit or the US Supreme Court.” 

The second court ruling is both good news and delightfully and unusually snarky. The Sixth Circuit said a lawsuit challenging extreme delays in processing U visas for crime victims may proceed. (Reuters)

“A unanimous three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected USCIS’ argument that its delays in the four consolidated cases were due to a backlog of roughly 160,000 applications for U visas, which are granted to victims of serious crimes, and were in line with the current five-year average waiting period.

“‘We find it unhelpful to fixate on the average snail’s pace when comparing snails against snails in a snails’ race,’ Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote….

“The court also rejected the ‘radical rule’ proposed by the government that agency delays are justifiable as long as they occur across the board.

“‘Waiting a century to hear back about your U-visa application, for example, is patently unreasonable,’ Moore wrote.”

In Minnesota news

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union will begin offering no-interest loans to immigrants to help with the costs of naturalization applications. The fee for applying to become a citizen is $725, and assembling documents and medical exams are additional costs. (Pioneer Press)

“Flanked by immigration advocates and public officials, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter introduced the New American Loan program on Wednesday during a media event outside City Hall. The initiative, which coincides with the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, is part of a growing suite of immigration-related services offered by the city and Ramsey County….

“Among the findings of the “New Americans in St. Paul and East Metro” report released Wednesday, immigrants made up 20 percent of the city’s population, 62 percent of the city’s population growth and 40 percent of the population growth in the east metro from 2015 to 2019. In 2019, immigrants in St. Paul held $966 million in disposable income, or 14.7 percent of the city’s total spending power.

“Immigrants made up a third of the city’s entrepreneurs and contributed heavily to federal social programs such as Social Security and Medicare. They also made up 35 percent of manufacturing workers, a key reason why manufacturers might choose to come to or remain in St. Paul.”

The International Institute carries on its 100-year-plus  tradition of helping to resettle refugees. The number of Afghan refugees to be resettled in Minnesota has increased. (Highland Villager)

“‘We expected around 300 arrivals (in Minnesota) initially,’ [Executive Director Jane] Graupman said, ‘but we now expect to resettle considerably more as the total number of Afghans coming to the U.S. has increased. We aren’t sure what the final number will be at this point.’ What is certain is that all of them will arrive within the next six months….

“’It’s a big undertaking to come to a new country that’s completely different,’ Graupman said. ‘English is not an easy language to learn, and the older you are the harder it is.’ 

“It is also difficult for refugees to leave behind the career they had in their former country, according to Graupman. ‘One of the two Afghan gentlemen we resettled is a doctor,’ she said. ‘He was working with the U.S. government to improve public health in Afghanistan.’” 

And in other news

The United States added coronavirus vaccination to the requirements for new immigrants. (Washington Post)

“The measure goes into effect on Oct. 1. Most people applying to become a permanent resident in the United States are required to receive the immigration medical examination “to show they are free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible under the health-related grounds,” according to USCIS.

“The United States already requires a slew of other vaccinations for permanent resident applicants, including measles, polio, influenza and tetanus.”

In a rare bi-partisan effort, Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bill to create a path to citizenship for so-called documented Dreamers, or foreign citizens who grew up legally in the U.S. on a parent’s work visa but then aged out. (Roll Call)

“In particular, the legislation would help young adults, largely Indian citizens, who turned 21 while their parents were stuck waiting in lengthy green card backlogs caused by strict per-country visa caps the U.S. imposes.

“In addition to giving these individuals a chance to apply for a green card on their own, the bill would prevent similar problems in the future by freezing kids’ ages at the time their parents apply for the family’s permanent residency, rather than when the green card actually becomes available.” 

Newly-released statistics from the Border Patrol show continuing high numbers of border crossings, despite dangerous summer heat that usually brings lower numbers. (Washington Post)

“It was the first month since President Biden took office that the number of border arrests did not increase, but the August figure was only a 2 percent decline from July, when 212,672 were taken into custody, a 21-year high. CBP has stopped more than 1.2 million border crossers since Biden took office….

“In August, 25 percent of the migrants taken into U.S. custody “had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months,” compared with an average rate of 14 percent during previous years, the agency said….

“The latest CBP data shows the percentage of migrants returned to Mexico under Title 42 has continued to decline, and in August, only 44 percent of those taken into custody were processed under that authority.” 

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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