Immigration News from September 16, 2021

Tonight’s news brings a study in contrasts in the treatment of people fleeing Afghanistan and people fleeing Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, and any other country. But especially Haiti, recently devastated by a 7.2 level earthquake and the assassination of its president. On September 15, the Biden administration flew another planeload of people back into that turmoil. The “legal” tool: a bar to all immigrants under the Title 42 “public health” excuse, which was just ruled illegal by a federal district court.  

On Wednesday, the Biden administration expelled 86 Haitians, flying them back to a country devastated by earthquakes and political turmoil. The resumption of expulsions of Haitians stunned many, especially as the Biden administration recently granted Temporary Protected Status to Haitians present in the United States prior to August 3, 2021. (The Hill)

“‘We are in utter disbelief that the Biden Administration would deport Haitians now. Hours after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, President Joe Biden released a statement saying that the United States was a ‘friend’ of Haiti. A ‘friend’ does not continuously inflict pain on another friend,’ said Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

“‘And yet, today, just one month after this devastating earthquake and storm that resulted in the deaths of over 2,200 Haitians, injured 12,000 people, damaged or destroyed 120,000 homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, the Administration sent a plane full of families to Haiti under Title 42, including children under the age of three, without offering them legal protection and the opportunity to file for asylum,’ added Jozef….

“Although the TPS designation tripled the number of Haitians in the United States eligible for protection from deportation, potentially benefiting around 150,000 people, potentially tens of thousands remain in Mexico or have recently crossed the border after the eligibility date for TPS benefits.” 

DC Federal District Judge Emmett Sullivan said that Title 42 does not authorize expulsions of immigrants. (CBS)

“Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia certified all migrant families in U.S. border custody as class members in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, and barred the government from expelling them under the public health edict, known as Title 42.

“Sullivan paused his order for 14 days, giving the Biden administration two weeks to retool its use of the Title 42 authority, which was first invoked under former President Donald Trump in March 2020….

“Expelling asylum-seekers, Sullivan wrote, denies them the ‘opportunity to seek humanitarian benefits’ enshrined in U.S. law.”

Thousands of Haitian immigrants are sleeping under a bridge in south Texas. They wait in line to turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents so they can be arrested and apply for asylum. (Washington Post)

“​​Authorities in Del Rio, Tex., say more than 8,000 migrants have arrived at the impromptu camp, and they are expecting thousands more in the coming days. Images of the bridge site show dense crowds, including families and small children, and deteriorating sanitary conditions….

“More than 29,000 Haitians have arrived over the past 11 months, the latest Customs and Border Protection figures show, including some in mixed-nationality families whose children were born in Brazil, Chile or other South American nations.

“They have trekked through the jungles of Panama’s Darien Gap, navigated migrant camps and criminal gangs in Central America and dodged border guards and troops along the highways of southern Mexico….

“’You have a favela that has been established overnight with individuals who are destitute,’ [Del Rio Mayor Bruno “Ralphy”] Lozano said. ‘Border Patrol is doing their best to process these people, but the Del Rio Sector is 240 miles wide. If the attention is given here to these 8,000 people, that opens up a big question: Who’s watching the rest of the sector?'”

The CBS News map shows Minnesota receiving 275 Afghan refugees out of the first resettlement of 37,000 across the United States. (CBS)

“As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 53,000 Afghan evacuees at eight military installations across the U.S. mainland that are serving as temporary housing sites while the new arrivals complete immigration paperwork, as well as vaccination against measles and COVID-19, according to internal data obtained by CBS News.

“Other Afghans who were airlifted from Kabul and taken to the U.S. did not go to the military sites because their immigration paperwork had been completed abroad. 

“In addition to the Afghans transported to the U.S., more than 12,000 evacuees remained at military sites in Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as of Wednesday morning awaiting U.S. security vetting and immigration processing.

“U.S.-bound flights of evacuees are currently suspended because of a handful of measles cases among the new arrivals that were first detected last Friday.”

Afghan refugees describe problems at Fort McCoy. (Wisconsin State Journal)

“Waiting in line for hours to get food, wearing the same clothes day after day, getting harassed by some of the Afghan men, not knowing the timeline for resettlement — all are problems a pair of Afghan women say they have faced staying at Fort McCoy military base in western Wisconsin, though officials said Tuesday the issues are being addressed….

“The second woman who spoke with the State Journal said she desperately wants to change her clothes. On Saturday afternoon, the 40-year-old said she was still wearing the same clothing she wore while escaping from Afghanistan out of the Kabul airport as her country fell to the Taliban. She arrived at Fort McCoy on Sept. 1, 10 days before the interview.”

A theology professor reflects on U.S. responsibility to migrants fleeing countries that have been impacted by U.S. military and policy actions. (National Catholic Reporter)

“Indeed, the notion that our nation has a responsibility to refugees flowing from countries where we have considerable military footprints can shed light on the flow of migrants from Central America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Korean peninsula into the U.S. Our military footprint has made “neighbors” (in Pope Francis’ sense of the word) of many who now find themselves at our borders.

“A complicated nomenclature of categories for people on the move (“displaced persons,” “migrants,” “refugees” and “asylum-seekers,” and, in the case of Afghan nationals, those seeking special immigrant visas) has established different policy approaches and official channels for those seeking entry into the U.S. The result is the categorization of some as undocumented immigrants, while others are considered protected refugees, even though both groups are escaping similar conditions of military and gang violence, political persecution and instability, gender and sexual violence, and economic ruin.

“Are these systems and rules able to justly and fairly consider the role that the U.S.’ military footprint plays in driving the flows of peoples?” 

The Biden administration continues to use the Trump-era Title 42 bar to asylum seekers. That leaves asylum seekers at the mercy of Border Patrol officers’ “discretion” in deciding whether their cases are desperate enough to warrant humanitarian parole. (Buzzfeed)

“When Isela arrived at the US southern border, a man had already injured her spine in an anti-gay attack and she was still reeling from being raped by Mexican police officers. She thought her experiences would be enough to convince US authorities to let her in to claim asylum, but she was wrong.

“Instead, Isela, who declined to use her full name out of fear of retribution from Mexican authorities, found there were few pathways for asylum-seekers into the US. Isela and her partner of 13 years, Sofía, requested humanitarian parole, which would allow them to enter the US temporarily.

“Their request was denied by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Sept. 1, and the two Honduran women have since been living on the streets of Mexico with no end in sight.”

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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