Immigration News from September 22, 2022

Republicans in Congress have become the “Party of No”—no voting rights legislation, no police reform, no debt ceiling change, no national budget, and the list goes on. That makes outlook for any meaningful movement on immigration policy is bleak. While Republicans repeatedly say they will agree to some narrow proposals, so far that has been just a tease, and they have agreed to nothing. (Vox)

“Democrats have several immediate options, including presenting the parliamentarian with alternative proposals, overruling the parliamentarian, or resuming bipartisan negotiations on narrow immigration policies that at least some Republicans might find palatable. 

“But while any one of those paths could yield urgent protections for at least some groups of immigrants, none presents the opportunity to meaningfully modernize the US’s broken immigration system to meet America’s changing demographic and economic needs.”…

“One proposal is to update the “immigration registry.” Under the registry, if an immigrant has been living in the US since before a certain date, they are eligible to apply for permanent residence under federal law, regardless of whether they overstayed a visa or entered the US without authorization. But that date hasn’t been updated in decades. It’s currently January 1, 1972

“The pool of people eligible to apply for permanent residence through the registry has therefore dwindled over the years, with only 305 able to get permanent status between 2015 and 2019. But Democrats are considering advancing that date, potentially allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to attain legal status. If the date were set to 2010, some 6.7 million people would become eligible. Immigrant advocates have argued that it should be set to 2015 or earlier to ensure that DREAMers and essential workers who arrived more recently would be covered.” 

Democrats added funding for Afghan resettlement to a disaster relief and stop-gap funding bill to keep the United States operating past a threatened September 30 deadline. Republicans oppose the bill. (Al Jazeera)

“The House bill sets new timelines to process asylum claims by Afghans who fled the Taliban beginning in July, and requires US officials to interview refugees within 45 days of their asylum application being submitted and to issue a final decision within 150 days.

“The US Department of Homeland Security also is directed to submit quarterly reports to Congress on the number and status of Afghan evacuees both in the US and at overseas US military bases, according to text of the legislation.” 

Republicans in Congress are out of step with Republicans across the country. Like Democrats, grassroots Republicans support asylum. (National Immigration Forum)

“In a new poll of 1,200 adults, including 1,000 registered voters, 65% of Americans — including 61% of Republicans, 63% of Independents and 75% of Democrats — agreed “that the United States should have a legal, secure process in place to take in people from oppressed or war-torn countries, such as Afghanistan.” The nationwide, online survey was fielded Thursday through Sunday.

“The margin among all respondents was 45 percentage points, as 20% said they disagree and 14% were unsure.

“The results come as Americans witness the Biden administration’s challenges responding to more than 10,000 Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas; as communities across the country welcome Afghan evacuees; and as the administration announced plans this week to increase the refugee cap to 125,000 for fiscal year 2022.”

A new poll shows Republican voters across the country supporting a path to citizenship, despite the unanimous opposition of Republicans in Congress. (The Hill)

“A majority of voters in battleground states support Democrats taking action on immigration in the upcoming reconciliation bill, even if that means ramming the measures through without Republican support, according to a new poll published by the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC).

“The poll, conducted by Democratic pollster Matt Barreto and Republican pollster Daron Shaw, showed 3-to-1 support among respondents for including a pathway to citizenship in the reconciliation bill.

“While a hypothetical bipartisan immigration deal received widespread support, including from Republican voters, it’s unlikely that Republicans will either support a reconciliation bill, or that both parties will negotiate a bipartisan immigration agreement.” 

Haiti Update

While thousands of Haitians are being expelled on flights to Haiti, others are being admitted. Who stays and who gets kicked out? There seems to be little consistency in decisions. (AP)

“Many have been released with notices to appear at an immigration office within 60 days, an outcome that requires less processing time from Border Patrol agents than ordering an appearance in immigration court and points to the speed at which authorities are moving, the official said….

“However, the decision to release many Haitians, particularly without a clearly stated criteria for who stays and who gets returned to Haiti, will likely add to criticism of the White House, which is already facing bipartisan condemnation. Republicans say Biden administration policies led Haitians to believe they would get asylum. …

“Attorneys and advocates say they have so far been denied access to the migrant camp underneath the international bridge in Del Rio and have been given very little information by officials on what is happening with the immigrants.”

Good news stories

Even in hurricane season, the sun shines most days. Even in our stormy political season, a few good news stories emerge. One comes from a senior residence in Virginia, where residents organized to help immigrant workers. Immigrants make up about 17 percent of the national medical workforce, and about a quarter of all workers in long-term care facilities. (Washington Post)

“Thanks to the forces of economics and geopolitics, most of the folks taking care of us, our parents and our grandparents are immigrants….

“’It’s a crisis,’ said Anne Stewart, 79, a resident at Goodwin House in a suburban part of Northern Virginia called Baileys Crossroads who loves talking to the workers to learn about their lives.

“’And what are we doing?’ Stewart said, before pulling down her mask so I could hear her stage whisper, ‘We’re deporting them.’

“So they decided to help in the best way they could, with one resident, Rita Siebenaler, leading an effort that turned nearly 90 employees of the Goodwin Houses in Baileys Crossroads and in Alexandria into nearly 90 new American citizens….

[Residents raised nearly $40,000 to help pay the $725 naturalization application fee.]

“And the residents raised their hands to volunteer. They tutored the health aides, housekeepers and cooks, drilling them on spelling, the constitutional amendments, the writers of the Federalist papers, the rights of U.S. citizens and other questions on the citizenship test that huge percentages of American-born citizens who call themselves patriots would flunk.”

Dr. Nisha Botchwey, an immigrant from Jamaica and former administrator at Georgia Tech, is the new dean of the Humphrey Institute. (Sahan Journal)

“Dr. Nisha Botchwey is an expert in health policy and the environment, with a focus on youth engagement and health equity. She will serve as the school’s chief executive and academic officer. Botchwey holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in urban planning from the University of Pennsylvania. She also has a master’s degree in public health from the University of Virginia, and a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and public policy from Harvard University….

“As a first-generation college graduate, Botchwey said she entered a career in public service because she wanted to better understand the rules that govern daily life—and how to make them more fair. She said the legacy of the Humphrey School fits that vision.

“’The education that the Humphrey School provides allows for the elevation of a little Black girl like me—who started school in ESL classes in Miami, Florida—to catapult to the dean’s office at the Humphrey School.’”

And the rest of the news

People advocating for fair treatment of immigrants increasingly reject President Biden’s policies as a retread of Trump policies. (Washington Post)

“'[President] Donald Trump’s policy approach is becoming the default approach under the Biden administration,’ said former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro, referring to Biden continuing Trump’s use of a public health order to turn away migrants during the pandemic. ‘There are many, many people across the country losing patience with this administration’s approach to asylum seekers and immigrants.’…

“‘The humanitarian crisis happening under this administration on the southern border disgustingly mirrors some of the darkest moments in America’s history,’ said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. ‘If we were to close our eyes and this was occurring under the Trump administration, what would we do? The inhumane treatment of the Haitian refugees is utterly sickening.’…

“For all the focus on Biden, Congress’s long-standing inability to come together on a broad immigration law has played a key role in fueling the current crisis, veteran immigration activists said.

“’What we are seeing is a crisis that has been created by Republican and Democratic administrations that have failed to provide any pathway to legalization,’ said Kari Hong, an attorney with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project that works along the border in Arizona.” 

Criticism of Biden policies is coming from within USCIS, too. (Reuters)

“One of the USCIS officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press said it was understood it would take time to roll back the Trump-era measures, but that some are now losing patience in the face of slow reform.

“’It’s appalling, disgusting,’ the official said. ‘What do they believe in, if this is acceptable?’ Some colleagues were considering whether to leave their jobs, the official said.”  

NBC reports on a Biden administration procurement listing for operation of a migrant detention facility at Guantanamo stirred immediate alarm among immigration advocates. DHS immediately responded that the contract has nothing to do with migrants detained at the southern border. The solicitation is for renewal of a contract that began in 2002 and has its next expiration date on May 31, 2022. 

“A little-known immigrant holding facility on the base has a capacity of 120 people, the records say, and it ‘will have an estimated daily population of 20 people,’ according to a solicitation for bids issued Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.

“In a statement to NBC News, DHS said it ‘is not [sending] and will not send Haitian nationals being encountered at the southwest border to the Migrant Operations Center (MOC) in Guantanamo Bay.’

“The migrant detention facility there ‘has been used for decades to process migrants interdicted at sea for third-country resettlement,’ the statement said, adding that the procurement solicitation seeks a renewal in a contract first awarded in 2002 with a current term that ends next May 31.” 

[Photo credit: U.S. Capitol by David Malone, used under Creative Commons license.]

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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