Immigration News from October 7, 2021

Laws should both be fair and seem fair. U.S. immigration laws are neither. The stories of Afghans admitted under humanitarian parole, of Haitians arbitrarily admitted or expelled, and of the “documented Dreamers” forced out of the only country they know are just three examples of what’s wrong with th U.S. immigration system. 

Tens of thousands of Afghans entered the United States under a provision called humanitarian parole. That gives them no path to citizenship and no eligibility for refugee assistance. Along with the difficulties of making new homes in a new country, they face a long and difficult legal process to try to get immigration documents. 

(CBS) “Unless Congress creates a legalization program for them, Afghan evacuees who are not eligible for special immigrant visas will likely have to request asylum, and join more than 400,000 asylum-seekers in the U.S. with pending applications, to gain permanent status. 

“‘We evacuated them here. We did that. It’s not very equitable to force people to stay in this limbo state,’ said Meredith Owen, policy director at Church World Service, one of nine national refugee resettlement groups in the U.S….

“Quickly processing thousands of petitions from Afghan evacuees could prove to be a herculean task for the 800-person asylum officer corps at USCIS, which is already reviewing 404,000 applications and screening thousands of migrants seeking protection at the southern border each month.”

Macdalla Renois and her husband made the grueling trip through the Darien Gap while she was pregnant: she gave birth on the way north through Mexico.  Allie Sajous and her husband carried their toddler. They both made it across the border to the camp at Del Rio. Then Renois and her family were expelled and Sajous and her family given a chance to stay. 

(Reuters) “Renois said she never had an opportunity to tell border agents she feared being returned to Haiti, which effectively denied her the right to seek asylum under U.S. and international law. On the flight back to Haiti, she said her hands and feet were cuffed and connected to a chain around her waist, like all the adults on the plane, making it difficult to hold her daughter.

“‘I didn’t steal anything, I am not a criminal. It is the first time in my life I was shackled that way,’ she said.

“Around the same time, U.S. immigration officials released Sajous and her husband and daughter to join relatives in Florida, allowing her a chance to settle in the United States if she wins a case in immigration court. However, she noted that no U.S. official actually asked her if she wanted asylum or if she feared returning to Haiti….

“The fate of the two women, meted out without explanation, mirror that of thousands of others.”

Our immigration policies can be both nonsensical and cruel, as shown by the plight of the “documented Dreamers.” 

(ABC) “An estimated 200,000 young immigrants living legally in the U.S. for years as dependents of their parents on temporary work visas are aging out of the program into a precarious legal limbo, according to immigrant advocates.

“After turning 21, many of these children abruptly lose legal immigration status and are forced to choose between returning to their country of birth where they’ve spent little time, or remaining in the US illegally to stay with their families.

“‘Everything I know is American. It just doesn’t make sense for me to go back to a country that I’ve lived in for 4 months,’ said Pareen Mhatre, 21, a University of Iowa senior and daughter of Indian immigrants who came to the US two decades ago and have built careers with long-term work visas….

“Visa caps and lengthy backlogs for green card applications — especially for foreign nationals from India and China, who can wait up to 89 years for permanent residency, according to the American Immigration Council — have compounded the situation for children of long-term visa holders. Once they become adults, their dependent visas expire and they also get removed from pending green card applications filed together with their parents.”

And in other news

Given the massive deportation flights, DHS’s “We’re ready” sounds more ominous than hopeful. Also: without a functioning asylum system, we are not prepared. .

(USA Today) “Amid reports of thousands of Haitian migrants again heading to the U.S.-Mexico border, the head of the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday the Biden administration has learned from the unexpected wave of migrants who came last month and is prepared for the possibility of additional groups….

“’It was most certainly a challenge that we had not encountered previously,’ Mayorkas said of the roughly 15,000 Haitian migrants who set up camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, last month. ‘And what we have done now, is we have developed plans that should something like that occur again, we’re ready for it.’…

“He noted the department is ready to deploy personnel, as well as call upon humanitarian resources, food supplies, facilities, transportation and medical care.” 

Barring immigrants under Title 42 is a misuse of the public health law for the purpose of excluding immigrants. Trump started it, Biden is continuing it, and that’s a clear violation of asylum laws. 

(New Yorker) “There was no evidence that asylum seekers were transmitting covid-19 at high rates, and the C.D.C.’s top doctor refused to sign off on the policy because, as the Associated Press reported, he thought that ‘there was no valid public health reason’ for it. But, after Vice-President Mike Pence appealed directly to Robert Redfield, the head of the C.D.C., the agency issued the authorization. …

“By the time Biden entered office, there had been more than four hundred thousand expulsions under Title 42.

“In addition, several developing humanitarian crises were making incoming officials wary. Tens of thousands of asylum seekers stranded in northern Mexico were newly intent on entering the United States, now that Trump was out of office. In the fall of 2020, two Category 4 hurricanes had hit Central America in the span of a month, displacing tens of thousands of people. The pandemic was driving migrants to new depths of desperation, exacerbating humanitarian emergencies that already existed in Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. All this would have strained the U.S. asylum system even if it were functioning efficiently, and the Trump Administration had just spent four years eviscerating it….

“Two prominent Administration officials have resigned in the past two weeks in protest of Title 42.”

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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