Immigration News from October 18, 2021

Maybe.

The biggest immigration news in the past few days is what is not happening: immigration reform via the reconciliation process. Speculation and advocacy continue: Plan C? Ignore the parliamentarian? Keep something in the bill for Dreamers and forget everything else? Incremental change, somewhere, somehow? 

Just to recap (and oversimplify): The Senate Parliamentarian has told Democrats that their first two proposals for including a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation bill are not appropriate because their primary impact is policy, not budgetary. She has not yet responded to their Plan C proposal, which would provide for work permits and humanitarian parole, but no path to citizenship. It’s not clear whether the delay is because Plan C is not yet written or because the Parliamentarian is out of her office for a few weeks while she undergoes treatment for cancer. 

The latest twist in the reconciliation process is a call for Vice President Kamala Harris to basically ignore the Senate Parliamentarian’s “guidance” and rule that a pathway to citizenship can be part of the reconciliation bill. This call comes from a group of 92 legal scholars, as reported in The Hill:

(The Hill) “’When determining whether a provision is extraneous, the Presiding Officer may rely on the Senate Parliamentarian for expert advice,’ wrote the scholars. ‘However, as past Parliamentarians have emphasized, the ultimate decision on a point of order lies with the Presiding Officer, subject to appeal to the full Senate.’  

“’The Presiding Officer therefore must exercise her own judgment in deciding whether a provision should be stricken from a budget reconciliation bill on Byrd Rule grounds,’ they added.”  

Then there’s Plan C, which might benefit 7 million undocumented immigrants: 

(America’s Voice) “The proposal to grant only work permits and protection from deportation to some seven to eight million undocumented immigrants is the most recent alternative that the Democrats are trying to include in the Senate’s budget reconciliation, after the rejection of measures that contain a path to citizenship by the body’s own Parliamentarian.

“This new hope for immigration, however, encourages moderate expectations, as it only falls within the realm of the probable, not the definitive.

“Essentially, the so-called “Plan C” would stop the deportation and grant work permits to people who entered the United States before January 1, 2011. It would be valid for five years and renewable for another five years, for those who comply with the requirements.”

And in other news

Domino’s Pizza CEO Ritch Allison noted that a drop in sales was due in large part to lack of staff. He said that means we need to increase immigration, not block it.

(The Hill) “’Folks who want to work hard, want to stay with the business for a long period of time, can end up being owners and entrepreneurs,’ he added. ‘As I travel around the country and talk to our franchisees, so many of whom followed that [immigration] path, it’s inspiring. … It truly is.’…

“’Ritch Allison started, I think, a conversation that we’re all going to have to talk about,’ [CNBC’s Jim] Cramer said. ‘We don’t have population growth in this country. … But more importantly, he’s saying, we cut off immigration. We stopped it, but the great thing about our country is immigrants come in, they become drivers. Next thing you know they own a Domino’s, then they own several places. That’s ending. We literally have to start thinking about an immigration policy that involves taking in people.’

“’Think about that. What kind of discussion is that when, not that long ago, the idea was that we’ve got to keep people out.'”  ​​

Hmm. Yes, we do need more immigration. But it still seems weird to look to Domino’s for policy recommendations.

The Department of Homeland Security will build better intelligence gathering to monitor movements of migrants toward the United States, and will increase collection of biometrics.

We need to focus on building our capacities to process asylum-seekers instead of investing in failed deterrence systems that only temporarily push problems aside.

(NBC) “The new cell, to be operational by the end of the month, would supply the agency with “indications and warnings” of possible migrant surges by collecting intelligence from DHS personnel in Central and South America, seek to establish aerial surveillance of trucks and migrant camps massing on borders and increase communication with the U.S. intelligence community and law enforcement agencies in other countries, according to the planning document.

“With that information in hand, the officials said, DHS could then allocate resources to areas of the border where surges are expected and counter messages spread by cartels and those on social media who falsely claim that the U.S. will allow all migrants arriving now to stay.”

At the request of the United States, Mexico will require visas for Brazilian travelers, for the first time since 2004. This is part of efforts to stop migrants heading for the United States.

(Reuters) “Mexico’s foreign ministry said the new regulations will be published in Mexico’s official gazette in about 30 days. According to the draft document, the policy would go into effect 15 days later – putting the start date around late November or early December.” 

And a little history

The United States has more than a half century of refusing to help Haitian refugees. 

(Boston Review) “The story of detention at Guantánamo is inextricably tied to the remarkable sea journeys Haitians made across the northern Caribbean in the 1970s as they sought refuge in the United States from the repressive violence and economic devastation wrought by the dictatorships of François Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude.  …

“During the first decade of interdiction (1981–1989), 21,461 Haitians were intercepted at sea, but only 6 were brought to U.S. soil to lodge formal requests for asylum—less than one tenth of 1 percent, during a period of dramatic tumult in Haiti that included the violent death spasms of the Duvalier dynasty, multiple coups, and an election-day massacre. One INS official I spoke with years later acknowledged that the interdiction officers carrying out interviews on the cutters “didn’t read [about] country conditions” and “didn’t know much about the law, even the definition, really, of refugees,” but their work was always “popular” with their bosses at the INS due to the small numbers of Haitians they cleared to come stateside….

“[In the 1990s:]  Interdicting Haitians at sea didn’t provide the easy solution for immigration officials that it had during the previous decade, or at least not at first. … A federal judge in Miami promptly intervened in November 1991, blocking returns to Haiti while the legal challenge proceeded. In response, a decision was made to bring large numbers of interdicted Haitians to the very site that had served as the model for interdiction itself—Guantánamo Bay. The purpose, just as with interdiction, was to stay offshore so that lawyers and courts could be kept out of the asylum process….” 

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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