Immigration News from November 18, 2021

George Hodan has released this “I Am Waiting” image under Public Domain license.

The House is expected to vote tonight on the Build Back Better plan–which still includes parole for unauthorized immigrants who have been in the United States for more than 10 years, If passed by both the House and Senate, this parole would give protection from deportation and work authorization for five years, renewable for another five.

Meanwhile: refugees wait in camps for years, hoping they will be one of the small percentage eventually granted resettlement by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. If they are chosen for resettlement in the United States, they face months of intense and repetitive vetting. Even after passing these hurdles, they face further wait times. 

(National Immigration Forum) “Prior to the Trump administration, the average processing time was regularly listed at 18 to 24 months. Since 2017, however, the implementation of additional vetting and security protocols, the Trump administration slashing resources to various parts of the system, and the sweeping impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have all almost certainly increased wait times. UNHCR currently estimates the process from referral to resettlement for P-1 refugees to take between two and 10 years….

“Domestic refugee resettlement agencies receive funding based on the number of refugees that are resettled. Years of record-low refugee resettlement during the Trump administration has led to closures of domestic resettlement offices and reductions in personnel. Since 2017, 134 resettlement sites around the country have been forced to closedue to a lack of funding, cutting resettlement capacity by 38%. These cuts, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, have made it extremely difficult for resettlement agencies to expand their capacity and quickly rebuild. The agencies fear rapidly reopening offices, building capacity, and overextending their resources only to see resettlement totals again slashed when the next administration takes power.” 

And in other news

St. Paul needs to keep LEAP High School open.

(Pioneer Press) “Newly arriving immigrants who are high-school-aged at arrival must cram English learning and high school education — and sometimes all 12 years of school — into the time before they turn 21 and age out of public schools altogether.

“That’s where LEAP High School comes in. St. Paul’s LEAP High School is a special place for newly arriving immigrants from 15-20 years of age. Students from countries around the world, many fleeing violence and persecution, find community and understanding at LEAP.”

Worried about talking to relatives about immigration? Facts and figure sare not the most important tools.

(Baptist News) “Farrington said she understands the temptation to counter anti-immigration arguments with a flood of expert references, statistics and Scripture verses about welcoming the stranger — because she often has taken those approaches herself.

“’But as persuasive as I thought that might be, it does not necessarily move the needle.’

“What can make a positive difference, she said, are responses based on kindness and empathy and which avoid personal and partisan attacks. These are good approaches to keep in mind at family gatherings.” 

What to do with immigrants waiting for court hearings? Bring back a program that worked. Case management costs less than detention or paying for-profit companies for ankle monitors and other intrusive monitoring. 

(Dallas Morning News) “Case management programs work. Previously, the Department of Homeland Security operated one for families that was not only far more humane than detention, but was also effective at ensuring compliance with immigration requirements. Over 99% of participants complied with Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-ins and court hearings, according to a report by the Women’s Refugee Commission. Further, at around $38 per family per day, the program cost a fraction of the $319 spent daily to detain a family, according to CNBC reporting. Despite its success, the Trump administration abruptly ended the program in 2017….

“The best programs take a holistic approach by providing critical services, such as legal support and guidance on obtaining housing and employment, and working closely with community-based civil society organizations.”

As long as the United States bars migrants, camps along the border continue to grow. 

(AP) “As darkness fell, about 250 police officers and city workers swept into a squalid camp for migrants hoping to apply for asylum in the United States. Migrants had to register for credentials or leave. Within hours, those who stayed were surrounded by enough chain-link fence to extend twice the height of the Statue of Liberty….

“The camps, full of young children, are a product of policies that force migrants to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court or prohibit them from seeking asylum under pandemic-related public health powers. Uncertainty about U.S. asylum policies has also contributed to growing migrant populations in Mexican border cities, creating conditions for more camps.”

Despite bureaucratic obstacles, immigrants continue to push through and become citizens.

(Migration Policy Institute) “Overall, there were 23.2 million naturalized U.S. citizens in the United States in 2019, the most recent reporting available, making up 52 percent of the overall immigrant population, which stood at 44.9 million….

“In recent years, institutional factors such as processing times and case backlogs have affected the number of annual naturalizations, as have financial constraints in meeting the citizenship application fee of $725 and immigrants’ personal decisions about whether to apply. While the number of new naturalized citizens has fluctuated each year, processing wait times have increased. The average processing time for N-400 applications for naturalization increased to 11.5 months in FY 2021, up from 9.1 months in FY 2020 and about 10 months in FY 2019.” 

Why should you worry about restrictions on immigration? They might mean the difference between getting adequate medical care and going without.

(Rochester Post Bulletin) “There are compelling self-interest reasons to support easing restrictions on immigration, especially here in Southeast Minnesota. The latest projections from the Minnesota Demographic Center indicate that Southeast Minnesota will experience a decline in labor force of 2.3% over the next 35 years. For parts of the region outside Olmsted County, the decline is steeper: a population decline of 7.5% and a labor force decline of 11.9%. Four counties in our region will experience labor force declines of over 20%. 

“Unless immigration increases to make up this labor force deficit, our regional economy will likely suffer. In practical personal terms, this means, for example, that when your older sister needs a hip replacement, the rehab center will be unable to find the workers to provide adequate levels of care.” 

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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