Immigration News from December 1, 2021

After about 10 days away from this blog, I have a pile of news stories, but I’ll start slowly with just a few of the highlights, including an important explainer on the refugee system.

The U.S. Refugee Admission Program (USRAP) is incredibly convoluted and backlogged, including “at least five separate information technology systems, and a trove of inscrutable acronyms (FTTTFRADNVGB, to name a few).” This explainer outlines the process and suggests ways to improve it. 

The five basic steps in the process are (1) entering the pipeline (usually, but not always, by UNHCR referral); (2) pre-screening interview at one of nine Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs) around the world, with referral to Department of Homeland Security for background checks; (3) in-person interviews with applicants in their host countries by USCIS officers;  (4) a multitude of security and medical checks to ensure the refugee poses no national security security risk, including U.S. Department of Defense, DHS, the FBI, and international law enforcement organizations like Interpol; (5) resettlement by a sponsoring resettlement agency in the U.S. 

Time needed to get through the process? Current estimates say two to 10 years AFTER referral by UNHCR. 

In Washington, Senate Democrats are waiting for the parliamentarian’s verdict on the House-passed Build Back Better bill, which includes parole for many unauthorized immigrants, but no pathway to citizenship.

(Minnesota Reformer) “Juliana Macedo do Nascimento, the state and local policy manager for United We Dream, an immigrant advocacy group, said that Democrats have the opportunity to pass bold immigration reform, the most historic in 35 years, by creating a pathway to citizenship….

“Macedo do Nascimento said she and other immigration advocacy groups were disappointed in what the House passed, because the House does not have the same rule constraints as the Senate and members could have included a pathway to citizenship in their version of the bill….

“Still, Macedo do Nascimento added that if the Senate accepts the House’s immigration language, it would be the biggest immigration reform in 35 years, since a law signed by the late President Ronald Reagan.

“’We have to live with those two truths,’ she said.  ‘It’s not enough, and it’s not what we deserve, and it’s not what we were promised.’”

Congress did manage some action this year. The infrastructure bill that is now law includes provisions for border infrastructure.

(National Immigration Forum) “Much of the focus on this bipartisan infrastructure bill has rightfully highlighted its significant investments into American roads and bridges, the electrical grid, the water supply, and access to broadband internet. However, in addition to these elements, the legislation also includes billions of dollars for border infrastructure that has not drawn as much attention, including provisions designed to modernize ports of entry and better resource local communities who are assisting in processing arriving migrants.

“These investments could play a major role in creating a more orderly, humane, and secure border.” 

As the Biden administration prepares to reinstate the MPP/Remain in Mexico program, asylum seekers remain in danger, and mostly without legal help. Only 7% of MPP asylum-seekers had a lawyer. While about one-third of all asylum seekers win their cases, less than one percent of MPP asylum-seekers win.  

(KPBS) “Perched on a wall near her tent, just feet from the border wall separating Tijuana and San Diego, Chantal said she fled Honduras two years ago because she was kicked out of her home by her father and later beaten on the streets because of her gender identity.

“The 23-year-old transgender woman, who wouldn’t give her full name because she’s afraid of being tracked down by Honduran gangs, has been living in a crowded migrant encampment in Tijuana for a month. And she’s intent on seeking asylum in the United States….

“In Mexico, Chantal said she was briefly abducted by a gang and has been beaten up on the streets of Tijuana.

“’It’s very dangerous to be waiting in Mexico, just as dangerous as it was living in Honduras,’ she said.” 

Finally—the National Immigration Forum explains why it is important to understand and fight back against the lies of the great replacement theory. 

“In recent weeks, numerous public figures on the far right have echoed or supported the ‘great replacement’ theory — a dangerous ideology rooted in racism and fear – which has also been called ‘white replacement theory’ or simply ‘replacement theory’ — and it has started to gain broader attention….

“It is tempting not to engage with a conspiracy theory so wrapped in xenophobia and extremism. But as the “great replacement” theory becomes more mainstream, it is imperative that we understand the history and dangerous extremism behind this school of thought — and even more important to highlight those who have effectively and articulately pushed back.”

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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