Immigration News from December 6, 2021

The Biden administration says that because it must follow a court order to reinstate Remain-in-Mexico, it will make the program more humane. That’s unlikely. 

(Vox) “‘MPP had endemic flaws, imposed unjustifiable human costs, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and did not address the root causes of irregular migration,’ [DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas] wrote in an October memo. ‘MPP not only undercuts the Administration’s ability to implement critically needed and foundational changes to the immigration system, it fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protections that individuals deserve under the law.’…

“Biden isn’t just reinstating MPP; he’s broadening its scale. Now, all other citizens of countries in the Western Hemisphere can be sent back under the program, which previously only covered Spanish speakers. 

“The administration isn’t doing so because the court ordered it to — that wasn’t part of the court’s instructions — and it hasn’t explained why it’s expanding the program, and did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. That leaves room for doubt about its commitment to ensuring the safety of migrants who will suffer from keeping MPP in place.”

Asylum officers who will have to implement the Remain-in-Mexico policy know the harm it does to the most vulnerable people. Michael Knowles, head of the union that represents asylum officers, talked to Phoenix public radio station KJZZ. 

(KJZZ) “‘Policies like this place refugees in harm’s way, and it’s a source of shame, it’s really a heavy burden for our members to carry,’ he said. ‘Because they’re the ones who have to hear an individual literally begging for their life.’ 

“Knowles said under the revamped policy, asylum officers will be tasked with determining whether a migrant has credible fear of staying in Mexico to wait for their court date, a threshold he says can be impossibly high to meet. He said reinstating the policy will also strain resources and exacerbate an already years-long backlog for asylum cases.”   

From the beginning, advocates said the deportation of Haitians violates international and U.S. law. Now an internal memo shows that Biden administration officials also warned that deportations would violate human rights obligations before mass deportations began this summer. The administration ignored their warnings, went ahead with deportations, and are still doing so. 

(BuzzFeed) “The [DHS’ Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL)] believed that if removals of Haitians, which had been on pause at the time of the warning in late August, resumed ‘any time in the near future,’ it would put the DHS at risk of violating its human rights obligations. The office believed the pause in deportations back to Haiti was necessary due to the violence, political instability, and recent earthquake that led to severe damage and hundreds of deaths. Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection were told that DHS had already laid out how it was unsafe to return Haitians when the Biden administration granted them Temporary Protected Status (TPS) earlier this year.

“’These conditions create a risk of danger to deportees due to perceived political opinion and/or individual demographic characteristics (e.g., a high risk of refoulement),’ the civil rights office communicated to ICE and CBP officials on Aug. 31, according to the internal document obtained by BuzzFeed News. The memo also pointed to a recent Department of State travel advisory listing Haiti at the highest level of danger due to the likelihood of life-threatening risks.”

Cuts to refugee agencies under Trump, the pandemic bottleneck, and Rochester’s booming housing market make housing refugees–and anyone else with limited income–far more difficult.

(MPR) “Meanwhile, affordable housing remains scarce, and some local landlords have sold their properties to out-of-state companies as Rochester’s housing market booms under the Destination Medical Center, a massive economic development plan aimed at making the city more of a medical destination. 

“’We had built up those relations, and then all of a sudden, the company gets sold, the apartment complex gets sold. And you’re dealing with a different office, and that has made it such a challenge,’ Meyer said.”

“It’s a challenge laid bare by an influx of Afghan refugees seeking a new life after fleeing the Taliban regime in their home country earlier this year. Meyers expects his team will welcome 20 Afghan families — a total of 80 people — by February of 2022.”

Language matters. Federal and state moves to change terms like “alien” in legislative statutes and everyday usage to words like “noncitizen” are one small but significant move in the right direction.

(MSNBC) “Earlier this year, U.S. media outlets — both on the right and the left— were guilty of equating a humanitarian migrant crisis to a military invasion or a natural disaster. The choices of imagery and language — think “surge,” “wave” “crisis” — did nothing to expand the dialogue as to why people migrate in the first place or why it has happened for so long. Instead, it highlighted how American journalism treats immigration like a sporting event, choosing a play-by-play approach instead of informing the public with actual context….

“Language and how we frame contentious political issues matter, and little has been done to acknowledge the fact that immigrants in this country — or, more accurately, brown immigrants from the Global South — are real people with dreams, hopes and fears.” 

Why do we need DACA? Let us count the ways—that DACA recipients build this country.

(Center for American Progress) “Nearly 600,000 DACA recipients live across the United States, raise 300,000 U.S.-citizen children, and pay $9.4 billion in taxes each year….

“Data show that more than three-quarters of DACA recipients in the workforce—343,000 people—were employed in jobs deemed essential by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, helping to keep the country running and safe at great personal risk. This number includes 34,000 health care workers providing patient care and another 11,000 individuals working in health care settings keeping these facilities functioning. It includes 20,000 educators, ensuring millions of children can continue learning in classrooms, and 100,000 working in the food supply chain as food travels from farms to dinner tables.” 

U.S. worker shortages are aggravated by delays in processing visas. 

(Politico) “More than 1.3 million employment authorization applications were pending before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the end of June, according to the latest data from the agency. On top of that, an estimated 1.5 million immigrants are waiting in line for employment-based green cards — many already in the U.S. on other visas — that would allow them to stay permanently, but only 140,000 are available each year.

“The squeeze on foreign labor comes as the country’s working-age population has been declining and as businesses say they can’t find enough workers to staff their operations because of the pandemic. There were 10.4 million job openings in the U.S. at the end of September, according to the Labor Department….

“Experts say the problem is two-fold, pointing to what they see as arbitrary caps on employment-based immigration, along with agency-wide delays in processing immigration documents.” 

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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