Immigration News from January 7, 2022

Tonight’s focus is on young migrants. Unaccompanied children continue to arrive at the border. Last year set records, and it’s not clear what to expect in the months ahead.

[CBS] “The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) shelter system received 122,000 migrant children who were taken into U.S. custody without their parents in fiscal year 2021, an all-time high that shattered previous records, according to new government figures obtained by CBS News….

“More than 107,000 migrant children in HHS care were released to sponsors during fiscal year 2021, another record….

“Migration experts said the historic number of unaccompanied minors taken in U.S. custody this year was partly driven by persistent conditions in some Central America communities, including crushing poverty, hunger, lack of economic opportunities, violence and displacement caused by natural disasters. 

“Mr. Biden’s election, as well as some policy changes announced by his administration, also led smugglers to tell migrant youth they had a better chance of being allowed to stay in the U.S. than they had under Trump, the experts said.” 

Besides the newly-arriving migrant children, the Biden administration must take action to reunite still-separated families. Some of those families are suing for reunification and for compensation.  The Biden administration is resisting legal demands to compensate separated families.

[San Francisco Chronicle] “In Wednesday’s filing, lawyers from the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco said the administration “does not defend the merits of the policies at issue in this case,” and cited Biden’s description of forced family separation as a “human tragedy” that he would not repeat while in office. But they argued that the separations of the three families now living in the Bay Area were “policy choices” that are legally immune from damage suits.

“The families’ lawyers said the filing was the government’s first since the Biden administration withdrew in mid-December from negotiations seeking to settle claims by families separated at the border….

“One parent in the lawsuit said he and his 11-year-old son, after being assaulted by criminals south of the border, were held by Border Patrol officers in a filthy, freezing cell for two days, then separated. By the time he learned his son’s whereabouts from acquaintances a month later, the man said, he had become ill and his son had been sexually assaulted by another detainee while in custody.” 

One mother and daughter’s story of separation and reunion reveals the need for compensation and some of the problems and challenges that continue after reunification, such as the lack of permission to work, need for counseling, and still-unsettled immigration status that could mean a second separation. 

[Washington Post] “She and Adelaida had spoken almost every day since 2017 on video calls, she explained, until the image Chic had of her daughter had been replaced by the image on the screen of her cellphone. Adelaida had grown 11 inches. Her English was better than her Spanish.

“She keeps asking me when we’ll be together,” Chic told David. “For four years she’s been asking.” 

For some time, the Biden administration was in negotiation for settlement of lawsuits by immigrant families whose children were taken away by the Trump administration. Now it has ended those negotiations. 

[New Yorker] “This is the unanswerable question at the core of the settlement discussions: if no form of recompense can ever, fully, make these families whole, is it true that a certain sum can be too high? Biden has decided that there are limits to the political costs he’s willing to incur, in any case. But without a collective settlement, lawyers at the Department of Justice will have to figure out, on an individual basis, who deserves compensation and who doesn’t. Only about nine hundred cases have been filed, to date. As Ann Garcia told me, ‘Trauma runs the gamut. Some kids are depressed, some have P.T.S.D., some have been hospitalized. Many parents still have not been able to regain their children’s trust. They’ve told me that their children aren’t the same anymore. It’s the fact of their having been separated that defines the harm. Period. There’s a whole penumbra of horrible things that happen after. But the settlement hinges on the separation itself. That’s what the figure is for.’

“Until the Biden Administration walked away from the monetary-settlement talks, there were two separate tracks of negotiations: one involved compensation, and the other concerned additional legal protections for the families, such as an eventual path to apply for legal status in the United States. Monetary compensation to victims of the zero-tolerance policy once seemed like a straightforward decision, in both political and moral terms.” 

Now the legal proceedings demanding compensation for family separation are heating up again. 

[Washington Post] “Beatriz was 3 years old when U.S. authorities separated her from her father, Jairo, shortly after they arrived from Guatemala at the U.S. border on Christmas Eve 2017. He was detained and developed pneumonia. She was sent to New York, where a woman who took her in hit her so hard with a belt that it left a scar, she told her dad.

“Ana fled Guatemala a few months later with her sons Jaime, 8, and Mateo, 7, and she says U.S. officials separated them for seven weeks, adding that Mateo still cannot bathe alone, sleep by himself or stand to be apart from his mother.

“These are two of the many allegations behind at least 19 lawsuits — and hundreds of administrative complaints — filed against the federal government by migrants who say their children were separated from them by the Trump administration. The plaintiffs, who use pseudonyms in their legal filings to protect their privacy, are seeking financial compensation after enduring what was widely regarded as one of President Donald Trump’s harshest policies.”

And in other news: 

Homeland Security agents say they want out of ICE.

[Washington Post] “Federal agents from Homeland Security Investigations say they have been kicked out of joint drug operations, shunned by local police departments and heckled at campus career fairs. Their parent agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, carries a stigma that is undermining their investigative work across the country, the agents said in an internal report….

“The HSI agents assembled dozens of these examples to convince DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that they should leave ICE. They say their affiliation with ICE’s immigration enforcement role is endangering their personal safety, stifling their partnerships with other agencies and scaring away crime victims, according to a copy of the report provided to The Washington Post.” 

Unlike the United States, Canada recognizes the importance of immigration to its economic future.

[MSN] “Canada met its target of granting 401,000 foreigners permanent residency in 2021 by focusing its efforts on temporary residents already in the country, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said on Thursday.

“Canada, which depends on immigration to drive its economy and support an aging population, saw new permanent residents falling over 45% to 185,000 in 2020, when borders were largely closed due to COVID-19.

“The majority of the new 401,000 permanent residents – a figure reached for the first time in more than a century – were already in Canada on temporary status, according to a statement from the immigration minister.”

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,, 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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