Immigration News: January 18, 2022

Should the United States offer safe haven to people fleeing genocidal governments? To people whose lives are in danger because of their service to the United States? We say that we do—but unconscionable delays and backlogs make a mockery of that promise.

Abdul served with the U.S. military in Afghanistan and came to the United States on a Special Immigrant Visa in 2014, as someone who would be in danger if he remained in Afghanistan. He has been trying to get his family out, because they are also in danger. His attorney tells the unending horror story on the American Immigration Lawyers Association blog.  

[AILA Think Immigration]”​The Taliban are going door to door in the region where his family lives, seeking out those who worked with the Americans and their family members—male relatives in particular. After we had filed emergency humanitarian parole applications for Abdul’s family members, received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the end of August, he called me in a state of panic. His friend, Bibi, who had served in the same unit as a combat interpreter told him the Taliban had come to Bibi’s family home, in the very same region as Abdul’s, and abducted Bibi’s younger brother. The brother’s body was found days later.   

“Abdul waits, barely sleeping. His applications, like all others received since the end of August, go nowhere.”

More than 800 Uyghur refugees from China’s genocidal persecution are among more than 667,000 asylum applicants trapped in a backlogged system.

[Roll Call] “Soon after ‘Alim; arrived in the U.S. on a travel visa in 2014, he applied for asylum. As a Uyghur Muslim, he faced an uncertain future if returned to his native China, which was beginning a crackdown on ethnic minorities.

“Seven years later, he’s still waiting for his asylum claim to be resolved.

“During that time, his two children back home have grown into teenagers. His wife and two sisters were imprisoned in Chinese ‘re-education’ camps, where he said they faced starvation and torture. His court hearing in the U.S. has been delayed repeatedly.

“’I lost my family,’ said Alim, whose real name was withheld to protect his family’s safety. ‘The immigration court killed my chance.’”

And in other news

U.S. immigration policy is killing people in the desert.

[Texas Public Radio] “’The argument that the government makes is that ‘migrants do this to themselves, it’s not our fault that people die in the desert,’’ said anthropologist Jason De León. ‘But what I’ve been arguing for a long time is that we have a policy in place. It’s called Prevention through Deterrence. It weaponizes the desert. It forcibly pushes people towards places like the Arizona desert or the South Texas backwoods, so that folks will have to walk for days and days.’”

Georgia immigration courts consistently set higher-than-average bonds for detained immigrants.

[Atlanta Journal Constitution] “Unlike bonds in a criminal setting, where defendants can pay a percentage of the full bail to leave custody, immigration bonds must be paid in full.

“Judges from the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review, which oversees immigration courts, make the final determination on the bond amount detained immigrants have to pay to be released. The statutory minimum is $1,500. There is no maximum cap.”

Republicans are already running against Biden’s immigration record–and lying consistently about what that record is. Immigrant advocates are concerned for another reason: Biden’s immigration record looks too much like that of his predecessor.

[Washington Post] “A year into his presidency, Biden has made relatively little progress rebuilding the U.S. immigration system, particularly when one considers his soaring pro-immigrant campaign rhetoric. In fairness, Biden had his work cut out for him: Miller and other Trump officials effectively sabotaged the immigration system on their way out the door. They erected arbitrary new hurdles for immigrants, drove out qualified public servants and generally mismanaged government resources….

“To their credit, Biden officials have reversed some of the cruel — and stupid — bureaucratic obstacles that Miller and Trump littered across the system. These often Kafkaesque changes to paperwork and eligibility requirements were intended to slow down processing of visas and work permits and entangle law-abiding immigrants in red tape.Such policies, which Trump heightened during the pandemic, are among the reasons immigration inflows have fallen by roughly two-thirds since 2017, according to Census Bureau estimates…. 

“But Biden has continued Trump’s most restrictionist, inhumane and possibly illegal border policies.”

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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