Immigration News: May 26, 2022

Annunciation House building in stylized logo.
Annunciation House provides shelter and services to newly-arriving migrants in El Paso. Find them at @AnnunciationHouse on Facebook. Donate at https://annunciationhouse.org/donate/

Despite the enormous number of migrants who are summarily expelled, those who are admitted must land somewhere when they come to the United States. That often means private shelters for those allowed to stay after crossing the border, and those shelters are running out of resources and volunteers. 

[New York Times] “From the time President Biden took office last year through April, the government has admitted about a quarter of the undocumented migrants apprehended at the southwestern border, or about 700,000 out of 2.7 million, according to an analysis of federal data. The rest have been swiftly expelled under an emergency public health order related to the pandemic, or sent back under another legal authority. On Friday, a federal judge ordered that the rule, which was supposed to be lifted on Monday, remain in place; the administration said it would appeal. 

“Already though, many of the thousands of migrants crossing each day are being let in — of the record 234,088 migrants who arrived in April, nearly half were released into the country for various reasons, including humanitarian exceptions to the public health order and insufficient detention space. In some cases, the government cannot expel people — Cubans and Venezuelans, for example — because it has no diplomatic relations with the country of origin.

“As the Biden administration sees about 8,200 border crossings a day — or nearly the population of College Station, Texas, entering the country every two weeks, far more than at this time last year — it is counting on small nonprofit organizations like La Posada Providencia to manage the influx into border cities and towns …

“Now, however, there is a growing need to also coordinate with cities around the country that migrants are traveling through and to.”

El Paso just passed an emergency ordinance to assist in caring for migrants. 

[WNCT] “The move allows the city manager to temporarily assign municipal employees to migrant shelters that are critically low on volunteers in the middle of a migrant surge not seen since early 2019. …

“The wording of the ordinance acknowledges a “humanitarian and public safety crisis” resulting from a mass migration event through El Paso. It says nearly 30,000 migrants came across the border from Mexico just in April and that the El Paso Sector of the Border Patrol has encountered 143,124 migrants from October through April.

“It also states that a local nonprofit, Annunciation House, is receiving between 400 and 500 of the released migrants per day. Annunciation House Director Ruben Garcia last week made an emotional plea for local governments to take over its main shelter, Casa del Refugiado, because he doesn’t have enough volunteers.”

While many U.S. families and individuals have come forward to help Ukrainian refugees, the process often is more difficult than they expected.

[NBC] “On one hand, the American host families say there have been ample rewards.

“’I love having a loud, laughter-filled home,’ Lisa Monaco said, noting she has enjoyed teaching Vasilisa to make crafts, and transforming the family’s yard into a soccer pitch for Lev. 

“’Every night we have a family dinner, all seven of us.’

On the other hand, there’s been a mountain of often formidable paperwork.

“’It’s not an easy process,’ said Roaya Tyson of the experience of helping Venhlinska, Donet, and  their children settle into the United States. ‘It’s been unbelievably difficult. In so many cases, you can’t get one document if you don’t have other documents, so it’s been a catch-22.’”

And in other news

Congress member Raul Grijalva describes solutions to border issues without the bar to all asylum seekers embodied in the Title 42 rule. 

[Arizona Republic] “Title 42 is an aberration. It is a weaponized Trump-era “health policy” disguised to prevent the legal entry of migrants due to the pandemic. In truth, it is a nativist effort to stop the entry of migrants fleeing persecution and violence from their legal right to seek asylum under U.S. law. …

“Following significant calls from both sides of the aisle, the Biden administration released a plan that is a roadmap for the southern border and a call to action for Congress to act on immigration.  …

“As Title 42 is lifted, the Senate must grant additional funding for resources and personnel for migrant processing and aid for local organizations and localities on the ground. We can provide humanitarian support to those arriving at the border and ensure asylum seekers understand the next steps in the process and how to find support in their communities.  …

“With the end of Title 42, it’s time that we prioritize the voices and communities of the southern borderlands in policymaking instead of politicizing and militarizing them. Politicians and pundits demonize migrants and the border region to feed into anti-immigration hysteria and score cheap political points while the ultimate victims of their rhetoric are the communities and businesses I represent.”

One other step that the administration should take is extension of Temporary Protected Status. 

[Immigration Prof blog] “Reps. Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) led a bipartisan letter to President Biden, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the administration to expand Temporary Protected Status protections for migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

“Despite the ongoing humanitarian crises in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, citizens of these nations who flee to the United States without legal status face an uphill battle to remain in the country. If detained, they can face deportation back to countries beset by food insecurity, political conflict, and economic instability — challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and twin hurricanes that hit the region in November 2020. An estimated 1.5 million migrants in the United States would benefit from extending TPS to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.”

Tougher enforcement fails to stop or decrease border crossings. Paradoxically, tougher enforcement is also good for human smugglers. 

[Reason] “Tougher immigration enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border over the past 50 years has made human smuggling more profitable and resulted in an ever-increasing number of desperate people employing smugglers to reach America. To end human smuggling, U.S. laws and policies must provide significantly greater avenues for individuals to live and work legally in the U.S. and to gain access to human rights protections—including, to the extent possible, before they reach the U.S. border. … 

“There is one way to make human smuggling drop significantly or even largely disappear—allow those who now pay smugglers instead to obtain a legal visa to work in the United States. Apprehensions at the border dropped 95 percent between 1953 to 1959 when the Immigration and Naturalization Service liberalized the entry of Mexican farmworkers via the Bracero program. Today, establishing a new work visa with sufficient annual allocations, expanding the H-2B visa category, and negotiating bilateral agreements between the United States and Mexico, as well as countries in Central America, would increase legal avenues to work and eliminate the need for individuals to pay smugglers.” 

While most attention focuses on the southern border, growing numbers of migrants take to the sea to reach the United States. 

[Migration Policy Institute] “While the 14,500 maritime migration attempts in fiscal year (FY) 2021 were just 1 percent of the encounters at the southwest border that year, U.S. interdictions of Haitians and Cubans at sea have collectively reached a level not seen since the 1990s. The sea arrivals can comprise a significant share for some nationalities; for example, the more than 4,400 maritime interdictions of Haitians between October and May represented nearly one-fifth of total encounters of Haitians trying to enter the United States without authorization during that period. …

“In the first seven months of FY 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted more Haitians at sea than during any previous full fiscal year since 1994 (see Figure 1). It interdicted nearly 2,000 Cubans at sea in the same period, more than any fiscal year since 2016 and with FY 2022 on track to be the second highest year of Cuban interdictions since 1994. …

“The increase in maritime migration is principally due to deteriorating conditions in countries of origin and the absence of legal opportunities to enter the United States. …

“Migrants of any nationality intercepted at sea have no route to come to the United States; they are either repatriated or held at Guantanamo Bay while the United States looks to resettle them in another country. They are not always given asylum screenings …”

A ruling by a federal judge in Washington, DC may offer a limited exception to the Title 42 bar to asylum seekers. 

[NBC] “The order, which restores the ability of migrant families to cite fear of persecution and torture as a path toward seeking protections in the U.S., coincides with a separate federal ruling in Louisiana that prevents the Biden administration from lifting Title 42.

“The new guidance issued to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, according to documents obtained by NBC News. It states that if CBP officers notice at least one member of the family showing a verbal or nonverbal “manifestation of fear” of being expelled, they should either be released into the U.S. with a court date or sent to an asylum officer who can “determine whether the noncitizen is more likely than not to be persecuted or tortured in the country to which they would be expelled.””

Immigration detention, both physical and virtual, continues to grow. 

[Syracuse University TRAC] “According to the most current data, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) held 22,281 immigrants in detention on May 7, 2022, the highest number in detention since the beginning of 2022 (although still smaller than the summer of 2021 when the number exceeded 27,000). 

“The number of immigrants monitored on ICE’s electronic monitoring program known as ISAP or Alternatives to Detention continued its march upward to about 240,000. The vast majority of these, nearly 187,000, were monitored using a smartphone app called SmartLINK …”

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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