Immigration News: June 23, 2022

*** CORRECTION *** The story about the International Institute expansion has been corrected to show that the expansion has been completed.

One good news story tonight highlights the latest in employment benefits: immigration benefits. Some companies will pay immigration renewal or application fees, helping employees move along the (very expensive) road to citizenship. 

[Wall Street Journal] “Brayanm Cordova Heredia had just paid the U.S. government $540 to renew his green card when he noticed a small update to his company’s annual benefits-enrollment notice: a $500 reimbursement every two years for immigration fees.

“A native of Mexico now living in the Chicago area, Mr. Cordova said he reached out to the human-resources office at his employer, Noodles & Co., a fast-casual pasta restaurant chain. He said he was approved for the new benefit within a day.

“’This is definitely an opportunity for me to save up even more to be a citizen,’ Mr. Cordova said of his future plans to apply for U.S. citizenship, adding, ‘It clears up my road a little bit, makes it less foggy.’”

Apologies and a correction: The Pioneer Press story that I highlighted below about the International Institute’s expansion was accurate but old – the “planned” major expansion has been completed. Here’s the current good news on the expansion, as reported by KSTP

“We added 18,000 square feet, almost doubling our space so that we could expand our services,” said Executive Director Jane Graupman.

“The Institute has been around for 102 years but its programs have recently seen rapid growth, requiring more space.

“They built six new classrooms and interactive labs, where immigrants and refugees can receive free training for careers in hospitality, nursing and more….

“’Immigrants and refugees are 97% of the new workers in our labor force in our state, so our demographics are shifting. There are a lot of baby boomers retiring, so we really have a shortage of workers. That’s a pretty remarkable statistic to see that the majority of people who enter the labor force in Minnesota now are new Americans,’ Graupman said.”

One more good news story: the good work done by the International Institute and its plans for expansion. The International Institute needs to expand, to meet the needs of not only immigrants but the Minnesota employers and people who need them.

[Pioneer Press] “Of the 30 programs run through the institute, Graupman is especially proud of its track record of graduating nursing assistants from a Medical Careers Pathway program that walks students through 57 technical skills. Graduates have a strong track record of passing certification exams, finding work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and then returning for a free college-prep course that puts them on a path toward a nursing degree, she said.

“One of the biggest challenges? Physical space.

“Program administrators work out of converted closets and maintain desks in narrow hallways. Social workers meet with labor and sex trafficking victims at a round table behind the mail cubbies, which offers virtually no privacy.” 

And in other news

The full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a case challenging California’s ability to ban private prisons. A three-judge panel says the state has no right to interfere in federal immigration detention prisons. 

[Los Angeles Times] “When California legislators passed Assembly Bill 32 in 2019, they saw their state as a leader in the battle to rid the country of private detention, and hoped that others would follow suit.

“California’s ban affects private facilities contracted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain immigrants. About 25,000 people are currently being held in detention in the U.S. And though private prisons are responsible for less than 10% of the total U.S. prison and jail population, they hold nearly 80% of people in immigration detention.

Immigration detention: bad for children and other living beings. 

[Reveal] “On a Saturday night in April 2021, a 15-year-old migrant from Guatemala told a friend he was so desperate to get out of a government-sponsored emergency shelter that he was contemplating suicide. He badly wanted to be reunited with his uncle. The friend told an adult there. 

“It was his 33rd night in confinement at the emergency shelter in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. But the shelter didn’t appear to be prepared to deal with the child’s mental health needs. …

“Records document 141 instances in which migrant children expressed thoughts of suicide while in Office of Refugee Resettlement custody and at least 10 times when they attempted suicide. Children often complained about their length of stay, the isolation they felt after their friends were released and the suffering they experienced being away from their families. The children were in custody an average of 37 days at the time of the episode. The records indicate that no children died by suicide.”

The private, for-profit prison industry is shifting its focus and its funding of politicians—to immigration detention and immigration hawks. 

[Open Secrets] “This shift toward immigrant detention, which is now estimated to be a nearly $3 billion industry, comes at a time when for-profit prison companies have spent tens of thousands of dollars donating to politicians who support border security and immigration enforcement policies that would increase the number of detained immigrants in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facilities. …

“[T]he federal government’s immigrant detainment policy has continued to be a boon for private prison companies including GEO Group and CoreCivic, the two biggest companies in the field. In an SEC filing from November 2021, GEO Group detailed how despite the loss of $125 million in contracts due to Biden’s executive order, ‘record increases in migrant flows at the U.S. border have acted as a tailwind’ have more than made up for the profits lost.”

Betsy DeVos is the latest Trump administration official to write a book distancing herself from cruel Trump era policies. She says she blocked Stephen Miller’s plan to send agents into schools to find undocumented children and deport them. And to put a quarter of a million U.S. roops on the border. And to make the separation of families even worse. 

[Forbes] “While Donald Trump was president, reporters published shocking revelations about his administration’s conduct of U.S. immigration policy. It turns out reporters missed a few items. Former Cabinet officials and others have revealed immigration policy during the Trump administration was intended to be much harsher, including placing a quarter-million soldiers on the U.S.-Mexico border, enacting crueler measures to separate families and targeting children for deportation at American schools….

[DeVos] “’Miller’s men described a plan to put U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents into schools under the pretext of identifying MS-13 gang members. The plan was, when agents checked students’ citizenship status for the alleged purpose of identifying gang ties, they could identify undocumented students and deport them. Not only was the prospect of this chilling, but it was also patently illegal. Nate and Ebony turned them down cold. But that didn’t stop Stephen Miller from subsequently calling me to get my thoughts on the idea. They were the same as Nate and Ebony’s: no. Just no.’ (Emphasis in the original.)”

Some anti-immigrant Republicans are fulminating about “ghost flights.” The truth: flying unaccompanied children to the places where their relatives are waiting to receive them is neither new nor sinister. 

[NPR] “‘It’s not secret, and it’s not new,’ said Jennifer Nagda, policy director with the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, a non-profit that works closely with unaccompanied children. 

“When children and teenagers from Central America cross the border alone, the federal government is required by law to care for them until they’re reunited with a sponsor, often a parent or relative, or placed in a network of special shelters around the U.S. 

“To do that, federal officials sometimes fly those children on charter planes from the border to other parts of the country. For years, this was widely seen as normal, even routine.”

Migrants sent back across the border by U.S. immigration officials face one more danger: the area’s high and unrelenting heat.

[WNCT/Border Report] “‘There’s no shade so they’re out in the hot sun all day long. I was just there yesterday most of the day it really hurts me to see them dehydrating. Water is of the essence. We get water but when you’re out in the sun so long you need to be drinking water all day long and so that is of high priority and something needed,’ [Sister Norma] Pimentel said from her offices in the border city of San Juan.

“’We’re working on trying to build more permanent shade, but in the meantime, this sun is merciless you know,’ she said.

“The majority of migrants waiting in the border town are Haitians, though Hondurans also are prevalent, she said….

“Pimentel was distraught at times discussing how draining and debilitating the high sun and high heat can be. In fact, Border Report’s camera even overheated and wouldn’t operate properly during the 30-minute outside interview.”

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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