Immigration News: August 2, 2022

If the reconciliation bill/Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 gets to a vote, expect a lot of amendments to be proposed at the last minute in what is called a “vote-a-rama.” Some of these amendments will be “poison pills” designed to kill the bill. For example, an amendment extending Title 42 bars to asylum seekers is likely. 

The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota has sent out an Action Alert urging people to contact their Senators in advance of the vote-a-rama. Go ahead: this is well worth the short time it will take to tell your Senators and Representative to protect immigrants and vote down the poison pill amendments. (And it does not take long—my calls to both Senators and my Representative took all of three minutes.)

[Washington Post] “Others who might vote for it include Manchin and Sinema. We know this because all these senators are already co-sponsors of the aforementioned bill that would codify Title 42. And in an evenly divided Senate, one defector means passage.

“Republicans could offer other “poison pill” amendments, such as a requirement that construction of Donald Trump’s border wall resume. So what happens if one or more of these pass?

“At that point, Menendez or other progressive senators might threaten to vote against the whole package — which would sink it.

“‘Adoption of amendments that would end access to asylum or expand Trump’s border wall will not repair our broken immigration and will put reconciliation at risk,’ Menendez’s statement said. That is a not-so-veiled suggestion that adoption of such poison pills might imperil the whole climate deal.”

More than 250 groups signed on to a letter urging Senators to vote down anti-immigrant amendments in the coming vote-a-rama. Here is a copy of that letter, with detailed discussion of the likely amendment proposals.

And in other news

When ICE releases asylum seekers into the United States to await their hearings, some have friends or family to go to. But what about those who have no one? For them, ICE chooses a city and designates an address. That doesn’t always work out.

[NBC] “Adri Fernández, the Venezuelan asylum seeker, said the address he was given was an office building that housed a nonprofit group, which told him it could provide him with neither shelter nor help at the time. 

“’They tell me — they don’t have any help for Venezuelans right now,’ he said. 

“He found his way to a plaza in central San Antonio where others who have migrated congregate, and where a church offers them a place to sleep at night. 

“Catholic Charities said it has found several of its San Antonio addresses appearing on migrants’ documents, although neither the government nor asylum seekers have asked permission beforehand to use these addresses.”

Asylum seekers, including Venezuelan asylum seekers, need a work permit before they are allowed to work and support themselves during the often years-long wait for their hearings. So do persons eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Long waits for work permit processing leave them with no resources and no way to earn money.

[Bloomberg] “Mounting backlogs in government processing of applications for humanitarian immigration programs are leaving thousands of foreign nationals without the ability to work to support themselves and their families while they wait. 

“The lengthy processing times—which can take up to a year or more—threaten to undercut the Biden administration’s expanded use of such programs, including Temporary Protected Status. …

“Congress must recognize that it cannot shortchange the humanitarian work at the agency, said Juan Escalante, digital campaigns director at FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group backed by tech industry leaders.

“It also needs to address pathways to securing long-term status in the US for TPS holders who cannot safely return to their countries, he said.”

Throwing migrants’ personal possessions in the garbage is a long-documented and nasty practice of Border Patrol officers. Confiscating turbans of Sikhs at the border raises the level of that routine meanness to the level of religious persecution. Confiscation of turbans and other religious articles has increased in the past few months. 

[The Intercept] “Word has begun circulating among those seeking asylum in the Yuma area: Border Patrol is forcing everyone to throw away all personal belongings, except for cellphones, wallets, and travel documents. Agents are demanding Sikh men remove their turbans and are dumping the sacred religious garb in the trash. …

“Turbans aren’t the only religiously significant objects that Border Patrol has been confiscating and trashing.

“Phoenix’s Welcome Center recently received a Muslim woman who had her hijab taken and thrown away. She was detained, transported to Phoenix, and then released without any head covering, according to Pineda and the ACLU letter.”

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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