Immigration News: September 22, 2022

A terrific article today’s Star Tribune draws the parallels between the White Citizens Council shipping Black southerners north in the 1960s and today’s political stunts with immigrants. In both instances —

(1) The people on the buses were lied to about where they were headed and what resources / jobs / etc. were waiting for them;

(2) The receiving cities were not told in advance and given no opportunity to prepare;

(3) Nonetheless, people in the receiving cities showed up with compassion and welcome.

[Star Tribune] “It was a nasty, petty moment in American history. A bit of cruelty we’d almost forgotten – until Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tricked immigrants into flying to Martha’s Vineyard with false promises about the work and welcome waiting for them.

“Then, like now, the stunt backfired.

“Minnesota was much better than Georgia, Clayton Holmes, 45, told a Minneapolis Tribune writer after the White Citizens’ Council of Macon promised him that someone would be waiting in St. Paul to give him a job. No one here called him boy, he said. People addressed him as Mr. Holmes. …

“When the promised welcoming committee didn’t appear, Holmes took the initiative and called George Vavoulis, the mayor of St. Paul. The mayor placed a few calls and soon Holmes had a one-room apartment and a job in a café kitchen in Minneapolis, earning $50 a week.”

And one more footnote: the migrants shipped out by Texas and Florida governors are asylum applicants, and they are legally allowed to remain in the United States while their applications are pending.

A group of Venezuelan asylum-seekers in San Antonio were promised a flight to a new city, jobs, and more. The promises were phony, part of an operation like the one organized last week by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that dumped asylum seekers in Martha’s Vineyard. This time, they didn’t even get on an airplane. The asylum-seekers were left stranded, with nothing. 

[Miami Herald] “A woman with straight, light-colored hair got out of the rented Infiniti. She took the outdoor stairs, walked to the far end and knocked on the doors to rooms 243 and 241, where a group of Venezuelan asylum-seekers had spent five anxious days waiting.

“She brought them food and a message: They were being sent to Delaware. The bus to the airport would be leaving at 5 a.m. the next day — Tuesday, Sept. 20 — she said, according to interviews with six migrants housed at the hotel.

“The migrants didn’t know …  that the trip to Delaware being dangled would never happen.

“They also didn’t know that an anonymous source close to DeSantis would suggest to NBC News that a planned charter flight from San Antonio to Delaware — that was destined for an airport not far from President Joe Biden’s summer home, according to flight records, and dominated cable news on Tuesday — was canceled without explanation and then used to “punk” journalists and Democrats and keep the “spotlight” on immigration.”

Whether they are tricked by phony promises made by Texas and Florida governors’ recruiters, or simply comply with the orders of immigration officers, asylum seekers are often misdirected and left without resources or recourse. 

[BuzzFeed] “By the time the men made it to the downtown Sacramento address that a US immigration official had written on their forms, the sandals they were given at the border had been destroyed. Instead of space at a shelter they were promised, they stood in front of a closed office building.

“Reports of eight immigrant men landing in Sacramento last suggested it could have been the latest effort by Republican governors to fly immigrants and asylum-seekers to liberal states. But the flights were not actually organized by politicians like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Instead, they were the result of federal authorities consciously putting down incorrect addresses on entry forms for immigrants before they’re released, advocates said. …

“For months, … nonprofit organizations throughout the US have been receiving government documents, including notices for court hearings, for asylum-seekers they do not represent or have any way of contacting. Catholic Charities in New York City reported receiving more than 300 such notices. That’s important because if an immigrant misses their court hearing as a result of not receiving the hearing notice, they could be ordered deported in absentia.”

And in other news

The American Immigration Lawyers Association released a policy brief outlining ongoing problems with the Remain in Mexico (RMX) policy and the speeded-up processing of some asylum applications. 

[AILA] “The government’s RMX disenrollment process raises significant due process concerns and has led to confusion on the ground. One immigration judge denied a “request to continue their case in a different Texas court because it wasn’t clear whether migrants released from the program would be allowed to enter the U.S.” One ICE attorney reportedly stated to an immigration attorney that their “client was going to be deported now that MPP was over” even though the case was ongoing. …

“Despite the termination of RMX in early August, the flawed RMX immigration court hearings continue to this day, including inside the Trump-era tent courts. Migrants in RMX experience extreme difficulty in preparing a complete asylum application while in Mexico. Attorneys observe stark disparities in an asylum seeker’s ability to disenroll from RMX prior to their individual merits hearing. Represented asylum seekers have a higher chance of disenrollment, whereas pro se individuals navigate a trial on the merits before having an opportunity to disenroll from RMX, which may happen after they were ordered removed. For pro se asylum seekers, who make up the vast majority of individuals navigating RMX to this day, disenrollment from RMX comes too late, if at all.”

Because family-based visa processing ground to a near-halt during the pandemic, unused numbers were rolled over to be used for employment visas. That meant a one-year bump in employment visas this year.

[Roll Call] “For the tens of thousands of highly educated foreign citizens who got their green cards this year, the processing boost was life-changing, chopping years off their wait times. It also likely alleviated the labor crunch for companies searching for skilled workers in health care and other industries.

“But the agency won’t be able to maintain that increased pace without action from Congress, where proposals to allow more employment-based green cards each year have been caught in the political thicket of immigration reform and border security.

“’There’s more demand than ever for employment-based green cards,’ said David Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute think tank. ‘This problem is not going anywhere unless Congress changes the employment-based green card caps.’ …

“Chandra Kothareddy, an Indian database administrator at a bone marrow donation nonprofit in Minnesota, said his wife cried with joy when the two got their green cards earlier this month, after nearly two decades on temporary visas.”

Moving asylum hearings up from 2023 or 2024 to 2022 sounds like a good idea, right? An immigration attorney explains why sudden rescheduling is causing big problems for attorneys and asylum seekers, mostly in California, Maryland, Colorado, and Virginia. .  

[The Asylumist blog] “Simply stated, the agency is rescheduling and advancing hundreds–maybe thousands–of cases without notifying attorneys, checking whether we are available to attend the hearings or checking whether we have the capacity to complete the cases. …

“EOIR has dramatically expanded its effort to reschedule cases, often without providing sufficient notice–or any notice–to get the work done for our clients. As best as we can tell, the problem is occurring in California, Colorado, Maryland, and Virginia. I myself have had about a dozen cases rescheduled and advanced (so far). These cases had been scheduled for 2023 or 2024, and suddenly, they are now set for the fall of 2022. Other attorneys have had 20, 30 or more cases advanced, including some that were double booked. One lawyer reported having seven cases scheduled for the same week and 47 cases set for one month. Another lawyer purportedly told a judge that if she had one more case scheduled within the next six months, she would commit suicide. …

“Adding insult to injury, another common problem is that cases are still being cancelled at the last minute. And so we drop everything to prepare a case, only to have it postponed once all the work is done. Since this is all utterly unpredictable, it is impossible to prioritize our work or advise our clients.”

Republicans say they will block plans for assistance to communities receiving large numbers of asylum seekers. 

[Roll Call] “Both the White House and Senate Democratic leadership hope to include language in an upcoming stopgap funding measure to boost assistance for local nonprofits that help asylum-seekers. …

“The grant program, known as the emergency food and shelter program, provides funds to local nonprofits and social services combating homelessness. In fiscal 2022, Congress allocated $150 million toward this fund, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to support organizations helping migrants released after crossing the border.”

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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