Immigration News: September 30, 2022

Most people in the United States welcome immigrants and want a path to citizenship for Dreamers, essential workers, and long-time undocumented residents. That preference is reflected in state legislation over the past decade.

[The Hill] “According to data compiled in economist Pham Hoang Van’s Immigrant Climate Index, unwelcoming laws outnumbered welcoming laws by roughly two to one during that period.  But since 2012, the number of welcoming laws passed has overwhelmed the unwelcoming sort, with states becoming far more likely to extend than to restrict rights, resources, and access to institutions for immigrants regardless of their legal status.  

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia now offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, 19 states allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, and seven states offer them financial aid at state colleges and universities. When federal immigration policy was arguably tougher on immigrants than ever during the Trump administration, the Immigrant Climate Index shows that state and local immigration policies became even more welcoming.” 

And in other news

First, they said they were hunting grouse. Then they said they were hunting javelina.  Their real target: migrants. The Texas immigration jail warden who shot and killed one migrant and shot and wounded another on a Texas roadway has a record of abusive behavior toward migrants. 

[The Intercept] “For Michael Sheppard, it was the latest in a string of allegations of violence against immigrants going back years, with claims so severe that a federal prosecutor at one point sought the attention of the FBI.

“As The Intercept reported in 2018, Sheppard, in his capacity as warden of ICE’s Sierra Blanca facility, was accused of participating in and overseeing the sadistic abuse of group of African migrants and asylum-seekers. In interviews with legal advocates, 30 men from Somalia described a ‘week of hell’ in which they were pepper-sprayed, beaten, threatened, taunted with racial slurs, and subjected to sexual abuse by officials answering to Sheppard and in some cases by Sheppard himself. …

“The remote facility he oversaw is run by the for-profit prison company LaSalle Corrections, an important player in ICE’s network of private immigrant jails. Scott Sutterfield, a spokesperson for Louisiana-based company, told the San Antonio Express-News that Sheppard was still running the jail, despite the previous allegations, up until this week’s killing.”

While it has little chance of passage in the current Congress, Representative Ruben Gallego has introduced legislation to allow DACA recipients to enlist in the military. 

[Roll Call] “The bill from the Arizona Democrat and Marine veteran would allow those recipients to join the military and ultimately apply for lawful permanent residency if they serve honorably.

“’We need more talented people in the military,’ said Gallego, who serves on the House Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees. ‘These are a population of people that are already serving their country in different ways. They’re very patriotic.'”

What happens if the Fifth Circuit rules against DACA? No one is sure, but the Biden administration is preparing executive actions to continue protecting Dreamers. 

[NBC] “Planning has intensified in recent days ahead of a decision on the program’s future from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, possibly within days. At stake is the ability of more than 600,000 people protected under the program, known as DACA, to continue living and working in the U.S. without fear of deportation. The conservative panel of judges is all but certain to rule that DACA is illegal. Although the Biden administration is likely to appeal the order, the Supreme Court has indicated it would agree with a 5th Circuit ruling that ends the Obama-era program.

“With few options to act on its own, the Biden administration is readying steps that could continue to shield from deportation — at least temporarily — immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children but lack legal status and were granted protections under the DACA program.”

If you want to know more about U.S. and international laws on asylum, the ACLU has a quick primer for you.

[ACLU] “The right to seek asylum — or safety from persecution — in another country was born out of the tragedies of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. In its aftermath, dozens of nations committed to never again slam the door on people in need of protection. The right to asylum was enshrined in 1948’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and then again in the Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.

“The United States passed its own federal law in the Refugee Act of 1980, for people who are fleeing persecution on ‘account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.’ The Refugee Act is meant to ensure that individuals who seek asylum from within the U.S. or at its border are not sent back to places where they face persecution.”

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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