Immigration News: October 3, 2022

During FY 2021, Biden’s first year in office, the United States resettled only 11,411 refugees, struggling with a refugee system gutted by the Trump administration and with COVID limitations. Historical refugee admissions average around 75,000 per year, and the Biden administration has set a cap of 125,000. In FY 2022, which ended on September 30, the number of refugees admitted is about 25,000. That’s twice as many as in 2021, but nowhere near 125,000. 

Refugee numbers, however, do not tell the whole story. During the past two years, the United States also admitted about 80,000 Afghans in various and mostly temporary visas,  97,000 Ukrainians through the Uniting for Ukraine humanitarian parole program, and another 100,000 Ukrainians in some other status. 

[The Hill] “”When [refugees] come to the United States, they have permanent status. In the United States, they don’t have to go back to the country of persecution, or country of asylum. The Afghans and Ukrainians who are being brought to the U.S. are only provided temporary status. There’s no plan for what happens when that status expires. Most Afghans were evacuated and given permission to stay in the US for two years. Ukrainians are in a similar legal immigration posture. So what happens after those two years is unknown. That is completely different from our refugee program,’ [Sunil Varghese, policy director with the International Refugee Assistance Project] said. …

“Afghans and Ukrainians allowed into the U.S. through parole can seek to remain in the country, but doing so requires applying for asylum, a process that already had a years-long backlog even before the flights from the two counties.”

And in other news

Currently, the federal government offers no services or support to migrants who are legally seeking asylum in the United States. They are not even allowed to apply for work permits until six months after they enter the country. That is an inhumane welcome to people fleeing persecution. 

[Boston Globe] “The federal government should create an integration and support system for recent arrivals while they wait for their cases to wind through immigration courts. This system could be based not only on historical examples, such as the Cuban Refugee Program of the 1960s, but on current networks of nonprofit organizations, legal service providers, religious entities, and others that have been welcoming migrants along the US border for years. …

“Evidence, as well as common sense, tells us that stable access to housing, navigation of public schools, language classes, mental health services, transportation, and employment not only benefit people who have migrated, but are critical to ensuring that those individuals are able to navigate and cooperate with our legal system.”

Francisco Segovia and Claudia Lainez co-host Radio Jornalera in Minnesota, focusing on policy issues that affect Minnesotans with roots in Latin America. The broadcast is a program of COPAL MN

[MPR] “Radio Jornalera began airing in Minnesota in October 2020. But has its roots in Pasadena, California. It’s part of a network that spans the country as well as El Salvador and Guatemala.

“And it began as a way to get information out to day laborers, so they could know their rights and know who to turn to for help when needed, Segovia said. …

“Currently Radio Jornalera Minnesota and its various programs can be heard live by downloading the app. Segovia said in the future they hope to have a podcast where the different shows can be available.

“The idea behind Entre Mundos is that many people, especially immigrants, live in dual worlds, Segovia said. It’s especially true of first-generation immigrants who often don’t feel they’re from here or their native country, he said.”

One Venezuelan migrant’s story: two months and fifteen days, walking from home in Venezuela to the Colombian border, to Panama and a painful trip through the Darien Gap, on through Central America to Mexico and across Mexico to the U.S. border. 

[New York Magazine] “Why I left is no big secret. No one’s making any money in Venezuela. There isn’t enough food. It’s very difficult to care for your children. There are kidnappings, extortion. Someone tried to kill me. …

“I turned myself in to the U.S. Border Police in Brownsville, Texas. There I breathed easy. I was joyful, happy. …

The ICE people gave me papers, told me, ‘Sign and you’ll be free,’ that I had to report on September 28 in Philadelphia.”

Then came the lies, starting with a lady named Perla. 

“They said they would give us work and housing for 90 days. And the migration papers, she said she was going to change it herself. …

“[It] was all a hoax. When we landed in Martha’s Vineyard, there was a black van waiting for us. The van took us to a house and the driver said, ‘There’s a doorbell. Ring it. They are waiting for you there.’ When we rang the doorbell, a lady came out, and we told her, ‘Here we are. We’ve arrived.’ The lady asked, ‘Who are you?’ and we told her, ‘The gentleman brought us. He said to ring the doorbell.’ But when we turned around, the black van was gone….

“We didn’t know where we were. I’m so thankful to those people on Martha’s Vineyard who reached out to us and treated us like their family.”

The woman who recruited migrants for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s flight to Martha’s Vineyard has been identified. She falsely promised jobs, and relocation assistance. Instead, the migrants were dumped in Martha’s Vineyard with nowhere to go. Residents and nonprofits quickly came to their assistance. 

[New York Times] “Until now, little has been known about the woman whom migrants said identified herself only by her first name, “Perla,” when she solicited them to join the flights. A person briefed on the San Antonio Sheriff’s office investigation into the matter told The New York Times that the person being looked at in connection with the operation is a woman named Perla Huerta. 

“Ms. Huerta, a former combat medic and counterintelligence agent, was discharged last month after two decades in the U.S. Army that included several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to military records….

“‘We were tricked in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico — and then in the United States,’ said Carlos Guanaguanay, 25, who was approached by the woman called Perla while strolling the aisles of a supermarket near a shelter where he had been staying in San Antonio.”

California will give state IDs to undocumented migrants. Since 2013, California has issued driver’s licenses without regard to immigration status. The new law will establish a new state ID for people who do not drive. 

[Los Angeles Times] “Assemblymembers Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), Jones-Sawyer, Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) and Mike Gipson (D-Carson), jointly introduced AB 1766 in February. They noted that identification cards allow individuals to open a bank account, obtain benefits, access healthcare and secure housing and employment.

“Advocates say the bill will also help unaccompanied immigrant children who arrive in the United States without their parents or legal guardians. When released from federal custody, these children often encounter barriers to accessing basic services they are eligible for due to a lack of identification, according to nonprofit organization Kids in Need of Defense.”

Immigrant workers applying for visas now run into additional obstacles at many consulates. . 

[Bloomberg] “Those additional reviews, known as administrative processing, often come with no explanation for what the issues are with the applications, how applicants can address them, and no timetable for a resolution, immigration attorneys say. 

“Immigrants already wait weeks or months for an appointment to get a passport stamp to travel to the US, which is supposed to be the last step after receiving visa approval from the Homeland Security Department. But the once-perfunctory process has become a nightmare for many.”

H.S. is living in hiding, in fear for his life. He is one of at least hundreds of U.S. allies who were denied visas that should have been approved. Now it may be too late to save these allies.

[Los Angeles Times] “As an expert in explosive device removal, H.S. spent nearly three decades carefully cleaning up land mines and disabling unexploded bombs planted by insurgent groups in Afghanistan. 

“During the last 12 years of his career, H.S. — whom The Times is identifying by his initials for his safety — worked as an interpreter for U.S. government contractors training Afghan national police and army forces to do his job. A supervisor said his dedication and experience made him irreplaceable. 

“But H.S. said that in 2020 he failed a counterintelligence screening after mixing up the Western and Afghan calendars when telling an agent the date of a work trip to Pakistan. As a result, H.S. was fired and his application for a U.S. visa was denied in 2021, just a few months before the remaining U.S. troops left his country as the Taliban took power. He spent most of the last year in hiding north of Kabul, the Afghan capital.”

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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