Immigration News: November 28, 2022

Biggest immigration news for the next month will come not from the border, but from Capitol Hill. Will Congress finally act to safeguard DACA recipients? Will the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, passed by a bipartisan vote in the House, actually get to a vote in the Senate? Will Congress extend a pathway to safety to Afghan refugees here and to those left behind in Afghanistan? All of these should be easy actions, but Congressional Republicans have shown nothing but opposition and obstruction over the past two (four? twenty? thirty-six?) years. 

The Austin American-Statesman editorial board calls for Congress to act to protect DACA. Texas, they say, needs to keep its young DACA workers. So does the rest of the country.

“Recently, the CEO of a prominent biomedical company in Brownsville shared a cautionary tale: One of his top employees had left Texas due to the state’s poor treatment of immigrants. The young man was a DACA recipient with a valid work permit, but without long-term security in the United States, he could be deported at any time if DACA ended. As anti-immigrant rhetoric from national and state leaders increased, he worried that his home near the border put him at risk. He’s now working at a company in Chicago. …

“The Texas business community can’t afford to lose young people like this. The number of online job postings in Texas more than doubled from 2017 to 2021 … 

“Congress recently passed the CHIPS and Science Act to boost domestic chip manufacturing and scientific research, aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness against China. Many of these companies will be locating in Texas, including Samsung’s $17 million computer chip plant outside of Austin that will create some 2,000 high tech jobs. That is great news for our state. But where will the workforce come from to staff these new ventures? STEM workers are particularly challenging to find. In 2020, there were 1.36 million job openings for computer-related roles, in an industry with a 1.9 percent unemployment rate.” 

Former members of the Afghan military, who fought against the Taliban, have little recourse now that the Taliban is the government. Some live in hiding, moving frequently. Others have low-level jobs or none at all. The United States currently offers little hope–another reason to urge Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act. 

[NPR] “When the Afghan republic collapsed last year, so too did its U.S.-backed military. Overnight, tens of thousands of Afghan soldiers lost their jobs and suddenly found themselves living under the thumb of those they spent two decades fighting.

“Ever since, life has radically changed for them. Those who once drove tanks now drive taxis. The soldiers who once stood in formation now stand in line for food aid. Some former soldiers who served during the old republic tell NPR they live in fear of being detained and disappeared. …

“‘The requirements of the [U.S. Special Immigrant Visa] program are very rigid and Afghans have been killed while waiting for visas to be issued,’ says Adam Bates, supervisory policy counsel at the International Refugee Assistance Project, who notes his organization would not exist ‘if the SIV program functioned efficiently and if not for just the sheer amount of erroneous denials of people and documents being submitted.'”

Even Afghans who managed to escape to the United States after the Taliban takeover remain at risk. Their humanitarian parole status is soon ending, leaving them liable to deportation.

[The Atlantic] “Without congressional action, the tens of thousands of Afghans we evacuated to the United States may be deported in the coming year, and very few in Washington seem to be talking about it. The cost of this apathy will be a second Afghan evacuation, equally disastrous, this time played out in reverse, with our allies shipped back to the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan they fled. …

“Although humanitarian parole accelerated their processing, the program didn’t provide resettlement services or a clear path to long-term residency for the new arrivals. Afghans have struggled with resettlement and with securing the necessary documentation to work or attend school, as well as access to a host of other necessities. And humanitarian parole extends for only two years. Those tens of thousands of Afghans we evacuated have been living under a cloud of uncertainty, and they will soon be subject to deportation unless Congress acts by adjusting their status. The Afghan Adjustment Act—a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation introduced this past August—aims to do just that. Astonishingly, it’s struggling to pass.”

And in other news

The racist, xenophobic “Great Replacement” propaganda sows fear among Liberian refugees who are long-time residents of Fargo, ND. They had fled violence stoked by propaganda that divided neighbor from neighbor in the Liberian civil war. 

[Washington Post] “The aroma of barbecue ribs used to comfort him, but now Manny Behyee worried it could attract trouble. Walking up to Teta’s garage cookout, he’d scanned the cars lining her suburban street. Should everyone have parked further apart? Was it obvious they were having a party?

“The Liberian immigrants had tried to keep a low profile since someone — a stranger? a neighbor? — distributed hundreds of fliers labeling them a threat to White children. A mile away, people woke up one September morning to small plastic bags on their lawns containing a picture of a Liberian man who had recently been convicted of killing a 14-year-old girl in Fargo. The caption invoked a racist theory that foreigners of color are ‘replacing‘ White Americans in the United States: ‘THE GREAT REPLACEMENT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.’

“The victim’s father had appeared in court with who he called “’pro-White advocates.’ Anti-Black stickers and graffiti showed up on streetlights and buildings, including the international grocery store where Behyee shopped. …

“’Even tonight, in this part of town, with a lot of police around,’ Behyee said, ‘you have to be afraid.'”

PSSI, a Wisconsin-based cleaning service, illegally employed six underage staff at JBS Pork in Worthington and Turkey Valley Farms in Marshall, as well as others in Nebraska. Is this an aberration or a longstanding, albeit illegal, practice?

[Star Tribune] “America’s labor laws lead many to assume child labor only exists in far-away, often developing, countries. But a records request from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry reveals at least 44 cases of child labor violations within the state in the last five years alone. …

“In Worthington, community organizers said there’s long been a tacit practice of hiring minors and those without proper documentation. 

“‘The majority of people who do work at JBS are legally able to work,’ said Leticia Rodriguez, a SNAP-Ed educator for Nobles County with University of Minnesota Extension. ‘It’s always been that the people who can’t work legally work the third shift.’

“‘It’s a secret,’ Rodriguez said, ‘but not really a secret.'”

President Biden’s pardons for federal marijuana offense do not reach most of those convicted in state courts. That includes disproportionate numbers of Black and immigrant people.

[New York Times] “Kenault Lawrence, 38, immigrated legally to the United States when he was 10, settling in Front Royal, Va., and graduating from high school as an undefeated wrestling champion. Years after two Virginia misdemeanor convictions for possession with intent to distribute less than half an ounce of marijuana, Mr. Lawrence was detained by federal agents for more than a year and deported to Jamaica.

“His first son was born months after he was detained in 2011, and he was deported in 2012, forcing him to spend almost a decade away from his wife, an American citizen, and his son.

“Advocacy groups spent almost nine years working to get Mr. Lawrence returned to the United States. But after finally succeeding in coming home last year, he faces the possibility of being deported again if he cannot persuade an immigration court to permanently cancel his deportation. Since his charges included intent to distribute and were under state law, and because the president’s order did not address deportations, Mr. Biden’s pardon will not help.”

Under a new agreement with Mexico, the United States sends back Venezuelan migrants. Instead of being detained in the United States, many face dire conditions, including arrests and detention, in Mexico..

[El Paso Times] “Tents were burned, punches were thrown and scuffles erupted Sunday morning as Mexican authorities evicted hundreds of migrants from the “Little Venezuela” encampment on the southern banks of the Rio Grande.

“The encampment formed in October along the Mexican side of the border near downtown Juárez after the U.S. government began expulsions of Venezuelan nationals. Migrants were staying in donated camping tents along the border hoping to be allowed to enter and gain asylum in the United States.” 

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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