Immigration News: January 24, 2023

Like the dog chasing the car who can’t figure out what to do when he catches it, the radical right Republicans in the House of Representatives have no idea how to “solve the border problem.” Even fellow Republicans denounce their preposterous proposal to completely close the border to asylum seekers. Greg Sargent describes some of the shenanigans:

[Washington Post] “[Lapsed MAGA devotee Nancy] Mace [R-SC] said her district would benefit from letting more migrants work here legally, and she warned against “ignoring” the full range of immigration challenges the country faces. She derided the border-only bill as ‘tone deaf.’ …

“House Republicans can impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas 500 times. They can tour the border three times a week in their preposterous faux-military garb. They can run a gazillion ads that depict the border as a scene out of the dystopian mass-immigration novel “The Camp of the Saints” or a scene from the hypermilitarized “Call of Duty” video game.

“But, as Mace just informed her GOP colleagues in no uncertain terms, the real-world complexities of this debate can’t be dodged forever.”

And in other news

New Jersey has a heart for children, whether they are immigrants or native-born. The state just expanded its Medicaid program to cover all children in need, regardless of immigration status.

[New Jersey Monitor] “‘This is not just the right thing to do morally, but it is the right thing to do for the future health of our state in all the forms that health takes,’ Murphy said at a press conference in Morristown. ‘Moreover, investing in regular and consistent health care coverage is an investment in peace of mind.’ 

“The initiative launched in July 2021. By the end of 2022, the Department of Human Services had enrolled more than 47,000 children, many of whom had access to health insurance for the first time, Murphy said. 

“To be eligible, families must earn less than 355% of the federal poverty level, which represents $8,210 per month for a family of four.”

Shortly after taking office, President Biden promised new regulations to expand and clarify asylum policies. Two years later, we are still waiting, and there’s no clue when new rules will be proposed.

[CBS] “But two years later, amid record arrivals along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Biden administration has yet to issue the rules that could expand asylum eligibility. Instead, the administration finds itself expanding a Trump-era border policy that blocks certain migrants from requesting asylum and proposing limits on asylum eligibility.

“Since Mr. Biden commissioned the asylum eligibility rules in a February 2021 executive order, there have been disagreements within his administration over how generous the regulations should be, three people with direct knowledge of the debates told CBS News, requesting anonymity to describe internal deliberations.”

Instead of regulations clarifying and implementing asylum policies, President Biden has proposed reimposing a transit rule will bar asylum seekers. This rule looks to outside observers exactly like the rule that Trump proposed, which was blocked by courts. The Biden humanitarian parole program does not come anywhere near alleviating the damage that the transit rule will cause.

[Washington Post] “The Biden administration insists its regulation will be different because it has opened up new legal pathways from transit countries and it will give asylum seekers a chance to prove why they didn’t use one of the legal pathways available to them. But migrants from Guatemala and Honduras lack parole programs that are newly available only to Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Cubans and Haitians who have passports and sponsors in the United States. Further, parole, discretionary temporary permission to enter and stay in the United States with no path to citizenship, is a far cry from permanent refugee status. Fifteen thousand refugee resettlement slots this year are for all of the Caribbean and Latin America, where over 7 million Venezuelans are displaced. It is hard not to see this rule as an effort to limit access to asylum in the United States specifically for people from northern Central America and to treat today’s forcibly displaced people from the Americas unlike people seeking refuge from elsewhere in the past.”

Despite the obvious limitations and insufficiencies of the Biden humanitarian parole proposal, Republican attorneys general are suing to stop it. The underlying racism of the state lawsuit is apparent: they did not challenge admission of more than 100,000 Ukrainians, but now demand an end to a program that would grant humanitarian parole to people from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. The lawsuit was filed in Texas where it will be heard by Federal District Judge Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee who has consistently blocked Biden administration immigration policies in past lawsuits. 

[CBS] “Twenty Republican-controlled states filed a lawsuit on Tuesday asking a federal judge in Texas to halt a program recently unveiled by the Biden administration that would allow up to 30,000 migrants from four countries to enter the U.S. legally each month if they have American sponsors. …

“Since the measures were announced in early January, the daily average of migrants apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without legal permission has dropped by over 40%, according to internal government statistics obtained by CBS News. …

“A decades-old power created by Congress, parole allows U.S. immigration officials to authorize the entry of foreigners who don’t possess a visa to enter the country on humanitarian or public interest grounds.”

A settlement agreed to by USCIS should speed up decisions on work authorization for spouses of H-1B and L-1 visa holders.

[Forbes] “For a time, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) took up to two years to process applications for the spouses of H-1B visa holders who needed work authorization. Attorneys blamed it on Trump administration policies which appears were designed to prevent spouses from working in the United States. A new legal settlement with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Edakunni v. Mayorkas should help many spouses of H-1B and L-1 visa holders. …

“While welcomed by many, the settlement in Edakunni v. Mayorkas involved a change in policy that it appears should never have happened. ‘Prior to the Trump administration’s change in policy, H-1B and L-1 spouses did not go without employment authorization or fall out of status because of the government’s process at USCIS,’ said Jon Wasden in an interview. ‘When employment authorization was processed concurrently with the H-1B application, it went smoothly. The disruption that the agency caused with the change of policy under the Trump administration was unfathomable.’”

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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