Immigration News: February 6, 2023

Health care workers of varying ethnicities, all wearing SEIU badges.
SEIU image of health care workers.

Two stories lead off today’s round-up of immigration news: the first about the essential work that immigrants are doing as long-term health care workers and the second about a massive failure in immigration processing that leaves many asylum seekers in the United States, but with no way to get a hearing in immigration courts.

Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are essential workers and to the the long-term health care system.They make up about one-quarter of current direct care workers in the sector. 

[Kaiser Health News] “The U.S. is facing a growing crisis of unfilled job openings and high staff turnover that puts the safety of older, frail residents at risk. In a tight labor market where job options are plentiful, long-term care jobs that are poorly paid and physically demanding are a tough sell. Experts say opening pathways for care workers to immigrate would help, but policymakers haven’t moved. …

“’We do think that immigrants are critical to this workforce and the future of the long-term care industry,’ said Robert Espinoza, executive vice president of policy at PHI. ‘We think the industry would probably collapse without them.’ …

“’Immigration policy is long-term care policy,’ said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School whose research focuses on the economics of aging and long-term care. ‘If we really want to encourage a strong workforce, we need to make immigration more accessible for individuals.’”

Overcrowded immigration courts and over-capacity border processing facilities led to a new practice: releasing migrants without a court date and telling them to find an immigration court and get a date for a hearing. That didn’t work. The next try: releasing immigrants with cell phone or ankle monitoring and telling them to report when given a court date. Still didn’t work. About 588,000 were never assigned a court date. Worse, there’s a one-year deadline for asylum applications. Migrants waiting for court dates that never come can miss that deadline.

[NBC] “Jeremy McKinney, an immigration attorney and president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said he was in disbelief the first time a client walked into his office with a ‘Notice to Report’ document rather than a ‘Notice to Appear’ charging document.

“‘It just leads to more confusion amongst the population that are the ones fleeing persecution and torture,’ McKinney said. ‘You’re putting them into this confusing spiral where they don’t actually have court for several years and they’re missing out on the opportunity to apply for asylum.’

“McKinney also said it is hard for migrants who have not been formally entered into the court process to keep ICE apprised of their location if they change their address, making it harder to see through a case for asylum and harder for the government to keep tabs on migrants who cross. …

“Publicly reported data from ICE, however, shows that when migrants are enrolled in ATD and given court dates, they have a 99.4% rate of showing up to their first court hearing and a 95.7% rate of showing up to their final hearing.”

And in other news

Remittances: that’s the term for money that migrants send “back home” to support families and communities. It’s an essential part of the family and national income in many countries, including Mexico.

[AP] “The money that Mexican migrants send home to their relatives grew by 13.4% in 2022, totaling about $58.5 billion for the year as a whole, Mexico’s central bank said Wednesday. …

“Remittances now surpass almost all other sources of the country’s foreign income, including tourism, oil exports and most manufacturing exports. …

“Mexico receives more money from remittances than any other country except India. Indian migrants send home about $100 billion each year.”

The United States is not the only country restricting asylum. Much smaller countries, after accepting migrants for years, are beginning to impose new restrictions. The restrictions are only part of the story: the untold part is how these countries have, for years, welcomed and integrated more immigrants in proportion to their population than the United States. 

[The Progressive] “Asylum seekers in Costa Rica are finding it harder to access what was once one of the region’s most progressive asylum systems after President Rodrigo Chaves issued two decrees to change its application requirements last November. …

“Costa Rica’s rollback of protections follows a sharp increase in migrants applying for asylum there. Since 2012, the country has seen applications increase from 900 cases to more than 200,000 at the end of 2022.

Many of these are Cubans, Venezuelans, and migrants from as far as Senegal and Afghanistan, who have come to the country in increasing numbers seeking passage to the United States. …

“‘It is very easy for a person who has economic resources, regardless of nationality, to establish themselves here and open their business,’ [Francisco Madrigal Ballestero, the general manager of the Instituto sobre Migración y Refugio LGBTIQ para Centroamérica] says. ‘The [first] waves of Nicaraguans who came to Costa Rica, who were of a higher economic social status, had no problem settling in Costa Rica. The problem is [for] the poor.'”

Many U.S. citizen children are “de facto” deported to Mexico when a parent is deported. Once there, they face big obstacles to integration and thriving.

[Poverty and Inequality Journal] “One in six U.S.-born children living in Mexico in 2014 were de facto deported, meaning they emigrated from the United States to Mexico to accompany one or more deported parents.

“Women are over-represented among deported parents with U.S.-born children in Mexico, and deported mothers in Mexico are far less likely to live with a partner than deported fathers.

“De facto deported U.S.-born children in Mexico experienced greater socioeconomic disadvantage than those whose families migrated for other reasons …

“The first two decades of the 21st century recorded the largest number of deportations in U.S. history.[1] When the U.S. government deports the parent of a child living in the U.S., there are three possibilities for family reorganization. First, the child may remain in the U.S., and thus be separated from the deported parent.[2] Second, the parent may re-enter the U.S., a common strategy despite possible criminal penalties.[3] Third, the child may immigrate to the parent’s country of origin, and thus experience de facto deportation.[4] The de facto deportation of young U.S. citizens results in the physical and social separation between them and the U.S. institutions and social systems designed to care for, educate, and support them.” 

Verbal and physical attacks on Asian Americans increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic. Minnesota legislators have introduced bills that would change hate crime reporting to get a better picture of such attacks.

[MinnPost] “The changes would provide a way to measure the prevalence of bias incidents that either aren’t reported as crimes or fall short of the legal definitions. Driven in the past by Rep. Frank Hornstein, a Minneapolis DFLer who is Jewish, the hate crimes bill is now sponsored by Rep. Samantha Vang, a Hmong-American DFL lawmaker from Brooklyn Center.

“’As an Asian-American woman, this is also personal,’ Vang said. ‘During the pandemic, with the rhetoric being used to blame Asian Americans for the coronavirus, not just me but the Asian American community felt unsafe for the first time in a long time.’ …

“That is the new initiative in House File 181. Separate from the reporting of hate crimes to the police — reports that are collected and reported annually by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension — the bill sets up a system to report incidents that fall short of criminal acts or are not reported because the victim chooses not to. People could report events to community groups that might be more trusted. And those reports could be gathered to provide a fuller idea of what is happening on the ground.”

Mixed-status families face big challenges in day-to-day life, along with unremitting tension and fear of deportation of family members.

[The Nation] “Since Daymieri Ariciel Narvaez was a child, she wanted was to help her parents live without fear. As the daughter of undocumented immigrants, she dreamed of enrolling in the military so that they could obtain a green card and no longer be at risk of deportation. ‘I was always afraid that I wouldn’t find my parents when I got home.’

“Narvaez is part of a mixed-status family. According to, more than 22 million people in the United States live in mixed-status households, where at least one undocumented person lives with US citizens or lawful temporary immigrants….

“Until immigration reform is passed, millions of families will continue to live in fear. ‘I have to go to therapy because I was feeling the pressure of being part of a mixed-status family. Feeling guilty that I was not with my parents, that they will be deported and I won’t be able to be with them, see them, help them,’ said [Ruth Rodriguez, a student at the University of California–Los Angeles]. “

Nine Republican states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, are trying again to kill DACA. For DACA recipients, many of whom know no other home than the United States, the new threat ratchets up fear and anxiety.

[The Guardian] “’I can’t plan ahead because my future consists of judges’ decisions,’ said [Areli] Hernandez, who was born in Mexico City and brought to the US at the age of five in the late 1980s. Hernandez was referring to her own Daca status, which is set to expire later this year. ‘I want to make choices that don’t depend on my card and an expiration date.’ …

“Since its implementation, Daca has lifted the threat of deportation for approximately 825,000 individuals lacking legal status who were brought to the US by age 16 and before 15 June 2007, have studied in a US school or served in the military and don’t have a serious criminal record.

“Daca was meant to be a stopgap until Congress passed immigration reform legislation and put Dreamers like Hernandez on a path to US citizenship. That has not happened and instead the program – and Dreamers’ futures – end up batted back and forth by the courts.”

New York law guarantees housing for all, but the city is struggling to house an influx of asylum seekers. Its latest attempt moved male asylum seekers from a Manhattan hotel to a warehouse in Brooklyn, which means an hour-long commute to jobs. 

[The Guardian] “Alejandro Landaeta, 30, was walking to a local store to grab lunch and had just stepped out from the Brooklyn warehouse where he had been staying for five days now when he felt the extreme cold of a New York winter.

“As the temperature plunged below freezing and the wind slapped against the gates and rattled doors near him, he walked down in a sweater and pants, struggling to move his fingers in the frigid air. The weather service was warning of ‘once-in-a-generation cold’. …

“‘We work very far, and it’s really cold,’ he said, adding that their commute is an hour away in Brooklyn. ‘There is no privacy, it’s hard to live like this.’

“The beds are ‘jail-like’ and one has to cross the street to take a shower; it is inhumanely cold, and there is no space for personal belongings in the warehouse-like space filled with hundreds of beds uniformly spread apart: these are the concerns migrants shared. …

“As New York City endured a cold wave that could freeze one’s fingertips in minutes, many of the migrants were still without gloves and sufficient warm clothes. Furthermore, the accommodation in which they are being put up in is close to the East River in an area that saw historic floods during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – an area that is extremely vulnerable to climate disasters.”

Two asylum seekers made it to the United States by boat—but with a twist. These two crossed the northern border.

[New York Times] “A series of knocks rattled his apartment door one day last fall, and Maksim peered through the peephole to see two soldiers in uniform. They were military enlistment officers, he knew, expanding the vast conscription effort for the war in Ukraine to Russia’s remote Far East.

“The 44-year-old fisherman kept in motionless silence until the officers moved along. Knowing they would be back, Maksim went that night to the home of a friend, Sergei, who had received an unwelcome visit of his own. Together, they pored over maps at Sergei’s kitchen table, trying to find a way to flee the country and a war where thousands of young Russian men were dying. Sergei then offered a plan that, at first, seemed unfathomable.

“’I propose that we travel by sea,’ Sergei said.”

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,, 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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