Immigration News: March 14, 2023

logo with Ukrainian flag background and words "Uniting for Ukraine"

Some good news! The Biden administration will extend the one-year humanitarian parole for the first refugees to escape to the United States after the war in Ukraine began. Those who arrived before the Uniting for Ukraine program began received only a one-year grant of humanitarian parole. That will be extended by at least one year. Those who came under the Uniting for Ukraine program received two-year grants of humanitarian parole. Humanitarian parole does not provide any path to permanent status. 

[CBS] “Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and displaced millions of refugees, thousands of Ukrainians flew to Mexico seeking to enter the U.S. along the southern border, mainly in California. In a few weeks, U.S. border officials allowed more than 20,000 Ukrainians to enter the country, exempting them from a pandemic restriction known as Title 42 that has blocked hundreds of thousands of migrants from staying in the U.S.

“The ad hoc process along the U.S.-Mexico border was shut down in late April after the Biden administration created a formal program for displaced Ukrainians to fly to the U.S. directly if they had American sponsors. Under that program, known as Uniting for Ukraine, more than 118,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the U.S. …

“[U]nder a policy announced Monday, the government will consider extending by one year the parole grant of Ukrainians who were processed along the southern border between Feb. 24 and April 25, 2022. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects to review these cases in four weeks, according to the notice. Those approved will be able to download their updated parole grants online.”

Migrants from other parts of the world are treated differently. Ukrainians with humanitarian parole are allowed to work. Asylum seekers from other places must wait for 150 days after they file a formal application for asylum to even apply for a work permit—which will then take months longer to process. They have no way to support themselves while they wait.

[NPR] “[José] is originally from Venezuela, arriving in the U.S. five months ago. Like the others, without official status, he can’t legally work. Without work, he can’t find stable housing. 

“Jose isn’t sure what will happen next. He just knows he can’t return to Venezuela.

“‘No. No. I cannot go back there. I’m in danger,’ Jose says in Spanish. He asks that we withhold his last name, because he fears for his family in Caracas. …

“A work permit would enable Jose and others like him to move out of the shelter system, and to pay an immigration lawyer. Conditions at The Watson hotel, Jose says, were decent. But he wanted to get out before he was transferred again. 

“He was worried about landing in one of the more challenged shelters, where there’ve been reported outbreaks of chicken pox and food poisoning.”

And in other news

The rate at which immigration judges overturn negative asylum officer decisions has risen in recent years. That reinforces the need for asylum seekers to have access to attorneys and to time enough to prepare their cases. Immigration judges hear appeals from the asylum officer’s initial denial. Asylum seekers who do not understand the possibility or procedures for appealing the asylum officer’s decision to an immigration judge are deported. 

[TRAC] “On average slightly over 25 percent of IJ decisions over the last 25 years have found that migrants had established having a credible fear of persecution or torture after an asylum officer initially denied the claim. It is important to remember that most credible fear reviews are conducted by asylum officers in US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The cases Immigration Judges hear are only those which were first turned down by asylum officers, that is the asylum officer did not find credible fear to be established. This means that IJ decisions found that 25 percent of asylum seekers who didn’t pass this first screening, actually should have passed and, as a result, the IJ overturned these asylum officers’ decisions.

“A credible fear finding does not mean the individual is granted asylum. Rather, a credible fear determination is an initial step to decide whether or not the immigrant should have the opportunity for a full asylum hearing.”

Adolfo came here as a baby and should have been eligible for DACA. Fear kept his parents from applying until the Trump administration’s efforts to close down DACA closed that door. 

[Baltimore Banner] “In the early 2000s, a gang killing of a nephew drove Adolfo Martinez’s mother away from her native Honduras. She fled with Adolfo in her arms, then about a year old, and joined her husband, who was already working in the United States. …

“The 21-year-old student is currently a junior majoring in forensic studies at Loyola University Maryland and an Ultimate Frisbee competitor. …

“Years of political jousting between Democrats and Republicans over extending the program, a critical shortage of affordable immigration legal services and a failed attempt to seek asylum have put Martinez in the crosshairs of federal authorities.”

Real solutions to failing border policies exist. They are not being implemented, because political arguments get in the way.   

[New York Times] “The United States has been intermittently on crisis footing at the border for the past decade. Each administration keeps cycling restlessly through the same few ideas. A family detention facility that Mr. Biden might reopen was built under Barack Obama. The recently proposed regulation — which would essentially withhold asylum from anyone crossing into the United States illegally — is a variation on a proposal from Donald Trump.

“What makes this so frustrating is that it’s not hard to imagine other, better ways to evaluate the health of our immigration system and to improve it. …

“A system that cared about maximizing orderly asylum claims would focus on scaling up the capacity at ports of entry to conduct orderly asylum interviews rather than forcing people to use Customs and Border Protection’s notoriously buggy CBP One app in the hopes of setting up scarce appointments.

“A system that cared primarily about processing people quickly and safely would invest in facilities to house them that weren’t effectively jails. A system that cared about ensuring no one skipped out on a court date would guarantee clear communication from the courts — and maybe even lawyers to help immigrants navigate the system. A system that cared about executing removal orders would station Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in courtrooms.

“Some of these are more appealing than others to me and perhaps to you, but that’s part of the point: There are so many other ways for hawks or doves to get what they want, and talking openly about what they want the system to accomplish can refocus the discussion on things that are actually within the government’s control.”

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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