Immigration News: March 23, 2023

With Congress unable or unwilling to do anything about immigration reform, states and local jurisdictions are testing to see how far they can go—both for and against immigrants. Arizona, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, and Minnesota are among the states safeguarding or extending immigrants’ rights. Texas and Florida are leading the anti-immigrant legislative push. 

[Roll Call] “State and local measures to give undocumented immigrants more access to certain benefits have gained steam. In November, Arizona voters approved a proposition that would allow high school students to qualify for in-state tuition, regardless of immigration status.

“Massachusetts and Rhode Island have laws set to take effect this summer allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. In Massachusetts, the state House voted to override the governor’s veto to advance that legislation. …

“In 2021, California became the first state to enact legislation expanding health care access for low-income residents regardless of immigration status. Advocates predict that campaigns will continue to ramp up to expand health care access for aging undocumented immigrants, who are not eligible for Social Security or other federal benefits.

“According to a December report by the National Immigration Law Center, which examined state legislative action between 2012 and 2022, at least 23 states now offer in-state university tuition to undocumented students. Eighteen states either already or will soon offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants — up from just three states in 2012.”

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey’s state budget proposal includes $1 million in assistance for immigrants and refugees.

[WCVB] “The appropriation would expand the office’s Citizenship for New American Program, which assists legal permanent immigrants with the process of becoming U.S. citizens, to over 1,700 residents, office Executive Director Mary Truong said at a budget hearing Tuesday. It would also expand the office’s financial literacy for newcomers program to about 300 immigrants and refugees.”

And in other news

The safe third country agreement between the United States and Canada applied at ports of entry. Now it will apply to those who cross the border without permission, meaning no one can cross from the United States to Canada or vice versa and claim asylum. Canada is expected to announce 15,000 slots for migrants from the Western Hemisphere to apply to enter the country legally. 

[Los Angeles Times] “The U.S. and Canada have struck an agreement that allows each country to turn back asylum seekers who cross the northern border without authorization, according to internal documents obtained by The Times and a source familiar with the negotiations.

“The deal is the latest expansion of President Biden’s efforts to discourage asylum seekers from entering the U.S. without authorization. The new policy, which applies to people without U.S. or Canadian citizenship who are caught within 14 days of crossing the border between the two countries, is expected to take effect soon.”

The United States has more than 300 surveillance towers on the Mexico-U.S. border, with at least another 50 planned. 

[The Intercept] “While the Department of Homeland Security’s investment of more than a billion dollars into a so-called virtual wall between the U.S. and Mexico is a matter of public record, the government does not disclose where these towers are located, despite privacy concerns of residents of both countries — and the fact that individual towers are plainly visible to observers. The surveillance tower map is the result of a year’s work steered by EFF Director of Investigations Dave Maass, who pieced together the constellation of surveillance towers through a combination of public procurement documents, satellite photographs, in-person trips to the border, and even virtual reality-enabled wandering through Google Street View imagery. …

“As border surveillance towers have multiplied across the southern border, so too have they become increasingly sophisticated, packing a panoply of powerful cameras, microphones, lasers, radar antennae, and other sensors designed to zero in on humans. While early iterations of the virtual wall relied largely on human operators monitoring cameras, companies like Anduril and Google have reaped major government paydays by promising to automate the border-watching process with migrant-detecting artificial intelligence. Opponents of these modern towers, bristling with always-watching sensors, argue the increasing computerization of border security will lead inevitably to the dehumanization of an already thoroughly dehumanizing undertaking.”

Responding to the needs of children and community, Abdi Mahad and Hudda Ibrahim started Dine and Dialogue, and continued with efforts to educate in and about Somali language and culture. 

[Star Tribune] “Q: Tell me about your efforts to bolster inclusion and understanding in the community, including your new publishing company and the Dine & Dialogue forum?

“A: Diverse Voices Press came out of a conversation my wife and I had with our 8-year-old niece. She asked us why she didn’t see kids who look like her in books. We simply couldn’t find many authentic books that feature Muslim children of any background. Our press, launched in 2021, is amplifying the voices of marginalized communities who have been silenced by traditional publishing companies or faced too many barriers to the traditional publishing process. We want to include other underrepresented identities, whether it be physical, ethnic or some other form of diversity, too.

“Hudda and I also started Dine and Dialogue in 2017 after seeing social and political tensions rising in our community. We used it as a way to find commonality among different faiths, cultures and backgrounds and reduce “the fear of the unknown” between the native-born residents and immigrants. What was expected to be intimate dialogue became a fully-fledged forum where more than 150 people attended.”

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.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s