If you have not yet submitted a comment on the Biden administration’s anti-asylum proposal, you still have a few hours to do so—until midnight, Eastern Daylight Time. Here’s the text of the comment that I submitted:
Please withdraw the proposed rule on third-country transit., This rule echoes the Trump administration attempt to ban asylum seekers from the United States. While it has minor differences (“rebuttable presumption” instead of outright ban), the effect would be the same: a complete betrayal of U.S. commitment to international law and a violation of U.S. asylum law.
Asylum seekers should be able to access our asylum system regardless of how they enter, as U.S. law provides. They should not be forced to apply for asylum in third countries, or to jump through the hoops of a glitchy CBP One app that clearly discriminates against people with dark skin and all people without the economic means to have speedy internet access. The restriction of slots available even through the CBP One app amounts to metering, which further puts asylum seekers at risk as they wait in dangerous conditions in Mexico.
The only solution is to withdraw this rule and bolster our asylum system with more asylum officers and immigration judges to hear cases.
Make up your own comment—it doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Just say no to this awful regulation.
Asylum officers submitted a comment saying that the Biden administration’s anti-asylum regulation would force them to break U.S. immigration law.
[Los Angeles Times] “Enforcing Biden’s policy would violate asylum officers’ oath to carry out the immigration laws set out by Congress and “could make them complicit in violations of U.S. and international law,” attorneys for the American Federation of Government Employees Council 119 wrote in a comment submitted to the Department of Homeland Security.
The same union regularly protested the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict asylum at the southern U.S. border, including by joining lawsuits that sought to block his policies. Its decision to oppose Biden’s asylum proposal is one indication of the plan’s similarities to Trump-era efforts.”
And in other news
A coalition of 130 faith-based organizations urged President Biden not to detain immigrant families, calling family detention an “immoral and inhumane practice.”
[The Hill] “‘Detaining children and their parents is a cruel and unnecessary way to treat migrant families after their grueling experiences. Families do not need to be detained,’ wrote the groups, noting that the Biden administration previously did away with the practice in 2021.
“While the reports of officials reconsidering the policy were not corroborated, the mere suggestion set off a firestorm of criticism from Democrats, human and civil rights organizations, religious groups and immigration advocates. …
“The groups raised practical concerns on family detention and the asylum rule beyond their moral qualms, based on mental and physical health risks for migrants and the discriminatory application of deterrent measures.”
Wildfires in 2020 highlighted federal restrictions of disaster relief, based on immigration status. A bill now before the Oregon legislature would extend state disaster assistance.
[KATU] “The measure would call on the Oregon Department of Emergency Management to fill in the gaps when FEMA does not provide housing because of immigration status.
“‘House Bill 3462 aims to codify the right of all Oregonians to access emergency services and ensured that all emergency housing provided by OEM, OHCS and ODHS is safe and maintains fair housing standards,’ said Rep. Annessa Hartman, D-Gladstone, who sponsored the bill. ‘When the wildfires struck in 2020, thousands of people lost their homes and livelihoods. While many Oregonians had access to both state and federal emergency services, our community members without documentation status did not.'”
DACA recipients like José Godinez-Samperio, who is now licensed as a lawyer in Florida, would be barred from getting licenses to practice law under restrictions proposed by Florida Governor Rick DeSantis.
[Tallahassee Democrat] “Godinez-Samperio began his career as an immigration lawyer, helping people legally enter the U.S., only after the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2014 passed a law allowing undocumented residents to be admitted to the Florida Bar.
“The measure was overwhelmingly supported by GOP lawmakers. Then-House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, called it an “act of justice,” after the legislation was approved 79-37 by the House.
“It was signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott, now a Republican U.S. senator.”
The GEO Group got a warning letter from the EPA in 2021 about its misuse of a toxic chemical inside its immigration detention facilities. Now immigrants who were confined to those facilities are suing the private prison corporation for long-term damage suffered as a result of exposure to the chemical. This lawsuit adds to the continually growing number of charges against the for-profit prison corporation.
[NPR] “The Social Justice Legal Foundation is representing seven currently and formerly incarcerated individuals of the immigration detention facility in Adelanto, Calif. Attorneys for the company claim that while Adelanto had used the chemical, HDQ Neutral, for at least 10 years, staff at the facility increased the spraying of the product at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
“The attorneys for SJLF allege that due to the detainees’ months-long, near-constant exposure to this chemical from February 2020 to April 2021, they suffered symptoms like persistent cough, throat and nasal irritation, skin irritation, rashes and headaches.
“Plaintiffs say they found blood in their mouths and saliva, suffered from debilitating headaches, felt dizzy and lightheaded, and now deal with long-term chronic health issues as a result of their exposure to the chemical.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney writes that his city takes pride in being a welcoming city for immigrants.
[Newsweek] “To date, Philadelphia has welcomed 19 buses carrying a total of 838 migrants, and city officials, nonprofit organizations, and a diverse group of Philadelphia residents and businesses have shown up in a big way to greet them all.
“For some, Philadelphia is a waystation on the path to reuniting with friends and family who are already here. Others are hoping to put down roots locally. Whatever their final destination, we as a city are committed to making sure that they get there. …
“Our country needs its leaders to put forward common sense solutions that the American public supports. Solutions that protect the right to seek asylum for those fleeing persecution and violence without jeopardizing the lives of children and families through detention or misguided bans. Solutions that offer longtime residents like Dreamers, farmworkers, and essential workers the ability to continue to live, work, and to contribute to our economy.”
Armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo escalated during 2022, making a terrible situation worse. FWD calls for Temporary Protected Status for DRC nationals living in the United States. No one should be deported to DRC.
[FWD.us] “Widespread armed conflict, intense violence, and resulting humanitarian crises in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) make it impossible for nationals of the country to return to their home country safely right now. In fact, the DRC is in the midst of one the deadliest armed conflicts in modern history. In 2022 alone, this terrible violence has killed more than 6,000 people, and has displaced two million. Decades of tragedy in the region have claimed more than 5 million lives in total. A resurgence of the non-state armed group March 23 Movement (M23) has contributed to an escalation of violence in the DRC, with widespread human rights abuses including war crimes. …
“The more than 2 million people displaced in 2022 have driven up the total number of people internally displaced in the DRC to an astounding 5.8 million. The conflict also claimed the lives of thousands of people last year, while armed groups have continued to perpetrate horrific human rights abuses, including summary killings, targeting of civilians, forced labor, recruitment of children to military groups, extortion, and sexual violence.”
The Texas legislature is considering a bill to establish state laws criminalizing unauthorized immigration and to set up special police units and deputize vigilantes to chase them down. That happened before—The Intercept recalls deadly days in the 1910s and 1020s.
[The Intercept] “At the time, lawmakers were clamoring — as they are today — for military force against Mexico. The state activated posses that worked with local law enforcement to hunt down purported threats from the borderlands. Historians estimate that thousands of men, women, and children were killed. The specter of vigilante violence returned in the 1970s, when Louis Beam, an infamous white supremacist, built a paramilitary ‘Klan Border Watch’ compound in Texas. Beam trained hundreds of border vigilantes over several years. …
“For Texas Democrats, the [Border Protection Unit Act] is a road map to a ‘show me your papers’ police state and a sign of the Republican majority’s posture going into the final weeks of lawmaking.”