Protecting Immigrant Communities Newsletter – February 02, 2021

February 2, 2021 | Texas

Dear Partners and Friends,

Welcome to a new year and a new administration! Thank you so much for wanting to stay up to date on what’s happening. Here’s the latest roundup of immigration-related news, and our bi-weekly action opportunities.  Please let me know as things cross your desk that you think might be of value for our next newsletter, and as always, feel free to forward to folks who might want to join our list. If you wish to unsubscribe from this list, follow this opt-out link.

Lead Stories:

Biden Took Eight Administrative Actions on Immigration. Here’s What you Need to Know
In his first hours as a president, Biden demonstrated that immigration is a top priority of his administration with a list of planned executive actions; including the Department of Homeland Security policy memo announcing a 100 day deportation moratorium and interim enforcement priorities, and the stop of new enrollments into the MPP program. President Biden also signed 6 executive orders:

  1. Rescission of the Muslim and African bans
  2. Rescission of the Trump interior enforcement EO
  3. Restoring proper census count
  4. Affirming DACA protections
  5. Liberian DED
  6. Halting border wall construction

These actions accomplished several immigration campaign promises, and marked a first step to the end of an era of attacks to migrants and refugee rights.
Immigration Impact

Biden’s day one immigration bill, explained
Known as the US Citizenship Act of 2021. If passes, this bill would create an eight-year path to citizenship, providing a pathway to legal status for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. Those covered by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status and farmworkers would be able to apply for green cards immediately.

Judge Blocks 100-Day Pause on Deportation
In a ruling on Texas’s lawsuit against the deportation moratorium, on Tuesday January 26th, federal judge Drew Tipton, who was appointed by former President Trump, blocked the 100-day pause, issuing a 14-day nationwide temporary restraining order that would prevent carrying out the policy. Appeals are in process.
The New York Times

Justice Department Rescinds Trump’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy
President Biden has ended the “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting immigrants who illegally crossed the US-Mexico border and which provided the basis for family separation by prosecuting every migrant who crossed the border without authorization.

Action Items:

#ShutDownBerks Webinar
Feb. 2, 2021, 7:30 p.m. ET
Join the Shut Down Berks Coalition via webinar to learn about the history of the campaign to shut down the Berks County Detention Center, how you can get involved, and the research showing that Governor Wolf has the legal power to close this prison. You can also check out the Background materials.

Child Separation Policy Lessons/Accountability
Feb. 4, 10 a.m. ET
Join the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on “Accountability and Lessons Learned from the Trump Administration’s Child Separation Policy”.
MPI Webinar: Prospects for a U.S. Legalization Program and the Unauthorized Immigrant Groups that Could Factor in the Debate
Feb. 4, 9:00 a.m. CT
Join the Migration Policy Institute for the release of a new report that takes stock of various legalization options, particularly amid growing calls to recognize the role immigrants deemed essential workers have played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Refugee Mental Health & Wellness Conference 2021
Feb. 25,  8:30 am – 4:30 pm CT
The Alliance opened the registration for the 4th Refugee Mental Health & Wellness Conference. The main theme is the intersection of COVID-19, mental health, and social justice.

ILRC and JFL template letter for ICE to help remind them their priority and to hold them accountable to DHS policies
ILRC and JFL have drafted a template letter for you to send ICE.

Resources and Reports:

Immigration After Trump: What Would Immigration Policy That Followed American Public Opinion Look Like?
The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released this new report that demonstrates a strong support for a path to citizenship for the undocumented and clear opposition to a host of hardline Trump policies. 

DOJ  Inspector General Report Reviews Zero Tolerance’s  Many Failures
The U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General released a report detailing the multitude of failures and cruelties of the Trump administration’s family separation policy, done by DOJ Inspector General Horowitz.

End MPP for All and Amicus Brief Telling the Stories of Children Harmed by “Remain in Mexico”
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights urges the end of MPP and with a coalition of immigrant and children’s rights organizations has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court to voice opposition to MPP and highlight the harm caused to children.

A New Way Forward: What Congress Must Do To Protect The Dignity, Health, And Safety Of Children In Immigration Custody
This briefing by the National Center for Youth Law describes how federal policy changes over the past year have impacted immigrant children and provides detailed recommendations regarding how Congress can legislate a comprehensive set of protections for children in federal immigration custody.

Other Recent News of Interest:

2020 was deadliest year for migrants crossing unlawfully into US via Arizona
According to Humane Borders, the remains of 227 migrants were found on the border, marking 2020 as the deadliest year for migrants trying to cross unlawfully via Arizona. The rise of border deaths coincides with the Trump’s administration orders on migration: the construction of the border wall and the Remain in Mexico policy in concert with Title 42 (the CDC’s permission to close the border and the expulsion of more than 380,000 migrants at the border for COVID). Further, summer 2020 was the hottest on record, making the path of migrants even more difficult in the dangerous Arizona border region.
The Guardian

Some immigrants shut out of stimulus; other mixed-status households will get COVID-19 relief check
Last March, undocumented immigrants were excluded from getting stimulus checks under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Although an additional $600 coronavirus stimulus check was approved by the federal government in late December and for the first time households with mixed-immigration statuses, including an adult with legal status, will receive the check for the first time. Undocumented relatives will still be excluded.
Chicago Sun Times

Language barriers, wariness make vaccinating immigrants hard
Some undocumented immigrants fear that information taken during vaccinations can be handed over to the authorities and so may not request the Covid-19 vaccine. Therefore, those with limited English fluency may have more difficulties in accessing these services. Further, misinformation problems are harder with language barriers. These obstacles particularly affect Latino immigrants, who are a large portion of workers in industries where they are more exposed to the virus.
Los Angeles Times

Trump immigration, border wall issues test Biden policies
Trump’s Remain in Mexico Policy, also known as Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), and the closure of the border has left 30,000 migrants waiting in limbo. According to the migration researcher Savitri Arvey, “rarely has a presidential transition represented such a contrast in approaches  to immigration and border security”. On day one, President Biden already suspended new enrollments in MPP but immediate action for the thousands waiting is essential. At the border, those under MPP suffer human rights violations and tragedies.
Los Angeles Times

Advocates Call for More Action Against Private Prisons After Biden’s ‘First Step’ Executive Order
On Tuesday, January 26, President Joe Biden signed an executive order addressing the Department of Justice (DOJ) not to renew its contracts with private prisons. Advocates consider this move as a first step to put an end to corporations from profiting off “incarceration that is less humane and less safe”. Immigration advocates are waiting for a similar order for ICE contracts on facilities detaining undocumented immigrants, as President Biden promised during his campaign.

Appeals court allows U.S. to expel children alone at border
On Friday, January 30, 2021, a federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. government could resume expelling immigrant children who cross the southern border unaccompanied by a parent. Advocates hope the Biden administration will rescind the expulsion policy -which has resulted in the expulsions of at least 8,800 children- rather than continue litigation.
Washington Post

Good News:

‘Backpacks full of boulders’: How one district is addressing the trauma undocumented children bring to school
The number of children crossing the southern border is on the rise again. U.S. public schools are often the first places that they encounter Americans who are not law enforcement. Prince George’s County is helping them cope and learn, focusing on three areas to support these children —improving their language skills, being inclusive and building resilience.
Hechinger Report

Biden seeks to replace ‘alien’ with less ‘dehumanizing term’ in immigration laws
As part of an extensive immigration reform bill, President Biden proposed to remove the term “alien” from U.S. immigration laws and to replace it with the word “noncitizen”. The term ”alien” is seen as dehumanizing. Such initiative has already been taken at local level in states like New York, California and Colorado.
NBC News

Entrevista exclusiva: Kamala Harris habla de reforma migratoria y asegura que todos los inmigrantes tendrán acceso a la vacuna
Vice president Kamala Harris ensured in an interview with Univision that people are going to receive vaccinations regardless of their immigration status. During the interview, she also presented the new immigration bill.

Thanks so much for reading and staying informed. 

Best wishes,

Cheasty Anderson, M.A., Ph.D.
Senior Policy Associate