Protecting Immigrant Communities Newsletter – February 22, 2021

February 22, 2021 | Texas

Dear Partners and Friends, 

Thank you so much for staying 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 3 More Executive Actions on Immigration. Did He Go Far Enough?

President Biden signed three more executive orders related to immigration on February 2nd, taking further steps to unwind the harm done by the Trump’s administration. These EO’s aim to set up a task force to reunite migrant families separated under the Trump administration, to reshape the U.S. border and asylum policy, and to review restrictions made to the legal immigration system over the past four years.

Immigration Impact

Senate confirms Alejandro Mayorkas as homeland security secretary

The Senate voted 56 to 43 to confirm Mayorkas, who is the son of Jewish refugees from Cuba and a former federal prosecutor. Mayorkas served as a top DHS official during the Obama administration and played a key role in the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA.

The Washington Post

Biden retains Trump’s border rules for now, with migrants stuck in Mexico or facing expulsion

Despite President Biden’s executive actions to unwind Trump’s “inhumane” policies on immigration, he continues to expel asylum seekers at the border under the Trump-era CDC order.

CBS News

Biden moves to bring in asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico under Trump program

As part of President Biden’s plan to end the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), the U.S. government will start the first phase to gradually process asylum seekers waiting in Mexico on February 19, according to officials. There are 25,000 migrants with active claims in the program. International Organizations will be part of the plan, as mediators and to test migrants for Covid in Mexico.


Action Items:

Pajamas for Peace

Grannies respond and Pajamas for Peace are selling pajamas with a wonderful message, to keep asylum seekers warm and welcome. Their initiative is “Buy One, Give One, Empower One”, and to be part of this beautiful initiative order a pajama on their website.

Sign the #DefundHate Petition

Join Detention Watch Network in urging bold action from our members of Congress and the Biden administration to defund ICE and CBP and advocate for justice.

Ask ICE to reunify, not to deport, this father and son

Share on social media and help spread the word to not allow ICE to deport Ubaldo and re-separate him from his 9-year-old child, Fernando. They were first separated in October by the Zero Tolerance policy. ICE wants to deport Ubaldo, even though he is a low priority under the new Biden memo.

– NBC Story here.

– RAICES Tweet here.

– IG post here.

Resources and Reports:

Immigrants Families Continued Avoiding the Safety Net during the COVID-19 Crisis

The Urban Institute released research on the continued chilling effects experienced by immigrant families in 2020. Researchers found that approximately one in seven adults in immigrant families reported that they or a family member avoided noncash public benefits because of concerns with future green card applications. These findings illustrate just how important it is to reverse the Trump-era public charge regulations, especially in light of the current public health and economic crisis.

The Biden Administration and Congress Must Guarantee Legal Representation for People Facing Removal

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association released a policy brief to call upon the Biden administration to take steps to immediately expand federally funded legal representation programs for people facing removal. In its first year in office, President Biden should concentrate on legal representation for vulnerable populations (including but not limited to people who are detained, children ages 21 and younger, asylum seekers, people who speak rare languages, and individuals with mental disabilities).

Public Charge: What Advocates Need to Know Now

The Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign created a resource analyzing the new Executive Order addressing public charge. Please refer to the PIF website for updates on public charge and to register for an upcoming webinar on new developments.

Other Recent News of Interest:

2 Texas facilities being readied for anticipated wave of migrants and teens

The Biden administration is facing a surge in apprehensions on the Southwest border. The federal officials are opening two overflow facilities, one in Carrizo Springs, Texas, for 700 or more unaccompanied migrant children and the other is a tent facility in the town of Donna, Texas, to process migrant families.

Border Report

The migrant girl, 9, detained by the US for 531 days and counting

A Salvadoran girl and her mother have spent more than 530 days in detention, despite a rule limiting the detention of under-age migrants to 20 days maximum. According to legal aid organizations managing three migrant family detention centers, she is the migrant child who’s been in detention for the longest time under ICE custody.

BBC News

They see one man’s death as an urgent reminder of what Biden needs to do

ICE announced that a 57-year-old man, from Mexico, passed away under their custody at Georgia Hospital. He died after contracting COVID-19. It is the first death in ICE custody since Biden took office. Immigrants’ rights advocates argue that this tragic event is a warning to stop using private prison contractors to detain immigrants.


Illegal Border Crossings Climbed in January, Raising Pandemic Worries

Just in January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested more than 78,000 at the southern border. It is estimated as an increase of 6% from the prior month, and as the largest number of arrests recorded for any January in more than a decade. The total of families and unaccompanied children at the border is rising.

The Wall Street Journal

Businesses Worry About Biden’s Silence on Work-Visa Ban

Former President Trump’s ban to block most forms of legal immigration, covering workers in several industries along with family members of U.S. citizens looking to immigrate, in response to the rise of unemployment during the pandemic has not been removed by President Biden. This ban is having an impact on the economy and affecting families.

The Wall Street Journal

Good News:

Cornyn joins Texas business push for legislation to give ‘Dreamers’ permanent legal status

The Texas Opportunity Coalition (TOC), with the support of the Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, is urging Congress to pass legislation that would provide legal status to DACA recipients. Just in Texas, there are more than 100,000 “Dreamers”. Its advocacy includes an economic argument for a federal DREAM Act.

The Dallas Morning News

Homeland Security urges undocumented migrants to get COVID-19 vaccine

All individuals residing in the U.S., including undocumented immigrants, are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security assured that undocumented immigrants have access to the vaccine and will not be taken into immigration custody. Many immigrant workers are essential and frontline workers, being more exposed to COVID-19.

Arizona Central

Thanks so much for reading and staying informed. 

Best wishes,

Cheasty Anderson, M.A., Ph.D.

Senior Policy Associate

Children’s Defense Fund–Texas 
1910 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Austin, Texas 78702