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.
On March 18th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two pieces of immigration reform legislation that would bring relief to Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and workers and farmers in the agriculture industry. In 2019, versions of both bills were passed in the House but neither was acted on by the Senate.
On March 23th, the Biden Administration announced its plans to open a second influx facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas to respond to the continued arrival of unaccompanied children at the southern border. This facility has an initial capacity of 500 beds but with the possibility of adding semi-permanent additional space. Also on March 24th, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials requested “to house up to 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children at two bases in Texas”, Fort Bliss and Joint Base San Antonio.
On March 24th, President Biden assigned Vice President Harris to lead the administration’s response to the increase in unaccompanied children (UACs) at the Southern border. This new job includes the solo mission to enlist Mexico and Central American countries to help address the root causes of migration.
The New York Times
On March 30th, for the first time, the Biden administration allowed reporters inside a detention facility housing migrant children in Donna, Texas. The visit revealed extremely overcrowded tents with an original capacity of 250 but more than 4,000 people were being accommodated in the facility Tuesday. The children are packed into eight pods, originally designed to hold 32 but many of them had more than 500.
The Washington Post
Please share the video with demands from Texas Organizing Project and SA Stands Immigration Coalition against Bexar County bringing 2,400 migrant children to the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas.
The demands include:
Speed release/reunification for ALL children
House-like setting, kids are free to leave
Strict oversight of private contractors, no more abuse
Wednesday, April 7, from 6pm to 7 pm CST
Various groups along the border will be hosting a teach-in featuring Todd Miller about harmful surveillance and border enforcement technology. The presentation will stream on Facebook live. You can tune in at the Facebook event page here. To stay informed about the fight against border walls and militarization, you can register to join the #NotAnotherFoot campaign here. This event will be streamed in English and Spanish.
Survey about the perceived compassion fatigue levels of human service and legal professionals and paraprofessionals working with undocumented Central American immigrants in Texas.
A researcher at the Texas Woman’s University is conducting this dissertation research and needs assistance from human service professionals, legal professionals, and paraprofessionals to complete the survey. Data will be collected about how the experience of working with undocumented Central American immigrants in Texas impact the perceived levels of compassion fatigue. At the end of this survey, there will be an optional invitation to contact the researcher to participate in a Zoom interview.
Resources and Reports:
The Washington Post published a data analysis to demonstrate that the increase in border crossing at the U.S. border is not linked to the Biden administration policies. “The current increase fits a pattern of seasonal changes in undocumented immigration with a backlog of demand because of 2020s coronavirus border closure”. At this moment, what is unusual is the increase of unaccompanied minors crossing the border.
The National Immigration Forum released an explainer of what is happening at the U.S.-Mexico border, analyzing CBP data on recent apprehensions, describing the impact and use of Title 42 expulsions as well as the treatment of arriving UACs, and providing additional context on reports of increased migration to the U.S. and releases of migrant families into the interior.
The Congressional Research Services released a report on the legal basics of asylum processing at the border and what the Biden administration is currently doing to handle the number of applicants. The Biden administration has so far primarily relied on Title 42, a pandemic-related policy evoked by the Trump administration, which permits the Department of Homeland Security to turn away undocumented immigrants at the border without normal processing.
Other Recent News of Interest:
On March 20th, CBP agents in the Rio Grande valley were authorized to release certain migrant families with young children without official notices to appear in immigration court. The move to release some migrants with “To Be Determined” court dates is designed to reduce the amount of time families spend in detention due to overcrowded facilities.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is reviewing the legality of the Biden administration’s pause on the construction of a wall along the southern border. The report comes after a group of 40 Senate Republicans sent a letter to GAO accusing the Biden administration of violating federal law by refusing to spend congressionally appropriated funds on border wall construction.
On March 24th, Senate Democrats and Republicans met for the first significant bipartisan meeting on immigration reform this Congress. The meeting was organized by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) to assess bipartisan support for immigration legislation. After the meeting, Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) said, “It was a good first discussion, nobody’s taken themselves out. I thought they were genuinely interested.”
On March 24th, 209 national, state, and local organizations sent a letter to President Biden demanding he sign a new Presidential Determination that would raise the refugee ceiling for Fiscal Year (2021). In October 2020, the Trump administration set a historic low ceiling of 15,000 admissions, and on February 6, the Biden administration announced that it planned to increase it for the current fiscal year to 62,500. However, the Biden administration has not yet signed the new determination.
Refugee Council USA
On March 30th, San Antonio received a first group of migrant children at the new emergency shelter at the Freeman Coliseum. Rep. Joaquin Castro said that “a shelter isn’t an ideal situation for children” but that “the children at Freeman were being treated well”.
My San Antonio
In August 2019, a former Texan teacher initiated the Pavement School for Children Asylum Seekers in Matamoros, Mexico with money she raised and her life savings. Instead of bringing American volunteers to teach, she recruited educated asylum seekers among the migrant community in the encampment and hired them to teach. She already has 80 children enrolled.
The National News
Thanks so much for reading and staying informed.
Cheasty Anderson, M.A., Ph.D.
Senior Policy Associate
Children’s Defense Fund–Texas
1910 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Austin, Texas 78702