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 February 18th, 2021, a dozen of Democratic lawmakers introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 in the House and the Senate. The bill provides a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, addresses the root causes of migration, and to responsibly manage the southern border, to reform the immigration visa process. It includes the most-far-reaching changes in immigration law in more than three decades.
The New York Times
On February 18th, 2021, the Biden Administration announced new guidelines to strongly limit arrests and deportations carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. To prioritize “significant threats” to national security and public safety is being told to ICE agents and officers when deciding whom to deport, detain and arrest. The 100-day pause on most deportations remains blocked.
On February 22nd, 2021, the Supreme Court said it would take up a case challenging the Trump administration’s public charge rule, which is still in effect in most states nationwide. The rule was an effort by the Trump administration to reduce the number of people who are eligible for legal permanent residency, by redefining what it means to be dependent on government benefits. It has resulted in widespread fear and misinformation within immigrant communities.
The Biden administration is reportedly preparing a plan to all but eliminate family detention. “The goal is to wind down the number of families in detention as much as possible,” said one person familiar with the discussions. The plan aims to place them in “alternative to detention”.
Deadline: March 2nd, 2021, at NOON ET
In preparation for Senate consideration of the American Rescue Act, CTAN members and partners wrote a sign-on letter to stop Sen. Young attacks on citizen kids in immigrant families. Please also see these CTAN talking points on why it’s critical to include immigrant families in COVID relief efforts. You can find these estimates HERE from MPI to learn how federal relief legislation has impacted immigrant families in your state.
Presente.org and Alianza Americas are calling President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to grant a new TPS designation for Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador; and a first designation for Guatemala and Venezuela. Additionally, you can:
Join Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement as they pressure the Biden administration and DHS Secretary Mayorkas to free all trans people from detention, including people living with HIV and other medical conditions.
Resources and Reports:
Read recommendations issued by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, to the Biden Administration.
In her letter, Congresswoman DeLauro urged the Biden Administration to redesign the unaccompanied children program and work with trusted child advocates to limit the use of influx facilities. Additionally, she requests the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that children are not separated from family members and to meet the health safety and wellbeing standards in influx shelters.
Detention Watch Network (DWN) has created the following analyses and recommendations:
A report from the Government Accountability Office finds that in the last 4 years, ICE spent billions opening new facilities without proper justification or oversight, in places known to be dangerous, and increased guaranteed payments in billions to private prison corporations without going through proper channels.
This brief by CLASP details the many ways in which immigrant families have been left behind during the pandemic and provides recommendations on how the federal government can be proactive in meeting the needs of immigrants and their families.
Other Recent News of Interest:
On February 22nd, 2021, the Biden administration reopened the temporary facility of Carrizo Springs in Texas. The reopening of temporary overflow facilities for unaccompanied children is raising concerns. Immigrant advocates are worried about the conditions in these facilities, and children being subjected to inhumane treatment and prolonged stays.
On February 24th, 2021, the Biden administration began admitting asylum seekers in the Matamoros, Mexico camp across the border from Brownsville, Texas. The asylum seekers in Matamoros had been returned to Mexico under the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), and now they are being processed and tested for Covid-19 by the administration, the Mexican government, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and other international organizations.
In February, the number of unaccompanied immigrant children taken into custody at the border escalated quickly with more than 50% compared with the previous month. By the end of the month, it was expected to have 9,000 more children taken into custody. These numbers are raising the concerns of a possible new humanitarian crisis at the border.
The Wall Street Journal
In the past month, the setting committee of pro-bono lawyers has found 105 parents of children separated by the Trump administration. However, they are still looking for the parents of 506 children, 322 of them are believed to be deported.
Michelle Brané of the Women’s Refugee Commission is expected to be named as the executive director of the task force to reunite families separated by the Trump administration. The immigration advocate community approved the choice and welcome this news.
Under Title 42, ICE deported to Haiti a two-month-old baby and 21 other children in a group of 72 people. Immigration advisers are concerned about the safety of these children being sent into a country into the middle of a political uprising. These deportations raise concerns about the Biden Administration’s promise to stop deportations.
On February 24th, 2021, President Biden lifted a freeze on green cards issued by Trump during the pandemic that was blocking most legal immigration to the U.S. Biden stated that the ban “harms the United States”, including families, industries, and individuals selected in the Fiscal Year 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery.
The U. S. Immigration and Citizenship Services are going to start using again the previous version of the civic test created in 2008. In 2020, the Trump administration doubled the questions and altered some answers, making this one more difficult.
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