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.
Some of you may be seeing this newsletter in your inbox for the first time in several months – with apologies, we had a problem with our server. But it’s fixed! Nice to see you again. 🙂
The number of unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. Customs and Border patrol (CBP) custody dropped nearly 84% in April since March’s peak. As of April 26, there were 954 children in CBP facilities, down from a peak of 5,767 on March 28. The average time kids are spending in CBP custody is now 28 hours, down from 133. And the average time it takes to reunite children with a sponsor has been reduced to 29 days, down from 40 days on February 22.
On April 26th, the bill Families Belong Together was introduced to the House by Representative Castro. The bill aims to provide humanitarian parole to some parents who were separated from their children under the Trump administration, and would provide an access to lawful permanent status to these families. On April 29, the bill Freedom for Families Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator Merkley. The bill aims to ensure that no federal dollars are used to operate family detention facilities, and to transfer the funds currently used for family detention to be used for community-based non-detention programs and alternatives for detention.
On April 27th, the Biden administration named Sheriff Ed Gonzalez of Harris County, Texas, to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Gonzalez is being recognised by pushing back against Trump’s immigration policies and he “condemned ICE’s plan to arrest large number of immigrant families” in 2019.
April 29th marks President Biden’s 100th day in office, marking real progress on a number of critical immigration-related priorities but there is still so much work to be done. On April 28th, Biden addressed the Congress and called them to come together to pass the administration’s comprehensive immigration platform, the U.S. Citizenship Act.
United We Dream has updated the “Biden Deportation Tracker” and as of April 23rd they estimated that over 302k have been deported under the Biden administration – despite a promise to stop deportations. This administration must prioritize the safety and healing of immigrant communities – and that means stopping deportations. Add your name to the petition to take action and demand an end to all deportations!
May 6, 2021 -8:00p.m. EST
Join the American Immigration Council for an exciting, free virtual evening where they are going to celebrate storytelling and its power to inspire change. The gala brings together hundreds of immigration advocates for a night that recognizes the tireless efforts of our community. Register here.
The National Immigration Law is calling for action and to put pressure to Congress to finally create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. Use your voice to empower our communities and push Congress to pass the bill here.
Resources and Reports:
The American Immigration Council’s new special report reviews the Biden’s administration’s commitments and accomplishments on immigration issues during its first 100 days, and offers recommendations on how the administration can move forward.
Emily Ekins of the Cato Institute, along with David Kemp found on the survey that “ Americans estimate that immigrants comprise about 40% of the U.S. population. This is notable because the actual share of foreign born is about 14%.” This data demonstrates that we are not facing a political debate but a cultural one.
Human Rights First published a report denouncing the 492 public reports of violent attacks against migrants in Mexico near the border with the United States since January 2021. Many of the attacks occurred against individuals returned under Title 42 (the CDC’s permission to close the border for COVID).
The National Immigrant Justice Center published a new report on A Roadmap to Bring Home the Unjustly Deported. The paper calls on the Biden administration to use executive action to establish a centralized Department of Homeland Security (DHS) process to efficiently consider requests from individuals seeking to return to the United States to reunite with their loved ones and communities after being unjustly deported.
Other Recent News of Interest:
On April 26th, the Supreme Court denied the request of fourteen Republican governors to appeal a lower court ruling seeking to intervene in litigation to defend the Trump administration’s public charge rule. Their argument is that the cost of eliminating the policy is a financial burden on their states. In March, the Biden administration announced that it will not defend the public charge policy and the rule was blocked in the federal courts.
On April 26th, Vice President Harris announced that the U.S. plans to send $310 million to Central America in food aid and humanitarian assistance. Before the announcement the vice president met with Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei to discuss strategies to address the root causes of migration.
On April 27th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it will limit enforcement efforts in and around courthouses. In a statement, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas affirmed this and added that the use of civil immigration arrests at courthouses has “a chilling effect on individual’s willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement.”
On April 27th, the White House announced that the rise of the refugee admissions ceiling to 62,500 this fiscal year is being considered. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that reaching that ceiling would be “challenging,” but confirmed that President Biden would decide on a revised admissions target on or before May 15.
The Washington Post
On April 28th, Attorney General Merrick Garland rescinded a Trump administration policy restraining law enforcement grant funding from jurisdictions it deemed to be sanctuary jurisdictions. The funds in question come from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) Program, which disperses $250 million annually for criminal justice-related activities. The Trump-era policy sought to unilaterally impose additional immigration-related conditions on the funds and faced pushback from jurisdictions who argued that the policy was logistically impractical, unlawful and improperly wanted to require local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration enforcement activities.
On April 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Niz-Chavez v. Garland to extend additional protections to nonpermanent residents who have lived in the U.S. for at least ten continuous years. Usually, these immigrants are proposed relief from removal. However, under the “stop-time rule,” the ten-year residency clock steps when they receive a notice to appear (NTA) in immigration court, formally starting removal proceedings.
Dr. Luis Zayas presents a humane narrative on the decision of parents sending their kids to cross the border. He says that “we must do a better job explaining the factors that drive parents and children to take enormous risks”. He recognises the need of humanitarian action on the reception of children at the border.
Austin American Statesman
On April 21st, the House of Representatives passed two major bills, the National Origin-Based Anti-discrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act and the Access to Counsel Act. These bills would restrict presidential powers to institute travel bans and ensure access to attorneys for certain people detained at ports of entry.
On April 20th, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would raise the H-2B seasonal nonagricultural guestworker visa ceiling by 22,000 to help meet workforce needs in the following months. 6,000 of the additional visas are set aside to be granted to workers from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador with the objective to stem the flow of migration from the Northern Triangle region.
The Wall Street Journal
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