Protecting Immigrant Communities Newsletter – May 15, 2021

May 17, 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 quadruples Trump refugee cap after delay backlash

On May 3, President Biden formally increased the refugee resettlement ceiling for this fiscal year to 62,500 from a historic low of 15,000. The new cap comes two weeks after the Biden administration’s previous announcement that it would be keeping the low ceiling set by the Trump administration, followed by significant backlash and a barrage of criticism from lawmakers and advocates.

The Washington Post

Biden administration to reunite four migrant families separated under Trump

On May 3, the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the Family Reunification Task Force of the Biden Administration began the reunification of families who were unjustly separated by the prior administration. This started with the reunification of four migrant families.

NBC News

Border apprehensions rose slightly in April, but the number of unaccompanied minors dropped

On May 11, Customs and Border protection reported data on April border apprehensions. There was a 12% decrease in unaccompanied children crossing the border. Further, there has also been a decrease in the amount of time children are put in CBP custody before being transferred to Health and Human Services.

NBC News

Dallas and San Antonio sites used to house migrant children set to close within weeks

On May 13, it was announced that two large emergency intake sites in Texas that have accommodated unaccompanied children during this year will close in early June. This marks some of the first closures of border facilities as the number of kids in custody drops.


Action Items:

Funding Opportunity: COVID-19 Prevention & Mitigation Among Refugee, Immigrant, & Migrant Communities

NACCHO, with support from CDC and in partnership with NRC-RIM, is pleased to announce a funding opportunity for local health departments and community-based organizations (CBOs) to partner to scale up innovative COVID-19 education, testing, contact tracing, vaccination, and other prevention and mitigation strategies with refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) communities.

Applications are due June 11, 2021, at 11:59 pm PT. Access the Request for Applications here. Register for an optional webinar, to be held on Monday, May 17 at 1:00 pm ET, here.

The 2021 Virtual Border Policy Summit

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Border Network for Human Rights and La Union del Pueblo Entero are co-chairing solutions-based discussions with border stakeholders on better strategies and policies for New Ellis Island. For more information, please contact

Urge Congress to Support these Bills to End Childhood Hunger

The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is asking to take action to urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor two pieces of important legislation that were recently introduced to end childhood hunger.

Resources and Reports:

From Guards to Guardians: Healthy Community Alternatives to Immigrant Detention

The Children’s Defense Fund-Texas—in partnership with Dr. Luis H. Zayas, Dean of the Steve Hicks SSW at the University of Texas – Austin—released a new report that outlines new research findings in the long-term mental health effects of detention on migrant families, and calls for the implementation of healthy community alternatives to immigration detention.

Avoiding Fraud When Seeking Immigration Legal Services

ILRC has developed an informative, free, and downloadable resource for advocates and community-members alike on avoiding fraud when seeking immigration legal services. This guide runs through some common red flags and shares tips on how to ensure our community is putting their best foot forward when approaching providers – or those who advertise themselves as providers – to avoid precarious scenarios that could, in many cases, ultimately result in removal proceedings and family separation.

A System Under Stress: The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on non-detained cases in Immigration Courts

The Tahirih Justice Center released a new report that analyzes how the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged paths to justice for non-detained immigrants in the immigration court system. In particular, this report emphasizes the ways in which the pandemic has both introduced new barriers and exacerbated old ones, placing increased stress on immigrant communities and significantly decreasing the capacity of direct service providers.

Other Recent News of Interest:

Biden cancels border wall projects Trump paid for with diverted military funds

On April 30, the Biden administration announced that its returning funds diverted by the Trump administration from the Department of Defense (DOD) pay, pension, and construction projects to construct border barriers.

The Washington Post

ICE deportations fall to record low in April: report

In April, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported the lowest monthly total on deportations since its establishment in 2003. The number of immigrants in detention under ICE has also fallen to the lowest level in more than a decade. However, the reduction on deportation does not include expulsion under Title 42.

The Hill

The U.S. expands effort to allow in vulnerable migrants at Mexico border

On the week of May 6, the Biden administration started a new system to identify vulnerable migrant families in Mexico and to the U.S. instead of expelling them under a Trump administration policy, Title 42. This new system started in El Paso, Texas, and aims to create “a more formal process that allows pre-screened asylum seekers to enter on humanitarian grounds.”


House Democrats call for paid legal representation in immigration court

In the Appropriations Committee, Democrats called to assign $75 million in funding for a program that provides legal representation to some unaccompanied minors and individuals with mental disabilities. This was introduced in a letter led by Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.).

The Hill

Biden fills immigration court with Trump hires

The Biden administration decided to welcome 17 new immigration judges to the Justice Department “who received their conditional offers under the prior administration.” None of them appear to provide the sort of professional diversity, as defense attorneys or immigration advocates, that is desperately needed. Biden is receiving criticism due to this decision.

The Hill

As immigrants seek refuge, America struggles to live up to its promise

“Americans are deeply conflicted over Biden’s performance on immigration so far.” However, this article presents that the American society itself has wavered in its promise to treat people with humanity, and this is something that a more tolerant administration can’t restore on its own.

Los Angeles Time

Good News:

Voters will have the opportunity to repeal the in-state tuition ban for undocumented students

In the Arizona House of Representatives, nine Democrats and four Republicans voted in favor of a Senate Concurrent Resolution which will give voters an opportunity next year to repeal parts of a 2006 law banning in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Arizona Mirror

Cardona opens emergency grants to undocumented and international college students

Undocumented and international college students are now eligible for emergency pandemic relief grants. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona lifted a controversial ban imposed by his predecessor, Betsy DeVos, that excluded these students from federal aid.

The Washington Post

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