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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Friday, March 31, 2023

NY Times reporter shoots back at Biden’s health chief over missing migrant children

New York Times investigative reporter Hannah Dreier shot back at Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on Wednesday over his comments at a congressional hearing on the number of missing migrant children. Becerra faced several congressional hearings this week, and Republicans took the chance to grill him over reports of unaccompanied minor refugees being placed with sponsors who send them to work in poor conditions. A New York Times report written by Dreier found that HHS could not reach more than 85,000 children after being placed with sponsors and lost “immediate contact” with one-third of the children, citing HHS data. In the video tweeted by Dreier, Becerra questioned where the GOP senators got the data about the 85,000 migrants from. Dreier said in her tweet that the numbers are from the HHS press office. “Those statistics that you’ve mentioned, as I said previously, in regards to another question by one of your colleagues, those are those are unfamiliar to me,” Becerra said at the hearing. “I have no idea where those statistics come from, if they’re based in reality or not. And we do everything we can to make sure any child, before we allow them to be released to a sponsor, that that sponsor has been vetted.” “In several congressional hearings, HHS Secretary Becerra has been asked about our reporting that HHS couldn’t reach 85,000 migrant children right after releasing them,” Dreier captioned the video. “He says he doesn’t know where those numbers come from. For what it’s worth, they’re from the HHS press office.” The Hill has reached out to HHS to confirm the data. Biden administration approves California’s electric truck mandate Southwest rolls out plan to prevent future meltdowns HHS is required by law to care for unaccompanied children under the age of 18 who come into the U.S. with no immigration status. According to HHS, the “vast majority” of children are placed with sponsors who are family members or parents already living in the U.S. Sponsors are required to undergo background checks, risk assessment tests and criminal public records check when being unified with unaccompanied children, HHS’s website said. Sponsors also often undergo a sex offender registry check, and in some instances, a home study visit before completing the unification process. HHS keeps daily data on the number of unaccompanied children in the agency’s care, according to the agency’s website. As of Wednesday, March 29, there were 8,208 children in HHS’s care, and 267 were discharged from care on that day, according to the government data. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Over 1,000 migrants, angered by asylum policies, rush to U.S.-Mexico border

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico, March 30 (Reuters) - More than a thousand migrants in northern Mexico surrendered to U.S. border authorities, frustrated by recent asylum policies, and shaken by a fire at a nearby migrant detention center that killed dozens this week. A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson said the agency was processing over a thousand migrants who turned themselves in on Wednesday in El Paso, Texas, reachable on foot from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Advertisement · Scroll to continue Report an ad In a statement late Wednesday, CBP said it was expelling migrants under a COVID-era order known as Title 42, and beginning removal proceedings for other migrants who cannot be returned under the measure and lack legal status. article-prompt-devices Register for free to Reuters and know the full story Migrants said a new U.S. government app meant to streamline the process of securing asylum appointments from outside the United States has left them feeling fed up and helpless. Advertisement · Scroll to continue Report an ad Carrying children and belongings, groups of migrants moved briskly Wednesday afternoon toward a gate at a section of the U.S. border wall on the frontier, which has become a destination for asylum seekers and smugglers trafficking them. "Now, with God's favor, we'll make it there," said Carlos Garcia, pulling his young daughter at a jog as he tried to get his name on a list supposedly granting access to the United States. A false rumor circulated on social media Wednesday that migrants surrendering at a specific spot at the border would be able to freely cross into U.S. territory. Some migrants turned back, fearful of arrest, but by late afternoon hundreds had formed a line along the steel barrier on U.S. soil. By early evening, CBP agents had begun processing migrants through a door intended for maintenance workers. Advertisement · Scroll to continue Report an ad Two dozen migrants interviewed by Reuters said they were fed up with daily discrimination and violence in Mexico, with some saying they feared suffering a similar fate to the 39 men who died while detained at a government migrant center on Monday. "I came to live, not to die," said Juan Velázquez, a 22-year-old migrant. "That's why I want to leave here now. Mexico is not a place for us." "I've already been there," he added, referring to the detention center run by Mexico's National Migration Institute (INM). "They treat us like criminals." Mexican prosecutors said on Wednesday they were investigating the fire at the migrant center as a possible homicide and had identified eight people who may have been responsible: two federal agents, a state migration officer and five members of a private security firm. A short video circulating on social media - appearing to be security footage from inside the center during the blaze - showed men kicking on the bars of a locked door as their cell filled with smoke. Three uniformed people can be seen walking past without trying to open the door. Investigators said the video was part of the probe. By the border, a young Venezuelan mother prayed alongside her two daughters - visibly tired and wearing torn, dirty clothes. "God, help us," she repeated. As they waited for a chance to cross the border, Border Patrol agents and Texas National Guard troops stood motionless in front of the massive metal gate, preventing them from getting through. A U.S. security helicopter flew overhead. Multiple migrants said they tried unsuccessfully to obtain a virtual appointment to start the asylum process in the U.S. Since the Biden administration rolled out the app in January, asylum seekers have complained of glitches, high demand, and a lack of appointments. "The application doesn't work. They need to find another way to help us, if that's really what they want," said Carlos, a 28-year-old migrant who said he spent upwards of 10 hours a day on the app, without success. "It's trash." U.S. officials have defended the app, saying early glitches have been resolved and that issues are mainly down to the huge number of people using it to access a limited amount of appointments. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Arrest made in fatal migrant smuggling incident on train in Uvalde County

One man has been arrested in connection with the smuggling incident that led to 17 migrants becoming trapped on a train on Friday in Uvalde County, Texas. Two migrants died in the incident. Denniso Carranza Gonzales, a Honduran national, was allegedly a foot guide for a group of 12 Honduran migrants that day, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas and obtained by ABC News. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), 15 men and two women were discovered on the Union Pacific train. Gonzales stated that he had been guiding groups of undocumented immigrants from Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico into Eagle Pass, Texas, for three months "as a way to pay for his own smuggling costs," according to the criminal complaint. He said the smugglers told him he would be "taken care of" for continuing to smuggle groups, the complaint says. PHOTO: In this March 24, 2023, law enforcement and medical personnel gathered next to a stopped train near Knippa, Texas. In this March 24, 2023, law enforcement and medical personnel gathered next to a stopped train near Knippa, Texas. Emmanuel Zamora/Uvalde County Constable via AFP via Getty Images The groups would be guided onto train cars on the way to San Antonio, he said, according to the complaint. Advertisement The initial 911 call came in at 3:50 p.m. local time on Friday from an "unknown third-party caller" advising there were numerous immigrants "suffocating" inside of a Union Pacific train, Uvalde police said in a statement posted on Facebook. U.S. Border Patrol was able to stop the train two to three miles outside of Knippa, Texas. "We are heartbroken to learn of yet another tragic incident of migrants taking the dangerous journey," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement on Saturday. PHOTO: Law enforcement personnel are shown on the scene after two migrants suffocated to death aboard a freight train that got derailed, in Uvalde, Texas, on March 24, 2023, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Law enforcement personnel are shown on the scene after two migrants suffocated to death aboard a freight train that got derailed, in Uvalde, Texas, on March 24, 2023, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Joey Palacios via Reuters Court records allege that Gonzales says he brought the group to a designated train where another man arrived and told him they would be placed in a Conex box on a rail car. The doors were closed once Gonzales and the group boarded the train. MORE: 38 dead after fire breaks out at migrant detention center in Juarez, Mexico According to the complaint, he told investigators that the group became worried once the train started moving. He added he "told the people to remain calm and breathe deep" and that the doors would be opened once the train arrived in San Antonio, the complaint says. Gonzales said he called the man who placed them in the Conex box when "the box became extremely hot and the air was getting harder to breathe," the complaint alleges. When the man did not answer, Gonzales told the group to start calling 911, he told investigators. PHOTO: Law enforcement personnel are shown on the scene after two migrants suffocated to death aboard a freight train that got derailed, in Uvalde, Texas, on March 24, 2023, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Law enforcement personnel are shown on the scene after two migrants suffocated to death aboard a freight train that got derailed, in Uvalde, Texas, on March 24, 2023, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Joey Palacios via Reuters He says he did not know people had died in the incident, according to the complaint. HSI is still investigating the second fatal train incident that happened over the weekend in Eagle Pass, Texas. The Eagle Pass incident occurred about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at a Union Pacific rail yard, when someone from inside a boxcar parked at the yard called 911, a Union Pacific spokesperson said. Recent Stories from ABC News Law enforcement found 12 migrants trapped inside a stifling boxcar, including one who was pronounced dead at the scene and three others in need of hospitalization, officials said. Homeland Security has launched a human smuggling investigation into the incident. No arrests have been announced. It's unclear if the Uvalde County and the Eagle pass incidents are connected. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Canadian police say 6 people found dead in marsh near U.S. border in Quebec

Montreal — The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service said late Thursday it was investigating the discovery of six bodies in a marshy area of Quebec near Canada's border with New York state. Police said they were awaiting the results of post-mortem and toxicology tests to determine the cause of death. They said they were still trying to identify the dead and their status in Canada. It wasn't immediately known if they were migrants trying to cross the border. "The first body was located around 5:00 P.M. in a marsh area in Tsi Snaihne, Akwesasne, Quebec," police said in a statement on social media. "There is no threat to the public at this time." Last month, the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police reported a recent increase in illegal entries through their lands and waterways. The statement said some migrants required hospitalization. And in January the force noted people involved in human smuggling had attempted to utilize shorelines along the St. Lawrence River in the area. U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan last week to close a loophole to an immigration agreement that allowed thousands of asylum-seeking migrants to move between the two countries along a back road linking New York state to Quebec. CANADA-US-MIGRATION Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers guard the Roxham Road border crossing between the U.S. and Canada in Champlain, New York, March 25, 2023. LARS HAGBERG/AFP/GETTY The deal closing an illegal border crossing point about 66 miles east of Akwesasne took effect Saturday. For two decades, the so-called "safe third country" agreement between the U.S. and Canada had only applied at official border crossings, meaning American and Canadian authorities were not able to turn away asylum-seekers who used the illegal Roxham Road crossing. As CBS News immigration reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez reported, under the deal brokered this month, the existing accord will now apply to migrants who cross the U.S.-Canada border between official border crossings, too, a change that Canadian officials had long pushed for, U.S. officials said. Nearly 40,000 asylum-seekers crossed into Canada without authorization in 2022, the vast majority of them along the unofficial Roxham Road crossing between New York and Quebec, according to Canadian government figures. In contrast, Border Patrol processed 3,577 migrants who crossed into the U.S. illegally from Canada in 2022, according to government data. While illegal crossings into the U.S. along the northern border have increased in recent months, rising to 628 in February, they remain well below the migration levels recorded along the southern border, where thousands of migrants are processed daily. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Biden’s Smart Immigration Idea

resident Joe Biden can’t do much on immigration without getting sued. His proposed plan to slow the flow of asylum-seekers—requiring petitioners to apply before reaching the border or be prevented from entering—prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to guarantee a lawsuit upon the proposal’s formal approval. His program to provide a pathway for the surge of people fleeing Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—offering them up to two years of temporary “humanitarian parole” status—is already being litigated by 20 Republican state attorneys general. But there is one thing Biden is doing to fix our immigration system that isn’t at risk of being struck down in the courts, let alone attracting controversy: Welcome Corps. Under this State Department program launched in January, groups of five or more Americans can sponsor refugees vetted by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and help them permanently resettle in their communities. Often, a prospective immigrant needs to know a family member, friend, or employer in America who can provide financial support in order to gain entry. Refugees, typically identified by the United Nations as needing safe harbor from persecution, don’t usually have a personal contact in America. Instead, USRAP works with nonprofit organizations (often faith-based), such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and the historically Jewish HIAS, to aid resettlement. USRAP had been settling refugees only where those organizations have a physical presence. Welcome Corps potentially renders those limitations moot, making it possible for any American, anywhere in the county, to help refugees seek their American Dream. “Welcome Corps is one of the boldest innovations in the resettlement system since the creation of the program in the 1980s,” Matthew La Corte, the Niskanen Center’s government affairs manager for immigration policy, told me. “A refugee with a sponsor group will have immediate access to a much larger social network of people in their new county,” he added, “Ultimately, that’s going to lead to more refugees, but it’s also going to lead to refugees who are finding self-sufficiency faster than they are at the moment.” Welcome Corps begins alongside a surge of hiring by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (part of the Homeland Security Department) to help process refugee cases, rebuilding a program that had been asphyxiated. The Trump administration severely ratcheted down refugee admissions, from slightly under 85,000 in Barack Obama’s final full fiscal year—October 2015 to September 2016—to just above 11,000 in Trump’s last fiscal year. With fewer refugees to process, the USCIS workforce shrank, and dozens of nonprofit refugee agencies closed, reducing resettlement capacity by 38 percent, according to the Center for American Progress. Rebuilding what Trump tore down will take time. The Biden administration has raised the cap on annual refugee admissions to 125,000, but the upper bound won’t be immediately met. The Niskanen Center reported that the USCIS’s Refugee Corps, who travel abroad and vet refugee applicants, is now staffing up and getting back to work in earnest. In fiscal year 2020, only 1,375 interviews were conducted, a massive collapse from the 125,485 conducted four years prior. In the current year, the Refugee Corps is on pace to complete 80,000. That does not mean 80,000 refugees will be admitted this year—not every applicant will clear the background check and have their claims favorably adjudicated—but it is a sign that the program is rebounding. If we only look at the arrival numbers for the first five months of this fiscal year, we are on a pace of admitting about 30,000 refugees by the end of the fiscal year. But La Corte said the underlying data suggests arrival numbers “are about to surge” for the second half of the fiscal year, and barring unforeseen events, “we should see a lot closer to 125,000 refugees in fiscal year 2024.” The Welcome Corps program is too new for interested sponsors to already receive certification. Still, the State Department has set a public goal of approving 10,000 Welcome Corps sponsors to help at least 5,000 refugees by the end of the year. A representative from Welcome Corps informed me that more than 29,000 people have already requested information about becoming sponsors. And the program is set to widen its reach quickly. In the initial stage, certified sponsors will be assigned refugees they don’t know personally. Later this year, Welcome Corps will allow sponsors to recommend candidates they know for resettlement, subject to USRAP approval. Ten thousand Welcome Corps sponsors can’t be expected to solve the entirety of the immigration issue. The number of encounters between the Border Patrol and southern border crossers in fiscal year 2022 was a whopping 2.4 million. During the Obama presidency, the average number of annual such encounters was 500,000. For the first three years of the Trump presidency (excluding the dip in the pandemic year of 2020), the average was 638,000. Traditionally, southern border crossers mainly come from Mexico and the nearby “Northern Triangle” nations of Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador. But Biden is experiencing an explosion of migrants from farther-flung countries with failing governments and pandemic-ravaged economies, most notably Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. In 2022, the Border Patrol arrested about 950,000 people from countries other than Mexico and the Northern Triangle. Before 2021, that number was never higher than 77,000 and usually much lower. Many of these migrants are seeking asylum from various forms of persecution. (Biden ended the Trump policy of narrowing the definition of asylum to exclude those fleeing gang violence or domestic abuse.) Under the law, asylum seekers have a right to have their claims adjudicated, belying the argument that all who cross the border are inherently “illegal.” But to call the asylum system overwhelmed is an understatement. According to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, 1.6 million asylum applicants are awaiting hearings. With only about 600 immigration judges to hear their cases, the estimated average wait time is over four years. (The Biden administration has instituted a program for expedited hearings, and now thousands more cases are taking less than 18 months to complete.) Moreover, not all asylum-seekers meet the criteria for asylum. In fiscal year 2022, the grant rate was only 46 percent, and that’s higher than in the Trump years. This surge of asylum-seekers—who have not gone through the laborious vetting of the refugee process or visa process and do not have American sponsors waiting for them—is what has strained the capacity of municipal governments, from El Paso to New York City, to provide work and shelter while their cases are slowly processed. Biden is trying to steer the migrant flow away from the chaotic asylum process towards more orderly pathways. But his new Welcome Corps initiative, as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, is not positioned to handle the immediate border influx. The goal of USRAP is permanent resettlement. In turn, applicants undergo a thorough vetting process that, on average, takes between one-and-a-half and two years. The program largely resettles people from outside Latin America; the most represented countries are the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Myanmar, and Sudan. To manage the glut of asylum-seekers at the border, Biden is resorting to an expansion of “humanitarian parole,” which is not quite asylum and not quite refugee resettlement. Parolees can enter America on an emergency basis for up to two years, though during that period they can try to gain legal status and stay longer. As with refugees (but not asylees), before entering America parolees need sponsors who pledge to provide financial support. But unlike Welcome Corps sponsors, parole sponsors must name exactly who they are pledging to support on their application. Biden has created parole programs for a small set of specific countries. In response to the Russia invasion, United for Ukraine has brought in 113,000 Ukrainian refugees since April 2022. Hoping to replicate that success, another parole program was created in January for people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Unlike the Ukraine program, the southern border program is capped at 30,000 people per month. Is that cap stingy? Not necessarily. According to data compiled by the Cato Institute, the average number of monthly border arrests of people from those countries, from March 2020 to October 2022 (covering both a thin year migration in 2020 and the surge year of 2022) was about 27,000. And in February, the federal government reported the program had paroled 22,755 migrants into America, short of the limit. On the other hand, The Washington Post recently shared stories of people trying to get into America but having difficulty scheduling appointments on the federal government’s new mobile app, suggesting the eligible are being thwarted by faulty technology. But those using the app include both parole-seekers for those designated countries and asylum-seekers from across the hemisphere. “The app isn’t the problem here,” Lanae Erickson, Third Way’s senior vice president for social policy, education, and politics, told me. “The problem is that we’ve got a tenfold increase in the number of people applying and we don’t have the people to process them.” Still, she sympathizes with Biden’s attempt to end the border crush and establish an orderly process. Pointing to a recent investigation by The New York Times that found many minors who cross the border unaccompanied are being illegally exploited for cheap labor, Erickson said, “They’re ending up working in factories in overnight shifts … which is why the Biden administration is saying: Stay where you are right now and apply from there, so when you come in, we can get you settled appropriately.” If the new humanitarian parole program survives legal challenges, then one way it could accommodate more migrants is by incorporating the Welcome Corps model, allowing American volunteers to sponsor parolees even if they don’t know who they are in advance. However, when I spoke to immigration experts, I heard a range of views about that goal’s feasibility and desirability. La Corte of the Niskanen Center cautions that exporting the Welcome Corps model may not be that simple, because the parole program, managed by the Homeland Security Department, and the refugee program, managed by the State Department, “are two distinct programs. There are similarities in the languages that we use … But they are legally and functionally distinct.” Alicia Wrenn, the senior director of resettlement & integration at HIAS, expressed hope that Welcome Corps could strengthen the capacity of USRAP so that we could reduce the use of humanitarian parole. After all, humanitarian parole is an emergency designation and not a firm pathway to resettlement. “HIAS believes that the parole option has been damaging to many because it leaves people in a state of limbo,” said Wrenn. Parolees “have to engage lawyers to figure out what the next steps are.” In January, when Biden first proposed the expansion of humanitarian parole, along with restricted access to asylum, immigration advocate Vanessa Cárdenas of America’s Voice expressed support for “expanding alternative legal pathways” but strongly condemned “slamming the door to more asylum seekers while cracking open a few windows.” When I spoke to her, she saw the potential of Welcome Corps as “a great example of how the government can work with local communities” and tap into “the desire of folks to be welcoming.” Asked if Welcome Corps could eventually serve humanitarian parolees, Cárdenas responded, “I think it can definitely carry over … The more success it shows, the more chances we have to replicate it.” That sentiment strikes me as most salient. The one consistent view I heard from everyone with whom I spoke is that Welcome Corps is a fantastic idea. In and of itself, the concept of Americans volunteering to sponsor migrants and help settle them in their communities sparks little of the controversy that is so common with the immigration issue. To what extent Welcome Corps can fix our backlogged immigration system and depolarize the immigration debate may not be known at this point. But let’s make sure as many Americans as possible know about Welcome Corps and let’s see how far it can go. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Top Dems warn Biden not to revive a cruel policy he vowed to end

Top Democrats are discouraging President Joe Biden from reauthorizing a cruel immigration policy that locks entire families away like common criminals. In early March, sources in the Biden administration told The New York Times that the president’s immigration officials are considering reauthorizing migrant family detention, a policy that calls for jailing undocumented migrant families in the same facility. The policy was used in the Bush, Obama and Trump presidencies, and it has been widely criticized for its inhumanity and its facilitation of human rights abuses. The policy was used in the Bush, Obama and Trump presidencies, and it has been widely criticized for its inhumanity and its facilitation of human rights abuses. As the Times noted, “The Biden administration has largely ended the practice of family detention, instead releasing families into the United States temporarily and using ankle bracelets, traceable cellphones or other methods to keep track of them.” But as May approaches, so does the court-approved end of Title 42. That bigoted policy, devised during Donald Trump’s presidency, allows the U.S. to turn away asylum-seekers on purported public health grounds. Now it appears Biden and company want to use the threat of locking families away to stave off a potential influx of migrants once Title 42 is lifted. For Biden, who publicly denounced Trump’s use of migrant family detention as a candidate in 2020 and vowed to adhere to more compassionate immigration policies as president, such a move is a betrayal of the liberal voters who trusted he would keep his word. That’s why several Democratic caucus chairs issued a statement this month after it was reported that the Biden administration was planning to revive the family detention policy. And they used remarks from Biden’s own head of homeland security to make their point. “We agree with Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas when he said, ‘A detention center is not where a family belongs,’” wrote the chairs of the Hispanic, Progressive and Asian Pacific American caucuses. “We should not return to the failed policies of the past. There is no safe or humane way to detain families and children, and such detention does not serve as a deterrent to migration. We strongly urge the administration to reject this wrongheaded approach.” 'A policy of cruelty': Democrats, advocates rail against possible restart of migrant family detention centers MARCH 11, 202305:52 The backlash is ongoing. Earlier this week, several Democrats, led by Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois, also voiced their disapproval of the policy in a letter to Biden. “We understand that your Administration faces significant challenges — particularly in light of Congressional failure to pass immigration reform — to manage an influx of asylum seekers arriving at our southern border,” they wrote. “However, the recent past has taught us that family detention is both morally reprehensible and ineffective as an immigration management tool.” And on Tuesday, more than 100 Democratic members of the House of Representatives sent a similar letter discouraging the Biden administration from bringing back family detentions. “Shortly after you took office, you rightfully committed to end the practice of detaining families and children, with the last family detention facility closing in December of 2021,” the signatories wrote. “We urge you to maintain your commitment to not detaining families and children and not return to a cruel policy of the past.” Tuesday’s letter from House members came on the same day that Mayorkas said in Senate testimony that “no decision has been made” with regard to reviving migrant family detention. That said, a chorus of opposition has formed within the president's own party. We’ll soon find out whether he is actually listening to them, or if he’s putting his fingers in his ears and pushing forward with family detention anyway. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

A deadly Mexico immigration center fire shows just a sliver of the abuse migrants see

A surveillance video of the fire that killed dozens of people at an immigration processing center in Ciudad Juárez on Monday night appears to show detainees trapped in a locked cell as uniformed immigration agents are seen walking away. Over the 32-second clip, officials appear to ignore the men behind bars, as well as the flames that are quickly engulfing them. No agents attempts to free the men, some of whom can be seen kicking and yanking on a cell door before the screen is completely obscured by dense smoke. Still, the footage is brief, and though it's unclear what happened before or after the clip, it is haunting. Arrest orders were issued on Thursday for six people involved in the deadly fire, which the government says killed at least 39, revising an earlier number of 40. 39 migrants are dead, 29 injured after a fire at an immigration facility in Mexico WORLD At least 39 migrants are dead, 29 injured after a fire at an immigration facility in Mexico In many respects the incident encapsulates what migrant advocates say are the inhumane conditions created in the border city due to decades of failed immigration policies by the U.S. and Mexico. Those conditions have only been exacerbated by Title 42, a Trump-era policy that invokes a public health rule to push asylum seekers out of the U.S. and into Mexico, regardless of whether they might qualify for asylum. The policy is set to expire on May 11, per a Supreme Court ruling. While the Biden administration has been pushing for an end to it, officials are rolling out plans that would continue to restrict migrants' access to asylum for those who show up at the southern border without first seeking protection in a country they passed through. Sponsor Message U.S. policies have created a loop for asylum seekers and overwhelmed resources Tania Guerrero, a lawyer with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network who has worked in Juárez, told NPR that as the United States tightened asylum policies, the safety of migrants was deemphasized. She added that the deadliness of Monday's fire can be traced back to these policies, which have evolved to allow Mexican officials in Juárez to conduct regular roundups of mostly men and detaining them in makeshift facilities that were never intended to house migrants, including the center where the fire broke out. "The U.S. and Mexican governments have prioritized the deterrence, the criminalization, the militarization, the discrimination versus the well-being of those seeking protection," Guerrero said. El Paso tries to house many migrants in freezing weather – but some don't qualify NATIONAL El Paso tries to house many migrants in freezing weather – but some don't qualify Since it was first implemented in 2020, the government has used Title 42 to expel migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border nearly 2.7 million times. That has created a loop in which the U.S. government returns thousands of displaced people on a daily basis to some of Mexico's most dangerous border cities, leaving them stranded until they can try to cross again. The influx has overwhelmed shelters in Juárez and put intense strain on what little infrastructure is in place to deal with the constant deluge of new arrivals. That leaves migrants — mostly from Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti — subject to kidnapping, extortion and violence while they remain in limbo. Sponsor Message "The United States is pushing for other countries, and in this case Mexico, to house and to actually even create obstacles [for asylum seekers] to be able to reach safety," Guerrero said. Law enforcement is accused of abuse and violence against migrants The ripple effects of the current policies have transformed nearly every aspect of daily life in the city, particularly the downtown area. Street corners, parks and plazas are teeming with desperate people begging for food and money as they jostle for asylum appointment openings on the government's new smartphone application, which has been rife with bugs since it was rolled out. "What stands out is the extreme vulnerability of the migrants – not just to coyotes who want to exploit them but from Mexican law enforcement, too," Howard Campbell, a cultural anthropologist from the University of Texas El Paso, told NPR, using the term for human smugglers. National Guard agents take part in an operation by the Mexican National Migration Institute to detain migrants in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on March 8. Herika Martinez /AFP via Getty Images Campbell is the author of Downtown Juárez: Underworlds of Violence and Abuse and has been researching and writing about the city for more than three decades. In recent months, the Mexican National Guard has sent hundreds of additional troops to Juárez, according to Campbell. "There are soldiers all over the place and especially close to the immigration area [nearest the border]," he said, adding that they walk around holding automatic weapons, or ride around on trucks mounted with machine guns. The militarized presence has only intensified tensions on the ground. "And that's what people, mostly the Venezuelans, are pushing up against," Campbell explained. Coyotes' Boomtown: Picking Up The Migrant Trail On The Way To The U.S.-Mexico Border NATIONAL Coyotes' Boomtown: Picking Up The Migrant Trail On The Way To The U.S.-Mexico Border Earlier this month, dozens of migrant advocacy groups urged the city to investigate what they deem abuses by police and immigration officials in an open letter. It accused authorities of abusing migrants and using excessive force in rounding them up, often to keep them from begging on the streets. It said municipal police stopped people without cause to question them about their immigration status. In some instances, the groups allege, police extorted and stole money from them and destroyed their documents. Sponsor Message According to family members who spoke to NPR, many if not all of the men killed in the fire were detained at the immigration facility in a similar roundup by local police and immigration authorities. A day before the letter was made public, the National Guard, National Migration Institute immigration police and about 50 local police officers attempted to raid a hotel in Juárez that's home to mostly Venezuelan migrants. Local news outlets reported that "the migrants, mostly young men, threw stones" at officials and a brawl ensued. Campbell said that authorities eventually abandoned their mission. In another incident described in the letter, and corroborated in interviews by Campbell, authorities raided a church and dragged off a number of Venezuelan migrants who had been given sanctuary there. Some, Campbell said, were beaten "and essentially tortured." About a week later, hundreds of protesting migrants stormed the Paso del Norte international bridge, leading into El Paso, Texas, shutting down the port of entry for several hours. The future of migrants in El Paso remains uncertain as border restrictions continue THE PICTURE SHOW The future of migrants in El Paso remains uncertain as border restrictions continue In response, Juárez Mayor Cruz Pérez Cuéllar pledged to launch a widespread crack down to curb further disruptions and panhandling. "The truth is that our patience level is running low," he said, noting that the demonstration had impacted the economies of Juárez, El Paso and Las Cruces, N.M. Migrants wake up after spending the night outside the immigration detention center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where at least 40 people died, on March 29. Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images Anti-immigrant sentiments are spreading Campbell said the mayor's comments reflect yet another shift in Juárez: local residents' changing, less tolerant attitudes toward immigrants. Juárez has always served as a final stop along the path for people to the U.S. For much of Mexican history, that has meant mostly Mexicans from further south traveling through as they head for jobs in American factories or farm fields. Central and South Americans have also historically traversed the city on their way to the U.S. but in much smaller numbers until recent decades. Sponsor Message Campbell said that created a culture where the local population has been at best welcoming to those passing through and, at worst, indifferent. That sort of attitude held steadfast even as massive caravans of migrants from Central and South America began appearing about six years ago. Thousands Wait In Juárez, Mexico, For A Chance At Sanctuary In The U.S. NATIONAL Thousands Wait In Juárez, Mexico, For A Chance At Sanctuary In The U.S. But with the arrival of Cuban immigrants in 2018, things began to shift, according to Campbell. "They stood out a great deal, because many of them actually established businesses in downtown quarters and had a kind of cultural presence in the city," he said, adding that within their new enterprises many displayed Cuban flags and played Cuban music on the streets. "And that just seemed to rub people the wrong way." Previously, arriving immigrants stayed on the margins of local life and tried to blend in, he explained. Then suddenly, the Cubans seemed to vanish. More than 220,000 Cubans migrated to the U.S. in the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Not long afterward, Title 42 was expanded to apply to Cuban migrants. By then they were replaced by masses of much poorer asylum seekers, including Haitians. "They stood out dramatically because almost all of them are very dark skinned people with few resources and they speak Creole or French so they don't blend into the population much," Campbell said. Most recently, the city population has swelled with extremely poor Venezuelans. Campbell said local residents complain that they feel outnumbered by the South Americans, who they believe also look different and speak Spanish with very different accents. "It's a dramatic migrant situation that is probably analogous to what happened in Europe a few years ago with people coming from Syria and other countries in the Middle East," Campbell said. "They are desperate people with no resources at all, mostly young women and men with children." The deluge has been so overwhelming that people who were once sympathetic are now saying that they are a drain on the local government, resources and the economy. Sponsor Message Campbell noted that anti-immigrant rhetoric is also spilling over into the local media. He said he has observed a rise in stories about foreign men allegedly harassing women. Following the demonstration on the bridge a couple weeks ago, the mayor urged residents not to give money to migrants who are on the city's streets, saying many don't want to work because they get more money from panhandling. The municipal Secretary of Public Security César Omar Muñoz Morales said that women have complained about feeling "intimidated by migrants" when they're traveling along. He said the government will launch a campaign focused on migrants and sexual harassment. The end of Title 42 With the end of the national COVID-19 emergency declarations in the U.S. about six weeks away, it is still unclear how things will change on the ground in Juárez, or if it will improve conditions for asylum seekers who have been trapped across the border. The Biden administration, which expanded Title 42 to expel Venezuelans and deport thousands of Haitian refugees, has said it will deny entry to any asylum seekers that have not previously applied for asylum in another country they might have passed through. And as NPR reported, the administration is considering whether to revive the practice of detaining migrant families caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, at least for short periods of time. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

USCIS Removes 60-Day Rule for Civil Surgeon Signatures on Form I-693

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is removing the requirement that civil surgeons sign Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, no more than 60 days before an individual applies for an underlying immigration benefit, including Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The requirement had been subject to a temporary waiver since Dec. 9, 2021. This policy update will allow USCIS to adjudicate cases with immigration medical examinations that would previously have been considered invalid. Rather than issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for Form I-693 signed more than 60 days before the filing of the I-485, but otherwise valid, we will be able to accept these Forms I-693 for adjudicative purposes for up to 2 years after the date the civil surgeon signed the form. Applicants, civil surgeons, USCIS officers, federal partners, and other stakeholders have consistently expressed concern that this requirement is confusing and necessitates RFEs to be issued for otherwise valid Forms I-693. While the 60-day rule was intended (PDF, 168.6 KB) to enhance operational efficiency and reduce the need to request updated Forms I-693 from applicants, in practice these efficiencies have not been realized. Civil surgeons no longer have to sign Form I-693 no more than 60 days before the underlying application for an immigration benefit is filed. USCIS is publishing this change in policy in the policy manual consistent with the updated Form I-693 approved by OMB. For more information, see the policy alert (PDF, 322.12 KB). Visit our Policy Manual Feedback page to comment on this update. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Daily eBriefs - March 30, 2023

Immigration Law Second-degree robbery under Wash. Rev. Code §9A.56.190 is a categorical match with generic theft and is therefore a theft offense under 8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(43)(G). Alfred v. Garland - filed March 30, 2023 Cite as 2023 S.O.S. 19-72903 Full text click here > http://sos.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0423//19-72903.

Daily eBriefs - March 30, 2023

Immigration Law In evaluating whether the government has satisfied the exceed[ing] $10,000 requirement of 8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(43)(M)(i), the relevant loss amount for a conspiracy conviction is the loss associated with the conspiracy. Khalulyan v. Garland - filed March 30, 2023 Cite as 2023 S.O.S. 21-70909 Full text click here > http://sos.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0423//21-70909.

Inside the boom in Chinese migrants at the southern border

Thousands of Chinese migrants and asylum seekers have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, and many more are heading north after passing through the treacherous Darién Gap jungle between Colombia and Panama. Why it matters: It's another example of people from well beyond the Americas seeking refuge in the U.S. through the southwest border — and reflects the ongoing backlash to Chinese President Xi Jinping's harsh domestic policies. "So the word is out, right?," Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Texas border Democrat, told Axios. "If you can get to our southern border, you have pretty good shot at getting in, and it has changed the demographics." Zoom in: Axios spoke with a Chinese migrant in his 40s, who requested to be identified by the pseudonym Sam out of concern for his safety. Sam crossed the U.S.-Mexico border last month with his 16-year-old son — a journey that took them through 11 countries, including Thailand, Turkey, Ecuador, Panama and Guatemala, he told Axios. A rights activist from Henan province, Sam participated in many social movements in Guangzhou, a city in southern China. He left out of fear of the deepening authoritarianism of President Xi, as displayed through extreme zero-COVID policies. Sam's wife and younger son remain in China. Like many other Chinese migrants, Sam and his son took advantage of Ecuador's visa-free travel, and then began their journey north to the U.S. They crossed seven Latin America countries before entering the U.S. at Brownsville, Texas, where they were arrested by the Border Patrol and detained for five days. They now live in Albany, New York, and have a court date in October. Axios is not able to independently verify Sam's account. By the numbers: Many more migrants with stories similar to Sam's are likely to arrive. During the first two months of this year, nearly 2,200 Chinese nationals have crossed into Panama through the thick jungle of the Darién Gap, according to migration data from Panama's government. That's more than the 2,000 Chinese migrants who made the trip in all of 2022 — which itself was a huge jump from the 77 counted in 2021. "This exodus signifies Chinese people's resistance to President Xi's regressive policies and draconian lockdown measures," Sam told Axios. "It's like an animal stampede before an earthquake." The big picture: There has long been Chinese migration at the southern border, going back to the 1980s. But the numbers have ticked up in recent months because of a variety of factors, such as the reopening of China's borders and growing backlogs for legal immigration pathways to the U.S. Chinese nationals also are granted asylum at a relatively high rate in the U.S. — 58%, according to recent government data. That's compared to an average of 10% for asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle, which includes Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Bob Fu, president of the Christian nonprofit ChinaAid, which advocates for human rights in China, has noticed the uptick in Chinese migrants at the southern border. He said his group now receives several assistance requests from these migrants every week. He gave three reasons for this uptick: Further deterioration in human rights conditions and religious freedom in China; a rollback of more stringent U.S. border policies that were in place under President Trump, and social media posts about people crossing, which have triggered a bandwagon effect. Between the lines: Liang Zai, professor of sociology at SUNY Albany who studies Chinese migration, told Axios that the surge at the border also is driven by the pandemic's profound impact on China's economy. "The damage to the Chinese economy compared to four or five years ago is just so devastating for low-skilled workers," he said. Liang also highlighted tighter visa screening and lingering effects of travel restrictions between China and the U.S. as reasons why some Chinese decide to illegally cross the southern border instead of flying into the U.S. directly. What they're saying: Team Brownsville, a nonprofit focused on providing basic goods and resources to recently arrived migrants and asylum seekers in that Texas city, has been receiving dozens of Chinese nationals every day, compared to just a few when the group was founded in 2018. The language barrier has been a challenge, the group's volunteer coordinator Andrea Rudnik said. Because of that, the group hasn't been able to learn much about these migrants. However, many seemed to be headed for Los Angeles, she said. Zheng Cunzhu, a LA-based immigration expert and director of the nonprofit Voices of Immigrants, said his group recently started renting AirBnB rooms in California to accommodate Chinese migrants who had just crossed the southern border. The group plans to rent more in Arizona, he said. "Zero-COVID policies severely harmed ordinary Chinese people," said Zheng, who said he has personally helped more than 100 such migrants. "Many people didn't care about politics before, but the pandemic awakened them. They realized there's really no freedom in China." What to watch: The Biden administration announced a new policy last month that could disqualify most migrants from seeking asylum at the southern border. In what critics called a "transit ban" set to take effect in May when the U.S. lifts COVID restrictions known as Title 42, migrants who pass through another country on their way to the U.S. but without requesting protection in that country will be ineligible to claim asylum in the U.S. It's not clear how this policy will affect Chinese migrants at the border, but some U.S. civil rights organizations, including the ACLU, have vowed to sue the government over the new rules. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Green Card Seekers Hope Application Policy Fix Will Ease Backlog

Several hundred Indian immigrants who previously applied for green cards are asking a federal appeals court to overturn a government policy that they say has added nearly a decade to their wait to become permanent residents. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear oral arguments Wednesday over whether federal immigration law requires that a visa be available at the time an immigrant files an application or when US Citizenship and Immigration Services grants final approval. The latter approach—which is how the visa system currently operates—can unexpectedly add years to an applicant’s wait time when government projections of available visas in a fiscal year don’t match demand. The plaintiffs, who face added delays after a change to visa time lines after they applied for green cards, are asking that USCIS continue to adjudicate their applications rather than kicking them back into a queue of green card applicants because the fiscal year lapsed without a visa actually becoming available. Not only is the delay harmful to immigrants, it’s also a violation of congressional intent, they say. The government says changing its practice would cause major disruptions to the visa system. Visa Bulletin Retrogression Further extending the wait for a green card means many immigrants remain on temporary visas and can’t access benefits such as freedom to travel or change employers without restrictions. Permanent residency would also offer the chance to sponsor family members for green cards and eventually obtain citizenship. Applicants from populous countries such as India face extended wait times because of annual caps on both the total number of green cards and on the share that can go to a given country. Long-standing backlogs led to the creation of the Visa Bulletin, a monthly State Department document that tells green card applicants when they can apply for permanent residency based on their spot in line based on a projection of available visas. Each applicant’s ability to apply for a green card is based on a “priority date,” which for employment-based immigrants is either the date an employment-based visa petition is filed with USCIS or, if labor certification is required, the date the labor certification application is accepted for processing by the Department of Labor. But if the government’s projections about the number of available visas are too generous, the Visa Bulletin retrogresses—or moves backward—the priority date for who can apply during that month. That can add years to an applicant’s wait time. Congressional Intent The Ninth Circuit is considering two consolidated cases, both of which denied injunctions sought by the plaintiffs. Brad Banias of Banias Law LLC, the attorney for the plaintiffs, has brought identical challenges in the Fifth and Eighth circuits, which will hold oral arguments in the coming months. The legislative history of the Immigration and Nationality Act makes clear that Congress intended that visas only need be available at the time of an immigrant’s application in order for the government to accept and decide that application, the plaintiffs argued in a brief. An appeals court win in the long run would mean “a lot more predictability for adjustment of status applicants,” Banias said in an interview. Oral arguments Wednesday will be heard by Ninth Circuit Judges Jacqueline Nguyen and Andrew Hurwitz, both Obama appointees. The third member of the panel is Philip Gutierrez, the chief judge for the US District Court for the Central District of California, a George W. Bush appointee sitting by designation. A State Department spokesman said as a general matter the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation. A representative for USCIS didn’t respond to a request for comment. Upending Visa System Granting the plaintiffs the relief they seek would actually mean visas are wasted because they would be allocated before petitions are fully vetted, and so reserved for applicants who may not actually be eligible, the government told the appeals court in its brief. The plaintiffs also failed to demonstrate that they would face irreparable harm absent an injunction because none have lost work or travel authorization or their ability to adjust status because of delays associated with the Visa Bulletin, the government said. In reality, plaintiffs “challenge the immigrant visa allocation limits imposed and established by Congress because they are tired of waiting in line with the numerous other applicants in the same oversubscribed category,” according to the government’s brief. But the situation is so desperate for skilled foreign workers caught in visa backlogs that any argument with some legal basis to it should be used to get relief, said Cyrus Mehta, an immigration attorney at Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners PLLC. A win for the plaintiffs could seriously disrupt the visa system, Mehta said, “if it upends the system, then let Congress fix it.” The case is Datta v. Jaddou, 9th Cir., No. 22-35773, oral argument 3/29/23. To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Kreighbaum in Washington at akreighbaum@bloombergindustry.com To contact the editors responsible for this story: Laura D. Francis at lfrancis@bloomberglaw.com; Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

They were turned away at the Canadian border. Now what?

Toddlers ran through aisles filled with snacks and candies. Adults slumped in chairs. Multiple cellphones were plugged into a single wall socket. Backpacks and suitcases were scattered among the two rows of tables in a corner of this small-town bus stop and gas station. After they were turned away at the Canadian border and spent three days in detention, the roughly 15 asylum seekers at the Mountain Mart No. 109 in the town of Plattsburgh, N.Y., south of Montreal, on Tuesday afternoon were trying to figure out what to do. They had tried to get into the country at the popular unofficial crossing on Roxham Road in the hours after a new border deal between Canada and the U.S. came into effect late last week. Alan Rivas, a Peruvian man who was hoping to reunite with his girlfriend who's been living in Montreal for two years, said he'd spent $4,000 on making it this far. "I'm trying to think about what to do now." A sense of solidarity emerged as people recognized each other from various parts of their time stuck on the border, along with a sense of resignation and deep disappointment. "Disappointing and heartbreaking," said a man from Central Africa, whom CBC agreed not to identify because he fears it could affect his asylum claim process in the United States. A man waves at the camera, a Greyhound bus in the background. Alan Rivas, who is from Peru, was trying to reunite with his partner in Montreal, but was hours too late attempting to cross into Canada at Roxham Road after strict new border rules came into effect at midnight Saturday. (Verity Stevenson/CBC) He had shared a cab ride with a man from Chad, who fled to the U.S. after the government of his country led a violent crackdown on opponents last fall. "It's unfair. We are not home and we suffer. We're looking for a better life," the man from Central Africa said. The man from Chad looked up and said: "No, looking for protection is not having a better life. I had a life." The Chadian was not let into Canada despite his wife and child being Canadian citizens, he said. Having a family member with legal status in Canada is one of the few exemptions to the strict new rules that make it nearly impossible to claim asylum at the Canada-U.S. border. His wife and child fled to a nearby country after the crackdown in Chad, but he explained that his wife's family is still in Canada. Other exemptions include being an unaccompanied minor and having a work permit or other official document allowing a person to be in Canada. "They made me sign a paper without giving me time to read it. They didn't explain anything," said the man, whom CBC also agreed not to name because he fears for his family's safety in an African country near Chad. The Canada-U.S. deal was implemented swiftly before the weekend, leaving local governments and organizations little time to respond and turned-away asylum seekers struggling to find food, shelter and rides. A man's hands over a brown Canadian government envelope. A tag with the number 18 on it and a plastic bracelet with numbers. A man from Chad, who was detained at the Canada-U.S. border for three days, shows the number he was given while waiting to be released back into the United States. (Verity Stevenson/CBC) The man from Central Africa was trying to round up enough money to pay for a $200 bus ticket to Houston, where he would stay with a friend. The man from Chad gave him the $40 he was missing. The Central African said he had spent his savings on coming to Canada. His hope was to live here until obtaining residency, and then arranging for his family to come to meet him. "I know a guy in Houston who hasn't seen his family in 10 years. He still doesn't have status," he said. A young Haitian mother cradled her baby as her toddler made friends with another child. Her family had paid an acquaintance in New Jersey $300 per adult to get to Roxham Road before midnight Friday, but the driver got lost and they arrived at 12:03 a.m. Steven, a 24-year-old Venezuelan who attempted to cross into Canada at Roxham early Saturday morning, mingled with the people he'd met in detention. Then he tried to call his mom. A woman leans her head on a younger man. Both standing outside a gas station. Carmen Salazar, left, and Steven met in detention at the Canadian border this week. (Verity Stevenson/CBC) "She doesn't know," said Steven, who didn't want his last name used in this story because of fears it could affect his U.S. asylum claim. "I know I seem happy but I am sad." Carmen Salazar, 45, also from Venezuela, watched him from another table. "It's hard, really hard," she said. The group of asylum seekers at the Mountain Mart had found comfort in finding each other. They all boarded a bus leaving Plattsburgh at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. Its main destination was New York City. Others haven't been so lucky finding a way out of Plattsburgh. The night before, a woman who was seen at Roxham Road early Saturday, sat alone at the bus stop crying. 3 nights in a motel and no plan Across the street, in a small motel, a 34-year-old Haitian man and his pregnant girlfriend had one night left out of three that had been paid for by local emergency housing services. But they had no plan and only $41 to their name. "We're here. I don't know what's going to happen, but we're going to look for ways to be able to live. What I'm looking for — nothing more — is a place to rest and a place to work. Nothing else," said the man, sitting in the lobby of the motel. CBC is not naming him because of fears it could affect his American asylum claim. Stunned faces and heartbreak for migrants heading to Roxham as they learn Canada will likely send them back The couple had intended to stay in the U.S. after crossing the Mexican border, but the woman became pregnant and developed constant pains. In the U.S., they had to stay with separate family members far from each other and the man worried about his wife and being able to afford medical bills, so they decided to try to get to Canada, having heard it was easier to find work and that health-care was more affordable, he said. Steven, 24, and his 21-year-old friend, both from Venezuela, wait for the bus to New York City at the Mountain Mart bus stop and gas station Plattsburgh, NY on Tuesday. Steven, 24, and his 21-year-old friend, both from Venezuela, wait for a bus to New York City at the Mountain Mart bus stop and gas station Plattsburgh on Tuesday. (Verity Stevenson/CBC) In an interview with Radio-Canada Monday, a man from another Central African country struggled to hold back tears. He said the confusion after being taken in at Roxham Road by RCMP officers was hurtful because it wasn't clear if he'd be accepted into Canada or not. When they called his name, he was filled with hope, only to be told he was being sent to U.S. Border Patrol. "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know where to go. I don't have anyone who will take me in," he said. The response from U.S. Border Patrol appears to be uneven. Some asylum seekers CBC spoke with had taxis called for them, having to pay another $70 to get to the Mountain Mart. One woman was found on the side of the service road by the border and given a ride by a social science researcher and documentary photographer met by CBC. The man interviewed by Radio-Canada was part of a group who were given a ride to the gas station by a Greyhound bus heading back to New York from Montreal. CBC reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Monday, asking what happens to asylum seekers rejected by Canada, but did not receive a response. Luggage sits outside the Mountain Mart bus stop and gas station in the town of Plattsburgh, NY. Luggage sits outside the Mountain Mart bus stop and gas station in Plattsburgh Tuesday as a group of asylum seekers turned back at the Canadian border wait for a bus to New York City. (Dave St-Amant/CBC) Although in favour of some kind of change to reduce traffic at Roxham Road, one local official wants help from the federal governments to deal with the fallout. How — and why — Canada and the U.S. kept their border deal secret for a year Michael Cashman, supervisor for the Town of Plattsburgh, says Canada and the U.S. to come up with a response to help asylum seekers get to where they want to go in the U.S. He isn't against the move to restrict access to Canada at Roxham Road. "There had to be a change," he said, noting residents had been asking for one, but compared the way it was done to turning off a light switch before entering a room: "You're going to bump into some furniture." The area is rural and has its share of struggles with transportation and housing, Cashman said. "There isn't a robust infrastructure to be able to take on this humanitarian crisis as it develops." On Monday and Tuesday, buses coming from New York carried only a few asylum seekers hoping to cross the border. Most knew about the new rules, believing their cases would fit some of the exemptions. Others still did not know. By Tuesday, cab drivers were no longer ferrying people to Roxham Road, taking them to the official border crossing at Champlain, N.Y., and Lacolle, Que., instead. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Immigration agency sets up new virtual service center

Corrected 9:54 a.m. | U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has started to staff up a new virtual service center dedicated to processing requests for humanitarian immigration relief, including visas for victims of crimes and domestic violence, in an effort to chip away at lengthy backlogs. In an exclusive interview, USCIS director Ur Jaddou described the additional service center as an “important milestone for us” and part of the agency’s effort to reduce wait times for visas and other benefits. It will be the agency’s sixth service center and first all-virtual one. “One of my biggest visions for USCIS is to ensure that this backlog — this unprecedented backlog — is something that, by the time I depart the agency, is well on its way to recovery,” Jaddou said. “The backlog has stopped growing and it’s starting to peer downward. My goal is to continue that slide downward.” This newest service center, which is currently operating on a hybrid model but will eventually shift to being fully remote, will begin its next round of hiring on Friday, according to USCIS. The agency aims to have the new service center nearly fully staffed by the end of September 2024. It adds to existing service centers in California, Nebraska, Virginia, Texas and Vermont. The center, while virtual, will accept both paper and electronic applications, according to Jaddou. The new center will focus on processing four types of requests for humanitarian immigration relief: requests for status for crime victims under the U visa program and for domestic abuse survivors under the Violence Against Women Act, requests for refugees to bring over their relatives from abroad, and requests by certain undocumented immigrants to waive their unlawful presence and become permanent residents. Jaddou said those types of requests were selected because of their longer processing times. According to processing times posted by USCIS, U visa applicants wait upward of five years, while VAWA petitions are generally processed within 33 months, for example. “We took a look at what was going on, and we realized we need greater focus here,” Jaddou said. She also said that while many USCIS activities will remain in-person, “we’re going to be doing more of this” in the future. Awaiting relief Immigrant advocates who were consulted by USCIS said the additional service center, with staff dedicated and trained to adjudicate those specific humanitarian request forms, could have sweeping impacts for abuse survivors awaiting immigration relief. Leslye Orloff, director of the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project at American University Washington College of Law, said that faster processing of these petitions will allow abuse survivors to qualify for work authorization sooner. For many, that could allow them to move out of their abusers’ homes. “I think the formation of this service center will be a huge change. Probably one of the most significant changes for the adjudication of current victims’ cases that has happened in a long time,” Orloff said. “I think it’ll make a huge difference.” Edna Yang, co-executive director of American Gateways, an immigration legal services provider in Texas, said it “is incredibly important” to have USCIS adjudicators be properly trained on the forms they are processing. “It shows that these cases are a priority for the administration,” Yang said. Staffing goals The agency began staffing up the center, dubbed the Humanitarian, Adjustment, Removing Conditions and Travel Documents Service Center, or HART, in January when it reassigned about 150 current service center personnel. It plans to eventually hire an additional 330 employers to be fully staffed, according to USCIS. As of Feb. 28, the new service center was at a 30 percent staffing level, according to USCIS. A job notice for additional roles is scheduled to be posted Friday, and the agency expects to fill those roles by the end of fiscal 2023, which concludes Sept. 30. USCIS aims to have staffed 95 to 98 percent of the new service center by the end of fiscal 2024, according to the agency. The additional center follows years of financial distress at USCIS, which narrowly averted having to furlough most of its workforce in 2020 amid steep declines in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency also implemented a hiring freeze, causing the workforce to dwindle as it was left unable to fill vacancies. According to a USCIS official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the agency experienced steady attrition and saw the net case backlog double by late 2021. The backlog extended wait times for immigration benefits across the board, from green cards to work permits. USCIS is primarily funded by immigration application fees paid by immigrants and their employers, but Congress has given the agency more money in recent years. The Biden administration requested $865 million in funding for the agency in its fiscal 2024 budget request released earlier this year. Jaddou, who pledged in her confirmation hearing to make reducing wait times a top priority, said in the interview that these requested fiscal 2024 funds would go toward backlog reduction, among other agency needs. She warned if Congress does not give the agency enough money, it will need to raise its fees. USCIS has already proposed steep hikes to its application fees, which could take effect as soon as May. “If we want to get this ship in order and on that glide path towards a very healthy place for our legal immigration system, then we need to ensure that we are properly funded,” Jaddou said. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also emphasized the need for more funds for USCIS at congressional hearings this week. Mayorkas told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that USCIS is “under tremendous financial strain.” For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

US citizens sponsoring family members join effort to defend immigration program in court

CNN — US citizens who are sponsoring family members to come to the United States are seeking to intervene in a case over a key immigration program that’s been challenged in court by several Republican-led states. At the center of the case is the so-called humanitarian parole program that provides a way for migrants from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti, and Cuba seeking to come to the US to do so without taking the dangerous journey to the US-Mexico border. Among the requirements migrants must meet is obtaining a sponsor in the US. Migrants cross after midnight into Canada at Roxham Road, an unofficial crossing point from New York State to Quebec for asylum seekers, in Champlain, New York, U.S. March 25, 2023.REUTERS/Christinne Muschi Asylum-seeking Haitian family makes last-minute dash over northern border as US, Canada begin restricting illegal migrant crossings “I want my family members to have the same chance I was given,” Valerie Laveus, a Florida schoolteacher, told CNN. Laveus, who’s one of the seven intervenors, is trying to bring her brother and nephew who are living in dangerous conditions in Haiti to the United States. The use of the humanitarian parole program has become a key part of the Biden administration’s broader strategy to try to stem the flow of migrants to the US southern border. President Joe Biden has repeatedly touted the program and attributed a recent drop in border crossings to it, among other efforts. “Since we created dedicated pathways in the United States, the number of migrants arriving on our southern border has dropped precipitously,” Biden said during his visit to Canada earlier this month. But in late January, Republican-led states filed a lawsuit against the humanitarian parole program, arguing that the administration exceeded its authority in its use of the program and requesting the court block it. The Justice Department is expected to defend the program. Now, US citizens who are sponsoring family members, among others, to come to the United States under the program are getting involved in the case to “defend their interests in the humanitarian and public benefits of the programs,” the filing says. On Wednesday, the Justice Action Center – along with RAICES and UCLA’s Center for Immigration Law and Policy – submitted a court filing on behalf of the seven citizens. Video Ad Feedback Cuban migrants successfully reach US using motorized hang glider 00:31 - Source: CNN “We wanted to illustrate how these programs are being used by ordinary Americans in the United States,” said Esther Sung, legal director at Justice Action Center. “All of these programs, I think, are pretty unique in modern day immigration policy in that they allow the American public to interact with the immigration system in a way that people otherwise wouldn’t. I think our intervenors demonstrate the breadth and range of types of people who can and want to engage with the immigration system,” Sung added. Laveus told CNN she was optimistic about the program when it was announced by the Biden administration after grappling with numerous delays in trying to obtain a visa for her relatives in Haiti. “When [the program] came out, it gave us a big light of hope because we saw an opportunity for them to come and be here and be safe. It’s heart wrenching to have a part of you not safe,” she said. President Joe Biden arrives to deliver remarks on March 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. US and Canada reach a deal on decades-old asylum agreement Other intervenors include Francis Arauz, who’s trying to reunite with her Nicaraguan husband; Eric Sype who plans to sponsor a friend from Nicaragua; and Nan Langowitz who’s sponsoring family members of a Venezuelan human rights advocate. The Biden administration, facing shifting migration patterns in the Western hemisphere, has increasingly relied on parole to admit eligible migrants to the United States and drive down border crossings. The US has committed to accepting up to 30,000 migrants per month from Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela – who have been arriving in larger numbers – under the parole program, while turning back those who cross the border unlawfully under a Covid-era border restriction. “Let me assure you that we are indeed trying to prevent unlawful entries at our southern border,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers Wednesday during a House panel hearing, calling the humanitarian parole program “extraordinarly successful.” For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Provision Allowing Special Immigrant Juveniles to File Form I-360 in Person Before Their 21st Birthday

SIJ petitioners must file Form I-360 before their 21st birthday. SIJ petitioners nearing age 21 may call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 to schedule an SIJ expedite appointment at a local field office so they can file Form I-360 in person within two weeks before they turn 21. The SIJ petitioner (or their representative) may use that appointment to file Form I-360 in person at the field office. We will not examine the request for completeness, but we will process it following standard receipting procedures. If your Form I-360 is properly filed, we will issue a Form I-797, Notice of Action, using the date we physically received it at the field office as the receipt date. For additional information on in-person filing of Form I-360 by SIJ petitioners before their 21st birthday, please visit the Special Immigrant Juveniles webpage. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

New Filing Address for Courier Delivery Services to USCIS Phoenix Lockbox

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has changed the filing location for courier delivery services to the Phoenix lockbox. The facility has moved to Tempe, Arizona, and the filing location for courier delivery services for UPS, FedEx, and DHL has also changed to Tempe. The filing location remains the same when using the U.S. Postal Service. We will forward any applications, petitions, or requests received in Phoenix via courier delivery services to Tempe between March 30 and April 28. After April 28, we will not accept courier delivery at the previous address. Our Lockbox Filing Location Updates page provides an up-to-date summary of changes we make to any lockbox filing location. For the most current information on where to file, please see the Where to File section on the webpage for your form. You can also subscribe to the Forms Updates GovDelivery distribution list to receive an email each time we update a filing location. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

USCIS Updates Policy on Time Frames for Paper-Based Filings and Responses Ending on Saturdays, Sundays, or Federal Holidays

We are updating the USCIS Policy Manual to address situations when the last day to file a benefit request or respond to a USCIS action falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday. In these situations, we will consider a filing or response submitted on paper timely if we receive it by the end of the next business day. While the receipt date for these cases will continue to reflect the date USCIS physically received the request, USCIS will consider the benefit request timely filed. In some cases, benefit requestors must file a benefit request or submit a response to a USCIS action within a certain time period prescribed by statute, regulation, or form instructions. Examples include filing a paper-based benefit request on the last day before a requestor’s or beneficiary’s birthday or the last day of a qualifying time period for filing, or responding to a Request for Evidence or a notice of intent to deny, rescind, revoke or terminate within the specified time frame for a response. USCIS is pursuing several ways to increase flexibility related to filing deadlines, including this Policy Manual update. This update is effective immediately and will apply to all benefit requests or responses to a USCIS action that we receive on paper on or after March 29, 2023. This update does not affect electronic filings or responses submitted electronically, which we consider received immediately upon submission. We are not applying this policy retroactively. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Republicans, Democrats spar on Capitol Hill over Canada-U.S. migration 'crisis'

WASHINGTON — The two sides in an escalating political war over irregular immigration in the United States squared off Tuesday along what for them was a largely unfamiliar front: the 8,900 kilometres of the Canada-U.S. border. In a subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill, House Republicans fanned the flames of an emerging fire-and-brimstone narrative about a "metastasizing crisis" of irregular migration along the world's longest international frontier. Their Democrat counterparts — helped by Laura Dawson, the Canadian-born executive director of the Future Borders Coalition — did their best to form a bucket brigade of sorts, pouring cold water on the GOP rhetoric. "There's nothing going on with respect to Canada that merits them being treated like some kind of rogue state," said Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Accountability. In fact, Ivey noted, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met just last week in Ottawa in what he described as a showcase for the healthy state of affairs between Canada and the U.S. That meeting depicted Canada as "a good working partner with the United States, and that we've been able to in the past — and will continue to be able in the future — to work through problems in a way that is joint and effective." One of those problems, to hear Republicans tell it, is a dramatic increase in recent years in the number of migrants entering the U.S. by slipping over a northern border that is difficult to secure and has gone largely ignored. Experts dispute the data, noting that not all "encounters" with U.S. authorities involve migrants, and that border hawks often cite the lower-traffic years of the COVID-19 pandemic to make the spike seem more dramatic. But while they disagree on the scale of the problem, they generally concur that more people are trying to get in via Canada than they were before the pandemic and that the U.S. — in particular, the White House and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — should be paying closer attention. "The Biden administration's failed policies embolden criminal organizations to exploit the northern border, smuggling people, including children, drugs and weapons," said subcommittee chairman Dan Bishop (R-N.C.). "We will hold President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas accountable for this metastasizing crisis." Dawson, for years a voice of reason on all Canada-U.S. matters, tried to inject some common sense into the hearing Tuesday, as did Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), one of Canada's more outspoken congressional allies. When less-consequential incidents are factored out of Customs and Border Protection data, the number of encounters with migrants who slipped into the U.S. between entry points was about 4,500 in the last fiscal year, Dawson said. "Now this is not nothing, and Canada and the United States must work together to bring these numbers down," she acknowledged. "Compared to what most countries are dealing with, the U.S.-Canada border is the envy of the world, but there's always room for improvement." Both Dawson and Higgins cited the new expansion of the Safe Third Country Agreement, confirmed Friday by Biden and Trudeau, as evidence that the two countries are working together on a better solution to irregular migration. "We cannot characterize our northern border and our northern neighbours as hostile," Higgins said. Dawson and Higgins, however, were outnumbered. Alongside the congressman were three members of the newly formed Northern Border Security Caucus, which has been making political hay out of the issue for nearly a month. And Dawson was flanked by the president of the union that represents U.S. Border Patrol agents, as well as Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank widely denounced in Washington as "anti-immigrant." Arthur described the new Safe Third Country expansion as "a move that benefits Canada to the detriment of the United States," noting that some 39,000 people entered from the U.S. last year at the now-blockaded unofficial crossing known as Roxham Road. "Under this amendment, nearly all such entrants from this point forward will be sent back to the United States," he said, calling the new agreement a "tacit admission" that U.S. immigration policies "are harming Canada's security and its taxpayers." At one point, Dawson found herself in a minor skirmish with New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, one of the most infamous Republican flame-throwers on the subcommittee, who tried to dismantle her argument about the data. U.S. border security is an "abject disaster," Stefanik said as she pressed Dawson to debunk a favourite Republican statistic: that northern border encounters have increased more than 800 per cent. "I don't have the information to agree or disagree," Dawson replied. Then there was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who went so far as to suggest that Canada was actively complicit in her country's immigration troubles. "It's extremely concerning and dangerous to the United States of America's national security that Canada's immigration policy allows Mexicans to travel to Canada without a visa," Greene said. "It seems that Canada wants to participate in Mexico's invasion of the United States." For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Deadly fire highlights immigration pressures on Mexico

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The fire that killed 38 people at an immigration detention center in Mexico happened as Western hemisphere countries face pressure to address the extraordinary number of people fleeing their homes. Mexico has expanded its network of dozens of detention centers while working closely with the United States to limit movement of asylum-seekers through its territory to the U.S. border, including to Ciudad Juarez, where authorities said migrants set mattresses on fire late Monday in a detention center after learning they would be deported. Here are some questions and answers about the conditions and policies that led to one of Mexico’s deadliest events at an immigration detention center. WHY WERE THESE MIGRANTS DETAINED? Specifics have yet to be released, but Mexico has emerged as the world’s third most popular destination for asylum-seekers, after the United States and Germany. It is still largely a transit country, though, for those on the way to the U.S. ADVERTISEMENT Asylum-seekers must stay in the state where they apply in Mexico, resulting in large numbers being holed up without work in Tapachula, near the country’s southern border with Guatemala. Tens of thousands are also assembled in border cities, including Ciudad Juarez, often arriving illegally after harrowing journeys or paying someone off. A sprawling network of lawyers, fixers and middlemen has sprung up to provide documents and counsel to migrants who can afford to speed up the system. POLITICS Poll: Cut federal spending — but not big-ticket programs Senate votes to repeal 2002 measure that approved Iraq war Biden: World 'turning the tide' after backslide on democracy Capitol riot: FBI informant testifies for Proud Boys defense More than 2,200 people are believed to be at Ciudad Juarez migrant shelters, and more are living elsewhere in the city after arriving from Guatemala, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and El Salvador, according to a report issued last month by the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin. Mexico carried out more than 106,000 deportations last year, with about 8 out of every 10 sent to Guatemala or Honduras. HOW ARE U.S. POLICIES AT WORK? The Trump and Biden administrations have relied increasingly and heavily on Mexico to curb a flow of migrants that has made the United States the world’s most popular destination for asylum-seekers since 2017, according to U.N. figures. Guatemalans were the largest group among those killed or injured in Monday’s blaze, according to Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office. Others were from Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. ADVERTISEMENT Guatemalans have been disproportionately affected by a U.S. policy in effect since March 2020 to return people who enter the U.S. illegally to Mexico. The practice suspended their rights to seek asylum on grounds of preventing COVID-19. Mexico takes back Guatemalans and some other nationalities, while people from other countries are often released in the U.S. to pursue their cases in immigration court. That’s due to the costs and diplomatic challenges of sending them home. On May 11, the Biden administration plans to end the pandemic-era rule, known as Title 42, and replace it with a sweeping new policy that largely bans asylum for anyone who travels through Mexico without first seeking protection there. ADVERTISEMENT The U.S. Department of Homeland Security received more than 11,000 comments on the new policy before a Monday deadline for public feedback. The U.N. refugee agency said “key elements of the proposal are incompatible with principles of international refugee law.” The American Federation of Government Employees, the main union representing asylum officers, opposes the change. The proposal is subject to revisions based on public comment and will almost certainly be challenged in court. Amid the uncertainty and rapid change, frustration is running high among many migrants about a glitch-plagued app called CBPOne, which was expanded in January to grant some exemptions to the asylum restrictions. The U.S. has been admitting about 740 migrants daily at land crossings through CBPOne. About 80 migrants are being admitted daily from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso using CBPOne, according to the Strauss Center. ADVERTISEMENT WHY CIUDAD JUAREZ? The Biden administration has been under intense pressure after the tally of illegal border crossings reached its highest levels ever recorded last year. Traffic has slowed sharply since January, when the administration extended humanitarian parole to Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans who enter through an airport with a financial sponsor. At the same time, Mexico agreed to start taking back people from those four countries who crossed the border illegally. Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said at a Senate hearing Tuesday that the policy on those four countries has been “tremendously successful.” Toward the end of last year, El Paso became the busiest of the Border Patrol’s nine sectors along the Mexican border, causing many migrants to sleep outside or in overcrowded shelters upon their release and prompting Joe Biden’s first visit to the border as president. El Paso, with its expansive network of shelters in Ciudad Juarez, remained the busiest corridor for illegal crossings in February, when migrants were stopped more than 32,000 times. Nearly half of those incidents involved people from Mexico. ___ This story has been corrected to show that eight of 10 people Mexico deports are sent to Guatemala or Honduras, not four. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

US Justice Department to Go on Hiring Spree for Immigration Judges

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department is going on a hiring spree for immigration judges in hopes of easing an intractable case backlog. In its budget proposal for the fiscal year 2024 that starts October 1, the department is seeking $1.46 billion for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a subagency within the department tasked with adjudicating immigration claims. The request represents an increase of nearly 70% in funding and will enable the agency to hire 965 new judicial staff, including 150 new immigration judges, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in written testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee. “Then we’d be placing them in areas of the highest number of cases,” Garland said. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, March 24, 2023, in Ottawa, Ontario. SEE ALSO: US, Canada Announce Deal on Asylum-Seekers During Biden Trip In recent years, the agency has deployed newly hired immigration judges to Southwestern states to deal with an influx of migrants. In fiscal year 2023, Florida, Texas, California and New York had the largest number of pending immigration cases. There are currently about 600 immigration judges in the country, more than double from just a few years ago, handling more than 2 million cases. FILE - National Guardsmen stand watch over a fence near the international bridge where thousands of Haitian migrants have created a makeshift camp, in Del Rio, Texas, Sept. 18, 2021. SEE ALSO: Media Groups Warn Immigration Case Could Affect US Press Freedoms In addition to hiring more judges for immigration courts, Garland said, the Justice Department plans to expand virtual hearings at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a backlog reduction initiative. The attorney general made the comments during testimony on the Justice Department’s budget request of nearly $40 billion for the next fiscal year. The department's proposal for additional judges and judicial staff comes as the number of pending claims in immigration courts continues to grow. President Joe Biden speaks about his 2024 budget proposal at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia, March 9, 2023. SEE ALSO: Biden Unveils $6.8 Trillion 2024 Budget Plan Last year, the number of immigration cases topped more than 2 million, up from about 344,000 a decade ago, according to data compiled by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. The backlog has expanded even as immigration judges are adjudicating cases at a record pace, according to TRAC. “It suggests that may not be the answer that we were hoping for,” Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, chairwoman of the appropriations subcommittee, said. The “ultimate way” to ease the backlog, Shaheen said, is through comprehensive immigration reform, a goal that has long eluded lawmakers. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

House Democrats urge Biden not to revive migrant family detention

Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and more than 100 other House Democrats raised “serious concerns” on Tuesday about the prospect of reviving migrant family detention, the latest to join a chorus of Democrats who have spoken out against the policy proposal. Jayapal, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee’s immigration panel, and the other lawmakers urged President Joe Biden in a letter first obtained by CQ Roll Call to “maintain your commitment to not detaining families and children and not return to a cruel policy of the past.” Instead, the Democrats called on the administration to invest more in case management programs that allow migrant families to pursue their immigration cases from outside of a detention center. The lawmakers noted that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s family case management program, which was ended by the Trump administration, cost $36 per family per day, while family detention costs $319 per person per day. They also highlighted the psychological harms that detention can pose to children. “We urge you to consider these important and proven alternatives to detention and reject resurrecting family detention,” they wrote. The Democrats further encouraged the administration to continue programs that allow migrants to come to the U.S. legally, such as the recent so-called parole program that provides a legal pathway for migrants from Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. They called this policy “a good first step” but said “more can be done.” Along with Jayapal, the letter was led by Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee; Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee; Lou Correa of California, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee’s border security panel; David Trone of Maryland and Veronica Escobar of Texas. The House Democrats’ letter represents the latest backlash to news reports that the Biden administration had discussed reinstating the Trump administration’s policy of detaining some migrant families together. On Sunday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and more than a dozen other Senate Democrats — including Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer — similarly raised concerns about reports that the administration was considering reinstating family detention. They called on Biden to “learn from the mistakes of your predecessors and abandon any plans to implement this failed policy.” For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Justices poised to uphold federal ban on encouraging illegal immigration

A majority of the Supreme Court seemed unwilling on Monday to strike down a federal ban on encouraging immigrants to remain in the U.S. illegally, despite arguments that the law violates the First Amendment. Most of the justices seemed to accept that the statute — which imposes up to five years in prison for encouraging or inducing an unlawful immigrant to remain in the U.S. — could be read to intrude on free-speech rights. However, several members of the high court noted that the government has seldom used the law to prosecute people for mere comments or suggestions. The rarity of such prosecutions undercuts claims that the law is unconstitutionally overbroad and could prompt immigration lawyers and other activists to avoid counseling undocumented immigrants about their options, some justices said. “There’s an absence of prosecution,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett said. “There’s also an absence of demonstrated chilling effect.” But the court’s liberal justices said the concerns sounded far from hypothetical. Justice Sonia Sotomayor posited a potential prosecution of a child for encouraging a grandmother in the U.S. to stay while knowing she was not here legally. “The grandmother tells her son she’s worried about the burden she’s putting on the family and the son says, ‘Abuelita, you are never a burden to us. If you want to live here and continue living here with us, your grandchildren would love having you.’ Can you prosecute this?” “I think not,” Justice Department attorney Brian Fletcher said, defending the statute. “I think it’s very hard.” “Stop qualifying with ‘think,’” Sotomayor interjected. “Because the minute you start qualifying with ‘think,’ then you’re rendering asunder the First Amendment.” The case the justices heard Monday, arising from California man Helaman Hansen’s conviction in an adult-adoption immigration fraud scheme, is a difficult one for the Biden administration and arises at an awkward time for the White House. The Justice Department’s defense of the law puts them at odds with immigrant-rights groups who say they fear prosecution under the statute. The showdown also comes amid growing anger by immigrant-rights activists over several recent policy moves. The administration wants to make it harder for migrants to claim asylum at the border and Biden is weighing a return to a policy of large-scale detention of immigrant families who arrive at the border without permission to enter the U.S. Fletcher did not address those political issues, but he did urge the justices to adopt a narrow reading of the statute and clarify that its seemingly broad language covers only speech that amounts to soliciting or aiding and abetting someone to remain in the country illegally. However, the lawyer representing Hansen, Esha Bhandari, said Fletcher’s proposed interpretation is an attempt to “rewrite” the statute. “That is Congress’ job,” she said, appealing to conservative justices who favor literal readings of legal texts. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson expressed a similar concern, noting that Congress removed language about aiding and abetting seven decades ago. “I guess I’m worried about an active, conscious effort on Congress’ part to exclude certain words that I now hear you wanting us to read back into this statute,” Jackson said. Rather than adopting the government’s technical interpretation of the statute, Bhandari said, the justices should uphold a lower court’s ruling that declared the statute unconstitutional. Early in the argument, conservative members of the court like Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch seemed to question the law’s scope. Kavanaugh said charitable groups that provide food, water and shelter to immigrants seemed to have “sincere” worries about being prosecuted under a broad reading of the law. Gorsuch initially expressed concern about the Justice Department’s attempt to reinterpret the law’s language, but he later seemed even more troubled by the notion of allowing Hansen to use his criminal case to raise arguments about how the law could affect others. “It is an extraordinary thing for this court to grant third-party standing, which is effectively what we’re being asked to do here,” Gorsuch said. But Jackson responded that courts entertain such overbreadth arguments because it can be difficult to know who or how many people are limiting their activities because of fears of prosecution. “Is it possible to really figure out how many people have been chilled?” she asked. “We don’t know how many other people would have engaged in that kind of speech and action if it weren’t for this law.” Justice Samuel Alito pointed to one unusual aspect of the statute: It criminalizes encouraging someone to remain in the U.S. illegally, but staying in the country without permission is not usually a crime. It’s typically a civil violation dealt with in immigration court. MOST READ election-2024-trump-desantis-89746.jpg Stormy Daniels and Karl Rove Know How to Beat Trump Ottawa hangover: After triumph of Biden visit, reality bites back at Trudeau Christie sees a lane in the GOP primary: Trump destroyer Former National Enquirer publisher testifies before Trump grand jury DeSantis draws second ethics complaint over presidential ramp-up Fletcher said court precedents permit making it a crime to encourage someone to violate a law punishable only by a civil penalty. He argued Congress had good reason to do so because it was worried about people taking advantage of undocumented migrants. However, Bhandari said the government runs afoul of the First Amendment anytime it seeks to impose more severe punishment for encouraging an act than for the underlying act itself. She also noted that some immigrants who are currently in the U.S. illegally are pursuing pathways Congress has created for them to obtain legal status, so it would be illogical to punish those who encourage such individuals to remain. Hansen’s case is the second time in the past few years that the Supreme Court has considered possible First Amendment problems with the federal law against encouraging or inducing immigrants to stay in the U.S. illegally. In 2020, the justices heard arguments in another case from California where the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the same law violated free-speech rights. However, the Supreme Court ultimately punted on the central issue, instead faulting the appeals court for raising the First Amendment question without it being raised by either the government or the defense. The maximum penalty for violating the law can reach 10 years in prison if a defendant intended to benefit financially from an immigrant staying in the U.S. illegally. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.