President Biden introduced a sweeping immigration reform bill that will be considered by both houses of Congress. The bill would provide a path to permanent legal status for all undocumented immigrants currently residing in the country, with fast tracks for those protected under DACA, TPS, and certain farm workers. Though there are conditions that must be met to qualify, it would be a step forward toward having the United States recognize the value that immigrants add to our country. The bill also focuses on keeping families together by removing the three- and ten-year bars to admissibility, which force those who lived in the country without status to apply for a waiver showing hardship to a US citizen spouse or child. There are also protections for undocumented workers that would allow them to report employers for violations without having to fear repercussions or deportation. The bill gives increased support to enforcement of the border with technology allowing for detection of illegal substances and targeting criminal organizations. The bill also invests in Central American countries to address the root cause of why so many people are forced to flee and seek refuge elsewhere.

Perhaps one of the most consequential changes would be a simple shift in language: “illegal alien” to “non-citizen”. While this would have no effect in policy or in the way laws are enforced, it humanizes a large group of people who were often overlooked. It signals to outside countries that the US is an open and welcoming country, and one that leads by example. Hopefully, a language shift would trigger a similar positive shift in attitude toward immigrants.

The many changes brought forth by Biden’s reform would be wonderfully beneficial and would usher in a new era of inclusivity and prosperity in the US, assuming it is able to pass through the House of Representatives and the Senate. Realistically, the bill will be divided up with some pieces becoming law and some being tabled. Senate Republicans have already began their opposition against it, arguing that the bill will, in effect, punish current US citizens, most specifically in the workforce. They argue that by allowing non-citizens paths to citizenship, it makes it harder for working class Americans to get jobs, especially in the wake of the pandemic and its effects on the economy.

This ignores a truth that is perhaps the largest misnomer in America; undocumented immigrants currently work in jobs all across the country and contribute significantly to our economy with their tax dollars. Despite not being documented as residents, some obtain taxpayer identification numbers allowing their employers to process payroll taxes for them. This allows the US Government to profit from their work without giving them any sort of benefits in return. By keeping them “undocumented,” the government enables employers to exploit people with poor working conditions and wages. Biden’s reform would challenge this and would give these contributing members of society the legal status they deserve. The bill would also enable them to have the same protections the rest of the US workforce has and would boost the number of qualified workers for employers to choose from. Everyone benefits from having a path to citizenship for 11 million people.

Frustratingly, the first draft of a bill rarely ends up resembling the final product and assuredly, Biden’s bill certainly not pass as currently written. While straightforward and mutually beneficial, there is controversy surrounding any support of immigrants, even despite polls showing the majority of Americans support pathways to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants currently living here. Hopefully meaningful elements of the bill will survive and get passed by Congress. There has never been a better or more dire time for immigration reform.

The Trump administration made restricting immigration one of its main goals over their four years in the White House. Now, the job falls to President Biden to undo the harm that was caused by restrictive policies. Fortunately, with Democrats taking a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, there is reason to feel hopeful. President Biden will have sympathetic audience in Congress which will aid him in enacting positive immigration reform. Mr. Biden has warned that the type of change they want to enact will take time to become a reality. This is due to both the overwhelming number of policies enacted over the past four years as well as logistical challenges of managing the chaos those policies will leave behind. It is no doubt a priority for the incoming administration to create positive and lasting change for immigration. While immigration reform is a challenging task by itself, the Coronavirus pandemic makes it far more difficult. Therefore, the timeline for these changes will likely be longer than many hope for. Still, over the next four years, we could realistically see many policies put in place to improve the quality of life for Immigrants in the United States.

One article of legislation that has a realistic chance of becoming law is the DREAM Act, one of the most anticipated immigration bills over the last twenty years. It has been introduced many times in Congress but has never successfully been passed. The bill would finally provide permanent protection for “Dreamers”, or children who were brought to the United States by undocumented immigrants. While the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was a start, repeated court challenges have called into question the program’s longevity. While it has survived the Trump administration’s multiple attempts to curb or outright end it, a long-term and stable solution is necessary. Assuming the new version of the DREAM Act is similar to the older versions, it would provide a path to permanent residency for these childhood arrivals. President Biden has promised to introduce an immigration bill immediately after taking office. Hopefully this means we will see a new version of this bill introduced soon after Mr. Biden takes office. There are also hopes that legislation will be introduced to give all undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, though at this time it is unclear what that would look like.

The more difficult work will come when addressing the issues of asylum and refugees. The Trump administration has all but eliminated these programs and in doing so has created a massive backlog of cases waiting to be adjudicated. The current average wait time to have an asylum hearing is approaching three years. Combined with the wait in Mexico policy, asylum is not a realistic option in the United States as it exists currently. Mr. Biden has warned that removing the restrictions on asylum will be a slow and methodical process so as to not create a different but equally large issue of “two million immigrants at our border”. This is certainly not the news potential asylum seekers want to hear. However, fixing a system that has been decimated takes time to build back up and we will hopefully see some meaningful changes soon after Mr. Biden takes office. Similarly, Mr. Biden has pledged to up the amount of refugee admissions to 125,000. While he can make this change shortly after entering office, building back the support systems to help refugees once they arrive will take longer. The Trump administration was focused on dismantling this support, so undoing the damage will take first priority before positive changes can be made.

The election of Joe Biden is a positive sign for immigration that has a number of caveats. Presidential hopefuls often promise changes that they either cannot or will not follow through on. Following the election, Mr. Biden has so far remained strong in his push for immigration reform. This has been overshadowed by the prospect of having to negotiate with Republican leadership who have little interest in such reform. Democrats having control of both houses of Congress and being able to set the agendas for what bills are voted on will go a long way to making meaningful, long-term changes to immigration policy. However, we must wait to see how many of President Biden’s lofty goals for immigration come to fruition.

The Trump Administration unveiled a new set of laws concerning asylum that are slated to go into effect January 11th, 2021. The changes are expected to greatly reduce the amount of people granted asylum in the United States, part of the administration’s goal to create roadblocks to immigrants hoping to come to the US. This rule will likely face challenges in court before it goes into effect from various immigrant advocacy groups, which could delay its implementation. Assuming it takes effect, this is certainly another rule the Biden administration can attempt to undo. Caution must be used, however, due to severe backlogs in cases and the further strain on the system that could be added if not done correctly.

The new restrictions limit the types of persecution that can result in asylum being granted, most notably denying those who face persecution based on gender or gang violence. The standard for “credible fear” has also been raised, now requiring asylum seekers to prove they face a severe level of harm if they were to remain in their home country. It also adds expedited removal proceedings for certain asylum-seekers. Those who are caught near the border after entering the country illegally will be put in these expedited proceedings, which send the detainee straight to an asylum only hearing. This will result in a more “efficient” removal process, meaning those in these hearings will have less time to prepare for them and receive legal aid. The rule punishes applicants who are deemed to have filed frivolous applications. Those deemed to have knowingly filed frivolous applications will be barred from ever receiving any immigration benefits in the United States. It will also punish those who passed through other countries before arriving in the US if they did not first attempt to seek asylum in the other country.

The administration had already created significant hurdles for asylum-seekers with their “Wait in Mexico” policy. This was the policy that mandated that those who arrived at the US border with Mexico must wait in Mexico while their asylum case was adjudicated. With the current backlog of cases, it is not unusual for this process to take years to play out. This has resulted in tens of thousands of asylum seekers being forced to wait in make-shift towns along the border while waiting for their day in court. These border towns only represent a fraction of the total population waiting to reach their court hearing.

Clearly, the United States has a problem with how the asylum process is working. The Trump administration’s answer to the problem seems to be to simply shut it down. This would result in a gigantic humanitarian crisis around the world as seeking asylum is often what keeps an individual or family alive when facing threats to their life. The incoming Biden administration will need to move cautiously when attempting to solve this problem. Flooding the country with thousands of people will put a strain on local communities who would have to support them. However, keeping them waiting in the camps is also not a humane option. While it would be nice for this, and all the other restrictive policies passed by the Trump administration, to be reset, that would not remove the issues that they created while in effect. Solving them will require a delicate approach that considers what is best for all parties involved to avoid creating a new set of problems to deal with. This will be something that will be closely monitored around the world as President Biden and his staff try to untangle the issue.

After three years, numerous lawsuits, and battles at every level of the federal court system, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been restored in full. Judge Nicholas Garaufis delivered the opinion last Friday, December 4th. His opinion mandated the Department of Homeland Security to post a notice online that they are accepting new applications within three days of the decision. Once this notice is posted, anyone who meets the criteria for the program will be able to apply for and receive benefits. While this is a victory for those who have been fighting for the program and those who benefit from it, it is the first step in a long road to overhauling and updating the US immigration system. Challenges still remain to the long-term health of the program while further litigation is pending.

This decision was a piece of several legal battles regarding the program. The Supreme Court had previously ruled that the manner in which the Trump administration had ended the program was unlawful, and ordered the program be continued. In response, Chad Wolf, assuming he was acting secretary of DHS, wrote a memo severely limiting the program. Recently it was discovered that Chad Wolf was not the acting secretary of DHS, according to its guidelines, therefore the Wolf Memo was vacated. While this decision now means the government is required to accept and approve new applications, another federal case is set for hearing on December 22nd, 2020 that may set DACA back once more.

The Supreme Court failed to make a ruling on the legality of DACA one way or another, stating that the way the program was ended was unlawful. This left the door open for further attempts to attack the program. Soon after this opinion, Trump tweeted his administration would resubmit papers, presumably ending the program once more (his tweet was not specific on what exactly would be in these “enhanced papers”), to be in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling. However, the true threat to the program comes from a Texas lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in Texas and joined by several other states, has challenged the legality of DACA and whether President Obama overreached his authority in creating it. The plaintiffs were denied an initial injunction that would have put a pause on the program while the court waited to see how the Supreme Court would rule. Now that the Supreme Court has made its ruling, the federal Judge in Texas, Andrew Hanen, has set a hearing date for December 22nd, 2020. Judge Hanen has previously stated his belief that the program is probably illegal, so the result of this hearing could be problematic for DACA. Should the worst happen, there will inevitably be lawsuits attempting to block the decision from taking effect, which will hopefully freeze the program in place until President-Elect Biden can take office.

The President-Elect has made immigration one of his priorities for his first 100 days in office and preserving DACA is expected to be included. While DACA is worth saving, it realistically only helps a small percentage of undocumented immigrants currently living in the US. DACA also does not give any of its recipients a clear path to citizenship. Even when functioning correctly, DACA recipients must renew their work permits every two years and they hold no legal status. Therefore, DACA does not create a long-term solution for immigrants. Creating a pathway to citizenship is mutually beneficial for both individuals and our country. Immigrants would be able to live without the fear of being deported and enjoy the full rights and protections of citizenship. The United States Government would benefit financially from the fees it would collect from the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the US. They would also be able to focus their time and resources on issues that are far more pressing. The extent to which President-Elect Biden can enact changes largely hinges on the outcome of the Georgia Senate elections. With a Democratic majority, meaningful and long-term changes can be made to the immigration process. We now eagerly await the outcome of these crucial events to see what is in store next for the American Immigration system.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, announced they are implementing a new version of the civics test required as part of the naturalization process, namely, they have increased the list of possible questions from 100 to 128. They have also doubled the number of questions posed at the interview from 10 to 20 and now require 12 correct answers to pass (though the passing percentage remains the same at 60 percent). The changes will affect those who apply for naturalization after December 1st, 2020. Anyone who applied prior to this date will receive the old version of the test, even if their interview will not take place until after the given date. Those over the age of 65 and who have held permanent residence for over 20 years will also be exempt; they will take the previous version of the test regardless of when they apply for citizenship.

The stated intent behind these changes is to ensure that prospective citizens are fully informed of and prepared to exercise their rights and obligations as a US citizen. “Naturalization allows immigrants to become fully vested members of American society, with the same rights and responsibilities as citizens by birth, and offering a fair test, which prepares naturalization applicants for these responsibilities, is of utmost importance to our agency,” stated Joseph Edlow, Deputy Director for Policy at USCIS. He went on to state, “USCIS has diligently worked on revising the naturalization test since 2018, relying on input from experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent.” USCIS mentioned that the increased number of questions will give potential citizens more opportunities to learn about the history of the United States and its government while studying for the test.

The test questions are broken up into three main categories: American Government, American History, and Symbols and Holidays. The government section is further divided into principles of American Government, systems of government, and rights and responsibilities. This section has questions regarding The Constitution and its amendments, the three branches of government, and the various rights and responsibilities citizens are entitled to. The history section covers everything from the arrival of the pilgrims up to present day. The last, and smallest, section, called symbols and holidays is self-explanatory. There is no shortage of material to be covered. Prospective citizens should begin their studies as early as possible.

The new test has been received negatively by many in the immigration field. One dispute highlights that the questions are notably more challenging than the previous version. The questions also cover such a wide area of knowledge that the average American citizen would be hard pressed to pass the test. Someone who is from another country and not a native English speaker will have a far more difficult challenge to face. Many questions are open-ended and are vaguely worded, making it difficult to understand what answer is required. For example, one question poses, “It is important for all men age 18 through 25 to register for the Selective Service. Name one reason why.” The first given answer is that it is required by law to do so, though the question suggests there is a deeper reason why men would choose to register. In a similar manner, another question asks why it is important to pay federal taxes. Two out of the four given answers simply state that it is required by law. These questions put an unnecessary burden on the individual interpreting the question, as importance is not something that can be measured objectively. Therefore, not only must an individual know the correct answer to this question, but also the correct way to frame it.

Additionally, it will be up to the individual officer administering the test whether to accept an answer that is close to, but not quite exactly, the answer they are looking for. Subjectivity is never welcome in matters of vital importance; it leaves the success or failure of a prospective citizen to the bias of any particular officer on any given day. This situation is particularly damaging to non-native English speakers. Herein lies the truth about the changes regarding the test requirements. As a continuation of the running theme of the Trump administration, they aim to make it easier to deny immigration benefits to as many people as possible. Poorly worded test questions help achieve this goal.

It is not difficult to imagine these changes were created as roadblocks to citizenship by a president who carries a disdain for immigrants. The 2008 version of this test did not have any flaws that required correction. The previous version went through extensive efforts to update the test while keeping the number of questions the same. Prior to the update, many questions were seen as American trivia that were irrelevant to actual life in America. The test went through a multi-year process of development that included input from a panel of immigrant advocates. The 2020 version evaded both of these processes. The new test, in addition to the proposed increase in fees associated with the application, is a blatant way of complicating the process and preventing eligible people from becoming citizens. While the fee increase (set to be increased by 80%) is currently held up in court, the new test is set to be administered to anyone who applies for citizenship after December 1st of 2020. Hopefully, this is something the Biden Administration will address when they enter office. However, with the long list of more pressing issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely it may take time. For a full list of the questions and answers, follow the link below:

https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship-resource-center/the-2020-version-of-the-civics-test/128-civics-questions-and-answers-2020-version

Those who are affected by American immigration policies have deeply suffered since Trump entered office in 2017. Sudden reforms, executive orders, and memos have made it nearly impossible for immigration agencies to be successful in their vital work. Though this was certainly expected given the focus President Trump placed on immigration during his campaign, it was nonetheless disheartening for those who wished to come to the United States. The U.S. should always be a beacon of hope for those who wish to immigrate; President Trump changed this.

Now, there is cautious optimism among experts that the damage done in the past four years will be remedied by President-Elect Biden, though we can expect it to take time. Simply undoing policies put in place by President Trump without well thought out replacements would be unwise. The Biden Administration must work out effective policies to begin healing the damage done to immigration. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic requires immediate action to prevent further lives from being lost.

Let us examine the actions President Biden could take in the short-term regarding immigration. These issues include the removal of the current ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries, reforming the asylum-seeking process, increasing the cap on admitting refugees, preserving and expanding DACA, scaling back the aggressiveness of ICE agents, and removing the “Public Charge” policy.

In his first week of office, President Trump issued the first edition of the “Travel Ban.” Two variations and several legal challenges later, a travel ban still exists for thirteen countries, affecting them to various degrees. Regardless of what the ban was called (as it was initially called a Muslim Travel Ban, then the language was changed to not sound as harsh), it is aimed at predominately Muslim countries. While this three year-long ban has been problematic, it can potentially be reversed by the new president. All versions of the ban have come through executive order; President- Elect Biden would be able to issue a new executive order overriding the one that implemented the ban. He may then direct the Department of Justice to cease defending the ban in court. This would reopen immigration channels for potential immigrants with the possibility of long-term permanent status.

Coming to the United States and seeking asylum has been a right for those meeting the proper criteria: they must demonstrate a credible fear of persecution or torture that would result if they were to return to their native country. Under the Trump Administration, this process has been crippled. Currently, there are tens of thousands of asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico for a chance to enter the US. Many of the inhumane practices the Trump Administration attempted to put into place were struck down in the court system. However, asylum overall has largely become out of reach due to the policies pushed through our legal system. In addition, there is currently a restriction on how many asylum seekers are allowed to cross the border each day. This could be undone by instructing US Customs and Border Protection commissioner to issue a memo to those in charge at the ports of entry removing the restriction.

Similarly, the Trump Administration has severely lowered the admission of refugees, calling them “national security threats” and “drains on the US economy.” Early into his presidency, Mr. Trump whittled the number of refugees allowed from 110,000 down to 50,000. He continued to lower this number each year, resulting in it now sitting at just 15,000. While it is common practice for presidents to set the limit for the number of refugees in the fall, right before the start of a new fiscal year, President-Elect Biden could potentially follow Mr. Trump’s lead and set a new limit for refugees early in his presidency through an executive order. Mr. Biden has already pledged to increase the admission target to 125,000.

President Trump made the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program one of his major targets, though his attempts to dismantle it ultimately failed in the Supreme Court. The court’s decision, however, still left a path to end the program, as while they disagreed with the manner in which the program was ended, they also did not protect it. Therefore, unless President-Elect Biden secures DACA long-term, it may still be endangered in the future. In the short term, Mr. Biden can issue a new memo removing the 2017 order to end the program. In the long run, the program should be expanded to include those who were unable to apply for the program during the ongoing legal battle. Additionally, there is pressure for Mr. Biden to expand the number of people who qualify for DACA and give them a clear path to citizenship. These changes would protect the program indefinitely, regardless of who is president in the future.

Immediately after taking office, President Trump ramped up the number of arrests and deportations performed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Under President Obama, ICE was directed to target those who had criminal records and, in general, leave peaceful undocumented immigrants alone. These “enforcement priorities,” as they were known, were removed once Trump took office. He directed ICE agents to arrest all undocumented immigrants regardless of their history, leading to large scale raids of businesses and factories. President-Elect Biden will be able to reinstitute the enforcement priorities with a new executive order.

There has always been a requirement for prospective immigrants to show that they will be self-sufficient to a certain degree. This rule, known as the “public charge” rule, was introduced in the Immigration Act of 1882. However, the Trump Administration greatly increased the requirements for prospective immigrants. They have now expanded the rejection criteria and left much up to the interpretation of each individual agent due to a lack of a concrete evaluation system. These new requirements prevent those who are not financially well-off from gaining long-term permanent resident status. In recent times, being on public assistance has been looked down upon by those who have always had the privilege to avoid it. Realistically, forcing underprivileged people to choose between receiving life-saving aid and having a green card in their future puts them in an impossible situation. The public charge rule has been challenged in court, and although it took effect in February, a federal judge has since struck the rule down, yet it still remains in effect as an appeals court stayed the order until the appeals process is completed. Should it stay there until Mr. Biden is inaugurated, he would be able to instruct his attorneys to drop the appeal and let the previous decision take effect. This would solve the issue in the present, while allowing more secure measures to be created for the future.

While none of these improvements will happen immediately, there is reason to believe President-Elect Biden will make positive changes to our immigration programs and policies. Immigrants are a vital part of American society. Though there is reason for caution, there is equally reason for hope.

“I inherited separation from President Obama," and "I was the one that ended it." – Donald J. Trump on June 23, 2019.

 

While this claim has been continuously proven wrong by fact checkers, Trump continues to argue that the notorious family separation policy was instituted by Obama. In truth, Trump’s former Attorney General Jeff Sessions began the family separation policy in an implementation of “zero tolerance” for illegal border crossings. As a result of this policy, thousands of children have been taken from their families and now face conditions of unsafe and unsanitary conditions that have proved fatal.

 

Twenty-four immigrants have died in ICE custody in the Trump administration’s two-and-a-half-year term. An additional four immigrants have died shortly after being released from ICE custody. That is the average size of an elementary class in the United States. However, this is far from unusual. The peak number of immigrant deaths in ICE detention centers in one year was thirty-two in 2004, the first full year that these records were kept.

 

Back in 2015, twenty-eight members of Congress wrote to ICE about their concern for the mounting death tolls in detention centers run by their agents. Their largest concern continues to be an issue today: failure to provide adequate medical care to detainees. While lack of medical care in ICE centers has often been failing, the concern issue has become more prominent as a result of the Obama-era implementation of family detention centers, privatization of these centers, and monetary incentives for the number of beds the facility could fill.

 

While Obama’s administration certainly harmed the health of migrants, the expansion of these programs by Trump’s administration have made the centers far more lethal than they proved to be under the previous administration.

 

Since the Department of Homeland Security was created after the September 11, 2001 attacks, there have been 188 recorded deaths in ICE detention. Last year, Department of Homeland Security officers observed “horrific” conditions during a surprise inspection of an immigrant detention facility outside of Los Angeles, California. In fifteen out of twenty of the rooms had nooses made of bed linens hanging from the air vents.

 

More recently, the Trump administration has further come under fire as lawyers have begun interviewing some of the children. They have found that children are often taking care of children, they lack basic necessities such as toothbrushes and soap. The administration has argued that these items are not required by law that mandates the government keep the children in “safe and sanitary” conditions. With little remorse being shown by the administration up to this point, it is likely that the conditions will only get worse. The only hope in site is governors and legislatures fighting back. Thus far, this has only really happened in Illinois where Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill prohibiting local law enforcement officers from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and preventing private detention centers from opening in the state. Hopefully, more states will follow this strategy.

In 2016 then-Candidate Donald Trump campaigned upon a promise to crack down on asylum seekers. Throughout this year, he has tried to fulfill that promise as aggressively as possible.

 

In January 2019, the Trump administration implemented a “Stay in Mexico” policy wherein migrants coming from Mexico, legally or illegally, who are applying for asylum are sent back to Mexico while they await their hearing date in the United States even if they are not from Mexico. If the migrant has multiple hearings, he is sent back to Mexico in between each one. The administration argues that this is legal under 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b)(2)(C) which states that a migrant who is arriving on land from a foreign territory contiguous to the United States, may be returned to that territory pending a proceeding.

 

The policy is likely a ploy to try to prevent these migrants from gaining asylum in the United States. According to 8 U.S. Code § 1158(2)(A)(vi), a migrant must be denied asylum if he was “firmly resettled in another country prior to arriving in the United States”. The administration is trying to force migrants to become resettled in Mexico before they can get a hearing to prevent them from obtaining asylum in the United States. A migrant is considered to be resettled if “prior to arrival in the United States, he or she entered into another country with, or while in that country received, an offer of permanent resident status, citizenship, or some other type of permanent resettlement”. 8 CFR § 1208.15.

 

This is also problematic because the migrants can be arrested and deported from Mexico since they are usually not Mexican citizens. Additionally, because the migrants are not Mexican citizens, they are unable to find employment during the time they are stranded in Mexico unless they receive authorization, which would likely destroy their chance of obtaining asylum in the United States.

 

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), people can also be denied the ability to claim asylum in the U.S. if they can be removed to a ‘safe third country’ with which the U.S. has a formal agreement. However, no such agreement exists between the U.S. and Mexico, and evidence suggests the conditions in Mexico are far from secure.

 

This could also be against international law because under the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, ratified by the United States, “[n]o Contracting State shall expel or return ('refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, art. 33, Jan. 31, 1967, 606 U.N.T.S. 267.

 

However, the Ninth Circuit has upheld this program at least to this date. As it stands now, it would appear that the only way to stop this policy is through legislation passed by Congress. Fortunately, there are two ways a migrant could get around this resettlement issue under 8 CFR § 1208.15(a). First, the migrant will not be considered resettled if he can prove that he has no significant ties to that country. The migrant could prove this by showing that  “This would require showing that: (1) the entry into that country (Mexico) was a necessary consequence of his or her flight from persecution, (2) that he or she remained in that country only as long as was necessary to arrange onward travel, (3) and that he or she did not establish significant ties in that country.

 

Second, the migrant will not be considered resettled if he can prove that “the conditions of his/her residence in that country were so substantially and consciously restricted by the authority of the country of refuge that he or she was not in fact resettled”. In making his or her determination, the asylum officer or immigration judge shall consider the conditions under which other residents of the country live; the type of housing, whether permanent or temporary, made available to the refugee; the types and extent of employment available to the refugee; and the extent to which the refugee received permission to hold property and to enjoy other rights and privileges, such as travel documentation that includes a right of entry or reentry, education, public relief, or naturalization, ordinarily available to others resident in the country.

 

While the “Stay in Mexico” policy may be arbitrary, exceptions in the law could allow migrants to still obtain asylum in the United States. Since the courts have allowed this policy to continue and there is no telling how the administration may continue to undermine the immigration process, it seems that the future of asylum law lies at the discretion of Congress.

 

This is a video of me speaking at a naturalization ceremony in federal court last Friday. It was a great honor for me to be able to do this so Andrea recorded it. Listen to message to those hoping to become American Citizens.

The Missiouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocate, via ActionNetwork.org, have provided an excellent statement on the current state of DACA:

Yesterday, September 5, 2017, Jeff Sessions made an announcement on behalf of the White House, that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been rescinded. There have been many questions circulating in regards to what exactly this means. Lets take time to explain some of what was left vague during Session’s announcement.  

·     Current DACA recipients are able to keep their benefits, which include employment authorization documents until they expire. 

·     Individuals with pending applications that were filed prior to September 5, 2017 will have those cases reviewed on an individual, case-by-case basis and not automatically rejected. 

·     Individuals in the process of renewal will have their case reviewed on an individual, case-by-case basis. Individuals whose benefits are due to expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 can apply for renewal by October 5, 2017. Such cases will be reviewed on an individual case-by-case basis. Any applications filed after October 5, 2017 will be rejected. 

·     If Congress does not pass a law the benefits of DACA recipients will expire according to their expiration date, they cannot be renewed after October 5, 2017.

·     There have been several bills that have been introduced, including the Bridge Act. The Bridge Act is not a permanent solution, however those who qualified for DACA would have provisional protection under the Bridge Act. Keep in mind that the Bridge Act expires after three years and cannot be renewed. 

Yesterday’s announcement although expected has been a painful one for our DACAmented and undocumented community. We must continue to raise our voices in support of DACA. What can you do next?

Call your local representatives and voice your support of the DACA program, and the need for congress to push through a law to protect DACA recipients. Ask your representatives to publically support DACA.

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