In the past week alone, so much has happened on the U.S. immigration front, it’s hard for even the most ardent follower of the issue to keep track. Here are five news headlines you should know of.
- ‘Remain in Mexico’ fight in the SCOTUS
President Joe Biden ended the so-called Remain in Mexico policy upon coming to office. First implemented by former President Donald Trump, the policy required migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to remain in Mexico until their court dates. But U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, recently ordered the Biden administration reinstate the policy by Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, a ruling the Department of Justice appealed.
That appeal was, however, rejected unanimously on Thursday, Aug. 19, by a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a move that forced the Biden administration to seek relief from the Supreme Court on Friday, Aug. 20.
Justice Samuel Alito briefly stayed the ruling and granted the Biden administration an “administrative stay,” one meant to preserve the status quo “so that the full court can consider the application.”
The stay will expire, unless the court takes further action, at midnight on Tuesday. Justice Alito ordered the states challenging the program, Texas and Missouri, to respond to the Biden administration’s arguments by Tuesday evening.
- Detainee COVID-19 cases spike
The number of immigrant detainees in U.S. ICE custody continues to spike. There are now over 25,000 cases as of Aug. 20, with more than 1,100 in isolation and being monitored, the agency’s data shows. So far, nine immigrants have died from the virus while in ICE custody. Four of the deaths occurred at the Stewart Detention Center in Atlanta. That detention center also has 924 cases of the virus. The highest number of COVID-19 cases—1,346—is reported at South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.
- Another TPS expansion for Haitians?
Members of Congress, Haitian Americans and immigrant advocacy groups are calling on the Biden administration to further expand Haiti’s Temporary Protected Status designation after the major earthquake of Aug. 14, 2021 claimed more than 2,000 lives in Haiti’s southwestern peninsula.
They also want the administration to stop deporting Haitian immigrants from the U.S. to Haiti. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas already expanded Haiti’s designation on Aug. 3 in response to President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination. That new expansion also now includes Haitians who were residing in the U.S. as of July 29. The new designation keeps TPS for Haitians, which was first introduced in 2010, in place until Feb. 3, 2023.
- Racist and unconstitutional?
A federal judge in Nevada has ruled that a nearly 70-year-old section of U.S. immigration law that makes it a felony to reenter the country after being deported, is unconstitutional.
Judge Miranda Du issued an order on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, dismissing a case against Gustavo Carrillo-Lopez, who was indicted last summer for being in the U.S. despite being deported in 1999 and 2012. She wrote that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent against Latinos and therefore violates the Equal Protection Clause. The order notes that the law has a disparate impact on Latinos, noting that 87% of people apprehended at the border in 2010 were of Mexican descent. “The government’s alternative arguments—that a nondiscriminatory motive was ‘plain’ or that subsequent amendments somehow imply the racial taint was cleansed—are not supported by case law nor borne out by the evidentiary record,” Judge Du wrote.
- ‘No Blank Space’ rejection policy
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reached a settlement agreement in the case of Vangala et al. v. USCIS et al. The agreement allows certain individuals to receive updated receipt dates for resubmitted immigration benefit applications or petitions originally rejected under the former “No Blank Space” rejection policy. Under this former policy, USCIS rejected filings with any blank fields or spaces.
On July 20, 2021, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Oakland Division, granted final approval of the settlement agreement. This agreement is specific to the “No Blank Space” rejection policy that was applied to three forms:
Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal;
Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status; and
Form I-918, Supplement A, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient.
Individuals whose forms were rejected under the former policy may resubmit their request on or before July 20, 2022, to obtain an updated receipt reflecting the date their rejected request was originally filed.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.