It’s finally 2022 and in this, the Chinese Year of the Water Tiger, many are predicting a good year. But will this forecast of good fortune extend to immigrants? I tried hard to look into my crystal ball of Jan. 1, 2022, and here’s what I’m forecasting:
1: There will be more deportations this year as the Joe Biden administration tries hard to clamp down on the Republican Party talking point that they are for “open borders.” The new Return to Mexico policy that the courts upheld and the administration reimplemented late last year is definitely the beginning of that move. With more and more Central American, African and Haitian migrants still braving the jungles of South America to trek to the U.S. border and try to cross the Rio Grande, the U.S. has no option but to try to keep out as many as possible because of fear of a further deluge. I also expect ramped up use of secretive air “expedited removal” deportations via ICE air flights, such as those to Haiti, Guatemala City and to southern Mexico, which began in August 2021. I also expect Title 42 will also stay in place as well, especially given the spike in cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. again.
2: The U.S. will continue to deny temporary entry for Afghans seeking to enter on a humanitarian basis. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has already received more than 35,000 applications for humanitarian parole from Afghans while in the past the program has received fewer than 2,000 requests from all nationalities. It is why I see the administration fast shutting that door despite the predicament of Afghans.
3: On immigration reform, I see the U.S. congress still struggling to get anything passed into the House this election season. The 2022 United States House of Representatives elections will be held on November 8th and it’s unlikely Republicans will want to give the administration a win on this issue as they see a Red wave coming, even as Joe Manchin continues to hold up the progress in the Senate. I don’t see that changing anytime soon so don’t hold your breath for any breakthrough on this front, not even for the love of DREAMERS.
4: There may be some progress on the H-1B visa program for professional workers. So far it looks like the USCIS will make administrative changes to the H-1B visa program to include redefining the H-1B employer-employee relationship and establishing new guidelines for employer site visits. The administration’s latest regulatory plans also reveal that it will continue to reform the H-1B visa program for professional workers, including raising the wages of those workers.
5: Those wanting to come to the U.S. and immigrants applying to the USCIS can expect to pay more this year for visas. The Department of State is expected to raise visa application filing fees at consulates while the USCIS plans to increase its petition and application filing fees in March. These increases are to help fully cover the costs of adjudications, as the agency has been operating at a loss of $3 million per business day.
Happy New Year? Not for immigrants.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.