Immigration in Pandemic Times Vol. 1, No. 7

ICE continues to ignore COVID-19 regulations in detention facilities, while asylum seekers struggle to gain entry to the United States. However, we had a huge win this week when the Supreme Court held that the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA was arbitrary and capricious. You can read more about that here and sign up for upcoming virtual clinics here.

  • There’s much speculation that the Trump administration is planning to ban H-1B visas. An expanded proclamation could bar H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and J-1 applicants pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act sections 212(f) and 215(a). Some exceptions are expected, however. Among those are: COVID-19 related exemptions, such as for health care workers, food supply workers and U.S. employers who conduct additional recruitment efforts.
  • An increasing number of asylum seekers continue to be denied legal forms of entry into the United States. Imanol Luján, a Honduran teen seeking asylum, was only able to spend days in the United States before being deported. According to Luján, he was denied an interview to explain his reasons for asylum and was unable to see a judge. Instead of following the pre-pandemic pathway (where unaccompanied minors were transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement), the teen states that he was taken to an immigration station by the border patrol and then taken to a hotel. Although he was treated humanely once he was in the hotel room, Luján claims that during the four days in the immigration station, he was denied proper bedding and there was no physical distancing. Luján had shown his birth certificate as proof of his age at the border, but despite this evidence, he was denied phone calls, was not shown any other documents, and was barred from requesting asylum. Instead, after a day in the hotel room, he and other Hondurans were put on a bus headed to the airport for a flight back to their country of origin. Despite efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union, there has been a significant decrease in the number of successful asylum seekers in part due to the Trump administration’s abuse of Title 42 regulations during the pandemic.  Using the excuse of contagion, the CBP continues to uphold that all detained migrants may be immediately deported for the sake of public health.


Photo Credit: Susan Ruggles

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