As schools across the country continue to announce shifts to online education and the COVID-19 crisis continues to worsen across that nation, the Trump administration continues to take severe steps against immigration under the guise of controlling the pandemic.
- A federal judge ruled on Friday, June 26, that all migrant children in family detention centers must be released by mid-July because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Judge Dolly M. Gee ruled that the children must be freed with their parents or other parent/guardian-approved sponsor(s). The ruling applies to children who have been detained at the family facilities for more than 20 days and is intended to prevent high-risk individuals from contracting the virus.
- The union that represents immigration judges in the United States is suing the Trump administration for censoring their opinions – citing increased immigration crackdowns due to the pandemic as the reason for why much of their power is being stripped away. Due to speed-ups and the implementation of new policies, more power has been given to the director that oversees immigration courts, who has exercised his power to reverse rulings on multiple occasions. The lawsuit specifically targets a policy that impedes judges from speaking publicly and voicing their opinion, arguing that the rule is a direct violation of first amendment rights. Further, many immigration judges are worried about being unable to educate the public on immigration matters due to this restrictive policy will lead to a greater division between migrants and American citizens.
- On Wednesday, July 1st, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s rule, which limited Central Americans’ asylum claims. The rule forbid migrants who have passed by or lived in third countries from requesting asylum in the United States. Although the Trump administration argued that the rule was necessary to limit asylum border claims, the Ninth Court of Appeals concluded that the rule was unlawful and useless, as it “…does virtually nothing to ensure that a third country is a safe option.” Further, because new COVID-19 restrictions have already severely limited immigration to the US, preventing the rule from going into action would not have any lasting consequences. It should be noted that the lawsuit stopped the motion before it was put into action and the ban was not applied to any immigrant.
- On July 8th, the Trump administration proposed another rule that would allow the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to prevent immigrants from seeking asylum in order to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19. The new rule targets immigrants who show symptoms of the virus or who come from countries where the outbreak has not been controlled. Although some immigrants may request a deferred removal from the United Nations, it is much harder to qualify for these protections and the new rule could still permit deportations of qualifying-immigrants to counties outside of the US.
- Although many universities have already announced their online plans for the fall season, the Trump administration has stated that international students unable to take in-person classes will be unable to keep their visas. Not only will this measure discourage international students from attending American universities, but losing access to immigrants may severely impact the financial stability of many institutions. In response, both Harvard and MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have sued the administration, seeking an injunction that will prevent the government from enforcing the new rule.
Photo Credit: Rocky Sun