Immigration in Pandemic Times, Vol. 2, No. 2

The COVID-19 pandemic has persisted throughout the many months of 2020, and not only is the Trump administration still using it as a guise for further restricting immigration, but there are still severe financial repercussions facing many as we continue to battle through COVID-19.

  • The number of deaths in ICE custody is the highest since 2006. As of August 7, the ICE custody death toll for the current fiscal year is just two deaths below the number from 2006. Last week, two men died in ICE custody–one from a brain hemorrhage and one from COVID-19 complications. The 2020 fiscal year’s death toll is double 2019’s, despite having fewer people in detention.
  • Trump and his administration have been using the coronavirus as a guise for increasing immigration restrictions. Recently, they have limited entry on the US-Mexico border. These restrictions might also include permanent residents of the United States as well as US citizens. It is very likely that the administration will take advice from the CDC in order to create a plan that may include barring everyone (including Americans) from returning to the United States due to COVID-19 health concerns.  However, it should be noted that if the Trump administration attempts to limit the entry of lawful residents or citizens of the United States, they will face many legal obstacles and may be accused of being unconstitutional.
  • As Trump pushes forward against immigration, companies have started to speak out. Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple are only three of the 52 companies and groups that have signed on to a court filing that condemns the new proposed restrictions on employment supported visas. The proclamation specifically restricts the H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 visas, all of which make up the majority of visas that companies use to recruit foreign staff. The companies claim that the limits go against US economic interests and place US businesses in an unfair world position.
  • On Monday, August 10, US government officials denounced the recent proposal that would force them to refuse asylum to any “public-health-risk” immigrants. Furthermore, the group accused Trump and his administration of using the COVID-19 health crisis as an excuse to further their own immigration-related interests. In their public comment, the national union for asylum officials stated that the proposed policy would force officials to go against the United States’ history of being a safe refuge and make medical decisions without any sort of qualifications. They also cited possible discrimination as officials would be forced to make decisions based on their own discretion and the proposed rule would unfairly limit immigration from specific counties with higher COVID-19 rates.    
  • An appeals court has ruled that the Trump administration can enforce its public charge rule. Last month, a federal judge in New York blocked enforcement of the public charge rule nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, a federal appellate judge limited that injunction to just the Second Circuit, which consists of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. After the 2nd Circuit ruling, USCIS said it was reviewing the order to “determine the administrative viability” of re-implementing the policy.

Image Credit: BryanAlexander

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