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.
- The USCIS is facing the serious possibility of furloughing the majority of its staff by the end of August, as any stimulus talks that may provide financial relief to the agency are now stalled. The agency had requested $1.2 billion from the government and the funds were expected to be sent through a COVID-19 relief bill. However, although President Trump announced he would push for more aid, the White House was unable to reach a consensus with the Democrats. Right now, it does not seem that the stimulus bill will be passed any time soon and it is very likely that the USICS will have to furlough its workers, and severely halt the legal immigration system.
- 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.
- On August 7, a federal appeals court ruled that Democratic members of the House may move forward with a case challenging the Trump administration’s diversion of $2.5 billion from the military to border wall construction. Though this decision means that the representatives have the legal right to sue, it is unclear how a court would ultimately decide this issue.
Image Credit: BryanAlexander