Working Without Authorization In Pandemic Times Vol. 2, No. 3

Minority groups continue being targeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and migrant children and immigrants continue to be discriminated against at the border and throughout the country while top brass at DHS continue to flout the rule of law by occupying their jobs unlawfully.

  • Both the DHS acting and second-in-command Homeland Security Secretaries, Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, are legally unable to continue working in their roles after a Government Accountability Office finding determined that they had been improperly appointed. Neither Wolf nor Cuccinelli were appointed by Congress to their respective posts, which require appointments. We are wondering if this legal dispute means that the changes made by the agency during their illegal tenure would still be valid. Further, the same problem extends to their predecessor, Kevin McAleenan, who acted as Homeland Security Secretary when Kirsten Nielsen resigned. As his succession did not follow the rules normally in place for a position that requires Senate support, advocates also speculate whether anything McAleenan did during his time as acting Security Secretary held any weight. It should be noted that the possibly invalid changes to immigration laws and policies include the DACA memo released by Chad Wolf.
  • On Friday, August 14, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union began the first court challenge against Trump’s new policy of deporting immigrant children before giving them a chance at asylum. The lawsuit aims to block officials from using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to cease Congress’ legal safeguards for migrant kids who are found alone at the border. Under Trump’s current policy, over 2,000 children have been expelled without being able to seek asylum. Further, instead of placing the minors with family or friends in the United States, many children have been placed in hotels instead. It should be noted that the lawsuit against the Trump administration is expected to be successful.  
  • During a Monday hearing, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema allowed medical experts to inspect a Virginia detention center that had experienced the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. Specifically, the immigration holding facility housed more than 240 infected persons and has even seen a migrant death. The same judge has also previous stopped all transfers into the Farmville, Virginia center, and the CDC has already sent in a team to inspect the holding. The expert allowed to testify found that most workers in the facility do not wear PPE (personal protective equipment) and have continued working when ill. Despite this, however, the director of the Virginia detention center responded to the filing by stating that the facility was “largely in compliance with CDC recommendations.”
  • On Tuesday, August 18, the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that California would be challenging the new DACA policy (which bars any new applicants and limits renewals to one year) in the future. The changes to the 2012 program have come from the Trump Administration following multiple rulings that condemn the new shifts in DACA.    

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey

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