A quick immigration news round-up this week:
- The United States continues to flout its international law obligations by expelling thousands of child migrants by using COVID-19 as the reason.
- In a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld part of the federal anti-harboring statute that outlaws encouraging undocumented immigrants to remain in the country unlawfully. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had held that the provision was overbroad and banned speech that is protected under the First Amendment, and that the whole law was thus invalid as an overbroad restriction of speech. The Supreme Court did not decide the case on the merits, and instead, held that the Ninth Circuit had abused its discretion by deciding a matter that was never raised by the Respondent in the first instance.
- GOP senators introduced legislation to extend President Trump’s 60-Day immigrant visa ban to a whole year.
- However, at the same time, DHS does not seem too bothered about letting immigrants die in detention. Last week, COVID-19 claimed the first death in ICE detention: Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia had lived in the United States for four decades. Last week, he became the first person to die from COVID-19 in immigration custody. There are hundreds of cases of people in ICE detention who have tested positive for COVID-19 even as lawyers and advocates scramble to try to get them released.
- Legal immigrants report being afraid to file for unemployment compensation even though anyone who has work authorization and has lost their job or furloughed is eligible for unemployment benefits.
- Because naturalization ceremonies have been halted due to COVID-19, experts question whether USCIS is purposely trying to delay immigrants from becoming American citizens prior to the 2020 elections.
- More immigration restrictions coming soon: Rumor mills are circulating that the Trump administration is planning halt the issuance of new work visas such as the H-1B, for high skilled foreigners, and the H-2B, for seasonal employment. The new measures would also eliminate the OPT program, that enables foreign graduates of American universities to remain in the country and work.
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