Weekly Immigration News: Farewell Trump

After last week’s Capitol riots, there have been many shifts in the government. As the country prepares for President-elect Biden’s upcoming inauguration, the Trump administration is doubling down on dismantling immigration law and order:

  • The DHS has signed last minute contracts with various states to try to limit the changes that the incoming Biden-Harris administration can make to immigration law through regulation. The contracts would require the DHS to provide notice of immigration policy changes and allow the jurisdictions six months to review and submit comments before the agency moves forward with any of the proposed changes
  • The USCIS will be suspending all in-person use of asylum offices, application support centers, and field offices on January 19 and January 20, 2021. The USCIS will reschedule any appointments on those days, and new dates will be sent out via notice. Please check the USCIS website for more details.
  • Now that he is banned from Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, Lame-duck President Donald Trump has found other ways to incite his supporters. On Tuesday, he visited Alamo, Texas in order to flaunt the “completion” of the US-Mexico border wall. The completed wall in question is only 452 out of 1,954 miles that run between the US and our southern neighbors, and most of that is just brick that replaced an already preexisting fence. This has cost American taxpayers 15 billion dollars.
  • Today, Guatemalan troops detained an immigrant caravan at the Honduras border before transferring them to immigration jurisdiction. After the devastating losses of the November Honduran hurricanes, many are trying to reach the United States to find new jobs to support their families back home.
  • In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, the current acting secretary announced that he is resigning, citing “the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of [his] authority,” as his reasoning. Although many other Cabinet secretaries have resigned in the wake of the D.C. riots, Wolf’s resignation is the only one that does not mention the civil unrest. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Administrator, Pete Gaynor, will act as secretary of Homeland Security. Gaynor issued a memo Wednesday empowering Wolf, who remains DHS undersecretary for strategy, policy, and plans, to sign and ratify agency regulations in an obvious attempt to grant Wolf post ad-hoc power to ratify rules published while he was acting secretary, as well as several immigration rules issued under McAleenan. Time will tell whether courts will decry this work around.
  • On Wednesday, the Executive Office for Immigration Review announced the release of its first interactive policy manual, the culmination of a multi-year project that represents the agency’s first comprehensive review of its policies. The policy manual combines Immigration Court and Board of Immigration Appeals Practice Manuals, the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer Practice Manual, and all current agency policy memoranda.
  • Fee increases are coming for immigration court filings. Immigration lawyers have sued EOIR challenging a new final rule drastically increasing EOIR filing fees. Among other increases, an application for cancellation of removal (EOIR 42A and EOIR 42B) would increase to $305 and $360, respectively. A notice of appeal (EOIR 26) would cost $975. A motion to reopen or reconsider at the BIA would cost $895. The rule is scheduled to go into effect on January 19, 2021, unless a court grants an injunction.
  • During an interview with Univision, Kamala Harris revealed information about the Biden-Harris administration’s immigration reform bill. The bill includes less wait time for US citizenship, more immigration judges for hearings, and immediate green cards for DACA and TPS recipients. Despite this announcement, an undocumented immigrant activist group is attempting to meet with President-Elect Joe Biden to push him “to make good on his campaign promises” to issue a moratorium on deportations, and champion a more progressive agenda on immigration.

Photo Credit: The White House

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