Weekly Immigration News: Slow Shifts to Change

President Biden is not acting quickly on immigration issues – will his slow shifts help move us towards change?

  • Alejandro Mayorkas, a former Obama administration immigration official and a Cuban immigrant, has been officially nominated to become DHS (Department of Homeland Security) secretary in a Tuesday Senate vote. Although some Republicans opposed Mayorkas’ nomination due to a 2015 internal investigation on his actions during his role as head of the USCIS, six Republican senators voted alongside the Democrats.
  • This past Tuesday, President Joe Biden issued three immigration executive orders to shift immigration asylum and border policies, manage Trump-era restrictions on immigration (specifically, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy”), and create a task force to find and reunite separated immigrant families. To allow reunification, officials will review each case for immigration benefits eligibility. Additionally, these executive orders might result in the revival of a program that allowed Central American, at-risk minors with any legal-status US family to immigrate to the United States, and might end the pandemic policy used to quickly deport immigrants without proper processing, along with the “public charge” regulation.
  • After the Biden administration undid several Trump policies, the Supreme Court canceled upcoming arguments regarding Trump-era initiatives that limited undocumented immigration into the US on Wednesday. Originally, the court was set to hear arguments about Trump’s military funding for the US-Mexico border wall and his “Remain in Mexico Policy.”
  • President Biden signed an executive order to increase the number of refugee admissions on Thursday. Specifically, the order calls for an increase of the US refugee program fiscal year cap and Biden has stated that he aims to set a 125,000-person ceiling by October of 2022, prioritizing members of the LGBTQ+ community, children, and women.
  • Although immigrant advocates and other Democrats are calling for a citizenship pathway for DACA program beneficiaries, undocumented essential workers, and TPS recipients,  House Speaker Pelosi is not planning to include these benefits in future COVID-19 relief packages. If a pathway to citizenship was included, it would help more than five million people.
  • Finally, the DHS has stated that neither ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) nor CBP (Customs and Border Protection) will make any arrests in or around COVID-19 vaccination locations, saying that they “fully support equal access to the…vaccine.”  

Photo Credit: jlhervas

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