On January 20, 2021, newly inaugurated President Biden announced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, a broad immigration bill he sent to Congress immediately upon taking office. The bill would provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented population, a border management approach that includes a focus on addressing root causes of forced migration, a legal immigration reform platform, a series of humanitarian provisions, and additional rights for immigrant workers. On February 18, the bill was introduced in the House by Representative Linda Sanchez (D-California) and in the Senate by Senator Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey). https://immigrationforum.org/article/u-s-citizenship-act-of-2021-bill-summary/Read more here.
AS JOE BIDEN took the oath of office last month, Guatemalan security forces at the Honduran border thwarted thousands of U.S.-bound migrants. While decadeslong American imperialism has facilitated displacement throughout the region, the U.S. is increasingly outsourcing its deadly immigration policy. This week on Intercepted: The Biden administration announced it will begin to process the 25,000 asylum-seekers stuck in squalid border town camps as part of Donald Trump’s so-called Migrant Protection Protocols, a program commonly referred to as “Remain in Mexico.” But immigration advocates fear Biden will not reverse the bipartisan trend of his predecessors to further militarize the southern border and expand the reaches of immigration enforcement — policies that have led to more migrant deaths and detention in recent decades. Despite Biden’s executive actions to reverse the Muslim ban, initiate migrant family reunification, and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, his administration has indicated that it will continue to support Mexican and Guatemalan armed enforcement of their borders on behalf of the U.S. Read more here.
“If they’re hearing complaints like, ‘Oh it’s cold in here,’ they’ll be like, ‘It could be worse,’ and turn on fans.”
While accurate, the headlines do not always acknowledge both the hope and frustration immigration advocates feel with the new administration. To be sure, President Joe Biden has signed a flurry of executive orders that do have an immediate impact on certain aspects of immigration law. But immigrants say they experienced such draconian policies the past four years that they have a hard time getting excited about simply returning to what might amount to a pre-Trump status quo. Read more here.
COVID-19 has pulled back the veil on the strikingly poor workplace conditions of these essential workers, built by decades of insufficient farmworker health and safety policy, poor immigration policy, and limited health care access. As a consequence, at least 86,900 food workers have tested positive for COVID-19 – but with uneven data collection, exacerbated by businesses' lack of transparency over workplace outbreaks and workers' avoidance of testing due to fear of losing income, the figures we have are likely an underestimate. Read more here.
Each year, untold numbers of migrants disappear in the borderlands after being pushed into dangerous and remote terrain by Border Patrol, the same agency that is then tasked with responding to migrants’ search and rescue emergencies. A new report released Wednesday found that the federal agency does not respond to 40% of these emergency calls. In a series of reports published over the course of five years, the southern Arizona organizations No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos have cataloged and reported the specific Border Patrol policies and tactics that have fueled a crisis of death and disappearance in the borderlands. The first report, released in 2016, detailed the 1994 Border Patrol policy “Prevention Through Deterrence” in which the United States militarized urban border areas in an effort to steer migrants away from ports of entry and into geographically harsher and more remote and hazardous regions, leading to their deaths. The second report, published in 2018, detailed Border Patrol’s practice of destroying life-saving humanitarian aid left by volunteers for migrants. Part three in the series published Wednesday—Left to Die: Border Patrol, Search and Rescue, and the Crisis of Disappearance—details how when 911 response systems receive calls from people crossing into the United States without authorization, they transfer those calls away from local emergency services and to Border Patrol, an agency that for decades has failed to provide life-saving assistance to undocumented immigrants who are lost and dying. Read more here.
NOTE: No More Deaths camp is a project of the UU Church of Tuscon and UUSC (https://www.uusc.org/initiatives/no-more-deaths/) Just before Christmas Eve, Border Patrol agents on horseback surrounded No More Death's humanitarian aid station south of Tucson and told volunteers they were pursuing a warrant to raid the camp, the group said. If agents do conduct a raid, it would be the third incursion into the camp near Arivaca, Ariz., in five months, coming near the end of a spike in the number of remains found in southwestern Arizona—a likely sign that a larger number of people are attempting to cross illegally, and are dying in remote stretches of the desert. The raids have occurred at the Byrd Camp, a collection of military surplus tents, trailers, and shacks where volunteers work to provide water food and medicine to those crossing the desert, just a few miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Activists with the group said that mounted border agents rode around the camp's edge on Wednesday night, telling the group that they intended to obtain a federal warrant to carry out another raid there. Read more here.
The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network is thrilled to share that the Fair Fight Bond Fund is open and accepting applications for people who are detained by immigration in the State of Washington and need support with paying bond.
To request assistance with paying a bond, a request form must be completed. This request form will be reviewed by the Fair Fight Bond Fund steering committee. The steering committee is made up of seven community members, including people who have been directly impacted and have experienced being in immigration detention. All requests for funds will be fully considered on a case-by-case basis and the steering committee will try to pay as many bonds as possible, so long as funds are available. The steering committee will aim to meet on a weekly basis to review applications and give responses as soon as possible.
The steering committee will aim to prioritize individuals who are facing especially difficult situations due to being detained. This includes applicants who are facing physical and/or mental health issues that are aggravated by being detained; applicants who are the primary caretakers to dependents who are facing immediate hardship due to the applicant’s detention; applicants who face serious economic hardship and have no or limited support, options, and resources to pay their bond; applicants who will face negative long-term effects on their immigration status due to being detained; applicants who are members of the LGBTQ community; and applicants who face marginalization based on their language, race, ethnicity, or religion.
Please find the English version of the application at this link: https://bit.ly/
Since Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) launched the WA COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund, over 55,000 people have applied and 16,000 applications have been approved! This is thanks to the tireless work of our community and our organizational partners doing vital outreach and application support. We have two weeks left to get as many applications as possible. That’s where you come in. Due to COVID-19, we haven’t been able to host in-person events to help our community members apply. But you can help by volunteering to be a Virtual Application Helper. The timing is completely flexible–just list the hours you’re available to help and wait for a community member to sign up. We also welcome any languages, so no need to only speak Spanish. Ready to volunteer? Join a required Application Assistance training:
- Nov. 30, 5:30-7:00
- Dec. 1, 6:00-8:00pm
- Dec. 2, 5:30-7:00pm
- Dec. 3, 6:00-8:00pm
COVID-19 financial relief —by and for immigrants.
The Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund provides a $1,000 one-time direct payment (up to $3,000 per household). Eligibility includes: WA resident; at least 18 years old; been significantly affected by the pandemic (such as losing work, being infected by the virus, or caring for a family member who was infected); ineligible to receive federal stimulus dollars or unemployment insurance money due to immigration status. Application and documentation required. For assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-844-724-3737 (Mon-Fri, 9AM-9PM).
As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, those most at risk are the members of our community who are in detention. Last week, La Resistencia broke the news that dozens of immigrants at the Northwest Detention Center had been exposed to COVID-19 by a GEO guard. Last month, we heard how in Georgia, immigrants held at a detention center were subject to forced hysterectomies and general medical neglect. These reminders are just two of the many reasons that we know immigration detention centers should be shut down and ICE should be abolished. While we prepare for the long-term fight, we are also doing what we can to free the members of our communities who are in immigration detention. I am pleased to announce that the Fair Fight Bond Fund is gearing up to re-open in the coming weeks to pay the immigration bond funds of community members detained by ICE in Washington State. Next week, we will be participating in Fall Freedom Day---an effort coordinated by the National Bail Fund Network to pay bonds to free hundreds of community members from immigration detention in one day. Last year, the NBFN moved $2.1 million and was able to pay the bonds of nearly 200 people detained by ICE across the country. The Fair Fight Bond Fund will be participating in these efforts this year and hope that with our partners across the country we can release even more of our community members. As we work out some of the final details before we officially resume accepting and reviewing applications to help pay for immigration bonds, we ask that you consider donating to the Fair Fight Bond Fund so that we can have as much money in the fund to start paying bonds. If you have any questions, interest in volunteering with the bond fund, or other comments, please contact me at email@example.com. Please send questions or requests about paying for bonds for specific cases to firstname.lastname@example.org. In Solidarity,
A band of the Kumeyaay Nation whose native land spans both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border filed a federal lawsuit this week against the Trump administration seeking an injunction to stop further construction of the border wall through sacred, ancient burial lands. Human remains have been disrupted and unearthed by recent pre-construction blasting at the border, according to the lawsuit and the Kumeyaay Heritage Preservation Council. Read more here.
Come Oct. 2, immigrants and foreign nationals in the United States will have to pay substantially more in fees to apply for many immigration and naturalization benefit requests. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published this week a final rule in the Federal Register that details the new cost for dozens of immigration and naturalization applications, including an unprecedented $50 fee for asylum-seekers. In addition to increasing the fees by a weighted average of 20 percent, the new regulation, “also removes certain fee exemptions, changes fee waiver requirements, alters premium processing time limits, and modifies intercountry adoption processing,” the Department of Homeland Security agency said.
On April 22, 2020, Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation to “suspend” the entry of nearly all immigrants to the United States. If the entry bans in the presidential proclamation continues, which might be for another four years if Trump is reelected, then virtually no employment-based or family immigrants (except for the spouses and children of U.S. citizens) or Diversity Visa immigrants can enter America. The proclamation claimed the action was necessary due to the high U.S. unemployment rate. However, no serious economic arguments or data were presented to support the contention that allowing in fewer immigrants would lower the unemployment rate. . . . On June 22, 2020, the Trump administration issued another presidential proclamation. The new proclamation suspended the entry of foreign nationals on H-1B, L-1, H-2B and (most) J-1 temporary visas until at least December 31, 2020. Once more the proclamation argued that preventing the entry of foreign nationals would improve the U.S. unemployment rate. Read more here.
Criticism of DHS has accompanied the department through its existence, most recently when former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen became the face of the Trump administration’s brutal policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border. Calls to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — one of DHS’s most visible and abusive agencies — have echoed from street protests to the halls of Congress and the 2020 presidential primary. Then earlier this month, as President Donald Trump deployed DHS troops, primarily from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, against protesters rallying against police violence in Portland, Oregon, he once again trained the spotlight on the troubled department. The unidentified agents abducting people in unmarked rental cars raised questions about what the Border Patrol was doing on the streets of an American city and awareness about the impunity with which it operates elsewhere. And their presence stoked calls to not only abolish ICE or CBP, but also to dismantle their parent agency altogether. Read more here.
On July 28th, the Trump Administration announced that it would not accept new applications for the DACA program despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month that rejected the Administration’s last attempt to terminate the program. While we are not surprised by the Administration’s cruel decision, we are heartbroken that it dashes the hopes of hundreds of thousands of young people around the country who aspired to join the program. The announcement also creates new hardship and uncertainty for current DACA recipients by limiting any new renewals for the program to one year rather than the two-year extensions that have been in place for much of the program’s existence. NW Immigrant Rights Project anticipates that yesterday’s announcement will bring new legal challenges but, in the meantime, we have updated our DACA community advisory (click here for our Spanish advisory) to answer some of the questions we have already been receiving in light of the Administration’s announcement. And we will continue to provide assistance to current DACA recipients who need help in completing their renewal applications. If you or someone you know would like to schedule a spot in an upcoming DACA renewal clinic, please contact us by calling our DREAM line at 1-855-313-7326.
New students matriculating at schools offering fully online programs will not receive visas, per ICE. Students who are already enrolled at such schools will be required to transfer or leave the country. Eight percent of US colleges are planning for an online-only semester, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, including Harvard and Bowdoin, though some of those schools plan to invite a reduced number of students back to campus.