5.5 Million Applications Pending, a number that number grew to 5,538,609; the difference is nearly…
On June 19th 2020, USCIS issued a “Statement” in regard to the Supreme Courts’ decision on DACA. The statement called out the Supreme Court, saying that the high court’s decision “has no basis in law” and then follows with other legal conjectures and conclusions which demonstrate an alarming and improper bias at a government agency.
They made it pretty clear that their leadership had a total disregard and a lack of respect for the foundations of our judicial system. In fact, USCIS blatantly ignored the fact that the Supreme Court rejected their claim that the DACA was an illegal program.
USCIS was created after 9/11 to be the adjudicatory arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). USCIS mission statement: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”
But, on June 19th, it seems as though their mission went out the window when USCIS posted about DACA and how the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, handled the case. USCIS’s mission is to administer the law and specifically to “efficiently and fairly adjudicate requests for immigration benefits” as stated in its mission statement. But here USCIS was out of line by trying to declare what is or is not legal, which the Supreme Court will always have the final word on anyway.
It is not up to USCIS to determine which programs or applications they will or will not adjudicate. The June 19th statement amounts to not only inappropriate bluster, but it further undermines the agency’s waning integrity by evincing clear bias and politicized motivations.
No one will argue that our system doesn’t need reform. In fact, USCIS is overworked, under-resourced, and in dire need of Congressional intervention. However, the fact the agency needs reform doesn’t mean it can cast aside its responsibility to serve as a fair and impartial agency. Perhaps now more than ever, government institutions must strive to restore the faith of Americans in the integrity of government.
This latest political tirade by a spokesperson at USCIS makes it all the more clear that Congress must pass the Case Backlog and Transparency Act of 2020 which would ensure much-needed accountability at the agency and send a clear message that Congress and the Judiciary are equal branches of government as our Constitution dictates.
EB-5 (Immigrant Investor) Filings Drop to Seven a Month vs. 10,000 a Year
The scandal-plagued immigrant investor (EB-5) program has hit a new low.
The ceiling on the number of visas is 10,000 a year, yet in the first three months of 2020, there were exactly 21 applications filed. In the same period one year earlier, the total number of applications was 1,808.
EB-5 is the program that rewards an alien investor with a family-sized batch of green cards when the investor plunks down a suitable amount in a DHS-identified, but not guaranteed, investment. The stake is usually in a 1 percent a year de facto loan in urban real estate. Big city developers love getting money at this rate.
There have been a large number of instances in which U.S.-based middlemen have cheated, or sought to cheat, the alien investors, as we have reported from time to time.
One of the main reasons for the recent sharp fall in the number of would-be investors is because, in November of last year, DHS upped the minimum ante (after 25 years of not doing so) from $500,000 to $900,000. The same set of regulations also narrowed the definition of areas that could be invested in, eliminating at least some of the prosperous areas that had formerly been used for most of these investments via a sort of gerrymandering.
Read about USCIS’s 5-5-million-applications-pending
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Federal Court Strikes Down Trump’s Second Asylum Ban in Momentous Victory
Yesterday, a federal judge in the District of Columbia struck down the Trump administration’s second asylum ban ends a sweeping policy that had shut down asylum for most people entering the United States at the southern border. The court’s decisive action could not have come soon enough, as the rule has been in effect for almost a year, impacting thousands of asylum seekers.
Several immigrants’ rights groups, including Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, Human Rights First, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and Tahirih Justice Center, alongside twenty-two individual asylum seekers, brought the lawsuit to block implementation of the ban which took effect on July 16, 2019.
The rule disqualified people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border from receiving asylum unless they had unsuccessfully requested similar protection in another country en route to the U.S. But many of the countries that people typically travel through, like Guatemala, have virtually non-existent asylum systems or ways to keep asylum seekers safe. On its face, the policy applied to anyone who passed through another country before arriving in the United States, but in practice, it disproportionately impacted people from Central America.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, appointed by President Trump in 2017, held that the rule should end immediately. The court found that the government had failed to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which provides that the American public must have sufficient opportunity to comment on a new regulation before its implementation. The government argued that advance notice was not necessary in this case as it would have led to huge numbers of migrants attempting to enter the United States before the rule took effect.
The government only pointed to one article from October 2018 to show good cause to sidestep the notice-and-comment period. The article suggested in part that the number of asylum-seeking families who traveled to the United States after the U.S. government stopped systematically separating families may have increased.
The court didn’t buy it. According to Judge Kelly:
“[T]he article does little if anything to support Defendants’ prediction that undertaking notice-and-comment rulemaking would have led to a dramatic, immediate surge of asylum applicants at the border that would have had the impact they suggest.”
It remains to be seen what will happen to the thousands of people who received negative decisions over the past year as a result of the second asylum ban. This is particularly true for those in detention facilities who may not have access to an attorney to assist them in asking for a second chance at asylum. And it is hard to know how many people with valid asylum claims have been deported to harm or worse.
Second asylum ban ends but an appeal is expected
The government is expected to appeal the court’s decision, though the advocacy groups that brought the challenge have made clear they are willing to battle it out in the courts.
Challenges remain for asylum seekers fleeing to the United States. According to one report, only two people seeking humanitarian relief at the U.S.-Mexico border between March 21 and May 13, 2020, have been permitted to stay. Restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have largely shut down the U.S.-Mexico border, causing tens of thousands of men, women, and children to be “expelled” back to Mexico in light of public safety concerns.
Even so, the decision is a huge win for countless asylum seekers and a blow to an administration that has repeatedly attempted to bypass Congress where the lives of so many are at stake.
Some of our most recent post: http://immigrationreformnews.com/inspector-general-health-migration-report/
Inspector General Report Overlooks Serious Medical Care Issues Within Border Patrol Custody
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently published a health migration report analyzing U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) treatment of noncitizens at the border in 2019.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently published a health migration report analyzing U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) treatment of noncitizens at the border in 2019. While the report critiques the agency for not meeting its own standards, it also allows CBP to avoid meaningful accountability for numerous failures in meeting the health needs of those detained.
In 2019, CBP apprehended over 850,000 people along the southwest border. As a federal agency that detains hundreds of thousands of noncitizens annually, CBP must ensure that the people it detains are provided with adequate medical care. To create a greater level of accountability, Congress requires the OIG to conduct unannounced inspections of the agency’s holding facilities with particular emphasis on evaluating the poor conditions of detention that have been documented for years.
After conducting unannounced inspections at 21 CBP facilities, the OIG found CBP struggled to meet detention standards based on serious overcrowding, extended periods of detention, and conditions falling below instituted standards. The report concludes with recommendations for CBP, however, that fail to address serious concerns with CBP’s provision of medical and health services.
Throughout 2019, organizations documented CBP’s inadequate medical and health response for those in detention in published reports and administrative complaints filed on behalf of people who experienced medical negligence, verbal and physical abuse, and inadequate medical care. In 2019 alone, seven children died while in CBP custody—an unprecedented number of child deaths.
One complaint surveyed 200 mothers held in family detention. 67 percent stated that their child was never seen by a medical provider while in CBP custody. Over half reported that their child did not receive medical attention after making the request to the agency. One mother recalled her three-year-old daughter vomiting ten times in one hour but was told by CBP officials she could not receive medical attention because of quarantine for flu.
Another complaint described families feeling unsafe and frightened while in detention because of the physical and verbal abuse from agents.
Border Patrol & Health Migration
Families reported being sprayed with water bottles by agents for no reason other than the agent was capable of doing so. Many migrants reported that agents called them racial slurs and were even denied more food and clothing for their children because the agent’s stated they were responsible for their children’s suffering by choosing to come to the United States.
Despite this extensive record, the OIG did not investigate the well-documented reports of lack of medical assistance, nor did it address the physical and verbal abuse experienced by people in detention. The OIG’s only excuse for not addressing medical care was that it did not have inspectors with medical expertise. The only two recommendations made to CBP address the lack of telephone access for unaccompanied children in detention and the need to improve the handling of detainees’ property. By neglecting the majority of the issues raised in complaints, OIG’s report doesn’t hold CBP fully accountable for its detrimental impacts on thousands of vulnerable people.
The government must provide adequate medical care to all individuals that it detains in any context. Adequate screening and care are particularly important for people who are detained shortly after they arrive at the southern border due to the arduous and extended nature of their travel to the U.S.
Rather than providing meaningful oversight and recommendations that address CBP’s obligation in providing adequate health care services for those detained, the OIG chose to fixate on issues unrelated to pressing medical needs. OIG must do a better job acknowledging and describing solutions for CBP to improve its detention facilities that hold families and children in custody.
Photo by Maria Frausto
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