This Week In Immigration – Week of April 5, 2021

This Week In Immigration
  • According to Department of Homeland Security officials, immigration experts, and attorneys, human smugglers are openly advertising their services on Facebook, falsely promising a safe smuggling journey to Central Americans interested in entering the United States.  Additionally, there is a spread of misinformation in the Latin countries contending that the Biden administration will welcome undocumented migrants.  The Spanish-language posts originally identified by NBC News were found on public Facebook pages with names like “Migrants from Various Countries in Mexico” and “Migrants in the Mexico-U.S.A. Border Awaiting Hearing.” The pages had multiple posts a day: some from apparent smugglers, also known as coyotes, posting ads, and others from desperate Central Americans seeking information about how best to immigrate to the U.S.  The Department of Homeland Security, which monitors social media posts by potential immigrants, believes the misinformation spread by smugglers is partly to blame for the increased amount of immigrants streaming to the border.  In response, Facebook removed all of the posts that NBC News flagged to the company.  In March Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee about smugglers using the platform to spread misinformation to immigrants to which he responded “Congressman, that’s against our policies, and we’re taking a lot of steps to stop it.”
  • Presidential Proclamation 10052, which temporarily suspended the entry of certain H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrants into the United States, expired without renewal on March 31, 2021.The proclamation was implemented by the Trump administration to prevent certain foreign nationals in temporary work visa categories from entering the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban was initially set to expire on December 31, 2020, but it was extended through March 31, 2021.  However other travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are still in effect including a travel ban preventing most foreign nationals from entering the U.S. if they have been physically present in the Schengen Area, China, Iran, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, the U.K. in the past 14 days before entry into the U.S. All travelers arriving in the United States by air must have documentation confirming negative COVID-19 test results, with results obtained no more than three days before boarding their flight to the United States. Alternatively, they can provide documentation confirming recovery from a recent COVID-19 infection.
  • The States of Texas and Louisiana sued the Biden administration in federal court on Tuesday, April 7th over a series of recent enforcement directives the administration handed down to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. The lawsuit complains that late February guidance from Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson both expanded and diminished enforcement priorities obfuscating the operational status and thus led ICE to stop detaining immigrants convicted of minor felony offenses.The Biden administration’s guidance calls for ICE to detain immigrants convicted of “aggravated felonies” with the intent to initiate deportation proceedings. The guidance stands in contrast to the prior two administrations of Donald Trump and Barack Obama who targeted all undocumented immigrants and those with “significant misdemeanor” offenses, respectively.“
  • Immigration advocates in Chicago are planning a May 1 rally to push the Biden administration to legalize undocumented immigrants across the country. The rally is expected to start at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., with participants then marching to Federal Plaza in the Loop, organizers said Thursday April 8th, at a news conference at the plaza. 
  • U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday April 5th named two critics of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies to key border control and immigration positions, choosing Chris Magnus, the police chief in Tucson, Arizona, near the U.S.-Mexico border, to lead the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, and Ur Jaddou as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which handles the country’s legal immigration system. Both will have to be confirmed by the Senate before assuming duties. Magnus has been in charge of the Tucson police department since 2016 and has aligned himself with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that emphasizes a less aggressive, community-based policing model. Magnus has opposed efforts to declare Tucson a “sanctuary city” where undocumented immigrants could stay with little fear of being apprehended by federal border patrol agents. Magnus is a member of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, a partner to the National Immigration Forum, which says local police should not involve themselves in federal immigration enforcement. Last year, the Police Executive Research Forum, which works with departments across the U.S., gave its leadership award to Magnus, saying he had “created new programs that serve as models for police agencies across the country.”Magnus offered to resign as Tucson police chief last year after a man died in police custody in an incident in which he said he could not breathe after being handcuffed and restrained face down. But the Tucson city manager rejected the offer.  Jaddou, a former general counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, worked for the Washington-based immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice during the Trump administration as director of DHS Watch. The group sought to hold the Department of Homeland Security, which houses immigration and border security agencies, accountable for its actions and frequently criticized Trump’s policies. 
  • Norah O’Donnell, anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News,” visited former president Mr. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush at their Texas ranch, south of Dallas. There, the 74-year-old opened up about his life after leaving office, his thoughts on the country, his painting and his new book, “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants” (Crown).In 2006, Mr. Bush gave an Oval Office address on immigration and in response to a question from “O’Donnell: “Is it(immigration) one of the biggest disappointments of your presidency, not being –”Mr. Bush: “Yes, it really is. I campaigned on immigration reform. I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do.”
  • F-1 Students’ Work Authorization Filing Options Now Available Online

On April 12, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new filing policy for certain F-1 students to receive their work cards in light of the past year’s extensive adjudication delays in issuing receipt notices and the adjudication of I-765 applications. This pertains to F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT), who can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, through an online portal if they are filing under one of these categories:

  • (c)(3)(A) – Pre-completion OPT;
  • (c)(3)(B) – Post-completion OPT; and
  • (c)(3)(C) – 24-month extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.
  • If an applicant submits Form I-765 online to request employment authorization on or after April 15, 2021, but is eligible for a different employment authorization category, USCIS will deny the application and retain the fee. As USCIS continues to transition to paperless operations, the agency will work to expand online filing for Form I-765 to additional categories.

Online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case anytime from anywhere and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail. To file Form I-765 online, individuals must first create a USCIS online account.


Return of Green Card Holders and Documents to Present, After Long Absence During Pandemic

As of April 9, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a reminder of its current policy, under its Carrier Liaison Program, for airlines to accept the following documents for boarding of lawful permanent residents (LPRs):

  • Unexpired valid Permanent Resident Card (PRC).
  • Valid and unexpired reentry permit (I-327).
  • Expired PRC, provided that it was issued with a 10-year validity.
  • Expired PRC containing extension sticker/Form I-797:
    • Starting January 2021, the sticker that is currently issued to LPRs to extend the validity of their PRC (placed on the back of the card) has been discontinued.
    • The revised I-797 receipt notice, together with an applicant’s PRC, will serve as temporary evidence of lawful permanent resident status for 12 months from the expiration date on the front of the card.
    • A PRC that contains the extension sticker will remain valid until the expiration date.
    • The document must be the original I-797 permit (a copy is not accepted).
  • Expired Conditional Resident Card with a two-year validity, provided the applicant also has a notice of action that extends the validity of the card for a specified length of time, generally 18 months.
  • Valid and unexpired SB-1 visa (which will need to be obtained before traveling to the United States from the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where the individual is residing).
  • In his first funding request to Congress, President Biden has requested billions to resettle refugees, house migrant children, speed up U.S. citizenship petitions and process asylum-seekers along the southern border. The White House on Friday unveiled the president’s $1.5 trillion discretionary funding request for fiscal year 2022. The preliminary spending request to Congress includes several multi-billion-dollar immigration-related allocations for the Departments of Homeland Security, State and Health and Human Services.The proposal allocates $52 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, roughly the same amount provided in 2021. About $1.2 billion would be reserved for what the administration calls “effective and modern” border security, including plans to revamp ports of entry, expand technology, curtail human and drug smuggling and improve the processing of migrants and asylum-seekers.The request submitted to Congress does not include any funds for wall or barrier construction along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Mr. Biden halted on Inauguration Day. In fact, the plan calls for unused border wall construction funds allocated in 2021 to be cancelled.Under Mr. Biden’s plan, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would receive $345 million in funding to expedite the adjudication of applications for asylum and U.S. citizenship; interview refugees; and modernize agency operations. The administration said the request will also provide an unspecified amount of funding for programs designed to serve as alternatives to detaining migrant families while their requests for asylum or other forms of U.S. sanctuary are reviewed. The plan would provide an additional $84 million to fund the investigation of workplace complaints, including those related to white supremacy, among employees at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Office of Refugee Resettlement, a branch of the Department Health and Human Services, would have a $4.1 billion budget under the proposal, which said the allocation is designed to help the administration resettle up to 125,000 refugees in fiscal year 2022. The State Department, which also plays a major role in refugee resettlement, would receive funds for this effort as well, according to the plan. Other funds would be allocated to offer migrant families separated along the U.S.-Mexico border during the Trump administration mental health services. Mr. Biden’s preliminary spending plan would also increase by 21% the funding provided to the nation’s immigration courts, which are overseen by the Justice Department. The proposed $157 million in additional funding would be used to hire 100 immigration judges, as well as courtroom staff. The administration said the hirings would help reduce the 1.3 million backlog of pending cases before the immigration courts.  Overall, the State Department would receive $10 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced people around the world, including refugees fleeing armed conflict. To reduce U.S.-bound migration from Central America, the State Department would have $861 million to finance efforts to mitigate corruption, violence and poverty in the region.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice has dropped its challenge to a court decision that said the federal government could not force two Rhode Island cities to turn local police into federal immigration agents. The two cities sued in August 2018 after the federal government required recipients of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to cooperate with authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration law. Both cities are self-described “sanctuary cities” and do not direct their police forces to carry out federal immigration policy. A U.S. District Court and the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both sided with the cities. 
  • Vice President Kamala Harris has announced that she plans to visit Mexico and Guatemala soon as part of her plan to use diplomacy to slow migration to the US-Mexican border. President Joe Biden, who has moved away from predecessor Donald Trump’s hardline immigration approach, gave Harris the job of leading US efforts with Mexico and Central America’s Northern Triangle countries – Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala – to deter migrants from crossing into the United States. 

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top