This Week In Immigration – Week of July 19-25, 2021

This Week In Immigration

Tuesday July 20, 2021 Budget reconciliation might cover farm worker immigration issues –The reconciliation bill that Senate Democrats are preparing may include a provision to cover immigration status for essential workers including farm workers, but there is debate over whether Senate rules would allow an immigration measure to be included. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Budget Committee, is pushing to pass a pathway to citizenship for essential workers, “Dreamers” and other undocumented immigrants as part of the spending bill. The House has already passed a Farmworker Modernization Act and the bill is under consideration in the Senate.

Tuesday July 20, 2021 – Texas farmers want Biden to pay for damage from illegal immigration Farmers in Texas are overwhelmed with human traffickers streaming illegal immigrants across the border under President Biden’s watch and are looking for compensation. The largest organization of farmers in America has taken action behind the scenes this summer to recoup the money that its members have had to fork over during the first six months of the Biden administration to cover all sorts of issues prompted by the spike in illegal migration at the US-Mexico boundary, where more non-citizens are being apprehended while attempting to illegally enter the country every month than any other time in the past 21 years, according to federal data. Texas Farm Bureau president Russell Boening said that his group’s farmers, including those who live hundreds of miles north of the international boundary, are seeing human smugglers drive vehicles through their fields of crops, residences broken into, and families left stranded on their property. The activity has reached a level where farmers are desperate for federal help to stop the crime and cannot sustain the financial hits. Faced with calls by members to represent their concerns to Washington, the American Farm Bureau Federation, all 50 state bureaus, and the Puerto Rico Farm Bureau sent a letter in early June to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, asking the Biden administration to address what local communities were experiencing. The White House agreed to a virtual meeting in late June and farm bureau officials pleaded their case before top federal officials, explaining not only how landowners across Texas were being impacted by rising illegal immigration but the need for financial assistance because of the disaster.

Wednesday July 21, 2021  Democrats begin to overhaul ICE – The House Appropriations Committee last week approved a plan to substantively make over the portion of ICE that deals with illegal immigration, known as Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), along with changes to how federal law enforcement officers would handle migrants.  But progressive Democrats, some of whom called in 2018 for the outright abolishment of ICE, did not stop there. “With the new budget, what they’re doing right now is they’re tearing ICE apart. The end game is tearing it up piece by piece,” said Tom Homan, a three-decade federal immigration officer who oversaw ICE during the Trump administration. 

Wednesday July 21, 2021 Those dropped by ICE in Shreveport now with friends and family – All the immigrants who were dropped off by ICE at the Shreveport bus station last Thursday have been reunited with their families and friends in the United States, according to Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention. The influx of immigrants came in two waves to the SporTran Intermodal Terminal at Texas and Murphy streets in downtown Shreveport, according to a SporTran official, who did not want to be identified. ICE confirmed the arrival of two buses. Local government officials confirmed that one bus arrived Thursday with about 50 immigrants on board. A second bus arrived later at about 5:30 p.m. with 29 people aboard — 22 men and seven women. Once notified of the sudden release, most of their families purchased plane or bus tickets for their loved ones.  A few immigrants whose families could not afford plane tickets received free plane tickets from the nonprofit Miles for Migrants which helps reunite refugees and asylum seekers with their families, said Frances Kelley, a spokeswoman for Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention, in a news release Monday. 

Wednesday July 21, 2021 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defended the immigration portions of the proposed legislation, known as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act – Vilsack batted back attacks from Republicans on the Biden administration’s border policies while discussing migrant farmworker programs at a Wednesday hearing, where Sen. Ted Cruz called Vilsack’s view on immigration “fertilizer.” During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on creating an earned pathway to citizenship for migrant farmworkers, several Republicans said they would not support such legislation without first ramping up border security. “You don’t give amnesty and hope people won’t keep coming. You secure the border, then you provide legal status. We’re doing it ass backwards,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The House in March passed legislation that would allow migrants who worked a certain number of years in agriculture to apply for legal status. Vilsack defended the bill, saying he doesn’t believe its passage would cause an influx of migrants at the border, pushing back against claims that a process allowing farmworkers to apply for U.S. citizenship after paying a $1,000 penalty fee is “amnesty.” The farmworker legislation at issue in Wednesday’s hearing, which would also streamline the process for farms to hire migrant workers and increase worker protections, has garnered some bipartisan support. It is co-sponsored by 13 House Republicans and passed the chamber in March with 30 Republican votes.
Wednesday July 21, 2021. Converted Texas prison gets first immigrant detainees as Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security effort ramps up. A Texas prison has officially started detaining immigrants accused of state crimes after allegedly crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s heightened border security efforts. The judge, a Democrat, said Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 149,000 immigrants in the Del Rio sector alone this fiscal year, the second most after the Rio Grande Valley, according to federal statistics. Hundreds of others evade detection by crossing further away from major entry points, often traversing private land, frightening landowners not used to such levels of migration, Owens said. Under Abbott’s border initiative, dubbed Operation Lone Star, the governor has sent about 1,000 Texas Department of Public Safety officers — about a quarter of the state police force — to counties on or near the border. After declaring the rise in illegal immigration a disaster in May, the governor warned in June that his police force would begin making arrests on state charges and directed the prison system to open up space to jail immigrants.

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