This Week In Immigration – Week of May 24, 2021

This Week In Immigration

May 24, 2021

The Biden administration has revoked Presidential Proclamation 9945 of October 4, 2019 – Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System, in Order To Protect the Availability of Healthcare Benefits for Americans (PP 9945).  PP 9945 was issued by the Trump administration and intended to suspend the entry of immigrants found to be a financial burden on the U.S. health care system. Per the proclamation, outside of very limited exceptions, individuals applying for an immigrant visa, including a diversity visa (i.e., the green card lottery), on or after Nov. 3, 2019, must demonstrate to the consular officer at the time of immigrant visa interview that they will be covered by approved health insurance within 30 days of their entry into the United States or have the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs. Under the Proclamation, inability to meet this requirement will result in the denial of the immigrant visa application.  President Biden revoked Proclamation 9945 on May 14, 2021, on the grounds that it “does not advance” the interests of the U.S. in creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment for noncitizens. Additionally, President Biden has stated that Proclamation 9945 is also in tension with the policy set forth in section 1 of Executive Order 14012, issued on Feb. 6, 2021, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans. President Biden also stated that the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Homeland Security will review any regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions developed pursuant to Proclamation 9945 and, as appropriate, issue revised guidance consistent with the policy set forth in this proclamation.

May 24, 2021

Senate Judiciary Committee leaders on Monday called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to recognize the immigration judges’ union and reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle it. In a letter first obtained by CQ Roll Call, Chairman Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and immigration subcommittee Chairman Alex Padilla, D-Calif., led an effort asking Garland to restore independence for immigration judges, who fall under Justice Department jurisdiction.The senators also asked Garland to provide details about his stance on the judges’ union by June 14. In November, following a request by the Trump administration, a labor board overturned long-standing precedent and ruled to decertify the union. Formally known as the National Association of Immigration Judges, it has acted as a bargaining representative for immigration judges for more than four decades. The senators also asked Garland how his department plans to revise its policy on free speech rights of immigration judges. The union sued the Justice Department in federal court last year over a policy barring immigration judges from discussing immigration law in their personal capacities, including during interviews with journalists and at academic conferences.  The letter was also signed by Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii and Cory Booker, D-N.J.

May 25, 2021

Congress remains deadlocked on immigration, state legislatures across the country are advancing bills to curb private immigration detention facilities in their states. California became the first to enact a law phasing out the use of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities run by private contractors in 2017. Illinois followed two years later.The trend has accelerated: In the last two months alone, a bill banning private immigration detention was enacted in Washington state, and similar legislation advanced in New Jersey and Maryland. Within the last few weeks, Democrats proposed a private immigration detention ban in New York.The concept has also gained traction in Congress. Last month, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Adam Smith, D-Wash., introduced legislation to end the use of private jails as immigration detention centers. The measure would promote “community-based alternatives to detention while also restoring due process for immigrants and increasing oversight, accountability, and transparency measures,” the trio said in a statement. Private immigration detention has long predated former President Donald Trump, but policy analysts say the expansion of immigration detention under Trump may have driven the recent rise in pushback at the state level.

May 26, 2021

President Biden’s nominee Ur Jaddou, nominated to lead the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, has centered on reducing backlogs, fiscal policy and upgrading technology.  In addition, Jaddou will work to ensure that USCIS staff “have the resources, support, and leadership they need to carry out their roles,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a nomination hearing Wednesday. Her nomination to be director comes as the administration works to unwind some of the Trump administration’s more restrictive immigration policies and the USCIS struggles to alleviate a backlog of visa applications. It has not had a Senate-confirmed director since Lee Francis Cissna, who President Donald Trump compelled to resign in 2019. The committee heard from five other nominees over the 3 1/2-hour session, limiting the questioning of Jaddou, as most of the panel’s time and attention focused on Biden’s nominees to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, David Chipman, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, Anne Milgram.The hearing concluded without a vote on the nominees.

May 26, 2021 

The head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says he expects “significant changes” to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after a Biden administration review of the agency is completed in the months ahead. Speaking with The Washington Post, Alejandro Mayorkas said that he planned to reorganize the priorities of the agency, which saw vociferous opposition from Democrats during its Trump-era immigration crackdowns, without shrinking its overall size or scope.“I really am focused on it becoming a premier national security and law enforcement agency,” he continued. “I really want to elevate all of the other work [ICE] does and also ensure that its civil immigration work is well-focused in the service of the national security and public safety mission.” ICE agents now reportedly carry out an average of one arrest every two months, and the agency as a whole deported fewer than 3,000 migrants last month, less than any other time in its recorded history.

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