This Week In Immigration – Week of May 31, 2021

This Week In Immigration

June 1, 2021  – WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Tuesday formally ended a Trump-era immigration policy that forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court. A seven page memo by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas marked the end of the Migrant Protection Protocols, which returned about 70,000 asylum seekers to Mexico from January 2019 until it was halted on President Biden’s first day in office two years later. The policy coincided with a sharp decline of asylum seekers at the border, but critics noted that people were hampered by violent conditions in Mexico, lack of access to lawyers and difficulty making it to court. Mayorkas acknowledged those concerns by noting the high rate of denied claims for failing to appear in court and the lack of housing, income and safety in Mexico.  Since Feb. 19, about 11,200 people with active cases have been allowed to return to the United States to wait for a ruling, a process that can take years in the backlogged court system. The secretary announced a new docket released in immigration court announced Friday that aims to decide asylum cases at the border within 300 days. He promised “additional anticipated regulatory and policy changes,” without elaborating.

June 1, 2021 – Supreme Court overturns 9th Circuit’s rule that favors those seeking asylum

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled unanimously in favor of the government in a case that determines how courts should rule on the credibility of an asylum seekers’ claim when the facts in the case are in doubt. In Tuesday’s ruling, the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling that found two asylum seekers’ claims to be credible. In one case, Ming Dai sought asylum in the U.S., claiming China sought to persecute him for violating the government’s one-child policy. In a separate case that was also considered, Cesar Alcaraz-Enriquez sought permission to stay in the U.S. because he feared persecution in Mexico In writing the opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that instead of presuming an asylum seekers’ account to be fact, the Board of Immigration Appeals should review factfinders’ work and apply “applying a presumption of credibility” only “if there is no explicit adverse credibility determination.” The ruling was the latest in a series of high court decisions that overturned rulings made by the Ninth Circuit.

June 2, 2021  – MUMBAI: A few Indians have now joined other plaintiffs in the ongoing litigation, challenging the Covid-related travel ban to the US. An amended complaint (lawsuit petition) was recently filed with a US district court (District of Columbia) to include the travel ban for those physically present in India. On April 30, 2021, US President Joe Biden issued a proclamation restricting the entry of non-immigrants who were physically present within India during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the US. This presumably followed the detection of a new coronavirus variant and a surge of cases across India. The US also has in place, a Covid related travel ban for several other countries, While green card holders were exempt from the travel ban, it badly hit those holding H-1B visas or H-4 dependent visas who were visiting India for various reasons, including to care for Covid stricken family members. Owing to the indefinite travel ban, such individuals found themselves stranded. However, the exception clause enabled those who had US citizen children to travel back to the US. As this lawsuit petition points out, “Several plaintiffs are long-term employees of US companies, who have been stuck outside of the US and whose careers are at risk, as they cannot return to their jobs, homes, and communities. All of the individual plaintiffs have suffered additional expenses and undue stress and frustration while awaiting the Department of State’s resumption of non-immigrant visa processing.” The plaintiffs contend that multiple court decisions in the past have ruled that a suspension of entry does not authorize the US Department of State (DOS) to institute a ‘no-visa’ policy for the affected, eligible individuals who are prevented from entry into the US. However, DOS has unlawfully interpreted section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizing the President to temporarily suspend the entry of classes of non-citizens to be a grant of authority to suspend the processing of visas and create exceptions for issuance,” according to the lawsuit petition. Apart from the travel ban, currently US consulates in India are largely shut and are operational only for emergency visa issuance.

June 4th, 2021 – A 46-page document, called “DHS Plan to Restore Trust in Our Legal Immigration System,” was released which details numerous initiatives intended to dismantle former President Trump’s policies as well as reduce the backlogs of hundreds of thousands of visa holders, including

  • Making it easier for more people to immigrate to the United States, including highly-skilled workers, asylum-seekers, and farm workers.
  • Reducing fees or providing fee waivers for immigrants who file their applications online.
  • Increasing virtual interviews and electronic filing.
  • Revamping the U-visa program, which provides nonimmigrant visas to certain crime victims who assist law enforcement.
  • Implementing new regulations to “encourage full participation by immigrants in our civic life.”

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