BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
There were no immigration-related bills introduced or considered the week of October 31, 2022.
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session on Wednesday, November 9, and Thursday, November 10, 2022.
The U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session the week of Monday, November 7, 2022.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
US Resettles Just 2,153 Refugees in First Month of FY 2023
Refugee resettlement data released by the State Department on November 3 revealed that the administration resettled 2,153 refugees in October, the first month of Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. This number represents a 61% decline from the 5,546 refugees resettled in September. The data follows a trend in recent years where September resettlement represents a high-water mark while October tends to experience lower-than-average resettlements.
With the first month of the fiscal year in the books, the Biden administration is on track to resettle 25,836 refugees total in FY 2023 — almost the same as last year and not close to the ceiling President Biden again set at 125,000 in September. In addition, the Biden administration pledged in June to resettle 20,000 refugees from the Americas during Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024. However, the October data shows that during the first month of this FY, the U.S. resettled 377 from the hemisphere, a trend that would lead to only 9,048 resettled by the end of FY 2024.
Among the nationalities that were resettled in higher numbers, Congolese refugees continued leading the list with 617, followed by Afghans with 371, Syrians with 270, Burmese with 216, and Guatemalans with 161.
The October resettlement data also reveals that just 996 Afghans with Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) arrived in October, a significant decrease from the 2,577 in September. The SIV pathway remains limited for many Afghans here and abroad, one reason many immigration advocates and veterans continue pressuring Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.
Biden Administration Has Approved Over 6,800 Venezuelan Parole Applications So Far
On November 3, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released data on the recently launched private sponsorship parole program that will allow up to 24,000 Venezuelans to access temporary protections in the U.S. The data revealed that 6,800 Venezuelans have already been approved for parole — quickly nearing the program’s cap — and about 500 have already entered the United States. The program allows individuals in the U.S. with lawful status to sponsor Venezuelan beneficiaries who have not yet entered the U.S. for humanitarian parole status. With this status, the beneficiaries may travel, live, and work in the United States for up to two years. Notably, one sponsor saw her applications to sponsor multiple beneficiaries approved in just a few hours — a remarkable processing time for USCIS, an agency whose months-long processing delays across most other applications have become standard.
The administration has coupled the new parole program with an expansion of Title 42 to arriving Venezuelans at the border. Thousands of Venezuelans have now been expelled under the protocol, leaving them without an opportunity to seek asylum or protections under U.S. law. Consequently, encampments of Venezuelan migrants have formed in Mexico along the U.S. border as they search for a sponsor or a different means to enter the country. On October 31, tensions grew between the migrants and CBP agents. One man waving a Venezuelan flag allegedly jabbed the flagpole towards the CBP agents, and the officers shot “crowd control projectiles” at the migrants.
Canada Announces Plan to Welcome 1.45 Million Immigrants by 2025
On November 1, the Canadian government announced its goal to bring in a record 1.45 million immigrants by 2025. The new immigration plan aims to fill significant labor shortages in the country by taking in 465,000 people in 2023 and increasing the number to 500,000 in 2025. With this policy, Canada is looking to mitigate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which left nearly one million jobs vacant across every sector in every region of the country. Under the aegis of the business community, the government is expanding its existing policy of promoting immigration to offset the impact of low birthrates and an aging population on its workforce.
According to census data from October, immigrants now account for an all-time high of 23 percent of the Canadian population. Recent immigrants, who are younger on average than the rest of the Canadian population, comprise four-fifths of Canada’s labor force growth. The Canadian government’s latest plan marks an increase in admittances from last year, when it welcomed 405,000 immigrants—the most it had ever welcomed in a single year. As part of its new policy, Canada will focus on admitting more skilled economic immigrants, with a target of 60 percent admitted annually under the economic category by 2025. Immigrants arriving under family reunification or refugee status will account for a large portion of the remaining slots.
Canada’s efforts to increase immigration enjoy bipartisan support, standing in contrast to many other Western countries in which polarized political climates have bred anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. The U.S. immigration system operates under a system of caps and ceilings, whereas the Canadian system sets targets and goals.
Republican-Led States Seek to Hold DHS in Contempt for Exempting Haitian Migrants From Title 42 Expulsions
On November 1, twenty-four Republican-led states, spearheaded by Arizona, asked a federal court to hold the Biden Administration in contempt for not expelling Haitian migrants under Title 42. Title 42 is a pandemic-era order that both the Trump and Biden administrations have used since March 2020 to rapidly expel arriving migrants without providing them the opportunity to seek asylum. The states’ request relies on a May 20 ruling from a federal judge in Louisiana in the case Louisiana et al. v. CDC et al that ordered the Biden administration to keep Title 42 in place. In March 2022, the Biden administration had announced its intention to end the use of Title 42 at the border.
The plaintiff states argue that DHS has “de facto terminated the Title 42 Policy vis-à-vis citizens of Haiti… employing the humanitarian exception to circumvent — and perhaps violate — the Court’s injunction.” In contrast, immigration advocates argue the reason behind the decrease in Title 42 expulsions of Haitians is due to a significant decrease of illegal entries and that Haitians are accessing lawful exemptions to the expulsions at ports of entry. According to the most recent data, the vast majority of Haitians in recent months have entered through official ports of entry.
The controversy surrounding Haitian expulsions via Title 42 comes at a critical moment for Haitian immigration. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) over 96,000 nationals have been displaced from the capital, Port-au-Prince, due to “inter-gang violence and social unrest.” In September, these gangs blockaded Haiti’s main fuel supply point, causing a shortage in fuel and effectively hindering citizens’ chance to escape by boat. Now, the Biden Administration has begun to prepare for a potential increase of Haitians traveling by sea travel upon the blockade’s termination. Among the options that the Biden administration is reportedly considering include holding migrants in a third country or expanding the existing migrant processing facility in Guantánamo, Cuba.
State & Local
Arizona Governor Continues Filling Gaps in Border Wall with Shipping Containers in Defiance of Federal Government
On October 17 — two months after Governor Doug Ducey (R-Arizona) ordered the use of shipping containers to close a 1,000-foot gap in the U.S. Mexico border wall near Yuma, Arizona — the federal government requested Arizona’s government to remove the 182 containers that had been placed there. The federal government argued that the unauthorized placement of those containers constituted a violation of federal law and trespassing on federal property. In addition, the federal government stressed that such trespassing harms federal lands and hinders the fulfillment of contracts awarded for the closure of border wall gaps in that sector.
In response to the letter, on October 18, Arizona’s government replied that “the containers will remain in place until specific details regarding construction are provided.” Furthermore, on October 24, Governor Ducey announced the start of the project’s second phase, with plans to use 2,770 containers to fill a 10-mile gap in Cochise County. According to Governor Ducey’s spokesperson, the first phase of the project had a cost of $13 million, and the second phase is expected to cost $95 million.
In addition to the Federal Government’s opposition to the use of shipping containers, the Cocopah Indian Tribe complained that the state of Arizona acted against its wishes by placing 42 containers on its land. Moreover, on October 16, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue Arizona’s government over the environmental impact of the shipping containers, arguing that it obstructs a critical jaguar and ocelot migration corridor.
Texas Governor Diverts $359.6 Million from State Prison System to Fund Operation Lone Star
On October 27, Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) diverted $359.6 million from the state prison system’s budget appropriated for fiscal year 2023 to fund Operation Lone Star through the next ten months. Operation Lone Star (OLS) is a controversial immigration and border enforcement strategy that Texas Governor Abbott launched in March 2021 that includes a number of efforts to use state resources to restrict and apprehend arriving migrants.
OLS — which so far has cost more than $4 billion according to a Texas Tribune report — allows the government of Texas to keep thousands of Department of Public Safety troopers and Texas National Guard members stationed along the Texas-Mexico border and other areas of the state. The rationale for OLS is to “combat the smuggling of drugs and people into Texas.” However, it has run into legal and logistical challenges as border management and enforcement fall within the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Federal government.
Massachusetts Governor Requests Federal Assistance for Resettlement of Migrants
On October 31, Governor Charles Baker (R-Massachusetts) sent a letter to the Biden administration requesting “urgent federal government assistance for the resettlement of immigrant families arriving in Massachusetts.” Governor Baker noted that in fiscal year 2022, Massachusetts-based resettlement agencies served a total of 4,334 individuals, including over 2,000 Afghan humanitarian parolees, 822 Cuban and Haitian entrants, and 548 refugees.
In his letter, Governor Baker highlighted that “Massachusetts is proud to welcome individuals seeking asylum and refuge” but stressed the need for federal support “to cope with this substantial increase of immigrant families accessing shelters and other services.” In particular, Governor Baker had three requests for the federal government: 1) Expedite employment authorization documents for eligible new arrivals and asylum seekers, 2) Increase the amount allocated for refugee resettlement, and 3) Expand the populations who are considered eligible for federal support.
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); Immigration Detention: Actions Needed to Collect Consistent Information for Segregated Housing Oversight; October 26, 2022
This GAO report highlights that ICE made 14,581 segregated housing placements between 2017 and 2021. Segregated housing refers to ICE’s authority to separate migrants under the agency’s custody from the general detained population. The report highlights that about 40% of these segregated placements were for disciplinary reasons, and about 60% were for administrative reasons. However, the report notes that the agency’s supporting documentation does not always contain sufficient detail explaining the circumstances leading to segregated housing.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG); Major Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security; October 27, 2022
This DHS-OIG report provides an overview of DHS’s challenges and associated risks on multiple fronts, including immigration. It also highlights the steps DHS needs to take to address each challenge. Regarding immigration, DHS’s challenges include coordinating border security, controlling migrant surges, and improving migrant detention conditions. The report recommends DHS to improve the consistent application of standard procedures to document migrant apprehensions fully. It also suggests improving the consistent application of standards for the treatment and care of migrants.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
America’s Worker Shortages in the Agriculture and Food Industries: Direct Impact on Food Waste and Inflation
The paper explains how the labor deficit in the sector is increasing food waste and inflation. The paper also recognizes that inflation is a global phenomenon where immigration reform in the United States is not a panacea. It argues, however, that labor reforms such as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA), would provide stability in the agricultural sector, prevent the offshoring of food production, and reduce food waste from unharvested crops in American farms, consequently helping to alleviate food inflation.
The fact sheet describes and visualizes the changing dynamics at the border — particularly concerning the increasing number of Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Colombians. It also discusses the policy implications of these changes.
This explainer describes the elements, policies, likely impact, and some concerns related to the Venezuela Parole Program and Title 42 expansion to Venezuelans.
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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Arturo Castellanos-Canales, National Immigration Forum Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Arturo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.