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Chipping Away of U.S. Legal Immigration: March Edition

Note to readers: Due to our current circumstances, many immigration services and policies are being influenced by the Coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, we have split this post into Coronavirus-related updates, and regular immigration updates.

Coronavirus Updates:

03/12  Concerns about immigrants in ICE detention centers grows

There are about 38,000 people in immigration detention centers throughout the country right now. Immigration advocates have started asking for safety plans for those in detention, stating that “People in detention are highly vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses. They are housed in close quarters and are often in poor health.” 

03/13 Coronavirus testing not included in Public Charge determinations


03/17  Migrants at U.S./Mexico border at high risk of Coronavirus

Thousands of migrants waiting at the border are at high risk of contracting coronavirus, advocates have warned. Poor access to health care, paired with unsanitary living conditions, create a prime environment for illness to spread.

03/17  Public charge rule may harm Coronavirus efforts

Although the Public Charge rule makes an exemption for coronavirus testing, experts still fear that the rule will stop immigrants from seeking out health care for fear of repercussions. 

03/17  Immigration courts remain open despite concern over Coronavirus


03/18  US Citizenship and Immigration suspends in-person immigration services

In an effort to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus, US Citizenship and Immigration services suspends all in-person services, including interviews and naturalization services. Services that do not require face-to-face contact will continue.

03/18 Refugee Entry Suspension through April 6


03/18  US Immigration services to halt most enforcement efforts

ICE has reported it will stop most immigration enforcement activities, and will instead focus on foreign nationals who have committed crimes or pose a threat to public safety. This includes not carrying out enforcement operations “at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.”

03/20 U.S. halts access to asylum at southern border due to Coronavirus concerns 


03/23  Immigration hearings for migrants waiting in Mexico postponed

All hearings scheduled through April 22 will be rescheduled, resulting in delayed hearings for the many waiting on immigration proceedings in Mexican border cities due to the Remain in Mexico policy. No hearings will be cancelled.

03/24  First immigrant in ICE detention tests positive

See also op-ed from former ICE director on the importance of finding a solution to protect detainees

03/26 Three unaccompanied children test positive for Coronavirus


03/27  Undocumented immigrants will not receive stimulus check


03/30  Court hearings for immigrants and asylum seekers not in detention postponed

For immigrants and asylum seekers not currently in detention, court hearings have been pushed back until at least May 1. These court hearings were previously pushed back until April 13. Detained cases are still proceeding as usual, including asylum seekers and children.

03/30 Pending Supreme Court decision and because of Coronavirus, DACA renewals can continue using previous filing info 


Immigration Updates:

03/02  Supreme Court skeptical of granting new hearings to asylum seekers

After oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts indicated that the court is “unlikely … to give asylum seekers claiming fear of persecution abroad a federal court hearing to avoid quick removal from the United States,” arguing that such a decision would significantly expand the number of asylum claims.

03/03  After seeking sanctuary at a church for 554 days, Honduran mother granted deferred action

After fleeing violence in Honduras, and having her asylum application turned down, Reyes took refuge in a Philadelphia church for years. Reyes will now be protected from deportation from  the United States.

03/05  ICE increases surveillance in “sanctuary” cities

At least 500 ICE agents will be part of increased enforcement efforts in “santuary” cities, including 24 hour surveillance around homes and workplaces of undocumented immigrants. 

03/05  35,000 additional seasonal worker visas will be available

In time for the summer season, 35,000 additional seasonal work visas will be available, with 10,000 set aside for people from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. 

03/11  Asylum seekers flown to Guatemala

Asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border are being flown to Guatemala to pursue asylum protections there, as outlined by the Asylum Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. and Guatemala. So far, about 800 asylum-seekers have been flown to Guatemala under this agreement.

03/11 More children face immigration judges through video screens


03/26 Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act signed into law

This new law ensures that “children of Americans stationed abroad in military or government service are considered “residing in the United States” for the purposes of acquiring citizenship.”

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