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Much like the wall-to-wall coverage of the drama in the United States (U.S) House of Representatives, the recent headlines on the immigration front in the U.S. have been intense. Here are some of the top headlines making U.S. immigration news this past week.
President Biden finally makes some moves
After letting the immigration influx into the U.S. across the southern border become untenable, President Joe Biden on January 5 announced his administration will now only accept up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
The administration also announced its intention to publish a new proposed rule that would impose several sweeping new asylum bans, including a version of President Trump’s asylum “Transit Ban.”
As described by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the proposed transit ban rule would bar asylum for any person who had not previously applied for asylum in a third country before reaching the United States, as well as those who sought asylum without going through a new process at a port of entry.
On Sunday, Jan. 8, Biden also unveiled plans to finally visit the U.S. southern border, his first ever as president.
Advocates slam Biden
Immigrant advocates immediately denounced the plan, arguing that it risks leaving more migrants in harm’s way in Mexico and is likely to exclude people with no connections to the U.S.
“Opening up new limited pathways for a small percentage of people does not obscure the fact that the Biden administration is illegally and immorally gutting access to humanitarian protections for the majority of people who have already fled their country seeking freedom and safety,” said International Refugee Assistance Project Policy Director Sunil Varghese in a statement.
Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the American Immigration Council, called out the administration for “a harsh, Trump-style crackdown on asylum seekers, many of whom are fleeing from regimes globally recognized as oppressive.”
“Expanding the use of Title 42 expulsions to Mexico will cause enormous harm for the thousands of asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution in their home countries and will now be blocked from seeking safety,” he said. “Title 42 is a failed policy [that] has caused immeasurable harm to our system of humanitarian protections, and the Biden administration should be getting rid of it, not expanding its use.”
McCarthy gavels in on immigration hard line
After a bruising weeklong battle within his own party, the 15th time turned out to be the charm for Cali’s Kevin McCarthy. He took the gavel as speaker of the House of Representatives with a bang on Jan. 7, promising his right-wingers to attack all the immigrants entering the US. Well, not in so many words, but he did promise the first order of business, like I predicted last week, would be the immigration crisis at the Mexican border. Kevvy says immigration reform will also be the GOP’s “top priority” and the Republican-controlled House will hold some of its first hearings of the year at the southern border. One can only assume what those reforms will look like. Good luck, Kev!
DeSantis activates Florida National Guard amid influx of migrants to Florida
Florida’s governor, Ron “Death” Santis, is now facing a migrant crisis himself. No need to hire a plane to go looking for any. Many, including Cubans, have been showing up in South Florida daily, including 300 who entered Dry Tortugas National Park, located about 70 miles west of Key West, on Jan. 2.
On Jan. 6, Ron, who managed to turn Miami red thanks to the votes of Cubans and Venezuelans, signed an executive order activating the state’s National Guard because the Florida Keys manages the major influx of people fleeing Cuba and other Caribbean nations.
The order also directs state law enforcement agencies and other state agencies to provide resources in support of local governments responding to the sharp increase in migrant landings in South Florida. Federal, state and local law enforcement have encountered more than 8,000 migrants in waters off the coast of Florida since August 2022, the governor’s office said. It will be interesting to see how those who voted for DeSantis will respond to his hardline approach to the landings of these migrants, especially those from Cuba.
Immigration fee hike coming
Immigrants seeking adjustment of status and other immigration services from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are likely to have to shell out more in fees this year.
USCIS has announced proposed fee raises, including a more than 30% increase for several family-based petitions; a 101% increase for removal of condition applications; and separate fees for the optional work and travel permit forms, which have long been free to file as part of the green card application.
Under the new fee structure, the costs for applying to turn a temporary visa into permanent residency—also known as a green card—would increase. Individuals who seek to adjust their status alone would pay an application fee of $1,540, up from $1,225, and those wanting to apply to travel and work while they wait would pay $2,820. The 60-day public comment period starts after publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register.
Fees will not change until the final rule goes into effect, after the public has had the opportunity to comment and USCIS finalizes the fee schedule in response to such comments. USCIS hosted a public engagement session on the proposed fee rule on January 11, 2023. (Amsterdam News)