USCIS Does Away With Trump-Era Mission Statement
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, released a new mission statement earlier this week, replacing a statement implemented by the previous administration that removed the phrase “nation of immigrants.”
The new statement was created with feedback from current USCIS employees, and includes terms such as “respect for all we serve,” and a “nation of welcome and possibility.” The move is part of a larger effort by the USCIS to build a more “accessible and humane” immigration system.
Court Vacates Two Trump-Era Rules That Denied Work Authorization to Asylum Seekers
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ruled on Monday that two rules restricting work permits for asylum-seekers were invalid because Chad Wolf, the official who enacted them, did not have the authority to do so and that the Biden administration could not save the rule after the fact.
The court held that the previous administration failed to follow the legal succession requirements for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The decision said that former Acting DHS Secretary Wolf was not validly installed at DHS, and therefore did not have the authority to enact any regulations and policies.
The first rule was a “timeline repeal rule,” which got rid of a rule requiring DHS to process asylum-seekers’ work permit applications within 30 days. The second rule added over a dozen restrictions to employment authorization for asylum seekers, including extending the length of time an asylum applicant had to wait before they could request work authorization from 150 days to one year.
CBP Takes Steps to Limit Power of Controversial Border Patrol Response Teams
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, is limiting the power of controversial quick response teams within the U.S. Border Patrol that immigrant advocates say have covered up instances of abuse by agents for decades.
The memo provides new standards to Border Patrol agents from the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility, and is an attempt to address the growing criticism of Border Patrol “critical incident teams,” or CITs.
U.S. Begins Quietly Deporting Venezuelans to Colombia
An increasing number of Venezuelans arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border are being deported to Colombia, rather than to their home country. The collapse of Venezuela’s economy coupled with political instability has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, forcing more than 6 million people to flee Venezuela since 2014.
Those who previously resided in Colombia are being returned there by the United States, rather than to Venezuela. This new strategy is the Biden administration’s latest attempt to reduce the number of Central and South American migrant crossings.
U.S. Immigration Courts Switch to E-Filing
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which houses the country’s immigration courts, now requires new immigration court filings to be made electronically, marking a change welcomed by many immigration attorneys and advocates.
Previously, e-filing was encouraged but not mandatory, and some immigration lawyers hope the move can help the immigration court backlog, which stands at over 1.6 million cases. However, as with previous efforts to roll out electronic services, glitches are expected.
In the meantime, attorneys working in the immigration courts say they are still waiting for guidance as to which currently pending cases will qualify for e-filing when the program becomes mandatory on February 11, 2022.
GOP Bill Immigration Bill Runs into Republican Rift
A first-term Republican House Representative has introduced an immigration reform bill that would provide some pathway to legal status to a majority of undocumented immigrants in United States in exchange for heavy increases in border spending and enforcement.
Despite the tough enforcement provisions, many conservative Republicans have signaled that they will not support any immigration reform proposal without significant concessions on what they view as border security.
Given that Democrats and immigration advocates have dismissed the proposal as an election-year ploy, and that though the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has touted the bill, their views are generally not shared by the Republican base, it seems unlikely that the bill will see much movement.