Texas Faces Criticism for New National Guard Border Plan
This week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott rolled out a new border security plan that authorizes the National Guard and Texas state police to apprehend and return migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Abbott claims a lack of sufficient enforcement by federal immigration authorities and a surge in border crossings forced his hand.
The new plan does not include clear details of what will happen to migrants who are apprehended by the National Guard or state police. Immigration advocates claim that returning migrants to ports of entry could cause a serious disruption to an already struggling border system.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials condemned the move, saying that state governments who act unilaterally make it more difficult for federal agencies to do their jobs.
Biden Admin Asks Supreme Court to Reinstate Policy Limiting Arrests
The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court last Friday to reinstate a policy that limits who immigration agents can arrest and deport after lower courts sided with Republican officials in Texas and Louisiana.
The policy, announced by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last year, instructs immigration authorities to prioritize arresting undocumented immigrants who pose “serious threats to public safety and national security.”
Last month, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the policy was illegal, and a federal appeals court later chose not to reverse the ruling.
The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to temporarily lift the ruling, or at least only have it apply in Texas and Louisiana.
Appeals Court Skeptical of Arguments to Save DACA
A federal appeals court heard arguments last week on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, appearing skeptical of the government’s arguments that the program is legal and should be saved.
The oral arguments in New Orleans are part of the Biden administration’s fight to save DACA after a federal judge in Texas ruled in August 2021 that DACA was illegal, and blocked new applicants from applying for the program’s access to work authorization and protection from deportation.
The oral arguments, which lasted about 45 minutes, focused on whether Texas and the other states suing to block DACA could show enough negative impact on them to proceed with their lawsuit.
Government Extends TPS for Venezuelans
DHS announced it will extend Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Venezuela for 18 months, shielding Venezuelans in the U.S. from deportation.
Venezuelans who were in the country as of March 8, 2021 are eligible to apply.
DHS can designate a country for TPS when conditions in the foreign country are too dangerous to return people, such as ongoing armed conflict and natural disasters. The status provides protection from deportation and work authorization, but provides no path to permanent residency or citizenship.
Migrants who arrived in the U.S. after March 8th, 2021 are excluded, which immigration advocates say will leave more than 150,000 Venezuelans who entered since then without protection.
Ombudsman Slams USCIS Backlogs
The backlogs at USCIS have had negative consequences across the board, according to the annual report issued by the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman.
Each year, the CIS Ombudsman releases an annual report on the state of affairs at USCIS and offers recommendations on changes the agency could make to improve the identified problems.
The latest report said 2021 marked what it called “an unwelcome watershed” for USCIS, as it tried to work its way out of the pandemic but was instead confronted by “the crisis of backlogs which is now threatening to overwhelm it.”
The Ombudsman laid out a series of recommendations for USCIS to help alleviate the impact of the backlog including expanding flexibility for work and travel documents, making the expedite process more efficient and consistent, and continuing to scale up digitization efforts.