Border Arrests Drop By 14%
After hitting a record high in May, arrests at the border decreased by 14% in June, according to new government data.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested 191,898 people last month, compared to 222,656 arrests the previous month. Of those arrests, 26% involved migrants who had already tried crossing the border at least once in the past year.
Since Covid-19 travel restrictions were lifted in the spring, border patrol agents have seen a record number of illegal border crossings.
Border agents also used a public health policy called Title 42 to expel 90,000 people found crossing the border illegally in June. The Trump-era policy allows CBP to turn back migrants and asylum seekers back to Mexico without a hearing or the chance to request asylum.
While the decrease in arrests was lower than the previous month, CBP did see an increase in unaccompanied children. Roughly 15,721 unaccompanied minors attempted to cross the border in June.
Vice President Harris Announces New Strategic U.S. Embassies
In a virtual address at the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the U.S. would open two new embassies in the Pacific region — one in the Polynesian monarchy Tonga and one in the small Micronesian island of Kiribati.
Increasing a diplomatic presence in Tonga and Kiribati is part of a wider strategic push by the Biden administration to counterbalance growing Chinese influence in the Pacific region. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the U.S. was also on track to reopen its embassy in the Solomon Islands for the first time since 1993.
In her address, Harris acknowledged the need for a closer partnership with the Pacific and a regular exchange between the U.S. and Pacific government officials at all levels. Until now, the U.S. Embassy Suva in Fiji has acted as the diplomatic epicenter for most of the Pacific, servicing Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu. Visa applicants from these countries have long had to travel to Suva for embassy assistance.
A lack of a U.S. Embassy or consulate in one’s country can cause barriers to the visa application process. Citizens of countries that do not have a U.S. Embassy or consulate can generally still apply for specific types of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas, but their applications have to be processed in neighboring countries. This typically means that applicants must navigate additional challenges, such as traveling internationally for their visa appointments and the extra costs associated with temporary stays outside their home country.
New Evidence Ties Trump Citizenship Question to Political Gain
The Trump administration tried for years to include a citizenship question in a key census count to benefit Republicans, according to a new report released Wednesday from the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
The report, based on a trove of memos and secret emails, confirms speculation that the Trump administration hoped to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment count.
“Today’s Committee memo pulls back the curtain on this shameful conduct and shows clearly how the Trump Administration secretly tried to manipulate the census for political gain while lying to the public and Congress about their goals,” Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, chair of the House oversight committee, said in a statement. “It is clear that legislative reforms are needed to prevent any future illegal or unconstitutional efforts to interfere with the census and chip away at our democracy.”
The once-a-decade census counts state population numbers, which are then used to decide how many Congressional seats each state is assigned.
The Trump administration argued the citizenship question was necessary to protect the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The U.S. Supreme Court finally blocked the administration from including the question in 2019, calling the reason for it “contrived”.
Excluding undocumented immigrants from the census count would favor Republicans by removing one congressional seat each from California, Florida, and Texas, according to a 2020 Pew Research report.
Defense Bill Could Be Last Chance for Immigration Proposals This Year
The House of Representatives passed last Thursday a broad defense authorization bill that included amendments to help Afghan refugees and “documented Dreamers,” in what is likely the last opportunity for Congress to enact any immigration reforms this year.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed by the House with three immigration-related amendments.
The House voted 329-101 to pass the NDAA, which funds and directs policy for the military and other aspects of U.S. defense. The annual bill, considered a “must-pass” piece of legislation, is in its 62nd iteration this year.
A bipartisan amendment was approved to protect documented Dreamers, the dependent children of green card applicants, and employment visa holders who face deportation when they “age out” of eligibility for the dependent visa status.
Afghan citizens who helped the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan will also see some relief if the House version of the NDAA becomes law. Two amendments to help Afghan refugees were approved. The first would direct the Department of State to dramatically increase processing capacity for Afghan special immigrant visa (SIV) applications and refugee referrals. The second would make it easier for Afghan students to receive visas without proving an intent to return to Afghanistan.
The Senate is negotiating its own version of the NDAA.
For more coverage of the immigration bills and negotiations taking place in the House and Senate, including the Farm Workforce Modernization Act and the China competition bill, see our full article.
USCIS Restores Pathway to Green Card for TPS Holders
USCIS restored a pathway to obtaining a green card for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders who originally entered the U.S. illegally. TPS recipients may now apply for “TPS travel authorization,” allowing them to leave the U.S. and lawfully return.
U.S. immigration law requires that a person who wishes to become a permanent resident must show that they were “inspected and admitted” when they entered the country. This requirement to receive a green card prevented some TPS holders from adjusting their status to permanent residents, unless they were able to obtain a parole document allowing them to leave and re-enter the country lawfully.
On August 20, 2020 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adopted a policy that barred TPS holders from applying for green cards, even if they reentered the country with an advance parole travel document.
The new policy will be retroactively applied to TPS holders who traveled using advance parole between August 20, 2020 and July 1, 2022.
Temporary Protected Status is granted when a person cannot safely return to their home country because of ongoing conflict, environmental disasters, or other extreme conditions.