U.S. Ends COVID-19 Test Requirement for Air Travelers
The Biden administration last week lifted its requirement that all air travelers entering the United States show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
The new policy went into effect June 12. A senior administration official said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will reassess the change in 90 days and will “continue to evaluate it on an ongoing basis.”
The CDC said the high vaccination rate meant the coronavirus now posed a “lower risk of severe disease and death across the United States.”
The requirement that air travelers be tested went into effect January 2021. The CDC tightened the policy in December, requiring all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken within one day of departure, rather than three days.
The decision was applauded by the travel industry, which for months has pushed the administration to drop the testing requirement.
The CDC still requires that most non-U.S. citizens be fully vaccinated to enter the U.S. For more info, check out the Boundless article answering common questions about Covid and travel.
Supreme Court Issues Two Decisions Limiting Immigrants’ Rights
The Supreme Court is in the midst of releasing several opinions as it nears the end of its current session, and this past week saw two decisions on immigration detention, neither of which were positive for immigrants.
In the first decision, the Court ruled that a man who was assaulted by a Border Patrol agent had no right to sue the agent for violating his Constitutional rights. The decision was made 6-3 along ideological lines, and only narrowly avoided overruling a 1971 precedent that allowed federal courts to allow certain kinds of lawsuits against federal agents who violate people’s constitutional rights. The ruling implies that only Congress can permit those types of suits. The decision will effectively prevent people from seeking justice when their constitutional rights, such as the Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure, are violated by federal officials.
The second decision found that thousands of immigrants waiting for court hearings can be detained in immigration jails indefinitely, with no right to a bond hearing. Though the decision maintains the current system, and was not a surprise to immigration advocates, it locks into place a system which holds people in sometimes dangerous and squalid conditions for potentially years at a time, even if they have committed no crime and are not a threat to the community.
According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a research organization at Syracuse University, there were more than 24,500 people in immigration detention as of June 5. With the immigration court backlog currently at over 1.8 million cases, many of these thousands of people could remain in jail for years, waiting for their cases to be resolved.
Trump-Era Federal Judge Blocks Policy Limiting Immigration Enforcement
President Biden’s immigration agenda took another hit this week after a federal judge in Texas blocked a major Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy that restricts who immigration authorities can arrest and deport.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the policy last year, instructing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities to prioritize “serious threats to public safety and national security,” arguing that being in the country illegally should not be the sole basis for arrest. Mayorkas’ guidelines are in sharp contrast to the enforcement discretion ICE officers had under the previous Trump administration, which allowed the agency to detain and deport anyone present in the U.S. without proper authorization.
In his ruling, Federal Judge Tipton argued that DHS’ new guidelines impede ICE’s ability to uphold and enforce the law. Tipton — like several other Trump-era appointees in Texas and Louisiana — has a pattern of ruling against Biden’s immigration policies.
The Biden administration has struggled to successfully implement a new immigration agenda since day one. Immigrant advocates blame a “shadow Trump administration” of Republican-led states that have battled to keep Trump-era policies alive. In April, for instance, a federal judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked the Biden administration from ending Title 42, a controversial program which has restricted migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border under the guise of COVID-19 restrictions.
You can learn about the current state of President Biden’s immigration initiatives and what’s currently blocked in court in Boundless’ policy tracker.
Supreme Court Tosses States’ Effort to Intervene in Public Charge Case
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week threw out an attempt by Arizona and 12 other states to defend a controversial Trump-era policy that made it harder for legal immigrants to live in the country if they used certain public benefits.
The lawsuit led by Arizona stemmed from the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw the rule in March 2021. The states argued that the federal government was declining to defend the Rule, and they sought permission to defend the dead Rule in federal court, instead of the government.
The appeals court denied the request, and the group of states appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Though the Court initially agreed to hear the case, Wednesday it dismissed it without a decision.
Trump Administration Deliberately Delayed Reuniting Children with Families
Leaked emails show immigration officials deliberately waited to reunite migrant children with their parents, shedding more light on the Trump-era family-separation policy.
The emails, sent by high- and middle–ranking DHS officials in May 2018, several weeks after the beginning of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” family-separation policy officially went into effect, were released as part of a massive cache of internal documents the Biden administration turned over to lawyers for migrants impacted by the previous administration’s policy.
Advocates claim the email exchanges prove the Trump administration not only intended to separate families and deter others from crossing into the U.S., but intended to inflict harm on the migrant families.
At least 3,900 children were separated from their families under the “zero tolerance” policy, and nearly 5,636 children were separated overall between mid-2017 and January 2021. DHS estimates that there are still approximately 1,000 children who have not yet been reunited with their families.
DACA Turns 10, but Its Future Remains in Doubt
Ten years after its establishment on June 15, 2012, the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program remains uncertain as parallel legal battles play out across the country.
The Fifth Circuit is set to hear oral arguments on July 6 after a federal judge in Texas declared DACA unlawful last year. Since that time, tens of thousands of applicants have been unable to work and are at risk of being deported while their applications are pending.
A second lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York earlier this month, asking the court to protect work eligibility for the nearly 80,000 DACA applicants who filed their applications between a Supreme Court ruling in 2020 and the Texas judge’s decision in July 2021.
Migrants in the New York lawsuit allege that the Biden administration went further than the requirements set forth by the judge in Texas, and should not have suspended processing of first-time DACA applicants.
As of December 2021, there were approximately 611,470 DACA recipients in the United States, though recent estimates suggest that only 25% of the roughly 100,00 undocumented high school graduates in the class of 2022 will be eligible for DACA in its current form.