Biden Administration Cracks Down on Migrant Smuggling at U.S.-Mexico Border
In an effort to quell human trafficking at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Biden administration ordered the extradition of four Guatemalan citizens suspected of smuggling large numbers of migrants into the country. The four in question could be the first of many to face prosecution in the U.S. on human smuggling charges as part of the government’s efforts to reduce migrant deaths at the border and disincentivize smuggling operations in the future.
A record-breaking 750 migrants died at the U.S.-Mexico border this past year. Customs and Border Protection blames the increased deaths on smugglers, who have little incentive to ensure migrants cross the border safely. Human smuggling often turns deadly, as migrants face dangerous journeys and life-threatening conditions en route to the United States. A recent smuggling attempt left 53 migrants dead from heat stroke inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio.
Despite the risks, an increasing number of migrants are enlisting smugglers for help with crossing the border. A flawed asylum system and few legal pathways to the U.S. leave migrants with few options.
According to government officials, the decision to start extraditing human smugglers will help ensure criminals are held accountable for migrant deaths. The Biden administration also says it hopes to gain insights into how smuggling rings operate and in turn develop new strategies for dismantling them at the border.
U.S. Plans to Process Every Employment-Based Green Card This Year
The U.S. government is confident it will process all employment-based green cards by the end of this fiscal year, avoiding a repeat of last year when it let thousands of green cards go to waste.
Typically, about 140,000 employment-based green cards are given to foreign employees and their families a year. This number represents only a fraction of the demand, which leaves many applicants in a decades-long wait.
But the Covid-19 pandemic created a loophole where any unused green cards in the family-based visa category became part of the employment-based category the following year. This meant that nearly double the amount of employment green cards became available.
In 2021, USCIS had 120,000 additional employment green cards available, but because of
unending backlogs and severe understaffing at the agency, only 68,000 of those were processed. Typically, unused green cards are discarded at the end of each fiscal year.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Jaddou vowed not to waste any employment-based green cards this year.
“We know so many people have been waiting and so many people have been nervous about another loss-of-visa situation, and those are real people,” she said in an interview.
Record Number of Naturalized Citizens are Serving in State Legislatures this Year
A record number of first-generation Americans are serving in U.S. state legislatures this year, a trend driven by restrictive immigration policies and anti-immigration rhetoric, according to a new report from nonprofit New American Leaders.
Although naturalized citizens make up 10% of the voting population in the United States, they have historically been underrepresented in elected government roles. But that’s changing: The number of naturalized citizens in state legislative seats increased from 3.5% in 2020 to 4% in 2022 –– currently 296 naturalized citizens serve in legislative seats throughout the country. Ninety percent of those are Democrats.
However many of these elected officials have chosen not to run again due to barriers they face, including low pay and lack of support for caregivers, according to the report. A number of organizations are working to increase the number of immigrant leaders in the U.S. For example, the New American Leaders hosts a training for first- and second-generation Americans who are interested in running for office.
With more naturalized voters and elected officials, first-generation Americans could significantly impact the outcome of the midterm elections this year, especially as organizations continue to provide voting support to immigrant communities.
Senators Accuse ICE of Acting as a “Domestic Surveillance Agency”
Two U.S. senators have accused U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, of acting as a “domestic surveillance agency.” Sens. Ed Markey and Ron Wyden called on the organization to end its use of facial recognition and other mass data gathering efforts which they say violate individual privacy.