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May Day

Laborers around the world stormed the streets for May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, in celebration of the working-class and in pursuit of related social and economic legislation. Among the most important issues was the rights of immigrant workers. In Milwaukee specifically, more than 4,000 people assembled, organized by Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant worker’s rights group based in Wisconsin’s largest city. The march was the first of a two-day series of “Days Without Latinxs & Immigrants” actions, held in 18 states around the country.

The group specifically targeted Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who was a main reason immigration reform did not pass on the federal level last year. They also called on President Biden to expand protections for immigrant workers.Milwaukee’s mayor was present at the march, and expressed his support for the group’s efforts, and immigrant rights more broadly.

While much media coverage was centered in Milwaukee — since this was the epicenter of the movement and the homebase of its organizer — similar demonstrations occurred around the country, emphasizing the centrality of immigrant workers in the American economy and the importance of protections for this group.

The End of Title 42

The Biden Administration will be ending a Trump-era public emergency health order that allowed immigration authorities to turn away migrants at the border. This previous restriction had included those seeking asylum. Title 42, as it was called, was instituted by the Trump administration in May of 2020 as a result of the pandemic, though it was very likely driven by political motivations. President Biden then continued these restrictions into his presidency. The order will be lifted May 23rd, 2022, a full two years after its institution. Title 42 will still be enforced until this date. However, once it is lifted, regular Title 8 will still be in effect, and migrants may still be turned away without asylum claims.

 

Immigrant Archive Project

The Immigrant Archive Project was founded by Tony Hernandez and Gustavo Pombo in 2008 to document the stories of the United States’ immigrant communities. Now, the visual history project will take its place in the Library of Congress. It will be included in the Handbook of Latin American Studies Web Archive, a larger collection of culturally significant sites preserved by the Library.

These stories encapsulate a variety of experiences and perspectives. It began with a focus on the Latino narrative, eventually moving to include immigrants of all backgrounds. The archive has been used by educators and television broadcasters alike. The project is still open and accepting stories, continuing to share the rich history of immigrants in this country.

 

Learn more about the project at https://immigrantarchiveproject.org/about-us/

NYC Activist Settles Lawsuit

New York city activist Ravi Ragbir recently settled a lawsuit with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He argued in court that he was targeted for deportation because of his outspoken criticism of the organization and the larger immigration system. Ragbir has received a three year reprieve from deportation from winning the case, according to The Intercept news.

The decision takes an important place in a larger legal battle regarding the government’s ability to target specific people because of their political speech. It also confirms First Amendment rights for immigrants, something that must be protected for all.

Private Prison Company Launches New Pilot Program

A private prison company is launching a new pilot program that would place migrants caught crossing the border under house arrest. BI Incorporated, the group responsible, is a subset of the private prison company GEO Group. Immigrants enrolled in this “home curfew” program would be confined to their place of residence in the United States for 12 hours a day, from 8pm until 8am, until their court hearing. The system relies on electronic monitoring.

The program is a product of Biden administration efforts to lessen the number of immigrants in detention. Currently about 164,000 immigrants are in “alternative-to-detention” programs. BI Incorporated received a $2.2 billion dollar federal contract in 2020 for purposes such as this. However, the program does not address the Biden administration’s supposed goal productively and progressively, instead unjustly furthering the surveillance of immigrants and expanding the power of a profit-driven detention group.

 

Practice Alert: USCIS Decoupling Adjudication of EADs and Advance Paroles to Expedite EAD Issuance

Practice Alert: USCIS Decoupling Adjudication of EADs and Advance Paroles to Expedite EAD Issuance

AILA has been made aware that USCIS is prioritizing working through an EAD backlog to avoid applicants experiencing a lapse or prolonged lapse in employment. This follows reports from AILA members receiving EAD cards that do not include AP travel authorization.
AILA Doc. No. 22022403

Medical Advisors Visit ICE Facilities

The number of active COVID cases in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers recently hit a new record. Infections have surged 848% since the start of the year to 2673 cases. This composes 12% of the detainee population and is a figure far beyond the previous peak experienced in May 2021.

This dramatic increase has alarmed health experts. Two DHS medical advisors recently raised concerns about the US government’s COVID response in immigrant detention centers. Scott Allen and Josiah Rich penned a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas detailing their personal inspections of ICE facilities, in which they noted “inconsistent enforcement of mask use,” “inconsistent testing and surveillance,” and “failure to develop facility level infection control plans.” They urged Mayorkas to ensure that detained immigrants receive their vaccinations within two weeks of detention, as required by ICE protocols and to ensure that detained immigrants have access to booster shots, N95 masks, antiviral medicine, and monoclonal antibodies.

This is not the first time officials raised concerns about the Department of Homeland Security’s COVID response in ICE facilities. The DHS inspector general previously documented loose enforcement of COVID protocols in a lengthy report published in September 2021. To the date, ICE has reported 36,000 COVID cases, and the number may be even higher. ICE must commit itself to following the advice of scientific, medical, and public health experts to protect ICE detainees, ICE employees, and the United States.

New York City Voting Law

New York City Mayor Eric Adams allowed an important bill to become law last Sunday – legislation that would grant more than 800,000 non-citizens the right to vote in municipal elections. This applies to DACA recipients as well as those who have been lawful permanent residents of the city for at least 30 days. The Board of Elections will draw up an implementation plan by July, and the legislation will take effect January 9th, 2023. 

New York City is the first major U.S. city to grant municipal voting rights to noncitizens, even though dozens of small communities around the country have done the same. It is a positive step, allowing individuals affected by the political processes of their community to finally take part in them. Democracy has been made stronger by the decision, and hopefully more cities will follow this lead in granting immigrants the political power they deserve. 

 

The Challenges of the Pandemic for Immigrant Communities

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a serious threat to immigrant communities around the country. According to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, 6 million immigrants work frontline occupations, placing them at heightened risk of exposure. The United States Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the infection risk was almost double that of native-born citizens.

Before 2020, Trump’s policy set the stage for noncitizens being at higher risk for COVID-exposure and the severe consequences of COVID. In 2019, Trump changed decades-long policy regarding noncitizens ability to use public health benefits without fear of negative impact upon their immigration status. That is, Trump’s rule penalized noncitizens if they used certain public health benefits, considering it grounds for inadmissibility (ineligibility for “green cards” or visas). This policy change created great confusion and damaged trust in government among immigrant communities. Then, with the arrival of the COVID pandemic, many members of immigrant communities were fearful of seeking healthcare for COVID and later for vaccinations and boosters. Also, as COVID relief policies were established, many noncitizens were left out of benefits, despite their long and crucial contributions to the US workforce and economy. Without financial benefits available to citizens, many noncitizens were forced to continue working in unsafe conditions or were left without financial support if they lost or left their jobs due to the dangers of COVID.

As vaccines rolled out, undocumented immigrants faced identification barriers. Certain vaccination sites requested documentation such as licenses, healthcare cards, or social security numbers, even though such measures were not mandated by state or federal governments. While the government ensured that the request for documentation only applied to those who already possess it, few states communicated this clearly, leaving many immigrants with anxieties. Recently, we have learned that some noncitizens temporary visas were canceled if they obtained COVID vaccinations in the US that were fully or partially paid for by government subsidies.

Now, new problems have arisen with the Omicron variant. In immigrants in detention centers, vaccine access is limited, and sanitation measures are lacking. The infection rate within these centers is three times higher than the national average. Nondetained noncitizen are also at heightened risk for reasons including their overrepresentation in essential jobs that do not allow for remote work.

As they have been for centuries, immigrants are the backbones of our communities, our workforce, and our economy. Yet they face life-threatening discrimiation at all turns. The Biden Administration must take up the plight of noncitizens, create equal protections for them, and provide pathways for healthy, productive, and peaceful futures for them through major immigration law reform.

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Marriage-Based Green Card Document Guide

We work hard to make your immigration case easy for you. Use this easy guide to help you organize the documents that you would use if you are eligible to submit an application for a marriage-based green card application. You should consult with an attorney to figure out if you are eligible for a green card before you submit any applications or documents to the U.S. government.