Monday, June 24, 2019
'Imagine your own children there': Grim reports mount from border detention camps
As more reports surfaced of inhumane conditions at the government’s migrant detention facilities, the movement to label them “concentration camps” picked up steam with backing from a major newspaper.
Dolly Lucio Sevier, a physician, and a group of lawyers visited border facilities in two Texas cities: McAllen and Clint. In an assessment obtained by ABC News, Lucio Sevier wrote that “the conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities.” Lucio Sevier was granted access after lawyers expressed concern about a flu outbreak in the McAllen facility.
Lucio Sevier described the conditions as “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food” and added that teens there said they had no access to hand-washing. Mothers of infants said the camps lacked facilities for washing bottles. Lucio Sevier said the conditions were “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.”
“It just felt, you know, lawless,” Lucio Sevier said in an interview with ABC News. “I mean, imagine your own children there. I can’t imagine my child being there and not being broken.”
On Monday, Rep. Veronica Escobar — who represents the El Paso, Texas, area — said that the government had moved most of the children from the Clint facility. It is unclear where they were moved.
Monday, June 17, 2019
The House Passes Historic Legislation to Provide Path to Citizenship for Dreamers and TPS Holders
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6—the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019—by a bipartisan vote of 237-187 on Tuesday evening. The bill would create permanent protections for Dreamers, participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
Congress has been under renewed pressure to act following the Trump administration’s attempted rescission of the DACA program and elimination of benefits for the vast majority of TPS and DED beneficiaries. These actions have left over 1,000,000 people vulnerable to detention and removal from the United States. The bill would go further, however, by creating permanent protections for an estimated 2.5 million people.
The American Dream and Promise Act would provide current, former, and future undocumented high-school graduates and GED recipients with a three-step path to U.S. citizenship. They would initially have to apply for “conditional permanent residence” by meeting age, physical presence, and educational requirements. Individuals with serious or extensive criminal histories would be ineligible for benefits. Current DACA beneficiaries would be provided with a direct path to conditional permanent residency. The Secretary of Homeland Security would be able to terminate the status of anyone who ceases to meet the requirements.
Individuals who meet further requirements would qualify to obtain permanent residency without conditions.
Monday, June 10, 2019
USCIS Processing Delays to be Investigated by Government Accountability Office
Applications for permanent residence and other immigration benefits are taking longer than ever to process.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for adjudicating these applications, has a backlog at “crisis levels.”
While USCIS processing delays have increasingly been a problem, the backlog is reaching new highs under the Trump administration.
But for the first time in over a decade, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to look into the problem. In a letter to members of Congress, the GAO said it plans to begin the study in about five months.
This could bring important information to light and help correct a problem that needlessly hurts immigrants, their families, and employers with long waits and uncertain futures.
The GAO announcement comes in the wake of two forceful letters from elected officials. A bipartisan group of senators called on USCIS to account for the lengthy backlog and waiting times that constituents and USCIS customers experience.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other members of Congress wrote a letter to the GAO requesting the investigation, seeking “recommendations on how the agency can best meet its statutory mission of being a service-oriented agency that efficiently processes immigration-related applications and petitions.”
Such recommendations are sorely needed. The average processing time for all application types is up 46 percent since Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. These increasing delays persist even when fewer new applications are being submitted.
Monday, June 3, 2019
USCIS’ New eProcessing System Will Test Whether the Agency Learned From Past Mistakes
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced a new strategy in its quest for a paperless system.
USCIS envisions that the new system—called eProcessing—will eventually handle the agency’s immigration records. This will include applications for all immigration benefits, communication with USCIS, and receiving a decision on a case. For now, certain tourists, business visitors, and vocational students (M-1) will be able to file a Form I-539 online to extend their stay in the United States. In some situations, academic students (F-1), and the spouse and children of either type of student also will be able to file for extensions online.
But USCIS’ past attempts at creating online filing systems do not bode well for this new version.
In 2005, USCIS began a “transformation program” to move from paper-based processing to integrated, automated processing, with the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) as its primary component. USCIS conceived of ELIS as a centralized, web-based case management system to automate processing of immigration benefits.
In the next 14 years, however, the transformation initiatives would be plagued by problems and burgeoning costs. Currently, only eight forms, Including the new online filing of I-539, can be filed online—approximately 9 percent of the benefits forms on the USCIS website. Though USCIS also started with the Form I-539 as its first ELIS online application in May 2012, it discontinued online filing of this application roughly three years later.