Immigration roundup: SCOTUS blocks Title 42 end, migrants dumped on Christmas, Yemen TPS extension

Immigration roundup: SCOTUS blocks Title 42 end, migrants dumped on Christmas, Yemen TPS extension

The biggest news today is undoubtedly whether Kevin “Corrupt Bargain” McCarthy will be able to secure enough votes from the feral pack of politicians known as the Republican House caucus to fulfill his years-long quest for the House speakership. But there have also been big developments in the immigration world you have missed due to the holidays (I hope they were peaceful ones for you). To help get us all back up to speed, I compiled some of the major headlines here.

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Supreme Court’s right-wing justices block lifting of Title 42: The Supreme Court’s conservative justices last week blocked the Biden administration from ending the anti-asylum Title 42 policy, which has used the novel coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to violate the U.S. asylum rights of vulnerable people seeking refuse in our country. Chief Justice John Roberts had earlier this month temporarily halted the Biden administration’s plan to lift the order, which was set for Dec. 21. The latest ruling “extends the stay until at least next February, when the court will hear arguments on whether 19 Republican state attorney generals have standing to dispute the policy to begin with,” Daily Kos’ Hunter wrote. Neil Gorsuch joined liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson in the minority.

“Even staunch conservative Gorsuch is baffled by this one, writing in his dissent that the question of standing is ‘not of special importance in its own right and would not normally warrant expedited review,’” Hunter continued.

But even as they sought to lift Title 42, officials are reportedly planning to expand the policy:  Officials are “planning to use pandemic-era restrictions to expel many Cuban, Nicaraguan and Haitian migrants caught at the southwest border back to Mexico, while simultaneously allowing some to enter the United States by air on humanitarian grounds, according to three U.S. officials familiar on the matter,” Reuters reported. This would appear to mirror policy last fall expanding Title 42 to Venezuelan migrants. While the administration said that Venezuelan migrants with U.S. sponsors could apply from abroad, other migrants arriving by land without sponsors would be quickly expelled. Lawyers for Civil Rights has called the plan “punitive to the point of cruelty.”

“In its haste to appear responsive to political attacks on immigration, the administration is interfering with Venezuelan migrants’ rights to seek immigration protection and relief in this country and creating further chaos and confusion to an already broken immigration system,” the organization said.

The Atlantic releases key documents related to family separation policy: The media outlet on New Year’s Eve released a massive trove of documents related to the previous administration’s policy of kidnapping children from their families at the southern border. “Our hope is to introduce greater transparency around a policy that gravely harmed thousands of families and whose development and intent were concealed from the public for years,” The Atlantic said. “During the Trump administration, more than 5,000 migrant children were taken from their parents as part of a dubious and ineffectual strategy to deter migration across the southern border.” While the Biden administration has reunited 500 of these families—a major feat considering the previous administration intentionally failed to document many separations—“[h]undreds remain separated today,” The Atlantic continued. The outlet said that documents reveal government efforts to “mislead the public” on separations and the failure to document who was being stolen from who, “which to this day means that a full accounting of separations does not exist.”

One document showed a Border Patrol agent responding in an email that he “might be spending some time in the slammer” after a judge “basically ordered us to keep constant track of the children once they are separated from their parents and when and where they are reunified.” The unnamed agent included a frown emoji and called the request “a huge headache.” Ah. So a huge headache for them. But not for the kids and parents devastated by this cruelty. For the record, no one helping carry out this policy went to the slammer. Its victims have so far remained the only ones to be detained.

So-called Christian Republicans dump vulnerable migrants on Christmas Eve: In one of the most reprehensible, anti-immigrant acts by Republicans—and that’s quite a list when you think about it—Texas abandoned busloads of migrants in the freezing cold on Christmas Eve. It was a strictly political act: Texas targeted Vice President Kamala Harris’ Washington, D.C., home as the site where it would dump children and adults in 18-degree weather. Some were wearing nothing more than T-shirts against the bitter cold, advocates said. Mirroring past busing stunts, Texas intentionally did not inform officials of the arrivals, but volunteers with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network “had received word the buses would be arriving” and were waiting, Daily Kos’ Hunter said. Volunteers worked into the early morning hours on Christmas Day to feed and clothe migrants used as human props by Republicans. One group here was Christ-like, and we know which one it was without having to say it. Speaking of Christians, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has yet to publicly rebuke Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Catholic, over his attacks despite some bishops banning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from communion for her stalwart defense of abortion rights. 

There are lost people who actually love seeing the gross shenanigans from Abbott. They, and the people behind this cruel busing on Christmas Eve, probably went to church the following day to commemorate the birth of another refugee. Shameless.

New records reveal creepy movie reference in Florida’s scheme transporting migrants: Politico reported that documents dumped by Florida just before Christmas revealed that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis staffer Larry Keefe used an unofficial email address to help coordinate the state’s stunt that lured migrants from Texas to Massachusetts to stick it to Democrats. Politico said Keefe used an email account “that made it appear that emails were coming from ‘Clarice Starling,’ the main character from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ novel.” The report said Keefe, a “public safety czar” recently named in a lawsuit from migrants targeted under the stunt, “used encrypted messaging apps and a private email address from ‘Clarice Starling’” when communicating with Vertol Systems Company, Inc., “the politically-connected plane company that chartered the Martha’s Vineyard flights,” Lawyers for Civil Rights said. Vertol is also named in the lawsuit, along with shady recruiter Perla Huerta.

Advocates have been hounding Florida to release public records related to the stunt, which the state was illegally refusing to do. Florida very intentionally released the records just before Christmas in the hopes they would get lost in the holiday shuffle. Now we see that one thing Republicans were trying to keep secret was the creepy—and incorrect—reference used by Keefe. Starling as an FBI agent successfully thwarted a serial killer who preyed on women. Here in real life, it’s Florida that’s also preying on people.

Critical protections for Yemeni immigrants extended: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it extended and redesignated Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), ensuring vulnerable immigrants already here can continue to work legally and retain protections from deportation for another 18 months. “The people of Yemen are continuing to suffer a complex and deteriorating humanitarian crisis,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. Relatively few Yemeni immigrants are enrolled in the program compared to other nationalities. While DHS said the Yemeni extension will continue to protect approximately 1,700 current beneficiaries, more than a quarter of a million Salvadoran immigrants are enrolled in the policy. Still, Yemen’s redesignation stands to nearly double enrollees. “It is estimated that approximately 1,200 additional individuals may be eligible for TPS under the redesignation of Yemen,” DHS said. More than 100 organizations celebrated the news.

Implemented under George H.W. Bush, TPS allows immigrants who cannot safely return to their home countries to continue living and working here for up to 18 months at a time. The Biden administration has been using this legal authority to protect groups of migrants in the face of congressional inaction on comprehensive immigration reform, Roll Call reported.

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