At least 36,000 Afghan evacuees won’t qualify for a permanent legal status
CBS News reported last week that according to government records 36,433 – around 40% – of Afghan evacuees who were brought to the United States or who are supposed to be resettled here will not qualify for permanent legal status under the currently available pathways. Most of these evacuees entered the country under a temporary authorization known as humanitarian parole. This option allowed them to be evacuated quickly, but it is not a permanent immigration status. Therefore the only viable option for many is to apply for asylum and to join the backlog of over 400,000 asylum seekers already waiting.
Meanwhile 36,821 evacuees could potentially be eligible for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, and around 7,000 of those evacuated were already permanent residents or SIV holders. Over 66,000 of the evacuees have been resettled across the United States in partnership with 290 local resettlement agencies. Many are now facing battles against bureaucracy both in seeking their own legal status and in trying to reunify with family members who were left behind. This piece from Time gives an in-depth look at the toll this takes on families trying to reunite.
An Axios report from last week revealed that the Biden administration has plans to implement an expedited refugee resettlement process for at-risk Afghans. This proposal would create a 30-day process in which refugees would be flown to Qatar for their screening and vetting procedures. With a significant denial rate for those who have sought humanitarian parole since the troop withdrawal last August, an expedited refugee path could open up avenues to safety for many who currently have very few options.
States continue to push against the Biden administration on immigration
There continues to be action taken at the state level to push back against the Biden administration’s immigration agenda. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed suit against the administration for the ninth time on immigration issues. The latest lawsuit alleges that the newly reinstated Central American Minors (CAM) program is unlawful. This program seeks to reunite children in Central America with their parents or legal guardians in the United States, and only around 3,000 children were brought to the United States under the original implementation of the program.
Meanwhile, faith leaders and grassroots advocates in Florida have rallied in support of unaccompanied migrant children in their state following executive actions taken by their governor. Governor DeSantis issued an emergency rule blocking the issuance and renewal of state licenses for Florida-based organizations serving unaccompanied children. Under the rule, federally funded facilities partnering with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) will no longer be able to care for children waiting to be reunified with their family. The Evangelical Immigration Table has received over 200 signatures from faith leaders on a letter to Governor DeSantis, and anyone in Florida can reach out to the governor using the We Welcome Phone2Action link.
Border numbers from December show a slight increase in border apprehensions
CBP reports from December showed a 2% increase in border encounters over November, while the daily average number of encounters decreased slightly. There were notable increases in arrivals from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti, and the number arriving from Mexico and Honduras dropped significantly.
While records show over 2 million encounters from January to December 2021, it is important to note that encounters do not equal individuals. The rate of repeat crossings remained high throughout 2021: 23% of those encountered in December had been encountered at least once before in the last 12 months. The outcomes of border apprehensions in recent months have largely been that the majority of families and unaccompanied children are being allowed to pursue their court cases within the United States, while most single adults are being expelled under Title 42. A relatively small number of single adults began to be enrolled into the Remain in Mexico program starting in December.
Chart from WOLA.org. Accessed January, 31, 2022.