Awareness - March 21, 2024 - We Welcome

Awareness - March 21, 2024

The Biden administration will raise visa limits for Afghan nationals

President Biden and House Republicans have reached a deal that allows for 12,000 more Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) to be made available to Afghans who assisted the U.S. Congress had previously authorized 38,500 SIVs, which offer a pathway to citizenship, but that limit is expected to be reached by August 2024.  As of March 1st, more than 80,000 Afghans were in the visa application process, so the deal is a start, but it does not meet the demand and the SIV program is scheduled to expire in 2026.

The latest on Texas’ state immigration legislation

The day after Justice Samuel Alito extended the stay on Texas’ senate bill, SB4, the Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect temporarily on Tuesday, stating that the  5th circuit court of appeals had made a procedural error in its original issuance of the stay and returned the case to the lower court to rule promptly on whether or not the law should be paused while the appeals process continues. Approximately 9 hours later, the appeals court again blocked the law from going into effect and scheduled a hearing on the matter for Wednesday morning. At the conclusion of that hearing, no ruling has been made and another hearing is scheduled for April 2.

SB4 would make it a state crime for people to cross irregularly between ports of entry, would give local and state police the authority to arrest anyone suspected of entering the country between ports of entry, and would allow Texas judges to deport migrants to Mexico. The bill is being questioned for its constitutionality because immigration law has traditionally fallen under federal jurisdiction.

Streamlined process allows refugees to receive work authorization more quickly

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a new initiative that reduces the amount of time required for refugees to obtain work authorization after arrival to the U.S. to 30 days. Under the new process, the USCIS will automatically fill out the employment authorization application form for refugees, eliminating the need for refugees to figure out the application process themselves. The USCIS will also work with the Social Security Administration to get a social security number and card issued to the applicants.