Awareness - May 24 2021 - We Welcome Refugees

Awareness - May 24 2021

DHS Secretary Mayorkas authorized TPS for Haitians present in the U.S. as of May 21st

Secretary Mayorkas designated Haiti for 18 months of Temporary Protected Status this weekend, citing “serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” This move has been encouraged by leaders on both sides: Robert Menendez (D) and Marco Rubio (R) wrote a letter to Secretary Mayorkas in March to request TPS designation for Haiti due to deteriorating conditions in the country, and advocates have been speaking out for months about the high number of deportations taking place despite serious humanitarian concerns.

As the U.S. prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan this year, many call for evacuation of our Afghan allies 

Earlier this month, 15 veteran-led organizations sent a letter to President Biden imploring him to evacuate local allies whose lives will be at risk once American troops leave Afghanistan. They referenced similar evacuation efforts in the past, where allies were sent to Guam for processing. 

The Special Immigrant Visa program allows for Afghans employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government to apply to come to the United States, but the current backlog is over 17,000. It's estimated that processing these applications would take over 4 years. Veterans groups, advocates, and lawmakers have expressed concerns that many of these allies would be killed if they aren’t evacuated, as many have already received death threats from the Taliban due to their work in helping the U.S.

ICE terminated contracts with 2 detention centers with cases of alleged abuse

DHS Secretary Mayorkas ordered the termination of ICE partnerships with two detention centers who have been accused of abusive practices. Both the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts and Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia were ordered to have their contracts terminated and their detainees transferred to other centers.

Conditions in the HHS emergency intake shelters continue to be crowded and bleak

The convention center in Dallas that has been housing migrant teens since mid-March has transferred out most of the children held there, and is set to close soon as the contract for use of the center will expire on June 2. Meanwhile the shelter at Fort Bliss Army base in Texas continues to grow. As of May 14, about 1,700 unaccompanied children had been held there for more than a month and almost 600 for over 40 days. Like other emergency intake shelters opened to accommodate the increase in unaccompanied children this year, the Fort Bliss base is not licensed to care for minors. These shelters are intended to be short-term and are not fully equipped to meet all of the needs of children. Attorneys who have interviewed the children held there have reported that the conditions are dismal, and many of the children report feeling depressed or even suicidal. Similar issues have been reported at other such sites, as children are kept in confined settings for weeks and do not have proper access to caseworkers. In some cases it’s been reported that the children don’t even have adequate food or access to showers and laundry.  

While there are still improvements that need to be made in getting children released from these large emergency shelters, HHS has reported that of the 49,000 children received into their care since President Biden took office, 31,000 have been released to family members and sponsors.