Awareness - May 31 2021 - We Welcome Refugees

Awareness - May 31 2021

The Pentagon is considering options to protect Afghan allies ahead of troop removal

It was originally announced that American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11th, but last week some officials indicated that it could be as early as July. With an increase in reports of violence against American allies by the Taliban, there are serious concerns of reprisals against these individuals and their families once the troops are gone. Approximately 18,000 people are in the waiting process for a Special Immigrant Visa, but the average processing time is over a year. The average SIV holder who arrives in the U.S. also brings 3 family members with them, which could potentially be upwards of 70,000 people in need of evacuation overall.

There has been bipartisan support for an evacuation to Guam while visas are still being processed, similar to what was done following the Vietnam War and first Gulf War. On whether or not the U.S. would be using the Guam option to evacuate allies, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted in Defense One as saying, “We are working through lots of options. I’m not going to say the specifics of what’s on the table or off the table. Here’s what I would tell you though—we have a moral commitment to those who helped us.”

DHS consultants sent a whistleblower complaint to Congress calling for an end to child and family detention and Title 42

As the United States begins easing COVID restrictions, President Biden faces more questions on the continued use of Title 42 to expel asylum seekers at the border. Two physicians who work as DHS consultants sent a whistleblower complaint to Congress last Monday stating that current asylum and detention practices are dangerous to migrants, and that Title 42 in particular has fueled the rise in unaccompanied children apprehended and detained by CBP. The letter called for an end to detention of children and families as well as an end to Title 42. They wrote, “Since unaccompanied minors are exempted from Title 42, families with children are either remaining in unsafe conditions on the Mexican side of the border, or increasingly, are sending minor children on ahead to cross the border alone.” 

This letter follows a statement issued the previous week from the UN High Commissioner of Refugees on the “serious humanitarian consequences” of expelling asylum seekers under Title 42.

DHS and DOJ announced a new docket process for immigration hearings

On Friday, DHS Secretary Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a Dedicated Docket process which would prioritize newly arriving families in immigration proceedings to prevent the increase in arrivals from getting caught in a years-long backlog. This new process would apply to families who arrived in the U.S. on or after May 28th who were apprehended between ports of entry and placed into removal proceedings, and who are enrolled in Alternatives to Detention. Immigration courts in 10 designated cities would hear the cases with a goal of issuing a decision within 300 days.

This decision was lauded by Secretary Mayorkas as “an important step for both justice and border security,” but critics expressed concerns that this could become another “rocket docket,” akin to similar processes under both the Obama and Trump administrations, that could hinder due process for asylum seekers.