DHS issued a new memo to terminate MPP
On Friday DHS Secretary Mayorkas issued a new memo to terminate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). While he acknowledges that MPP likely contributed to reduced border crossings, he argues that the “substantial and unjustifiable human costs” carried by those forced to wait in Mexico outweighed any of the benefits.
The original termination memo issued on June 1st was struck down in court in August, when Judge Kacsmaryk ruled that it was not in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act. This new memo attempts to remedy the issues that Judge Kacsmaryk had with the original. The memo notes that while there is an argument to be made that MPP decreased migration flows at the southern border, the evidence is not conclusive that it was the primary cause for such decreases, considering it was one of many deterrence efforts implemented by the former Trump administration. Meanwhile, there is significant evidence concerning those who were returned to Mexico under this policy, and who suffered significant harm at the hands of criminal organizations in border cities.
The memo also notes that MPP has overshadowed other important aspects of diplomacy with Mexico, and takes attention away from more pressing issues such as fighting criminal organizations and addressing the root issues that cause migration flows to increase. However, the administration also states that they will continue to comply with the current order to reinstate MPP until a final judicial decision is made.
Resettlement efforts of evacuated Afghans continue with a new avenue for sponsorship
As of Wednesday, 10,000 Afghans had left the military bases where they were initially housed and processed. Approximately 53,500 evacuees remain on the military bases with another 3,000 still at locations overseas. On Monday, the State Department launched their new Sponsor Circle Program to allow private sponsorship of Afghan evacuees for those who meet the criteria and become credentialed.
There have been reports that some Afghan evacuees were flagged for security concerns, but many of these are being held overseas in Kosovo while security checks are in progress. It’s unclear what will happen with those who fail security checks and are unable to travel to the United States. National Security Council spokeswoman, Emily Horne, is quoted in the New York Times as saying, “Any claims that we are taking in unvetted Afghans are false. The fact that some people have been flagged by our counterterrorism, intelligence or law enforcement professionals for additional screening shows our system is working.”
As debate on the reconciliation bill continues, provisions to address the green card backlog could be included
While two former attempts to include immigration reform in the reconciliation package were struck down by the Senate parliamentarian, another option under consideration is the recapture of thousands of green cards to help clear the years-long backlog. Each year there is a limit to the number of green cards allowed for different visa categories, and many years the government does not issue the full amount allowed under the cap. When that happens, the unused slots go to waste. The proposed revision would “recapture” lost green cards from the last few decades, and would allow them to be used for those in the backlog.
Congressional Democrats are hopeful that unlike some of the other immigration provisions that have been struck down by the Senate Parliamentarian, this proposal could be approved because the visas have already been approved by Congress, and it would not be a significant change to the law. According to research from the Niskanen Center, these provisions could help over 5 million people caught in backlogs and could potentially add over $4 trillion to U.S. GDP over ten years.