Awareness - September 19, 2022 - We Welcome

Awareness - September 19, 2022

Flights to Martha’s Vineyard draw concerns about treatment of migrants

Last week approximately 50 Venezuelan asylum seekers were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard with Governor DeSantis of Florida taking credit for the move. Earlier this year, DeSantis announced plans to begin relocating migrants to other states, and the Florida legislature approved $12 million in funding to do so. The flight last week cost Florida taxpayers $615,000 ($12,300 per person on the flight), and notably involved asylum seekers who were in Texas rather than Florida. Legal experts have questioned the legality of the move, especially considering accounts from multiple passengers on the flights who reported being deceived about where they were going and the level of support they were to receive upon arrival.

While the debate continues about whether or not this action was illegal, the effects on the migrants themselves are deeply concerning. Reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez explained on CBS News that unlike other cases of transporting migrants to large cities, this flight was especially concerning due to the lack of any existing support for immigrants in Martha’s Vineyard. The island is remote, does not have established immigrant services, does not have an immigration court or ICE field office for migrants to check in, and there is a severe housing shortage. Despite these challenges, residents of Martha’s Vineyard rallied to provide tangible support through housing at a local church, food, and donations of clothing and other needed items. On Friday Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker arranged for the migrants to be transferred to Joint Base Cape Cod for longer term housing, as the base is already designated as an emergency shelter. From there they will have access to legal services, health care, food, hygiene kits, and crisis counseling. 

Applicants have filed over 123,000 requests to sponsor Ukrainians 

123,962 applications have been filed to sponsor Ukrainians through the Uniting for Ukraine program since its inception in April. More than half of those applications have come from 5 states: New York, Illinois, California, Washington, and Florida. Within approximately 4 months, the United States has admitted 50,832 Ukrainians through this parole program, and a total of 87,169 have been approved for travel as of Sept. 9th. Unlike the typical trajectory of refugee arrivals, Uniting for Ukraine applications have been adjudicated within weeks. The fact that everything can be completed online has been a significant timesaver for the program. 

Most new arrivals are settling in regions that already have a significant population of Ukrainians, where they will have strong community support. New York City, Chicago, and Seattle have the largest populations of Ukrainian immigrants in the nation and they top the list of metropolitan areas receiving Ukrainians. Other metro areas that have welcomed large numbers of Ukrainians are Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Miami, Portland, Cleveland and Detroit.

Over 19,000 new citizens to be naturalized in celebration of Citizenship Day

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced their plans to hold over 235 naturalization ceremonies across the country to welcome more than 19,000 new citizens from September 17th through September 23rd. September 17th was designated Citizenship Day, and the week is also observed as Constitution Week.