August 28 - September 3
How Trump Made It That Much Harder to Become a US Citizen
VOX | Nicole Narea | September 3
"Immigrants have applied to become US citizens in increasing numbers since Donald Trump took office, which some policy analysts say is the effect of the president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. But the path hasn’t been easy. They’re facing ballooning processing times, higher fees, more intensive vetting, and even the possibility of later losing their citizenship at the hands of the Department of Justice’s newly created “denaturalization section,” which it announced in February 2020. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that processes applications for immigration benefits, has reopened its offices, but it’s also grappling with a budget crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic and struggling to keep up with the naturalization backlog."
Residents Waiting For Citizenship Are Worried They'll Miss Their Chance to Register to Vote This Year Amid a Backlog of Applications
Business Insider | Sarah Al-Arshani | September 2
"An undisclosed number of citizenship applications are currently backlogged, possibly preventing many residents who are in the final stages of their citizenship from registering to vote in the upcoming November elections, The Washington Post reported. In July, The Arizona Republic reported that more than 300,000 immigrants were at risk of not being able to vote in the presidential election due to delays caused by Trump administration policy changes and the coronavirus pandemic. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services did not say how many applications are backlogged at this point but told The Post there were hundreds of thousands of citizenship applications pending."
U.S. Seeks to Expand Biometric Data It Collects From Immigrants
The Wall Street Journal | Michelle Hackman | September 2
"The Department of Homeland Security said it would propose expanding the types of biometric information that immigrants may need to submit with their applications, possibly including iris scans, voice recordings and DNA samples. The proposal, which DHS said it would release within days, would also allow the government to require that biometric data be submitted with any sort of immigration application, including from U.S. citizens who are sponsoring relatives from abroad to immigrate to the U.S. Currently, immigrants applying for visas, green cards or other immigration benefits that require background checks must submit fingerprints and photographs along with their applications. The proposal would also create an expanded definition of “biometrics,” so that DHS can begin requiring new forms of identification via biological information and other physical characteristics as the technology becomes available."
August 21 - 27
A Nation of Immigrants No More
VOX | Nicole Narea | August 27
"On the campaign trail in August 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump departed from his typical stump speech to give an uncharacteristically detailed address in Phoenix that would define his immigration agenda for the next four years. His thesis was simple: The US immigration system was broken in a way that served “the needs of wealthy donors, political activists, and powerful politicians,” Trump told the crowd. “Let me tell you who it doesn’t serve. It doesn’t serve you, the American people.” He proceeded to describe, in laundry-list fashion, how he would reinvent the immigration system for what he said was the benefit of American citizens, painting an inaccurate portrait of immigrants as violent criminals and low-skilled workers as stealing American jobs and draining taxpayer resources."
Trump Takes Night Off From Anti-Immigrant Talk to Swear in U.S. Citizens
New York Times | Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Michael D. Shear | August 26
"President Trump moved within weeks of taking office to prohibit immigrants from Sudan from entering the United States, citing terrorism threats and including it in his travel ban on some predominantly Muslim countries — restrictions that remain partly in place today. But on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump wanted to portray himself as pro-immigrant, he invited Neimat Abdelazim Awadelseid, a Sudanese woman who had just qualified to become a U.S. citizen, and four others to a White House naturalization ceremony that his re-election campaign featured prominently during the Republican National Convention."
U.S. Immigration Agency Says It Won't Need to Furlough Employees, but Processing Could Slow Ahead of Election
Washington Post | Nick Miroff.| August 26
"The agency that runs the U.S. legal immigration system said Tuesday it will no longer need to furlough 70 percent of its workforce, after warning for months that 13,000 of its employees would be sent home if lawmakers didn’t provide a $1.2 billion emergency bailout. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded via the fees it collects from immigrants seeking green cards, citizenship and other benefits, but a drop in revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic had left the agency facing a budget shortfall. Several of the agency’s service centers have temporarily closed to the public or scaled down their operations during the outbreak."
August 14 - 20
Key Findings about U.S. Immigrants
Pew Research | Abby Budiman | August 20
"The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants. The population of immigrants is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented among U.S. immigrants."
Immigrant 'Dreamers' in Search of a Job Are Being Turned Away
New York Times | Miriam Jordan | August 20
"Since its introduction by the Obama administration in 2012, DACA has enrolled some 800,000 undocumented immigrants, often called Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children. Many have gone on to graduate from college and build successful lives under the program, which has bipartisan support in Congress. Yet while the courts have accepted DACA’s legality and have blocked the recent attempts to abruptly cancel it, some of the country’s biggest companies are unilaterally refusing to hire Dreamers. Since Mr. Trump stepped up his attacks on the program, the employment roadblocks have become even more prevalent."
Reviving DACA to Reforming DHS: 5 Immigration Issues Biden Could Confront as President
VOX | Nicole Narea | August 19
"If Joe Biden wins in November, advocates who have spent the last four years suing President Donald Trump over his immigration policy are ready to hold the Democratic nominee accountable for his campaign promises. Biden is positioning himself as former President Barack Obama’s natural successor, including on immigration policy. But he has sworn he won’t merely revert to the Obama-era status quo if elected. “I was very proud to serve Barack, but even he acknowledges we can’t go back to what it was,” the former vice president said in June, pledging to send an immigration reform bill to Congress on day one of his presidency."
August 7 - 13
New State Dept. H-1B Visa Guidance Won't Stop Immigration Lawsuits
Forbes | Stuart Anderson | August 13
"The U.S. Department of State issued guidance that provides more ways for H-1B and L-1 visa holders to overcome the Trump administration’s visa ban. While it may help some professionals and companies, the guidance is unlikely to stop the immigration lawsuits filed against the presidential proclamations. The guidance raises troubling issues, attorneys say, as it imposes new H-1B visa requirements without Congress or even a new regulation."
U.S. Immigration Shutdown Imminent As Congress Talks Collapse
Forbes | Andy J. Semotiuk | August 13
"USA Today has reported that since Congress has failed to reach a deal on a COVID-19 stimulus package, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will proceed with its furlough of about 13,400 employees, or about two-thirds of its workforce, on August 30th. The USCIS had hoped the Covid package would serve as a vehicle to approve an emergency bailout to address the agency's budget shortfall but after two weeks of negotiations on the stimulus package, talks in Congress broke down as Democrats and the White House blamed each other for the stalemate. Earlier this month, the USCIS notified about two-thirds of its employees that they would be furloughed starting August 30th because of budget shortfalls, which the agency hoped Congress would fill in its next relief package before negotiations stalled recently."
Trump Immigration Policy Now Blocks World's Most Highly Skilled
Forbes | Stuart Anderson | August 12
"Today, even the most highly skilled individuals in the world cannot enter America under the Trump administration’s immigration policy. Reports from attorneys and a statement from the State Department confirm that U.S. consular officers in Europe are denying O-1 visas for individuals with “extraordinary ability” based on a health pretext. The strict interpretation of Trump presidential proclamations means individuals that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have found to “possesses extraordinary ability” or a “record of extraordinary achievement” are – and will be – refused visas in Europe and cannot come to America."
July 30 - August 6
"Arrests on the US-Mexico Border Continue to Increase
CNN | Geneva Sands | August 6
"Nearly 40,000 people were arrested illegally crossing the US-Mexico border in July, part of a steady increase in the border arrests since April, according to newly released US Customs and Border Protection data. Economic conditions in Mexico are partially to blame, the agency said. The increase comes as the Trump administration continues to swiftly remove migrants as a result of a public health order implemented in late March that allows for the quick expulsion of migrants arrested at the border. "We are not out of the woods yet. In fact, it's likely to become increasingly challenging due to the deteriorating economic conditions in Mexico, Central America and beyond, exacerbated by Covid-19," said Mark Morgan, the senior official performing the duties of the Customs and Border Protection commissioner,"
The Cost of Applying for U.S. Citizenship is Dramatically Increasing
USA Today | Daniel Gonzales (Arizona Republic) | August 5
"It's going to cost more to apply for U.S. citizenship...Starting Oct. 2, legal immigrants eligible to apply for citizenship will pay $1,160 if they submit their application online, or $1,170 if submitting a paper application. Under the new fee, immigrants will pay at least $520 more to apply for citizenship. That is more than 80% higher than the current application fee of $640. It's also the second biggest jump in the naturalization application fee in history, analysts say."
Trump Issues Election-Year Order on H-1B Visas and Federal Contracts
Forbes | Stuart Anderson | August 4
"Experts say it is unclear what a new executive order issued by Donald Trump on federal contracting will accomplish, though it may be followed with additional measures to restrict companies that employ H-1B visa holders. Trump’s efforts to protect a relatively small number of union jobs at a federally owned corporation (the Tennessee Valley Authority) against contracts awarded to private companies may be ironic, analysts note, given the administration’s high spending on government contracts for information technology (IT) services. It also comes as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has threatened to furlough over 13,000 federal employees unless the agency receives a bailout."
July 17 - 23
U.S. Immigration Shutdown Looms As Congress Ponders What’s Next
Forbes | Andy J. Semotiuk | July 24
“Could the U.S. immigration system come to a grinding halt shortly? There are concerns that’s exactly what could happen due to a budgetary crisis that has arisen at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The full impact of a shortage of money and a shut down of service is hard to imagine, but it is likely to be huge. Congressional wrangling over what to include in the next major bipartisan pandemic response legislation – assuming Republicans and Democrats in Washington are able to eventually reach agreement - does not seem to include any reference to the USCIS problem so far.”
More than 300,000 Immigrants May Not Become Citizens in Time to Vote as COVID-19 Stalls Process
USA Today | Daniel Gonzalez (Arizona Republic) | July 21
“Alex Beric, a 44-year-old immigrant from England, applied for naturalization in May 2019. He was hoping to become a U.S. citizen in time to vote in the presidential election this November. But now he is one of more than 300,000 immigrants at risk of not becoming citizens in time to cast ballots after the federal agency in charge of processing naturalization applications suspended in-person interviews and oath ceremonies this spring amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
Trump Signs Order Targeting Undocumented Immigrants in the US Census
CNN | Kevin Liptak, Maegan Vazquez, Ariane de Vogue, and Catherine E. Shoichet | July 21
“President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum on Tuesday that would exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in congressional districts when district lines are redrawn next year. The memorandum marks the Trump administration's latest effort to change the way US populations are counted and advance the President's immigration agenda. And like previous efforts, the issue will end up in court. "I have accordingly determined that respect for the law and protection of the integrity of the democratic process warrant the exclusion of illegal aliens from the apportionment base, to the extent feasible and to the maximum extent of the President's discretion under the law," the order states.”
July 10 - 16
Many Fil-Am Families in LA Support Distance Learning Despite Equity Concerns
Balitang America | Steve Angeles | July 16
“The nation’s second-largest school system will continue with online learning until further notice. While Filipino community members are concerned that students from working families will lack guidance, and those who have no access to needed technology will not be able to catch up with their studies, many Filipino families are supporting distance learning, primarily because they refuse to bring their kids back to school during the pandemic.”
Coronavirus Created a Backlog of Thousands Waiting for U.S. Citizenship. Will They Get It in Time to Vote?
Time | Lissandra Villa | July 16
“In February, the Pew Research Center estimated more than 23 million U.S. immigrants would be eligible to vote, comprising about 10% of the national electorate. Now, because of the pandemic, Alvarez has landed on a long list of people who are worried their citizenship won’t come through in time to vote in the high-stakes election. Critics of the Trump Administration, which has aggressively pursued an anti-immigrant agenda, believe it is not moving fast enough on that backlog in a deliberate effort to disenfranchise immigrant voters.”
U.S. Reverses Student Visa Curbs After Harvard, MIT Fight
Bloomberg | Clare Roth, Janella Lawrence, and Janet Lorin | July 15
“The U.S. reversed a new policy on student visas after a high-profile confrontation with Harvard University, MIT and hundreds of other colleges, ending a standoff that could have sent thousands of students back to their home countries and left schools scrambling to plan for the fall. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs announced at an online hearing on Tuesday that the government had agreed to rescind last week’s requirement that international students take at least one in-person class, even amid the resurgent coronavirus pandemic and as colleges prepare online-only coursework. But she said the case isn’t closed, raising questions about the nature of the agreement and whether U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had abandoned its position or was retreating and regrouping to fight another day.”
July 3 - 9
How the Trump Administration is Turning Legal Immigrants into Undocumented Ones
The Washington Post | Catherine Rampell | July 9
“The Trump administration is turning legal immigrants into undocumented ones. That is, the “show me your papers” administration has literally switched off printers needed to generate those “papers.” Without telling Congress, the administration has scaled back the printing of documents it has already promised to immigrants — including green cards, the wallet-size I.D.’s legal permanent residents must carry everywhere to prove they are in the United States lawfully."
Trump is Now Blocking Most of the Legal Paths to Immigrate to the US
CNN | Priscilla Alvarez and Catherine E. Schoichet | July 9
“As the coronavirus spreads around the world, the Trump administration has steadily choked off most avenues for legal immigration to the United States -- effectively shutting down the system that brings in hundreds of thousands of immigrants annually. In a span of four months, people who legally migrated to the United States -- or are trying to -- have had their lives uprooted amid a litany of changes attributed to the pandemic. The abrupt changes have left immigrants and their families in limbo -- confused, frustrated and scrambling to sort out their next steps. The reasons provided by the Trump administration vary, from protecting American workers at a time when the unemployment rate is high to putting public health first.”
Trump Visa Rules Seen as Way to Pressure Colleges on Reopening
New York Times | Miriam Jordan, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Dan Levin | July 7
“A directive by the Trump administration that would strip international college students of their U.S. visas if their coursework was entirely online prompted widespread confusion on Tuesday as students scrambled to clarify their statuses and universities reassessed their fall reopening policies amid the coronavirus pandemic. The White House measure, announced on Monday, was seen as an effort to pressure universities into reopening their gates and abandoning the cautious approaches that many have announced they would adopt to reduce Covid-19 transmission. The effect may be to dramatically reduce the number of international students enrolling in the fall. Together with delays in processing visas as a result of the pandemic, immigrant advocates say the new rules, which must still be finalized this month, might discourage many overseas students from attending American universities, where they often pay full tuition.”
June 26 - July 2
$1 Billion Shortfall, Furloughs Could Bring US Immigration System to a Halt
CNN | Geneva Sands and Priscilla Alvarez | July 2
“The federal agency responsible for granting citizenship, providing immigration benefits, and processing visa applications is bracing to furlough over 13,000 employees next month -- a move that could grind the US immigration system to a halt. US Citizenship and Immigration Services, a fee-funded agency, says it's in the hole after having to close offices and put services on pause during the pandemic. Over recent weeks, the agency has been preparing to furlough more than half of its workforce unless Congress provides additional funding. The agency has asked for $1.2 billion.”
Drive-Through Naturalizations Make New U.S. Citizens in the COVID-19 Era
NPR | Max Rivlin-Nadler | July 2
“In El Cajon, Calif., a procession of cars carrying 600 soon-to-be U.S. citizens from 68 countries passed through a series of stations behind a local community center earlier this week, where they were asked a series of final questions: "Any coronavirus symptoms? Have you been arrested since your interview? No tickets, nothing like that?" After that, they were asked to surrender their green card and given a small U.S. flag. Driving a little farther forward, an immigration officer wearing a face cover administered the oath of allegiance 6 feet from the car's window. And in a matter of minutes, years of uncertainty were over — hundreds of people became U.S. citizens over the course of the day.”
It Took Me 19 Years to Become a US Citizen. Here’s How My Journey Compares to the Average Immigrant
Business Insider | Shayanne Gal | July 1
“In August 1998, when I was five years old, my family immigrated to the United States...In March 2017, almost 19 years later, I became a naturalized citizen at 24. Like so many naturalized citizens, my family's journey through the immigration process was a lengthy struggle that cost us thousands of dollars, required access to legal resources, and caused us a ton of stress and uncertainty about the future. It was 19 years of registrations, visa renewals, applications, and interviews.”
June 19 - 25
12 Alternatives For Immigrants Blocked By Trump’s Proclamation
Forbes | Andy Semotiuk | June 26
“If you were planning to apply for one of the H-1B, H-2B, H4, L-1, or J-1 visas that President Trump just cancelled for the rest of this year, you are one of several hundred thousand people impacted by his decision. There is talk of even further restrictions coming...The question is: What other options do you have for coming to the United States or alternatives? Much depends on the visa being denied and your circumstances.”
U.S. Supreme Court Bolsters Trump’s Power Over Rapid Deportation
Reuters | Lawrence Hurley, Andrew Chung | June 25
“The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday enhanced the ability of President Donald Trump’s administration to quickly deport illegal immigrants including asylum seekers with limited judicial review, handing him a victory in a case involving one of his signature issues in an election year. The justices ruled in favor of the administration in its appeal of a lower court ruling that a Sri Lankan farmer named Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam had a right to have a judge review the government’s handling of his asylum bid. The ruling, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, found that limiting judicial scrutiny in this rapid deportation case, known as expedited removal, did not violate key safeguards of individual liberty in the U.S. Constitution.”
US Immigration Agency Prepares to Furlough More than Half of Its Workforce
CNN | Priscilla Alvarez | June 24
The federal agency charged with granting immigration benefits, processing visa applications and approving citizenship is preparing to furlough more than half of its workforce unless Congress provides additional funding, according to a spokesperson. US Citizenship and Immigration Services notified Congress of its projected budget shortfall last month. While conversations with the Hill are ongoing, according to the agency's statement, preparation is underway for furloughs. Approximately 13,400 employees will be notified whether they'll be furloughed beginning August 3, an agency spokesperson said.
Lazaro Law Group, Managing Attorney