Immigration Weekly Round-Up: House Spending Bill Includes Aid to Immigrants; Afghans Fleeing Violence Continue to Wait for U.S. Visas; Immigration a Tough Topic Between U.S., Mexico at D.C. Summit
House Passes Spending Bill with $1 Billion Dedicated to Immigration
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nearly $2 trillion spending bill that includes $1 billion dedicated to several measures that would address visa and employment authorization backlogs, as well as support for U.S. citizens whose parents are undocumented in the United States.
The bill – which will now be sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration – would allow some applicants for employment-based permanent residence, better known as a “green card,” to pay an additional $5,000 to avoid current visa backlogs. The spending bill would similarly allow immigrants with family-based applications to pay an additional $2,500 to shorten visa delays, which can often last many years.
Second, the bill would allow most individuals who have resided in the United States without documentation for at least 10 years to apply for temporary parole status in which they would obtain employment authorization, and ultimately social security cards and driver’s licenses. Finally, the bill reverses a Trump-era decision to bar U.S. Citizen children from receiving pandemic-related assistance if their parents are undocumented.
The NM Immigration Blog will continue to cover this story as the bill receives consideration in the Senate.
Extreme Visa Backlogs Leave Afghans in Limbo
Tens of thousands of Afghan nationals who fled the country fearing harm at the hands of the Taliban are facing extensive delays waiting to enter the United States.
Since the United States exited Afghanistan earlier this year and the Taliban took effective control of the country, more than 25,000 Afghans have applied for humanitarian parole in the United States, seeking to enter the country in order to apply for asylum or otherwise apply for permanent residence.
However, in nearly five months, only about 100 of these requests have been granted.
As a general matter, applications for humanitarian paroles are rare, with only a few hundred approved each year. But aid groups and law clinics helping Afghans escape the violence of the Taliban have been concerned about extensive backlogs to receive a green card or asylum outside the United States, thus leaving the applicants in danger as they wait.
Accordingly, attorneys and advocates have been heavily using the humanitarian parole application process, hoping to facilitate speedier entry to the United States. Unfortunately, this has now led to delays in processing humanitarian parole requests, continuing to leave thousands of people in limbo.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson Victoria Palmer says that it has added 44 employees to help process these humanitarian parole applications and expects to see a dramatic reduction in processing times.
Immigration Remains Point of Tension in Meetings Between U.S., Mexico, Canada
As Presidents Biden, Andres Manuel Lopez Obredor, and Justin Trudeau met in Washington this week to review a wide range of issues, immigration remained a difficult topic of discussion, particularly between the leaders of the U.S. and Mexico.
President Lopez Obredor expressed frustration with President Biden about an unwillingness to expand the number of temporary employment visas available in the United States, citing increasing demands from U.S. companies for more labor.
Meanwhile, neither president directly answered questions from the media about how they would address humanitarian crises at the border or the causes of flight to the United States.
Nevertheless, President Lopez Obredor did offer praise for President Biden’s support for a pathway to U.S. citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the States, many of whom are from Mexico. Moreover, U.S. Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated that several issues related to immigration were being discussed privately and that the two countries were reviewing ways to reduce the flow of illegal drugs, including fentanyl, across the border.