Immigration Weekly Round-Up: Labor Secretary Calls for Immigration Changes; New Jersey Impacted by War in Ukraine; European "Heiress" Ordered Deported
U.S. Labor Secretary Laments Outdated Immigration System
During an appearance at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference this week in Austin, Texas, U.S. Labor Secretary Martin Walsh told audience members that the current U.S. immigration is hurting American employers and adding to the country’s workforce issues. At a conference panel discussion, Mr. Walsh stated that “the lack of action on immigration reform is only hurting, quite honestly, corporate America,” adding that we “have I think anywhere from 11 to 13 million people in this country that are undocumented, that are working in some shape or form and there should be a pathway for those folks become citizens.”
Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration think tank based in Washington, D.C, agreed with Mr. Walsh’s assessment. She said that “employers are really scrambling to find workers. We have so many people showing up at the border wanting to live and work in the United States and contribute and if there was a way legally to match those willing workers with willing employers, that would really be to the benefit of everyone.” One suggestion Ms. Gelatt made was to allow for flexibility in the number of visas that are available to U.S. employers each year based upon unemployment rates and hiring needs.
There have been numerous proposals in Congress to reform the U.S. Immigration System, but none has garnered sufficient bipartisan support to become law.
War in Ukraine Having Ripple Effects in New Jersey
The war in Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis have caused a wide range of actions and concerns in New Jersey, home to one of the largest Ukrainian communities in the United States.
Some have sprung into action to help. Meest-America, a shipping company in Port Reading, New Jersey, that focuses on goods in Eastern Europe, has shifted its focus to helping provide necessary items to Ukraine, including medical supplies. The company is accepting donations and then shipping them to those affected by the war.
Others are deeply concerned about the war might directly affect them in New Jersey. Brian Hartley, Vice President of Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City, NJ, has stated that his business relies on short-term employees from both Ukraine and Russia during the summer months, and that his business may suffer if those employees cannot travel to the U.S. Many other businesses that require additional employees during the summer rely on this same labor.
On March 3, 2022, the Biden Administration announced that Ukrainians who have been living in the country since before March 1, 2022, would be eligible to apply for Temporary Protected Status. However, it is still unclear whether anyone who arrived in the U.S. after that date, or is still seeking to refuge in the country, will receive protection. There are more than 2.5 million Ukrainians that have fled to neighboring countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Moldova. New Jersey Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell issued a statement that “the administration should expedite the refugee settlement process for those fleeing Russia’s invasion, especially people with family ties in the U.S.”
European “Heiress” Saga Continues in Immigration Court
The social media star and imposter European “heiress,” Anna Sorokin, better known as Anna Delvey and the subject of a hit Netflix series, was recently ordered deported to Germany after a year-long immigration fight. Anna had been detained since March 2021, after ICE authorities arrested her following a criminal investigation in which she was convicted for defrauding numerous people out of millions of dollars while impersonating a wealthy European heiress in charge of an arts foundation.
Ms. Sorokin faces imminent deportation but has filed an emergency motion to halt the deportation, and will likely remain in detention until a decision is made on that request.