Immigration Weekly-Round-Up: Thousands in New Jersey, Other States Impacted by Delay in Immigration Reform; “Remain in Mexico” Policy to End; DHS Relaxes Deportation Enforcement
Several Hundred Thousand in New Jersey, Nearby States Affected by Delay in Immigration Reform
The U.S. Senate Parliamentarian’s decision to disallow including immigration reform in a massive budget bill under consideration in Congress will impact hundreds of thousands of people in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, spurring a march through Philadelphia last weekend to pressure lawmakers to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the United States. On Tuesday, a similar march took place in Washington, D.C., with many attending from the Mid-Atlantic states. The reform measure would have provided permanent residence to essential workers, “Dreamers,” and people under Temporary Protected Status.
Advocates for a pathway to citizenship fear that the window that would have provided lawful permanent status to millions in the United States living with only temporary protection from deportation is closing. Desi Burnette, the Pennsylvania coordinator for the Movement of Immigrant Leaders, an immigrant rights organization, stated that “people are more determined than ever to make sure this gets passed now.”
An estimated 287,000 people in New Jersey, 115,000 in Pennsylvania, and 17,000 in Delaware could be eligible for green cards if the proposal is enacted into law.
A poll taken earlier this year showed that nearly 70 percent of responders, from across the political spectrum, support a pathway to citizenship for immigrants described in the Senate proposal.
New Department of Homeland Security to Issue New Memo Ending “Remain in Mexico” Policy
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that it intends to issue a new policy memorandum ending the Migrant Protection Protocols (better known as the “Remain in Mexico”) policy instituted by the Trump administration, requiring many individuals seeking asylum at the southern U.S. border to remain in Mexico while their cases are processed.
The Biden administration had tried to roll back the program, but a federal judge in Texas ordered the program to resume, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld that ruling. In their announcement, DHS said that their new memorandum will revise the previous policy and address deficiencies identified by the courts.
DHS Sets New Deportation Enforcement Rules
This week, U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that immigration officers will not detain and deport people solely for being in the country in undocumented status. New guidelines issued to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) instructed officials to focus their operations on individuals who pose a threat to public safety, as well as those who endanger border or national security. The guidelines emphasize individuals who are suspected of terrorism or espionage and those who have been convicted of serious crimes.
ICE specifically instructed officers to cease arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants who have been making positive contributions to society, including frontline healthcare workers, religious leaders, and farmworkers. Officers must consider each individual targeted for enforcement on an individual basis to determine whether they fall under a priority category. The new guidelines are effective Nov. 29, 2021.