Weekly Immigration News Roundup: November 4, 2022

In a Nutshell

This week brings a lot of good news: Citizenship waivers for disabled immigrants have been restored, and the ACLU and other organizations unite to limit the detention of pregnant migrants. Additionally, attorneys for TPS recipients from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Nepal will return to a federal court and continue talks to help their clients retain their status. As midterm elections come up, both Latino voters and voters in the agricultural sector bring up their immigration concerns. Let’s read!

Citizenship Waivers for Disabled Immigrants Restored

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) removed barriers that made it more difficult for disabled immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship. The Trump administration introduced these barriers, which prevented immigrants with disabilities from applying for a waiver exempting them from taking an English and civics test as a part of their application. The exam was introduced in 1994, but the Trump administration added questions that made it harder for disabled immigrants to obtain a waiver. 

USCIS explained that this removal is part of an effort to “restore faith” in the U.S. immigration system. Applicants can now correct any errors in their waiver application without the hassle of refiling the form. 

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is an immigration status the U.S. government grants people from qualifying countries experiencing wars, natural disasters, or other crises that make life dangerous for residents.

In September 2020, the Trump administration announced it would end TPS for an estimated 250,000 recipients from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Nepal, Haiti, Sudan, and Honduras. A 9th Circuit Court in Pasadena, California, allowed the Trump administration to end TPS for these recipients, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) appealed the decision. Affected TPS recipients have been in a legal battle to retain their status ever since, most recently heading back to a federal appeals court after unsuccessful talks with the Biden administration to extend status.

Immigration Still a Concern for Latino Voters 

The Nov. 8 midterm elections have created a contentious competition for the Latino and immigrant vote. According to CNN, views on immigration and a potential reform vary among Latino voters. A few numbers to consider:

  • About 55% of Latinos support more humane immigration laws.

  • Approximately one-third of Latinos support building or reinforcing the U.S.-Mexico border wall to prevent illegal immigration. 

  • Roughly 30 million Latinos are eligible to vote. 

A few races stand out for just how much they could affect U.S. politics and immigration policy in ways that matter to these Latino voters.

  • In Arizona, Proposition 308 is on the ballot. If it passes, it will allow noncitizens to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.

  • Georgia also presents two key races. Candidate Stacey Abrams (D) will once again challenge current Gov. Brian Kemp, who is known for siding with former President Trump on many key issues during the early years of Trump’s tenure.

  • Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock is running against Republican candidate Herschel Walker. Warnock has been supportive of numerous progressive policies, such as the Inflation Reduction Act. He also supports meaningful immigration reform and family reunification efforts. 

  • Nevada stands out as a state where both Republicans and Democrats will have to compete for votes. According to Yahoo News, some Latinos are shifting to the Republican Party because of inflation, economic issues, and the feeling of being taken for granted.

ACLU and Other Advocacy Organizations Plead for a Limit to Detention of Pregnant Migrants

Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released new guidelines for handling pregnant, nursing, and postpartum immigrants in July 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — the agency tasked with immigration enforcement along ports of entry — has continued to detain pregnant, nursing, and postpartum women. 

The ACLU along with 136 advocacy organizations and medical professionals wrote a letter to CBP in late October pleading for an end to the detention of pregnant immigrants. NPR reports that these organizations want the CBP to speed up their processing of pregnant, nursing, and postpartum detainees and their infants so they can have access to the medical care they need. 

Farmers Ask the U.S. To Make the H2-A Visa Process More Accessible to Migrant Workers

Farmers and farm owners argue that it’s imperative to hire immigrant workers year-round to ensure a stable food supply across the country. That's why they have lobbied so fervently for the Senate to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would make it easier for immigrants to come into the U.S. so they can work in this crucial sector. The FWMA has already passed the House twice. If passed in its current form, it would allow beneficiaries to stay in the U.S. for five and a half years. Advocates say this would address issues with H2-A visas, which only allow immigrant workers to work temporarily.

Immigration Numbers at the U.S. Border 

The makeup of immigrants attempting to enter the United States at the U.S.-Mexico border has changed over the years as crises affect other parts of Latin America. More children have been stopped, and the nationality of immigrants has diversified. 

The Washington Post took public data from CBP to create infographics. They focused on numbers collected since 2021, which show:

  • Out of the 3.7 million stops, 1.9 million weren’t allowed into the U.S.

  • Many immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. are stopped multiple times.

  • Technology along the US-Mexico border has vastly improved over the years, which means more people are being caught before trying to enter the country and may inflate numbers compared to past statistics. 

These visual maps were created to clarify arguments about the number of immigrants entering the country against less data-driven claims.

This Week’s Pop Culture

  • Vanity Fair listed Weike Wang’s “Joan is Okay” as one of the books they can’t stop thinking about. The book deals with the main character Joan’s journey as a former translator for her parents who is now a “rock star” employee at a New York state hospital. 

  • Immigrants from all walks of life celebrated Día de los Muertos/Día de los Difuntos (Mexican and Central American Day of the Dead) across the U.S. In Minnesota, artist Mónica Vega was commissioned to create the first-ever altar in her home state’s capitol, highlighting the influence of increased immigration to the state.

  • D.C.-area chefs discussed their efforts to feed migrants flown into Washington, D.C., after other state governments began bussing them to the country’s capital city.