As April comes to a close, we are excited to see more reversals of Trump-era immigration policies and a surprisingly favorable Supreme Court ruling. Nonetheless, immigration policy changes have a profound impact on countless people, so in our third featured story, NPR highlights the real-life impact of policy on mixed-status households.
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1. Biden Administration Limits Power of ICE To Arrest Immigrants In Courthouses – Tuesday, April 27
The Biden administration has reversed another Trump-era policy that previously allowed ICE to arrest and detain people in and near courthouses for immigration violations. Opponents of this policy, including DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, argued that immigration arrests had a chilling effect on the justice system. Many victims and witnesses to violent crime were afraid to come to court to testify and cooperate with law enforcement, particularly after a 2017 incident in El Paso, Texas, where a woman was detained by ICE while seeking a protective order against an allegedly abusive partner. The new policy states that arrests in or around courthouses may only under specific circumstances including national security matters, imminent risk of death or physical harm, hot pursuit of an individual who is a threat to public safety, or imminent risk of destruction of evidence. This new policy aims to help make people feel safer and more protected when going to court, without fear of being arrested for an unrelated civil immigration matter.
“The expansion of civil immigration arrests at courthouses during the prior administration had a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement.”
—Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
2. A Sharp Divide at the Supreme Court Over a One-Letter Word – Thursday, April 29
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the U.S. government must strictly comply with a requirement that immigrants receive detailed notices about deportation hearings. This ruling may sound trivial because it’s about the meaning of the word, “a,” but in this context, that single letter is the difference between relief and removal. Some forms of discretionary immigration relief require applicants to establish that they’ve been continuously physically present in the U.S. for at least ten years. However, there is a “stop-time” rule, so if they receive notice of an order of removal, it stops the clock on their continuous physical presence. The dispute over “a” was really over exactly when the time stops, because some individuals received two separate notices, so it was unclear which date applied. If the clock stops at 9.5 years, they may not have a path to relief. Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion, joined by Justice Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Barrett. The Court held that when it comes to notices and administrative forms, the U.S. government should be held to the same standard to which individuals are held. If you are a Supreme Court watcher like us, you may want to check out the full opinion.
“At one level, today’s dispute may seem semantic, focused on a single word, a small one at that. But words are how the law constrains power.”
—Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch
3. Mixed Immigration Status Gave Brothers ‘Very Different Perspectives’ – Friday, April 23
Two brothers from Bakersfield, California, Angel and Randy Villegas, grew up together, but with very different immigration statuses. Randy was born in the U.S. and is a U.S. citizen, while his older brother Angel was born in Mexico and is undocumented. They told NPR’s Story Corps about how their different statuses made their experiences very different, even though they grew up in the same home. Randy spoke about the guilt he felt as a U.S. citizen, having the freedom to go to college, get a driver’s license, and visit their grandparents in Mexico while his brother could not, and lived in fear of others finding out he was undocumented. Randy is getting his doctorate in politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Angel, thanks to DACA, is working as an architectural designer in their hometown of Bakersfield. We hope that Congress will pass a form of relief for undocumented immigrants like Angel.
“I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this this deeply. But, even if we’re not always saying ‘I love you’ and giving each other hugs … at the end of the day, I hope you know that I have your back.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this week’s ‘News Review’ from McEntee Law! Want daily immigration news updates? Follow us on Twitter.