For today’s weekly news review, we read about the 2 year anniversary of Title 42, the United States’ commitment to welcoming Ukrainian refugees, and new immigration provisions in a senate bill.
It’s been two years since the controversial immigration policy, Title 42, was enacted. Despite pushback from immigration advocates, the Biden Administration yet to lift it.
The policy was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic during the Trump administration. Advocates see the continuation of Title 42 as a broken campaign promise.
“Every day that this policy is in effect, it actually endangers human lives, harms public health, bolsters racist tropes and damages the CDC’s [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] credibility,” said Eleanor Acer, director of refugee protection with Human Rights First.
As a result of Title 42, over 1.7 million immigrants have been denied the right to seek asylum. Advocates say that the policy uses the pandemic as a ploy to use harsh asylum protections.
Both the Trump and Biden administrations have contested that the policy is only in place to reduce the spread against COVID-19. However, the use of the policy has been delinked to the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, consequences of the policy have resulted in unsanitary conditions for migrants.
Officials have said there is a fear of a massive influx of migrants if the policy is lifted. However, the policy has actually increased the number of border crossings.
Additionally, many have noticed that the policy has treated certain immigrants differently. For example, many Ukrainian nationals have been given Title 42 waivers. Yet, Haitian nationals, similarly in distress, have been expelled at a massive rate.
Immigration groups and advocates are calling the current border response racist and xenophobic. Advocacy groups continue to call on the administration to reconsider the harmful policy.
An administration official announced that the U.S. will welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
To meet this commitment, officials say they are considering a range of different legal pathways for refugees.
More than 3.5 million Ukrainian people have fled the country since the Russian invasion. A majority of them have fled to neighboring countries, such as Poland.
Officials have said this will not affect the U.S.’s current cap on annual refugees, which is 125,000. There is an expectation that many Ukrainians will want to be closer to home in Europe. However, officials say they are focusing on welcoming refugees with family in the U.S.
They’ve also said there will be an emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable refugees, such as members of the LGBTQI+ community.
“By opening our country to these individuals, we will help relieve some of the pressure on the European host countries that are currently shouldering so much of the responsibility,” said a White House official.
Vice President Harris visited Poland earlier this month. Polish President Andrzej Duda asked her to simplify the refugee process to allow for quicker entry for Ukrainian refugees in need.
Additionally, President Biden has signed a spending bill that will provide humanitarian assistance for refugees. The administration continues to explore more ways to help Ukraine.
A new bill being discussed in the Senate includes several immigration provisions. One change would be creating a new visa category for entrepreneurs. The bill also proposes exempting immigrants in STEM from green card limits.
Certain immigration limits have made the U.S. less competitive. Talented professionals have been forced to look outside the U.S. for long-term residency.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is exploring every opportunity to make immigration reform possible.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, (D-Wis.) said the new immigration provisions would help keep immigrant graduates from U.S. universities. Republicans are rarely in support of immigration reform. However, retaining foreign talent is something Republicans may also be interested in.
Many senators are hoping to not complicate the bill so that they’re able to pass something that both parties can agree on. And if the provisions survive, this would be the first significant immigration reform in decades.
Last year, Democrats attempted to pass legislation that would put millions of immigrants on a path to citizenship. Now, they are switching gears a bit, and focusing on change where there’s a “common ground” across party lines.