This week, we read about a Republican immigration plan, an update on case quotas for immigration judges, and progress regarding the immigration case backlog.
A group of Republican governors released a plan proposed to the Biden administration about the “border crisis.”
The governors’ plan was comprised of various anti-immigrant policies. In it, they urge the President to continue deporting migrants at the Southern border using the Title 42 policy. They also request that the administration end the “catch and release” policy. Finally, they call on the administration to resume deporting immigrants with any criminal record, regardless of how minor.
Author Susan J. Cohen argued that using any of the proposed policies would make the country “less welcoming” and cause unnecessary deaths.
Title 42, started under President Trump, was used as a measure to supposedly control the spread of COVID. Yet, the policy resulted in being a convenient way to deport more migrants and refugees at the border. Biden has continued to invoke Title 42 under his administration.
The rate of migrants testing positive for COVID is relatively low. The CDC reported that the bigger threat to public health is Americans refusing to get vaccinated. Also, the policy itself is arguably illegal. It violates U.S. asylum law by denying refugees the right to request asylum.
Cohen argues that the recommendations would only fuel the expansion of large-scale detention centers. Cohen explains that the issue is circular—ICE must use its funding to fill beds in detention centers. This results in immigrants with no criminal record left in detention. She also argues that we do not need more law enforcement officers at the border. Instead, Cohen says, we need a “collaborative and coordinated approach.”
“It’s time to move beyond a punitive, anti-immigrant, enforcement-oriented immigration agenda, and to put ourselves into these immigrants’ shoes. For U.S. immigration policy to be fair and just, we must uphold our laws, stop branding and treating immigrants as criminals and reset the moral compass of our U.S. immigration agenda.”
The Justice Department is ending the use of case quotas for immigration judges. Immigration judges must follow set quotas for the number of cases completed each year. This number is established by each administration. The judges determine whether or not an immigrant can stay in the U.S. Many judges argued that the quotas were more about efficiency rather than fair treatment.
Currently, there is a 1.5 million case backlog for immigration cases. Suspending case quotas is unlikely to affect how fast judges work on the backlog.
In 2018 during the Trump administration, a case quota was set, determining 700 completed cases as “satisfactory”. Suspending the quota is another move by the Biden administration to distance itself from Trump-era immigration policies.
During the Trump administration, many immigration judges quit or changed their roles due to frustrating policy changes.
“Suspension of the metrics is an excellent first step,” said Mimi Tsankov, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, the immigration judges’ union. “We now await the opportunity for management to recognize NAIJ and work with us to establish appropriate measures for the agency to assess its productivity and ensure due process for the parties before us and judges themselves.”
The State Department is slowly but surely making progress on the immigration backlog. The number of applicants waiting for their green card interview to be scheduled decreased in October. The number of applicants scheduled for an interview remained the same.
There were over 20,000 fewer pending interviews this month compared to last, while the number of scheduled interviews slightly increased. The State Department has made progress on the backlog, although they haven’t yet increased the number of monthly interviews.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, wait times for visas have seen significant increases. The article predicts that it will take at least eight months to return to the rates we saw before the start of the pandemic.
If you’d like to stay updated on the numbers about the visa backlog, check out this monthly report released by The National Visa Center.