Welcome to the Garfinkel Immigration news roundup, where every month we will summarize and provide links to the latest stories impacting U.S. immigration.
Below is the September 2021 edition of the Garfinkel Immigration news roundup:
Biden administration to ease COVID-19 related restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign travelers
The Biden administration will roll back some COVID-19 related restrictions in the coming months for fully vaccinated foreign travelers, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients announced in mid-September.
The new policy will take effect in early November, Zients told reporters.
Foreign travelers who show proof they have been fully vaccinated will be able to fly directly into the United States once the measure takes effect. Those travelers will also be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to arriving in the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide more guidance regarding the definition of “fully vaccinated” and what vaccines will qualify under the new guidelines.
Airlines will also be required to collect contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses, from travelers for contact tracing purposes.
Green Card applicants will also be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning October 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced last month.
Biden administration appeals ruling that found DACA unlawful
A federal judge in Texas ruled in mid-July that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was improperly implemented by the federal government and was, therefore, illegal.
The ruling blocked new applicants from applying for DACA but did not revoke employment authorization and deportation relief for current recipients, until further order from the “Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, or the United States Supreme Court.”
The Biden administration appealed that ruling earlier this month, filing a motion in the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Without congressional legislation, the current DACA case sets up another high-stakes legal clash over immigration,” Priscilla Alvarez wrote in an article published by CNN. “While it is unclear whether this case will end up before the Supreme Court, in a previous DACA-related case last year, three justices signaled in a dissent their belief that the program is unlawful. The full court has not yet weighed in on DACA’s legality.”
US extends land border restrictions with Canada, Mexico through Oct. 21
The United States land borders with both Canada and Mexico have been closed for “nonessential travel” since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those measures have been extended multiple times since they were initially put into place, most recently earlier this month. They will now last until at least Oct. 21, 2021.
Judge kills the last Trump H-1B visa rule left standing
In this piece, Forbes senior contributor Stuart Anderson examines a recent ruling from a federal judge which “ended a Trump administration regulation designed to make it difficult for international students to gain H-1B status.”
Anderson also examines the impact of multiple court rulings on the Trump administration’s attempt at implementing lasting H-1B policies while they were in office.
“Between 2017 and 2021, Trump administration officials increased H-1B denial rates by issuing memos and policies that judges determined to be unlawful,” Anderson writes. “Once those policies ended, H-1B denial rates returned to pre-Trump levels, according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis. Today, the most significant H-1B restriction is the same one in place before Donald Trump took office—the 85,000-annual limit on new H-1B petitions for companies.”
U.S. to raise refugee cap to 125,000 spots in 2022
The Biden administration is planning to raise the refugee cap to 125,000 in FY 2022, according to multiple news reports.
The cap was set at 62,500 for FY 2021 and was at a record-low 15,000 during the final year of the Trump administration.
“The Biden administration plans to distribute 40,000 refugee spots for Africa, 35,000 for the Near East and South Asia, 15,000 for East Asia, 15,000 for Latin America and the Caribbean, 10,000 for Europe and Central Asia and 10,000 unallocated spots,” according to an article published by CBS News.
The article adds: “During fiscal year 2022, the U.S. will give ‘particular focus’ to resettling Central Americans fleeing violence, LGBTQ refugees, Afghans who worked for U.S.-based organizations, at-risk Uyghurs, Hong Kong dissidents and refugees from Burma, including members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.”
Senate official blocks immigration reform in budget bill
The Democrats’ hopes of including immigration reform in their proposed spending bill suffered a major setback earlier this month.
The Senate parliamentarian ruled that the measures could not be passed through the reconciliation process, which bypasses the filibuster and only requires 51 votes in the legislative body.
Democrats will now seek other methods of passing immigration reform. Those alternatives could include another proposal to the parliamentarian, according to Forbes.
“The American people understand that fixing our broken immigration system is a moral and economic imperative. America has always been that shining city on the hill that welcomes those pursuing the American Dream and our economy depends more than ever on immigrants,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
He continued: “Despite putting their lives on the line during the pandemic and paying their fair share of taxes, they remain locked out of the federal assistance that served as a lifeline for so many families. We will continue fighting to pursue the best path forward to grant them the ability to obtain lawful status.”