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 2023 edition of the Garfinkel Immigration news roundup:
Federal judge again rules DACA program unlawful: Renewal applications remain open
A federal judge in Texas again ruled earlier this month that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, established in 2012, is unlawful.
The ruling is rooted in an issue of constitutional law. The core question is whether the President had the authority to establish the program, or whether that authority resides solely with Congress, requiring the program to be implemented through the legislative process rather than by Executive Order.
The ruling this month effectively reaffirmed a prior ruling from the same judge in 2021 that the President exceeded his authority, and that the DACA program is therefore illegitimate.
USCIS extends validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) for some foreign nationals
The Biden administration announced a key initiative earlier this month that could have a significant positive impact on certain foreign nationals.
Beginning October 1, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase the maximum validity period for both initial and renewal Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) up to five years for some foreign nationals, including those applying for adjustment of status.
Before the updated guidance, EADs for this group were valid in increments of up to two years, with the possibility of extension.
“The increased validity period will reduce the frequency with which noncitizens must file to renew their work authorization,” A fact sheet from the Biden administration about the new guidance read. “This is anticipated to also reduce the associated workload and processing times, which will allow USCIS to concentrate efforts on initial work authorization caseload.”
How a government shutdown impacts U.S. immigration agencies
Congress has failed to pass into law a budget for fiscal year 2024, which begins Oct. 1. As a result, the United States federal government could be headed for a shutdown.
As of Sept. 29, Congress has yet to pass the required spending bills to fund the federal government. Funding for the current fiscal year will expire on Sept. 30, 2023, forcing key agencies of the federal government to shutdown if these bills are not passed and signed into law.
Only “essential” government services will operate in the event of a federal shutdown.
The National Interest Waiver process: Advantages for STEM degree holders
Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm published its newest white paper earlier this month.
In the paper, Partner Meredith W. Barnette discussed new guidance issued by the Biden administration related to National Interest Waivers (NIW) and STEM degree holders.
“The updated guidance clarified that almost all STEM graduates can be eligible, or will soon be eligible, for an NIW, depending on their level of degree and professional experience,” Barnette writes. “This provides a pathway to permanent residency, and ultimately citizenship, for more qualified foreign nationals that may not have been available previously.”
The immigrant population in the U.S. is climbing again, setting a record last year
This story from NPR published in mid-September details the growing immigrant population in the United States.
There was a record high of a little more than 46 million people born elsewhere living in the U.S. last year, according to NPR, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau. That total was about a million more than in 2021.
“The foreign-born share of the U.S. population, which had been roughly flat since 2017, rose to nearly 14% last year,” the story read. “Experts say the renewed growth coincides with a gradual reboot of legal immigration, like processing visas and vetting refugees, which had all ground to a halt during COVID.”
103 House Democrats join calls for Biden to create more immigrant work opportunities
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives urged President Joe Biden to “put executive muscle into measures to help immigrants and asylum-seekers get work papers,” according to a story published by The Hill in mid-September.
“In a letter signed by 103 lawmakers, the Democrats laid out three legal avenues to allow asylum-seekers and certain undocumented immigrants to work legally, and for some undocumented immigrants to apply for permanent residency,” the story from The Hill read.
The story continued: “The House members joined calls by some Democratic senators and an array of labor, religious and civil rights organizations that have been pressing for the administration to adopt a more proactive approach.”
Biden administration plans to keep refugee cap at 125,000
The Biden administration will reportedly maintain the cap on the number of refugees admitted to the United States at 125,000 for FY2024, according to a report by CNN published in late September.
“The State Department has proposed admitting between 35,000 to 50,000 refugees from Latin America/the Caribbean in fiscal year 2024, according to the draft report,” the CNN story read. “That’s up from 15,000 in fiscal year 2023, though only around 5,500 refugees from that region have been resettled in the U.S. as of August 31, according to federal data.”
The story continued: “The refugee ceiling dictates how many refugees can be admitted to the U.S., but the administration doesn’t have to hit that number. Last year, Biden set the number at 125,000. Officials will fall short of that goal, but a recent uptick in admissions has fueled renewed optimism in the program among refugee advocates.”
Looking for an immigration bill that can pass? It’s healthcare
In this opinion piece, Kristie De Pena, the Niskanen Center’s senior vice president for policy and director of immigration policy, and Cecilia Esterline, an immigration research analyst at the Niskanen Center, advocate for Congress to pass a bill to expand opportunities for foreign national healthcare workers in the U.S.
“Retaining the talent we train in the U.S. is critical to our health care system,” the two wrote in the column published by The Hill in late September. “We must ensure that individuals educated in our medical schools can finish their training and practice in the U.S. by adding M.D. and D.O. programs to programs designated for STEM-OPT.”
The story continues: “Finally, rural hospitals and nursing homes should be exempt from the annual H-1B cap for the next five years. … Non-profit hospitals affiliated with universities already benefit from a lottery exemption. Rural hospitals, typically located far from prominent universities, lack similar access to necessary talent. Exempting them from the cap would ensure they can meet their needs in the short-term.”