Child Detention – Potential Sponsors Detained (US)

Migrant rights groups have called out an emerging trend in the US where potential sponsors coming forward to take children out of detention centers have themselves been detained. This situation tends to happen where the potential sponsors themselves do not have legal immigration status in the US. According to current practice, a sponsor needs to provide fingerprints before they are able to complete the process of getting a child – typically a relative – out of detention. It is at this point that the authorities are able to determine if the potential sponsor has current legal immigration status and take action accordingly.

Migrant rights groups have reacted with concern, stating that the US authorities’ action will only increase the likelihood of children remaining in detention for longer than necessary. Some are worried that their relatives may become too scared to show up at immigration detention facilities for fear that they themselves may be detained. The flip side of this argument is that the authorities are only enforcing the law and that illegal immigrants are not automatically to continue living as usual in the US once they have come to the attention of the authorities, even if that visibility is obtained in the context of their attempting to get a child out of detention.

The sensitive immigration debate in the US rages on.

The Guardian’s reporting of this study can be found here.

Green Card – Claiming Public Benefits Could Result in Refusal (US)

The US immigration authorities have proposed a change to the Green Card application consideration process. Currently, if an immigrant claims cash public benefits while not yet a permanent resident of the US, this fact can count negatively towards the Green Card application. The proposed change in the rules will make it detrimental for immigrants to claim any non-cash public benefits as well.

This approach in the US is actually similar to that already followed by some other countries such as the UK. In the United Kingdom, migrants from outside the European Economic Area are prohibited from accessing public funds until they become permanent residents.

Predictably, migrant rights groups are dismayed by this hardening of the United States’ immigration position, expressing the fear that the proposed new rules might scare migrants away from accessing much needed help, and could therefore have greater negative social consequences in the long term.

You can read Global News reporting of the story here.

USA: Texas Judge Gives Reprieve to DACA

A judge in Texas has refused to rule against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, despite stating in his judgement that he is not convinced of the legality of the program itself.  Rather, his decision was based on the reasoning that it is already in effect and that to roll it back would cause hardship to many.  He effectively called on Congress to take action to save the popular program and not rely on intervention from the courts.

CNN’s reporting of this story can be found here.

Green Cards – Trump Announces Planned Changes

USA: President Donald Trump joined forced on Wednesday with Senators David Perdue of  Georgia and Tim Cotton of Arkansas to promote a new bill, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, touting a skills-based points system for obtaining US Green Cards.   Under the current system, Green Cards can be obtained via family sponsorship, job sponsorship, the Diversity Lottery, and on compassionate humanitarian grounds.  Most are obtained via family ties.

The proposed new law would make process changes, awarding points for the fulfillment of certain requirements and determining eligibility based on the points awarded.  Consequently:

  • Highly skilled people would be prioritized
  • Extended family members would be de-prioritized
  • Spouses and children would still be supported
  • The Green Card lottery (diversity program) would be curtailed or scrapped
  • English -speakers would be favored
  • Refugees admitted would be capped at 50,000 per year
  • Overall numbers of green cards issued would be expected to drop by 41% in the first year, and 50% over a 10 year period.

This is just the initial announcement of a proposal which the President and Senators Perdue and Cotton support.  It is not law, nor will it be unless and until it is introduced to the Senate and the House of Reps, passed both houses with the required majorities and is signed into law.  The road ahead is predicted to be rocky for the bill, especially because a very similar bill was introduced earlier this year, but found little or no support.  Senator Lindsey Graham has already voiced his opposition to the bill, saying that it would devastate the economy in his constituency, as the agriculture and tourism industries of South Carolina rely heavily on immigrant workers.

It is worth noting that Australia, Canada and the UK already have points-based immigration systems to various extents and these have arguably worked well for those countries.  However, none of them rely solely on the points-based structure and have aspects of their immigration programs e.g. family applications determined by other means.