President Biden has upset many immigrant advocates this past weekend by hiring several immigration judges previously selected by former President Trump. Many of these judges are former prosecutors and counselors for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Almost none have experience representing migrants in court. This move by the Biden administration has puzzled many voters, as it stands at odds with Biden’s stated commitment to reverse the harm the previous administration inflicted upon the immigration system. There should be far more immigration advocates within the court system, which would provide an important counter to the influx of deportation advocates that began filling the benches during the Trump presidency. Biden’s budget allows for a total of 100 immigration judge hires. Now that seventeen with questionable motivations have already been appointed, it is time to place pressure on the administration to ensure that court selections uphold the values Biden promised.
The United States government withdrew a Trump-era proposal last Friday. The measure sought to collect biometric details from all individuals applying for immigration or naturalization benefits, an expansion of previous biometric policy. While supporters of the rule argued it would improve security vetting and reduce fraud, many critics saw it as another unnecessary step in an already inefficient immigration process. The withdrawal is part of a wider effort to “restore faith” in the immigration system in the wake of the Trump presidency, an initiative set into motion through President Biden’s February Executive Order “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration System.”
A 40-foot cruiser carrying about 30 people hit a reef off San Diego and capsized early Sunday morning. Passengers were met with a powerful current. Three died, and of the 29 rescued, five were taken to the hospital. After one day, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search.
According to the authorities, the passengers were migrants, likely coming from Baja California, Mexico. These maritime passages are not new, and have been on the rise in recent years as border security has increased. Between 2019 and 2020, Border Patrol reported a 92% increase in apprehensions at sea. They expect to see a similar increase this year.
Many lives could be saved if the United States established more efficient, safe, and easy opportunities for immigration. The increase in migrant sea passage correlates with the implementation of stricter measures at the border. Individuals seeking a new life should not have to resort to such dangerous means.
The State Department announced the winners of the 2022 Diversity Immigration Visa Program this Saturday. The program, also known as “The Green Card Lottery,” allows winners to apply for visas, opening up a pathway to citizenship. The program is limited to individuals from countries where less than 50,000 natives migrated to the United States within the previous five years. It benefits about 55,000 people each year.
The lottery this year is especially important. Individuals banned by former President Donald Trump’s Presidential Proclamation 9645–which blocked migration from Yemen, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, Somalia, Chad, and Libya–are now eligible once again under the Biden presidency. According to the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, “pursuant to President Biden’s proclamation, the State Department will undertake a review to ensure that individuals whose immigrant visa applications were denied on the basis of the suspension and restriction on entry imposed by P.P. 9645 or 9983 may have their applications reconsidered.” Finally the individuals needlessly barred from opportunity may see hope on the horizon once more.
The Supreme Court sided with an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant today in a 6-3 decision. Agusto Niz-Chavez, who brought the case, had illegally crossed the border in 2005, eventually settling in Detroit. The government initiated removal proceedings against him in 2013 and sent him a notice of the charges. Only later did the government send a second notice with the date and time of his court appearance. It is this delay that Niz-Chavez found issue with. According to the law of the United States, immigrants are only eligible to appeal for removal after ten years of consistent residency within the country. Once a notice to appear is issued, this clock ends. Niz-Chavez argued that the multiple notices he received did not technically constitute the single notice described in the law.
The dispute is more than semantic, as noted by Chief Justice Neil Gorsuch. It involves the duty of the government to provide an individual with a single comprehensive notice of the proceedings they face. In this case, the court did not only side with Niz-Chavez, but also provided a counter to the increasingly expedited removal process many undocumented immigrants are faced with.
The applications of this ruling are important and broad. This ruling can be the basis to re-open removal orders that were issued in proceedings when a person was NOT deemed eligible to file for cancellation. The ruling should be the basis of motions to terminate current proceedings that are based on defective NTAs.