April 2023 Immigration Update

Fairness to Freedom Act

On 4/18/2023 Senators Gillibrand and Booker, as well as Representatives Jayapal, Torres, and Meng introduced the Fairness to Freedom Act in both houses of Congress. The Fairness to Freedom Act is a product of a partnership between National Partnership for New Americans and the VERA Institute for Justice. This act being introduced for the first time seeks to accomplish 2 primary goals:

  • The establishment of right to counsel in immigration court as a federal right 
  • Secondly, to provide funding for and guidelines for the creation of a system to provide individuals in immigration who cannot afford representation with legal representation. 

There is substantial evidence that one of the greatest factors in determining the result of deportation proceedings, asylum hearings, and other immigration court functions is whether or not the migrant has legal counsel. This bill seeks to make a fairer immigration court process and ensure that all regardless of economic status receive fair hearings and equitable results in immigration courts.  

New Border and Immigration Bill

(AIC Explanation) GOP’s Extreme Border Bill Rejects Solutions and Embraces Ending Asylum (immigrationimpact.com) 

The bill has a laundry list of potentially negative provisions, including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • Creation of Mandatory Fees for Asylum Applications 
  • Forbidding most asylum seekers to apply for asylum if the have not applied for asylum while in transit through 3rd countries
  • Increased detention and expulsion of unaccompanied minors 
  • Creation of new federal criminal charges for individuals who have overstayed a visa 
    • 1st offense up to 6 months in jail 
    • 2nd offense up to 2 years in prison 
  • Forbidding all Asylum claims for those who do not cross at a port of entry 
  • Essentially eliminate Humanitarian Parole by redefining to only include individuals with an acute medical need or who need to attend a family funeral 

Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act

Representatives Jayapal and Smith, as well as Senator Booker, introduced the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act in the House and the Senate. The objective of this bill is to create new standards for immigration detention that fall in line with international human rights standards and respects the dignity of the human person. 

Below are a list of provisions included in the bill if it were to pass sourced from Rep Jayapal’s website:

  • Repeal mandatory detention
  • Prohibit the detention of families and children in family detention 
  • Phase-out the use of private detention facilities and jails over a three-year period 
  • Create a presumption of release and impose a higher burden of proof to detain primary caregivers and vulnerable populations, including asylum seekers, pregnant women, LGBTQ individuals, survivors of torture or gender-based violence, and people under the of age 21
  • Prohibit the detention of anyone under age 18 in a facility operated or contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Require DHS to establish civil detention standards that provide, at minimum, the level of protection in the American Bar Association’s Civil Immigration Detention Standards
  • Mandate the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct unannounced inspections with meaningful penalties for failure to comply with standards

Expansion of ACA to Include DACA Recipients

In a move over a decade coming, the Biden-Harris announced that DACA recipients will be eligible to get healthcare through the Affordable Care Act.  

  • Previously over 1/3 of DACA recipients were uninsured so the expansion of coverage here will help hundreds of thousands across the country
  • There are over 100,000 DACA recipients in Ohio 

Full Announcement of Biden Administration Asylum Rule for May 11th  

On April 27th 2023, The Biden-Harris administratio announced a sweeping series of new actions and changes to DHS policy as part of the U.S. Government Adjustment to the end of Title 42 on May 11th, 2023. Access the Fact Sheet.

Changes of note include:

  • Imposing Stiffer Consequences for Unlawful Border Crossings 
    • Rapid expulsion of all caught unlawfully crossing the border under Title 8 
    • 5-year ban of legal entry into the United States 
    • Banned from pursuing Asylum Claims 
  • Proposed Solutions to Limit Unlawful Crossings 
    • Expansion of Access to CBPOne phone application for asylum appointments 
      • Note: So far, the CBPOne app has mostly been nonfunctional or overwhelmed as reported by multiple independent Media outlets. Long term effectiveness of CBPOne as primary means of seeking asylum in the United States is questionable. 
    • Doubling of Refugee Admissions from Western Hemisphere 
    • Creation of a family reunification process through Humanitarian Parole for people from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia.  
      • Note: Similar programs have shown effectives in the short-term for migrants from Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, however there has been strong Republican opposition to these programs and whether this would survive an administration change calls into question long-term viability 
  • Humanely Manage Migrant Flows with Partners 
    • Processing Centers in Latin American countries to process people’s claims before they arrive at the U.S Southern Border. First two facilities intended for Colombia and Guatemala  
      • Note: This idea may help prevent the overwhelming problems at the U.S. Border long-term and could become an effective part of U.S. Immigration Policy, however there are legitimate concerns about government capacity to do this effectively and without violating due process.  
    • Increase anti-smuggling operations and increase deportations for quote “those with no lawful basis to stay in the United States” 
      • Note: The effects this will have in practice remain to be seen. Deportation numbers and apprehension and expulsion of migrants at the border are already at or near all-time highs. Punitive expulsion and deportation policies of shown little effectives in terms of dissuasion under any administration over the last few decades.