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Welcome to the March 17th edition of Immigration News from the Shepelsky Law team! Our team of experienced immigration lawyers has compiled the latest updates and news in the field of immigration to keep you informed and up-to-date on the ever-changing landscape of immigration law.

1. Afghan Evacuees At Risk of Deportation

Without congressional action, tens of thousands of Afghan refugees who fled to the United States, when the Taliban took control of their country in 2021, risk losing their work permits and safeguards against deportation this upcoming summer. Less than 5,000 of the 77,000 Afghans who were relocated to the United States under a special legal procedure have actually been able to obtain permanent legal status for themselves and their families. These attempts to have them become permanent residents in this nation have been meeting with failure in Congress. 😟

As of early February, the United States has only accepted approximately 4,800 Afghan evacuees’ requests for asylum or special visa status for those who supported American troops. Without legislative action, those without permanent legal status risk losing their right to lawfully work and reside in the United States as early as this July, which is nerve-racking for those seeking asylum. The Afghan Adjustment Act, which would have allowed evacuated Afghans to apply for permanent residency in the United States, has not passed Congress despite receiving substantial widespread support. This is largely because some Republican lawmakers have reservations about the way the evacuees were screened. 😔

To Afghan evacuees who lack permanent status, parole was initially granted to them. Parole is a special immigration classification that permits foreign nationals to enter the U.S. without a visa and to stay in the country temporarily on humanitarian or public interest grounds, in this case, for two years. Although that was a solution for some time, relying on parole to relocate evacuees, who were in reality refugees looking to start over in the United States, also meant that their destiny would be determined by politicians’ decision to grant them permanent status. 💭

2. Green Card Backlog Skyrockets

The number of pending immigrant visa cases increased at the National Visa Center of the Department of State from 386,787 cases in January to 408,456 cases in February, which is a substantial rise. 📈Accumulated data has shown that this month, there were approximately 20,000 more green card applicants whose cases were documentarily complete and ready to be scheduled for an interview, which is an increase from 422,954 to 444,828. A case is considered to be a documentarily complete case when all of the required forms have been submitted and accepted by the National Visa Center.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) relies mainly on fees for funding, which became a problem during the height of Covid-19. The federal agency’s income fell as fewer individuals requested immigration benefits, causing widespread furloughs and a backlog in immigration proceedings. The government agency said that it needed to increase application fees in order to completely recoup, adding that the suggested pricing is anticipated to produce around two billion dollars more annually than current application expenses. This increase in prices has a large effect on immigrants seeking green cards because many of them cannot afford to pay all of these fees that stand in the way of their freedom. 💸 🚫

3. Updated Asylum Restrictions Similar to Trump Policy

In a break with decades of tradition, the Biden administration has recently unveiled a new regulation that mainly prohibits migrants who passed through other nations on their route to the United States-Mexico border from requesting asylum in the U.S. The most stringent of these measures implemented by the Biden administration to attempt to control the U.S.-Mexico border is a new 153-page draft regulation, which may affect tens of thousands of individuals. This policy is evocative of a former Trump administration policy.

The proposed regulation would assume that applicants are ineligible for asylum and urge migrants to avail themselves of authorized, safe, and orderly paths into the United States, or else to seek asylum and other forms of protection in countries that they pass through. This would decrease dependence on human smuggling networks that exploit migrants for financial gain as a result. There are a few exceptions, but in general, the rule would apply to immigrants who enter the United States from Mexico without authorization. However, unaccompanied children are not included in this new regulation.

Former Trump Era policy which is known as the Title 42 border limitation from the pandemic era, is slated to expire in May, and the proposed regulation is expected to go into force that same month after a 30-day public comment period. The regulation is anticipated to be in effect for two years.

4. DHS and DOJ Promote Ethical Migration Processes

The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a proposed rule to encourage the adoption of new and existing legitimate procedures in order to disincentivize risky border crossings. This is in line with the border enforcement announcement from January 5th that aims to minimize irregular migration and provide additional safe and orderly channels for asylum seekers. 🛡️

On May 11th, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 Public Health Order is anticipated to get officially lifted, and DHS will resume processing all noncitizens in accordance with Title 8 immigration laws after its lifting. The Title 42 order is still in place until then, and unlawful immigrants will still be removed if they try to enter the United States without the proper authorization. Those who are given a secure, orderly, and legal route to the United States are less likely to risk their lives traveling thousands of miles, only to arrive at our southern border and deal with the legal repercussions of illegal entrance, as we have repeatedly witnessed over and over again. 💼

The DHS and DOJ are expanding the number of safe, legal routes for immigrants to enter the country while also introducing additional penalties for those who choose not to follow the procedures made available to them by the United States and its regional allies. 🌎🔍

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