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President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to get rid of the “Remain in Mexico” program, which activists say has exposed thousands of asylum seekers to violence in dangerous cities near the U.S.-Mexico border. The program, created in January 2019 by President Trump, was used to discourage asylum seekers from crossing the border and has sent over 69,000 individuals to wait in Mexico for immigration court hearings. Human Rights Watch describe the policy “needlessly and foreseeably exposed [asylum seekers] to considerable risk of serious harm.” Michael Garcia Bochenek, Human Right Watch’s senior children’s rights counsel, said its researchers heard upsetting testimonies from asylum seekers about traveling back to Mexico. The Guardian
In other national immigration news…
Immigrant Teachers Allegedly Financially Exploited
New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas is accusing Total Teaching Solutions International, a company that hires Filipino immigrants to work at public schools, of charging outrageous fees and using misleading financial tactics. CEO Janice Bickeert of Ruidoso was also accused of allegedly charging excessive fees to place Filipino teachers in schools on work visas. The lawsuit seeks a permanent restraining order against the company, financial restitution to immigrant teachers, fines of $5,000 per violation and other damages. Balderas said in a statement that the lawsuit is vital to end predatory business practices against immigrants, especially during a teacher shortage. The Associated Press
More Green Cards for Cubans in Miami
Miami immigration judge Timothy Cole has ruled that any immigrant that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security releases without a deportation order will be discharged. This could possibly impact Cubans who have migrated to the U.S. since January 2017, which is when the “wet foot, dry foot” policy ended; It gave Cubans on U.S. soil a path to citizenship. Cubans detained by DHS after arriving in the U.S. at a port of entry were released and provided a Form I-94, granting them the ability to apply for a green card. This new rule could give Cuban immigrants the chance to seek legal status again. The Miami Herald
Nebraska Governor Prioritizes Citizens Over Undocumented for COVID-19 Vaccine
When asked on Monday if undocumented immigrants would be included in the COVID-19 vaccine program for Nebraska meatpacking plants, Governor Pete Ricketts said, “You’re supposed to be a legal resident of this country to be able to be working in those plants.” Nebraska officials quickly clarified that immigrants would still qualify for the vaccine, but those without legal status would receive it last. Hundreds of undocumented immigrants work in crowded, high-risk facilities that are important to the nation’s food supply. Advocates argued this could scare immigrants away from a vaccine that is supposed to be available to as many people as possible. The Washington Post
Minnesota Immigrants in Shock After Attack at U.S. Capitol
A huge crowd of insurrectionists flooded the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday afternoon to interrupt the ratification of Biden’s 2020 election win. It brought to mind similar crises in the home countries of immigrants from Laos, Myanmar, East Africa, Guatemala, El Salvador and other places. Habon Abdulle, a Somalia immigrant and executive director of Ayada Leads, which aims to increase civic engagement among women of the African diaspora, explained she was excited when Democrats won both Georgia Senate seats, but had a déjá vu moment when she saw what happened at the Capitol. “For those of us who saw what happened in our original country, we never thought it would be possible in the United States of America,” she said. Sahan Journal
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