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On Monday, the Biden administration said undocumented immigrants should receive COVID-19 vaccines and ensured federal authorities will not conduct immigration enforcement operations within vaccine distribution sites or clinics. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying, “It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine.” Many undocumented immigrants reside in communities where the coronavirus hit hard. Advocates say some immigrants are hesitant about engaging with government-led vaccination efforts after the Trump administration targeted them over the last four years. CNN Politics
In other national immigration news…
Trump Official Signed Last-Minute Agreement With ICE’s Union
A whistleblower alleged that a top Trump administration official misused his authority by signing last-minute agreements with the union for ICE officers, which could possibly weaken Biden’s policy changes. The complaint accused Kenneth Cuccinelli, DHS’s former acting second-in-command, of “gross mismanagement, gross waste of government funds and abuse of authority” over the agreements he signed the day before Biden’s inauguration. A senior homeland security official confirmed that since then, officials have been discussing the impacts of the agreements. One part of the agreement allows the ICE union to argue to dismiss policy changes, including Biden’s recent order focus on violent criminals instead of other undocumented immigrants. The New York Times
Thousands of Dreamers Waiting Since December
In recent months, 2,713 young undocumented Dreamers applied to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to a DHS status report. The DACA program, which Trump tried to overturn, provides temporary protection from deportation and work permits for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Biden has meanwhile pledged to restore the program and give DACA recipients a path to citizenship. Meanwhile one lawsuit is challenging the legitimacy of the program altogether in a Texas federal court as Texas and eight other states allege the program is unlawful and should be terminated. The Arizona Republic
Honduran Migrant Caravan Turned Back at U.S. “Vertical Border” In Guatemala
Vincio, his wife, and their three children left their home in southern Honduras to travel toward Mexico after receiving death threats from a criminal group trying to recruit Vincio to deal drugs. The family travelled about 600 miles to Mexico’s southern border, but ended up as part of the 5,000 Hondurans sent back over the last 11 days. Guatemala arranged for about 2,000 police and soldiers to set up checkpoints throughout the country to stop northward migration. The U.S. has spent the past few years pressuring Mexico and Mexico and Central American countries to stop migrants and asylum seekers from making it to the U.S. southern border. The Intercept
Farmers Sue Washington For Not Revising COVID-19 Rules For Migrant Farm Workers
Two farm groups are suing Washington state for not revising emergency regulations to protect migrant farm workers from the coronavirus. The regulations require quick access to emergency services and constant medical care for those with COVID-19 symptoms, which farmers in rural areas say are impossible to comply with. The state has made adjustments for other sectors, such as education and construction. But Gov. Jay Inslee (D) denied the two groups’ appeal to revise the rules, and they were updated again Jan. 8 with no changes for the agriculture industry. The Associated Press
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