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The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday scrapped a contract agreement between the Trump administration and ICE’s union that could have stalled the implementation of the Biden administration’s policies. Former Acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli’s agreement gave ICE’s union the ability to indefinitely delay the implementation of agency policies, according to a whistleblower complaint filed earlier this month. The agency had 30 days to review and approve or disapprove of the agreement once signed. But a DHS spokesperson said the agreement had been “disapproved” because it was not negotiated in DHS’s interest or in alignment with the law. CBS News
In other national immigration news…
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Asylum Seekers Arrive at Border as Biden Admin. Attempts to Temper Expectations
Thousands of migrants have traveled to the U.S.–Mexico border hoping the Biden administration will allow them to make asylum claims — an option almost entirely shut off by the previous administration. But President Joe Biden hasn’t lifted some of the most significant barriers to asylum seekers, partially because he wants to prevent a large number of people seeking asylum at the border all at once. “Now is not the time to come, and the vast majority of people will be turned away,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a recent briefing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said something similar while ending Trump-era agreements with Central American nations. Associated Press
Biden to Rely on Enforcement from Mexico and Central American States
Guatemalan security forces violently broke up a large migrant caravan on its way to the U.S. ahead of Biden’s inauguration. The move was part of a U.S.-led effort, pursued by the Trump administration to pressure the Mexican and Central American to halt migration well before people arrived at the U.S.—Mexico border. This strategy will continue under the Biden administration, Reuters reports. The Biden administration has encouraged Mexico and Guatemala to keep up their border enforcement and stem northward migration, Mexican and U.S. officials told Reuters. An increase in migrants arriving at the border could sink Biden’s immigration agenda. Reuters
Latinos Struggle to Get COVID-19 Vaccine
Despite being disproportionately affected by the virus, America’s more than 60 million Latinos have struggled to access the COVID-19 vaccine. Some are uncertain about the science behind the shots, while others face language barriers on state websites, can’t access appointments in their communities and fear being targeted by ICE. An AP-NORC poll also found half of both Hispanic and Black Americans are extremely or very worried about themselves or family members being infected with COVID-19. DHS explicitly said vaccination sites are off-limits from immigration enforcement, but fears remain. Associated Press
Biden Administration Scraps Trump’s Citizenship Test
DHS officials are planning to scrap a Trump-era version of the citizenship test that came under criticism for being too confusing. The new version was issued two months ago. It included two dozen additional questions and wording changes that in some cases made it more complex, immigration advocates argued. To pass, immigrants needed to get 12 out of 20 questions correct, in comparison to a previous 6 out of 10. Advocates argued the changes were part of a broader effort to limit the number of people who were able to get citizenship. The agency will now revert to the 2008 format for the test. BuzzFeed News
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