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Thousands of immigrants who live in the U.S. on temporary visas and recently travelled to India aren’t being allowed back because of the Biden administration’s travel ban. Biden banned travel from India amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, especially those of a new variant. Even those exempt from the ban have had trouble returning to the U.S. as India’s embassy and consulates close. That includes Payal Raj, who travelled to India to renew her visa so she could stay in the U.S., but who is now stuck overseas away from her family in Tennessee. The New York Times
In other national immigration news…
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Phoenix County Pays $200 Million for Arpaio Lawsuit
A lawsuit stemming from former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration patrols in Phoenix will cost taxpayers more than $202 million by summer 2022. On Monday, officials in Arizona’s most populated county approved a tentative budget that allocates $31 million to comply with a court order that came out of a 2013 case against the sheriff’s office. Taxpayers are responsible for lawyer bills and other costs to implement court-ordered overhauls after the verdict concluded Arpaio’s officers profiled Latinos in traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. Arpaio was pardoned by former President Donald Trump after being convicted of a misdemeanor for refusing to stop the patrols. The Associated Press
Private Prison Company Challenges Closure of Tacoma Detention Center
GEO Group is suing Washington state, claiming a new law that would close its Tacoma immigrant detention center unconstitutionally subverts federal authority. The private prison company says the law would force the 1,575-bed jail to close in September. Activists and human rights advocates say immigrant detainees at the center are given incompetent food and medical care and spend longer than average in solitary confinement. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is also suing GEO for allegedly violating minimum-wage laws by paying detainees $1 a day for labor. The Seattle Times
Nonprofits Challenge New H-1B Rule
A coalition of trade groups and nonprofits filed a challenge to a Trump-era U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rule that would replace the decades-old random H-1B visa lottery system with a process favoring higher-paid workers visas. In a complaint filed in federal court, the groups said the new rule set in January would favor workers in expensive urban areas when issuing visas and make it hard for nonprofits to compete against private companies to get high-skilled foreign labor. The complaint also alleged the rule wasn’t valid because it was issued by former Acting Homeland Security Director Chad Wolf, who wasn’t properly appointed. Reuters
Man Reunited With Family After Being Stuck in Mexico for Two Years
Jose Palomar was reunited with his family in Southern California after dealing with an immigration battle that forced him to stay in Mexico for two years. Palomar was brought to the U.S. when he was 5 and was living under temporary legal status with his American wife and children. Palomar was also a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipient. Palomar took a trip to Mexico to apply for a permanent residency in the U.S., a trip his family thought would last for a few days. It ended up being a two-year wait because Palomar admitted to past marijuana use, which is legal in California but not federally. CBSN Los Angeles
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