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Biden Administration Afraid of Lifting COVID-19 Border Restrictions

Plus: Democratic senator delays confirming CBP nominee, Agriculture Secretary defends citizenship for migrant farmers

This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

According to two U.S. officials familiar with internal discussions, Biden administration officials are worried that lifting COVID-19 restrictions will lead more migrants to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The officials said there is concern that if more migrants are allowed to enter the U.S. to attend their immigration court cases, others may try to make the journey, which would overwhelm the system. Immigrant advocacy groups on the other hand criticized the Biden administration for continuing to stop migrants from crossing. “Vaccines are readily available and effective against new variants of Covid. The country is opening back up. So, too, should our borders be open for people seeking asylum,” said Noah Gottschalk, global policy lead for Oxfam America. NBC News

In other federal immigration news…

Democrat Delays Biden’s CBP Nominee

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is delaying the approval of President Joe Biden’s nominee to take over U.S. Customs and Border Protection in order to receive more information on the government surveillance of protesters in Portland last summer. Biden nominated Police Chief Chris Magnus of Tucson, Arizona to lead CBP. But Wyden claimed the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice haven’t answered questions regarding how the Trump administration misused federal resources to attack peaceful protesters last year. “While it is clear that Customs and Border Protection faces pressing issues, as the senior senator from Oregon, I am able to advance this nominee until DHS and DOJ give Oregonians some straight answers about what they were up to in Portland last year, and who was responsible,” he said. The Hill  

Agriculture Secretary Defends Farmworker Citizenship

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack fought attacks from Republicans on the Biden administration’s border policies. The hearing discussed designing a pathway to citizenship for migrant farmworkers; a few Republicans said they won’t support the legislation until there’s more border security. Back in March, the House passed the Farm Work Modernization Act to allow migrants who worked a specific amount of years in agriculture to apply for legal status. Vilsack supported the bill and said he didn’t believe the passage would cause an increase of migration at the border. So when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said the border was “the most secure it’s been in 45 years” under former President Donald Trump, Vilsack quickly clapped back, saying, “If that’s the case, then why didn’t you all pass the Modernization Act last year after it passed the House?” Roll Call

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