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States Eliminating ‘Dehumanizing’ Immigrant Terms

Plus: Months-long processing delays cost immigrants their jobs, and Oregon lawmakers request funding to resettle Afghan refugees

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

Luz Rivas, a California assemblymember, was inspired by the Biden administration’s effort to eliminate offensive terms towards immigrants from federal laws. She created a bill, which is now a law, to similarly replace “alien” with “noncitizen” or “immigrant” in California law. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lawmakers in about seven states have considered removing the use of “alien” and “illegal” within state statutes and using “undocumented” and “noncitizen” instead. Only two states, California and Colorado, have gotten rid of those descriptions. Immigrants and immigrant rights groups say these terms are dehumanizing and may have a destructive effect on immigration policy. The Associated Press 

In other national immigration news…

Months-Long Processing Delays Caused Immigrants to Lose Jobs

Andrea Montero, a Venezuelan immigrant and Riverview, Florida, resident, is one of hundreds of immigrants who lost their jobs due to delays in getting their work authorizations approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Montero paid $410 and submitted her I-765 renewal application back in May, months before her authorization expired. The work permit was only extended for 180 days, and it expired Nov. 5. Members of Congress and immigration attorneys are calling on the federal government to facilitate these renewal requests and expand automatic renewals to 360 days. “It is an inhumane situation for many immigrants who came to this country to work honestly and improve the living conditions of their families,” Javier Torres, executive director of the Migrant Foundation, said. Tampa Bay Times 

Oregon Lawmakers Request $18M to Resettle Afghan Refugees

Oregon lawmakers are asking the state legislature to authorize an additional $18 million to expand services and capacity for Afghan refugees. Democratic state Rep. Khanh Pham and state Sen. Kayse Jama sent a letter last week outlining the need for Oregon to invest in housing assistance, case management and legal services for Afghans. Oregon is preparing to take in about 1,200 individuals in the next 12 months, of which 570 are expected to arrive by the end of February, according to the letter. Dozens of refugees have already arrived in the state with the help of five resettlement agencies. Pham and Jama said resettlement work in the future will require further state investments. Oregon Public Broadcasting 

Immigration Activists Demand Workplace Respect

A coalition of roughly 40 people, which included day laborers, immigrant youth and immigration advocates from central Mississippi, demanded attention from the state and federal officials at a Saturday rally. Led by the Immigration Alliance for Justice and Equity, the group called for respect within the workplace and a meeting with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Lorena Quiroz, executive director of the Immigration Alliance for Justice and Equity, said immigrants have been terrified since Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in 2019, when hundreds of immigration officials cascaded on seven plants in the largest immigration sting in over a decade. Roughly 680 individuals were arrested and over 300 were detained by ICE. Clarion Ledger 

St. Paul Immigrant Parents Fight School Closure

St. Paul, Minnesota, public schools released a proposal last month to close five school buildings while growing other programs. District leaders explained that the goal of the school closures was to provide students with a “well-rounded education” by ensuring there were enough subject specialists to offer specialized classes. But not everyone agrees with these closures, including families at Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary School, which includes a Spanish/English dual-immersion program. The school closure could displace some students from immigrant communities who are most at risk to leave school. Sahan Journal

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