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Detainees Sue ICE for Blocking Access to Booster Shots

Plus: Family finally reunites with kids 4 years after border separation, and immigration detentions in Mexico jump from last year

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Five detainees in Immigration and Customs Enforcement jails around the country are suing the agency in a D.C. federal court, claiming it violated their rights to access COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. They cited government data showing COVID-19 cases in ICE detention facilities saw a tenfold increase in January to highlight their risks in custody. “Plaintiffs fear for their health and their lives,” the lawsuit states. The detainees are currently housed in Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, and they allege that ICE officials have ignored them or either told them booster shots are unavailable or to wait indefinitely. Law360

In other national immigration news…

Family Finally Reunites With Kids 5 Years After Border Separation 

Maria Hernandez, a Honduran who lived in the United States for four years, was reunited with her two young daughters on Tuesday after the U.S. government allowed her return to the country. Following gang threats in Honduras, she and her children traveled to the U.S. to seek asylum and were separated in late 2017. They were among the 3,900 identified children separated under Trump’s zero tolerance policies. When President Biden took office, there were about 1,700 kids who had not been reunited. As of Jan. 25, 126 children have been reunited with their parents or legal guardians, and 377 more have reunifications in progress. Reuters

Immigration Detentions in Mexico Rose 78% in January

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute saw a 78% increase in the number of migrants detained in the country in January, compared to the same month last year. More than 16,000 migrants were detained last month, compared to around 9,000 in January 2021. The number may have been lower last year because of winter 2020-21’s devastating increase in coronavirus cases. More than 6,000 of those detained in January were from parts of the world outside of the Americas, and 14.5% of detainees were under 18 years old. Associated Press

Airlifted Afghans Lack Pathway to Secure Permanent Legal Residency

More than 36,000 evacuees from Afghanistan are going through U.S. resettlement processes without a direct path to secure legal permanent residency. The figure represents over 40% of Afghans who were airlifted from the country late last year. The asylum program in the U.S is also struggling with a backlog of over 400,000 applications, delaying processing for Afghans further. Advocates have been urging Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act that would offer permanent residency to evacuees, but the legislation has stalled so far. CBS News

Bill to Give Undocumented Immigrants Massachusetts Driver’s Licenses Gains Support

After years of debate, public health professionals, business leaders, advocates and legislators are still pushing to make Massachusetts the 17th state to pass a law to expand access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The bill has backing from majorities in the Massachusetts House and Senate, but hasn’t come to a final vote due to opposition from leadership and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. Still, the tide may be turning as more co-sponsors join the bill and as it gains support from law enforcement agencies and health care workers. MassLive

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