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President Biden Brushes Over Immigration Issues in State of the Union Address

Plus: Havana’s U.S. embassy is expected to staff up and restore visa processing for Cubans looking to come to the U.S.

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In his speech Tuesday night, President Biden addressed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and America’s resolve to stand with the Ukrainian people amid growing calls from Ukrainian nationals in the U.S. as well as both Republican and Democratic lawmakers to act on the growing refugee crisis. He made mention of the White House strategy, which has been to lobby NATO allies privately and push European nations to take the lead on hitting Russia with economic sanctions. The federal government will partner with allies to provide military, humanitarian, and economic assistance to Ukrainians, including a $1 billion direct fund, to help them defend their country and ease their suffering. 

Biden brushed over other immigration issues later in the speech. He mentioned newly installed scanners at the border to better detect drug smuggling; setting up joint patrols with Mexico and Guatemala to catch more human traffickers, putting in place dedicated immigration judges so families fleeing persecution and violence can have their cases heard faster; securing commitments and supporting partners in South and Central America to host more refugees and secure their own borders; providing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, and essential workers; and reuniting families.

In other federal immigration news…

Havana’s U.S. Embassy Expected to Staff Up to Restore Visa Processing for Cubans

The Biden administration is expected to unveil a plan this week to deploy additional consular officers to the U.S. embassy in Havana to resume visa processing for Cubans, which had been largely suspended since the Trump era. The restoration would mark an initial phase of easing strict limits on visas imposed under the previous administration. The Trump administration scaled back embassy staff in 2017 during a spate of “anomalous health incidents” that came to be known as “Havana syndrome.” The unexplained illnesses first affected U.S. employees in the Cuban capital and other parts of the world, but there have been no recent reports of the health incidents in Havana. The State Department’s latest figures show there were more than 90,000 Cubans on the “immigration waiting list” as of November, many of whom seek to emigrate or travel to the United States to reunite with families. Reuters

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