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Immigration News We’re Following in 2023

Fisayo Okare

Jan 03, 2023

U.S. Capitol Building. Architect of the Capitol

At Documented, we cover immigration news as it matters to New Yorkers. In 2023, we’ll be closely watching these developments in immigration policy and reform.

What’s up with Title 42?

The Supreme Court voted last week to keep Title 42 — the federal policy used by both the Biden and Trump administrations to prevent asylum seekers from entering the U.S. because of Covid-19. However, the court agreed to decide later this year if 19 Republican-led states should be allowed to defend Title 42 in the lower courts, which will let Biden administration try to terminate the order again this year.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, Title 42 will remain in effect until at least June or longer. Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s dissent in the case notes that supporters of Title 42 aren’t pretending it has anything to do with Covid-19 anymore.

Also, when the Biden administration tried to gradually end the policy earlier in 2022, Arizona and other Republican-led states filed a lawsuit in Louisiana against the effort. The case said it was unlawful to end Title 42 because the federal government didn’t notify the public it was modifying a policy and seek comment. These states successfully sued to block the Department of Homeland Security from ending enforcement of Title 42. The case has now been tentatively set for argument in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals during the week of March 6, 2023.

Some attorneys believe that if the Biden administration is serious about ending Title 42, it will immediately issue the notice and comment period — which it has already told courts that it would do. 

The impact of the continuation of Title 42 mostly affects Central American families

How will New York’s response to helping newly arrived migrants change this year?

While the Biden administration was preparing for an end to Title 42 last month, Mayor Eric Adams warned it could lead to more migrants arriving in New York City. But New York City wasn’t prepared for that reality, Adams said, adding in a statement that the city’s “shelter system is full, and we are nearly out of money, staff and space.”

A few days after Mayor Adams’ statement, the New York City Council released a report scrutinizing the City’s coordinated services for migrants and New Yorkers, and also proposed policy reforms to improve support services. Here are some highlights of the policy recommendations in the report, and the full report is available here

Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be keeping an eye on what policy solutions are adopted. 

How will immigration be discussed on the presidential campaign trail?

Not to stress you out, but 2024 is around the corner, and its presidential campaign cycle is already starting. So we can expect that debates in the news about immigration issues will start ramping up this year. Around the first half of 2019, media outlets were already reporting about the broad-strokes message Democrats wanted to send on immigration during the 2020 elections. We’ll be unpacking the immigration debate among 2023 presidential aspirants.

What are the immigrant-centric bills to watch this year?

In 2022, no bills benefitting immigrant groups passed Congress, including proposals to provide legal status to DACA recipients. In New York, advocates were optimistic that some bills would finally pass the state Senate and Assembly. By June last year, only two of the five immigration bills being deliberated in the legislature were passed.

The New York for All Act, which has stalled in the legislature for two years, made no progress. The bill would have ended the practice of transferring immigrants who are arrested for low-level offenses to ICE.

The Dignity Not Detention Act also did not pass. The bill would have ended all current and future contracts of ICE immigration detention centers in New York. New Jersey had passed a similar law in 2021. And the Access to Representation bill, which aimed to guarantee the right to counsel for immigrants facing deportation hearings, also didn’t pass. 

In 2023, will meaningful action follow? We’ll be following any development in these legislations. 

How will organized labor unions mobilize or form this year?

Did you know that subway cleaners were not allowed to arrive to work together, talk to each other or be friends? And did you know that immigrant subway cleaners are illegally underpaid with the MTA’s permission? Challenges and abuses like these have recently led workers across industries to organize for better pay and working conditions. 

The pandemic changed the way many workers view labor and led to a unionization wave. We covered organizing efforts by workers last year — the most recent of which was about airport workers who protested during the holiday season over what they say are grueling work conditions and low pay. We will follow up with some of these stories this year, and cover new ones as people unionize, reach a settlement, or go on strike to fight unfair labor practices.

Fisayo Okare

Fisayo writes Documented’s "Early Arrival" newsletter and "Our City" column. She is an MSc. graduate of Columbia Journalism School, New York, and earned her BSc. degree in Mass Comm. from Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos.




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