>> NEXT MEETING will be held on March 8th, via Zoom, at 7:30.  Invitations will be sent several days in advance.  If you have an item you wish to have added to the agenda, please email it to me before Noon on Wednesday, March 3d.  Please make every effort to attend.  The major agenda item will be discussing the May 10th meeting at which our new CONGRESSMAN JAKE AUCHINCLOSS will be the featured speaker.

 BIDEN ADMINISTRATION NEWS>> I thought you might be interested in learning more about Alejandro Mayorkas who was confirmed to lead Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security on February 2, 2021, making Mr. Mayorkas the first immigrant and first Latino to serve in that role. 
 Mr. Mayorkas comes from a 30-year career as a law enforcement official and a nationally recognized lawyer in the private sector. He served as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from 2013 to 2016, and as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2009 to 2013. During his tenure at DHS, he led the development and implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, (DACA) negotiated cybersecurity and homeland security agreements with foreign governments, led the agency’s response to Ebola and Zika, helped build and administer the Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking, and developed an emergency relief program for orphaned youth following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He also created the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate. 

Mr. Mayorkas began his government service in the Department of Justice, where he served as Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, specializing in the prosecution of white-collar crime. After nearly nine years as a federal prosecutor, he became a U.S. Attorney. Mr. Mayorkas received a bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of California at Berkeley and a law degree from Loyola Law School.

 >> REMAIN IN MEXICO:  NBC News reports that beginning Feb 19th, the Biden Administration will begin processing asylum applicants who were forced to remain in Mexico under the Trump Administration. For the full report see:  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/biden-admin-begin-processing-asylum-seekers-who-were-forced-remain-n1257569?utm_source=AILA+Mailing&utm_campaign=e9051bdaee-AILA8-02-12-2021&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3c0e619096-e9051bdaee-290775989    For some background on the Remain in Mexico program established by the Trump Administration see:  https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-administration-starts-remain-mexico-policy-el-paso-texas-n985641   FORMAL NOTICE FROM DHS: Per a DHS fact sheet released on 2/15/21,  a virtual registration process, accessible from any location, can be found at https://conecta.acnur.org/   Once the site is operational, individuals who were enrolled in MPP may register to be processed into the U.S. for future removal proceedings. The registration site is managed by UNHCR and other international partners who will provide a virtual helpdesk and toll free line to assist individuals with this process. Once registered, individuals will be given a date and time to expect a phone call from a case worker who will collect verification information, including their alien registration number. UNCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) will then confirm eligibility under phase one processing and will provide the individual and any accompanying family members with a future date to appear at a staging area near a designated port of entry. Individuals eligible for this initial processing are those with active MPP cases, including, those with pendingBoard of Immigration Appeals. Individuals in the United States and overseas who were enrolled in MPP should remain in place and continue to await further guidance. Additional FAQs and fact sheets from DHS and UNHCR are forthcoming. 

 >> WORDS MATTER:  On Feb 16, Axios reported that the Biden administration is urging government officials to use more inclusive terms for immigrants, including replacing the word “alien” with “noncitizen.” Other changes include using “undocumented noncitizen” or “undocumented individual” rather than “illegal alien” and “integration or civic integration” instead of “assimilation.”   SEE:  https://www.axios.com/biden-immigrant-terms-noncitizen-alien-4055b00e-e25a-4fc6-9bd3991f6e5ec959.html?utm  .  In an OpEd in the Feb 19th Boston Globe, Kimberly Atkins wrote about the harmful impact of the term “illegal alien” has and should be relegated “to the same historical dustbin as other pejoratives …” A copy of the OpEd is attached below.

>> NATURALIZATION TEST: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Feb 22 that it is reverting to the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test beginning March 1, 2021.  On Dec. 1, 2020, a month and a half before Pres Biden’s inauguration, USCIS implemented a revised naturalization civics test (2020 civics test) as part of a decennial test review and update process. USCIS upon review has determined the 2020 civics test development process, content, testing procedures, and implementation schedule may inadvertently create potential barriers to the naturalization process. This action is consistent with the framework of the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems, which directs a comprehensive review of the naturalization process to eliminate barriers and make the process more accessible to all eligible individuals.  Unlike the 2008 civics test which was thoroughly developed over a multi-year period with the input of more than 150 organizations, which included English as a second language experts, educators, and historians, and was piloted before its implementation. The 2020 test did not undergo such vetting. USCIS aspires to make the process as accessible as possible as directed by President Biden’s request to review the process thoroughly.

LITIGATION:>> The Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction in East Bay Sanctuary Covenant vs. Barr (Case No. 19-cv-04073-JST.) The court’s order bars the application of the final rule implementing the Third Country Transit Ban (previously published in the Federal Register at 85 FR 82260). The final rule provided that any foreign national who enters, attempts to enter, or arrives in the United States across the southern land border on or after July 16, 2019, after transiting through at least one country outside the individual’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence en route to the United States, shall be found ineligible for asylum, unless certain limited exceptions apply. It had taken effect on January 19, 2021.

>> In a lengthy Report, dated January, 2021, the GAO found several deficiencies in the ICE’s management of detention facilities.  You may want to read the first few pages of the Report prepared for the House Committee on Homeland Security.  SEE:  https://www.gao.gov/assets/720/711758.pdf

>> TRAC reports on delays in case closures in the Immigration Courts around the country has increased from 436 days to 859 days. Imagine waiting more than 2.3 years to complete a case?  For the two page Report see: https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/639/?utm_source=Recent%20Postings%20Alert&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=RP%20Daily

>> MIRA’s latest newsletter can be found at bulletin@miracoalition.org

 >> Bill sent along this story about MA AG Healey Suing Libre by Nexus for Preying on Vulnerable Immigrants and Their Families .  SEE:  https://www.mass.gov/news/ag-healey-sues-libre-by-nexus-for-preying-on-vulnerable-immigrants-and-their-families

 Stay safe,
Gerry Rovner