Immigration update

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September 26, 2019 

Sweeping asylum ban goes into effect

On Sept. 11, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a new policy to go into effect that essentially blocks all asylum seekers except those from Mexico. The decision has tragic implications for asylum seekers from Central America and beyond. Asylum seekers arriving after July 15 must have requested asylum and been denied in at least one country they traveled through in order to be eligible for asylum in the U.S.

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Local stories

IowaFamily reunited after deportation: Separated for 4 years, Iowa pastoral couple planning new ministries in Mexico (Villatoro family) | What happens to Iowa nice when we start getting our hands dirty

Louisiana: Advocates blocked a street near an ICE facility to protest the 11-month detention of an immigrant father suffering from multiple health conditions

Maine: Texan offers Mainers a practical primer on U.S. Border ‘patrolling’ (plans to expand warrantless searches in Maine)

Ohio: A morning with ICE (Columbus Mennonite Church) | Refugees still call Akron home: Despite challenges, city helps immigrants thrive

South Dakota: Restaurant owner offers meeting place, help for Latinos(Central Plains Mennonite Conference)

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News & resources


Central American asylum seekers waiting in Mexican border towns for their U.S. court hearings are increasingly becoming targets for kidnapping by cartels seeking ransoms from U.S. relativesTent courtrooms have opened along the border to process migrants who return from Mexico for their immigration hearings. While Hurricane Dorian was approaching the U.S., the Trump administration prepared to transfer $271 million from disaster aid, the Coast Guard and airport security to use for more immigrant detention beds. Border Patrol agents, rather than asylum officers, are starting to screen incoming migrants to determine if they have a “credible fear” and are eligible for asylum.

The United States and El Salvador signed an agreement on September 20 that would force asylum seekers to wait in El Salvador while their cases were being processed. The agreement is similar to the “safe third country” agreement signed by the U.S. and Guatemala in July. Civil society organizations criticize these agreements as “beyond unrealistic” and dangerous for migrants.



A total of $3.6 billion will be transferred from 127 military construction projects to build border walls. The Interior Department will transfer 560 acres of public land, including wildlife refuge land, to the Army for 70 miles of new border wall. A National Park Service report determined that border fence construction could destroy several archaeological sites. After President Trump reportedly offered to pardon federal officials who violated laws to seize land in order to build sections of border wall, a federal watchdog agency launched an investigation.

Border wall construction has begun in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, one of several locations in the desert Southwest where millions of gallons of scarce groundwater will be used for concrete foundations. In Texas, 29 laws have recently been waived to speed construction in the Rio Grande Valley. Contracts have been awarded in Starr County, Texas, where construction could begin by the end of this month, including in parts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Construction in Hidalgo County, Texas, is costing nearly twice as much as Congress originally provided.



Family separation after hurricane: 12-year-old Bahamian girl separated from parents, ends up in Miami home for migrant kids

Medical deferred actionFeds restore protections for undocumented immigrants with serious illnesses

DACA/TPSDACA recipients’ livelihoods, families, and sense of security are at stake this November | Ramos v. Nielsen: Frequently asked questions (TPS) | Comparison of criminal and inadmissibility grounds for American Dream and Promise Act of 2019

Public charge: Estimated impacts of final public charge inadmissibility rule on immigrants and medicaid coverage

RefugeesResettlement offices close as fewer refugees are allowed into the U.S.

Employment visas: A rare bipartisan agreement on immigration has tanked in the Senate: The bill would have been a small fix to the green card system.

Denied citizenshipThis former Cuban political prisoner, 82, has been denied U.S. citizenship. Shameful.

Denied entry: He got into Harvard. And now he finally got into the United States.

Low unemployment and immigration: America’s worker deserts

Court backlog: Immigration court backlog hits all-time high (1 million cases)

Upcoming events

Nov. 3-8: Learning Tour: South Texas Borderlands

Nov. 3-18: MCC Bolivia Motorcycle Learning Tour

Nov. 5-16: MCC migration learning tour to Honduras and Guatemala

Immigration resources | Invite MCC staff to speak

Photo: Hand drawn pictures and thank you letters from previous guests line the worn walls at Casa Alitas, a shelter in Tucson, Arizona, that opens its doors to migrants seeking asylum in the United States.  MCC photo/Thomas Nilsson

Update created September 26, 2019, by Tammy Alexander, Senior Legislative Associate for Domestic Affairs.

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