A)SUSPENSION OF EMPLOYMENT VISAS:
Despite the marked decline in the unemployment rate from April to May 2020 standing at 13..3%, the Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Homeland Security reviewed the Nonimmigrant employment Programs and concluded that the admission of new workers -and their spouses- on employment visa categories pose high risk on displacing and disadvantaging US workers during the time of recovery from the economic contraction caused by COVID– 19 outbreak.
The Presidential Proclamation stated that “For example, between February and April of 2020, more than 17 million United States jobs were lost in industries in which employers are seeking to fill worker positions tied to H-2B nonimmigrant visas. During this same period, more than 20 million United States workers lost their jobs in key industries where employers are currently requesting H-1B and L workers to fill positions. Also, the May unemployment rate for young Americans, who compete with certain J nonimmigrant visa applicants, has been particularly high — 29.9 percent for 16 19 year old, and 23.2 percent for the 20-24 year old group. The entry of additional workers through the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrant visa programs, therefore, presents a significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak..”
I-Suspension of Immigration Applications filed from Outside the USA through Consular Offices:
- On June 22nd, 2020, President Trump issued new Proclamation on suspension of immigration visas.
- The new Executive Order is basically an extension of the previously issued Executive Order passed on April 2020.
- It further extends the immigration suspension for additional two months.
The Proclamation targets foreign nationals applying to enter under immigration visas from outside the United States.
- The Order sets forth a list of exceptions from the application of such Rule; Immigrants applying from within the United States; Asylees; Green Card holders; physicians, nurses and healthcare workers involved in pandemic research work and holders of valid immigrant visas who are outside the United States.
- This Executive Order “Suspension of outside immigrant visas” is applicable for 60 days but may be extended if necessary.
II-Suspension of Nonimmigrant Employment Visas:
- The Presidential Proclamation further suspended entry of any foreign national seeking entry under H Visas “Specialty Occupation Worker Visas”, L Visas “Intercompany Transfer Worker Visas” and J Visas “Student Exchange Visas”.
- This Proclamation applies only to individuals who are outside the United States on the effective date of this Executive Order and individuals who do not have a valid nonimmigrant visa on the effective date of this Proclamation.
- The suspension is applicable till the end of the year 2020 and may be extended if necessary.
- Modifications may also be introduced every 60 days.
B)ASYLUM SEEKERS AND EXPEDITED DEPORTATION:
- The U.S. Supreme Court handed the Trump administration a major victory on a signature issue ruling that asylum-seekers whose claims are initially denied by immigration officials have no right to a hearing before a judge.
- The decision authorizes fast-track deportations for thousands of asylum-seekers after bare-bones screening procedures at the borders.
- Immigrants who make a claim for asylum must initially prove to immigration officials that there exists a “credible fear” of persecution if they return to their home country. Thereafter, they can proceed with the full asylum process. If immigrant fails, he/she can be deported without ever having the opportunity to make their case in court.
- That’s what happened to Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, the subject of the case. Thuraissigiam is a Sri Lankan farmer who sought asylum, telling immigration officials that he had been abducted from his fields, arrested, blindfolded by men in a van, interrogated and beaten so badly with wooden sticks that he spent 11 days in the hospital.
- Thuraissigiam is Tamil, an ethnic minority that has long been persecuted by the majority Sinhalese government in Sri Lanka. His abduction fits a pattern of similar violence carried out against Tamils there. After he fled his country, he journeyed for seven months to get first to Mexico and then the United States to seek asylum at the border.
- Thuraissigiam’s case illustrates the speed of expedited deportation proceedings that have become routine. Following a quick hearing with no lawyer present, an immigration officer said he believed Thuraissigiam’s account of the violence he suffered but ultimately denied his claim for asylum because Thuraissigiam could not specify who arrested him or why.
- After a 13-minute hearing, an immigration judge — an executive branch officer, distinct from a traditional judge — upheld that decision. And so, a month after his arrival, Thuraissigiam was ordered deported back to Sri Lanka.
- Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent said, “the decision handcuffs the judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty.”
- This ruling does not impede good faith asylees from appealing unapproved Asylum Petitions filed with USCIS after lawfully entering the USA.
- The standard of proof and procedures are materially distinct.
- During such appeals, expedited deportations -as per the New US Supreme Court decision- will not be applicable on asylum seekers appealing such USCIS findings.
C)DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS (DACA) SUPREME COURT TEMP. PROTECTION:
- The Supreme Court recent decision granted immigrants on DACA status -also known as Dreamers- a “temporary” right to stay safely in the USA without fear of deportation.
- The decision provided inchoate conciliation to DACA holders.
- The protection is temporary, arbitrary and may be ended at any time.
- The court simply declared that President failed to end DACA in the correct manner, not that he does not have the power to end it.