In 2019, the Trump administration created a new rule expanding the definition of "public charge," so that legal immigrants could be denied entry and/or naturalization "because of a concern that they would primarily depend on the government for their income," wrote Pete Williams of NBC News. Now, the rule is no more!
The Biden administration recently notified the Supreme Court that it would no longer defend the policy. As a result, the Court dismissed several pending appeals over the rule, the first step in rescinding the policy.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, said, “This case is over, and this victory means the American Dream is alive and well." Herrera was one of several local officials who sued to block the Trump-era policy. “The previous administration’s attempt to impose a wealth test on immigrants who came here legally was bad for our economy, bad for public health and bad for our country.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas echoed those comments in his statement: "The 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation’s values. It penalized those who access health benefits and other government services available to them."
DHS recently released a statement endorsing equal access to COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants. The agency plans to coordinate efforts with federal partners to ensure that underserved and rural communities are able to access the vaccine through fixed facilities, pop-up sites and mobile vaccination clinics. DHS confirms that ICE and CBP will not conduct enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics.
Click here for the complete statement also available in Spanish.
A last-minute contract signed by the Trump administration with ICE's union was cancelled by DHS Secretary Mayorkas on February 16. The contract would have called for the Biden administration to get the union's consent before changing immigration policies. The agreement also had a provision that wuld have barred legal challenges to the contract for eight years. The February JCIRA newsletter asked members and the general public to contact the DHS secretary and our elected representatives and senators, so we appreciate all who heeded the call. To learn more about the cancellation, click here to see this CBS news report.
President Biden has taken many executive actions to revers Trump administration policies. Here's a summary:
The Legal Defense and Family Support Fund, usually called simply the JCIRA Fund, came into existence in 2018, with its policies adopted by the Board on Sept 10, 2018. Applications and amounts given out have grown rapidly as word of the Fund reached more community members - and also because of the dire financial circumstances so many Olympic Peninsula immigrants were experiencing:
As of February 10, 2021, we've given out $23,500.
We were able to give out so much money due to the generous grants we received from the Jefferson Community Foundation. Because of the ongoing pandemic, we expect that the number of requests will continue to increase, both from Jefferson and Clallam Counties. There may soon be other funds available, from both Washington state and the federal government. However, those are still being negotiated; final details may not be available for another month or two.
Your donations to the JCIRA Fund are always appreciated, especially during the pandemic. Every dollar received goes directly to immigrant households. Not one cent is used for administration. Immigrants are using JCIRA Funds to take care of basic necessities like rent, utilities and medical bills. This has been, and will continue to be, a rough winter. Please encourage your friends and family to also contribute by clicking on DONATE on the right side of the JCIRA website. If you prefer to contribute by mail, send your check to JCIRA, PO Box 647, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
The Health Equity for Immigrants Campaign, a partnership between the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, El Centro de la Raza, and Northwest Health Law Advocates, with support from the ACLU of Washington, has made the findings of their extensive work available to the public. The campaign, launched in September 2020, focused on education, identifying gaps and policy/legislative initiatives.
Public health coverage programs include immigration status restrictions, which exclude many people from accessing these vital programs. The COVID-19 public health emergency has made it clear that immigrant communities and people of color need better access to health care coverage and services. The campaign members surveyed community leaders and impacted community members to learn more about the health care needs in the community and what should be prioritized for new coverage programs and services.
See the full report on the ACLU site. JCIRA will provide updates on the status of legislative work in Olympia concerning healthcare coverage for the immigrant community.
Depart of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is the first immigrant and first Latino to serve in that position. Confirmed 56-43 by the Senate, Mayorkas formerly served as the deputy secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration. Read more about Secretary Mayorkas in this Yahoo article.
First It was seesaws and now un pedacito de la tierra (a little piece of home)...
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We are an immigrant rights advocacy non-profit in the North Olympic Peninsula of Washington State