In this edition, read about a new ruling on DACA applications, challenges faced by the USCIS due to pandemic backlogs, and the Justice Department settling a retaliation claim.
New DACA Applications Blocked by Federal Judge
New Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications will not be allowed under a ruling by a U.S. district judge in Texas on July 16, 2021. The judge ruled that DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act but temporarily stayed his ruling for the nearly 650,000 current DACA recipients, referred to as “Dreamers.” Current DACA recipients may seek renewal of their authorization to remain and work in the United States. Tech companies, including Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Adobe, expressed their disappointment with the ruling and urged Congress to protect the program. President Biden echoed those comments and said the U.S. will appeal the ruling, noting that it “relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future.” He said it was his “fervent hope” that Congress would pass legislation to provide a permanent status for DACA recipients.
Details: Statement by DHS Secretary Mayorkas on DACA Ruling, July 17, 2021, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/07/17/statement-secretary-mayorkas-daca-ruling
No Surprise: Ombudsman’s Annual Report Says USCIS Faces ‘Unprecedented Challenges’ Due to Pandemic, Backlogs, Financial Issues
The Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman’s Annual Report for 2021 states that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “faces unprecedented challenges this year on virtually every front—from financial pressures to substantial backlogs across applications and petitions of all types.” The Covid-19 pandemic “created unique challenges for USCIS,” the report notes, including temporary office closures and a lack of the ability for “end-to-end electronic processing.” Once USCIS returned to operations at a reduced capacity, the agency had substantial backlogs of in-person appointments that needed rescheduling. The pandemic also exacerbated the agency’s preexisting financial issues and “decimated carryover funding needed to maintain its operations.” The problems began in 2020 and persisted into 2021: “The lingering effects of temporary office closures, insufficient revenue, and budget cuts continue to impact processing time and customer service functions.” The report also identified other key areas of focus, including persistent problems with the issuance of Notices to Appear; challenges in the medical disability test waiver process; continuing complications in USCIS’s digital strategy; and issues in international student programs, among others. The report identifies several key objectives, including expanded electronic filing and processing capabilities, increased outreach with stakeholders, and improved coordination between USCIS and other government agencies. We concur.
Details: Annual Report 2021, Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, June 30, 2021, Dept. of Homeland Security, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/dhs_2021_ombudsman_report_med_verified.pdf
Justice Dept. Settles Retaliation Claim
The Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a settlement agreement with Around the Clock Dispatch Inc., a freight and delivery services company in Queens Village, New York, on July 15, 2021. The settlement resolves DOJ’s finding that the company violated the law by retaliating against a worker because he asked for the agency’s help in addressing his concerns about an immigration-related employment practice. The worker filed a charge, and the company suspended the worker for three days without pay. Under the settlement, the company will pay $3,600 in civil penalties to the United States and nearly $900 in back pay to the worker. The settlement also requires the company to train employees on the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision and be subject to DOJ monitoring and reporting requirements. It is important for employers to know the rules.
Details: Press Release, Dept. of Justice, July 15, 2021, https://bit.ly/2UlbOmJ