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Voice of America: VOA Immigration Weekly Recap, October 9–15

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Editor’s note: Here is a look at immigration-related news around the U.S. this week. Questions? Tips? Comments? Email the VOA immigration team: ImmigrationUnit@voanews.com.

Documents: Florida Migrant Transport Planning Began in July

Florida officials began planning to transport migrants to other states in July and told potential contractors their task would be to relocate them on a voluntary basis, according to state documents, The Associated Press reports.

Bedrock of Legal US Immigration Leaves Millions Waiting for Years 

For decades, sponsorship through immediate families has been significantly backlogged, which immigration advocates say presents barriers to family reunification. Immigration researchers shared with VOA that it would take “some pretty ambitious legislators to change the status quo.” VOA’s immigration reporter Aline Barros reports.

US, Mexico OK Ukraine-Type Relief for Venezuelan Migrants

The Biden administration agreed to accept up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants who arrive at U.S. airports, similar to how Ukrainians have been admitted since Russia’s invasion, while Mexico has agreed to take back Venezuelans who come to the U.S. illegally over land, the U.S. and Mexico said Wednesday. Effective immediately, Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico under a pandemic rule known as Title 42 authority, which suspends rights to seek asylum under U.S. and international law on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19, The Associated Press reports. 

Migration around the world 

Following Perilous Journey, Syrian Refugees Navigate EU Immigration Rules

In November 15-year-old Mahmoud Seleem and his father, Mohammad Seleem, from Syria, crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy in a rickety boat. They eventually applied for asylum in the Netherlands. They were among the fortunate: Nearly 3,000 refugees vanished last year crossing Europe’s deadliest border. From a refugee camp in the Netherlands, Ruud Elmendorp reports for VOA. 

Pope, Calling Migrants’ Exclusion ‘Criminal’, on Collision with Meloni 

Pope Francis on Sunday made an impassioned defense of migrants, calling their exclusion “scandalous, disgusting and sinful,” putting him on a collision course with Italy’s upcoming right-wing government. Francis made his comments as he canonized a 19th century bishop known as the “father of migrants” and a 20th century man who ministered to the sick in Argentina, according to Reuters. 

UN Refugee Agency Appeals for Greater Protection of People Fleeing Conflict, Persecution

In an opening speech to the UNHCR’s Executive Committee, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi appealed to member states to provide protection to people fleeing conflict and persecution, regardless of ethnicity and nationality. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

After Fleeing War, Ukrainians Struggle to Settle Around Europe

Ukrainians were initially welcomed with open arms into shelters and homes across Europe, where authorities skipped bureaucratic hurdles at a speed that raised eyebrows among refugees from Syria, Africa and elsewhere. Yet as the war drags into its eighth month and their hopes of a quick return recede, many feel in limbo and are struggling to make ends meet, Reuters reports. 

UN: Migrants in Libya Compelled to Go Home Under Threat of Abuse 

A new U.N. report finds migrants in Libya are subject to systematic human rights violations and abuse to compel them to accept so-called assisted returns to their countries of origin. Authors of the report say migrants in Libya are trapped in an untenable situation. They say the migrants are forced to choose between returning to the countries they fled because of unsafe or unsustainable conditions — or facing continued ill treatment in Libya. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

In pictures

News Brief 

— The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it will use the extra H-2B seasonal worker visas available in 2023 and “will make available to employers an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2023, on top of the 66,000 H-2B visas that are normally available each fiscal year.”

— The Department of Justice announced Friday a settlement with a Maryland company over immigration-related discrimination claims. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division wrote in a statement that “employers cannot treat employees differently because of citizenship, immigration status, or national origin when verifying their permission to work. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the law to ensure that workers do not face discrimination when proving their permission to work in the United States.” 

— U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen, who last year declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program illegal, Friday ruled that the policy can continue with limitations that he previously set. His ruling allows about 600,000 immigrants enrolled in DACA to maintain their status and continue to renew their two-year work permit authorization and protections from deportation. However, no new applicants will be allowed, The Associated Press reports.

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