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Mistrial Interrupts Minimum Wage Case for Immigrant Detainees

U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan of Tacoma declared a mistrial this Thursday after the jury failed to come to agreement. The case was raised against GEO Group over wage concerns. The group was paying immigrant detainees only $1 a day for tasks like cooking and cleaning at its for-profit detention center in Washington State. It was Democratic Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson that sued the company in 2017, demanding the Florida-based group pay detainees the minimum wage. A separate lawsuit also demanded back pay. Geo Group argued that the detainees were not employees under the Washington Minimum Wage Act. It also said it would be unlawfully discriminatory for the state to mandate Geo Group to pay the minimum wage when the state does not pay the same to its own inmates. 

The immigrant detention center that Geo Group operates is one of the largest in the country. It generated $18.6 million in profits in 2018, while it would only cost $3.4 million to pay the detainees a minimum wage. This failure to pay workers fairly is unjust, and reveals the inherent greed of for-profit detention centers. 

Catholic Leaders Meet To Discuss Immigration

 

Over 20 bishops met with Vatican representatives and prelates from Central America at an emergency meeting held in Chicago from June 1st to June 2nd. The meeting, held by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, planned to set forth a welcoming response to immigrants from the Catholic Church. El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz saw the meeting as a counter to recent political decisions against immigrant rights, and the bishop hoped to “raise anew the moral voice of the church with decision makers at this critical time in defense of the rights and dignity of those who are forced to flee.” Attendees also wanted to understand the underlying causes of migration from the region, in order to become better advocates for them. They worked closely with bishops from Central America and Mexico, and stressed the importance of collaboration. Shortly after the meeting, an archbishop affiliated with the organization criticized Congress for “kicking the can down the road” when it comes to immigration reform. This involvement of the Catholic Church on matters of immigration reform reflects the important moral concerns the entire fight for immigrant justice rests on.

Supreme Court Rules Against Immigrants Once Again

 

This Monday, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the thousands of immigrants living in the United States for humanitarian reasons, ruling them ineligible for permanent residency if they entered the country unlawfully. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the opinion, declaring that permanent residency and TPS designation are separate immigration tracks that can only merge if the TPS recipient entered the United States legally. 

The case, Sanchez v. Mayorkas, was brought before the court by Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez. The two El Salvadorian natives entered the United States unlawfully in the late 1990s, but were granted Temporary Protected Status after earthquakes devastated their home country in 2001. This designation protects individuals from deportation to countries affected by armed conflicts and natural disasters. The married couple then applied for green cards in 2014. This application was rejected, and the pair sued. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against them, referring to the permanent residency eligibility requirement that applicants be “inspected and admitted” into the United States. According to Judge Thomas M Hardiman, the Temporary Protected Status designation “does not constitute an admission.” The Supreme Court upheld this decision. 

Despite this judicial setback, the House of Representatives have already passed legislation that would make it possible for TPS recipients to become permanent residents. Its future in the Senate is uncertain, but the move is supported by President Biden and his administration. If passed, it would allow thousands of immigrants who have made this country their home to continue living and thriving within the United States. 

Haiti Receives Temporary Protected Status Designation

 

The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced a new Temporary Protected Status designation for Haiti for eighteen months, beginning May 22nd. This new designation allows Haitian nationals, as well individuals without nationality who last resided in Haiti, to apply for TPS, provided they are already residing in the United States as of May 21st, 2021 and meet certain eligibility requirements. To determine eligibility, all individuals will undergo security and background checks. Current Haitian TPS beneficiaries will also need to file a new TPS application to ensure they do not lose coverage.

According to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the decision to grant Haiti TPS status comes in response to “serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources” in the country. These are situations exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Temporary Protected Status protects individuals of designated countries from deportation on the basis of immigration status. Individuals eligible for TPS under Haiti’s new designation must first file an application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to be granted TPS status. The registration period will begin with the publication of the Federal Register notice.  Individuals applying for TPS may also request an Employment Authorization Document or travel authorization.

 

Find more information here: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/05/22/secretary-mayorkas-designates-haiti-temporary-protected-status-18-months 

Immigration and the United States 2020 Census

 

The 2020 United States Census has raised alarms for economists. Population growth is slowing, and projections do not see the trend changing anytime soon. Economists agree that population growth fuels economies, and some parts of the country are already experiencing negative effects. Shrinking tax bases in rural areas has made it harder to fund public services like infrastructure and education. In addition, the aging population poses a serious dependency problem, placing a major economic strain on the working population. 

While the government is pondering family-planning solutions, it is overlooking the best option–increased immigration. Immigration has historically been a major accelerator of population growth. It is a far easier and simpler way to fix the population problem, and would benefit more lives. Many immigrants populate large metro areas, which would have otherwise lost population in recent years. Furthermore, many of these immigrants are younger than the median American, adding supply to the labor force.

While there are many humanitarian reasons to support immigration, this new economic angle should silence all critics. It is time for Congress to work together and open up the country to more immigrants, for the benefit of all.

© Copyright 2014 Law Office of Ellen Sullivan, P.C. This website does not constitute a representation agreement with Attorney Sullivan or anyone else at the firm. The information on this website is not intended to, nor does it in fact, replace legal advice provided by an attorney in an attorney-client consultation. Please contact our office or another immigration attorney if you would like legal counsel. Sitemap