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Federal Judge Finds Asylum Seekers Can Access Attorneys During Credible Fear Interviews

U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw found that the government may not conduct class members’ non-refoulement interviews without first affording the interviewees access to their retained counsel both before and during any such interview. The judge’s order applies to all asylum seekers in California who have hired lawyers and are subject to the Migrant Protection Protocols policy

The House will investigate “Remain in Mexico

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee announced that it is launching an investigation into the Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico” policy. Several committee members have asserted that the protocols are illegal and open asylum seekers up to “murder, sexual violence, and kidnapping” in Mexico.

Attorneys reported that the border “tent courts” are not fully open to the public.

Unlike other immigration courts, the makeshift courts in Texas were closed to the public, including human rights observers and attorneys not representing a client. Recently, the U.S. government agreed to open up the courts. However, attorneys and advocates are saying that not all proceedings have actually been made public. They complained that the Trump administration is adjudicating individual merits hearings for asylum seekers inside the Fort Worth Immigration Adjudication Center, which is closed to the public. Senior Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Lawyers Association called this practice “clearly intentional…The agency is trying to operate these cases in secret.” The practice is particularly concerning because most asylum seekers in these hearings are not represented by an attorney.

A judge blocked the executive order allowing states to bar refugees

In September 2019, President Trump issued an executive order requiring consent from states in order to continue refugee resettlement in those locations after June 2020. Under the order, local governments are able to deny consent to refugees as well. With the deadline for consent approaching, a court out of New York issued a preliminary injunction against the policy, blocking it from going into effect while litigation proceeds. The ruling on Wednesday said that the executive order is likely “unlawful” as it sidelines refugee resettlement agencies and contravenes the Refugee Act’s purpose and structure.

USCIS formally announced the implementation of its online H-1B registration process.

On January 9, USCIS announced that its electronic H-1B registration system has been implemented and will be used for fiscal year 2021 H-1B petitions. USCIS will open registration from March 1 through March 20, 2020. Online registration requires a $10 fee and is not a full application. Registrations will be randomly chosen no later than March 31, and once chosen, a petitioner will need to fill out their H-1B petition

USCIS announced the countries eligible for the H-2A and H-2B visa programs.

USCIS published the list of countries whose nationals are eligible for the H-2A and H-2B visa programs, which allow foreign workers to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs. The list of countries is unchanged from the 2019 eligibility list.

The Senate passed a bill that includes a measure giving Liberians facing deportation a path to citizenship.

Thousands of Liberians came to the U.S. in the 1990’s under temporary protections, and were a part of the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program starting in 2007. DED does not allow a path to citizenship, and expired in March 2019 without being renewed. The administration gave a one-year reprieve, meaning that thousands of Liberians would be subject to deportation after March 31, 2020. On Tuesday, the Senate passed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which included an amendment providing a path to citizenship for Liberians under DED status. President Trump has said he will sign the bill into law.

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