From early on in his administration, President Donald Trump had one priority on his mind: the border wall. Sabrina Rodriguez reports for Politico Pro [paywall] on Trump’s visit to the city of Alamo, Texas, yesterday to check out what he believes is progress on the construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. To date, Trump has overseen the construction of 452 miles of wall, "a mere fraction" of what he promised (and which primarily consists of replacing existing barriers, costing taxpayers billions).
"What he accomplished in four years with the wall could’ve been done in a bipartisan way with less noise. But that was never the purpose," Andrew Selee, president of the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, told Politico. "It wasn’t about the wall. This was always about a larger symbolism about walling off America from outside dangers."
As Alfredo Corchado and Todd J. Gillman at The Dallas Morning News point out, in reality, Trump’s border wall did not save lives or jobs (though he touts it did). "For critics, it’s a scar on the landscape, an affront to law abiding immigrants and a vital trading partner, Mexico, and most of all, an outmoded method that gives a false sense of security, since most smuggling occurs through ports of entry."
Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of Noorani’s Notes. If you have a story to share from your own community, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE BORDER REPORTING — The Arizona Republic’s Rafael Carranza breaks down U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports for a full view of wall construction under the Trump administration. And no, Mexico didn’t pay for it, as Jane C. Timm at NBC reminds us. Likewise, The Washington Post’s Salvador Rizzo offers clear-cut facts to counter Trump’s falsehoods with a roundup of Trump’s misleading and false claims from his speech in Alamo yesterday. To round out the fact-checking, tune into a recent conversation on NPR’s All Things Considered, where host Mary Louise Kelly is joined by journalist Maria Hinojosa and Texas immigration attorney Efrén Olivares to assess President Trump’s legacy on U.S. immigration policy.
BIDEN PLAN — Vice President-elect Kamala Harris hinted at a sweeping immigration reform bill that the new administration plans to introduce in an interview with Univision’s Ilia Calderón on Tuesday, as reported by Matthew Choi and Alice Miranda Ollstein at Politico. Harris said the incoming administration’s immigration agenda will focus on green cards for both Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, as well as decreasing wait times to obtain citizenship from 13 years to 8 years. The plan is an encouraging step for immigration advocates, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to needed reform: "Reversing Trump’s anti-immigrant policies is a beginning, but it cannot be the end of Biden’s immigration plan," said Pastor Chelsea Spyres and the Rev. Edwin Estevez, local faith leaders in Wilmington, Delaware.
RATIONALES — Recent court rulings suggest President-elect Biden may not be able to simply reverse President Donald Trump’s immigration executive actions with the snap of his fingers, reports Genevieve Douglas at Bloomberg Law. "It used to be that you could overturn a policy in the same way that the policy was written," said Sharvari (Shev) Dalal-Dheini, director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). But now, as the Supreme Court ruling on President Trump’s recission of DACA made clear, "Biden will need to address the rationales behind policies like the travel and visa bans in order to undo them," Douglas writes.
POLICIES HIT HOME — Evie Hemphill of St. Louis Public Radio tells the story of Alex Garcia, a Honduran native married to a U.S. citizen and a father of five U.S. citizen children. Garcia has claimed sanctuary in a Missouri church for three years after immigration officials denied his request for a stay of removal, leaving him subject to deportation. The Garcias’ story is part of a deeper dive from St. Louis Public Radio into how immigration policies and procedures could change with the new presidential administration, and the impact it could have on countless immigrants across the country. The audio is worth a listen.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE — The Department of Labor recently made substantial changes to the H-1B visa wage rule which will, over time, "push more work to other nations and further discourage international students from coming to America," Stuart Anderson writes in his Forbes column. "[A]ny policies that are motivated by concerns about the loss of native jobs should consider that policies aimed at reducing immigration have the unintended consequence of encouraging firms to offshore jobs abroad," according to research from Britta Glennon, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business.
PUBLIC HEALTH — As an immigrant medical professional, Vasu Voleti writes in an op-ed for Indystar that restrictions on foreign-born medical professionals are exacerbating a shortage of doctors that predates the COVID-19 pandemic. Voleti, who has decades of experience as a doctor, explains that her H-1B visa "has restrictive strings" that confine her to practicing medicine at only one hospital, meaning she cannot start her own practice or even volunteer amid the pandemic. "Without immigration pathways, the United States can’t address this dangerous shortage and we risk losing our place as global leader in health care and medical innovations," Voleti writes. Meanwhile in Texas, Harris County officials and other community leaders worry that undocumented immigrants may not get vaccinated out of fear that it could jeopardize their immigration status, reports David Gonzalez of KHOU 11. Officials are working to dispel misinformation and ensure all qualified residents to get the vaccine regardless of immigration status: "The virus doesn’t respect whether you have papers or not. We need to get the entire community vaccinated," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
Thanks for reading,