Immigration Year-End Review:

The Good, The Bad, and The Constant Flux

Immigration was one of the hottest topics in U.S. news and politics in 2019.  It has been a time of significant change in policy, with more changes seemingly in the horizon. To help you catch up with these significant events, here is a 2019 immigration year-end review to recap: the good, the bad, and the constant changes.

January 8: This day marked the 18th day of the partial government shutdown that started 2019. President Trump requested that Congress allocate $5.7 billion for his wall project or a steel barrier per a compromise with the Democrats. The president would refuse to sign any legislation to end this shutdown without these allocated funds.

January 2019: MPP (Migrant Protection Protocol) was established by President Trump’s administration. The administration stated that this was necessary to “restore order” to the immigration process. This protocol states that immigrants who come over the border from Mexico without proper documentation will be returned across the border to wait outside of the country for their immigration proceedings.

February 15: The president signed legislation that would end the shutdown, which only included $1.375 for the proposed wall. On this same day, he declared a state of emergency and instructed $8.1 billion to be used to build his border wall. There would later be lawsuits filed against this declaration.

April 2019: A memo was released from the White House that the President wanted to create changes to the asylum policies. Regulations were proposed that would add fees to the work permit application and asylum application. It would also preclude asylum seekers from working during their proceedings as well as place a 180-day limit for these cases to be adjudicated.

May 2019: A memo was issued by USCIS that discusses the protections of unaccompanied children, which impacts several protections, such as one that offers exemptions from the filing deadline (1 year) and interviews, and this became effective on June 30th, though in August a court issued a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) to prohibit it from implementation.

July 2019: The Third Country Transit Asylum Rule was published jointly by the DHS and DOJ. This rule would place additional restrictions on the asylum process for people who are seeking asylum in the US. This rule makes it so that immigrants coming in from the southern border must have applied for asylum in another country as well. These departments argued that this was a necessary step to mitigate the crisis at the southern border and promised further to identify and assist people legitimately seeking asylum.

July 2019: EB-5 reform occurred after the USCIS made significant changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. This program allows people to apply for conditional legal residence in the US as long as they invest in a commercial enterprise in the US that created at least ten full-time jobs for people who are eligible to work in America. The reforms increase the minimum level of investment and strive to restrict the potential of gerrymandering.

July 2019: Attorney General Barr reversed a decision that would limit asylum eligibility for people who have been targeted or harmed based on their family.

July 2019: An Interim Final Rule was implemented that states any undocumented person who lacks evidence of being in the country continuously for two years can be put in an expedited deportation process. These individuals do not get the opportunity to speak to an attorney or plead their case, except in the cases of seeking asylum.

August 2019: There were changes made to the Public Charge Grounds, which is a rule that was created to ensure that immigrants are self-sufficient. The new law focuses on immigrants who receive any amount of public benefits within 12 months of a 36-month timeline. Applications will be carefully looked at to determine if the immigrants can support themselves through their work, getting support from family members, or some other private organization. They will need to prove that they can support themselves without the help of public assistance.

October 2019: Several states filed lawsuits against the Public Charge rules, which has delayed the implementation of this rule until there is a resolution to the litigation on this topic.

October 2019: The SSA (Social Security Administration) resumed a practice where they issue a no-match letter to employers. These letters notify the employer that the SSN (Social Security Number) and name do not match the information that they have in their database.

By December 2019: The Asylum Division of USCIS to hire an additional 500 people to staff this division, which was a basic timeline of what happened over the year regarding immigration. Here are some other notable mentions in 2019:


Credible Fear

In 2019, the USCIS Asylum Division received over 105,000 cases of credible fear, which was about 5,000 more cases than they received in the previous year. The five countries that had the most credible fear cases are Honduras, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, and India.


In 2019, it was estimated that tens of thousands of refugees were processed overseas, which helped them meet the admissions ceiling of 30,000 refugees in that year. The USCIS implemented a pilot program that uses UNHCR biometric records to validate the identities of the refugee applicants.


A significant component that is frequently discussed in immigration is DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). In 2017, there were about 700,000 people who were protected under DACA. This program was ordered by President Trump to end in 2017, but the DACA individuals can stay in the program as the courts decide on the fate of these individuals. The administration isn’t required to accept new applicants into the program. It is anticipated that this will be decided by the Supreme Court in 2020.


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