August 1 – Border Bill Failure and Immigration Scams

Department Of State Reports Database Crash, Delays Visa Issuances

The Department of State’s Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) has been experiencing technical malfunctions, resulting in delays in issuance of U.S. visas and U.S passports at U.S. Consular Posts. The problem is not specific to any country and is affecting U.S. Consular Posts worldwide. According to the Department of State, it is working to resolve the issue and the system should be back in operation “soon,” however it advised visa applicants to be prepared to potentially lengthy visa process delays due to the growing backlog.

Border Bill Aimed To Avert Border Crisis Unlikely To Pass

The bill designed to address the increased migrant flow at the U.S. southern border faltered in the House this Thursday, reports the New York Times. The House of Representatives goes on a five-week recess today, although most Representatives stated they would stay as long as was necessary to vote on the bill. The bill comprises a $659 million spending measure to help abate the border crisis, falling far short of the $3.7 billion request by President Obama. There have been reports that if Congress does not act on the bill, the Administration may act on its own during the congressional recess to redirect funding.

Majority Of Unaccompanied Minors In The U.S. Have Been Transferred To U.S. Relatives

Most unaccompanied minors that have been detained at the U.S. southern border have been reunited with their families or guardians in the U.S., according to The New York Times. The Office of Refugee Resettlement reports that over 30,000 children have been released to sponsors from January to July 2014. Most children have been released in the state of Texas, followed by New York, Florida and California. Under federal procedures, migrant children are required to be placed in the least restrictive environment, with parents being the first choice for placement. Sponsors must be investigated for criminal background and interviewed by social workers. Children who do not have a qualified sponsor in the U.S. are placed in long-term facilities or transferred to the foster care system.

Relatives Of Migrants Fall Prey To Scam Artists

According to the F.B.I., scammers have been contacting families of migrant children detained at a facility in Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in an attempt to extort money to be purportedly used for the children’s processing and transportation fees. The F.B.I. learned of this after several relatives of the children at the facility have been contacted by telephone by individuals pretending to work for a charity that facilitates reunifications. It is unclear how the scammers obtained the information; F.B.I. suspects a possible hacking incident or a leak by a contractor or a government employee. According to the Administration for Children and Families, part of the Department of Health and Human Services that processes unaccompanied minor children, no direct payment to shelters is ever requested during the reunification process.

New York State Sheriffs Will Not Assist In Detention Of Migrants

The New York State Sheriffs’ Association issued a recommendation to its members to refuse “detainer” requests by federal authorities to continue to hold foreign-born individuals while their immigration status and possible violations thereof are investigated. Detainers are issued by immigration authorities to request law enforcement agencies to detain prisoners for up to 48 hours following their release. Many of the detainees are then transferred to ICE detention facilities and subsequently deported. According to The New York Times, nine sheriffs already agreed to follow the recommendation and more are expected to follow. This is a part of a growing national trend among local law enforcement to combat the practice, and in part the result of lobbying efforts by immigration advocates to combat deportations.