With the ongoing global pandemic constantly changing as the result of more and more new variants, the United States government is again imposing restrictions on people seeking entry into the U.S. Currently, all travelers are now required to comply with updated requirements from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that apply to all individuals regardless of vaccination status.
On December 2, 2021 the CDC amended its prior official order for travelers to now require proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers seeking entry into the United States. In a surprising change, this order now applies to everyone, even to toddlers 2 years old or older. No longer is proof of being fully vaccinated sufficient. If you have any plans to travel to the U.S., make sure to plan ahead in order to meet these new restrictions.
For those already in the U.S., there are ongoing restrictions for those involved in any immigration process that may require an in-person presence such as a court hearing or an interview appointment. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services (USCIS) domestic field offices and asylum offices are open, but in areas of high or substantial transmission, all federal employees, contractors and visitors must wear a mask inside federal buildings. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) restrictions supersede any state, local, tribal, or territorial rules and regulations regarding face coverings while one is within their facilities.
Also, a person may not enter a USCIS facility if they have COVID-19 or any symptoms of COVID-19, if they have been in close contact with anyone known to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days unless you are fully vaccinated. Also, those who have returned from any domestic or international travel or a cruise ship within the past 10 days (unless fully vaccinated). With all the new variants coming out, it is doubtful that these restrictions will end any time soon.
According to a recent study from the Hope Border Institute, the pandemic has compounded both poverty and gang violence in Central and South America and has led to an increase in migration due to the U.S. because of these factors. Most migrants are dealing with economic and social effects from the pandemic and gang extortion, strict enforcement of quarantine restrictions, and economic hardships that have not been addressed by their local government are blamed for the increase in illegal border crossings. In an attempt to reduce the burden on the problems at the border, the government of Mexico has recently achieved a small measure of success.
At the end of November, members of the migrant caravan bound for the U.S. accepted a deal to accept Mexican visas instead of trying to crossing the southern U.S. border. At that time, thousands of migrants left the southern Mexican city of Tapachula and headed northbound on foot. The migrants walked about 30 miles from Tapachula to Mapastepec until one of the caravan’s organizers made a deal with the Mexican government. Mexico’s National Migration Institute stated that authorities and the migrants reached an agreement for resettlement. Mexico offered the migrants humanitarian visas and housing in shelters run by Mexico’s social welfare institute, if they remain in the states in which they are resettled. The migrants agreed to stay in central and southern Mexico and to stay away from the border to the U.S.
This move by the Mexican government was due in part to the return of the “Remain in Mexico” program of the U.S. that prohibits asylum seekers from entering the U.S. and requires them to remain in Mexico while their cases are being decided. This policy was first started by Trump in 2020, but is now part of the Biden administration’s ongoing plan to combat the mass migration trends of the last several years.
As problems with Covid-19 and immigration continue to change, it is important to stay informed more than ever. If you have any questions about how this impacts your immigration case, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation at 616-805-3435.