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Moving from Exclusion to Belonging: Immigrant Rights in Minnesota Today
Findings and Recommendations on the Immigration System
Finding: Immigrants face lengthy waits for a resolution to their immigration cases.
Congress should allocate increased funding to the Executive Office for Immigration Review in order to hire more Immigration Court judges, judges at the Board of Immigration Appeals, and support staff in order to decrease the wait time for, and between, hearings on types of relief from removal.
Agencies should conduct investigations of immigration applications expediently and not hold decisions indefinitely.
Agencies running fingerprint clearances and biometric checks for immigration applications should prioritize adjudication of those applications to reduce wait times.
USCIS should minimize repeated requests for fingerprint and biometric data collection by automating resubmission of collected information for renewed clearances on pending applications.
Finding: USCIS does not communicate well with immigrants, leaving them uncertain about the status of their case and whether more information is required.
USCIS should provide an option on the 1-800 Customer Service number to immediately speak with a customer service representative to facilitate communication with immigrants who may not be able to navigate the menu.
USCIS should better use existing online case status and customer service information to provide meaningful answers about case processing delays, such as “case is pending review of potential ineligibility under section 212(a)(3)(B) based on prior membership in the ___ organization. Case is pending at headquarters with an indefinite timeline.”
Automatic, periodic case update letters should be sent to applicants to assure them that their case is pending.
USCIS should ensure offices are easily accessible by public transit.
Finding: Muslim immigrants face discrimination based on religion and country of origin.
Increase oversight of border enforcement by permitting legal review in the immigration court or federal court of allegations of discrimination or inappropriate treatment by CBP officers at ports of entry. Provide information about this mechanism for discrimination complaints to every person taken to secondary inspection for questioning.
Finding: Fear of deportation dominates the lives of undocumented immigrants and prevents them from accessing services and protections to which they are entitled and is a barrier to engaging with the broader community.
Congress must pass commonsense immigration law reform that provides a roadmap for people who are currently undocumented to gain status that does not prohibit naturalization.
Congress should restore discretion to immigration judges so that individual circumstances can be considered in deportation cases.
Congress should repeal mandatory detention laws and ensure that every person detained by immigration authorities has access to a review of their custody status before an independent judicial authority.
Congress should repeal the unlawful presence bars to adjustment of status to permanent residence that prevent family reunification.
Congress should create realistic ways for workers to immigrate to the United States that meet the needs of the U.S. economy.
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