CBP Releases February 2022 Monthly Operational Update

CBP’s February Monthly Operational Update reflects the continued economic rebound from the depths of the COVID pandemic, with CBP officers processing more than 2.8 million shipments in legitimate trade valued at more than $236 billion. February also registered a slight uptick in the number of encounters along the Southwest border, with most individuals arriving from Mexico and the Northern Triangle, and the majority of noncitizens expelled under Title 42,” said CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus. “CBP also continues to successfully interdict illegal narcotics through our expanded use of non-intrusive inspection technology (NII) and other strategies. As with every monthly update, February’s report highlights the tremendous breadth and scope of work that the men and women of CBP carry out every single day to safeguard our borders and support our economy.”

CBP Southwest Border Enforcement Numbers for February 2022

The large number of expulsions during the pandemic has contributed to a higher-than-usual number of migrants making multiple border crossing attempts, which means that total encounters somewhat overstate the number of unique individuals arriving at the border.

  • The number of unique individuals encountered nationwide in February 2022 was 116,678, a 2 percent increase in the number of unique individuals encountered the prior month.
  • In total, there were 164,973 encounters along the Southwest land border in February, a 7 percent increase compared to January. Of those, 30 percent involved individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year re-encounter rate of 14 percent for FY2014-2019.
  • More than three-fourths (76 percent) of encounters were single adults, with 126,151 encounters in February, an 11 percent increase compared to January.
  • 91,513 encounters, 55 percent of the total, were processed for expulsion under Title 42. 73,460 encounters were processed under Title 8.
    • 83,553 encounters involving single adults (66 percent of all single adult encounters) were processed for expulsion under Title 42, with 42,598 processed under Title 8.
    • 7,773 encounters involving family unit individuals (29 percent of all family unit individuals) were processed for expulsion under Title 42, with 18,809 processed under Title 8.

Unaccompanied Children

  • Encounters of unaccompanied children increased 37 percent, with 12,011 encounters in February compared with 8,760 in January. In February, the average number of unaccompanied children in CBP custody was 520 per day, compared with an average of 295 per day in January.

Family Unit individuals

  • Encounters of family unit individuals decreased by 17 percent from 31,998 in January to 26,582 in February—which is a 69 percent decrease from the peak of 86,631 in August 2021.

CBP Nationwide Total Encounters for FY22TD through February: 967,743

CBP Nationwide Encounters for FY22 February: 189,602

International Travel and Trade

One of CBP’s core mission objectives is to enhance the nation’s economic prosperity, including through the facilitation of lawful trade and travel. CBP continues to protect America’s national and economic security by facilitating legitimate trade while rigorously enforcing U.S. customs laws and regulations.

Count February 2020 February 2021 % Feb 2021 Change from

February 2020

February 2022 %Feb 2022 Change from Feb 2020 % Feb 2022 Change from

February 2021

Air 11,695,959 2,019,030 -82.7% 6,878,917 -41.19% 340.7%
Passenger

Vehicles

16,118,593 10,395,614 -48.2% 13,235,073 -17.89% 148.9%
Pedestrians 4,123,417 1,815,604 -56% 2,939,209 -28.72% 161.9%
Commercial Trucks 960,342 939,383 -2.2% 945,317 -1.56% 100.6%

 

Since travel restrictions were eased on November 8, CBP has processed increased numbers of arriving travelers without any significant delays. The new rules allow travelers who are non-U.S. persons to seek to enter the United States for non-essential travel via land ports of entry and ferry terminals, provided they are fully vaccinated and have appropriate documentation. The updated guidelines also allow most non-immigrants (non-U.S. citizens and other covered persons) who are fully vaccinated to travel by air to the United States, regardless of the reason for travel.

CBP will continue to track traveler numbers and wait times over the next few months and continue to adjust as needed to make the travel experience more efficient. In the meantime, travelers can plan by doing the following:

  • Have a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative document, such as a passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, or Enhanced Tribal Card.
  • Possess proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website.
  • Verbally attest to their travel intent and COVID-19 vaccination status.
  • Be prepared to present any documents requested by the CBP officer.

Accountability and Transparency

As part of the agency’s continuing effort to promote organizational accountability and transparency, CBP announced the release of its Report on Internal Investigations and Employee Accountability: Fiscal Year 2020. For FY2020, CBP leadership directed the Office of Professional Responsibility and Human Resources Management to generate a joint report combining information regarding allegation intake and misconduct investigations with information regarding disciplinary outcomes. CBP is committed to being a leader in law enforcement accountability and transparency by providing multiple ways to report incidents as well as timely, accurate and appropriate information regarding CBP-related deaths, use of force incidents, and other critical incidents resulting in serious injuries. The Accountability and Transparency page provides the public with statements, policies, reports, and other important information concerning critical incidents and related OPR reviews and investigations.

Trade Stats/Seizures – Protecting the American Consumer

CBP works diligently with the trade community and port operators to ensure that merchandise is cleared as efficiently as possible. CBP works with the trade community to strengthen international supply chains and improve border security. There are several programs by which CBP works with importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers to advance information about the shipments and expedite the inspection process at the ports of entry. CBP is available to conduct exams and is ready and willing to expand hours of operations if necessary to meet the growing demand for imported goods.

In February 2022 alone, CBP processed more than 2.8 million entry summaries valued at more than $236 billion, identifying estimated duties of nearly $7.7 billion to be collected by the U.S. government. In February, trade via the ocean environment accounted for more than 40 percent of the total import value, followed by air, truck, and rail.

Intellectual property rights violations continue to put America’s innovation economy at risk. Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threaten the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, the livelihoods of American workers, and the health and safety of consumers.

In February 2022, CBP seized nearly 1,973 shipments that contained counterfeit goods valued at more than $225 million (MSRP).

Drug Seizures

CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Operations agents continue to interdict the flow of illicit narcotics across the border. Nationwide, drug seizures (Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Heroin, Fentanyl, and Marijuana) by weight were down 1 percent in February compared to January. Seizures were as follows:

  • Cocaine seizures increased 83 percent
  • Methamphetamine increased 97 percent
  • Heroin seizures increased 173 percent
  • Fentanyl seizures decreased 21 percent

Additional CBP drug seizure statistics can be found here.

Agriculture Stats/Seizures – Securing American Agriculture

In February 2022, CBP agriculture specialists helped protect America’s agriculture, natural resources, and economic prosperity.

  • CBP issued 5,909 emergency action notifications for restricted and prohibited plant and animal products entering the United States.
  • CBP conducted 62,350 positive passenger inspections and issued 481 civil penalties and/or violations to the traveling public for failing to declare prohibited agriculture items.

CBP COVID-19 Response

The safety of our workforce, our communities, and individuals in our care is a top priority.  CBP personnel put themselves and their families at risk with every encounter with the public.

Since the start of the pandemic:

  • More than 23,629 CBP employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • 64 have passed away.

CBP continues to explore adjustments to workforce posture and health protocols based on widespread vaccine access and easing public health metrics:

  • CBP provides migrants who can’t be expelled under the CDC’s Title 42 order or are awaiting processing with PPE from the moment they are taken into custody, and migrants are required to keep masks on at all times.
  • CBP works with appropriate agencies that facilitate testing, diagnosis, isolation, and treatment of migrants, including:
    • Local governments and non-governmental organizations for persons released from CBP custody;
    • ICE for testing of persons to be released from CBP custody, particularly in locations without local government or NGO testing capability; and,
    • HHS for testing of unaccompanied children.
  • DHS has developed a partnership model to test and isolate families who test positive for COVID-19, and reimburse 100 percent of the cost, provided that the state does not stand in the way.
Last modified:
March 15, 20

Introduction to Immigration Court Video

EOIR has released an Introduction to Immigration Court video as part of its “Access EOIR” initiative. The video, currently available in English and Spanish, is designed to educate and inform noncitizens about the immigration court process. Please visit the Access EOIR webpage or EOIR’s YouTube channel to watch the video.

For assistance with your immigration process, call the LAW OFFICES OF NORKA M. SCHELL, LLC at (212) 258-0713.

Release Date

In the recently published April Visa Bulletin, the Department of State advanced the Date for Filing (also known as the application date) applications for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status in the employment-based, second preference (EB-2) category for India from Sept. 1, 2013, to Sept. 1, 2014.

If you are a noncitizen who has an approved immigrant visa petition in the EB-2 category chargeable to India and a priority date earlier than Sept. 1, 2014, USCIS encourages you to consider applying for adjustment of status in April by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You should include your Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, with your Form I-485 to save time. You are not required to file Form I-693 at the same time you file Form I-485, but filing both forms at the same time may eliminate the need for USCIS to issue a Request for Evidence to obtain your Form I-693. This may also help avoid adjudication delays if we decide that you do not need to be interviewed.

As previously announced, we continue to encourage eligible applicants to consider requesting to transfer the underlying basis of their pending adjustment of status applications in the EB-3 category to the EB-1 or EB-2 category if they meet the following criteria: a visa is unavailable to them in the EB-3 category; they have a pending or approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers; and a visa is available in the EB-1 or EB-2 category.

For more information, please see  the Green Card for Employment-Based Immigrants page and the Visa Availability and Priority Dates page at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2022/visa-bulletin-for-april-2022.html

DHS, VA Launch New Online Services for Noncitizen Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families

Release Date: February 7, 2022

WASHINGTON – On February 7, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in partnership with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, launched two new resources to support our nation’s noncitizen service members, veterans, and their families. Through its Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative (IMMVI), DHS will host a one-stop online center to consolidate relevant federal resources. As part of the resource center, DHS has also created a portal for veterans who need assistance in applying to return to the United States or accessing VA benefits to which they may be entitled.

“These new resources are just the first step to help support noncitizen service members and their families who have made tremendous sacrifices for our country,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “We are committed to identifying previously removed veterans to ensure they are able to obtain VA benefits, access COVID-19 vaccines, and return to the United States as appropriate.”

“Veterans qualify for VA benefits based on their service to our country and never on their immigration status,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough. “We are proud to work with our partners at DHS and DoD to honor the service of immigrant and noncitizen Veterans by ensuring that they have access to information about the care and services available to them.”

The new one-stop resource center will consolidate resources and forms from DHS, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense (DoD), and other agencies so noncitizen service members, veterans, and their families are able to easily find any needed forms and resources.

The new portal on the DHS website will provide previously removed veterans a simple and fast way to get in touch with the Department for assistance with any questions or issues they may have as they seek assistance in returning to the United States or accessing their VA benefits.

To date, the initiative has helped dozens of veterans access the U.S. immigration system and their VA benefits, and several individuals have been able to return to the U.S. DHS offices and agencies continue to actively review policies for individuals with military association to determine how to best meet the commitments made in this initiative.

Foreign Nurse Visas

  • U.S. hospitals seek foreign nurses amid visa windfall. Since the pandemic, American hospitals have been facing a shortage of nurses, leading many hospitals looking abroad for healthcare workers. The U.S. has an unusually high number of green cards available this year for foreign professionals, including nurses. The burnout from working during the pandemic has led many U.S. nurses to retire or leave their jobs. The high number of covid-19 cases has also placed tremendous pressure on the healthcare system. USCIS said it would quicken the renewal of work permits for health care workers, which could help keep some foreign citizens in the U.S. on the job. Last year, the State Department told consulates to prioritize applications for workers at facilities that respond to the pandemic.

    As a Foreign Nurse, Can I Work in the U.S. Temporarily?

    If you are a foreign nurse and want to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis (without receiving a U.S. green card), you might be able to obtain an H-1B visa. An H-1B is a popular temporary work visa for foreign nationals who have a job offer from a U.S. employer to work in a “specialty occupation.”

    Can I Obtain a U.S. Green Card as a Foreign Nurse?

    Your U.S. employer might also be willing to sponsor you for a green card. The employer must first offer you a full-time, permanent nurse position. Second, your employer must complete a process known as “labor certification” on your behalf (more commonly referred to as PERM). Now, you might have heard a lot about the PERM/labor certification process, with all its advertising requirements, but this process is completely different (and easier) for nurse positions.

    A nurse position is classified as a “Schedule A” position. Schedule A positions are ones that the U.S. government has recognized the U.S. needs more workers to fill. Therefore, employers are not required to post advertisements for Schedule A positions (a usual PERM requirement), because the U.S. government already knows there is a shortage of workers in these positions.

    For additional information on how to obtain a Foreign Nurse Visa, call Law Offices of Norka M. Schell, LLC at (212)258-0713.

H-1B, L-1A and L-1B TEMPORARY WORK VISAS

U.S. Businesses rely on their ability to employ foreign nationals to compete efficiently in today’s global market. Particularly critical in this regard are the H-1B program, which permits U. S. employers to retain the temporary services of foreign professionals, and L-1 transfer managers, executives, and other employees with “Specialized Knowledge” from a foreign office to a branch office, subsidiary, or affiliate in the United States. Both of these programs permit U.S. employers to hire high-skilled foreign employees for discrete periods and, necessary, to extend their terms of employment.

Foreign nationals may remain in the United States in H-1B status for up to six years, and in L-1A and L-1B status for up to seven and five years, respectively.

Note that, federal regulations mandate that no H-1B, L-1A or L-1B petition can be approved for longer than three years. So, many U.S. employers file extension requests to enable these employees to fulfill their responsibilities.

For additional information on H-1B, L-1A, and L-1B temporary work visas, contact the Law Offices of Norka M. Schell, LLC at (212) 258-0713 to speak with our attorney.

REINSTATMENT OF REMOVAL

“Reinstatement of removal” is a summary removal procedure pursuant to § 241(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(5), 8 C.F.R. § 241.8. With limited statutory and judicial exceptions, the reinstatement statute applies to noncitizens who return to the United States without authorization after having been removed under a prior order of deportation, exclusion, or removal.

Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) § 241 (a)(5) states, “if the Attorney General finds that an alien has reentered the United States illegally after having been removed or having departed voluntarily, under an order of removal, the prior order of removal is reinstated from its original date and is not subject to being reopened or reviewed, the alien is not eligible and may not apply for any relief under this chapter, and the alien shall be removed under the prior order at any time after the reentry.”

Reinstatement of removal is applied to noncitizens who reenter the United States illegally after having been removed under an order of deportation and makes such individuals ineligible for all forms of discretionary relief, including adjustment of status, under the INA. It does not apply to noncitizens who were ordered deported or excluded but failed to comply with the order.

For more information about reinstatement of removal, call the Law Offices of Norka M. Schell, LLC at (212) 258-0713.

White House Announced New Actions Intended to Attract and Maintain STEM Talent in the United States.

In a Federal Register notice published on January 21, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced, “The Secretary of Homeland Security is amending the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List [for OPT] by adding 22 qualifying fields of study.”

“The government uses the STEM Designated Degree Program List to determine F-1 students’ eligibility for the 24-month extension of their post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), based on their science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree,” noted Berry Appleman and Leiden in an advisory. “Additions to the list make more students eligible for the STEM OPT extension.”

The 22 new fields added to the list for STEM OPT are Bioenergy, Forestry, General, Forest Resources Production and Management, Human-Centered Technology Design, Cloud Computing, Anthrozoology, Climate Science, Earth Systems Science, Economics and Computer Science, Environmental Geosciences, Geobiology, Geography, and Environmental Studies, Mathematical Economics, Mathematics and Atmospheric/Oceanic Science, Data Science, General, Data Analytics, General, Business Analytics, Data Visualization, Financial Analytics, Data Analytics, Other, Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods. (More details are available in the Federal Register notice.).

See this article from Forbes for more information.

TO BUILD A BETTER IMMIGRATION SYSTEM CONGRESS NEEDS TO ACT

America needs an immigration system that respects our long traditions as a welcoming nation and builds a foundation for meeting the challenges of the 21st century. The current system is sorely outdated and badly in need of reform. Congress must act swiftly, using not only its legislative power but also its oversight and budget authorities to secure lasting reform.

Our immigration court system suffers from profound structural problems that have severely eroded its capacity to deliver just decisions in a timely manner. The root cause of this dysfunction is a conflict of interest built into the system: immigration courts are a part of the Department of Justice (DOJ) – the very same law enforcement agency that is charged with prosecuting immigration cases in federal courts. This structural flaw has been taken advantage of to manipulate the immigration court for political purposes, fundamentally compromising the integrity of the courts as well as public confidence in its outcomes. America needs a just and efficient immigration judicial system not just to ensure due process, but also to ensure the success of the enforcement system and the legal immigration system. It is imperative to make immediate reforms to guarantee judicial independence, fairness, and consistency in decision-making.

WHAT CONGRESS CAN DO

  • Congress can create an Independent Immigration Court. To operate in a balanced and fair manner, the immigration courts must be separate and independent from DOJ. Congress should pass legislation creating an independent, Article I immigration court.
  • Restore due process. Congress should ensure that DOJ and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) reverse policies that rush cases at the cost of due process and encourage them to rescind policies that unduly restrict access to asylum and other forms of relief.
  • Support the right to counsel. Having legal counsel is the single most important factor in ensuring migrants get a fair day in court and in ensuring due process. Congress should pass legislation guaranteeing appointed counsel and access to counsel, and fund Executive Branch programs that support the right to counsel. The Immigration Courts: Nothing Like What You Have Imagined Read more at www.aila.org/immigrationcourts Ineffective management of the immigration court system continues to impair the quality and quantity of judicial decisions; the court backlog has skyrocketed to approximately 1.3 million cases.
  • America needs an immigration system that respects our long traditions as a welcoming nation and builds a foundation for meeting the challenges of the 21st century. The current system is sorely outdated and badly in need of reform. Congress must act swiftly, using not only its legislative power but also its oversight and budget authorities to secure lasting reform.
  • Our immigration court system suffers from profound structural problems that have severely eroded its capacity to deliver just decisions in a timely manner. The root cause of this dysfunction is a conflict of interest built into the system: immigration courts are a part of Department of Justice (DOJ) – the very same law-enforcement agency that is charged with prosecuting immigration cases in federal courts. This structural flaw has been taken advantage of to manipulate the immigration court for political purposes, fundamentally compromising the integrity of the courts as well as public confidence in its outcomes. America needs a just and efficient immigration judicial system not just to ensure due process, but also to ensure the success of the enforcement system and the legal immigration system. It is imperative to make immediate reforms to guarantee judicial independence, fairness, and consistency in decision-making.
  • WHAT CONGRESS CAN DO
    • Congress can create an Independent Immigration Court. To operate in a balanced and fair manner, the immigration courts must be separate and independent from DOJ. Congress should pass legislation creating an independent, Article I immigration court.
    • Restore due process. Congress should ensure that DOJ and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) reverse policies that rush cases at the cost of due process and encourage them to rescind policies that unduly restrict access to asylum and other forms of relief.
    • Support the right to counsel. Having legal counsel is the single most important factor in ensuring migrants get a fair day in court and in ensuring due process. Congress should pass legislation guaranteeing appointed counsel and access to counsel, and fund Executive Branch programs that support the right to counsel. The Immigration Courts: Nothing Like What You Have Imagined Read more at www.aila.org/immigrationcourts Ineffective management of the immigration court system continues to impair the quality and quantity of judicial decisions; the court backlog has skyrocketed to approximately 1.3 million cases.

See AILA America as a Welcoming Nation: A Roadmap dated April 14, 2021, available at www.aila.org.