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VOA Immigration Weekly Recap, March 24-30, 2024

FILE - Afghan refugees wait to register in a camp near the Torkham Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Torkham, Afghanistan, Nov. 4, 2023.
FILE - Afghan refugees wait to register in a camp near the Torkham Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Torkham, Afghanistan, Nov. 4, 2023.

Editor's note: Here is a look at immigration-related news around the U.S. this week. Questions? Tips? Comments? Email the VOA immigration team:

US adds 12,000 Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans

U.S. lawmakers included in the recent $1.2 trillion package of spending bills an additional 12,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghans who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and extended the program through the end of 2025. While advocates welcomed the news, they said it is still 20,000 SIVs short of what they requested. VOA’s immigration reporter Aline Barros has more.

Group trains migrants to help solve US construction labor shortage

The United States is in dire need of construction workers, a builders’ industry group says. Nonprofits argue that the newly arrived migrants that have overwhelmed some U.S. cities in recent months could help. But not everyone agrees. Joti Rekhi reports from New York City.

Senate to receive impeachment articles against Mayorkas on April 10

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives will deliver two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate on April 10, House Speaker Mike Johnson said Thursday. Reuters reports.

VOA photo of the day

Eliana, 22, a migrant from Venezuela, holds her 3-year-old daughter, Chrismarlees, as she shouts toward an Army National Guard soldier in El Paso, Texas, March 26, 2024.
Eliana, 22, a migrant from Venezuela, holds her 3-year-old daughter, Chrismarlees, as she shouts toward an Army National Guard soldier in El Paso, Texas, March 26, 2024.

Central American, Mexican families mourn Baltimore bridge workers

The construction workers presumed dead in the Baltimore bridge collapse all hailed from Mexico or Central America before they settled in the Maryland area. Police managed to close bridge traffic seconds before a cargo ship slammed into one of the Francis Scott Key Bridge's supports early Tuesday, causing the span to fall into the frigid Patapsco River. There wasn't time for a maintenance crew filling potholes on the span to get to safety. The Associated Press reports.

Texas' migrant arrest law on hold after latest court ruling

A Texas law that allows the state to arrest and deport migrants suspected of illegally entering the United States will remain on hold for now, a federal appeals court ruled. The 2-1 ruling late Tuesday from a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals followed a March 20 hearing by a three-judge panel of the court. It's just the latest move in a seesaw legal case over Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott's strict new immigration law that is not yet ended. The Associated Press reports.

In US, micro-apartments back as need for affordable housing soars

Every part of Barbara Peraza-Garcia and her family's single-room apartment in Seattle, Washington, has a double or even a triple purpose. The 17-square-meter room is filled with an air mattress where she, her partner and their children, ages 2 and 4, sleep. It's also where they play or watch TV. At mealtime, it becomes their dining room. It's a tight squeeze for the family of asylum-seekers from Venezuela. But at $900 a month — more than $550 less than the average studio in Seattle — the micro-apartment with a bare-bones bathroom and shared kitchen was just within their budget and gave them a quick exit from their previous arrangement sleeping on the floor of a church. The Associated Press reports.

Arrests for illegal border crossings up in February, among lowest of Biden term

The number of arrests for illegally crossing the U.S. southern border with Mexico nudged upward February from the previous month. But at a time when immigration is increasingly a concern for voters, the numbers were still among the lowest of Joe Biden's presidency. According to figures from Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol agents made 140,644 arrests of people attempting to enter the country between the legal border crossing points during February. The Associated Press reports.

Inside El Paso's massive migrant processing center

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has set up temporary centers to help expedite the processing of migrants entering the country. Cesar Contreras toured one of the facilities opened last year in El Paso, Texas, in this story narrated by Veronica Villafañe.

Some families in Massachusetts shelters must document efforts to find a path out

Families staying in overflow shelter sites in Massachusetts will soon have to document each month their efforts to find a path out of the overflow system, including looking for housing or a job, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey announced Monday. The Associated Press reports.

Immigration around the world

Ignoring Syrian crisis risks destabilizing region, experts say

More than 13 years after Syria erupted into civil war, the United Nations says the country has become a more dangerous place for civilians, noting that the oppressive government of President Bashir Assad that sparked the flames of conflict remains in power and continues to escalate hostilities on multiple fronts. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Migrant organization: At least 65 bodies found in mass grave in Libya

The bodies of at least 65 migrants have been discovered in a mass grave in Libya, the International Organization for Migration said Friday, adding that it is "profoundly shocked and alarmed." In a statement, the IOM said that although certain details about the dead, such as their nationalities and the circumstances of their deaths, are unknown, "it is believed that they died in the process of being smuggled through the desert." VOA News reports.

News brief

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the extension and redesignation of Burma for Temporary Protected Status "for 18 months, from May 26, 2024, to November 25, 2025, due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Burma that prevent individuals from safely returning. The corresponding Federal Register notice provides information about how to register as a new first-time applicant or current beneficiary for TPS under Burma’s extension and redesignation."