A Salvadoran migrant girl waits for her food at a migrant shelter in Guatemala City, July 12, 2019. Guatemala's president is to meet Monday in Washington with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, and officials there have said "safe third country" is on the table, though not a done deal.
FILE - A Salvadoran migrant girl waits for her food at a migrant shelter in Guatemala City, July 12, 2019.

Editor's note: We want you to know what's happening, and why and how it could impact your life, family or business, so we created a weekly digest of the top original immigration, migration and refugee reporting from across VOA. Questions? Tips? Comments? Email the VOA immigration team: ImmigrationUnit@voanews.com.

Country agreements

VOA's immigration team in July broke a story about the Trump administration forging a "safe third country agreement" with Guatemala, where asylum-seekers from Central America could be sent to that country instead of admitted to the U.S.

Former acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan and Guatemalan officials outlined details of the pact a month later.

Deaths in detention and at the border

A June photo of a Salvadoran father and his daughter lying face down in the water of the Rio Grande separating the United States and Mexico sparked sorrow and outrage on both sides of the border.

The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, June 24, 2019, after they drowned trying to cross the river to Brownsville, Texas.

At least three children are believed to have died of the flu while in CBP custody over the last two years, including 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez. A video shot earlier this year and published by ProPublica showed Vásquez motionless after collapsing in his cell at 1:36 a.m. The migrant Guatemalan boy died May 20.

A day later, the border station was temporarily closed amid reports that a "large number" of detained migrants had flu-like symptoms.

Remain in Mexico

During a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, VOA's immigration team spoke with a broad sampling of migrants and asylum seekers in early August. Many departed their home countries months before U.S. policy changes went into effect, under assumptions that no longer apply. All were awaiting immigration court hearings.

Mexicans camping near the Cordova-Americas international border crossing bridge while waiting to apply for asylum to the U.S., gather their belongings as they are moved to a shelter due a storm forecast, in Ciudad Juarez, Sept. 30, 2019.

Historic low refugee admittances

The United States reached its self-imposed cap of 30,000 refugee arrivals on Sept. 30, the last day of the 2019 fiscal year, as the Trump administration further lowered the cap for refugee admittances for 2020.

Decline in new international student enrollments

For the second year after decades of growth, the number of international students coming to the U.S. sharply declined from some countries.

The President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele speaks at a conference on the 2019 Forecast on Latin America and the Caribbean on Oct. 1, 2019, in Washington.

TPS extends

Nationals of six countries living and working in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status will be able to remain in legal status until early 2021. The Trump administration's attempt to end TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan was met with several lawsuits in the last year, and the cases remain pending, buying TPS holders more time. 

Public charge

The Trump administration finalized a rule to expand the definition of a person who might become dependent on the government for support, known as a public charge, allowing immigration officials to decide who is admitted into the United States or is allowed to adjust his or her status to that of lawful permanent resident (LPR) based on the likelihood of consuming public resources.

Migrants make their way to US-Mexico border to request asylum.

Asylum guidelines

The Trump administration expedited initial screenings of immigrants seeking asylum, moving to interview immigrants within one calendar day.

The government also proposed a regulation to bar immigrants convicted of a new list of crimes from claiming asylum. The proposal must go through a public comment period before it is finalized.

FILE - A view of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, Nov. 11, 2019.


The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the Trump administration's bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shields immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to work in the United States legally. A decision is expected by June 2020.

American citizenship for Liberians

Liberian nationals living in the U.S. since Nov. 20, 2014, without legal residency status are eligible to apply for green cards and eventually U.S. citizenship under terms of a defense spending bill passed by Congress.

From the Feds:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released data for Fiscal Year 2019.  

USCIS expanded guidance related to naturalization requirements of good moral character.

USCIS proposed to adjust fees to meet operational needs.