VOA Immigration Weekly Recap, September 25–October 1

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: ImmigrationUnit@voanews.com

Thousands of Cubans in Pipeline of US Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program

As U.S. border officials report high numbers of Cuban migrants hoping to enter the country at the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told VOA more than 10,000 people are in the pipeline of the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) program. New invitations have not been issued since September 2016. While some migrants have the option to be sponsored by family members, others choose often dangerous paths to reach the United States. Story by VOA’s immigration reporter Aline Barros.

Biden Keeps US Target for Refugee Admissions at 125,000

President Joe Biden on Wednesday formally kept the nation’s cap on refugee admissions at 125,000 for the 2023 budget year, despite pressure from refugee advocates to raise it even higher to meet the need after falling far short of that target this year, The Associated Press reports.

As Shelters Fill, New York City Weighs Tents to House Migrants

New York City’s mayor says he plans to erect hangar-sized tents as temporary shelter for thousands of international migrants who have been bused into the Big Apple as part of a campaign by Republican governors to disrupt federal border policies, The Associated Press reports.

Migration around the world

Turkey Signals Possible Rapprochement with Syria

Recently there have been signs of reconciliation between Turkey and Syria, which have been at odds for more than a decade as Ankara supported Syrian rebel forces fighting Damascus. Ezel Sahinkaya, VOA’s Extremism Watch Desk journalist, reports.

Migrant Priest Makes Streaming Debut on VOA+

Since 2003, Father Mussie Zerai has received thousands of emergency calls from distressed refugees and migrants stranded in the Mediterranean Sea. The Eritrean priest, head of the refugee rights organization Habesha, travels to the Italian island of Lampedusa to commemorate October 3, 2013, when a fishing vessel caught fire and sank near the coast, killing 368 people. Leaning on his faith, Father Zerai helps survivors start anew. The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee fields crisis calls as Europe struggles to accommodate the ongoing influx of migrants and refugees desperate to escape war, famine, and persecution.

Rohingya Seek Reparations from Facebook for Role in Massacre

With roosters crowing in the background as he speaks from the crowded refugee camp in Bangladesh that’s been his home since 2017, Maung Sawyeddollah, 21, describes what happened when violent hate speech and disinformation targeting the Rohingya minority in Myanmar began to spread on Facebook. But a new and comprehensive report by Amnesty International states that Facebook’s preferred narrative is false. The platform, Amnesty says, wasn’t merely a passive site with insufficient content moderation. Instead, Meta’s algorithms “proactively amplified and promoted content” on Facebook, which incited violent hatred against the Rohingya beginning as early as 2012, The Associated Press reports.

Survey Finds Ukrainian Refugees Eager to Work but Need Help

A report by the UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, says Ukrainian refugees in Europe are eager to work but need help to do so. The report, “Lives on Hold: Intentions and Perspectives of Refugees from Ukraine,” is based on responses gathered in August and September from 4,800 Ukrainians across Europe. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Thousands of Congolese Refugees Return Home From Exile

The U.N. refugee agency says nearly 6,000 Congolese refugees have been helped to return home since December 2021, after years of exile in Zambia. The voluntary repatriation of Congolese refugees was based on a tripartite agreement signed in 2006 by the UNHCR and the governments of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The refugees had fled political and inter-ethnic clashes in the DRC’s southeast region in 2017. They have gone back to their communities of origin in Haut-Katanga. Many parts of the DRC are riven with conflict and remain highly insecure. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

News Briefs

— Some GOP lawmakers sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on September 22 citing an alleged report saying the Venezuelan government is sending prisoners to the U.S.-Mexico border. In a statement to VOA over email, the DHS said a border official “screens and vets every individual encountered at the border, and all asylum applicants undergo continuous vetting while their applications are pending,” adding, on background, that these claims are “unverified.”


— U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced September 27 the departure of all Afghan nationals from the National Conference Center Safe Haven in Leesburg, Virginia. Since March 1, more than 4,500 Afghan nationals were temporarily housed at the NCC before moving across the nation. To date, approximately 88,500 Afghan nationals have arrived in the U.S. as part of Operation Allies Welcome.

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