Biden floats path to citizenship for undocumented – National & International News – THU 18Feb2021

Biden proposals would create path to citizenship for millions of undocumented migrants.

Dems tackle immigration. Jobless claims still climbing. 10 nations used 75% of all vaccines. Israel begrudgingly allows 2000 vaccines into Gaza.

NATIONAL NEWS

New laws would give undocumented migrants path to citizenship

The White House and its allies on Capitol hill are moving ahead with proposals to tackle long-overdue immigration reform. Over the last 20 years, successive administrations have failed to formulate meaningful reforms. This vacuum has created immense backlogs and left millions at the mercy of capricious and fluctuating policies.

The White House plan is a multi-pronged approach aiming to streamline the immigration process, reduce barriers to citizenship, and bring millions of migrants already in the US into the mainstream.

Eligible undocumented migrants (those already in the US before Jan. 1, 2021) could apply for temporary legal status. This will allow for work permits and deportation relief. This group would be eligible to apply for a green card in 5 years and citizenship in 8 years.

Some groups, including farmworkers and those brought to the US as children, would be immediately eligible to apply for green cards. The could then apply for citizenship in three years.

The administration also hopes to address the root causes of mass migrations from Central America. The proposal would give the White House $4 billion to combat violence, poverty and corruption in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Democratic proponents of the bills would have an uphill battle in the Senate. Filibuster rules mean that at least 10 GOP Senators would have to support it.

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Jobless claims continue to climb

Dismal employment numbers are dampening hopes of a recovery as nationwide COVID infections drop. New applications for unemployment benefits rose to 861,000 last week. This is an increase of 13,000 over the previous week. Employers have only added 49,000 more jobs in January after major cuts in December. Some have touted a recent drop in the unemployment rate from 6.7% to 6.4%. However, this is somewhat deceptive, as many are no longer counted since they have stopped looking for work.

As of Jan. 30, about 18.3 million people are receiving unemployment aid, down from 19.7 million the previous week. About three-quarters of those recipients are receiving checks from federal programs that kick in after state benefits expire (26 weeks in most states). This suggests most of these recipients have been out of work for more than 6 months. These long stretches of unemployment will make it difficult for these jobseekers to find new employment.

Although hiring has been sluggish, many sectors are showing overall signs of recovery. Factory production has risen for four straight months, and restaurant and retail sales jumped 5.3% in January. This is in part thanks to the recent $600 stimulus checks.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

10 nations have given 75% of all vaccines

Yesterday, UN leader Antonio Guterres decried rampant vaccine nationalism. Guterres says just 10 countries have used 75% of the world’s vaccines, saying it was “wildly unfair”. About 130 countries worldwide have not received a single dose.

Not only does this represent a global moral failing, it is also shortsighted and dangerous. While the world’s wealthiest countries race to vaccine all their citizens, the virus continues to multiply and mutate in the poorest countries. Eventually, this will give rise to mutations that will make the vaccines ineffective. There is already a danger of this with the South African variant, according to Pfizer. 

Guterres urges wealthy nations and pharmaceutical companies to work together to distribute vaccines more equitably.

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Israel begrudgingly allows 2000 vaccines into Gaza

Following an international outcry, Israel has decided at last to allow 2000 Russian-made Sputnik V vaccines into the Gaza strip. This is enough doses to vaccine 1000 of Gaza’s nearly 2 million people. While Israel leads the world in vaccinations, its government has received widespread criticism for not allowing vaccines into Palestinian-controlled areas. After an international backlash last week, Israel passed 5000 vaccines to the West Bank. Until now, Gaza has received none. 

Recent reports confirm the international communities worst suspicions that Israel’s government is attempting to use vaccines as leverage against Hamas. On Monday, some Israeli lawmakers advocated allowing vaccines into Gaza in return for concessions from Hamas. This includes information about captive soldiers being held by Hamas. Ahmad Tibi, an Arab minority MP, said even contemplating withholding vaccines from people who needed them for political reasons was unconscionable. “Your children will be ashamed,” Tibi said.

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