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  • Author: Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This report presents estimates of the undocumented population residing in the United States in 2018, highlighting demographic changes since 2010. The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) compiled these estimates based primarily on information collected in the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The annual CMS estimates of undocumented residents for 2010 to 2018 include all the detailed characteristics collected in the ACS. [1] A summary of the CMS estimation procedures, as well as a discussion of the plausibility of the estimates, is provided in the Appendix. The total undocumented population in the United States continued to decline in 2018, primarily because large numbers of undocumented residents returned to Mexico. From 2010 to 2018, a total of 2.6 million Mexican nationals left the US undocumented population; [2] about 1.1 million, or 45 percent of them, returned to Mexico voluntarily. The decline in the US undocumented population from Mexico since 2010 contributed to declines in the undocumented population in many states. Major findings include the following: The total US undocumented population was 10.6 million in 2018, a decline of about 80,000 from 2017, and a drop of 1.2 million, or 10 percent, since 2010. Since 2010, about two-thirds of new arrivals have overstayed temporary visas and one-third entered illegally across the border. The undocumented population from Mexico fell from 6.6 million in 2010 to 5.1 million in 2018, a decline of 1.5 million, or 23 percent. Total arrivals in the US undocumented population from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — despite high numbers of Border Patrol apprehensions of these populations in recent years — remained at about the same level in 2018 as in the previous four years. [3] The total undocumented population in California was 2.3 million in 2018, a decline of about 600,000 compared to 2.9 million in 2010. The number from Mexico residing in the state dropped by 605,000 from 2010 to 2018. The undocumented population in New York State fell by 230,000, or 25 percent, from 2010 to 2018. Declines were largest for Jamaica (−51 percent), Trinidad and Tobago (−50 percent), Ecuador (−44 percent), and Mexico (−34 percent). The results shown here reinforce the view that improving social and economic conditions in sending countries would not only reduce pressure at the border but also likely cause a large decline in the undocumented population. Two countries had especially large population changes — in different directions — in the 2010 to 2018 period. The population from Poland dropped steadily, from 93,000 to 39,000, while the population from Venezuela increased from 65,000 to 172,000. Almost all the increase from Venezuela occurred after 2014.
  • Topic: Migration, Border Control, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador
  • Author: Michele Waslin
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article examines presidential immigration policy making through executive orders (EOs) and proclamations. Donald Trump’s overall volume of EOs has been remarkably similar to that of other presidents, while his number of proclamations has been relatively high. His immigration-related EOs and proclamations, however, diverge from those of his predecessors in several ways. Of the 56 immigration-related EOs and 64 proclamations issued since 1945, Trump has issued 10 and nine, respectively. Overall, about 1 percent of all EOs and proclamations during this period have been immigration related, compared to 8 percent of Trump’s EOs and 2.4 percent of Trump’s proclamations. In a sharp departure from previous presidents, a greater share of his EOs and proclamations have been substantive policy-making documents intended to restrict admissions of legal immigrants and increase enforcement along the border and in the interior of the United States. This article explores Trump’s unorthodox use of executive tools to make immigration policy, circumventing Congress and even members of his own administration. It recommends that: Congress should hold oversight hearings and should consider revoking or modifying EOs and proclamations that have been issued pursuant to the authority provided to the president by Congress, as opposed to those based on the executive’s constitutional authority. Advocacy organizations should continue to challenge the president’s executive actions, the insufficient process and consultation leading to them, their statutory or constitutional justification, and their impact. Congress should take an inventory of the immigration authorities it has delegated, both explicitly and implicitly, to the executive branch and determine when this authority can and should be limited. Congress should pass legislation to update and reform the US immigration system, and thus clarify its intentions regarding US immigration law, policy, and executive authority in this area.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Domestic politics, Federalism
  • Political Geography: United States, North America, Washington, D.C.
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The US Department of State (DOS) reports that as of November 2018, nearly 3.7 million persons had been found by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have a close family relationship to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) that qualified them for a visa, but were on “the waiting list in the various numerically-limited immigrant categories” (DOS 2018). These backlogs in family-based “preference” (numerically capped) categories represent one of the most egregious examples of the dysfunction of the US immigration system. They consign family members of US citizens and LPRs that potentially qualify for a visa and that avail themselves of US legal procedures to years of insecurity, frustration, and (often) separation from their families. Often criticized in the public sphere for jumping the visa queue, it would be more accurate to say that this population, in large part, comprises the queue. While they wait for their visa priority date to become current, those without immigration status are subject to removal. In addition, most cannot adjust to LPR status in the United States, but must leave the country for consular processing and, when they do, face three- or 10-year bars on readmission, depending on the duration of their unlawful presence in the United States. This population will also be negatively affected by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed rule to expand the public charge ground of inadmissibility (Kerwin, Warren, and Nicholson 2018). In addition, persons languishing in backlogs enjoy few prospects in the short term for executive or legislative relief, given political gridlock over immigration reform and the Trump administration’s support for reduced family-based immigration. In this paper, the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) offers estimates and a profile based on 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) data of a strongly correlated population to the 3.7 million persons in family-based visa backlogs: i.e., the 1.55 million US residents potentially eligible for a visa in a family-based preference category based on a qualifying relationship to a household member. CMS data represents only part of the population in family-based backlogs. In particular, it captures only a small percentage of the 4th preference, brothers and sisters of US citizens.[1] However, everybody in CMS’s data could be petitioned for, if they have not been already. Among this population’s ties and contributions to the United States, the paper finds that: Fifty-nine percent has lived in the United States for 10 years or more, including 23 percent for at least 20 years. Nearly one million US-born children under age 21 live in these households, as well as 111,600 US-born adults (aged 21 and over) who have undocumented parents. 449,500 arrived in the United States at age 15 or younger. 139,100 qualify for the DREAM Act based their age at entry, continuous residence, and graduation from high school or receipt of a GED. Seventy-two percent aged 16 and older are in the labor force, and more than two-thirds (68 percent) are employed; these rates exceed those of the overall US population. Two-thirds of those aged 18 or older have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, including 25 percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 295,100 aged three and older are enrolled in school. The median income of their households is $63,000, slightly above the US median. More than two-thirds (68 percent) have health insurance, including 51 percent with private health insurance. Nearly one-third (32 percent) live in mortgaged homes, and 12 percent in homes owned free and clear. The paper provides several recommendations to reduce family-based backlogs. In particular, it proposes that Congress pass and the President sign into law legislation to legalize intending family-based immigrants who have been mired in backlogs for two years or more. In addition, this legislation should define the spouses and minor unmarried children of LPRs as immediate relatives (not subject to numerical limits), not count the derivative family members of the principal beneficiary against per country and annual quotas, and raise per country caps. The administration should also re-use the visas of legal immigrants who emigrate each year, particularly those who formally abandon LPR status. This practice would reduce backlogs without increasing visa numbers. Congress should also pass legislation to advance the entry date for eligibility for “registry,” an existing feature of US immigration law designed to legalize long-term residents. In particular, the legislation should move forward the registry cutoff date on an automatic basis to provide a pathway to status for noncitizens who have lived continuously in the United States for at least 15 years, have good moral character, and are not inadmissible on security and other grounds. In fact, Congress advanced the registry date on a regular basis during most of the 20th century, but has not updated this date, which now stands at January 1, 1972, for 33 years.
  • Topic: Migration, Immigration, Border Control, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Paul Wickham Schmidt
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article provides an overview and critique of US immigration and asylum policies from the perspective of the author’s 46 years as a public servant. The article offers a taxonomy of the US immigration system by positing different categories of membership: full members of the “club” (US citizens), associate members (lawful permanent residents, refugees, and “asylees”), friends (nonimmigrants and holders of temporary status), and persons outside the club (the undocumented). It describes the legal framework that applies to these distinct populations and recent developments in federal law and policy that relate to them. It also identifies a series of cross-cutting issues that affect these populations, including immigrant detention, immigration court backlogs, state and local immigration policies, and constitutional rights that extend to noncitizens. It ends with a series of recommendations for reform of the US asylum system, and a short conclusion.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Domestic politics, Asylum
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Partisia Macias-Rojas
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) was a momentous law that recast undocumented immigration as a crime and fused immigration enforcement with crime control (García Hernández 2016; Lind 2016). Among its most controversial provisions, the law expanded the crimes, broadly defined, for which immigrants could be deported and legal permanent residency status revoked. The law instituted fast-track deportations and mandatory detention for immigrants with convictions. It restricted access to relief from deportation. It constrained the review of immigration court decisions and imposed barriers for filing class action lawsuits against the former US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). It provided for the development of biometric technologies to track “criminal aliens” and authorized the former INS to deputize state and local police and sheriff’s departments to enforce immigration law (Guttentag 1997a; Migration News 1997a, 1997b, 1997c; Taylor 1997). In short, it put into law many of the punitive provisions associated with the criminalization of migration today. Legal scholars have documented the critical role that IIRIRA played in fundamentally transforming immigration enforcement, laying the groundwork for an emerging field of “crimmigration” (Morris 1997; Morawetz 1998, 2000; Kanstroom 2000; Miller 2003; Welch 2003; Stumpf 2006). These studies challenged the law’s deportation and mandatory detention provisions, as well as its constraints on judicial review. And they exposed the law’s widespread consequences, namely the deportations that ensued and the disproportionate impact of IIRIRA’s enforcement measures on immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States (ABA 2004). Less is known about what drove IIRIRA’s criminal provisions or how immigration came to be viewed through a lens of criminality in the first place. Scholars have mostly looked within the immigration policy arena for answers, focusing on immigration reform and the “new nativism” that peaked in the early nineties (Perea 1997; Jacobson 2008).Some studies have focused on interest group competition, particularly immigration restrictionists’ prohibitions on welfare benefits, while others have examined constructions of immigrants as a social threat (Chavez 2001; Nevins 2002, 2010; Newton 2008; Tichenor 2009; Bosworth and Kaufman 2011; Zatz and Rodriguez 2015). Surprisingly few studies have stepped outside the immigration policy arena to examine the role of crime politics and the policies of mass incarceration. Of these, scholars suggest that IIRIRA’s most punitive provisions stem from a “new penology” in the criminal justice system, characterized by discourses and practices designed to predict dangerousness and to manage risk (Feeley and Simon 1992; Miller 2003; Stumpf 2006; Welch 2012). Yet historical connections between the punitive turn in the criminal justice and immigration systems have yet to be disentangled and laid bare. Certainly, nativist fears about unauthorized migration, national security, and demographic change were important factors shaping IIRIRA’s criminal provisions, but this article argues that the crime politics advanced by the Republican Party (or the “Grand Old Party,” GOP) and the Democratic Party also played an undeniable and understudied role. The first part of the analysis examines policies of mass incarceration and the crime politics of the GOP under the Reagan administration. The second half focuses on the crime politics of the Democratic Party that recast undocumented migration as a crime and culminated in passage of IIRIRA under the Clinton administration. IIRIRA’s criminal provisions continue to shape debates on the relationship between immigration and crime, the crimes that should provide grounds for expulsion from the United States, and the use of detention in deportation proceedings for those with criminal convictions. This essay considers the ways in which the War on Crime — specifically the failed mass incarceration policies — reshaped the immigration debate. It sheds light on the under-studied role that crime politics of the GOP and the Democratic Party played in shaping IIRIRA — specifically its criminal provisions, which linked unauthorized migration with criminality, and fundamentally restructured immigration enforcement and infused it with the resources necessary to track, detain, and deport broad categories of immigrants, not just those with convictions.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Domestic politics, Deportation
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Jane Lily López
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: With passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), the goal of discouraging illegal immigration and the legal immigration of the poor triumphed over the longstanding goal of family unity in US immigration policy. This shift resulted in policy changes that prevent some mixed-citizenship families from accessing family reunification benefits for the immigrant relatives of US citizens. Two specific elements of IIRIRA — (1) the three- and 10-year bars to reentry, and (2) the minimum income thresholds for citizen sponsors of immigrants — have created a hierarchy of mixed-citizenship families, enabling some to access all the citizenship benefits of family preservation and reunification, while excluding other, similar families from those same benefits. This article details these two key policy changes imposed by IIRIRA and describes their impact on mixed-citizenship couples seeking family reunification benefits in the United States. Mixed-citizenship couples seeking family reunification benefits do not bear the negative impacts of these two policies evenly. Rather, these policies disproportionately limit specific subgroups of immigrants and citizens from accessing family reunification. Low-income, non-White (particularly Latino), and less-educated American families bear the overwhelming brunt of IIRIRA’s narrowing of family reunification benefits. As a result, these policy changes have altered the composition of American society and modified broader notions of American national identity and who truly “belongs.” Most of the disparate impact between mixed-citizenship couples created by the IIRIRA would be corrected by enacting minor policy changes to (1) allow the undocumented spouses of US citizens to adjust their legal status from within the United States, and (2) include the noncitizen spouse’s income earning potential toward satisfying minimum income requirements.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Citizenship, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The conventional wisdom holds that the only point of consensus in the fractious US immigration debate is that the system is broken. Yet, the US public has consistently expressed a desire for a legal and orderly immigration system that serves compelling national interests. This paper describes how to create such a system. It focuses on the cornerstone of immigration reform,[1] the legal immigration system,[2] and addresses the widespread belief that broad reform will incentivize illegal migration and ultimately lead to another large undocumented population. The paper begins with an analysis of presidential signing statements on seminal immigration legislation over nearly a century. These statements reveal broad consensus on the interests and values that the United States seeks to advance through its immigration and refugee policies. They constitute additional common ground in the immigration debate. To serve these interests, immigration and refugee considerations must be “mainstreamed” into other policy processes. In addition, its policies will be more successful if they are seen to benefit or, at least, not to discriminate against migrant-sending states. Not surprisingly, the US immigration system does not reflect the vast, mostly unanticipated changes in the nation and the world since Congress last meaningfully reformed this system (27 years ago) and last overhauled the law (52 years ago). The paper does not detail the well-documented ways that US immigration laws fall short of serving the nation’s economic, family, humanitarian, and rule of law objectives. Nor does it propose specific changes in categories and levels of admission. Rather, it describes how a legal immigration system might be broadly structured to deliver on its promises. In particular, it makes the case that Congress should create a flexible system that serves compelling national interests, allows for real time adjustments in admission based on evidence and independent analysis, and vests the executive with appropriate discretion in administering the law. The paper also argues that the United States should anticipate and accommodate the needs of persons compelled to migrate by its military, trade, development, and other commitments. In addition, the US immigration system needs to be able to distinguish between undocumented immigrants, and refugees and asylum seekers, and to treat these two populations differently. The paper assumes that there will be continued bipartisan support for immigration enforcement. However, even with a strong enforcement apparatus in place and an adaptable, coherent, evidence-based legal immigration system that closely aligns with US interests, some (reduced) level of illegal migration will persist. The paper offers a sweeping, historical analysis of how this population emerged, why it has grown and contracted, and how estimates of its size have been politically exploited. Legalization is often viewed as the third rail of immigration reform. Yet, Congress has regularly legalized discrete undocumented populations, and the combination of a well-structured legalization program, strengthened legal immigration system, and strong enforcement policies can prevent the reemergence of a large-scale undocumented population. In contrast, the immense US enforcement apparatus will work at cross-purposes to US interests and values, absent broader reform. The paper ends with a series of recommendations to reform the legal immigration system, downsize the current undocumented population, and ensure its permanent reduction. It proposes that the United States “reissue” (or reuse) the visas of persons who emigrate, as a way to promote legal immigration reform without significantly increasing annual visa numbers.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America