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  • Author: Ricardo Gomez, Bryce Clayton, Sara Vannini
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The growing numbers of vulnerable migrants seeking shelter and refuge in the United States and Europe are finding increased racism and xenophobia as well as renewed efforts by humanitarian volunteers to offer them aid, sanctuary, and protection. This article sets forth a typology to better understand the motivations of volunteers working to help migrants in need of humanitarian assistance. Why do people go out of their way to offer humanitarian aid to someone they do not know and, in some cases, they will never meet? What are the drivers of altruistic behavior of humanitarian volunteers in the face of rising injustice, nationalism, and xenophobia? In answer to these questions, we offer a typology centered on empathic concern, differentiating secular/faith-based motivations, and deontological/moral-virtue motivations, with particular behaviors in each of the four resulting categories: the Missionary Type, the Good Samaritan Type, the Do Gooder Type, and the Activist Type. We also suggest four additional self-centered (non-altruistic, or not-other-centered) types (Militant, Crusader, Martyr, and Humanitarian Tourist). The nuances offered by this typology can help organizations working with migrants and refugees better understand and channel the enthusiasm of their volunteers and better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations they serve. This is especially important at a time when migration is being criminalized and when humanitarian aid is deemed unpatriotic, if not outright illegal. In the face of increased nationalistic and xenophobic messages surrounding migration, we need to articulate the altruistic humanitarian motivations of volunteers in the context of migration aid. Our typology may also be used to understand altruistic behaviors in other contexts such as disaster relief, community organization and activism, international adoptions, or organ donations to strangers, among others, in which altruistic empathic concern can be an important motivation driving people to act for the well-being of distant others.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, Nationalism, Xenophobia
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • 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: Bill Frelick
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Temporary Protected Status (TPS) became part of the US protection regime in 1990 to expand protection beyond what had been available under the US Refugee Act of 1980, which had limited asylum to those who met the refugee definition from the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention. The TPS statute authorized the attorney general to designate foreign countries for TPS based on armed conflict, environmental disasters, and other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent designated nationals from returning in safety. While providing blanket protection that very likely has saved lives, TPS has nonetheless proven to be a blunt instrument that has frustrated advocates on both sides of the larger immigration debate. This article evaluates the purpose and effectiveness of the TPS statute and identifies inadequacies in the TPS regime and related protection gaps in the US asylum system. It argues that TPS has not proven to be an effective mechanism for the United States to protect foreigners from generalized conditions of danger in their home countries. It calls for changing the US protection regime to make it more responsive to the risks many asylum seekers actually face by creating a broader “complementary protection” standard and a more effective procedure for assessing individual protection claims, while reserving “temporary protection” for rare situations of mass influx that overwhelm the government’s capacity to process individual asylum claims. The article looks at alternative models for complementary protection from other jurisdictions, and shows how the US asylum and TPS system (in contrast to most other jurisdictions) fails to provide a mechanism for protecting arriving asylum seekers who do not qualify as refugees but who nevertheless would be at real risk of serious harm based on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment or because of situations of violence or other exceptional circumstances, including natural or human-made disasters or other serious events that disturb public order, that would threaten their lives or personal security. The article proposes that the United States adopt an individualized complementary protection standard for arriving asylum seekers who are not able to meet the 1951 Refugee Convention standard but who would face a serious threat to life or physical integrity if returned because of a real risk of (1) cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; (2) violence; or (3) exceptional situations, for which there is no adequate domestic remedy.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Citizenship, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • 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: Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article presents estimates of the US undocumented population for 2017 derived by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS). It focuses on the steep decline in the undocumented population from Mexico since 2010. While the president has focused the nation’s attention on the border wall, half a million[1] US undocumented residents from Mexico left[2] the undocumented population in 2016 alone, more than three times the number that arrived that year, leading to an overall decrease of nearly 400,000 undocumented residents from Mexico from 2016 to 2017. From 2010 to 2017, the undocumented population from Mexico fell by a remarkable 1.3 million. For the past 10 years, the primary mode of entry for the undocumented population has been to overstay temporary visas. This article provides estimates of the number of noncitizens who overstayed temporary visas and those who entered without inspection (EWIs) in 2016 by the top five countries of origin. Summary of Findings The US undocumented population from Mexico fell by almost 400,000 in 2017. In 2017, for the first time, the population from Mexico constituted less than one half of the total undocumented population. Since 2010, the undocumented population from Mexico has declined by 1.3 million. In California, the undocumented population from Mexico has declined by 26 percent since 2010, falling from 2.0 to 1.5 million; it also dropped by 50 percent in Alabama, and by one third in Georgia, New York, and New Mexico. The undocumented population from Venezuela grew rapidly after 2013, increasing from 60,000 to 145,000 in just four years. Visa overstays have significantly exceeded illegal border crossings during each of the last seven years. Mexico was the leading country for overstays in 2017, with about twice as many as India or China. The estimates presented here were derived by CMS based on information collected in the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey (ACS). The procedures used to derive detailed estimates of the undocumented population are described in Warren (2014). CMS used its annual estimates of the undocumented population for 2010 to 2017 — by state of residence, country of origin, and year of entry — to compile the information described here. Additional methodological details appear as footnotes or as notes in the tables.
  • Topic: Migration, Border Control, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Geoffrey Alan Boyce, Samuel Chambers, Sarah Launius
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Since 2000, 3,199 human remains of unauthorized migrants have been recovered from the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona (Coalición de Derechos Humanos 2018). These recovered remains provide only one indicator of the scope of death and suffering affecting unauthorized migrants and their loved ones — something that also includes thousands of individuals whose whereabouts or remains are never encountered (and who therefore remain disappeared) (ibid.). Just as significantly, the number of human remains recovered in southern Arizona has remained consistently high despite a significant decline during the past decade in the number of apprehensions (a figure frequently used as a proxy for unauthorized migration) in the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. This condition has led scholars and commentators alike to observe an increase in the ratio of deaths to migration, even as unauthorized border crossing fluctuates (Martínez et al. 2014; Reineke and Martínez 2014; International Organization for Migration 2018). In 2012, the southern Arizona humanitarian organization No More Deaths began systematically tracking the use and vandalism of cached drinking water it supplies at 512 sites across an 800-square-mile area of southern Arizona’s Altar Valley, a high-traffic migration corridor bisected by the US–Mexico border (Ferguson, Price, and Parks 2010; Regan 2010; Boyce 2016; Chambers et al. 2019). On an almost daily basis, volunteers with No More Deaths travel this migration corridor to resupply caches of 5–20 gallons of clean drinking water, physically hauling this water by truck and by foot. Each cache site is tracked using a Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinate to make navigation of the remote desert borderlands and the location of dispersed and frequently hidden cache sites easier for new volunteers. In 2015, the authors began working with No More Deaths to digitize and conduct spatial and statistical analysis on the data entered into these desert aid logs, with the express aim of seeing what this archive can reveal about everyday activity related to boundary enforcement and migration, as well as the efficacy of the organization’s activities throughout time. In total, No More Deaths’ desert aid archive contains 4,847 unique entries from March 2012 to December 2015, logging the date when an individual cache site was visited, the number of new water gallons deposited during this visit, the number of water gallons encountered intact and unused from previous resupply visits, the conditions of any empty water bottles left behind (including telltale signs of human vandalism, as well as occasional animal damage), and any subjectively unusual conditions or noteworthy events that were observed at the site or during the visit. Combined, this archive provides remarkable and uncommon insight into subtle changes in migration routes and patterns within the Altar Valley desert corridor, as well as those quotidian forms of harassment and vandalism of water supplies that we believe are intended to amplify and maximize hardship for unauthorized border crossers. Indeed, scholars have long argued that the US Border Patrol’s enforcement strategy of “Prevention Through Deterrence” (PTD), first launched in 1994, is premised on instrumentalizing the difficult climate and terrain of the US–Mexico border by pushing migration routes away from traditional urban crossing areas and into increasingly rugged and remote desert areas (Andreas 2001; Cornelius 2001; Rubio-Goldsmith et al. 2006; Nevins 2008; Martínez et al. 2014; De León 2015; Slack et al. 2016). The Border Patrol’s own policy documents make this case. Observing that migrants “crossing through remote, uninhabited expanses of land and sea along the border can find themselves in mortal danger,” the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS — at the time, the Border Patrol’s parent agency) argued that by channeling migration routes into “harsh terrain less suitable for crossing and more suitable for enforcement,” the Border Patrol would eventually obtain a “tactical advantage” over would-be border crossers (INS 1994, 7). Then–INS Commissioner Doris Meissner later reflected, “We did believe that geography would be an ally for us. It was our sense that the number of people crossing through the Arizona desert would go down to a trickle once people realized what [it’s] like” (quoted in Cornelius 2005). In this article, we conduct geospatial modeling and statistical analysis of No More Deaths’ desert aid archive. This involves measuring changes in the distribution of water use throughout time across the 62 cache sites consistently visited during all four calendar years included in the dataset, and then reading this measurement against a model of ruggedness that incorporates multiple variables including slope, vegetation, “jaggedness,” and ground temperature while controlling for Euclidian distance. Adjusting for seasonal variation and the overall volume of water use, we find a statistically meaningful increase in the cumulative ruggedness score of migration routes associated with cache sites during the four calendar years included in No More Deaths’ desert aid logs. These findings reveal a steady pressure toward more rugged and difficult crossing routes throughout time, an outcome that provides important context for the vandalism and harassment that target migrants and humanitarian aid workers alike (see No More Deaths and Coalición de Derechos Humanos 2018). In what follows, we first provide greater detail on the context of our study and of the authors’ collaboration with No More Deaths. Next, we discuss our research methodology, including the contours of the geographic information system (GIS) modeling through which we conduct our analysis. We then present our findings, and discuss and contextualize these, before turning to some of the limitations of our study and directions for future research. We conclude by considering some of the policy implications of our findings, as well as their implications for studies of mobility, border policing, and state violence, including in contexts when states are instrumentalizing environmental features and conditions for the purposes of boundary enforcement.
  • Topic: Migration, Water, Border Control, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • 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: Donald Kerwin, Mike Nicholson
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The effects of US immigration enforcement policies on immigrants, US families, and communities have been well-documented. However, less attention has been paid to their impact on faith-based organizations (FBOs). Faith communities provide a spiritual home, and extensive legal, resettlement, social service, health, and educational services for refugees and immigrants. This report presents the findings of the FEER (Federal Enforcement Effect Research) Survey, which explored the effects of US immigration enforcement policies on immigrant-serving Catholic institutions.[1] Many of these institutions arose in response to the needs of previous generations of immigrants and their children (Kerwin and George 2014, 14, 74-75). Most strongly identify with immigrants and have long served as crucial intermediaries between immigrant communities and the broader society (Campos 2014, 149-51).[2] Over its first two years, the Trump administration has consistently characterized immigrants as criminals, security risks, and an economic burden. Among its policy initiatives, the administration has supported major cuts in family-based immigration, attempted to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, reduced refugee admissions to historic lows, instituted admission bars on Muslim-majority countries, attempted to strip Temporary Protection Status (TPS) from all but a fraction of its beneficiaries, erected major new barriers to asylum, and proposed new rules regarding the public charge grounds of inadmissibility that would make it more difficult for poor and working class persons to obtain permanent residence. US immigration enforcement policies have separated children from their parents, criminally prosecuted asylum-seekers, expanded detention, increased arrests of non-citizens without criminal records, and militarized the US-Mexico border. These policies have failed to stem the flow of migrants and asylum-seekers: instead these flows have increased dramatically in recent months. These policies have succeeded, however, in devastating children, instilling fear in immigrant communities, blocking access to the US asylum system, and undermining immigrant integration (Kerwin 2018).[3] The FEER survey points to a paradox. On one hand, US enforcement policies have increased the demand for services such as legal screening, representation, naturalization, assistance to unaccompanied minors, and support to the US families of detainees and deportees. Many Catholic institutions have expanded their services to accommodate the increased demand for their services. On the other hand, their work with immigrants has been impeded by federal immigration policies that effectively prevent immigrants from driving, attending gatherings, applying for benefits, and accessing services for fear that these activities might lead to their deportation or the deportation of a family member. Among other top-line findings, 59 percent of 133 FEER respondents reported that “fear of apprehension or deportation” negatively affected immigrants’ access to their services, and 57 percent of 127 respondents reported that immigrant enforcement very negatively or negatively affected the participation of immigrants in their programs and ministries.
  • Topic: Migration, Religion, Border Control, Immigrants, Catholic Church
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Pia Orrenius, Madeline Zavodny
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Opponents of immigration often claim that immigrants, particularly those who are unauthorized, are more likely than US natives to commit crimes and that they pose a threat to public safety. There is little evidence to support these claims. In fact, research overwhelmingly indicates that immigrants are less likely than similar US natives to commit violent and property crimes, and that areas with more immigrants have similar or lower rates of violent and property crimes than areas with fewer immigrants. There are relatively few studies specifically of criminal behavior among unauthorized immigrants, but the limited research suggests that these immigrants also have a lower propensity to commit crime than their native-born peers, although possibly a higher propensity than legal immigrants. Evidence about legalization programs is consistent with these findings, indicating that a legalization program reduces crime rates. Meanwhile, increased border enforcement, which reduces unauthorized immigrant inflows, has mixed effects on crime rates. A legalization program or other similar initiatives not currently under serious consideration have more potential to improve public safety and security than several other policies that have recently been proposed or implemented.
  • Topic: Crime, Migration, Immigration, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Rebecca Galemba, Katie Dingeman, Kaelyn DeVries, Yvette Servin
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Anti-immigrant rhetoric and constricting avenues for asylum in the United States, amid continuing high rates of poverty, environmental crisis, and violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, have led many migrants from these countries to remain in Mexico. Yet despite opportunities for humanitarian relief in Mexico, since the early 2000s the Mexican government, under growing pressure from the United States, has pursued enforcement-first initiatives to stem northward migration from Central America. In July 2014, Mexico introduced the Southern Border Program (SBP) with support from the United States. The SBP dramatically expanded Mexico’s immigration enforcement efforts, especially in its southern border states, leading to rising deportations. Far from reducing migration or migrant smuggling, these policies have trapped migrants for longer in Mexico, made them increasingly susceptible to crimes by a wide range of state and nonstate actors, and exacerbated risk along the entire migrant trail. In recognition of rising crimes against migrants and heeding calls from civil society to protect migrant rights, Mexico’s 2011 revision to its Migration Law expanded legal avenues for granting humanitarian protection to migrants who are victims of crimes in Mexico, including the provision of a one-year humanitarian visa so that migrants can collaborate with the prosecutor’s office in the investigation of crimes committed against them. The new humanitarian visa laws were a significant achievement and represent a victory by civil society keen on protecting migrants as they travel through Mexico. The wider atmosphere of impunity, however, alongside the Mexican government’s prioritization of detaining and deporting migrants, facilitates abuses, obscures transparent accounting of crimes, and limits access to justice. In practice, the laws are not achieving their intended outcomes. They also fail to recognize how Mexico’s securitized migration policies subject migrants to risk throughout their journeys, including at border checkpoints between Guatemala and Honduras, along critical transit corridors in Guatemala, and on the Guatemalan side of Mexico’s southern border. In this article, we examine a novel set of data from migrant shelters — 16 qualitative interviews with migrants and nine with staff and advocates in the Mexico–Guatemala border region, as well as 118 complaints of abuses committed along migrants’ journeys — informally filed by migrants at a shelter on the Guatemalan side of the border, and an additional eight complaints filed at a shelter on the Mexican side of the border. We document and analyze the nature, location, and perpetrators of these alleged abuses, using a framework of “compassionate repression” (Fassin 2012) to examine the obstacles that migrants encounter in denouncing abuses and seeking protection. We contend that while humanitarian visas can provide necessary protection for abuses committed in Mexico, they are limited by their temporary nature, by being nested within a migration system that prioritizes migrant removal, and because they recognize only crimes that occur in Mexico. The paradox between humanitarian concerns and repressive migration governance in a context of high impunity shapes institutional and practical obstacles to reporting crimes, receiving visas, and accessing justice. In this context, a variety of actors recognize that they can exploit and profit from migrants’ lack of mobility, legal vulnerability, and uncertain access to protection, leading to a commodification of access to humanitarian protection along the route.
  • Topic: Migration, Immigration, Border Control, Violence, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador
  • Author: Shannon Doocy, Kathleen Page, Fernando de la Hoz, Paul Spiegel, Chris Beyer
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Venezuela’s economic crisis has triggered mass migration; more than 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled to other countries in the region and beyond. An assessment mission to Cúcuta, in the Colombian border state of North Santander, was undertaken from July 26 to August 1, 2018, and to Bôa Vista and Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima, Brazil, between August 24 and 28, 2018. Interviews were conducted with key informants, including health providers and organizations engaged in the humanitarian response. Secondary analysis of gray literature and data shared by key informants was also undertaken. Surveillance data demonstrate increases in infectious diseases, as well as adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes, among Venezuelans in North Santander and Roraima. Summary of Findings for North Santander Reportable public health surveillance events among Venezuelans increased from 182 in 2015 to 865 in the first half of 2018. In 2018, the most common reported events included gender-based and intrafamiliar violence (17 percent), malaria (15 percent), and acute malnutrition in children <5 years (9 percent). There were 14 measles cases reported between January and June 2018 (compared to none in the previous years), the majority associated with migration from Venezuela. Thirty-six cases of maternal morbidity and two cases of maternal mortality among Venezuelans were observed in the first half of 2018 (compared to three cases of maternal morbidity and no maternal deaths in 2015). Low-birth-weight Venezuelan births rose from three in 2015 to 34 in 2017. Between January 2017 and June 2018, emergency medical attention was provided to 19,108 Venezuelans in government health facilities. Summary of Findings for Roraima In 2018, there were 355 cases of measles in Roraima (compared to none in previous years) — all cases had the genotype lineage originating in the 2017 Venezuelan measles outbreak. Children younger than one year old (812.1/100,000) had the highest measles incident rate in Roraima, followed by children 1–4 years old (245.7/100,000). Malaria cases among Venezuelans increased 3.5-fold from 2015 to 2018 (1,260 vs. 4,402 cases). As of August 2018, 171 HIV-infected Venezuelans were receiving HIV care at the Coronel Motta Clinic in Bôa Vista, Roraima. In 2018, 1,603 Venezuelan women gave birth at the Hospital Materno-Infantil in Bôa Vista, and by mid-2018, 10,040 Venezuelans had received outpatient care and 666 had been hospitalized at the Hospital General Roraima. In Colombia, primary healthcare is not available to Venezuelans, and provision of emergency care is perceived as unsustainable given current funding mechanisms. In Brazil, primary care is available to Venezuelans, but the healthcare system is under severe strain to meet the increased demand for care and is facing unprecedented shortages in medications and supplies. There is an urgent need to expand the humanitarian health response in Colombia and Brazil, both to ensure health among Venezuelans and to protect public health in border areas.
  • Topic: Health, Migration, Financial Crisis, Border Control, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, Central America, Venezuela, 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: Lindsay Nash
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: At a time when politics, financial considerations, and a push for expediency put pressure on the US immigration system, it can be difficult to have faith in the adjudicatory process. Case resolution quotas, directives that constrain courts’ ability to render justice in individual cases, and executive decisions that contract immigration judges’ discretion contribute to an immigration system that looks less and less like judicial adjudication of some of the highest-stakes cases in our legal system and more like a ministerial claims-processing scheme. A ray of hope exists, however, in the proliferation of public defender–style systems that offer universal representation to those facing deportation. This essay describes the genesis and expansion of the universal representation movement — a project based on the idea that indigent individuals should be entitled to counsel regardless of the apparent merits or political palatability of their case. It describes the benefits of such a program to the immigration adjudication system writ large. Beyond the oft-cited increase in success rates for individuals represented and the benefits to the communities in which such programs are located, universal representation promotes the integrity of the court system and strengthens an adjudicatory procedure that, for too long, has functioned primarily to expeditiously churn through cases. Finally, looking forward, it considers some of the challenges this movement faces as it grows and it identifies areas for further expansion.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Legal Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article examines the ability of immigrants to integrate and to become full Americans. Naturalization has long been recognized as a fundamental step in that process and one that contributes to the nation’s strength, cohesion, and well-being. To illustrate the continued salience of citizenship, the article compares selected characteristics of native-born citizens, naturalized citizens, legal noncitizens (most of them lawful permanent residents [LPRs]), and undocumented residents. It finds that the integration, success, and contributions of immigrants increase as they advance toward naturalization, and that naturalized citizens match or exceed the native-born by metrics such as a college education, self-employment, average personal income, and homeownership. It finds that: Naturalized citizens enjoy the same or higher levels of education, employment, work in skilled occupations, personal income, and percentage above the poverty level compared to the native-born population. At least 5.2 million current US citizens — 4.5 million children and 730,000 adults — who are living with at least one undocumented parent obtained US citizenship by birth; eliminating birthright citizenship would create a permanent underclass of US-born denizens in the future. Requiring medical insurance would negatively affect immigrants seeking admission and undocumented residents who ultimately qualify for a visa. About 51 percent of US undocumented residents older than age 18 lack health insurance. In 2017, about 1.2 million undocumented residents lived with 1.1 million eligible-to-naturalize relatives. If all the members of the latter group naturalized, they could petition for or expedite the adjustment or immigration (as LPRs) of their undocumented family members, including 890,000 “immediate relatives.” Their naturalization could put 11 percent of the US undocumented population on a path to permanent residency. The article also explores a contradiction: that the administration’s “America first” ideology obscures a set of policies that impede the naturalization process, devalue US citizenship, and prioritize denaturalization. The article documents many of the ways that the Trump administration has sought to revoke legal status, block access to permanent residence and naturalization, and deny the rights, entitlements, and benefits of citizenship to certain groups, particularly US citizen children with undocumented parents. It also offers estimates and profiles of the persons affected by these measures, and it rebuts myths that have buttressed the administration’s policies. For example, the Trump administration and restrictionist legislators have criticized the US immigration system’s emphasis on family reunification for its supposed failure to produce skilled workers. Yet the article finds that: The current immigration system, which prioritizes the admission of the nuclear family members of US citizens and LPRs, yields a legal foreign-born population that has occupational skills equal to those of the native-born population. The legal foreign-born population living in 24 US states and Washington, DC, and those from 94 source countries have higher percentages of skilled workers than the overall population of native-born workers.
  • Topic: Immigration, Citizenship, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Daniela Alulema
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: In June 2012, the Obama administration announced the establishment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which sought to provide work authorization and a temporary reprieve from deportation to eligible undocumented young immigrants who had arrived in the United States as minors. Hundreds of thousands of youth applied for the program, which required providing extensive evidence of identity, age, residence, education, and good moral character. The program allowed its recipients to pursue higher education, to access more and better job opportunities, and to deepen their social ties in the United States. This article provides a statistical portrait of DACA recipients based on administrative data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and estimates drawn from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) Census data. It finds the following: As of September 30, 2019, there were 652,880 active DACA recipients. Sixty-six percent of recipients are between the ages of 21 and 30. The top five countries of birth for DACA recipients are Mexico (80 percent), El Salvador (4 percent), Guatemala (3 percent), Honduras (2 percent), and Peru (1 percent). DACA recipients reside in all 50 states and Washington, DC, and in US territories including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. The top five states with the highest number of DACA recipients are California (29 percent), Texas (17 percent), Illinois (5 percent), New York (4 percent), and Florida (4 percent). Eighty-one percent of DACA recipients has lived in the United States for more than 15 years. Six percent is married to US citizens, 4 percent to lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and 13 percent to undocumented immigrants. Among US-born children younger than 18 years, 346,455 have at least one DACA parent. Fifty-five percent of DACA recipients graduated from high school, 36 percent has some college education, and 7 percent a bachelor’s degree or higher. Ninety-five percent is employed. The Trump administration rescinded the DACA program in September 2017, leaving recipients and their families in a legal limbo. Federal litigation led to a nationwide preliminary injunction and DACA’s partial reinstatement for existing recipients. At this writing, the case is before the US Supreme Court, which will determine the program’s fate. Beyond its statistical portrait, the article provides testimonies from DACA recipients who recount how the program improved their lives and their concerns over its possible termination. It also provides recommendations for Congress, local and state governments, and immigration advocates. In particular, it recommends passage of legislation that would create a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and programs and policies to support and empower young immigrants.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, DACA
  • 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: Karen Pren, Nadia Flores-Yeffal
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Although Salvadoran emigration to the United States is one of the most important migratory flows emanating from Latin America, there is insufficient information about the predictors of first unauthorized migration from El Salvador to the United States. In this study, we use data from the Latin American Migration Project–El Salvador (LAMP-ELS4) to perform an event history analysis to discern the factors that influenced the likelihood that a Salvadoran household head would take a first unauthorized trip to the United States between 1965 and 2007. We take into account a series of demographic, social capital, human capital, and physical capital characteristics of the Salvadoran household head; demographic and social context variables in the place of origin; as well as economic and border security factors at the place of destination. Our findings suggest that an increase in the Salvadoran civil violence index and a personal economic crisis increased the likelihood of first-time unauthorized migration. Salvadorans who were less likely to take a first unauthorized trip were business owners, those employed in skilled occupations, and persons with more years of experience in the labor force. Contextual variables in the United States, such as a high unemployment rate and an increase in the Border Patrol budget, deterred the decision to take a first unauthorized trip. Finally, social capital had no effect on the decision to migrate; this means that for unauthorized Salvadoran migrants, having contacts in the United States is not the main driver to start a migration journey to the United States. We suggest as policy recommendations that the United States should award Salvadorans more work-related visas or asylum protection. For those Salvadorans whose Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has ended, the United States should allow them to apply for permanent residency. The decision not to continue to extend TPS to Salvadorans will only increase the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The United States needs to revise its current immigration policies, which make it a very difficult and/or extremely lengthy process for Salvadorans and other immigrants to regularize their current immigration status in the United States. Furthermore, because of our research findings, we recommend that the Salvadoran government — to discourage out-migration — invest in high-skilled job training and also offer training and credit opportunities to its population to encourage business ventures.
  • Topic: Migration, Immigration, Violence, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America, El Salvador
  • Author: Jeanne M. Atkinson, Tom Wong
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article presents the results of a study that finds that as many as two million unauthorized immigrants in the United States could have a path to permanent legal status. However, these immigrants may not know that they are eligible for legal status, much less be able to afford the costs or take the necessary steps to obtain it. The two million figure is drawn from an analysis of screening data from 4,070 unauthorized immigrants from 12 states. The study highlights the profound impact that a national project to screen for legal status would have on the entire US population, including eligible immigrants, their family members, and the country at large. The need for legal screening has become particularly acute in light of the Trump administration’s focus on apprehension and deportation of unauthorized immigrants without regard to their length of residence in the United States, family relationships to US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), or other positive factors. The proposed termination of benefits for many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)1 recipients would add more than one million individuals — approximately 325,000 (Warren and Kerwin 2017), and 700,000 (Krogstad 2017) people, respectively — to the pool of unauthorized immigrants.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Jacqueline Maria Hagan, Ricardo Martinez-Schuldt, Alyssa Peavey, Deborah Weissman
  • 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 Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) created an immigration system favoring the immigration of spouses, children, and parents of US citizens, thereby establishing family unity as the cornerstone of US immigration policy. Despite this historical emphasis on family unity, backlogs and limited visas for non-immediate relatives of US citizens and legal permanent residents, the militarization of the US-Mexico border, punitive measures for those who enter without inspection, such as the forced separation of children from their parents at the US border, and an aggressive policy of deportation have made it more difficult for members of Mexican binational families to unify. How do members of Mexican binational families manage the hardships that result from US immigration policies that prolong and force family separation? Immigrants and return migrants alike may not be aware of their rights and the legal remedies that exist to enforce them. Structural barriers such as poverty, legal status, fear of deportation, lack of proficiency in English, and lack of familiarity with government bureaucracies no doubt prevent many migrants in the United States and return migrants in Mexico from coming forward to request legal assistance and relief in the courts. Despite these barriers, when it comes to family matters, members of some Mexican binational families can and do assert their rights. In this article, we analyze an administrative database of the Department of Legal Protection of the Mexican consular network that documents migrant legal claims resulting from family separation, along with findings from 21 interviews with consular staff and community organizations in three consular jurisdictions — El Paso, Raleigh, and San Francisco — to investigate the sociolegal processes of claims. Our investigation centers on the mediating role the Mexican state — via its consular network — has developed to assist binational families as they attempt to assert their rights and resolve child support and child custody problems resulting from prolonged and forced family separation. We find that the resolution of binational family claims in part depends on the institutional infrastructure that has developed at local, state, and federal levels, along with the commitment and capacity of the receiving and sending states and the binational structures they establish. These binational structures transcend the limitations of national legal systems to achieve and implement family rights and obligations across borders.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Immigration, Border Control, Family
  • Political Geography: United States, North America, Mexico
  • 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: Todd Scribner
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: After descending an escalator of his hotel at Central Park West on a June day in 2015, Donald Trump ascended a podium and proceeded to accuse Mexico of “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us (sic). They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists” (Time 2015). It was a moment that marked the launch of his bid for president of the United States. From that point forward, Trump made immigration restriction one of the centerpieces of his campaign. Paired with an economically populist message, the nativist rhetoric shaped a narrative that helped launch him to the White House. His effectiveness partly lay in his ability to understand and exploit preexisting insecurities, partly in his outsider status, and partly in his willingness to tap into apparently widespread public sentiment that is uneasy with, if not overtly hostile to, migrants. This paper will try to make sense of the restrictionist logic that informs the Trump administration’s worldview, alongside some of the underlying cultural, philosophical, and political conditions that inspired support for Trump by millions of Americans. This paper contends that the Clash of Civilizations (CoC) paradigm is a useful lens to help understand the positions that President Trump has taken with respect to international affairs broadly, and specifically in his approach to migration policy. This paradigm, originally coined by the historian Bernard Lewis but popularized by the political theorist Samuel Huntington (Hirsh 2016), provides a conceptual framework for understanding international relations following the end of the Cold War. It is a framework that emphasizes the importance of culture, rather than political ideology, as the primary fault line along which future conflicts will occur. Whether Trump ever consciously embraced such a framework in the early days of his candidacy is doubtful. He has been candid about the fact that he has never spent much time reading and generally responds to problems on instinct and “common sense” rather than a conceptually defined worldview developed by academics and intellectuals (Fisher 2016). Nevertheless, during the presidential campaign, and continuing after his victory, Trump surrounded himself with high-level advisers, political appointees, and staff who, if they have nothing else in common, embrace something roughly akin to the Clash of Civilizations perspective (Ashford 2016).[1] The paper will focus primarily on Trump’s approach to refugee resettlement. One might think that refugees would elicit an almost knee-jerk sympathy given the tragic circumstances that drove their migration, but perceptions of refugees are often tied up with geopolitical considerations and domestic political realities. Following 9/11, the threat of Islamic-inspired terrorism emerged as a national security priority. With the onset of the Syrian Civil War and the significant refugee crisis that ensued in its wake, paired with some high-profile terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe, the “Islamic threat” became even more pronounced. The perception that Islamic-inspired terrorism is a real and imminent threat has contributed to a growing antagonism toward the resettlement of refugees, and particularly Muslims. When viewed through the lens of the CoC paradigm, victims of persecution can easily be transformed into potential threats. Insofar as Islam is understood as an external and even existential threat to the American way life, the admission of these migrants and refugees could be deemed a serious threat to national security. This paper will begin by examining some of Trump’s campaign promises and his efforts to implement them during the early days of his administration. Although the underlying rationale feeding into the contemporary reaction against refugee resettlement is unique in many respects, it is rooted in a much longer history that extends back to the World War II period. It was during this period that a more formal effort to admit refugees began, and it was over the next half century that the program developed. Understanding the historical backdrop, particularly insofar as its development was influenced by the Cold War context, will help to clarify some of the transitions that influenced the reception of refugees in the decades after the fall of the Soviet Union. Such an exploration also helps to explain how and why a CoC paradigm has become ascendant. The decline of the ideologically driven conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union has, according Huntington’s thesis, been superseded by culturally based conflicts that occur when competing civilizations come into contact. The conceptual framework that the CoC framework embodies meshes well with the cultural and economic dislocation felt by millions of Trump supporters who are concerned about the continued dissolution of a shared cultural and political heritage. It is important to keep in mind that the CoC paradigm, as a conceptual framework for understanding Donald Trump and his approach to refugee resettlement and migration more broadly, is at its core pre-political; it helps to define the cultural matrix that people use to make sense of the world. The policy prescriptions that follow from it are more effect than cause.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Refugees
  • 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
  • Author: Zoya Gubernskaya, Joanna Dreby
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: As the Trump administration contemplates immigration reform, it is important to better understand what works and what does not in the current system. This paper reviews and critically evaluates the principle of family unity, a hallmark of US immigration policy over the past 50 years and the most important mechanism for immigration to the United States. Since 1965, the United States has been admitting a relatively high proportion of family-based migrants and allowing for the immigration of a broader range of family members. However, restrictive annual quotas have resulted in a long line of prospective immigrants waiting outside of the United States or within the United States, but without status. Further policy changes have led to an increasing number of undocumented migrants and mixed-status families in the United States. Several policies and practices contribute to prolonged periods of family separation by restricting travel and effectively locking in a large number of people either inside or outside of the United States. On top of that, increasingly aggressive enforcement practices undermine family unity of a large number of undocumented and mixed-status families. Deportations — and even a fear of deportation — cause severe psychological distress and often leave US-born children of undocumented parents without economic and social support. A recent comprehensive report concluded that immigration has overall positive impact on the US economy, suggesting that a predominantly family-based migration system carries net economic benefits. Immigrants rely on family networks for employment, housing, transportation, informal financial services, schooling, childcare, and old age care. In the US context where there is nearly no federal support for immigrants’ integration and limited welfare policies, family unity is critical for promoting immigrant integration, social and economic well-being, and intergenerational mobility. Given the benefits of family unity in the US immigrant context and the significant negative consequences of family separation, the United States would do well to make a number of changes to current policy and practice that reaffirm its commitment to family unity. Reducing wait times for family reunification with spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, allowing prospective family-based migrants to visit their relatives in the United States while their applications are being processed, and providing relief from deportation and a path to legalization to parents and spouses of US citizens should be prioritized. The cost to implement these measures would likely be minor compared to current and projected spending on immigration enforcement and it would be more than offset by the improved health and well-being of American families.
  • Topic: Migration, Border Control, Refugees, Family, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Edward Alden
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: For too long, the policy debate over border enforcement has been split between those who believe the border can be sealed against illegal entry by force alone, and those who believe that any effort to do so is futile and without expanded legal work opportunities. And for too long, both sides have been able to muster evidence to make their cases — the enforcers pointing to targeted successes at sealing the border, and the critics pointing to continued illegal entry despite the billions spent on enforcement. Until recently it has been hard to referee the disputes with any confidence because the data was simply inadequate — both sides could muster their preferred measures to make their case. But improvements in both data and analysis are increasingly making it possible to offer answers to the critical question of the effectiveness of border enforcement in stopping and deterring illegal entry. The new evidence suggests that unauthorized migration across the southern border has plummeted, with successful illegal entries falling from roughly 1.8 million in 2000 to just 200,000 by 2015. Border enforcement has been a significant reason for the decline — in particular, the growing use of “consequences” such as jail time for illegal border crossers has had a powerful effect in deterring repeated border crossing efforts. The success of deterrence through enforcement has meant that attempted crossings have fallen dramatically even as the likelihood of a border crosser being apprehended by the Border Patrol has only risen slightly, to just over a 50-50 chance. These research advances should help to inform a more rational public debate over the incremental benefits of additional border enforcement expenditures. With Congress gearing up to consider budget proposals from the Trump administration that seek an additional $2.6 billion for border security, including construction of new physical barriers, the debate is long overdue. In particular, Congress should be taking a careful look at the incremental gains that might come from additional spending on border enforcement. The evidence suggests that deterrence through enforcement, despite its successes to date in reducing illegal entry across the border, is producing diminishing returns. There are three primary reasons. First, arrivals at the border are increasingly made up of asylum seekers from Central America rather than traditional economic migrants from Mexico; this is a population that is both harder to deter because of the dangers they face at home, and in many cases not appropriate to deter because the United States has legal obligations to consider serious requests for asylum. Second, the majority of additions to the US unauthorized population is now arriving on legal visas and then overstaying; enforcement at the southern border does nothing to respond to this challenge. And finally, among Mexican migrants, a growing percentage of the repeat border crossers are parents with children left behind in the United States, a population that is far harder to deter than young economic migrants. The administration could better inform this debate by releasing to scholars and the public the research it has sponsored in order to give Americans a fuller picture on border enforcement.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Refugees
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Robert Warren, Donald Kerwin
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This report presents detailed statistical information on the US Temporary Protected Status (TPS) populations from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. TPS can be granted to noncitizens from designated nations who are unable to return to their countries because of armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. In January 2017, an estimated 325,000 migrants from 13 TPS-designated countries resided in the United States. This statistical portrait of TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti reveals hardworking populations with strong family and other ties to the United States. In addition, high percentages have lived in the United States for 20 years or more, arrived as children, and have US citizen children. The paper finds that: The labor force participation rate of the TPS population from the three nations ranges from 81 to 88 percent, which is well above the rate for the total US population (63 percent) and the foreign-born population (66 percent). The five leading industries in which TPS beneficiaries from these countries work are: construction (51,700), restaurants and other food services (32,400), landscaping services (15,800), child day care services (10,000), and grocery stores (9,200). TPS recipients from these countries live in 206,000 households: 61,100 of these households (roughly 30 percent) have mortgages. About 68,000, or 22 percent, of the TPS population from these nations arrived as children under the age of 16. TPS beneficiaries from these nations have an estimated 273,000 US citizen children (born in the United States). Ten percent of El Salvadoran, nine percent of the Haitian, and six percent of the Honduran TPS beneficiaries are married to a legal resident. More than one-half of El Salvadoran and Honduran, and 16 percent of the Haitian TPS beneficiaries have resided in the United States for 20 years or more. The six US states with the largest TPS populations from these countries are California (55,000), Texas (45,000), Florida (45,000), New York (26,000), Virginia (24,000), and Maryland (23,000). Eighty-seven percent of the TPS population from these countries speaks at least some English, and slightly over one-half speak English well, very well, or only English. About 27,000, or 11 percent, of those in the labor force are self-employed, having created jobs for themselves and likely for others as well. TPS status should be extended until beneficiaries can safely return home and can successfully reintegrate into their home communities. Most long-term TPS recipients should be afforded a path to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status and ultimately to US citizenship.
  • Topic: Border Control, Refugees, Immigrants
  • Political Geography: United States, South America, Central America, North America
  • Author: Will Jones, Alexander Teytelboym
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Design of matching systems between refugees and states or local areas is emerging as one of the most promising solutions to problems in refugee resettlement. We describe the basics of two-sided matching theory used in a number of allocation problems, such as school choice, where both sides need to agree to the match. We then explain how these insights can be applied to international refugee matching in the context of the European Union and examine how refugee matching might work within the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Refugees, Resettlement
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, North America
  • Author: Leisy Abrego, Mat Coleman, Daniel Martínez
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: During a post-election TV interview that aired mid-November 2016, then President-Elect Donald Trump claimed that there are millions of so-called “criminal aliens” living in the United States: “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.” This claim is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts. A recent report by the Migration Policy Institute suggests that just over 800,000 (or 7 percent) of the 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States have criminal records. Of this population, 300,000 individuals are felony offenders and 390,000 are serious misdemeanor offenders — tallies which exclude more than 93 percent of the resident undocumented population (Rosenblum 2015, 22-24).[1] Moreover, the Congressional Research Service found that 140,000 undocumented migrants — or slightly more than 1 percent of the undocumented population — are currently serving time in prison in the United States (Kandel 2016). The facts, therefore, are closer to what Doris Meissner, former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Commissioner, argues: that the number of “criminal aliens” arrested as a percentage of all fugitive immigration cases is “modest” (Meissner et al. 2013, 102-03). The facts notwithstanding, President Trump’s fictional tally is important to consider because it conveys an intent to produce at least this many people who — through discourse and policy — can be criminalized and incarcerated or deported as “criminal aliens.” In this article, we critically review the literature on immigrant criminalization and trace the specific laws that first linked and then solidified the association between undocumented immigrants and criminality. To move beyond a legal, abstract context, we also draw on our quantitative and qualitative research to underscore ways immigrants experience criminalization in their family, school, and work lives. The first half of our analysis is focused on immigrant criminalization from the late 1980s through the Obama administration, with an emphasis on immigration enforcement practices first engineered in the 1990s. Most significant, we argue, are the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). The second section of our analysis explores the social impacts of immigrant criminalization, as people’s experiences bring the consequences of immigrant criminalization most clearly into focus. We approach our analysis of the production of criminality of immigrants through the lens of legal violence (Menjivar and Abrego 2012), a concept designed to understand the immediate and long-term harmful effects that the immigration regime makes possible. Instead of narrowly focusing only on the physical injury of intentional acts to cause harm, this concept broadens the lens to include less visible sources of violence that reside in institutions and structures and without identifiable perpetrators or incidents to be tabulated. This violence comes from structures, laws, institutions, and practices that, similar to acts of physical violence, leave indelible marks on individuals and produce social suffering. In examining the effects of today’s ramped up immigration enforcement, we turn to this concept to capture the violence that this regime produces in the lives of immigrants. Immigrant criminalization has underpinned US immigration policy over the last several decades. The year 1996, in particular, was a signal year in the process of criminalizing immigrants. Having 20 years to trace the connections, it becomes evident that the policies of 1996 used the term “criminal alien” as a strategic sleight of hand. These laws established the concept of “criminal alienhood” that has slowly but purposefully redefined what it means to be unauthorized in the United States such that criminality and unauthorized status are too often considered synonymous (Ewing, Martínez, and Rumbaut 2015). Policies that followed in the 2000s, moreover, cast an increasingly wider net which continually re-determined who could be classified as a “criminal alien,” such that the term is now a mostly incoherent grab bag. Simultaneously and in contrast, the practices that produce “criminal aliens” are coherent insofar as they condition immigrant life in the United States in now predictable ways. This solidity allows us to turn in our conclusion to some thoughts about the likely future of US immigration policy and practice under President Trump.
  • Topic: Migration, Refugees, Criminal Justice
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Josiah McC. Heyman
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: In July 2012, a diverse group of US residents living near the US-Mexico border met in El Paso, Texas for a conference entitled, We the Border: Envisioning a Narrative for Our Future. This paper describes their vision for the US-Mexico border that is at odds with the widespread view of the border as a threat to the United States. These border residents viewed their region as a set of human communities with rights, capacities, and valuable insights and knowledge. They embraced an alternative vision of border enforcement that would focus on "quality" (dangerous entrants and contraband) over "quantity" (mass migration enforcement). They called for investments in the functionality and security of ports of entry, rather than in between ports of entry. They noted the low crime rate in US border cities, and examined how policies of not mixing local law enforcement with federal immigration enforcement contributed to this achievement. They saw the border region as the key transportation and brokerage zone of the emerging, integrated North American economy. In their view, the bilingual, bicultural, and binational skills that characterize border residents form part of a wider border culture that embraces diversity and engenders creativity. Under this vision the border region is not an empty enforcement zone, but is part of the national community and its residents should enjoy the same constitutional and human rights as other US residents. The conference participants emphasized the necessity and value of accountability and oversight of central government enforcement operations, and the need for border communities to participate in federal decision-making that affects their lives.
  • Political Geography: United States, North America