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  • 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: Donald Kerwin, Robert Warren
  • 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 paper presents the results of a study by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) on potential beneficiaries of the DREAM Act of 2017 (the “DREAM Act” or “Act”). The study reveals a long-term, highly productive population, with deep ties to the United States. In particular, it finds that: More than 2.2 million US residents would qualify for conditional residence under the DREAM Act. An additional 929,000 — who are now age 18 and over — arrived when they were under 18, but have not graduated from high school and are not enrolled in school and, thus, would not currently qualify for status under the Act. The DREAM Act-eligible can be found in large numbers (5,000 or more) in 41 states and more than 30 counties, metropolitan areas, and cities. Potential DREAM Act recipients have lived in the United States for an average of 14 years. Sixty-five percent (age 16 and above) participate in the labor force, with far higher rates in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Utah, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, and Oregon. This population works heavily in sales and related occupations; food preparation and serving; construction and extracting; office and administrative support; production; transportation and material moving; and building/grounds cleaning and maintenance. Many of the DREAM Act-eligible are highly skilled and credentialed. 70,500 are self-employed. Eighty-eight percent speaks English exclusively, very well, or well. 392,500 have US-citizen children, and more than 100,000 are married to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident. Twenty-nine percent has attended college or received a college degree. The DREAM Act-eligible include 50,700 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras, 45 percent of whom live in the Miami metro area, Los Angeles County, the Washington, DC area, Houston, New York City, the San Francisco metro area, and the City of Dallas. The study also underscores the immense investment — $150 billion — that states and localities have already made in educating these young Americans. It argues that over time and with a path to citizenship the return on this investment will increase by virtually every indicia of integration — education levels, employment rates, self-employment numbers, US family members, and English language proficiency.
  • Topic: Migration, Border Control, Refugees, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Melina Juarez, Sonia Bettez
  • 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 paper studies the dynamics of detention, deportation, and the criminalization of immigrants. We ground our analyses and discussion around the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996’s (IIRIRA’s) detention mandate, the role of special interest groups and federal policies. We argue that these special interest groups and major federal policies have come together to fuel the expansion of immigrant detention to unprecedented levels. Moreover, we aim to incite discussion on what this rapid growth in detention means for human rights, legislative representation and democracy in the United States. This study analyzes two main questions: What is the role of special interests in the criminalization of immigrants? And does the rapid increase in detention pose challenges or risks to democracy in the United States? Our study is grounded within the limited, yet growing literature on immigrant detention, government data, and “gray” literature produced by nonprofits and organizations working on immigration-related issues. We construct a unique dataset using this literature and congressional reports to assess what factors are associated with the rise of immigrant detention. A series of correlations and a time series regression analysis reveal that major restrictive federal immigration policies such as IIRIRA, along with the increasing federal immigration enforcement budget, have had a significant impact on immigrant detention rates. Based on these findings, we recommend three central policy actions. First, the paper recommends increased transparency and accountability on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and on lobbying expenditures from for-profit detention corporations. Second, it argues for the repeal of mandatory detention laws. These mandatory laws have led to the further criminalization and marginalization of undocumented immigrants. And lastly, it argues that repeal of the Congressional bed mandate would allow for the number of detainees to mirror actual detention needs, rather than providing an incentive to detain. However, we anticipate that the demand for beds will increase even more given the current administration’s push for the criminalization and increased arrests of undocumented individuals. The rhetoric used by the present administration further criminalizes immigrants.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Criminal Justice, Mass Incarceration
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ruth Ellen Wassem
  • 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 governance of immigration has a checkered past, and policy makers’ efforts at reform rarely meet expectations. Critiques have echoed over the years and across the political spectrum. The current system of immigration governance is scattered around the federal government, with no clear chain of command. No single government department or agency captures the breadth of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s reach. At the crux of understanding immigration governance is acknowledging that immigration is not a program to be administered; rather, it is a phenomenon to be managed. The abundance of commissions that have studied the issues and the various administrative structures over time offers some wisdom on ingredients for successful governance. Based upon this research, options for effective immigration governance emerge. This paper studies the administration of immigration law and policy with an eye trained on immigration governance for the future. It opens with a historical overview that provides the backdrop for the current state of affairs. It then breaks down the missions and functions of the Immigration and Nationality Act by the lead agencies tasked with these responsibilities. The paper concludes with an analysis of options for improving immigration governance. Each of these options poses unique challenges as well as political obstacles.
  • Topic: Immigration, Governance, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Denise Gilman, Luis A. Romero
  • 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 addresses the influence of economic inequality on immigration detention. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detains roughly 350,000 migrants each year and maintains more than 30,000 beds each day. This massive detention system raises issues of economic power and powerlessness. This article connects, for the first time, the influence of economic inequality on system-wide immigration detention policy as well as on individual detention decisions. The article begins with a description of the systemic impact that for-profit prisons have had on the federal immigration detention system, by promoting wide-scale detention. The resulting expansion of detention has led to ever-increasing profitability for the private for-profit prison sector, which allows the companies to exercise even more influence over policymakers to achieve yet higher levels of detention. The influence of wealthy private prison corporations also affects the very nature of immigration detention, leading to the use of jail-like facilities that are the product offered by the private prison industry. The article then describes the mechanisms by which economic inequality dictates the likelihood and length of detention in individual cases. The detention or release decisions made by DHS in individual cases must account for the need to keep numerous detention beds full to satisfy the contracts made with powerful private prison companies. DHS regularly sets bond amounts at levels that are not correlated to flight risk or danger, but rather to the length of time that the individual must be held in detention to keep the available space full. The article presents data, obtained from immigration authorities, regarding detention and bond patterns at a specific detention center that demonstrate this point. The research finds an inverse relationship between the number of newly arriving immigrants in the detention center and the bond amounts set by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). During times when new arrivals were few, the amount required to be released from detention on bond was high; during times when there were many new arrivals, bond amounts were reduced or set at zero. The article also presents another way in which economic inequality affects the likelihood of detention at the individual level. Release and detention are largely controlled through the use of monetary bond requirements, which must be paid in full. The regular use of financial bonds as the exclusive mechanism for release means that those migrants who are most able to pay are most likely to be released, without regard to their likelihood of absconding or endangering the community. Wealth thus determines detention rather than an individualized determination of the necessity of depriving an individual of liberty. The article urges that the role of economic inequality in immigration detention raises troubling issues of democratic governance and the commodification of traditional governmental functions. The current system also leads to an unjustifiable redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. Looking at immigration detention through the lens of economic inequality offers new lines of theoretical inquiry into immigration detention. It connects the discussion of immigration detention to scholarly critiques of for-profit prisons and the privatization of state security functions more generally. It also brings a new perspective to prior work in the immigration and criminal justice contexts, questioning the fairness and utility of requiring payment of monetary bonds to obtain liberty from detention. The article concludes with recommendations for reform. These reforms would help to sideline the influence of economic inequality in immigration detention decision making.
  • Topic: Immigration, Economic Inequality, Mass Incarceration
  • Political Geography: United States