Over a decade before President Barack Obama described the influx of unaccompanied child migrants to the United States as an “urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated Federal response,” child and refugee advocates warned that children who shared experiences of years-long family separation, widespread violence in home countries, and higher rates of neglect and abuse were fleeing from South of our border in alarming numbers. Then as now, over 95 percent were from Mexico and the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. When these children were apprehended in the U.S., the Trafficking and Victim’s Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) required agents to ask limited and straightforward abuse questions. If the child was determined to be without a parent or legal guardian, s/he had to be transferred to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) care within 72 hours.
This week marks the two-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, first initiated by President Obama on June 15, 2012. This research brief presents current findings from the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP) national survey on the impact that DACA has had on some of the young people who have received it.
Carlos Gutierrez, a successful businessman in Chihuahua, Mexico, and the married father of two, refused to comply with a criminal cartel’s monthly demands of $10,000. In retribution for his refusal and as an example to other businessmen, his feet were cut off and he was left for dead. According to his former attorney, that kind of “organized crime is not possible without the complicity of the municipal, state and federal police.”
Data obtained by the American Immigration Council shine a light on the lack of accountability and transparency which afflicts the U.S. Border Patrol and its parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The data, which the Immigration Council acquired through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, covers 809 complaints of alleged abuse lodged against Border Patrol agents between January 2009 and January 2012. These cases run the gamut of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. Although it is not possible to determine which cases had merit and which did not, it is astonishing that, among those cases in which a formal decision was issued, 97 percent resulted in “No Action Taken.” On average, CBP took 122 days to arrive at a decision when one was made. Moreover, among all complaints, 40 percent were still “pending investigation” when the complaint data were provided to the Immigration Council.Read more...
The deportation process has been transformed drastically over the last two decades. Today, two-thirds of individuals deported are subject to what are known as “summary removal procedures,” which deprive them of both the right to appear before a judge and the right to apply for status in the United States. In 1996, as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), Congress established streamlined deportation procedures that allow the government to deport (or “remove”) certain noncitizens from the United States without a hearing before an immigration judge. Two of these procedures, “expedited removal” and “reinstatement of removal,” allow immigration officers to serve as both prosecutor and judge—often investigating, charging, and making a decision all within the course of one day. These rapid deportation decisions often fail to take into account many critical factors, including whether the individual is eligible to apply for lawful status in the United States, whether he or she has long-standing ties here, or whether he or she has U.S.-citizen family members.
In recent years, summary procedures have eclipsed traditional immigration court proceedings, accounting for the dramatic increase in removals overall. As the chart below demonstrates, since 1996, the number of deportations executed under summary removal procedures—including expedited removal, reinstatement of removal, and stipulated removal (all described below)—has dramatically increased.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, more than 70 percent of all people Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported were subject to summary removal procedures.
Community leaders in the United States increasingly recognize the contributions of immigrants to the growth of state and local economies, in both traditional and new immigrant destinations, as immigrants help revitalize declining communities and ailing economies. In recognition of these contributions, states and cities across the country are creating welcoming initiatives that seek to integrate and maximize the contributions of immigrant workers and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, without an emphasis on legal status. On a parallel track in terms of initiatives that facilitate the integration of foreign-born arrivals, some states offer driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants. Many more states are considering it. This makes sense given that the United States is among the top motor-vehicle dependent countries in the world. States that do not offer driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants will limit the contributions that immigrant communities as a whole can potentially make, are likely to face negative economic and public safety consequences, and tend to fail in attempts to use such restrictive state-level policies to reduce the presence of unauthorized immigrants.
More Immigrants are being “Removed” from the United States than Ever Before
Despite some highly public claims to the contrary, there has been no waning of immigration enforcement in the United States. In fact, the U.S. deportation machine has grown larger in recent years, indiscriminately consuming criminals and non-criminals alike, be they unauthorized immigrants or long-time legal permanent residents (LPRs). Deportations under the Obama administration alone are now approaching the two-million mark. But the deportation frenzy began long before this milestone. The federal government has, for nearly two decades, been pursuing an enforcement-first approach to immigration control that favors mandatory detention and deportation over the traditional discretion of a judge to consider the unique circumstances of every case. The end result has been a relentless campaign of imprisonment and expulsion aimed at noncitizens—a campaign authorized by Congress and implemented by the executive branch. While this campaign precedes the Obama administration by many years, it has grown immensely during his tenure in the White House. In part, this is the result of laws which have put the expansion of deportations on automatic. But the continued growth of deportations also reflects the policy choices of the Obama administration. Rather than putting the brakes on this non-stop drive to deport more and more people, the administration chose to add fuel to the fire.
Every year, U.S. employers seeking highly skilled foreign professionals have rolled the dice on April 1 and submitted their applications for the limited pool of H-1B visas available each fiscal year. With only 65,000 visas available for new hires - and 20,000 additional visas for foreign professionals who graduate with a Master’s or Doctorate from a U.S. university - in recent years demand has far outstripped the supply and the cap has been quickly reached. Understanding the H-1B process is important to understanding the vital economic role that higher-skilled immigration plays in growing our economy and creating new opportunities for native and foreign-born workers alike. H-1B workers do not harm native-born workers’ job opportunities, are not poorly compensated, and are not “cheap foreign labor.” In fact, their presence often leads to higher wages and more job opportunities. Highly skilled immigrants complement their native-born peers; they do not substitute for them. This is true throughout high-skilled occupations, but is particularly true in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Arguments that foreign-born workers and immigrants are depressing wages or displacing native-born workers are contradicted by the available evidence. The following guide answers the questions most often asked and debunks the most prevalent myths about the H-1B program.
No one can say with certainty when the Obama administration will reach the grim milestone of having deported two million people since the President took office in 2008. Regardless of the exact date this symbolic threshold is reached, however, it is important to keep in mind a much more important fact: most of the people being deported are not dangerous criminals. Despite claims by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that it prioritizes the apprehension of terrorists, violent criminals, and gang members, the agency’s own deportation statistics do not bear this out. Rather, most of the individuals being swept up by ICE and dropped into the U.S. deportation machine committed relatively minor, non-violent crimes or have no criminal histories at all. Ironically, many of the immigrants being deported would likely have been able to remain in the country had the immigration reform legislation favored by the administration become law.
ICE’s skewed priorities are apparent from the agency’s most recent deportation statistics, which cover Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. However, it takes a little digging to discern exactly what those statistics mean. The ICE report containing these numbers is filled with ominous yet cryptic references to “convicted criminals” who are “Level 1,” “Level 2,” or “Level 3” in terms of their priority. But when those terms are dissected and analyzed, it quickly becomes apparent that most of these “criminal aliens” are not exactly the “worst of the worst.”
On October 2, 2013, Democrats in the House of Representatives proposed an immigration reform bill addressing border security, legalization of the undocumented, interior enforcement of immigration laws, and fixes for our dysfunctional legal immigration programs. The bill is based on S.744, the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate by a vote of 68-32 on June 27, 2013. However, the bill removes the Corker-Hoeven border security amendment and replaces it with the bipartisan House border security bill, H.R. 1417, which was passed unanimously by the Homeland Security Committee in May 2013.