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How the United States Immigration System Works: A Fact Sheet

U.S. immigration law is very complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works. The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the body of law governing current immigration policy, provides for an annual worldwide limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants, with certain exceptions for close family members. Congress and the President determine a separate number for refugee admissions. Immigration to the United States is based upon the following principles: the reunification of families, admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy, protecting refugees, and promoting diversity. This fact sheet provides basic information about how the U.S. legal immigration system is designed.

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Published On: Sat, Mar 01, 2014 | Download File

Revitalization in the Heartland of America

A potent combination of declining population growth and economic stagnation has led many cities and metropolitan regions to rethink how to reinvigorate their communities. The Midwest is a prime example of this trend. According to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, “the Midwest cannot hope to keep up with other regions or international competitors without a vital entrepreneurial sector.” The Council notes that “immigrants, risk takers by nature, are unusually successful entrepreneurs, more than twice as likely as native-born Americans to start their own firms.” As a result, immigration is one of the strategies to which communities are repeatedly turning to fuel economic growth.

A budding place-based awareness of the important contributions that new and existing immigrants make to neighborhood revitalization is seen in the increasing number of cities pursuing a nexus of immigrant welcoming, integration, and economic development initiatives. In this report, we focus on the journeys of three places—two cities and one state—in their efforts to implement strategies for future economic success that depend on immigration. The initiatives are taking place against a backdrop of tepid progress toward comprehensive federal reform of the U.S. immigration system.

Published On: Wed, Jan 15, 2014 | Download File

The Economic and Political Impact of Immigrants, Latinos and Asians State by State

Click on any state to see the full political and economic power of immigrants, Latinos, and Asians:

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Published On: Sun, Jan 12, 2014 | Download File

Alaska: Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Innovation, and Welcoming Initiatives in the Frontier State

In Alaska, there is no doubt that immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators play an important role. Immigrant entrepreneurs bring in additional revenue, create jobs, and contribute to the state’s economy. Highly skilled immigrants are vital to the state’s innovation industries and to the metropolitan areas within the state, helping to boost local economies. Furthermore, local government, business, and non-profit leaders recognize the importance of immigrants in their communities and support immigration through local “welcoming” and integration initiatives.

Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute to Alaska’s economy.

  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 3,394 new immigrant business owners in Alaska and in 2010, 10.1 percent of all business owners in Alaska were foreign-born.
  • In 2010, new immigrant business owners had a total net business income of $160 million, which is 7.8 percent of all net business income in the state.

Highly skilled immigrants are vital to Alaska’s innovation industries, which in turn helps lead American innovation and creates jobs.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Jan 01, 2014 | Download File

The Faulty Legal Arguments Behind Immigration Detainers

By Christopher Lasch, Esq.

In late June 2012, the Supreme Court struck down three provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070 and left a fourth vulnerable to future legal challenge. As has been well documented, the Court’s rejection of SB 1070 tipped the balance in favor of federal enforcement and away from state and local enforcement of the immigration laws. But this essay explores a less obvious consequence of the Court’s decision: its implications for the viability of a critical federal enforcement mechanism: the immigration “detainer.”

An immigration detainer is a piece of paper that federal immigration officials send to state and local jails requesting that they continue holding an individual for up to 48 business hours after he or she would otherwise be released, so that agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can investigate the person’s status and assume custody if necessary. Also known as immigration “holds,” detainers are the key enforcement mechanism behind federal enforcement initiatives like the Criminal Alien Program and Secure Communities.

There has been considerable confusion as to whether a detainer is a mere request that ICE be notified of a suspected immigration violator’s impending release, or a command by ICE that state or local officials hold a prisoner for ICE beyond the time the prisoner would otherwise be released. Independent of that question, however, the Court’s decision in Arizona v. United States identifies a more fundamental problem: that detainers may violate the Constitution and federal statutes even when honored on a voluntary basis.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Dec 18, 2013 | Download File

Bordering on Criminal: The Routine Abuse of Migrants in the Removal System

This three-part series highlights the findings of the Migrant Border Crossing Study—a binational, multi-institution study of 1,110 randomly selected, recently repatriated migrants surveyed in six Mexican cities between 2009 and 2012. The study exposes widespread mistreatment of migrants at the hands of U.S. officials in the removal system.

Part I: Migrant Mistreatment While in U.S. Custody

This report focuses on the mistreatment of unauthorized migrants while in U.S. custody. Overall, we find that the physical and verbal mistreatment of migrants is not a random, sporadic occurrence but, rather, a systematic practice. One indication of this is that 11% of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23% report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody—a finding that is supported by other academic studies and reports from non-governmental organizations. Another highly disturbing finding is that migrants often note they are the targets for nationalistic and racist remarks—something that in no way is integral to U.S. officials’ ability to function in an effective capacity on a day-to-day basis. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Dec 10, 2013

New Hampshire: Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Welcoming Initiatives in the Granite State

In New Hampshire, there is no doubt that immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators play an important role. Immigrant entrepreneurs bring in additional revenue, create jobs, and contribute significantly to the state’s economy. Highly skilled immigrants are vital to the state’s innovation industries, and to the metropolitan areas within the state, helping to boost local economies. Furthermore, local government, business, and non-profit leaders recognize the importance of immigrants in their communities and support immigration through local “welcoming” and integration initiatives.

Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute to New Hampshire’s economy.

  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 4,253 new immigrant business owners in New Hampshire, and in 2010, 5.7 percent of all business owners in New Hampshire were foreign-born.
  • In 2010, new immigrant business owners had a total net business income of $252 million, which is 5.8 percent of all net business income in the state.
  • New Hampshire is home to many successful companies with at least one founder who was an immigrant or child of an immigrant, including well-known companies such as the footwear company Timberland. Based in Stratham, Timberland currently employs more than 5,800 people and has over $1.5 billion in annual revenue.

Highly skilled immigrants are vital to New Hampshire’s innovation industries, which in turn helps lead American innovation and creates jobs.Read more...

Published On: Sat, Nov 30, 2013 | Download File

Nebraska: Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Innovation, and Welcoming Initiatives in the Cornhusker State

In Nebraska, there is no doubt that immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators play an important role. Immigrant entrepreneurs bring in additional revenue, create jobs, and contribute significantly to the state’s economy. Highly skilled immigrants are vital to the state’s innovation industries, and to the metropolitan areas within the state, helping to boost local economies. Furthermore, local government, business, and non-profit leaders recognize the importance of immigrants in their communities and support immigration through local “welcoming” and integration initiatives.

Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute to Nebraska’s economy.

  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 3,905 new immigrant business owners in Nebraska, and in 2010, 3.9 percent of all business owners in Nebraska were foreign-born.
  • In 2010, new immigrant business owners had a total net business income of $126 million, which is 2.7 percent of all net business income in the state.
  • Nebraska is home to many successful companies with at least one founder who was an immigrant or child of an immigrant, or companies whose success relies on immigration like ConAgra. Many brands now sold by ConAgra, which employs more than 26,000 people and has more than $13 billion in revenue, were brands that started as immigrant founded businesses.

Highly skilled immigrants are vital to Nebraska’s innovation industries, which in turn helps lead American innovation and creates jobs.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Oct 16, 2013 | Download File

The Cost of Doing Nothing

Dollars, Lives, and Opportunities Lost in the Wait for Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is a topic that has been heavily debated in Congress over the past year. While that debate led to passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate (S. 744), the leadership of the House of Representatives has yet to put immigration legislation on the floor. This state of affairs is fine with those congressional representatives who seem to think that merely talking about immigration is enough. And if Congress were a debating society, perhaps talking would be sufficient. But Congress is entrusted with a far greater responsibility: passing laws that matter. This is particularly true in the case of immigration reform, which has such enormous humanitarian and economic implications. Further delay on immigration reform, especially when there is broad public support for reform, wastes not just time, but money and lives as well.Read more...

Published On: Mon, Sep 23, 2013 | Download File

Cracking the SAFE Act

Understanding the Impact and Context of H.R. 2278, the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act”

On June 6, 2013, the House Judiciary Committee considered H.R. 2278, the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act,” commonly known as the SAFE Act. This wide-ranging immigration enforcement bill would make unlawful presence in the United States a criminal act punishable with jail time, greatly expand detention of immigrants, authorize states and local governments to create their own immigration enforcement laws, and impose harsher penalties and restrictions for immigration violations, among other enforcement-related provisions. The bill, introduced by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), was the subject of a contentious committee mark up, ending in its passage out of committee on a straight party line vote of 20 to 15. The SAFE Act is one of several bills that the House leadership might offer as part of its “step-by-step” approach to immigration reform, in which various House bills addressing different aspects of the immigration system may be voted on separately.Read more...

Published On: Mon, Sep 16, 2013 | Download File