Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international definition of a “refugee.” A refugee is defined as a person who has been persecuted or has a well-founded fear of being persecuted “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” This definition derives from the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols (“Convention and Protocols”)—international agreements to which the United States is a signatory. Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980. Also, the Convention and Protocols and U.S. law protect the asylum-seeker from “non-refoulement.” In other words, under international law, a country cannot return or expel people to places where their lives or freedoms could be in jeopardy. Asylum status is granted by asylum officers or immigration judges. In FY 2012, 29,484 individuals were granted asylum.
There are two asylum processes in the United States: the affirmative process and the defensive process.Read more...
With Congress gridlocked on immigration reform, all eyes have turned to the White House to implement administrative reforms that will address some of the consequences of years of legislative stalemates. While it remains to be seen what those fixes will be, the central question—as always—will be what to do about some or all of the estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants now living in the United States. Tackling this issue effectively involves overcoming a common misperception that unauthorized immigrants consist primarily of barely literate, single young men who have recently crossed the southern border and live solitary lives disconnected from U.S. society. The truth, however, is that unauthorized immigrants include adults and children, mothers and fathers, homeowners and people of faith, most of whom are invested in their communities.Read more...
As the number of unaccompanied children arriving at the United States border has increased, some lawmakers have argued that children frequently fail to appear for proceedings and thus proposed mandatory detention as a solution. Some say as many as 90 percent fail to attend their immigration court hearings. Yet government data recently published by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) indicates the opposite. Not only do a majority of children attend their immigration proceedings, according to TRAC, but 90 percent or more attend when represented by lawyers. 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.
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.”
During the first session of the 113th Congress, more than half-a-dozen immigration bills were introduced in the House of Representatives, but no major immigration-related legislation had made it to the House floor by the end of 2013. The following discussion outlines some of the significant immigration bills introduced in 2013 and 2014 and provides analysis of their key points.
Across the United States of America, 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 economy. Immigrant small business owners contribute in many ways to their local communities. Furthermore, highly skilled immigrants are vital to the country’s innovation industries, and to the many metropolitan areas across the nation, helping to boost local economies.
Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute greatly to the United States’ economy.
The United States is home to many successful companies with at least one founder who was an immigrant or child of an immigrant. In 2010, more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants (90 companies) or children of immigrants (114 companies), according to the Partnership for a New American Economy.Read more...
In South Dakota, 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 South Dakota’s economy.
From 2006 to 2010, there were 606 new immigrant business owners in South Dakota, and in 2010, 1.2 percent of all business owners in South Dakota were foreign-born.
In 2010, new immigrant business owners had a total net business income of $13.1 million, which is 0.5 percent of all net business income in the state.
Highly skilled immigrants are vital to South Dakota’s innovation industries, which in turn helps lead American innovation and creates jobs.Read more...