As election season nears, immigration will undoubtedly be cast into the national spotlight as a hot-button campaign issue for many candidates. But as public officials make broad statements about U.S. immigration policy — widely acknowledged to be a broken system — a new study shows that the reality of immigration may be far different from what the political rhetoric implies.
A new study from the Pew Hispanic Center and the RAND Corporation focusing on Mexican migration patterns into the U.S. shows that immigration from Mexico has waned in recent years, and that fewer Mexicans are leaving for the U.S. “The number of Mexicans annually leaving Mexico for the U.S. declined from more than one million in 2006 to 404,000 in 2010 – a 60% reduction,” the report states.
However, while Mexican immigration to the U.S. declined over the past decade, the study also shows that the Mexican-American population grew rapidly. From 2000 to 2010, births increased the Mexican-American population by 7.2 million, while immigration increased it by 4.2 million. The decade marked a turnaround from the previous two decades, when the number of new immigrants outpaced the number of births in the Mexican-American community.
What’s the impetus for such a shift? The report explains:
On the U.S. side, declining job opportunities and increased border enforcement may have made the U.S. less attractive to potential Mexican immigrants. And in Mexico, recent strong economic growth may have reduced the “push” factors that often lead Mexicans to emigrate to the U.S.
In a significant reprieve for the same-sex partners of American citizens facing the threat of deportation, the Obama administration on August 18 announced that such actions would no longer be pursued against foreign nationals unless they are identified as security threats, convicted criminals, or repeat immigration law violators.
The policy was rolled out in a letter from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
In a telephone conference call with reporters, a senior administration official explained that the focus on those “high-priority” categories represents the latest in the government’s efforts to un-“clog” a deportation system that currently has 300,000 cases pending.
The Obama administration has already made a significant dent in shifting deportations toward priority cases, the official said. In fiscal year 2010, more than half of those deported were security risks or criminal convicts –– up from just 30 percent before the president took office –– and two-thirds of the remainder were repeat immigration law offenders, including deported individuals who had reentered the country.
The new policy was announced in response to a letter sent to President Barack Obama from 22 senators earlier this year asking that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) categorically stop deportation proceedings against young people who would have been covered had the Dream Act been approved by Congress. That bill aims to offer permanent residency to college students and military service personnel who are undocumented immigrants that arrived in the US as minors.
Like same-sex partners and other law-abiding undocumented immigrants, these young people should now largely be in the clear.
Under a new decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals made on Thursday, immigrants arrested without a warrant will not be read their rights until they are placed in formal deportation proceedings. The Board argued that its decision (PDF) was based on changes to regulations stating that immigrants arrested without a warrant need not be informed of their rights before being questioned.
Melissa Crow, director of the Legal Action Center at the American Immigration Council, said in a press release, “The Board’s ruling renders the advisals practically meaningless and makes immigrants less likely to remain silent when questioned and less likely to assert their right to counsel.”
The new decision makes it harder for immigration attorneys to successfully file motions to suppress evidence acquired while violating an immigrant’s rights. Such motions are being used more often in deportation cases, which are themselves occurring at record levels.
Although people arrested for immigration violations don’t have “Miranda rights” per se, arresting immigration officers were required to inform immigrants of their right to an attorney and that anything they say can be used against them. Now, Crow told TAI, that protection is rendered less effective because officials can inform immigrants of their rights after they given incriminating testimony while under warrantless arrest.
Technically, the decision only affects arrests by federal immigration officials. However, Secure Communities, the new Immigration and Customs Enforcement program in which local law enforcement give the fingerprints of people they arrest to federal immigration officials, could reinforce the effects of the decision.
That’s because immigrants can potentially give incriminating testimony well before federal officials place them in deportation proceedings but after they have been flagged by Secure Communities.
On August 3, 2011, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals set a new legal precedent when it issued its opinion in Prestol Espinal v. Attorney General, No. 10-1473 (2011) granting the client of San Francisco immigration lawyer Jacqueline Brown Scott petition for review. The Court invalidated the so-called "post-departure bar" on motions to reopen and motions to reconsider, finding that the regulation prohibiting such motions conflicts with the clear language of the statute. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had denied the timely motion by Brown Scott's client to reconsider on jurisdictional grounds. The Third Circuit reversed and remanded the case to the BIA so that it could consider the legal arguments presented in the motion to reconsider.
Federal immigration law gives noncitizens the right to file motions to submit new evidence or arguments after their removal orders become final. Nevertheless, the BIA has maintained for decades that it cannot consider such motions if a foreign national is outside the United States, even if the government, the other party in the litigation, is the cause of removal of the foreign national.
The government has an incentive to remove noncitizens from the country before they have an opportunity to file such motions. "In my client's case, this is exactly what happened-the government forcibly removed him during the 30-day period in which he was permitted to file his motion to reconsider," explains Brown Scott.
Brown Scott says this new ruling means people who are in immigration court proceedings in the jurisdiction of the Third Circuit will not be denied their statutory right to file one motion to reopen or reconsider, and submit new evidence or advance new legal arguments, even if the government has already removed them from the country. The fact that they may no longer be in the United States is irrelevant
AUSTIN, Texas - Nearly 250 new immigration laws and resolutions were enacted in 40 U.S. states during the first half of this year, indicating frustration with the federal government's handling of the issue, according to a new report.
The laws range from hiring restrictions to voter identification and allowing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, according to the report released on Tuesday by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The numbers show a slight decrease in activity from last year, but every state and Puerto Rico proposed legislation dealing with the issue in the first six months of 2011. By comparison, only 38 immigration laws were enacted by states in 2005.
"States are reacting to the federal government in inefficiency and they're trying to figure out how to deal with it -- good, bad and ugly," said Wendy Sefsaf, director of communications at the American Immigration Council, a Washington think tank. "Immigration impacts every policy issue there is, and people are trying to figure out how to manage it, for better or for worse, because the federal government won't." Among the findings in the report, released during the council's annual meeting in San Antonio:
* 14 states included funding for immigration initiatives in their budgets.
* Governors vetoed 12 pieces of legislation, including bills related to social services and immigration.
* Ten states enacted legislation requiring businesses or contractors to use the government E-Verify program to ensure the legal status of workers.
* Five states -- Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Indiana and South Carolina -- enacted omnibus laws inspired by Arizona's 2010 law, which gave police the power to enforce immigration. All have been challenged in court.
As Hazleton's ill-considered anti-immigration ordinance migrates to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals for further arguments, it continues to be based partially on a false premise.
The ordinance results partially from the notion that illegal immigrants are an economic drain and a service burden on the government.
That view, however, is rooted in only one side of the ledger. An analysis by the Immigration Policy Center recently detailed how tax-paying illegal immigrants bolster government treasuries.
In Pennsylvania alone, the analysis found, families headed by illegal immigrants pay $135 million a year in state and local taxes - nearly $35 million in state and local wage and income taxes, more than $7 million in property taxes and more than $81 million in sales taxes.
The analysis does not count another substantial contribution. The national debate over "entitlement" reform usually fails to note the huge surplus for Social Security generated by illegal immigrants. Earlier this year Stephen Goss, chief actuary for Social Security, estimated that illegal immigrant workers contribute about $12 billion a year to the trust fund.
By law illegal immigrants may not collect Social Security benefits, so their contributions are a net gain. The contribution is even more significant because of demographics: illegal immigrants generally are much younger than the average American worker.
None of that diminishes the need for rational immigration reform at the federal level. But it does call for greater context to the debate.
PHOENIX - While illegal immigration has dominated a portion of political dialogue in the United States over the last few years, fewer Mexicans are crossing the border according to a new study.
"About 60 percent fewer people are coming to the United States from Mexico," said Wendy Sefsaf with the Immigration Policy Center. The center uses Mexican nationals as a proxy because they are a large part of the undocumented population, Sefsaf said.
The reason that fewer people are looking to head across the border is the downtrodden economy.
"The reason why people are not coming is the economy," Sefsaf said. "That's always been the case. Migration from Mexico for 100 years has been impacted the economic conditions in the receiving countries."
Data from the Pew Hispanic Center and the Rand Corporation also revealed that fewer immigrants are leaving the country and those that are in the United States have likely been here for more than a decade, showing a need for a more nuanced set of policies to help immigrants integrate fully into American society, Sefsaf said.
Arizona, whose immigration law sparked a lawsuit by the Obama administration and national boycotts, aims to collect tens of millions of dollars in private donations to build a border fence with inmate labor.
The plan, created by lawmakers and signed into law by Republican Governor Jan Brewer in April, would turn donations over to a group of Republican legislators, political appointees and four county sheriffs who have criticized U.S. efforts to combat illegal immigration. They say the fence is needed to stop an “invasion” that may include violent criminals and Middle Eastern terrorists disguised as Mexicans.
“Arizona once more has to step in and do a job the federal government won’t do,” Republican state Senator Steve Smith, who sponsored the bill, said in a telephone interview. He said he believes the Obama administration has failed to secure the border and has now given up. “It is a massive invasion on our social and economic systems. Nobody can deny that.”
The campaign is ratcheting up rhetoric between the state and the federal government over border security. It is modeled after a similar effort by Brewer that taps into the same nationwide discontent over U.S. policy to pay for the defense of Arizona’s immigration law. The campaign, Keep Arizona Safe, has raised more than $3.8 million from about 45,000 donations since June 2010, said Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer.
$50 Million Goal
For the border fence, more than $146,000 has been collected from about 3,000 private donors in 50 states since fundraising began July 20. At least 568 were from Arizona, 329 from California, 182 from Texas, 173 from Florida, 88 from New York and 42 from New Jersey. The goal is to raise a minimum of $50 million, said Smith.
Every now and then a piece of legislation comes around with a terribly creative acronym. The USA PATRIOT Act back in 2001 was one example. But rarely do two bills on the same issue appear in Congress with such diametrically opposed names and policy goals as the DREAM and HALT Acts.