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Special Reports

Our most in-depth publication, Special Reports provide detailed analyses of special topics in U.S. immigration policy.

A Rising Tide or a Shrinking Pie

By Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, Ph.D.

Our national debate over urgently needed immigration reform is now careening through our state legislatures, city halls, and town councils due to political gridlock at the federal level. And nowhere is that debate more contentious than in Arizona, where in April of last year the state’s legislature sought to rid the state of undocumented immigrants with passage of S.B. 1070. The law is specifically designed to trigger a mass exodus of undocumented immigrants from the state by making “attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.”

The economic analysis in this report shows the S.B. 1070 approach would have devastating economic consequences if its goals were accomplished. When undocumented workers are taken out of the economy, the jobs they support through their labor, consumption, and tax payments disappear as well. Particularly during a time of profound economic uncertainty, the type of economic dislocation envisioned by S.B. 1070-type policies runs directly counter to the interests of our nation as we continue to struggle to distance ourselves from the ravages of the Great Recession.Read more...

Published On: Thu, Mar 24, 2011 | Download File

Deeper into the Shadows

By Jeffrey Kaye

Before the onset of the Great Recession, immigrant labor was cited as a boom to the U.S. economy.  In towns and cities across the country, immigrant labor—documented or otherwise—filled positions in growing businesses and industries where demand outpaced the supply of native-born workers.  Since the onset of the economic downturn in 2008 and the rise in U.S. unemployment, some analysts and politicians—looking for a convenient scapegoat—have turned on that immigrant workforce and their employers, arguing that deporting eight million undocumented immigrant workers will create eight million new jobs for the native-born.  This over-simplified equation ignores the complicated and inter-dependent roles that immigrants play in our economy.  A 2010 study by the Fiscal Policy Institute on the economic contributions of immigrants in the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States makes the point well:

The results were clear: immigrants contribute to the economy in direct relation to their share of the population.  In the 25 largest metropolitan areas combined, immigrants make up 20 percent of the population and are responsible for 20 percent of economic output.  Together, these metro areas comprise 42 percent of the total population of the country, 66 percent of all immigrants, and half of the country’s total Gross Domestic Product.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Feb 09, 2011 | Download File

After the Raid is Over: Marshalltown, Iowa and the Consequences of Worksite Enforcement Raids

By Jan Flora, Claudia M. Prado‐Meza, and Hannah Lewis

For many years, large-scale worksite raids constituted a major element of federal immigration enforcement.  While the large-scale and well-publicized worksite raids have tapered, immigration enforcement has continued to increase, and the number of deportations and detentions is at an all-time high. 

The ever-expanding arsenal of ICE enforcement policies, together with harsh state and local laws and policies, have harmful side effects that go far beyond the unauthorized population.  Policies meant to target unauthorized immigrants also impact their family members, employers, and neighbors.  A large number of the people affected are U.S.-citizen children.  Latinos, Asians, and others who “sound” or “appear” to be foreign may be the victims of mistakes (such as the U.S. citizens who have been mistakenly deported), or may experience civil rights violations, discrimination, or profiling.  In states and localities with anti-immigrant laws and policies, negative attitudes towards immigrants and nasty rhetoric might be enough to cause lawfully present people to leave.  Read more...

Published On: Tue, Jan 25, 2011 | Download File

Reading the Morton Memo: Federal Priorities and Prosecutorial Discretion

By Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Esq.

On June 30, 2010, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton, issued a memo to the agency that reflected the Obama administration’s oft repeated intent to focus removal efforts on serious offenders.  Morton noted:

In light of the large number of administrative violations the agency is charged with addressing and the limited enforcement resources the agency has available, ICE must prioritize the use of its enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal resources to ensure that the removals the agency does conduct promote the agency's highest enforcement priorities, namely national security, public safety, and border security.  

Coupled with last year’s announcement that ICE would not engage in the kind of major worksite raids that became common during the Bush administration, the “Morton Memo” potentially marks a new phase in the enforcement of immigration law.  Moreover, the memo gives us insight into the Obama administration’s approach to prosecutorial discretion in immigration enforcement.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Dec 01, 2010 | Download File

Non-Citizens with Mental Disabilities

In 2009, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained approximately 380,000 people.  Roughly 15 percent of the non-citizen population in detention, or around 57,000 people, have a mental disability.  Unfortunately, these mental disabilities often go unrecognized by law enforcement and immigration officials, resulting in less access to justice for the individual and greater confusion and complexity for the attorneys and judges handling the cases.  The consequences of immigration enforcement for unauthorized immigrants, long-term permanent residents, asylum-seekers, and other non-citizens with mental disabilities can be severe.  Even U.S. citizens have been unlawfully detained and deported because their mental disabilities made it impossible to effectively defend themselves in court.

Teasing out the complicated issues of fair treatment for people with mental disabilities caught up in our broken immigration system is not easy, particularly because it must be disentangled from the many challenges facing all immigrants who find themselves in immigration custody or in proceedings before the immigration court.  As a report by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union aptly put it:Read more...

Published On: Tue, Nov 23, 2010 | Download File

ICE’S Enforcement Priorities and the Factors that Undermine Them

As part of its strategy to gain support for comprehensive immigration reform, the administration has continually touted its enforcement accomplishments.  In fact, over the last two years, the Obama administration has committed itself to a full-court press to demonstrate how committed the administration is to removing criminals and others who remain in the country without proper documentation.  They have continued to use the enforcement programs of the previous administration, including partnering with state and local law enforcement agencies to identify, detain, and deport immigrants.  However, in doing so, they have lost the ability to fully control their own enforcement priorities and enforcement outcomes, and the results have demonstrated that the state and local partners are not necessarily committed to the same priorities.

At an October 6, 2010, press conference, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had removed more than 392,000 individuals in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, and presented other “record-breaking immigration enforcement statistics achieved under the Obama administration.”  In addition to record-breaking overall numbers, Napolitano also announced the “unprecedented numbers of convicted criminal alien removals” in FY 2010.  Of the 392,000 removals in FY 2010, more than 195,000 were classified as “convicted criminal aliens,” which was 81,000 more criminal removals than in FY 2008.Read more...

Published On: Tue, Nov 09, 2010 | Download File

An Assessment of DNA Testing for African Refugees

By Jill Esbenshade, Ph.D.

In March 2008, the Bureau of Population, Migration and Refugees (PRM)—the Department of State agency that processes refugees abroad—halted its family reunification program, known as Priority 3 (P3), because of concerns that there were high levels of fraud in the program. In September of 2010, PRM published proposed rules that would change its procedures for processing P3 applicants, including mandatory DNA testing to prove claimed family relationships. Understanding the particular role DNA testing may play in refugee admissions—its costs, its benefits, and the necessary safeguards if put into use—provides insight into not only refugee admissions, but other issues that come into play in immigration policy, such as how family relationships are proven.

This paper traces the underrepresentation of refugees from Africa in the U.S., the allegations of fraudulent African family reunification applications, DNA testing, and how the U.S. government intends to deal with the issue in the future.

Published On: Thu, Oct 21, 2010 | Download File

The New American Electorate (October 2010)

At a time when federal, state, and local elections are often decided by small voting margins—with candidates frequently locked in ferocious competition for the ballots of those “voting blocs” that might turn the electoral tide in their favor—one large and growing bloc of voters has been consistently overlooked and politically underestimated: New Americans.  This group of voters and potential voters includes not only immigrants who have become U.S. citizens (Naturalized Americans), but also the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of large-scale immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965 (the Post-1965 Children of Immigrants). Read more...

Published On: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 | Download File

Giving Facts a Fighting Chance: Answers to the Toughest Immigration Questions

This comprehensive Q&A guide reviews the most current research available, debunks myths, and answers some of the most common immigration-related questions, including those about worksite enforcement, border security, birthright citizenship, access to public benefits, immigrant criminality, immigrant integration and the economic impacts of immigration.

Americans are justifiably frustrated and angry with our outdated and broken immigration system.  The problem is complex, and a comprehensive, national solution is necessary.  Politicians who suggest that the U.S. can deport its way out of the problem by removing 11 million people are unrealistic.  The U.S. needs a fair, practical solution that addresses the underlying causes of unauthorized immigration and creates a new, national legal immigration system for the 21st century.

Published On: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 | Download File

The DREAM Act: A Resource Page

Read more...

Published On: Thu, Sep 16, 2010