RESOURCES ON U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY
This collection of studies deals primarily with the nature, effectiveness and future of federal immigration policy.
Topics include: admission policy, border management, detention and deportation policy, temporary visa programs, legalization
programs, and birthright citizenship.
|Arranged in order
of publication date with the most recent on top. Scroll down for all entries. We regret that we may not be able to repair
broken links promptly.The conclusions and recommendations of the authors are not necessarily endorsed by Diversity
Could You Immigrate to the U.S.? Play The Green
Card Game to Find Out,
Cato Institute, August 8, 2023,
7 pp. (Introduction)
Author: David J. Bier
What better way to understand the United States’ overly restrictive immigration
system than to try it for oneself? In the new “Green Card Game” designed by David J. Bier of the Cato
Institute, participants can do just that. Offering a faithful recreation of the rules, regulations, and practices of the legal
immigration system, the game demonstrates how luck, subjectivity, and factors outside of one’s control can lead to huge
time investments, large financial burdens, and poor outcomes, including failure to acquire legal status in the United States.
The game has been designed on the basis of factual evidence gleaned from a previous Cato Report, “Why Legal Immigration
Is Nearly Impossible.” The end results of the game reflect real life situations that most potential immigrants
face. Bier encourages readers to try the game for themselves, altering only one’s country of origin and familial relations
in the United States, which usually allow for one to legally immigrate. Without such a family relationship, one can easily
see how difficult it is to immigrate legally to the U.S.
Temporary Protected Status: An Overview,
American Immigration Council,
June 29, 2023, 6 pp.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a legal status granted to nationals of certain countries
experiencing problems that make it difficult or unsafe for their nationals to return home, whether forcibly through deportation
or voluntarily. In this report from the American Immigration Council, the authors cover the following topics: the reasons
for TPS designations, eligibility requirements for TPS, benefits afforded to individuals with TPS, and the countries which
currently fall under TPS designation or had such designation in the past. In addition, the report discusses pathways toward
permanent residence/citizenship and what happens when TPS designation ends. The authors also explain how “Deferred Enforced
Departure” & “Extended Voluntary departure” are addressed in accordance with the latest protocols, regulations
and procedures. In brief, TPS is described as an essential tool that noncitizens can use to protect themselves from ongoing
armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
Why Legal Immigration Is Nearly Impossible: U.S.
Legal Immigration Rules Explained,
CATO Institute, June 13, 2023, 88 pp.
This report places the U.S. immigration system, which the author sees as severely restrictive, in its
historical context. For the first century after American independence, the United States had few restrictions on legal immigration.
Even when it finally adopted some rules in the late 19th century, immigrants were presumed eligible for permanent residence
unless the government showed that they fell into specific and usually narrow ineligible categories. In 1924, this presumption
was flipped. Today, all immigrants are presumed to be ineligible; the burden has shifted from the government to
the immigrant to prove that they fall into certain narrow, eligible categories. In this respect, current immigration
policy is much like one of the few immigration‐restricting laws of the earlier period, the infamous Chinese Exclusion
Act—which also had some exceptions—but today’s restrictive law applies to all nationalities. According
to the author, the United States has enacted what amounts to a “Worldwide Exclusion Act.” As of 2018, there were
158 million people who wanted to immigrate to the U.S. of whom 32 million began the legal immigration process, but only 900,000
were permitted to enter legally. Even some of the people who qualify to immigrate are barred from doing so because of the
caps placed on immigration from single countries. The author points out that the United States ranks in the bottom third among
wealthy countries for the foreign‐born share of its population. The bulk of the paper provides an in-depth look
at the restrictions that exist in all visa categories, including family-based migration, employment-based migration, refugee
programs, and diversity visas. The author urges the administration and Congress to ease up on these restrictions so that the
U.S. can continue to benefit from the energy and talent of the world’s immigrants.
Federal Judges Step into the Void to Set U.S. Immigration
Migration Policy Institute, March 30, 2023, 8 pp.
Muzaffar Chishti & Kathleen Bush-Joseph
As the legislative branch of the federal government remains paralyzed
on immigration policy, the executive branch can only take temporary administrative actions in this area – actions which
can be overturned by subsequent administrations. This situation leaves the judicial branch with the power to intervene in
immigration-related matters if judges feel that the executive branch has exceeded its authority. In a paper by the Migration
Policy Institute entitled “Federal Judges Step into the Void to Set U.S. Immigration Policy,” the authors
discuss the consequences of judicial activism in the immigration area. In recent years, state politicians have taken to the
courts to challenge executive decisions on immigration, using the courts to influence national priorities and promote partisan
interests. The greatest effect of this shift has been on immigrants themselves. For instance, 590,000 DACA recipients are
facing the loss of their work authorization due to a 2021 ruling by a federal district judge in Texas. The authors suggest
that the struggle between federal and state governments for control over immigration policy has its roots in American history,
with courts generally having favored the federal government in the past. The change to state-fueled and privately funded immigration
litigation began under the Obama administration, when polarization around immigration intensified.
Climate Migration and Receiving Community Institutional
Capacity in the US Gulf Coast,
Urban Institute, February 2023,
Authors: Anne Junod et al
In this report, the authors review findings from five separate studies
of community impacts, capacity, and responses to climate migration across five institutional domains: employment and economic
development, financial institutions and financial health, health care systems, housing markets, and social, cultural, and
recreational institutions. The studies use mixed-methods data collected from three US Gulf Coast communities that have received
climate migrants following catastrophic climate change: Houston, Texas, as a receiving community for climate migrants from
New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005; the Orlando, Florida, region as a receiving community for climate migrants
from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2016; and inland Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes in Louisiana as a receiving
region for climate migrants displaced by land loss, worsening storms, and hurricanes in the far southern coastal region of
the state. Three overarching research questions guided the five studies: what institutional conditions existed in receiving
communities before the arrival of climate migrants; how did local institutions and providers respond to these migrants; and
to what extent have institutional conditions and capacities changed over time.
Climate Migration and the Future of Immigration
Policy in the United States,
Center for Migration Studies of New York, December 2022, 7 pp.
Mara A. Mahmud
The author of this paper discusses the slow pace of policy development to deal with the worldwide growth of climate-induced
migration. Although the federal government produced a groundbreaking study of this phenomenon in 2021, the government has
been slow in implementing any policy reforms to reflect this changing world reality. Even the term “climate migrant”
is not well-defined. Often there are multiple factors that spur people to leave their homelands. Moreover, there are
no formal treaties, agreements, or international standards that govern the response to climate-induced migration. As asylum
policy and treaties do not allow for climate change as an allowable reason for legal status, often these migrants are referred
to as “economic migrants” and end up in undocumented status. The author references a number of organizations that
have put forth proposals to reform and update the asylum system, including creating legal pathways for such migration and
expanding the international definition of refugee, to take account of the growing numbers of people worldwide who have been
displaced due to climate change.
The Everywhere Border: Digital Migration Control
Infrastructure in the Americas,
Transnational Institute, February
14, 2023, 16 pp.
Authors: Mizue Alzeki et al
While the risks to vulnerable migrant populations by a border
wall patrolled by armed guards is obvious, what happens when the border becomes digital, extending far beyond the U.S.? In
an essay for the Transnational Institute entitled The Everywhere Border: Digital Migration Control Infrastructure in the
Americas, the authors focus their attention on the emerging ‘digital infrastructure’ that increasingly expands
covert surveillance, hides state violence, and is deeply tied to global power politics. By engaging in transnational cooperation
with Central American countries, utilizing military-grade technologies such as biometric data collection and putting power
in the hands of ‘Big Tech’ Corporations, the U.S. government has now extended its border as far as the southern
limits of Mexico. The authors argue that this development poses significant risks to the human rights of migrants, tracking
them well before they reach the U.S., and categorizing them as threats to homeland security. Difficulties arise in advocating
for the human rights of these migrants due to the invisible nature of these technologies, the geopolitical motivation to dominate
access to information, and the inability of existing institutions to adapt. Ultimately, the authors ring the alarm and state
that this is only the beginning, and that vast collective efforts to challenge this type of overreach will be necessary if
advocacy groups are to be successful in protecting the rights of migrants. (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public
Renewing America. Revamping Immigration,
Brookings Institution (The Hamilton Project), December 2022, 30 pp.
Author: Jennifer Hunt
A professor of economics
at Rutgers University and former Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, Jennifer Hunt was invited to submit a proposal
for a complete revamp of the nation’s immigration system by the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution. This
document covers all of her suggested revisions to the current system. The first section reviews the weaknesses of the
current immigration system, including shortcomings in aligning the system with the needs of the economy. As an example, she
refers to the pressing needs of the nation’s health care system, which are not adequately addressed largely because
of a bias of “admitting workers primarily in male-intensive occupations.” She also believes that a new system
must reduce illegal border crossings and visa overstays. Otherwise, public opinion will turn negative on all immigration,
both legal and illegal. Her general inclination is to increase forms of immigration beneficial to native-born Americans, specifically
immigrants chosen by employers (not by any kind of point-based system) and immigrants in high-skilled categories. To achieve
this increase, she would eliminate the F4 category of visas reserved for siblings of U.S. citizens. Her reforms would also
reduce excessive wait times for visas by adjusting or eliminating caps in various categories. She also proposes changes to
lesser-skilled programs, such as agricultural (H-2A) and seasonal non-agricultural (H-2B) visas to make them open to workers
in a broader range of industries and to make them easier for employers to utilize.
‘Recalcitrant’ and ‘Uncooperative’:
Why Some Countries Refuse to Accept Return of their Deportees,
Migration Policy Institute, December 20, 2022, 7 pp.
Author: Erlend Paasche
According to this report, only 18 percent of noncitizens who received “removal”
orders in 2020 were deported from the U.S. This coincides with the 1.2 million noncitizens who were still in the country as
of January 2021 despite having orders to leave. For this reason, the U.S. immigration system faces instability and dysfunction,
caused by “recalcitrant” origin countries with political, economic and cultural reasons for not accepting returning
migrants, Both the U.S. and the E.U. face a similar dilemma when origin states do not cooperate on the readmission of their
citizens. The authors highlight a few of the cause of this reluctance, including the high costs of readmission, lack of incentives
to readmit citizens, missing documents to prove identity and citizenship, the belief that returnees may pose a security risk,
and the manipulation of this issue as part of geopolitical power-plays. The authors discuss some of the “carrot and
stick” approaches taken by the EU to secure the cooperation of sending countries, but also stress the importance of
understanding that “return is often politically fraught in poorly understood ways, and the normative duty to readmit
collides with other legal, political, and cultural norms...” (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education
Taking Migration Seriously: Real Solutions to Complex
Challenges at the Border,
Center for American Progress,
October 26, 2022, 17 pp.
Authors: Silvia Mathema & Zefitret Abera Molla
This paper focuses attention
on the efforts being undertaken by governments throughout the Americas to manage migratory flows, which are often stronger
than those across the southern border of the U.S. For example, Costa Rica and Peru have much higher numbers of asylum applications
per 10,000 people than the United States (297 in Costa Rica and 160 in Peru compared to 39 in the U.S.). An estimated 6.8
million Venezuelans have fled their country in recent years, mostly to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the
same time, extreme weather-related disasters have devastated many countries in the region, including Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican
Republic, and El Salvador, leading to mass displacement. The paper commends the Biden-Harris administration for understanding
that managing regional migration can only be accomplished by addressing its root causes and by working collaboratively with
other countries. The authors call attention to Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which was approved by
21countries at the Ninth Summit of the Americas in June of 2022, and reviews some of the initiatives already undertaken by
countries as a follow-up to the Declaration, including new regularization programs for Venezuelan refugees in Ecuador and
a Canadian project to bolster support for displaced people. The paper urges Congress to support the administration’s
efforts to work with other countries in the region to manage migration in a humane and effective way.
Busing and Flights of Migrants by GOP Governors
Mark a New Twist in State Intervention on Immigration,
Policy Institute, September 28, 2022, 11 pp.
Authors: Muzaffar Chishti & Julia Gelatt
This report places the busing and flights of migrants to northern cities by the governors of Texas, Florida, and Arizona into
a larger historical and social context. The authors begin by pointing out that the complaints of state leaders over immigration
policy have traditionally been directed to federal leaders. Now, a new era of inter-state conflict may be beginning. In the
past, the movement of migrants crossing the southern border into the interior of the U.S. happened “organically, quietly,
and gradually.” Often covering the cost of transportation themselves or with the help of friends and family members
already residing in the U.S., they generally headed towards communities where friends or relatives lived. The rides financed
by the GOP governors actually brought an unexpected benefit to these migrants: free rides to various locations in the U.S.
Very often, migrants were able to get off buses at convenient intermediate stops prior to the bus reaching its final destination.
Unfortunately, networks of family and friends already in the U.S. did not always exist for more recent migrants from
Nicaragua or Venezuela, creating a greater burden on border communities and making them more dependent on assistance provided
by local governments and community groups at cities of final destination. Another advantage of the state-financed buses
for migrants is that they generally transport them to states where immigration courts have higher approval rates for asylum
applications. According to the authors, while “the busing strategy has been rightly criticized by opponents as a political
stunt...it is also a reaction to an undeniable on-the-ground reality.”
Family-Based Immigration Backlogs: 5 Things to
fwd.us, September 14, 2022, 7 pp.
calls attention to the nearly 4 million people who are currently stuck in immigration backlogs, some going back 20 years or
more. While their petitions to immigrate have been approved, annual numerical limits in various family preference categories,
as well as processing delays, have barred them from immigrating. Per-country caps have made the problems worse for countries
with large populations. For example, first preference immigrants (unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens) from Mexico have
to wait 22 years for legal admission to the U.S. The authors make a number of recommendations to resolve these problems. Passing legislation to recapture green cards that were authorized but never issued in past years would be a significant step forward. Congress should also act
to eliminate per-country caps, which restrict access to green cards based on country of origin. Finally, Congress should increase immigration levels, which
were put in place over 30 years ago, to reflect the needs of the current economy.
Reforming Employment-based Immigration: Charting
a Path Forward
Bipartisan Policy Center, July 2022, 11 pp.
report summarizes conclusions drawn from discussions of stakeholders in the immigration debate convened by the Bipartisan
Policy Center in 2021 and 2022. Stakeholders representing business, labor, and immigrant advocates were tasked with discussing
possible reforms to the employment-based immigration system — both for high-skilled and lesser-skilled immigrants.
There were many areas of agreement, including: the need for greater transparency and predictability in the immigration system;
that there should be more opportunity to transition from temporary to permanent status; that more green cards should be made
available, with more opportunity for lesser-skilled workers to apply for permanent status; that persons who have spent time
in the U.S. and built up equity should be able to stay; and that visas should be more portable, so workers are not so tied
to one employer once they are here. All groups suggested that the immigration system could be partially insulated from politics
by relying on an independent commission to make recommendations based on needs of the labor market. The report also noted
areas where there was less agreement among the stakeholders — including in the proper balance between the importance
of worker protections vs. employer concerns with excessive regulation, and in the continued use and regulation of third-party
recruitment. The report concluded by noting that any re-inventing of the immigration system will require continued education
of members of Congress. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Beyond Emissions: Migration, Prisons, and the Green
Social Science Research Network,
July 27, 2022, 44 pp.
Authors: Wyatt Sassman & Danielle C. Jefferis
This Article aims to shine a light
on the work of connecting the social justice goals of the “Green New Deal” with the lack of legal protections
for people displaced by climate change and the harms of detention-driven immigration enforcement. According to the authors,
“In the coming decades, climate change will displace staggering numbers of people both internally and internationally…”
Large numbers of these people will be in the Global South, thereby adding a racial equity dimension to the larger problem.
The article begins with a discussion of the Green New Deal’s social justice goals, including the challenges associated
with broadening the vision of environmentalists, some of whom remain fixated on lowering carbon emissions as their exclusive
objective. Indeed, some environmentalists envision the ecosystem as a “lifeboat,” which if overloaded with people
from other countries, would bring disaster to everyone. Others contend that the social justice goals of the Green New Deal
detract from and complicate the goals of reducing emissions. The authors challenge these assumptions and take up a number
of proposed remedies to environmental displacement, including the creation of special visas for environmental refugees, the
use of temporary protected status as a short-term solution, and the appropriateness of the “green” prison movement.
Each of these remedies falls short of achieving their intended goal. The authors conclude that it will be important for environmentalists
to work closely with immigrant advocates to design a climate policy that is inclusive of immigrant issues. Such a policy must
consider the plight of immigrants not only in the U.S. but elsewhere in the world and must reduce the soaring population of
detained immigrants in the U.S.
Rise in Maritime Migration to the United States
Is a Reminder of Chapters Past,
Migration Policy Institute, May 25, 2022,
Authors: Muzaffar Chishti & Jessica Bolter
The United States is witnessing a
significant increase in unauthorized maritime migration from the Caribbean, which has been largely overshadowed by rising
arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico land border. While the 14,500 maritime migration attempts in fiscal year 2021 are only 1% of all
arrivals at the southwest border, they are a much larger percentage of certain nationalities, e.g. nearly one-fifth of all
Haitian encounters. The spike in Caribbean interdictions at sea has reignited a longstanding debate over the United States’
treatment of unauthorized migration at sea compared to migration across the land borders. Although much attention has been
paid to the Biden Administration’s efforts to rescind Title 42, which prevents arrivals at the southern border from
applying for asylum, those intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard also have no access to the U.S. asylum system and instead
are sent back to their origin countries or screened for eventual resettlement in a third country. Since this process takes
place far from U.S. shores, affects fewer people, and offers little basis for legal challenges, it remains largely under the
radar screen. The article discusses both the history of maritime migration from the Caribbean to the U.S. over the last
60 years, as well as the policy implications of recent trends in this type of migration.
Mounting Backlogs Undermine U.S. Immigration System
and Impede Biden Policy Changes,
Migration Policy Institute,
Policy Beat, February 22, 2022, 11 pp.
Authors: Muzaffar Chishti & Julia Gelatt
This article reports
on the magnitude of immigration case backlogs that have developed at USCIS, the State Department, and in the immigration courts.
While backlogs were rising prior to the COVID-19 pandemic—largely due to policy changes adopted in the previous administration—office
closures during the pandemic and public health precautions taken when offices re-opened have greatly increased backlogs. At
USCIS, for example, application backlogs went from 5.7 million at the end of Fiscal Year 2019 to 9.5 million in February 2022.
The number of persons waiting for State Department consular interviews had risen to more than 500,000 by July 2021, up from
an average of 61,000 in 2019. Funding constraints—USCIS is a fee-based agency and a recent proposal to raise application
fees was blocked by court order—have limited the ability of USCIS to hire more staff to process more applications. The
authors argue that the backlogs hinder the ability of the Biden administration to implement its immigration vision. For example,
extension of Temporary Protected Status to nationals of Venezuela and Myanmar, and extending existing protection for nationals
of other countries increases demand for work authorization, which can only be extended for 18 months at a time. While the
administration has begun to implement some administrative changes to increase processing efficiency, the authors argue that
reducing the backlogs will take substantial new resources. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Biden at the One-Year Mark: A Greater Change in
Direction on Immigration Than is Recognized,
Migration Policy Institute,
January 19, 2022, 15 pp.
Authors: Muzaffar Chishti & Jessica Bolter
This report outlines the actions
taken by the Biden administration in the area of immigration during its first year in office, including 296 executive actions,
compared to only 86 during the entire four years of the Trump administration. Although there is a tendency in the media to
focus on Congressional bottlenecks to immigration reform legislation, the authors of the report conclude that Biden’s
executive actions have “advanced or changed policies in ways that have significant impact on humanitarian protection,
immigration enforcement, and legal immigration, touching the lives of large numbers of immigrants.” Some of the specific
changes include greatly narrowing the number of unauthorized immigrants vulnerable to arrest, detention, and removal; lifting
some barriers to U.S. entry and to accessing immigration benefits; and in the humanitarian protection realm, extending eligibility
for temporary protection to an additional 430,000 immigrants, raising the refugee resettlement ceiling to 125,000, and proposing
a restructuring of the asylum system at the southwest border. The report concludes that “given the reality of a Congress
that has proven itself unwilling and unable over the past two decades to tackle significant change to the immigration system,
it remains likely that future efforts will have to rely on executive action by the president.”
Immigration Has Been a Defining, Often Contentious,
Element Throughout U.S. History
Migration Policy Institute, January 6, 2022, 13 pp.
Despite the fact that the United States has more immigrants than any other nation (nearly 45
million in 2019), the issue of effective immigration policy is far from settled in Congress. Instead, the current policymaking
system contains so many roadblocks to immigration reform that recent presidential administrations have relied almost entirely
upon executive orders to implement their immigration priorities, bypassing Congress altogether. “Immigration Has
Been a Defining, Often Contentious, Element Throughout U.S. History” by Jessica Bolter of the Migration Policy
Institute provides an overview of immigration trends and legislation from the founding of the United States through the present
day, ultimately concluding that while the country’s reliance on immigrants continues to grow, its immigration system
remains antiquated and ineffective, necessitating drastic modernization and reform efforts. The author explores various topics,
including changes in the United States’ historical approaches to immigration, the shifting demographic composition of
immigrants in the United States, the multifaceted inner workings of the United States’ immigration system, and the bleak
prospects for future immigration reform. Drawing from historical studies and demographic data, Bolter finds that immigration
policy has become increasingly austere and restrictive with the passage of time, in part due to the rising aversion to unauthorized
immigration and the fear of terrorism in the United States. She argues that these changes have made it all but impossible
for immigrants to adequately fill gaps in the labor market. Sweeping political change will be necessary to transform the current
immigration system into one that can meet the country’s current and future needs. (Kyla Schmitt for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
On the Frontlines of the Climate Emergency: Where
Immigrants Meet Climate Change,
Unbound Philanthropy, December
2021, 30 pp.
Author: Nancy Youman
Noting that climate change has already become a major driver of migration,
this report seeks to convince funders to support intersectional collaboration among groups focused on immigrant, social, and
environmental justice. One goal is to broaden work that has focused on individuals displaced by climate change and climate
emergencies to develop an affirmative climate agenda within the immigrant justice community. This will ensure immigrant justice
groups will play a greater role in the national movement for climate justice, climate resilience, and in the transformation
to an economically sustainable future. The report includes a few examples of how immigrant justice groups are building capacity
to engage in this cross-sectional work and collaborating with environmental organizations. The report contains a number of
recommendations for funders looking to engage in this work. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Investing in Alternatives to Irregular Migration
from Central America: Options to Expand U.S. Employment Pathways,
Migration Policy Institute,
November 2021, 20 pp.
Author: Cristobal Ramón
Since 2014, migration from Central American countries
to the United States has been steadily increasing. This growing population of migrants, many of whom are fleeing unsafe conditions
or seeking economic opportunity, underscores the pressing need for strong regional partnership and coordination between the
United States and its southern neighbors to bolster orderly and legal migration, whether temporary or permanent in nature.
Such migration not only serves the interests of Central American workers, but also of employers in the U.S. who are
struggling to find workers, especially in the agricultural sector.The Migration Policy Institute’s “Investing
in Alternatives to Irregular Migration from Central America: Options to Expand U.S. Employment Pathways” by Cristobal
Ramón explores a variety of short-, medium-, and long-term opportunities for managing Central American migration. Short-term
policy recommendations focus on expansion of the H-2A and H-2B temporary worker programs, which are not used extensively by
Central American workers. One recommendation would cover some or all of the employers’ costs to transport H-2A Central
American workers to the United States; another would create an exemption to the H-2B cap for Central American countries. Medium-term
solutions center around the creation of new safe and effective worker recruitment programs. Finally, long-term options include
adding new visa categories, creating pathways for temporary workers to access permanent residency, amending immigration law
to allow workers on temporary visas to switch employers after a specific period of time, strengthening the labor enforcement
system to prevent worker abuse, and eliminating legal provisions that restrict which groups of immigrants can be served by
legal aid organizations that receive federal funding. (Kyla Schmidt for the Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education
Fragile Immigration Legality Collapses in the Trump
Southern California Interdisciplinary
Law Journal, 30:1 (2021), 52 pp.
Author: Jillian Blake
The legality of immigration status has become murkier
in recent years as more categories of status have been created, resulting in a class of immigrants who are neither legal nor
illegal in the traditional sense. The author uses the term “quasi-statuses” to describe these dubious categories,
such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In the article, she explores the
surge of quasi status immigration and how immigrants with such status were exploited during the Trump Administration as part
of its anti-immigration policy agenda. She argues that the quasi-status immigration system is unsustainable and potentially
dangerous as it “leaves hundreds of thousands of immigrants in an unacceptable state of vulnerability susceptible to
capricious and discriminatory enforcement by the executive branch.” To remedy this problem, she makes several policy
recommendations, including greater use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration courts and replacing TPS with paroled status.
Further, the author proposes a pathway to citizenship to many immigrants with quasi status, and a reform of the removal rules
as part of a much-needed immigration reform. (Jaisang Sun for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
It Is Too Simple to Call 2021 a Record Year for Migration at the U.S.-Mexico Border,
Migration Policy Institute Commentary, October 2021, 4 pp.
Author: Jessica Bolter
The author argues that comparing the number of migrants crossing the border in 2021 with those crossing in
2000 -- the year with the highest recorded number of crossings -- is not straightforward. Many factors make a direct comparison
difficult or meaningless. The author explains that differences in counting methods, staffing levels, detection technology,
the composition of migrant flows, recidivism rates, as well as the likelihood of entering without being detected, all make
comparison difficult. To give one example, the pandemic-era expulsion policy under Title 42 allows U.S. authorities to expel
migrants without formally processing them for removal, so there are no penalties for subsequent crossing attempts. This reverses
recent policies that escalated consequences for repeat crossers and thus reduced the number of individuals who tried to cross
multiple times. The author concludes by stating that, while the number of border encounters in 2021 was higher than in recent
years, the number of unique individuals crossing the border was likely smaller in 2021 than in 2000. (Maurice
Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Charting a New Regional Course of Action: The Complex
Motivations and Costs of Central American Migration,
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Inter-American
Development Bank (IDB), Organization of American States (OAS), and Migration Policy Institute,
November 2021, 49 pp.
Authors: Ariel G. Luiz Soto et al
Human smugglers in Central America make upwards of $1.7 billion per year—the
bulk of the estimated $2.2 billion spent on migration costs in the region. Regular migration is significantly cheaper, so
why do so many opt for a more risky and expensive route? In the report “Charting a New Regional Course of Action:
The Complex Motivations and Costs of Central American Migration,” published by a collaborative group of organizations,
the authors explain the multiple factors that lead people to migrate, as well as the thinking behind the choice of migration
methods. The report’s findings are drawn from a unique, face-to-face survey of nearly 5,000 households in 12 departments
across three countries, complemented by a nationally representative online survey with more than 6,000 individual responses.
Those appearing at the U.S. border are increasingly citizens of Northern Triangle countries—Guatemala, Honduras and
El Salvador. People in these countries are strongly motivated to migrate to the U.S by food insecurity, ties with family who
migrated earlier, and perceptions of local violence. Remittances sent to the Northern Triangle countries are usually used
for subsistence, highlighting the pressure for many to seek employment abroad to support their families. Options for both
regular and temporary immigration to the U.S. are limited and force many to choose irregular paths. The report recommends
efforts to create legal migration pathways to reduce reliance on irregular migration and associated smuggling networks Positive
steps might include awarding more temporary employment visas, creating incentives and opportunities for Central American diasporas
to invest in the development of local communities in their home countries, and tailoring economic development initiatives
to local-level projects with robust monitoring mechanisms. Stronger communities that receive more investment not only from
their expatriates in the U.S. but also from regional cooperation could better provide for residents and protect them from
shocks that lead to mass exodus. (Katelin Reger for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration,
The White House, October 2021, 37 pp.
9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order (E.O.) 14013, “Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees
and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration,” in which he directed the National Security Advisor to prepare
a report on climate change and its impact on migration. This report, released in October of 2021, marks the first time the
U.S. Government has officially reported on the link between climate change and migration. The report provides an overview
of climate change and its impact on migration that informs a proposal for how U.S. foreign assistance can better address the
effects of climate change impacts on displacement and migration. It goes further to outline options for protection and resettlement
of individuals displaced directly or indirectly from climate change and identifies opportunities for the United States to
work with other stakeholders, including through multilateral engagement, to address migration resulting directly or indirectly
from climate change. The report concludes with a primary recommendation and a list of considerations for further evaluation
that may guide the United States’ approach to climate migration, if funding and policy priorities allow. Most notably,
this report recommends the establishment of a standing interagency policy process on Climate Change and Migration to coordinate
U.S. Government efforts to mitigate and respond to migration resulting from the impacts of climate change that brings together
representatives across the scientific, development, humanitarian, and peace and security elements of the U.S. Government.
Confronting the Immigration Paradox,
The Center for Growth and Opportunity,
Utah State University, October 2021, 7 pp.
Author: Korok Ray
This paper argues for a complete revamping
of the U.S. immigration system based on the sale of immigration slots at a fixed price of $80,000 per slot. Most existing
visa categories, including family, employment, diversity, and EB-5 investor visas would be eliminated. Refugees and international
students would be exempted from the proposed new system. At current rates of immigration, the government would raise $67 billion
by selling green cards to immigrants. The new system would enable many more skilled immigrants to enter the U.S. Indeed, the
author, a professor of business at Texas A&M University, believes the U.S. could scale up its annual rate of immigration
ten-fold, increasing the windfall from immigration to $670 billion. Unlike the current system, which admits many immigrants
based on family relationships, the proposed new system would admit them on a “fair and equal basis.” Even undocumented
immigrants in the U.S. would be able to purchase legal status. Immigrants would also be permitted to finance their purchase
of legality over time through bank loans, and employers could cover the costs of highly skilled immigrants. The author believes
that such a program will provide a huge boost to immigrant productivity over time, while generating impressive new revenues
for the government.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Actions
Needed to Address Pending Caseload,
U.S. Government Accountability Office, August 2021, 72 pp.
This report takes a look at the pending caseload at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and identifies several
issues that hinder the agency from effectively dealing with the growing backlog of cases. The report notes that, while the
number of applications for immigration benefits ranged between 8 and 10 million per year between Fiscal Years 2015 and 2019,
the number of cases awaiting a decision grew by 85 percent during the same period. While there have been a number of near-term
factors exacerbating this trend—among them, the effect of the pandemic on receipts and operations; the reassignment
of adjudicators to deal with an increase in asylum seekers at the border; an increase in the length of some forms (for example,
the Employment Authorization form, I-765, went from 18 questions on 1 page to 61 questions on 7 pages); and expanded interview
requirements—most of the report (and the included recommendations) focus on longer-term problems USCIS has faced for
many years. The report, for example, found that USCIS lacks a clear understanding of the number of pending cases, due to the
fact that certain legacy case processing software did not record completions for cases processed in the 1980s through the
early 2000s. (An estimated 12 million of the 19 million cases recorded in the CLAIMS-3 software may or may not be completed.)
This complicates an assessment of what is needed to reduce the pending caseload. For several of its forms that make up a large
percentage of its caseload, USCIS also lacks timeliness performance measures, making it difficult to assess whether the implementation
of efficiency measures has produced the desired results. In addition, USCIS staffing models do not take into account attrition
and delays in hiring that occur during the year, and how these staffing shortfalls affect case completion, since the number
of cases projected to be completed assumes the agency has filled all authorized staff positions. The report also found that
USCIS does not have a strategic workforce plan to develop long-term strategies for acquiring, developing, and retaining staff.
The agency has consistently faced workforce challenges; the report notes that between Fiscal Years 2015 and 2020, staffing
levels were lower than what the agency was authorized to hire. Finally, the report found that USCIS has not identified additional
resources needed to address its backlogs. The GAO makes a number of recommendations to address these failings, and the report
notes that the agency has concurred with most of the recommendations. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Redefining Border Security: A Plan for Migration
Management and Border Security,
Bipartisan Policy Center, May
20, 2021, 11 pp.
Author: Theresa Cardinal Brown
Over the past eight years, the U.S. has seen a dramatic
shift in the type of migrants who arrive at its southern border. As fewer single adults and more families and children seek
asylum, the inappropriateness and ineffectiveness of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s current policies
have become more apparent. The existing CBP system is one of punitive enforcement, treating all migrants — including
families and children — as potentially dangerous criminals. “Redefining Border Security: A Plan for Migration
Management and Border Security,” an article written by Theresa Cardinal Brown for the Bipartisan Policy Center
(BPC), analyzes these issues and points to potential solutions. According to the BPC, the U.S. should restructure and redefine
its approach to border security by setting up two distinct systems: one for receiving and processing asylum seekers and another
for responding to crime, drugs, contraband, and terrorism. Specifically, the BPC recommends that the CBP construct specialized,
fully-staffed Regional Migration Processing Centers; provide temporary influx housing and comprehensive medical care for migrants;
and reform its applicant processing system. Simultaneously but separately, the CBP can fortify its crime-fighting efforts
by bolstering and reforming that sector’s personnel, policies, and physical and technological infrastructure. In the
long term, the BPC also advises that the U.S. increase its long-term regional investments in its Mexican and Central American
partners in order to grow nations’ migrant-processing capacities and improve the underlying conditions that induce emigration
crises. (Kyla Schmitt for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Toward a Better Immigration System: Fixing Immigration
Governance at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
Migration Policy Institute, October 2021, 49 pp.
Doris Meissner & Ruth Ellen Wasem
The central thesis of this report is that immigration must be treated
and managed as a system, with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) playing a leadership role. To be effectively managed,
this system requires better coordination of components within DHS and among Cabinet agencies with immigration-related responsibilities.
The authors list several ways in which immigration-related functions performed by different government components are not
coordinated, but instead are duplicative. They then look at institutional structures within DHS that might logically serve
to bring about better management of and cohesion to the immigration system—in particular, the under secretary and deputy
under secretary for strategy, policy, and plans. The authors also examine the challenge of coordination among federal agencies
with immigration components—the Departments of Justice, State, HHS, and Labor. The authors then go on to discus funding
of the immigration system, with particular focus on USCIS, and the limitations of the agency’s fee-based revenue stream.
The authors also look at institutional culture within the immigration agencies in DHS, which are plagued by low staff morale—among
the lowest in the federal government. While acknowledging it is unlikely that Congress will act to pass needed immigration
reforms, or to update the structure of DHS, the authors make a series of recommendations that are within the powers of department
officials to implement. These recommendations have to do with increasing coordination of management and budgets within DHS;
increasing the coordination among Cabinet agencies charged with carrying out immigration functions; changing budget practices
to meet current challenges and likely future challenges; and improving institutional culture. Finally, the authors make recommendations
requiring legislative action, should Congress again take up immigration reform legislation. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice
Rethinking the U.S. Legal Immigration System: A
Migration Policy Institute,
May 2021, 19 pp.
Authors: Muzaffar Chishti, Julia Gelatt, & Doris Meissner
This policy brief, a project
of MPI’s Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy initiative, is a succinct statement of the reforms the authors believe are
necessary to bring our immigration system in line with our current economic and demographic realities. The authors begin by
laying out our current and projected labor market challenges, as well as the dysfunctions of an immigration system that has
not been adjusted in three decades. The authors believe that, while it is important to address the situation of the undocumented
population, it is equally urgent to update the employment-based and other immigration streams. They envision an employment-based
immigration system with three sub-categories: seasonal and short-term workers; workers entering as permanent residents; and
those entering on a “bridge visa”—a multi-year, renewable visa from which a worker could apply for a green
card. This last category—the bridge visa—would be the dominant stream of foreign workers into the U.S. The authors
also make other proposals for reform, including a pilot “point system” program, adjustments to the family-based
system, changes to asylum, and creation of an independent body that could make the immigration system more responsive to ongoing
economic changes. Some of the ideas presented in this paper will be fleshed out more fully in forthcoming papers. (Maurice
Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)
The Most Common Arguments Against Immigration and
Why They’re Wrong,
Cato Institute, 2021, 36 pp.
Author: Alex Nowrasteh
Many would be surprised to know that in 2017, approximately 23 million people entered
the diversity visa lottery for just 50,000 green cards. This fact, according to the authors of this study, calls into question
a common myth about immigration, i.e. that it is easy to immigrate legally and that all you need to do is “just get
in line.” In this paper, Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, refutes fifteen such
common myths about immigration, including that immigrants “take American jobs,” and that they fail to assimilate
as earlier generations of immigrants did. Drawing from research on the economy, public health, criminal justice, and more,
Nowrasteh disputes alleged adverse impacts of immigration on the United States. He concludes that while one can disagree with
a pro-immigration policy position, one must come up with entirely different arguments than these fifteen common complaints
to make a rational case to lower immigration. (Erika Hernandez for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education
Real Needs, Not Fictitious Crises Account For the
Situation at US-Mexico Border,
Center for Migration Studies, March 17, 2021, 11 pp.
By early 2021, the number of unaccompanied children and asylum-seekers crossing the Southern border
reached another peak. In Real Needs, Not Fictitious Crises Account for the Situation at US-Mexico Border, Donald
Kerwin argues that the current border crisis is not a “self-inflicted wound by the Biden administration,” but
rather the result of pressures built up from the Trump Administration’s anti-asylum policies and its failure to address
the needs of displaced people in Central America. Kerwin cites the previous administration’s termination of key immigration
initiatives, such as the Central Americans Minors program, violation of their statutory responsibility to refer asylum seekers
to the US asylum system, and “zero tolerance policy” as responsible for aggravating the current migration problem.
The article also suggests that the root cause of the immigration crisis is at the political level and not at the border. Kerwin
proposes that the federal government respond more effectively to the conditions driving forced migration, enhance the clarity
and transparency of immigration laws, legalize more of the undocumented population, and reform the US asylum system along
with the immigration court system. (Flora Meng for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Immigration Is Not a National Security Threat
National Immigration Forum, March 4, 2021, 13 pp.
Is unauthorized immigration a national security threat? This is the question addressed in
this paper by Elizabeth Newmann, a former official in the Department of Homeland Security. In October 2020, the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its inaugural Homeland Threat Assessment, which listed “illegal immigration”
as one of seven major national security threats. Unlike other “threats,” however, the Assessment’s evaluation
of unauthorized immigration was not supported by facts. Also, based on the definitions used by DHS, immigration should have
been described as a “vulnerability,” not a “threat.” Upon analyzing policies, executive actions, and
rhetoric that came out of the Trump Administration, Neumann found that the prevailing effects of securitizing immigration
as an existential national threat has been to move far-right descriptions of immigrants into the conservative mainstream,
dehumanizing immigrants, and increasing violence against them. For example, the August 2019 attack against the Hispanic community
in El Paso, Texas was motivated by the attacker’s belief in the “Hispanic invasion” rhetoric used by the
then-President and his campaign. The author recommends that the Biden administration promote a respectful debate based on
facts and transparency about security vulnerabilities created by the current immigration legal framework and acknowledge the
need for statutory changes and modernization of border security and immigration systems. (Jasmina Popoja for The Immigrant
Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Back on the Table: U.S. Legalization and the Unauthorized
Immigrant Groups that Could Factor in the Debate,
Migration Policy Institute,
February 2021, 31 pp.
Authors: Jessica Bolter et al
Although the majority (60 percent) of the 11 million
unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. have lived in the country for 10 or more years and are deeply embedded in their communities
and local economies, and any effort to deport them would require a massive mobilization of resources, attempts to provide
legal status for unauthorized immigrants over the last 20 years have been largely unsuccessful. This report notes that
the Biden administration has put legalization “back on the table" for congressional attention, but considers the
proposed Biden-Harris approach as just one of several frameworks for legislative action. Indeed, the report casts doubt on
the political viability of the comprehensive approach. Drawing on MPI’s methodology of assigning legal status to data
sets compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, this report breaks down the composition and characteristics of the unauthorized population
and reviews relevant precedent and existing legislative options to advance citizenship. MPI’s analysis of sub-groups
in the unauthorized population, such as DREAMERs, farmworkers, spouses and parents of citizens and permanent residents, and
workers who have provided essential services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, offers a starting point for outlining approaches
or combinations of approaches to address the decades-long policy gaps that have resulted in millions of unauthorized immigrants
in the U.S. Among tools available to the government are targeted legalization for specific sub-groups such as Dreamers,
elimination of the three- and ten-year bars, granting temporary protected status, and updating the registry program. (Samantha
Jones for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Overview of President Biden’s Immigration
Reform Legislation in Regards to Higher Education and Immigrant and International Students,
on Higher Education and Immigration, February 25, 2021, 8 pp.
On February 18, 2021, the Biden administration
introduced the Citizenship Act of 2021 in the Senate, an immigration reform bill that, according to this report, would bring
positive benefits to immigrant and international students at U.S. colleges and universities. This overview of the Act discusses
17 components of the proposed legislation and their impact on the higher education community. Highlights of the bill include:
paths to legal status and citizenship for millions of undocumented people, a broader visa system and more paths to permanent
residence for international students and scholars. Although the article presents a mostly positive view of the legislation,
the authors critique provisions that would: require higher wage levels for H-1B recipients; only allow students with PhDs
in STEM fields to qualify for permanent residence; and exclude lawful prospective immigrants from coverage under the Affordable
Care Act. (Stephanie Depauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
International Students in the United States
Migration Policy Institute, January 14, 2021, 9 pp.
Emma Israel & Jeanne Batalova
The top receiving country for international students has long been the United
States, although there has been a recent decline in international enrollment due to immigration restrictions and the COVID-19
pandemic. “International Students in the United States,” published by the Migration Policy Institute,
offers a portrait of international students in the U.S. and explores the reasons for this recent, sharp decline. Using data
from NAFSA: Association of International Educators as well as the Institute of International Education, the authors discuss
the academic levels of international students, as well as their countries of origin, fields of study, geographic distribution,
overall economic impact, and opportunities for transition into the U.S. labor market. The authors also include data on international
students who were able to participate in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program after graduation. The report finds
a 16 percent decline in international students enrolled at U.S. universities from semester years 2018-2019 to 2019-2020, capping
a decade of slowing growth due to the rising cost of U.S. higher education, high numbers of student visa delays and denials,
a difficult political environment for immigrants under the Trump administration, and expanded opportunities to study in other
countries. (Stephanie Depauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
The Globalization of Postsecondary Education: The
Role of International Students in the US Higher Education System,
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
35:1 (Winter, 2021), 21 pp.
Authors: John Bound et al
The United States is home to more international students
than any other country. Between 1980 and 2017, the number of foreign-born students studying at American universities more
than tripled to over 1 million. “The Globalization of Postsecondary Education: The Role of International Students
in the US Higher Education System,” a paper published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, explores the factors
that encourage international students to attend American universities and the socioeconomic implications of their presence.
Analyzing data from UNESCO, the authors find that the United States accepts the majority of its international students from
a few primary countries: China, India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. They are attracted by the plentiful educational and employment
opportunities available here, and ushered along by the country’s relatively lenient student visa system. According to
data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, international students contribute to the United States’ economy in two significant
ways: first through their tuition fees ($44 billion in 2017) and then through their participation in the labor market. Despite
America’s reliance on international students, however, the once-steady growth of this population has waned in recent
years. The authors hypothesize that the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding opportunities in other countries, and growing perceptions
of anti-immigrant sentiment are significant dissuading factors. “Given the formidable levels of tuition revenue generated
by foreign students, especially at the undergraduate and master’s levels, any reduction in the flow of foreign students
would have a direct and negative impact on university resources that would not be easily offset by other sources of support.”
At the same time, the larger economy would suffer without access to this talent pool. Although the researchers find it challenging
to measure the magnitude of this loss, without careful consideration of “counterfactuals” such as the possible
crowd-out of U.S.-born workers, they are inclined to think that the net contribution of international students has been positive.
(Kyla Schmitt for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Rescinding the Travel Ban Will Improve National
National Immigration Forum,
January 15, 2021, 15 pp.
Author: Elizabeth Neumann
According to Senior National Immigration Forum Advisor
Elizabeth Neumann, President Biden has an opportunity to enhance national security by rescinding former President Trump’s
travel and refugee bans. Neumann argues that the bans, perceived as discriminatory abroad, harmed our global reputation
and standing, reduced access to medical care in the rural U.S. by shutting off the flow of medical talent, and slowed the
national security community’s response to domestic terror threats. In Rescinding the Travel Ban Will Improve National
Security, Neumann nonetheless argues that President Biden should incorporate certain security initiatives outlined in
President Trump’s Executive Order 13780 and Proclamation 9645 into his plan to rescind the travel and refugee bans.
While she asserts that these bans were misguided and damaging, she argues Biden should keep the programs and tools that were
created under section two of Executive Order 13780, which "were developed to run a systematic evaluation of all countries”
to support the travel ban. These specific tools can be repurposed to help other countries address vulnerabilities in their
identity management and information sharing practices, thereby enhancing global security overall without instituting punitive
travel restrictions. Neumann concludes by offering recommendations to both the Biden administration and to Congress on how
to repurpose these tools to aid national security. (Corey A. Calhoun for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public
21 for ’21: Fixing America’s Immigration
New American Economy, January
2021, 21 pp.
This report advances a set of 21 concrete ideas for policy changes that would help achieve the
Biden administration’s goal of reforming and modernizing the American immigration system. Some suggestions include reversals
on key Trump era immigration restrictions, such as the restoration of previous protections for asylum seekers and refugees.
The majority of the suggestions, however, are entirely new policies designed to protect immigrants, streamline pathways to
citizenship, and modernize the immigration system. These proposals include: instituting a federal Office of New Americans,
making a special pathway to citizenship for essential workers, creating a Start-Up Visa for immigrant entrepreneurs, and streamlining
the immigration process for international students. The report argues that these suggestions present “opportunities
to reaffirm the importance of immigration to American society, American culture and the American economy.” (Jason
Boyle for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Obscure but Powerful: Shaping U.S. Immigration
Policy through Attorney General Referral and Review,
Migration Policy Institute,
January 2021, 27 pp.
Author: Sarah Pierce
Since Congress moved most immigration policy and operational
authority from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003, the Attorney General,
who is no longer responsible for immigration policymaking, has nevertheless increasingly used his office’s “referral
and review” power to influence immigration policy and exercise control over DHS. This power allows the attorney general
to self-refer any Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision for review and modify it with minimal transparency. Obscure
but Powerful: Shaping U.S. Immigration Policy through Attorney General Referral and Review, published by the Migration
Policy Institute, highlights due process concerns and issues with this granting of policymaking power to the attorney general.
The Trump administration’s unprecedented and aggressive use of this power had wide-reaching effects on the immigration
system, with attorneys general using it to take such actions as restricting asylum access and limiting the discretion of immigration
judges. The author suggests that attorneys general in the Biden administration could use the referral and review power to
expeditiously reverse the decisions of Trump’s attorneys general. However, the author argues the referral and review
power in and of itself is problematic, given that it places a significant amount of power in the hands of an administrator
who does not have jurisdiction over immigration policy. She therefore recommends that the Biden administration adopt safeguards,
such as formal guidelines or regulations issued by the DOJ with procedures for referral and review, and requirements to increase
transparency, predictability and trust. While these protections would fix some aspects of the problem, the referral and review
process still gives the attorney general power beyond the DOJ’s purview and allows the attorney general to bind DHS,
a key structural issue. As a result, the report argues that the Biden administration should pursue a legislative solution
that aims to consolidate immigration policymaking authority within DHS. (Jasmina Popaja for The Immigrant Learning Center’s
Public Education Institute)
More Immigration Needed to Offset COVID-19 and
America’s Demographic Decline,
George Mason University, Mercatus
Center, December 2020, 12 pp.
Author: Daniel Griswold
In the U.S., COVID-19 has accelerated three
demographic trends contributing to declining population growth: a falling birth rate, a rising total number of deaths, and
a sharp decline in net migration. In “More Immigration Needed to Offset COVID-19 and America’s Demographic Decline,” published by the
Mercatus Center at George Mason University, author Daniel Griswold analyzes these demographic trends and warns of their long-term
impacts. All of these factors, working together, will have a negative impact on the country’s economic prosperity,
pace of innovation, ability to fund vital public services, and standing as a global leader. For the U.S. to offset the effects
of its declining population, the author concludes, the most viable tool will be greatly decreasing barriers to international
migration. Citing data from the Census
Bureau, Griswold underscores that immigrants are more likely to be of working age and to join the labor force than their U.S.-born
counterparts. Immigrant workers are also more likely to file patents and start businesses, activities that stimulate economic
growth, boost productivity and increase wages. Additionally, immigrants have higher birth rates on average than the U.S.-born
population. Griswold concludes that, by adopting a more open immigration system, policymakers can reverse the current
trajectory of demographic decline, grow the economy, ensure fiscal sustainability and maintain the U.S. standing as a global
leader. (Kyla Schmitt for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Deregulating Legal Immigration: A Blueprint for
CATO Institute, December 18,
2020, 48 pp.
Author: David J. Bier
This compilation outlines an ambitious deregulatory agenda to permit
more legal migration and legal employment within the confines of the restrictive laws that Congress has passed. The 15 writers
include previous presidents of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, editors or authors of the most widely used immigration
law reference texts in the United States, a former administration official, and other well‐known immigration
law experts. The 30 deregulatory proposals are organized into four categories: reforms affecting green card applicants on
the path to permanent residence, reforms affecting nonimmigrants (visitors, students, and temporary workers), reforms affecting
refugees, and, finally, big picture reforms affecting more than one category (Table 1). One reform would stop the practice
of counting derivative relatives of primary applicants (spouses and minor children) against the numerical limit in a particular
immigration category. Another reform would recycle unused visa numbers in future years. These improvements, according to the
editors, would move America toward a more open system that provides millions of people with legal options to immigrate,
work, and live in the United States.
The Legal Landscape of U.S. Immigration: An Introduction,
The Russell Sage Foundation.
Journal of the Social Sciences (This article serves as an introduction to an entire issue of the Journal devoted to immigration
6:3 (November 2020), 16 pp.
Authors: Katherine M. Donato & Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes
In recent decades, U.S. immigration
policy has ceased to be a legislative matter. Reflecting a slow but steady expansion of presidential power, broad executive
actions rather than congressional initiatives determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of immigrant visa applicants each
year. “The Legal Landscape of U.S. Immigration: An Introduction,” an article published in The Russell Sage Foundation’s
Journal of the Social Sciences, provides an introduction to an entire issue of the Journal devoted to historical
trends in U.S. immigration policy. The articles cover five periods. More open immigration and the establishment of a nationality-based
quota system characterized the pre-1925 period. From 1925-1964, immigration was largely restricted, but seasonal migrant workers
were permitted, refugees were admitted after World War II, and the ban on Asian immigration was loosened a little. The 1965-1990
period saw an end to nationality-based quotas, increased protections and opportunities for certain groups and the expanded
use of executive actions. From 1991-2002, policy became overwhelmingly restrictive, emphasizing border enforcement and deportation.
Post-2003, congressional activity fully stagnated; the Obama administration established Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
(DACA) and laid the groundwork for the establishment of sanctuary cities, while the Trump administration later countered these
moves by barring many immigrants from entry, bolstering enforcement and systematically dismantling immigrant-focused programs
and resources. The authors conclude by suggesting two avenues for further research: the implications of the increased
volume of temporary low-skilled employment visas relative to a small, stable number of permanent visas; and the consequences
of greater use of executive action in determining immigration policy. (Kyla Schmitt for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Unsettling the Border,
U.C.L.A. Law Review, 67:6 (2020),
Author: Sherally Munshi
Rather than an inquiry of genuine value, the common question of whether
one is in favor of “open borders” or not has turned into an exercise that highlights the public’s misguided
perception of immigration policies and their origins. In Unsettling the Border, Sherally Munshi argues that in order
to meaningfully address the question of open borders, it is necessary to defamiliarize, disenchant, and decontextualize borders
historically, legally, and intellectually. The paper seeks to bring an alternate perspective to contemporary immigration discourse
by bringing the concept of the border itself into a normative analysis on migration and membership. Part I of the article
addresses the contemporary climate of immigration in relation to resurgent nationalism during the Trump administration. Part
II examines the history of conquest and expansion to highlight the Southern border’s imperial roots. Finally, Part III
argues that the crisis of unauthorized migration is a byproduct of the inequalities perpetuated and preserved by the border.
The study finds that beyond its physical presence, the border plays a part in a broader social formation and racial economy
shaped by colonial capitalism and settler nationalism. (Flora Meng for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education
Not Coming to America: Falling Behind in the Race
to Attract International Students,
New American Economy, July
2020, 28 pp.
International students play a key role in the country’s ability to compete globally, particularly
in STEM research and education initiatives. These students contribute nearly $40 billion a year to the economy, support over
450,000 jobs annually and make significant contributions in teaching, research and innovation. While the number of students
seeking international education is rising globally, the number coming to study in the U.S. is declining (9.6 percent between
fall 2015 and fall 2017), negatively impacting university budgets and local economies. The report Not Coming to America:
Falling Behind in the Race to Attract International Students, published by New American Economy, explores why the U.S.
is experiencing a decline in international enrollment, while other developed countries are profiting from the growing international
education market. Experts suggest that the recent rise in anti-immigrant sentiment and more restrictive immigration policies
in the U.S., coupled with more accessible and competitive education options in other countries may be responsible for the
abrupt decline in international enrollment. The authors encourage the U.S. to adopt policies and programs similar to those
of other industrialized countries, such as: allowing open-work visas for recent graduates; expanding the number of employment
preference green cards available each year; and initiating a points-based system for issuing green cards with special credit
for foreign graduates of U.S. institutions of higher education. (Lara Carbine for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public
Rethinking the U.S.-Mexico Border Immigration Enforcement
System: A Policy Road Map,
Migration Policy Institute, October 2020, 13 pp.
Designed to address earlier waves of single adults from Mexico, the current U.S. policy at the
Mexican border is ill prepared to respond to the complex legal and ethical challenges posed by contemporary flows of families
and children. In “Rethinking the U.S.-Mexico Border Immigration Enforcement System,” author Doris Meissner
outlines policy proposals that would shift the immigration system away from its focus on completely stopping undocumented
migrants towards one that would manage migrant flows efficiently and fairly. Meissner argues, for example, for a re-engineering
of border management through the marshaling the resources of multiple agencies. Rather than border management being the sole
responsibility of national security agencies, like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection
(CBP), there would be a one-stop screening at the border to facilitate handover to the appropriate agency, whether it be ICE,
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), legal service providers,
and foreign consular services. These services would be available at a network of “reception centers” set
up along the border. This system would draw from a wider range of collaborating legal, social and international agencies whose
individual expertise could contribute to a more effective and humane enforcement regime. However, such a change would require
a shift in the mindset regarding immigration, i.e. a willingness to accept evidence that immigration is an asset, not a threat
to the United States. (Jason Boyle for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Trump’s Promise of Millions of Deportations
Is Yet to Be Fulfilled,
Migration Policy Institute,
October 29, 2020, 8 pp.
Authors: Muzaffar Chishti & Sarah Pierce
While President Trump ran his 2016
presidential campaign on implementing restrictive immigration policies, his administration has struggled to enact key elements
of this agenda. “Trump’s Promise of Millions of Deportations Is Yet to Be Fulfilled,” published
by the Migration Policy Institute, analyzes the president’s deportation efforts, a key feature of his campaign, and
speculates on the impact of the 2020 presidential election on the future of the U.S. immigration system. Despite President
Trump’s hundreds of far-reaching executive orders on immigration, his administration oversaw less than half as many
deportations during his first three years in office as did President Obama in his first three years. This discrepancy, according
to the article, is partially explained by increased resistance from pro-immigrant local and state officials, many of whom
enacted retaliatory “sanctuary” policies that limited local cooperation with federal authorities. In contrast
with what the authors describe as the aggressive and restrictive approach to immigrant enforcement of the Trump administration,
the article speculates that a new administration would confine interior enforcement to individuals with serious criminal records,
empower local jurisdictions to set their own enforcement priorities, and end workplace and community enforcement operations.
(Kyla Schmitt for The Immigrant
Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Managing the Pandemic and its Aftermath: Economics,
Jobs, and International Migration in the Age of COVID-19,
Migration Policy Institute,
November 2020, 64 pp.
Author: Demetrios G. Papademetriou
This essay provides a comprehensive
overview of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the economy and international migration. Suggesting crises can leave “opportunities”
in their wake, author Demetrios G. Papademetriou, emeritus director of the Migration Policy Institute and internationally
recognized expert on immigration policy, presents steps governments can take to improve international migration systems and
ensure pandemic recovery, including by: 1) rethinking migration systems, including steps to reduce backlogs in asylum cases
and temporary visa applications; 2) reimagining border management to account for security and a more intense focus on public
health; 3) reexamining the assumption that advanced economies have an “insatiable” need for foreign workers; 4)
reforming immigrant-dense, low-wage labor markets; 5) improving immigrant integration; 6) ensuring everyone, regardless of
immigration status, is involved in economic recovery; and 7) increasing aid to vulnerable populations like internally displaced
persons and refugees while also increasing foreign aid to both prevent conflict and provide economic opportunity, thereby
stemming flows of immigrants and refugees. The author then presents lessons learned from the pandemic, such as: reopening
the economy safely will require cooperation between governments, businesses and the public; early successes in containing
the spread of the virus were no protection against economic recession (Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea being key examples);
and while viruses do not respect borders, they do impact different segments of the population and the economy differently.
Papademetriou concludes that, for governments to implement effective immigration and economic policy and properly balance
public health and economic recovery, there must be high degrees of both political trust (trust in political leaders) and social
trust (trust in one another). (Jillian DiPersio for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Migration Policy Institute, November 2020, 12 pp.
Authors: Doris Meissner & Michelle Mittelstadt
Though the Biden campaign promised in 2020 to reverse course on the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration
policies and to overhaul the existing legislative framework, challenges at many stages of policy implementation will make
these goals difficult to achieve. “At the Starting Gate: The Incoming Biden Administration’s Immigration Plans,”
published by the Migration Policy Institute, outlines some of Joe Biden’s top immigration priorities, including improving
management of the U.S.-Mexico border; strengthening and expanding asylum and refugee resettlement programs; creating a road
map to legalize unauthorized immigrants and reform the legal immigration system; refocusing immigration enforcement to national
security threats and criminal offenders; ending long-term immigration detention; and working closely with other countries,
notably Canada and Central American nations, to manage flows of migrants. For each of these goals, authors Doris Meissner
and Michelle Mittelstadt present potential roadblocks and opportunities. In contrast to the "frenetic” pace of
policy changes of the Trump administration, the authors recommend that the Biden administration implement long-term, cross-agency
and cross-governmental policies in order to achieve its goal of fashioning a system that treats immigrants as assets rather
than threats. The authors conclude, however, that it is unlikely for immigration practices in the U.S. to change drastically
during Biden’s term in office given the size and scope of legal changes made to immigration policy by the Trump administration.
Additionally, immigration is not a top priority for the incoming Biden administration, given the urgency of addressing the
COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic recession. (Jason Boyle for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public
Improving the U.S. Immigration System in the First
Year of the Biden Administration,
Center for Migration Studies
& the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School, November 2020, 24 pp.
Authors: T. Alexander Aleinikoff
& Donald Kerwin
2016 and 2020, the U.S. immigration system sustained a series of policy changes that severely restricted immigration to the
U.S., threatened the livelihoods of immigrants already in the U.S., and cost taxpayers billions of dollars. This report, prepared
by the Center for Migration Studies and the New School's Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, recommends specific
policy solutions that the incoming Biden administration could enact to reverse the Trump administration’s most harmful
policies and further strengthen the U.S. immigration system. The authors consulted 12 immigration experts, whose opinions
and analyses inform 12 sets of policy proposals in the report: reforming refugee policy; reforming asylum policy; revoking
travel bans; reforming legal immigration processes; preserving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); limiting immigrant
detention; reviewing border enforcement and accountability; restoring meaningful interior enforcement priorities; deprioritizing
immigration-related criminal prosecutions; improving legal access and addressing backlogs; reviewing COVID-related policies;
and segregating responsibilities within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Other recommendations include initiating
consultations with Congress to increase refugee admissions in 2021, terminating the Migrant Protection Protocols where asylum-seekers
at the U.S. southern border were returned to Mexico to await U.S. asylum hearings, and permitting new registrations for the
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In pursuing these changes, the authors believe that “President Biden
would affirm the fundamental values and principles that animate the U.S. immigration system.” (Kyla Schmitt
for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Redefining Immigration Reform: How Immigration
Supports American Ideals
Niskanen Center, November 2020, 51 pp.
In an effort to break the paralysis on immigration reform in Congress and to create an expanded menu
of policy options for the incoming Biden administration, a number of groups are putting forth bold new ideas to enrich the
discussion on immigration policy. One such group is the Niskanen Center, a Washington-based think tank that prides itself
on bridging ideological and political divides, and that has just published a compendium of essays from 15 different authors
on various aspects of immigration policy. The guiding philosophy behind the Center’s reform proposals is that immigration
policy should benefit all Americans. As Suzette Brooks-Masters says in her introduction, it is vital to demonstrate how immigration
serves the national interest, whether by stimulating economic growth, advancing American foreign policy goals, or affirming
national values. Although the Center champions a broad array of immigration reform proposals, the essays in this publication
deal primarily with high-skilled immigration and refugee-related issues. Among the proposals outlined in the report are: eliminating
antiquated country green card quotas to allow more foreign-born graduates of U.S. medical schools to acquire permanent residence;
creating a “heartland visas” to attract skilled immigrants to regions suffering demographic decline; updating
the USCIS policy manual to make it clear that foreign-born experts in artificial intelligence should be considered individuals
of “extraordinary ability;” revamping the H-1B program to eliminate abuses and to make the program more responsive
to market conditions; providing a direct pathway to permanent residence for international Ph.D. students at American universities; enacting
a new special immigrant visa (SIV) program to provide protections for at-risk employees of U.S. military and government agencies
in other countries; providing temporary protected status for Venezuelans in the U.S. and establishing a refugee adjudication
program within Venezuela; encouraging a hands-on approach to refugee resettlement by promoting the participation of community
groups in the program; reforming the U visa system created under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); and building on the
success of the diversity visa program by expanding the program and reforming its outdated visa allotment system. Although
the details for many of these proposals need to be fleshed out, Niskanen Director of Immigration Kristie De Peña sees
them as “meaningful pieces of the broader reform puzzle that lawmakers must explore and pursue.” More importantly,
she argues, the nation should not simply return to the past in its eagerness to reverse many of the Trump administration’s
The Convoluted Path from H-1B to Permanent Residency:
Bipartisan Policy Center, July 7, 2020, 11 pp.
This article briefly reviews the origins of the H-1B visa, and discusses its role as one of
the primary paths for individuals to immigrate to the U.S. through the employment-based system. There are just 140,000 employment-based
visas awarded each year, and visas in the employment categories include visas for spouses and children of the primary visa
recipient. The H-1B visa is a three-year temporary visa, and is renewable indefinitely if an employer has sponsored the temporary
H-1B worker for a permanent visa. Most employment-based visas (86 percent) are awarded to persons who are here on nonimmigrant
visas and are adjusting their status. Most of those are H-1B temporary workers. The author points out the extreme backlogs
that have developed for employment-based green cards due to the overall visa cap plus per-country ceilings which greatly disadvantage
nationals of certain countries. As of 2019, there were an estimated 800,000 individuals stuck in the backlog for employment
green cards, mostly Indian nationals. The extreme waits, and multiple bureaucratic processes that prospective immigrants must
navigate, make the process unpredictable for workers and employers. The authors suggest the U.S. could learn much by examining
the systems other countries have implemented to streamline their temporary-to-permanent residency processes. (Maurice
Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
The Impact of COVID-19 on Noncitizens and Across
the U.S. Immigration System: March-September 2020,
American Immigration Council
Special Report, September 30, 2020, 56 pp.
Authors: Jorge Loweree et al
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted
nearly every aspect of the U.S. immigration system, from traveling to the U.S., to applying for a visa, to taking the citizenship
oath. The American Immigration Council’s report, The Impact of COVID-19 on Noncitizens and Across the
U.S. Immigration System, presents a comprehensive overview of the changes that took place in the U.S. immigration
system in the first eight months of the pandemic. In the report, the authors consider the wide-ranging effects
of the pandemic, including such issues as: the ability of foreign nationals to enter the U.S.; immigration processing
at the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico; immigration enforcement and detention in the U.S.; and the U.S. immigration court
system. The report also looks at Congress’ response to the pandemic, such as the CARES Act, which excluded
many immigrants from emergency assistance. Throughout the report, the authors offer recommendations to the U.S. government
to better respond to the needs of immigrants during the pandemic, including loosening licensing restrictions for immigrant
medical professionals, creating plans to properly screen asylum seekers and unaccompanied children, and administering
citizenship oath ceremonies online. The government, the authors argue, needs to do more to help immigrants, as noncitizens
have proven vital to the COVID-19 response as essential workers and because immigration is critical to
economic recovery. The Council will release updated versions of this report as the pandemic continues. (Jillian
DiPersio for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Dismantling and Reconstruction the U.S. Immigration
System: A Catalog of Changes under the Trump Presidency,
Migration Policy Institute,
July 2020, 122 pp.
Authors: Sarah Pierce & Jessica Bolter
As the title suggests, this paper catalogs
the more than 400 Trump administration policy changes that have choked off legal immigration, made it nearly impossible for
persons fleeing violence and persecution to gain refuge through the refugee system or asylum process, and abandoned enforcement
priorities so that otherwise law-abiding immigrants living in the U.S. without authorization for decades are just as much
targets for removal as those who are public safety threats. The report covers Trump administration initiatives by issue area,
beginning with a description of changes made in response to the coronavirus pandemic, followed by changes in border and interior
enforcement, changes made in the immigration courts and interpretation of law, in humanitarian programs (refugee admissions,
asylum, Temporary Protected Status among others), in immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing by USCIS and the Departments
of State and Labor. The authors also include changes made by agencies not traditionally associated with immigration policy
— including the Social Security Administration, the Department of Defense, and Housing and Urban Development. These
changes were made almost exclusively by executive action, and they can be undone by executive action. However, the authors
note, a reversal of the hundreds of policies will “require a massive financial, personnel, and bureaucratic investment,”
and it is likely that the policies implemented in the last four years will shape the immigration system for years to come.
(Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
The New Migration Law: Migrants, Refugees, and Citizens in an Anxious Age,
UCLA School of Law Public Law Research Paper, March 31, 2020, 95 pp.
Hiroshi Motomura’s monograph “The New Migration Law" provides
a critical analysis of the traditional legal precedents governing migration. Motomura argues that, not unlike many other areas
of law, there should be a ‘reset’ of immigration law, departing from the civil rights and refugee frameworks constructed
in the 20th century. The first part of Motomura’s essay argues that civil rights law has often failed to expand legal
protections for noncitizens, especially undocumented people. At the same time, such a frame often ignores questions
of economic injustice affecting racial minorities, allowing economic arguments to cover up racism or religious bias as the
underlying motivation for anti-immigrant positions. The second part of the analysis looks at the development of refugee law
in the 20th century. The author finds that “refugee law is too narrow legally and too fragile politically to deal coherently
with the migrants who do not fit the formal definition of ‘refugee’” Montomura argues that the solution
is to recontextualize the connection between migration and citizenship; this approach, claims Montomura, shifts the discussion
to trade, economic development, security, and human rights in order to determine 1) who migrates or not and 2) who stays or
not. Rethinking migration law allows for deeper context into transnational movement without providing cover for blatant racism
or religious bias. “Only by paying attention to fair distribution of economic gains and fair sharing of burdens from
immigration can policymakers block manipulative campaigns that deceptively pit justice for immigrants against justice for
disadvantaged citizens.” (Patrick Bloniasz for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Immigration Policy as a Defense of White Nationhood,
Social Science Research Network,
March 20, 2020, 18 pp.
Author: Juan F. Perea
In this essay, the author takes a long view of American
history and sees the persistent theme of racism in American treatment of Mexicans, and more recently Central Americans. He
contends that the framers of the Constitution “imagined and engineered a nation by and for white people.” While
enslaved African-Americans were the most prominent victims of this policy, it was also reflected in American immigration policy,
leading to restrictions on Asian immigration and later immigration from southern and eastern Europe. While Mexicans were not
excluded under restrictive immigration statutes passed in the early 20th century, mainly because growers needed a cheap source
of labor, they were subject to periodic mass expulsions in order to preserve “white nationhood.” Such expulsions,
often involving people born in the United States, occurred in 1920-1921, 1929-1936, 1950 to 1954, and most recently during
the Obama and Trump administrations. “The repeated, cyclical expulsion of Latinx immigrants for imagined harms demonstrates
that Latinos remain uniquely expendable in the United States…The use of immigration and citizenship law in defense
of white nationhood illustrates that white nativism is the same as white supremacy.” The author suggests that legal
scholars have to devote more attention to how immigration and nationality law has become a “system of racial and demographic
Americans in Waiting: Finding Solutions for Long Term Residents,
Penn State Law Research Paper,
Feb. 6, 2020, 11 pp.
Author: Shoba, Sivaprasad Wadhia
This paper reviews how the U.S. has treated
(through legislation and administrative practice) long-resident immigrants who do not have status or who have some form of
temporary protection from removal. In doing so, the author suggests that there is ample precedent for creating solutions for
the large number of undocumented immigrants who have long resided in the U.S. and have thus developed deep ties to this country.
The author reviews current provisions of law that offer permanent status to long-resident undocumented immigrants (such as
Registry, available to those who have continuous residence since 1972), as well as the many pieces of legislation that have
been enacted over the years to offer legalization to all those with a certain length of residence (such as IRCA in 1986) or
to particular groups (such as NACARA in 1997). The author also reviews administrative policies that have recognized long-resident
immigrants as deserving of protection from deportation (including, for example, DACA, offered to immigrants brought to the
U.S. as children). The author concludes by urging permanent solutions for the millions of long-resident immigrants without
status or with temporary status, such as proposed legislation that would grant permanent residency to persons now protected
from deportation by DACA and Temporary Protected Status. DHS should also use its discretion, the author argues, and use length
of residence as a strong factor in deciding whom to remove.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Noncitizens and Across the U.S. Immigration System,
American Immigration Council,
May 2020, 47 pp.
Authors: Jorge Loweree et al
This special report from the American Immigration Council
examines the impact of government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. immigration system. It details changes
in policy and practice and makes recommendations in seven distinct contexts: immigrants and non-immigrants abroad, immigration
processing at U.S. land borders, immigration processing inside the United States, immigration enforcement and detention in
the U.S., the immigration court system, and the congressional response to the crisis. In each of these areas, the authors
argue that while responsible agencies have made some concessions to the challenges presented by the virus, the overall government
response has been slow, unnecessarily restrictive, often harmful, and potentially illegal. The pandemic has made it difficult
for immigrants to navigate many aspects of the immigration system, especially those that require face-to-face contact or presume
easy access to resources and freedom of movement. Immigrant detention and deportation increase the risk of spreading the virus
both in and outside of the United States. Restrictions on asylum put thousands of people at risk and potentially violate national
and international law. And the exclusion of many immigrants and their families from emergency support leaves them at a disadvantage.
Crucially, this report argues that the current administration has used the emergency to implement policy changes it has long
sought without regard to whether such changes in fact address the economic and public health issues raised by the virus. The
report’s recommendations suggest a way forward to a more robust and inclusive response that recognizes the importance
of immigrants to overall national recovery.
12 New Immigration Reform Ideas for the 21st Century,
CATO Institute, May 13, 2020, 51 pp.
Editors: Alex Nowrasteh & David
For the past few decades, the United States Congress has rejected all attempts at immigration reform
legislation. All rejected bills included policies aimed at legalizing current undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.,
increasing border enforcement, and liberalizing legal permanent immigration and temporary migration. Trying to break the impasse
on immigration reform, the CATO Institute assembled a group of policy analysts, economists, political scientists, journalists
and advocate to produce 12 New Immigration Reform Ideas for the 21st Century. Each expert wrote an essay advancing
a favored reform proposal. The proposals fall into four main categories. The first one seeks improvement via rule changes,
such as adjusting visa caps to be more in sync with the changing job market. The second proposes new visas for work, military
recruitment, and private sponsorships at the state level. The third category discusses changes to the immigration system itself,
including an essay on a complete overhaul of the selection system. The final category, represented exclusively by Robin Hanson,
Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University, calls for monetizing citizenship, allowing Americans and foreigners
to trade citizenship on a kind of open market, as well as utilizing “prediction markets” to track the net fiscal
impact of immigrants in various occupational categories. (Olivia
Pickard for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
How Promoting a Merit-Based Immigration System can Help Alleviate the DACA Problem,
Social Science Research Network, December 6, 2019, 21 pp.
Author: Jose Gallegos
Court has yet to decide whether the Trump administration's decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
(DACA) policy was lawful. The eventual court decision will affect more than 700,000 individuals, most of whom are
high-skilled workers, and enjoy overwhelming public support for permanent legalization of their status. In lieu of an amnesty
program to regularize their status, which the author suggests may not be politically viable, he argues for an overhaul of
the current immigration system to increase “merit-based” immigration and to secure the high-skilled workforce
of immigrants necessary for our nation's economic health. Such a program would open up opportunities for well-educated DACA
recipients to obtain permanent residence. In light of the fact that the US had millions of unfilled job openings, several
large companies have urged politicians to consider the vital role foreign-born workers play in the US economy and adjust immigrant
admission policy accordingly. The author recommends that high-skilled workers like DACA recipients should be given a path
to permanent residency by installing a robust, broad-based merit-based immigration policy that matches US business needs.
Consistent with the Trump administration’s “America First” policy, DACA recipients would be granted priority
over foreign-born applicants for the new immigration slots created by such a program. (Julianne P. Weiss, Ph.D.)
The Use of Executive Orders and Proclamations to Create Immigration Policy: Trump in Historical
Journal on Migration and Human Security, March 3, 2020, 14 pp.
This study explores President Trump’s unprecedentedly high use of executive orders (EOs) and proclamations
to advance his immigration policy agenda. Looking at both historical scholarship and archival sources (National Archives,
Federal Register, and the American Presidency Project) as far back as the Truman administration, the study notes that a far
greater share of Trump’s EOs and proclamations with regard to immigration have been substantive policy-making documents,
using executive power to determine how to implement the law, set priorities, and allocate resources, rather than delegating
authority, creating task forces, or conducting more routine or symbolic tasks as with earlier administrations. The president
has used executive power both at the “front end” of the system regarding who to admit – e.g., the travel
ban, reductions in refugee admissions, and the “public charge” policy – and at the “back end”
through exercising discretion regarding who to prioritize for removal – e.g., the border security and interior enforcement
EOs. The president, the study finds, also often operates without much process, circumventing procedures for consultation and
input from Congress, federal agencies, White House staff, and the public, and has often pursued objectives Congress likely
did not intend and/or repurposed Congress’s original design. Concluding that the impact of Trump’s immigration
policies will be felt for years beyond his presidency, the study offers a number of steps Congress can take to push back on
the administration’s use of executive authority, including: holding oversight hearings pursuant to the authority provided
to the president by Congress; taking inventory of the immigration authorities Congress has delegated to the executive branch
and deciding how they should be limited; and passing legislation to update and reform the US immigration system. The study
also recommends advocacy organizations continue to challenge the president’s executive actions, their insufficient process
and consultation, their statutory or constitutional justification, and their impact. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)
Statelessness in the United States: A Study to Estimate and Profile the US Stateless Population,
Center for Migration Studies, January 2020, 120 pp.
Authors: Donald Kerwin et al
of the USSR, Myanmar’s exclusion of Rohingya from citizenship, the inability of some Kuwaiti women to confer nationality
on their children, and the refusal of Thai officials to register births to members of Hill Tribes are just a few causes of
statelessness in the world today. Under international law a “stateless person” is defined as “a person who
is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.” This study applies this definition and
utilizes data from intergovernmental, governmental and academic sources, as well as surveys and interviews, to describe and
estimate the population of U.S. residents who are stateless or potentially at risk of becoming stateless (ca. 218,000). The
report includes short profiles of major groups of stateless people from around the world, and highlights the challenges they
face. In addition to limited employment prospects, domestic and international travel restrictions, and the threat of deportation,
stateless persons cannot receive protection from an embassy or return to their country of previous residence. To prevent and
reduce statelessness, the authors recommend ways to better identify stateless persons and policies that should be implemented
by government, international and non-governmental actors, including universal birth citizenship, and creating paths to legal
residency and citizenship. (Jasmina Popaja for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
The Impact of Administrative Policies on Immigration Levels and Labor Force Growth,
National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), February 2020, 13 pp.
As aging native-born workers leave the labor force, the growth of the U.S. workforce and
economy has increasingly depended on immigrant workers. More than 50 percent of U.S. workforce growth over the past 20 years
has come from immigrants and their children. This report from NFAP estimates that by 2021 Trump administration changes in
long-standing U.S. immigration policy will result in at least a 30 percent annual reduction (350,000) in legal immigration
to the U.S, resulting in a 35 percent reduction in the annual growth of the labor market and long-term damage to the U.S.
economy. The primary sources of this decline are not changes in law by Congress but executive branch decisions that include
a reduction in refugee admissions, the travel ban, and the impact of the revised public charge rule on immediate relatives
of U.S. citizens. NFAP projects that implementing the public charge rule and the travel ban will result in a 47 percent reduction
in the number of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who qualify for lawful permanent residence. Analysts also see a potential
significant impact from the complicated nature of new rules and documentation requirements, which will slow the issuance of
new visas and lead to increased rejection rates. In addition, a recent presidential proclamation requiring would-be immigrants
to have health insurance, though halted by a federal district court, would if implemented have an impact similar to or even
greater than the public charge rule. Depending on implementation of the public charge rule and other restrictions, the reduction
in legal immigration could be significantly greater than 30 percent; the study also models the impact of a more severe annual
reduction of immigration by 40 percent and 50 percent. Labor force growth according to economists is a key element of economic
growth, along with increased labor force participation and productivity. Without immigrants contributing to the quantity and
quality of the labor supply, one study argues, the majority of the country’s economic gains from 2011 and 2016 following
the recession would have been eliminated. The significant decline in the annual level of legal immigration, NFAP’s report
concludes, means that lower long-term economic growth may be President Trump’s most lasting legacy. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)
Legal Immigration Will Resolve America’s Real Border Problems,
Cato Institute Policy Analysis, December 31, 2019 (originally written August 20, 2019), 16 pp.
Recognizing the currently overwhelmed and ineffective immigration system, the author recommends
five reforms to make the asylum system manageable again and restore control over immigration flows. Given that the vast majority
of immigrants presenting themselves at the border are now families seeking asylum and entry into a legal immigration process,
the author argues that opening up forms of legal immigration is the only way to humanely address the high immigration flows,
as measures aimed at deterrence have not worked. The suggested reforms include: humanitarian parole, i.e. waiving entry restrictions
for Central Americans in the backlogged green card lines and with family in the US; private refugee sponsorship by US residents
and organizations; expansion of the H-2A and H-2B guest worker programs with a waiver on the H-2B cap and greater utilization
of these programs for year-round jobs; legalization of all undocumented immigrants with no serious criminal convictions; and
processing all asylum seekers immediately at the port of entry, releasing them with an employment authorization document contingent
on their appearing in court. According to the author, legal immigration is itself a proven and effective mechanism to manage
migration. He asserts that the proposed legal reforms would immediately relieve pressure on the Border Patrol, help dismantle
criminal smuggling networks, and reduce the victimization of immigrants, including families and children. (Julianne Weis,
USCIS Fee Increase Proposed Rule Could Represent the Latest Step in Reshaping Immigration to
Migration Policy Institute, December 2019, 4 pp.
Authors: Jessica Bolter
& Doris Meissner
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed fee increases for a number
of common applications, including an 83 percent increase in the fee for naturalization. According to this report by the Migration
Policy Institute, these increases will likely have a lasting impact on U.S. immigration policy. Unlike many other federal
agencies, USCIS is an agency that relies on filing fee income to cover the cost of its operations. The authors include a table
showing the yearly increase of fees for common applications starting in 2004. Of particular concern is the cost of asylum
applications and the reduction of fee waivers for several types of applications. The practice of charging individuals for
their asylum claims in uncommon - only Australia, Fiji, and Iran currently charge asylum applicants to have their cases adjudicated.
Additionally, the article notes that $100 million of USCIS funding was diverted to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. These
fee increases and diverting funding away from the agency, essentially moving resources from integration to enforcement, are
“the latest in a continuum of administration policies that could significantly reshape the face of legal immigration
to the United States… Taken together, these changes would likely reduce the number and shift the profile of those applying
for and being granted legal statuses that permit U.S. residence and citizenship.” (Mia Fasano for The Immigrant
Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Silence and the Second Wall,
Working Paper 19-26, Center for the Study of the Administrative State, George Mason University, October 25,
2019, 38 pp.
Authors: Ming H. Chen & Zachary R. New
While the Trump administration has made the construction
of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border a key policy goal, some experts argue that his bureaucratic efforts to stifle
migration have been just as effective as any physical barrier. “Silence and the Second Wall,” published in the
Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, suggests that changes to agency procedures and the imposition of bureaucratic
barriers have effectively created a “second wall” barring the admission of otherwise legal migrants. By tracking
the historical evolution of the U.S. immigration system and incorporating both policy analyses and case studies, the authors
establish how new procedural hurdles and rule changes decrease institutional accountability, prolong immigration proceedings,
increase costs for maintaining the system, and inhibit migrants from fully integrating into American society or even blocking
them altogether. When investigating why protests to the second wall do not compare to the outcries over the physical wall,
the study suggests that the lack of institutional integrity and transparency obfuscates the public from perceiving the second
wall’s impact on the operation of the immigration system. The authors assess the current forms of “resistance”
to these obstacles, such as the sanctuary movement, and recommend they be strengthened by, for example, mounting legal challenges
in individual cases; structural reforms, including a bigger budget for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and increasing
public pressure on government for greater accountability.
From Control to Crisis: Changing Trends and Policies Reshaping U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement,
Migration Policy Institute, August 2019, 52 pp.
Authors: Randy Capps et al
The year 2017
marked the lowest rates of illegal border crossings in almost 40 years. By 2019, that trend reversed itself as the U.S. Border
Patrol appreheneded approximately one million immigrants. From Control to Crisis: Changing Trends and Policies Reshaping U.S.-Mexico
Border Enforcement examines the changing demographics of migrants at the U.S. Southern border over the past decade and how
recent enforcement and punitive immigration policies by the Trump administration have made the border situation worse. The
authors note that there have been several demographic shifts among migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in the last decade.
While in 2008 the vast majority of apprehended migrants were Mexican, the majority now come from Honduras, El Salvador and
Guatemala. Furthermore, there has been a large increase in the number of families and unaccompanied minors crossing the border
versus working-age males and a much larger proportion of migrants are seeking asylum rather than employment. The report calls
for fundamental shifts in the infrastructure, policies and purpose of border enforcement at the Southern border in light of
changing demographics and the growing number of asylum seekers. These changes should include efforts at faster processing
of asylum cases, instituting supervised-release policies instead of long-term detention, tackling logistical needs for facilities
on the border to quickly admit families seeking asylum and supporting the United States’ regional allies by funding
programs to alleviate the root causes of emigration. The authors emphasize that current policies, which focus on punitive
actions and deterrence over humanitarian action and comprehensive reform, are factors in creating the present crisis.
(Deb D’Anastasio for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Equipping Immigrant Selection Systems for a Changing World of Work,
Transatlantic Council on Migration, July 2019, 31 pp.
Authors: Demetrios G. Papademetriou et al
The research for this paper was commissioned by the Transatlantic Council for its 2018 meeting in Brussels devoted to the
theme of “Building Migration Systems for a New Age of Economic Competitiveness.” The paper explores the implication
of the changing world of work for immigrant selection systems, highlighting key challenges such as figuring out how to anticipate
future labor-market needs, balancing employer demand with human-capital considerations, and building capacity for regional
variation into selection processes. The authors argue for a flexible system of immigrant selection using innovative
methodologies for assessing labor-market needs. They summarize the advantages and disadvantages of employer-driven selection
systems, e.g. allowing immigrants to fill hiring vacancies vs. human capital-focused systems, e.g. assigning points for levels
of education and host country language proficiency, acknowledging that elements of the two systems can be combined into one.
The Promise and Challenge of Humanitarian Protection in the United States: Making Temporary
Protected Status Work as a Safe Haven,
Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy (Forthcoming), Posted SSRN June 4, 2019, 33 pp
Andrew I. Schoennholtz
In 1990, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) began as an avenue of relief for migrants
fearful of armed conflict, natural disaster, epidemic or other extraordinary conditions in their countries. This paper highlights
how Congress and the Department of Homeland Security struggle to balance TPS’s humanitarian protection against the possibility
of attracting an influx of new migrants. By assessing Haitians’ TPS registrations and port-of-entry arrivals across
six years, author Andrew Schoenholtz demonstrates that TPS designation, re-designation and extension for Haitians did not
create an overall magnetic effect of drawing in more migrants. To ensure TPS programs retain their character as forms of temporary
relief, the author cites the United Nations High Commission for Refugee’s repatriation policy as a guide for encouraging
voluntary departure. According to this policy, once a source country’s crisis ends, the sheltering country should offer
financial incentives to facilitate the safe return and stable reintegration of TPS beneficiaries. In the U.S. context, the
Social Security tax payments of TPS recipients could be utilized to cover the cost of such a policy, given that recipients
are not eligible to collect their retirement benefits. As for TPS recipients coming from countries with prolonged crises,
Schoenholtz proposes a legislative fix, i.e. allowing paths to legal permanent residence so as not to uproot family and disrupt
work life. (Monica Leon for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Getting Migration in the Americas Right: A National Interest-Driven Approach,
Center for American Progress, June 24, 2019. 63 pp.
Restrepo et al
Violence, poverty, political instability and climate
change are fueling migration to the U.S. from other western hemisphere countries. According to the authors of this paper,
the U.S. must embrace a principled, cooperative and pragmatic approach to address this humanitarian crisis. In “Getting
Migration in the Americas Right: A National Interest-Driven Approach” the Center for American Progress lays out recommendations
for how the U.S. might best manage the migration situation in the Western Hemisphere. The report argues that the U.S. must
abandon its deterrence-only approach and instead seek to manage migration through “mitigation.” For example,
knowing that environmental degradation is a key driver of migration, the U.S. could assist populations in vulnerable areas
through crop diversification, water conservation and reforestation. Efforts like this require collective responses from local,
national and regional stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. As a regional leader, the U.S. is able to provide
the resources necessary to coordinate a collaborative approach to managing migration. Finally, the report argues, the U.S.
must abandon its nativist and cruel efforts at deterrence and adopt a more humane approach to immigration and border management
-- one that sets a positive example in its treatment of migrant populations. The alternative is increased border militarization
and continuation of the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Courtney Grant for The Immigrant
Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
The Trump Administration and the War on Immigration Diversity,
UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper, May 2, 2019, 41 pp.
R. Johnson & Rose Cuison-Villazor
This paper consists of three distinct sections. The first section presents
a short history of immigration policy in the United States, paying particular attention to discriminatory laws that prevented
non-white populations from entering the country and obtaining citizenship. The authors assert that laws put in place to limit
immigration from countries like China were part of an effort to create a “white” nation. They note that the passage
of the 1965 Immigration Act, which outlawed the use of race and national origin in determining eligibility for entry, thus
produced a radical change in policy that greatly increased the diversity of the immigrant population. The second section reviews
three key elements of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies – the Muslim Ban, changes in Public Charge
guidelines that would make it more difficult for certain immigrants to gain permanent legal residency, and ending family reunification
as the basis for legal immigration. The authors also touch on the Trump Administration’s efforts to end DACA and TPS
for certain populations. They suggest that Trump’s rhetoric and actions are an attempt to return to a pre-1965 Immigration
Act “white” nation. The third section of the report reviews challenges to the Trump Administration’s actions,
particularly within the court system. This section presents detailed accounts of relevant Supreme Court decisions, including
the arguments presented by the dissenting justices who ruled against the administration. The authors anticipate continued
legal and political resistance to Trump’s policies.
Policy Proposals to Address the Central American Migration Challenge,
Bipartisan Policy Center, July 2019, 11 pp.
This policy brief
from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) begins by noting that the Trump administration’s enforcement-only approach to
stem the flow of Central American migrants has neither stemmed the flow nor improved the U.S. immigration system’s ability
to manage migration in general. The brief presents a set of policy recommendations for addressing the migrant crisis. These
include changes to the asylum system, measures to be taken at the border, and bilateral and multilateral efforts with Mexico
and the countries of Central America. Regarding the asylum system, the authors urge an increase in asylum system and immigration
court resources to make more timely decisions on asylum claims—prioritizing recent cases at the border, so that new
cases are not added to the immigration court backlog. At the border, BPC recommends building more infrastructure to handle
asylum claims, and reversing counterproductive policies, such as separating children from non-parent relatives, leading to
false claims of parentage. Finally, there are a number of recommendations for working with Mexico and the countries of Central
America to protect migrants in those countries in the short term, and to help the Central American countries, in particular,
to attack the root causes of migration—lack of safety and opportunity. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)
Restoring the Rule of Law Through a Fair, Humane, and Workable Immigration System,
Center for American Progress, July 22, 2019, 59 pp.
Author: Tom Jawetz
Immigration is not a choice between ideals and laws. According to Tom Jawetz in “Restoring the Rule
of Law Through a Fair, Humane, and Workable Immigration System,” a framework that embraces both restoring the rule of
law (ending Trump administration policies) and “building a fair, humane and well-functioning immigration system”
can help policymakers and the general public appreciate the need for reform and more clearly consider effective immigration
solutions. Jawetz first offers historical context as to how the U.S. acquired its current immigration legal system and then
got enmeshed in the present rancorous immigration debate. He explains the meaning of “the rule of law” before
arguing that recent policies by the Trump administration contravene the very thing it purports to uphold as evidenced by separating
families at the U.S.-Mexico border, terminating programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected
Status, and denying asylum protections. Instead of these hardline policies, Jawetz urges the development of a set of guiding
principles that couples adherence to the law with faithfulness to the ideals of the United States as a place of refuge. Such
a linkage would require: building a generous and responsive immigration system; establishing a humane asylum and refugee
system; committing to “proportionality, accountability and due process in immigration enforcement”; and creating
a path to citizenship for long-term undocumented residents. By doing so, the United State can live up to its ideals as both
a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
Immigrant Wait Times from Quotas Have Doubled: Green Card Backlogs Are Long, Growing, and Inequitable,
Cato Institute, June 18, 2019, 20 pp.
Author: David Bier
Although President Trump asserted that he would welcome immigrants with proper authorization coming to the United States,
wait times for many of those immigrants have reached extraordinarily high levels. In this study, the Cato Institute’s
immigration policy analyst David J. Bier uses data from the U.S. Department of State to examine the viability of today’s
legal immigration system. Would-be immigrants experience two types of delays: bureaucratic delays in the processing of initial
applications, and delays after applications have been approved due to numerical and per-country limits on immigrant visa availability.
This study examines the second type of delay. The paper highlights that there are nearly five million people waiting
in the application backlog, and that wait times have grown exponentially over recent decades. For example, the processing
time for applicants in employment-based categories has increased more than sevenfold in just three decades. Lengthy wait times
disproportionately affect applicants from certain countries of origin, particularly Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines.
When an applicant from one of these countries reaches the country limit, someone from another country can pass them in line.
The paper recommends that the outdated quotas should be reformed to reflect the growth in the American economy over the last
40 years. The author further suggests that country of origin limitations should end, and congress should place a five-year
limit on wait times for green cards. The author argues that these reforms are necessary to have viable legal paths to immigration
so the U.S. can remain competitive in a fast-changing global economy. (Ayse Alkilic for The Immigrant Learning Center’s
Public Education Institute)
Changing Patterns of Interior Immigration Enforcement in the United States,
American Immigration Council, 2016-2018, June 2019, 38 pp.
Authors: Guillermo Cantor et al
There have been significant changes in the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operates under the Trump administration
compared to the Obama administration. In this report, the authors examine changes in ICE activities from the last part of
the Obama administration to the first part of the Trump administration. Their analysis reveals differences in interior enforcement
strategies, groups targeted for deportation, and the geographic locus of enforcement activities. By analyzing data provided
by ICE, this study found that the overall number of encounters and arrests increased under the Trump administration: encounters
for the month of January 2016, for example, amounted to 27,540, but rose to 38,298 in January of 2018. An examination of who
has been subject to interior enforcement revealed a striking increase in the number of U.S. citizens encountered by ICE under
Trump. The study also found that ICE encountered and arrested more women in the first part of the Trump administration than
in the last part of the Obama administration. While some enforcement strategies showed continuity across administrations,
the first year of the Trump administration saw a significant increase in both at-large and custodial arrests. The geographic
distribution of at-large arrests has been uneven, with the cities of Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Phoenix experiencing the greatest
increases. The authors suggest that further research is needed in order to understand why certain groups and geographic areas
have become more vulnerable to ICE actions under Trump. (Courtney Grant for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public
“Merit-Based” Immigration: Trump Proposal Would Dramatically Revamp Immigrant Selection
Criteria, But with Modest Effects on Numbers,
Migration Policy Institute, May 30, 2019, 9 pp.
Authors: Muzaffar Chishti
& Jessica Bolter
The Trump administration has promised to bring forward a proposal to make significant
changes to the U.S. legal immigration system. Details have yet to be released, but in this essay, MPI examines what we know
about the administration’s approach and summarizes some of the major changes. The administration’s plan would
shift our immigration policy away from family immigration toward a “merit-based” system, and base selection on
a point system that would favor skills and employability. Overall numbers would change little, according to the authors’
projections. Immigrants from China and India, who dominate today’s employment immigration channels, would likely be
favored in the new system. The authors note that selection through a government-regulated point system would be a major departure
from the current demand-driven system in which employers have more say. The system would not address gaps in the low- and
middle-skills workforce. In addition to reviewing changes that would likely result from the new system, the authors provide
a brief history of our current bifurcated immigration system, remark on the point systems of other countries, review past
attempts to install a point system in the U.S., and speculate on the prospects for the administration’s proposal.
(Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)
Harvard Law Review, May 2019, 61 pp.
Author: K-Sue Park
“Self-Deportation Nation” provides a critical look at the history, development, and use of self-deportation strategies
in the United States. The author defines “self-deportation” as “efforts to make life so unbearable for a
group that its members will leave a place.” Through an examination of historical episodes such as Indian removal, the
emancipation of slaves and black colonization efforts, the article highlights how direct and indirect methods have been used
throughout American history to encourage an ethnic or social group to go elsewhere. The author explains that “the term
is strongly associated with recent state and municipal attempts to ‘attack every aspect of an illegal alien’s
life,’ including the ability to find employment and housing, drive a vehicle, make contracts, and attend school.”
The role of subordination and private discrimination is further highlighted as an indirect tool that the federal government
and states used throughout history not only to remove unwanted groups from the country, but also to achieve maximum control
over their labor. The article also suggests that indirect methods often paved the way for, and eventually intertwined with,
more forceful, direct removal methods. The authors believe that it is important to recognize the interconnectedness and complementary
relationship of self-deportation and the direct deportation system. “Without seeing how direct and indirect strands
of removal policy developed together and in relation to one another, it is not possible to understand the dynamics and scope
of the immigration system as a whole.” (Stephanie DePauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education
Eight Key U.S. Immigration Policy Issues: State of Play and Unanswered Questions,
Migration Policy Institute, Mary 2019, 34 pp.
Authors: Doris Meissner
& Julia Gelatt
Although the Trump administration has focused its attention on stemming illegal entry on
the southern border, it has failed to adequately address a range of other immigration-related issues. In this MPI report,
the authors identify eight issues that “merit increased discussion” and present an opportunity for lawmakers to
“inject policy ideas of their own into what have been prolonged, often stagnant, legislative debates.” The report
provides a topline summary of each issue, key questions for consideration, and in some instances, new policy ideas. Among
the eight issues are: how to measure return on investment in border funding; how to justify generalized interior enforcement
rather than enforcement focused on security risks and those with criminal records? Should the three- and ten-year bars to
adjustment of status be revisited in order to allow undocumented immigrants with family ties to U.S. citizens to “get
in line” for green cards? How to revise the H-1B program to protect the interest of American workers while retaining
a pipeline to skilled foreign workers? How to ensure an adequate labor supply for the agricultural sector long dependent on
unauthorized workers? And what place should the refugee program have within the larger immigration system?
Moving Away from Crisis Management: How the United States Can Strengthen Its Response
to Large-Scale Migration Flows,
Center for Migration Studies of New York, 2019, 46 pp.
In this essay, author Rena Cutlip-Mason reviews the
U.S. government’s response to the influx of immigrants from the Central American “Northern Triangle” countries
of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala between 2011-2016. The paper critiques the Trump administration’s “extreme
border policies,” while also faulting the Obama administration for failing to deal effectively with the root causes
of the Central American migration crisis. The unanticipated sharp rise of child migration that began in 2012, the increase
in the migration of family groups beginning in the spring of 2014 and the sustained influx of both of these groups through
2015 has posed a major challenge to the government’s housing capacity and human resources. In response, the U.S. government
adopted a strategy of deterrence, which included the use of family detention centers. This strategy has been largely ineffective
as evidenced by the unabated migration of children and families seeking asylum in the United States Concluding that “the
U.S. immigration system – which was designed for a different era in our history – is too inflexible to accommodate
changed and evolving migration patterns,” the author outlines a number of recommendations for reform of the system,
including: the establishment of a robust in-country refugee processing program; creating alternatives to detention; establishing
a fair and independent immigration court system; providing improved access to counsel; increasing communication and cooperation
within government; and addressing the underlying causes for migration. (Kristine Germar for The Immigrant Learning Center
Public Education Institute)
White Nationalism as Immigration Policy,
Stanford Law Review, March 2019, 13 pp.
Authors: Jayashri Srikantiah & Shirin Sinnar
This review comes to the conclusion that legal efforts to block the Trump Administration’s agenda with regards to
immigrants and immigration should explicitly critique administration policies for their roots in the ideology of white nationalism,
rather than using more legalistic framing devices. In addition to citing Trump’s own numerous racist and xenophobic
statements, the authors briefly review key moments in legal history that show the persistent influence of white nationalism
on immigration policies. They explain that historically the Supreme Court has ceded authority over immigration to the legislative
and executive branches through the plenary power doctrine, which has served to disconnect immigration law from larger developments
in constitutional law. One effect of this separation is that traditional claims to rights relying on the Equal Protection
Clause and the Due Process Clause have not been helpful in cases challenging immigration policy. However, the authors believe
that despite the likelihood that Equal Protection challenges will not be successful, such claims may help raise awareness
of the central role white nationalism has played in the development of immigration policy. They suggest that Equal Protection
claims speak directly to the dehumanization of immigrant communities, rather than to legalistic flaws in policy, and thus
can play a role in shaping the public understanding of the situation. They conclude that failing to raise such claims risks
normalizing white nationalism as part of politics and “if legal actors cannot call out racism even when it manifests
itself in the express comments and policies of the President, there is little hope of countering it in its more subtle and
pervasive forms.” (Erik Jacobson, Montclair Sate University)
Competing Approaches to Selecting Economic Immigrants: Points-Based vs. Demand-Driven Systems,
Migration Policy Institute, April 2019, 37 pp.
Authors: Demetrios G. Papademetriou & Kate
This timely paper examines the two models for the administration of employment-stream immigration:
demand-driven and point system. In demand-driven systems, immigrants are admitted, subject to government regulation, based
on an offer from employers. In a point-based immigration system, governments devise a preference system based on a number
of factors, including labor-market needs, education and skills of the prospective immigrant, previous in-country work experience,
language ability and other factors. Employer-driven systems tend to be more efficient, matching arriving immigrant workers
with employers. Point systems have had problems with immigrants arriving based on points accumulated, then struggling in the
job market. On the other hand, point systems — more successful in countries with strong executive powers over immigration
— can quickly adjust to the changing needs of the workforce and are not dependent on years- or decades-long legislative
processes. They are more transparent, and more likely to inspire confidence among members of the receiving society. Since
their inception, point systems have evolved, and have incorporated elements of demand-driven systems. (A job offer from an
employer, or previous in-country work experience, can add points to an immigrant’s score, for example.) The report takes
a detailed look at the Canadian point-based immigration system for immigrant workers. The paper also discusses the evolving
global marketplace for workers, and stresses that policy makers need not only to think about what benefits their immigration
system will bring for their countries, but how they can attract and retain immigrants with needed skills. Immigrant-receiving
countries and developing countries are increasingly competing for talented immigrants. A country with an immigration system
that cannot quickly evolve in response to changing circumstances will be left behind in the race for top talent. (Maurice
Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)
USCIS Processing Delays Have Reached Crisis Levels Under the Trump Administration,
American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Policy Brief, January 30, 2019, 14 pp.
Boyd & Greg Chena
This paper examines alarming trends in processing times for immigration benefits. In
brief, processing times by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have dramatically increased, resulting in a surge
in application backlogs. For example, the net backlog (the gross backlog minus cases where USCIS is waiting for additional
information from the applicant) increased more than 100 percent — from 1,048,000 to 2,330,000 — between fiscal
years 2016 (the last of the Obama administration) and 2017. The paper includes a few case examples of the consequences of
these delays, such as the dentist who lost her job offer from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, due to delays
in processing her work authorization application. AILA attributes the dramatic lengthening of application processing to procedures
instituted since the beginning of the Trump administration — changing USCIS from a service-oriented agency into “a
third immigration enforcement component of DHS.” The paper makes a number of recommendations for reducing the backlogs
— including rescission of policies that have needlessly delayed adjudications and greater Congressional oversight. (Maurice
Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)
Communities in Crisis: Interior Removals and Their Human Consequences,
Center for Migration Studies of New York & Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, November
2018, 32 pp.
Authors: Donald Kerwin et al
This report attempts to gauge the impact of deportations on
individual immigrants and their family members. Researchers surveyed 133 deportees from the United States at a migrant shelter
in Nogales, Mexico. All were Mexican nationals, all but one were men, and on average, they had lived in the U.S. for about
20 years. Among significant findings were the following: more than half had entered the U.S. as minors (below age 18);
almost all had been employed in the U.S. (with an average of 10 years in the same job and earning an average of about $2,800
a month); nearly half said they had not been convicted of a crime prior to deportation (others were convicted of a traffic
or immigration offense); a high percentage (65.2 percent) reported that their deportation began with a police arrest; most
left citizen spouses and children behind in the U.S. who were experiencing severe financial hardship in their absence; and
three-quarters reported that they planned to return to the U.S. The report’s authors make a series of recommendations
to different stakeholders (Department of Homeland Security, Congress, state and local police, and to faith communities) to
mitigate the “harsh consequences” of U.S. deportation policy and “to promote the integrity of families and
communities.” For example, the authors urge Homeland Security to issue prosecutorial discretion guidelines to spare
immigrants without criminal records and those with U.S. family members from deportation; they urge Congress to pass legislation
to reduce family-based visa backlogs and to align immigration policy with the nation’s “economic, family, and
humanitarian interests;” they urge local police to limit collaboration with ICE; and they urge faith communities “to
advocate for the generous exercise of prosecutorial discretion; humane enforcement policies that prioritize family unity and
cohesive communities; expanded legal avenues to regularized status; and strong citizenship policies.”
The Landscape of Immigration Detention in the United States,
American Immigration Council, December 2018, 31 pp.
Authors: Emily Ryo
& Ian Peacock
This report presents findings from an empirical analysis of immigration detention across
the United States. The authors analyze government and other data on the 355,729 individuals who were detained during fiscal
year 2015. The average daily detention rate was 33,200 during the year, up more than five-fold from the 6,785 rate in 1994.
The vast majority of these individuals (89 percent) were from Mexico or the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala,
and Honduras). Detained individuals were held in 638 detention facilities scattered across the country, but mostly in remote
locations far away from legal and community support networks. Most of these facilities were jails or prisons operated by state
or local governments, or private facilities operated by for-profit correctional companies. There appears to be much movement
of detainees between facilities creating challenges and frustration for family members. About 54 percent of the 261,020 individuals
released from detention during the year experienced at least one transfer, often from one city or state to another. The average
length of detention (mean) was about 38 days. The authors observe that “privately operated facilities and remotely located
facilities require special scrutiny, given that placement in these types of facilities is associated with longer detention
length and higher volume of grievances.”
Who’s Behind ICE? The Tech and Data Companies Fueling Deportations,
Mijente, Immigrant Defense Project, & the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild,
August 2018, 74 pp.
This report aims to do a number of things. First, it intends to raise alarm about how
digital data collection is being used by federal authorities and local police to target individuals for law enforcement action.
The authors note that although the focus of such activity is often out-of-status immigrants, this approach to policing is
also negatively affecting people of color more generally. Through cloud storage and coordination, larger amounts of personal
data are available for analysis, allowing for mass deportations and attempts to predict future behavior. The authors believe
that the use of this type of powerful technology calls for expanding “sanctuary city” policies to combat mass
digital surveillance. Second, the report calls attention to the number and size of contracts given to private companies to
host and work with data the government has collected (e.g., Amazon, Palantir, etc.). The report notes that there has been
a revolving door in this area, as government officials draft official policy that benefits companies they work for after leaving
their posts. Some of these individuals then rotate back into government and are tasked with monitoring their former companies.
The authors see a need for greater public awareness of how these private companies are profiting by abetting ICE and suggest
that employees of these companies can play a key role by raising their voices in protest. Finally, the report attempts to
map the connections between people and companies that create the larger network that supports ICE and other agencies involved
in deportations. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
The Immigration Debate: The Poison Infecting Our Politics,
The New Center, November2018, 61 pp + notes
Launched in 2017,
the New Center is focused on creating the political space and intellectual basis for a viable political center in today’s
America. The project is co-chaired by Bill Galston, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and former Democratic
Party operative, and Bill Kristol, the founder and former editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. This publication
on immigration policy seeks to “drain the poison” from the immigration debate, eschew the extreme views of right
and left, and chart a way forward consistent with the views of the majority of Americans. The initial sections of the report
summarize the evidence available on a variety of topics, such as U.S. immigrant admission priorities compared to those of
other countries; the composition of the undocumented immigrant population; the impacts of illegal immigration on the economy,
public safety, and the social safety net; and the economic impact of immigration in general. The report concludes with a set
of proposals that could form the basis of a bipartisan immigration deal in Congress. Key elements of their proposal include
the following: maintaining current levels of immigration but shifting to a more employment-focused system; limiting family-based
immigration to nuclear families; elimination of the diversity visa lottery; creating a new provisional visa program; toughened
language requirements for naturalization; a rigorous legalization program for undocumented immigrants ultimately leading to
citizenship, but only after spending ten years as “registered provisional immigrants;” immediate permanent residence
for qualified Dreamers; a combination of physical barriers and enhanced electronic surveillance to better fortify the southern
border; implementation of a universal E-Verify system; discontinuation of the use of private prisons for immigration
detention and an end to mandatory detention; establishment of an independent commission to advise Congress and the president
on immigration policy; and the creation of an Office of New Americans to oversee efforts to integrate immigrants into American
Unjust Deserts: How the Modern Deportation System Lacks Moral Credibility
Ohio State Journal of Criminal Justice (Forthcoming), posted SSRN March 16, 2018, 59 pp.
Chan & Kathryn Burkart
This article analyzes the lawfulness of mass incarceration of undocumented immigrants, as well as the rationale
for the resistance to such incarceration. Drawing upon research from prominent criminologists, the article argues that laws
are likely to be followed when the community considers them morally credible and when they are consistent with existing cultural
norms. When laws are considered arbitrary in nature, such as those with racist undertones or those targeting vulnerable individuals
based on low economic status, communities tend to not comply. In response to detention rates nearing 400,000 individuals per
year, there has been widespread noncompliance with federal immigration law. The authors argue that the deportation system
lacks moral credibility because it appears racialized (with Latinos constituting over 90 percent of deportees), lacks transparency
in operation, and fails to allow for judicial discretion on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, laws are generally followed when
there is a fair and equal interpretation of the law, including punishment proportional to the severity of the offense. Immigration
law is overwhelmingly complex and often requires consultation with an immigration attorney specialized in crime-based removal
to interpret where waivers from removal are often arbitrarily accessible. The resulting decision to grant relief from deportation
or to remove the individual is a binary decision and does not allow a punishment proportional to the nature of the offense,
as found elsewhere in the criminal justice system. In conclusion, the authors argue that the approach to deportation must
be altered to achieve greater fairness and to avoid prolonged detention as immigrants pursue legal remedies against deportation.
(Mia Fasano for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Presidential Power to Protect Dreamers: Abusive or Proper?
Yale Law and Policy Review, Inter Alia, Winter 2018, 17 pp.
Author: Kevin J. Fandel
this article, Kevin J. Fandel, Temple University Law Professor and former Counsel to the Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement, examines the legal arguments surrounding the grant of Deferred Action to Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
by the Obama Administration. He concludes that future policymakers will look back on DACA "not as an aberration from
constitutional governance, but as a model of one legitimate way for presidents to respond to sweeping federal statutes that
lack enforcement guidelines." Fandel points out that there is ample precedent for prosecutorial discretion in individual
cases. What is unusual about the DACA program is its grant of discretion to an entire class of individuals. Everyone knows
for example that the police cannot enforce every violation of local traffic laws. However, if the speed limit were 55, and
the local authorities unilaterally decided to exempt persons driving under 65, wouldn't that policy be considered a usurpation
of legislative authority by the executive branch? The analogy isn't a good one, Fandel believes, considering the long
history of congressional inaction on immigration matters, the enforcement dilemma faced by the executive branch, and the compelling
plight of an innocent group of young people. The rest of this essay reviews the various court decisions on the subject, including
the Fifth Circuit's 2015 ruling that the expansion of DACA, while consistent with the long tradition of executive discretion,
was also tantamount to the conferring of benefits on aliens without legislative authorization, as well as the 2018 reinstatement
of DACA based on a California U.S. District Court ruling that the Trump Administration had violated the Administrative Procedures
Act. The author concludes that the Trump Administrations' contention that DACA is an example of "executive overreach"
is baseless and ahistorical.
Immigration Governance for the Twenty-First Century,
Journal on Migration and Human Security, 6:1 (2018), 25 pp.
Author: Ruth Ellen Wasem
that "immigration is not a program to be administered" but rather "a phenomenon to be managed," Ruth Ellen
Wasem, former immigration specialist for the Congressional Research Service and now a Professor of Public Policy at the University
of Texas, reviews the "checkered past" of immigration policy over the last century and, despite numerous efforts
to reform the system, the "fragmented" and "diffuse" nature of immigration governance today. "Today
the US system of immigration governance," she writes, "is scattered across the federal government, with no clear
chain of command..." She discusses the five major functions of immigration governance: selection, border control,
enforcement, refugees, and the court system, and the entities with responsibilities in each area. Not only does she describe
the current system as "balkanized," but she also laments the fact that "immigration leadership responsibilities
are nested at the third tier down within these federal departments and are dispersed across eight agency heads." At the
same time, the perspective of other federal agencies, such as agriculture and labor, are not fully integrated into the federal
immigration system. She concludes her essay with a number of recommendations, including the form
Leveraging Social Science Expertise in Immigration Policymaking,
University of Colorado Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-10, April 3, 2018
Author: Ming Hsu Chen
is social science expertise important in policymaking, and why is such expertise noticeably shunned in immigration policymaking,
an area of governance often swirling in a sea of misinformation, prejudice, and political posturing? These are two questions
that the author of this paper seeks to answer. She begins by reviewing the history of the "administrative state,"
which was "democracy's way of dealing with the overcomplicated social and economic problems of today." Among the
safeguards built into the modern state was "the creation of a professionalized civil service that would serve as neutral
experts within a political system...promis(ing) both a substantive and structural check on politics." A second type of
expertise came from outside government, in the form of independent researchers tasked with studying specific problems, either
on an ad-hoc basis or through service on a wide variety of advisory bodies. Finally, legislation such as the Administrative
Procedures Act spelled out procedures for securing public comment on proposed courses of action. The author points out that
the rejection of expertise has been most pronounced in the area of immigration and has grown more emphatic since the Trump
administration took control of the federal government. She discusses three areas where government policy has disregarded the
weight of social science evidence: border control, crime control, and the treatment of refugees. She concludes by offering
recommendations on how to enhance the role of expertise and social science evidence in immigration decision-making. One suggestion
is to consult more closely with career people working in the various federal agencies who might have knowledge and expertise
relevant to a proposed course of action. Another is to make greater use of advance notice and public comment before implementing
any major change of policy. She also recommends strengthening the independence and professionalism of immigration courts.
Congress could also mandate that policy changes be supported with studies that disclose the methods, assumptions, and data
sources used in developing new policies. All of these steps are "particularly consequential in the midst of a populist
moment that rejects expertise in the service of a virulent anti-immigrant policy agenda, and that relies on missing or erroneous
data to strip immigrants of their most basic rights."
Deconstructing the Invisible Wall: How Policy Changes by the Trump Administration Are Slowing and Restricting
American Immigrant Lawyers Association, March 19, 2018, 26 pp.
This paper takes a look at Trump administration
policies and procedures that are slowing the pace of legal immigration and erecting an "invisible wall" even as
construction of President Trump's desired physical wall has been delayed or derailed. The authors divide the administration's
actions into six broad categories. One policy change involves additional burdens created by new "extreme vetting"
policies. Another arises from new restrictions on temporary skilled worker programs (In their discussion, the authors note
there are more restrictive policies to come, including revocation of regulations that have permitted entrepreneurs to enter
the U.S. and spouses of H-1B visa holders to work). A third category involves a number of humanitarian programs for "compelling
populations" that are being terminated (DACA, TPS and the Central American Minors program) or that are being slowed to
a trickle (the "extreme vetting" of refugees). Another policy change places new obstacles on the naturalization
of immigrants serving in the U.S. military. Another change stems from backlogs in a range of applications for immigration
benefits caused by slowdowns in processing time. Finally, the paper shows how USCIS has become less open to stakeholder input
and has focused more on national security than on customer service. The paper concludes by noting that, once this administration
is gone, it will probably take years to chip away at the policies and rules that make up the "bricks" in the administration's
"invisible wall." (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Welcome to Work? Legal Migration Pathways for Low-Skilled Workers,
Migration Policy Institute, January 2018, 16 pp.
Authors: Kathleen Newland & Andrea Riester
brief explores the international migration opportunities available to low-skilled workers, the constraints on their movement
and the development impacts of these patterns. Permanent admissions programs for low-skilled labor are rare. However, a number
of trends in Western industrialized countries have combined to create high demand for low-skilled workers to fill temporary
and longer-term jobs. Some of this demand may be met indirectly, through family reunification or humanitarian admissions,
but currently most programs for the admission of low-skilled workers are temporary programs. These are problematic, as they
offer few rights and protections for migrants. Restrictions on the immigration of low-skilled workers have resulted in these
jobs being often filled by unauthorized immigrants. Providing legal migration channels for low-skilled workers is a focus
of a number of international discussions, including, for example, the Global Compact for Migration, which U.N. member states
have agreed to negotiate by the end of 2018. The brief makes a number of recommendations for policymakers interested in creating
or expanding low-skilled labor programs, including improving coordination between countries of origin and destination and
building careful evaluation into program design (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates).
The Value of Family-Based Immigration
American Immigration Lawyers Association, Policy Brief, January 8, 2018, 8 pp.
Authors: Greg Chen & Diane Rish
The Trump administration seeks to make drastic cuts to America's family-based immigration system and uses the pejorative
term "chain migration" to refer to the immigration of close family members. This paper by the American Immigration
Lawyers Association (AILA) describes the categories of relatives who are eligible to come to the U.S. through the family immigration
system and the various hoops they must jump through before being awarded an immigrant visa. The authors lay out the facts
about caps in the various preference categories, the limited number of visas available, and the lengthy wait a typical immigrant
must endure before obtaining a visa. In doing so, the paper puts into context the Trump administration's insinuation that
immigrants are coming here and bringing in distant relatives in an unending chain. For example, the paper notes that the U.S.
government is currently granting green cards for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who filed applications more than 13
years ago. Looking at the number of siblings of U.S. citizens currently waiting for a visa, AILA estimates that someone applying
today will have to wait 36 years for a visa. The paper points out that most immigrants throughout American history have come
as the result of family ties. The paper briefly discusses the economic importance of family-based immigrants, who are generally
of prime working age when they arrive in the U.S. , and whose relatives often facilitate their economic integration (by, for
example, making it possible to start or grow a business). AILA notes that eliminating or significantly reducing the ability
of immigrants to bring family members will make it more difficult to attract immigrants with high-demand skills (since people
are reluctant to leave family members behind). Elimination of legal channels will also be a future driver of undocumented
immigration as families who want to be together will have no legal options (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates).
Understanding America's Legal Immigration System,
National Foundation for American Policy, December 2017, 19 pp.
Author: Stuart Anderson
paper very briefly describes the U.S. immigration system, explains why immigration is important to the country, and addresses
many of the myths prevalent in the immigration debate of today. In the context of current proposals to cut legal immigration,
the author explains the importance of Immigration for the growth in our workforce. He also notes that immigrants are disproportionately
entrepreneurs, and immigrants who've come on family visas start many of America's small businesses. Immigrants have also made
many important contributions in the fields of science and medicine. Temporary immigrants, too, are important to the U.S. economy,
and the author runs through the alphabet soup of temporary worker visas and their purposes. As to the myths being repeated
by advocates of lower immigration levels, the author notes that the number of new immigrants coming to the U.S. today is lower
than it was in the early 1900s relative to total population, and that since 2001, the annual level of immigration has remained
about the same. This contradicts those who say that "chain migration" is resulting in ever greater migration. The
author notes there are no visa categories for "extended" family members, and the wait for some close family members-brothers
and sisters, for example-may be 20 years due to the limited number of visas available and per-country limits on visas awarded.
The question of immigration's impact on native-born workers is also addressed, and there is little evidence for the idea that
immigrants adversely impact native-born workers in any way. Finally, the author focuses on a topic that has so far received
little press: education levels of new immigrants have been rising, and they are now, on average, higher than that of natives.
(Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
For Love of Country: New Americans Serving in Our Armed Forces
National Immigration Forum, November, 2017, 29 pp.
Authors: Maurice Belanger et al
Dating back to
the earliest days of the Republic, immigrants have played an integral role in the defense of the United States and its assets
around the globe. In the mid-19th century, half of all Army recruits were immigrants, and in 2016, 11 percent of U.S. veterans
were first- or second-generation immigrants. During past wars, immigrants were permitted to serve if they declared their intent
to become citizens and then were granted citizenship in recognition of their service. However, in 1961 Congress added lawful
U.S. residency as a condition for recruitment, one of many hurdles potential immigrant recruits now face. "For the Love
of Country: New Americans Serving in our Armed Forces" highlights not only the historical contributions of immigrants
to the U.S. military but also their potential to strengthen today's military by: expanding the pool of eligible candidates,
providing critical linguistic diversity and cultural competencies, and improving retention rates. It also outlines the unique
challenges faced by immigrant recruits and veterans alike such as worrying about potential deportation of undocumented family
members while serving overseas or facing deportation after completion of their own military service. The report calls on Congress
and the White House to modernize the immigrant recruitment process through reforms that would allow undocumented immigrants
to serve, provide pathways to citizenship for service members, and support families of immigrant service members thereby ensuring
fair treatment in light of their service to the country. (Jonathan Eizyk for The Immigrant Learning Center's
Public Education Institute)
Can the Government Deport Immigrants Using Information it Encouraged Them to Provide?
Administrative Law Review, 2:97 (2017), 14 pp.
Author: Amanda Frost
This essay describes the legal and
policy issues raised by any systematic effort to deport unauthorized immigrants based on information the government invited
them to provide. Part I of the essay briefly surveys some of the major laws, regulations, and programs that encourage unauthorized
immigrants to identify themselves. Part II assesses the statutory and constitutional arguments that immigrants could raise
as a defense against deportations based on self-reported data. Part III explains that even if the government's systematic
use of such data to deport unauthorized immigrants is legal, doing so would be a poor policy choice for any administration,
even one that seeks to drastically increase deportations. The federal government has always balanced immigration enforcement
against other goals and values, such as deterring crime, protecting wages and working conditions, collecting taxes, and preventing
U.S. citizen children from being separated from their parents. Deporting immigrants based on information provided in the service
of these greater goals would elevate immigration enforcement over all other federal policies. Furthermore, doing so would
almost immediately render these laws a dead letter, since no rational unauthorized immigrant would apply for visas or pay
taxes if doing so were tantamount to self-deportation. Accordingly, any increase in removals from the use of such data will
be fleeting, while the damage done to immigrants'-and perhaps all citizens'-trust in the government will be permanent.
Differing DREAMs: Estimating the Unauthorized Populations that Could Benefit under Different Legalization
Migration Policy Institute, October, 2017, 5 pp.
Author: Jeanne Batalova et al
In 2017, the Trump
administration announced that it would terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program
had granted protection from deportation and work authorization to unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the United States
as children, also known as DREAMers. By mid-October 2017, multiple bills were introduced in response to this announcement
including the Recognizing America's Children Act (RAC Act), the DREAM Act of 2017, the American Hope Act, the SUCCEED Act,
and Border Security and Deferred Action Recipient Relief Act. This fact sheet by the Migration Policy Institute estimates
how many DREAMers would benefit from each of these five legislative proposals. The charts show those initially eligible to
apply, as well as those eligible to advance to legal permanent residence status after a period of conditional residence. The
most generous bill, which would grant both eligibility and permanent residence to an estimated 3.6 million immigrants, is
the American Hope Act. The least generous bill is the Succeed Act, which would enable 2 million people to apply, but only
advance 1.3 million to permanent residence. Restrictive conditions for permanent residence include required postsecondary
education, military service, and employment.
Deportations in the Dark: Lack of Process and Information in the Removal of Mexican Migrants,
American Immigration Council, Special Report, September 2017, 24 pp.
Sara Campos & Guillermo Cantor
This report is based on the testimonies of 600 migrants who were deported
from the United States to Mexico between August 2016 and April 2017. Those interviewed pointed towards systematic failures
to follow established procedures for detention and deportation. For example, 43.5 percent of interviewees reported that
they were not informed of their right to contact their consulate, and more than half (55.7 percent) were not asked if they
feared returning home – a key element of applying for asylum. Once the process started, half (50.7 percent) indicated
they were forced to sign legal documents without getting a chance to review them, and more than half (57.6 percent) were not
given their repatriation documents – necessary for legal readmission to their home countries. In addition, many
of those interviewed (23.5 percent) reported being mistreated during their apprehension, including physical and verbal abuse.
Respondents also recalled inhumane conditions while being held, including exposure to freezing temperatures. Despite
the prevalence of abuse, the authors report that for 95 percent of the 1,255 complaints lodged with Customs and Border Patrol
(CBP) no action was taken. The authors believe that as the current administration deports more migrants it is likely
that their rights will be increasingly under attack. Following the administration’s lead, CBP agents may feel
empowered to make the detention and deportation environment even more hostile to migrants. In particular, the move to
expediting deportations may increase the risk that CBP officers will not follow existing protocols, putting asylum seekers
lives at risk and breaking up US-based families (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).
The Impact of a Point-Based Immigration System on Agriculture and Other Business Sectors
National Foundation for American Policy and National Immigration Forum,
10, 2017, 57 pp.
Author: Stuart Anderson
This paper examines a congressional proposal
known as the RAISE Act to substitute an immigration point system for the current system of numerical limits within preference
categories. The author notes that the Canadian and Australian immigration point systems—often cited as models—are
not analogous to the system proposed by the RAISE Act. The Australian point system, for example, is meant to attract
immigrants who have no other ties to Australia, such as a job offer or family member. The point system proposed by the RAISE
Act is meant to cut legal immigration by eliminating several categories of family- and employment-based immigration.
Furthermore, the Canadian and Australian political systems, and the way those countries administer their immigration system,
allow for speedy adjustments when economic conditions change. Adjustments to our immigration system require Congress to pass
a law (and adjustments have not been made in nearly three decades despite repeated attempts). The RAISE Act’s proposed
point system favors highly-skilled immigrants and would do nothing for industries such as agriculture and construction that
are already experiencing shortages of lesser-skilled labor. Many of the industries that will add the greatest number of jobs
in the coming decade require workers with little formal education. Implementation of a point system such as proposed in the
RAISE act, according to the author, would result in a significant slowdown in the U.S. economy, at a time when some policy
makers are making assumptions that U.S. economic growth will pick up significantly. The author concludes by noting that the
RAISE Act does nothing to address the key problems in our immigration system today: what to do with the 11 million undocumented
immigrants living in the U.S., the lack of a year-round work visa for lesser skilled immigrants, and long waits for green
cards that family- and employment-based immigrants must endure. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Enforcement, Integration, and the Future of Immigration Federalism
Journal on Migration and Human Security, 5:2 (2017), 31 pp.
Author: Cristina Rodriguez
In this paper, the author looks at the tension between federal and state and local policies on immigration enforcement
and integration. The paper looks at “enforcement federalism,” the level of state and local cooperation or noncooperation
with federal immigration enforcement, and “integration federalism,” the role of states and localities in promoting
or impeding immigrant incorporation. Within each of these areas of federalism, the author looks at the
limits of federal power, and the limits of local resistance to that power. She also examines the tension
between state governments that may be hostile to immigrants and the more welcoming cities within those states. With the increasing
polarization of our society, these tensions have become more pronounced. However, these tensions are entirely normal in our
federalist system. “In an arena as ideologically contested as immigration policy, it should
come as no surprise that our federal system will produce divergent policies and regular challenges to whatever might be the
federal government’s reigning conception of immigration policy.” Ultimately, however, the most contested
matter within immigration federalism—how to treat the undocumented population in this country—can only be res
Is Border Enforcement Effective? What We Know and What It Means,
Journal of Migration and Human Security, 5:2 (2017), 10 pp.
Author: Edward Alden
For the first time,
evidence is now available to settle the ongoing debate between the "enforcers," i.e. people who believe that strengthened
border enforcement can significantly reduce illegal immigration, and their critics, who believe that economic opportunity
would continue to drive illegal migration despite the billions of dollars spent on border security. According to the author
of this essay, the enforcers have won the argument. The author devotes much attention to a new methodology developed by the
Institute for Defense Analysis under contract with DHS for measuring success on the border. Moving beyond the flawed metric
of border apprehensions, the Institute was able to estimate the number of illegal entries - both on land and in the air -
that were undetected by the border patrol. "Unauthorized migration across the southern border has plummeted, with successful
illegal entries falling from roughly 1.8 million in 2000 to just 200,000 by 2015." This sharp drop has less to
do with any increase in the rate of apprehension and more with the power of deterrence, as penalties for illegal entry have
grown more severe. The author, however, believes that the enforcement strategy has reached a "point of diminishing
returns," and questions the value of additional major investments, such as the construction of a wall on the southern
border. He puts forth three arguments to support his point of view: first, most arrivals these days are not economic migrants
from Mexico but Central American asylum seekers, a population that the U.S. must treat differently under international law;
second, the majority of new additions to the undocumented population are coming from people overstaying their visas; and finally,
among Mexican migrants, a growing percentage of repeat border crossers are parents seeking to unify with children in the United
States, "a population that is far harder to deter than young economic migrants."
National Interests and Common Ground in the US Immigration Debate: How to Legalize the US Immigration
System and Permanently Reduce Its Undocumented Population,
Journal on Migration and Human Security, 5(2): 2017, 33 pp.
Authors: Donald Kerwin & Robert
The authors of this paper sketch out a path to reducing the undocumented population in the U.S. through
fundamental reform of our immigration system. In their plan, they seem less concerned with "amnesty" programs and
more with reforms that will ensure that the undocumented population does not grow again in the future. The paper begins with
an analysis of presidential signing statements for immigration-related legislation going back to 1924. "These statements,"
according to the authors, "reveal broad consensus on the interests and values that the U.S. seeks to advance through
its immigration and refugee policies." The authors also argue that "flexibility" should be an important
feature of a reformed system, so that admission levels can go up in times of economic need and down in periods of economic
sluggishness. Another important principle is "coherence," i.e. an immigration system that advances multiple
agendas and avoids contradictions in policy, such as a visa policy that has granted 4.26 million immigrant visas but that
has trapped these visa holders in multi-year backlogs, thereby creating the temptation to enter the U.S. illegally to reunite
with loved ones and drive up the size of the undocumented population. Among other reforms recommended by the authors
are: advancing the registry date at regular intervals and eliminating the three- and 10-year bars. In addition, they
argue for a broad legalization program "based on the high (and growing) percentage of undocumented residents with long
tenure and strong equitable ties to the United States."
Immigration and the Bully Pulpit
Harvard Law Review Forum, May 2017, 25 pp.
Author: Jennifer M. Chacón
This essay looks at
how the Trump administration's approach to immigration, while powered by a "rhetoric of unconstrained severity,"
has "deep roots" in the policies of the previous two administrations and represents a "doubling-down on some
of the least productive approaches to enforcement." The first part of the essay describes the enforcement landscape
of the Obama administration and how that landscape changed over time. Obama policies were on "autopilot" from the
Bush administration and seemed to be driven by an expectation that strict enforcement would win over legalization skeptics
in Congress and open the door to comprehensive immigration reform. Obama's eventual effort to be more selective in enforcement
priorities had unintended consequences. "The Administration's attempt to sort immigrants into high and low priority groups
was certainly reassuring to some, but it was also inherently troubled, relying as it did upon problematically constructed
notions of criminality." Obama also considered recent arrivals a priority for removal, meting out harsh treatment for
Central American asylum seekers between 2013 and 2016. The rest of the article looks at the unfolding policies of the Trump
administration, which seem "intentionally designed to stoke the insecurity of immigrant communities." Announcing
his intention to deport two to three million noncitizens in his first year in office, Trump greatly expanded the pool of potential
deportees beyond the 820,000 noncitizens with criminal convictions -- now including people who have been arrested but not
convicted. His plan to expand an administrative removal measure known as expedited removal to a broad segment of the unauthorized
population is now under legal challenge.
The Ten Parts of ‘Illegal' in ‘Illegal Immigration' that I Do Not Understand,
Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 444, April 12, 2017, 13 pp.
Author: Kari E. Hong
The author frames this paper as a response to the question often asked by those in favor of harsher immigration
enforcement - "What part of illegal in illegal immigration do you not understand?" While
the paper specifies ten distinct problems with the concept of "illegal immigrant," several themes arise. For
example, the author refutes the idea that those who are undocumented are willingly in this status. Rather, the immigration
system as presently constituted makes it difficult for individuals to apply for changes in status. Although roughly
50 percent of applicants are allowed to become legal residents when their cases are heard, the wait to actually appear before
a judge can run from 3 to 7 years. There is a current backlog of 500,000 cases. The author also points out that previous
generations of unauthorized immigrants faced different laws and were able to more easily change their status. Thus,
a key conclusion of the paper is that the "illegal immigrant crisis" is actually a creation of changes in law and
policy, so "solving" the problem is a matter of changing policy to make it easier to gain status rather than increasing
the budget for deportation. The author suggests that a more accurate term for "illegal immigrant" might be "pre-legal
immigrant." The author also details the ways that violations of immigration law are not analogous to committing a crime
and provides examples of ways that immigration violations are viewed under the law. Finally, the author argues for recognizing
the economic contributions of unauthorized immigrants. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Creating Cohesive, Coherent Immigration Policy,
Journal of Migration and Human
Security, 5:1 (2017), 14 pp.
Authors: Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny
For anyone wanting a
lesson in some of the contradictions apparent in U.S. immigration law, this article is a good starting point. Examples of
these contradictions include: trying to limit illegal immigration through strict border control while tolerating lax
interior enforcement. Another is the mismatch between the number of people granted temporary work visas and the number of
permanent employment-based green cards available for people completing their period of temporary work (e.g. the wait time
for Third Preference visas from China has grown from 9 months to 62 months over the last 25 years). In the area of refugee
policy, the authors question why there is an annual quota for refugees but not one for the number of people granted political
asylum. The authors also wonder why the Temporary Protected Status program has evolved into a program of longer-term legal
residence. Policy makers have also been oblivious to the fact that one aspect of immigration law, e.g. tighter border enforcement,
may be exacerbating another, e.g. creating an incentive for undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S., rather than to
return to their home countries. The authors also believe that flexibility should be built into the system "via automatic
adjustment mechanisms, such as a formula that increases the number of temporary and permanent employment-based visas when
the unemployment rate is low and falling and GDP growth is rising..." They also argue that, in order to maintain an effective
immigration system and avoid political backlashes, "lawmakers have a responsibility to prevent migration surges, keep
migration legal, and maintain effective border controls."
The Evolving and Diversifying Nature of Migration to the U.S.-Mexican Border,
Migration Policy Institute, February 16, 2017, 8 pp.
Author: Jessica Bolter
Due to historically
low levels of Mexican migration in recent years, unauthorized migrants through the southern border are now more likely to
come from Central American countries, such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, as well as from countries in the Caribbean,
Asia and Africa. This article argues that policy changes are necessary given the growing diversity of arrivals. The majority
of new arrivals, particularly those from Cuba and Haiti, are trying to seek admission through official border crossings rather
than trying to evade detection. The article goes into detail on the circumstances facing migrants from these two countries,
including the displacement of Haitians from Brazil due to deteriorating economic conditions there, and the relaxation of exit
visa requirements by the Cuban government in 2013. These increasingly diverse migrant flows place pressure on the Latin American
countries that serve as transit nations. Haphazardly closing or opening borders to migrants can overwhelm local infrastructure
and resources of neighboring transit nations by causing a buildup of migrants awaiting asylum. Despite policy changes discouraging
migration, the diverse flow of migrants to the U.S. will not soon subside as many migrants are escaping deteriorating economic
conditions, political instability and persecution. (The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)
Critical Perspectives on Clandestine Migration Facilitation: An Overview of Migrant Smuggling Research,
Journal on Migration and Human Security, 5:1 (2017), 18 pp.
Author: Gabriella Sanchez
looks at the scant body of research that has been done on clandestine migrant facilitators. The media frequently portray smugglers
as dangerous opportunists and, while the author acknowledges violence perpetrated against migrants, migrant facilitators depend
on referrals for continued business. Few smuggling facilitators are members of wealthy transnational criminal networks. Once
costs associated with the journey are paid, the earnings of individual facilitators vary greatly depending on the task performed
and the number of facilitators splitting the profits. For most, it is not a living, but an income supplement. At its root,
clandestine migration is produced by the restrictions states impose on the mobility of migrants and asylum seekers. With the
strengthening of immigration controls, reliable, experienced facilitators are being forced out of the market, and are being
replaced by less experienced facilitators, increasing the risks to migrants. Border enforcement has raised smuggling costs,
and forced migrants and asylum seekers to use more remote and dangerous routes, where they are more vulnerable to environmental
exposure and are more likely to be victimized by crime. Anti-smuggling activity does not punish the transnational criminal
networks that are popularly thought to be behind human smuggling, but rather it has made migrants and asylum seekers more
vulnerable. More empirical research may inform policies that will ultimately lead to improved safety for migrants and asylum
seekers. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
The U Visa's Failed Promise for Survivors of Domestic Violence,
Available at SSRN, November 19, 2016, 38 pp.
Author: Natalie Nanasi
Recognizing the unique vulnerabilities
of immigrants who become victims of crime, Congress enacted the U visa, a form of immigration relief that provides victims,
including survivors of domestic violence, a path to legal status. Along with this humanitarian aim, the U visa was intended
to aid law enforcement in efforts to investigate and prosecute crime, based on the notion that victims without legal status
might otherwise be too fearful to "come out of the shadows" by reporting offenses to the police. Survivors
were required to cooperate with law enforcement as a condition for receiving legal status. The author of this article argues
that the interest of victims, who may have legitimate reasons for not wanting to cooperate with law enforcement, have
often been ignored in the U visa process. Despite early feminists' support for punitive approaches, "many scholars and
advocates argue that the pendulum has swung too far and that the deprivation of choice inherent in mandatory legal interventions
can be extraordinarily harmful to survivors of domestic violence." The author recommends that the requirements for U
visas should be rewritten to permit exceptions especially for "survivors who are too traumatized to engage with law enforcement,
for those whose safety or security would be compromised by reporting or cooperating, or for victims who can demonstrate that
a law enforcement agency arbitrarily or unreasonably refused to sign a certification form."
The Obama Record on Deportations: Deporter in Chief or Not?
Migration Policy Institute, January 26, 2017, 7 pp.
Authors: Musaffar Chishti, Sarah Pierce, & Jessica Bolter
This essay compares the Obama record on deportations with that of the two previous administrations. Obama
abandoned the policy of engaging in worksite enforcement operations and focused on recent border crossers and people convicted
of serious crimes. Specifically in 2011, newly apprehended individuals on the border were placed in "removal" procedures,
rather than given voluntary departure (Removed individuals are barred from reentry for a specified period of time, and if
they attempt to reenter, may be jailed for a felony offense). As a result, although the overall number of deportations
declined during the Obama years, compared to the Bush and Clinton administrations, the number of removals shot up to an all-time
high. More than 90 percent of interior removals were individuals convicted of serious crimes. The decline in the overall
number of deportations has much to do with a decline in unauthorized inflows, particularly of Mexicans. Although the incoming
Trump administrations promises to ramp up deportations, "only his eventual record on immigration will tell how it compares
with his predecessors' in terms of prioritizing overall numbers of removals and the categories of individuals being removed."
Borders and Walls: Do Barriers Deter Unauthorized Migration?
Migration Policy Institute, October 5, 2016, 6 pp.
Author: Reece Jones
This essay examines the history
of border walls and their effectiveness in curbing unauthorized migration. Despite impressions to the contrary, border walls
-- including the so-called Great Wall of China - have been rare occurrences in history and rarely, if ever, employed to deter
migrating people. Rather, they were largely used as defense fortifications around densely inhabited cities. The recent surge
in border wall construction has nothing to do with defense against enemies, as walls in the modern era have little value in
preventing invasion. Rather, they're intended to block migrants and refugees from entering the territory of another country.
The author questions whether walls of this nature are effective in achieving this purpose. Border walls tend to shift unauthorized
migration to more dangerous routes, generally leading to a spike in deaths. Walls also fail to prevent the "significant
share" of unauthorized immigrants who enter the United States on a valid non-immigrant visa but then overstay the terms
of their visa. Despite these drawbacks, coupled with the expense of construction, the author expects that there will be many
more walls constructed in the short-term because walls are "symbols that demonstrate that politicians are doing something
to address the perceived threats brought by unauthorized movement."
Beyond Earned Citizenship
Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, forthcoming, 51 pp.
Author: Muneer I. Ahmad
paper traces the development of, and critiques, the "earned legalization" and "earned citizenship" discourse
that has dominated discussions of comprehensive immigration reform for more than a decade. Described as a "rhetorical
move intended to distinguish such proposals from amnesty," the author - a professor at the Yale Law School -- finds that
this discourse "suffers from serious, previously unaddressed theoretical and conceptual flaws that illuminate and imperil
our larger understandings of citizenship..." He adds that "earned citizenship implicitly subscribes to the core
claim of restrictionists - namely, that undocumented immigrants have committed individual moral transgressions that require
some form of moral recompense." As such, it ignores "the complex, structural causation of undocumented migration"
and opens the door to an attack on birthright citizenship, based on the dog whistle of "the mythological anchor baby."
Instead of enabling this kind of discourse, the author suggests that the problem of undocumented immigration might be treated
as a matter of caste. "The undocumented population today consists of some 11 million people, most of whom have been here
for nearly a generation, are racially marked, disproportionately poor, categorically disenfranchised, systematically discriminated
against, and relegated by law to the absolute margins of the economy. These are the hallmarks of caste."
Shared Border, Shared Future: A Blueprint to Regulate US-Mexico Labor Mobility,
Center for Global Development (CGD), 2016, 65 pp.
Lead Author: Michael A. Clemens
A major think
tank in the field of international development, CGD convened a working group of international experts on migration to study
and propose a new bilateral worker agreement (BWA) between the United States and Mexico. Their report reviews previous agreements
dating back to the early 20th century, identifies their design flaws, and strives to design a new and improved
system attuned to the labor market needs of both countries. The working group makes no recommendations on permanent
migration, family reunification, or the fate of those who migrated unlawfully in the past. Instead, it focuses exclusively
on the contours of a new temporary worker program. Among the key features of the CGD proposal are the following:
preservation of US worker priority for jobs; prevent spikes in labor inflows, but respond to market conditions; suppress abusive
labor intermediaries; ensure employer compliance with labor standards for all workers; deal effectively with visa overstays;
focus on sectors where Mexican labor adds value; and develop transparent criteria for adjustment to shifting market conditions.
The working group sees its proposal as "an enlightened alternative to dark, extremist visions with nothing to offer but
militarized walls and vast deportation convoys."
Creating a 21st-Century Immigration System,
National Immigration Forum, September, 2016, 16 pp.
Suggesting that "bipartisan, commonsense (immigration)
reform may again be within reach" in 2017, the Forum sketches the outline of a "market-oriented" reform package
that would "strengthen border security, fix a broken visa system, preserve commonsense interior enforcement ideas and
provide an opportunity for earned legalization for undocumented immigrants..." The Forum notes that our current system
utilizes "arbitrary, decades-old quotas that do not reflect modern economic trends" and that the failure to provide
a sufficient number of visas to satisfy employer demand for immigrant labor is the "prime reason" so many undocumented
workers have come to the U.S. Reviewing the history of U.S immigration law, and the role that immigrants have played, and
will continue to play, in strengthening the U.S. economy, the Forum believes that immigration reform will benefit all Americans.
To bring about this outcome will require an immigration system that effectively uses labor market data to determine the number
of immigrant visas to be awarded each year. However, a shift to a more employment-focused immigration system "should
not be accompanied by an abandonment of the system's focus on family." The report goes into detail on the requirements
of an earned legalization program, endorses a strengthened E-Verify program, and outlines steps to improve border security
and operations, including the development of new border security metrics.
Technology Needs Among Immigrant Rights and Immigrant Service Organizations,
Immigrant Advocates Network & Idealware, August, 2016, 21 pp.
This paper presents the results of
a survey that was conducted with over 300 immigrant rights and immigrant legal services agencies with the goal of evaluating
their technology needs. The survey focused on three areas - hardware infrastructure, communications software, and case management
- and participating agencies were asked to respond to a series of questions about specific policies and practices deemed to
be effective. The results suggest that that while the programs had made progress when it comes to hardware infrastructure,
they do not do as well regarding using technology for communication and outreach or for case management. The authors express
a concern that failure to maintain good data hygiene and to address routine maintenance could cause programs to struggle with
basic tasks (like tracking clients) and to lose out on chances to engage with potential funders. Taking a closer look at the
data, the authors conclude that the nature of the agency and its relative size had little to do with how effectively they
were using technology. Rather, the authors find that many agencies have not thought about how technology fits into their work,
and that there may be a sense that any time spent on technology should instead be spent providing direct service to clients.
The report contains a series of suggested steps programs can take to shift attitudes about technology and to make concrete
changes in the areas of hardware infrastructure, communications software, and case management. (Erik Jacobson, Montclair
Access to Counsel in Immigration Court,
American Immigration Council, September 28, 2016, 12 pp.
Authors: Ingrid Eagly & Steve Shafer
there have been a number of local and regional studies on access to counsel in immigration court, this report presents the
results of the first national study of this issue. Drawing on data from more than 1.2 million deportation cases between 2007
and 2012, the report looks at the extent and impact of representation on the disposition of these cases. Nationally only 37
percent of all immigrants secured legal representation in their removal cases. However, the figures ranged widely depending
on whether immigrants were detained or not. Only 14 percent of detained immigrants secured counsel, compared with two-thirds
of non-detained immigrants. Representation rates also varied widely based on court location, e.g. immigrants with court hearings
in small cities were four times less likely to obtain counsel than those with hearings in large cities, and nationality, e.g.
Mexican immigrants had the highest detention rate (78 percent) and the lowest representation rate (21 percent) of all nationalities
examined. The report indicates that represented immigrants fared better at every stage of the court process. Detained
immigrants with counsel, when compared to detained immigrants without counsel, were ten-and-a-half times more likely to obtain
relief; released immigrants with counsel were five-and-a-half times more likely to succeed; and never detained immigrants
with counsel were three-and-a-half times more likely to succeed. The authors suggest that "preserving the integrity...of
the national deportation system demands serious thinking about how to ensure that immigrants facing removal are provided a
meaningful opportunity to be represented by counsel at every state of their proceedings."
DACA After United States v. Texas: Recommendations for the President,
Committte for Immigration Reform Advocacy Working Group, July, 2016, 16 pp.
The Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative allows undocumented immigrants who entered the country before age 16 to apply for temporary
protection from deportation. The initiative has been credited with raising tax revenues and increasing public safety, and
more than 728,285 individuals have been granted relief through DACA. The July 2016 report DACA After United States v.
Texas: Recommendations for the President outlines the impact and success of DACA and suggests steps that the United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can take in order to prevent financial and other burdens from discouraging DACA-eligible
youths from applying. Some of these recommendations include: allowing applicants to use credit cards to pay filing fees;
expanding eligibility for fee exemptions; and using a "balanced approach" in adjudicating applications so that primary
care givers are not excluded from the program, because they are unable to enroll in a qualified educational program. The report
also outlines ways that USCIS can improve the application process, so that applications are handled in a fair and consistent
manner. To this end, the report recommends strategies such as keeping juvenile individuals' legal records protected and providing
automatic, temporary grants of DACA while applications for renewal are being processed. (Sophia Mitrokostas for The Immigrant
Learning Center Public Education Institute)
The Immigration Act of 1990: Unfinished Business a Quarter-Century Later
Migration Policy Institute, July, 2016, 21 pp.
Authors: Muzaffar Chishti & Stephen Yale-Loehr
It has been more than a quarter century since the U.S. immigration system was last overhauled. The 1990 Immigration Act
aimed to tilt the visa allocation system more toward answering the demands of the U.S. economy. Much of this paper is dedicated
to reviewing changes made by the 1990 Immigration Act and assessing their effects. The authors note that, while the percentage
of immigrants entering through the employment-based system has increased, in reality more than half of those coming in on
employment-based visas are family members of the workers admitted. Only 7 percent are actually coming in based on their skills.
At the other end of the skills spectrum, the new law limited the admission of lower-skilled immigrants to 10,000 (subsequently
reduced to 5,000), and in subsequent years, the number of undocumented immigrants (filling mainly lower-skilled jobs) has
tripled. Meanwhile, the new diversity visa provision, originally intended to provide a vehicle for immigrants mainly from
Europe, who had been adversely affected by changes made by the 1965 Act, has more than any other provision of immigration
law been responsible for the growth in immigration from Africa. The authors note that, while the law helped achieve policy
goals at the time, for example, by increasing the number of employment-based immigrants, neither Congress nor business and
labor leaders, who had conflicting views on admission numbers, had a true grasp of the future workforce needs of the economy.
In the ensuing years, "the U.S. and global economies have undergone multiple cycles of change," while the visa allocation
system remains frozen 25 years in the past. Unfortunately, during the same period, political trust and bipartisanship in congress
have declined, making compromise and the ability to enact much needed reform more difficult. (Maurice Belanger,
Maurice Belanger Consulting)
Prosecutorial Discretion Power at its Zenith: The Power to Protect Liberty
Boston University Law Review (Forthcoming), February 17, 2016, 57 pp.
Author: Peter L. Markowitz
author of this article asserts that "there are clear dangers in allowing a president to wield excessive prosecutorial
discretion power." He adds that limits must be set in order to "preserve the separation of powers enshrined in our
Constitution.... Taken to its extremes," he writes, " the power not to enforce could act as a constitutionally suspect
second veto for a broad swath of legislation." Although the article focuses on the actions taken by President Obama to
spare certain undocumented immigrants from deportation, the author looks at other examples of perceived executive overreach,
including President George W. Bush's decision to refrain from prosecuting operators of coal-fired power plants in violation
of the Clean Air Act and to relax enforcement regimes at the Department of Labor and Office of Civil Rights, presumably in
pursuit of a larger political agenda. Markowitz refers to these instances of prosecutorial discretion as "normative"
or "categorical," as opposed to "administrative" in nature, i.e. where the decision is based solely on
resource constraints. The author then develops what he considers to be a constitutionally legitimate principle to guide the
executive branch in exercising categorical discretion. He asserts that an action to prevent "the deprivation of liberty"
has ample constitutional sanction and legal precedent and that by this standard, the Obama executive actions in the case of
the DACA and DAPA programs can be justified -- and presumably affirmed by the Supreme Court.
Maintaining Public Trust in the Governance of Migration
Transatlantic Council on Migration, Migration Policy Institute, May, 2016, 18 pp.
Author: Demetrios G. Papademetriou
As President Emeritus of the Migration Policy Institute and convenor of the Transatlatnic Council on Migration,
Demetrios G. Papademetriou has a long and distinguished career promoting engaged scholarship on migration-related issues.
In this essay, he reflects on the current challenges facing political leaders in the migration sphere and offers a number
of recommendations designed to enable governments to regain public confidence in the management of migration. Without
such confidence, he argues, governments will not be able to maintain an effective and responsive immigration system serving
the interest of the entire nation. One of his key points is that governments, such as Australia and Canada, that exercise
greater control over immigrant selection through point or employer-based systems, seem to enjoy greater public support compared
to governments, such as those in the European Union, that draw new residents from sporadic but sometimes massive asylee flows.
Compounding the problem for the EU is the challenge of dealing with those who "game the (asylum) system." Too many
"economic migrants," he suggests, melt into the irregular population and are not deported back to their home countries.
"Europe's failure to adjudicate (asylum) claims quickly, and remove expeditiously those whose applications fail,
has contributed to the chaos the European Union is facing in this regard and the gathering storm of negative public reaction
to most immigration." Papademetriou also challenges the conventional wisdom that there is a "demographic imperative"
behind high levels of immigration. While birth rates may be low in most western countries, job production may not sustain
continued high levels of migration, He cautions policy makers to take account of "changing labor markets in advanced
industrial societies, which will most likely require better skilled and fewer workers in the future (due in part
to accelerating innovations in labor-saving technologies)..." Finally, Papademetriou urges leaders to recognize that
there are "winners and losers" in any immigration system, and that when immigration serves the greater good, governments
must address the needs of losers, or risk losing public support.
Deferred Action for Unauthorized Immigrant Parents: Analysis of DAPA's Potential Effects on
Families and Children,
Migration Policy Institute & Urban Institute, February, 2016, 32 pp.
Authors: Randy Capps et al
What impact will President Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)
program have on the economic condition of families and on the school performance and well-being of citizen children in undocumented
families? Through demographic research and a review of the existing literature, the authors are able to make a number
of predictions, all contingent upon Supreme Court approval and full utilization of the program by eligible undocumented people.
MPI estimates that as many as 5 million unauthorized immigrants could benefit from the Obama administration's deferred action
programs. However, the benefits of DAPA would extend to many millions of additional family members, both children and adults,
who are either citizens or green card holders. Most DAPA-eligible parents labor under serious disadvantages: 57
percent of those with minor children had less than a high school education and 80 percent were limited English proficient.
Although more than two-thirds had lived in the U.S. for at least ten years, household income for these families was $31,000
compared to $43,000 for all families with at least one immigrant parent and $47,000 for those with U.S.-born parents. Reviewing
prior research on the effects of the 1986 legalization program on family income, the authors forecast that DAPA will lead
to a 10 percent income gain for families, as well as a 6 percent reduction in the number of DAPA families living in poverty.
The emerging literature also suggests that deportation can have harmful psychological and economic effects on children, and
even the threat of deportation may negatively affect child development, especially when combined with stressful and exploitive
working conditions for parents. Thus, children stand to ga
How For-profit Companies Are Driving Immigrant Detention Policies
Center for American Progress, December, 2015, 15 pp.
Author: Sharita Gruberg
Since 2005, revenues for
the two biggest for-profit prison companies (Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group, Inc.) have doubled. According
to this report, this increase largely results from the privatization of the immigration detention system beginning in the
year 2000. Today, 62 percent of all immigration detention beds are operated by for-profit prison corporations. The report
suggests that these companies have an economic incentive to perpetuate detention policies, even though the majority of detainees
pose a low security risk and detention programs have not proven to be cost effective. Private companies lobby heavily for
measures such as minimum bed mandates that incentivize greater detention. The data shows that asylum seekers are less likely
to be granted asylum when detained especially when held at for-profit detention facilities; the average asylum grant rate
is 49 percent nationally, 13.5 percent for asylum seekers detained in government-owned centers, and 8.1 percent at for-profit
facilities. The report also notes cases in which for-profit detention centers failed to meet adequate health and security
standards for detainees especially LGBT immigrants. The author proposes alternatives to the current system such as congressional
measures to eliminate bed quotas, increased monitoring of detention centers, and preventing the federal government from contracting
with private companies for detention programs. (The ILC Public Education Institute)
Managing Immigration in the 21st Century,
IZA Policy Paper No. 108, November, 2015, 18 pp
Author: Barry R. Chiswick
An economist at George
Washington University, Barry R. Chiswick has written a primer on policy issues involved in managing immigration. He
examines the major approaches taken by governments in selecting immigrants: family reunion (United States), skill-based (Canada,
Australia), and humanitarian (Sweden). He notes that all countries combine these three approaches, but may give greater weight
to one approach over the others. He sees no evidence that skill-based approaches would discriminate against immigrants from
any one region of the world. The paper also discusses the need to maintain an adequate supply of low-skill immigrants to fill
jobs in the service sector, particularly in childcare and elder care. However, governments must gain effective control over
such migration because "the supply of low-skilled immigrant workers will likely continue to exceed the number of available
visas, thereby encouraging illegal immigration." For Chiswick, the key to controlling illegal migration is not
through further hardening of the southern border, but through "mandated nation-wide use of an updated electronic E-Verify
system." Such a system will create the political space to open up more opportunities for high-skilled migrants, particularly
in STEM fields. However, the increased mobility of STEM workers is a two-edged sword. Not only will advanced economies attract
talent from abroad, they may also lose talent, as native-born STEM-trained professionals take jobs in other advanced countries.
For this reason, the author urges policy-makers to think about the employment aspects of immigration policy in the broader
context of overall skill and workforce policy.
‘The Right to Have Rights':
Undocumented Migrants and State Protection
Kansas Law Review, Vol. 62, 21 pp.
Author: Jaya Ramji-Nogales
The principal thesis of this paper is that international human rights law, although it pretends to be universal
in scope, fails to provide protections for the undocumented. Legal scholarship has been slow to recognize this problem.
"The legal academy tends to reify international human rights law as offering solutions to all of the world's problems."
The author observes that the subordination of human rights law to the interests of nation-states was a problem emphasized
by Hannah Arendt in her 1950 classic The Origins of Totalitarianism.
The author reviews the main arguments Arendt made in this work. Although Arendt was writing primarily about minorities and
stateless people, the author finds that these arguments apply equally to the undocumented today. Without "territorial
security," migrants have limited access to the rights available to legally resident persons. Nor do they have the right
to procedural due process in immigration proceedings which might grant them access to those rights. Moreover, the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (and other international treaties) "fails to explicitly reference immigration
status in its long list of grounds for non-discrimination." The last section of this paper offers some suggestions
as to how the undocumented might overcome this lack of recognition, including the formation of "counter-hegemonic transnational
networks" and the possibility that countries of origin might demand better treatment for their nationals abroad.
DACA at the Three-Year Mark: High Pace of Renewals, but Processing Difficulties Evident,
Migration Policy Institute, Issue Brief, August, 2015, 16 pp.
Authors: Angelo Mathay
& Margie McHugh
This report analyzes renewal rates under the Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals (DACA) program, launched by the Obama administration in November of 2012. Under the program, applicants must
renew their status every two years. Although less than half (750,000 individuals) of the 1.6 million unauthorized immigrants
potentially eligible to apply for the program had come forward by March 31, 2015, the renewal rate stands at 87 percent, suggesting
the "life-altering benefits the program has provided to many." However, significant numbers saw their DACA
grant and work permits expire despite having applied within the recommended time frame. The consequences for those who fail
to apply for renewal and those whose applications are not adjudicated in a timely manner can be dire, including loss of employment
and the imposition of an "unlawful presence bar" if and when permanent residence becomes available to DACA grantees
in the future. The report describes three main barriers that are preventing compliance with renewal requirements: lack
of outreach and information, due in part to a "crowding-out effect" created by the publicity associated with other
executive actions announced in November of 2014; confusion over whether applicants must meet school completion or enrollment
requirements; and difficulty in affording the $465 renewal application fee.
Immigration Reform and Administrative Relief for 2014 and Beyond: A Report on Behalf of the
Committee for Immigration Reform Implementation (CIRI), Human Resources Working Group
Journal on Migration and Human Security, 3:3 (2015), 22 pp.
Authors: Charles Kamasaki et al
CIRI is a consortium of more than 25 organizations dedicated to advancing the successful adjustment of status of eligible
immigrants through legislation or executive action. In this report, CIRI draws on the lessons of the 1986 Immigration Reform
and Control Act (IRCA), DACA, and other initiatives to provide a roadmap for immigrant service agencies and their partners
in planning for the implementation of the expanded DACA and DAPA programs. If these programs are unblocked by the courts,
a total of 5 million people may be eligible to participate, of whom an estimated 1.08 million will need some form of legal
assistance. Working with an estimate of six hours of time per case, the report calculates that 6,480,000 staff hours will
be required, or about 4,000 full-time equivalent staff. There are currently 1,020 nonprofit organizations providing immigration
legal services. They employ 2,018 attorneys and many accredited representatives. While some portion of current staff time
(no more than 25 percent) might be dedicated to work on these cases, the authors estimate a "funding gap" of about
83 million, net after collection of fees, to cover the cost of hiring additional staff. As the government is not likely
to cover this cost, the private nonprofit and philanthropic sectors will have to pick up the slack. According to the authors,
the societal benefits of deferred action, in the form of wage increases, job creation, and greater tax revenue, justify the
"investment in building and sustaining the infrastructure needed to maximize participation in deferred action."
Resolute Enforcement is Not Just for Restrictionists: Building a Stable and Efficient Immigration
Journal of Law and Politics (Forthcoming), 30:4, 2015, 55 pp.
The author, former General Counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service
during the Clinton Administration and currently Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, makes the case for "resolute
enforcement" of the nation's immigration laws in order to sustain a generous immigration policy, particularly America's
singularly high lawful admission levels and relatively successful immigrant integration record. The paper explores the risks
to a reasonable and humane admission policy when the public perceives that migration is out of control. The public reaction
to the Mariel boatlift, Congress's enactment of harsh enforcement measures in 1996, and the Obama administration's stern response
to the child migrant crisis of 2014 illustrate the point. Though the current period is relatively quiet on the public opinion
front, that situation is fragile, highly dependent on the relatively low net inflow of unauthorized migrants. The essay then
examines specific ideas for building a truly effective and sustainable enforcement system. All would work far better if accompanied
by an expansive one-time statutory legalization program - which is both a humane response to the reality of long-resident
populations and a step that would empower more resolute enforcement against newer violators. With regard to the E-Verify program,
the author believes that Congress should provide strong inducements for states to share driver's license photos to strengthen
E-Verify's "photo tool." He also urges stronger enforcement against visa overstays in order to foster a culture
of compliance with the immigration laws. Finally, he calls for "revitalized and carefully designed cooperation"
with state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs). The essay recounts the history of Secure Communities (SC), "a fundamentally
sound and efficient program" and its replacement with a new Priority Enforcement Program. This change addressed most
LEA objections but preserved key enforcement efficiencies pioneered through SC, while laying the groundwork for eventually
rebuilding sound LEA cooperation.
The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States,
American Immigration Council, July, 2015,
Authors: Walter A Ewing, Daniel E. Martínez, and Rubén
This report addresses the criminalization of immigrants
from two angles. First, it cites research to show that immigration is not associated with "crime" as it is commonly
understood. For more than two decades, rates of violent crime and property crime have fallen in the U.S. as the immigrant
population (including undocumented immigrants) has grown. Moreover, immigrants are less likely than the native-born to be
imprisoned or to engage in criminal behaviors, such as violent crime or delinquency. Second, the report describes the ways
in which U.S. immigration laws and policies are re-defining the nation of "criminal" as it applies to immigrants,
while also ramping up the enforcement programs designed to find anyone who might be deportable. More and more, "a zero-tolerance
policy has been applied by the federal government to immigrants who commit even the slightest offense or infraction. "
Behavior, which might result in, a fine or a suspended sentence for the native-born end up getting immigrants detained and
deported. According to the authors, "this represents a double standard of justice." The report includes a chronology
of "the federal government's drive to criminalize immigration and expand the reach of the enforcement dragnet" going
back to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Local Insights from DACA for Implementing Future Programs for Unauthorized Immigrants,
Brookings, June, 2015, 31 pp.
Authors: Audrey Singer, Nicole Prchal Svajlenka &
Jill H. Wilson
Although implementation of the DAPA program has been blocked by the courts,
there are important lessons to be learned from the operation and outcomes of the DACA program, which was established by the
Obama Administration in 2012. Using a combination of quantitative data (applicant numbers and estimates of the size of the
eligible population) and qualitative data (Interviews and focus groups with key individuals in eight metropolitan areas),
the researchers detail the challenges faced by service providers in getting the DACA program off the ground. Of particular
interest to the Brookings researchers was the gap between those eligible to apply and those who actually applied. Public perceptions
of the program, i.e. that the program was intended to benefit in-school, college-bound youth, tended to discourage out-of-school,
working, and married young people from applying - a population that will loom larger with the DAPA program. The DAPA-eligible
population will also have a harder time proving continuous residence in the U.S. The authors stress the importance of local
conditions in determining how many DACA-eligible immigrants came forward. For example, application rates tended to be higher
in areas lacking public transportation, i.e. where the ability to obtain a driver's license was a powerful incentive, in localities
where cooperation between local authorities and ICE was strong and fear of deportation was greatest, and in areas where there
were concentrations of particular ethnic groups (Mexicans were more likely to apply than Chinese, who apparently felt greater
shame over their undocumented status and did not want to reveal their status by applying. Although service strategies
should be adapted to fit local conditions, the authors conclude with a number of general policy recommendations for future
programs, including special efforts to engage hard-to-reach populations, perhaps through use of community navigator models;
careful preparation to meet the more demanding paperwork requirements for DAPA; outreach to employers to ensure that they
don't discourage workers from applying; and work to connect the DAPA-eligible population to educational and workforce providers,
even though there is no educational requirement per se for participation in the DAPA program.
Removing Insecurity: How American Children will Benefit from President Obama's
Executive Action on Immigration,
Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, University
of Southern California, & the Institute for Immigration, Globalization, and Education at UCLA, April, 2015, 27 pp.
Nearly 4.5 million U.S.-born
American children are dealing with the consequences of having at least one parent in unauthorized immigration status. Their
number is increasing over time, as undocumented people stay longer, raise families, and sink roots in American communities.
As cited in this report, research by leading developmental psychologists, sociologists, and demographers points to the negative
effects of parental undocumented status on the cognitive development, educational achievement, and emotional stability of
citizen children. These children are also more likely to experience poverty, reduced access to health care and food insecurity.
Most studies, the authors observe, were careful to isolate immigration status from other factors, such as poverty, that might
have produced similar results. Given the frequency of deportation (more than 70,000 adults with U.S.-born children were deported
in 2013 alone), children of undocumented parents are also more likely to show symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially
in adolescence and as young adults. The report catalogues "the life-altering benefits" that would accrue to these
children if President Obama's DAPA program (Deferred Action to Parents of American Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents
Program) were to be implemented. "Protecting a parent from deportation," the authors observe, "improves a child's
prospects for a lifetime." (The ILC Public Education Institute)
marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Hart-Celler act in 1965 which abolished the national origins quota
system, created a new legal framework for immigration, capped immigration from the western hemisphere for the first time,
and opened the doors to immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The law figures prominently in Ann Coulter's recently
published book Adios America! The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole, where
she charges that the law "was expressly designed to change the demographics of our country to be poorer and more inclined
to vote Democratic." Politifact has already found blatant manipulation of fact in the book and given her its lowest "pants
on fire!" rating. Many of her other claims are contradicted by scholars who have studied the origins and impact
the 1965 Act. In the June 2015 issue of Contexts, the online journal of the American Sociological Association, five scholars
reflect on the legacy of the Immigration Act of 1965. John D. Skrentny (University of California, San Diego) suggests
that the law's Western Hemisphere limitation (120,000 in place of unlimited immigration from the region prior to 1965) was
put in place to appease "traditional supporters of the national origins system (veterans groups, patriotic societies,
conservative nationality organizations)." Zulema Valdez (University of California, Merced) points out that although
the law was in theory race-neutral, a "restrictionist character" remained, especially in its failure to provide
adequate legal channels for Mexicans to work in the U.S. Jody Agius Vallejo (University of Southern California) reflects on
the experience of 500,000 Mexicans and Cubans holding what were called "Silva Letters" in the seventies, which granted
relief from deportation similar to the beneficiaries of President Obama's DACA and DAPA programs. Jennifer Lee (University
of California, Irvine) credits the exceptional success of Asian immigrants post-1965 not to any innate superiority of Asian
culture, but rather to the "hyperselectivity" of the law with privileged college-educated immigrants over those
with working-class backgrounds. And Donna R. Gabaccia (University of Toronto) challenges the notion that the 1965 law contributed
to "the feminization of migration," or that the wage-earning rates of women were substantially lower than those
of men. As noted in our Events section, the Immigration History Research Center of the University of Minnesota will be hosting
a multi-disciplinary conference on the 1965 law in the fall.
The Arc of Reform? What the Era of Prohibition May Tell Us About the Future of Immigration
Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, 28:3 (2014), 33 pp.
Andrew F. Moore
Asserting that "preventing undocumented immigration has largely
been a failure" in the United States, the author of this study sees similarities with the short-lived effort to outlaw
the production and sale of alcohol in the U.S. during the Prohibition Era (1919 to 1933). Both efforts consumed huge amounts
of resources and created unintentional harms, such as the creation of criminal conspiracies to evade the law. Both movements
created a strain in our international relations -- with Canada in the case of Prohibition and with Mexico and other Latin
American countries in the case of illegal migration. Both movements produced "similar geographic and cultural divides"
over the wisdom of strict enforcement, with large cities opposed to such enforcement and states in the South and the West
being fervent champions of the law. In both instances, there was a fundamental disagreement as to the importance of the law
being enforced. Were the violations malum in se or intrinsically
wrongful acts, or were they malum prohibitum, acts that are wrong
because the law bans them, not because they are intrinsically evil? And finally, according to the author, "the nation's
identity is implicated...In both cases, there was and is a repudiation...of some unwanted part of national identity."
In conclusion, the author asks "whether the lessons of Prohibition have been learned." He speculates that people
in the U.S. may be slow in coming to this realization because the effects of border and interior enforcement of immigration
laws may not have the same pervasive impact as Prohibition had on the American people. However, just as with Prohibition,
demographic shifts may spell the doom of the enforcement enterprise, and the "growing interconnectedness to Mexico and
our southern neighbors" may cause future generations to look "at the rusted border fortifications and wonder...what
their predecessors were thinking, just as we do today looking back at Prohibition."
Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the US Immigration Detention System,
Migration and Refugee Services/US Conference
of Catholic Bishops & Center for Migration Studies, 2015, 43 pp.
that "the U.S. immigrant detention system is neither humane nor, in its current form, necessary," these two organizations,
grounded in Catholic social teaching, present a nine-point plan to transform the system from one "characterized by prisons,
jails, and jail-like facilities, to one characterized by supervised release, case-management and community-based support programs."
As a preliminary step, the report urges Congress to commission "a comprehensive study on the benefits, challenges, cost,
and time frame for creating a truly civil immigrant detention system." The authors point out that choice is not
between outright release or detention in jail-like facilities. Supervised release programs are a key element of the general
criminal justice system, "ensuring high appearance rates at modest cost," and should be expanded in the immigration
area. The report argues that the government should stop viewing the detention system as a deterrent to illegal migration or
de facto refugee flows because such an attitude "treats human beings as a means to an end...pushes the boundaries of
legality and, at times, has been counter-productive."
The Geopolitical Origins of the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965,
Migration Policy Institute, February 5, 2015, 6 pp.
David S. FitzGerald & David Cook-Martin
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 transformed immigration policy in the U.S. and significantly impacted the national
demographic makeup. Prior to 1965, the U.S. had quotas that capped the number of people allowed to migrate to the U.S. from
certain nations, resulting in a bias toward European countries and against Asian and African countries. In "The Geopolitical
Origins of the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965," the authors posit that passing this legislation had less to do with that
era's civil rights movement, as was commonly thought, and more to do with international pressures and foreign policy. Following
World War II and the creation of United Nations, some 40 nations gained independence and, as a result, greater influence in
international relations. Meanwhile, as the Cold War intensified, the national-origins quotas became a liability for the U.S.
as they alienated potential allies in the developing countries of Asia and Africa. Many of these newly independent countries,
backed by the United Nations, successfully pushed the U.S. to end nationality- and race-based immigration discrimination.
Similar to 1965, the authors assert that today's national immigration legislation is influenced, at least in part, by foreign
relations and geopolitical concerns. (Jamie Cross for The ILC Public Education Institute)
DAPA and DACA: Revisiting Legislative Reform in Light of Long-Term Trends in Unauthorized Immigration to the United
Journal on Migration and Human Security,
3:1 (2015), 28 pp.
Authors: Robert Warren & Donald Kerwin
Relying on a new dataset on the unauthorized
immigrant population in the U.S., the authors have uncovered some trends that "defy conventional wisdom" and that
have broad public policy consequences. One important trend has been a steady decline in the number of new unauthorized
arrivals since 2000, which the authors say is largely unrelated to the effects of the Great Recession. Another trend has been
a sharp decline in the number of unauthorized arrivals from Mexico. Arrivals from Mexico fell below the combined number of
arrivals from all other countries for the first time in 2006. By 2012, Mexicans constituted only one-third of all new unauthorized
arrivals. From 2010 to 2013, the overall unauthorized Mexican population declined by 8 percent nationally, and by an even
greater percentage (10 to 13 percent) in major immigrant-receiving states like California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey.
As annual unauthorized arrivals have fallen and departures have increased, the average length of residence of unauthorized
people has increased. In 2000, only 26 percent of unauthorized residents had lived in the country 10 years or more; by 2013,
that percentage had risen to 60 percent. One of the more striking statistics pertains to the mode of arrivals of new unauthorized
immigrants. Since 2004, the percentage of people who overstayed visas has gone up sharply, not so much because their absolute
numbers have increased, but because of a decline in the number of people crossing the southern border illegally. By 2012,
the majority of new unauthorized immigrants were visa overstays. The authors conclude with a policy analysis emphasizing "the
fluidity" of the unauthorized population. For example, there are substantial numbers of unauthorized people who transition
to legal status through approved family visa petitions but who may live clandestinely in the U.S. until visas become available.
An estimated 6.5 million unauthorized immigrants who entered from 1982 to 2012 left voluntarily, were deported, or died. Finally,
the authors suggest that the goal of reducing the unauthorized population - a goal shared by all sides in the immigration
debate - "will require reform of the legal immigration system, legalization of a substantial percentage of the unauthorized,
and a more effective response to nonimmigrant visa overstays."
Deportees Will Risk Harsh Penalties to Return to Families in the U.S.
Policy Brief, Center for Poverty Research, University of California, Davis, 3:2 (2015), 2 pp.
Author: Erin R. Hamilton
it is so common for immigrants deported from the U.S. to return despite the risk of facing severe penalties? In this research
brief, authors Erin Hamilton et al find that the main reason for returning to the U.S. is to reunite with family (spouses
and children). Using data from a survey of deportees in El Salvador conducted by a deportee reintegration program called “Bienvenido
a Casa” (“Welcome Home”), the authors found that 52.5 percent of deportees with children and a spouse in
the U.S. intend to return compared with 32.9 percent of those without family. The data suggest that the majority of deportees
who intend to return to the U.S. (45 to 75 percent) do actually migrate. Parents of children in the U.S. made up one-quarter
of all deportation cases in 2013 and, given the high rate of re-entry within this population, the researchers argue that the
penalties in place for re-entry (two to 20 years of jail time) are not effective in discouraging repeat migration when families
are separated. Based on the results of the study, the authors question the effectiveness of and logic behind deporting immigrant
parents of children in the U.S., which costs approximately $2.9 billion per year to enforce. The researchers conclude that,
“harsh penalties designed to deter reentry, even for deportees with criminal records, clearly do not work when families
are involved.” They also urge greater prosecutorial and judicial discretion in deportation hearings.” (Jamie Cross for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Immigration Detention: No Turning Back?
South Atlantic Quarterly, 113:3, 2014, 7 pp.
Daily detention rates
of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. have quintupled in the last two decades – from around 6,000 detainees per day
to up to 30,000 detainees per day – according to Jennifer Chacón’s article “Immigrant Detention:
No Turning Back?” The escalated detention rates are attributable to a number of legislative changes both before and
after September 11, 2001, that broadened the number of non-citizens subject to detention. Chacón argues that it is
a problem that immigrant detention is not considered “punitive” (intended to punish) under the current law but
rather a “holding mechanism” for this accused of a “civil” violation. As a result of that distinction,
detainees are not afforded constitutional due process as with criminal proceedings, such as the right to post bail prior to
a trial. Disputing the idea that immigrant detention is “non-punitive,” this article cites a 2009 Department of
Homeland Security report stating that “the vast majority of immigrant detainees were detained under punitive conditions
inappropriate for civil detainees.” Noncitizens are detained for an average of 81 days regardless of their risk of flight
or danger to the community, are held in jails or jail-like facilities, and lack access to adequate health care. Chacón
asserts that the goal of truly comprehensive immigration reform legislation cannot be achieved without addressing the
“deep systemic problems” in current detention practices. (Jamie Cross for
The ILC Public Education Institute)
A Modest Proposal: Legalize Millions of Undocumented Immigrants with the Change of a Single Statutory
John Glenn School of Public Affairs, Ohio State University, January
1, 2015, 28 pp.
Author: Alexander Thomas Holtzman
Athough “A Modest Proposal” does not attempt a full solution to the nation’s
immigration-related challenges, author Alexander Holtzman seeks to address one major aspect of reform: creating a path to
legalization and citizenship for the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the
U.S. He would do this by means of the so-called registry date. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), originally
established in 1929, provides aliens who can show continuous residence back to a statutorily set date, currently 1972, an
opportunity to become permanent residents. Updated four times since 1929, the date was last changed during the Reagan
administration. Since most current undocumented immigrants arrived in the U.S. after 1972, they are ineligible to register
under the INA. Moving the registry date closer to the present is a low-cost, low-resource way to improve the lives of millions
of undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S. with strong connections to their communities. Holtzman gives the
pros and cons of various registry years, including 2000, 2004, but settles on 2009 as the best option. Although
the government would have to dedicate staff time to processing applications for registration, the author concludes that, “amending
registry is a commonsense legislative solution that could be achieved with minimal resources.” (Jamie Cross for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Childhood and Migration in Central and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices and Challenges,
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies,
University of California, Hastings College of Law, and Migration and Asylum Program, National University of Lanús,
Argentina, 2015, 390 pp.
Authors: Karen Musalo & Pablo Ceriani Cernadas
The principal objective of this study was "to identify the main advances, setbacks, and challenges to
the human rights of children and adolescents in the context of migration in Central and North America." Funded by the
MacArthur and Ford foundations, this study examines the needs and circumstances of migrant children and adolescents in Honduras,
Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and the United States. Through a network of researchers in each country, the authors are able
to illuminate the forces that impel young people to flee their homelands, either alone or with their parents. With separate
chapters on each country, the study offers richness of detail and places the phenomenon of child migration within a broader
social, economic, and political context. The authors call for a "paradigm shift" in how governments treat these
children. The study finds four major shortcomings in current policy: (1) lack of attention to the root causes of migration
including social exclusion, marginalization and poverty, violence, and the need to reunify with family, (2) policies that
prioritize immigration enforcement-such as detention and deportation-over the rights and best interests of children and adolescents,
(3) an absence of adequate reintegration programs for repatriated children, and (4) the lack of comprehensive regional accords
and policies informed by human rights, human development, humanitarian law, and international refugee law.
The Status of Nonstatus,
American University Law Review, forthcoming, Posted SSRN February 17, 2015, 50 pp.
Author: Geoffrey Heeren
This paper examines the “growing enigma” of hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. with no status being offered what the author calls “nonstatus.” As time goes by, a “rapidly growing
segment” of the immigrant population in the country consists of people in this kind of “limbo” situation.
The evolution of nonstatus dates back many decades and has many names, including Deferred Enforced Departure, Extended Voluntary
Departure, Temporary Protected Status, Stays of Removal, and the more recent Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs of the Obama administration. “The many names for nonstatus
all emphasize their transitory nature, but people can, and do live for years or even lifetimes in the United States within
these categories, without the rights afforded lawful residents.” After reviewing the various forms of nonstatus and
the numbers of persons affected, the author discusses what nonstatus means for those who have it and for society at large.
He ends with a warning: unless these people are offered a path to legal residence, then nonstatus could “calcify,”
and immigrants could end up as “a potentially permanent subcaste” of society.
The Morality of Law: The Case Against Deportation of Settled Immigrants,
Chapter 6 in Closing the Rights Gap: From Human Rights
to Social Transformation, edited by LaDawn Haglund and Robin Stryker, Forthcoming, 20 pp.
Author: Doris Marie Provine
This chapter calls for a "transformation of immigration law" through the introduction of the concepts
of "forgiveness and repair," found in domestic law. "Immigration law must respect the dignity of the whole
immigrant person, as modern legal systems do for citizens.," writes the author. The source of the "impenetrable
line" that has been drawn between immigrants and citizens were the Chinese exclusion cases of the 19th century, which asserted that the federal government had an absolute right to deport non-citizens. The reason
why many American are uncomfortable with this position is that there is a "cognitive dissonance between how American
treat each other in law and how we treat immigrants." Rather than emphasizing the "injustice" or "impracticality"
of mass deportation - the usual arguments for legalization, the author prefers to rely on a legal argument. She cites numerous
examples in domestic law where "forgiveness" and "closure" are preferred solutions, such as declarations
of bankruptcy, statutes of limitations, tax amnesties, the pardoning power of executives, and prosecutorial discretion. "These
principles of forgiveness and closure have endured because they allow the system to save its resources for more serious misbehavior
and because it seems to unjust to apply the heavy hand of law in cases where the defendant poses no threat to society."
Although, the author writes, it may be "a formidable task to convince the American public that time in a place matters
more than how one arrived in that place," she also asserts that the "law, in a real way, is on the side of repose
for settled immigrants."
Paths to Lawful Immigration Status: Results and Implications from the PERSON Survey,
Journal of Migration and Human Security, 2:4 (2014), 17 pp.
Authors: Tom K. Wong,
Donald Kerwin, Jeanne M. Atkinson, Mary Meg McCarthy
This paper may be the first published study that looks
at the question of how many undocumented people may be eligible for permanent residence without knowing it. The authors
surveyed 67 immigrant-serving organizations that provide legal services to people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals (DACA) Program. The survey found that 14.3 percent of those found eligible for DACA were also eligible for
some other form of immigration relief that preexisted the DACA Program. The most common remedies were family-based petitions
(25.5 percent), U-Visas (23.9 percent) and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (12.6 percent). This surprising result highlights
the importance of tapping into the experience of these organizations, not only for research purposes but also to expand their
capacity to provide legal services to people who might not otherwise know what their options are. The paper concludes with
a series of recommendations, including improvements in the screening process used by immigrant-service organizations to ensure
that immigrants understand all options available to them. "DACA and DAPA will continue to lead many to ‘walk in
the door' of immigrant-serving organizations that provide legal services-organizations should thus view each of these interactions
as opportunities to identify paths to legal permanent residency for the immigrants they serve."
A Guide to the Immigration Accountability Executive Action
American Immigration Council, December, 2015, 9 pp.
This report summarizes available information
about the full range of immigration-related Executive Actions announced by President Obama in November of 2014. These include
the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which provides deferred action and work authorization to qualified
unauthorized parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents; and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides deferred action and work authorization to qualified young people brought to the U.S.
as children (The expansion eliminates the age ceiling and extends the grant from two years to three years). The Guide points
out that both programs are temporary measures "that do not meet either the technical or the political definitions of
amnesty in use today" and that recipients will not be eligible for federal public benefits. Moving beyond these controversial
and well-publicized programs, the Guide also describes other executive actions intended to improve visa processing, attract
and retain high-skilled visa applicants, clarify enforcement priorities, reform the Secure Communities Program, and promote
immigrant integration. Finally, the Guide discusses the legal authority by which the President undertook these actions;
the authors conclude that the President has not exceeded his authority: "the obligation of the executive branch to enforce
the law also carries with it the discretion to determine when, how, and against whom the law will be enforced."
Children Fleeing Central America: Stories from the Front Lines in Florida,
Americans for Immigrant Justice,
August, 2014, 43 pp.
Prepared by: Cheryl Little
Since 2009, thousands of unaccompanied children in the
"Northern Triangle" - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - have fled their homes in search of a better life in
the United States. Published by an organization that has operated an immigrant Children's Legal Program in Florida since 1999,
this report identifies the factors that lead these children to seek refuge in the U.S. and recommends steps to protect them,
legally and physically, upon entering the country. Replete with quotes, interviews and case histories, the report describe
lives of desperation in Central America, harrowing border crossings and deplorable conditions in the "hieleras"
(Spanish word for iceboxes), or detention centers run by the U.S government. The author points out that Post-Traumatic
Stress disorders and other mental health conditions "are disturbingly common in this vulnerable population." She
also notes that many of these children can assert a legal right to stay in the U.S., if they are represented by attorneys
or accredited representatives. The report explains the process of transferring these children to the custody of the Office
of Refugee Resettlement, which enables them to stay in shelters and/or to be reunited with relatives in the U.S. To ensure
the humane treatment of the migrant minors, the report recommends better conditions in detention centers, faster court processing
without sacrificing due process, access to refugee processing in countries of origin, and humanitarian relief in the
form of Temporary Protected Status. (Ariella Katz Suchow for The Immigrant Learning Center,
Inc.'s Public Education Institute)
Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System,
American Civil Liberties Union, June, 2014, 101 pp.
Over a four year period
beginning in 2009, "a veritable army" of researchers from the ACLU of Texas and national ACLU investigated conditions
in Texas detention centers run by private companies under contract to the federal government. Nearly 14,000 immigrants are
held in these Texas centers. The researchers conducted 12 site visits and interviewed over 250 incarcerated individuals, in
addition to advocates, attorneys, journalists, consular officials, and family members. This report found that inmates were
subjected to "shocking abuse and mistreatment." Contracts were written in such a way as to ensure overcrowding and
inordinate use of solitary confinement. Prisoners have limited access to emergency and routine medical care. They are far
less likely than citizen prisoners in other federal facilities to have access to work and recreation opportunities. ACLU also
reported that these prisons "operate in the shadows, effectively free from public scrutiny." Their records are exempt
from the open records laws, and the Bureau of Prisons "fails to subjects its private prison contractors to adequate oversight
and accountability." The report concludes with a series of recommendations to Congress, the Bureau of Prisons,
and the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice. Congress, for example, is asked to close the loophole
in the Freedom of Information Act exempting private prisons from disclosure and to request a report from the Government Accountability
Office (GAO) on existing private prisons.
New Directions in Research on Human Trafficking,
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653 (May 2014),
Author: Ronald Weitzer
Introducing an entire issue of the ANNALS devoted to human trafficking, Ronald
Weitzer, Professor of Sociology at George Washington University, laments the paucity of rigorous research on the subject.
As a result, "much of the popular writing on human trafficking has been anecdotal or sensationalistic..."
Too much attention, according to the author, has been paid to the problem of sexual exploitation, to the neglect of labor
trafficking - in agriculture, manufacturing, fishing, mining, and domestic service. Moreover, "definitional problems
plague both scholarly and policy discussions on human trafficking." Some people, for example, claim that any illegal
migration for the purpose of obtaining work, including prostitution, should be classified as trafficking, even if the migrant
gave tacit or open consent to such an arrangement. The author disputes "four central claims" that are often made
about trafficking: that the number of victims is huge; that the problem is growing in magnitude, that human trafficking is
the 2nd or 3rd largest organized criminal enterprise in
the world, after illegal drug and weapons trading; and that sex trafficking is more prevalent and/or more serious than labor
trafficking. He is particularly harsh on the U.S. government and the International Labor Organization for greatly inflating
the number of people victimized by trafficking. The research in this volume suggests that "the lived experiences of human
trafficking and migration vary tremendously. They range from highly coercive and exploitative to cooperative, consensual,
and mutually beneficial relationship between migrants and their facilitators, with more complex gray areas in between the
North America: Time for a New Focus
Council on Foreign Relations, Independent Task Force on North America, October, 2014,
Shannon K. O'Neill
Co-chaired by David H. Petraeus and Robert B. Zoellick, the Independent Task Force calls
for moving the partnership of the "three vibrant democracies" of North America (the United States, Canada, and Mexico)
"to a new stage." In its report, the Task Force calls for deepening cooperation and coordination in four areas:
energy, economic competitiveness, security, and community. Instead of being an "afterthought" of U.S. policy
makers, North America should be the "pillar" of U.S. strength in the global economy. The Task Force also asserts
that "a stronger and more united North America needs coherent policies for the movement of people within the region."
North America enjoys a "demographic advantage" over other parts of the world, i.e. a relatively young and fertile
population, but to use that advantage will require boosting the skill levels of its working age population, and bringing about
greater harmonization of migration policies. For this reason, the Task Force endorses comprehensive immigration reform
"that secures U.S. borders, prevents illegal entry, provides visas on the basis of economic need, invites talented and
skilled people to settle in the United States, and offers a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants now in the
United States." The Task Force also calls for the creation of a "North American Mobility Accord to facilitate the
movement and ensure the rights of North America's workers, in particular lower-skilled guest workers and professionals on
There and Back Again: On the Diffusion of Immigration Detention
Journal on Migration and Human Security, 2:3 (2014), 32 pp.
Author: Michael Flynn
paper analyzes the role that the United States played in promoting immigration detention as a world-wide policy response to
irregular migration. Prior to the 1980s, detention was "largely an ad hoc tool, employed mainly by wealthy states
in exigent circumstances and typically made use of prisons, warehouses, hotel rooms, or other ‘off-the-shelf' facilities."
During the 1980s, the U.S. established the first privately-run immigration detention facility in the country and began the
process of externalizing immigration control when it created "one of the world's first offshore immigration detention
facilities" at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Using concepts from diffusion theory, the paper traces
how these policy innovations "traversed the planet." In the European Union, for example, countries lying on
the periphery of Europe were expected to shoulder the burden for the high immigration demand countries of the North, while
externalization also went beyond the borders of the EU, as when Spain set up a detention center in Mauritania to deter migrants
from reaching the Canary Islands. The paper also details the efforts of the Australian government to offshore immigrant processing.
A clear theme of the paper is how wealthy countries try to evade the "normative pressure stemming from international
human rights obligations (like the right to asylum) by seeking ways to circumvent, co-opt, or otherwise counteract this pressure
through the diffusion of detention to upstream countries." The author, however, also points out how some transit countries
use their status as way stations as bargaining chips to negotiate deals granting favorable immigration treatment of their
own nationals. According to the author, all these practices should "spur questions over where responsibility for the
wellbeing of migrants begins and ends."
Temporary Protected Status in the United States: A Grant of Humanitarian Relief that is Less
Migration Policy Institute, July 2, 2014, 9 pp.
Authors: Madeline Messick &
This essay discusses the history of temporary protected status (TPS), a form of relief created
by Congress in 1990 and currently benefitting an estimated 340,000 people in the U.S. TPS is granted to foreign nationals
at the time of a national disaster or civil war or conflict in their home countries. The report discusses the conditions under
which the Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a country for TPS and reviews some of the problems that occur when
people are forced to remain in this status for long periods of time. Finally, the report reviews conditions in the countries
that currently have TPS designations: Syria, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sudan, South Sudan, and El Salvador. The authors
expect that the number of people granted such status will grow in the future, noting that in 2012 alone, some 29 million people
were displaced by extreme weather events.
Detention, Deportation, and Devastation: The Disproportionate Effect of Deportations on the
MALDEF, The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, & The National Day Laborer Organizing
Network, May, 2014, 6 pp.
The authors of Detention,
Deportation and Devastation maintain that the U.S. immigration enforcement system is discriminatory and unfairly targets
Latinos to the detriment of the wider Latino community in the U.S. Ironically, the report states, the crucial Latino vote
in 2012 which went decisively to President Barack Obama signaled a call for action on immigration and yet the main response
has been record levels of deportations of low-priority Latino immigrants. Using data from a variety of sources including U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the report notes that in 2013, the top nine countries with the highest rates of deported
nationals were all Latin American. And despite the Department of Homeland Security's stated policy of not targeting low-priority
individuals, two-thirds of all deportees were convicted of traffic violations or had no criminal record at all. This increase
in deportations, according to the report, contributes to higher rates of poverty, unemployment, single-parent households and
parentless children in the Latino community. As such, the report argues for humanitarian steps to reduce this crisis in the
Latino community caused by a broken immigration system. (Denzil Mohammed, The Immigrant Learning
Center, Public Education Institute)
What Would an Unbroken Immigration System Look Like?
University of Virginia School of Law, March, 2014, 8 pp.
Author: David A. Martin
A. Martin, Professor of International Law at the University of Virginia and former Homeland Security official in the Obama
administration, first presented this paper as the keynote address at the Miller Center's immigration reform conference
in 2013. Miller believes in the importance of maintaining a generous immigration system to take advantage of the nation's
historic capacity to attract and integrate talented, industrious, and creative people from around the world. But in
order to maintain this tradition, the U.S. must operate according to the "principle that migrants comply with the law."
If the nation abides by this principle, it will avoid "periods of acute public alarm over illegal immigration" that
have "often produced serious proposals to slash legal admissions." Miller sees two ways to achieve greater
legality in our system: first, passing a "capacious" legalization program as a way of achieving a new
system of control and compliance; "legalization of long-stayers," he argues, "empowers vigorous, resolute enforcement
against short-stayers." Second, he advocates for "smart enforcement measures" and reminds opponents of
legalization that "this is not 1986." The nation has tools and resources available to it that simply did not
exist at the time of the 1986 legalization program. His preferred enforcement strategy is the E-Verify program, which
allows employers to verify the immigration status of prospective employees. However, the program, as it currently exists,
does not adequately guard against fraud. Thus, Miller urges Congress to redirect the billions allocated for border enforcement
in the Senate bill, as well as the "lavish sums" of money set aside for a planned biometric exit system, to establishing
a biometric program for E-Verify either using fingerprints or photos on state-issued drivers licenses. "Getting
completely serious about interior enforcement and about identity fraud in E-Verify are the most important enforcement investments Congress could make if it really wants to fix the immigration system."
Giving Voice to Unaccompanied Children in Removal Proceedings
Willamette Journal of International Law and Dispute Resolution, 34 (2013), 22 pp.
Author: Warren Binford
Although the author of this essay acknowledges that significant advances have been
made in the treatment of unaccompanied children, i.e. children entering the U.S. without parents or guardians, she also believes
that "the failure to appoint government-funded counsel...remains a significant children's rights concern."
Even though pro-bono counsel may be available for small number of these children, such representation, according to the author,
is "ineffective." The fact that 93 percent of unaccompanied children fail to win their cases, even though legal
remedies may be available to them, is symptomatic of a deep-seated problem. The author reviews the gradual expansion
of children's rights during the last century culminating with the universal adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child by the U.N. General Assembly in 1989. The convention codifies "the child's right to be heard in any judicial or
administrative manner affecting the child." Article 22 of the Convention obliges host countries to provide both
a personal representative and legal counsel to unaccompanied children. Although the U.S. is one of only 3 countries
in the world not to have ratified the Convention, the U.S. Supreme Court has, according to the author, "relied on the
near universal ratification of the U.N. Convention in considering juvenile jurisprudence." The root of the problem, she
suggests, may be the fact that the U.S. legal system was late in recognizing the importance of legal representation for native-born
children. For example, the need for representation of children in dependency proceedings was not addressed until the 1970s.
Citing the "perfect storm" unfolding at the border, as the number of unaccompanied children continues to soar, the
author urges Congress to take corrective action quickly.
Redressing the Shame of U.S. Immigration Laws and Enforcement Policies,
Forthcoming book chapter in Hidden
Lives and Human Rights in America: Understanding the Controversies and Tragedies of Undocumented Immigration, Lois Lorentzen,
Ed. (Praeger 2014), 30 pp.
Author: Bill Ong Hing
University of San Francisco Law School Professor Bill
Ong Hing presents evidence in this essay for the "failure" and "inhumanity" of U.S. immigration enforcement
efforts since the introduction of "Operation Gatekeeper" by the Clinton administration in 1994. Gatekeeper sought
to beef up security in the 14-mile stretch of the southern border near San Diego - the preferred border crossing at the time
for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Architects of the new policy, called "prevention
through detention," believed that the construction of walls, barriers, and the stationing of more Border Patrol agents
would deter would-be migrants, who would avoid more perilous crossings through the inhospitable terrain of dessert and mountain.
Instead, migrants chose other crossing routes, opportunities opened up for human smugglers, and deaths soared. "The number
of migrant deaths increased 600 times from 1994 to 2000, and since then, about 400 deaths occur each year." The author
also turns his attention to interior enforcement and the "silent raids," or audits of company records, preferred
by the Obama administration. While such operations may be successful in getting workers fired, they don't generally lead to
deportation, only to greater desperation and more exploitive working conditions for fired workers. For Hing, the entire panoply
of U.S. immigration policy, including limitations on the number of legal immigrants from Mexico, suggests a pattern of "institutionalized
racism" directed at Latinos. A system "molded by decades of racialized refinement" allows the racist intent
of U.S. immigration law and procedure to be masked so that the entire effort can be portrayed as a law and order operation.
Despite his indictment of the current system, Hing believes that "the quiet majority of Americans who would not
condone the callous or insensitive treatment of immigrants and the failure to implement smart integration strategies...have
the power to redirect our government's commitments to moral and civil principles of justice and community."
Enforcing Masculinities at the Borders,
Nevada Law Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2013
Author: Jamie R. Abrams
article proposes a reinterpretation of U.S. immigration history from a "masculinities" perspective, rather than
the "prevailing race and class accounts." The author describes masculinities as "the study of how men relate
to each other and construct their identities..." This perspective "can be used as a powerful sociological and legal
tool to understand institutions, power structures, and human relations." Applying the masculinities frame to immigration
history, the author "unpacks" two paradigm shifts: the movement to exclude Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century,
and the immigration restriction movement which culminated in national origins quota system of 1924. In both cases, men's identities
were undergoing profound "destabilization," as the nation shifted from a predominantly agrarian to an industrial
society. Referring to the pre-World War I period, the author notes that "measures of masculine power (shifted) from physical
strength to wealth. It left men punching a time clock, working for corporations and dependent on them, and performing work
that ‘every women (knew) she could easily undertake.'" In this environment, "hegemonic masculinity" resorts
to nativism to prop up its threatened position in society. The author then cites two more recent examples of masculinities
in action: the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which "reflected back the new cultural ideals emphasizing the
nuclear suburban family and the American male's role in that family structure," and the recurring emphasis on military
service as a path to citizenship.
Temporary Protected Status after 25 Years: Addressing the Challenge of Long-Term ‘Temporary"
Residents and Strengthening a Centerpiece of U.S. Humanitarian Protection,
Center for Migration Studies,
Journal on Migration and Human Security, 2014, 21 pp.
Author: Claire Bergeron
This paper reviews the purpose,
legislative history, and use of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) since its enactment into law in 1990. TPS provides a mechanism
to allow people who cannot qualify for refugee status but who cannot return to their countries of origin because of warfare,
civil conflict, or natural disasters to legally remain in the United States for the duration of the emergency. Natives of
19 countries have been granted TPS since 1990. An estimated total of 340,310 people from 9 countries (El Salvador, Haiti,
Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria) currently hold TPS. According to the author, the workings of
the law have been problematic for two reasons: first, many people remain in this status for long periods of time, e.g.
TPS holders from Honduras and Nicaragua have been residing in the U.S. for more than 15 years; and second, no provision has
been made to facilitate repatriation once conditions improve in countries of origin. Noting that long-term grants of TPS status
run contrary to Congressional intent while at the same time locking people into "legal limbo," the author recommends
amending current immigration law to provide a pathway to permanent residents for TPS holders. A variation on this option would
allow TPS holders to adjust status to permanent residence should they marry an American citizen or qualify for an employment-based
visa (Most TPS holders who entered the U.S. without permission are barred from adjusting their status in this manner). A
complementary reform would establish procedures, such as providing financial assistance and/or social security tax payments,
to incentivize TPS holders to return to their countries voluntarily. The author concludes that, "Given that the number
of individuals seeking a TPS safe haven is likely to only increase in the coming years, fixing the program at this juncture
could not be more critical."
Curbing the Influence of "Bad Actors" in International Migration: Council Statement,
Migration Policy Institute, February, 2014, 9 pp.
Author: Demetrios G. Papademetriou
reflects the consensus reached at the 8th plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council on Migration, held in Washington, D.C.
in June of 2012. The theme of the conference was "Curbing the Influence of ‘Bad Actors' in International Migration."
The statement notes that "despite massive investments in immigration controls over the past two decades, illegal migration
and the unauthorized employment of migrants continue to thrive." The authors observe "that borders will never be
impermeable" and outline "three traps associated with the quest for ‘perfection' in border enforcement."
First, the volume of illegality "does not decrease anywhere near in direct proportion to the amount of money spent;"
second, hardening the border may prevent voluntary or seasonal returns, in effect cancelling out the gains from increased
enforcement; and finally, higher barriers may actually "empower " and strengthen bad actors. Bad Actors include
recruiters, moneymen who supply loans to migrants, travel agents, transporters of land and sea passage, smugglers, traffickers,
operators of safe houses, corrupt officials on both sides of the border, and family members who finance some of these activities.
Organized-crime syndicates exact tribute from, or insert their tentacles into, many of these activities. The "bad actors"
also include employers who exploit migrant workers and flout local labor laws in the process, and consumers who aren't concerned
about the source of the goods and services they use. The authors then discuss the costs, benefits, and tradeoffs of the three
principal approaches to enforcement: first, strengthening physical and virtual borders; second, attacking criminal operations
themselves; and third, addressing the root causes of illegality by changing the market for illegal labor. The statement concludes
with five broad policy recommendations: first, constantly assess and (re)evaluate enforcement efforts and trade-offs; second,
foster confidence in the migration system by creating realistic expectations and communicating clearly and regularly with
the public; third, increase incentives to operate within the law (by increasing penalties for operating outside it); and fourth,
promote communication and cooperation across agencies and across borders "as the ultimate force multiplier."
A Strategic Framework for Creating Legality and Order in Immigration,
Migration Policy Institute, January, 2014, 25 pp.
Authors: Demetrios G. Papademetriou & Will Somerville
In this paper prepared for the 8th plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council on Migration, held to discuss "Curbing
the Influence of ‘Bad Actors' in International Migration," the authors urge government policy-makers to take a
"strategic" approach to immigration enforcement. Such an approach involves marshalling all the resources of government,
not just ministries or departments responsible for the management of migration, and prioritizing the allocation of these resources
based on a cost-benefit analysis. The report suggests that this approach, common in other realms of government responsibility,
has been noticeably absent in the migration field. The report describes and assesses the various policy tools available to
governments, including: early interventions that disrupt illegal flows before they reach the border, cooperation between destination
and origin countries, border security efforts, efforts targeting organized immigration crime, reforming immigrant selection
systems and opening up legal migration channels, stricter enforcement of employer sanctions and labor standards, efforts to
reduce the size of the informal economy, the removal and return of unauthorized migrants, legalization, and limitations on
welfare benefits. In deciding which of these policy tools to use, governments should employ a "public interest test."
They should also reach for "slingshots" that address a specific problem and avoid "boomerangs" that create
new and unintended problems in the effort to correct the initial problem.
Trade-Offs in Immigration Enforcement,
Migration Policy Institute, January, 2014, 12 pp.
Authors: Elizabeth Collett & Will Somerville
this paper prepared for the 8th plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council on Migration,
held on the theme of "Curbing the Influence of ‘Bad Actors' in International Migration," Collett and Somerville
argue that immigration enforcement must be "managed in the public interest." Doing so requires addressing
a range of concerns and often competing priorities, including maintaining "public confidence in the system." The
authors steer clear of policy prescriptions, other than emphasizing the importance of a "balanced" and "careful"
approach that "does limited (or zero) harm to a country's institutions of governance and to citizens' livelihoods, while
fortifying public trust that the government is running an efficient and effective system." Among the direct and indirect
constraints under which governments operate are: resource constraints which limit the size of enforcement budgets; the framework
of international law which confers certain rights on international migrants; other public policy goals in the areas of health
and welfare; market forces which propel labor, both legal and illegal, across international borders; and the "toxicity"
of the public debate on immigration, which can sway and swing voters. The authors caution against "making rules that
are unenforceable, applied inconsistently, or that the government does not intend to enforce." The balance of the
paper discusses the circumstances under which "return or regularization will produce the optimal outcome..."
Race and Immigration Reform, Then and Now
University of Baltimore, Legal Studies Research Paper (forthcoming in the Howard Law Journal),
Author: Elizabeth Keyes
In this paper, the author Elizabeth Keyes, Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore
School of Law, traces the eclipse of the "egalitarian goals" of the 1965 Immigration Act, which promised to eliminate
ethnic and racial preferences in immigration law and procedure. She sees this trend as reflective of a broader retreat from
the goals of the civil rights era. Despite the formal abandonment of racial discrimination in U.S. law, she notes, disparate
racial impacts persist in areas such as health, education, incarceration rates, voting, and immigration. Two developments
in immigration law hastened this retreat: first, the introduction of employer sanctions in 1986, which led to the growth of
an underground economy where workers could be easily exploited, and second, the association of immigration with criminality,
which was evident in the 1996 immigration laws, which made minor offenses grounds for deportation and greatly limited judicial
discretion in deportation cases. Regrettably, according to the author, immigration reform is not likely to reverse these
trends. Indeed, the tendency to confer legal status only on those who are "deserving," will likely lead to
the exclusion of many millions of undocumented, including those who came after the Senate cut-off date of December 31, 2011;
those whose work in the informal economy make it impossible to satisfy continuous work requirements; those who lack the time
to master English; and those who cannot afford to pay the fines and fees associated with the legalization process. The
residual undocumented will become the "super-undocumented," who will be even more marginalized and exploited than
the current cohort of undocumented workers. "If the undocumented are the subject of controversy and even hatred
pre-reform, those left out of reform are likely to be even more reviled, as their lack of status will signify their status
as those least desired among the undocumented population." As our leaders pursue immigration reform, they should "beware
of creating a new set of even deeper problems for the future."
Beyond Blood and Borders: Finding Meaning in Birthright Citizenship
Brooklyn Law Review, 835 (2013), 46 pp.
Author: D. Carolina Núñez
explores the concept of societal membership in the modern world with particular attention to the continuing relevance of "territoriality,"
or birthright citizenship, as a proxy for meaningful civic ties. The author notes that " territorial presence is
a waning proxy for substantive indicators of membership in other spheres of law," especially in a world of transnational
ties and ease of travel. However, the "underlying rationales" for birthright citizenship for the children
of undocumented immigrants still apply. After examining a series of court cases dating back to the American Revolution, the
author finds that "courts and legislatures have consistently focused on mutuality of obligation, community ties, and
the need to preserve an egalitarian polity by avoiding the creation of a caste system." Clearly, these children
are "subject to the obligations and burdens of U.S. law," have developed ties with local communities by virtue of
growing up in the U.S., and could easily become an exploited class if denied full citizenship rights. The author concludes
that "denying citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants threatens to put our sense of what it means to be a
just, egalitarian community at odds with what it means to be an American citizen."
At the Edge of US Immigration's "Halt of Folly:" Data, Information, and Research
Needs in the Event of Legalization,
Journal on Migration and Human
Security, 1(4), 2013, 14 pp.
Author: Fernando Riosmena
In September of 2013 the Center for Migration
Studies of New York, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, gathered together a group of immigration
specialists, researchers, scholars and advocates to discuss research needs related to legalization. This report summarizes
the findings of the group. The assembled experts used S-744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration
Modernization Act, passed by the Senate in June, 2013, as the likely scenario for future immigration reform. They also reviewed
the legalization provisions and implementation history of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in order to draw
lessons for policy makers today. "S. 744 is a model of what a contemporary legislation program may look like, while
IRCA offers still useful lessons on successes and failures in outreach, enrollment, and on the consequences of the program
for applicants and others." Participating experts defined two major goals for the research program: "planning
for effective local outreach and service delivery efforts," and "broadly assessing the effects of a legalization
program." Detailed objectives within each of these goal areas included determining: the estimated eligible
population for legalization; the geographical distribution of this population; potential barriers for individuals and/or groups;
local capacity for outreach and service delivery; effects of legalization on immigrant incorporation; and anticipating the
impact of legalization on services provided by state and local government. (Jade Flora-Holmquist)
Securing Borders: The Intended, Unintended, and Perverse Consequences
Migration Policy Institute,
January, 2014, 15 pp.
Authors: Randall Hansen & Demetrios G. Papademetriou
discusses the complex challenges inherent in border security and gives examples of border security issues and strategies in
various national and international contexts. Some of the challenges include: border governance, illegal migration, asylum
policy, as well as smuggling and trafficking. The authors emphasize the intricate and interrelated nature of border security
noting that, "policies in any one area have perverse, regrettable, and often unintended, consequences and feedbacks."
For example, "hard" border approaches often lead to escalating rates of human smuggling, as sophisticated
criminal organizations seek to take advantage of the growing demand for illegal mobility. The report offers four recommendations
for effective border security: (1) build up infrastructures within sending countries to improve a "weak" state's
ability to enforce effective border security policies; (2) expand bilateral and regional cooperation on migration-related
issues; (3) increase physical border enforcement in states where it is sparse; and (4) continue to expand border control outwards.
With regard to this last recommendation, the report finds that the "remote control" of migration, through
such policies as forcing airline companies to scrutinize their passengers' passports and visas, or enticing neighboring countries
to guard their own borders, is an effective approach to border management. "Although unpopular with activists, there
is ample evidence that expanding borders outwards works." (Jade Flora-Holmquist)
The Criminal Alien Removal Initiative in New Orleans: The Obama Administration's Brutal New Frontier
in Immigration Enforcement,
New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice(NOWCRJ), December, 2013, 21 pp.
Saken Soni, Jacinta Gonzalez, Jennifer J. Rosenbaum, & Fernando Lopez
NOWCR reports on how the recently
established Criminal Alien Removal Initiative (CARI) has impacted the immigrant community in New Orleans. According to the
authors, Louisiana leads the country in deportations per capita and has the highest immigrant arrest rate of any non-border
state. Under CARI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have conducted "a brutal
program of race-based community raids... at apartment complexes, grocery stores, laundromats, Bible study groups and parks
- often working with local law enforcement - based purely on racial profiling." The report contains fourteen first-person
accounts of individuals affected by these raids, often with depictions of verbal and physical abuse by ICE officers. According
to the report, "New Orleans ICE arrests people who appear Latino and uses high-tech mobile biometric devices...to conduct
immediate biometric record checks. Most people are handcuffed before the fingerprinting begins, and based on the results,
many are immediately separated from their families and transported to ICE detention centers for deportation." The report
calls on the Obama Administration to put an end to these practices. (Jade Flora-Holmquist)
Tortured & Detained: Survivor Stories of U.S. Immigration Detention,
The Center for Victims of Torture & The Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition, International (TASSC),
November, 2013, 24 pp.
Author (Primary): Annie Sovcik
Current immigration law dictates that individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. should be held
in "mandatory detention" until they pass a "credible fear" interview. This report finds that the detention
of asylum seekers has negative psychological, emotional, and physical affects, and therefore advises authorities to reform
the immigration detention system to improve the treatment of asylum seekers and other detainees. "The profiles in this
report are comprised of self-reported information from the 22 individuals we interviewed in June and July of 2013, though
the accounts described here are all consistent with secondary research into U.S. immigration laws, procedures, and practices."
Interviewees share stories of being detained in adverse conditions without access to interpreters or information with regard
to U.S. immigration procedures. "Detention is a daunting experience for anyone but particularly egregious for survivors
of torture. For survivors, given the long-term impacts of torture and trauma, the fact of being detained at all is often retraumatizing."
The report offers recommendations for Congress, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Examples include: "Eliminate mandatory detention" and "Provide funding to support Community Based Alternative
to Detention Programs" (Congress); "Promulgate regulations establishing basic minimum standards of care at all U.S.
Customs and Border Protection facilities" (DHS); and "guarantee that all immigrants in detention receive a legal
orientation presentation as soon as possible" (DOJ). (Jade Flora-Holmquist)
Expose and Close, One year Later: The Absence of Accountability in Immigration Detention,
Detention Watch Network, November 19, 2013, 12 pp.
Author: Carly Perez
Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations opposed to the current U.S. immigration detention and deportation
system. DWN produced this report as a follow-up to its original Expose & Close report
which found "abuses and inhumane conditions" at 10 immigration detention facilities across the country. The
gatekeeper of this system is Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), responsible for maintaining the "largest immigration
detention infrastructure in the world." Although ICE announced ambitious plans for reform after release of the
original report, DWN's research indicates that ICE has not followed through with these plans. In 2007 Congress mandated ICE
to detain at least 34,000 immigrants per day, at a cost of $159 per bed each day. In 2011, 429,247 immigrants were detained
throughout the 257 facilities nationwide, at an annual cost of 1.84 billion dollars. The report points to several areas of
concern, including: dangerous and substandard medical and mental health care; limited access to legal aid; intentional isolation
from family and community support; inedible food; and solitary confinement. The report concludes by urging ICE to take a number
of "immediate steps" to rectify these problems, including terminating contracts with facilities that are not
complying with ICE standards, ending the use of solitary confinement, and urging Congress to eliminate the detention bed quota
and repeal mandatory detention. In the long run, "The U.S. government should move towards permanently terminating
its immigration detention system." (Jade Flora-Holmquist)
Smoke Screens: Is There a Correlation between Migration
Euphemisms and the Language of Detention?
Global Detention Project, Working Paper No. 5, September 29, 2013, 11 pp.
Author: Mariette Grange
paper calls into question the "euphemistic" and "dysphemistic" language used to describe immigration
detention in countries around the world. Such language, the author suggests, cloaks the practice from public view, acts
to "demonize migrants and asylum seekers, and helps justify the at times harsh treatment meted out by authorities."
The effort to characterize migrants as criminals (dysphemistic) often exists side by side with an effort to whitewash the
consequences (euphemistic), e.g. use of terms such as "reception center," "hospitality center," or "guest
houses for foreigners," instead of prison. The European Union also refers to its generous support for the
construction and operation of detention facilities in countries at the periphery as part of its "Neighborhood Policy."
The author also questions the "burgeoning discussion of ‘migration management'" on the international level,
as exemplified by the motto of the International Organization for Migration (IOM): "Managing Migration for the Benefit
of all." Little reference appears on the IOM's web site to its complicity in developing detention facilities in Australia
and Armenia. In addition, the EUROSTAT statistics database fails to report data on detentions in the European Union. The
author concludes that the relationship between language and the denial of immigrant rights is "significant and troubling."
Immigration Controls and ‘Modern-Day Slavery'
Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper, July 16, 2013, 50 pp.
Author: Chantal Thomas
This essay asks the
question: "Are immigration controls the single biggest legal factor contributing to modern-day slavery?" The author
answers in the affirmative, and notes that policy makers often turn a blind eye to this reality. "Although legal as well
as non-legal commentators have noted that migration controls often contribute significantly to the abusive conditions of modern
day slavery, the focus of policy solutions tends to range from criminal law enforcement to the protection of the human rights
of victims, but with little or no direct discussion of the destructive impact of strict immigration laws." The author
devotes considerable attention to the scholarly controversy over whether modern forms of slavery are equivalent to chattel
slavery. She distinguishes between the position of "minimalists," who see chattel slavery as the only real form
of slavery because it was legally-sanctioned, and "maximalists," who define slavery by the degree of control exercised
over the individual, whether legally sanctioned or not. Although she sees flaws in the minimalist position, her main concern
is to "channel the intensity" of this debate into the "important adjacent issue" that undocumented status
"leads directly to precarious and abusive conditions and treatment...amounting to enslavement."
America's Immigration Policy Fiasco: Learning from Past Mistakes
Daedalus, Summer, 2013, 10 pp.
Author: Douglas S. Massey
Activity at the
border has increased in the past 30 years and it is a direct albeit unintended consequence of "failed" U.S. immigration
and other policies, argues Princeton sociologist Douglas S. Massey in America's Immigration policy
Fiasco: Learning from Past Mistakes. Massey chronicles the recent history of U.S. immigration policies and tactics to
restrict unauthorized immigration. These actions, Massey argues, were political rather than prudent and paradoxically led
to an upsurge in the country's undocumented population. In 1980, for instance, the Border Patrol comprised 2,500 officers
with an $83 million budget. Today, the immigration enforcement industry costs $18 billion per year and employs more than 20,000
officers. The militarization of the border disrupted traditional cyclical movements of Mexican workers across the border.
Not only did undocumented workers decide to stay in the U.S., rather than risk the hazardous and increasingly costly border
crossing, they brought their families as well. Even legal Mexican immigrants rushed to become naturalized, so that they could
bring their spouses and minor children to the country and avoid the stigma of second-class status. As a result, the undocumented
population rose from a few thousand in 1970 to 11 million by 2010, and legal immigration from Mexico increased from an average
of 63,000 per year in the 1970s to 170,000 in the first decade of the new century. Mexican immigrants also fanned out to new
destinations. The U.S.-Contra intervention in Central America, too, precipitated mass migration of displaced immigrants from
Nicaragua, El Salvador and surrounding countries. Massey concludes that shifting from "a goal of immigration suppression
to one of immigration management" with an emphasis on integration and legalization of workers and residents is the only
way to "break with the failed policies of the past." (Denzil Mohammed)
Thinking Regionally to Compete Globally: Leveraging Migration & Human Capital in the U.S., Mexico,
and Central America
Migration Policy Institute and Woodrow Wilson International Center, May, 2013, 65 pp.
Authors: Demetrios G. Papademetriou,
Doris Meissner, & Eleanor Sohnen
This is the final report of the Regional Migration Study Group, convened
by the Migration Policy Institute and the Wilson Center. Scholars and public officials from the United States, Mexico, El
Salvador, and Guatemala participated in the project. The report depicts regional migration less as a problem to be managed
and more as a resource to be developed to enhance the competitiveness of North America in the global economy. As Mexico undergoes
a major demographic transformation and as net Mexican migration slows to a trickle, the report notes that "the longstanding
assumption that Mexico and Central America have an endless supply of less-educated workers for routine, physically demanding,
and poorly paid jobs in the United States is becoming less and less accurate..." The report ponders the implications
of major developments in the region, including the impressive growth of the Mexican middle class, improving educational levels
among Mexican immigrants, and the effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. The group's findings and
recommendations encompass a wide range of issues. The report places emphasis on the importance of upgrading the skills of
workers in all countries, ensuring the "portability" of credentials from one country to another, recreating the
"circularity" that used to exist on the U.S.-Mexico border prior to the mid-1990s, and "normalizing the immigration
relationships within the region" by eliminating the illegality produced by flawed policies. The Study Group identifies
four growing economic sectors that would benefit from a regional planning approach: logistics and transportation, nursing
and associated health professions, advanced manufacturing, and agriculture. The Group also calls for the creation of a non-partisan
federal immigration research agency to carry out independent demographic and labor market research and advise the U.S. Congress
on regional migration needs.
What Makes the Family Special?
80 University of Chicago Law Review 7 (2013), 20 pp.
Author: Kerry Abrams
As Congress debates future immigrant
admission criteria, this paper makes the case for the continuation of family-based immigration. Seeking to move away from
the traditional human rights argument, the author presents three rationales for privileging family immigration: first, that
it promotes the long-term integration of immigrants; second, that it fills important niches in the labor market; and third,
that it allows the federal government to engage in "social engineering." With regard to immigrant integration, the
author stresses the role of children, noting the reverse acculturative role of children ("children bring American culture
home to their parents"). In discussing the nexus between family and work, the paper calls attention to the "screening
functions" performed by families, as for example, when a naturalized immigrant chooses to sponsor a particularly deserving
and entrepreneurial sibling. The author also discusses "the extensive, economically valuable care work that goes on inside
the family that is largely unrecognized when we measure the economic output of people as individuals." Such unpaid work
often makes it possible for other family members to participate in the regular labor market. Finally, the author discusses
other broad purposes that might be served by family migration, including promoting gender parity in immigration. As women
disproportionately use family categories to migrate, a family-based immigration system would supply more women to care for
an aging U.S. population.
Defining American: The Dream Act, Immigration Reform and Citizenship
Nevada Law Journal (forthcoming), University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper, April 18, 2013, 82 pp.
Author: Elizabeth Keyes
Although giving credit to the DREAM movement for a remarkable transformation of American
attitudes on the question of whether undocumented youth should be granted citizenship, the author of this article worries
that the narrative of "blamelessness" and "worthiness" may be "raising the bar" for other groups
seeking to acquire or retain citizenship rights. Dreamers are often depicted as innocent, hard-working, well-educated, law-abiding
and patriotic, but this portrayal "exposes a discourse of undesirability and unworthiness that is already vividly alive
not just within immigration reform debates and citizenship law, but also in such civil rights issues as felon disenfranchisement
and voter identification laws, both of which affect those who already have citizenship."
The author traces the development of the illegality frame from the 19th century, "when
it was all but impossible to immigrate illegally, to the relentless focus on illegality" today. Recent milestones include
the 1996 immigration laws, which made almost all interactions with the criminal justice system grounds for deportation, and
the attack on birthright citizenship, which seeks to penalize the parents of so-called "anchor babies." Even the
parents of the virtuous dreamers are tainted with this frame ("the blameless child is contrasted to the ‘wrong-doing'
parent"), as are those without the time and resources to learn English and pay stiff fines, two requirements for permanent
residence under various immigration reform proposals. The author challenges the argument that progress for the Dreamers would
create "a positive policy feedback loop." Evidence from recent history shows, in fact, just the opposite. She also
warns of the dangers of "fluid conceptions of citizenship," which might "undo or limit the open clarity of
our jus soli citizenship law that has been a laudable exception to the overall history of
excluding people from citizenship by race."
Immigration in the United States: New Economic, Social, Political Landscapes with Legislative Reform
on the Horizon,
Migration Policy Institute, April, 2013, 16 pp.
Authors: Faye Hipsman & Doris Meissner
This article provides a sweeping portrait of U.S. immigration history, with special
attention to post-1965 developments, as well as a succinct but comprehensive overview of the U.S. immigration system. Topics
covered include: family and employment-based immigration, refugee admissions, temporary visitors, unauthorized immigrants,
immigration enforcement, citizenship, and immigrant integration. The authors also probe today's economic, social and political
issues as they relate to proposed comprehensive immigration reform. In looking at U.S. immigration history, the authors suggest
a symbiotic relationship between economic development and peaks of immigration, namely the industrial revolution and today's
transformation from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy. This relationship, however, is less deliberately crafted
as it is determined by forces outside of Washington: "For a nation of immigrants and immigration, the United States adjusts
its immigration policies only rarely... As a result, immigration policy has often been increasingly disconnected from the
economic and social forces that drive immigration." (Denzil Mohammed)
Bride and Prejudice: How the U.S. Immigration Law Discriminates Against Spousal Visa Holders,
February 28, 2013, Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, forthcoming, 51 pp.
Author: Sabrina Balgamwalla
This article argues that U.S. visa law, rooted in antiquated, 19thcentury notions
of spousal relations, has had "devastating consequences for the day-to-day lives of H-4 spouses." These are
the spouses of H-1B visa holders, who are coveted by high tech firms for their technical skills. Unable to legally work
in the U.S., spouses are effectively confined to their homes. They are unable to obtain a divorce, maintain custody
of their children, and escape relationships of domestic violence. The article examines the origins of the spousal visa program
in the gendered norms of "coverture," which "establishes a regime that subordinates one human to another."
The situation of H-4 visa holders remains an anomaly in the field of U.S. immigration law, as dependents in other visa categories,
such as spouses of intra-company transferees and exchange visitors, are permitted to work. The author finds this exception
to be peculiar, because H-1Bs and their spouses, unlike other non-immigrants, are considered "Americans in waiting,"
eligible to advance to permanent residence through employer petitions. The author recommends that the plight of these spouses
be addressed in new immigration reform legislation.
The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 2012, 39 pp.
Author: Jennifer M. Chacon
article seeks to bring immigration law into the broader conversation about overcriminalization. The author contends that state
and local governments are creating "too many crimes and criminaliz(ing) things that properly should not be crimes."
Immigration law is part of this pattern. Three trends converge to reinforce this pattern: the challenge to federal exclusivity
in immigration regulation, sub-federal criminalization of migration, and increased federal enforcement efforts in response
to charges that the federal government is "not doing enough" to enforce immigration law. In 1993, only 5.4 percent
of federal criminal cases involved immigration offenses. By 2009, 46 percent of all federal arrests involved immigration,
followed by drug (17 percent) and supervision (13 percent) violations. In 2009, two-thirds of all individuals prosecuted for
individual crimes were "petty misdemeanants in...five Southwest border districts" According to the author,
the criminalization of immigration has had at best a "marginal effect on migration flows....(but) has come at huge cost
and could likely have been attained through more effective migration policy outside of the criminal sphere." Moreover,
"the cost of immigration enforcement is crowding out other investments in criminal justice, particularly during a time
of scarce resources," and leading to other harms, such as increased reliance on racial profiling and systematic violations
of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Making Legal: The Dream Act, Birthright Citizenship, and Broad-Scale Legalization,
Lewis & Clark Law Review, Winter, 2012, 21 pp.
This paper looks at the arguments for and against three types of policy initiatives to grant legal
status or citizenship to persons who might otherwise be in the U.S. unlawfully: the Dream Act, birthright citizenship,
and a broad-scale legalization program. The author begins her analysis by identifying the major arguments used by the Supreme
Court in its landmark 1982 decision Plyler v. Doe, which held that no state can limit a child's
access to education based on immigration status. The three arguments were: the complexity of unlawful presence, the limited
role of states and localities, and the need to integrate unauthorized immigrants, especially children. She shows how these
three arguments remain pivotal in debates over the three legalization initiatives. She also analyzes the principal arguments
used by opponents of these measures, which often echo the arguments of supporters through their reliance on concepts of "fairness"
and "pragmatism." In general, she finds these arguments unpersuasive. Indeed, she turns the "rule of law"
argument on its head by showing how "malleable" the rule of law actually is in immigration matters, referring specifically
to measures adopted by Congress in 1996 that denied discretionary relief to immigrants, limited the jurisdiction of federal
courts to review removal orders, and stripped immigrants of the right to counsel. The author concludes that "rule
of law arguments in favor of conferring status are stronger than rule of law arguments against doing so."
Amnesty in Immigration: Forgetting, Forgiving, Freedom,
Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 2013
This paper analyzes the meanings of "amnesty" in political discourse. The author identifies
three separate, but sometimes overlapping, meanings, which she describes as forgive-and-forget, administrative reset, and
vindication. "Forgive-and-forget" emphasizes the state's beneficence in granting pardon for the initial offense,
as well as the seriousness of the original offense, often prompting the state to set qualifying conditions for amnesty, e.g.
fines, loss of benefits, community services, public apology, etc. The second amnesty model called "administrative reset"
is often predicated on the notion that the law in question is "largely unenforceable;" hence, it is in the state's
interest to reach an agreement with transgressors. This sort of amnesty often occurs in a regulatory environment, such as
tax collections or fines. The third model ("amnesty as vindication") carries with it an "acknowledgement by
the government that either the violated rule or norm, or the beneficiary's prosecution for it, was not justifiable in the
first place." There is a "reframing" of the original behavior, such that it appears "comprehensible,
excusable and, perhaps, justifiable." In the context of the current immigration debate, the author sees the three
models shaping the perspectives of participants and therefore "cut(ting) in various directions." However,
she feels that the "center of gravity" of the current debate lies somewhere between forgive-and-forget and administrative
reset. Even among immigrant advocates, there is a general consensus that some form recompense must be paid for the original
violation of immigration law. Although most political theorists also support immigration amnesty, they generally use a "time
and ties" argument, rarely calling into question the legitimacy of the original laws; nor do they "interrogate the
validity of the state's underlying border norm." The author concludes by laying out four arguments that could be used
to frame immigration amnesty as "vindication."
Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery,
Migration Policy Institute, January, 2013, 175 pp.
Authors: Doris Meissner, Donald M. Kerwin, Muzaffar Chishti,
and Claire Bergeron
This report analyzes the current immigration enforcement system which dates back to the
passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. It examines the evolution of the system in terms of budgets,
personnel, enforcement actions and technology, and reviews the genesis and impacts of programs, such as Secure Communities,
Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 287(g), post-9/11 visa screening and new federal databases.
It explains how all of these have combined into a complex, interconnected, cross-agency system, reflecting the development
of a "strong, pro-enforcement consensus" in Congress. Immigration Enforcement in
the United Statesreveals that deportations have risen more than ten-fold between 1990 (30,039) and 2011 (391,953), totaling
more than four million non-citizens over two decades. Less than half of the non-citizens deported from the U.S. are removed
pursuant to a formal hearing before an immigration judge; the majority are removed instead by the Department of Homeland Security.
The report also finds that the population of the immigration detention system in 2011 (nearly 430,000) exceeded the number
of people serving sentences in federal prisons for all other federal crimes. In total, immigration enforcement spending has
totaled nearly $187 billion in the 26 years since IRCA ($219 billion in 2012 dollars). The authors conclude that "the
facts on the ground no longer support assertions of mounting illegal immigration and demands for building an ever-larger law
enforcement bulwark to combat it." Indeed, the use of enforcement resources must be reexamined in light of reduced
migratory pressure in Mexico, and lowered pull factors in the United States, and the need to create an immigration system
that better reflects economic and labor market needs. According to the authors, the country has succeeded with the "enforcement
first" approach. The time has arrived to address fundamental immigration reform and "to mitigate the severest human
costs of immigration enforcement thereby ensuring the integrity of the nation's immigration laws and traditions." (Denzil Mohammed)
Persons Who Are Not the People: The Changing Rights of Immigrants in the United States,
Valparaiso University Law School, Legal Studies Research Paper, December, 2012, 82 pp.
Author: Geoffrey Heeren
This paper examines the legal history of "immigrant rights" in the United States, with special attention
to the distinction between rights of membership, which are restricted for those who lack legal status or citizenship in the
country, and rights of personhood, which are guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th
Amendment. While rights of membership, including the right to vote, were easy to acquire in the 19thcentury,
often only requiring the filing of "first papers" indicating the intention to become a citizen, they have become
increasingly restrictive in recent times. At the same time, the courts in the United States have grown reluctant to afford
rights of personhood to immigrants, especially those who lack legal status. Instead, when federal courts have ruled in favor
of immigrants, they have generally invoked a preemption argument. The author considers this a dangerous trend, as preemption
doesn't work for immigrants when federal statutes are at issue, and preemption arguments can also be used to strike down pro-immigrant
statutes. The "dissipating membership rights of immigrants," coupled with reluctance to use the equal protection
clause as "a shield against majoritarian abuse," puts immigrants in a vulnerable position, inconsistent with the
core values of the nation. Indeed, "a loss in immigrant rights might be a bellwether for a broader reduction of
Study of the Outcomes and Impacts of the Global Forum on Migration and Development and Civil Society
The MacArthur Foundation, October, 2012, 30 pp.
The Global Forum on Migration
and Development (GFMD) was established after the first UN General Assembly High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development
in 2006. The Forum has been held annually since 2006, with host countries alternating between developing and developed countries.
As the report notes, "migration and development as thematic areas were combined in an effort to ensure (that) both countries
of origin and countries of destination would participate." Each year, the forum is preceded by "Civil Society Days
(CSD)," a gathering of non-profit advocacy organizations, convened to "ground the discussions in the realities migrants
were facing ... (and) to inform the state-led discussion and build off it." As the largest non-governmental donor to
the GFMD process, the MacArthur Foundation commissioned this study to assess the impact of the GFMD "on policies, practices,
issue framing, and government-civil society cooperation..." The study found considerable frustration with the ability
of civil society organizations to impact the agenda of the GFMD and the government policy-setting process. A major conclusion
of the report is that stakeholders need to develop a "credible and validated theory of change" and restructure the
participation of civil society organizations in a manner consistent with that theory. Moreover, "if stakeholders
believe enhanced access and interaction with government to be a key objective of the CSD, this need to be agreed at the State-led
meeting and the structure and activities will have to be modified accordingly."
Stateless in the United States: Current Reality and a Future Prediction,
Emory University School of Law, September 30, 2012, 57 pp.
an estimated 12 million people worldwide who are "stateless," meaning that no nation-state recognizes them as being
citizens. This paper argues that the frequency of statelessness would be "exacerbated exponentially" if states
were to institute "jus sanguinis" policies, i.e. not awarding citizenship to children born in a particular country
("jus soli"), but rather making citizenship dependent on the nationality of the parents. "This is because the
location of one's birth is generally easier to prove than the nationality of one's parents..." Written by Prof.
Polly J. Price, the paper reviews the various international efforts to address this problem, beginning with the 1954 Convention
Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. Despite these efforts, and the fact that most countries in the Americas, with
the exception of the Dominican Republic, practice jus soli, "widespread failures to register
existing citizens, displacement due to civil conflict and migration, and discrimination against indigenous groups and others
have resulted in a substantial number of persons in the Americas who are effectively stateless." Among these persons
are an estimated 250,000 children and adolescents in Nicaragua, a large numbers of indigenous and Afro-Colombian groups displaced
by the Colombian civil war, and stateless Haitians in the Dominican Republic. She then turns to the landscape of statelessness
in the United States, discussing recurring difficulties in deporting undocumented immigrants to countries that do not accept
them as citizens or where diplomatic agreements covering repatriation do not exist. She concludes with an analysis of the
potential adverse effects of the proposed Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011, which if enacted into law, would likely create
a burgeoning "undeportable underclass" of stateless people.
Legalization of Undocumented Immigrants Can Reduce Crime,
for Economic Policy Research, Policy Brief, September, 2012, 6 pp.
The author of this policy brief, Scott Ross
Baker, predicts a significant reduction in crime as a result of President Obama's Deferred Action Program. He bases his conclusion
on research showing sharp drops in crime after the implementation of the 1986 legalization program - a reduction apparently
unrelated to any other possible explanatory variable. He speculates that this phenomenon may be caused by one or more of the
following factors: more legalized immigrants started families or brought their spouses or children to live with them
(crime rates in general tend to be lower among people living in families), newly legalized immigrants were no longer
fearful of going to the police to report crimes, and they had more opportunities to obtain an education and enter the formal
Contested Ground: Immigration in the United States,
Migration Policy Institute & Transatlantic Council on Migration, July, 2012, 21 pp.
In this paper
prepared for the 7thplenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council in November, 2011, Cornell
Professor Michael Jones-Correa argues that the diversification of migrant streams to the United States, the growth in the
size of the undocumented population, and the dispersal of immigrants to states and localities with little recent experience
with migration, have "sparked anxiety among the American public." This anxiety is especially pronounced among the
elderly population, who wield "disproportionate influence on the political system" and who grew up in an era when
immigration was at a low point and when the racial complexion of the nation was quite different. Jones-Correa finds little
correlation between public attitudes towards immigrants and economic conditions in states and localities, suggesting that
unemployment rates and perceived competition for jobs are not significant factors in shaping public attitudes. He concludes
that "it would be a mistake to interpret the debate around immigration as solely about economics." Instead, there
is a widespread belief that "immigration is changing society, largely for the worse," and despite research to the
contrary, this belief is hard to dispel. Although Jones-Correa offers no prescriptions for allaying this anxiety, he
does argue that "the central policy challenge" facing the country is quite different. By 2009, almost one-quarter
of children under the age of 18, or 17.4 million youth, were immigrants or the children of immigrants. The future of the nation
hangs on the ability of these young people to succeed in school and the workplace. Regrettably, however, "integration
efforts at the national level have been almost nonexistent."
Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States and Europe: The Use of Legalization/Regularization as a
Migration Policy Institute, May, 2012, 9 pp.
Drawing on previous MPI research, this paper provides
a brief history of legalization programs in the U.S. and Europe. More than 5 million unauthorized immigrants have been
regularized in the European Union since 1996 -- the vast majority in the southern tier countries of Italy, Spain, and Greece.
Although leaders in northern European countries now frown on regularization as a policy tool, policies of "toleration"
have remained popular in these countries. In the U.S., more than 3.7 million unauthorized immigrants have been legalized since
1986, mainly through the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, the Cuban Adjustment Program, Cancellation of
Removal, and the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act. Between 1929 and 1986, more than 1.5 million undocumented
people, or people on temporary visas, acquired permanent residence in the U.S., some through the registry program. This
program allows people who have resided unlawfully in the U.S. for long periods and who meet other qualifications to adjust
to permanent residence. Congress has advanced the registry year four times since 1929: in 1940, 1958, 1965, and 1986. The
current year is 1972. In addition, since 1952 Congress has acted 16 times to grant permanent residence to persons in temporary
legal status. According to the authors, ever since Congress placed numerical restrictions on immigration in 1921, "Congress
has regularly found it necessary to legalize discrete groups that have strong equitable and humanitarian claims to remain
in the United States. Many argue that the current unauthorized population includes many residents who have similar claims
and that Congress may find it necessary to pursue the legalization option once again."
The Relationship Between Immigration and Nativism in Europe and North America,
Transatlantic Council on Migration, May, 2012, 42 pp.
This paper, written
by Cas Mudde of DePauw University for the 7thplenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council
in 2011, attempts to map the landscape of "radical right" and "nativist" parties and organizations in
Europe and North America. Since 1980, such parties have had limited electoral success. They have gained more than 15 percent
of the popular vote in only three countries: Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland, but they have managed to shift the debate
in many European countries. According to Mudde, "nowadays, virtually all but a few radical left and green parties consider
immigration a fundamental challenge to their society at best and a threat at worst." Yet, there has also been a
strong countermovement of private organizations, such as SOS Racism in France and the British Anti-Nazi League, that have
worked to discredit the racist propaganda of these parties. Local and national governments have also utilized anti-discrimination
legislation to curb the activities of these groups and to stimulate a pro-immigrant discourse. Despite their impact
on national policies, the author considers the relationship between immigration and "extremism" to be "unclear
and complex ...rising numbers of immigrants do not automatically translate into increasing extremism in a country..."
The best example is the United States, where "a powerful pro-immigrant lobby," made up of "big business, immigrant
groups, and libertarians" stands as a counterweight to nativist forces. Despite the role played by nativist organizations
and parities in "the tightening of immigration laws, particularly those regarding asylum, they have lost the big
battle as both Western Europe and North American are increasingly multiethnic societies."
The Under-Registration of Births in Mexico: Consequences for Children, Adults, and Migrants,
Migration Policy Institute, April 12, 2012, 7 pp.
This article examines
the causes and effects of the under-registration of Mexican births. Estimates indicate that more than 7 million people in
Mexico currently lack a birth certificate, with approximately 30 percent of children under the age of five going unregistered.
Research suggests that the poorest and most marginalized groups within Mexico are the most likely to go unregistered due to
costs, civic disengagement, and cultural barriers. The author notes that the lack of a birth certificate further increases
vulnerability by limiting access to education, health care, labor markets, voting, and other human rights. Additionally, individuals
without identity face a higher risk of being victimized and recruited by traffickers and criminal syndicates as their identity
is nonexistent in government databases. The article also discusses the plight of those who are "doubly-undocumented,"
i.e. Mexicans who migrate to the U.S. in search of the opportunities they are denied in their homeland.
Unable to obtain the matricula consular, an ID issued by the Mexican consulate and accepted
by some institutions and local governments within the U.S., they face challenges beyond those of undocumented migrants
who can claim at least one national identity. The author concludes by noting the progress Mexico has made in documenting all
births, but observes that the country "is far from achieving universal registration," and that the unregistered
living in the U.S. are likely to remain stateless for the foreseeable future. Dan McNulty
Rethinking National Identity in the Age of Migration: Council Statement
Transatlantic Council on Migration (Migration Policy Institute), February, 2012, 10 pp.
This statement emanated
from the 7th plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council on Migration held in Berlin in
November, 2011. The Council is composed of public officials, business leaders, and academics from Europe, the United
States, and Canada. The meeting "focused on what policymakers can do to mitigate the disorienting effects of rapid social
change - especially change tied or perceived to be tiedto immigration..." The statement
offers 10 key recommendations, providing a policy blueprint for leaders in addressing questions of migration. Among the recommendations
are: "hon(ing) listening skills to truly understand their electorate's anxiety about immigration (and related issues)...emphasiz(ing)
a process of belonging and ‘becoming' rather than a static sense of ‘being'" in discussions of national identity..."
and creat(ing) clear and transparent pathways to permanent residence and citizenship... (to) encourage immigrants to make
a long-term commitment to society." The statement also makes a number of striking observations, including the following:
"efforts to curb plural identities are beyond the reach of state authority and will be counterproductive; accepting such
identities does not erode social cohesion, whereas limiting their expression can make them more
salient." The Council also proposes a strategy to gain broader public acceptance for public investments in immigrant
integration by "gradually honing in on sets of circumstances that apply to broader swaths
of society (particularly poverty and lack of education) as a means of building larger coalitions of support."
The Cost to Americans and America of Ending Birthright Citizenship,
National Foundation for American Policy, March, 2012, 25 pp.
The author of this paper argues against
proposed changes to the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to most U.S.-born children,
including children of unauthorized immigrants. Although a number of different proposals have been floated to restrict
citizenship, all of them, according to the author, "will add more complexity and bureaucracy to the lives of all Americans."
Before any state can issue a birth certificate, the federal government will have to certify the status of the child's parents.
Given the complexity of immigration laws, the cost to administer such a program "will be roughly equivalent to a $600
baby tax on every child born in the United States." The author also questions the rationale for the change: "most
illegal immigration to the united States is driven by economic factors (jobs), or a desire to reunite with family members,
not the attraction of birthright citizenship." Finally, the paper cautions against the economic and social consequences
of restricting citizenship, which will lead to a quadrupling of the number of young people without status, the shrinking of
their economic potential, and their entry into the shadow economy. Portions of this paper originally appeared in an article
commissioned by the Cato Institute and appearing in the winter 2011 issue of the Cato Journal.
Unintended Consequences of US Immigration Policy: Explaining the Post-1965 Surge from
Woodrow Wilson School of Public
and International Affairs, Princeton University, March, 2012, 29 pp.
The authors of this article, Douglas S.
Massey and Karen A. Pren, trace the evolution of U.S. immigration policy towards Latin America since the end of the Braceroprogram in 1964, which permitted ca. 450,000 Mexicans to enter annually as temporary workers during the
fifties. In 1965, a cap was placed on Latin American migration to the United States, eventually leading to a per country cap
of 20,000 (previously Latin Americans were exempted from numerical restrictions on immigration). These two policy changes
sparked the rise of illegal immigration from Mexico. The authors then trace the rise of the "Latino threat" narrative
in the media, which initially used marine metaphors, e.g. flood, tidal wave, inundate, etc., and later martial metaphors,
e.g. attacks, invasion, etc., to describe illegal immigration on the southern border. "Politicians quickly discovered
the political advantages to be gained by demonizing Latino immigrants and illegal migration" especially at a time of
rising income inequality. The authors also suggest this narrative was an important "factor in the rightward shift
of American public opinion." Curiously, the rising tide of anti-immigrant legislation and increased border enforcement
had little to do with the actual levels of illegal migration which tapered off after the late 1970s. The increase in the size
of the undocumented migrant population in the U.S. occurred because of the decline in circular migration. "As the costs
and risks of unauthorized border crossing mounted, migrants minimized them by shifting from a circular to a settled pattern
of migration, essentially hunkering down and staying once they had successfully run the gauntlet at the border." Moreover,
Mexicans who were legal residents of the U.S. naturalized in growing numbers after 1986 ("defense naturalization,"
it was called), fearful of possible deportation and loss of benefits, and thus were able to petition for their close relatives
outside of numerical limits. In conclusion, if the goal of federal immigration initiatives "was to limit immigration
from Latin America and prevent the demographic transformation of the United States, they achieved the opposite."
Amnesty or Abolition? Felons, Illegals, and the Case for a New Abolition Movement,
Boom: A Journal of California,
Winter, 2011, 13 pp.
Author: Kelly Lytle Hernandez
This essay finds parallels between the development of
immigrant criminalization and the "alienation of citizen offenders." According to the author, undocumented immigrants,
as well as prisoners and ex-offenders, constitute a racialized (predominantly Black and Latino) caste denied equal rights
and the full privileges of membership in society. She traces the history of immigrant criminalization back to the Civil
War. An important milestone occurred in 1893, when the Supreme Court ruled in Fong Yue Ting that
the federal government's right to expel foreigners was "absolute" and "unqualified." In effect,
the Bill of Rights did not apply to these individuals and "for the first time since slavery, an entire category of people
in the United States could be imprisoned without a trial by jury." The consequences of mass incarceration in the United
States, which exploded during the 1980s, are similar. Even after the abolition of slavery, black "convicts emerged as
legitimate subjects of involuntary servitude." Today, two-thirds of the more than 2 million people behind bars
are African-American or Latino. The "collateral" consequences of a conviction, even for ex-offenders, are
grave, including denial of the right to vote, a lifetime ban on welfare benefits for drug offenders, and difficulties in finding
employment. One legal scholar refers to this situation as the "new Jim Crow." The author opines that even
a path to citizenship - while urgently needed for the undocumented - "may not be as valuable as it seems if pursued without
a challenge to the inequities of mass incarceration."
Restoring Trust in the Management of Migration and Borders:
Transatlantic Council on Migration, 2011, 8,
Written by Demetrios G. Papademetriou, President of the Migration Policy Institute, this statement
reflects the thinking of a group of high-level officials from Europe and North America who since 2008 have been meeting on
a regular basis "to identify the best ways to bring greater order and legality to migration, border management, and labor
market systems and thus restore public trust in government's ability to manage these complex tasks." The statement begins
by making some recommendations to change the narrative on immigration, including setting realistic goals, articulating why
immigration is in the national interest, and adhering closely to the rule of law. The Council then lays out a series of steps
to implement a "whole-of-system" approach to controlling illegal immigration, involving a range of policy tools
utilized in a coordinated manner. Finally, the statement calls for "building a new architecture for border management,"
involving the effective and strategic use of technology and the allocation of resources based on risk.
World Migration Report 2011: Communicating Effectively About
International Organization for Migration (IOM),
2011, 158 pp.
The 2011 report (the sixth in a series begun in 2000) is divided into two parts. Part A examines
how perceptions and attitudes about migration shape public opinion in immigrant-receiving countries, which in turn influence
policies adopted by governments. The report calls for a "fundamental shift in how we communicate about migration"
and stresses "the need for the promotion of a better understanding and recognition of the benefits of migration, more
evidence-based policymaking and a more effective engagement with migrants themselves." The report also provides
some examples of effective communication strategies used by governments, civil society, international organizations, and the
media. This section of the report also includes a review of major migration trends of 2010/2011, including policy and legislative
developments, efforts to promote international cooperation and dialogue on migration issues, and the migratory impact of upheavals
in the Middle East and North Africa. Part B reflects on IOM's history on the 60thanniversary of its founding
in 1951, with particular attention to developments during the last decade. In commenting on the report, the director general
of IOM suggested that providing accurate information to the public about migration might be "the single most important
policy tool in all societies faced with increasing diversity."
Executive Action on Immigration: Six Ways to Make the System Work Better
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), March, 2011, 23 pp.
This report suggests
steps that the Executive Branch can take in the absence of new federal legislation "to improve and strengthen the performance
of the nation's immigration system." The ideas in the report grew out of a roundtable that MPI convened in the spring
of 2010. The proposed changes would offer "significant improvements without the need for new legislation or significant
infusions of additional resources." Among the six changes would be the creation of a "White House Office on
Immigrant Integration" that would "convene appropriate Cabinet members and a working group of elected state
and local officials to establish immigrant integration goals and targets, coordinate existing programs, and develop policy
and budget mechanisms for meeting integration goals." The office would be led by an Assistant to the President.
The report provides the rationale and outlines the benefits of such an initiative.
World Migration Report 2010: The Future of Migration, Building
Capacities for Change,
IOM International Organization for Migration,
2010, 272 pp.
This is the fifth in a series of biennial reports published by IOM since 2000. The report is rich
with data on all aspects of world migration, with both global and regional overviews. The theme of this particular report
is capacity-building defined as "the process of strengthening the knowledge, abilities, skills, resources, structures
and processes that States and institutions need...to facilitate the development of humane and orderly policies for the movement
of people." A separate chapter of the report focuses on immigrant integration and covers ten core areas for capacity-building.
Immigrant Legalization in the United States and European Union: Policy Goals and Program Design,
Migration Policy Institute, December, 2010, 15 pp.
Written by Marc R. Rosenblum, an Assoc.
Professor of Political Science at the University of New Orleans, who previously played a role in crafting the Senate's immigration
legislation in 2006 and 2007, this brief examines the various policy options and trade-offs involved in designing effective
legalization programs. Noting that "virtually every major migrant-receiving state has enacted some form of immigrant
legalization in response to climbing rates of illegal immigration since the 1980s, with about 3.5 million Americans and 5
million Europeans gaining legal status," the author suggests "four standards by which to judge the success
of a legalization system:" inclusiveness, fairness, cost effectiveness, and self-enforcement. He also reviews options
regarding retrospective eligibility, requirements to be met prospectively during the legalization process, and the benefits
to be received through participation in the program. Observing that "the goals of inclusiveness and fairness are fundamentally
in tension," the author concludes with some suggestions as to how to resolve this tension.
More than IRCA: US Legalization Programs and the Current
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), December, 2010, 19 pp
that legalization programs "have been an enduring and necessary feature of US immigration law and policy since the nation's
first quota restrictions in the 1920s," MPI's Vice President for Programs Donald M. Kerwin summarizes the three broad
types of legalization programs: registry, population-specific, and the general program known as the Immigration Reform
and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. He notes that many more people have been legalized under the population-specific and
registry programs than under IRCA. The report includes a table showing the numbers legalized under these various programs
since 1986. In concluding comments, Kerwin observes that the legalization of "discrete immigrant populations" has
historically enjoyed stronger congressional support and may be the more politically viable approach in the future.
Structuring and Implementing an Immigrant Legalization Program: Registration as the First Step,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), November, 2010, 43 pp.
This report -- the first in a series
on "how to shape, structure, and administer a legalization program" -- examines the "immense" administrative
challenges associated with such a program, especially one that might have to process more than four times the number of people
legalized under the 1986 legislation. Unlike the earlier program, which was "retrospective" in nature, i.e.
requiring applicants to prove that they satisfied conditions in the past, any new program would be future-oriented, i.e. require
them to "earn" legal status following passage of the legislation. For this reason, MPI recommends careful planning
"well in advance of the passage of legislation." As the government "must decide how to treat applicants whose
eligibility for LPR status will not be determined for many years," MPI further recommends a "simple and streamlined"
initial registration process lasting one year. Other recommendations deal with documentation requirements, application
fees, verifying continuing presence requirements, electronic filing, and the role of community-based organizations.
Migration and Immigrants Two Years after the Financial Collapse: Where Do We Stand?Giving Facts a Fighting Chance: Answers to the Toughest Immigration Questions,
Migration Policy Institute, Report for the BBC World Service, October, 2010, 127 pp.
Produced by a multinational
team of scholars, this report grew out of discussions that took place in May, 2010, at a gathering sponsored by the Transatlantic
Council on Migration in Bellagio, Italy The report documents disproportionate job losses among immigrants, especially among
lower skilled migrants, males, and younger migrants; major reductions in migrant inflows in Europe and the United States;
and reductions in illegal migration as evidenced by sharply reduced apprehensions on the southern border of the U.S and on
Europe's southern periphery. The report also raises the possibility that migration flows to developed countries may not return
to pre-recession levels even after the resumption of stronger economic growth, but rather may be shifted to the emerging economies
of Asia. In lieu of an executive summary, the report features a series of nine "headlines" derived from the
research with brief explanatory notes.
Council, December 14, 2015 (originally published 2010), 29 pp.
In this guide, IPC presents
evidence to answer the "toughest questions" posed by immigration skeptics and opponents. Arranging the material
in short and readable chunks, the authors have produced what amounts to a primer for pro-immigration advocacy. Among
issues covered are: border enforcement, worksite enforcement, E-verify, comprehensive immigration reform, birthright
citizenship, the environmental impact of immigration, and immigrant use of public benefits.
Climate Change and Immigration: Warnings for America's Southern Border,
American Security Project, September, 2010, 7 pp
alarming patterns of declining agricultural yields, severe water shortages caused by Andean glacial melting, and growing desertification
in much of Latin America, Lindsay Ross, a policy analyst for the bipartisan American Security Project, predicts growing migratory
pressures along the southern border of the United States caused by climate change. He argues that "addressing climate
change is a crucial step in stemming and managing this potentially massive tide of immigration."
Birthright Citizenship in the United States: A Global Comparison,
Center for Immigration Studies, August, 2010, 20 pp
Published by a think tank often described
as anti-immigrant, this report lays out the case for the repeal of birthright citizenship. Citing reports in the Nigerian,
Turkish, and U.S. press, the author claims that "an entire industry of ‘birth tourism' has been created."
He also contends that ending birthright citizenship would reduce some of the "explosive growth" in "chain migration"
and make it possible to introduce a temporary worker program that would be truly temporary. The author also reports that only
30 of 194 countries, and only 2 of 31 advanced economies (the U.S. and Canada), "grant automatic birthright citizenship
to children of illegal and temporary aliens." Finally, he reviews the legislative history of the 14th amendment
and concludes that "the Citizenship Clause was never intended to benefit illegal aliens" and argues that Congress
has the right to assert its authority over the executive branch in this matter, without resort to a constitutional amendment.
The Citizenship Clause: A "Legislative History."
January 18, 2010, 53 pp.
essay examines the legislative history and intent of the 14thamendment clause stating that "all persons born
or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the
State wherein they reside." Written by Garrett Epps, a Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore, the essay takes
issue with the influential views of Peter Schuck and Rogers H. Smith, two scholars who first advanced their argument for "consensual"
citizenship in 1985. Although the framers of the amendment could not have anticipated modern immigration conditions, they
did, according to Epps, live in a nation that was 11% foreign-born in 1866, and they did intend the amendment to apply
to immigrants, as well as to freed slaves. Epps discusses the examples of the children of Chinese immigrants, whose parents
had been barred from citizenship since 1790, and the "gypsy" population, "the closest thing the United States
had at that time to ‘illegal' immigrants." Both these groups were subjects of congressional colloquies on the intent
of the amendment. Epps then discusses the issue of birth-right citizenship, which he describes as the "central
engine" of immigrant assimilation in the United States." He argues that "the advocates of creating a
new non-citizen status for native-born children (of immigrants), are in danger of (inadvertently) creating a modern analogue
of the post-slavery subordination (of African-Americans) that was occurring during the months before the framing of the Fourteenth
Migration, the Environment and Climate Change: Assessing the Evidence,
The German Marshall
Fund of the United States, June, 2010, 5 pp.
This short paper is one of eight new studies
devoted to the topic of climate change and migration patterns prepared by the Transatlantic Study Team on Immigration and
Integration. Written by Frank Laczko, the Head of Research at the International Organization for Migration, this paper examines
the current state of research on climate change and migration. The author calls attention to the uncertainties surrounding
the notion of environmentally-induced migration, especially when individual choice enters into the picture. Rather than thinking
of population movement as either forced or voluntary, it might be more accurate, he suggests, to conceive of a continuum
ranging from totally voluntary to totally forced. The author also notes the lack of empirical research on the relationships
between climate change and migration. What is clear is that most environmentally-induced migration has been within and
between developing countries in the global South. Apart from efforts to provide temporary refuge to those stranded outside
their countries as a consequence of extreme environmental events such as earthquakes and hurricanes, most northern countries
have yet to develop a "strategy and policy framework to address the impact of gradual environmental change." Copies
of this paper and others in the series are available on the website of The German Marshall Fund. The International Organization
for Migration has also produced a larger study on
the same subject.
Migrant Resource Centres: An Initial Assessment,
IOM International Organization for Migration, 2010, 71 pp.
migrant resource centres (MRCs) as "physical structures that provide services to migrants which facilitate and empower
them to migrate in a legal, voluntary, orderly and protected fashion," IOM considers this report to be the first attempt
"to assess (their) impact on migration management goals." According to IOM, MRCs may be found in both countries
of origin and destination. Originally prepared for the 2009 Global Forum on Migration and Development, this report profiles
17 MRCs, with special attention to their role in "empowering migrants for development." The authors identify
and give examples of good practices and recommend steps to strengthen and sustain organizations of this type.
Beyond Arizona: Without Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Intolerance Will Rise
Across Our Country,
Center for American
Progress, May, 2010, 13 pp.
This report reviews two decades of state legislative efforts
to combat illegal migration, focusing particularly on the states of Arizona and California, and includes a useful summary
of ongoing legal challenges to such legislation. The report concludes that "many of these laws irresponsibly invite racial
profiling and threaten the civil rights of U.S. residents based on their skin color" and urges Congress to enact comprehensive
immigration reform as a remedy.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Indigenous Migrants, Their Movements,
and Their Challenges,
Policy Institute, March 31, 2010, 7 pp.
This short paper discusses migration trends among the world's 370 million
indigenous people, who often get lumped together statistically with non-indigenous migrants born in the same country. The
author notes that indigenous people often migrate from rural to urban areas within their own countries, before attempting
to move to other countries. The author calls for the compilation of disaggregated data about these groups and new
studies to "help governments at the State and federal levels address specific issues of these communities."
Facing Our Future: Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement,
The Urban Institute, February, 2010, 80 pp.
This longitudinal study looks at the consequences
of immigration enforcement activities on a sample of 190 children in 85 families in six locations in the United States. Arrested
parents or their spouses were interviewed twice: 2 to 5 months after arrest, and 9-13 months after arrest. The researchers
found that the children "experienced severe challenges, including separations from parents and economic hardships that
likely contributed to adverse behavioral changes that parents reported." Based on interviews with local officials
and leaders of social service agencies, the study also describes and assesses the responses of the six communities to the
arrests. The authors conclude with a series of policy recommendations to ease the burden on children arising from workplace
raids and home arrests.
A Visa and Immigration Policy for the Brain-Circulation Era,
of International Educators, December, 2009, 13 pp.
This policy brief argues that there
has been a "paradigm shift in global mobility." The economic advantage that the United States once held in attracting
talented international students and skilled workers is eroding, as other countries compete for this limited supply of human
capital. Indeed, there has been a largely unrecognized outflow of talent from the United States to other countries.
As international student mobility continues to increase, the U.S. share of the total is dwindling. The author proposes a package
of reforms designed to address this problem, including more efficient consular processing of visa applicants, "treating
people with civility and respect when they transit through our ports of entry," and allowing more advanced degree holders
from American universities to become permanent residents.
Institutional Racism, ICE Raids, and Immigration Reform,
School of Law, University of California, Davis, December, 2009, 49 pp.
Reviewing the long sweep of U.S.
immigration history, with particular attention to the southern border, UC Davis Law Professor Bill Ong Hing argues that "the
construction of U.S. immigration laws and policies that began with the forced migration of Black labor...is inherently racist.
The current numerical limitation system, while not explicitly racist, operates in a manner that severely restricts immigration
from Mexico and the high visa demand countries of Asia." He further argues that the "dehumanization"
and commoditization of "illegal immigrants," as promoted by "hot talk radio hosts, conservative columnists,
and politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike," works to conceal the racist nature of these policies.
Made in America: Myths and Facts about Birthright Citizenship,
Immigration Council, September, 2009, 34 pp.
Four scholars discuss the meaning, importance,
and legislative history of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that "all persons born or naturalized in the United
States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
In four separate essays, the authors argue against attempts to deny citizenship to the children of unauthorized immigrants,
contending that such a change would be inconsistent with the intentions of those who wrote the Amendment, compromise a key
principle of American democracy, have little or no effectiveness in stopping illegal migration, and likely fuel the growth
of an "exploitable underclass" in American society.
Breaking the Immigration Stalemate: From Deep Disagreements to Constructive Proposals,
A Report from the Brookings-Duke Immigration Policy Roundtable,
The Brookings Institution and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, 2009, 28 pp.
together 20 leaders and experts who "see immigration from divergent, even conflicting perspectives," this roundtable
spent 10 months working to hammer out a set of consensus recommendations for immigration reform. The participants agreed that
the final product represented "a reasonable balance among competing considerations, interests, and principles, and that
it is a major advance over the status quo." Among the recommendations are the following: GAO-monitored "coordination
and sequencing" of legalization with a strict regime of workplace enforcement, a "tilting toward skills" in
admissions policy, maintenance of the current overall flow levels of 1.1 million legal admissions per year, creation of a
Standing Commission on Immigration to provide ongoing guidance to Congress on immigration policy, and the creation of an Office
for New Americans within the Executive Office of the President to coordinate the work of all federal departments and all levels
of government to ensure the successful integration of immigrants and their children.
A Broken System: Confidential Reports Reveal Failures in U.S. Immigrant Detention
National Immigration Law Center, ACLU of Southern California, Holland & Knight, 2009,
Since 1992, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of immigrants held in detention in the
United States - reaching 320,000 in 2007. Based on a review of 18,000 pages of government documents released under court
order, this report finds that the entire system is "woefully unregulated." ICE detention standards are often
routinely disregarded and violated. 67% of all detainees are held in state or county jails, where the level of oversight is
particularly lax. Major deficiencies were found in standards such as visitation rights, recreational time, telephone
access, access to legal material, and use of disciplinary segregation. The report contains numerous recommendations
to create a more humane and just system, including a moratorium on further expansion of the system and greater use of supervised
release programs. In New Jersey, seven county jails have contracts with ICE to incarcerate immigrant detainees.
No Shortcuts: Selective Migration and Integration,
2009 Transatlantic Academy Report on Immigration, March, 2009, 34 pp.
this report, six scholars - three from the United States and three from Europe - describe and assess skill-based immigration
systems in western countries and reach a number of policy-related conclusions, including the following: first, that
"selective migration schemes that do not have a specific connection to employment are faced with problems of integrating
immigrants into the labor market;" second, that "highly-skilled (migrants) are not immune to problems
of adaptability and integration;" and third, that the American economic and immigration boom of the last few decades
is over, resulting in inevitable changes in the quantity and patterns of migration, and that migration should no longer
be viewed "as a one-way street toward Europe and the United States," but rather as a process characterized by "circular
migration and multiple-life-phase migrations" -- and with many new players, including China and India. The authors stress
the importance of sound integration policies to prevent "brain waste" and the spread of extremist ideologies. They
also argue that "systems and environments devised to make it easier for people to move back and forth are preferable
to the build-up of border and control systems."
Testimony of Rubén G. Rumbaut, University of California, Irvine,
to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, U.S. House of Representatives,
May 16, 2007, 28 pp
This paper addresses the question of whether the U.S. is continuing to function as a "graveyard
for languages." In particular, the author tests the assertion of Samuel P. Huntington in a controversial 2004 book that
immigrants from Latin America and their children are clinging to Spanish and thereby threatening the identity and unity of
American society. Citing a number of intergenerational studies completed in heavily Hispanic areas in south Florida and southern
California, Rumbaud finds little support for Huntington's thesis. Rumbaud concludes that "the death of immigrant
languages in the United States is not only an empirical fact, but can also be considered as part of a larger and widespread
global process of ‘language death.'" From a public policy point of view, leaders in the United States may wish
to consider the desirability of this outcome and take steps to promote the preservation of immigrant languages as a national