Sanctuary Cities: the legal battle

February 25th, 2017

Does the Trump administration have the legal power to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities? Below is an analysis of the legal battle. In sum, the battle is partly over whether sanctuary cities are in violation of federal statute for failing to detain persons arrested  (San Francisco says no), and whether all federal funds or only a very small segment of them is at risk.

The details:

On January 25, President Trump said, “And finally, at long last, cracking down on Sanctuary Cities. It’s time to restore the civil rights of Americans to protect their jobs, their hopes, and their dreams for a much better future. Congress passed these laws to serve our citizens. It is about time those laws were properly enforced. They are not enforced.”

A law suit by San Francisco filed on January 31, in response to a Trump Administration executive order signed on January 25 sets out the legal parameters of the sanctuary city issue. The suit says that the Executive Order threatens the loss of $1.2 billion in Federal funds, 13% of the city’s annual budget.

“Sanctuary city” is an informal term with no legal meaning The SF suit describes what local orders generally do: “They specifically prohibit local law enforcement officers from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detainer requests, which are voluntary, and limit when local law enforcement officers may give ICE advance notice of a person’s release from local jail.” SF is referring to its Administrative Code, Chapters 12H and 12I. A detainer request is a request by the federal government that a city detain in custody persons who have been arrested.

The Executive order says that sanctuary cites are in violation of Title 8, Section 1373 of the United States Code, “which provides that local governments may not prohibit or restrict any government entity or official from “sending to, or receiving from, [federal immigration officials] information regarding the citizenship or immigration status . . . of any individual.”

The SF suit says that it and other sanctuary cities are not in violation of this law. It cites a May 31, 2016 report by the Inspector General of the Justice Department on what constitutes a violation of Section 1373. The IG’s report includes examples of sanctuary city ordinances. It suggests that violation of Section 1373 puts at risk State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which for the top ten sanctuary jurisdictions came to $342 million in 2015.

The SF suit says that Section 1373 does not require cities to respond to requests by the federal government to detain persons. Further it says that “No federal funds received by San Francisco have statutory conditions specifically requiring compliance with Section 1373.”


Trump re-setting expectations about unauthorized population

February 19th, 2017

The Trump administration appears to have a strategy to change public expectations about the future of the 11 million unauthorized persons in the country.

Coming into 2017, the public appears to strongly favor a policy of eventual citizenship for these persons, based on a poll published in the Atlantic. Such a policy is apparently supported even by conservative Republicans. Thus, the default position of Americans has been light on deportation and heavy on normalization, with an expectation that legalization is the assumed solution.

The Trump administration is trying to reverse the expectations, to induce the public to expect mounting deportation as the default approach, with legalization being the exception.

An Executive Order on January 25 basically criminalizes the eight million illegal workers, the vast majority of whom do not have a felony or major misdemeanor record, for abuse of social security card identification.

The arrest in Phoenix on February 8 and deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos marks the start of what I expect to be a pattern of strict enforcement of this Executive Order. De Rayos, who illegally entered in the 1990s with her parents when she was 14, was convicted in 2009 for felony criminal impersonation – using another person’s social security card. Federal felony categories are here. De Rayos’ conviction was a Level 6 felony in Arizona – the mildest in the state’s categories.

In 2013 she was the subject of a removal order, but she also was the subject of court-ordered supervision, which meant she wouldn’t be immediately deported. De Rayos is the mother of two children born in the United States.

Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old man who arrived in the U.S. at age 7 and had DREAMER (DACA) permission to stay in the country, was arrested who authorities say he violated DACA standards due to his being a gang member. DACA deferment is not allowed for those who “have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.”

Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department will, I expect, repeat many times these kinds of arrest and deportation, first taking on cases that allow for immediate deportation without chance of a check by a court.

It will then probably expand the scope of its arrests to include those for whom a check by a court is possible. The January 25 EO (“Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”) included persons with criminal charges, persons who “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense, persons who “ have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency”, and person who “have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits.”


Community colleges and immigrant education

February 17th, 2017

Community colleges are the higher ed pathway for many immigrant youth. The latest estimate found (for 2003-2004) shows that one about a quarter of the nation’s 6.5 million degree seeking community college students are immigrants.

Quincy College in Quincy and Plymouth, Massachusetts is an example. The municipally affiliated college serves approximately 5,500 students. The college draws a diversity of students from the greater Boston area as well as 100 countries around the world.. It offers 34 associate degree programs and 19 certificate programs. The college plans to expand into a four-year college. An admissions official told me that enrolling foreign born students was extremely satisfying. Barriers such as unauthorized status were heart wrenching.

Quincy College students ranked #1 as top salary earners in Massachusetts and New England across two-year public colleges for the second year in a row. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, Quincy College students ranked #1 as top salary earners in Massachusetts and New England across two-year public colleges.

From a study of immigrants and higher education:

A study of the 25,173 students in the freshman class at the City University of New York (CUNY) system in 1997 found that 59.9% of the foreign-born students began in an associate’s degree program. Among the foreign-born, a greater proportion of first-time students who attended high school outside the United States began CUNY in an associate’s program (66.5%) than those who attended high school in it (58.5%).


ICE sweeps in February 2017 and March 2015

February 15th, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security’s fact sheet on a sweep conducted on the week of February 5 reports that about 680 persons were arrested. This is one third of the number arrested in a March, 2015 sweep. In both sweeps, it appears there were no raids at worksites to round up many unauthorized persons.

The February, 2017 sweep – 680 persons arrested

Fusion ran the story this way:

ICE said 75% of those arrested were “criminal aliens, convicted of crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.” It is not clear who the remaining 25% of detainees are but there were reports of bystanders being picked up when they could not prove they were in the U.S. with proper authorization.

In Southern California, there were 161 people detained in what David Marin, field office director for ICE enforcement and removal operations in the Los Angeles area, described as an “enforcement surge.” In the South, there were 192 people detained in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. In Texas, ICE reports there were 51 arrests in the San Antonio area. Of the 51 individuals arrested, 23 had criminal convictions. ICE officials also arrested 235 individuals in six midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Kansas, and Missouri. There were also 40 individuals detained in the five boroughs of New York City.

In Austin, ICE officials arrested a man in an H.E.B. grocery store parking lot while someone broadcasted the scene live on Facebook. The video posted Friday morning had more than half a million views by the end of the day.

Operation Cross Check, March 2015 — 2,000 persons arrested

The Department of Homeland Security reported the sweep as follows:

The operation, dubbed “Cross Check,” began Sunday, March 1, and ended Thursday, March 5.

The 2,059 individuals with prior criminal convictions who were arrested include more than 1,000 individuals who have multiple criminal convictions. More than 1,000 of those arrested have felony convictions, including voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery, kidnapping and rape.

Of the total 2,059 criminals arrested, 58 are known gang members or affiliates, and 89 are convicted sex offenders.

The vast majority of misdemeanor convictions were for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). ICE considers DUI offenders, particularly repeat offenders, to be a significant public safety threat.

Of those arrested during this operation, 476 were illegal re-entrants who had been previously removed from the country. Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, 163 of those arrested during the enforcement action were presented to U.S. Attorneys for prosecution on a variety of charges, including illegal re-entry after deportation, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Draft Executive Order on means testing of legal Immigrants

February 14th, 2017

The American Progress released a draft executive order which vastly expands the power of the executive branch to control legal immigration among low wage earners by using an old concept of “public charge” in the current setting, where many means tested programs are used by wage earners.

“Under the draft order, individuals who are otherwise eligible for green cards could be denied admission to the United States if they could conceivably become eligible for any kind of means-tested assistance….Under the draft order, applicants who are otherwise eligible for a green card may be denied LPR status or admission to the United States if they are deemed likely to receive any means-tested public benefit. As currently drafted, the order would even allow federal officials to deport LPRs if they receive such benefits during their first five years in the United States.”

According to the Census, among non-high school graduates, 37.3% received means-tested benefits in 2014; also, 21.6% of high school graduates participated in one of the major means-tested government assistance programs.


Immigration from Muslim-dominant countries – shapshot

February 12th, 2017

The Executive Order countries are presented (Asia and Africa), along with Pakistan/Saudi Arabia, which are not included in the Executive Order.


Facts about immigration in California

February 10th, 2017

From the Public Policy Institute of California:

California is home to more than 10 million immigrants—about one in four of the foreign-born population nationwide. In 2015, the most current year of data, 27% of California’s population was foreign born, about twice the US percentage. Half of California children had at least one immigrant parent.

Almost half (49%) of California’s immigrants are naturalized US citizens, 26% have some other legal status (including green cards and visas) and about 25% of immigrants in California are undocumented.

The vast majority of California’s immigrants were born in Latin America (52%) or Asia (39%). Leading countries of origin are Mexico (4.3 million), China (914,000), the Philippines (859,000), India (581,000), and Vietnam (507,000). Most (53%) of those arriving between 2011 and 2015 came from Asia; only 22% came from Latin America.

Foreign-born residents accounted for 71% of state residents without a high school diploma and 31% of college-educated residents. But more than half (52%) of foreign-born residents who came to the state between 2011 and 2015—and 58% of those who came from Asia—had attained at least a bachelor’s degree.

Types of visas issued by the U.S. in 2016

February 8th, 2017



Thanks to Sarah

The Wonder that is Silicon Valley

February 8th, 2017

From the NY Times:

“The U.S. is sucking up all the talent from all across the world,” Mr. Collison said. “Look at all the leading technology companies globally, and look at how overrepresented the United States is. That’s not a normal state of affairs. That’s because we have managed to create this engine where the best and the brightest from around the world are coming to Silicon Valley.”

“Last year, researchers at the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonpartisan think tank, studied the 87 privately held American start-ups that were then valued at $1 billion or more. They discovered something amazing: More than half of them were founded by one or more people from outside the United States. And 71 percent of them employed immigrants in crucial executive roles.”

From the 2016 Silicon Valley Index

“Silicon Valley has an extraordinarily large share of residents who are foreign born (37.4%, compared to California, 27.1%, or the United States, 13.3%). This population share increases to 50% for the employed, core working age population (ages 25-44), and even higher for certain occupational groups. For instance, nearly 74% of all Silicon Valley employed Computer and Mathematical workers ages 25-44 in 2014 were foreign-born. Correspondingly, the region also has an incredibly large share of foreign-language speakers, with 51% of Silicon Valley’s population over age five speaking a language other than exclusively English at home (compared to 43% in San Francisco, 44% in California, and 21% in the United States as a whole). This majority share in 2014  was up from 49% in 2011.”

New analysis of the rare event: foreign terrorism

February 6th, 2017

I look forward to the Trump Administration’s plan to improve screening for terrorists in its 90-day window. Terrorist acts are extremely rare. There have only been five that killed at least 3 persons.

The Cato Institute’s late 2016 analysis of foreign terrorism risk in the U.S. scrutinizes the data from over a 40-year period. Between 1975 and 2015, its report (Table 2) says that for each of the following categories there was one known terrorist who got into the U.S. for every —

644,990 green card recipients
19,351,005 tourists
162,625 refugees
1,272,454 students
2.651,962 illegal entries
175,131 asylees
129,341,353 visa waiver program visitors
604,132 K-1fiancé(ee)s

The Institute says that five events accounted for virtually all deaths. From 1975 through 2015, those 154 foreign-born terrorists murdered 3,024 people, 98.6 percent of whom were killed (2,983 victims) on September 11, 2001. The other 1.4% of murder victims were dispersed over the 41-year period, with two spikes in 1993 and 2015.

The spikes were produced by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed 6 people and the combination of two 2015 incidents—the Chattanooga shooting on July 16, 2015, that killed 5 people and the San Bernardino attack on December 2, 2015, that killed 14 people. The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing killed 3 people. This leaves 16 others to be accounted for.