Archive for March, 2019

Foreigners in prison Part Two

Monday, March 18th, 2019

For centuries, prisoners in the United States were housed together regardless of their citizenship status. That changed in 1999 when the federal government began to send noncitizens into separate prisons. Today, tens of thousands of people — more than half of all noncitizens in federal prison — live in an institution segregated by citizenship. The vast majority of these people are Mexican nationals. Nearly all of them are Latino.

The rise of the all-foreign prison raises pressing questions about federal immigration power and noncitizens’ equal protection rights. Yet no legal scholarship examines these unusual institutions. Few even know they exist. Drawing on extensive data from the Bureau of Prisons, internal agency documents, interviews, and other primary sources, this Article provides the first account of the all-foreign prison. It notes that these prisons are insulated from meaningful judicial review by an alienage jurisprudence that affords deference to any federal policy characterized as migration control. And it critiques this doctrine, arguing that courts need a more coherent and defensible conception of the relationship between national sovereignty and noncitizens’ equal protection rights. To that end, this Article advances a simple claim: only core immigration activities — setting rules on entry, exit, and naturalization — should count as migration control. Other species of state action, including segregating foreign national prisoners, may affect where and how immigrants live their lives. But they are not the kind of migration control that warrants deference from federal courts.

From Emma Kaufman, Segregation by Citizenship, Harvard Law Review, March 2019

Foreigners in prison Part One

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

There are currently close to nineteen thousand noncitizen inmates being held in ten privately run prisons in seven states. Immigration detention is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.), which detains about forty thousand undocumented immigrants on any given day. But many immigrants who’ve been convicted of crimes, like Galindo, are under the supervision of a different branch of the federal bureaucracy, the Bureau of Prisons (B.O.P.). As the legal scholar Emma Kaufman notes, in a new article in the Harvard Law Review, inmates in foreign-only, or Criminal Alien Requirement (C.A.R.), facilities make up ten per cent of the over-all population in federal prisons, and they have far fewer protections. Kaufman writes, “All foreign prisons are not only places where foreigners are separated from the rest of the penal population. They are also stripped-down institutions with fewer services than other federal prisons.” Because the inmates will be deported at the end of their terms, they have become a “distinct class of prisoners” whose status has led “prison officials to funnel foreign nationals into remote prisons with fewer resources.”

From the New Yorker

Majority of Americans would fail citizenship test

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

A majority of Americans in every state except Vermont would fail a test based on the questions in the U.S. citizenship test, according to a survey by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Only four out of 10 Americans would have passed the test, and just 27% of those under age 45.

People did relatively well on the most basic questions. Seven out of 10 knew that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and that Franklin Roosevelt was president during World War II. But only 43% knew that Woodrow Wilson was president during World War I (nearly one out of four thought it was Roosevelt), and only 56% knew which countries we fought in World War II.

Fewer than a third could correctly name three of the original states. More than six out of 10 incorrectly thought the Constitution was written in 1776. (It wasn’t written until 1787.) Nearly four out of 10 thought Benjamin Franklin invented the light bulb.

Methodology: The survey was conducted using 20 history-specific questions from the practice tests for people taking the citizenship exam.

From here.

Frederick Douglass — a “composite” America

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

Jill Lepore writes in Foreign Affairs how Frederick Douglass was the most articulate advocate after the Civil War to defend the identity of America as a nation of immigrants. She wrote:

The most significant statement in this debate [about American identity] was made by a man born into slavery who had sought his own freedom and fought for decades for emancipation, citizenship, and equal rights. In 1869, in front of audiences across the country, Frederick Douglass delivered one of the most important and least read speeches in American political history, urging the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments in the spirit of establishing a “composite nation.” He spoke, he said, “to the question of whether we are the better or the worse for being composed of different races of men.” If nations, which are essential for progress, form from similarity, what of nations like the United States, which are formed out of difference, Native American, African, European, Asian, and every possible mixture, “the most conspicuous example of composite nationality in the world”? (March / April 2019 issue)

In a prior posting here, I wrote:

In a speech in Boston in 1869, Frederick Douglass argued that Chinese should be allowed to immigrate and become citizens. He presented his vision composite nationality under conditions of “perfect human equality.”

Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882mprohibited Chinese labor migration to the United States and barred Chinese residents from obtaining U.S. citizenship. The law was repealed in 1943. (see here.)

Douglass: I want a home here not only for the negro, the mulatto and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home here in the United States, and feel at home here, both for his sake and for ours. Right wrongs no man. If respect is had to majorities, the fact that only one fifth of the population of the globe is white, the other four fifths are colored, ought to have some weight and influence in disposing of this and similar questions. It would be a sad reflection upon the laws of nature and upon the idea of justice, to say nothing of a common Creator, if four fifths of mankind were deprived of the rights of migration to make room for the one fifth.

The voice of civilization speaks an unmistakable language against the isolation of families, nations and races, and pleads for composite nationality as essential to her triumphs.

Our Republic is itself a strong argument in favor of composite nationality. It is no disparagement to Americans of English descent, to affirm that much of the wealth, leisure, culture, refinement and civilization of the country are due to the arm of the negro and the muscle of the Irishman. Without these and the wealth created by their sturdy toil, English civilization had still lingered this side of the Alleghanies, and the wolf still be howling on their summits.

The grand right of migration and the great wisdom of incorporating foreign elements into our body politic, are founded not upon any genealogical or archeological theory, however learned, but upon the broad fact of a common human nature.

Man is man, the world over. This fact is affirmed and admitted in any effort to deny it. The sentiments we exhibit, whether love or hate, confidence or fear, respect or contempt, will always imply a like humanity.

If our action shall be in accordance with the principles of justice, liberty, and perfect human equality, no eloquence can adequately portray the greatness and grandeur of the future of the Republic.

 

Where Americans migrate to

Friday, March 8th, 2019

The top destinations, in order of size of migration populations, are Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Isreal. In 1000s.

Source: Migration Policy Institute

Toronto destination for high tech immigrants

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

Toronto is the fourth hottest high tech talent market in North America, after San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, ahead of New York, Boston, Austin and the rest. This is partly due to the city’s comfort with immigrants (51% of residents are foreign-born) and to Canada’s more hospitable approach to skilled immigration.

Toronto’s population of software developers, engineers and programmers grew by more than half between 2012 and 2017. The 82,100 technology jobs it added over that period made it North America’s fastest-growing tech centre.

“There’s a chill going on south of the border,” says Toby Lennox, chief executive of Toronto Global, the group tasked with attracting foreign investment to North America’s fourth-largest city. “Right now we’re positioning ourselves to be a lot more welcoming.”

Canada already grants foreign students work permits for up to three years after graduation, and in June 2017 the country’s immigration and employment authorities launched what they called their Global Skills Strategy, with the goal of making it easier for employers to bring in highly skilled foreign workers.

Among its promises was that work permits for such individuals (and their families) would be processed within two weeks, subject to police and medical checks. Within little more than a year, more than 12,000 people had applied, of whom 95 per cent had been accepted.

Some had applied for American H-1Bs and been turned down

The most common professions among those admitted under Canada’s skilled worker policies were developers, computer analysts, university professors and software engineers.

From the Financial Times

More on the Texas voter fraud folly

Monday, March 4th, 2019

The Texas Secretary of State’s and Attorney General’s suggestion in late January that 95,000 non-citizens were on the voter lists has turned predictably into a giant mess.

The state relied on a match of driver license and voter list databases. That is despite the chronic problems of large database matching and the high probability that many persons recorded over the past years as non-citizens on the driver license database later become citizens The state has since been walking back its claims.

The Brennan Center was skeptical from the start. Within days of the state’s first announcement it wrote:

Texas has a history of using faulty claims of fraud to justify onerous voter ID laws. In 2011, Texas passed the country’s strictest voter ID law, suggesting it was necessary to prevent supposedly rampant voter fraud. After the Brennan Center and others sued to prevent the implementation of that law (and won), it became clear that the state had virtually no evidence of voter impersonation at the polls. In ruling on the case, the court noted that in the ten years preceding the law’s passage, though there were 20 million votes cast in the state, only two instances of in-person voter impersonation were prosecuted to conviction.

In 2012, Florida officials conducted a similar weak match with driver’s license records that indicated that as many as 180,000 non-citizens were on the state’s rolls. As in Texas, that number made for some splashy headlines, but after accounting for the fact that people may have become citizens after renewing their licenses, the number was whittled down to 2,600 cases. Even that turned out to be a drastic overstatement, as in the end just 85 voters were identified as non-citizens and removed from the rolls.

That same year, the then-director of South Carolina’s DMV used a similar “weak-match” method to claim ineligible individuals voted in previous elections. He claimed that 950 dead people had voted since they died. After a review of the records in question by South Carolina officials, it was determined that no one had cast a ballot from the grave – or had used a dead person’s identity to vote.

After the 2016 election, a weak-match system identified 94,610 New Hampshire voters that were supposedly registered in another state. President Trump claimed he lost the state because “thousands” of people came into the state by bus to vote against him. A follow-up review by the New Hampshire secretary of state ruled out all but 142 of those matches as possibly legitimate cases of double-voting, and only referred 51 of those cases to the state’s attorney general for further investigation

Picking strawberries by machine instead of immigrant worker

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

Mechanization of produce farming is moving ahead, notably with strawberries, which are easy to crush. Half of hired farmworkers today are unauthorized workers.

The Washington Post reports that the future of agricultural work has arrived here in Florida, promising to ease labor shortages and reduce the cost of food, or so says the team behind Harv, a nickname for the latest model from automation company Harvest CROO Robotics.

Harv is on the leading edge of a national push to automate the way we gather goods that bruise and squish, a challenge that has long flummoxed engineers. Designing a robot with a gentle touch is among the biggest technical obstacles to automating the American farm.

“The labor force keeps shrinking,” said Gary Wishnatzki, a third-generation strawberry farmer. “If we don’t solve this with automation, fresh fruits and veggies won’t be affordable or even available to the average person.”

Who are the workers today? These figures are from the National Agricultural Workers Survey for 2015- 2016:

Sixty-nine percent of hired farmworkers interviewed in FYs 2015-2016 were born in Mexico. 49% are unauthorized. On average, foreign-born farmworkers interviewed in 2015-2016 first came to the United States 18 years before being interviewed. Most respondents had been in the United States at least 10 years (78%),

In 2015-2016, 77 percent of farmworkers said that Spanish was the language in which they are
most comfortable conversing. 30 percent of farmworkers reported that they could not speak English “at all”. 41 percent of workers reported they could not read English “at all”.

The average level of formal education completed by farmworkers was eighth grade. Four percent of workers reported that they had no formal schooling and 37 percent reported that they completed the sixth grade or lower.