Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

Stephen Miller in profile

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Politico runs an in-depth profile of Stephen Miller, Trump’s 33 year old advisor on immigration. Here are some passages:

Liberal upbringing in Santa Monica, California…deeply shaken by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, at Duke as an undergraduate as a columnist for the student newspaper he warned that multiculturalism poses a threat to American identity.

He has installed acolytes across key U.S. agencies, such as the State Department. He has inserted himself into NSC deliberations to an extraordinary degree for someone not in that elite group’s ranks. He takes care to limit his paper trial, avoiding email and keeping his name off documents when possible.

Miller from the start wielded tremendous sway over the Domestic Policy Council, a White House-based forum of top U.S. officials and staffers who deal with issues such as health care, education and other domestic topics aside from the economy. Some elements of immigration policy are among the DPC’s portfolios. But there are other aspects of immigration that have been traditionally dealt with by the NSC, such as refugee resettlement and recalcitrant countries. According to multiple former officials, under Miller, the DPC proposed that it take the lead on all immigration matters, including what was supposed to be handled by the NSC. NSC staffers raised concerns. But Miller pushed then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Tom Bossert, the homeland security adviser at the time, to effectively cede control of immigration policy to him.

“The entirety of my work during my time in the administration was influenced or dictated maybe 90 percent of the time by Miller, but I saw maybe three emails from him,” the former administration official said.

Perhaps Miller’s most important move has been identifying and promoting lower-level staffers who share his anti-immigration views, some of whom he helped place into key agencies, essentially embedding foot soldiers across the federal government.

A White House staffer who admires Miller said the Trump confidant is in contact with many more career staffers across the government who support his views, even lawyers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Miller has asked people to look at every policy change possible within the executive branch’s authority to be stricter on immigration, the White House staffer said.

The former White House official warned, however, against exaggerating Miller’s reach, saying that although he has a solid “kitchen cabinet” of advisers, “there’s a mythology that’s crept up that overstates their influence.” Miller, the former official added, has promoted that “myth.”

Current and former officials say they can’t recall any incidents in which Miller used overtly racist language. Instead, they say, his views appeared more nativist — his language loaded with suspicion, if not outright hostility, toward non-Americans, including refugees.

Immigration waves and anti-liberalism

Monday, August 27th, 2018

I agree with this description of the role of increased immigration on national politics in Europe and the United States. From Tyler Cowan: “There is another explanation for the rise in anti-liberal sentiment: immigration. Through a series of historical accidents, it was kept off the table as a major issue for many decades. The U.S. had choked off immigration in 1920, and at first the liberalization of the 1960s did not have much of a visible impact on the American population. In those early decades after the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, many poor nations were so poor and unfree that it wasn’t easy to leave them.

As for Europe, in-migration was too small to make much of a political impact. For a while in the 1960s and 1970s, the bigger story was emigration, due to high taxes, from countries such as the U.K. and Sweden. The presence of the Iron Curtain also blocked some of the routes and sources that enable some migration to Western Europe today.

In a democratic society where there simply isn’t much immigration, it is much harder for nationalists and populists to use it as an issue. But today much of the West has seen high immigration for 20 years or more, giving nationalist and populist forces a major talking point. Even if most of the population is broadly pro-immigration, perhaps a core of 15 to 20 percent will not be. With that base, a movement of counterreaction can have real political impact.”

From here.


Nixon and Ocasio-Cortez on abolishment of ICE

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

Cynthia Nixon on ABC News:

“I think it’s important to know also parents and children aren’t just being separated at the border. They are being separated throughout this country by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. I think we need to abolish ICE. That seems really clear. They have strayed so far from the interests of the American people and the interests of humanity.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in an interview on Democracy Now, less explicitly:

“I didn’t take on the president much at all, because we know—here in our district, we know that we’re united against this administration. And, for me, it was very important to not talk about what I was running against, but to talk about what I’m running for, because, to me, saying something like “abolish ICE” is an implicit—it’s an implicit rejection of the current administration’s policies, and it’s going a step further, to advance the causes of justice.

“First of all, ICE is not BPD [i.e. Customs and Border Protection]…what ICE is—you know, when we talk about abolishing ICE, we’re talking about ending family detention. We’re talking about—we’re talking about ending an agency and ending a practice and a structure that is not accountable to the U.S. Department of Justice, that often takes on things that look a lot like enforcement activities. And so, to have an enforcement agency that operates outside of the accountability of the Department of Justice, it’s no surprise to see the violations of civil and human rights that we’re seeing right now.”


Balkanization of immigration management

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

From an analysis of the history of immigration management in the U.S.:

The federal departments tasked with immigration responsibilities are so dispersed that it foments balkanization. Within the Department of Homeland Security, the Commissioner of CBP (Customs and Border Protection, the Director of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and the Director of USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) currently are among two dozen DHS officials — including the leadership of Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, and the US Coast Guard — that report to the DHS Deputy Secretary.

At the State Department, the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs (approving visas) reports to the Under Secretary for Management, and the Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration reports to the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

Within the Department of State, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration has primary responsibility for formulating policies on population, refugees, and migration, and for administering the US international refugee assistance and admissions programs

The Office of Refugee Resettlement is within the Administration for Children and Families in Health and Human Services.

EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review, or immigration courts) reports to the Dept of Justice Deputy Attorney General, and the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section is part of the Civil Rights Division that reports to the Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department.

At the Labor Department, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (temporary work visa certifications) is housed in the Employment and Training Administration, which is one of 21 agencies that report to the Deputy Secretary. Similarly, the Wage and Hour Division (also for temporary work visa management), reports to the Deputy Secretary of Labor.

As a consequence, immigration leadership responsibilities are nested at the third tier down within these federal departments and are dispersed across eight agency heads. These agency heads report to deputy secretaries that have many other important departmental responsibilities. In other words, there is no clear chain of command for immigration governance.

The dispersed system of immigration governance already begs for reorganization. An expanded governance would best be led by an Interagency Council on Immigration, staffed by top officials from each department. A strong council could coordinate the administration of laws and could recommend policies to ensure more coherent governance. It could even establish a clear chain of command, especially in times of migrant emergencies (such as the 2014 influx of Central American children). That said, a strong council is unlikely due to bureaucratic turf battles.

From Immigration Governance for the 21St Century


Goodlatte farm bill opposed by California farmers

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

Representative Bob Goodlatte’s farm bill is being pushed by conservatives. It would create a new class of guest worker for farms, require employers to use e-Verify, and require all illegal workers to “touch back” outside the U.S. before being eligible for the new guest worker visa. I have described the bill here.

According to the Dept of Agriculture, 47% of the country’s farm workforce is unauthorized to work.

In a news article in March, the opposition by farmers was manifest. “We’re having constant communications with Republicans in Congress about this,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of the Western Growers Association, headquartered in Irvine, Calif. Like other industry groups, Nassif says his members support an overhaul of the H-2A visa program for seasonal workers that the Goodlatte bill proposes. But the legislation creates more problems, he said, including the so-called “touchback” provision requiring current workers to return to their legal country of residence.

California’s agricultural sector has a particularly high reliance on seasonal workers and those in the country illegally. “We don’t believe, after talking to our farmers, that people here with false documents are going to raise their hand … and touch back,” said Nassif. Combined with the threat of mandatory e-verify checks, California farmers fear those workers will simply flee, and “then we lose our entire workforce,” he said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s congressional district includes most of Kern County, the fourth largest farm county in the country.

Continued widespread support for DACA

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

The National Immigration Forum in April reviewed 14 polls taken between January and April of 2018 and found consistent support for protection of DACA people. They account for from 700,000 to close to 2 million of the 11 million undocumented persons in the country.

“Throughout, there was significant public consensus for allowing these immigrants to remain in the U.S. While responses sometimes varied between polls, depending on how the question was asked, overall support remained consistent throughout this period. Sympathy for the Dreamers crossed party and ideological lines, as well as race and ethnicity. Weak support can be found only in self-identified “conservatives,” and in President Trump’s strongest supporters. Even with these groups, not every poll showed weak support, such as if a legislative deal for the Dreamers included funding for a border wall.

“Voters are more inclined to blame the president and Republicans in Congress if no permanent solution for the Dreamers is passed. Voters are skeptical that the president wants the Dreamers protected from deportation.

A package with the border wall?

“The CBS/YouGov poll also asked respondents if they would support allowing DACA recipients to stay in the U.S. if there was a package that included funding for the border wall. As with the Quinnipiac poll mentioned above, support flipped. Overall, just 42 percent of respondents approved of such a package. However, Republicans (62 percent), conservatives (58 percent) and Trump supporters (62 and 63 percent), said they supported allowing DACA recipients to stay in exchange for funding for the wall. Of those who said they did not support the president, just 21 percent supported the package. When support for DACA recipients is combined with the wall, responses correlate to support or opposition to the president and his signature campaign promise.”

Three questions about refugees and asylees

Friday, July 20th, 2018

How are they the same and differ?

They are the same, drawing from one key Congressional act, with a few key exceptions. The United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol define a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980.

Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee.” A refugee applicant most apply beyond the borders and not from within the U.S.

(main source is here.)

How many are there?

Total annual asylum grants averaged 23,669 between FY 2007 and FY 2016.  Nationals of China, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras combined accounted for half (49.4%) of the 20,455 individuals granted asylum in FY 2016.

For refugees, The Trump Administration set for FY 2018 a cap of 45,000, sharply lower than in prior years.

What is the new policy about asylum seekers?

This is mostly from Immigration Impact. Again, in order to establish eligibility for asylum, an applicant must have a reasonable fear of persecution on account of a protected ground: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Membership in a particular social group is not defined in the law or regulations. It is instead shaped by case law, which is where asylum claims relating to domestic and gang violence have developed over time. Failure of the government to protect a person from private violence has been grounds for asylum awards.

The Attorney General overturned an asylum case and stated a general rule that “In general… claims based on membership in a putative particular social group defined by the members’ vulnerability to harm of domestic violence or gang violence committed by non-government actors will not establish the basis for asylum, refugee status, or a credible or reasonable fear of persecution.”

A new guidance from USCIS was issued on July 11 to comply with “Matter of A-B-“, the case which the Attorney General overturned. That was a 2016 case involving a woman from El Salvador who was granted asylum based on severe domestic violence she experienced. The A-B- case itself drew from a prior case, “Matter of A-R-C-G-“, that in 2014 had clarified years of uncertainty to firmly establish that survivors of domestic violence can be eligible for asylum under U.S. law.

It is too soon to know how strictly this guidance will be implemented and whether asylum claims based on domestic violence or fear of gangs will continue to be viable based on specific or different articulations of a victim’s fear of persecution.

For extensive information from the State Department, published in October 2017, go here.


Modern day slavery legislation

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Not since the days of slavery have so many residents of the United States lacked the most basic social, economic, and human rights.”

The management of entirely unregulated trans-border labor force of millions of workers with low formal education, including recruitment and employment, has been driven by corporate employers in agriculture, textiles, and meat processing. From the early decades of the 20th Century, whole sectors of the American economy have been staffed by persons with to legal status. Their employers have defeated efforts to normalize the employment relationship. Programs to coordinate the North American economy, including NAFTA, left this trans-border workforce unrelated. Corporate employers have essentially kept the world’s largest trans-border workforce out of government oversight.

Rather than to regulate in a way consistent with 20th Century standards of worker protections and of dispute resolution, the United States practiced benign neglect on these employment relations, with some exceptions, and  tried and consistently failed to influence them indirectly by Mexican border control.

Immigration restrictionists have to come to terms with those employers who depend on these workers. Goodlatte’s Agricultural Guest Worker Act (H.R. 4092) would regulate the workforce by formally recognizing guest workers as persons of sharply diminished rights.

The bill would arm employers with overwhelming control over employment conditions, including mandatory arbitration, reporting within 72 hours if a worker quits, mandatory periodic return to country of origin with no obligation of the employer to pay for transportation, barring family members to accompany the worker, and barring of access to common supports for low wage workers such as SNAP food stamps, federal community health center care, and federally funded legal aid. The bill would essentially close of much of the farming workforce from U.S. citizens and create a closed pool of vulnerable temporary workers.

Farmworker Justice is at the forefront of tackling this bill.

House to vote on farm guest worker bill in July

Friday, June 29th, 2018

From Farmworker Justice this morning:

Speaker Paul Ryan has committed to a July vote in the House on agricultural guestworker legislation, as reported by the Seattle Times and by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), whose family owns a large farming operation.

The proposal will be based on Rep. Goodlatte’s anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-family Agricultural Guestworker Act (AGA). Goodlatte and Newhouse included the AGA within Goodlatte’s larger Securing America’s Future Act, which failed in the House last week (so badly that almost half of Republican Congressmen voted against it).

Goodlatte’s cruel AGA, if passed, would accomplish two horrific results. For more details, see our summary.

First, this bill would basically convert the farm labor force of 2.4 million into guestworkers on new H-2C temporary work visas. Growers could bring in hundreds of thousands of H-2C guestworkers with no right to immigration status. Goodlatte’s bill would separate families –- spouses and children would have to remain in their homeland while the H-2C guestworker labors in the US for months or years. Current undocumented farmworkers would have an illusory right to return to their homelands and seek an H-2C visa, but not their spouses and children currently in the US, who would still be subject to deportation.

Second, the H-2C program would replace the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and minimize recruitment of U.S. farmworkers; slash the modest wage and other labor protections; deny meaningful access to the judiciary; and minimize government oversight.

I described the Goodlatte bill here.



Republicans aim to cut immigration by 40%

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Currently one to 1 ½ million person get a green card every year. I have posted before on a long-time shift of Republicans to greater restriction, despite a poll showing that only 17% of Americans favor a decrease in immigration. The House appears to be almost evenly divided over restriction Ron Brownstein of CNN noted this:

“With last week’s vote in the House of Representatives on hardline immigration legislation from GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, about three-fourths of Republicans in both the House and Senate have voted this year to cut legal immigration by about 40%. That would represent, by far, the largest reduction in legal immigration since Congress voted in 1924 to virtually shut off immigration for the next four decades.

The 40% estimate comes from the Cato Institute. “By far the worst aspect of the Securing America’s Future Act are the cuts to legal immigration overall (pp. 5-21). The bill authors claim that it would cut immigration by 25 percent—some 2.6 million people per decade—but in reality, it would be closer to 430,000, almost a 40 percent decline. This would be the largest policy-driven reduction in legal immigration since the awful, racially motivated acts of the 1920s.”

The Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) was filed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on January 10, 2018. The bill would give Dreamers a three year visa with no right to permanent stay or citizenship, restrict family reunification to spouses and minor children (thus removing adult children and parents), shift the visa lottery to economic visas, and boost border security. Goodlatte told reporters, “I think there are a lot of other things that need to be done on immigration.”