Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

Past versions of Trump’s “crime and rapists” speech

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

June 16, 2015 Donald Trump, about unoocumented Mexicans: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

An echo from the past—

1893 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Chae Chan Ping v. United States, upholding the denial of re-entry of a legal resident from China at a time a great hostility to Chinese immigrants: “To preserve its independence, and give security against foreign aggression and encroachment, is the highest duty of every nation, and to attain these ends nearly all other considerations are to be subordinated.”

1920s Henry Laughlin, leading eugenicist, provided reports on the “degeneracy” and “social inadequacy” of the racially inferioroty and unassimiability of southern and eastern Europeans, supporting passage of racist quotas in the Immigration Act of 1924.

Early 1950s Senator Pat McCarran, chairman of a Senate subcommittee on immigration, and leading force behind the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which continued racist quotas. He defended the Act “to preserve this nation, the last hope of western civilization,” to prevent it from being “overrun, perverted, contaminated, or destroyed.”  The Act, he asserted, kept communists out of the United States.

Immigration bills — today’s voting

Friday, February 16th, 2018


The Senate today (2/15) voted on four immigration bills, and fall failed to gain 60 votes. (Source: Vox).

The Common Sense Caucus proposal (led by Sen. Susan Collins). The plan had gained the endorsement of Democratic leadership and was technically sponsored by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

•Provided a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children
•Offered $25 billion for border security
•Prevented DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents for legal status

It failed 54 to 45. Democrats almost unanimously backed the plan, along with eight Republicans. But the rest of the GOP conference and a handful of Democrats blocked the bill.

Coons-McCain Bill by Sens. Chris Coons and John McCain (R-AZ).

• Provided a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children
• Offered no money for Trump’s border wall, though it did include some border security measures

It failed 52 to 47, with Democrats almost united in favor and Republicans mostly voting against it.

Toomey amendment to Coons-McCain bill. The second vote, on an amendment from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), did not actually address DACA or border security. The Toomey amendment would have penalized so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to enforce federal immigration policy, by withholding federal funding from those municipalities.

It failed 54 to 45. Republicans and a few Democrats supported it, but most Democrats were opposed.

Grassley Bill. This one was closest to the White House’s preferences

• Provided a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children
• Offered $25 billion to fund a southern border wall
• Substantially curtailed family immigration and eliminated the diversity visa lottery program in such a way that would gut the legal immigration system

It failed, 39 to 60. Democrats opposed the bill en masse, joined by a notable number of Republicans, while most of the GOP conference and a couple Democrats supported it.

Republican point system for ranking immigrants

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue proposed in February 2017 an immigration bill which would introduce a system to prioritize green cards on the basis of merit. The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act would according to the sponsors “lower overall immigration to 637,960 in its first year and to 539,958 by its tenth year-a 50 percent reduction from the 1,051,031 immigrants who arrived in 2015.” A summary of the bill is here.

The bill includes a points system for merit-based green cards. Britain, Canada and Australia have point systems. In 2008, the Labor government introduced Britain‘s first points-based immigration system heralded by ministers as being based on the Australian system. It replaced a labyrinthine scheme which saw 80 different types of visa granted.

The Australian Labor government elected in 1972 decided migrants would be granted a visa based on their personal attributes and ability to contribute to Australian society – most obviously, through their occupational status. The points system – formalised in 1989 – has gone through several versions, and was most recently updated in July 2011. Canada was the first country to introduce a points-based system, in 1967.

The RAISE Act point system, in Section 5, would keep economic based visas at the current level of 140,000 and require an applicant to reach 30 points to be eligible for a green card. For example, a high school degree (foreign or U.S.) is 1 point, a U.S. professional degree is 13 points, and a foreign PhD in STEM is 10 points. Age 26 – 30 is 10 points, but age 41 – 45 is 4 points. English proficiency provides 6 to 12 points based on proficiency. If you have $1.35 million or more, you get from 6 up to 12 points. A high wage job offer provides 13 points. There is little or no room in this system for artists, authors, farm workers, and most health workers.


Digging into the Trump plan to cut immigration

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

The Migration Policy Institute published an analysis of the four point White House immigration plan of January 25. It wrote:

The Trump administration has proposed drastic cuts in legal immigration, unlike any seen since the Immigration Act of 1924, as part of its price tag to legalize the DREAMers

Family reunification:

Under the plan, Americans would lose the right to petition for their parents, adult or married children, or siblings to join them, allowing them only to reunite with spouses and minor children. [These account for 317,000 green cards issued in FY2016.] And legal permanent residents, who have had more limited ability to reunify with relatives, would no longer be able to petition for their adult children. The effects would be greatest for parents of U.S. citizens, who received 59 percent of the green cards [174,000 in 2016] in the categories slated for elimination under the White House proposal.

According to the State Department, as of November 1, 2017, there were 3.7 million individuals waiting in the categories listed for elimination.


The White House also is seeking to eliminate the diversity visa lottery, and repurpose those 50,000 green cards to reduce the family and employment-based backlogs. The lottery…is currently used primarily by nationals from countries in Africa, Central and Western Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Overall impact:

Together, these family-sponsored and diversity categories proposed for elimination made up one-third of all new green-card holders in fiscal year (FY) 2016. These cuts align with those proposed by the Trump-endorsed RAISE Act—whose authors estimated their bill would eventually lead to a 50 percent reduction in legal immigration.

While family-based and diversity visa applicants are not selected on the basis of high educational attainment, recent Migration Policy Institute (MPI) findings show that nearly half of all recent immigrants, through all streams, have a college degree—a significant increase over earlier arrivals and the U.S.-born population. Paradoxically, the ultimate effect of the White House’s proposed legal immigration changes would be to reduce immigration of highly skilled workers.

Republican initiative to boost skilled immigration

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

What about boosting skilled worker immigration?

Two immigration lawyers write, “In stark contrast to the Trump Administration’s xenophobic wish-list is the Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2018, introduced by two Republican Senators, Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). The bill does not address Dreamers, but rather focuses on employment-based visas. Although imperfect, the bill serves as a proper starting point when discussing sensible immigration policy. Specifically, the bill acknowledges the utility and benefit of foreign skilled workers, especially in the IT field.

“Hatch and Flake have both realized that these workers not only benefit US industries, but also help create jobs for American workers. In a global economy, all forms of capital, including intellectual capital, flow to their optimum destinations according to the laws of supply and demand. We can, if we think and act anew, transform immigration policy from an endless source of controversy to a flexible weapon in our economic arsenal so that everyone profits. I-Squared does provide the opening salvo.”

Polling results support compromise deal in midst of agreements, disputes

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

A Harvard-Harris poll on January 17-19 of 980 registered voters found a rare high degree of consistent support for an immigration package being proposed by the White House.

Voters were asked, “Would you favor or oppose a congressional deal that gives undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents work permits and a path to citizenship in exchange for increasing merit preference over preference for relatives, eliminating the diversity visa lottery, and funding barrier security on the U.S.-Mexico border?”

Every category of political leaning and demographics said it would support the deal by a majority of between 60% and 75%. Liberals like it by 63%; conservatives, by 68%.

When asked, not about a deal, but about specific features, 77% said yes to Dreamer access to citizenship. Even conservatives agreed by 64%.

As for giving more weight to education and skills, 79% said yes, with Republicans at 87% and Democrats at 72%

However, there is wide disagreement about the preferred number of permanent immigrants per year. The respondents were not told the current rate of about one million. Conservatives want a level of well less than 500,000, even below 250,000, while liberals want between 500,000 and million. College educated persons and those earning $75K or more tend to be more open.

The lottery system is unpopular by 32% in favor, 68% opposed.

16% of Republicans think that border security is adequate, compared to 60% of Democrats.

Deal on immigration reform?

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Ross Douthat in the NY Times points to possible negotiation between the White House and pro-immigration forces among Democrats:

“Especially since last week, Trump and Miller actually made an interesting offer: an amnesty and even a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers, more generous than what many restrictionists favor and with no promise of the new E-Verify enforcements conservatives often seek, in return for a shift (over many years) to a skills-based policy and a somewhat lower immigration rate. [The White House “framework” of January 25 would reduce immigration from about one million to about 700,000 a year.]

“If you’re committed to the view that restrictionists can and must be steamrolled, you’ll respond to this offer the way many Democrats have — call it a “white supremacist ransom note,” punt on policy, and use the issue to rally your base in 2018.

“But if you think that lasting deals are forged when all sides are represented, you might consider making a counteroffer: for instance, the same rough blueprint but with more green cards for skilled immigrants, so that Miller gets his cuts to low-skilled immigration but the overall rate stays closer to the status quo.”

El Salvadoran immigrants and Temporary Protected Status

Friday, January 26th, 2018

In 1980, 95,000 Salvadoran immigrants lived in the U.S. Today 1.17 million do. A total of 2.1 million, which includes immigrants and their American-born children, constitute the third-largest Hispanic group in the United States, after those of Mexican and Puerto Rican origin, according to the Pew Research Center. Roughly. About 600,000 of the 1.17 million immigrants are here illegally. 265,000 live in Los Angeles. 165,000 live in the D.C. area.

Remittances, which mostly come from the United States totaled $4.58 billion in 2016, representing 17% of the country’s economy (Gross Domestic Product).

Generations of Salvadorans have left in search of land and work. Neighboring Honduras was once a crucial demographic escape valve. A 1969 war closed it, and disrupted the Central American common market, destabilizing El Salvador politically. There was a savage 1979-1992 civil war between U.S.-supported governments and Marxist guerrillas. That conflict drove hundreds of thousands to the United States, establishing a migratory pattern that continues to this day.

Very few Salvadorans, about 10%, who arrived as immigrants had a high school degree, but about 50% of second generation Salvadorans do.

Temporary Protected Status

Following a series of earthquakes in 2001, the U.S. granted Temporary Protected Status to 217,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. Prior to leaving office in January 2001, the Clinton Administration said it would temporarily halt deportations to El Salvador because of a major earthquake. In 2001, the George W. Bush Administration decided to grant TPS to Salvadoran nationals following two earthquakes that rocked the country. Temporary Protected Status provides temporary lawful status to foreign nationals in the United States from countries experiencing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary circumstances that prevent their safe return. TPS was established by Congress as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. (From here.)

On January 8, 2018, the Trump administration announced that it is removing TPS status effective September, 2019.  About 20,000 Salvadorans are in DACA status.

Other sources: Washington Post and the Migration Policy Institute


40 years in U,S, Michigan doctor faces deportation

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018


A Kalamazoo, MI, a 47-year-old doctor who entered the U.S. legally 38 years ago is now in jail facing deportation for two misdemeanors committed when he was a teenager, according to the Chicago Tribune.

He arrived in 1979 at age 5 with his family from Poland. Lukasz Niec received a temporary green card and, in 1989, became a lawful permanent resident. He grew up in Michigan, went to medical school, became a doctor, and raised a daughter and stepdaughter. He doesn’t speak Polish. He is a permanent legal resident and never got around to taking out citizenship.

On January 16, immigration authorities arrested Niec at his home, just after he had sent his 12-year-old stepdaughter off to school. According to his “notice to appear” from the Department of Homeland Security,

Niec’s detention stems from two misdemeanor convictions from 26 years ago. In January 1992, at age 18, Niec was convicted of malicious destruction of property under $100. In April of that year, he was convicted of receiving and concealing stolen property over $100 and a financial transaction device.

Because Niec was convicted of two crimes involving “moral turpitude,” stemming from two separate incidents, he is subject to removal, immigration authorities wrote in the notice to appear, citing the Immigration and Nationality Act.

A memo from the Obama administration in 2011 directed immigration officials to look at a number of factors, such as familial relationships with U.S. citizens, criminal history, education and contributions to the community, in deciding whether arrests and prosecution are warranted.

But the Trump administration has issued sweeping new guidelines expanding the range of immigrants that count as high priority for deportation, including low-level offenders, and those with no criminal record – regardless of how long they have lived in the country.

“He can’t be deported,” his wife said. “He can’t speak Polish. He wouldn’t know where to go. He would be lost.”

30 years of Republican migration towards immigration restriction

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

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1960s through mid 1990s – bipartisan

Over generations, popular sentiment has been vaguely inclined to not to increase immigration, but also not to cut it back. Party lines were not clearly drawn because both parties were internally conflicted.

A 1965 Gallup survey showed that….Republicans and Democrats were divided internally, with similar shares of respondents in both parties favoring a decrease. In 1977, a survey continued to show that partisan differences were negligible. In 1986, as the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was passing with a bipartisan congressional majority, a CBS News/New York Times poll recorded no statistically significant partisan differences in opinion toward overall immigration levels.

2000s: tension while bipartisan reform fails

The 9/11 attack sharply heightened concerns about illegal immigration. After a while, Rep concern about mass immigration stayed high but most Dems and, by even more, Independents stopped expressing concern.

President George W. Bush expressed support for immigration reform. In his 2007 State of the Union address, he said, “We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals.”

In 2007, there was a concerted bipartisan effort in the Senate to pass comprehensive legislation, such as The Strive Act, proposed by Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Reps have conflated the issue of immigration with the issue of law and order. Pew Research polls suggest that Reps and Dem come down very differently on the unfairness question. The 2016 Republican Convention platform’s section on immigration demands that legal immigration be cut back, “in light of the alarming levels of unemployment and underemployment in this country.”

2010s: increasing split along party lines

According to Pew Research polling in 2015, about half of Republicans (53%) say immigrants coming to the U.S. make society worse in the long run, compared with just 24% of Democrats. Among Republicans, 71% say immigrants in the U.S. are making crime worse, compared with just 34% of Democrats. 71% of Republicans say immigrants are making the economy worse, compared with 34% of Democrats who say the same.

2018: full blown restrictionist proposal

On January 10, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other Republicans introduced the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760). 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.

According to The Hill, “Addressing these four issues — border security, the visa lottery, chain migration, and then something for DACA recipients — is a great first step,” Goodlatte told reporters as he returned to the Capitol. “I think there are a lot of other things that need to be done on immigration.”