Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

Visa denial rate is up under Trump

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

In 2018, the D.H.S. turned away 10% of applicants for employment authorization documents compared with 6% in 2016, and it rejected applications for advanced parole — which gives temporary residents the authorization to travel internationally and return — at a clip of 18%, more than doubling the rate in 2016. Even skilled workers are being rejected at higher rates. The denial rate for petitions for temporary foreign workers shot to 23% from 17%. The application for permanent workers saw denials rise to 9% from 6%.

The largest increase in the denial rate for family-sponsored applications, for petitions for fiancés, rose to 21% from 14%.

A new analysis for the Cato Institute has found that the Department of Homeland Security rejected 11.3% of requests, including for work permits, travel documents and status applications, based on family reunification, employment and other grounds, in the first nine months of 2018. This is the highest rate of denial on record and means that by the end of the year, the United States government will have rejected around 620,000 people — about 155,000 more than in 2016.

This increase in denials cannot be credited to an overall rise in applications. In fact, the total number of applications so far this year is 2% lower than in 2016. It could be that the higher denial rate is also discouraging some people from applying at all.

From the NY Times

Migrant Justice Suit against ICE

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Federal immigration authorities used a civilian informant to infiltrate meetings of Migrant Justice, which advocates for Vermont’s immigrant farmworkers, the group contended as it filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Wednesday November 14, 2018.

Migrant Justice alleges that group members were targeted and detained as part of a national effort against immigrant rights advocates.

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles has been helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security to engage in an “unlawful, multi-year operation to surveil, harass, arrest and detain” farm worker activists, Migrant Justice said in a statement. Its suit names ICE, DHS and the DMV as defendants.

Documents obtained through public records requests show that the DMV forwarded the plaintiffs’ personal information to ICE when they applied for the state’s driver privilege card, the group asserts. Immigration enforcement officers also engaged in the electronic surveillance of one Migrant Justice member, the suit alleges.

About 40 Migrant Justice members have been arrested in the last two years, and the majority of them have been deported, said Will Lambek, the group’s spokesman. At least 10 of those arrested are believed to have been targeted because of their activism, Lambek said.

The plaintiffs seek a federal injunction to stop the defendants from “targeting, surveilling, infiltrating, spreading misinformation, arresting and detaining Migrant Justice members,” as well as prohibiting DMV employees from sharing information with federal immigration enforcement agencies, according to a statement from Migrant Justice.

From Seven Days


Time line of the citizen census question

Sunday, November 11th, 2018


The Census Bureau’s current plan

The Census Bureau plans to use the same wording as what is already used in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which asks respondents to check one of five categories to describe their citizenship status. Three categories apply to people who are U.S. citizens at birth: born in the U.S., born in a U.S. territory, or born abroad with at least one U.S. citizen parent. People who say they are a naturalized U.S. citizen are asked for their naturalization year. The fifth category is “not a U.S. citizen.” The survey does not ask whether noncitizens are legally in the country.

1880 – 1950 Census includes question about citizenship. Question then was dropped.

January 20, 2017.  Trump Administration begins.

May 2017. Commerce Secretary Ross expresses frustration that his plans to introduce a citizenship question are not being supported (reported by NY Times). “I am mystified that nothing has been done in response to my months-old request that we include the citizenship question,” he groused in a May 2017 email to an aide tapped out on his iPhone. “Why not?”

July – November 2017. Ross conversed with Stephen Bannon and Kris Kobach. Koback recommends that the Census use the same question as that used in the American Community Survey. Sept. 17, Justice Dept responded to Ross that “the AG is eager to assist.” On Nov. 23, Ross joined Mr. Trump for Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, Upon his return, he fired off another message to his general counsel. “We are out of time,” it read. “Please set up a call for me tomorrow with whoever is the responsible person at Justice. We must have this resolved.” (per NY Times)

September 20, 2017. Internal Census Bureau memo discusses respondent confidentiality concerns.

November 2, 2017. Internal Census report warned of adverse impact of citizenship questions.” CSM researchers have noticed a recent increase in respondents spontaneously expressing concerns about confidentiality in some of our pretesting studies conducted in 2017. We recommend systematically collecting data on this phenomenon, and development and pretesting of new messages to avoid increases in nonresponse among hard-to-count populations for the 2020 Census as well as other surveys like the American Community Survey (ACS).”

December 12, 2017. Justice Department wrote the Census asking that a citizenship question be re-instated in the 2020 census.

December 29 2017 Pro Publica reported that The Justice Department is pushing for a question on citizenship to be added to the 2020 census, a move that observers say could depress participation by immigrants who fear that the government could use the information against them.

March 20, 2018 Ross told the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee that the insertion of the question had been initiated “solely” by officials at the Justice Department, with no involvement from officials in the White House. “Has the president or anyone in the White House discussed with you or anyone on your team about adding the citizenship question?” asked Representative Grace Meng, Democrat of New York. “I am not aware of any such,” Mr. Ross testified.

March 26, 2018 Department of Commerce announced that a question on citizenship status will be reinstated to the 2020 decennial census questionnaire to help enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Press release said that “Secretary Ross’s decision follows a request by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 decennial census.”

March 26, 2018 The state of California sued the Trump administration Monday night, arguing that the decision to add a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census violates the U.S. Constitution. The state’s attorney general acted just after the Commerce Department announced the change in a late-night release. The lawsuit is here.

April 3, 2018 The District, Virginia, Maryland and 15 states filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block the Trump administration from adding a last-minute citizenship question to the 2020 decennial Census. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, also includes six cities and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors and comes a week after California sued the administration over the same issue.

July 3, 2018 Judge Jesse Furman of Manhattan’s Southern District allowed a multistate lawsuit to move forward amid “strong” evidence that the Trump administration acted in bad faith in its push for a controversial citizenship question to be added to the 2020 Census, plaintiffs in the case said. Furman also granted a request for discovery, according to New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, whose office filed the case on behalf of 18 states, the District of Columbia, nine cities, four counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

July 17, 2018 Furman allowed a lawsuit to move forward against the Trump administration over its controversial decision to add a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census.

Furman ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross did in fact have the authority to add a citizenship question on the census. But the way in which he carried out that authority, the judge said, may have violated the plaintiffs’ rights to equal protection under the law. Ross’s decision to add the citizenship question, the judge said, “was motivated at least in part by discriminatory animus” and by President Trump himself.

Furman said the plaintiffs gave plausible evidence that U.S. officials intended to discriminate against immigrant communities, driven by President Trump’s incendiary statements about immigrants of color.

September 21, 2018 A federal judge ordered Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to sit for a deposition in a lawsuit challenging Ross’s addition of a question about citizenship to the U.S. census.

November 2, 2018 The Supreme Court refused to delay a trial in which a number of states and civil rights organizations allege there was an improper political motive in Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

November 5, 2018 Trial began.

What the Dems in the House need to do on immigration

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

The dividing partisan issue today is immigration. Dem and Rep voters both want protection of pre-existing conditions. But they think very differently on immigration, in part due to Trump’s skillful exploitation of the issue to frame it as a law and order issue. The issue is very attractive to Trump because he can do much with executive discretion. Dems play into his hands with calls for elimination of ICE. The Dems have no coherent vision for immigration.

Note ABC’s exit polling: “On the issues, health care prevailed, cited as the country’s top challenge by 41%, vs. 23% for immigration, 22% for the economy and 10% for gun policy. It sharply split the vote: Health care voters went Democratic by 75-23 percent; immigration voters were precisely the opposite; economy voters voted Republican by almost 2-to-1, 63-34 percent.” The sharp party division obscures a messier reality: when law and order is removed from the immigration debate, then a moderate center emerges.

It seems foolhardy to sit back and allow the Reps to characterize the Dems without a fight. The House Dems can use hearings to engage the country in discussion that brings immigration as a topic back from being a law and order issue to one of economic prosperity and cultural assimilation. These are the two key themes for a Dem vision for immigration. They haven’t had a platform to articulate this until now.

They need to directly address cultural assimilation because that is an underlying cause of malaise in the U.S (even more in Europe) over immigration. On the whole, assimilation is working well with a key major exception: poorly educated Hispanics.

Riehan Salam’s book, “Melting Pot of Civil War,” focuses on failure of economic assimilation, the creation of a multi-generational underclass. I think he overdoes it but he still has a valid point. The Dems need to acknowledge that cultural and economic assimilation is a matter of concern, and that the American economy and way of life have a means to bring it about.

ICE enforcement partnerships have driven Hispanic kids from schools 

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

From a study just published: For more than a decade, ICE has pursued enforcement of immigration laws through structured partnerships with local law-enforcement agencies (i.e., so-called “287(g) agreements”). These ICE partnerships provide local law-enforcement agencies with the training and authority to enforce federal immigration laws under the supervision of ICE officers.

Over 80 percent of unauthorized residents originated in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Additionally, roughly half of undocumented adults lived with their own children, most of whom were themselves U.S. citizens.

We find robust evidence that partnerships between ICE and local law-enforcement agencies led to substantial reductions in Hispanic student enrollment (i.e., a 7.3 percent reduction overall but one that grew to about 10 percent within two years). These reductions in Hispanic student enrollment appear to be concentrated among the youngest students. Based on this evidence, we estimate that, during our study window, ICE partnerships displaced more than 300,000 Hispanic students (i.e., by encouraging them to leave and discouraging them to arrive).

The study is found here.

Examples of sanctuary city programs

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Chicago’s July 2012 Welcoming City Ordinance, per a press release from the city, “builds on an existing ordinance and longtime City policy that prohibits agencies from inquiring about the immigration status of people seeking City services, and provides that the Chicago Police Department will not question crime victims, witnesses and other law-abiding
residents about their legal status.

Santa Clara County, in which San Jose is located, has a Rapid Response Network, to alert people about ICE raids. “Training is led by Pangea Legal Services, Sacred Heart Community Service and PACT: People Acting in Community Together. The Rapid Response Network aims to expand the community’s capacity to monitor and document ICE operations in real time.”

New York City enacted in December, 2017 a law (2017/228) “That would prohibit City agencies from partnering with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to enforce federal immigration law, including through 287(g) agreements. Additionally, this bill would prohibit the use of City resources, property, and information obtained on behalf of the City in furtherance of federal immigration enforcement.”

San Francisco passed in 1989 the “City and County of Refuge” Ordinance (also known as the Sanctuary Ordinance). The Sanctuary Ordinance generally prohibits City employees from using City funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of Federal immigration law unless such assistance is required by federal or state law. In 2013, San Francisco passed the “Due Process for All” Ordinance. This ordinance limits when City law enforcement officers may give ICE advance notice of a person’s release from local jail. It also prohibits cooperation with ICE detainer requests, sometimes referred to as “ICE holds.”

(Source: here.)

The last attempt at comprehensive immigration reform, in 2013

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

The last attempt at comprehensive immigration reform took place in 2013, led by the Senate but ignored by the House. Below are portions of the American Immigration Council’s review of the Senate bill, written before failure in the House:

Senate Bill 744 (S.744) was introduced in the Senate on April 16, 2013, by Senator Schumer of New York and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. 92 amendments were incorporated into the bill by voice vote. On May 21st, S. 744 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a vote of 13-5. One major amendment was passed by the Senate. S. 744 as amended passed the Senate on June 27, 2013 by a vote of 68-32. The House never considered the bill.

The bill addressed all aspects of the immigration process from border and enforcement issues to legal immigration reforms. It makes changes to the family and employment-based visa categories for immigrants, provides critical due-process protections, increases the availability of nonimmigrant workers to supplement all sectors of the workforce, and provides legal status to 11 million undocumented immigrants within the United States. The Senators intended this legislation to address these issues “…by finally committing the resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here.”

….although undocumented immigrants will be allowed to register for the new Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) program almost immediately, before those in RPI status can apply to become lawful permanent residents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must certify that the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy is deployed and operational, 700 miles of fencing is complete, 38,405 border patrol agents are deployed, and the E-Verify employment verification system is in place, among other requirements.

One of the primary purposes of the bill is to provide a path to Lawful Permanent Residence (a “green card”) for the existing undocumented population via the new Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) program. Before Registered Provisional Immigrants can apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status, several security goals, or “triggers,” must be met. For example, the Department of Homeland Security had to certify that a Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy is deployed and operational, 700 miles of fencing is complete, 38,405 border patrol agents were deployed, and the E-Verify employment verification system was in place, among other requirements.

Undocumented residents would gain Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status if they had been in the U.S. since December 31, 2011 and met other criteria. This provision covered DREAM act and a proposed law for farm workers. With some exceptions, Registered Provisional Immigrants will be able to apply for Lawful Permanent Residence (a “green card”), but they must go to the “back of the line” and have been in RPI status for at least 10 years. RPIs must earn their green cards through employment, learning English, paying taxes, and other contributions to the country.

A merit-based point system would allow foreign nationals to obtain Lawful Permanent Residence in the United States by accumulating points mainly based on their skills, employment history, and educational credentials. At the same time, the current immigrant visa categories for siblings and adult married children of U.S. citizens, as well as the diversity visa program, are eliminated and replaced by this system. Between 120,000 and 250,000 visas would be allocated each year based on the point system. The visa cap would fluctuate using a formula that takes into account the number of visas requested the previous year and the unemployment rate. . Certain highly skilled and exceptionally talented immigrants are also exempted from the worldwide cap, such as those who have extraordinary ability or advanced degrees in STEM fields from U.S. universities.

Compared to reform proposals from 2006 and 2007, S. 744 contains stronger devices designed to facilitate immigrants’ language acquisition, civic engagement, financial self-sufficiency, and upward economic mobility.

According to the CBO’s final score, enacting S. 744 would lead to a net savings of about $135 billion over the 2014-2023 period. This figure results from subtracting the costs of implementing the legislation ($23 billion) from the expected reduction in the federal budget deficit ($158 billion).

The net fiscal gains ($1 trillion over the 20-year period analyzed) would result from the fact that federal revenues would exceed spending. The boost in revenues is mostly attributable to the expansion of the size of the labor force and secondarily to the legalization of current undocumented workers. These changes would lead to additional collection of income and payroll taxes

Green cards by way of chicken factories

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Who would pay to work in a chicken plant? Chicken plants have recruited thousands of foreign workers in recent years through a little-known program to fill jobs they say Americans won’t do. So said Politico last year in an article. The problem persists according to Claudia Minoiu, who brought it to my attention.

The EB3 visa is a green card set aside for skilled workers. It is rarely used.  But South Korean with skills have been pitched to apply for it, and American immigration lawyers participate in the following manipulation of the law. A skilled South Korean pays tens of thousands of dollars, upwards of $70,000, for fixers to do the paperwork.  Part of the deals is they work for a north Carolina chicken processing company, Raeford Farms, for as little as $8.50 an hour for a year.

According to Pro Publica, the EB3 program is now dominated by a handful of poultry processors with poor safety records, one janitorial firm and a single fast-food franchisee. Overseas, a cottage industry of migration agents has popped up charging steep fees for “migration assistance,” even as the law bars the selling of green card sponsorship and other recruiting fees.

And under the program, U.S. companies aren’t obligated to do much to first persuade Americans to take their jobs. They merely have to place two want ads seeking American workers in the local Sunday newspaper and a notice on the state jobs board — not raise pay or improve work conditions.

A House of Raeford chicken plant in West Columbia, South Carolina. The poultry processor has sought to sponsor 1,900 foreign workers through the EB-3 program in the last three years.

But other agencies cleverly disguise recruitment fees as “settlement services” or “assimilation packages,” charging inflated rates, said David Hirson, an immigration attorney in Costa Mesa, California. One ad in China, where demand for visas is so high that the wait under the program is 11 years, lists the going rate to migrate through Burger King and Pizza Hut at $130,000.

In 2008, the House of Raeford was raided by ICE and 350 workers arrested. The company was actively recruiting unauthorized Hispanic workers.



Trump interior enforcement summarized

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

The fortunes of an unauthorized immigrant are quite different in Texas, Tennessee and Georgia with the mere act of driving can result in an arrest and deportation, then in California, Chicago and New York where immigrants can be arrested for a variety of crimes and still not be taken into ICE custody.

This from a Migration Policy report, including the following:

The machinery of interior enforcement that had been dialed down during the final Obama years has been revved up by the Trump administration. ICE officers say that widening enforcement and ending prosecution discretion requirements have given ICE the leeway necessary to properly do which job.

The vast majority of arrests and removals (over 70%) arise from arresting persons who are already in local custody, under the 287(g) program. These actions are increasing significantly in cooperating jurisdictions, while the share of deportations due to criminal convictions is declining.

The most important constraint on increasing arrests lies in the limits of ICE cooperation imposed by growing numbers of states and localities that have large foreign-born populations. Transfer of arrested persons to ICE are below historic peaks due to lack of cooperation, for instance by law enforcement in California.

The character and unpredictability of ICE enforcement have generated an overarching climate of fear which is itself serving as an enforcement tool.

Networks of community based actors are responding and successfully providing legal services, know-your-rights, counselling, monitoring, rapid response assistance, and political advocacy in the opposition to iCE enforcement

Public Charge Rule proposal

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

The “Public Charge” rule, as I have reported in July here, is being expanded. This will, if put into law, effectively bar a very large number of legal low wage immigrants in the country from obtaining green cards. For example, among 48% of farm worker households, at least one person used at least one of the cited public assistance program in the past two years.

The median total income of these primarily farm working households (in 2014) was roughly $25,000. About 20% of all U.S. households have total income under $25,000 (found here). Another 9% have incomes between $25,000 and $35,000. The median household income of non-citizen immigrants in $40,000. (go here). Bottom line: a large share of non-citizen immigrant households are now vulnerable to denial of a green card due to use of public assistance programs actively used by citizen households with low incomes.

This 50% rate of utilizing public assistance comes from a Dept of Labor survey of farm workers in 2014, the most recent year of this survey. The programs most commonly utilized were Medicaid (37%), WIC (18%), food stamps (16%), and public health clinics (10%).

The expanded criteria for denying a green card to applicants include the following: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), SSI, Federal, state, and local cash benefit programs; SNAP; Section 8 Housing Vouchers; and Medicaid. CHIP is not included in the list of benefits but is being considered by DHS, according to the rule’s preamble.

The DOL report of farm workers is here.

(Thanks to Alexis Guild, Farmworker Justice).

For more from The Migration Policy Institute go here.