Mass Supreme Court: Detaining is unconstitutional

Per the Boston Globe, The state’s highest court ruled Monday that under Massachusetts law, local law enforcement officials cannot hold a person who is wanted solely for immigration violations, a ruling that provides a legal basis for sanctuary cities to refuse to cooperate with federal officials.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruling is believed to be the first court decision in the country to forbid local authorities from enforcing federal immigration laws, unless the state Legislature passes a law that specifically allows it.

Since, State Police have held 27 people on detainers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Other agencies have refused to honor the requests.

“Conspicuously absent from our common law is any authority . . . for police officers to arrest generally for civil matters, let alone authority to arrest specifically for civil immigration matters,” the court ruled.

ICE issues hundreds of detainers in Massachusetts each year. Local municipalities including Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, and some states, including California and Connecticut, have established policies that forbid law enforcement officials from assisting their federal counterparts in enforcing immigration laws. But Monday’s decision was believed to be the first by a state’s high court to forbid officers from arresting or holding someone based on an immigration violation.

Attorney General Maura Healey praised the decision. She had asked the court to find that federal authorities cannot force local officials to hold someone on a detainer under state law. Lawyers for Healey’s office had argued in court filings that local law enforcement officials can still play a role in helping federal officials when an immigrant wanted for deportation poses a public safety risk — for instance by alerting authorities of a suspect’s whereabouts. But they argued that those decisions should be left to local agencies.

In its ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court said that the Legislature could consider passing a law that would regulate how local law enforcement officials can assist federal authorities but left that consideration to lawmakers. “State law must affirmatively grant authority to state and local officers to enforce federal immigration law before arrest can be made on that basis,” the court said.

The Trump Adminstration’s enforcement changes

A summary of the administration’s enforcement changes:

Enforcement targets have expanded, enforcement tools have been sharpened, and enforcement locations have been widened, triggering pervasive fear of deportation and separation among immigrant families.

The single biggest change is the unwinding of enforcement priorities from the Obama administration, with ICE now instructed to arrest any individual they encounter who does not have lawful immigration status.

While ICE alleges that they are only targeting those with a criminal history or deportation order, they have also made clear that they will ask the immigration status of anyone in the course of an enforcement action and arrest nearly all those without proper documentation. This shift ensnares all sorts of people who have lived quietly in the U.S. for many years without incident while they work to support their families and integrate into society.

Immigration arrests are up by nearly 40%. ICE has increased its issuance of detainers by 75 percent, requesting that local law enforcement hold individuals in their custody so ICE can pick them up. And ICE has increased the number of people it places in removal proceedings by 47 percent.

ICE now has agreements with 59 law enforcement agencies (known as “287(g) agreements”) in 18 states, with plans to consider expansion to additional partnerships both near the border and deep within the interior of the country. Other localities—often called “sanctuary jurisdictions”—that opt out of full cooperation with ICE have been threatened with cuts to their federal funding.

The Department of Homeland Security may seek to add more tools to its toolbox. The “expedited removal” process, which currently applies to a 100-mile border zone and only to those noncitizens who have been in the U.S. up to 14 days, could be expanded to the entire United States as well and to those who have been here up to two years. To accommodate this shift, the administration is seeking to increase the hiring of Border Patrol and ICE agents and dramatically increase the number of detention beds, from a funding level of 34,000 beds in recent history, to as many as 51,379 beds.

The abandonment of enforcement priorities will also reap havoc on cases long-closed, as people who have been meeting their obligations to check in with ICE are taken into custody or who have had their court cases administratively closed seek to be re-calendared by ICE attorneys.

At risk now is the possible termination of the deferred action program (DACA) benefiting 800,000 young people raised in the U.S. and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 300,000 people allowed to live and work in the U.S. while their countries experienced armed conflicts and disasters.

Skilled immigrant workers and our economic future

A lot of Trump’s economic revival ideas are “fighting the past war. What really matters is how we are faring globally in the industries of the future like: aviation, aerospace, biotechnology, semiconductors, software and the internet.” This from an interview with Robert Atkinson, an immigrant from Canada and proponent of innovation as our only real hope to prevail in the future

These industries depend on STEM workers (science, technology, engineering, and math). The core list of 46 STEM occupations are in computer and mathematics; engineering and surveying; physical and life science; and managerial. There are eight million of these STEM workers, about 5% of the entire workforce.

Nationally, about one-quarter of the nation’s STEM workforce is foreign-born, according to the report, “Foreign-born STEM Workers in the United States.” It has doubled from 11.9% in 1990 to 24.3% in 2015. They account for 47% of STEM workers with advanced degrees

In New Jersey 43% of STEM workers are foreign-born. In California, 42%.In New york, 29%. In 16 other states, foreign-born workers make up 20 percent or more of all STEM workers.

Labor shortages driving up demand for temp foreign workers

Employers across occupations are increasingly relying on all available temporary worker channels to respond to labor shortages. This is according to the Migration Policy Institute.

H-2A (primarily for farm workers)

This has seen a more than twelve-fold increase over two decades—from 11,000 visas issued in 1996 to more than 134,000 in 2016.

At least half of farm workers today are unauthorized. In 2015, the flows of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico to the United States reached a net negative, with more people returning to Mexico than coming to the United States. The Mexican farmworker population has been aging out of the job. In California, crop production wages increased 13% between 2010 and 2015.

H-2B (generally, seasonal hospitality and other workers)

From 2013 to 2016, the number of H-2B visas issued increased 47%, from 58,000 to 85,000, and the program is already showing evidence of extraordinary growth in 2017. By the midway point of fiscal year (FY) 2017, employers had sought approval for 121,000 H-2B workers. Maine relies on H-2B visas for 10% of its 100,000 hospitality workers annually.

H-1B (skilled workers)

Demand has been increasing in a tightening labor market. In 2016, 180,000 H-1B visas were issued, a 53 percent increase from 2010 and the largest number in more than two decades. More and more American vs. Indian companies are using these workers. the American share grew from 40% in 2012 to 61% in 2016.

The unemployment rate for computer and mathematical occupations in the United States was 1.9% in May 2017. These are precisely the occupations most commonly filled by H-1B workers: in FY 2015, 66.5% of H-1B workers were employed in computer-related occupations.

One quarter of second gen children at risk of losing parents by deportation

The American Immigration Council reports:

“Since fiscal year 2010, over a quarter million parents of minors who are American citizens have been deported. These numbers…. likely do not reflect all of families that have been torn apart. ICE’s reports only include those who volunteer information about their children; many may not disclose this fact, fearing for the safety and future of their children.”

An estimated six million U.S. citizen children live with at least one family member who is undocumented. This is  8% of all children in the U.S. Using Pew Research figures, this means that one quarter of the current second generation immigrant population under 18 (27 million) has at least one unauthorized parent.

(For second generation figures see appendix 1 here)


Multiracial and multiethnic babies: 14% of all infants

One-in-seven U.S. infants (14%) were multiracial or multiethnic in 2015, nearly triple the share in 1980, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

This analysis is limited to infants living with two parents because census data on the race and ethnicity of parents is only available for those living in the same home.

In 1980, 7% of all newlyweds were in an intermarriage, and by 2015, that share had more than doubled to 17%, according to a recently released Pew Research Center report. Both trends are likely spurred in part by the growing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S.

The general public seems mostly accepting of the trend toward more children having parents of different races. In a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 22% of U.S. adults said more children with parents of different races was a good thing for society, while half as many (11%) thought it was a bad thing. The majority (65%) thought that this trend didn’t make much of a difference.

Among all multiracial and multiethnic infants living with two parents, by far the largest portion have one parent who is Hispanic and one who is non-Hispanic white (42%). Asian.

44% of infants in Hawaii are multiracial or multiethnic. Shares are also high in Oklahoma and Alaska (28%). At the same time, just 4% of children younger than 1 in Vermont are multiracial or multiethnic, as are 6% of those in North Dakota, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia.

Do non-citizens vote in American elections? Recent evidence says no.

The evidence available, drawing from extremely little legal enforcement action (mostly tied to local scandal) and from a recent study (by voting fraud allegers) of Virginia, is that the number of non-citizens voting is infinitesimally small, under one tenth of one percent of actual voters, and probably that is a gross over-estimate. In contrast, the allegers of voting fraud are saying that somewhere around 10% of non-citizens voted and that somewhere around 2% of all voters were non-citizens.

For my state of Vermont, which is subject as all other states to Kobach’s demand for voter data, a high estimate of non-citizens registered (per the analysis below) is a total of 39.

Background: Kobach

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who co-chairs the Trump Administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (VP Pence is chair) announced on November 30, 2016 that it was a “reasonable estimate” that 3.2 million people could have voted illegally based off a survey of the 2008 presidential election.

The Kansas secretary of state said data showed that 11.3% of non-citizens in the United States said they had voted in that year’s election. He pulled this figure from the heavens. There are 43 million immigrants of which 95% are 18 and older . About half are naturalized. Kobach is in effect alleging that of about 20 million non-citizens 18 or old, 11.3% or 2.3 million voted illegally. (If all of Kobach’s 3.2 million voted illegally and were non-citizens 18 or over, that implies that 16% of non-citizens voted.

On the face of it, this allegation implies national. massive, orchestrated campaigns of voter fraud. Actual systemic voting fraud cases of late involve at most dozens of voters and are local in nature.

A disputed 2014 research article

Kobach and allies have leaned on a 2014 article authored by Old Dominion University researchers that “6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.”

The article was based on no original inspection of records or surveying but rather on a study by the Cooperative Congressional Election Study of surveys done in 2008 and 2012. The CCES researchers disparaged the Old Dominion article asserting that is drew unwarranted inferences from a very small sample size (such as under 200 positive results from a total survey population of 19,000). The title of the CCES December 2015 refutation: “The perils of cherry picking low frequency events in large sample surveys.”

The Virginia allegations

In May of this year a Public Interest Legal Foundation – sponsored report, “Alien Invasion,” produced figures of what it called non-citizens with Virginia driver licenses who voted. If you examine its figures, and compare them with Virginia population and voting numbers, these non-citizen estimates come to one third of one percent of adult non-citizens, and an infinitesimally small percentage of total voting in Virginia.

The Virginia report compared motor vehicle registration data (which has a field for citizen status), registration rolls, and actual voter counts. I have grossed up the figures, which covered most but not all voter districts, in order to show complete statewide estimates. The adjusted figures indicate that over a six year recent period 2,415 non-citizens were registered to vote and that they voted 9,745 times. These are definitely not the figures that Kobach and allies want to hear about. The reason is that the 2,415 is an extremely tiny share of the approximately 400,000 non citizen adults living in Virginia at the time.

The reasonable explanation is that many or most of the 2,415 persons either became citizens later or mistakenly listed themselves as citizens (consistent with survey errors found by CCES). Also, the 9,745 votes over a six year period is a vanishingly small share of the roughly 18 million times people voted in Virginia over the six year period.