Archive for 2019

Stephen Miller won: the leadership overall in immigration enforcement explained

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Jason Zengerle recounts and explains the turnover in key enforcement positions in the past few months. The key event was the pushing out of Nielson (Homeland Security) and Vitiello (ICE).

“A defining conflict of the Trump administration….has been the one between the small group of ideologues like Stephen Miller and the much bigger cadres of conventional Republican appointees who have gone to work for Trump.” Miller won. Between April and July, some key positions were filled by Miller allies. Here is a scorecard and Zengerle’s explanation of a key crisis.

Secretary of Homeland Security April — Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigns, replaced Kevin McAleenan, then head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as acting secretary.

Customs and Border Protection June – Acting Commissioner John Sanders, who took the position from McAleeen in April, is replaced by Mark Morgan, whose transferred from running ICE.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): June — Mathew Albense appointed acting director, replacing Mark Morgan. Albence had served as executive associate director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations arm. Last year he told a congressional hearing that family detention centers are “more like summer camp” than jail. Albence will be the fourth acting director of ICE since President Trump took office. Tom Homan as acting director in early 2017. Then Ronald Vitiello, then-acting deputy commissioner at CBP. The White House pulled Vitiello’s nomination in early April (explanation below). Then Mark Morgan.

Citizenship and Immigration Services: In July, Ken Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general and avowed restrictionist, took over as the acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The underlying crisis that pushed Nielsen and Vitiello out:

Per Zengerle, in early 2019 Miller began agitating for ICE to expand its deportation efforts, pursuing not just felons for deportation but families as well. His entreaties struck a chord with Matthew Albence, then deputy director of ICE, who had been in charge of ICE’s removal and enforcement operations. “Stephen found an ally in Albence.”

Albence hoped to begin the operation without Nielsen’s knowledge or approval. In March, he took the plan to his boss, Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting director of ICE, and told him that he intended to start the operation in the next 72 hours. Vitiello told Albence that he needed to get Nielsen’s go-ahead. Albence and ICE officials then briefed Nielsen. After several meetings, Nielsen refused to give the operation — which came to be known inside D.H.S. as the “family op” — her O.K. on the grounds that ICE’s plans were still inadequate and that after the family-separation debacle the public backlash would be too intense.

But within weeks, Nielsen had resigned and Trump had withdrawn Vitiello’s nomination to be ICE director.

Background on Miller:

In 2014, as an aide to Sessions — who was an Alabama senator at the time and who holds similar views — Miller worked with media allies at Breitbart and The Daily Caller to gin up conservative outrage that was instrumental in scuttling bipartisan immigration-reform legislation. In 2016, as a staff member on Trump’s presidential campaign, he not only wrote the candidate’s hard-line anti-immigration speeches but also often served as the warm-up act at his rallies.

If electoral districts were based only on citizens or eligible voters

Monday, July 15th, 2019

The Trump administration pushed for the citizenship question in the census to enable legislators to draw electoral districts based on eligible voters. This is allowed by the constitution and some states have shown an interest in it.

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously stated in its April, 2016 Evenwel v. Abbott ruling that legislative districts may, but do not have to be drawn inclusive of all the people living within them, as has been the standard for at least the past five decades.

Justice Ginsburg wrote in the opinion, “Nonvoters have an important stake in many policy debates—children, their parents, even their grandparents, for example, have a stake in a strong public-education system—and in receiving constituent services, such as help navigating public-benefits bureaucracies. By ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”

But as Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas pointed out in their own separate written opinions, the Evenwel decision still allows for states to pass voter-only or citizen-only districting designs.

In December, 2015, Harvard political science professor Carl E. Klarner found that “utilizing [voting age population] for districting would result in a 12% reduction in Latino state legislators and a 13% reduction in Latino U.S. Representatives,” and that “Latino voting power in the mass public would decline by 4.6% in the U.S. House, 5.2% in state senates and 6.2% in state houses.”

A July 12, 2019 article in the New Yorker covers the Thomas Hofeller story and the Trump Administration’s effort to put a citizenship question into the census. It quotes Trump saying “ “Some states may want to draw state and local legislative districts, based upon the voter eligible population.”

According to the AP, “The concept [of using only voter-eligible populations] was introduced in legislation over the last few years in Missouri and Nebraska, where the state constitution already calls for excluding “aliens” from its apportionment.

In Texas, Hofeller calculated in his report that about a half-dozen Latino-dominated districts would disappear, including a portion of one in the Dallas area, up to two in Houston’s Harris County and two or three in the border counties of South Texas.”

Recent Mexican immigrants more likely to be college educated

Friday, July 12th, 2019

The share of Mexican immigrants with a college degree has increased in Texas. There are 145,000 persons from Mexico in Texas with a college degree. 45% of them are naturalized citizens. That’s 8% of the Mexican born population of the state, or 2.2 million.

Today almost one in five recent (since 2013) Mexican immigrants living in the state has a college degree versus 7% in 2000. This mirrors a nationwide trend that is increasing the level of educational attainment among recent Mexican and other immigrants. Temporary visa holders (ie business related) from Mexico are about 55% college educated.

Mexicans in Texas with a college degree tend to work in primary and secondary education and in construction.

There appear to be several factors driving these trends. First, educational attainment in Mexico has increased significantly. Another likely factor is rising violence in Mexico which reached historically high rates in 2017. This may be driving Mexican professionals to move to United States mostly living in border city such as McAllen and El Paso as well as nearby cities such as San Antonio

Finally many Mexican companies have made major investments in the US presence in the past decade, bringing senior executives and key personnel with them. Texas has led the way as a major destination in America for Mexican business investment.

However, 40% of Mexicans in the United States with a college degree have low English proficiency. This contrasts with the roughly 10% of college educated immigrants from other countries with low English proficiency.

From here.

“They are not from Norway, let’s put it that way”

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Adding “and they are very visible”, this is what a Minnesotan said commenting on refugee settlement in the state, especially St. Cloud, the Minnesota’s 10th-largest city, said in a conversation about an influx of Somali refugees. The city increased in population by 33% over the last 30 years, thoroughly 70,000 people. The share of nonwhite residents grew to 18% from 2%, mostly with East African immigrants from Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, and the numbers of Somalis are estimated to grow.

Only 6% of Minnesota Republicans (vs. 66 % of Democrats) want the state to increase its intake of refugees from then (2018) current level of about 1,000, and 47% (vs 7% of Democrats) want a temporary suspension of refugee intake.

50% of poll respondents in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional district (NE part of the state) in 2018 answered “yes” to this question: “Has discrimination against whites become as big a problem as discrimination toward blacks and other minorities?

Why the border crisis now?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Excellent short article in Axios on why there is a border crisis today.  The writer leaves out the paralysis in Washington preventing any kind of political consensus,

 

How the detention center crisis blew up: timeline

Monday, July 8th, 2019

2009 – 2012 and later. Unaccompanied minors apprehended at border in 2005 at about 5,000 a year, picks up in 2011 and is 10,000 in 2012. Compare with month of October 2018 — 5,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended in and May 2019 12,000 were apprehended.

Apprehended and detained unaccompanied minors are the responsibility of Office of Refugee Resettlement of Health and Human Services. Per its website, “HHS is legally required to provide care for all children until they are released to a suitable sponsor, almost always a parent or close relative, while they await immigration proceedings.”

November 6, 2018 Open letter in New York Review of Books condemning “concentration camps for kids.”

Oct 2018 – May, 2019. Apprehensions along southern border were in October 2018, 93,000 in March 2019, and 133,000 in May 2019. Total apprehensions Oct 2018 – May 2019 were 594,000. This is almost double the 251,000 for the same period one year before. Apprehensions of unaccompanied minors grows from Oct 2018, 5,000, to May 2019, 12,000. The Oct. through May total for unaccompanied minors was 56,000, ten times the total annual numbers ten years ago.

March 27, 2019. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan said “CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest Border.” Nationwide, CBP had more than 12,000 migrants in custody. The agency considers 4,000 to be a high number of migrants in custody and 6,000 to be at a crisis level. More than 12,000 migrants in custody is unprecedented.

May 29, 2019. “We are in full-blown emergency and I cannot say this stronger, the system is broken,” acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders told reporters.”

June 6, 2019. Trump administration curtails education and legal services at detention centers for children. “Approximately 13,200 minors [both unaccompanied and with an adult] are currently being held in federally contracted shelters as of June 2, an HHS spokesperson told NPR.”

June 17, 2019. On June 17, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, posted an Instagram live video discussing the detention camps along the southern US border as “concentration camps” in which she used the phrase “Never Again.”

June 24, 2019 Holocaust Museum states, “The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary.”

July 1, 2019. Open letter published in New York Review of Books defending Ocasio-Cortez’s use of the term.

July 1, 2019. Pro Publica reports that “The three-year-old [Facebook] group, which has roughly 9,500 members, shared derogatory comments about Latina lawmakers who plan to visit a controversial Texas detention facility on Monday, calling them “scum buckets” and “hoes.”

July 1, 2019. More than a dozen U.S. House members visited migrant detention centers in Texas on Monday on the heels of a report revealing current and former Border Patrol agents joking on Facebook about throwing burritos at the visiting officials.

Our foreign-born population divided into four segments

Friday, July 5th, 2019

The foreign-born population in 2017 was 45.6 million, or about 13.8% of our total population. The pie chart below shows four segments: naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, persons in temporary protected status, and unauthorized..

A few observations: Asians with green cards are more likely to become citizens than persons from Mexico and Central America….the unauthorized population has declined in the past ten years (12.2 million in 2007, 10.5 million in 2017), gotten older (over 60% in U.S. for at least ten years)….5 million children born in the U.S. have at least one unauthorized parent, but births to unauthorized parents have declined sharply since a peak in 2006.

 

From various reports from Pew Research, including here

Numbers game at the Brownsville border

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

The Guardian reports from the southern side of the Gateway International Bridge separating Brownsville, Texas, from Matamoros, Mexico. “A mysterious set of documents known collectively as “La Lista” holds enormous power over hundreds of migrants stranded outside a tiny immigration office. On that list is a number assigned by Mexican authorities that determines if migrants pass through or stay behind, prosper or have journeyed in vain, or in the case of Martinez and his daughter Valeria, risk their lives trying to circumvent its order.

Nowadays at Matamoros, like at other main border crossings, an American official will call across the bridge and tell their Mexican counterparts how many migrants the Americans are willing to interview for asylum that day, and in what form – families, or single men or women – in a process known as metering. How the Americans choose that number is anyone’s guess, people say. The Mexican official in charge of the lists then calls out a person’s number. For those chosen, it’s like winning a lottery. But the reasoning behind the Mexican process is even more of an enigma.

In the past several weeks, as more and more migrants arrive, the number of people called has dwindled to just four or five a week – coinciding with Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs if Mexico did not control the surge of migrants. On Friday, since Sunday, there had been zero people called. For those camped out, waiting to enter the country legally, some for as long as four months, the numbers and how they are chosen has become a kind of obsession, as if a divine hand is orchestrating this random and maddening system.

“People here, we talk about one thing,” says Guevara. “Our numbers and if we’re going to cross.”

Global explosion in refugees

Friday, June 28th, 2019

Axios shines a light on the growth of the refugee population since the 1970s. It writes: Since the 1990s, the sources of the greatest number of refugees are Syria (internal conflict and ISIS); Afghanistan (one of the largest, longest-lasting refugee crises); South Sudan (millions of South Sudanese fled elsewhere as a civil war rages); Myanmar (the Rohingya minority); and Somalia (natural disasters and 25 years of conflict).

The article does not mention persons who have fled El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Axois’ data from UNCHR – the UN’s refugee agency.

 

Farmers desperate for guest workers

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

 

“For us, there is no non-H-2A labor,” said Dennis Brawdy, partner with Amos Zittel and Sons in Erie County, New York, which employs 72 workers this year. “Three to five years ago, we were 100% non-H-2A because there was an adequate amount of workers around,” Mr. Brawdy said of the vegetable-growing and greenhouse operation.

As the U.S. has tightened border security in recent years, many agricultural companies that had relied on illegal immigrant laborers are turning to H-2A visas. More than 196,000 H-2A visas were granted in 2018, compared to about 89,200 in 2014, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

But getting H-2A workers is expensive. Farmers incur additional costs such as transportation, food and legal aid to bring them into the country, as well as guaranteeing them at least 75% of their pay. And once those workers arrive, the farmers also must provide housing and other amenities, unlike non-H-2A labor.

In addition, H-2A workers in New York are paid $13.25 per hour, more than the current minimum wage rates for areas outside of New York City, according to the Labor Department.

It costs farmers an average of about $1,000 per H-2A worker—just to get them to the farm, said Dulce Demay, of Demay Labor, which helps match potential workers with farmers, including apple farms. She has helped 40-plus New York farms switch to the H-2A program over the last couple of years, mostly hiring workers from Mexico, she said.

From the Wall Street Journal

Data from the WSJ and the Economic Policy Institute