Trump’s family separation policy at the Mexican border

Caitlin Dickerson’s article about the Trump Administration’s family separation policy appeared yesterday in the Atlantic. Here is her Twitter thread of August 7:

I’ve spent the last 18 months investigating how our government reached the point of taking children away from their parents as a way to discourage migration to the United States. Here’s my story about how and why it happened, and who is responsible.

Beyond the answers to these initial questions, I came away with a new understanding of the government processes and procedures that exist to prevent bad policies from being implemented, systems that in this case were dismantled, disempowered, or ignored. It’s easy to blame family separations on a few hawks in a chaotic administration, but they were cosigned by dozens of high-ranking political appointees and bureaucrats. Some actively supported the idea, but many simply declined to push back, figuring that somebody else would.

The implications cannot be overstated. At present time, the parents of 185 separated children still had not been found. Even those who have been reunified remain in many cases profoundly traumatized. Both parents and children are struggling with severe mental illness.

For years we’ve been told that separations were done humanely and without incident. That’s not true. Neris Gonzalez, a Salvadorian and consulate worker, recalls kids being physically pulled back and forth between the parents and agent. She worried some might get hurt.

She says the CBP [Customs and Border Protection] processing center where she worked was virtually locked down while separations were underway. No one outside the government was allowed in to see what was going on. Gonzalez can still hear the children’s ear-piercing screams. She recalls getting ready to leave the facility at the end of the day. The children hugged and climbed on her, begging her not to leave them in the detention center alone.

When I asked government officials how this could have happened many told me they had no idea how badly awry separations would go. But government records show the opposite. Everything that went wrong was documented in advance warnings. Still the administration forged ahead.

This piece is a continuation of a body of work by many reporters who helped to uncover family separations before they were publicly acknowledged, during the many months when government officials were misleading Congress and the public about what they were doing.

The new Nigerian diaspora

Nigerians have been studying and working in advanced English speaking countries since the early decades of the 20th Century. Long term or permanent migration was first to the U.K. In 2017 seven persons of Nigerian heritage were members of Parliament. More recently, migration to the U.S. grew at a faster rate than to combined U.K + Canada. Note that the graphic is of persons born in Nigeria, and does not include 2nd, 3rd generation Nigerians.

I have posted on Nigeria here, how they may be the highest educated immigrant group in the U.S.


Foreign workers share has been rising

This is old news….I am showing data from a government source (here and here). This source sets the percentage at 15% in 2006, and 18% in 2022. Over this time, foreign workers grew by 26% (about 1.6% annually versus native born workers at 5% (about 0.3% annually).


Big role of U.S. in global work and study migration

The international migrant share of the world’s population is rising, standing at 3.6 percent in 2020, up from 3.2 percent a decade earlier, and 2.6 percent in 1960. (from the Migration Policy Institute, here).

The United States has 4% of the world’s population but 17% of all workers outside their country and 16% of all students outside their country.

The United States is the world’s top migrant destination: The country accounts for 5 percent of the global population but has attracted 18 percent of all migrants. The United States has more global migrants (more than 50.6 million as of 2020) than the next four receiving countries—Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United Kingdom—combined (50.2 million).

The number of international migrant workers stood at 169 million in 2019, or nearly 5 percent of the global workforce. The U.S. is host to about 29 million of them, or 17%

Close to 6.1 million students were studying outside their country of origin in 2019, up from 4.8 million in 2015 and 2 million in 2000. In that year, 1 million or 16% were in the United States. The top five destinations for international students were the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Russian Federation. The top five sending countries of international students in 2019 were China, India, Vietnam, Germany, and France.

Immigration court decisions on asylum

Some asylum cases are disputed and end up in immigration court. Asylum cases involve persons in the United States, rather than applying for refugee status from abroad. There are over 600,000 pending asylum court cases! The number of asylum filings began to surge in about 2014, making the backlog a mockery of justice. Since 2000 until the late 2010s, there were about 20,000 cases decided on each year, and about 40% were granted. (During these years, about 60,000 positive refugee and asylum awards were made each year.) In 2019 the denial rate surged while the total number of decisions went way up. In 2022 the total volume of decisions remained relatively high while the denial rate settled back down.  Below is a recent history of grants and denials. Most but not all court cases involve legal representation. (a