Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

Bi-partisan farmworker bill passes House

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

The House passed a bill on December 11 providing a path to citizenship for the more than one million farmworkers estimated to be in the U.S. illegally on a 260-165 vote, with 34 Republicans voting in favor of the deal, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Senate is expected to ignore it.

The use of temporary farmworker visas (H-2A) has surged in the past ten years:

The bill is a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation, particularly on immigration, where Republicans have generally not supported a citizenship path for any unauthorized immigrants, and Democrats are increasingly loath to support new enforcement measures.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports it, the Heritage Foundation opposes it.

The bill (1) It would create a pathway to legalization for current unauthorized agricultural workers, including an eventual option to getting a green card. (2) It would reform modernize the existing H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program, which . And (3), it would require all agriculture employers to implement a reformed “E-Verify” program to ensure their workers are authorized.

I posted details of the bill here. Also go here. A breakdown of farm labor is here.


Iowan attitudes about unauthorized immigrants

Monday, November 4th, 2019

The Des Moines Register poll of Iowans in February 2018 reported strongly positive support for normalization of legal status among unauthorized immigrants. This poll is fairly consistent with other polls on the issue of how the U.S. should treat unauthorized residents, when the questions are slanted towards a positive response. 65% called a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented workers currently living in the country “a worthy goal.”81% said eventually extending citizenship to “Dreamers” — the group until recently protected by the executive action known as DACA — is a worthy goal.

Choking off immigration to Texas

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Dallas News columnist Rob Curran writes, “You don’t need a degree from the London School of Economics to know that almost every roofer and framer responsible for the heavy lifting in the North Texas building boom of the last decade was an immigrant. You don’t need to be an agronomist to know that pretty much every watermelon you buy in Central Market was harvested by a migrant laborer.

North Texans are among the biggest beneficiaries from this sweat subsidy. People have flocked to this region because a high standard of living comes at a relatively low cost. But middle-class Texans may not always be able to afford a maid, a lawn guy and a regular breakfast taco.

I spoke to one landscaper in North Texas who did not wish to be named. He employed a group of about seven Mexican-born laborers for 10 years. He periodically paid immigration lawyers to have their paperwork renewed — an expensive, but viable proposition. In 2017, the landscaper’s crew returned to Mexico, as usual, but the lawyers could not get them back in. After some pricey back-and-forth with immigration authorities, the landscaper was told that his crew had renewed their visas too many times.”

Two new Trump policies on refugees

Monday, October 14th, 2019

“The Darkening City on the Hill The Trump Administration Heightens Its Assault on Refugee Protection” — from this article by Donald Kerwin, executive director of the Center for Migration Studies.

On September 26, 2019, the White House released two long-anticipated decrees. Its Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement requires that both states and localities consent to the resettlement of refugees in a particular locality. If either refuses to consent, the Order provides that “refugees should not be resettled within that State or locality,”

In addition, the Order seems to require states and localities to take an affirmative step – as part of a yet-determined process – to consent to refugee placement. In other words, they must “opt in” to the program. If they do not, then the federal government would deem the jurisdiction unacceptable for resettlement.

Also on September 26, the administration released the President’s annual Report to Congress on Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. This document announced the administration’s decision to limit refugee admissions to 18,000 in FY 2020, the lowest number in the 40-year history of the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

In his July 30, 1981 statement on US immigration and refugee policy, President Ronald Reagan committed to continuing “America’s tradition as a land that welcomes peoples from other countries” and that shares “the responsibility of welcoming and resettling those who flee oppression.” He also acknowledged the importance of these policies to the nation’s interests. In his January 11, 1989 farewell address to the nation, Reagan spoke of the United States as a nation that had always stood as a beacon of freedom to the world’s refugees, but that this identity needed to be “rediscovered.” It needs to be rediscovered now as well, and before the Trump administration succeeds in fully dismantling one of the nation’s defining and proudest programs.

Guatemala, asylum applications, and the safe third country concept

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

What happened?

On July 15, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security issued an interim final rule denying asylum to certain aliens who seek asylum on the southern border of the United States without having sought protection in a third country through which they traveled and where such protection was available. The U.S. District Court for Northern California issued an injunction. On September 11, the Supreme Court lifted the injunction.

What countries have agreed to process asylum applications?

On July 26, President Trump, in the presence of Guatemala’s Interior Minister, announced that Guatemala has agreed to cooperate. Trump also announced by a Twitter post “that took Guatemalan politicians and leaders at immigration advocacy groups by surprise.” Persons attempting to transit Guatemala from El Salvador or Honduras would be affected. The Guatemalan Congress must approve the agreement, which it has yet to. The agreement is here.

Mexico as so far refused to cooperate.

“Safe third country” concept

An article published on August 23, generally challenging the legality of the final rule, interprets the rule as attempting to apply a “little-noticed provision of U.S. law allowing for the transfer of asylum seekers to a third country – 8 U.S.C. § 1158(a)(2)(A).” A Trump tweet on June 17 said that Guatemala was about to sign a safe third country agreement.

The article goes on: The “safe third country” concept, which first found multilateral expression among European States in the 1990 Convention Applying the Schengen Agreement and subsequent 1990 Dublin Convention, is contested in international law. The concept is said to apply when a person travels through a country where they could have applied for international protection, but either did not apply or sought protection and a determination was not made. The essential premise is that the country in question is capable of providing international protection and is willing to do so (or “is able and willing to provide international protection”).

The author asserts that the administration’s action are not in accordance with the safe country rule, but rather emulated what Australia has done with using Nauru as a holding pen.

The case of Turkey

This is likely the biggest use of the safe third party concept. The European Union pledged more than $6 billion to Turkey. In return, Turkey tightened up its border restrictions, and take back from Greece every migrant who travelled through Turkey and reached Greece. Turkey did cut migration flows to Europe drastically, but only a small proportion of migrants who continued to land in Greece have been sent back.Migrants still have the opportunity to apply for asylum in Greece, or for relocation to other European countries, and many do so successfully. From here.

Dairy workers: at least half are immigrants

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019


From 2017 interviews in Spanish with dairy workers throughout New York State: 90% are men, 61% from Mexico, 34% Guatemala, 2% Honduras, 2% Puerto Rico; 93% are undocumented; 73% speak little to no English; 62% are married; 70% have children.

Two-thirds had sustained a work injury; more than 80% were estimated to live and work on farms with too few workers to fall under OSHA’s jurisdiction for inspection and sanctioning (that is, below 11 non-family workers). Typically paid $9 an hour; 97% live in on-farm housing provided by their employers.

New York is a major dairy state. In 2015, it ranked fourth nationally in terms of milk production.

A national survey, done in late 2014, reports much less dependence on immigrant workers but shows better the impact of immigrant workers on the entire dairy industry. It reports that immigrant labor accounts for 51% of all dairy labor, and dairies that employ immigrant labor produce 79% of the U.S. milk supply. Dairy farm workers are paid an average wage of $11.54/hour. Dairy farms employed an estimated 150,418 workers in 2013. An estimated 76,968 of those are immigrants.

A bill was introduced in March, 2019 to expand the current H-2A visa program to allow for its use by dairy farmers. Under current law, dairy workers are not allowed to utilize H-2A visas because the dairy industry is not considered seasonal. The bill would allow for an initial three-year visa with an option to extend for another three years.

Forum participants support immigrants, want laws obeyed

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019


Under the auspices of the Kettering Foundation, the National Issues Forums Institute held 86 nonpartisan public forums in towns and cities in 28 states in 2018 and early 2019 on the issue of immigration. Here are two take-aways from the forums:

Support immigration. When asked at the end of the forums whether they agree with the premise of the third choice, that “current levels of immigration are too high, and the country is now becoming so diverse that we are endangering our ability to assimilate newcomers and maintain our national unity,” most rejected this perspective on the grounds that it reflects an outdated, ethnocentric understanding of who “real Americans” are. These views, which are consistent with recent national polls, help to explain why the percentage of Americans who favor cutting legal immigration is fairly low and has declined in recent years.

Do not want laws disobeyed. While participants often talked about unauthorized immigrants with considerable compassion and empathy, most also felt strongly about the importance of the rule of law. Few were comfortable with a system in which laws were routinely flouted and those who skirt the law were permitted to gain an advantage over those who enter through legal channels. Forum-goers in several communities made a point of noting that they live in “sanctuary cities,” which have declared that they will not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in rounding up and arresting people who are here illegally. Many people, however, including those who are inclined to support liberal immigration policies, voiced serious misgivings about allowing cities to act in defiance of, and noncompliance with, federal laws.

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.

Compare Canada’s plans for immigration vs the U.S.

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Canada will take in 40,000 more immigrants in 2021 than it planned for 2018. immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen (a lawyer with (Somali origin) said in December, 2018. The target for new arrivals in Canada will rise to 350,000, which is nearly 1% of the country’s population. The equivalent for the U.S. would be about three million new immigrants a year, three times current levels.

The vast majority of Canadian immigrants come under economic programs designed to address skills shortages and gaps in the labor market.

Canada also plans to increase the number of refugees it will accept from 43,000 in 2018 to reach 51,700 by 2021. The equivalent for the U.S. would be about 500,000 refugees. Trump is seeking to cap refugee settlement at 50,000 a year.

From here.

Beto O’Rourke’s Immigration Plan

Thursday, May 30th, 2019


The O’Rourke campaign issued a plan for immigration reform on May 29. It starts with a critique of Trump administration practices on the border. When O’Rourke gets to his ideas they include the following:

1. Solidify and by implication increase family-based immigration;
2. Introduce a community-based visa program for refugees. State and local governments were denied making immigration laws back around 1880 by the federal government
3. A provision for meeting the labor needs of certain (but unnamed) industries by what looks like a guest worker program. For agriculture, perhaps?
4. Make it easier for some types of skilled workers to get into and stay in the U.S.
5. Make it easier for green card holders to become naturalized.
6. Strengthen controls on the southern border
7. Invest in programs in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to lessen hardships and demand the end of corruption,
8. Improve Mexico’s migration and refuge policies.
9. Legalize the status of 11 million unauthorized persons, including persons covered by DACA

Missing from the plan is any role of employers, any new system of federal oversight, and a long term policy on skilled workers.

IN OUR OWN IMAGE: Beto O’Rourke’s Plan for Rebuilding Our Immigration and Naturalization System is here.