Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

Why aren’t Dem candidates talking about immigration?

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

The only Democratic presidential candidate who has a platform for immigration reform is former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. Not only is Castro calling for a reversal of Trump’s Muslim ban and wall spending; he also wants to decriminalize of the very act of crossing the border illegally. Unauthorized border crossings were first criminalized in 1929.

Castro proposes scaling back the existing enforcement regime by ending the use of for-profit detention facilities, breaking up Immigration and Customs Enforcement, dialling back Customs and Border Protection’s mandate to act within the United States, and refocussing deportation efforts on people who are convicted of serious crimes or considered a threat to national security.

But his proposal contains few concrete suggestions for the establishment of a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented or for the reform of the existing system for legal immigration.

From The New Yorker

Letter from two former American ambassadors

Friday, April 12th, 2019

“If you thought the caravans were bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet” was written on April 9 by James Nealon, former US Ambassador to Honduras and John Feeley, a former US Ambassador.

Excerpts:

So you hate undocumented and irregular migration from Central America? Well you’re going to hate it more now that the President has cut off aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, the countries from which the families and children we’re seeing at the southwest border are fleeing.

We have to ask ourselves, after seeing illegal border crossings drop to historic lows in 2017, why are we seeing a spike now? Three reasons: First, because we have a booming economy. As long as U.S. per capita GDP is 25 times that of Honduras, and as long as there are more jobs than job seekers, there will be a significant pull factor.

Second, though things have gotten better in the Northern Triangle (the murder rate in Honduras has been more than halved since 2012), all politics is local. For many people living in conflictive communities or rural poverty, things haven’t gotten better enough, quickly enough to meet their rising expectations.

And third, and maybe most importantly, the President doesn’t get that his own rhetoric is helping fuel the current surge of migrants at the border. The smugglers use the President’s own bombastic words as proof that the border is going to close and that if they don’t go now, it will be too late.

The reason we have “catch and release”, in which asylum seekers are released into the United States pending a far-in-the-future court date to adjudicate their case, is because those courts have a backlog of 800,000 cases. So rather than making a decision on an asylum request in real time, and repatriating those found not to have a valid case, everyone who makes a claim gets in, at least for awhile.

Rather than spend billions on a wall, rather than close the border, rather than cut off foreign assistance meant to fix the problem, why don’t we spend the resources necessary to fix the immigration courts? We wouldn’t tolerate an 800,000 case backlog at the DMV, so why should we tolerate it at the border?

Trump creating an opportunity for Democrats to lead on immigration

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

The president’s purge of Homeland Security leadership this week does two things: first, that whatever might be called the Administration’s immigration policy has become hostage to a Mexican border enforcement policy, one which the courts have repeatedly curtailed and to a fight with the countries of origin for migrants at the border. Second, the shakeup is punishing the congressional Republicans, who are more attuned to the complexities of immigration on America’s main streets. Congressional Republicans have no independent voice on immigration.

This gives to congressional Democrats an opportunity to show leadership on immigration – something they have avoided — and likely will continue to avoid. Is there any Democratic presidential candidate whose immigration views are known, much less designed to lead as opposed to react?

An immigration policy needs to take into account three things: the impact on the United States, the impact on the countries of origin, and the migrants themselves.  Democrats have a golden opportunity to articulate a constructive, achievable approach to all three.

The Democrats could show (probably will not) an awareness of both the pluses and minuses of immigration today in America. The minuses generally involve problems in cultural integration.  They could show (this will be easy) a better understanding of how to work with Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the key countries of origins. And they could give a lot more attention to crafting immigration policies which place the right emphasis on who is admitted (limiting family related immigration to immediate family and expanding economic categories of immigrants).

 

Atlantic Monthly article calls for reduced immigration

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

David Frum, a senior editor of the Atlantic, writes correctly that immigration’s “most important effects are social and cultural, not economic.” He does not cite any social or cultural reasons in favor of immigration. He associates and implies there is a causal relationship between increased immigration in Europe and the U.S. in the past 40 years with societal breakdown, and even with economic inequality. But immigration’s rise worldwide is just one aspect of globalization. Reducing immigration rates will only partly correct for globalization’s effects.

He believes that by lowering immigration (meaning the reduction in permanent visa awards) we can “more quickly and successfully absorb the people who come here.”

He is right that absorption of immigrants into the country’s civic culture is key. He is somewhat careless and too summary in identifying where and why the absorption is not going well. It has gone well in major urban areas which have been absorbing immigrants for over a century. It is probably going well with college educated immigrants, who make up an ever larger share of recent immigrants.

It has not gone well for inland and especially non-urban areas where the immigrant share of the population went from, say, 1% to 5%. It is not going well with persons with very little formal education (mainly from Latin America).

Dailing down immigration is a deceptively simple solution. It would be a good thing for those wedded to inclusion of immigrants (such as I) to address the absorption issue accurately and to offer sensible policy changes. That will counter the Trump administration’s alarms of panic, which go pretty much unrebutted.

He ends the article this way:

The years of slow immigration, 1915 to 1975, were also years in which the United States became a more cohesive nation: the years of the civil-rights revolution, the building of a mass middle class, the construction of a national social-insurance system, the projection of U.S. power in two world wars. As immigration has accelerated, the country seems to have splintered apart.

Many Americans feel that the country is falling short of its promises of equal opportunity and equal respect. Levels of immigration that are too high only enhance the difficulty of living up to those promises. Reducing immigration, and selecting immigrants more carefully, will enable the country to more quickly and successfully absorb the people who come here, and to ensure equality of opportunity to both the newly arrived and the long-settled—to restore to Americans the feeling of belonging to one united nation, responsible for the care and flourishing of all its people.

Frederick Douglass — a “composite” America

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

Jill Lepore writes in Foreign Affairs how Frederick Douglass was the most articulate advocate after the Civil War to defend the identity of America as a nation of immigrants. She wrote:

The most significant statement in this debate [about American identity] was made by a man born into slavery who had sought his own freedom and fought for decades for emancipation, citizenship, and equal rights. In 1869, in front of audiences across the country, Frederick Douglass delivered one of the most important and least read speeches in American political history, urging the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments in the spirit of establishing a “composite nation.” He spoke, he said, “to the question of whether we are the better or the worse for being composed of different races of men.” If nations, which are essential for progress, form from similarity, what of nations like the United States, which are formed out of difference, Native American, African, European, Asian, and every possible mixture, “the most conspicuous example of composite nationality in the world”? (March / April 2019 issue)

In a prior posting here, I wrote:

In a speech in Boston in 1869, Frederick Douglass argued that Chinese should be allowed to immigrate and become citizens. He presented his vision composite nationality under conditions of “perfect human equality.”

Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882mprohibited Chinese labor migration to the United States and barred Chinese residents from obtaining U.S. citizenship. The law was repealed in 1943. (see here.)

Douglass: I want a home here not only for the negro, the mulatto and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home here in the United States, and feel at home here, both for his sake and for ours. Right wrongs no man. If respect is had to majorities, the fact that only one fifth of the population of the globe is white, the other four fifths are colored, ought to have some weight and influence in disposing of this and similar questions. It would be a sad reflection upon the laws of nature and upon the idea of justice, to say nothing of a common Creator, if four fifths of mankind were deprived of the rights of migration to make room for the one fifth.

The voice of civilization speaks an unmistakable language against the isolation of families, nations and races, and pleads for composite nationality as essential to her triumphs.

Our Republic is itself a strong argument in favor of composite nationality. It is no disparagement to Americans of English descent, to affirm that much of the wealth, leisure, culture, refinement and civilization of the country are due to the arm of the negro and the muscle of the Irishman. Without these and the wealth created by their sturdy toil, English civilization had still lingered this side of the Alleghanies, and the wolf still be howling on their summits.

The grand right of migration and the great wisdom of incorporating foreign elements into our body politic, are founded not upon any genealogical or archeological theory, however learned, but upon the broad fact of a common human nature.

Man is man, the world over. This fact is affirmed and admitted in any effort to deny it. The sentiments we exhibit, whether love or hate, confidence or fear, respect or contempt, will always imply a like humanity.

If our action shall be in accordance with the principles of justice, liberty, and perfect human equality, no eloquence can adequately portray the greatness and grandeur of the future of the Republic.

 

The standoff

Saturday, January 26th, 2019

Trump’s base hates DACA. The polls give a confused picture with much Republican ambivalence until one gets to Ann Coulter and Stephen Miller. Trump wants to keep the DACA people hostage, and the Dems in Congress will not agree to a wall unless the entire DACA community gets permanent protection. The entire DACA eligible community is about 2 million, far more than the roughly 700,000 already enrolled, and permanent protection downstream entails tricky situations where the normalized DACA people seek legal status for their unauthorized parents.

If this sound like an explosion in the making it is. But Trump does not want a comprehensive solution to immigration and certainly not a national commission to come up with solutions, because it removes the issue from his control.

A national commission would take into account security, e-Verify, legal immigrant targets, temporary visas, etc. and last beyond 2020, and would probably involve suspension of the Trump Administration’s administrative changes such as “public charge” criteria for awarding green cards.

The key is if a bipartisan solution can be found in the Senate.

 

Dreamer wins Rhodes Scholarship

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Jin Park flew with his parents from Korea to the U.S. in 1997. We settled in a Korean enclave in Flushing, Queens. The language, people, smells and flavors reminded us of home, and that helped ease our transition into our new life. My mother found work in a beauty salon, providing manicures and facials. My father was hired as a line cook in a Korean restaurant, working 12-hour shifts six days a week. I started going to a school in a nearby Korean church. I slowly began adapting to my new life. I found comfort in learning how to speak English.” A graduate of Harvard, Park begins his Rhodes Scholarship in the Fall.

The formal title of the Dreamer executive order is DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, signed June 15, 2012.

Selected findings from a 2017 survey of Dreamers:

Has an American citizen as spouse, child or sibling: 73%.
Employed: 91%
Got driver’s license for first time: 80%
Impact of DACA on employment: about 60% say that it led improved job prospects, more income, get a credit card, etc.
Bilingual is an asset to employer: 80%
Pursued education blocked in the past: 65%
In school now: 44%, of which half are in college bachelor’s program
Residence: about 25% in CA, 15% in Texas.
Hispanic: 93%
Median age: 25 (youngest is 16, oldest is 35)
Age when came to U.S.: median 6 years old.

Some popular conceptions on illegals, crime and the wall

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Around a third of U.S. adults (35%) incorrectly said that most immigrants are in the country illegally, while 6% said about half of all immigrants are here illegally and half legally. (Right answer: one quarter.)

A majority of non-college grads of both Republican and Democratic leanings said in June 2018 that most immigrants are here illegally. The lowest number of the majority-are-here-illegally opinion were Democratic college grads, and even that was 20%.

About half of conservative Republicans (47%) believe that unauthorized immigrants commit more crimes. Of all Americans, 26% believe they commit more crimes, and only 6% of liberal Democrats believe they do.

In a mid 2018 survey, Nearly three-quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (74%) support expanding the wall, while an even larger share of Democrats and Democratic leaners (83%) oppose it.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%), including 89% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans, said in June 2018 that they favor such permanent legal status.

From Pew Research

 

A Comprehensive Immigration Policy: internal immigration law enforcement

Friday, December 14th, 2018

A New Center policy on internal immigration law enforcement:

Implement and require a universal E-Verify system that would assist employers in ensuring that they only employ individuals who are authorized to work in the United States. Potential employers have an essential role to play in enforcement. If undocumented immigrants can’t work, many will return home. E-Verify should continuously be improved in order to limit false negatives and false positives. This system should be implemented only after a registration period, during which unauthorized individuals living in the U.S. can apply to become Registered Provisional Immigrants.

Get serious about visa overstays.  A robust and fully funded biometric entry and exit system—which would include regular text and email communications to visa holders from the DHS about departure deadlines—should be implemented immediately. In addition, foreign countries should be incentivized to educate their citizens about U.S. visa requirements.

End the practice of separating children from their families on the border, and stop subjecting families to lengthy detention under any circumstances. Establish a legal mechanism for enforcing higher civil detention standards in ICE detention centers, and allow for more frequent inspections that increase both accountability and transparency. Discontinue the use of private prisons and county jails for immigrant detention, thus reducing the financial corner cutting

that causes deaths, suicides, sexual abuse, and lack of access to medical care. End mandatory detention. Ensure that individuals are not placed in detention centers unless they are deemed a threat to the public or a flight risk.

 

A Comprehensive Immigration Policy: The Mexican border

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

A New Center policy on the Mexican border:

Both sides of the immigration debate should be able to agree that it is essential to have a fortified border that allows for the U.S. to reliably and consistently prevent unauthorized entry. On some parts of the border, a wall or fence may make the most sense; on others, private property, mountain ranges, national parks, and reservations make a physical border impractical. Here, emphasis should be placed on electronic surveillance as a better tracking method. This should be coupled with revised legal measures that quicken deportation proceedings in order to deter crossings.

Build physical barriers along the border where they are effective and economical.

Shift towards a focus on technological improvements along the border, such as the implementation of the Integrated Fixed Towers System, which relies on sophisticated cameras, sensors, and radar to detect border crossings.

Renovate infrastructure at land ports of entry and ensure that they are adequately staffed by officers and agents.