Archive for the ‘Legal Topics’ Category

Very few asylum applications are accepted

Friday, August 9th, 2019

About 40,000 people applied for asylum on the Mexican border in 2018. About 5,000 were approved.

As of mid July there were about 18,700 asylum seekers on the Mexican side of the border. Only a few dozen cases are heard daily. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Since only about 20% of asylum claims are eventually approved in court, according to government figures, the Trump administration says the clear majority are spurious claims. Nearly half are denied but the rest are either not decided, abandoned or withdrawn.” That 20% figure appears high in light of application resolution figures provided by the Dept of Justice, below. the data are estimates based on tables in the article

 

 

Stephen Miller won: the leadership changes 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.”

E Verify: a few facts 2006 -2018

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

E-Verify is a federally designed and managed system which employers use to check if a job applicant is authorized to work in the U.S. It checks for whether the social security number is valid and does a few other checks (thus it can be fooled by a borrowed SS number).

Starting around 2007, federal contractors and, later, employers in several states were required to use the system. Otherwise, employers such as Trump properties use it voluntarily. The ACLU and other oppose its use. Criticisms are made that it is mis-designed and ineffective. Here I present some basic facts about its use.

The first graph shows, 2006 – 2018, the number of e-Verify checks in each year, the estimated number of unauthorized workers in the country, and the number of times when e-Verify made a final confirmation that the person was not authorized to work – was rejected –and presumably was not hired.

The second graph shows rejections as a percentage of the estimated size of the unauthorized workforce. This percentage is very small – just over 4% in 2018.

Data from here.

 

What states are people deported from?

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

The United States deported 4.6 million people between 2003 and 2018, for an average of about 300,000 per year. The highest years, of about 400,000, were during the Obama administration. The two years under Trump were 225,000 or less. The Bush years averaged about 250,000, but went up in 2008.

Compare these deportations with the stock and flow of unauthorized persons. On average, about one person was deported for roughly every 40 unauthorized persons who were in the U.S. at the end of the year.

The total number of unauthorized persons in the country in 2003 was probably about 12 million. That has declined modestly to about 11 million. During this time, several hundreds of thousands of persons, each year, either entered illegally or over-stayed their temporary visas, while a hard to estimate number of unauthorized persons ever year left voluntarily and undetected.

This graph shows the distribution of deported persons by state, 2003 – 2018. The numbers for Arizona, California and Texas are very high due to their borders with Mexico.

Data from here.

Where were deported people deported to?

Monday, May 27th, 2019

Of the 4.6 million people deported between 2003 and 2018, 90% were returned to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

These four countries account for 70%, or 7.6 million, of the roughly 11 million unauthorized persons in the U.S. today. Therefore, their rate of deportation is relatively higher than for persons from other countries.

In total, 3 million Mexicans were deported in these years. A portion of these were deported at least twice. There are about 6.2 million unauthorized Mexicans in the U.S. today. The current population of Mexico is 129 million.

 

Oath of Allegiance

Monday, May 13th, 2019

To be spoken by candidates for U.S. naturalization, upon which the oath-taker is a citizen.

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

Modifications

According to U.S. regulations, the phrase “so help me God” is optional and that the words ‘on oath’ can be substituted with ‘and solemnly affirm’.

According to U.S. Congress, if the prospective citizen is unable or unwilling to promise to bear arms or perform noncombatant military service because of “religious training and belief”, he or she may request to leave out those clauses. The law specifies:

The term “religious training and belief” as used in this section shall mean an individual’s belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation, but does not include essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code.

From here.

The administration “is dismantling the infrastructure” of refugee resettlement

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Syrian refugees in Jordan, Mr and Mrs. Rastanawi were shocked to learn in March of this year that they were being admitted to the United States as refugees, and their spring arrival in Indianapolis was akin to winning the lottery. The country used to allow thousands of Syrians to immigrate, but the flow of Syrian refugees is at an almost complete stop.

Mrs. Rastanawi was riding a bus to pick up diabetes medication in March when she got the phone call telling her that she and her husband were eligible to come to the United States. The couple had to go to a hospital the next morning for a medical exam, pack their bags, pick up medication and get ready for a new life. The couple arrived at the Indianapolis airport on March 23. They are now living in Indianapolis, where their daughter lives with her family.

But the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the United States in fiscal 2016 was 12,587. In fiscal 2018, the United States admitted 62.

“Syrian refugees are the largest population of refugees seeking resettlement,” said Nazanin Ash, vice president of policy and advocacy for the International Rescue Committee. “Their vulnerability is increasing while U.S. policy is reducing admissions.”

The sharp decline in refugees has led some resettlement agencies to dismantle the infrastructure that has helped place those seeking assistance within the United States and leaving struggling U.S. towns short of workers they are eager to welcome. The nine organizations that resettle refugees in the United States have all had to lay off staff or close offices, sometimes both.

In 2016, Exodus Refugee Immigration in Indianapolis resettled refugees from 13 countries, including Syria, Iraq and Sudan. Last year, Exodus placed refugees from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Congo and Eritrea, said Cole Varga, the group’s executive director. The drop in refugees means the group’s funding has been cut almost in half, and the group laid off or did not backfill more than a dozen positions.

“One of the most striking things, I think, is just how much disruption this has caused to the network,” Varga said. “The top level is all the missing refugees who are not in the U.S., but it’s also about how [the president] is dismantling the infrastructure of this program.”

From the Washington Post

Deportation of a long time American resident to Liberia

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Afomu Kelley was just 11 years old when she left Liberia with her mother in the early days of a civil war in 1990. She remembers standing in a crowd jostling to board an airplane to the United States for what she thought would be a six-week vacation.

Instead, the war in Liberia escalated and Kelley, now 40, never returned to the West African country. She grew up in Northern Virginia, where she finished high school early, and attended the University of Maryland. She has an American accent. Sometimes she doesn’t feel like an immigrant.

But at the end of this month, she may be forced to return to a homeland she barely remembers.

On March 31, the program [Temporary Protected Status] that has allowed Kelley and more than 800 other Liberian immigrants to live legally in the United States for decades will end, the result of President Trump’s decision to terminate a protection against deportation that has been in place for nearly 28 years.

“It is cruel to tell me that I have to go back to a place that I don’t know,” said Kelley, who lives in Greenbelt, Md., with her daughters, ages 9 and 11. “I don’t even know the street I lived on. But I can tell you every diner between here and New Hampshire.”

From the Washington Post

What is Temporary Protected Status?

Per the Migration Policy Institute, TPS allows nationals of certain countries to temporarily live and work lawfully in the United States if DHS determines that they are unable to safely return due to natural disaster, armed conflict, or other extraordinary and temporary circumstances. TPS can be granted for periods of six to 18 months, after which DHS, with the input of the State Department, re-evaluates the designation. If country conditions still threaten the safety of returning nationals, or if the foreign government is unable to handle returns.

Many persons have held TPS for almost two decades, and have established strong community ties in the United States. Currently, ten countries have TPS, with Salvadorans making up 60 percent of the nearly 437,000 TPS recipients.

Court Injunction

On October 3, 2018, a federal court judge in California issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration from terminating TPS for over 250,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed in March 2018, claiming that the government terminated TPS designations as a result of a predetermined agenda and in violation of the law. The ruling is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On March 1, 2019, DHS issued a notice in the Federal Register stating that while the preliminary injunction is in place, the affected TPS holders will retain their status and work permits through January 2, 2020. DHS will continue to extend the validity of their immigration documents in nine-month intervals. Also, it states once the litigation is completed, and if the courts have issued a final ruling that the terminations were proper, DHS will allow for a 120-day “orderly transition” period.

From here.

 

Mexican Border apprehensions high

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

The Trump Administration is frustrated that illegal border crossing attempts, while much lower than in the 1990 – 2008 period, appear to be higher in 2018 than they have since 2012.

Apprehensions along the Mexican border are thought to reflect the total numbers of persons trying to cross the border illegally. There have been estimates that apprehensions are roughly half of the number of people attempt to cross illegally. Between 2012 and 2015, Border Patrol apprehensions along the Mexican border in October were around 30,000. In 2016, they rose to 40,000, apparently due to attempting to cross before the Trump Administration came to power. They dropped back to the 30,000 level in 2017, but now in October 2018 were about 51,000, the highest since 2012.

Pew Research estimates that There was an average of 386,000 annual arrivals of unauthorized persons for the 2011-16 period, compared with 715,000 for the 2002-07 period. That amounts to a 46% decline. (Source here).

The percentage of apprehensions involving families rather than single adults rose from 3.6% in 2013 to 24.9? in 2017. (Source here).

Another category are inadmissables – persons presenting themselves at legal ports of entry but being denied entry. The October 2018 number was about 7,500, which is consistent with past years.

From here and here.