Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review: The Politics of Immigration

This book offers illuminating context on immigration issues. It also provides useful talking points, facts and figures for chatting up anti-immigrant co-workers.

By Eve Ottenberg, Labor Notes
February 15, 2018
After Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials terrorized undocumented workers by raiding 7-Elevens nationwide last month, and with 800,000 federal workers’ jobs on temporary shutdown over the status of the Dreamers, now’s a good time to take a look at how U.S. immigration policies affect the workplace.[...]

Read the full review:
http://labornotes.org/blogs/2018/02/book-review-politics-immigration

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Trump’s Plan Flops in Senate--Despite Bizarre DHS Press Release

Efforts to protect the younger immigrants known as Dreamers collapsed in the Senate today as three competing amendments failed to get the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. President Trump had made it clear that he would veto two bipartisan compromise amendments if they passed, and predictably these both failed—the McCain-Coons amendment 52-47 and the Schumer-Rounds-Collins amendment 54-45. But the biggest failure was the Grassley amendment, which incorporated the White House’s own restrictionist positions. This went down in a 39-60 vote, with 10 Republican senators opposing their president’s plan.

After today’s impasse in the Senate it seems unlikely that the political class will produce any legislation to protect the Dreamers from deportation, much less any rational reform of the immigration system.
DHS head Kirstjen Nielsen. Photo: AP/Alex Brandon

Earlier in the day the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made an unusual move for a government agency: it issued a press release ferociously attacking the Schumer-Rounds-Collins amendment.

“The DHS press release is over the top,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) responded. “It’s poisonous. I think it’s ridiculous, and I’ve long since stopped paying attention to them.” But we should pay attention, because the DHS release shows a lot about the dishonest and authoritarian thinking of the people who enforce U.S. immigration laws.

Here is a sampling of what makes the release “poisonous” and “ridiculous.”

DHS misrepresents provisions on enforcement. DHS claims the amendment has a “ ‘priorities’ scheme that ensures that DHS can only remove criminal aliens, national security threats and those who arrive AFTER June 30, 2018 creating a massive surge at the border for the next four months” [punctuation in the original].

In reality, the text of the compromise amendment requires the DHS to “prioritize available enforcement resources” to immigrants convicted of several categories of crimes and to undocumented immigrants who arrive here after June 2018. In other words, it doesn’t stop detentions and deportations of non-criminal immigrants; it just deprioritizes them, codifying the policy in place during the last years of the Obama administration. Thousands of non-criminal immigrants were deported then—and no, there wasn’t “a massive surge at the border.”

DHS makes outlandish claims about “chain migration.” The press release says Dreamers granted legal status by the bipartisan amendment “would then be able to bring over all of extended families through chain migration, who in turn could bring in their foreign relatives, potentially increasing the legalized population of aliens to 10 million.”

The claim here is that since naturalized citizens sponsor an average of 3.5 relatives for immigration visas, 2 or 3 million newly legalized Dreamers would eventually sponsor another 7 to 10 million relatives. But what relatives would they sponsor? The amendment bars Dreamers from sponsoring their parents for citizenship. Couldn’t they sponsor their children or siblings? Of course, but remember that by definition the Dreamers have lived here since childhood. Their siblings would probably be either citizens or Dreamers themselves, and the Dreamers’ own children would almost all be natural-born U.S. citizens. So the Dreamers would have very few relatives they could sponsor, certainly not 7 to 10 million.

When the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed a more generous DREAM Act in December, it estimated that the legalized Dreamers would only end up sponsoring about 80,000 relatives by the end of the first 10 years.

DHS claims the amendment leaves “loopholes” that “create a dramatic pull factor for illegal immigration.”

These aren’t “loopholes,” and there’s no evidence they produce a significant pull factor. One is the bipartisan William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. It is true that tens of thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America have used protections from this legislation to enter the U.S. as asylum seekers, but these numbers are hardly dramatic, at least compared to the levels of undocumented immigration in the 1990s and early 2000s, or to the 300,000 U.S. citizens who migrated from Puerto Rico to Florida—one state—after Hurricane Maria struck the island last fall.

Ironically, immigration officials claimed in the past that Obama’s Deferred Arrival for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was the “pull factor” behind the surge of unaccompanied minors in 2014; as recently as last September Attorney General Jeff Sessions used this claim as one of the pretexts for ending DACA. Now that DACA is ending, the administration finally admits that the cause was actually the 2008 child trafficking law.

Another “loophole,” according to DHS, is actually a Supreme Court decision from 2001. The DHS didn’t explain how it expected Congress to overturn a ruling by the country’s highest court.

The decision is Zadvydas v. Davis. The Court ruled that the government couldn’t hold deportable immigrants in indefinite administrative detention just because the government couldn’t find a country to deport them to. The government was instructed to release the detainees after six months if it hadn’t made reasonable progress in efforts to deport them; there was an exception for especially dangerous detainees.

The DHS claim about Zadvydas is actually rather frightening. The decision was based on what the Court called “serious constitutional questions” about indefinite detention for administrative purposes. The Court had ruled in 1987 that “government detention violates [the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause] unless the detention is ordered in a criminal proceeding with adequate procedural protections.”

So our current DHS officials are seeking to change a ruling based on the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause? And if they could detain immigrants indefinitely without criminal charges, couldn’t they do that to citizens as well?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Elvira Arellano: Learn from our own history!


The only way we can stop the deportations now is to demonstrate, to commit mass civil disobedience, over and over again. Sanctuary in churches must become militant mass sanctuary in the streets. It is also the only way we will get the turn out to win elections.

Hay que Sacar las Lecciones de Nuestra Propia Historia

Por Elvira Arellano
13 de febrero, 2018
(English version follows below)
Esta semana, los demócratas van a pelear a favor de DACA en el Congreso. El problema es que han abandonado precisamente las cosas que les hubiesen hecho posible lograr hasta una muy pequeña victoria. Por un tiempecito, los demócratas escuchaban a los residentes de sus estados y distritos y a los “soñadores” que sitiaron sus oficinas. Lo que se exigía era totalmente claro: Queremos un proyecto de ley “Dream” (sueño) completamente limpio, y no apoyaremos un acuerdo sobre el presupuesto hasta semejante proyecto haya sido aprobado. Los demócratas se mantuvieron firmes durante un solo voto en el Senado, se cerró el gobierno durante todo un fin de semana, y luego se dieron por vencidos.[…]

Learn from our own history!

By Elvira Arellano
February 13, 2018
The Democrats are going into fight for DACA this week. The problem is that they have given up the things they needed to get even a small victory. Democrats had listened for a while to the people in their districts and the young dreamers that surrounded their offices. The demand was clear: we want a clean bill and we won’t vote for a budget agreement to keep the government open unless a clean bill has passed. They held firm for one vote in the Senate, shut down the government over one week-end – and then folded.[…]

Lea el artículo completo/read the full article:.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Senate Set to Debate Immigration--as Resistance Picks Up

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has scheduled as much as two weeks’ worth of open
Mitch McConnell. Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
debate on immigration policy starting tonight. No one seems to know what he’s up to, but it’s hard to imagine that anything good will come out of this. Most Republicans seem to be pushing some version of the hardline position taken by the White House (presumably written by far-right policy adviser Stephen Miller), while we can expect the Democrats to offer a centrist compromise.

Meanwhile, a lot of things are happening on the ground, with politicians and judges apparently responding to pressure from the grassroots. Several federal judges have temporarily blocked the deportation of specific immigrants or groups of immigrants, and a lawsuit charging that ICE unconstitutionally targets activists has forced ICE to stay the deportation of New York-based activist Ravi Ragbir at least until March 15. In Los Angeles a federal judge ruled that local authorities violated the Constitution when they honored detainers from ICE. If the ruling is upheld by higher courts, it would justify the policies of so-called “sanctuary cities.” Meanwhile, ICE is now officially claiming that its agents have the right to detain immigrants inside courthouses.—TPOI editor

[We can expect the Senate debate to produce a whole catalog of absurd misrepresentations of immigration policies. We’ll be trying to point up some of the most ridiculous through occasional tweets. Follow us at @Immigration_QA.]

McConnell’s immigration gamble
The Senate majority leader is unleashing a free-for-all debate over Dreamers — and his endgame is a mystery.

By Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett, Politico
February 12, 2018
Mitch McConnell is taking the reins of an immigration debate that may prompt a fix for “Dreamers” — or quickly spiral out of control.[…]

Read the full article:

Not So Fast on Deportations, Judges Tell Immigration Agency

By Liz Robbins, New York Times
February 9, 2018
For a year, immigration agents have been enforcing the Trump administration’s orders to deport noncitizens at full speed with but one roadblock: the federal courts.[…]

Read the full article:

Ravi Ragbir: Immigrant Leaders Are Surveilled & Targeted for Speaking Out About Trump’s Deportations
                       
Democracy Now!
February 12, 2018
On Friday, a federal judge stayed the deportation of New York City immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir, after he filed a free speech lawsuit arguing immigration officials unconstitutionally used their power to suppress political dissent by targeting outspoken activists for surveillance and deportation. The judge stayed the deportation only one day before Ravi Ragbir was scheduled to be deported. He has now been ordered to check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on March 15. For more, we speak with Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition.[…]

Watch the segment or read the transcript

L.A. federal judge rules that a key tool in Trump's immigration crackdown effort is illegal

By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
February 9, 2018
A federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that police departments violate the Constitution if they detain inmates at the request of immigration agents, marking the latest legal setback for the Trump administration's plans to identify and deport immigrants in the country illegally.[…]

Read the full article:

ICE Issues Guidance on Enforcement at Courthouses

By Immigration Prof
February 11, 2018
Despite the many objections, including the Chief Justice of California, state courthouses remain targets for immigration enforcement.[...]

Read the full post:
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2018/02/ice-issues-guidance-on-enforcement-at-courthouses.html

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers - book review

The Politics of Immigration gives supporters of migrants the ammunition to answer back any anti-immigration argument, finds Orlando Hill

By Orlando Hill, Counterfire
February 8, 2018
“I’m not against immigrants. I’m against illegal ones. The idea of open borders is a fantasy. Let’s face it. Our country is already too full. We must put a limit on how many can come in. We simply can’t afford it. They’ll put too much pressure on our already squeezed public finance. It’s a simple case of supply and demand. Wages will fall if you increase the supply of workers.”

Who hasn’t heard such statements in our workplace, pubs or family meals? You disagree with them, but you might not have the facts or arguments to back up your opinion, so you keep quiet to avoid a shouting match and to keep the peace.

That’s where this book comes in handy.[…]

Read the full review:
http://www.counterfire.org/articles/book-reviews/19449-the-politics-of-immigration-questions-and-answers-book-review

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Getting Real About John Kelly

General John Kelly. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP
At last mainstream reporters have started reporting about the real General John Kelly.

What finally did Trump’s chief of staff in was the revelation that he'd shielded former White House staff secretary Rob Porter despite credible allegations of domestic violence from Porter’s two ex-wives. This followed bizarre episodes like Kelly’s rewriting of U.S. history and his lies about an African-American Congress member. But his record during the half-year he headed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should have alerted observers to the man’s true character long before he moved to the White House.

Wasn’t it a problem that as DHS secretary he floated ideas for systematically separating child asylum seekers from their parents, and for deploying the National Guard in immigration raids? In March the administration suggested funding expanded immigration enforcement by gutting the Coast Guard, FEMA and the TSA, parts of the government that sometimes may actually help protect people. If Kelly objected to this bizarre plan, he didn’t say so. In April he suggested that Congress members who criticized his department’s immigration raids should change the immigration laws or else “shut up.” And why did reporters and editorial writers think the Trump team chose Kelly for the post? A general headed immigration operations in the 1950s, and the result was “Operation Wetback.” (See this, along with a correction.)

With all this information against Kelly, media like the New York Times still managed to write that the man was “sensible.” Now that we know otherwise, the Times still isn’t quite admitting to a mistake. In an article noting that “Mr. Kelly has drawn a string of unwelcome headlines,” Times reporters Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman explain that “[w]hen he took the White House job last summer, [Kelly] was seen by many as a mature figure who could impose order on a chaotic building.”

Who were the “many” who saw Kelly this way? Not the immigrants who'd been swept up in his immigration raids.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Ravi's Deportation Has Been Delayed!


Rally in Foley Square, outside New York Federal Building, Saturday, February 10, 9 am!

By New Sanctuary Coalition
February 9, 2018
This is a turning point - now more than ever we need to ramp up pressure to stop ALL deportations.

Great news today! Ravi is temporarily safe from deportation, thanks to a lawsuit just filed against ICE for targeting immigrant rights leaders in violation of the first amendment.

With this momentum, it’s more important than ever that we all join Ravi for a huge “You Can’t Deport a Movement” rally for the countless thousands of immigrants facing deportation every day. Join us in Foley Square next to ICE’s offices at 26 Federal Plaza tomorrow morning at 9am.

Today, Ravi, together with a group of organizations including the New Sanctuary Coalition, charged in federal court in New York that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been targeting Ravi and many other activists across the country in order to illegally silence them and “sweep away all opposition” in violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

Ravi now has a temporary stay—he cannot be deported while the court is considering the lawsuit’s demand for a preliminary injunction stopping ICE’s unconstitutional behavior. (Read more on The Intercept or the official press release here.)

This is a critical moment for our cause, and we need to rally tomorrow — Saturday morning — to show ICE we won't go away until ALL deportations are stopped.

We see now what a big difference our resistance can make. Now let’s leverage the momentum and the worldwide attention we’ve harnessed. Let’s show ICE they can’t terrorize, harass or deport any immigrants. They cannot deport our movement!

It‘s an important time in history! Get your signs ready. Invite your friends! On the day that they would have deported Ravi if they could have, let’s make noise and show ICE we won't stop until the attacks on our communities stop.

In solidarity,
New Sanctuary Coalition

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Latest Nonsense About Immigration—a Quick Guide


By David L. Wilson, MR Online
February 7, 2018

We’ve seen and heard a lot about immigration in the past few weeks, and a good deal of it has been out-and-out nonsense. Many journalists and politicians simply don’t understand U.S. immigration policy, some consciously lie about it, and a few, like Donald Trump, manage not to understand and at the same time consciously lie.

Here’s a list of some of the immigration absurdities now circulating in the media and in the political class.

1. We have a big problem called “chain immigration.” People who say this are actually talking about the family-based visa system established by the 1965 immigration reform. The term “chain migration” refers to an age-old process of people settling in a new country and then sending for friends and relatives. Many or most European Americans got here through this kind of migration. So why do conservatives call family-based immigration “chain migration”? Simple: they claim to support family values, so they don’t want us to notice that they’re opposing a program that favors family reunification.

2. Family-based immigration means “a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” Most people don’t live long enough to create anything like the migration “chain” we find in President Trump’s rants and rightwing TV ads. It’s true that a naturalized U.S. citizen can sponsor green cards for a spouse, for parents, and for minor children, but the process involves many bureaucratic hurdles and delays. To sponsor other close relatives, such as siblings and adult children, the citizen confronts a labyrinth of quotas and restrictions, with delays stretching into decades for people of certain nationalities. Green card holders face even stricter limitations and greater hurdles.

In January Trump claimed that terrorism suspect Sayfullo Saipov brought in “22 people through the chain.” PolitiFact calculates that the 29-year-old Saipov, a green card holder since 2010, could only have done this by somehow “fathering more than 20 kids before he left Uzbekistan.”

3. We also have a good visa program called “merit-based immigration.”  Currently the U.S. government makes immigration visas available for some people with special skills or employment opportunities; these visas are capped at 140,000 a year, including the applicants’ spouses and minor children. Conservatives generally like this program, but after years of charging that immigrants are “taking our jobs,” they’re naturally uncomfortable with the program’s usual name, “employment-based immigration.” So in the past decade they’ve been trying to rebrand it as “merit-based immigration.”

4. This program brings us people who “will contribute to our society and who will love and respect our country.” Republicans are trying to reorient the employment-based visa program towards admitting immigrants with advanced degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. This probably does contribute to our society, but the Republicans’ real interest is the new workers’ ability to benefit U.S. corporations. Recruiting these immigrants gives U.S. companies a technological edge; creates a “brain drain” for the immigrants’ home countries, often U.S. economic rivals like China and South Korea; and compensates for the shortage of qualified U.S.-born workers caused by the failures of our own underfunded education system.

5. Current immigration laws have “deadly loopholes” which allow “criminals to break into our country.” This is a reference to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which George W. Bush signed into law in 2008. The act was intended to protect unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S. border; instead of turning the children back, Border Patrol agents are required to hand them over to Health and Human Services while their asylum claims are considered. Most of these minors are Central Americans fleeing violence in their own countries—violence largely created by the U.S. demand for drugs and U.S. support for rightwing regimes.

There really is a loophole, though—for the Border Patrol. The law excludes “contiguous countries,” giving the agents freedom to ship Mexican kids back across the border to face whatever the drug cartels may have in store for them.

6. The only important immigration issue now is the legal status of immigrants known as “Dreamers.” The main media and political focus has been on the nearly 700,000 younger immigrants currently losing work authorizations and the protection from deportation they had under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but more than 300,000 other immigrants, including Salvadorans and Haitians, are losing protections they had under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. And of course there are another 10 million out-of-status immigrants who never had any protections to lose; at least two-thirds of them have lived here for a decade or more.

7. But of course we can’t give all these people legal status. For much of the twentieth century—through 1986—Congress periodically provided an avenue to legalization for unauthorized immigrants with long-term residence. A 1938 report for the Roosevelt administration explained the reasoning: “It is not in the best interests of the United States that there should be a considerable number of aliens here who have resided in this country for many years and who are otherwise eligible for naturalization and anxious to become citizens, but who are prevented from doing so” because of a lack of status.

Why can’t we apply that logic now? Or was amnesty all right in 1938 because back then the undocumented immigrants were mostly white?

8. Still, we need to be realistic and compromise on immigration. The White House talking points from January 25 laid out a hardline restrictionist agenda as the government’s bargaining position. Why shouldn’t immigrants and their supporters negotiate from an equally firm position? For example, polls show as much as 86 percent of the U.S. population supporting legal status for the Dreamers. Why in the world should we have to compromise on that? (The rest of Trump’s immigration agenda is also generally unpopular.)

9. At least we could compromise on Trump’s wall. There’s a widespread sense that it will do no harm to humor Trump by giving him $25 billion for increased border security. But even the existing border security is far from harmless. It disrupts border communities and causes environmental damage, and its main result has been driving migrants into inhospitable and dangerous terrain. More than 7,209 people have died trying to cross the Mexico-U.S. border in the last twenty years; for comparison, official estimates for deaths at the Berlin Wall from 1961 to 1989 are in the low hundreds.

What we actually need is a rollback of the border security regime, along with an investigation of corruption in the awarding of border security contracts. For example, how did we end up paying Boeing $1 billion for a barely functional 53-mile “virtual fence”?

10. We can count on Democrats to do the right thing for the Dreamers. The first version of the DREAM Act was introduced in 2001, before some of the current Dreamers were born. In 2009 and 2010 the Democrats controlled Congress and the White House. For two years the party leadership refused to put the bill up for a vote; when they finally allowed a roll call, in December 2010, the votes of five Democratic senators killed the legislation. Some Democratic politicians sincerely support immigrant rights; others are just trying to get reelected. We can only count on them when we’ve instilled a fear in their hearts that they may be looking for a new job after November.

11. Still, it’s up to the people in Washington; all we can do is make phone calls. Any progress that’s ever been made in this country has been driven by popular movements. Advances in immigrant rights will only come about when millions of people are backing immigrant activists in their struggles. We need to accompany them to immigration hearings; turn out for protests to defend their rights; report and—if we can do it without endangering others—record abuses by immigration agents; and consider risking arrest to prevent these abuses. We also need to do something seemingly less radical but no less difficult: educate ourselves on the realities of immigration policy and get this knowledge out to others, in personal conversations, through social media, at community meetings, at forums, screenings, and teach-ins—in any milieu where we can be heard.

“Knowledge is power,” according to an old adage. Rightwingers understand this; sometimes they even use the phrase as a motto. That’s why they’re working so hard to keep us in ignorance.

Important Op-Ed: “Trump is going after immigration activists like me. Will you be next?”

Tania Unzueta Carrasco, USA Today
February 7, 2018
The Trump administration is targeting people who speak out and organize against its policies. I know. Members of my organization are being targeted. Members of my family could be next.

I am an immigrant rights organizer with temporary legal status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and I have been tracking how the federal government has been targeting my peers across the country. As I prepare to defend myself and my family against potential prosecution and deportation, I see this increasingly overt retribution as a warning sign that the right to political dissent is under threat for every person in the United States.[…]

Read the full article:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/02/07/trumps-ice-going-after-immigration-activists-like-me-whos-next-tania-unzueta-carrasco-column/1080396001/

Monday, February 5, 2018

Update 2/5/18: Immigration News You May Have Missed

Recent Polls, DACA/TPS Fallout, MS-13 Solution, Border Deaths

Polls show Americans are closer to Democrats than Donald Trump on immigration
Americans want to help DREAMers, don’t want a wall, and don’t want to cut immigration levels.

By Dylan Matthews, Vox
February 5, 2018
…[O]n the big questions, the prevailing public sentiment is reasonably clear: People want relief for DREAMers. They don’t want a border wall. And they want immigration levels kept constant or increased, not lowered. It’s totally in line with public sentiment for Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans in Congress to insist on a deal that helps DREAMers without building a wall or cracking down on immigration.[…]


With DACA in Limbo, Teachers Protected by the Program Gird for the Worst

By Erica L. Green, New York Times
February 1, 2018
Karen Reyes spends her days teaching a group of deaf toddlers at Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten School in Austin, Tex., how to understand a world they cannot hear.[…]

Read the full article:

If Immigrants Are Pushed Out, Who Will Care for the Elderly?

By Paula Span, New York Times
February 2, 2018
[…]But because her helper is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, both women increasingly fear that she’ll be detained and deported. (I’m withholding their names for that reason.)[…]

Read the full article:

Former Gang Members Offer Advice on How to Combat MS-13

By Jonathan Blitzer, New Yorker
January 30, 2018
U.S. authorities often portray MS-13, which started in this country in the nineteen-eighties, as a massive criminal enterprise reminiscent of the Mexican drug cartels. That vastly overstates the gang’s power, but, in some ways, undersells it, too.[…]

Read the full article:

Death on the Border: Trump Border Patrol Crackdown Shines Light On Rising Number Of Migrant Deaths

By Immigration Prof
February 2, 2018
NPR reports that the recent arrest of an activist from the group No More Deaths is highlighting the rising number of people who die crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and the challenges that humanitarian workers confront when they try to help. At least 7,209 people have died while illegally crossing the southwestern border over the past 20 years, according to U.S. Border Patrol data, but an investigation by USA Today finds official statistics underestimate the number of deaths. The number is much higher because, for the most part, federal authorities' casualty count does not include people whose remains are recovered by local authorities.[…]

Read the full post:
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2018/02/death-on-teh-border-trump-border-patrol-crackdown-shines-light-on-rising-number-of-migrant-deaths.html