Thursday, October 8, 2015

Professor Karima Bennoune Appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights


I am pleased to report that the United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed my colleague Professor Karima Bennoune as its Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. In her role as Special Rapporteur, Professor Bennoune will make official visits to countries; observe and report on the promotion and protection of cultural rights at the local, national, regional and international levels; identify possible obstacles to the promotion and protection of cultural rights and make recommendations to the Council on possible actions; and present reports to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.

Professor Bennoune's book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, won the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction. Released in August 2013, the book addresses resistance to fundamentalism in Muslim majority contexts. The field research for this book took Karima to many countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Mali, Niger and Russia.  The TED talk based on the book, “When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism,” has received more than 1.3 million views.


October 8, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Julio Iglesias vs. Donald Trump


Julio Iglesias has called Donald Trump "un payaso," a clown. And then he apologized to clowns for making the comparison.

Iglesias vowed not to perform at any of Trump's casinos in the future.

Trump's response? "Good, I don't like his voice or his performances anymore, anyhow!"


October 8, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hazleton Ordered to Pay Attorneys' Fees to Successful Immigrant Rights Plaintiffs


Photo courtesy of City of Hazleton website

LexisNexis Legal Newsroom:  Immigration Law reports that, after seven years of litigation, the city of Hazleton has been ordered to pay nearly $1.4 million to attorneys who were able to enjoin the city's controversial, tough immigration enforcement ordinance.  U.S. Judge James Munley entered the ruling in the case earlier this week. He awarded about half of the $2.84 million that the attorneys sought for the case, which began in 2006 and reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hazleton must pay $1.38 million in fees and $47,594 in costs. The cost of a court battle was one reason why the American Civil Liberties Union and Latino Justice PRLDEF warned the financially troubled city not to enact the law.  


Here is some background.  In July, 2006, the city of Hazleton passed an immigration enforcement a series of immigration enforcement ordinances that would punish landlords and employers accused of renting to, or hiring, any “illegal alien.” Businesses that violated the laws would be fined or denied business permits.

The ordinances were never implemented as a result of litigation brought by civil rights groups. The federal lawsuit argued that, bin addition to other challenges, the ordinances unconstitutionally usurped the federal government’s exclusive power over immigration.

Hazleton officials blamed many of the town's ills, including crime and economic burdens, on undocumented immigrants. Supporters of the law stated that their goal was to drive "illegal aliens" out of town.

At a two-week trial in March, 2007, the plaintiffs presented evidence showing that Hazleton’s attempt to scapegoat immigrants. District Court Judge James M. Munley ruled the Hazleton ordinances unconstitutional and enjoined their enforcement. The town appealed that decision to the court of appeals, which affirmed the injunction.  After a couple of trips to the Supreme Court, the court of appeals re-affirmed its decision.

Current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was the architect of the Hazleton immigration enforcement laws, as well as a number of other state and local immigration enforcement laws that later were invalidated. The Mayor of Hazleton at the time of the laws' passage, Lou Barletta, championed the laws and now is a member of the U.S. Congress. His congressional website highlights his role in passing the laws.


October 8, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grandparents Denied Custody For Being Undocumented


Olivia and Francisco Perez have a tragic story to share. Their daughter, Samantha, was raped by a family friend when she was 15 years old and became pregnant. Ashamed, scared, and traumatized, she kept her pregnancy a secret and delivered the baby at home, alone, without even her parent's knowing. She was arrested and charged with attempted murder and child abuse, and has already spent 3 years of her five year sentence in prison. Baby Perez was taken into state custody, even though Olivia and Francisco were more than able to care for her. They were told they were denied custody of their granddaughter because they are undocumented.

Tell the Arizona Department of Child Safety to grant the Perez family immediate visitation with their granddaughter! Sign and share the petition.

Yesterday was Samantha's 18th birthday, which she celebrated in prison. Baby Perez turned two last week; no one in her family has seen or heard anything about her wellbeing since she was born.


October 8, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Agape, Grace, and Immigration Law: An Evangelical Perspective by Jennifer Lee Koh


Agape, Grace, and Immigration Law: An Evangelical Perspective by Jennifer Lee Koh, Western State University - College of Law September 26, 2015

Abstract: Although evangelical Christians have become regular participants in public discourse on immigration, the relationship between evangelical Christians and immigration laws remains underexplored. This Essay fills that gap in the literature, and offers a framework for thinking about immigration that also engages with the core faith commitments of evangelical Christianity.

The Essay first describes biblical and socio-political factors leading to the development of two opposing positions on immigration that appear to have emerged amongst evangelical Christians. One position favors the noncitizen, while the other position emphasizes the enforcement of existing immigration laws, leading each side to endorse policy platforms that mirror the division over immigration that exists in society at large. The Essay then describes a fundamental spiritual belief held by evangelical (and other) Christians: the doctrine of God’s saving grace through the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the primacy of agape love. The Essay argues that for evangelical Christians, grace and agape should tip the scales in favor of the immigrant, and offers several principles that might guide a grace-based approach to the immigration laws. Finally, it explores how prioritizing grace and agape could bear upon the treatment of so-called “criminal aliens” under the immigration laws.


October 8, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mellouli Seemingly Staves Off Removal

Lyle Denniston reports on SCOTUSBlog that the U.S. government's efforts to deport Moones Mellouli from the United States appear to have come to an end.  As previously discussed on the ImmigrationProf blog, the U.S. government did not quickly give up in its deportation efforts after the Supreme Court's decision setting aside the removal order based on a convictiom for possession of a sock (characterized as drug paraphernalia) in Mellouli v. Lynch.  It now appears that the case has been settled and that Mellouli, who was removed from the country, can return to the United States.


October 7, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Today's Immigrants the Most Educated in U.S. History

A new Pew Research Center analysis has found that recent immigrants to the United States are the most highly educated in history.   Educational attainment has risen over the past 50 years among U.S. adults overall. But data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 41 percent of immigrants arriving in  the past five years have at least a bachelor’s degree, and that recent immigrants remain more likely to have earned a degree than people born here. 

Educational attainment


October 7, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Book Review: Dream Chasers: Immigration and the American Backlash by John Tirman

Dream chasers

Dream Chasers: Immigration and the American Backlash
by John Tirman, The MIT Press 2015, 230 pages

In eight tight chapters, John Tirman’s Dream Chasers sparks a fresh look at an issue that continues to dominate the airwaves and print media. Anyone struggling to come to grips with immigration reform will gain insight from this thoughtful book, which sheds light on the nuances about immigration that hide behind the headlines.

The title of the book plays on what John Tirman sees as the competing “dreams” of America: immigrant dreams of opportunity and freedom; and the vision of many Americans who demand immigrant linguistic, cultural, and other assimilation. As the contrasting dreams suggest, the book views the immigration debate as part of “an epic culture clash.” : “The rejectionists who are particularly vociferous about the cultural wounds they think illegal immigration visits upon the United States, are the same rejectionists on health-care reform, measures to deal with climate change, financial sector reform, economic stimulus, and so on.”

Ably capturing the national divide over immigration in the modern United States, Dream Chasers demonstrates that the issue goes well beyond law and race. Over the course of eight concise chapters, Tirman, executive director of MIT’s Center for International Studies, summarizes the economic, cultural, legal, and political considerations implicated in the modern debate over immigration.

The book opens by comparing the “Great Migration” (1910 to 1970) of African Americans from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West to today’s “Second Great Migration” of Mexican and Central American immigrants to the United States. A later chapter provides an overview of the history that has shaped outmigration from Mexico and Guatemala. Economic opportunity in the United States (combined with limited avenues for lawful immigration), poverty in their homelands, and violence (especially brutal and widespread for decades in Guatemala) have fueled migration from those countries. In addition, U.S. foreign policy, from political support for anti-communist leaders to the promotion of global capitalism (and the United Fruit Company), played an important role in creating the political, economic, and social circumstances contributing to the pressures for migration from Latin America.

Dream Chasers also looks at Arizona’s toxic political climate surrounding immigration, with the state starting a national trend with its extreme immigration enforcement law known as SB 1070. Tirman views the battle over ethnic studies in the Tucson public schools as a “culture clash …, at root, about the enormous flow of immigrants across the US-Mexico border.” Put simply, the ethnic studies controversy is a minor skirmish in the war over Latino immigration.

Tirman then reviews immigration enforcement through the examination of the U.S. government’s immigration raid of a textile factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts, “a struggling … city of immigrants.” (p. 68). In the raid, federal authorities arrested hundreds of workers—the majority who were women from Guatemala—and created a humanitarian crisis when many of their children who were U.S.-born citizens, returned from school or day care to find homes without a parent. Activists, lawyers, a Catholic Church (Our Lady of Guadalupe), and state and local governments responded to the aftermath of the raid, which was followed with the detention of those arrested out of state where many had no access to lawyers.

After describing the excesses of contemporary immigration enforcement, Dream Chasers considers the possibilities for reform. Chapter 4 offers fresh analysis of the coming of age of the DREAMers, college students brought to this country by their parents, and their creation of a cohesive, independent, and powerful political movement. They became the “poster children ... high school valedictorians, star athletes, and soldiers” for immigration reform, pushing for passage of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. They “make visible the hidden, make appeals for justice, plead that the raids and deportations stop, advocate for plausible solutions.” They have become nothing less than the nation’s immigration conscience. The DREAMers’ political movement helped bring about a major reform measure implemented by President Obama, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012 (as well as its proposed expansion in 2014).

In analyzing the contemporary politics of immigration reform, Tirman observes that “reform has focused resolutely on the racial characteristics of those seeking entry.” Most reform proposals call for increased immigration enforcement (despite record numbers of removals), expanded legal immigration, and a path to legalization (and perhaps citizenship) for undocumented immigrants. The last component of most comprehensive reform proposals—the much-maligned “amnesty”—is the most contested.

Tirman also examines legal terminology (including “alien” and “illegal alien”), and the English language as “cultural weapons” in the immigration debate. He critically analyzes Samuel P. Huntington’s 2004 book Who Are We?, which identifies Hispanic immigration as a cultural threat to the United States and avoids the expressly race-based claims recently voiced by, among others, Ann Coulter and Donald Trump.

The concluding chapter is refreshingly optimistic, mentioning hopeful signs for immigration reform. Immigrants today are a part of popular culture in the United States, featured in music, books, and television shows. Public opinion at times appears to be open to possible reforms sympathetic to immigrants. In fact, some major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City have embraced pro-immigrant policies.  However, as the United States has seen in recent months, major events, such as the controversy last summer over the release of an undocumented immigrant by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office who later allegedly killed a woman, the public at various historical moments supports vigorous immigration enforcement measures.   

Lawyers might want to see more discussion of the law, justice, and fairness in Dream Chasers, all which are important to the debates over immigration reform. Although I might quibble some with parts of the analysis, such as the parallel drawn between Spanish use among Latinos and Ebonics among African Amercans, Tirman generally thoughtfully analyzes in a sober, balanced fashion the contemporary debates over immigration reform.

Review by Kevin R. Johnson

October 7, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

37 maps that explain how America is a nation of immigrants

Flow of Central American Children Headed to U.S. Shifts but Doesn’t Slow



Azam Ahmed of the New York Times reports on recent developments in the flow of migrants north from Central America. 

Last year, thousands of Central American migrants — many of them children — were detained at the border last year. A large number of unaccompanied children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have tried to reach the United States in the past two years.

Fewer Central Americans have been stopped along the southern border with Mexico in the last fiscal year. Some American officials have said this shows the success of tighter border controls and better public information campaigns in the region. In reality, the problem seems to have simply been pushed farther south: Many of the young migrants are now stopped entering Mexico.

The Mexican government detained close to 92,000 Central American migrants from October 2014 to April 2015. During the same period, the United States held 70,448 people from places other than Mexico.


October 7, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Return of the JRAD by Jason A. Cade


Return of the JRAD by Jason A. Cade, University of Georgia Law School, September 30, 2015 New York University Law Review Online, 2015, Forthcoming

Abstract: Ignacio Diaz Aguilar’s felony conviction for document forgery made him a priority for deportation and disqualified him from the possibility of discretionary relief from removal, despite apparently significant equities and mitigating factors. And yet, when Federal District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein sentenced Mr. Aguilar on August 14, 2015, he recommended that the government not deport Mr. Aguilar, even though no legal rules provided him with a route to that result. This essay places Judge Weinstein’s recommendation in a broader context, explaining its importance within the modern deportation regime. Statutory reforms and new agency practices have made criminal history the primary marker of noncitizen undesirability. Even longtime lawful permanent residents with only minor convictions often cannot escape removal or make a case for discretionary relief. As a result, the immigration system, as it works today, is in deep tension with the principle that under a humane system of justice the penalty should fit the crime.

Judge Weinstein’s sentencing order in Aguilar points the way to an important reform that would decrease the likelihood of disproportionate removals in cases that involve noncitizens with a criminal history. A sentencing judge’s decision to recommend against deportation in criminal cases offers immigration authorities an efficient, reliable, and cost-effective means of assessing a noncitizen’s positive and negative equities and determining whether removal is an appropriate part of the total penalty for the noncitizen’s transgression. In short, a sentencing judge’s recommendation against deportation could serve as a disproportionality rule of thumb, tempering and refining the role that criminal history plays in deportation decisions. This essay makes the case that immigration authorities can and should rely on such recommendations -- as well as other forms of relief from all-out criminal punishment (e.g., pardons, expungements, and deferred adjudications) -- as signals that a noncitizen’s encounter with the criminal system presumptively should not lead to deportation. To be sure, in some cases, that presumption should be overcome, particularly when the government can establish the noncitizen’s dangerousness or otherwise demonstrate social undesirability. But deportation should be the exception, not the rule, in cases where the end result of the criminal process involves elimination or mitigation of the underlying criminal conviction.


October 7, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Border Patrol Officer Indicted for Second Degree Murder



Photo courtesy of Alternet

A couple of weeks ago, a Border Patrol agent has, according to the Los Angeles Times, "for the first time been indicted on a murder charge after shooting and killing a Mexican national through the border fence." Here is a summary of the case.

On October 10, 2012, Agent Lonnie Swartz fired at least 10 rounds through the border fence into Nogales, officials said. At least eight rounds struck Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, who bled to death.  The agent claims that the teen was throwing rocks.

A grand jury handed up an indictment of second-degree murder: “Lonnie Ray Swartz, did with malice aforethought, and while armed with a P2000 semiautomatic pistol, kill” Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, the grand jury concluded.

The National Border Patrol Council, a union that represents agents, said it would mount a vigorous defense of Swartz. “It is unfortunate that after three years and after being investigated by multiple local, state and federal agencies and then returned to the field to work, Agent Lonnie Swartz is now facing criminal charges,” the union said in a message posted on its website.

AlterNet offers more details on the case.  The Border Patrol has been subject to criticism (and here, here, here) for its treatment of migrants.  Some claim that too many officers were hired too quickly, and without appropriate screening, as part of the rapid increase of border enforcement over the last twenty years.


Photo Courtesy of Hold CBP Accountable


October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

President Obama on the 50th Anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act


President Obama issued this statement on the 50th anniversary of the Immigration Act of 1965:

"Fifty years ago, at the foot of the Statute of Liberty, President Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The new, bipartisan law ended an unfair quota system, prohibited discrimination based on country of origin, and officially recognized our immigration system's role in reuniting families and attracting skilled workers, all of whom help fuel our economy. The Republicans and Democrats who came together to pass the INA were driven by a desire to expand opportunity for all, and to live up to our heritage as a nation of immigrants. They understood that immigration contributes to our economic growth by allowing hard-working, entrepreneurial individuals from around the world to pursue the American dream.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of this transformational law, we honor the courage of those who fought to make our system better. We celebrate the generations of immigrants who have shaped this country and helped make America great. And we recommit ourselves to fighting for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform legislation that meets the needs of the 21st century, grows the economy for everybody, and lives up to our highest ideals."

Yesterday, the White House held a special naturalization ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Act.

Immigration Anniversary Picture

 Photo Courtesy of White House Blog


October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Beyond Respectability: New Principles for Immigration Reform by Angélica Cházaro



Beyond Respectability: New Principles for Immigration Reform by Angélica Cházaro, University of Washington School of Law September 24, 2015 Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 52, 2015, Forthcoming University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-34

Abstract: Current pro-immigrant reform efforts focus on legalization. Proposals seek to place as many of the eleven million undocumented people in the United States as possible on a “path to earned citizenship.” However, these reform efforts suffer from a significant and underappreciated blind spot: the strategies used to advocate legalization harm those to whom the path to citizenship is barred — such as those with prior deportation orders, prior criminal convictions, and those who have yet to arrive. The problem begins with rhetoric: in making the push for legalization, immigrant rights groups have deployed imagery of the undocumented as law-abiding, hard-working, and family-oriented — the ideal respectable candidates for an invitation into the protected sphere of citizenship. The flaw in this approach is evident in the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013. While the bill would have provided additional safeguards for those who qualify for the path to legalization, it would have simultaneously rendered more vulnerable the millions of immigrants who do not qualify. For that latter group, the bill would have meant further criminalization of employment, increased border enforcement and deaths, and a cemented pipeline between local law enforcement, detention, and deportation.

This Article proposes that the push for legalization is responsible for the legislative bait-and-switch, which appears to fix a broken system by offering legalization to some, but in fact makes the system worse for many. To avoid that result, advocates should avoid prioritizing legalization, and instead address the systemic harms related to the category of “illegality.” Pro-immigrant advocacy and scholarship should be guided by the question, “Will this intervention increase or decrease the harms related to living without lawful status?” Such a strategy would move the focus away from an individual’s eligibility for citizenship and towards issues that confront the most vulnerable among the undocumented. By addressing those most harmed by “illegality,” new opportunities emerge for crafting reforms that dismantle immigrant vulnerability.


October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Interpreter Crisis in Immigration Courts


David Noriega for BuzzFeed reports that "Interpreters across the country are refusing to sign on to a new contract to service U.S. immigration courts, citing what they call unacceptably low pay and poor working conditions." For more on this story, check out this blog post by interpreter Tony Rosado. 

The contract dispute may leave immigration  courts in the hands of less skilled interpreters. That may, in turn, cause significant problems for lawyers and clients alike. As Noriega documents, it's a particular concern for asylum seekers.


October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Open Letter from the International Research Community

We, researchers and educators dedicated to advancing understanding of forced migration, express our concern about the on-going global forced migration crises and the inadequate response to the largest number of displaced people since World War II.

Recognizing and reaffirming every human being’s right to seek asylum, we hereby:

  • call on governments to develop refugee determination processes that are timely, fair and treat every claimant with dignity;
  • call on governments to refrain from violent policies and practices that aim to “deter” people from crossing their borders;
  • call on governments to proactively seek out creative solutions, such as temporary documents, to facilitate transnational family sponsorship and family reunification;
  • call on governments of wealthy countries to substantially increase the number of refugee resettlement spaces;
  • call on refugee-hosting communities and governments to facilitate access to basic social services for asylum seekers and refugees;
  • call on individuals, the private sector and governments to provide more funding to support forced migrants and refugee-hosting areas, particularly in the poorest countries; and,
  • call on local, national and international policy-makers and service providers to base discretionary decision-making on evidence and humanitarian considerations.

CLICK HERE if you are interested in signing on to this letter.


October 5, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fusion Poll: Young people far more liberal on immigrant rights than most GOP presidential candidates

Should Immigration Require Assimilation?


Image from Wikipedia (The Melting Pot)

In Should Immigration Require Assimilation? in The Atlantic,  Tom Gjelten excerpts part of his new book, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story dealing with immigrant assimilation.  He  poses the question as follows:  Every year, unique people—each with their own cultural history—become new citizens of the United States. Must they leave their own heritage behind?

The alleged failure of assimilation of immigrants has often been offered at various times in U.S. history as a rationale for restricting immigration.  Samuel Huntington in his controversial book Who Are We?  The Challenges to America's National Identity (2005)  contends that the large wave of immigration has not fully assimilated into American social life but behaves as a separatist bloc of sorts -- maintaining a separate language, culture, religion, work ethic, etc.  Click here for criticism of that kind of approach to immigration through the lens of Latino Americans.


October 5, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

50 Year Anniversary of the Immigration Act of 1965: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Today is the 50th anniversary of the signing into law of the Immigration Act of 1965 (also known as the Hart-Cellar Act), which often is celebrated as a shining achievement of the civil rights era because of its much-publicized elimination of discriminatory restrictions on immigration from Asia.  But as Professor Jane Hong reminds us in this op/ed in the Los Angeles Times, there also were some adverse impacts on Latino immigrants of the 1965 Act:

"As the standard-bearer against communism seeking to consolidate support in Vietnam, the United States had attracted international criticism of its racist policies that it could ill afford. In a nod to U.S. interests in the decolonizing world, Congress opened the gates to Asians (as well as to Africans and eastern and southern Europeans) more widely, abolishing Asian quotas and the national origins quota-system as a whole in favor of a preference system based on skills and family relationships.

For Latinos, by contrast, Hart-Celler made the U.S. less accessible. Before 1965, immigration from Mexico and other Latin American countries was largely unrestricted. It was Hart-Celler that brought Latino immigration from the Western Hemisphere under numerical limit for the first time."

As I have written  in a chapter in Jack Chin and Rose Villazor's new book on the Immigration Act of 1965, I agree with Professor Hong.  Despite the significant anti-discriminatory improvements to the American immigration laws, the Immigration Act of 1965 also made less well-known changes to the law that are unworthy of celebration. Intentionally discriminatory at their core, the changes in fact are wholly inconsistent with the extension of civil rights to racial minorities in the United States.

Specifically, the 1965 Act added a new, although considerably more sophisticated – and less visible – form of racial discrimination than the national origins quotas system, to the modern American immigration laws. The Western Hemisphere ceilings for the first time in U.S. history capped immigration from Mexico and all of Latin America.  Rather than unintentional, or reluctant, racial discrimination, Congress admitted its discriminatory goals and enthusiastically backed those reforms with an express hope of significantly restricting the number of Latina/o immigrants coming to the United States. The legislative history of the 1965 Act makes it clear that some members of Congress feared that, absent bold new restrictive steps in the Immigration Act of 1965, Latina/o immigrants might well overrun American society.  this might be described as the anti-Latina/o underside of the Immigration Act of 1965.

The truth of the matter is that, despite its decidedly pro-civil rights reputation, the Immigration Act of 1965 represents one of the first major changes to the immigration laws in American history that demonstrates an unmistakable intent to cap immigration from Mexico, as well as all of Latin America, to the United States. In so doing, the law established a sturdy foundation from which the modern American immigration enforcement state has evolved, with its glaringly disparate racial impacts on Latina/os.

Specifically, the Immigration Act of 1965 set the stage for the creation and implementation of a virtually unbroken series of restrictive U.S. immigration laws and enforcement measures directed primarily at Latina/os that remained in place for the last third of the twentieth century. With broad public support, those measures have been expanded dramatically in the early years of the new millennium and have resulted in record numbers of removals of immigrants from the United States – now running in the neighborhood of 400,000 a year, an increase of more than ten-fold in the last twenty years. Not coincidentally in light of the disparate focus and impacts of the modern removal machinery, the new enforcement measures year after year have yielded record numbers of removals of Latina/os.

In the five decades since passage of the 1965 legislation, U.S. immigration law and its enforcement have slowly but surely built on the anti-Latina/o roots of the law. As a result, immigration enforcement has progressively focused – some would contend almost exclusively – on limiting migration from Mexico to the United States. The transformation of immigration law has been so complete that many Americans today -- including Donald Trump and his supporters -- firmly believe that curbing Mexican immigration is what U.S. immigration law and border enforcement should be all about.   Indeed, one might claim that, over the last 50 years, the United States replaced the Chinese exclusion laws of the 1800s with something akin to the Mexican exclusion laws of the twenty-first century.

By re-allocating opportunities for lawful immigration from Latin America to Asia – and diminishing legal discrimination in admissions against Asian immigrants while expanding discrimination against Latina/os, the Immigration Act of 1965 transformed the relative mix of Asian and Latina/o immigrants legally coming to the United States. The Act, on the one hand, contributed to a surge in legal immigration from Asia, which historically had been stunted by discriminatory laws as well as the long travel distances from Asia to the United States. On the other hand, by placing an artificial ceiling on legal migration from Mexico wholly disconnected from the great (and increasingly unsatisfied) demand for immigration, the legislation simultaneously spurred the growth of a large – and consistently expanding – population of Mexican immigrants unauthorized by the U.S. immigration laws from being in, and subject to removal from, the country. These two dominant trends in immigration to the United States in turn contributed to noticeable changes in the racial demographics of American society in the post-1965 period, the public’s view of immigration and the need for enforcement, and ultimately the overall direction of U.S. immigration law and its enforcement.

Changes to the racial composition of the overall population helped to provoke the public’s sporadic outbursts of venom directed at immigrants and frequent demands for reform, as well as heightened enforcement, of the U.S. immigration laws. The new racial demographics of modern immigration also fueled the demands for a variety of changes to the immigration laws that would transform – some observers might contend that the conscious intent was to “whiten” – the racial demographics of the flow of immigrants to the United States. One well-known (and rather blatant) example of such efforts is the “diversity” visa program that Congress added to the immigration laws in 1990, which at its core was designed to facilitate greater migration to the United States from Europe. In the end, those legal maneuvers in combination greatly limited legal immigration from Mexico to the United States.

Click here for a NPR radio report on the unintended consequences of the Immigration ACt of 1965.


October 3, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 2, 2015

From Undocumented to DACAmented: Impacts of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program Three Years Following its Announcement

This report, Caitlin Patler and Jorge A. Cabrera, From Undocumented to DACAmented: Impacts of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program Three Years Following its Announcement (UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2015), explores longer-term impacts of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)  program, which was initiated in August 2012. It assesses the health, well-being, and educational and socioeconomic status of DACA recipients in comparison with undocumented youth who do not have DACA status.

Announced by the Obama administration in June 2012, the DACA program offers eligible undocumented youth and young adults a reprieve from deportation and temporary work authorization.4 An estimated 1.7 million young immigrants are eligible for this program. DACA is administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which began accepting applications in August 2012. DACA requires individuals to re-apply every two years and is revo-cable at any time.

Importantly, DACA is not a formal legal status, nor does it offer a path to permanent residency or citizenship. This study assesses DACA’s impacts on the educational and socioeconomic trajectories and health and wellbeing of young adults in Southern California.

The report compares individuals who received deferred action from deportation and subsequent work authorization through the DACA program with similarly situated undocumented youth who do not have DACA status. In total, we surveyed 502 young adults, including 452 DACA recipients, and 50 undocu-mented youth who had not received DACA. The survey took place two years after DACA’s initiation, with the goal of exploring the longer-term impacts of the program.

Findings from this study indicate that DACA recipients have experienced some educational and economic gains. However, they still tend to work in low-paying jobs, and report difficulty paying bills and accessing health insurance. In addition, both DACA recipients and non-recipients report increased worry about the deportation of undocumented family members. Our findings suggest that existing policies related to health, education, employment, and immigration may not go far enough in meeting the needs of immigrant youth.



October 2, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)