Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Irregular Maritime Migration in the Bay of Bengal: The Challenges of Protection, Management, and Cooperation


Map image courtesy of Wikipedia

As a vast region with myriad islands, peninsulas, and ancient sea routes, Asia has a lengthy tradition with maritime migration. But this migration has become increasingly complex as refugees and irregular migrants move around the Asia-Pacific region by sea, challenging governments to control their borders, regulate immigration, and fulfill their obligations under international law.

In Irregular Maritime Migration in the Bay of Bengal Region: The Challenges of Protection, Management and Cooperation, Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Senior Fellow Kathleen Newland looks at the emerging trends in irregular migration in the Bay of Bengal area, which experienced crisis earlier this year as mixed flows of humanitarian and economic migrants, largely from Myanmar and Bangladesh, faced critical dangers at sea. Denied permission to land, in some cases pushed back out to sea, an unknown number—believed to be upwards of 1,000—have died of starvation, dehydration, or violence aboard the boats since 2014.

The brief explores how the countries of the region can cooperate to enhance migration management and protection of these migrants. In particular, it notes that most members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are party to international law on transnational crime and international maritime law, which may suggest a pathway to stronger regional cooperation on migration at sea, focused around the twin priorities of saving lives and countering smuggling.

This issue in brief is the thirteenth in a series by the Migration Policy Institute and the International Organization for Migration’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. The series offers succinct insights on migration issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region today. We invite you to read earlier briefs in the series here.


July 29, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Language Rights as a Legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Ming Hsu Chen


Language Rights as a Legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Ming Hsu Chen, University of Colorado Law School; University of Colorado, Boulder - Political Science November 25, 2014 Southern Methodist University Law Review, Vol. 67, p. 247, 2014

Abstract: The fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers an important opportunity to reflect on an earlier moment when civil rights evolved to accommodate new waves of immigration. This essay seeks to explain how civil rights laws evolved to include rights for immigrants and non-English speakers. More specifically, it seeks to explain how policy entrepreneurs in agencies read an affirmative right to language access.


July 29, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

State Department 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report





The U.S. Department of State has released the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report.

"This year’s Report places a special emphasis on human trafficking in the global marketplace. It highlights the hidden risks that workers may encounter when seeking employment and the steps that governments and businesses can take to prevent trafficking, including a demand for transparency in global supply chains.

"The bottom line is that this is no time for complacency. Right now, across the globe, victims of human trafficking are daring to imagine the possibility of escape, the chance for a life without fear, and the opportunity to earn a living wage."      –  John F. Kerry, Secretary of State

The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue. It represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it. The U.S. Government uses the TIP Report to engage foreign governments in dialogues to advance anti-trafficking reforms and to combat trafficking and to target resources on prevention, protection and prosecution programs. Worldwide, the report is used by international organizations, foreign governments, and nongovernmental organizations alike as a tool to examine where resources are most needed. Freeing victims, preventing trafficking, and bringing traffickers to justice are the ultimate goals of the report and of the U.S Government's anti-human trafficking policy.

In the TIP Report, the Department of State places each country onto one of three tiers based on the extent of their governments’ efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” found in Section 108 of the TVPA. While Tier 1 is the highest ranking, it does not mean that a country has no human trafficking problem. On the contrary, a Tier 1 ranking indicates that a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, made efforts to address the problem, and complies with the TVPA’s minimum standards. Each year, governments need to demonstrate appreciable progress in combating trafficking to maintain a Tier 1 ranking.

Here are a few of the victims' stories recounted in the Report:


Tanya was only 11 years old when her mother traded her to a drug dealer for sex, in exchange for heroin. Both Tanya’s mother and the drug dealer have been indicted on multiple charges, including sex trafficking. In addition, the drug dealer was accused of rape as well as videotaping his sex crimes. At the end of the school year, after four months of such abuse and being forced to take heroin, Tanya went to live with her father and stepmother and confided in them about what had happened. Both her mother and the drug dealer face the possibility of life in prison if convicted on all counts.


At 13 years old, Effia moved to the United States with family friends, excited to learn English and go to school—something her parents in Ghana could not afford. When she arrived, these so-called friends forbade her from attending school and forced her to clean, cook, and watch their children for up to 18 hours a day. The father physically and sexually abused her. Effia received no payment and could not use the telephone or go outside. Six years later, after a particularly severe beating, she escaped the house and a neighbor called the police. With help from an NGO, Effia is finally in school and plans to become a nurse.


Over a period of several years, five Ukrainian brothers fraudulently promised 70 Ukrainians well-paying janitorial jobs at retail stores in the United States. They further lured the workers with promises to pay for their room and board and all their travel expenses. Once the workers arrived in the United States, however, the traffickers exacted reimbursement for $10,000-$50,000 in travel debts, making them work 10 to 12 hours per day, seven days a week to repay the debt, almost never providing compensation. The brothers abused the workers physically, psychologically, and sexually, and threatened to hurt the workers’ families if they disobeyed. The brothers brought many of the workers into the United States illegally through Mexico. Over time, several new recruits were detained at the border and other victims bravely came forward, exposing the trafficking ring. Four of the brothers were convicted on charges of human trafficking; one remains a fugitive and is thought to be in Ukraine.


The report offers reports on trafficking in various countries.  Here is the discussion of Thailand

Thailand is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. There are an estimated three to four million migrant workers in Thailand, most from Thailand’s neighboring countries—Burma, Laos, and Cambodia. In addition to Thai victims of trafficking, some of these migrant workers are also believed to be forced, coerced, or defrauded into labor or sex trafficking. There are reports that some of those labor trafficking victims are exploited in commercial fishing, fishing-related industries, factories, and domestic work. Some migrant workers who are trafficking victims are deported without proper screening due to inconsistencies in the victim identification process. Some victims are forced into street begging. Sex trafficking remains a significant problem in Thailand’s extensive sex trade—often in business establishments that cater to demand for commercial sex.

CNN reports on the trafficking report.


July 28, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Federal Court Finds California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Violated Title VII

Last week, a federal court in San Francisco ruled that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) and the California State Personnel Board (“SPB”) violated federal civil rights law by denying employment to Victor Guerrero, now a naturalized U.S. citizen, because he had used an invalid Social Security number (“SSN”) to work while undocumented. Mr. Guerrero, a 15-year resident of Stockton, California, had applied to work as a correctional officer for CDCR in 2011 and 2013. Both times he was disqualified from the job for the same reason – truthfully disclosing during the application process prior use of an invalid SSN.

In a detailed 33-page ruling, U.S. District Judge William Alsup stated, “There is no indication in the record that Guerrero’s misuse of an SSN under his circumstances ‘pose[d] an unacceptable level of risk’ for CDCR.” The Court “d[id] not find anything in the record that would indicate that Guerrero embodied an unqualified or even a less qualified -- applicant.” As a result, the Court concluded that “CDCR’s effectively single-issue withhold based on [SSN misuse] amounted to an “arbitrary . . . barrier to employment” in violation of Title VII.”

“At my naturalization ceremony, I was told about the privileges I now had as a U.S. citizen,” said Mr. Guerrero. “And the privilege that was most important to me was the right to apply for any job in the United States. I’m very happy that, after coming here as a child and finally becoming a U.S. citizen, my American dream has finally come true.”

Mr. Guerrero was brought to the United States by his parents at the age of 11. When he turned 15, his parents arranged from him to obtain an invalid SSN in order to work and help support the family. Approximately two years later, Mr. Guerrero’s mother informed him that he was in fact undocumented and that the SSN he was using had been invented. Mr. Guerrero immediately applied to the IRS for and received an individual taxpayer identification number (“ITIN”) in order to legally file his taxes, but continued to use the invented SSN in order to support his family until 2007, when he was able to become a lawful permanent resident.

After finally earning his U.S. citizenship in 2011, Mr. Guerrero applied to be a correctional officer -- which was a dream that he had since he was very young. Growing up in a dangerous neighborhood, he wanted to contribute to society by working in law enforcement. But when Mr. Guerrero applied, CDCR told him both time that his use of an invalid SSN in order to work showed that he “fail[ed] to possess the qualifications of [integrity, honesty, and good judgment],” and that his use of a Social Security number “even though he had a taxpayer ID number show[e]d a willful disregard for the law.”

On Tuesday, Judge Alsup determined that CDCR and SPB’s decision to reject Mr. Guerrero (1) had a discriminatory impact on Latinos, who represent over 80 percent of the undocumented population in California, and (2) was not justified by any business necessity.  Specifically, Judge Alsup stated that “CDCR did not undertake an individualized assessment of Guerrero’s case and history in determining his honesty, integrity and good judgment.” The Court also pointed to CDCR’s failure to provide any evidence that prior use of an invalid SSN to work served as a reliable indicator of future job performance. Moreover, the court explicitly acknowledged the difficult position undocumented immigrants often face in the United States. Judge Alsup noted that Mr. Guerrero’s efforts to pay his taxes with an ITIN while undocumented were “commendable,” that he “had little choice but to continue using the invalid SSN as an adult” after he had been given it as a child, and that “[t]he alternative would have been to either stop working or resort to illegal commerce to support his family.”

“This decision is critical for any immigrant who was once undocumented or who is undocumented now and seeks to adjust his or her immigration status in the future. In this case, the Court held that a person’s prior use of an invalid SSN in order to work should not be used as a reason to not hire them,” said Marsha Chien, a staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society - Employment Law Center, which represented Mr. Guerrero. “Once immigrants adjust their status, they should be allowed to fully pursue any career, as well as participate in and contribute to American society.”

For the Law 360 story on this case, click here. And here is the ruling.  Download Guerrero v California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

July 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Incarcerated Children and Mothers Denied Due Process

Today, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to account for the cascade of due process violations and detrimental practices at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, and at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas.

The four organizations jointly provide legal services to mothers and children detained in Dilley and Karnes, Texas, through the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, and over the past weeks CARA staff and volunteers have witnessed ICE officials coercing women into accepting ankle monitors, denying access to legal counsel and impeding pro bono representation, along with mass disorganization and confusion in implementing the new release policy for mothers who fled violence and who are pursuing protection in the United States. The need to resolve these issues is all the more crucial given last week’s court order in the Flores case, which should mean that the remaining families will be released. The federal judge found that the government’s family detention practices violate the Flores settlement, which ensures that children are treated properly.

The concerns detailed in the letter include:

  • Coercive      tactics ICE officials use to persuade women to accept ankle monitors,      including meetings held in the courtrooms, where they are denied access to      counsel despite requests, and where they are told they must accept ankle      monitors in order to be released, despite an immigration judge granting      them bond.
  • Mothers at      Dilley have been intimidated as a result of speaking with counsel about      their ankle monitors. One terrified CARA client reported that officials      went room-to-room on the night of July 23 wanting to know the names of the      mothers who told CARA about the problems with the ankle monitors. These      officials emphasized that they wanted the mothers’ names. The client      reported that angry officials told the mothers that lawyers have nothing      to do with this matter.
  •  Volunteers at the San Antonio      bus station have found many families do not understand the terms of their      release, and even where they have been handed important documents, they      are in English so Spanish or indigenous language speakers do not      understand the content.  Mothers who have been shackled with an ankle      monitor have no idea how or when to charge the device and their deportation      officers refused to explain or answer questions before release.
  • Conflicting      information from ICE causing families to buy and then cancel plane or bus      tickets when releases are delayed, causing additional financial and      emotional strain on the families.

CARA has pled with ICE to be allowed to help prepare the mothers to understand their rights and obligations upon release through pre-release orientations, meaning a daily briefing to explain the women’s rights, any reporting obligations, the importance of appearing for all scheduled court appearances, how to file an asylum application in advance of the one-year filing deadline, and how to connect with pro bono attorneys in their cities of destination. Although those requests were initially received with enthusiasm, nothing has yet been implemented despite numerous attempts by advocates to set up these critically important orientations.

The letter details recommendations that would ameliorate these concerns, but CARA urges the government to end family detention entirely, particularly given the recent decision castigating the federal government for the egregious violations of the Flores settlement agreement pertaining to children. The chaos that currently surrounds the release of women and children from Dilley is just the latest example of why we must #EndFamilyDetention.


July 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates? Immigrant Amor in the Air

Oswaldo diaz

Christine Armaio of the Associated Press reports on an interesting twist to immigrant love.   On weekday evenings, immigrants from Latin America and living in Los Angeles and throughout the United States listen to Oswaldo Diaz's show and get an inside look at the love lives of immigrants. Diaz fields calls from lovesick listeners wondering if wives left behind in Mexico, deported husbands, and love interests remain faithful despite the separation. He calls their unsuspecting partners pretending to be from a company offering to send a free heart-shaped box of chocolates to "someone special" on their behalf. Do they send it to their significant other or someone else? 

Diaz's show is broadcast by Entravision and reaches over 2 million people nationwide. "El Show de Erazno y la Chokolata" features many of the staples of a "Sabado Gigante" type variety show.  Diaz's segment on love called "El Chokolatazo" or "The Big Chocolate" is the most popular.  "In more than 10 years of doing the show, Diaz has witnessed marriage proposals, heartwarming reconciliations and a fair share of scornful breakups."


July 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Sea Slaves": Forced Labor


Ian Urbina has the third installment of the "Outlaw Ocean" series.   "‘Sea Slaves’: Forced Labor" reports on men who have fled servitude on fishing boats who recount beatings and worse as nets are cast for the catch that will become pet food and livestock feed.  Here is one telling passage:

"Labor abuse at sea can be so severe that the boys and men who are its victims might as well be captives from a bygone era. In interviews, those who fled recounted horrific violence: the sick cast overboard, the defiant beheaded, the insubordinate sealed for days below deck in a dark, fetid fishing hold."

UPDATE (July 28): Ship captains can flout laws with impunity -- enslaving, murdering, and intentionally dumping oil, while raking the oceans clean of fish -- because there are no police on the high seas. But what if a vigilante group set out to prove that it could hunt, catch and bring to justice a ship at the top of Interpol's Most Wanted list? 

The answer: the longest sea chase in history, spanning 10,000 miles, across cyclone storms, ship rammings, violent clashes, and deadly building-sized icebergs. And then one of the ships sunk. 

This is the fourth installment of The Outlaw Ocean. Reported from the vigilante ship during the pursuit in the South Atlantic, the story shows how laws are tough to enforce on the high seas -- and, yet, why it's essential that we try.


July 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article of the Day: Setting the Stage for Ferguson: Housing Discrimination and Segregation in St. Louis by Rigel Christine Oliveri


Setting the Stage for Ferguson: Housing Discrimination and Segregation in St. Louis by Rigel Christine Oliveri University of Missouri School of Law July 20, 2015 Missouri Law Review, Forthcoming University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-13

Abstract: The events of fall 2014 in Ferguson, MO (the shooting death of Michael Brown by a white police officer and the subsequent protests and riots), have been examined from many angles – the policing of minority communities, the militarized police response to peaceful protests, the poor schools and job prospects for young people like Mr. Brown, etc… This paper adds another factor to the analysis: housing discrimination.

St. Louis is one of the most segregated places in the country and this is not an accident. The history of St. Louis is replete with discriminatory housing laws, policies, and practices. While these were common throughout the United States, they were particularly egregious, widespread, and pervasive in industrial mid-western cities like St. Louis. St. Louis, in fact, was where three of fair housing law’s most foundational fair housing cases emerged from: Shelly v. Kraemer, which held that racially restrictive covenants could not be enforced by courts; Jones v. Mayer, which held that private acts of race discrimination in housing were prohibited by the Civil Rights Act; and United States v. City of Black Jack, which recognized the use of disparate impact theory in fair housing cases. When we look closely at these cases – not just the legal principles that they established but the physical, racial geography of the homes, neighborhoods, and cities that were contested – we can see how they reflected the racist forces that shaped the reality of modern metropolitan St. Louis.

This paper traces the history of housing discrimination in the St. Louis metro area using these cases as a framework, concluding with a discussion of how these historical forces resonate in contemporary Ferguson. The paper concludes with suggestions for reforms that might help undo what a century’s worth of officially sanctioned discrimination and segregation have wrought.


July 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Judge says detained immigrant children, parents should be released


Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Cindy Carcamo of the Los Angeles Times reports that a federal judge has ruled that hundreds of immigrant women and children held in holding facilities should be released, finding their detention “deplorable” and in violation of an earlier court settlement and order.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said federal authorities had violated provisions of a settlement agreement that restricted the detention of migrant children.

The ruling, released on Friday, leaves questions about what the U.S. will do with the large number of children and parents who crossed the border from Latin America last year.

The Obama administration is detaining an estimated 1,700 parents and children at three detention facilities, two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania.

UPDATE (July 31):  Will and should the Obama administration appeal Judge Gee's ruling?  Now that Judge Gee has held that the family detention policy violates the Flores settlement, some are saying that the United States should not appeal. Click here and here for the arguments against an appeal.


July 26, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study Estimates the Impact of New Priority Enforcement Policies on Deportation Numbers


Immigration Impact reports on a Migration Policy Institute study on the potential impacts to the successor to the much-criticized Secure Communities program, which allowed for the removal of many long term residents who had been arrested -- not even convicted -- of minor crimes.  Remember the "tamale lady" in Sacramento, the undocumented woman arrested for trespassing in front of a Wal-Mart as she sold homemade tamales to support her U.S. citizen children.

While much of the attention to the Obama administration's announcement of executive actions on immigration in November 2014 has focused on key deferred action programs, two changes that have not faced legal challenge are in the process of being implemented and may substantially affect the U.S. immigration enforcement system. These changes include the adoption by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of new policy guidance on which categories of unauthorized immigrants and other potentially removable noncitizens are priorities for enforcement, and the replacement of the controversial Secure Communities information-sharing program with a new, more tailored Priority Enforcement Program (PEP)

The new policy guidance, which builds on previous memoranda published by the Obama administration in 2010 and 2011, further targets enforcement to noncitizens who have been convicted of serious crimes, are threats to public safety, are recent illegal entrants, or have violated recent deportation orders. MPI estimates that about 13 percent of unauthorized immigrants in the United States would be considered enforcement priorities under these policies, compared to 27 percent under the 2010-11 enforcement guidelines. The net effect of this new guidance will likely be a reduction in deportations from within the interior of the United States as DHS detention and deportation resources are increasingly allocated to more explicitly defined priorities.


The Migration Policy Institute released a new report that examines the potential impact of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new policy guidance for immigration enforcement, which attempts to focus immigration enforcement more specifically on certain categories of individuals while, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, “deprioritizing those undocumented who have been here for years, committed no serious crimes, and have in effect become integrated members of society.

Based on analyses of DHS administrative data, MPI estimates that the new enforcement priorities will result in a reduction of interior removals of 25,000 cases yearly—assuming strict adherence in the implementation of the guidance. This new policy guidance constitutes an attempt to redefine the allocation of detention and deportation resources so that the enforcement focus is especially placed on individuals who have committed serious crimes, are threats to public safety, are recent unauthorized entrants, or have recent deportation orders.

- See more at:

The Migration Policy Institute released a new report that examines the potential impact of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new policy guidance for immigration enforcement, which attempts to focus immigration enforcement more specifically on certain categories of individuals while, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, “deprioritizing those undocumented who have been here for years, committed no serious crimes, and have in effect become integrated members of society.

Based on analyses of DHS administrative data, MPI estimates that the new enforcement priorities will result in a reduction of interior removals of 25,000 cases yearly—assuming strict adherence in the implementation of the guidance. This new policy guidance constitutes an attempt to redefine the allocation of detention and deportation resources so that the enforcement focus is especially placed on individuals who have committed serious crimes, are threats to public safety, are recent unauthorized entrants, or have recent deportation orders.

According to MPI’s estimates, about 9.6 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. do not meet the new enforcement priorities and, therefore, should not be removed. This is hardly surprising since, as previous studies have shown, immigrants are less likely than the native-born to commit serious crimes and a significant portion of the unauthorized population has lived in the country for a relatively long period of time and has strong ties to the U.S.

- See more at:

July 26, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dayton Police Chief: Communities are safer when law enforcement roles are clear


In this piece in The Hill, Dayton, Ohio police chief Richard Biehl explains some policing basics about state and local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities:

"Relying on state and local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration enforcement responsibilities is highly problematic. Having state and local law enforcement take on the work of federal immigration officials undermines community policing and is counterproductive. When state and local law enforcement are entangled in these functions, immigrant communities view them with increased suspicion.

More often than not, these immigrant groups are then reluctant to report crimes committed against them or their neighbors, fearing that such reports will result in deportation after their immigration status — or the immigration status of friends and family members — is revealed. This fear has true costs, allowing dangerous criminals and criminal organizations to prey on immigrant communities, as well as the community at large. As a Chief of Police, my number one priority is to ensure community safety and security. Accordingly, in order to serve the greater community, all members of a community must feel free to call for police services without fear of undue repercussions. This improves community policing and safety for everyone.

The Dayton Police Department has adopted three key policy revisions since 2008 to support community policing and better serve growing immigrant communities, including (1) refining our enforcement strategies that involve federal immigration personnel, (2) setting out department-wide guidelines for interacting with immigrant witnesses and victims, and (3) publicizing existing federal laws that offer protection to cooperative victims and witnesses. These changes have allowed the Department to focus on what is important, both in terms of building community partnerships and prioritizing and focusing enforcement resources. They also have produced concrete results, coinciding with significant reductions in crime in Dayton.

Sanctuary policies and practices are not designed to harbor criminals. On the contrary, they exist to support community policing, ensuring that the community at large — including immigrant communities — trusts state and local law enforcement and feels secure in reporting criminal conduct. Cooperation with federal immigration enforcement officials still can exist, but state and local law enforcement should carefully tailor policies to ensure that community policing is not undermined. What everyone wants is a safe community."

As Biehl makes clear, Dayton is committed to effective community policing that requires the cooperation and assistance of immigrants.  While some might call it a sanctuary city, Dayton sees its policies called for by prudent law enforcement principles.

Chief Biehl testified before a congressional committee this week on "sanctuary cities" and against legislation that would strip them of certain federal funding.  Here is his testimony.  Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones expressed different views.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream 


July 25, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Immigration Article of the Day: Foreign and Native Skilled Workers: What Can We Learn from H-1B Lotteries? by Giovanni Peri, et al.


Foreign and Native Skilled Workers: What Can We Learn from H-1B Lotteries? by Giovanni Peri, et al. National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Paper No. 21175. May 2015

Abstract:  In April of 2007 and 2008, the U.S. randomly allocated 65,000 H-1B temporary work permits to foreign-born skilled workers. About 88,000 requests for computer-related H-1B permits were declined in each of those two years. This paper exploits random H-1B variation across U.S. cities to analyze how these supply shocks affected labor market outcomes for computer-related workers. We find that negative H-1B supply shocks are robustly associated with declines in foreign-born computer-related employment, while native-born computer employment either falls or remains constant. Most of the correlation between H-1B supply shocks and foreign employment is due to rationing that varies with a city's initial dependence upon H-1B workers. Variation in random, lottery-driven, unexpected shocks is too small to identify significant effects on foreign employment in the full sample of cities. However, we do find that random rationing affects foreign employment in cities that are highly dependent upon the H-1B program. Altogether, the results support the existence of complementarities between native and foreign-born H-1B computer workers.


July 24, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

House Passes Anti-Sanctuary Bill

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to punish “sanctuary cities.”  The 241-to-179 vote, which was backed by Republican leaders and fell largely along party lines, is a response to the July 1 killing of a California woman. The shooting of Kathryn Steinle on a San Francisco pier, allegedly at the hands of an undocumented immigrant who was released from local police custody, has sparked a national debate.

Under the legislation, cities that do not comply fully with federal immigration authorities would be ineligible for various Justice Department law enforcement grants.

It has been reported that the legislation already faces a White House veto threat. The White House said the bill “fails to offer” comprehensive reforms and undermines current efforts to remove dangerous convicted criminals and work with local law enforcement.



July 24, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Run for the Border! Donald Trump Vists the US/Mexico Border


Donald Trump is in the news again.   Trump spent the day yesterday touring the U.S./Mexico border. "There is a huge problem with the illegals coming through," Trump said during his visit, repeating his pledge to build a wall on parts of the too-leaky border. "In certain sections, you have to have a wall," Trump said.

The Republican candidate met with local law enforcement officials, with one notable exception: A union of border patrol agents says its members would not accompany him, because, they said, the event had become too politicized. "Just to be clear, an endorsement was never discussed for any presidential candidate," said a statement from Hector Garza, president of Local 2455 of the National Border Patrol Council. "Local 2455 does not endorse candidates for any political office." Trump said border agents extended the invitation. Trump accused the agents' superiors in Washington, D.C., of silencing them just ahead of the visit, and said that agents "want to be able to do their jobs."


July 24, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Legislative Attacks on Sanctuary Cities are Misguided

From the Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Ahead of Congressional movement and debate regarding federal legislation that could penalize cities and local law enforcement agencies for declining to collaborate with federal immigration authorities, immigration law experts at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) in San Francisco warn against rushing to enact policies that could further isolate and marginalize immigrant communities.

Angie Junck, Supervising Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, made the following statement:

“The tragic shooting incident in San Francisco earlier this month has quickly become an unreasonable justification for reactionary and punitive policies under debate in Congress. Communities that have pushed back against mass deportation and enacted policies that uphold the rights of immigrants should not be vilified." Read more here.


July 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Dr. Dan-el Padilla Peralta

Today's immigrant of the day is Dr. Dan-el Padilla Peralta.  As explained in this NY Times article, Dr. Padilla came to the United States from the Dominican Republic when he was 4 years old and lived as an undocumented immigrant while growing up.  He is currently a post-doc fellow at Columbia University and will be an assistant professor of classics at Princeton University next year.

Dr. Padilla

(Photo credit: Damon Winter, NY Times).

Dr. Padilla chronicles his life story in this book, Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League (Penguin Press 2015).


July 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Migration Policy Institute: Revisions to DHS Immigration Enforcement Priorities Could Place Greater Focus on Serious Criminals, Public-Safety Risks & Recent Illegal Entrants

Changes to the immigration enforcement system ordered by President Obama could, if strictly implemented, offer a degree of protection from deportation to 87 percent of the nation’s estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants, up from about 73 percent under earlier guidelines, according to a Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis released today.

The new policy guidance on immigration enforcement priorities and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion updates 2010-2011 enforcement priorities. The changes and the replacement of the controversial Secure Communities program with the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), both lesser-noticed components of wide-ranging executive actions announced by the president in November 2014, are the focus of the MPI report.

The move to aim immigration enforcement even more sharply at unauthorized immigrants and other deportable noncitizens who have been convicted of serious crimes, are threats to public safety, are recent illegal entrants or who have violated recent deportation orders could reduce deportations from the interior of the United States by about 25,000 cases annually, MPI estimates.

The findings are contained in the report, Understanding the Potential Impact of Executive Action on Immigration Enforcement. It assesses Department of Homeland Security (DHS) removals from fiscal 2003-13 by enforcement priority category to determine how 2014 policy guidance issued by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson may affect deportations within the U.S. interior. While the new policy guidance is likely to have a significant effect on interior removals, the report notes that deportations at the U.S.-Mexico border are not likely to decline, and may even increase.

The report estimates that about 1.4 million unauthorized immigrants have criminal convictions or immigration histories that would make them enforcement priorities under the new policies. This number is down from 3 million considered enforcement priorities under the 2010-2011 guidelines issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the DHS agency responsible for interior enforcement. Both estimates have a 10 percent margin of error.

“While much of the attention to the president’s executive action announcement has focused on the deferred action programs, which MPI has estimated could grant relief from deportation to as many as 5.2 million unauthorized immigrants, implementation of the new enforcement priorities is likely to affect about 9.6 million people,” said report author Marc Rosenblum, who is deputy director of MPI’s U.S. immigration policy program.

Much will turn on how the new policies are implemented by ICE, the report notes. “The effects of the new policy guidance on deportations will depend to a large degree on implementation of the replacement to the Secure Communities program, which has drawn significant opposition from local communities and law enforcement officials across the United States,” said MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, who directs the U.S. immigration policy program.

More than 360 jurisdictions across the United States, which MPI estimates are home to slightly more than half (53 percent) of the U.S. unauthorized population, have limited or barred the cooperation of their police departments with aspects of Secure Communities, an information-sharing program that uses fingerprint data to check the immigration status of arrestees. Amid criticism that the program undermines police-community relations and has resulted in the deportations of large numbers of non-criminals and minor offenders, the jurisdictions have placed limits on holding potentially removable arrestees for pickup by ICE.

The report analyzes how the PEP program — in replacing Secure Communities — holds the potential to mend the growing rift in federal-local relations over immigration enforcement. PEP limits the use of ICE immigration detainers to those who have been convicted of a serious crime or are a public-safety risk (as opposed to anyone encountered in the criminal justice system).

“PEP appears designed to retain the public safety goals of Secure Communities, which was responsible for nearly three-quarters of all interior removals in fiscal 2014, while addressing many of the concerns raised by the program’s critics,” Rosenblum said.

The disconnect between local and federal law enforcement over Secure Communities was highlighted by a recent tragedy in San Francisco, when a young woman was fatally shot by an unauthorized immigrant who had been on track for mandatory deportation until the city claimed him from federal custody for a possible prosecution on local drug charges and then released him.

The report can be downloaded here.

In an op/ed published in the Sacramento Bee today, ImmigrationProf bloggers Rose Villazor and me make similar policy arguments as alternatives to counterproductive measures like "Kate's Law," which would increase the term of imprisonment for noncitizens who illegally renter the country.


July 23, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

White House: 2015 Beating the Odds Summit


The First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome more than 130 college-bound students from across the country to participate in the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit. These students are being sponsored by 70 non-profit organizations, and represent a mix of urban, rural, foster, homeless, special needs, and under-represented youth who have overcome substantial obstacles to persist through high school and make it to college. The event will focus on sharing tools and strategies students can use to successfully transition to college and the resources they will need to  complete the next level of their education.

 Today at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, tune in to watch the summit live at And be sure to join the conversation online using the hashtag #ReachHigher.

At the summit, First Lady Michelle Obama will host more than 130 college-bound students from across America. These students come from all walks of life -- urban, rural, foster homes, homeless, special needs, and other underrepresented areas.

But they all have one thing in common: They've all overcome substantial challenges and obstacles to get through high school and make it to college.

For every student who's made it onto a college campus, though, there are far too many others who just don't have the support and the tools they need to get to the next level.

As the First Lady said earlier this year, "We simply cannot afford to lose out on the potential of even one young person. We cannot allow even one more young person to fall through the cracks."

So let's do everything we can to prevent more kids from falling through the cracks. All too often, you hear the phrase, "Where there's a will, there's a way." Let's do everything we can to make that "way" possible for more kids across our country.


July 23, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Texas A & M School of Law Seeking Applicants for Immigration Clinic and Other Faculty Positions


Texas A & M School of Law is seeking applicants for a number of faculty positions and is specifically soliciting applicants interested in developing an immigration clinic.  For details, see  Download Texas a&m


July 23, 2015 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pew Research Center: Unauthorized immigrant population stable for half a decade

Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn of the Pew Research Center released a report this week estimating that 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the United States. in 2014. This population has remained essentially stable for five years after nearly two decades of changes.



The recent overall stability contrasts with past trends. The unauthorized immigrant population had risen rapidly during the 1990s and early 2000s, from an estimated 3.5 million in 1990 to a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. It then dropped sharply during the Great Recession of 2007-09, mainly because of a decrease in immigration from Mexico.

The overall estimate has fluctuated little in recent years because the number of new unauthorized immigrants is roughly equal to the number who are deported, leave the U.S. on their own, convert to legal status, or (in a small number of cases) die, according to the Pew Research analysis. The new unauthorized immigrant total includes people who cross the border illegally as well as those who arrive with legal visas and remain in the U.S. after their visas expire.


July 23, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)