Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Trouble at a High-Desert Immigration Lockup


Adelanto ICE Processing Center

Paloma Esquivel for the Los Angeles Times reports that, in the high desert 85 miles northeast of L.A., the Adelanto Detention Facility can house nearly 2,000 men and women — asylum seekers, people caught in immigration sweeps and those identified by authorities as potentially removable.  "Officials say more than 73,000 detainees have passed through the privately operated facility since opening in 2011. But complaints there have grown particularly loud this year after five reported suicide attempts since December and three deaths since March. Some detainees have gone on hunger strikes to protest the conditions."


August 8, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chicago Sues Over Sanctuary City Threat; Sessions Fires Back

330px-Rahm_Emanuel _official_photo_portrait_color Jeff_Sessions _official_portrait

AP reports on an exciting immigration battle.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken his fight against President Donald Trump's immigration policies to court, suing  over what many U.S. cities argue are unlawful threats to withhold public safety grants from so-called sanctuary citiesHere is the complaint in the case, with a number of high powered law firms on the pleadings.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded saying the Trump administration "will not simply give away grant dollars to city governments that proudly violate the rule of law and protect criminal aliens at the expense of public safety."  Sessions issued the following statement on the city of Chicago’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice:

 “No amount of federal taxpayer dollars will help a city that refuses to help its own residents.


“This administration is committed to the rule of law and to enforcing the laws established by Congress. To a degree perhaps unsurpassed by any other jurisdiction, the political leadership of Chicago has chosen deliberately and intentionally to adopt a policy that obstructs this country’s lawful immigration system. They have demonstrated an open hostility to enforcing laws designed to protect law enforcement — Federal, state, and local — and reduce crime, and instead have adopted an official policy of protecting criminal aliens who prey on their own residents. This is astounding given the unprecedented violent crime surge in Chicago, with the number of murders in 2016 surpassing both New York and Los Angeles combined. The city’s leaders cannot follow some laws and ignore others and reasonably expect this horrific situation to improve.


“The Mayor complains that the federal government’s focus on enforcing the law would require a ‘reordering of law enforcement practice in Chicago.’ But that’s just what Chicago needs: a recommitment to the rule of law and to policies that rollback the culture of lawlessness that has beset the city.


“This administration will not simply give away grant dollars to city governments that proudly violate the rule of law and protect criminal aliens at the expense of public safety. So it’s this simple: Comply with the law or forego taxpayer dollars.”


Stay tuned!



August 8, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Report on State Immigration Laws


Just a few years ago, state laws promoting immigration enforcement were the rage.  Remember Arizona's S.B. 1070 and Alabama's H.B. 56?  Now, states are returning to immigration and immigrant policy but are focusing on state independence from immigration enforcement through sanctuary and immigrant detainer laws.

Lawmakers in statehouses across the U.S. have approved 133 immigration-related laws this year, representing a 90 percent increase compared to 2016, according to a report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures during its 43rd annual Legislative Summit in Boston.

The “Report on State Immigration Laws” summarizes laws and resolutions enacted between January and June 2017.

Lawmakers in 47 states enacted 133 laws and 195 resolutions related to immigration, totaling 328, according to the report.. An additional nine bills were vetoed by governors and 18 are pending signatures.

“States are coming up with innovative ways to address immigration issues—in education, health care, and economic development—that the federal government seems to ignore,” said Senator Rene Garcia, (R-Fla.).

A few trends of enacted laws include:

  • 27 percent of all laws are budget and appropriations laws, authorizing funds for such purposes as providing for immigration enforcement, immigrant integration, English language and citizenship classes, and migrant and refugee programs.
  • 21 percent of legislation related to law enforcement, such as immigration enforcement and consumer fraud related to legal services.
  • 13 percent of legislation related to IDs/driver’s licenses and other licenses.
  • 12 percent of laws dealt with education, addressing immigration and residency requirements for higher education, and six states included portions of the federal naturalization exam in high school civics requirements.
  • 5 percent of laws related to health such as interpreters, eligibility criteria for Medicaid or licensing relating to health professionals.
  • 7 percent of laws focused on employment, E-Verify, limiting workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance, or defining employment.
  • 5 percent of laws addressed public benefits such as eligibility or special immigrant juvenile status.
  • 4 percent of laws addressed human trafficking, such as penalties for withholding or destroying immigration documents, and providing assistance to victims.


August 8, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Food for Thought: Hector Tobar on "Avoiding the Trap of Immigration Porn"



Photo courtesy of ICE.gov

Border pictures



Hector Tobar writes in the New York Times about "immigration porn,"  which he says has long been a staple of mainstream journalism's reporting on immigration.  Here is the concept in a nutshell:

"See if you can ride along with some agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement rounding up Latino immigrants, the photo editor tells the photographer. Go capture a group of brown-skinned innocents being led away in cuffs. And if one of the ICE agents is also Latino, the editor adds, so much the better.

In the Trump era, such conversations are unfolding again and again in newsrooms across the United States. Our best “shooters” are sent out on a hunt for images of undocumented immigrants at perhaps the most vulnerable and degrading moment in their lives.

These images have been a staple of American journalism for as long as I’ve been in the business. Very often, they seem a kind of immigration porn."

Tobar laments that the press is not offering the full picture of the undocumented immigrant: "[T]he humiliated and hunted people you see in coverage of the deported are not the whole person. Tenacity and stubbornness are the defining qualities of undocumented America. This is precisely what is absent in the media’s depiction of the more than 11 million people who live there."

Hat tip to Carrie Rosenbaum.


August 8, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Trump Would Not Qualify Under His Proposed Immigration Point System

Washington Post Columnist Catherine Rampell observes:

How might President Trump fare in the “merit-based” immigration scheme he just endorsed?

If he were an immigrant, there’s a decent chance he’d get kicked out of the country.

. . .

Age: zero points. People older than 51 don’t earn points. Trump is 71. The best ages to be under this system, by the way, are 26 to 30. (Darn millennials.)

Education: six.  Trump has a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. university.

Record of extraordinary achievement: zero. Trump may have starred in a network reality show and (allegedly) sunk 30-foot putts, but what counts as “extraordinary achievement” is limited to two categories.

One is winning a Nobel Prize or comparable recognition in a science or social science field. No luck there, though a certain pseudo-Kenyan predecessor would benefit.

The other is recently winning an Olympic medal (individual event only, no relays!) or placing first in another comparable international athletic event.


English-language ability: zero. To receive points here, you need to score in the top half of those taking an officially sanctioned English proficiency exam, such as the TOEFL.

Success on this exam’s writing section requires using “appropriate word choice,” effectively addressing a topic and displaying “unity, progression and coherence.” Consider how the coiner of “covfefe” might perform.

The TOEFL speaking section includes responding to a simple question prompt. Scoring well requires staying on topic, being intelligible and exhibiting “sustained, coherent discourse.”

Peruse the transcript of Trump’s recent interview with the Wall Street Journal — or any other unscripted conversation, really — to judge how he fares.

Entrepreneurial initiative: 12. Trump gets this for investing at least $1.8 million in a new commercial enterprise in the United States, maintaining this investment for at least three years and playing an active role in the company’s management.

The Trump Organization is not exactly a “new commercial enterprise” — it was founded by Trump’s grandmother, before he was born — but he has a long list of more-recently-created LLCs and other corporations that probably count.



August 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Real-o-thetical: Mar-A-Lago & H-2B Workers

Official White House Photo of Mar-a-Lago

Late last month, President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort ran two classified ads for winter season waitstaff.

As WaPo reports, interested American applicants would have had to find the ad on page C8 of the Palm Beach Post, prove up “3 mos recent & verifiable exp in fine dining/country club,” agree to “No tips,” and then "apply by fax."

WaPo says this "underwhelming" effort at recruiting was "actually part of Mar-a-Lago’s efforts to hire foreign workers for those 35 jobs." Mar-a-Lago has sought H-2B visas for those positions and others.

More bitingly, WaPo refers to the nationwide effort of seeking American workers as "ritualized failure" where the "outcome is usually a conclusion that there are no qualified Americans to hire, justifying the need for the government to issue the visas."

All of that is fascinating - but how can you turn it into an in-class exercise? Start with the Department of Labor's handy Fact Sheet about the recruitment obligations of employers like Mar-a-Lago. Give it to the students and ask them to think about a hospitality setting. You might consider using The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for a hypo with less political overtones, or if you can go political without backlash, just use the Mar-a-Lago facts. Ask the students to come up with the minimum steps required to satisfy an employer's obligations. Discuss whether and why an employer might want to do more than the minimum.




August 7, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times Editorial Board: "Trump Embraces a Senseless Immigration Proposal"


The New York Times editorial board in "Trump Embraces a Senseless Immigration Proposal" registers its displeasure with the proposed RAISE Act and sees it as a blatant effort by a President in trouble to appeal to his base:  "The only way to understand Mr. Trump’s vocal support of an obvious turkey [i.e., the RAISE Act] is as yet another attempt to energize his dwindling base of right-wing and nativist supporters." "Mr. Trump’s recent messages opposing transgender people in the armed forces and encouraging aggressive behavior by the police have been seen as efforts to recapture that base. His support for this immigration bill is more of the same."


August 7, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Real History of American Immigration Trump's break with tradition may be good or bad, but it's definitely different.


Joshua Zeitz on Politico puts President Trump's "merit-based" immigration proposal in its proper historical light. 

Zeitz sensibly claims that "to claim [as the administration has] that the current flow of `unskilled' immigrants into the United States is `historic'—or a break from precedent—is to betray history.

The great immigration wave that delivered some 40 million newcomers to the United States between 1830 and 1940 was comprised largely of unskilled workers with minimal English-language proficiency. For every third- or fourth-generation white ethnic family, there is a stunning success story, but in the aggregate, their ancestors experienced little economic mobility in their own lifetimes. Many of them had little interest in even being American; they came to earn money and return home."

He further notes that:

"If we’re going to have a discussion about immigration, we should be honest about our collective history. Today’s immigrants look a lot like yesterday’s. They resemble my great-grandparents, who came to the United States without a word of English or a practical skill, but full of grit, ambition and pragmatic hope. That’s very much an American story, and it has to be part of the current conversation."


August 7, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Anis Shivani: A radical new approach to the immigration “problem”: Beyond left and right, Trumpism and neoliberalism — Part two


Anis Shivani on Salon provides another installment on immigration.  Read the first part of this series here (and here).  His premise:  Immigration law also restricts the rights of American citizens:

"Whatever starts out as restricting the human rights of the most vulnerable among us — including undocumented immigrants, because the sword of deportation is always hanging above their heads — eventually gets extended to legal immigrants and finally to citizens. The disciplinary state chooses immigrants as the first arena for implementation of human rights restrictions, knowing that the hue and cry will be limited, and will provide a sense of normalization about illegalities that would be more difficult if directly imposed on citizens.

It is not coincidental that when neoliberalism was consolidated in the mid-1990s, welfare, terrorism and immigration legislation were passed in the same year, and in fact bore close resemblance to each other and even overlapped."

Next time: Amid the abundant contradictions of immigration law, an unanswered question: Do undocumented immigrants have constitutional rights? 



August 6, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mexican Fighter Fights to be an American, Green Card


Dan Rafael on ESPN reports on an extraordinary story from professional boxing.  Moost boxers fight for money and world titles.  Lightweight contender Ray Beltran fights for much more.

Born into poverty in Los Mochis, Mexico, Beltran and his family slipped across the Mexican border when he was 16 in order to make a better life for themselves in the United States. .

Beltran has been in the United States since, but is now here legally thanks to a P1 work visa, which allows him to pursue his boxing career as an athlete who is "internationally recognized with a high level of achievement, evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country."

That visa will expire in about two and a half years, at which point Beltran would have to return to Mexico. Besides impacting his career, it also would potentially tear apart his family.  Beltran is married with three young children who were born in the United States and thus are U.S. citizens.

Beltran seeks to earn his permanent resident status as an "extraordinary athlete," which would allow him to received an EB-1 green card available to certain sports figures, entertainers, and Nobel Prize winners. If Beltran gets his green card, he can remain in the United States.

In his quest to remain in the United States, Beltran won a split decision last night (in a match in Los Angeles that this viewer thought was one-sided in Beltran's favor).


August 6, 2017 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gov. Brown Supports California “Sanctuary Cities” Lawsuit


Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) tells Chuck Todd he supports the idea of a lawsuit over the president’s latest attempt to punish so-called “sanctuary cities” in an interview to air Sunday on Meet the Press.

It has been reported that California is considering suing the Trump administration over the president’s latest threat to punish jurisdictions tagged by the Justice Department as “sanctuary cities” that harbor undocumented immigrants, according to two sources close to the case.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — in conjunction with other California city and county attorneys — is considering charging the Justice Department with violating the Constitution by threatening to take crime-fighting funds away from cities and states that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration agents, according to those sources.


August 6, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

ICE announces 18 new 287(g) agreements in Texas


Earlier this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the signing of 18 new 287(g) agreements throughout the state of Texas at an event in Grapevine today attended by Acting ICE Director Tom Homan and sheriffs from each of the 18 counties.  The 287(g) program allows state or local law enforcement entities to request to enter into a partnership with ICE for delegated immigration enforcement.

With the addition of these 18 agreements, ICE now has 60 active 287(g) agreements, which is nearly double the number of active programs in 2016. This also marks the largest expansion of the program in recent years; only six new agreements were added between 2012 and 2016. ICE plans to continue this higher rate of expansion in the coming year, as resources allow.

The Obama administration had largely abandoned the 287(g) program, in no small part because of concerns with racial profiling and civil rights abuses by state and local law enforcement agencies in the name of immigration enforcement.  A prime example was Maricopa County, ArizonaDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano terminated the U.S. government's 287(g) agreement with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, following damaging findings released by the Department of Justice (DOJ). After a three year long civil rights investigation into the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO)—an office led by America’s “toughest sheriff” Joe Arpaio—the DOJ announced today that it had “reasonable cause” to believe the Sheriff’s Office has “engaged in a pattern or practice of misconduct that violates the Constitution and federal law.”


August 5, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Flawed Asylum System in Mexico, Strained Further by U.S. Changes

Photo from Wikipedia

Kirk Semple of the New York Times reports that, as the Trump administration pushes forward with its plans to tighten border enforcement, Mexico has been under pressure to take in an increasing number of asylum seekers making their way north from Central America, many of them fleeing gang violence that is at epidemic proportions.

While the Mexican government has made improvements to its asylum program in recent years and has awarded protection at increasingly higher rates, the system remains deeply flawed, leaving many migrants vulnerable to harm, according to reports published in recent weeks by groups focused on human rights and migration.

The weaknesses include inadequate staffing in Mexico’s refugee agency, leading to months long waits for applicants; uneven training and supervision of immigration agents; and inconsistent adjudication of asylum law, according to the reports.


August 5, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Visualizing the Wall

Whether Mexico pays for it or not, President Trump is quite serious about extending the wall along our nation's Southern border.

What might that wall look like? The BBC reports that we may see prototypes soon from those construction companies interested in taking on this large infrastructure project.

In the meantime, we've got computerized visualizations to contemplate. Here are two visions from PennaGroup:


Check out those seals.


August 5, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Refugee Song Break: Blackness of the Night By Yusuf/Cat Stevens

Friday, August 4, 2017

Trump Administration Not Suited to Reform Nation’s Immigration Policy

Guest blogger: John Trasviña, Dean of the University of San Francisco School of Law

The nation needs conversation, not combat, over immigration. As it has on virtually every other action it has attempted in its first six months, the Trump Administration, starkly represented through its spokesman Stephen Miller, is confronting instead of communicating. On immigration, this approach will cause pain and not achieve progress.   

After enacting three major changes to immigration policy from 1986 to 1996, almost a quarter century has passed since the nation came together to examine whether our immigration policies serve the needs of America’s families, businesses, communities and national values. The current immigration system does not make sense to natives or newcomers and forces some families to wait decades to be reunited while tacitly permitting others entry to some of the most dangerous and difficult jobs in our society. 

A national conversation should start with what our expectations are of immigrants, their sponsors and all our communities. Every nation gets to decide who and how many come in and what is required of them. Once those expectations become law, the government is obligated to enforce those provisions. Yet, presently, our laws fail to reflect a national consensus nor do they serve our economic, social, or other needs. To be complete, this conversation must recognize the contributions of newcomers, both when they arrive and as they become part of the American fabric over generations. It should also assess what investments we make in them to facilitate their integration into American society and enable them to become self-sufficient.   

The Trump Administration’s immigration point system is short-sighted at best. A similar proposal was rejected by the U.S. Senate in the 1980s as an incomplete and inaccurate measure of our national needs and the value of newcomers to the nation. A point system demonstrates a lack of belief in the essence of America. From our Founding Fathers forward, generation after generation of newcomers have bettered themselves. Today, the son of an immigrant cook is our San Francisco mayor. Countless other immigrants and sons and daughters of immigrants are leading the way in technology and other fields.   

Perhaps of greatest dismay is the stark contradiction between the president’s announcement in the White House and the president’s actions at Mar-A-Lago Resort. Like others in the tourism industry, Trump Properties apply for H-2A non-immigrants — youngish temporary workers from abroad who work in hospitality at our nation’s resorts. The notion that Americans can not be found to do that work is unfathomable until you notice that the resort that rakes in tens of thousands of dollars a night offers waiters and waitresses barely a living wage. 

One of the greatest sources of strength and adjustment for a newcomer is family. Yet, by eliminating the visa category for brothers and sisters and adult children of U.S. citizens, the Trump Administration proposal turns America’s back on people who have waited in the legal immigration line for as long as 25 years. At the same time, the point system would favor someone with no ties to the U.S. or job offer here as long as they have an advanced degree in any subject and score well on the English test. 

When I was counsel to U.S. Senator Paul Simon on the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, the debates I observed were some of the most emotional and impassioned imaginable, both among the advocates and communities and among the Senators. In support of a generous immigration system, some Senators proudly described their ancestors’ gritty and determined journey to the U.S. while others recounted similar pasts but advocated closing the doors to “less worthy” immigrants today.   

The president and both parties in Congress should vet proposals through a national commission that can convene public hearings and conduct studies to inform and shape recommendations for reform.  The Commission approach was used successfully to help enact the 1986 and 1996 immigration reforms.  Its aim was not to eliminate debate, but elevate it to promote politically difficult but necessary changes to our immigration laws.

Immigration very much defines America’s hearts. And wallets, too. Full discussion is warranted but the poisonous atmosphere at the bill’s announcement, over the last six months of the Trump Administration and from day one of the Trump Campaign will only serve to divide Americans more than we already are. 

John Trasviña, Dean of the University of San Francisco School of Law, was general counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution from 1987 to 1993 and Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices at the U.S. Department of Justice from 1997-2001. 


August 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mr. President: Low-skilled Immigrant Workers Actually Help the Economy

From USA Today

The government's latest jobs report Friday undercut President Trump's argument that legal immigration should be cut in half because low-skilled foreign workers are taking jobs from native-born Americans and driving down their wages.

The Labor Department said 209,000 new jobs were created in July, driving down the unemployment rate to 4.3%, matching a 16-year low set in May. The jobless rate for whites was 3.8%, so low that economists consider the number virtually full employment for that group.

The July report was the 82nd consecutive month of net job gains, a record at a time of increased legal immigration.

The average hourly earnings for U.S. workers also continued increasing, rising 2.5% for the year and outpacing inflation. Wage growth has been far higher in the past decades, but immigration experts and economists said numerous studies conclude that immigrants are not the cause of stagnant wages.

"The foundation of what they're (the Trump administration) arguing does not work out in the real world," said Alex Nowrasteh, an economist and immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute. Read more....


August 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The RAISE Act: Dramatic Change to Family Immigration, Less So for the Employment-Based System

The RAISE Act, introduced this week by two Republican senators and endorsed by President Trump, has gotten major media and public attention even as its chances for approval by Congress appear scant. Still, the ideas at the heart of the legislation seem likely to surface in future discussion over reform of the U.S. immigration system. A new Migration Policy Institute commentary analyzes the two major proposals in the legislation: Deep cuts to family-based immigration and the creation of a points system for the selection of immigrants coming via employer sponsorship.

Analysis suggests the family-based cuts would fall hardest on U.S. residents seeking to bring in relatives from a small number of countries, India and Vietnam among them. While much attention has focused on the proposed points system and the sponsors’ promise of “merit-based” immigration, in reality the legislation would change employment-based immigration less than some might anticipate. The points system would largely echo the existing preference for higher-educated, higher-paid workers or for investors, and for those already in the United States on a temporary basis.


August 4, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pew Research Center: U.S. Hispanic population growth has leveled off

The annual growth rate of the U.S. Hispanic population remained flat between 2016 and 2017, but Hispanics continue to account for more of the nation’s overall population growth than any other race or ethnicity, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of preliminary population estimates from the Census Bureau.

Asians had the highest annual growth rate (3.0%) of any major U.S. racial or ethnic group in 2017. The Hispanic growth rate followed at 2.0%, exceeding that of blacks (0.9%) and whites (decrease of <0.1%). Overall, the U.S. annual population growth rate has held steady at 0.7% since 2011.

Following a Hispanic population boom in the 1990s that was driven by immigration and high fertility rates, the Hispanic population’s annual growth rate peaked at 4.2% in 2001. It then started to decline as fertility rates fell and immigration slowed, a trend that accelerated during the Great Recession. While the foreign born accounted for 40% of Hispanic annual population growth in 2006, that share dropped to 34% by 2015. Fertility rates declined from a peak of 98.3 births per 1,000 Hispanic women in 2006 to 71.7 in 2015.


August 4, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Empire Strikes Back? Based on the immigration system he endorses, Trump would not get a green card


Under the Trump-backed RAISE Act, President Trump might not be eligible for a merit-based visa based on its points system, at least according to Catherine Rampell.   Her tongue-in-cheek (I think) analysis:  Trump would earn a total of 18 points, with a minimum of 30 points necessary to be eligible to join the applicant pool of those trying for a points-based immigrant visa.  Rampell gives Trump zero points for record of extraordinary achievement and English language ability (recall "covfefe").


August 4, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)