Sunday, November 28, 2021
The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation maintains a wonderful website cataloging the poetry left by detainees on the detention barrack walls. There are so many moving pieces. Here's one that really spoke to me:
Sitting alone in the customs office,
How could my heart not ache?
Had my family not been poor,
I would not have traveled far away from home.
It was my elder brother who urged me
To embark on a voyage to this shore.
The black devil here is unjust-
He forces the Chinese to clean the floor.
Two meals a day are provided,
But I wonder, when will I be homeward bound?
Lee from Toishan District, September 4, 1911
On the website, you can listen to the poem, read in the original Toishanese.
Saturday, November 27, 2021
The Leavers by Lisa Ko has an enticing premise:
One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.
With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.
Told from the perspective of both Daniel—as he grows into a directionless young man—and Polly, Ko’s novel gives us one of fiction’s most singular mothers. Loving and selfish, determined and frightened, Polly is forced to make one heartwrenching choice after another.
Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.
I've read and recommended Lisa Ko's writing before -- her article on food and the immigrant experience was fascinating.
Also, can we talk about the prescience of this novel? It was written in 2017. Yet the disappearance of a nail salon worker really brings to mind the 2021 violence against salon workers in Georgia.
Friday, November 26, 2021
The Immigration Article of the Day is Women of Color in Immigration Enforcement by Kit Johnson, available on SSRN and published in 21 Nevada Law Journal 997 (2021).
Here is the abstract:
Immigration enforcement agencies are among the most racially diverse in federal law enforcement. More than half of all women holding law enforcement positions within immigration agencies are minorities, though the overall number of female agents is relatively small.
This Essay focuses on women of color in immigration enforcement. It begins with a necessary primer on immigration enforcement. Next, it traces key developments that led to the diversification of immigration enforcement, including analysis of never before published data about the racial and gender diversity of immigration agents. Then, it considers the unique benefits of hiring women of color as enforcement agents and notes barriers to the recruitment and retention of women of color by immigration enforcement agencies.
This Essay is largely descriptive, offering a picture of immigration enforcement and the role that women of color play in it. My hope is that this Essay will serve as a jumping-off point for empirical research regarding a before-now understudied segment of the immigration enforcement workforce.
Santa can leave this novel under the tree for me this year: American Street by Ibi Zoboi. Gotta love the cross-promotional work of her publisher: "perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon." Careful readers (with long memories) know that I am.
Here's the premise:
In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture.
On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.
But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.
Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?
Thursday, November 25, 2021
Migration Policy Institute PI Issues Latest Data Profiles of Unauthorized Immigrants and Offers Estimates of Legalization
The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) today released its latest socio-demographic data profiles of unauthorized immigrants for the United States, 41 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the 130 counties with the largest unauthorized populations.
The profiles, based on MPI’s unique methodology to assign legal status onto the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), offer 2019 data for areas ranging from population size, countries of origin and years of U.S. residence to educational enrollment and attainment, home ownership, top industries of employment, health insurance coverage and poverty levels. The profiles also include estimates on age, gender, parental and marital status, top languages spoken and labor force participation for the nation’s estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants.
A related interactive map allows users to see the top U.S. destinations for unauthorized immigrants by top country and region of origin.
Mexicans continued to account for just under half of all unauthorized immigrants in the United States—48 percent in 2019. Mexico and Central America, combined, remain by far the greatest source region for unauthorized immigrants—with 67 percent of the total—while Asia ranks second with 15 percent. South Americans represent a relatively small but rapidly growing group, at 8 percent of the overall unauthorized population, with numbers increasing particularly for Venezuelans.
South American unauthorized immigrants are highly concentrated in Florida—particularly the South Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach—as well as in the Northeast: New York City, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Established South American communities in these locations may be growing rapidly given the increased number of encounters of South Americans at the U.S.-Mexico border since 2019.
Aside from these newer, expanding groups, the unauthorized population is generally well settled, with 63 percent having resided in the United States for 10 years or more, including 22 percent who have 20 years or more of U.S. residence.
Even as unauthorized immigrants have become more dispersed across the country, they remain concentrated in traditional destination states. In 2019, one-quarter of the unauthorized population lived in California, and nearly half lived in either California, Texas or New York. At the local level, one-fifth of them resided in the counties where four major cities—Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Chicago—are located.
About 1.3 million unauthorized immigrants were married to U.S. citizens and another 654,000 were married to lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in 2019. At the same time, 4.7 million U.S.-citizen children had at least one unauthorized immigrant parent, as did 61,000 LPR or nonimmigrant children.
MPI researchers estimate that immigration-related provisions within the Build Back Better Act that passed the House on Nov. 19 and is now before the Senate could provide work authorization and protection from deportation to nearly 7.2 million unauthorized immigrants who have been in the United States since January 1, 2011.
Among the nearly 7.2 million unauthorized immigrants who MPI estimates could benefit under the House-passed legislation are 2.6 million DREAMers—people who entered the United States before age 18.
For the unauthorized data profiles at U.S., state and county levels, visit here.
For a map of top destinations for unauthorized immigrants by country or region of origin, visit here.
For a data tool on the DACA eligible and status holders, check out here.
This 2019 article by Petula Dvorak for The Longview News Journal is the perfect Thanksgiving read: For immigrant families, Thanksgiving blends the old and the new. How very American.
"It is important, the meal. Because, for many immigrants, there were no cousins and grandparents and aunts nearby, no gathering after dinner to watch football."
And, even more important: Thanksgiving is "nonreligious, nonpolitical — hopefully — and like America, adaptable."
The article is ripe with food stories from the Czech Republic to Vietnam. You'll be inspired to add some new dishes to the table inspired by your own immigrant roots.
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
"The so-called Title 42 border closure, which uses the COVID-19 pandemic to justify immediate expulsion or deportation of people fleeing persecution and torture, has always been heartless and illegal. So why is the Biden administration indefinitely continuing this most egregious and unlawful of Trump’s immigration policies? Recent reports confirm that it’s in part because the White House doesn’t want the political repercussions of ending it.
That craven position would be a flimsy defense in court. It’s also simply bad politics."
Hey all you immigration nerds out there, this podcast is for you!
Ian Gaines is host of the Immigration Nerds Podcast that covers all things immigration. He has featured on the show many members of our immprof community, including Jennifer M. Chacón and Stephen Yale-Loehr. In the latest podcast, Rose Cahn of the Immigration Legal Resource Center discusses post-conviction relief for immigrants.
Definitely a great podcast to add to your library, or suggest to students interested in learning more about a whole range of topics.
The New York City Council is reviewing a plan to allow certain noncitizens to vote in local elections. If approved, the proposal will allow lawful permanent residents and others with legal permission to work to vote. The New York Times estimates that approximately 808,000 residents, the majority of whom are from the Dominican Republic and China, would be allowed to vote if the measure passes.
New York City's incoming Mayor Eric Adams has supported the proposal, while Mayor Bill de Blasio has not been as supportive but has signaled that he will not veto it if it passes on December 9.
As we have posted here, the question of whether noncitizens should be allowed to vote in local elections has gained increasing attention in recent years. New York City would be the largest municipality to take the step to allow noncitizen voting.
Props to Baptist News Global for their headline: Tips for having a Thanksgiving Dinner conversation about immigrants without choking. The content is as amazing as the headline.
The article starts with What Not To Do: "Your loved ones did not sign up for a Ted Talk." Haha! Yet, really, true. People might be tempted to "counter anti-immigration arguments with a flood of expert references, statistics and Scripture verses about welcoming the stranger," but this form of preaching doesn't work.
What can work? "responses based on kindness and empathy and which avoid personal and partisan attacks." Talk about small things that can build empathy.
This nugget is GOLD: "arguments don’t necessarily have to have winners and losers." "Could we plant a seed?" "Did they walk away feeling hurt? Or did they learn something? Did they feel respected? I think that’s how we can reframe a ‘win’ here.”
Other important points: avoid criticism and find common ground where possible.
Wow. THANK YOU Baptist News Global for offering real, practical advice to those of us who struggle with anti-immigrant family members.
The Supreme Court has set a pair of immigrant detention cases for oral argument in January. The cases are:
Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez (Jan. 11): Whether a non-citizen who is detained under 8 U.S.C. § 1231 is entitled by statute, after six months of detention, to a bond hearing at which the government must prove to an immigration judge by clear and convincing evidence that the non-citizen is a flight risk or a danger to the community.
Garland v. Gonzalez (Jan. 11): Whether a non-citizen who is detained under 8 U.S.C. § 1231 is entitled by statute, after six months of detention, to a bond hearing at which the government must prove to an immigration judge that the non-citizen is a flight risk or a danger to the community; and (2) whether, under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(f)(1), the courts below had jurisdiction to grant classwide injunctive relief.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
In Foreign Affairs, immigration experts Muzaffar Chishti and Doris M. Meissner of the Migration Policy Institute, take a deep dive into the problems and solutions along the border. They lay out a range of "complex, long-term initiatives" that build "strategies that enable migration to be safe, legal, and orderly."
Report: Stemming Rising Migration from Central America Calls for Tackling Immediate Needs and Root Causes
Poverty, food insecurity, climate shocks and violence pushed an estimated annual average of 378,000 Central Americans to migrate to the United States over the past five years, highlights a new report. A high price is paid in human and economic costs, including an estimated $2.2 billion a year to travel regularly and irregularly.
Drawing from a unique survey of thousands of migrant-sending households in three Central American countries — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — a joint report by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Civic Data Design Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Organization of American States (OAS), takes an in-depth look at the motivations and costs of migration.
Data collected through face-to-face and online surveys reveals an over five-fold increase over just two years in the percentage of people who considered migrating internationally: 43 percent in 2021, up from 8 percent in 2019. However, only a fraction — 3 percent — actually made concrete plans to migrate. Family separation and high costs associated with migrating were cited as deterrents.
Most migrants, 55 percent, were said to have hired a smuggler at an average cost of US$7,500 per person, while migrating through legal channels came at a cost of U$4,500. For 89 percent of people, the United States was their intended destination country.
The report sheds light on the linkages between food insecurity and migration from Central America, noting that food-insecure people are three times more likely to make concrete plans to migrate than people who are not.
Food insecurity has seen a dramatic rise in Central America as the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and poverty continue to make it harder for families to feed themselves. As of October 2021, WFP estimates that the number of food-insecure people in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras grew three-fold to 6.4 million, from 2.2 million people in 2019.
In addition, migration flows have been driven by violence and insecurity, as well as climate-related shocks such as severe droughts in the Central American Dry Corridor and more frequent and stronger storms in the Atlantic. The devastating twin hurricanes that hit Central America in November 2020 contributed to the deterioration of living conditions for populations that were already vulnerable.
While highlighting the push factors of migration from Central America, the report also presents governments with a blueprint to address its root causes, including initiatives that are linked to economic recovery, livelihoods and food security for people who are most likely to migrate irregularly.
The expansion of national social protection programs that help alleviate poverty and eradicate hunger for at-risk populations is key to stemming migration. For example, cash-based transfers are a lifeline for people in need, allowing families to meet their essential needs. School feeding programs offer more than a plate of food. They support local agriculture and represent savings for poor families.
Furthermore, the report recommends economic development and investment initiatives that are tailored to community needs, giving people the option to seek opportunities at home. These include agricultural programs for smallholder farmers to build resilience to climate shocks, diversify crops and boost production, as well as job training programs for youth and women in rural and urban areas. Creating incentives for the diaspora to invest in public works in local communities would amplify the impact of remittances beyond individual households.
To shift irregular migration to legal channels, the report recommends that the United States and other migrant-destination countries in the region expand legal pathways for Central Americans, for example by increasing access to temporary employment visas.
Newsweek reports that a lawsuit filed yesterday alleges that United States immigration agents detained a man for over a month even though he was a U.S. citizen. The ACLU of Northern California and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus filed the suit. It alleges that after Brian Bukle served a prison sentence in California, he was held in the Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Central California for over a month before his citizenship status was verified.
The ACLU press release on the suit is here. It includes facts on the case and a link to the complaint. The press release states that
"Civil rights groups in California sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the unlawful arrest of Brian Bukle, a Black resident of Riverside County who has lived in the United States since he was a toddler and has been a U.S. citizen for over 50 years. . . . Black immigrants are significantly more likely to be targeted for deportation. Seven percent of non-citizens in the U.S. are Black, but according to Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), they make up a full 20% of those facing deportation on criminal grounds. Black immigrants are treated disproportionately harshly by ICE–they are six times more likely to be sent to solitary confinement. In addition, Haitian immigrants pay much higher bonds than other immigrants in detention."
Monday, November 22, 2021
From the Bookshelves: The American Experiment: Dialogues on a Dream Hardcover by David M. Rubenstein
Center for Migration Studies of New York: New Demographic Directions in Forced Migrant and Refugee Research
As Thanksgiving brings families and cultures together, food is on our minds. Food has an incredible power to bring communities together. For Salon Food, Kayla Stewart features Washington, D.C.’s one-of-a-kind Immigrant Food restaurant, showcasing its ability to counter misinformation about immigrants while serving delicious meals. "Food has forever unified people," explained Chief Operating Officer Téa Ivanovic. "For someone unfamiliar with the issues facing immigrants in America, it’s daunting to jump into the complex topic of immigration without a baseline understanding of what immigrants contribute ... But it’s a lot less tough to sit down with a group of friends and learn about how your favorite dishes or flavors have come from immigrant cultures across the globe."
I will need to check out Immigrant Food on my next trip to D.C.
By Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, Wikipedia
The ACLU (specifically of N. Cal.) has sued the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department for "unlawfully transferring immigrants to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)."
What exactly is the Sheriff's Office doing? According to the ACLU: They are transferring noncitizens to ICE, after the noncitizens have completed their county jail sentences." They are supposed to release them to their families/communities.
Why can't they do this? Well, the California Values Act and California's TRUTH Act limit the ability of any state/local law enforcement agency to work with ICE.
Sidebar shoutout to the ACLU for always making their complaints publicly available. Here's the complaint in this case.
NBC News reports that immigration is a key issue of discussion as Congress weighs the Build Back Better Act.
The House bill would grant provisional work permits to about 6.5 million undocumented people in the U.S., under a process known as parole. It is a high priority of progressives and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
But it is not clear that the provision will comply with the Senate budget rules. The Senate parliamentarian has rejected two previous immigration provisions backed by Democrats that would offer a path to citizenship, which the House bill policy would not guarantee.
Some Democratic House members say the party should include an immigration provision no matter what, but Senator Joe Manchin has signaled that he wants to abide by the parliamentarian's advice.
The Hispanic caucus "urges the Senate to protect the work-permits and protections and we are hopeful they will use the Senate rules to build upon them and create an earned pathway to citizenship to further improve our nation's economy," Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., the caucus chair, said in a statement.