Thursday, March 31, 2022
New TRAC Data: Number of Migrants on ICE's Alternatives to Detention Program Crosses 200,000 For the First Time
According to new data available in TRAC's Quick Facts detention data tool, immigration enforcement and detention numbers have remained consistent in recent weeks except for notable growth in the number of migrants monitored by ICE's Alternatives to Detention program. On March 27, 2022, ICE held 20,733 immigrants in detention centers across the country, up very slightly from 20,146 at the beginning of the month.
The number of immigrants monitored on ICE's 'Alternatives to Detention' (ATD) program increased to 200,332, consistent with growth in ATD that TRAC reported on recently. The largest single group of migrants on ATD technology were located in ICE's Harlingen area of responsibility in southern Texas. Although ICE does not provide historical data on ATD numbers, TRAC's Quick Facts tools makes it possible to get historical data compiled from each of ICE's data releases. See TRAC's detailed and searchable ATD table here.
Highlights from data updated today in TRAC's Quick Fact tool show that:
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement held 20,733 in ICE detention according to data current as of March 27, 2022.
- 15,033 out of 20,733—or 72.5%—held in ICE detention have no criminal record, according to data current as of March 27, 2022. Many more have only minor offenses, including traffic violations.
- ICE relied on detention facilities in Texas to house the most people during FY 2022, according to data current as of March 14, 2022.
- ICE arrested 3,723 and CBP arrested 21,912 of the 25,635 people booked into detention by ICE during February 2022.
- Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia held the largest number of ICE detainees so far in FY 2022, averaging 1,117 per day (as of March 2022).
- ICE Alternatives to Detention (ATD) programs are currently monitoring 200,332 families and single individuals, according to data current as of March 26, 2022.
- Harlingen's area office has highest number in ICE's Alternatives to Detention (ATD) monitoring programs, according to data current as of March 26, 2022.
Original post online here: https://trac.syr.edu/whatsnew/email.220331.html
The Biden administration has sent out a warning about a potential increase in migration from the South.
A Fact Sheet released yesterday states that
"The Department of Homeland Security works to secure and manage our borders while building a fair and orderly immigration system.
Violence, food insecurity, poverty, and lack of economic opportunity in several countries in the Western Hemisphere are driving unprecedented levels of migration to our Southwest Border. The devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region has only exacerbated these challenges. Human smuggling organizations peddle misinformation that the border is open. DHS is implementing a comprehensive strategy to address a potential increase in the number of border encounters.
The strategy includes: 1) Acquiring and deploying resources to address increased volumes; 2) Delivering a more efficient and fair immigration process; 3) Processing and removing those who do not have valid claims; and 4) Working with other countries in the Western Hemisphere to manage migration and address root causes.
There is broad agreement that our immigration system is fundamentally broken. The Biden-Harris Administration continues to call on Congress to pass legislation that holistically addresses the root causes of migration, fixes the immigration system, and strengthens legal pathways." (bold added)
DHS Announces New Measures to Better Serve Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming Travelers
An announcement today from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is a reminder that elections in fact do matter and that the Trump administration was very different from the Biden administration.
"Today, on International Trans Day of Visibility, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new measures to better serve all Americans, regardless of their gender identity. Through technology updates, process changes, and expanded partnerships, TSA and CBP are improving their screening procedures and ensuring they are conducted in a manner that respects the dignity of each individual. These measures are part of a concerted effort by the Biden-Harris Administration to advance equality for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming Americans."
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Eileen Sullivan and Michael Shear of The New York Times are reporting that the administration plans to announce an end to turning migrants away at the border under the pandemic-era health order known as Title 42. In this news post, they explain: "The change, which is to take effect in late May, will allow migrants entering the country to once again seek asylum without being quickly turned back because of public health concerns during the pandemic."
As Time Magazine reported this week, the administration has taken contradictory positions in both simultaneously seeking to end the MPP program, in part for humanitarian reasons, while continuing to use Title 42 as a barrier to asylum.
The Biden administration budget reflects an effort to reduce backlogs on both immigration benefits and immigration court proceedings. While the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, the service agency within US Department of Homeland Security, is primarily funded through application fees, President Biden also asked Congress to give USCIS another $765 million to finance the backlog reduction effort. Immigration court funding is appropriated through the U.S. Department of Justice.
Within the agency, USCIS will set more ambitious backlog reduction goals, expand premium processing to additional form types, and work to improve timely access to employment authorization documents. Said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou in a press release:
“Every application we adjudicate represents the hopes and dreams of immigrants and their families, as well as their critical immediate needs such as financial stability and humanitarian protection.”
The backlog of applications before USCIS is part of a broader logjam in the immigration system. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resource constraints, and exclusionary policies resulting from the prior administration, USCIS inherited a significant backlog in N-400s and military naturalizations; they were sometimes troubling disparities across regional offices and among applicant types. The Justice Department is currently overseeing 1.7 million unresolved court cases of immigrants facing deportation, while the State Department is handling a backlog of over 400,000 immigrant visa applicants waiting for interviews at U.S. consulates, which limited operations during the pandemic.
Yesterday U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would expand a "premium processing" program by which applicants who pay more receive faster processing of certain applications.
According to the agency's announcement:
Premium processing is an expedited adjudication service now available only to petitioners filing a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and to certain employment-based immigrant visa petitioners filing a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. This final rule expands the categories of forms ultimately eligible for premium processing services, including Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status; Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and additional classifications under Form I-140.
USCIS intends to begin implementing, through a phased approach, premium processing availability of Form I-539, Form I-765 and Form I-140 in fiscal year 2022. USCIS will also adhere to the congressional requirement that the expansion of premium processing must not cause an increase in processing times for regular immigration benefit requests.
Daniel Wiessner of Reuters reports that this move "allows applicants for various employment-related immigration benefits to pay up to $2,500 to speed up the process, in a bid to ease massive backlogs at the agency."
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
First Lady of the United States Jill Biden; USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou Welcome 31 New U.S. Citizens in Ceremony Honoring César Chávez
The following U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services press release reports on a special naturalization ceremony:
First Lady of the United States Jill Biden; USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou Welcome 31 New U.S. Citizens in Ceremony Honoring César Chávez
United Farm Workers of America President Teresa Romero Recognized as Outstanding American by Choice
FRESNO, Calif. — First Lady of the United States Jill Biden and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur M. Jaddou welcomed 31 U.S. citizenship candidates today during a naturalization ceremony held in observance of César Chávez Day at Villa La Paz in Keene, California. First Lady of the United States Jill Biden delivered remarks and USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou administered the Oath of Allegiance and recognized United Farm Workers of America (UFW) President Teresa Romero as an Outstanding American by Choice.
First Lady of the United States Jill Biden and USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou stand for the National Anthem before formally welcoming the country's newest U.S. citizens. The ceremony was held in observance of César Chávez Day, a federal commemorative holiday first proclaimed by President Barack Obama in 2014, which honors the man who dedicated his life to the service and justice of essential American farmworkers.
First Lady of the United States Jill Biden presents a citizenship certificate and greets one of the nation's newest U.S. citizens. The First Lady welcomed 31 citizenship candidates today from nine different countries, including Egypt, El Salvador, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Yemen, Peru, Russia and Israel. USCIS naturalized approximately 808,000 people in fiscal year 2021.
USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou presents an Outstanding American by Choice recognition to Teresa Romero, the president of United Farm Workers of America and the first immigrant woman to lead a national union. The Outstanding Americans by Choice recognition is bestowed upon naturalized citizens who have made significant contributions to their community and their adopted country through civic participation, professional achievement, and responsible citizenship.
Official Picture of Judge Jackson
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled President Biden's nominee, Judge Katanji Brown Jackson, in lengthy confirmation hearings.
Yesterday, I published commentary on the "Race and Politics in Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Hearings" in the Daily Journal, a California legal newspaper. Here is the intro:
"Ketanji Brown Jackson has the profile of a perfect nominee to be an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Harvard College. Harvard Law School. Editor of the Harvard Law Review. A law clerk to two federal judges and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Criminal and civil experience. With over nine years as a federal judge, Judge Jackson has more judicial experience than Justices Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett had when confirmed. So why the cringeworthy treatment of Judge Jackson, who would be the first African American woman on the high court, by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee? Sadly enough, race and partisan politics deeply influenced the treatment of Judge Jackson."
Click the link above to read the rest of the commentary.
Monday, March 28, 2022
On March 23, Madeline Albright passed away. Albright served as U.S. Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001, the first woman to hold that position.
Albright was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). She and her family moved to the United States in 1948, and she became a U.S. citizen in 1957.
Albright was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
In talking about her own migration to the United States, Albright characterized herself as a “beneficiary of the American people’s generosity.” A "legal migrant" herself, Albright had thoughtful words about unauthorized migration: "There is a significant moral difference between a person who commits a violent crime and a person who tries to cross a border illegally in order to put food on the family table. Such migrants may violate our laws against illicit entry, but if that's all they do then they are trespassers, not criminals. They deserve to have their dignity respected."
Rest in peace, Madam Secretary.
The Ninth Annual UCLA International Institute Going Global Student Conference will take place virtually on Thursday, May 26, 2022. Abstracts of 150-300 words must be submitted by 03/27/2022 at 11:59 PM PST. The theme is "Agency and Community in Combating Global Challenges."
To submit, please visit: http://uclagoingglobal.org. Contact: email@example.com.
Please forward the attached Call for Abstracts to your listserves and graduate students.
Last week, we posted about a group of UC Davis students who spent spring break helping migrants in Tijuana, Mexico. This guest post offers some impressions about the trip.
Opening the Border but Shutting the Door
I sat across a group of Haitians at a small restaurant in Tijuana, La Antigüita Tamales. King Hall students had just finished legal consultations with them about their prospects for asylum in the U.S. We shared a meal and greeted each other as they talked amongst themselves in Creole. One of them asked me in good Spanish if I was with the group from the U.S. I nodded. Next week they will open the border, he said, and I will seek asylum. I smiled meekly and engaged him with his story. It weighed heavily on me to have to explain to him the many reasons why the predicted end of Title 42 (not official yet I cautioned him) would unlikely alter the course of his fate. But it seemed like since our arrival, my students and I could offer little hope to most asylum seekers that an open border meant an open door, at least to them.
That morning alone I met two Mexican families facing terror in their own country. One young couple, with five young children, fled when a group threatened to kill them and their children. It proved too much when constant images of mutilated children landed on their phone daily for their alleged failure to pay a debt which had quadrupled in weeks when the terms of repayment shifted, and exuberant interests kicked in. Another mother was with her 22-year-old son who just two weeks ago had been kidnapped and tortured by a cartel and then released only to warn his family they would be killed if he and his younger brother failed to join them. I tried my hardest to help these families prepare for an eventual credible fear interview. Attempting to fit their terror into the constraints of the nexus requirement proved frustrating and inhumane. For the parents, the why these cartels chose them and their children to terrorize seemed both irrelevant and obvious. I agreed. And yet, explaining the obvious, that these groups target the most vulnerable among them simply because they can, would not suffice under the immigration definition of particular social group. As we struggled together to construct a plausible particular social group, what should have been a slam dunk case became a low probability of success for U.S. asylum.
Increasingly, most asylum seekers who fail to meet a dated and strict definition of asylum face cruel barriers and terrible odds even when they are allowed to make a claim. In El Salvador yesterday, a gang-related killing spree left 62 murdered in the streets in a single day. Most were vendors and other poor souls caught up in the terrible violence the government cannot or will not control. Neither the rates of the killings nor their cruelty was at all different from what Salvadoreans endured during the country’s other civil war. But then and now, Salvadoreans and Mexicans and Haitians and Guatemalans and Hondurans and many others facing so-called private forms of generalized terror encounter shut doors for asylum when they arrive at our borders. Remember when U.S. law turned a blind eye to domestic violence directed at women because it was so-called, a private sphere? This is not different. But there is nothing private about the violence asylum seekers from these nations are enduring. Their terror is in full public display and the root causes of it comes with public dirty hands, with our own nation bearing blame.
Our violent borders and our wars on drugs, fought inside and throughout the American hemisphere, are but two reasons why the U.S. government cannot simply dismiss the terror in these countries as privatized forms of violence we can ignore.
I set out to write a more celebratory blog. The past three days have been intense and, yet, during it, the enormous talent and commitment of eight King Hall students who traveled to Tijuana has been on full display. Over three days, Pamela, Jennifer, Michael, Vannalee, Monica, Lorena, Jazmine and Ivette met with over 150 migrants, some hoping to seek asylum, other hoping to return to their families and home after deportation. We came here with open eyes. We knew we would bear witness to trauma. We also knew we came bearing little hope from law. Despite this, the students did an amazing job with what they had and provided an enormous help to migrants. Sunday afternoon, for example, only two MPP cases remained; a Nicaraguan and a Colombian asylum seeker had hearings in two days, neither of them had lawyers. Over several hours, our students sat with them and helped draft a pro se case of how best to assert their claims. Each of our students has a story like that to share. They will share some of these stories and the insights they gleaned from their time in Tijuana on April 4 at Noon at King Hall, Room 1301 or over zoom. You can register here.
I want to close by acknowledging the heroes and sheroes we met in Tijuana. Among them, three amazing individuals deported from the US, Ester, Danny and Pricila, now run shelters, provide food, and otherwise support the legal and social needs of migrants. Our students fundraised for this cause, and we are sending donations to them to help them with their labor. It is not too late to add your grain of salt. You can do so here. Finally, I want to thank Robert Irwin whose Humanizing Deportation Project set the stage for our work in Tijuana. I also want to thank King Hall for funding student travel, and the many other entities at UC Davis, like the Office for Public Scholarship and Engagement and the Global Migration Center for their amazing support.
PICTURES FROM THE TRIP
Ukrainian refugees are in the news. In "After a month of war, Ukrainian refugee crisis ranks among the world’s worst in recent history," Drew Desilver of the Pew Research Center reports that the "Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created one of the biggest refugee crises of modern times. . . . [M]ore than 3.7 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries – the sixth-largest refugee outflow over the past 60-plus years, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of United Nations data."
Here is a table showing the data:
@UNHCRUkraine Representative @KarolinaBilling: Over 10 M people displaced in 1 month & in urgent need of assistance – now, and for years as the effects of this war are vast and devastating.— UNHCR Ukraine (@UNHCRUkraine) March 25, 2022
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Registration is now open for Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law's April 8 symposium--The Road to Abolition: Intersectional Approaches to Immigrant Justice.
For its second annual symposium, the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES) will explore abolition as the path to immigrant justice. As immigration detention and deportation continue to perpetuate global inequality, entrenched colonialism, and racial injustice, a movement to abolish ICE and shift government resources to housing, health care, and education continues to grow. The symposium will focus on organizing efforts to end immigration enforcement and detention, the intersection of racial justice and abolitionist movements, and lessons learned in abolitionist work beyond the immigrant rights movement.
- Immigration Reform Requires Changing Our Paradigm for Racism and Movement Building by Ian Haney López, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law, UC Berkeley School of Law
- The View on the Ground: Organizing for Immigration Abolition
- Breaking Down Silos: Perspectives on Abolition
Crying in H Mart is a memoir by Michelle Zauner. This book started as a 2019 essay (with the same title) for the New Yorker. Here's the publisher's pitch:
In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.
As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band--and meeting the man who would become her husband--her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.
Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner's voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.
Frankly, Zauner had me at the title. I cry everywhere. While I've never been to an H Mart--the interwebs tell me it's a Korean-American supermarket chain--I've definitely cried in other marts. Looking forward to this read.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has dominated the news for weeks. Refugees from Ukraine have left the embattled country in large numbers. This podcast offers some interesting insights:
"Growing up the child of Eastern European and German immigrants, former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch strived to fit in. Learning to navigate other cultures ultimately proved useful during her 33 years in the Foreign Service. In 2019, her diplomatic career ended after a months-long smear campaign led to her recall from Ukraine by then-President Trump. She joined David [Axelrod] to talk about lessons learned from her parents, the on-going Russian invasion of Ukraine, her take on Putin’s mindset, what it was like being attacked by a sitting president and her new book, `Lessons from the Edge.'"
COVID-19 restrictions on access to asylum likely violate non-refoulement obligations under international and federal law, and while they are extreme, they are not unique. There is a small but growing body of scholarly literature that rightly argues that such policies are pretextual covers used to enact restrictive immigration policy goals, but these arguments generally arise from an ahistorical perspective. This article positions restrictive COVID immigration policies in a broader historical context and argues that the United States has a long history of weaponizing fear of disease and contagion from migrants to justify restrictive immigration policies. The article offers a historical view both to demonstrate and question this long pattern of dangerous, xenophobic behavior, and to caution against using such blunt and sweeping policies in the future. Part I describes various COVID-19 border closure policies and the ongoing public health and refugee policy discussions surrounding such policies, with a particular focus on United States law. Part II then provides an account of international and United States non-refoulement obligations. Part III situates the current policies within a broader historical framework, providing examples of earlier proposed and enacted immigration policies that sought to restrict migration into the United States on public health grounds.
Saturday, March 26, 2022
ImmigrationProf readers may be interested in a series now streaming on Apple TV+. Pachinko is encapsulated as follows: "Based on the New York Times bestseller, this sweeping saga chronicles the hopes and dreams of a Korean immigrant family across four generations as they leave their homeland in an indomitable quest to survive and thrive."
A number of posts on the ImmigrationProf blog (and here) have highlighted the differential treatment of Ukrainian refugees and those from other nations. Ukrainian refugees have been treated much more generously than, for example, Afghans and Central Americans.
This Voice of America report by Aline Barrios explains that "Immigration Experts Contrast US Support for Ukrainian, Afghan Refugees."
Late Law Professor Keith Aoki the inspiration for the UC Davis Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies
This week, the UCLA Center for Immigration Policy, the UC Davis Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies, and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in United States v. Rodrigues-Barios. Rodrigues-Barios argues that the criminal illegal reentry statute—the most prosecuted federal crime in the United States, and a key driver of mass incarceration for Mexican nationals in the United States—is unconstitutional because it was enacted to discriminate based on race.
Rodrigues-Barios’ brief presents substantial historical evidence in support of the racial discrimination claim. Congress first enacted the illegal reentry statue in 1929 explicitly to keep the “Mexican race” out of the United States. Supporters called for the “protection of American racial stock from change through mongrelization.” Supporters also called Mexicans and other non-white groups “rat men” who were “illiterate, unclean and pionized masses.” Unless they were excluded using the law, they said Mexicans would “poison the American citizen.”
Those statements were made nearly a century ago, but the law continues to work as intended to this day. In many years, approximately 99% of those prosecuted under the law are Latinos, overwhelmingly Mexicans.
The amicus brief therefore addresses a critical question: is the racism motivating the law’s original enactment still relevant nearly 100 years later? As the brief explains, the answer is “yes.” Under controlling Supreme Court authority, to purge racism from our laws, Congress must “consciously confront” their racist origins and deliberately choose to repeal, modify, or reenact laws in light of their discriminatory history and on-going effects.
While there are several lawsuits challenging the racist origins of the illegal reentry statute all around the country, a federal judge in Nevada recentlydue to its racist origins.
The amicus brief can be read in its entirety here.
Immigration Article of the Day: Decisional Bias in Immigration Courts: Attributes, Results, and Solutions by Emily Duck
There is seeming decisional bias plaguing the United States immigration courts and the country as a whole. Decision rates, particularly denial rates of asylum claims, within immigration courts vary between three percent and one-hundred percent, an extreme disparity not seen in other areas of law today. As a recent Fifth Circuit Court opinion made clear, the judicial system is grappling with the issue of bias among immigration judges, thus creating an urgent need to address this problem. This article examines the history of immigration and asylum seekers, details different types of biases, and correlates the two in order to better understand the extreme discrepancies seen in immigration law. Secondly, the concept of decisional bias is introduced, including factors that contribute and make up decisional bias, and a presentation of possible solutions for combatting decisional bias within immigration courts. In essence, the factors contributing to decisional bias include the polarizing nature of immigration in America, aliens representing themselves pro se, judges’ work experience prior to appointment, and general biases among immigration judges.