Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Guest post by Ellen Thomas, a rising 3L at Saint Louis University School of Law
Sparks from the welder disappear into the air as construction crews fortify the wall and repair old fencing. The rust colored beams stretch east to west as far as the eye can see, and even into the Pacific Ocean.
Two sets of fencing along this portion of the border separate San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico. In contrast with the new fencing whose metal planks that soar into the air, another style of fencing is comprised of heavy concrete that sits much lower to the ground. Studies showed that the tall fences disrupted the migratory patterns of butterflies. The tall fences are too narrow and too tall to allow a butterfly to pass through on their natural routes north and south. The butterflies, unable to pass, either perish on site or are forced into unsuitable habitats.
Statistics demonstrate the utility of border walls, but the question of their humanitarian impact remains. While numbers reflect the efficacy of the border wall, the number of migrants dying in deserts trying to pass into the United States is on a steady increase. Like the butterflies who are unable to pass through the border wall, migrants too are forced to either remain in unlivable locations or forced into unsuitable environments. Hundreds of people die annually crossing the desert due to exposure and dehydration, and giving resources and water to needy people in the desert is often criminalized. Expensive fencing remedies the problems faced by the native butterfly species, but what about the human impact?
It is no question that the push-pull factors of human migration are a complex beast. But the simplicity of butterfly migration demonstrates the danger a wall creates. The migration of people and butterflies is a reflection of the survival instinct. The rusty metal beams might deter crossings locally, but nothing can deter those on a mission to survive.
- posted by KitJ on behalf of Ellen Thomas
The Intercept and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have partnered on a long form investigation focused on ICE’s detainee practices and discovered that “ICE uses isolation as a go-to tool, rather than a last resort,” to both “manage and punish even the most vulnerable detainees.”
In a “review of more than 8,400 reports describing placements of ICE detainees in solitary confinement,” Intercept and ICIJ reporters found that ICE “has used isolation cells to punish immigrants for offenses as minor as consensual kissing, and to segregate hunger strikers, LGBTQ detainees, and people with disabilities.”
Building on the success of the Inaugural Equality Law Scholars’ Forum held at UC Berkeley Law in 2017 and at UC Davis Law in 2018, and in the spirit of academic engagement and mentoring in the area of Equality Law, we (Tristin Green, University of San Francisco; Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Boston University; and Leticia Saucedo, UC Davis) announce the Third Annual Equality Law Scholars’ Forum to be held in Spring 2020. This Scholars’ Forum seeks to provide junior scholars with commentary and critique and to provide scholars at all career stages the opportunity to engage with new scholarly currents and ideas. We hope to bring together scholars with varied perspectives (e.g., critical race theory, class critical theory, feminist legal theory, law and economics, law and society) across fields (e.g., criminal system, education, employment, family, health, immigration, property, tax) and with work relevant to many diverse identities (e.g., age, class, disability, national origin, race, sex, sexuality) to build bridges and to generate new ideas in the area of Equality Law.
We will select five relatively junior scholars (untenured, newly tenured, or prospective professors) in the U.S. to present papers from proposals submitted in response to this Call for Proposals. In so doing, we will select papers that cover a broad range of topics within the area of Equality Law. Leading senior scholars will provide commentary on each of the featured papers in an intimate and collegial setting. The Forum will take place all day Friday through lunch on Saturday. Participants are expected to attend the full Forum. The Equality Law Scholars’ Forum will pay transportation and accommodation expenses for participants and will host a dinner on Friday evening.
This year’s Forum will be held on March 13-14, 2020 at the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Junior scholars are invited to submit abstracts of proposed papers, 3-5 pages in length, by August 1, 2019.
Full drafts of papers must be available for circulation to participants by February 28, 2020.
Proposals should be submitted to:
Leticia Saucedo, UC Davis School of Law, firstname.lastname@example.org. Electronic submissions via email are preferred.
The Washington Post and The Independent contain an interesting story about southward migration across the U.S.-Mexico border: "President Trump regularly assails the flow of migrants crossing the Mexican border into the United States. Less noticed has been the surge of people heading in the opposite direction. Mexico’s statistics institute estimated this month that the U.S.-born population in this country has reached 799,000 — a roughly fourfold increase since 1990. And that is probably an undercount. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City estimates the real number at 1.5 million or more."
The migrant flow contains both U.S. citizens and returned Mexican nationals. The U.S. citizens include workers in the digital economy who can work wherever they choose, retirees, and U.S.-born kids who want to reunite with Mexican families. The returning Mexicans include individuals who want to reunite with families and deported migrants. As the article reports, "If the thousands of Mexicans moving home are taken into account, the flow of migrants from the United States to Mexico is probably larger than the flow of Mexicans to the United States."
The U.S. population in Mexico is still much smaller than the Mexican immigrant population north of the border, but the American migration and settlement is impacting Mexican communities. It is altering the character of schools, injecting money into the Mexican economy, and leading to renovation of homes in historic centers. Some municipalities celebrate American holdiays like Thanksgiving and political leaders make speeches in English and Spanish. In other words, the cities welcome American immigrants. As one mayor said, "Despite the fact that Donald Trump insults my country every day, here we receive the entire international community, beginning with Americans, with open arms and hearts,” Villareal said. Mexican authorities say that many of the Americans are probably undocumented — typically, they’ve overstayed their six-month visas -- but the government does not pressure the Americans to have documents in order and typically assesses a small fine.
Since December, five children have died at Border Patrol stations along the U.S.-Mexico border, reports Nomaan Merchant at the Associated Press. The latest was a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died yesterday, and whose cause of death remains unknown. It remains unclear why he was detained for a week rather than placed in a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services facility within 72 hours, as federal law requires.
All five migrant children who passed away in U.S. custody in the past year were from Guatemala, “an impoverished Central American nation that has been wracked by severe drought and gang violence, and where smugglers have been offering discount rates to families interested in traveling to the United States,” writes Abigail Hauslohner at The Washington Post.
I am currently in San Diego, California, with law students from around the country, teaching Hofstra's Immigration Law and Border Enforcement course. Over the next week, you may hear from some of these students as they report back on our experiences at the border.
Yesterday morning, we toured the U.S.-Mexico border with Border Patrol. I was absolutely shocked to see the difference on the border in just one year.
The primary fencing that had been in place since the Clinton administration has been largely dismantled. Here is what the fencing used to look like. It was made from landing mats dating to the Vietnam War.
Now, for several miles in San Diego, the primary fence looks like this:
At the same time, the secondary fence that has been in place since 2006 has also changed. Stretches of the fencing continue to look as they have for years.
But in many areas the secondary fencing now looks like this:
The concrete base extends four feet into the ground. And each of those steel bollards is filled with concrete. Here is what the different fencing looks like side-by-side:
Down at the beach where the fencing ends has also dramatically changed. For years, it looked like this:
Now this entire stretch is covered in coils and coils of concertina wire.
I am a news junkie. I knew things were changing at the border. Yet I was surprised to see such a rapid and dramatic transformation of the physical landscape.
Stef W. Kight on Axios offers some interesting data on the "Share of foreign born in select countries, 2017"
Saudi Arabia 37%
The Vilcek Foundation has teamed up with The Arnold P. Gold Foundation to create a new award recognizing immigrant contributions to humanism in American healthcare. The inaugural Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare is bestowed to Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, an immigrant born in the United Kingdom to parents of Iraqi descent, for research and activism that brought national attention to the lead poisoning of children in Flint, Michigan, through the public water supply.
The Vilcek-Gold Award recognizes, in equal measure, immigrant service to American public health and the transformative impact of humanism—an ideal that puts human interests, values, and dignity at the core of healthcare. Dr. Hanna-Attisha is receiving the award not only for her role in the Flint water crisis, but also for her continued activities as the director of the Michigan State University–Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, serving as a champion for underprivileged kids worldwide.
Often known by friends and patients alike as Dr. Mona, she immigrated to the U.S. as a child with her family in 1980. Saddam Hussein’s rule in her parents’ homeland of Iraq meant the rise of fascism, oppression, and dictatorship, and the family relocated to Michigan. Here, Dr. Mona went on to receive her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public health from the University of Michigan and her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine; she completed her residency at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.
As a pediatrician and associate professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, in 2015 Dr. Mona noticed high blood lead levels in Flint children after the city’s water supply was switched to a new source as a part of austerity measures the previous year.
Despite denials from state officials that the water source was responsible for the elevated blood-lead levels, Dr. Mona’s research and persistent advocacy, along with that of Flint community activists, resulted in city management acknowledging wrongdoing, switching the water supply back to a safe source, and committing to long-term public health measures to mitigate the effects of lead poisoning.
Monday, May 20, 2019
Doris Meissner and Julia Gelatt's MPI Report Eight Key U.S. Immigration Policy Issues: State of Play and Unanswered Questions (2019) highlights unresolved questions that merit attention. The report says: "The United States is witnessing one of the most dynamic policy periods in the immigration arena, with the Trump administration moving to reshape many facets of the immigration system with use of its executive powers. The administration’s marked activity on the immigration front contrasts sharply with Congress, which has been largely unable to tackle substantive change to the immigration system over nearly two decades.
While the administration has been significantly focused on the border, this report examines a range of policy areas that have not been at the forefront of debate but deserve greater information sharing with the public and policymakers. “This period of significant action by the executive branch, which has surfaced a real questioning of long-held immigration policies and practices, presents a new opportunity for lawmakers to inject policy ideas of their own into what have been prolonged, often stagnant, legislative debates,” the report states.
Among the questions it asks:
- What achievable definition of border security should the federal government be measured on? And what border spending is likely to generate the highest returns on investment, in particular in an era where migration patterns have changed significantly and the U.S. government is spending one-third more on immigration enforcement than on the combined budgets of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshal’s Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives?
- With the H-1B visa program the main vehicle through which U.S. employers can sponsor skilled foreign workers for admission, what program reforms would address concerns about the replacement of U.S. workers while still meeting employer needs?
- With 1.6 million unauthorized immigrants eligible for green cards as the spouses or minor children of U.S. citizens or green-card holders, is it time for Congress to revisit the three- and ten-year bars on re-entry that are blocking most unauthorized immigrants who could be sponsored by a relative or employer from applying for fear of triggering lengthy absences from the United States?
Cross-referencing this report with the positions of the presidential candidates on immigration would make for interesting debates, indeed. A list of where many of the presidential candidates stand on immigration appears here.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Nicholas Wu from USA Today announces that on Friday May 17, 2019, a federal appeals court ruled that the Trump administration's rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was unlawful, reversing a decision by a lower court.
In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Department of Homeland Security had not followed the law in terminating the program. The court found that the way in which the Trump administration ended the program in September 2017 was “arbitrary and capricious” and thus a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
This ruling does not have any immediate effect because rulings by other courts have required that DACA by kept in force. In November 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide injunction that allowed DACA to remain in effect.
“Hundreds of thousands of people had structured their lives on the availability of deferred action during the five years between the implementation of DACA and the decision to rescind,” the Fourth Circuit judges wrote in the majority opinion. “Although the government insists that Acting Secretary Duke considered these interests in connection with her decision to rescind DACA, her Memo makes no mention of them.”
UPDATE 4th Circuit opinion
Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey for the Washington Post report on the latest political intrigue surrounding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which recently saw its Secretary (Kirstjen Nielsen) step down:
"An attempt by President Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller to engineer a new shake-up at the Department of Homeland Security was blocked this week by Kevin McAleenan, the department’s acting secretary, who said he might leave his post unless the situation improved and he was given more control over his agency, administration officials said.
The closed-door clash flared over the fate of Mark Morgan, the former FBI official the president has picked to be the new director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
With Morgan eager to move into the top job at ICE, Miller on Wednesday urged the president to have Morgan installed as the new commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) instead.
McAleenan the next day told senior White House officials that he — not Miller — was in charge of the department, said three Trump administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal tensions one Trump aide likened to an `immigration knife fight.'"
Immigration Article of the Day: Does the United States Need to Invest More in Border Enforcement? by Donald Kerwin and Robert Warren
Does the United States Need to Invest More in Border Enforcement? by Donald Kerwin and Robert Warren
Despite the largest immigration enforcement budget in US history, the Border Patrol is set to apprehend the highest number of border crossers in more than a decade. This essay argues that the administration’s enforcement-only approach cannot successfully address this humanitarian crisis, and does not deserve any additional funding. Instead, the administration should respond to the conditions driving Central American and Venezuelan asylum seekers, provide protection for those fleeing violence and other impossible conditions, and create a strong, well-resourced US asylum system.
Friday, May 17, 2019
Joining the Ninth Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Albert Diaz, joined by Judges Robert King, with Julius N. Richardson dissenting in part, affirmed a finding of the district court that the Trump administration's rescission of DACA was unlawful:
"we agree with the district court that Plaintiffs’ challenges are subject to judicial review. We also agree with the district court that the government’s decision to rescind DACA did not require notice and comment under the APA. But the decision nonetheless violated the [Administrative Procedure Act] because—on the administrative record before us—it was not adequately explained and thus was arbitrary and capricious."
Jaqueline Thomsen for The Hill summarizes the opinions in the Fourth Circuit decision.
Immigration Article of the Day: Customs, Immigration, and Rights: Constitutional Limits on Electronic Border Searches by Laura Donahue
Customs, Immigration, and Rights: Constitutional Limits on Electronic Border Searches by Laura Donahue, Yale Law Journal Forum (2019), Vol. 128
The warrantless search of travelers’ electronic devices as they enter and exit the United States is rapidly increasing. While the Supreme Court has long recognized a border-search exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, it applies to only two interests: promoting the duty regime and preventing contraband from entering the country; and ensuring that individuals are legally admitted. The government’s recent use of the exception goes substantially beyond these matters. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are using it to search electronic devices, and at times the cloud, for evidence of any criminal activity, bypassing the warrant requirement altogether. Searches of these devices implicate privacy concerns well beyond those of the home, which has long been protected even for customs and immigration purposes. This Essay traces the evolution of the border exception, noting the effect of recent Supreme Court decisions, to argue that CBP and ICE are operating outside constitutional constraints. The Essay considers two objections grounded in the legitimate interests of CBP and ICE. It responds, first, that inspection of digital devices differs from the examination of a traveler’s purse or luggage: the level of intrusion and the amount of information obtained changes the quality of the search, triggering Fourth Amendment protections. Second, as an immigration matter, as soon as citizens are identified, absent probable cause, the government does not have the constitutional authority to search their devices at all. Foreigners lacking a substantial connection to the country, however, do not enjoy the same Fourth Amendment protections. It concludes by observing that because of the substance and complexity of the issue, Congress has an important role to play in determining what types of searches are justified.
Thursday, May 16, 2019
According to the Miami Herald, immigrants in the military are getting denied U.S. citizenship at higher rates than civilians. According to the most recent USCIS data available, the agency denied 16.6 percent of military applications for citizenship, compared to an 11.2 percent civilian denial rate in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, a period that covers October to December 2018. This trend reflects the impact of stricter Trump administration immigration policies on service members.
According to the same data, the actual number of service members even applying for U.S. citizenship has also plummeted since President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported in its quarterly naturalization statistics. Partly the lower applications may be the result of people being disheartened by the immigration climate, as the article hypothesizes. But as Margaret Stock has explained in interviews, public statements, and this article, it might also be that Trump administration policy changes at the DoD have made it virtually impossible to get the necessary approvals to apply for citizenship. Previously, immigrant enlistees previously could join basic training once a background investigation had been initiated, and they could become eligible to start seeking citizenship after one day of military service. Under the new policy, enlistees do not go to basic training until their background investigation is complete, and they have to complete basic training and 180 days of service before they can seek citizenship. The Trump administration in 2017 announced major changes to the way the Pentagon would vet and clear foreign-born recruits and other overall changes to when a service member would qualify for naturalization, including the need to obtain wet signatures from higher ups and closures of naturalization offices at some of its basic training locations.
The cumulative effect of the lower number of applications, longer waits, and higher denials is a reversal of the U.S. tradition of honoring immigrants who serve in the military as model citizens. Retired Army Major General is quoted in the military as saying, “The U.S. has had a long-standing tradition of immigrants come to the U.S. and have military service provide a path to citizenship.” He continues: “To have this turnaround, where they are actually taking a back seat to the civilian population strikes me as a bizarre turn of events.” Indeed. More historical and comparative research on military naturalization is provided in Earned Citizenship, a book by Michael Sullivan featured in an ImmigrationProf Blog post last week, and Jus Meritum a book chapter by Grace Cho and Cara Wong that I routinely assign in my Citizenship seminar examining competing justifications for citizenship acquisition.
Stay tuned for President Trump's immigration reform proposal later today. It appears that it would be somewhat similar to the proposed RAISE Act, which was introduced by two Republican Senators in the Senate in 2017 and received the support of President Trump. As previously reported, Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner has been working in an immigration proposal for the administration.
According to Fox News, the White House will unveil a new plan that would transform the makeup of immigrants in the United States, ending the diversity visa lottery, and implementing a comprehensive merit-based admissions system, according to three senior administration officials. The move would increasee the number of immigrants admitted because of their "skills," while reducing the number of immigrants admitted because of family ties.
Acording to Fox News, a "new `Build America Visa' program . . . would recognize `extraordinary talent' and `people with professional and specialized vocations,' including exceptional students." Potential immigrants would be assessed using a point-based system, accounting for factors including age, English proficiency, whether each candidate has an offer of employment above a certain wage threshold, and educational and vocational certifications. Pledges to invest and create jobs also would be considered.
UPDATE (May 17):
The President's proposal generated this response from the editorial board of the Washington Post. For reactions to the plan, see this NPR report. Among other things, the President's plan does not address the status of DACA recipients or create a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Wanasaba, in Indonesia's East Lombok, is called a "motherless village." As the BBC reports, many young mothers travel abroad to work, leaving their children in the care of other family members.
Then women head to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Singapore. They work as domestic helpers and nannies, earning far more than they could in Indonesia.
All the moms who work overseas do so because it affords the opportunity to provide for their children. But the work comes at a price.
Maintaining relationships with the children left behind can be difficult. One child interviewed did not see her mother at all from the age of 1 until she nearly finished primary school. Additional stress can occur when moms return with "souvenir children" from relationships (consensual and not).
Immigration Article of the Day: The Trump Administration and the Law of the Lochner Era by Mila Sohoni
During the Lochner era, the Supreme Court shielded liberty of contract and property rights; it privileged private ordering and restrained the reach of government regulation; and it embraced robust conceptions of national sovereignty with respect to immigration and trade. Though Lochner itself remains an anti-canonical case, many of the conceptions of rights, state power, and sovereignty embraced by the Lochner-era Court persist in legal and political discourse today. This Article shows that these ideas now have a politically powerful sponsor and proponent in the Trump Administration. The motif of a constitutional framework over a century old appears in the Trump Administration’s policy positions and legal approach to areas as diverse as health insurance regulation, administrative law, regulatory reform, net neutrality, drug law, immigration, and tariffs. Grappling with these resemblances reacquaints us with some neglected aspects of the constitutional thought of our past, casts fresh light upon the unfolding events of the present day, and allows us to better anticipate what the future will bring. Mapping the grammar of rights and power that permeates the Trump Administration’s agenda for government and law, this Article explains how that Administration might bend the road forward back to the past.
This week Colorado joined a small but growing list of places offering state financial aid to undocumented students. Governor Jared Polis (formerly of my college town, Boulder Colorado) signed into law House Bill 1196 allowing undocumented students to apply for and receive state financial aid. The bill passed the House 41-24 with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed; the Senate passed it 21-13 with several Republicans joining Democrats in favor. During discussion of the bill, legislators estimated the average award in state financial aid to be $2,250. A legislative liaison for the Colorado Department of Higher Education said there are 1,350 undocumented students statewide who will now become eligible. The law builds upon the 2013 ASSET bill that charges undocumented students in-state tuition. The package of bills is significant because undocumented immigrants are ineligible for federal financial aid and some states restrict provisions to Deferred Action for Arrivals recipients -- an important limitation for those whose DACA status is in limbo since the program's rescission. (Private scholarships may be available. See this college guide for undocumented students for a list and other general advice; a prior post mentioned the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, which is open to students with any immigrant status.)
Nationwide 6 states offer state financial aid to undocumented immigrants: California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Most require that, like Colorado, the student is subject to the same verification requirements for eligibility to participate in in-state tuition programs.
Approximately 20 states allow in-state tuition rates for undocumented students, whether by state legislation, execcutive order, or regents' decisions: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah and Washington. Some states, like Virginia, limit in-state tuition to Defferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. These laws typically require attendance and graduation at state high schools, acceptance at a state college or university, and promising to apply for legal status as soon as eligible.
Three states—Arizona, Georgia and Indiana—specifically prohibit in-state tuition rates for undocumented students, and two states—Alabama and South Carolina— prohibit undocumented students from enrolling at any public postsecondary institution.
NCSL provides a summary of the history of tuition equity and text of state laws here. The full report includes the map below, which now requires an update for Colorado.
- NCSL Immigrant Policy Project Website
- NCSL Education Website
- In-State Tuition and Unauthorized Immigrant Students
- NCSL Immigration Database
Many immigrants eligible to naturalize in the United States do not naturalize. This report by Raph Majma, Lindsey Wagner, Sabrina Fonseca looks at steps that could improve naturalization rates. Here is the executive summary:
"Several months ago, our team set out to learn more about the variables that affect naturalization decisions. The number of presumed eligible to naturalize lawful permanent residents in the United States is growing, with estimates of a population of 8.9 million individuals. Our research attempts to better understand what prevents a person from naturalizing, and to determine what effective strategies or outcomes are likely to catalyze a lawful permanent resident to take action.
Over the course of several months, we interviewed 63 immigrants and naturalized citizens and surveyed 117 citizenship workshop attendees and identified patterns and sentiments that deepened our understanding of how people decide to naturalize.
Practical urgency drives naturalization.
Catalysts are events or processes that assist individuals in overcoming obstacles around naturalizing. For many, there is greater urgency in receiving permanent residency than citizenship — until an experience uncovers a tangible reason to naturalize.
Voting is a motivation, but not always a catalyst to naturalize.
Civic engagement is an appealing benefit for lawful permanent residents, but they often naturalize for more practical reasons. This is not always the case, as presidential election years result in spikes in naturalization applications, but there are steep declines in off years.
Fear of anti-immigrant policies can inhibit or enable action.
Immigrants from all backgrounds understand that they can be targeted by the next wave of policy changes, which for some causes action, while others see a barrier. Even interviewees from countries of origin that are not targeted by the Trump administration’s most aggressive rhetoric and policies were affected.
Traveling with a U.S. passport is a strong benefit to naturalization.
Naturalization can be beneficial to cross U.S. borders safely, travel without having to obtain additional visas, be able to be abroad without the limitations of the Green Card, and more. There are distinct benefits that will interest different groups of people.
Stressful interactions delay naturalization.
Lawful permanent residents who previously had a difficult interaction with a government immigration official worry that their naturalization experience will be similarly difficult. Access to resources can help mitigate that fear, but it’s important to consider past experiences when assisting immigrants.
Support helps overcome barriers.
Immigration is a deeply personal subject, but everyone appreciates and benefits from encouragement. Nearly half of our interviewees identified a family member or friend who had a positive impact on their journey.
The naturalization process is a deterrent.
Application length and complexity fuel procrastination while the fear of the interview plagues applicants, regardless of their confidence. The process was opaque to some of the interviewees we spoke with, but the strenuous requirements impact immigrants’ attitudes and confidence toward naturalization.
Common milestones are underutilized.
There are times when immigrants may consider citizenship, but USCIS and other organizations miss opportunities to better inform or remind them. These opportunities are common among LPRs and create clear opportunities for engagement and education.
In the report, we also outline a number of ways to improve the naturalization process. The recommendations are directed at government organizations, service organizations, lawyers assisting immigrants, and groups developing new technology for immigrant communities. Our goal is to make sure that these insights and recommendations are actionable tools for naturalizing lawful permanent residents throughout all levels of the immigration service ecosystem, and at each step in the journey to citizenship."