Sunday, July 18, 2021
CLINIC submitted FOIA requests regarding USCIS asylum terminations. Here are their findings:
Asylees need and merit protection. That is why asylee status is supposed to be “indefinite,” meaning it does not have an end date.
However, it is possible for the U.S. government to terminate asylum status. For asylees who were granted asylum affirmatively, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, Asylum Office has the authority to issue a Notice of Intent to Terminate asylum status, or NOIT. Following the issuance of a NOIT, the asylum office schedules an interview with the asylee, and makes a determination whether the asylee should continue to hold their status, or whether the asylum status should be terminated, and the former asylee placed into removal proceedings. Only an immigration judge can terminate asylee status that has been granted by the court, so the USCIS statistics only reflect termination proceedings before the USCIS asylum offices, not those before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, or EOIR.
Concerned about the Trump administration’s remarks targeting asylum seekers and a potential increase in asylum terminations, on Oct. 3, 2019, CLINIC submitted a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request to USCIS seeking information about the numbers of NOITs issued by each asylum office, how many asylum grants were terminated and how many left in place, and the grounds for the asylum offices issuing NOITs.
Here are some key takeaways from the data:
- The overall number of NOITs issued by the asylum offices was relatively low—a total of 892 over a the 12-year period from 2009-2020
- Of those issued NOITs, the Asylum Office issued Notices to Appear in immigration court, following termination, in 655 cases
- Of those issued NOITs, the Asylum Offices issued Notices of Continuation of Status, meaning the asylees retained their asylee status, in 231 cases
- “Fraud in the application” was far and away the number one reason for termination, accounting for 562 terminations out of 717 during this period. It is worth noting, however, that 106 of these terminations occurred in the New York Asylum Office, most likely as a result of a significant criminal investigation into asylum fraud by several attorneys.
- By contrast, “reavailment” only accounted for 14 terminations, a number worth noting as advocates must often counsel asylee clients about the risk of securing a passport from their country of feared harm, or of returning to visit a sick family member
- Other grounds for termination included: changed country conditions; Terrorist Grounds of Inadmissibility; committing a particularly serious crime; Grounds of Denial Act; and “null”
- The offices with the highest number of NOITs issued were the NY Asylum Office with 211, followed closely by the Arlington, VA Asylum Office with 203
- In addition to principal asylees who had their status terminated, 380 dependents lost their asylee status.
Monday, July 12, 2021
Freedom for Immigrants, the Immigrant Defense Project, and the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo School of Law today released a new report, Immigration Cyber Prisons: Ending the Use of Electronic Ankle Shackles. The report highlights the severe harms caused by ICE’s electronic ankle shackling program. It is the first empirical study to document the nature and scale of the harms, racial disparities and lack of efficacy of the program, using data from legal service providers regarding almost 1,000 immigrant clients, about 150 survey responses from directly-impacted people, and several long-form interviews with people who wished to share experiences with ankle shackling. The Guardian ran a story about the findings this morning.
Some key findings include:
- Over 90% of people experienced physical harm due to the ankle shackle, and those harms included: open wounds even causing permanent scars, excessive heat, and electrical shocks.
- The psychological consequences are also extremely negative. The constant sight and feel of a shackle around one’s ankle is agonizing, and possibly retraumatizing to people who were fleeing persecution. 88% of survey participants reported the shackles harmed their mental health, and an alarming 12% of immigrants reported suicidal thoughts.
- The stigma associated with shackling results in social isolation and financial hardship--78% of respondents reported financial hardship as a result of ankle shackling, including over two-thirds of respondents who reported that they lost or had difficulty obtaining work as a result of their electronic ankle shackle.
- Finally, our study found that Black immigrants were disproportionately subjected to ankle shackles by ICE. Black immigrants were represented in the shackled cohort at more than twice the rate of their representation in the non-shackled cohort.
We hope that the report will be useful to illustrate to judges and policymakers that electronic ankle shackling is harmful to people, and that effective supportive services are available instead.
Today at 2 PM EDT we also are sharing the report with calls to action to Congressional and policy leaders. If you would like to amplify that request, please join the Twitter storm using the link below.
Monday, June 21, 2021
if the Biden administration wants to be truly courageous and turn the page completely on former President Donald Trump's xenophobic immigration agenda, it must go further and rescind its own policies against asylum-seeking families.
Sunday, June 13, 2021
The Migration Policy Institute published a policy road map as part of its series on "Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy. The latest report is titled "Rethinking the US Legal Immigration System" (May 2021). Here is the abstract.
The U.S. legal immigration system, built on a scaffolding first established in 1952 and last significantly updated by Congress in 1990, is profoundly misaligned with demographic and other realities—resulting in enormous consequences for the country and for its economy. This misalignment is the principal cause for illegal immigration. It is also responsible for the mounting backlog in legal immigration streams, with some in the green-card queue scheduled to wait 223 years for an employment-based visa.
This road map, part of MPI’s Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy Initiative, sketches the broad contours of some of the most needed reforms in the legal immigration system. Given population aging and changing labor market demands, the need for reform is more urgent than ever.
The policy brief offers a quick tour of the new framework that MPI is advancing. The vision includes:
- Meaningful and responsible reform of the U.S. immigration system that begins with addressing the challenge of the country’s unauthorized immigrant population, 60 percent of which has been in the United States a decade or more.
- Restructuring the employment-based system to better reflect economic and demographic realities and the behavior of employers and workers with three streams: 1) seasonal/short-term workers; 2) direct admission of immigrant workers recognized as the best and brightest in their fields as permanent residents; and 3) a new “bridge” visa as the main route for admission for most foreign workers arriving on employment visas.
- Retaining family-sponsored immigration as a major priority of the U.S. immigrant selection system, but with changes to some backlogged categories.
- Reforming the humanitarian protection system, including U.S. asylum system reform to improve efficient and fair adjudication.
- Injecting much-needed flexibility into immigration levels, with the creation of an independent expert body within government that makes recommendations on annual admissions based on careful, nonpartisan review of labor market, economic, demographic, and immigration trends.
Future reports will elaborate on these proposals. I'm especially curious about the proposal for the "bridge" visa as the main route for employment-based admission.
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Last week, the Congressional Research Service issued an updated report titled Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity. Here is the report's Executive Summary:
Congress’s power to create rules governing the admission of non-U.S. nationals (aliens) has long been viewed as plenary. In the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as
amended, Congress has specified grounds for the exclusion or removal of aliens, including because of criminal activity. Some criminal offenses, when committed by an
alien present in the United States, may render that alien subject to removal from the country. And certain criminal offenses may preclude an alien outside the United States
from being either admitted into the country or permitted to reenter following an initial departure. Criminal conduct also may disqualify an alien from certain forms of relief from removal (e.g., asylum) or prevent the alien from becoming a U.S. citizen. In some cases, the INA directly identifies particular offenses that carry immigration
consequences; in other cases, federal immigration law provides that a general category of crimes, such as “crimes involving moral turpitude” or an offense defined by the INA as an “aggravated felony,” may render an alien ineligible for certain benefits and privileges under immigration law.
The INA distinguishes between the treatment of lawfully admitted aliens and those who are either seeking initial admission into the country or who are present in the United States without having been lawfully admitted by immigration authorities. Lawfully admitted aliens may be removed if they engage in conduct that renders them deportable, whereas aliens who have not been admitted into the United States may be barred from admission or removed from the country if they have engaged in conduct rendering them inadmissible. Although the INA designates certain criminal activities and categories of criminal activities as grounds for inadmissibility or deportability, the respective grounds are not identical. Moreover, a conviction for a designated crime is not always required for an alien to be disqualified on criminal grounds from admission into the United States. But for nearly all criminal grounds for deportation, a “conviction” (as defined by the INA) for the underlying offense is necessary. Additionally, although certain criminal conduct may disqualify an alien from various immigration related benefits or forms of relief, the scope of disqualifying conduct varies depending on the particular benefit or form of relief at issue.
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
No End in Sight: Prolonged and Punitive Immigration Detention in Louisiana is a report authored by the Tulane Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic Faculty Directors (Profs Laila L. Hlass & Mary Yanik) along with six of their clinical students (Gabriela Cruz, Dee-Di Hsi, Trinidad Reyes, Taylor Sabatino, Diego Villalobos, Sara Wood).
The report details the groups' findings regarding habeas litigation pursued by detained migrants in Louisiana. It's a particularly important study because Louisiana holds the second highest number of immigrant detainees of any state. (Texas has the dubious distinction of being in first place.)
- More than half of detained immigrants filing for habeas were Black immigrants.
- Almost 1 out of 4 detained immigrants filing for habeas were previously lawful permanent residents.
- On average, detained immigrants had been detained for nearly one year and one month at the time they filed a habeas petition.
- These cases face frequent delays and take months or years to resolve. On average, habeas petitions take about six months from filing to case resolution.
- Detained immigrants won court-ordered release from detention through habeas in only 5 cases during the study period. However, in 22% of cases (112 cases), ICE released the detained immigrant to their community during the case before the Court ruled on whether continued detention is unlawful. These voluntary administrative releases—“shadow wins” where the immigrant is released without court vindication—show up in the formal court record as losses. This is because the Court dismisses the case because there is no further legal remedy as the petitioner has already achieved their goal of release.
- Though the filing fee for these cases is only $5, this fee presents a common obstacle to detained immigrants. In over 40% of cases, detained immigrants did not pay the initial fee. The Court denied 30% of fee waivers requested, and 45 cases were dismissed for failure to pay $5.
- Detained immigrants who do not have the help of a lawyer must also file their petition on a specific court-issued habeas petition form according to local rules of the Court. The form is only in English, and it spans nine pages long. The Court dismissed 22 cases for failing to comply with an order to fill out the required form or revise the petition.
- Over the study period, the Court nearly tripled the number of days that ICE is allotted to respond to allegations of unlawful detention. Those deadlines are sometimes extended even further with extension requests, which are always granted.
- The vast majority (85%) of detained immigrants filed their habeas petitions without the help of a lawyer. More than 1 out of 4 detained immigrants represented by lawyers at filing were released from detention, whereas only 9% of those who filed unrepresented were released.
I highlighted the finding regarding "shadow wins" because it caught the attention of ProPublica: check out their coverage of the Tulane report.
- Congress should restrict immigration detention, ban private immigration detention centers, and permit custody review before an immigration judge for every detained immigrant.
- ICE should close detention centers, especially those that are remote and not accessible to attorneys, advocates, and detainees’ families.
- The Court should consider shorter deadlines for ICE, represented by U.S. attorneys, to substantively respond to habeas petitions. Given that liberty is at stake in these cases, all deadlines should be set to the minimum reasonable time, and extensions should be limited to rare and exceptional instances. The Court should consider issuing orders quickly in these cases.
- The Court should consider resolving claims expeditiously based on evidence submitted by each party after the petition, response, and any rebuttal. The Court should act quickly to use all available tools for fact-finding under the habeas statute. For any proceedings where a limited English proficient petitioner is brought to court, the Court should provide simultaneous interpretation by a court interpreter at no expense.
- The Court should appoint counsel for unrepresented petitioners with regularity. The Court should award attorneys’ fees and costs to successful detained immigrants who win release under habeas.
- All detained immigrants should have access to legal information about habeas corpus through Department of Justice’s Legal Orientation Program (LOP). Any detention center holding immigrants should contain a legal library with habeas corpus forms, relevant cases and other legal resources, and a guide to self- representation in multiple languages.
- ICE should publicly report the number of people detained longer than 6 months at each detention center. In each custody review, ICE should give any detained immigrant who is denied release the form for a habeas corpus petition and a notice from legal service providers to seek further information.
Friday, May 21, 2021
Check out this October 2020 study published in The Lancet (by a whopping 24 authors): Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: a forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. The study may be a tough read for some immprofs. I, for one, am never cheered when I see this on the page:
And the article has a LOT of charts. But the conclusion reads clear as day:
Global population is likely to peak well before the end of the century. Given that we forecasted that societies tend towards a TFR lower than 1·5, once global population decline begins, it will probably continue inexorably. Within the declining total world population some countries will sustain their populations through liberal immigration policies and social policies more supportive of females working and achieving their desired family size. These countries are likely to have larger overall GDP than other countries, with the various economic, social, and geopolitical benefits that come with stable working-age populations. Our UIs and scenario analysis showed that for no country or territory is the demographic future cast in stone. Policies that countries pursue today can alter the trajectory for fertility, mortality, and migration. Population size and composition are not exogenous factors for countries to account for in their planning, but rather outcomes that they can help direct.
Also, this BBC cheat sheet on the article helps. It highlights the data regarding seven countries--Japan, Italy, China, Iran, Brazil, India, Nigeria--each identified by The Lancet study as facing dramatic population changes, and the BBC article offers a brief take on the measures each nation is taking to combat its population woes.
Monday, May 17, 2021
A survey from Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change reports that 80% Of Asian Americans say they are discriminated against, while other groups are unaware: 37% white respondents, 30% black respondents, and 24% Hispanic aid they were unaware of uptick in APA hate crimes. The survey found 55% of respondents that identify as Republican said Asian Americans are either treated fairly or better than others. Conversely, 77% of those who identified as Democrats believe Asian Americans are discriminated against.
The poll was administered to 2,766 U.S. residents two weeks after the Atlanta shooting that resulted in the deaths of six Asian American women (March 26-April 14).
Other national reports have been released by StopAAPI Hate since the start of the coronavirus epidemic.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Today I draw your attention to A Journey of Hope: Haitian Women’s Migration to Tapachula, Mexico, a 2021 report authored by El Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración, A.C. (IMUNI), the Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), and U.C. Hastings' Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS).
From the introduction:
In recent years, Mexico has become a country of transit not only for Central American migrants and “migrant caravans” traveling north, but also for thousands of Haitians who... made the long journey from Haiti into South America and, eventually, overland to Mexico or the United States...
In March 2020, IMUMI partnered with CGRS and HBA (together, the “Research Team”) to travel to Tapachula and interview Haitian women about their experiences of migration to Mexico. The Research Team wanted to learn what barriers Haitian women face in obtaining humanitarian assistance and legal protection, as well as the connection between these barriers and the intersectional discrimination they experience as Black migrants. In addition to interviewing 30 Haitian women, the Research Team spoke with several service providers and other stakeholders in Tapachula and throughout Mexico.
This Report outlines the findings of those interviews, which highlight the numerous obstacles that Haitian women must overcome in order to access legal and other services, and to successfully move through the Mexican immigration system. The findings also outline the gender-based and anti-Black racial discrimination these women have faced not only in Mexico, but also on their route through South America. ...
The Report contextualizes these findings within the broader context. First, the Report provides an overview of the Mexican immigration system and how the humanitarian situation of migrants has deteriorated under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Next, in order to better understand Haitian women’s migration journey, the Report outlines the conditions in Haiti that caused them to flee; the political, legal and economic context in South America that caused them to migrate to, and subsequently leave, Brazil and Chile; and the immigration framework in the United States, where many hope to live. Finally, the Report provides recommendations for how to improve Mexico’s response to Haitian migrant women and other similarly situated vulnerable groups.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
The Invisible Wall: Title 42 and its Impact on Haitian Migrants is a March 2021 report authored by The Haitian Bridge Alliance, the Quixote Center and UndocuBlack. Here is the authors' summary:
Part One of the Report discusses the history of the Title 42 policy and its implementation; summarizes conclusions from prestigious public health experts’ that the policy is not medically necessary but instead a political decision to close the U.S.-Mexico border; and explains how the policy deprives migrants of their right to seek asylum or other forms of protection in the United States in violation of U.S. and international law, and the credible legal challenges to the policy currently pending in U.S. courts.
Part Two of the Report reviews the Title 42 policy’s impact on Haitian migrants, in particular the invisible wall between the United State and Mexico that the policy has created. The paper discusses the reasons that Haitians flee Haiti; their arduous journey from Haiti through South and Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border; ICE’s failure to properly screen, test or treat Haitians for COVID-19 before removing or expelling them to Haiti; and the lack of legal protections afforded Haitian migrants under the Title 42 policy – including the lack of access to lawyers, language interpreters, medical care, and even basic sanitation. The Report explains how migrants are expelled to Haiti under the Title 42 policy without being informed whether or when they will be expelled, and without the opportunity to seek asylum or other forms of protection. The Report also describes the high security risks that Haitian migrants face when they are expelled to Haiti or Mexico.
The authors offer nine recommendations, first and foremost, that the Title 42 policy be revoked immediately. Other recommendations include that ICE and CBP follow public health experts’ advice by adopting a wide range of safety measures to mitigate public health risks to border agents. Lastly, the authors recommend that asylum processing be resumed while releasing migrants to shelter in place with their loved ones in the United States rather than detaining them.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
This Migration Policy Center Webinar will examine what are the most influential factors affecting public attitudes to immigration and immigrants, with a special focus on disentangling the differential effects of economic factors and cultural values. Drawing on empirical evidence from global data, the Webinar will also provide recommendations for future action by actors seeking to influence these attitudes.
Attitudes to immigration and immigrants have become a highly salient issue in many countries, particularly in the aftermath of the so-called “migration crisis”. While increasing proportions of immigrants in Western societies are viewed positively by some, stressing immigration benefits, others view these demographic changes with suspicion. Consequently, social scientists have dedicated considerable attention to the factors that might explain individual attitudes toward immigration in recent years. However, as many hypotheses and factors have been proposed, ranging from intergroup contact and personal predispositions to the role of economic factors, it has become increasingly difficult to see the wood for the trees.
For this MPC Webinar, we will provide a summary of factors affecting attitudes to immigration and immigrants in a systematic manner while highlighting the differential effects of economic and cultural influences. This allows us to bridge together the state-of-the-art knowledge about what people think of immigration, why they do so and how can we potentially influence their attitudes. We will also highlight how evidence on attitudes towards immigration can be used to inform future migration policy, advocacy and practice.
- Lenka Dražanová, MPC, RSCAS, EUI
- Jerome Gonnot, MPC, RSCAS, EUI
- Karen Hargrave, independent consultant specialising in migration/displacement research and policy engagement
Chair: James Dennison, MPC, RSCAS, EUI
Monday, May 10, 2021
Shelter from the Storm: Policy Options to Address Climate Induced Displacement from the Northern Triangle
Shelter from the Storm: Policy Options to Address Climate Induced Displacement from the Northern Triangle is an April 2021 report from the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, the Harvard Law School Immigration Project, the University Network for Human Rights, the Yale Immigrant Justice Project, and the Yale Environmental Law Association. The report is 64 pages, double spaced, with more than 20 pages of end notes.
Here is the executive summary (with end notes omitted; emphasis in original):
The planet is experiencing climate change. The most recent decade has been the warmest ever recorded. Indeed, we have already surpassed the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide considered safe by the most esteemed scientists in the field. As the impacts of climate change continue to be felt around the world, experts predict that climate change will lead to massive movements of people within and across borders, including into the United States. Experts estimate that climate change could displace over 200 million people by 2050. Extreme weather events, climate-related disasters, gradual environmental degradation, sinking coastal zones, and sea level rise will continue to amplify existing stressors and contribute to internal and cross- border movement by rendering currently inhabited parts of the world less habitable.
The Northern Triangle—the area that includes Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras— is among the world’s most vulnerable regions. Due to their geographic location and widespread socio-economic inequality, Northern Triangle countries are highly vulnerable to climate-related impacts. Studies identify food insecurity, recurring droughts, decline in agricultural production, increased susceptibility to disease, and water scarcity as main drivers of climate displacement. Overall disruptions in the climate system result in significant economic losses for smallholder farmers, including those producing coffee, corn, and beans. Soil degradation, accelerated by a changing climate, will also likely contribute to displacement, as it already has in Guatemala. Meanwhile, coastal areas face an increase in sea level rise and destruction of local mangrove ecosystems, which threaten communities that depend on fishing.
Last year, Hurricanes Iota and Eta ravaged the Northern Triangle region, causing massive flooding and rain. The convergence of the hurricanes’ impact, the COVID-19 pandemic, and pre-existing socioeconomic vulnerabilities are expected to worsen food insecurity due to extensive impacts on agriculture, livestock, and rural livelihoods, in addition to the threat that vector-borne diseases pose to human health in the aftermath of the storm. These impacts will contribute to the already deteriorating environmental situation that is driving people from their homes into urban centers and towards the United States. Experts project that climate change will displace up to 3.9 million people across Mexico and Central America by 2050.
In recent years, migration from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador has also increased significantly as a result of gender-based and gang violence, as well as economic and political instability, among other factors. An unprecedented number of families and unaccompanied minors have been forced to flee their homes and seek asylum in the United States.
The long history of U.S. military intervention, drug enforcement, and counterinsurgency policies in Central America has contributed greatly to the destabilization of governments in the region, adversely affecting their ability to respond to climate and other conditions. Deepening economic inequality and ongoing violence stemming from this long history of U.S. intervention has upended the lives of many people in the region.
As one of the world’s greatest emitters of greenhouse gases, the United States has disproportionately contributed to the world’s climate crisis. Thus, the United States must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help fund climate change adaptation measures for highly vulnerable countries. In addition, we must improve our current migration policies to ensure that those who must migrate can do so with security and dignity.
The United States bears a special responsibility to the region, given its role in creating and fomenting violence there. The United States government has ignored its own research findings and opted for a law enforcement approach to curb migration flows. While the Biden Administration has taken steps in the right direction by requiring several agencies to prepare a report on climate change and its impact on migration, much more is needed to properly tackle this complex issue.
This white paper examines the large-scale ongoing and future migration of residents of the Northern Triangle. It considers the protections, under U.S. law and international refugee law, afforded those fleeing environmental disaster. First, this paper analyzes the impacts of climate change on migration. Second, the paper focuses on climate change in the Northern Triangle region and its relationship to current and future migration flows. Third, the paper addresses the increasing recognition of the relevance of refugee protection for many people affected by climate change. The paper then surveys other provisions in U.S. law that provide avenues for status and protection for those displaced by climate change. Finally, the paper charts a course forward, recommending legislative and administrative measures that would ensure greater protection for those who flee environmental disaster.
In summary, the paper seeks to move current immigration law and policy in a more sensible and humane direction, focusing on how climate change impacts migration, particularly from the Northern Triangle.
Following this executive summary, the report offers general recommendations, provides an introduction to climate change displacement, discusses climate change and the Northern Triangle, examines existing legal avenues for immigration relief, returns to recommendations, and then concludes.