August 2015

India and China show an immigration shift, slowly outpacing Mexico


Siddaharth Jaganath, a resident of the Dallas suburbs in Texas, originally planned to earn his master’s degree at Texas’ Southern Methodist University and head back home to India to start a new life. Instead he built his new life in the U.S. over a decade. “You start growing your roots and eventually end up staying here,” says the 37-year-old.

Many immigrants from China and India, some with work visas, have overtaken Mexicans as the largest groups coming to the Unites States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau research released in May. This immigration shift has been building for more than a decade and is bringing more skilled immigrants into the country. Some Republican presidential candidates have proposed a heavier focus on employment-based migration, which could accelerate traditional slow changes to the country’s ever-evolving face of immigration.

Mexicans still dominate the overall composition of immigrants in the United States and account for more than a quarter of the foreign-born people. But China led with 147,000 of the 1.2 million newly-arrived immigrants here legally and illegally counted in 2013, followed by India with 129,000 and Mexico with 125,000. Previously there were 402,000 from Mexico and no more than 84,000 each from India and China. Experts believe that the decrease in Mexican immigrants was the dramatic plunge in illegal immigration.

Deputy Director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program, the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, Marc Rosenblum says, “We’re not likely to see Asians overtake Latin Americans anytime soon (in overall immigration population). But we are sort of at the leading edge of this transition where Asians will represent a larger and larger share of the U.S. foreign-born population.”

Experts say that without revisions in immigration policy the change to the overall immigrant population will be slow. One reason is that the number of Mexicans who become legal permanent residents is about twice the number of Indian and Chinese people who do.

But a rising number of Chinese and Indians will become permanent residents, given the current rate of about half of people here on temporary work visas obtaining that status, Fix said.

Jaganath was among that group, inspired to come to the U.S. because the country is a leader in his career field.

The Supreme Court for El Salvador declares Gangs Terrorist Groups

The Supreme Court in El Salvador declared the country’s street gangs and those who finance them terrorist groups on Monday.

The court said that nay gang that attempts to claim powers that belong to the state, including the well-known Marasalvatrucha or MS-13 gang, would be considered terrorists. It defined terrorism as the organized and systematic exercise of violence.

The court’s declaration came as a denial to four attempts to declare the country’s Special Law against Terrorist Acts unconstitutional. The court found that telephone wiretaps and the freezing of funds belonging to third parties tied to terrorist groups are constitutional, among other issues.

The court spoke on the same day that El Salvador’s attorney general said an order to kill gang members in a prison over the weekend came from inside another prison.

The slaughter of 14 gang members inside the Quezaltepeque prison in western El Salvador came from the San Francisco Gotera prison in the eastern part of the country.

The gang members were all strangled or stabbed to death on Saturday. They were members of the 18th Street Revolutionaries gang. Authorities said the killings were part of an internal “purge.”

Authorities also had information that a mass killing in a prison was coming, but they did not know where or when.

The murders were among 45 registered in the country Saturday and another 31 occurred on Sunday.

The gangs have intensified their attacks against authorities and public transportation in recent weeks in an attempt to pressure the government into negotiations. But the government has refused to bow to the gangs and has kept their leaders in maximum security prisons.

Congress Lacking Movement toward the Immigration Court Backlog


The workload of the federal immigration court system has increased by 146% to an astonishing 453,948 active cases at the end of July. The average amount of time those cases have been pending: 627 days. Some cases have even lingered for years.

The reason for this vast backlog is clear. The government has failed to increase the capacity of the immigration court system that hears deportation cases just as much as it has poured money into enhancing border security. The number of border agents has nearly doubled to 21,000 in the last decade.

The consequences of such an overwhelmed system are wide-ranging. Undocumented individuals who are in the country get lengthy temporary postponements simply because the judges can’t get to their cases. Individuals with legitimate claims to asylum are left twisting in the wind. The longer a case is dragged out, the more difficult it becomes to verify or refute an individual’s claim. The judges face significant stress and burnout. They handle an average of 1,400 cases each per year, more than twice the caseload for Social Security and Veterans Affairs administrative law judges. Judges being under such pressure complain about not having enough time to research legal points in the immigration laws, which rival tax codes for complexity.

Immigration judges are a part of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, whose current budget includes 319 judicial positions, and only 247 of those are filled. President Obama has asked for an additional 55 “judge teams” (a judge and seven court staffers) in the upcoming budget. Despite these intentions, advocates say that the increase would be insufficient to clear the backlog and stay ahead of the constant flow of new cases – well over 200,000 a year.

Congress’ failure to overhaul the nation’s immigration system has been long-running. But it takes courts and judges to do that, and without proper staffing, Congress has set up the system to fail.

Fringe Birthright Citizenship Theory Should Not Be Embraced


As Donald Trump and some other Republican presidential candidates argue, is it possible that the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship to all children born in the United States could really be changed by Congress? The legal basis for a merely statutory change taking away that constitutional right is quite unsteady.

America has generally used the common law principle that any birth within the country made one a citizen of the country for 400 years now. In 1857, the Supreme Court’s Dredd Scott decision refused to recognize the citizenship of an African-American born into slavery; however, the decision was reversed by statute in the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and again in 1868 by the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The only way to deny status would be to amend the Constitution again.

Trump is proposing to test a legal theory that was initially proposed in a law review article in 1985 and has been of increasing interest to the anti-immigration movement. The language of the amendment – “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside” is open to interpretation.

On a policy level, the Fourteenth Amendment’s rule has meant that there is a simple, bright-line test to determine whether a person is a United States citizen: was the individual born in the United States. The United States has a strong record of assimilating various immigrant groups who have come here over the years, unlike European countries, where the second and third generations of immigrants are often excluded from citizenship in the only home they have known. If that rule is changed, it will have to be changed by amending the Constitution.

Judge from Texas Contemplates Punishment for Obama Immigration Permits


The Obama Administration made the effort on Wednesday to convince a Texas judge it shouldn’t be penalized for violating his order freezing new immigration permits.

Government attorneys repeatedly apologized at a hearing in Brownsville to U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen for inaccurately issuing 2,600 work permits and then making misleading statements about it. Judge Hanen froze the program after 26 states sued, and has now set a possible Sept. 4 deadline for a decision on sanctions or a contempt citation.

Government Attorney James Gilligan apologized to Judge Hanen for the miscommunications and said they were unplanned and unintentional.  Hanen argued that indeed they were repeated.

The administration said they have recovered all but 12 of the 2,600 permits.

The states seek to reverse Obama’s unilateral change to U.S. immigration policy which was announced in November. The initiative is designed to shelter 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide them with three-year work permits.

The White House submitted reports to Judge Hanen detailing the efforts made to recover the work permits. Agents went as far as texting, calling, and e-mailing immigrants to turn in their permits. Door-to-door follow-up visits were made.

Judge Hanen, an appointee of Republica President George W. Bush, gave both sides until Sept. 4 to suggest what penalty he should impose if he decides he was intentionally misled.

The White House has challenged Hanen’s freeze order in a bid to get the program up and running before Obama leaves office. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans hasn’t yet ruled on the request.

The case is Texas v. United States, 1:14-254, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Brownsville).

Action against Rampant Racial Profiling and Rights Violations Must Be Taken Near U.S. Borders


As the immigration issues grab headlines across the nation, congressional leaders have resorted to racial profiling and wasteful, military-style tactic reactions along the southern border, reflecting the deep misunderstanding that Capitol Hill has of communities on U.S. borders.

The nation’s largest law enforcement agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has issues that these efforts have failed to address. They have failed to offer solutions that will move us forward together.

The corruption and unchecked abuse within CBP must be a part of any discussion regarding the US southern border and it seems the time is now to address reforming the agency. The Obama administration has the means to move forward and should do so immediately.

The administration released a report earlier this summer calling for a significant reform to CBP to help prevent widespread corruption and expand over-sight. CBP has come under critical observation as a nationwide debate continues around law enforcement’s relationship to communities, especially those of color.

For years, Customs and Border Protection has failed to hold its officers accountable when using excessive force against unarmed civilians and even killing. The agency fails to document and report racial inequalities and to detect and deter counterproductive racial profiling that undermines values of fairness and equality.  Individuals living their daily lives about 100 miles of the border experience CBP permanent checkpoints and patrols in their neighborhoods. A recent report was based on approximately 50 complaints in New Mexico and Texas discovering abuse such as racial profiling, unjustified searches and detentions, verbal and physical abuse. Approximately ninety percent of the people who were abused were US citizens and 81 percent were Latino.

A review of a mass of complaints provided by CBP’s Office of Internal Affairs revealed that officers were not held accountable in 97 percent of these cases by CBP. In May, the former Chief of Internal Affairs, James Tomsheck, came forth as a whistleblower, saying that he witnessed a “spike” of more than 35 sexual misconduct cases between 2012 and 2014 and an agency culture that ignored and swept away corruption.

The Obama administration stated its willingness to reverse the worst and most inhumane excesses of immigration enforcement. The administration established the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing to improve the relationship between police and communities. Despite this, the situations for many residents who call the region home show a dire need for action. In its last year and a half in office, the Obama Administration should move aggressively toward accountability, due process and human rights.

Arizona Sheriff’s Immigration Policy Challenge Gets Thrown Out by U.S. Court


Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration policy lawsuit was thrown out of a U.S. federal appeals court on Friday. He intended to argue that President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration were unconstitutional.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit confirmed a district court judge’s finding that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio did not have grounds to sue.

The sheriff claimed that his office had suffered from Obama’s November 2014 orders that were designed to ease the threat of deportation for approximately 4.7 million undocumented immigrants.

White House spokesman, Eric Schultz said they are “pleased that the D.C. Circuit did not allow Sheriff Arpaio’s lawsuit to stand in the way of commonsense measures to advance public safety and bring greater accountability to our immigration system.”

Arpaio’s attorney, Larry Klayman, mentioned that he would seek out Supreme Court review of the ruling. He described the decision as “intellectually dishonest.”

To prove standing, the plaintiff must show they have been directly harmed by the challenged action. The court did not find that Arpaio would be harmed by the immigration action because there would be more crime as a result.

Judge Nina Pillard, who wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel, mentioned that Arpaio’s predictions of higher crime rates and an increase in the jail population were solely rested on claims of supposition and contradicts acknowledged realities.

Arpaio, a longtime Republican firebrand on immigration, has had several actions stymied by the courts this year.

This past June the Supreme Court upheld a 2014 appeals court ruling that struck down an Arizona law that denied bail to illegal immigrants charged with certain felonies.

Republicans have brought a swath of lawsuits against administration officials on immigration and Obama’s signature healthcare law over the past year, aiming to curb what they view as executive overreach.

New Record Reached of Immigrant Population of 42.1 Million In 2015


In the second quarter of this year, the immigrant population in the United States has hit a record high of 42.1 million. This information according to the monthly Census Bureau data by the Center for Immigration Studies was released on Thursday. 13.3 percent of the nation’s total population is comprised of immigrants. It has reached the highest level in the nation in 105 years.

Steven Camarota, the co-author of the report and the center’s director of research, said in a statement that “Illegal immigration came up in the presidential debates, but there has been little discussion of the level of immigration; this at a time when total immigration is surging according to the latest data.”

On the presidential campaign trail, immigration has definitely become a heated issue. Republicans are offering pointed criticism of the nation’s acceptance of undocumented immigrants. Despite the fact that much of the discussion has surrounded immigrants from Mexico, the vast number of migration from Mexico has dropped 17.7 percent from 2010 through 2013, this data according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The number of immigrants arriving from Asia now roughly equals the number from other countries in North, South, and Central America.

Immigrant populations have increasingly moved beyond traditional high-density coastal cities like New York City and Los Angeles, with the highest immigrant population growth coming in heartland cities and the South. Pittsburgh ranks first for the pace of growth, with a 17.4 percent jump in its foreign population from 2010 to 2013, four times the national rate.

California grants immigrants in the state rights, benefits and protection


The state of California has been granting undocumented immigrants who reside in the state benefits, unprecedented rights, and protections for some time now. It began with in-state tuition, then driver’s licenses, new rules to limit deportations and state-funded healthcare for children. This past Monday came a new law to erase the word “alien” from California’s labor code.

Democratic lawmakers and immigration activists continue to seek new laws and protections. These measures include pursuing employers who withhold pay from low-wage employees and expand state-subsidized healthcare to adult immigrants without legal documentation.

Other states such as Connecticut have adopted components of the package. The too offer in-state tuition, driver’s licenses, and passed legislation known as the Trust Act to help limit deportations before California did.

Most of these laws were passed after 2000, and became especially plentiful after 2012, when President Obama took executive action that shielded from deportation people who were brought to the country illegally.

For those individuals affected by Obama’s order, the state of California was one of the firsts to authorize driver’s licenses. Two years later, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law enabling all undocumented individuals in the U.S. to seek licenses. That same year, the state expanded in-state tuition for more students in the country illegally and allowed individuals without legal status to obtain law and other professional licenses.

Those who advocate for stricter immigration laws have acknowledged their side has won few victories in recent years.

Obama administration asks judge to allow immigrant family detention


The U.S. government is asking a federal court to reconsider allowing them to continue detaining an undocumented immigrant family along the southwestern border. The government was ordered to immediately release the families seeking refuge in the U.S. after a district court judge in California issued a severely critical order last month condemning the Obama administration for violating a decades-old agreement. The agreement outlined standards for keeping children in federal custody.

Attorneys from the Department of Justice formally responded late Thursday, arguing that the policies under contention were already outdated by the time the court reached its decision. They argued that if the judge’s orders were confirmed or supported, and the families were released, there would be serious repercussions.

The federal government poured time and money in building two new immigrant detention centers in south Texas that were designated to accommodate children in the course of a humanitarian crisis at the border. These detention centers were equipped with classrooms and playgrounds. More than 60,000 unaccompanied minors were captured after fleeing from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the last fiscal year.

According to administration officials, once the children completed the legal process, the vast majority of them would ultimately be sent back home. In reality the opposite was happening. USCIS (United States and Citizenship and Immigration Services) found that nearly 90% of women and children held in immigration detention centers expressed a credible fear of returning to their home countries – and so they could continue the process of seeking asylum.

Advocacy groups condemned the government’s response on Friday, arguing that family detention is a flawed policy that was hastily implemented. The number of families caught entering the U.S. has dropped down to more than 50% in the last year. With the flow of migration down, the groups say they want to see the practice of family detention abandoned entirely.

There are 178 House Democrats who have signed a letter calling on the administration to comply with Judge Gee’s order and release the roughly 1,700 women and children currently being detained.