Fr. Pat Murphy, c.s., Director of Centro Scalabrini – Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, Mexico, reflects on life at the border six months into 2017.
This panel discussed the formation and work of the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative. It discussed Houston’s “whole of community” approach to immigration services, how the community has organized to defend the rights of immigrants, and the engagement and mobilization of a diverse group of stakeholders, including legal services providers, the funding community, the City of Houston immigrant advocates, and social services organizations.
This panel provided a primer on the US immigration enforcement system and its impact on families and communities. It included short presentations by scholars and researchers on different aspects of the statutes and policies which serve as the groundwork for the new administration’s Executive orders on immigration, expanded detention, and federal, state and local immigration enforcement partnerships. Panelists offered recommendations for reform of the immigration enforcement system and spoke to how scholarship and research can be used to inform and strengthen whole-of-community responses to immigrants. The session is meant to provide an evidence-based foundation for much of the conversation that followed.
Keynote Addresses by His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo (Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston; President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) and Stephen Klineberg (Professor of Sociology and Founding Director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University)
On World Refugee Day 2017, CMS and Cristosal (El Salvador) released a report detailing ten cases from the Northern Triangle of Central America—four from El Salvador and three each from Guatemala and from Honduras—which chronicle the journeys of refugees in search of protection, how the system did not protect them, and what they face upon return to their home countries. The report concludes that the United States and Mexico are returning Central American asylum-seekers to danger, and, as a result, are violating the international principle of non-refoulement. Overall, 18 cases were interviewed and analyzed for the study. The report includes several policy recommendations for the governments to consider.
For too long, the policy debate over border enforcement has been split between those who believe the border can be sealed against illegal entry by force alone, and those who believe that any effort to do so is futile without expanding legal work opportunities. New evidence suggests that unauthorized migration across the southern border has plummeted, and border enforcement has been a significant reason for this decline. These research advances should help to inform a more rational public debate over border enforcement expenditures. In particular, Congress should take a careful look at the incremental gains that might come from additional spending on border enforcement. The evidence suggests that deterrence through enforcement, despite its successes in reducing illegal entry across the border, is producing diminishing returns due to three reasons. First, arrivals at the border are increasingly made up of asylum seekers from Central America, which is a population that is harder to deter because of the dangers they face at home, and in many cases not appropriate to deter because the United States has legal obligations to consider requests for asylum. Second, the majority of new additions to the US unauthorized population is now arriving on legal visas and then overstaying. And finally, among Mexican migrants, a growing percentage of repeat border crossers are parents with children left behind in the United States, a population that is far harder to deter. Finally, the administration could better inform this debate by releasing to scholars and the public the research it has sponsored in order to give Americans a fuller picture on border enforcement.
New York, NY – The migration study centers of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles – Scalabrinians, a Catholic community dedicated to serving refugees and migrants throughout the world, released today their first annual International Migration Policy...
This inaugural report of the Scalabrini migration study centers covers responsibility-sharing for large-scale refugee and migrant populations in need. The report consists of chapters that describe the situation of refugee and migrant populations in select regions around the world and analyzes the responses of states, regional bodies and the international community.
The United States has long struggled with the practice of detaining immigrant families and over time, most reform efforts have flagged, if not failed. This paper examines the impact of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) through an exploration of the family residential center for persons in immigration custody. The paper provides an inside look at how policymakers, at various points in the Obama administration, sought to roll back the administration’s most infirm practices and the fate of those efforts. It begins with a brief history of family detention in the United States, continues with a summary of the reforms undertaken both early and late in the Obama administration, and examines the significant challenges the administration faced and the less progressive positions it adopted during its first and second terms. The paper concludes with a discussion of reasons for the rapid reversal of the Obama administration’s previous reforms and provides recommendations to achieve a civil, civil system of immigration enforcement for families and all others, which means nothing less than the transformation of the immigrant detention system from a criminal to a civil paradigm. The need for such a transformation is all the more urgent in light of executive actions taken in the early days of the Trump administration.
This paper reviews and critically evaluates the principle of family unity, a hallmark of US immigration policy over the past 50 years and the most important mechanism for immigration to the United States. Family unity is critical for promoting immigrant integration, social and economic well-being, and intergenerational mobility. However, several US policies and practices contribute to prolonged periods of family separation by restricting travel and effectively locking in a large number of people either inside or outside of the United States. Furthermore, increasingly aggressive enforcement practices undermine family unity for a large number of undocumented and mixed-status families.