Irregular / Unauthorized / Undocumented Migration

Irregular / Unauthorized / Undocumented Migration

Blockading Asylum Seekers at Ports of Entry at the US-Mexico Border Puts Them at Increased Risk of Exploitation, Violence, and Death
Although the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has insisted that asylum-seekers pass through ports-of-entry (POEs), rather than between them, it has denied potential non-Mexican asylum seekers access to the inspection area at POEs, and left them stranded in Mexico. This essay examines the implications of the turn away approach CBP has adopted in responding to those seeking asylum at POEs on the international boundary line.

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Family Matters: Claiming Rights across the US-Mexico Migratory System

Despite the fact that family unity is a core goal of the US immigration system, various US immigration policies prolong and force family separation. This paper examines the process by which Mexican binational families assert their legal rights to family unity through the mediating role of Mexican consulates. The paper analyzes an administrative database within the Mexican consular network that documents migrant legal claims resulting from family separation (particularly child support and custody claims), along with findings from 21 interviews with consular staff and community organizations in El Paso, Raleigh, and San Francisco. It finds that the resolution of binational family claims is, in part, dependent on the institutional infrastructure that has developed at local, state, and federal levels, as well as on the capacity of receiving and sending states and the binational structures they establish. The paper recommends collaboration in identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses within consular networks; development of formal protocols for consular staff and officials to work with government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and lawyers in resolving legal claims; limiting the role of local officials in the enforcement of US immigration law; and sharing the best practices of the Mexican consular network with consulates from other countries.

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Reflections from the Border: Entering a New World

Fr. Pat Murphy, executive director of the Centro Scalabrini – Casa del Migrante, introduces the Casa’s new program – the Scalabrini Education Center for Migrants (CESFOM) – which provides migrants with further education, job training, employment certification, and opportunities for spiritual development.

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The Case for a National Legalization Program without Legislation or Executive Action

This paper presents the results of a study that finds that as many as two million unauthorized immigrants in the United States could have a path to permanent legal status. However, these immigrants may not know that they are eligible for legal status or be able to afford the costs. The two million figure is drawn from an analysis of data on 4,070 screened unauthorized immigrants from 12 states. The study highlights the profound impact that a national project to screen for legal status would have on the US unauthorized population, mixed-status families, and US communities, including growth in home ownership and increased tax revenues. The paper recommends the following: (1) a massive, nationwide legal screening and legalization effort; (2) a substantial increase in high-quality, low-cost legal service providers; (3) increased legal training focused on immigration law and eligibility screening; and (4) extensive community outreach and education, especially among under-resourced populations.

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Immigration Detention, Inc.
This paper demonstrates the influence of economic inequality on system-wide US immigration detention policy and on individual detention decisions. The paper describes how for-profit prisons have impacted the immigration system through promoting wide-scale detention, which has led to increased profitability in the private prison sector and influence over policymakers. Next, it details the mechanisms by which economic inequality dictates the likelihood and length of detention in individual cases, through policies of keeping detention beds full and the use of monetary bond requirements for release from detention. The paper raises troubling issues of democratic governance and the commodification of traditional governmental functions. It concludes with recommendations for reform, including lessening the use of private prison companies for immigration detention, promoting the presumption of liberty in the immigration detention system to push back against large-scale detention, and reducing the use of monetary bond requirements as a condition of release.

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Predicting Unauthorized Salvadoran Migrants’ First Migration to the United States between 1965 and 2007
This paper seeks to understand the predictors of first undocumented migration from El Salvador to the United States and makes policy recommendations in response to one of the most important migratory flows from Latin America. Findings suggest that an increase in civil violence and a personal economic crisis increased the likelihood of first time undocumented migration to the United States between 1965 and 2007. Salvadorans who were less likely to take a first undocumented trip were business owners, those employed in skilled occupations, and persons with more years of experience in the labor force. An increase in the Border Patrol budget and the high unemployment rate in the United States deterred the decision to take a first undocumented trip. Having contacts in the United States is not the main driver of the decision to start a migration journey to the United States. The paper recommends that the United States awards Salvadorans more work-related visas and asylum protection, and grants permanent residency to those who formerly had Temporary Protected Status. Recommendations for the Salvadoran government include investing in high-skilled job training in order to discourage out-migration.

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CMSOnAir | His Eminence Joseph William Cardinal Tobin
This episode features a conversation with His Eminence Joseph William Cardinal Tobin, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. In this interview with CMS’s Executive Director, Donald Kerwin, Cardinal Tobin discusses Catholic teaching on migrants and refugees, developments in immigration and refugee policy, ideological polarization surrounding immigration in the United States, the provision of sanctuary to migrants, and how faith communities can become more involved on immigration issues.

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