Irregular / Unauthorized / Undocumented Migration

Irregular / Unauthorized / Undocumented Migration

Zero Undocumented Population Growth Is Here to Stay and Immigration Reform Would Preserve and Extend These Gains
This paper makes the case that the era of large-scale undocumented population growth has ended, and that there is a need to reform the US legal immigration system to preserve and extend US gains in reducing undocumented entries and the US undocumented population overall. The paper demonstrates that a broad and sustained reduction in undocumented immigration to the United States occurred in the 2008 to 2015 period. It shows that the Great Recession had little, if any, role in the transformation to zero population growth of the undocumented population. Rather, the undocumented population stopped growing because of increased scrutiny of air travel after 9/11, a decade and a half of accelerating efforts to reduce illegal entries across the southern border, long-term increases in the numbers leaving the population each year, and improved economic and demographic conditions in Mexico. These conditions are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

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Point of No Return: The Fear and Criminalization of Central American Refugees
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.

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Is Border Enforcement Effective? What We Know and What it Means
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.

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International Migration Policy Report: Responsibility Sharing for Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants in Need of Protection
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.

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Weeping in the Playtime of Others: The Obama Administration’s Failed Reform of ICE Family Detention Practices
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.

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Segmentation and the Role of Labor Standards Enforcement in Immigration Reform
Despite the fact that many low-wage, violation-ridden industries are disproportionately occupied by immigrants, labor standards and immigration reform have largely been treated as separate pieces of an otherwise interrelated puzzle. Not only is this view misguided, but this paper argues that strengthening labor standards enforcement would ensure that standards are upheld for all workers, immigrant and others. In addition, labor standards enforcement is instrumental to the erosion of sub-standard conditions in certain sectors, often referred to as the “secondary” labor market, that are associated with advanced market economies. Ensuring labor standards are upheld diminishes the incentive for employers to undercut wages by exploiting vulnerable workers, many of whom are immigrants. As this paper argues, strengthening enforcement must include not only “vertical” mechanisms, including strategic enforcement and penalizing and criminalizing egregious and repeated labor violators, but also “lateral” mechanisms, such as co-enforcement by workers and through worker and community organizations. The article illustrates the role of co-enforcement in labor standards through two case studies.

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US Immigration Policy and the Case for Family Unity
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.

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Separated Families: Barriers to Family Reunification After Deportation
This paper outlines the complexities — and unlikelihood — of keeping families together when facing, or in the aftermath of deportation. After discussing the context that prevents reunification among immigrant families more generally, I outline several of the particular ways that families are divided when a member is deported. Drawing on case studies from longitudinal ethnographic research in Mexico and the United States, I describe: 1) the difficulties in successfully canceling deportation orders, 2) the particular limitations to family reunification for US citizen children when a parent is deported, and 3) the legal barriers to authorized return to the United States after deportation. I argue that without comprehensive immigration reform and concrete possibilities for relief, mixed-status and transnational families will continue to be divided. Existing laws do not adequately address family life and the diverse needs of individuals as members of families, creating a humanitarian crisis both within and beyond the borders of the United States. The paper concludes with recommendations for immigration policy reform and suggestions for restructuring administrative processes that directly impact those who have been deported and their family members.

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