Law / Legislation

Law / Legislation

Protecting Families and Facilitating Their Integration
“Our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.” – Pope Francis I, August 2017 Who Are the Migrants? Where Do They Come From? Where Are They Going? Individuals and families around...

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From IIRIRA to Trump: Connecting the Dots to the Current US Immigration Policy Crisis
This paper examines the effects of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). It traces the evolution of US immigration law and policy from IIRIRA’s implementation, to recent measures that seek to diminish legal immigration, restrict access to the US asylum system, reduce due process protections for non-citizens in removal proceedings, criminalize immigration violations, and expand the role of states and localities in immigration enforcement. The paper draws from a collection of papers published in the Journal on Migration and Human Security on IIRIRA’s multi-faceted consequences, as well as extensive legal analysis of IIRIRA and the current administration’s immigration agenda.

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The Separation of Immigrant Families: Historical Anecdotes

the separation of families has been a problem within the US immigration system for many years. This post highlights some of the stories preserved in the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC) Bureau of Immigration Records in the CMS archive when family separation was in the headlines and enforcement of immigration laws was seen as protecting American jobs.

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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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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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